Jun 27, 2011

James 5:12-20

12But above all [things], my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath; but let your yes be [a simple] yes, and your no be [a simple] no, so that you may not sin and fall under condemnation.
13Is anyone among you afflicted (ill-treated, suffering evil)? He should pray. Is anyone glad at heart? He should sing praise [to God].
14Is anyone among you sick? He should call in the church elders (the spiritual guides). And they should pray over him, anointing him wit oil in the Lord's name.
15And the prayer [that is] of faith will save him who is sick, and the Lord will restore him; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
16Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offences, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart].  The earnest (heart-felt,continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available.
17Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have [with feelings, affections, and a constitution like ours]; and he prayed earnestly for it to rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months.
18And [then] he prayed again and the heavens supplied rain and the land produced its crops [as usual].
19[My] brethren, if anyone among you strays from the Truth and falls into error and another [person] brings him back [to God],
20Let the [latter] one be sure that whoever turns a sinner from his evil course will save [that one's] soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins [procure the pardon of the many sins committed by the convert].
                          - James 5:12-20

Patience is something that God teaches us. Some seem highly endowed with it and some seem to have none of it all.But the waiting period still frustrates us sometime or the other. It is this period of waiting where we are expectant of the Lord for what we had asked for and is yet to come. It is a period where we say, "Lord, I know that You have listened to my prayers and know the needs and desires of my heart and that You are not ignoring me but instead, taking care of me. I believe that You will bring it to pass in Your Own good time. Meanwhile, continue enabling me and making me responsible for what I am to receive from You". When you start being patient in the Lord, there is a certain knowing that no matter what you see, or what's going on around you or who is saying what, you know that God is providing for you and that He never forgets you.

A time of patient waiting upon the Lord can also be a testing time. Here, James is warning us in verse12 to keep watch over our mouth, and in sense our heart. Don't become haughty and self-reliant to vow or make oaths or swear. Making a promise brings you under the bondage of that vow, But instead, rely on God and humble yourself so that when such a circumstance arises where you have to say yes/no..say what you really mean. If you mean 'no', then let it be as much and vice-versa. This is very much reflected on the verses from the book of Ecclesiastes:

2 Do not be rash with your mouth,
      And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
      For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
      Therefore let your words be few.
       3 For a dream comes through much activity,
      And a fool’s voice is known by his many words.
       4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it;
      For He has no pleasure in fools.
      Pay what you have vowed—
       5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.
 6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.
                          - Ecclesiastes 5:2-7
So often we use words in vain such as "I swear!" or "I swear to God!" or "God-promise" and we also see our kids uttering such foolish things as "Mother-promise" and "An oath unto you"..These are foolish words uttered by fools, mostly to heighten the spice factor of a conversation. And how are you sure that you will fulfil any of it or all of it? It's better not to vow at all! It doesn't undermine our capabilities if we don't swear. And God doesn't take pleasure in foolish behaviour. And it is sin to swear and also to break a vow. It is better to fear God and obey Him even in this.

There are many of us that are waiting upon the Lord for a miracle in our lives when it comes to healing - be it physical, mental or emotional. Most of us are walking around with scars from emotional hurt and pain from the past, not knowing what to do about them. We distract ourselves into our job, friends, sinful behaviour, drugs etc. to find temporary relief. Our God is a God of wholeness. He is not a mediocre God Who will just save you and let you sulk in the past. He wont just heal your hurt and leave you with emotional scars. Emotional scars tend to paralyse us. It keeps us in bondage. Sexual or physical abuse from your childhood years leaves you with such emotional baggage that you tend to either recreate that hurt in your adulthood, you tend to trust every person in your life lesser and lesser. It also makes you bitter and very ill-confident. It steals your joy and peace, leaving you empty and depressed. Deformities of the body and mind like Cancer, Obesity, Deficiency Syndromes etc also cause much sadness, making us feel insecure, vulnerable and hopeless. But there is hope in God. Remember why God sent Jesus. The Sacrifice was not just to die for us but to release us and set us free in Him. In Jesus, we are no longer under the bondages of sin and disease.
"But why am I not healed as yet? Why am I still depressed/fat/diabetic etc? Do I have less faith? Does God want to not heal me? Does He want me to suffer?" Our God is a healing God. Remember, first of all, we get not because we ask not.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
                                              - Matt 7:7 (KJV)

Jacob, in the old testament, when he realized that it was an Angel of God that he came across, he literally wrestled with Him until He blessed Jacob. Not like God didn't want to bless Jacob. It was a test of his perseverance, of his faith. Jacob was stubborn and would not let go until he got his blessing from God. We need to be that stubborn. Not nags. Stubborn. Stubborn, to keep on believing in God and refusing the devil's temptations and thoughts he feeds into our head. Don't blame God for your sicknesses, its the devil and the consequence of sin that brings upon sickness. Disease was never in God's plan. Look at heaven, do you think there is any disease in Heaven? Nope.And why we are still laying around still afflicted, I cannot tell. Only God knows. And by that I don't mean to discourage you. All those who have accepted Christ, are covered by the Blood. And His Blood brings upon healing and covering of all sin.
Pray in your time of affliction as verses 13 & 14 tell us. And God will hear our prayers and heal and deliver us in Christ. 'A prayer of faith' delivers the sick. If you have committed sins, you will be forgiven under the covenant of Christ.There is no half-healing or partial healing in God. There is complete restoration. This much is true. It is definite. Look at the woman in Mark 5:25-34. She had been suffering from a flow of blood for 12 years. She did as any normal person would do - go to the doctor. And she consulted many a physician, draining herself of all her money, adding more to her misery yet still she was not healed. But then she thought, "If I just touch the clothes of Jesus, I'll be healed". Jesus held her and was pleased with her, He blessed her saying that her faith had healed her. The endless list of renowned doctors didn't. The medications for 12 long years didn't. But simple, sincere faith in Jesus did. Isn't that amazing? You may think that you need THIS amount or THAT amount of faith to be healed. But know this, Jesus also said that if we have faith as much as a measure of a mustard seed, we can move mountains! We don't need faith in quantity but in quality. We need radical faith. That immovable faith that 'God is for us, He loves us and cares for us and nothing in the world will ever change that truth' is the kind of faith we need to have.

Verses 16-20 speaks of the conduct and supporting nature that the Body of Christ is supposed to have. In Christ, we are all one. We are given different purposes and different gifts of the Holy Spirit but to God, we are all His precious children. And when someone sins, then we should be supportive and loving towards him/her who errs. Do not judge. But be as Christ was on earth. No sin is too great for the Lord to forgive in Christ. His Love covers all sins. And we need to operate in His love, and help and hear out those who are afflicted and are under sin. Pray for them just like you would want to be prayed for were you in the same position. Pray for their healing and recovery. The leaders of the part of the Christian group should counsel, encourage them in the Word, and instil in them words of hope and faith.

We are given the example of Elijah in verses 17 & 18 to be bold in prayer. He prayed for the rain to stop and it didn't rain for 6 months! He prayed again for it to rain, and the Lord let it rain again. The period of waiting is spent not just in waiting upon the Lord expectantly and joyously but in Prayer which instils faith and hope in us, also praying with and for others, for their betterment helps us to take away too much attention from ourselves. Remember, in Christ is not just joy and peace, but also freedom from bondage, forgiveness of sin and deliverance and healing. Amen.
God bless you.
                                              - CMS, Member of J.L.E.S Ministries

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