READ: James 5
THINK: Just 20 verses today! Seems like easy reading after struggling through those long chapters of Chronicles three chapters at a time with barely a name most of us knew how to pronounce, right? Yet, these 20 verses hold more truth than I will probably absorb in a lifetime and leave me with so many questions! Let’s start with just three…..and begin to pray through some of the action steps James calls us to take in response!
First, who are the rich people James is talking about? Theologians tell us this most likely refers to non-Christians who abused their power and oppressed those believers in the early church. But we have become the rich. We have so much, we expect so much, and we use so much – too often at the expense of the poor and disenfranchised. We Christians of the Western World are living in the wealthiest culture this world has ever known. The comforts of our daily lives would amaze most people groups living today and would have been nearly unimaginable to the ancient world. PRAY – that the Lord would convict us of the sin of self-indulgence and soften hearts that have become indifferent to the desperate needs of others. ASK God where he wants to use your resources!
Next, how are we supposed to be patient, especially when things don’t go our way? This wealthy culture of ours has also taught us we deserve nearly instant gratification. After all, that’s what credit cards are for! We often don’t do very well when times are tough, especially when there isn’t an end in sight. As James knows, during those times we sometimes begin to blame each other…to grumble…maybe even to grow bitter. PRAY – Remember GOD is faithful, full of mercy, full of compassion. Others have been through tough times and their stories, like Job’s, can comfort you. ASK God to give you HIS strength!
Finally, what about this healing oil? Is faith healing real? James begins by reminding us that prayer is our lifeline! We can stay constantly connected to Jesus through prayer. While God may choose to delay our physical healing or complete our physical healing in heaven, he will never delay our heart healing! We can confess our sins to him constantly (and to other when necessary). PRAY – for healing from our sin sick souls. PRAY – for physical healing for all you know who may be suffering. ASK God to help you trust him completely. He is working all things together for our good.
James ends with one of the most beautiful and comforting verses in the whole bible: “If any of you should wander from the truth and someone brings him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” We all wander from the truth. James, himself, was a wanderer. It seems he just couldn’t accept his brother as the Messiah. Perhaps James would have been lost forever. But Jesus wasn’t about to let that happen. 1 Corinthians Chapter 15: 3 – 7 lists all the people who saw the resurrected Christ! And the last one on that list is James! “Then he appeared to James.” Jesus came to restore sinners from death to life! PRAY that we might follow in his footsteps!