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Weekly Devotional | "A Sobering Surprise"

Day 1: An Announcement of Condemnation

Quotes:

  • “He speaks to the non-Christian for the benefit of the Christian.” Craig Blomberg
  • “James looks with divine foresight and sees the dark hurricane cloud of the Day of the Lord about to strike them down.” Peter Davids
  • “The rich will lose everything they have devoted themselves to and everything they have relied upon. Theirs will be the despair of people who discover their dreams and treasures destroyed forever.” George Stulac
  • “It is in fact surely impossible to read the words killed the righteous man: he does not resist without the lone and wonderful figure of the Lord Jesus coming before the eyes of the mind. He is pre-eminently the Righteous One – his response of non-resistance is at one and the same time the most demanding example and the sweetest consolation in the time of oppression.” Alec Motyer

Questions and Reflections:

  • How does what we learned in James 4:13-17 connect to this passage? What attitude(s) are the ungodly rich displaying?
  • Consider the value you place on money. Does it compare in any way to those whom James is addressing?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Reread James 4:13-17 and ask God to protect you from the same kind of presumptuousness these unrighteous rich are guilty of. Ask him to make you aware of any potential ways in which you are following their example.
  • Consider Jesus’ suffering and fortitude in Isaiah 53:7. Thank Jesus again for righteously enduring this reproach for your sake.

 

Day 2: A Message of Comfort and Protection

Quotes:

  • “As they read about the coming misery of those held under the spell of materialism, this protects them from the temptation to materialism. It would protect them from envying the rich as they perceived their end.” CJ Mahaney
  • “[James] has regard to the faithful, that they, hearing of the miserable end of the rich, might not envy their fortune, and also knowing that God would be the avenger of the wrong they suffered, they might with calm and resigned mind bear them.” John Calvin

Questions and Reflections:

  • How is James’ specific use of the phrase, Lord of hosts, meant to be comforting? What does it imply about God and his heart for his people (including you)?
  • Is there anyone in your community group that needs an encouraging reminder of God’s attentive ear to their cries? Consider what we have learned about the wise use of words in James 3. What could you do this week to build them up?
  • Compare this passage to Asaph’s conclusion about the unrighteous wealthy in Psalm 73:18-28.

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Pray through Psalm 73:18-28 and ask God to comfort you with his sovereign grace. Ask him to bring to mind another person whom you could encourage this week. Lastly, ask him to protect you from the same presumptuous sins of the rich.

 

Day 3: Proper Stewardship

Quotes:

  • “By facing a clear-cut case of those who have wealth at their disposal, James teaches all of us in respect of whatever resources, however small, God has entrusted to us. By exposing such glaring abuses, he teaches us how we ought to use our wealth as an adjunct to a humble walk with God. He shows us the pits, so that we might not fall into them.” Alec Motyer
  • “These texts are meant to protect us from the deceitfulness of materialism and to provoke us to lay up treasure in heaven through grace inspired generosity.” CJ Mahaney
  • When we refuse to make a self-indulgent purchase, this actually positions us to experience the liberating joy of generosity and to realize that the Lord got it right when he said it’s more blessed to give than to receive.” CJ Mahaney

Questions and Reflections:

  • What is the difference between humbly enjoying a good gift from God and self-indulgent spending?
  • When you are considering a purchase, what questions do you ask yourself? What questions can you ask yourself so that you take into account the advance of the gospel and the needs of fellow Christians?
  • What is one act of generosity you can do for a member of the church this week in order to participate in the constant work of the Father of lights who gives every good and perfect gift we enjoy?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Meditate on Psalm 103:1-5. Thank God for the undeserved and meaningful gifts he has given you. Ask him to show you how you can participate in his generosity to others this week. Ask him to help you remember that generosity itself is a gift, reminding us where our true treasure is.

 

Group Discussion Questions

  1. In a world saturated with unrighteousness and injustice, what insights into God’s character did you observe from this passage?
  2. He does not resist you (James 5:6b). What powerful and gospel-revealing words James shares here! He clearly offers assurance to Christians who persevere under oppressive conditions. More than that, he points to Christ, the preeminent example of submissive sacrifice. Take a moment to read Philippians 2:4-11. How has our community group displayed effort towards counting others more significant than ourselves in order to mimic the humility Christ displayed on the cross? How might we further strive towards this command as we grow in holiness together?