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Awaiting His Coming

Advent 2020  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:14
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Joyful patience anticipates future reward

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Today we light the Advent candle of Joy, so why does the preacher choose a message on waiting? Because as this video will explain, Christian joy is not based in current pleasure, but in waiting for a promised reward.
Bible Project video - https://youtu.be/qvOhQTuD2e0
Today we will be reminded how we can have joy, even if our circumstance is not happy.
Join me at the end of the New Testament in the book of James
James 5:7–10 ESV:2016
7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Transition: The first 6 verses of this chapter acknowledges that reach people often mistreat others and that they will be judged for that. Then in today’s verse the attention moves toward those who are recipients of this proud and exploitive behavior.

The Priority of Patience Stated (v.7a, 8)

Play the “long game”

1. We are called to patience because God Himself is patient.
a. As early as Ex 34:6 we read of God’s patience in the Hebrew Scriptures
Exodus 34:6 ESV:2016
6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
b. It is restated in Paul’s letter to Timothy in the NT
1 Timothy 1:16 ESV:2016
16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
2. ISBE clearly connects our patience with God’s model of mercy. God’s patience stands behind human patience as its pattern and the first link in a chain. Human patience is not first of all a virtue achieved but a gift received. It is listed among the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). It comes when one is strengthened with the power of God (Col. 1:11).[i]
3. Between Moses and Paul was the Greek philosopher Plato. Contrary to our human instinct (later identified as fight or flight), Plato identified patience as “having courage (to hear out an argument), contrasted to [phygeín,] running away (Theaetetus 177b).[ii]
4. The coming of Christ is both sure (v.7) and “soon” (v.8)
Every generation of Christians lives (or should live!) with the consciousness that the parousia could occur at any time and that one needs to make decisions and choose values based on that realization. So it was as true in James’s day as it is in ours: we need to be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.[iii]
Coach (Amy) Budke can tell us what happens when a runner comes out too fast and doesn’t plan for the whole course.

Establish Your hearts (v.8)

1. Square your stance and prepare for struggle.
2. Craig Blomberg, a Distinguished Professor of the New Testament at Denver Seminary, writes, The verb “be patient”…calls his listeners to wait and not become overly zealous, turning to violence to further the cause of Christ in the face of oppression. But [patience] also calls the believers under affliction to persevere and not give up despite the persecution. They must wait faithfully and patiently, realizing that the Lord of vast armies does hear them and does see their suffering.[iv]
Coach (Brian) Budke appeared in a picture that his mother posted on Facebook a week ago in his wrestling stance. His feet are outside of his shoulders, he’s bent over for a lower center of gravity and his arms are outstretched to deal with any aggressive moves by his opponent.

Application

· Our waiting is to be active, not passive.
Transition: I appreciate the stories of Jesus where he illustrated a point by connecting it to something in his listener’s everyday life like fishing, farming, family interactions. James does the same with the stated principle.

The Principle of Patience Illustrated (v.7b)

Farmer

1. Waiting for a “precious” harvest
2. Luke Johnson “notes the odd designation for the fruit as “precious” (τίμιον), commenting that ‘this is certainly the only time in the biblical literature that something so lowly as produce has been given a designation usually associated with jewels and crowns.’ For farmers who had to work and wait with no guarantee that the crop would come to full harvest, the produce would indeed be precious”.[v]

Dependent upon Early & Late rain (v.7b)

I remember the first time I flew from Denver to South Dakota. As we were over eastern Colorado and Western Kansas/Nebraska I was impressed by how clear from 5,000 feet the circles were in the fields from pivot irrigation systems. Water makes an undeniable difference in crops!
1. I recall the drought that we were suffering when Ann & I came to Chase County. Our ranchers rehearsed how our soil does not make wells and irrigation a reasonable option, so we are dependent upon the rains to sustain the grass and prevent the ponds from becoming stagnate.
2. First century Israeli farming would have been just as dependent upon the God-given rains to cause the grain to germinate in the fall and mature in the spring.
3. Every reference to “early and later rains” in the OT occurs in a context affirming the faithfulness of the Lord (Deut. 11:14; Jer. 5:24; Hos. 6:3; Joel 2:23; Zech. 10:1).[vi]

Application

· Our waiting provides opportunity to see God work.
Transition: It is one thing to know WHAT to do, it is quite another to know HOW to do it. The next verse gives us this insight.

The Practice of Patience Exhorted (v.9)

Do Not Grumble

1. James 4 begins with chastising the quarrels the people were having with each other. This word is not about disagreements between people, but griping about others.
2. The word grumble translates a Greek word (stenazō) that elsewhere in the Bible occurs with the meaning “groan,” or “sigh” (26 occurrences in the LXX and five other NT occurrences [Mark 7:34; Rom. 8:23; 2 Cor. 5:2, 4; Heb. 13:17]. And the word typically connotes an expression of frustration from the people of God who are suffering oppression or even judgment. See, for example, Exod. 2:23: “During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.” James clearly uses the verb to describe groaning or complaining against (kata) fellow community members. But the broader biblical use of the word again adds a nuance to the word, implying that the groans are the result of oppression.[vii]
In a past generation a phrase was popularized, “stick it to the man!” to indicate reaction to perceived mistreatment by bosses, corporations or generally any structure of authority.
The 2020 version is viewing oneself as an activist, an SJW – Social Justice Warrior, or being WOKE.
This isn’t just a problem for the progressives either. Conservatives sitting in a coffee shop can be just as gripey or grumbly about how bad things have become.
3. James warns about allowing negative circumstances to turn your speech to complaining!
4. One reason to avoid grumbling is that it negates our testimony; nobody wants to be around a chronic complainer.

Jesus is Watching You

1. To reinforce his warning, James reminds his readers again that this judgment is imminent: the Judge is standing at the door!
2. Just as a trooper in the median causes brake lights to suddenly come on, the presence of one who has authority to judge us should change our behavior.
A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables when a voice in the dark said, 'Jesus knows you're here.'
He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight off, and froze. When he heard nothing more, he shook his head and continued.
Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard 'Jesus is watching you.'
Startled, he shined his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot.
'Did you say that?' he hissed at the parrot.
'Yes', the parrot confessed, then squawked, 'I'm just trying to warn you that he's watching you.'
The burglar relaxed. 'Warn me, huh? Who in the world are you?'
'Moses,' replied the bird.
'Moses?' the burglar laughed. 'What kind of people would name a bird Moses?'
“The kind of people who would name a Rottweiler Jesus.”

Application

In Sunday School when I was a child we used to sing a song: O be careful little eyes what you see…
O be careful little mouth what you say…
O be careful little hands what you do…
O be careful little ears what you hear…
WHY?
For the Father up above is looking down in love…
· There isn’t a second in your day or night that God doesn’t see what we do.

The Prize of Patience Reminded (v.10)

Kings were honored and forgotten, Prophets were rejected and remembered

1. Patience during suffering isn’t easy, but it is rewarded eventually.
Hebrews 11:36–39 ESV:2016
36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,

Conclusion:

Today’s text is the last chapter of James’ book and is a response to the mistreatment by the wealthy and powerful in the first verses of this chapter. But we can’t forget what James wrote in his first chapter.
James 1:12 ESV:2016
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
Some of my earliest ministry was done in Nursing Homes. Something I’ve notices about Nursing Homes is that residents rarely talk about weather or sports.
They talk about Heaven and how precious it is to know that the Lord is with them.
As we light the Advent candle of joy, just maybe we could increase our joy by thinking about Heaven and how good it is that we never walk alone.
We’re going to sing a song in a moment that is a promise of joy for everyone who knows the Lord and is heavenbound.
I wish you would come with us! The Bible promises that anyone who admits their sin, believes that Jesus paid the full price for sin in his death, burial and resurrection and confesses Him as Lord can know that we have crossed from death to life. This can give us the joy to patiently find joy in any circumstance that life may present.
Song of Response #542 “When We All Get to Heaven
Benediction: James 1:12 (ESV) — Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
[i] A. D. Verhey, “Patience; Patient; Patiently,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 689.
[ii] Ibid., 689.
[iii] Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000), 224.
[iv] Craig L. Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell, James, vol. 16, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 226.
[v] Ibid., 227.
[vi] Moo, 223.
[vii] Ibid., 225.
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