Be patient, …until the Lord’s coming.2

Pastor Ino

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This is the second message from James 5:7,「Be patient, …until the Lord’s coming.」Last time, we were encouraged by the author to be patient just like farmer, prophet, and Job. Especially, we learned from the perseverance of Job. James 5:11 says,「..You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.」We don’t know the reason why Job had to go through such a pain. However, through these experiences, he was able to gain a deep insight of God’s providence. The word providence is a theological term which means ‘God sees beforehand’. Job realized that God of love prepared eternal plan for him and His care for his life. The same things happen in our lives. In the midst of difficulties and trials, we see God’s providence and that will lead us to a confession of faith that the Lord is gracious and merciful. Especially today, with the theme of patience, we would like to think about more specific steps. Now, please read James 5: 7-20.
 James 5:12 says,「Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.”…」James encourages the readers not to be proud but to walk humbly as a believer until the Lord’s coming. Of course not all vows are bad. Wedding vows are meant to be kept for lifetime. Here, the recommendation not to swear is what Jesus spoke about in the Beatitudes. The words of Jesus are introduced at Matthew 5: 33-37. It seems that the Jews at that time sometimes swore in the name of the Lord to give weight to their words. However, when they broke the vow, it seems that the common excuse was that they swore to something else rather than to God. But Jesus told them, “all you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. “ The scripture asks us here if we really take responsibility for our words, make no careless vows, and if it really needs to give weight on our words by using the name of God. I often hear the words like “I am absolutely right about this or that…”. However, I wonder if 100% of the absolute exists in human society since the absolute is only for God. I feel that James speaks to us, we don’t need authority on our words since God himself holds our life.

James 5:13-14 talks about specific recommendation on believers’ daily lives to pray, sing songs of praise, and call the elders of the church for a prayer. Verse 13 says,「Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray…」(James‬ ‭5:13‬ ‭NIV) ‬‬The word suffering is synonymous with the word “the suffering” in verse 10 and refers to all kinds of misery or accident. When we face misery or accident, only thing we can do is to pray to God. As we pray, we believe in the promise of God that Romans 8:28 talks about that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. Let us start with making a life habit of prayer first. We would like to make a habit of prayer to God first before asking anyone for help.
We have this privilege to able to come directly to God through prayer just like James 4:8 talks about. Through prayer, we are able to receive this promise of “He will come near to you.” Following this passage, verse 13 says,「Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.」‭We would like to be believers who have these habits of rejoicing, praising, and giving thanks to God. (Reference: Colossians 3:16)

Following verse 14 says,「Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.」(James‬ ‭5:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬) This passage talks about prayer for healing the sick. But this is also a manifestation of the power of prayer in the church. At that time, olive oil was used as a medicine (Reference; Luke 10:34), and oil was also a symbol of God’s presence. Also, in the early church, the healing work was remarkable, and it seems that many people who have the gift of healing were selected as elders. Such a background is hidden in this verse. Even in the present time, God awakens believers who have the gift of healing in the church. As in verse 15, I believe that the promise is true that “the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well”. The Greek word for the sick is generally the term for the weak. Through prayer, we may witness the remarkable work of God as we pray for each other in the fellowship of the church. We pray that those who are weak will be strengthened, but also we pray for the forgiveness of sins. When we pray for one another, as in verse 16, we may experience the promise of this verse that people get healed, and the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

From verse 19, the author talks about the work of bringing back those who have lost their way out of the truth. Jesus pours out his love for one lost sheep. By following His footsteps, we should also have the same heart of pouring His love into the lost companions. We received this challenge to be patient until the Lord’s coming. We shouldn’t lose our humble attitude. Let’s trust the Lord and keep praying and expressing our gratitude. Let us become a believer who witnesses the work of restoration in church.

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