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Excellent Guidance for Everyday Life (Part 1)

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Christianity Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Part 12: Excellent Guidance for Everyday Life (Part 1)

James 5:13-20

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - May 6 2012

*Someone put together a list of Kid’s Instructions on Life:

-9-year-old Rocky said: "When feeding seagulls, always wear a hat."

-And 12-year-old Joel said, "Don't pick on your sister when she's holding a baseball bat." (1)

*Those are some pretty good instructions, but we’ve got infinitely better instructions right here in the Word of God. And as James closes this practical and powerful little letter, he gives us some excellent guidance for everyday life.

1. First: Seek God’s help for your suffering.

*This is James guidance to us in the first part of vs. 13, where he said: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.” We might think, “Well, that’s so obvious. Why did James even bother to say it?”

[1] But when you are suffering and afflicted, your thinking can get clouded. You might get so distracted by your pain that you don’t feel like praying or even think to pray. I felt that way when I had a kidney stone many years ago. But God wants us to pray.

[2] When you are suffering, you might think, “God doesn’t love me.” But He proves His love every day in big and small ways. And He proved it best when Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. As Paul said in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And God wants us to pray.

[3] When you are suffering, you might think that God is chastening you for some sin, and that could be true. Paul tells us this in 1 Cor 11. But 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And whenever you are suffering, God wants you to pray for yourself.

*One of the best places we can find personal prayers is in the Book of Psalms. Many times I have pointed hurting people to David’s pain-filled prayer in Psalm 13. There David cried out to God and said:

1. How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?

2. How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

3. Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

4. Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against him''; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

5. But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

6. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

*Seek the Lord’s help for your suffering, and the Lord will give you David’s testimony from Psalm 34:6. “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.”

*No wonder James tells us to seek God’s help for our suffering.

2. But he also tells us to sing God’s praise.

*That’s the message in the last part of vs. 13, where James said: “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.” One of the great things about being a Christian is that God puts a song in your heart. God puts a song in our hearts, and He wants us to let it out.

[1] Sometimes we will be all by ourselves. But God hears our joyful praise, and He loves to hear our praise.

[2] Sometimes other believers will hear our songs, and be encouraged by the reminders of God’s goodness, strength, mercy, grace and faithfulness.

*Hearing something upbeat and encouraging has a positive effect on us. It lifts us up and brightens our day. And it doesn’t have to be a song. It might just be an encouraging word. And that kind of positive, encouraging energy is multiplied when we joyfully sing about our Lord.

*James said: “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.” Sometimes other believers will be blessed.

[3] But sometimes lost people will hear our songs, and be blessed to turn to the Lord.

*That’s one of the great things that happened in Acts 16. Paul and Silas were with the people of Philippi. Great things happened while they were there. People were being saved.

*Then Paul and Silas were severely beaten and thrown into prison. Why? -- There was a young woman in that city, a slave able to tell fortunes, because she was possessed by a demon. Paul cast the demon out. And her owners were furious when they realized they couldn’t make money any more from her fortune-telling.

*Listen to what happened next, starting in Acts 16:22.

22. Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.

23. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.

24. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns (or praises) to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

*Listen to that verse again:

25. . . At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

26. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.

27. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.

28. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.''

29. Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.

30. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?''

31. So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.''

32. Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.

33. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.

34. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

*When the doors were opened and their chains were loosed, why did the prisoners stay? -- It must have been something they heard when Paul & Silas were singing praises to God.

*No doubt many of those prisoners got saved that night, and all of the jailer’s household got saved. Great things can happen when God’s people joyfully sing about our Savior Jesus Christ.

*So James tells us to sing God’s praise.

3. He also tells us to share our faults with one another.

*We hear this guidance in the first part of vs. 16, where James simply said: “Confess your faults (or trespasses) to one another.”

*Now confessing our sins can be hard to do. Usually, we would much rather confess somebody else’s sins! And we don’t like to confess our own sins, because it’s hard to admit that we have been wrong.

*Max Lucado told a story that happened when his daughter Andrea was real young. Andrea got a splinter in her finger. So Max took her to bathroom, where he got out the tweezers, some ointment and a band-aid. Andrea did not like the looks of those tweezers, so she said: “I just want the band-aid, Daddy.” (2)

*That’s the way we are a lot of times. It seems a lot easier to cover up a problem, than to really take care of it. But that doesn’t work out too well in the long run.

*King David found out that trying to hide our sins from God just doesn’t work. David later wrote about it in Psalm 32, where he said:

1. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered.

2. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no guile.

3. When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long.

4. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.

5. I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,'' And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.

*We need to confess our sins, and most of all, we need to confess our sins to God. But in vs. 16, James reminds us that there is also a time when we need to confess to each other.

*Notice in vs. 16 that James says “confess your faults to one another. . .” James is not talking about a public spectacle or public humiliation, although there is a time for public confession.

[1] James says confess your sins one to another. This would certainly include the person you have offended.

-And it echoes something the Lord said in the Sermon on the Mount. Listen to the Lord starting in Matthew 5:22: “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. . .”

*“Raca” meant an empty-headed, worthless person. And Jesus said:

22. . . “Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.

*Now here comes the confession:

23. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24. leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

*“Confess your faults to one another. . .” This would include the person you have sinned against.

[2] But it could also include a mature Christian:

-Someone you are close to.

-Someone you can trust.

-Someone who won’t gossip about you.

-Someone who will help you be accountable.

*We ought to be able to say: “I’ve got a problem. Will you pray for me? Will you help me do better?”

*Confession is good for the soul.

-So James tells us to share our faults with one another.

4. But he also tells us to speak to God for others.

*Vs. 14-18 remind us that God wants us to pray for other people. Here James asked:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

*There is so much truth about prayer packed into this passage, that we don’t have time to do it justice tonight. But next Sunday, Lord willing, we will close our study of James with a close look at this passage on prayer.

*Tonight just note that James tells us to speak to God for others.

5. He also tells us to help steer people to God’s truth.

*This is the message for all Christians in vs. 19-20. Here James said:

19. Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, (The KJV says, “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him”)

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.

*Some people think that James here is talking about Christians losing their salvation. But if that were true, we would have to ignore many other passages from the Word of God.

*The Apostle Peter needed to be converted after he got saved. Jesus prophesied this in Luke 22:31-32.

31. And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.

32. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me (KJV “art converted”), strengthen your brethren.''

*The Holy Spirit used the same word for “convert” in both cases. So notice that Peter needed to be converted after he denied the Lord. But there is no evidence that Peter ever lost his salvation.

*Christians don’t lose their salvation, but as vs. 20 tells us, we can lose our way. And when one of us does lose our way, God wants the rest of us to do everything we can to help turn them back to the truth.

*There are even more people who have never found the truth. And God wants us to help them understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He wants us to help them see the truth for the first time.

*Acts 11:21 has been one of the most inspirational verses to me since we came to Grayson. Speaking of the church at Antioch, Acts 11:21 says: “The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.”

*Now God wants to use us to help more people turn to the Lord.

*During the Christmas season of 1879, a newspaper reporter in Boston saw 3 little girls standing in front of a store window full of toys. One of the girls was blind. Coming closer, reporter heard the other girls trying to describe the toys to their blind friend.

*He had never thought how hard it would be to explain what something looks like to someone who has never been able to see. So he wrote a story about it for the local paper.

*Two weeks later this same reporter went to a service led by the great preacher, D.L. Moody. The reporter went looking for something wrong in the sermon, so he could report it in the newspaper. But he was shocked to hear Mr. Moody use his own story of the 3 children to illustrate a spiritual truth.

*Moody said: “Just as the blind girl couldn’t visualize the toys. So an unsaved person cannot see Christ in all His Glory. But God opens the eyes of anyone who acknowledges his sin and accepts the Savior in humble faith.”

*God used Moody’s words to touch that reporter’s heart, and he joyfully turned his life over to Jesus. (3)

*We can clearly see the Hand of the Lord at work in this story.

*It was the Hand of God:

-That put the reporter in front of that store just in time to notice the 3 girls...

-That allowed him to write the story...

-That allowed the editor to place it in the paper...

-That allowed Moody to read the story...

*And it was the Hand of the Lord that led the skeptical reporter to hear Moody’s sermon on the very night that the preacher had been inspired to use the story of the blind girl as an illustration.

*In these ways and countless more, the Hand of God is at work today to help people turn to the Lord. He wants us to help too. And we can, if we follow the guidance God gives us here in His Word.

*Think about that as we go to God in prayer.

1. Original source unknown - (Found in Dynamic Preaching Sermon “So Much We Don't Understand” by King Duncan - John 16:12-15 - Second Sunday in June - 2001)

2. A GENTLE THUNDER by Max Lucado - p. 172

3. Original source unknown - (Partial story found at “Our Daily Bread” - “Seeing At Christmas” by Herbert Vander Lugt - Dec. 21, 2006 - odb.org20061221seeing-at-christmas/)

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