The letter from James is so practical and relevant to us in the 21st century. It always amazes me how God can speak through His Word although we are separated by time and culture from those who wrote it. It relates to our lives today thousands of years after it was written!
This study is designed to help us as women live life as God would have us live it. As we come to the Scriptures alone with God on a daily basis, He has an opportunity to speak to each of us personally; however, together we are stronger than we are separately. My prayer is that you will be faithful to show up to your small group week after week to encourage and challenge one another in your spiritual lives. God designed us for community, and we walk more closely with Him when we follow His plan. Be faithful to meet with your group, even if the trials and stresses of life have made it impossible to complete your own work. God is at work, and He wants to use your group to speak to you and to use you to encourage the other women.
Remember that the Holy Spirit is your Teacher. When you come to verses that you do not understand, take time to pray and ask God to show you what He is saying. He may speak to you as you spend more time considering and meditating on the passage or as you compare it with other verses. Sometimes God uses other people to help—perhaps a fellow small group member, a small group leader, or a teacher. God’s word is truth and it will transform us when we open our hearts to its message. That is my prayer for you—open hearts and changed lives!
This study is designed to help you consistently spend time in God’s Word. You will gain more from this study if you do it day by day, answering just that day’s questions, rather than trying to stuff it all in at once. Each week’s lesson is divided into five days of homework to encourage you to listen daily to His voice. The Bible is God’s message to you, and He wants to speak with you personally.
Unless instructed otherwise, use only the Scriptures to answer the questions. Rather than go to commentaries or notes in a study Bible, enjoy the excitement of letting God speak to you from His word. When we need help in interpretation because of a difficult passage or because of cultural information, I will include it in the lesson. Trust God to help you answer the questions.
Although paraphrases are often easier to understand, it is best to study with a literal translation. Paraphrases are someone else’s interpretation, not the actual words. The NET Bible, the New King James, the New American Standard, or the New International are good choices.
Wisdom for a Blue Jean Faith —Each week you will have a verse to memorize that brings out an essential lesson or thought from the week’s study. Begin learning it the first day, hiding God’s Word in your heart.
Personal Stories —Each lesson includes a true story that relates the truths of the week’s lesson to a woman’s real life experience. Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty! These stories will encourage you in your walk with God and your growth in godliness.
Sharing Questions are designed for you to write stories, insights, and applications from your own life. You will never be forced to share one of these answers aloud with your group, but growing in community with one another requires us to be open and vulnerable so volunteer to share.
Responding to God questions are reminders that we study God’s Word so that He can speak to us and we are changed thereby. We should be listening for His voice. These types of questions ask for a response to God’s personal message to you. I have found that writing out my prayers helps me to focus better on what I need to say to God. No one will ask you to read yours, but you should always feel free to share your response with your group.
Stronger Jeans are optional questions designed for those who want to dig deeper. Some of the answers will be easy for even a beginning Bible student, and some will require more experience in God’s Word. As a group you will not discuss these, but the background that you gain will certainly enrich your personal study. Feel free to discuss these with your leader.
I would be thrilled if you decide to use one of my studies! They were written just for women, with their needs and concerns in mind in order to maximize their spiritual growth. In order to make the most of these studies, it is necessary to follow the format in the following order: 1. Personal study should always precede discussion.
2. Weekly small group discussion should precede any lectures.
3. Lectures should be the final thing you do, and they are optional.