Relief in the Return of Christ-James 5_7-12
Relief in the Return of Christ
At the commencement exercises for Purdue University’s engineering schools, graduates of each school stood en masse to be recognized by the dean of engineering. When the aeronautical-engineering students rose, they launched a swarm of paper airplanes toward the stage, where the university’s president and other dignitaries were sitting. After students from all the schools had risen in turn, the president stepped up to the rostrum. Looking at the paper planes covering the stage floor, he remarked, “I’m very glad the agricultural-engineering graduates decided not to throw anything.”
· Is it not a wonderful thing when we receive some relief from the pressures and trials of our lives?
· Is it not great when:
You find out that the mess you’re in is fully covered under your insurance policy
You find something you thought you’d lost before you go out and buy a new one.
You realize after you’ve locked the keys in the car that you forgot to close a window.
You realize that the terrible thing you are going through is only a dream.
· Unfortunately not everything we must face can be solved by waking up in our beds.
· Much of the things we face will not be relieved and that is especially true if we live for Christ.
· To be a Christian means that we have made a conscious effort to live in obedience to Christ
· To do this means that we will walk in the opposite direction of most others.
· When we walk the opposite way we will inevitably bump into people and obstacles along the way.
· These troubles can take many forms but the response we have to all of them should be the same.
· James has spoken about those who would abuse others for their own gain and now turns his attention to giving comfort for those who have suffered-who go against the flow.
· The solution he gives is not to come up with some scheme or to run away and hide.
· He wants to urge us in 5:7-12 to remain steadfast in our dedication to Jesus so that we can gain our eternal reward and experience the unimaginable relief that Heaven will bring.
· Before that day comes he wants to give us some assurance, provide some advice and help us to stand together.
Be Patient for the Lord’s Deliverance (5:7-8)
5:7 So be patient, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s return. Think of how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the ground and is patient for it until it receives the early and late rains. 5:8 You also be patient and strengthen your hearts, for the Lord’s return is near.
· James’s opening command to his readers as a follow up to the oppression by the hands of the rich is not an easy one.
· He is not calling them to vindicate their circumstances but to wait for the Lord to take action on their behalf.
· This is something that God is trying to teach me; to let him be my advocate instead of trying to defend myself.
· So we are to have patience
· This patience is not just for the immediate but for what could be a long time.
· He does not promise our deliverance immediately but only assures it when Christ returns to take us home.
· Those that would have you believe that this life can offer us something have trouble with James’ words.
· Our patience is not until tomorrow or even the next day after that.
· We are to persist in our faith in God until Jesus comes again.
· When we face troubles we are to think of Psalm 37:10-11:
37:10 Evil men will soon disappear; you will stare at the spot where they once were, but they will be gone. 37:11 But the oppressed will possess the land and enjoy great prosperity.
· It is in God’s timing that our deliverance from this world will take place.
· Our role in God’s grand scheme is to stand steadfast and obedient in Him.
· The analogy of the farmer is a common theme throughout the Bible and in the book of James.
· This is rightly so because they would have no trouble identifying with it.
· He has just used it to explain how the rich farmer can exploit his workers and now he explains what we should do in the midst of troubles by using the farmer as an illustration.
· Much of farming is an activity of anticipation and patience.
· What does a farmer need? More than anything he needs the rains to come in their right proportion.
· He can plant his seed in the ground and fertilize it but without the right amount of rain he will not produce a crop.
· Today there are ways of manipulating farming through irrigation so let us not loose the point James is trying to make.
· We need to think like the farmer; he can not force the rain, he cannot hurry it along nor can he determine how much will fall.
· In the end he has to leave it up to God’s natural design.
· So it is with us in this life; we may face all kinds of challenges to our Christian faith but we have to leave everything up to God.
· James is not so concern with the length of time between the first and last coming of Christ, but is concerned with how we deal with the time of waiting.
· He wants us to strengthen our hearts, to be encouraged, to have hope for Christ is coming soon.
· But does that not seem like a false hope? Have not people been waiting for thousands of years for Christ’s return?
· In terms of God’s timetable very little time has passed but we can be assured of one of two things if we stand firm for Christ.
· We will either meet him at his return or we will meet him upon our deaths.
· Either way we will be relieved of our pain, suffering and persecution because of the patient obedience of our lives.
· We should have joy for the knowledge that with our perseverance for Christ we will receive our reward and avoid the judgment he has alluded to throughout the book.
The antiquated train on a branch line was creeping slowly through the countryside when suddenly it came to a dead stop. The only passenger in the car, a salesman riding the line for the first time, asked the conductor why they had stopped. The conductor said, “Nothing to worry about, sir. There’s a cow on the tracks.” In about ten minutes the train got under way again, but after chugging along for a mile or two, it again ground to a halt. “Just a temporary delay,” the conductor said. “We’ll be on our way shortly.” The exasperated salesman asked, “What is it now? Did we catch up to the cow again?”
· Patient endurance is a test of our willingness to trust in God for deliverance, to see if we will take matters into our own hands or wait upon him care for us.
· How have we failed to wait patiently for the Lord?
Recognize the Lord’s Sovereignty (5:9)
5:9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be judged. See, the judge stands before the gates!
· When we begin to loose our patience in God to deliver on what he has promised it can negatively affect our lives.
· We begin to try to control our circumstances.
· We try to rationalize why it has happened.
· If we allow our impatience to persist we begin to try to find a scapegoat for our suffering.
· James reminds his readers that they should not grumble against one another when times are tough.
· They should not accuse one another of being the source for the troubles.
· They should not speak against another because they seem to have it easier.
· There is a harmony or unity in the body of believers that is destroyed when the bitter spirit becomes personal and directed as criticism against a fellow believer.
· The flavor of what James is describing to us reminds me of siblings when they fight.
· In a home children can be at odds repeatedly and they tend to cry, wine and grumble.
· Day after day they can blame one another for breaking this or taking that.
· It can come to the point where a home becomes a place of constant hostility.
· Children can feel as if the whole world is against them and the closest thing to strike out at is their brothers or sisters.
· Are we really that different at times in the church? James doesn’t think so.
· He is warning them against making judgment calls that accuse fellow believers for the state of their lives.
· This is the type of judgmental position that Jesus warns against in Matthew 7:1-5:
7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 7:2 For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. 7:3 Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? 7:4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? 7:5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
· What Jesus is talking about in this passage is not accountability among believers, but rather holding others to standards for which the Bible does not speak.
· These Christians in the scattered churches were finding it hard to wait patiently for Christ’s deliverance and began to judge each other for their problems.
· With this they set a standard for which they wanted to hold others to but were not mindful that if they were going to judge others this way God would also judge them in that manner.
· Instead of relying on one another in order to face their common problems they turning on each other.
· God is not far off and he sees our affliction and trouble.
· He can see when we cannot seemingly bear things any longer and begin to blame others.
· He is close at hand to witness our impatience.
· The thrust of James’ statement in verse 9 goes towards the issue of God’s sovereignty.
· As Christians we must hold to the belief that God is in control of every aspect of our existence.
· To begin to blame others for our problems is to question the sovereignty of God.
· It is a questioning of God’s power, control and presence.
· It is a questioning of a source of relief for our trials.
· When we loose patience in our Christianity we show how little regard we give for the power and majesty of God.
There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought to more earnestly contend to than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne...for it is God upon the Throne whom we trust.
C. H. Spurgeon
· When we fail to patiently trust God we can react in ways that tear apart the church.
· But also and maybe more devastating we display our utter disregard for God’s right to sit upon his throne.
Endure by Remembering the Lord’s Goodness (5:10-11)
5:10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name. 5:11 Think of how we regard as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and you have seen the Lord’s purpose, that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
· The book of Hebrews provides a stellar example of what it means to remember our past in order to persevere in the presence.
· In particular we can think of Heb. 11:32-40 where the author mentions such examples of faith such as Gideon, Barak, David, Samuel and the prophets.
· He mentions that they conquered kingdoms, defeated lions, and administered justice.
· Others were mocked, killed, imprisoned, stoned and murdered.
· For their steadfast faith in the midst of adversity they were commended.
· James also wants his readers to remember the past so that they can have patience.
· First he mentions the prophets.
· His readers may have thought of such great men as Elijah who stood against the prophets of Baal.
· They may have thought of Isaiah and his warnings to the people in exile.
· They may have thought of Daniel and his escape from the lion’s den.
· They may have thought of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and many others who stood for God in trying times.
· You see James was appealing to the people in the church the same way that God has appealed to his people for thousands of years.
· Why do you think there was the Passover and festivals established in Israel’s wanderings in the desert?
· It was to help the people remember the greatness of God and for them to trust in Him because of his historical faithfulness.
· Look back on your spiritual journey.
· Was there a time or several times that you lived without hope?
· Perhaps it was before you accepted Christ; how did you come to know God?
· Have you been in pain, sorrowful, destitute, and suffering? Was God there to help you.
· Do you have friends and heard testimonies of the way that God has acted in order to sustain his people?
· I have experienced God’s goodness and I have seen him work in others.
· I know without a shadow of doubt that God is good even though times have sometimes seemed impossible.
· Just as the prophets suffered for speaking in the Lord’s name those who stand for Christ will not find this world accommodating.
· James makes specific mention of the all time winner of the suffering award.
· Job went through things that would probably have broken every one of us. His servants died, his livestock died, his children died and his wife begged him to curse God.
· He had friends who could hardly be considered helpful.
· Job did not stop trusting in God.
· In the end Job was restored and the compassion and mercy of God was upon him.
· James reminds his readers that they must trust God just as the prophets and just as job for in the end God will have great mercy and compassion upon them and give them the great reward of a heavenly home.
· It is those who according to James 1:4 who endure to the end will be perfected and gain their reward for their faithfulness.
· The prophets, the work of God seen in the testimonies of other believers and work of God in our own lives is a record of how it is possible to live patiently for Christ’s return.
Just getting out of the driveway was a major feat during the winter’s snow and ice storms. One co-worker was relating how he used his seven-year-old son’s baseball bat to smash the slick coat of ice on his driveway. He got cold and went inside for a cup of coffee before attempting to clear the car. Several minutes later, his son, who had been outside with him, came in. “Dad,” he said, “I got the ice off the car.” “How did you do that?” his father asked. “Same way you did,” the boy shrugged, “with the baseball bat.”
· We have a legacy of great Biblical and historical examples of patient living for Christ.
· Are we going to do the same for others?
Stand to Avoid the Lord’s Judgment (5:12)
5:12 And above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath. But let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall into judgment.
· There are commentators on this text who do not include verse 12 with the rest of the passage.
· They have seen this portion as a different train of thought for James.
· In fact I believe that verse 12 ties very closely with the rest of the passage given the context.
· To help us understand how this connects recall the incident where Peter denies Christ after Jesus is arrested.
· He denies Jesus three times and swears that he does not know Jesus.
· Peter swears that he does not know Jesus and for what purpose?
· Peter wants to avoid possible persecution by being associated with Christ.
· James is not talking about those types of oaths that take place in a court of law.
· He is more referring to the words of Jesus in Matt 5:34-37:
5:33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 5:34 But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, 5:35 not by earth, because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. 5:36 Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black. 5:37 Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one.
· What both Jesus and James are saying is be honest at all times.
· Do not swear by God or anything else in order to add weight to your words or make them more legitimate but act in honesty.
· When we face troubles such as Peter faced it can be tempting to avoid trouble by turning our backs on God.
· If Peter did it, so are we susceptible to such a thing.
· It is the humble that know there place but it is the proud and arrogant that fall.
· Peter was ready to die for Jesus but in the end he cowered in fear.
· James is saying that in the midst of facing trouble, persecutions and suffering do not be a Peter.
· Do not be tempted to deny Jesus but remember the goodness of God.
· We are called to be honest about our relationship with Jesus regardless of the consequences.
· Our yes should be yes and our no should be no and should carry the weight or authenticity because we are living it out every day.
· As James mentions those who would turn away from God will have his judgment upon them.
· So we are called to stand and avoid denying Jesus. We are face our persecutions, sufferings and pain for Christ and not try to avoid them in order gain a more comfortable life.
· The short term gain can never make up for the eternal judgment that we could face.
· Rather we are to maintain our faithfulness and see at the end the reward given by God.
One of the all-time greats in baseball was Babe Ruth. His bat had the power of a cannon, and his record of 714 home runs remained unbroken until Hank Aaron came along. The Babe was the idol of sports fans, but in time age took its toll, and his popularity began to wane. Finally the Yankees traded him to the Braves.
In one of his last games in Cincinnati, Babe Ruth began to falter. He struck out and made several misplays that allowed the Reds to score five runs in one inning. As the Babe walked toward the dugout, chin down and dejected, there rose from the stands an enormous storm of boos and catcalls. Some fans actually shook their fists. Then a wonderful thing happened. A little boy jumped over the railing, and with tears streaming down his cheeks he ran out to the great athlete. Unashamedly, he flung his arms around the Babe’s legs and held on tightly. Babe Ruth scooped him up, hugged him, and set him down again. Patting him gently on the head, he took his hand and the two of them walked off the field together
· How far does our loyalty and dedication go with God?
· When we face troubles do we deny our Lord to avoid troubles?
· James calls us to honesty; are we going to be honest about our relationship with Jesus?
Postage stamps are getting more expensive, but at least they have one attribute that most of us could emulate: They stick to one thing until they get there.
· Patient endurance means that we will one day be rewarded with a heavenly home.
· Patient endurance means we will keep the unity of the Church.
· Patient endurance means that we will remember God’s goodness.
· Patient endurance means that we will remain loyal at all times.
· Staying steadfast in obedience to Christ is not always easy.
· Suffice it to say that there is not one of us that would consider the Christian life to be a breeze.
· But if I would compare it to the alternative then there really is much to fight for.
· Imagine your life and where it could be today if Christ had not come into your life?
· Where would you be?
· I have often thought that if Jesus had not taken hold of me I would be dead.
· Our gratefulness and loyalty to God should never come into question.
· We should never have to face someone and have them question our dedication to God.
· The Holy Spirit is here to help us.
· We have the hope of heaven and the faithfulness of thousands of years to give us strength.
· We also have the comfort that come from standing together as a body of believers.
· My encouragement to you today is to stand.
· Stand without wavering, do not give in, do not give up, stay ever vigilant in your obedience to God and in the end you will not be disappointed.