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Focal Passage- James 5:7-12

James 5:10-11 “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.  You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

The Bible has given us many examples of faith and assurance and patience in the midst of suffering.  It has given us examples of those who did it well and those who failed.  God is merciful and gracious in giving us these very vivid examples.  We can look to them and see the purposes God had in allowing the suffering they endured, something only their faith could comfort them in during those times.  We can also look to them and see how each dealt with the trial in his/her humanity.  Yes, our flesh is fallen, but that doesn’t mean we can’t endure our tribulations correctly, with patience and faith.  Many of these men and women did, and they did so in faith, without 20/20 hindsight.  Trusting God’s goodness means believing in His sovereignty.  This is how we can follow the examples given to us like Job and Daniel and Abraham.

Study/Meditation:  Which biblical example of patience in suffering is your favorite?  Why?  What might you take from this person’s life into your own today?

*Father, thank You for giving me such concrete examples to follow in Your Word.  Help me to look to them as I live each day.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 5:7-12

James 5:9 “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.”

One of the quickest triggers we have to grumble against one another is when troubles hit our lives.  Either someone didn’t do enough or they didn’t say enough or they didn’t give enough.  Often we simply need someone to blame when things aren’t going well.  James is now reminding us that in the midst of the unavoidable trials in our lives, we shouldn’t give in to the temptation to speak badly about our brothers and sisters.  Whereas he has warned of this earlier in his letter, at this point he is making his warning even weightier—Jesus is coming.  When we grumble and blame, we are judging the other to be wrong in our situation, and James is telling us to be careful.  We may assume the role of judge, but the true Judge will return.

Study/Meditation:  How should you handle hard situations in your life where another has wronged you instead of grumbling against them?

*Father, forgive me for judging others’ hearts and motives when I can only know my own.  Give me the wisdom and love to see beyond what I perceive as faults in others and concentrate instead on myself.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 5:7-12

James 5:7-8 “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. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

In the midst of persecution and trial, James is reminding us that we are a people of eternity, not of the temporal. This is not our home. We are pilgrims who are passing through, but even more importantly, we are pilgrims waiting on our King to return. The patience we are called to is one based on where our sights really lie. The Lord tells us to look beyond our present circumstances because none of this is important in light of the glorious day of His return. It’s difficult not to be caught up in the trials of this life, especially when they are the result of mistreatment from another. However, we, of all people, have reason to rejoice in the our knowledge of the coming glory of Jesus Christ, and everything points to that ultimate celebration. When we look to and wait on that, this world and its fleeting troubles are truly light and momentary.

Study/Meditation: Where is the Lord calling you to be more patient in your life? How can you get closer to that kind of patience?

*Father, I look expectantly to the return of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to remember that He is the goal and the prize so that I might look beyond this world. Thank You for that joy to hold onto. Amen.

Focal Passage- James 5:1-6

James 5:6 “You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.”

James’ final warning in this set of verses seems a bit strong. After all, very few of us actually murder another because of money. However, the exhortation is about using our wealth for any means that could hurt someone else or even keep something from someone else who we know needs it. Often what we do not give and what we do not do have serious implications for someone we might not even know personally. How many times might we use our wealth differently if we could actually see who is affected by it? If we knew people were harmed simply because we chose to buy a new car or a new pair of shoes instead of giving it to missions or to a family in need, would we still choose the former? As with everything concerned with our finances and our things, the money isn’t the issue. Our hearts and our motivations are the issue, and those directly affect the choices we make.

Study/Meditation: Why do you think that Paul wrote to Timothy that it is the “love” of money that is the root of all evil? (1 Timothy 6:10)

*Father, forgive me for holding onto my things as if they are my own. They are Yours, as I am Yours, and I commit to use them for Your Kingdom. Amen.

Focal Passage- James 5:1-6

James 5:5 “You have lived on the earth in luxury and self-indulgence.  You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.”

The third area that James wants us to examine in terms of worldliness is the area of self-denial.  He is attacking extravagant spending and unneeded luxury.  Have we lived a life that centers itself on making sure we are comfortable, even indulged, or have we denied ourselves for the sake of the Kingdom?  God does not call all of us to live a life destitute of His material blessings, but He does call us to self-denial for His sake and for the sake of His children.  I must ask myself what I have given up to support the mission field or the work of my local church.  What have I given up so that these works are strengthened?  We must never give from the top of our abundance.  Instead, we must give of our abundance so that our joy and satisfaction are in the things that are eternal.

Study/Meditation:  Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22, telling him that in order to follow Him, the young man had to give away all that he owned.  Why do you think Jesus followed this with telling the disciples how hard it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God?

*Father, thank You for all of the material blessings You give me.  I honor You with my things and desire to give of my abundance to Your Kingdom.  Thank You for the joy in doing so.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 5:1-6

James 5:4 “Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your field, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.”

There may be a temptation with this sort of warning to think it is for someone else, someone who has a lot of money and can afford to have people work for them.  Most of us would probably describe ourselves as the worker instead of the boss.  However, exhortations such as this one have much larger connotations than those with just the boss and his/her employees.  This exhortation describes actions that mirror a heart-attitude, and this heart-attitude is one of pride and finding worth in one’s position.  This attitude can be displayed in the way we deal with the cashier at the local grocery store or the beggar on the corner of the street.  This attitude can come out in the way we treat anyone we may see as either serving us or in a lower station in life that us.  James is reminding us that God is taking an account of the way we treat each other.  Love, which results in fair treatment, will never discriminate, no matter who you are.

Study/Meditation:  In what ways can the average person be tempted to this sort of behavior with another?  What things should you keep in mind so that you do not yield to this temptation?

*Father, thank You for loving all of us equally.  Forgive me when I fail at this and help me to remember how it is that You love me.  Amen.