Episode #222. Today we’ll read James chapter 5 together. James gives a warning to the rich and speaks of waiting for the Lord, truthful speech and effective prayer.
Joy: You’re listening to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Episode #222. Today we’ll read James chapter 5 together: James gives a warning to the rich and speaks of waiting for the Lord, truthful speech, and effective prayer.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast. I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as we simply read God’s word together. Some things require discipline and sometimes that’s just not easy to muster by yourself, no matter how badly you want to do it or how much you know you should. It’s just easier to do it with a friend. So refill your coffee or tea, get comfortable in your favorite chair and follow along as I read aloud. I’m so glad you’re here!
1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray constantly. Some translations say, continually. Then James comes along and tells us to be doers of the word and not hearers only. He actually polishes off the verse by telling us that if we aren’t doers, we deceive ourselves. So I guess if I’m not a consistent pray-er, I’m deceiving myself.
Here’s what I’m getting at…for quite a while now, carving out one hour every Wednesday morning for an extended prayer time has been on my list of goals. This year, I even upped the ante by being more specific and naming a place. Sitting at my desk. This is because I write my prayers sometimes and it’s easier to do at a desk.
My unfortunate bottom line is that I haven’t made it happen. I’m saying I haven’t made it a habit. I probably could have swept this under the rug – which I’m all too good at – except that God kinda stopped me in my tracks this morning in my personal Bible reading. It’s so weird the times He chooses to speak.
I’ve told you before that I’m reading the ESV cover-to-cover chronologically this year. This morning’s reading was Acts chapters 9 & 10. You know the stories…chapter 9 is Paul’s conversion and chapter 10 tells the story of Peter’s encounter with Cornelius. Do you remember? Peter has a dream and God tells him not to call anything unclean that God has made clean. It’s a great story. I love it. But that’s not the part of the story that got my attention.
A Certain Place
Verse 30 says this: “And Cornelius said, Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing…” Immediately, I wondered if an angel would know where to find me if he had a message from God for me? I mean, it was obvious that Cornelius, like Daniel in the Old Testament, had a habit of praying. I’ll bet he even did it in the same spot in his house. Through that verse, God provided the inspiration I needed. I want to pray like Jesus in Luke 11:1… He was praying in a certain place… When Jesus comes again, I want to be found praying in a certain place. My place. My prayer place.
Do you have a certain place to pray? Is it a scheduled hour or is it catch as catch can? I shared my burden with you, so now it’s your turn to tell me a little about your prayer goals. You can either confess or brag at Lifting Her Voice.com, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
For now, though, I can say that you have been found in a certain place reading your Bible systematically! That’s right, you did it again! Congratulations, you finished another one. This is the last day we’ll spend in the book of James. Wow! Sixteen days to finish the next six General Epistles and then 22 days for Revelation. Your end-game is officially in sight. Nice work!
Warning to the Rich
Come now, you rich people, weep and wail over the miseries that are coming on you. Your wealth has rotted and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasure in the last days. Look! The pay that you withheld from the workers who mowed your fields cries out, and the outcry of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord of Armies. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and have indulged yourselves. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the righteous, who does not resist you.
Waiting for the Lord
Therefore, brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.
Brothers and sisters, do not complain about one another, so that you will not be judged. Look, the judge stands at the door!
Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome that the Lord brought about — the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “yes” mean “yes,” and your “no” mean “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment.
Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. Elijah was a human being as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit.
My brothers and sisters, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, let that person know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
James starts this chapter with both barrels, at least that’s how it sounds. The passage about rich people is a perfect example of one where we need to pause and remember what we know about God. James is not saying that being rich is bad. Heck, he just got done saying a couple of chapters back that all good things come from above. He’s finger-pointing at those who have been gifted from above with money – especially more money than what they need to live – and not using it for God’s purposes but for self-indulgent ones.
And worse, apparently the people to whom James is talking are pretending to be Christians and pretending to be friends of the church. Kinda like they come to church on Sunday but they live like hell the rest of the week. We all remember what God thinks about pretenders when we read the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts chapter 5. No tolerance for lying to the Holy Spirit. And do not put your trust in money. It’s a tool, not a god.
There’s a certain urgency in the next section. James seems to be calling us to live as if the Lord is coming again in the next moment. What will he find us doing? Being patient? Enduring suffering and persecution? Grumbling at one another? Simple, honest yeses and noes?
The Prayer of a Righteous Person
And finally, it’s funny to me that God should talk to me about my prayer life just when we’re reading James. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. Remember that our righteousness is but filthy rags. Any righteousness we have comes through faith in Jesus Christ and the atoning work He did for us. And by that faith, we are to bring everything before God in prayer. He hears us and will answer. We are to be honest and open with each other. We are to pray for each other. Let’s do that right now.
Father God, I want to thank You right now for the brothers and sisters listening to this podcast. I thank You for choosing them. I thank you for their faith. I lift to You right now any illness or suffering among them. I ask for healing and comfort on their behalf. Cause each of them to know how very near You are. Lord, we sing praises to Your name…for Your Provision, for Your Faithfulness. Above all, we thank You for sending Your Son to save us. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray God will grow in you what has been planted and watered here. In this time of unprecedented struggle worldwide, we can look to God for guidance and comfort. Be sensitive to those in your circle of influence who need a word of encouragement and invite them to join us. If you like this show, it would be great if you give it a five-star review. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you right here tomorrow. Be well!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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