November 4, 2021

Now is the Time for High Hopes and Patience... - The Book of James Bible Series


Happy November, Y'all!  Can you even believe that we are this close to all the end-of-year Holidays and festivities? I was talking with a friend just the other day sharing about how this year has seemed to slip right by while we have been holding our collective breath, waiting... for healing, for hope, for a breakthrough, or overcoming... While much of our 'normal' lives may have been pushed to the side or put on pause, Time -in fact- did not slow!
This also means we are nearing the end of our study, reading through the book of James together through 2021!  Let's continue with Chapter 5... 



"Meanwhile, brothers and sisters, we must be patient and filled with expectation as we wait for the appearing of the Lord. Think about the farmer who has to patiently wait for the earth’s harvest as it ripens because of the early and latter rains. So you also, keep your hopes high and be patient, for the presence of the Lord is drawing closer. Since each of you are part of God’s family never complain or grumble about each other so that judgment will not come on you, for the true Judge is near and very ready to appear!

My brothers and sisters, take the prophets as your mentors. They have prophesied in the name of the Lord and it brought them great sufferings, yet they patiently endured. We honor them as our heroes because they remained faithful even while enduring great sufferings. And you have heard of all that Job went through and we can now see that the Lord ultimately treated him with wonderful kindness, revealing how tenderhearted he really is!

Above all we must be those who never need to verify our speech as truthful by swearing by the heavens or the earth or any other oath. But instead we must be so full of integrity that our “Yes” or “No” is convincing enough and we do not stumble into hypocrisy." (The Passion Translation)

Oh man, this portion is PACKED full of goodness!

Remember whenever we start with a 'meanwhile' or 'therefore' we need to back up and remind ourselves what the 'therefore' is there for!  Last time, we talked about how James was calling out those who were not taking opportunities to do good, but instead enjoying the luxuries their wealth afforded them.  He was a bundle of fun last time, remember?  But the 'meanwhile' is meant to be an encouragement here! In the midst of repenting and lamenting and getting right with God, --meanwhile-- let's also be expectant and hopeful that the Lord is ever near and His appearance is fast approaching!  So, in other words, while we wait for His appearing... we are called to be doing something! (Lamenting and repenting, yes --but also: expecting and anticipating!) That word translated 'appearing' can mean “arrival, presence, becoming manifest, appearing” and the Footnotes in the Passion say that it has 'little to do with distance or space, but with becoming visible, such as an uncovering or revealing what is nearby. It is commonly used for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.' 

James tells us to not blame others for our troubles... (It's like he knows us?) But instead, to remember that the one true Judge is at the gate, ready to come on the scene! He goes on to admonish the believers to receive and learn from the prophets, for they have followed God and suffered much... and we are to regard them as blessed. They are true heroes of the faith.  This makes me think of what the prophets right now are saying... how they have suffered much... and how they are blessed and heroes, still!

Then he wraps up our portion of Scripture today telling us our Yes should be Yes and our No should be No! We should be so honest and transparent, so full of truth and integrity, there should be no need or temptation to have to follow up our statements by swearing an oath or using persuasive language to be convincing!


Let's read this in the New American Standard Bible, for those who appreciate a less poetic modern translation!

"Therefore be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brothers and sisters, against one another, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brothers and sisters, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

But above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but [g]your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you do not fall under judgment." (NASB)

Again, we are told to be patient while waiting but there is also the call to do something! And that something is to 'strengthen your hearts' - and to not complain against each other. (How many know when we are waiting and doing nothing --the enemy can come in quick and sow seeds of judgment and complaints.  His job is to discourage and divide.) I believe this is why James tells us to strengthen our hearts while waiting... because if we are paying attention to our heart and intentionally tuning it to His, we will be WAY LESS LIKELY to turn on each other! 

So, can I encourage you to take note of your thoughts and feelings when they turn to judging or complaining about your brothers and sisters in Christ? Listen - I know! I know the Body seems divided and like there are at least two or three splits or sides and it's super easy to accidentally fall into tearing 'them' apart --but James is telling us here that if we would pay attention and be quick to strengthen our heart, rather than judge and tear down someone else's, well-- things will go much better for us! The one true Judge is at the door, ready to return... and He will judge all things when He comes. Until then, we wait... and we pay attention to and protect our own heart against judging and complaining!

Here's the thing: We are accountable to the Lord --and to each other.  So, while I believe judging is ultimately HIS job, we ARE called to call each other out when we are not making the best or wisest choices... but it is to be done in LOVE - not anger or fear or harsh judgment... it is to be done the same way Jesus did it when he was in the flesh and walked among us! Let Him lead you... It feels like there is a whole lot of complaining and judging and while it may be said to be meant or done in love, it sure doesn't FEEL like Love, does it?  I'm pretty sure when Jesus said, "Now go, and sin no more!" there may have been Holy Spirit's conviction, but there was no heavy yoke of condemnation or disgust! 

I believe Righteousness is returning to the church - and not in a heavy-handed legalistic way, but in a bowing to conviction and letting Him actually BE our Lord kind of way! (Read: That way is SO MUCH better!)


Lastly, my favorite translation: The Message Bible:

"Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.

Friends, don’t complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know. The Judge is standing just around the corner.

Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

And since you know that he cares, let your language show it. Don’t add words like “I swear to God” to your own words. Don’t show your impatience by concocting oaths to hurry up God. Just say yes or no. Just say what is true. That way, your language can’t be used against you." (The Message Bible)

'What a gift life is to those who stay the course!' <-- This...  So. Much. This! 

Stay steady and strong. Just as the farmer waits, knowing the rains are doing the work, wait patiently like that!  I know - we all want sunshine and harvest... and for many of us, we have been in a LONG long season of waiting! Waiting for answered prayers, waiting for a breakthrough, waiting for victory, for healing, for promises kept, for something new... 

Can I assure you, He IS working... He IS coming... Your Harvest is nearly ready.

Stay strong and steady...
Stay the course, my friends!
Stand your ground and hold the line!

Just as on the first day of this year, and as the last day is fast approaching, I hear Him whisper,

'...Your Redemption Draweth Nigh!'


Let's pray: 

Father God, We are so grateful that You sent Jesus!  We're so thankful that You came! And even more than that, --that You are coming back again!  

Holy Spirit, enable and empower us to wait well.  Help us to wait in expectation and hope... help us to wait while strengthening our hearts and holding our tongues.  Lord, we know You are the only one true Judge... the only One able to be just and fair... and we know Jesus You paid the price and cleared our debt and it is by grace we have been saved! Help us to remember that and to offer and extend grace to others around us!

Jesus, You know we don't love praying for patience... but we know we need it!  

Give us faith like the farmers... those who willingly do the hard work of sowing and are willing and able to trust the process and see through the rain and the wind and know that the Harvest will come!  Remind us to protect our hearts and minds, keeping them focused on You! Help us to stay steady and strong!  Father God, put a check in our spirit whenever we begin to complain or judge.  If we are called to hold a brother or sister accountable, give us loving words dripping with grace to speak softly to them, with the intent of guiding them back to You. If we are called to simply pray for them and not say anything, help us to do just that --praying and talking with You and no one else!  Remind us Lord that if we judge, by that same measure, we will be judged. If it's in love for the purpose of course-correcting, we would want and welcome that! If it's anything else -- we would resent and reject it! Help us to remember that! 

Lord, thank You for the Prophets... the ones of old and the one's today!  Let them continue to hear and speak Your heart and Your will! Thank You, God, that You care right down to the last detail! Knowing that, Lord... help us to be a people of integrity, truth, and honor, letting our Yes be Yes and our No be No!

For the King and His Kingdom,

In Jesus' Name!

As November gets underway and Fall winds down as Winter threatens an early arrival, how are you feeling as this year begins to wrap up? I'd love to know if you have been with me all year long here! And if so, what are your thoughts on this Series? Other than the beloved 31 Days series, I have only done a handful of series and other than Colossians, we have not done a year-long Bible series.  My hope is to make both this series as well as the Colossians series available in book form at the beginning of 2022!

Anyway, I'm so proud of us! We have made it into James, Chapter 5 together... just a few verses at a time, giving God room to convict and correct us as we press in to be more like Jesus!

Until next time,

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