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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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james chapter 5

Faith In Action-Don’t Swear, Pray

faith in action

James 5:13

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

It seems like there is a pretty clear linkage here between this verse and the section before. James had been talking about patience through trials; then he covered how not to react to these trials. His injunction to us was to not react to our trials and adversities by saying things we do not really mean. As God has a tendency to do, he immediately offers a solution to the problem. Cool huh? What we have here amounted to this basically: “When life gets tough, don’t say things you don’t mean and can’t back up, pray instead!”

It’s time for another language lesson very quickly, especially in light of the fact that shortly we will be talking about physical illnesses. This is important because, in the verse we are talking about, the word afflicted is not a reference to sick; it is not related to the sickness we see described later on in this passage. This is simply another reference to being afflicted with trials, mistreatment, and persecutions. This is the main reason this verse seems so connected to the discussion before. When we face trial, we should pray; when we face persecution, we should pray.

We pray for a solution; we pray for God’s will; sometimes we simply pray for comfort during these times. The answer to what we face is there, we just have to reach for it, and we reach for it by prayer. One writer used this Hymn to illustrate what we give away when we fail to pray, and instead act inappropriately.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry

Ev’rything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged,

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden?

Cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge,

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Faith In Action-Speak Honestly

faith in action

James 5:12

But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

Here, it almost seems James has taken off in yet another direction. In this verse, James teaches a point on, basically, honesty in one’s words. There is some discussion among commentators about how exactly this verse fits with the previous discussion; not all even agree that it ties in with the previous discussion. It may stand alone as an instruction, but it also may be tied to earlier statements. It is very possible that James is instructing us to watch what we say during times of stress and conflict, In other words, do not let the stress of a moment cause us to make promises we have no plan to keep. Personally, I like that linkage. Either way, the point of the lesson does not change much.

Let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; If you say yes mean yes; if you say no, mean no. It’s all about integrity. This is a critical point in our Christian walks and in our testimonies. Christians should be instantly known as people whose yes means yes and whose no means no. There should never be any doubt in the mind of the people we engage with that the words we speak are, to our knowledge, true.

This matters to God. Jesus said the following:

Matthew 5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, also had something to say about words of integrity.

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

How do we know this matters to God? We are to deal honestly in our words lest ye fall into condemnation. Lying is a sin.

Let’s be honest, the world as a whole has many opportunities to find ways to present Christians as hypocrites; do we need to give it one more?

Faith In Action-The Patience of Job

faith in action

James 5:11

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

 During the last few days, we have covered a lot of territory concerning patience and endurance. We have seen James provide us with many good reasons why we should live a lifestyle of patience and endurance. We do it because God is patient with us; we do it because it is the example Jesus Christ set for us; we do it because we can see the example set by believers throughout history.

Now, we see yet another reason and motivation to exercise patience in our lives, even in the face of trials and adversity. God blesses those who endure these things patiently. We have seen the end of the Lord; in other words, God has a good outcome planned for those who endure patiently.

There is probably no greater story in all of Scripture about patient endurance than the story of Job in the Old Testament.

Read Job here.

Job was tested more than any man we see in the Bible. Reading the history, we can see some of the reasons why God tested Job, and they line up quite well with some of the things James is teaching us in his Epistle.

To test Job’s faith and prove the reality of it.

To divert Satan’s evil plans.

To make Job’s faith stronger.

To bless Job.

We can see this now, but poor Job had no idea of God’s plan. He just simply endured. Job lost his family, his possessions, and his health. Job lost everything. Job may have questioned God and asked why, but he never lost his faith or love for God. What happened in the end?

Job 42:10-17 And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold. So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days.

Paul also recognized that those who endure patiently are the recipients of God’s favor. Does anyone recall the thorn in Paul’s side? God did not remove that thorn; Paul merely endured it, using strength provided by God to do so.

2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

In our above examples, we see a couple of different outcomes coming as a result of patience. Job, as we see, was physically and materially blessed for demonstrating patience in the Lord. It’s very important to note, however, that there is no promise of material blessings as a result of patience. God is not a cosmic candy machine who will give us stuff if we just put in the coin marked patience.

Note that Paul didn’t get anything material as a result of his patience and waiting for God. Paul got grace; Paul simply received the strength through the Holy Spirit to endure and live with his particular affliction.

The point is, God’s promises are good and they are guaranteed. If we do His work, in His way, in His time, we will be blessed. It may be now, it may be later, but He guarantees it. Are we resting in that guarantee?

Faith In Action-The Prophets Were Patient

faith in action

James 5:10,11

Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

Previously we discussed the idea of enduring trials and even persecutions at the hands of others patiently as a way to follow the example of our God regarding how He has treated us. James has kindly provided us with more examples of men who endured suffering yet endured it patiently.

Here we see the thought of enduring suffering, or evil, with great patience and long-suffering. This is the same word for patience we have seen over and over, so specifically, it refers to patience with and toward people. So, even more specifically we see a reference here to the Old Testament Prophets in the face of discouragement and even persecution.

Here it might be a good idea to look at just what the prophets were really doing. Sometimes we think they just sat around foretelling the future. While that was a part of the ministries of some of them, it was not the primary thing any of them did. I have heard the ministry of a prophet being sometimes two-fold; foretelling and forth telling. Foretelling, or course, would be the revelations of future events. Forth-telling would be simply the preaching and proclamation of God’s Word. That was, in fact, the primary mission of all of the Old Testament Prophets, much more so than telling of future events.

Take a few months and read through the Major and Minor Prophets.  It is easy to discern a pattern of response to their preaching. The pattern was, that in most cases there was no response. Imagine, if one can, preaching for years and years to multitudes with no one listening. That is just what most of the Old Testament Prophets faced.

The other pattern we see is that they never gave up, they never stopped, and notably, they never stopped loving the people they preached to. How were they able to do this? James has told us, and the answer is patience. They were patient in The Lord. They knew who they were working for and who’s message they were spreading. They understood the rewards to come were far greater than the trials here.

So, what is our problem? Time after time we see men enduring great hardship and carrying on. Most were universally ignored, mocked and even threatened with death. None ever accumulated great wealth or riches. Yet they carried on. They were patient in The Lord. So, the question is: What’s our problem?

Faith In Action-Be Patient Again

faith in action

James 5:10.11

Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

James is speaking here again of patience. Remember earlier, way back in Chapter 1, James began the text of his letter by talking about patience and how it matures us in our walk with The Lord. James may have begun touching on this revisit to patience in verse 7 while he was discussing not holding grudges. Some of his teaching there may have been to show that we should not allow the trials we face to cause us to act out towards our brethren, but to be patient in the Lord. As we continue, he is obviously talking to us about being patient.

Once again, let’s take a quick look at a linguistic issue. The word translated patience commonly in the New Testament, and here as well, has a meaning other than what we might think. It combines a couple of words, long and temper to convey the one thought of patience. We are to be long-tempered; we are to be long-suffering. The emphasis is on the idea of patience evidenced by an attitude of non-retaliation. This means that when faced with difficulties we are not to strike back in the direction we think they may be coming from. If we think other people are causing them, we should not strike back at them; if we think God is allowing or causing them, we should not strike back at Him. We should be long tempered, long-suffering, and patient.

But that’s very difficult! Yes, indeed it is. It is also how God reacts to us. The following is from Vine’s Expository Dictionary regarding this word patient.

MAKROTHUMIA ( makros= long, thumos = temper) is usually rendered “long-suffering.” Long-suffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy, and is used of God. Exodus 34:6(Sept.); Romans 2:4; 1 Peter 3:20

Let’s think about this topic of long-suffering and patience for a few moments. We are told to constantly look to the example of our Savior to guide our behavior. We are also to be long-suffering and patient both in the face of difficulties and never use them as an excuse to strike out against others. Sometimes we think it is no big deal when we fail in this area.

But what if God was not long-suffering and patient with us over history even in the face of our repeated rebellions against HIm and rejection of Him? What if Jesus had not been patient and long-suffering in the face of the trials and suffering He endured on the Cross as He died to pay our penalty? Where would we all be now?

Faith In Action-Don’t Hold a Grudge

faith in action

James 5:9

Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

It may seem that, as we head towards the finishing section of The Epistle of James, that James is bouncing around some from subject to subject. He introduces a new topic or two but also seems to be recapping some of the territories he covered in the first four chapters.

In this verse, James seems to be reviewing some of the thoughts he had and points he made earlier in his writing, as again he is teaching about the ways in which we treat one another. He also seems to be tying in this thought with some of the thoughts earlier on the impending judgment. It almost seems James is saying, “Ok, now remember just a minute ago I was telling you that you will be judged for how you treat your money? Well, do you remember how we talked about being mean and holding grudges? Well, guess what? We will be judged for that too!”

The word here, grudge, is used in an interesting way. Apparently, in other places in The New Testament, it is translated to sigh and groan, and really just means the outward expression of a person who is troubled. When we see it combined in reference to how we engage with another person, it translates somewhat in the sense of murmuring and grumbling. Here, I will repeat something I have said before. I am NOT a Greek linguist; however, sometimes just digging a little in the original language pays really big dividends.

Conflict is inevitable. In any situation where more than one person is gathered, there will be differences. God made us different. People disagree and James is not teaching that to disagree is inherently bad. What, then, is he teaching?

It’ simple really. We are not to murmur, gripe and hold grudges against our brothers and sisters in Christ over our disagreements. Is this a serious matter? Well, The Holy Spirit inspired James to write clearly about the judgment in this matter. The judge is standing at the door, and condemnation for our attitude is looming.

This seems a good place to insert a comment made once by a friend:

“Kinda hard to ‘draw nigh’ if I’m carrying a backpack of slander eh?”

That’s a good place to close and something to think about.

Faith In Action-Establish Your Hearts

faith in action

James 5:8

Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

James here continues his teaching to the scattered believers to be patient in the face of trials and adversity, and to be patient and understanding that God has things under control.

He instructs them to stablish their hearts. Some translations use the word strengthen here. This word translated means to “make fast,””to establish,”or “to confirm.” What is it they are to establish their hearts in? They are to establish them in the hope and promise of The Lord’s return. The same word was used in Luke 9:51 as Jesus set his face steadfastly to return to Jerusalem, the entire time knowing that his death would result.

The believers James was writing to were facing intense persecution, trials, and troubles. We have seen quite a bit of discussion of that in the previous chapters. James is simply attempting to teach them to remember the basic fact that God has these trials, and all other things, firmly under his control. He wants them to understand that what they face in this life pales in comparison with the glory they will experience in God’s Kingdom in the future.

The gist of this lesson seems obvious, as James uses terms such as patience, endurance, and perseverance over and over in this section of his writing.

James 5:7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

James 5:8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

Imagine, if you can, the patience and suffering Job endured as he watched his life shatter before his very eyes, yet he never lost his faith or love for God. Imagine, if you can, the patience of the Old Testament prophets as they preached to deaf ears and endured hate and persecution, yet they never lost their faith or love for God.

This lesson certainly applies to us. Perhaps it is more applicable to us, in the sense that compared to the believers of James’ time, Job, or the Old Testament prophets we really endure so little? How do we endure so little, yet as a church seem to have so little faith and love for God?

Faith In Action-Killing the Poor?

faith in action

James 5:6

 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

We won’t tarry long with today’s devotional, as we seem to be wrapping up James’ description of the wicked rich he has been addressing.

It does seem, somewhat, to be a final nail in the coffin of the description of the downward spiral of these men James is speaking to.

Were these folks literally killing the righteous poor? It doesn’t seem to be necessarily a literal description of murder being committed here. But in light of what we have studied so far, it seems to indicate a heart condition for sure. Let us recap some. These folks have been hoarding their money uselessly: they have exploited believers for their own gain; now we see a sense that, if necessary, they would even kill to maintain what they have.

Finally, in this verse, we see a closing note that, despite all of this, the believers in question seem to not be resisting or striking back against their oppressors. In light of the direction James takes next, this seems important.

Let’s end with this thought. Of course, God knows all things; this is purely a hypothetical question. If Jesus walked in our home or office and asked to see our financial books, what would we feel? Would we just open them up for view or would we feel a need to hide them?

Faith In Action-Race to Judgment

James 5:5

Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

Here James continues his condemnation of how the rich have amassed their riches and how they have also mistreated their fellow man in the process. His language here takes a real leap in terms of its descriptiveness of what is happening.

This description of living in wanton pleasure is more than simply men enjoying a lavish, pleasurable lifestyle. What we see here is a description of men diving head first into a driven pursuit of pleasure. Not only does this describe a wanton pursuit of pleasure, but it describes the wanton pursuit of pleasure derived at the expense of others. This is serious business.

Ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Anyone who has any experience or knowledge of animal husbandry should easily see the connection which is being made here. What is done with animals destined to be slaughtered? They are always fed well and fattened up prior to that slaughter. Only, in this case, the ones headed to slaughter are fattening themselves for their own slaughter!

Again, this speaks of the impending judgment coming to those to misuse their wealth. This seems to make the seriousness of this clear, as this is not a divine slap on the wrist which is coming; it is a slaughter in fact.  God’s Word compares the slaughter of animals with the judgment of man in other places in His Word.

Isaiah 34:5-8 For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.

Jeremiah 50:26,27 Come against her from the utmost border, open her storehouses: cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left. Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter: woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of their visitation.

Ezekiel 39:17-19 And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.

As in past lessons. we could be looking at two different scenarios here. There is substantial discussion as to who exactly the wicked rich are James is addressing. Are they Godless nonbelievers or are they believers seriously in rebellion against their God? It seems that the above language might strongly indicate these are nonbelievers doing these things. They have been warned, admonished, and warned yet more again. Despite these warning, they continue their lifestyle choices and judgment is imminent and will be harsh.

What about us? If we are believers, do we listen to God’s Word? Do we listen to the chastisement He may deliver for our transgressions? Are we listening to God’s fair and repeated warnings to turn from these things and return to Him?

If nonbelievers the same question applies. Are we heeding God’s repeated and earnest warnings to us concerning our lives? Are we answering God’s call to repent and believe, or face the judgment?

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