Effectual Fervent Prayer

 

                                    Effectual Fervent Prayer

                                          James 5: 13-20

          “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.” James 5: 13.

          While I know that most of you are already aware of the things mentioned in the next few paragraphs; I would still like to say them for the sake of those starting out in Bible study.

          It is likely that the three best translations of the Bible are, the New King James Version by Thomas Nelson Publishing, the King James Version, much harder to read because of the old English wording; and the New American Standard Version, published by the Lockman Foundation.

If you are really serious about these things, it would not hurt to obtain both the New King James and the New American Standard; however, one is enough for now. Any version will do though, if that is all you have on hand, or can afford. You can save yourself a lot of grief by not using the New World Translation, because it is put out by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and has been twisted to fit their heretical theology.

Be sure and read the preface at the beginning of your Bible, because it will tell you how to use the various tools in the text; such as marginal notes, columnal references, footnotes, paragraphs, capitalization, and so on. You will be surprised at what you can   learn, and I speak to old and new students here. Often, especially in study Bibles, there will be, timelines, maps, concordances, tables of weights and measures; a gold mine of helps. There is another great help that you can pull up right here on your computer screen, www.biblestudytools.com/, there are other sites, but this is a good place to start.

Finally, and I have said this before, while reading Scripture be very careful to watch for commas, semicolons, parenthesis and the like; a missed comma can change the meaning of a whole verse. The Bible can be a good read, a technical book, and a life changing vehicle, but not if one is careless in the reading of it.

As for my Bible and the opening verse quoted above, one of the tools of this version is that paragraphs are denoted by putting the verse number in bold type. Verse 13 above is the beginning of a new paragraph which continues to verse 18, all of which concerns prayer. The next paragraph beginning at verse 19, concerns Christian care for one another.

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.” This is the failure of many Christians; when affliction of one sort or another comes along, they try to work something out, or fall into despair, rather than turning to God for help.

“Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Psalm 50: 15.

Prayer should always be the first resort, not the last; God is not too busy to hear you. In fact prayer should be an integral part of your life, not just an emergency device.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 6-7.

In bringing all things to God in prayer, there comes the realization that these requests are being answered. In fact the answers become so common that we tend to take them for granted; for this reason we are to give thanks for these answered prayers. Not just to show gratitude to God, for who is not pleased when gratitude is shown for whatever they have done for someone, but giving thanks reminds us of the grace shown to us. This reminder of all that God has done for us brings God’s peace into our hearts, seeing that He cares for us always.

When bringing all things to God in prayer, that means everything from “Help, I have the flu, and need to get back to work!” to “Father help me shop for food and get the best prices, and the best produce”, to “Please help me not injure myself while mowing the lawn”, anything. Ask Him to help you to drive your car safely, or to help you get to an appointment on time.

The answers may not be what you expected. The flu may not go away, but work might be slow while you were out, and you were not missed that much. You will still need to stay alert and drive your car as carefully as possible; and you will still need to do your best to leave on time for your appointment, often when prayer is not answered it is because we have not done everything to hold up our end.

Still, it is amazing when you ask God to order your day, and you find traffic light, little or no waiting for appointments, easy parking, and you stumble onto bargains on the things you need. However, you will need to keep your ducks in line; you cannot live your life like some hell-raiser, thinking of God only when you need something, and then asking as though, just because you are His child in Christ, He owes you something. You would not expect to treat your parents that way and get what you want; you can expect no more from God. Too many Christians miss the peace which passes understanding because they are unwilling to submit their lives to God.

“Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.” Here is thanksgiving, singing praises to the Lord at home, in church, in your devotional time. These are the things that bring peace.

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” James 5: 14-15.

If you are very sick, seek medical attention, but do not neglect to bring the Lord in on it too. One of the ways of doing this is to call for the elders of the church. Some churches do not have elders, so the alternate word for elders in the Amplified New Testament is, spiritual guides, which is a good litmus test for eldership.  

So call for recognized men who are godly, humble, knowledgeable in the Scriptures, and loving, to pray for you; you may already know some of these, if not, just call for the elders and let God sort it out.

When it says, “…the prayer of faith will save the sick”, it means that it will save him from death, not hell, the fact that the sick person is already a Christian is implied. In speaking of communion Paul says this, “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” I Corinthians 11: 27 and 30. The words, “many sleep” mean they have died. It is possible for a Christian to sin their way into a hospital bed or to death.

“And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” The implication here is that he has confessed and forsaken his sins to God alone or to God in the presence of the elders. This has nothing to do with the extreme unction of the Catholic Church or with confession, neither of which can be found in Scripture.

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5: 16.

It seems as though every time I have heard the phrase, “Confess your trespasses to one another…” spoken of, it was taken to mean that we are to confess our weaknesses to one another. “Brother, pray for me, I am getting into an adulterous relationship!” Do not even think of doing that.

Confessing your trespasses to one another depends on the reliability of the person you are telling your darkest secrets to. Many things can go wrong; if they tell one other “reliable” person your secret, it is out; especially if they in turn tell it to a “reliable” person who loves to gossip.

If you confess your secret to a reliable person and then find yourself at odds with them, as things heat up, the first thing that will be vomited up against you will be your darkest secrets. Many Christians have been absolutely broken and become estranged from the church by this kind of vitriol.

If you have a real problem, such as the one given above, and need to discuss it for prayer or advice, then seek out a godly discreet older Christian who has a good reputation for these things; men should go to men and women should go to women. State your problem in the simplest terms without going into titillating details; one person said to me, “Pray for me I have a besetting sin”, that is enough, God knows what I am praying for.

Always be careful, one young man went to his pastor with his dark secret, and the pastor announced it to the entire congregation. It is hard to call this person a pastor when there are much more colorful words to describe him. I met this young man some years later, and he was still a basket case, and still is I reckon. Please be careful.

Okay, if it does not mean the above, what does it mean? This error in interpretation may have begun with the way it is rendered in the old King James Bible, “Confess your faults to one another…” the word faults seems to convey the idea of telling one another our shortcomings, dark secrets, or actual sins.

However the word faults is a poor translation that is why it is properly rendered trespasses in the New King James; the word trespasses here carries the idea of trespasses against one another. Put another way, if we wrong someone, we are to go to that person and confess that wrong to them. What is implied is that we apologize and make any restitution that may be necessary. “John, it was me who stole your book, here is your book, and I sincerely apologize.”

The rule of thumb on apologies is, if it was a public wrong, then a public apology is owed; if, as in the book theft scenario above, it is a private wrong, then a private apology is necessary.

Notice here that there is more in this sentence than confessing our transgressions against another, it continues with, “…and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” According to Thayer’s Lexicon, the idea here is not so much that of being healed of a sickness but rather of making whole, being freed from error or sin.

This is logical because these trespasses, though confessed, can still become a cancer within a relationship, or a congregation. The transgressors need to be prayed for too, in order to cleanse them from such desires that may have caused them to sin against another to begin with. As you might imagine, this intercessory prayer is a full time job on its own, a noble task which God will reward for those who pursue it wholeheartedly; because it does much to maintain the unity of the church.

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all; and in you all.” Ephesians 4: 4-6.

James goes on to make the case for prayer. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” One of the reasons that the church and the world are suffering shipwreck today is that Christians have neglected the power of prayer. If Jesus said that mountains can be moved, why is it that His church is so helpless?

“So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’” Matthew 17: 20.

Well, no mountains have been moved, it is true, but it is because of unbelief. There are several things that affect prayer though and you need to know them to pray intelligently. While Jesus did say this about prayer, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14: 13-14. The condition here is “…that the Father may be glorified” However, there are other conditions which must be met.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15: 7-8.

This passage is part of the Lord’s teaching on the vine and the branches, John 15: 1-8, it would be profitable for you to study the entire passage; if you are interested, check out “Abiding in Christ”, posted September 26,2009. However, for now, it is enough to use the above verse for our purposes. Another condition, and possibly the most important one is that we must abide in Christ if we want power in prayer.

This abiding is no different than abiding with your parents, or spouse; you live there, and hopefully it is a good environment. You socialize with those you abide with, share your problems, ask advice, and so on. Abiding, or living with Christ is no different, you become companions, become like Him, and become sensitive to His leading. In this manner His desires become our desires; which brings us to two more conditions.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” I John 5: 14-15.

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” I John 3: 21-22.

We know that if it is according to His will, He hears us, if we know He hears us, we have the faith to ask, if we ask, He will grant it. How do we know if we are abiding in Christ? If our heart, or conscience, does not condemn us, we have confidence before God, because we have kept His commandments, we can know that there is no sin separating us from Christ and His will is clearly made known to us. What are God’s commandments? There are two.

“And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” I John 3: 23.

For the Christian, the first commandment has already been fulfilled, “…believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ”. It is the second commandment on which we fall flat on our face, “…and love one another”.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13: 34-35.

When the Lord gave the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6: 9-13, this is the only condition He put on it: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6: 14-15. In a similar vein, when speaking of the unrighteous steward the Lord winds up with this statement, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” Matthew 18: 35. Think of that, you must forgive from the heart.

There is one more prayer hindrance that sneaks under the radar. Speaking of the wives, Peter says this about prayer, “Likewise you husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” I Peter 3: 7. There are many husbands whose prayers are not being answered because they do not show the wife proper respect, yet when the rest of their lives are examined they are quite godly, an unnecessary loss of power in prayer.

The words fervent and effective should not be separated, for the word fervent describes the drive behind effective prayer. Fervent because it is the power of the Holy Spirit driving effective, in the will of God, prayer. The righteous man is not just one cleansed by the blood of Christ, as all Christians are, but one walking in the power of a person who abides in Christ at all times. Is it possible to be such a person, or is it something quite out of our reach?

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5: 17-18.

Elijah was not superman, he had a nature like ours, which is a sin nature, one with its cravings of the flesh as ours has, yet he overcame it by the power of God. Hear what the apostle Paul has to say about this.

“…I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3: 12b-14.

Both Elijah and Paul were men who had their eyes fixed on the prize and pressed toward it, casting worldly riches and fame aside. No matter what your failings or what you have achieved in this life, it is possible to obtain eternal things that you never dreamed possible. But you must focus on Jesus and stretch toward the Kingdom of Heaven.

No matter what you are able to achieve in your Christian life, do not cease to pray, this will strengthen your faith and encourage you to go deeper, even if this all frightens you now. There are many things that we know are God’s will without being super-Christians. Prayer for the unsaved for instance, God is not willing that any should perish, pray for the safety of your family, pray for understanding when reading your Bible, pray for food, shelter, peace, work, a Christian walk. But if you have known sin in your life, do not be disappointed if your prayers hit a stone wall, it does not mean that prayer does not work.

“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” James 5: 19-20.

It is important to understand that the one who wanders from the truth and becomes a sinner in the error of his way is a Christian not an unsaved person. As a result of being a Christian this errant sinner does not need salvation nor is he in peril of going to hell, rather, he is in peril of an early death. If someone comes alongside this sinful Christian and helps him see the error he has fallen into and the sinner repents and turns back to following Christ, then the one who has helped this person has saved them from death and kept them from going on, piling sin upon sin, thus covering a multitude of sins both past and future.  

As an example, I have heard that many Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians who somehow become entangled in their heretical teachings and go on to proselytize unsaved persons sending them to a hell that the errant Christian is not going to go to. Such a thing is no different than murder, worse, since the Christian has set the victim on a course to hell. You can see how someone who falls into error can do great damage, and has to be stopped; often the only way to do this is through death.

The book of James spends a great deal of time discussing the worldly Christian, a double-minded man, but beyond that there are many things mentioned which need to be seriously considered by the Christian.

Trials, also known as the testing of your faith, come to us to make us more mature in our Christian walk. In fact this is what the word perfect is intended to mean, mature.

Temptation is different, it comes when we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed. Dwelling on these lusts bring forth sin; the Christian or even an unbeliever can learn how to avoid destroying their lives.

We are exhorted to be doers of the word rather than just listeners. So many people read the Bible and walk away and forget everything they have read, they have learned nothing.

We are to avoid partiality when dealing with people. One person may be rich another may be a star, or a street beggar; God sees them all the same. Right Christian thinking sees them the same way too.

The tongue is an uncontrollable fire, and whether Christian or unbeliever we all destroy, jobs, relationships, and reputations with our tongues. Such a great forest fire is set ablaze by a little match.

Humility, though disdained by men, is highly prized by God.

Wars and fights come from our own selfish lusts which characterize the double-minded man.

Brethren are not to judge one another because in doing so they are setting themselves up as judges and usurping Christ the great Judge, which is sin.

The ungodly rich who grasp and rob have an end and their victims need only wait until God requires it from those who committed such evil deeds. Christ will return and rule this earth with equity.

The Christian is to endure patiently these ungodly men for the Judge is standing at the door.

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

If a Christian wanders from the truth, the godly Christian must attempt to turn them back to save their life.

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” II Chronicles 16: 9.

 

Effectual Fervent Prayer taken from blog.godisrevealed.com

 

Scripture taken from the New King James version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

  

     

 

The Judge is at the Door

 

                                    The Judge is at the Door

                                            James 5: 7-12

          “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5: 7-8.

          Chapter 5 began with a description of the evils that the unsaved rich commit and ends with the statement in verse 6, “You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.” The just here is probably the Christian but does not have to be limited to that since anyone who lives a peaceful life, working and caring for his family may be considered just in comparison to these evil rich persons. And the murdering of the just could either be through the act of robbing them of their reputation and their livelihood, or by actually killing them; having said all that, the just mentioned in verses 7-8 above, is a reference to Christians.

          The admonition to be patient my brethren is aimed at all Christians who have reached the end of their rope in one way or another. It is not just the rich that stress or rob us; home life, work, frivolous lawsuits, unruly neighbors, bullies at school, lawlessness, or an evil political environment can tax the patience of almost any Christian, but let us not forget that vengeance is God’s job.

          “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12: 17-19.

          James also tells us to be patient, and gives as an example the farmer who must wait for the early and the latter rain, which, in Israel, come in October-November as the early rain and April-May have the latter rain; which gives us about four months of nothing. If this is so, the number 4 can have the meaning of; yieldingness, weakness, testing. Perhaps this fits your situation right now, if so, we are told to, “…be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

          Twice we are told that the coming of the Lord is at hand; and for nearly two thousand years we have been waiting. Does this mean that it is not going to happen, or that we should stop waiting? The coming of the Lord is imminent, meaning that it could happen at any moment, James said this to his audience circa 50 A.D. and every generation since has read these same words, and they meant the same thing every time, and they mean the same today. The coming of the Lord can have a twofold meaning here, it can refer to the rapture of the church and it can mean the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus to rule on earth.

The Christian looks forward to the rapture, since it will remove him/her from the earth and its woes. All believers look to the glorious appearing of the Lord to reign on earth for a thousand years, at the end of which the evil rich spoken of in this chapter will be judged for their sinfulness, along with all others who have rejected Christ as their savior and be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. It is for this latter reason that Christians should be telling others of Christ, and praying fervently for them and others they cannot minister to personally. For more on the rapture, see the post of the same name, “On the Rapture”, posted on April 20, 2010.  

Is the return of the Lord to rapture the church at hand? James says yes, by this he meant that there is nothing that has to take place by way of prophecy for the Lord to return for His own. It can literally happen at any moment, but you would not bet fifty dollars on it with so little information would you? The Lord Jesus gives us some information that may persuade you to take that bet; the Lord starts off by telling the disciples that the temple would be destroyed, which it was by the Romans in 70 A. D.

“Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24: 2.

This statement brings on the question by the disciples, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24: 3b. The Lord answers two of the questions but not “…when will these things be?” We will not examine the whole passage, only the verses that indicate how close the return of the Lord is.

“And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many.’” Matthew 24: 4-5.

For the Christian the answer as to whether someone is the Christ or not is a no brainer because I Thessalonians 4: 17 tells us that we will meet the Lord in the air, and I Corinthians 15: 51-54 tells us that we will have a new body, the result is that when we see the Lord Jesus, He will not have to identify Himself, no mistake; do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24: 6-8.

Bear in mind that when the Lord says that they will hear of wars and rumors of wars it was during the Roman period known as Pax Romana, a period of about 200 years, between 27 B. C. to 180 A. D. the Roman Peace. The fact that it is called the Roman Peace does not mean that it was a time devoid of war, rather it was a time when the borders were secure and travel within the Empire was safer, and Rome was not striving to enlarge its territories. So a statement like wars and rumors of wars was quite unheard of at that period.

Still, from 43 A. D. to 180 there were eleven wars, including the Jewish uprising that resulted in the sacking of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple on August 10, 70 A. D. From that point on things have gone downhill, from the 68 wars between 43 A. D. and 999 A. D. to 313 between 1800 to 1899, and 379 from 1900 to 2011, swelling to a grand total of about 1047 and counting as of the present; depending of course on how one defines a war. However the Lord tells us not to be troubled by this because wars do not mean that we are in the tribulation period, He then gives us an unmistakable sign.

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24: 7-8.

The beginning of sorrows is better rendered the beginning of birth-pangs, since the comparison is to a woman about to give birth. So verses 7 and 8 give us a stepping off point, the prelude to the tribulation.

Even Jewish scholars agree that the nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom is a description of a world war. The important question then becomes, has this happened? You already know the answer, World War I, fits the statement perfectly.

It began with an assassination in 1914 and a declaration of war between Austria and Serbia; and escalated when some 27 kingdoms took sides, swelling to as many as 43 with many lesser nations joining in the war. There were some 53 million uniformed combatants involved in this conflagration, and an estimated total of 37 million deaths from the war and its consequences. It should be noted too that many historians consider World War II to be a continuation of WWI.

As far as famines since WW I go, I could not get any firm numbers, but there have been about fifty of them since then, with well over 64 million deaths. These numbers may be a bit lower due to better farming methods and food aid from other countries when they do occur. However you can count on all this disintegrating when the entire earth is plagued with famine during the tribulation, since everyone will be scrambling to take care of themselves.

The dictionary defines pestilence as, deadly epidemic, disease; something considered harmful or evil; which seems to be the meaning here in Matthew 24. The Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919, claimed the lives of an estimated 30 to 40 million people worldwide and has been called the worst epidemic of recorded history. For example the flu killed more people in one year than four years of the Black Plague of 1347-1351. HIV and the AIDS virus are a new dimension recognized in 1981, the death toll from AIDS is 25 million and counting. With bird and swine flu, AIDS, tuberculosis, a resurgence of some diseases thought eradicated and the addition of horrific ones like Ebola with a mortality rate of about 80%, pestilence seems to be on the rise.

Major earthquakes, in the 14th century there were 137, 15th century 174, 16th century 253, 17th century 2119, 20th century, as of 1981 there were about 2250, and from 1980 to 2008, magnitude 6 to 9.9 quakes have increased from an average of 109 per year to 160. As you have seen from news releases in the 2000s the death tolls have been astronomical, for example the tsunami in Southeast Asia on 12/26/04, killed over 230,000 people.

All these things are the beginning of birth pangs; like the contractions felt by a pregnant woman, as they increase in intensity and number, the sooner the event is going to happen, such as the birth of a baby, or the beginning of the tribulation. This is a good time, right now to make sure that you have received Christ as your savior; for those in Christ are not going to go through the tribulation which is described in the book of Revelation. If you are interested in the book of Revelation, I have posted a series of studies on the book, beginning with Revelation Part 1, posted 8/5/10. Or, if you prefer, the books “The Beginning of the End” and “Revelation Unveiled”, both by Tim LaHaye are excellent.

“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10: 9.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3: 16.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” II Corinthians 5: 20-21.

When James wrote that the Lord is at hand, none of these things had happened; this tells us that none of them had to happen before Jesus returned for His own in the rapture. Since they have happened and the birth pangs are getting closer together, we should truly live as though it could happen at any minute. Consider carefully, what will you be doing when you are raptured out of this world; will you being doing something sinful or careless, or will you be walking as though in God’s very presence? This is, and should be, a scary thought.

“Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” James 5: 9.

The thought here is not to complain about each other. And complain we do, often these complaints come from, slanderous gossip, misunderstandings, jealousy, or just plain dislike, the point is that we are not in a position to judge another and that grumblings cause a rift in the body of the church, all of which we will give an account of to the ultimate Judge, Christ Himself. “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Romans 14: 10. One expositor, John Gill even goes so far as to say, we should not even be grumbling inwardly, never mind saying it aloud.

“My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” James 5: 10-11.

We are enjoined to have patience when persecuted by evil rich men and their like, we are asked to have patience with one another, now we are asked to have patience in enduring suffering, having Job as an example. Job is an extreme case for us to consider, with the loss of his belongings, and his children, Job replies.

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” Job 1: 20-22.

And finally, upon losing his health, he says in reply to his wife’s anguished call for him to curse God and die.

“But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Job 2: 10.   

It would be nice to be able to respond to trouble as Job did; but at the very least it would be good if we just determined not complain as though God were the enemy, blaspheming the One who seeks only our good. For it says here that, “…the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”

“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgment.” James 5: 12.

Granted, you have to swear to tell the truth in a courtroom due to legalities, but beyond that, what is the purpose? If this verse sounds familiar it is because you probably have read it before in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5: 33-37.

One theory on the meaning of these verses is that because the oaths, under the law, made in the name of the Lord were binding and of such a serious nature that people began to think that other types of oaths were not serious enough to be binding or truthful, and were made in a frivolous or disingenuous manner. The simple yes and no answers are meant to change this.

In the past many of us have run into people who will say, “I swear to God I saw this, or heard this, or did this!” “I swear to God this”, “I swear to God that”, I swear to God until the words mean nothing at all. The truth is that the truth has come to mean nothing true and an oath has again come to mean whatever truth a person happens to need at the moment. Few things gain or maintain integrity better than a simple “Yes I will do this”, and then doing it, or a, “No I will not do this”, and then holding to that word.

As the last sentence in Matthew 5: 37 indicates if you go beyond yes and no, you move into the territory of the evil one. That, of course, is one reason we study Scripture, to stay out of the clutches of the devil.

 

The Judge is at the Door taken from blog.godisrevealed.com

 

Scripture taken from the New King James version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

   

 

Life is a Vapor

 

                                            Life is a Vapor

                                          James 4: 13-5: 6

          “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” James 4: 13-14.

          As we have gone along in this study it has become clear that the nominal Christian and the double-minded Christian are being addressed primarily; however it must never be forgotten that the warfare against our souls is constant, and whether we are a strong Christian, or fall into the above categories, the words in this book are for all.

          And all of us often forget that it is God who establishes a plan, so the best beginning is to have the attitude of Jeremiah. “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O Lord, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing.” Jeremiah 10: 23-24. Here is Jeremiah’s admission that man cannot know what the next moment can bring, so he asks God to keep him on the straight path, lest he stray and come under condemnation. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 27: 1.

          Jeremiah’s statement is echoed in Proverbs, “A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?” Proverbs 20: 24. In order to walk in the way of blessing or safety, it is necessary to commit your way to the Lord; “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37: 5.

          “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel – that will stand.” Proverbs 19: 20-21. The Lord’s counsel may come from different sources, godly knowledgeable Christians, Scripture – Proverbs for instance, a check in your own heart as to whether something is wrong or right, or perhaps what you have read here so far has given you your answer. Remember this, no matter what your answer; if it goes against any clearly stated principle in the Bible, God will not honor it.

          “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16: 9.

          Too many folks forget that life is indeed a vapor, a puff of smoke that appears and then fades to nothingness; having seen so much of it, I often think of a puff of cigarette smoke. In the approximately six thousand years man has lived on this planet, perhaps hundreds of generations have come and gone, and a lifetime of seventy years is but a wisp compared to a thousand.

Go to the graveyards and be aware that every grave you step over represents a life lived, how? These people under your feet were very real and all expected to live forever. In Galveston Texas, the graveyard there, as in many other places, has an eerie atmosphere with crypts, some with doors that have gaps in them because of age; creepy Halloween feeling places, yet as you look at the dates and inscriptions on the tombstones you can see human history play out in front of you. Life is short, no matter how long you live.

Keep your life, value it, do not throw it away on drugs or violent living; take your medication, eat right, think on the beautiful things in life, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” Philippians 4: 8. Do not be afraid to live, but do not commit suicide, rather give your life to Christ and allow Him to make it something that you never thought possible.

“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” II Timothy 1: 12.

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…” Philippians 1: 6.

“Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” James 4: 15.

There are two conditions here, “If the Lord wills” and “we shall live and do this or that”.

For the Christian everything should begin with Lord willing or “If the Lord wills”, for everything is dependent on God’s will in a matter, because it is going to be done whether a person is a Christian or not. Paul often said this, “…making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.” Romans 1: 10. “But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills…” I Corinthians 4: 19.

Even the heathen have used these words; Socrates is quoted as saying, “But I will do this and come to you tomorrow, if God will”. And, at least until the mid-eighteen hundreds the Turks would promise nothing, either to themselves or others without the words, “In Shallah”, if God will.

Do not be deceived, the world is in rebellion and chaos, but God is allowing these things to fulfill His own purpose. His will is ultimately going to be done, better to be in it, rather than out.

If God’s will is determined, it is then more likely that we shall live to do it. What we do, where we go, and how we do it, is another reason to seek His guidance in our venture.

“But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4: 16-17.

Referring back to verse 13, the Lord calls this arrogant boasting; while the worldly wise make these boasts because they are very good at what they do. Yet, as we have seen, no one knows what tomorrow will bring, and the bottom can drop out of the market with disastrous results. Often as not, some of this boasting is from stupidity; if you have ever watched any of the “Flip this House” shows, you may have seen more than one example.

Two young men had some money to invest, so they decided to buy a home and renovate it. Having bought the house they decided to add a room to gain even more resale value. Since this flip was being televised, the producers sent over a real estate expert to advise these men. The woman looked the place over and recommended that they just paint and fix it up, perhaps updating the kitchen and bathroom a little, nothing more. With this facelift, she said the house would quickly turn over with a tidy profit; she also said that the extra room would be more work than needed and strongly advised against it. But the novices knew best and commenced to add the room.

It was found that the ground would not support the new foundation and needed to be dug up to accommodate the new room. However, once dug up, it was found that the ground was weak due to a water runoff problem which would involve a great deal more ground work to fix. The bottom line is that a lot of money was sunk into that hole, and the remodel fell way behind schedule, which means that they were making payments on an unoccupied home. These payments came out of their profit and a very harsh lesson was learned, I hope.

Experts, especially godly experts are there for a reason and it pays to at least listen to them. If you are unsatisfied, find another expert, you may even want to consult yet another. But do not keep doing it until someone agrees with you, all this does is waste yours and the expert’s time when you are just going to do what you want anyway! “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” Proverbs 15: 22.

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” One who boasts in their arrogance will look at these verses and agree that they are the right thing to do. Yet to agree with God and then to go out on their own anyway, is sin. However, this verse does not, just apply to the ones who do not seek the will of God, it also applies, “to him who knows to do good and does not do it”. We all sin if we ignore the right thing to do, whether it is returning incorrect change, returning the neighbors tools in good shape, or standing up for your enemy when they are being accused of something you know to be false.

“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.” James 5: 1-3.

For a proper view of this passage and those to follow, a few things should be established. Many expositors reckon that the reason for the rich to weep and howl for the miseries about to come upon them is that Jerusalem was to be sacked by Titus and the Roman legions in 70 A. D. And indeed this did happen within about twenty years after the publishing of this epistle. At which time the rich were plundered by both the Roman soldiers and opportunists within their own ranks.

However since this letter is addressed, “To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad…” it is more likely that those being addressed are the professing rich within the church throughout the Roman Empire. So this weeping and howling was not necessarily imminent.

The rich men referred to here are not the same ones as the rich mentioned in chapter one, for the Christian rich are not despicable as those described here. Nor are they the profane rich in the world, rather they are the rich who profess to be Christians but they are not, and their very actions show that they have no relationship with Christ at all. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” Matthew 7: 15-16. This is true of the false prophet and it is true of false Christians.

The miseries that are coming upon them are either that of dying and finding themselves in hell, or it could be a reference to being cast into the lake of fire at the end of time.

The witness against them will be their very riches, which have rotted and the garments which have become moth-eaten. The indication is that these things were squirreled away and decayed from disuse, neither the rich man nor the needy had the benefit of these things, so great was this person’s stinginess.

The same may be said of their gold and silver which became corroded from being hidden rather than put to good use. This miserliness will come back to haunt the rich in the lake of fire where their conscience will have been awakened to their sins. For more on the lake of fire see, “The Dark Room”, posted 3/15/10.

“Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” James 5: 4.

This is the true wickedness, even though the rich man has hoarded more than enough silver and gold, he still withholds payment to those whose only income is by the sweat of their backs; even though these are the folks who have done much of the work to make him rich. God does hear the cries of the oppressed and every sin is taken note of, and this is something that the rich man will pay in full on judgment day.

“You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you. James 5: 5-6.

This is a different kind of rich man, he is not a miser as described in verses 2 and 3, rather he lives a wanton, sumptuous life filled with every pleasure and living a life of constant feasting. As with perhaps all rich men his desire is for more, and being self-centered, he has no problem seizing the property and goods of those unable to defend themselves.

It says, “…you have murdered the just”, this could be literally, as has happened often throughout the ages; money, especially if it is a large sum is enough to kill for. Murdering of the just can also be accomplished by dragging them into court and taking their livelihood away from them, while they are powerless to stop him.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’” Matthew 19: 23-24.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own esteem.” Proverbs 18: 10-11.

 

Life is a Vapor taken from blog.godisrevealed.com

 

Scripture taken from the New King James version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.