James 5:13-20 – The Prayer of Faith (part three)

Today we’re concluding our study in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. Today is the last part of a three-day focus on James 5:13-20.

See yesterday’s post for today’s to make any sense.

We’re now at the point where we can look at one possible answer to the problem with this passage in James ‘And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.’ The prayer of faith is one offered in accordance with the will of God. Faith produces a righteous lifestyle (James chapter 2); a righteous lifestyle (such as Elijah’s) means we can pray according to the will of God. Which means it will be done.

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James 5:13-20 – The Prayer of Faith (part two)

This week we’re concluding our study in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. Today is part two of a three-day focus on James 5:13-20.

The prayer of faith

Today, James moves from the general exhortation to live a prayerful life (verse 13, yesterday), to a specific case – in which we pray for a person who is sick. James gives us a simple instruction:

5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.

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James 5:13-20 – The Prayer of Faith (part one)

This week we’re concluding our study in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. Over the next three days we look at James 5:13-20.

A man walks into a … milk bar (in case there are any traditional Baptists reading). With an ostrich. And he orders a ginger beer. “That’ll be $3.90” says the milk-barman. So the man reaches into his pocket and pulls out exactly $3.90.

The next day, the man and his ostrich are back. He orders a coke. “That’ll be $3.50” says the milkbarman. And the man reaches into his pocket and finds exactly $3.50.

On the third day, the man and the ostrich go into the milkbar again, and the man asks for a milkshake. “That’ll be $4.80.” And again, the man reaches into his pocket to pull out the exact change. The milkbarman is curious, and asks him why it is he’s always got the exact money with him. 

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James 4:13-5:11 – Rich and Poor (part two)

This week we’re continuing in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. This is part two of our focus on James 4:13-5:11.

Yesterday, James (probably drawing on Jesus’ parable of the Rich Fool) has a go at wealthy Christians who are double-minded: they say that God’s in control but by their actions they show that God is far from their thinking. For a start, they forget that – just like the rich fool – God could take it all away from them in an instant. But more than that, they are thinking selfishly, storing up for themselves rather than being rich toward others. They are sinning by omission:

4:17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

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James 4:13-5:11 – Rich and Poor (part one)

This week we’re continuing in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. Over the next two days we look at James 4:13-5:11.

Life is short, is it not? What’s more, we don’t even know exactly how short ours is going to be. Statistically, I’m around the halfway mark. But it could end tomorrow, if there’s a bus out there with my name on it. Or a chicken bone, or an exploding backyard crystal meth lab (that’s near where I live).As it says in Ecclesiastes: life is a vapour. A mist. We’re here one minute, and gone the next. Life is short, and its end is unpredictable.

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James 3:13-4:10 – A Cure for Envy (part two)

This week we’re continuing in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. This is the second part of our look at James 3:13-4:10.

The cure for envy (4:7-10)

So far, James has told us about two sets of values – two types of wisdom. There’s the world’s wisdom, which is self-centred and promotes envy and selfish ambition; and there’s God’s wisdom, which is other-centred and promotes peace and servanthood.

The problem is that many Christians can be double-minded: we try to be friends with both God and the world, and so experience competing values. We end up being taken in by the world’s lie that says put yourself first. And this produces in us the same envy and selfish ambition that’s found in the rest of the world. And God’s not happy.

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James 3:13-4:10 – A Cure for Envy (part one)

This week we’re continuing in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. Over the next two days we look at James 3:13-4:10.

Alain de Botton, in his book Status Anxiety, argues that our happiness and satisfaction with our life aren’t related to what we have. Instead, he says, our happiness and satisfaction are usually dependent on what we have when compared with everyone else!

Transport me into the majority world and I’ll instantly feel like a millionaire; take me to a cocktail party in the eastern suburbs of Sydney (American readers: in the Hamptons) and I’ll feel like a pauper. Although my actual wealth hasn’t changed, my perception of my wealth has. My satisfaction, then, has become dependent on the relative wealth of those around me.

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James 3:1-12 – Watch your mouth!

This week we’re continuing in the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. Today we look at James 3:1-12.

On the door of one of my maths professors at university, there was a newspaper article about an unfortunate episode in the history of rocket science. It was an unmanned rocket launch that went horribly wrong. The rocket took off OK, but after a few seconds, it did a u-turn and crashed to the ground. Millions of dollars and thousands of hours were wasted. An investigation found the cause: a rocket scientist had incorrectly put a minus sign in one of the equations. It still ranks as the most expensive minus sign in history.

One little minus sign, and all the good work was wasted. Just like one little word can come out of our mouths, and undo all the good work we’ve done.

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James 2:14-26 – Part Three

We’re currently studying the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. This is part three of a three-day look at James 2:14-26.

After our detour yesterday (watching the title bout between Paul and James) we come back to the question James raised at the start:

2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?

James, Paul, and Jesus would all say a resounding ‘no’. Faith without actions is dead. It might be the kind of faith that made the crowds follow Jesus early on. But when they heard about the cost of discipleship, many turned back, leaving only those with true faith. Faith which saves. Do you have that saving faith?

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James 2:14-26 – Part Two

We’re currently studying the letter of James, which is all about the temptation to be double-minded: trying to be friends with God and friends with the world. This is part two of a three-day look at James 2:14-26.

This passage is a difficult one, not just because of the sobering challenge it gives us (see yesterday’s post if you missed it). It’s also difficult because it appears to stand in contrast to the teaching of Paul about salvation by grace. For this reason Martin Luther thought it probably shouldn’t be in the NT; in his German translation he puts it as the last book and refers to it as ‘an epistle of straw’. And it is a difficult question: how do we resolve the gospel that says we are made right with God by faith – with James’ argument that faith without works is dead?

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