October 4, 2014

Today you should read: James 5:19-20

In these two short verses we see a very powerful message to God’s people as we end this book.

We need each other as the end approaches

The whole last chapter of James seems to be a last ditch effort from James to get people ready for the end. He talks about the end of wealth, patiently waiting for the end of time and the Lord’s return, and what will happen as the end approaches. The last thing James says is that some will wander from the truth. In today’s reading we see that, in such a case, here is what we need to know:

  1. These wanderers need help

The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone. One of the major purposes of the church is to be a community of accountability and encouragement. When we see people wandering from God it is our job to go after them.

  1. We are saving them from death

Before we get too deep into this discussion let’s be clear about something. God’s word is clear that salvation is not something you can lose. Once someone is truly saved they are eternally saved (John 10:27-30 and Romans 8:35-39). With this in mind I believe we can say this isn’t meaning an eternal death in hell but either a physical death in which God decides it is time to take them home because they are doing more harm than good or a “faith” death as Paul describes in 1 Timothy 1:19 in which someone who once had faith has allowed themselves to wander from it. Either way the point from James is clear here. Those who wander from the truth are in grave danger and, again they need our help.

  1. When we bring a wanderer back forgiveness occurs and restoration happens

God is in the business of forgiveness and restoration in the lives of sinful people. He also never runs out of those two things. God has allowed us the privilege to be a part of that life-giving process. When we go to those who have wandered from God and plead with them and bring them back not only do we save them from death but we get to be a part of the process of bringing life.

I am reminded of a friend from high school who, back then, loved God so much and was telling others about Him and studying His word and she loved being around other Christians. Now she has since wandered far from God and I have had a couple of opportunities to plead with her to come back but with no success so far. Whether or not she is truly a Christian is impossible for me to  know. But whether she is or not, the message is the same. God extends His grace to us in Jesus Christ in the gospel, His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins. He is calling us all to Himself. Who is in your world you need to plead with today? Don’t miss out on giving life.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

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October 3, 2014

Today you should read: James 5:13-18

Becoming Convinced About Prayer …

Have you recently thought about how amazing prayer is?

In our short 5 verses today, James talks about prayer, relating much of this to what he has spoken throughout this book.  He discusses praying in all circumstances (suffering, joy, sickness).  He goes deeper into the discussion of elders praying over those who are sick.  He discusses the importance of confessing and praying for one another.  And, he touches on the effectiveness of prayer.  As is with James’ writing, it is very straightforward and practical in its direction for us.

In the midst of these verses on prayer, James gives us one very powerful story, which carries an incredible implication.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

In verses 17 and 18 James shares the story of Elijah.  Remember in 1 Kings 17-18 where Elijah prayed in the midst of Israel’s idolatry?  He prayed to the True God and exposed “Baal” as a counterfeit god.  It is an amazing story of a courageous prophet who stood for God, as well as a story of God Almighty answering prayer and showing Himself to be supreme.

But what adds to the amazement of this story is that Elijah was human.  He was a man just like us.  He was nothing more and nothing less. Elijah, a human, prayed, and God answered.

So why does James remind of this in the midst of a section on prayer?  I think it’s to convince us of its power, and to convince us that we can and should do it.  If Elijah was just as human as we are, and he asked such amazing things from God, and God answered, we can do the same.  We should do the same.  We will miss out on God doing amazing things in us, in the lives of those we love, as well as Him doing things through us, if we fail to pray.

Somehow, when we pray, even with a sovereign God who knows all things, things that would previously not have happened will happen simply because we pray.  That is amazing.  And if we will become convinced of God’s power, His willingness to answer prayer, and the results of what “could be” if we pray, we wouldn’t miss an opportunity to do it.

Think of what could be if we pray.  Think about what we may miss out on if we don’t.  Let’s become convinced about prayer, so we will expectantly pray.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

October 2, 2014

Today you should read: James 5:7-12

They say patience is a virtue – and I suppose that it is.  It sure doesn’t come natural for most of us.  It’s so much easier to be impatient and want things to happen now.

James is exhorting us to develop and maintain patience in our lives.  He told us in chapter 1 to allow patience through trials to work it’s way out in our lives – and through trial – our patience (among other things) is developed and we will be complete not lacking in anything.

Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:4

James reminds us of Job – and his patient enduring through trials.  What an example he is to us.

How’s your patience quotient?

  • with your kids?
  • when you’re driving?
  • at the grocery store?

What does the Bible say about patience?

  • It’s a command

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him… Psalm 37:7

  • Love is Patient

Love is patient and kind… 1 Corinthians 13

  • Patiently Serve

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

  • There’s strength in it

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

God provides us with many opportunities in life to develop our patience, if we have a heart to do so.

“The times we find ourselves having to wait on others may be the perfect opportunities to train ourselves to wait on the Lord.”  Joni Eareckson Tada

What’s God doing in your life?  How’s He at work to develop you into a fully committed follower?   Today’s a new day – practice patience as you live your life.

Posted by: Tim Parsons

October 1, 2014

Today you should read: James 5:1-6

Does his passage even need any commentary?  Yowzer!  James held nothing back and was straight to the point with his words here.  This passage is dealing with “the rich,” though it is not rebuking people for being rich.  It’s mostly dealing with people who live for and depend upon money, or anything else for that matter, rather than God alone.

OK, lest we write this off as a passage dealing with people who actually have a lot of money, let’s be clear that we as Americans are people who are “the rich” in comparison with most of the world.  If you’ve ever traveled out of the country, particularly to a third world country, then I know you have no problem understanding this fact.

With this in mind, let’s take the challenge of this passage to heart.  Know that all that we have and own will be burned someday.  It will all be gone.  We can’t take it with us when we die.  So, that should really cause us to evaluate Who and what we live for on this earth.  Hopefully, we don’t live for riches and deceive ourselves, believing that it will give us security.  Our security comes through God and God alone.

Passages like this point directly to the need for Jesus.  I’m thankful that we can stand before God as pure and blameless because of what He did for us.  Otherwise, shwoo, you and I would be destined for some bad stuff.

If you have five extra minutes today, check out this video of Francis Chan giving a great illustration.  It came to mind as I read this passage.  Don’t watch it if you don’t feel like being convicted and purified a little bit. 😉 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86dsfBbZfWs

Posted by: Rich Duffield