Proper perspective to life, by Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg
Bible study material on James 4:13-17

Text: James 4:13-17 – NIV

3Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the LORD’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

James 4:13-17 focuses on James’ warning against presuming on tomorrow. James cautions against making future plans without a proper sense of the uncertainty of life and absolute dependence on God. To James, all plans are wrong if they are made without God. Three major perspectives to consider, therefore, in developing a proper perspective to life could be identified in James 4:13-17. First is the recognition that life is brief. The second perspective is the realization that death is certain and the third is the understanding that God is sovereign.

Life is brief
To James, to live right, we must realize that life is short. Life is like a vapour. It is most likely that James had his inspiration from Isaiah 40:6-8.

A voice says, “Cry out” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.

Recognizing that life is short like a vapour invites us unto a life of humility and simplicity.

Death is certain
To James, life appears for a little while and soon vanishes away. To live right, therefore, we need to recognise the certainty of death. For dwjjdwjj no nyinaa no nko si hwee (a life of arrogance has no benefit). This perspective serves as an exhortation to desist from all forms of boasting (Proverbs 27:1). To James, therefore, we do not know what tomorrow holds. Meanwhile, we are to be conscious that we are passing away by and by.

God is sovereign
To live right calls for the realisation that God is sovereign. Instead of boasting about tomorrow, James says we ought to say if God wills, we will live and work and prosper. Acknowledging the sovereignty of God makes a difference in the way we live. If we live with the consciousness that God in his sovereignty has our lives and our plans in his hands, we will not walk in bitterness.

In today’s studies on James 4:13-17, James invites us to have a proper perspective to life by recognizing that life is short, death is certain, and that God is sovereign. These perspectives to life are very helpful in developing a very good intra- and interpersonal relationships. For they serve as essential orientation to a life of simplicity, love and contentment. Most, importantly, therefore, James cautions us against the habit of planning our lives and daily activities without God.

1. How does the perspective that life is brief orient you towards financial giving in the church and society?
2. The sovereignty of God implies that we are to live a life of contentment and a life free from bitterness and unforgiveness. Discuss.
3. State three ways in which we can involve God in our planning.

Living right with God and people, by Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg
Bible study material on James 4:8-12

In our previous studies on James 4:1-7, we focused on dealing with the enemy of true love and peace. We therefore studied about what it means to deal with the enemies of fleshly desires, the world and Satan. Today’s lesson on James 4: 8-12 focusses on essentials of true love. It brings about what the believers in Christ are to do in order to live at peace with one another. To James, therefore, living right with God and people involves drawing near to God, washing one’s hands, purifying one’s heart, humility and avoiding slander.

Drawing near to God with clean hands and pure hearts (James 4:8)
The exhortation of drawing near to God pictures the priest drawing near to God in the offering of sacrifices and prayers in the context Old Testament and first century Christians. By this description, James reminds the Christians that they were responsible for drawing near to God on behalf of the congregation. This picture of drawing near to God in prayer was only possible through a pure heart and thus pure hands or actions. To James, therefore, God will would only hear their prayers if these things were done in order.

The idea of drawing near to God may be connected to the act of coming to God in prayer of which God also does for us. A similar idea could be found in 1 Peter 5:6. By humbly drawing near to God, that is as we walk towards God, God also walks towards us. This perhaps alludes to the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.

Grief and mourn – repent (James 4:9)
James exhort the people to mourn in repentance for their sins, and so receive the comfort of closeness to God. Repentance consists of sorrow for sin and turning from sin. James’ emphasis on mourning in James 5:9 could be related to similar instruction by Jesus in Matthew 5:4. To James, therefore, God accepts genuine repentance by raising the persons up from their mourning into the warmth of his love.

Avoiding slander (James 4:10-12)
After exhorting the audience on the need for repentance, James concludes on his section about the tongue and peace in the community. Christians are called upon not to slander one another. In other words, it means we are not to speak evil about or say bad things against others. Thus, for James, therefore, to ‘slander’ implies that critical words divide the community and are not in order.

Slander is wrong because it breaks the royal law that says we should love one another. It is also inappropriate because it exercises a right of judgment that only God has.

This material has focussed on studying the dynamics of living at peace with God and other people in the community. To James, therefore, the keys to living right with God is by drawing near to God with a clean hand and a pure hands. It also entails living in humility through repentance and avoiding slander.

1. What does it mean to draw near to God?
2. Name some of the things in your life that you need to repent from.
3. Why is slander harmful and dangerous for church and community life?

Bericht über die Frauenwoche 2019, Präsentiert von Jeanette Konadu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg

Am Freitag den 10. Bis Sonntag den 12. Mai, welcher auch der Muttertag war, feierte die Amazing Grace Baptist Church ihre Frauenwoche. Zu diesem Anlass kam die Pastorin Agnes Asuming in Begleitung ihres Ehemanns Reverend Edward Asuming in die Gemeinde. Am 10. Und 11. thematisierte Pastorin Asuming zwischenmenschliche Beziehungen und das Eheleben. Am Sonntag ging es dann um dasthumbnail[1] Mutter-sein und die harte Arbeit, die damit verbunden ist. Die weiblichen Gemeinde Mitglieder, bereiteten unteranderem ein gemeinsames Lied und eine einheitliche Tanzeinlage vor, die den dringend nötigen Zusammenhalt der Frauen weltweit symbolisiert und die Gemeinschaft widerspiegelt.

Meiner Meinung nach, war die AGBC Women’s week ein totaler Erfolg. In einer Gesellschaft in der die harte und aufopfernden Arbeit von Müttern und Frauen generell oftmals unterschätzt wird, war die Nachricht die in dieser Frauenwoche geteilt wurde mehr als wichtig und augenöffnend. Es ist eine Nachricht die niemals in Vergessenheit geraten sollte.