1 Peter – Chapter 4

Verse 1 – Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

Verse 2 – that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

Having the same mind as Christ had when he was ready to suffer for the will of God is the same determination Christians are to have. Christ was ready to suffer to bring about salvation to the whole world.

The reasoning is based on the idea that there is such a union between Christ and the believer that His death on the cross secured the death of the believer to the world – ceased from sin.

As Christians, we die to self, meaning, we are no longer under the influence of the former things – sin. We seek only to do the will of God.

Verse 3 – For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles – when we walked in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.

Verse 4 – In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.

When a person’s life changes radically at conversion, they may experience contempt from their old friends. They may be mocked because they refuse to participate in some of their activities. The new Christian is heading in the opposite direction now. However, God will give you new friends that you will have much more in common with.

Verse 5 – They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Verse 6 – For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

The basis of salvation is our belief in Jesus, but the basis for judgment is how we live. Those who inflict persecution on others, are marked for punishment when they stand before God.

Verse 7 – But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.

Death is certain to all, therefore, we are to live a holy life, by the assurance that “the end of all things is drawing near.” Therefore, be sober, thoughtful, considerate and kind to others. Be serous in prayer because time is short!

Verse 8 – And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

Proverbs 10:12 – Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins. Love to another will cover or hide a great many imperfections and faults, that you might have noticed in the other person.

Verse 9 – Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.

Don’t offer to do something for someone and then quarrel about it.

Verse 10 – As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Any endowment or gift that has been bestowed upon us in order to benefit another. By doing this we show the grace of God.

Verse 11 – If anyone speaks let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.

Some people believe that they have the right to use their God given abilities any way they choose. Others feel they have no special abilities at all, so they do nothing to help others. However, when we use our gifts and talents to serve others, they will see Jesus in us and praise God for the help they have received. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Verse 12 – Beloved do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange things happened to you;

Verse 13 – but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s suffering, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

This means suffering the same kind He endured, and inflicted for the same reasons. They were to rejoice that they were identified with Christ even in suffering. “Then when His glory is revealed” – at the day of judgment.

Verse 14 – If you are reproached for the name of Christ blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

Meaning: If they were reproached, it was a positive condition because they would be considered friends of Christ and had rewards waiting on them in heaven.

Verse 15 – But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.

Those kind of sufferings are because of doing wrong and there is no glory in them.

Verse 16 – Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

Verse 17 – For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

We are to judge ourselves first. We are to keep our character and actions in check, professing to be “Christ-like.” How will those on the outside of God’s house ever know we belong to Him if we don’t obey the gospel? If discipline comes to those who believe, how much more will it come to the unbeliever?

Verse 18 – Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and sinner appear.

Verse 19 – Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good as to a faithful Creator.

God created the world and has faithfully ordered it and kept it since creation. Because we know God is faithful, we can count on Him to keep His promises to us. If God can oversee the forces of nature, surely He can see us through our trials that we face!

 

 

 

 

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1 Peter – Chapter 3

Submission in Marriage

Verse 1 – Likewise you wives, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,

Verse 2 – when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.

Under Roman law, the husband and father had absolute authority over all members of his household including his wife. (These verses are not talking about a Christian woman marrying an unbeliever. It is talking about the wife being converted after marriage.)

Peter is reassuring Christian wives who were married to an unbelieving husband, that they did not need to preach to their husbands. He was simply saying that if they were kind, loving, and submissive to them, then they might win them over.

Verse 3 – Do not let your beauty be that outward adorning of arranging the hair of wearing gold, or of putting on fine apparel;

Peter is not saying that the wife should neglect her appearance by looking like, “Plain Jane.” It’s all about the heart and attitude when the wife dresses. Don’t be “Show offy!”

Verse 4 – but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Verse 5 – For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands,

Verse 6 – as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.

By these verses, we see it is not about the jewelry, it’s about a humble heart. And verse 6, is talking about : Don’t come out of the Christian character, even if the husband is mean and causes terror. Handle in a way that is becoming to a Christian wife. However, don’t  ever stay in an abusive relationship.

Verse 7 – Likewise you husbands, dwell with them with understanding giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

Husbands, did you catch that ? Be good to your wife, or your prayers will go no further than the ceiling!

Verse 8 – Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tender-hearted, be courteous;

Verse 9 – not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

Verse 10 – For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile;

Verse 11 – Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”

When Peter says, “All of you,” he is still talking to the married couple, but we all can take this to heart.

Verse 12 – For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

God protects the righteous. He does it by saving them from those vices by which the lives of so many are shortened. He hears every prayer of His children.

When verse 12 says, “But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, it’s talking about the lost, the unbeliever. The first prayer God will hear from them, is the prayer of repentance and belief in His Son Jesus.

Verse 13 – And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?

The idea is, that God would in general protect them, through the next verse shows some will suffer for righteousness sake.

Verse 14 – But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”

Verse 15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

Verse 16 – having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

As Christians, we are to live in such a way that when accusations from the enemy come, that our conscience is clear of any wrong doing.

Verse 17 – For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

You will be comforted by the Lord when doing the Father’s will and you are persecuted!

Verse 18 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by Spirit,

Verse 19 – by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison,

Verse 20 – who formerly were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

Peter is showing us of the patience of God through longsuffering for souls to come to Him. It took Noah 120 years to build that ark, and all the while preaching to whom would listen. However, only eight were saved when God shut the door to the ark. How long did God wait on you before you turned to Him?

Verse 21 – There is also an anti-type which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Verse 22 – who has gone to heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

Peter says that Noah’s salvation through water symbolized baptism. Baptism is the symbol of the transformation that happens in the heart of death (to the old life), burial (death to sin), and resurrection (raised to a new life), in Christ Jesus.

 

1 Peter – Chapter 2

Desire the Pure Milk of the Word

Verse 1 – Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,

Verse 2 – as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

Verse 3 – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Grace is the first thing we should learn as new believers; that a God so gracious would forgive and love us, in spite of our sin. So as we fill our spirits up with the gospel, these old characteristics start to disappear.

Once we start to learn from God;’s word what it means to be  a Christian, we develop a strong desire to have self-control, by staying in the Word. Then as we see things like envy begin to fall away, we know we are maturing.

Verse 4 – Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,

Verse 5 – you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Salvation is often referred to as “coming to Christ” the “corner-stone” of the spiritual house. Some reject Him, some come to the “living stone,” for salvation. This body of believers, the spiritual house is built with “living stones,” living materials. This spiritual temple, not made with perishable materials, like that at Jerusalem, but made with redeemed souls, in which Christ is the head.

To offer up spiritual sacrifices – no more animal sacrifices, but a sacrifice of the heart; the sacrifice of prayer and praise, acceptable only y through Christ as our Intercessor before the throne of God.

Verse 6 – Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”

Have you ever put your trust in something or someone, and then find out you were wrong to do so? This causes shame or embarrassment. However, God and His Word, can be trusted to their fullest, and you will never fall prey to shame because He does what He says and is who He says He is!

Verse 7 – Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,”

Verse 8 – and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

“But to those who are disobedient” – refuse to be persuaded, to believe. Some of these believe there are many ways to God’ some believe because they think they are a “good person,” that is good enough. However, they still refuse to believe in the only one and true way to God is through Jesus Christ. The gospel offends them, and it therefore becomes a stumbling rock to them! They are blinded to the truth.

Verse 9 – But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him which called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

Verse 10 – who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

“Called out of darkness” – darkness is the emblem of ignorance, sin, and misery, and refers to their condition, and ours, before conversion. Those who are brought to the knowledge of the gospel.

A conversion is so great and so rapid, the views and feelings are so different before and after conversion, that it seems like a sudden transition from midnight to noon – darkness to light. In all cases of genuine conversion it is true that each one can say that they have been called from a state in which their mind was dark to one in which it is comparatively clear!

Verse 11 – Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,

Verse 12 – having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Christians are identified as sojourners and pilgrims because this world is not our home. “Abstain from fleshly lusts” – these fleshly lusts can be sexual temptations; and be temptations that conquer us. There are all kinds of temptations to make the flesh feel fulfilled. It’s not wrong to want to be happy, but we know what is good for us and what isn’t. The choices we make in this life will affect us in the next.

Peter uses the Gentiles as the evildoers in the next verse, because there were a large number of non-believers that were involved in paganism surrounding the Christians that he was writing to. If we are constantly on guard of our behavior and conduct to honor God, we shouldn’t worry too much about what unbelievers say about us. When they speak lies, others will see that what they’ve accused us of is not true.

Verse 13 – Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme,

Verse 14 – or to governors as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.

The meaning is to every institution of man, those who are in authority – obey the laws of the land unless contrary to God’s laws. If we don’t break the law, then we wont’ be punished by the law.

Verse 15 – For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men –

Verse 16 – as free, yet not using your liberty as a cloak for vice, but as servants of God.

Those who were converted to the Christian faith, whether from among the Jews or the Gentiles, were made to feel that they were the children of God, and that His law was the supreme rule of their lives. They were not to forget their subjection to civil authority and that liberty was an invaluable blessing. They were free from sin and condemnation.

Verse 17 – Honor all people, love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

Verse 18 – Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.

Our demeanor is not to change due to the response of the other person.

Verse 19 – For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.

Meaning: Even if we suffer at the hands of someone being harsh, we still do what’s right because we love God. He will make it right.

Verse 20 – For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer for it, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.

The idea is, that if a person was justly punished, (meaning they deserved it) and take it patiently, there would be no honor in it. On the other hand, if someone who is unjustly punished for no wrong doing, then it is honor in God’s sight.

Verse 21 – For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

Verse 22 – “Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth,”

Verse 23 – who, when He reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;

Verse 24 – who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we have died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you ere healed.

Peter said all that , to show Christians: That because Christ suffered for the sins of others, who had no sin Himself, we will also suffer unjustly in this world at the hands of others, so let Christ be an example as to how we conduct ourselves when we are harshly treated.

“By whose stripes” – Christ took the scourging, beatings, and humiliation for us on account of our sin.

“Ye were healed” – Sin is often spoken of as a disease, and redemption from it as a restoration from it.

Verse 25 – For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Like sheep with no shepherd, we all had wandered away from the flock, and were following our own paths before coming to Christ. We were without a protector and were exposed to every kind of danger.

But once we became born-again, we return to the true flock and now have the great Protector and Shepherd of our souls living on the inside of us.

 

1 Peter – Chapter 1

Introduction: Persecution can cause either growth or bitterness in the Christian life. Response will determine the result. In writing to Jewish believers struggling in the midst of persecution, Peter encourages them to conduct themselves courageously.  Both their character and conduct must be above reproach.

Chapter 1

Verse 1 – Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

Verse 2 – elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

Verse 3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Verse 4 – to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

Verse 5 – who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

James was writing to the temporary residents which had been dispersed to that region – in this case, the five Roman provinces located in what is now modern Turkey.

Divine foreknowledge is the basis on which a believer is chosen. It is more than just God’s prior knowledge of everything; it also includes His predetermination.

All members of the Trinity work to bring about our salvation. The Father chose us before we chose Him (Ephesians 1:4).

For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, they have an inheritance with the Father for all eternity.

Verse 6 – In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you  have been grieved by various trials,

Verse 7 – that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Verse 8 – whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

Verse 9 – receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.

When Peter talks about sufferings he is not talking about natural disasters or experiencing God’s punishment, but the response of an unbelieving world to people of faith – persecutions.

All Christians will suffer trials, fiery trials, that burn away impurities and prepares us to meet Christ. Trials teach us patience and helps us grow into the kind of people God wants. Just as gold is heated to remove the impurities, likewise we are strengthened through trials of our faith.

Verse 10 – Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, when prophesied of the grace that would come to you,

Verse 11 – searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

The Old Testament people didn’t personally know Christ, but they believed God and His promise of a Messiah. That promise that the prophets had looked forward to had now been revealed – salvation through Christ.

The Spirit of Christ is another name for the Holy Spirit.

Verse 12 – To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things which angels desire to look into.

Verse 13 – Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

When Christ is revealed to you, grace is supplied. When Christ is accepted, hope takes hold of an eternal rest with the Savior.

Verse 14 – as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;

Former ignorance: suggests that the recipients of this letter were mostly Gentiles who, before coming to Christ, practiced pagan religions.

Verse 15 – but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,

Verse 16 – because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Holiness means being totally devoted or dedicated to God, set aside for His special use and set apart from sin and its influence. This is in contrast to the way we used to live. Always keep in mind, we are all accountable for our actions.

Verse 17 – And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear;

Verse 18 – knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,

Verse 19 – but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

We are not to take our salvation, that was bought with the precious blood of Christ, for granted. That alone should make anyone want to live a holy life.

Verse 20 – He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times for you,

Verse 21 – who through Him believed in God, who raised Him form the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Christ was not an afterthought after man sinned. The plan was set in motion by the all-knowing, eternal God long before the world was created.

Verse 22 – Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,

Verse 23 – having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,

Verse 24 – because “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away,

Verse 25 – but the word of the LORD endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

Do you know a self-centered person cannot truly love. Everything is only temporary except the Word of God, which is eternal! Why is it that something that is so important to our very life and destiny after death, do so many know so little about? If people want a spirit filled life, then they need to go to the word of God and get filled. It makes all the difference in the world how your life will turn out.

 

 

 

James – chapter 5

Verse 1 – Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!

James proclaims the worthlessness of riches, not the worthlessness of the rich. Today’s wealth will be worthless when Christ returns. Money is not he problem. It’s the love of money that causes people to oppress people in order to get more. This is a warning to all Christians not to adopt the world’s standards of money and riches.

Verse 2 – Your riches are corrupt and your garments are moth-eaten.

This verse is talking about “hoarded treasures.” The idea here is, they have accumulated in excess of what they need for their own use. Instead of sharing to help others, they keep it and it rots and rusts.

Verse 3 – Your gold and silver are corrupted, and their corrosion will be witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasures in the last days.

This verse refers to greed and will be the undoing of some.

Verse 4 – Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers.

Verse 5 – You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.

Meaning: They lived in indulgence and what gratified them, while those who worked for them lived without and under their oppression.

Verse 6 – You have condemned, you have murdered the just, he does not resist you.

This is what dictators do. This is also what happened in Biblical days. The poor were not able to pay their debt, so they were thrown in jail or sold into slavery. The rich lived well; they had the fine houses and all the food they could ever eat, all the while the majority of the people starved.

Verse 7 – Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.

Verse 8 – You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Verse 9 – Do not grumble against one another brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!

While living on this earth, some will suffer a long time. James says to be patient without grumbling against others or what has been done to you, also. God sees what others do to His children and will punish those who don’t repent. Sometimes the punishment will come in this life-time, some the next.

Verse 10 – My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.

Verse 11 – Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Was Job tested to the fullest? Yes, and the Lord blessed him with double of whatever he had before the testing started. Did he get discouraged? Sure he did, just like we do when trying times hit. But please remember, if you are trusting and walking with God, you are exactly where you are supposed to be, “right now!”

Verse 12 – But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven, or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.

The habit of swearing by various things was a very common one among Jews. What James is saying is, we ought to be of the representation, that when we say yes or no people believe us. You shouldn’t have to convince them by saying, “I swear.”

Verse 13 – Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.

Verse 14 – Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Does the church you attend do this? So many have forgotten these verses that James wrote. They come into the house of God every week,with either spiritual or physical aliments, and no one calls for the elders to pray for them. I haven’t seen this done in years. What I see is a “hurry up,” let’s get this over with attitude, because another service has to take place and be on time.

You want to know why Christians of today are defeated, sick, and grown cold, it’s because no one takes the time to pray as a whole congregation should. Congregational prayer takes time and it can get loud and messy when people need deliverance. Nothing should take over seeing a person saved or the sick healed when we gather, with the exception of the gospel being preached.

Verse 15 – And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Now do you see why it is so important that we should pray? There is nothing that compares to the power of Christians praying over the sick to be healed. God says, “He will raise them up!” Then why is this not happening all over our churches today? One very good reason is because people know so little of God’s word and His character, that they don’t believe He will do it!

Verse 16 – Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Do you see a connection between un-confessed trespasses and being healed?

Verse 17 – Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.

Verse 18 – And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

In other words: We have the same ability to have the same faith that Elijah had, so use it! That same power lives in each Christian.

Verse 19 – Brethren, if anyone among you wonders from the truth, and someone turns him back,

Verse 20 – let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

Clearly this person who has wondered from the truth is a believer. This is one who no longer is living a life consistent with their belief. They need to repent and if they refuse, we can’t help them. James urges Christians to help backsliders return to God by caring enough to pray with the.

The Book of James teaches us that our faith has to have hands and feet!

 

James – Chapter 4

Faith Produces Humility

Verse 1 – Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?

James is talking about conflicts among Christians and Jews or Christians among Christians. This desire for pleasure can be anything from ambition of fame, lust, or indulgence of any corrupt propensity of the mind.

Most of the wars which have occurred in the world can be traced to lust. The lust of conquest, the ambition to rule, the gratification of revenge, are all reasons for war.

Verse 2 – You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.

That is, you wish to have something which you do not now possess, and in which you have no just claim, and this prompts to the effort to obtain it by force. The causes of war on a larger scale by nations is, extension of territory, wealth, and total rule over people, and leads to bloodshed.

Yet you do not have because you do not ask – if you sought that from God which you truly need, you would obtain it.

Verse 3 – You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

James mentions the most common problems in prayer; either not asking at all, or asking with selfish desires. When we start to line our attitudes and desires to God’s will for our lives, we will start to see answered prayers.

Verse 4 – Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Sometimes having friendship with the world involves seeking pleasures at other’s expense or at the expense of disobeying God. Pleasures from disobeying God is sin; pleasures from God which enrich our lives is good!

Verse 5 – Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain,”The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?”

Verse 6 – But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

God gives more grace to overcome evil passions, and to subdue the corrupt inclinations. And this “more grace” will be given to the humble, not to the proud.

Verse 7 – Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

So how do we submit to God? We start with a repentant heart and then receive forgiveness. We submit our ways to God’s ways and we learn God’s ways through Scripture and the Holy Spirit. And then we resist the temptation that the devil has put before us and he will flee!

Verse 8 – Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Verse 9 – Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.

James gives us five ways to draw near to God: (1) submit; (2) yield to His authority and will; (3) resist the devil; (4) purify our hearts; (5) be sincere for our sins and humble ourselves before Him.

Verse 10 – Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.

Verse 11 – Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

Jesus summarized the law as love for God and neighbor and Paul said that love demonstrated toward a neighbor would fully satisfy the law (Romans 13:6-10). When we fail to love, we are actually breaking God’s law.

Verse 12 – There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

Verse 13 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit”;

Verse 14 – whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

Leaving God out of our plans and desires, is paramount to arrogance and unbelief.

Verse 15 – Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Verse 16 – But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

Verse 17 – Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Most tend to think that doing wrong is sin, but James reminds us that not doing what is right is sin also. Yes, it is a sin to lie, but it is also a sin to know the truth and not tell it. Think about that the next time you withhold from someone who needs help and the truth needs to be told.

James – Chapter 3

Faith Controls the Tongue

Verse 1 – My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive stricter judgment.

Those who teach are held to a much higher standard. If they haven’t had proper training, they might teach in error. Teaching in error of the Scriptures can affect someone’s spiritual growth.

Verse 2 – For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body.

Verse 3 – Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.

Verse 4 – Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.

Verse 5 – Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

Verse 6 – And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire by hell.

Once a wildfire starts, it’s hard to contain. Verse 6 says the tongue can defile the whole body and has its source from hell. Once words are spoken, you can’t take them back. Harsh words spoken, can divide people and cause major destruction. We all have a choice how we speak to others. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).

Verse 7 – For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.

Verse 8 – But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Verse 9 – With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.

Even though no one is always kind in their speech, that doesn’t mean we don’t try. It’s better to fight a little fire than to go around setting them.

Look carefully what James says about blessings and cursing with the same tongue. Whatever is in the heart will come out of the mouth.

Verse 10 – Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not be so.

Verse 11 – Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?

Our words can change the atmosphere in any situation we are in. Words have power either to destroy or bless! That’s why when we speak about a certain situation, we speak faith toward the end result. Or when  comforting someone, we speak encouragement and love. Our words need to live up with what God says, goodness, forgiveness, and mercy towards others.

Verse 12 – Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring can yield both salt water and fresh.

When the Holy Spirit changes a heart, He gives us self-control. We will start to speak words that are pleasing to God.

Verse 13 – Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.

Verse 14 – But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, also not boast and lie against the truth.

True wisdom can be measured by the depth of a person’s character. James is still talking about those who desire to become teachers. Envy and selfish ambition are far from being a minor flaw in someone’s character. Sometimes its evident but sometimes it’s hidden. Eventually it will come out of mouth and through their actions.

Verse 15 – This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.

James is referring to envy and selfish ambition.

Verse 16 – For where envy and self-seeking exists, confusion and envy evil things will be there.

Verse 17 – But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Verse 18 – Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I know a lot of people who call themselves Christians, but need to ask themselves, “Do I cause discord and strife, or do I bring peace when I come?