“Trouble? PRAY! Happy? SING! Sick? CALL!” (James 5:13-20)
Series: JAMES Aug. 6, 2017 10:30 AM FINAL Series Message
FBC Earlville, NY J B Stopford, Pastor
TODAY’S SPECIAL: “A Shoplifter Funny” The manager of a grocery store nabbed a shoplifter in the act. He was escorting the suspect to his office, near the cash registers, when the shoplifter tried to run away.
After a brief scuffle the manager was able to wrestle the thief to the floor. He looked up to see a number of surprised customers staring at him.
“Everything’s fine, folks,” the manager assured them. “This guy just tried to go through the express line with more than ten items.”
INTRODUCTION This is the 11th and final message in our series on the book of James. This is considered the most practical book in the NT – and the companion book to the OT’s “Ecclesiastes”. Have you learned much in these weeks? Have you been challenged? I know I have!
These are the lessons I’ve learned in these 3 months:
1. ”count it all joy” is 4 words, not 3
2. The tests of life have purposes and are not random – they are designed for the Lord to mold me into His image
3. I need to see people as Jesus does, not as I think they look
4. The interruptions of each day may just be God’s assignments for me for that day
5. I need to live each day, determine what to do each day, by saying “if the Lord wills”
6. Do my riches – my STUFF – have me or do I submit my STUFF, my life, to God’s Lordship, His glory, and my accountability?
All the messages are online. If you’d like a physical copy, let me know! PRAYER
#1 TROUBLE? PRAY!
Remember our outline from the Blackaby Study Bible? Dr. Blackaby suggests that James closes his book with the wonderful theme, “The Power of Righteous Prayer”. What does that mean? Well, with what we’ve learned, it means that God is worthy of our trust, in every situation of our lives. And James lists 3 specific situations to close his book.
The first is “Trouble”! ILLUSTRATION: In 1962, the movie “The Music Man,” debuted in theaters. It stared Robert Preston in the lead as Professor Harold Hill, a fumbling musician who got a job as the town of River City’s community band director. Next to “76 Trombones (led the big parade)”, one of the more popular songs of that musical was “I’ve got Trouble” – and the chorus said: “I’ve got Trouble, right here in River City, with a capital T that rhymes with P and that stands for ‘Pool’”. Good stuff. And believe it or not, Mr. Preston and his family were my neighbors growing up in Rye, NY just outside New York City. Trouble: it has been wisely translated “suffering”, “suffering hardships”, “hurting”, “afflicted.” It’s a strong word. What do we usually do when we are facing that kind of trouble? We seek others. We FIRST go to doctors. We seek Mom, Dad, a friend. But remember, James is a book of what we should do FIRST. And he says, “you got trouble, right here in River City, with a capital T which rhymes with P which stands for Pool?”, then what you do first is PRAY! Jesus wrote, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”. Paul wrote in Col. 3:1-3, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” And Paul also told the dear people of the church in Thessalonica, “pray without ceasing.” (5:17). Now that DOESN’T mean to bow your head in prayer while driving at 55 miles an hour on the highway! But it DOES mean that when a burden comes to you, you commit it directly from your heart to our Heavenly Father, our Abba Father – our intimate eternal Father. In trouble? Pray!
Later in the chapter, James gives a dynamic illustration of the prophet, Elijah. We don’t read about him enough. Check out 1 Kings 17-19. He shows up before King Ahab in chapter 17. We’ve never met him before, and wicked King Ahab had no idea who he was. But he told the king, “it isn’t going to rain here for over 3 1/2 years.” Just before the end of those years, he met up with the king who said to Elijah, “are YOU the troubler of Israel?”. King Ahab didn’t get it! James says, when YOU are in trouble, PRAY! King Ahab didn’t seek the only true God. But later in the story, Elijah prayed, and he told the king, in essence, “you better hurry and get back to shelter at the palace – there is the sound of an ABUNDANCE of rain!”. James has a key phrase in describing Elijah, one that should be of rich encouragement to us. He says, “Elijah was a man just like us.” He was no spiritual big shot! If he could pray, so can and so should we!
In trouble? PRAY!
#2 HAPPY? SING!
James then points to the second situation of life that may and will confront us. What if instead of being in trouble, being anxious, hurting, or afflicted, things are actually going well? What if you were happy in your lot in life? You’re content – God is good. James says, we should sing! In the old KJV, Psalm 100 begins, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” You might not be able to carry a tune – except in your own mind and only in the shower – but God loves to hear that joyful noise! In fact, that old KJV adds to James’ instruction, that if anyone is happy, he should sing, specifically psalms! We used to do that in college – I’ve fallen away from that now. For example, someone (of old days) put Psalm 89:1 to music, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.” [if you know it, let’s sing it together!] And the wonderful words from Ps. 19:7-11. Let’s try the first verse, “ The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple…More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Great truths. Great happiness. Great SINGING!
#3 SICK? CALL!
Here comes the fun one, that gets many denominations confused as to practical application.
James says, in this section on “The Power of Righteous Prayer”, that if we’re sick there are a number of things we usually do, but don’t do FIRST. What do we do? We call a doctor. We go to webbed.com. We call mom and ask what she used to do. And all those are good and right and perhaps should be done. But James says there is one thing that we DON’T do as a church. When someone is sick, he doesn’t also CALL the elders – the leaders – of the church to pray, and then to gather together and pour MOXIE over the victim. Well, actually, they anointed him with oil. It doesn’t say what kind – olive oil? Cooking oil? Doesn’t say. But it is NOT the oil which heals the one who is sick. It is God. Illustration: years ago, a famous southern evangelist started a hospital on his college campus. I often thought “why?”, since he believed in the power of healing. If he really did, for what did he need a hospital? Couldn’t he just go from room to room, lay his hand on the patient, and heal him on the spot? The hospital would go broke quickly! But that’s not what the text says. It is the PRAYER of FAITH which heals the sick victim! In essence, the elders are agreeing together that God is faithful, and are trusting Him for His hand on the one who is sick. That is the key! So when you’re sick, continue to go to the doctors, go to hospitals, go to clinics. But remember to get the leadership of your church involved in the all-round care of the person: body, soul, and spirit.
I like the way the book ends. Remember, James is practical! And he now applies scripture in a most practical way. If someone wanders from the truth – and who doesn’t at times – and one of you observe that stray sheep, don’t just leave him there! Get involved! Pray, yes. But lovingly get involved in that person’s life! As our southern brethren say, “love on him!”. The earlier you get involved, the “multitude of sins” you will prevent!
We began on the first Sunday in May with this thought: with what I’ve learned in James, what am I going to do with it? James may have placed you at the crossroads of your faith. Are you going to continue a shallow walk with God with no fulfillment in your life? OR are you going to lay at the foot of the cross and say, as with Isaiah of old, “here am I, Lord”? Are we available to what God has designed for each of our lives? IF you’ve come to the cross and trusted Jesus as your Savior, are you available to be and to do what He has designed for you to do with your life?
Close in prayer