The Healing Power of Prayer

Scripture Passage: James 5:13-18

The book of James concludes with practical instruction about prayer. Prayer is a powerful force! Christian pastor and writer Andrew Murray (1828−1917) said, “In relation to his people, God works only in answer to their prayer.”

The Apostle Paul said, “Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). This exhortation is to the church. God has invited us (collectively) to pray for each other, for our neighbors, and for His will to be done. Evangelist R.A. Torrey (1856−1928) said, “Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God.”

Key Attributes of Prayer

1. Integrity (James 5:16)

James admonishes us to confess our sins to one another. Confession of sin and answered prayer go hand in hand. Sin always hinders fervent prayer.

• Read Psalm 66:18. Take a moment to confess your sin.



2. Community (James 5:14)

James instructs us to call for the elders, or leaders, of the church. There is power in praying together and in having others pray for us. James also affirmed the value of anointing with oil, a symbol of our dependence on the Holy Spirit.

• This week, set aside time to pray with your family or friends.

3. Anticipation (James 5:16)

We should pray expectantly. James said, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” The keyword is “working.” In Colossians 4:2 Paul admonished that we should stay alert in prayer.



• Read Psalm 5:3. Determine to have this attitude of the psalmist when you pray — pray expectantly and eagerly watch.

The Secrets of Good Planning

Scripture Passage: James 4:13-17

Someone wisely noted that to fail to plan is to plan to fail. There is much to be said about being intentional when it comes to making plans. The Scriptures offer great advice on how to plan.

1. Careful Planning



How would you describe your plans? Do your plans take into consideration the purposes of God and how He can use you to advance the interests of His kingdom?

Isaiah 32:8 notes, “But a noble person plans noble things; he stands up for noble causes.”



2. Flexible Planning



Are you flexible and available for whatever door of opportunity God opens for you?

Scripture talks much about doors of opportunity. A door represents opportunity and challenges us to decide whether we will accept or reject that opportunity.

Revelation 3:8 notes, “I know your works. Look, I have placed before you an open door that no one can close because you have but little power; yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”



3. Dependent Planning



Is God factored into your plans? Is He an afterthought? Do your plans show that you are dependent on Him?


Deuteronomy 8:11 cautions against forgetting the Lord: “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His commands, ordinances, and statutes that I am giving you today.

Politics and the Christian

Scripture Passage: Mark 12:13-17

Mark tells the story of an occasion when the Pharisees and the Herodians tried to get Jesus to align with a political system. Rather than giving them the answer they wanted, Jesus challenged them to render to Caesar what belonged to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.

As Christians we should keep in mind three things when considering the political landscape and how to engage with those with whom we disagree. As we engage with others when should demonstrate humility and listen to others.

Three Rules for Political Activity as a Christian

1. Acknowledge the complexity of political issues.
We cannot pledge allegiance to a political party.
There are often many issues we all care deeply about.
We must listen to other people and their perspective.

2. Don’t worship the government.
The government is not responsible to uphold our faith.
There is no perfect political candidate.

3. Remember your King.
Jesus is King, not a political candidate.
Our greatest need is not an external need, it is internal and only solvable by our King.

Think About It
• Have you ever thought about the complexity of political issues? How can you better grow in understanding of those complexities?

• Have you ever found yourself indirectly worshiping the government or a political candidate as the solution to problems?

• Which kingdom keeps you awake at night and do you talk most about?

• How well do you listen to other Christ followers with different views? How can you better respect and love those who may see differently on political issues?

Jesus and the End Times

Scripture Passage: Matthew 24

According to the Scriptures, Christ will return. Prophecy is an often talked about topic and often looked at incorrectly.

When is the return of Christ? This is a question we all would like to have answered.

When will He return?  Scripture doesn’t tell us the day but it does give us some signs that point us to the return of Christ.

The Bible points of signs that indicate the season of Christ’s return.

  1. Cults | There have always been cults that easily deceive people and turn them away from Christ. The explosion of cults has taken place in the 20th Century.
  2. World Politics | Wars and Rumors of wars. Kingdom against Kingdom. During the 20th Century over 100 million people have died in wars.
  3. Natural Disasters | The Bible says there will be earthquakes, famine, floods, plaques. These have happened for years but the intensity has increased year after year.
  4. Christian Persecution | over 200,000 people annually suffer for their faith in Christ. Persecution of Christians is rampant around the world.
  5. Apostasy | The church is declining around the world. Never would we have thought that churches would accept homosexual ministers, same sex marriages.
  6. Breakdown of Society | America has become the moral polluter of the world. For example the movie “Gone with the Wind” was held up because the movie had a curse word in it. Recently a movie from Hollywood, “The Wolf of Wall Street” has one particular curse word 506 Times!
  7. Proclamation of the Gospel | Finally some good news. In all the horrific signs of His coming there will be the proclamation of the Gospel. Never before has the Gospel been proclaimed to so many people. Over 90% of all the people in the world have access to the Bible in their language.

He is coming again!  Are you ready?

The Blessing and The Curse

Scripture Passage: James 3: 9-12: 9

The Nature of a Curse
The word for “curse” is literally “wishing evil.” Sometimes we think of cursing as synonymous with cussing, but it’s more than that. It might be done with eloquent words, but the curse drowns out even the good things said. Also, the absence of a blessing is a curse.

Table Talk: Share with others how you might have suffered by someone “wishing evil” upon you through words spoken. How did that make you feel? Will that help you to speak blessings instead of cursing?

The Power of a Blessing
To give a blessing is to give honor by intentionally ascribing God’s promise to another.

This definition talks about intentionality. It doesn’t happen by accident. We must be intentional with our blessing. Remember though that the blessing of people flows from our blessing the Lord.

Two important conclusions:
• Every one of us needs to receive by faith the blessing God has for us. He made you to love you. And he saved you to bless you.
• You were made to bless others. You were given the power to bless.

Table Talk:
• Share how God blesses you. Can you speak of His love?
• Who would God want you to bless today? Talk about your habit, or lack of a habit to bless those around you.
• Talk about the correlation between loving God and loving people. (See Matthew 22: 36-40)

The Truth About Temptation

Scripture Passage: James 1:12-15

“Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. No one undergoing a trial should say, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”

The Components of Compromise

Anonymity – When you are emboldened to sin because you know that no one is watching.

Availability – When you are emboldened to sin because of the things available at your disposal.

Appetite – We all have hungers and desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:17-21)

The Defense Strategy for Victory over Temptation

• The Defense for Anonymity is Access

Conversation: Around your table today share who has access to your heart, home, personal time, and tech devices. Or, who might God direct you to give access to these areas? If you’ve not done so already then be intentional about making your personal life open to a close and trusted Christian relative or friend.

• The Defense for Availability is to create Boundaries

Conversation: Share with your group what boundaries you have in place that keeps you from crossing the line? Or, discuss what boundaries you might create for your stage of life. The goal is to have a plan!

• The Defense for Appetite is Contentment

Conversation: Be open with your group, or special friend, about the level of confidence and contentment in your life, relationships, and marriage. What changes do you feel you might need to make? Is your confidence on your relationship with Jesus Christ, or in your abilities, education, status, finances, etc.? The LORD is calling you to look to HIM.

How we look at a problem makes a difference in how serious we are about dealing with it. Open conversation about these temptation defenses is the first step in managing these temptations that we all face in our life. While your group is together spend a few minutes in prayer asking the LORD to give each of you wisdom in defending yourself against temptation.

Wisdom for Hard Times

Scripture Passage: James 1:2-4 2

3 Priorities That Are Necessary for Hard Times

1. In Hard Times, Facts Are More Important Than Feelings

Many people inadvertently build strongholds in their mind. We must run to the Word of God during a crisis. We need to reprogram our mind to see things as God sees them, or we’ll be crushed by the emotions of hard times.

2. In Hard Times, Trusting is More Important Than Understanding

Ask for wisdom, not just deliverance when you go through a trial. Remember what faith is: Believing God will do what He says He will do and acting on it regardless of the circumstances.

3. In Hard Times, Growth is More Important Than Comfort

Begin to recognize that God is doing something significant in you in the midst of the hard time. The goal is for you to be more like Christ. When you face inevitable trials, make the decision to trust God through the trial.

Discussion Questions

• What connections in your brain need to be reformed? (Romans 12:2)

• Do you find yourself only asking for deliverance during trials? Why or why not?

• Who is God? How does your answer affect your expectations of your prayers?

• Will you take the challenge to memorize James 1?

The Fear That Lies Beneath

Scripture Passage: Numbers 13:26 – 14:9

There is much we can learn about the debilitating power of fear from the story of the Israelites at the edge of the Promised Land.

Scene 1 | The Israelites reached the Promised Land and sent 12 spies to scope out the land and its inhabitants. The spies noted the land was every bit as good as God had promised. The spies should have looked for how to take over the land and not whether or not they should.

Scene 2 | The spies reported that while the land was prosperous, it was also filled with giants. They became frightened and documented the reasons they should walk away from what God had promised. Fear exaggerates the obstacles to God’s will. We should measure the size of our obstacles against the size of our God.

Scene 3 | The people allowed fear to rewrite their future and the future of those close to them. They were too afraid to take what God promised them. The inhabitants in the Promised Land were no stronger or more powerful than the Egyptians God had just defeated, but the people forgot to look back at what God had already done for them.

Scene 4 | Caleb gave a rebuttal. Unlike the fearful spies, he believed that they could take the land — because God had told them to do so. It is always safe to take what God gives you.

Remember that the opposite of fear is love. Perfect love casts out all fear.

• What are you afraid of?

• Where is God leading you?

• Lay those fears at the foot of the cross and go where God tells you to go and do what God is telling you to do.

• Talk about times when you overcame fear to do what God had for you.

• Discuss the things you are afraid of and pray for each other.

The Un-Bold Servant

Scripture Passage: Mathew 25:14-30

The Parable of the Talents is among the most well-known of Jesus’ parables. The parable can also be regarded as a story about a man who lacked boldness. The kingdom of God needs people who are bold and fearless when God says to advance.

In this parable, a rich master entrusted his servants with financial resources to invest while he was away. However, instead of investing these resources, the servant who received one talent dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. He demonstrated fear and a lack of boldness.

God is calling for boldness. Therefore we must understand the factors that determine the measure of our boldness.

1. My Understanding of Biblical Boldness



Boldness is the confidence to act on God’s promises, maximizing the gifts that have been entrusted to us for His glory. Two of the three servants in the parable demonstrated this kind of boldness.

2. My Confidence in the Master’s Character

The servant who buried his talent believed a lie about his master. He believed the lie that his master was a harsh man. When we believe the wrong things about God, we are more likely to act in fear and not in faith.

3. My Anticipation of the Master’s Return

While the master was away, two of the three servants invested the resources entrusted to them in such a way that they would please their master upon his return. We are to live the same way — boldly investing the talents God has entrusted to us in order to advance His kingdom and bring Him glory.



4. My Comprehension of His Calling

The servant who lacked boldness was busy doing the wrong things while his master was away. His calling was to invest his master’s money, something he failed to do.

Think About It and Talk About It



• If you knew that Christ was going to return before the end of this year, what would you do differently?



• If you knew you could not fail, what bold thing would you attempt for Jesus?

Serving What We Cannot See

Scripture Passage: Esther 4: 8-15

Esther is the only book of the Bible that does not mention the name of God. The unseen hand of God, however, is prevalent throughout the book. Esther was a part of a large group of Jews living in Persia. She was an orphaned girl raised by her older cousin Mordecai.

Though Esther was a Jew, she became the queen!

When Esther became a queen, Mordecai counseled her to kept silent about her ethnicity. Haman, the prime minister, despised the Jews — especially Mordecai. He plotted to destroy Mordecai’s entire race from the country. He manipulated the King to allow an edict to destroy all the Jews in every province of Persia. Mordecai believed Esther was the very best hope for the Jews to hold off extermination. Read his message to Esther in Esther 4:8-13.

Three Essential Decisions That Prepare Us for Kingdom Impact

Expect God to Use Your Pain | No matter how challenging our circumstances are, God can use them for our good! It could be that the challenges we are facing are the very things that God will use to impact our lives and the Kingdom. Search for Him in those difficult, challenging days

Read Esther 4: 14–16.

Realize Comfort is an Illusion | We must embrace the challenges in our lives in order for God to do His work. He will succeed in fulfilling His purposes, whether in our life or the life of someone else. Discomfort is a part of serving Jesus. We will have to stand for what is right, stand on the Word of God. If you do not, you will miss what God wants to do in your life.

Learn to Trust the Invisible | The Book of Esther beautifully establishes the picture of two competing kingdoms – the kingdom of man and the unmentioned (but constantly present) kingdom of God.

The entire book demonstrates God’s invisible hand at work. We never visually see the manifest power of God’s Kingdom but we see the evidence of it everywhere.

Through your challenges, God is at work behind the scenes. The beauty of the Kingdom of God is that the most significant, eternal, exhilarating rewards are for those who embrace the call to serve that which they cannot see!

A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance: “God is preparing His heroes and when the opportunity comes, He can fit them into their places in a moment, and the world will wonder where they came from.”

• Have you turned your challenges over to God?
• Are you embracing the work He wants to do in your life?

Trust Him today, it will change your life and the Kingdom.