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The Other Brother


 Luke 15: 25-32

This morning we are going to talk about an issue that seems to be extremely difficult for people, perhaps even some of us, to do.

We are going to conclude our study of Luke 15 today by looking at the “Other Brother”…and as we study this morning hopefully we will learn some things that we need to know about forgiveness.

And, we might also learn that you do not necessarily have to go to the “distant country” to be separated from the Father.

A father has two sons….and the youngest one tells his father that he wants his share of the estate.

And that brings us to verse 25 and our study today.

It was ok for the father to restore the younger brother to son-ship…but he sure wasn’t going too.

Why? Why wasn’t this boy willing to forgive? His brother acknowledged his sin and was willing to be a simple “hired hand.” Why wasn’t this boy willing to forgive like his father was?

His father comes out and pleads with the boy and the boy says: “Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours, and yet you have never given me a kid that I might be merry with my friends…”

Do you see why he won’t forgive? The reason why he won’t forgive is because of his own self-righteousness!

Is that one of the reasons why we don’t want to forgive people?

A sister lies…but we aren’t going to forgive her because we have never lied!

Do we refuse to forgive someone because “I didn’t do that so they shouldn’t have either?”

But you know what…we often do what we refuse to forgive someone else for?

Which of us has been so perfect in our righteousness that we did not need to be forgiven?

God thinks so because in Matthew 6:15 Christ says, “If you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

 If Christ, as righteous as He was, is willing to forgive others…shouldn’t we?

Look at another reason this boy refuses to forgive…look at the end of verse 29. He says, “You have never given me a kid that I might make merry with my friends.”

 This boy is jealous!

Do we ever refuse to forgive someone because we are jealous?

While they are out there in the “distant country” and suffering we pat ourselves on the back and say, “Look what kind of a mess they are in and look at how good I am.”

Are we are jealous because of all the attention they receive?

Jealousy is a powerful thing…it was the chief cause behind these Jews and scribes crucifying Christ; Mark 15:10.

And jealousy can cause us to refuse to forgive another…and as a result, our own jealousy can and will destroy us.

Listen to these words found in Eph. 4: 31-32:  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

This older brother was jealous of the attention…and the compassion…and the restored relationship that his younger brother received…and if that is what is causing us to fail to forgive, we better put it away.

Look at another reason why this older brother refused to forgive his younger brother…look at verse 30:  “When this son of yours…”

“When this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with harlots…”

 “If it had been just a little lie…I could see forgiving that.”

“But this boy “devoured your wealth.”

Are there some sins that we just cannot and will not forgive?

We often deny it, but there are some sins that, God can forgive, “but not me.”

Look with me to 1 Corinthians 6:9. Notice these sins.

 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor {the} covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Pretty bad sins aren’t they?

But look at the next verse:  1 Cor 6:11

And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

 If God will forgive those sins…shouldn’t we?

Back in Luke 15, notice what the father tells the older son in verse 31 and 32:  “And he said to him, ‘My child, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.

 ‘But we had to be merry and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and {has begun} to live, and {was} lost and has been found.”

 Look back up in verses 1 and 2 of this chapter.

Now, just a couple of quick points and we will close.

It may be that some one here this morning doesn’t think that God can or will forgive you.

Just as this boy’s father forgave him…our Father will forgive you and restore you to son-ship…just as if you had never left….no matter what you have done…or how long you did it.

Now, understand this, we have a lot of good people here in this congregation…people who love God and who desire to obey His will.

One more thing: I want you to notice in verse 28 that the “father” had to “come out and entreat” to this older son.

We call this story the story of the “Prodigal Son”…

And it makes no difference which one of the two boys you may be…the father wants you to come home.

Will you do that this morning?

Just Like You Never Left


Luke 15:17-23

I have been a minister now for over 30 years…and I suppose one of the things that has been the most concerning to me is the number of Christians that are robbing themselves of the joy and peace that being in Christ affords, all because they are not sure they are going to go to heaven.

It is interesting that many who have not obeyed Christ are confident they are going to heaven.

We are not sure that God can or will forgive some of the sins we have committed.

I have on occasion talked with some who were not Christians who had it in their minds that “there is no way God would forgive or save anyone like me who has done all the things I have done.”

If that is the way you think you have some wrong concepts of God. Look with me at the passage that was read.

We have already read the passage…so for just a few minutes let’s get into the thinking of a couple of the different characters.

First, let’s consider the boy…the younger son.

But this boy comes to his senses…and in verse 18 he decides to go home…not as a son…but hoping to be a “hired man.”

That wasn’t asking much.

And so this boy gets up and he comes home, soiled and stained by the sins he has committed, and every step of the way he is thinking, “I am not worthy to be your son. Could I just be a “hired man” you use every now and then?”

And He doesn’t know what the father is going to say.

Now, as Jesus is telling this story, the people (Pharisees and scribes; vs. 1) listening at this point, don’t know how this story is going to end.

But that is not what the father said.

Notice what this father does in verse 20.

The father doesn’t do any of that!

That is not like us is it?

The father forgives…and he says: “Quick, put the best robe on him. Put a ring on his finger. Put shoes on his feet.”

The robe covers the marks of the “distant country.”

The ring is like giving the credit cards back to the boy.

And the shoes are important because in that culture slaves weren’t given shoes.

There is a lot of difference between probation and pardon.

In Romans 5:1 the apostle Paul says, “Therefore we have been justified by faith…” Do you remember in Bible class, the word “justification” and what your teacher said it meant?

And notice, the father is not only glad to see his boy…and not only does he restore him to son-ship…but he restores the boy’s reputation.

He is not saying to the boy, “Ok, you can be my son but I want you to stay out of sight.”

The father says, “You are the celebrity. You are the object of honor at this feast.”

The father restores him back to son-ship.

And God does the same for us.

In 1914 a great fire destroyed Thomas Edison’s factory…Thomas was 67 at the time.

Look with me at Col. 1:22. Paul says: …yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach–

 I have one question. How?

I have an answer. Gal. 3:27: For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

 When you, the prodigal, put on the robe of Christ, the only thing God sees is Jesus.

Widow…poor…made her living by doing laundry…and she was putting some laundry out on the line to dry.

Did you know that snow is not even pure white?

If you are one of those who are letting doubt destroy your peace and joy…God can pardon sin.

The only atonement that God accepts is Christ’s robes of righteousness.


Acts 22: 16

Acts 2: 38.



Come To Your Senses


 Luke 15:11-21

In this passage Jesus pretty well describes what we see taking place in our culture and society today…and He describes what we see taking place in the lives of some families; and He describes, perhaps, even some one here this morning.

Look at vs. 17. Jesus is teaching this parable and in vs. 17: “When he came to his senses…”

That is an interesting statement isn’t it?

And what God wants is for people, perhaps some of us, to come to our senses.

And, this statement, “He came to his senses…” implies that this boy in this story knew that what he had been doing was wrong.

And they may deny it but most people today are doing the same thing…Romans 1:18-23 indicates that they know what is right and wrong (murder; adultery; homosexuality; stealing; burning; lying, the immoral acts) and yet, they are acting as though they are senseless.

Look at verse 18 and notice what this boy came to his senses about. He says: ”I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.”

 He called a spade a spade didn’t he?

When this boy left his father and started sinning things went down hill until finally, he was starving to death and tempted to eat the food meant for the pigs.

We need to understand that sin always has its consequences…it always costs something.

Sin always costs you…

Sin will always cost you something…and do you know why it does?

 This boy came to his senses and he says: “I have sinned…”

It is interesting some of the things people do to keep from admitting that they are sinners.

One of the things we do is we try to “hide it.”

It is like the little white mouse that was put in the cage with the snake.

That is what a lot of people do with sin…”I will just cover it up…hide it…ignore it…change the name of it…and it will go away.”

A lot of people try to cover up their sin…pretend it is not there.

This boy says, “I have sinned…”

Do you know what that is?

Look with me at 1 John 1, John is dealing with some people who were saying that “they had fellowship with God” even though they were “walking in the dark”…and John says, “No you don’t.”

So some others jumped up and said, “We have fellowship with God…because we haven’t sinned.”

 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9     If we confess our sins, (acknowledge that we are sinners) He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10         If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

 Anyone who refuses to acknowledge that he is a sinner has no fellowship with God.

Look at Romans 3:23. This is a very familiar verse….and yet as familiar as it is…some just don’t seem to believe it.

Now, we read that verse and there is this little deceptive mechanism inside that says, “It’s not talking about me! It’s talking about everyone else but not me!”

But I want you to notice something here.

No matter how good we are…how we strive to live a righteous life…compared to God…not someone else…we have fallen short.

It is no coincidence that in the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5….that when it comes to being a child of the kingdom that the very first thing that Jesus mentions is being “poor in spirit.”

God wants us to come to our senses…and acknowledge that we are sinners….and come to Him.

20        “And he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion {for him,} and ran and embraced him, and kissed him.  21            “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

Let me be one of your slaves so I can pay for what I have done…”

No, but that is what some of people think.

You can never pay what you owe…Christ did that on the cross.

And what Jesus is trying to tell us here in this story is: “We matter to God and He wants us to come home.”

Do you need to do that? God is watching…longing to run to you. If you know you need to come home, don’t disappoint Him…just come home?



Why The Distant Country?


 Luke 15:11-20a

I would like to ask you to look once again at verses 13-14.

 “And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.  “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be in need.

  “Why do people (young people, middle aged, even older people) go to the ‘distant country’?”

What is it about people, that we set out for the very destinations that we know we should not be going to?

And it is a choice.

One answer might be our constant quest to find excitement…to be entertained…to find thrill.

So we take off down that road to the “distant country” and we try things…things that people promise will make us happy.

And notice, the young son in this parable thought it could be bought.

And you know as well as I do that the “distant country” is a master at telling us that the happiness and joy we seek is just “one more purchase away.”

Every day people go home and turn on that little electronic marvel in their front room that we call television, or turn on that computer, or connect to the internet on the phone..

First of all, that box is going to tell them its perverted idea of what and where “happiness” is…and that it is ok to do whatever they have to obtain that happiness.

But do you know what the problem is?

The “distant country’s” public relations department doesn’t tell you/I what Jesus says here.

I want you to notice how low Jesus takes this young man.

So he goes to find any kind of work he can find and he is hired by a man who cares absolutely nothing for him.

The “distant country” doesn’t tell you/I all of this…it just shows us the glitz and the glamour.

Notice what this young man learned about his time in the “distant country.”

In fact, the only two things he had left were his memory and his ability to think.

“When he came to his senses,” he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!” ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;   I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” And he got up and came to his father.

Many look at this story…and what this young man did…and they shake their heads and say, “How sad…how foolish he was.”

Most do not realize that.

This boy came to his senses and he was honest enough to admit that what he was doing was killing him.

How many, perhaps some of us…know what we need to do…but just won’t.

This boy came to his senses, and look what he does.

In verse 18, Jesus says some very specific things that this boy said once he came to his senses and realized the truth about himself.

Notice, the boys says, “I have sinned.”

And that is what it is.

And notice, this boy didn’t do what a lot of people do today.

And then in verse 19 he says to his father, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son, make me as one of your hired men.” 

This boy came home completely humble…realizing he had no right to receive mercy.

In some form or fashion we have all left the Father and gone to the “distant country”…we have given in to sin.

But do you know what…it is not a one way street to that country.

In this parable, Jesus says, “Acknowledge your sin and confess your unworthiness, and then get up and go back home.”

God wants you to come home. So the moral of the story is: quit looking for love in all the wrong places and get back to where you belong.



I John 1:5-10

Some years ago I was asked to teach a class at the Baptist church in Monument, NM.

A statement that I have heard several times from some of my brethren in reference to committing a sin is, “If you commit a sin…in order to be forgiven of that sin you must confess that sin as soon as you can. If you are out in public when you commit the sin, then as soon as you can get home you need to pray to God and confess that sin…and then He will forgive you?

Are these ideas true?

The answer to these questions is found in these 6 verses so let’s go through them. Look at verse 5:

Now, some of these said that “Since man was made of flesh…and since all flesh is evil…there is no way that a Holy God could have anything to do with man.

But then, some of these Gnostics, like the Libertines, were saying that what you did in the flesh had no bearing on the spiritual…so they could live an immoral, ungodly, pagan life and still have fellowship with God.

5 And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

First of all, “God is light”…this refers to God’s moral quality.

Now, verse 6: If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;

To say that there is fellowship is to say that God doesn’t care about sin.

Now, I want you to notice the word “walk”…”and yet walk in darkness.”

What we are talking about here refers to a certain lifestyle.

Now, look at verse 7: …but (here is a contrast to the man in verse 6) if we walk(lifestyle) in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another(God, the apostles, and fellow Christians), and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

This verse sets the standard by which we are to walk.

Now, does this mean that your walk will have no sin in it?

Oh no! What do we do?

Well, look at the end of verse 7.

…we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Now, the word “cleanses”…that is present tense…which means it is continuous action.

When you were baptized into Christ the blood of Jesus washed away all of your sins.

Do you need to be baptized again?

When you sin fellowship with God is not broken.

Now, verse 8:  If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Now, verse 9; it is from this verse that we get the idea that we must confess our sins in order to be forgiven.

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Let me ask you this…who do we confess our sin to? Brothers? God?

That word “confess” is the Greek word “homologeo.”

What this word is talking about here is to say the same thing about yourself that God already knows about you…”God I am a sinner…and God says, “I know that.”

But the Gnostic doesn’t acknowledge that he is a sinner.

This passage is not talking about having to confess each and every sin for fear of losing fellowship.

Now, verse 10: If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

If you are walking in the light…that is the direction…the progression…the destination of your walk…when you sin…and you will…you do not need to be baptized again.

What if you change the direction of your walk…start walking in darkness?

And brethren, you do not have to confess your every sin like some teach and practice.


I Can See Clearly Now


Luke 15 1-10

Do you see these?(Glasses) These are a wonderful thing because they help me to see things more clearly. Without them things are distorted…fuzzy…blurry and that can cause serious problems.

Do you see this (Bible)? This is a wonderful thing because it helps us to see things more clearly. Without it, things often get distorted…fuzzy and blurry.

God wants us to see things clearly…because when we have a distorted view of things, when things are blurry, we sometimes are not motivated to do what God wants us to.

This morning, let’s look at the passage that was read and hopefully see some things clearly the way God sees them.

If you would, look at verse 1-2 again and let’s read them.

1 Now all the tax-gatherers and the sinners were coming near Him (Jesus) to listen to Him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes {began} to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

The Pharisees and the scribes were jealous of the following and the attention that Jesus was getting.

And Jesus responds to their accusations with 3 stories in an effort to get them to see more clearly.

Let’s look at the first story starting in verse 4 and notice, the first story is for the men.

Look at what he says:

“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ “I tell you that in the same way, there will be {more} joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Now, this story may seem a little strange to us because, for most of us, we cannot imagine a sheep being worth all the bother.

And notice it says that the man “goes after the one which is lost, until he finds it.”

And when he found the sheep he simply said, “I found my sheep.”

The passage says that when he found his sheep he put it on his shoulders, “rejoicing.”

And then Jesus says, “Now, a story for the women.” Verse 8:

“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  “And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Ladies, that coin is not some quarter that falls out of her change purse.

But there was another possibility.

You don’t put a monetary value on something like that.

And it is a big deal to find it.

These things mattered.

Then, after Jesus told the story for the men and the women, He told a story for everyone.

The younger son takes his inheritance and goes to a “distant country.”

And as he is approaching home…his father sees him.

His father runs down the road to meet him…and the father embraces his son…and kisses him…and calls for a robe…and sandals…and a ring.

Now, what is it that we need to see clearly from these 3 stories?

One is something that I think we need to be reminded of…and the other is something that I fear we are afraid to do….or maybe the first one is so unimportant to us that we aren’t motivated to do the second.

Let’s begin with the first one…First of all I think God wants us to see the “truth in regard to separation.”

You take that sheep from the first story for example.

If you look through your Bibles at some ways that this word is used and you find it is the word the disciples used when they were on the boat that was sinking in the storm and they said, “Master, don’t you care that we are perishing?”

It is a terrible thing to be separated from the One to whom you belong

And yet that is exactly what the prophet Isaiah says that our sins have done.

Now, I say that because today, there seems to be a tremendous reluctance among us to talk or to use the word “lost.”

In churches there is a real effort being put forth to stress God’s grace…and to get us in churches of Christ to “rediscover His grace”.

And it is this idea of lost-ness that puts the church in a different business than every one else.

But only the church is in the business of recovering the lost.

But there is also another idea in this story that we seem to be afraid of or maybe we don’t feel the need to do this because we don’t understand what it is to find that which is lost.

A basic point of each story is the description of the rejoicing that goes inevitably with finding.

The older brother, when he hears about the feast and the rejoicing is upset at the joy of the father.

And the father responds to the son, by saying, “Son your brother was lost and he is found. Your brother was dead and now he is alive.”

That word, “we had to” be merry in the Greek is one of the strongest words in the gospel of Luke.

If God says He must be merry when someone is saved…shouldn’t we?

We are to be God’s example to those around us.

Several years ago, my daughter went to Germany…was gone for just under two years.

How do we make those who have left home…and who have come back…feel?

God wants us to see clearly. To help us He gives us His word.


How Our Father Feels


Luke 15: 11-24

When you come to chapter 15 of Luke, the Pharisees and scribes have for some time been trying to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the people.

So, here in Luke 15, when they see all these tax gatherers and sinners coming near to Jesus…and listening to Him they (the Pharisees and scribes) grumble and say, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So, they try to discredit Jesus and Jesus responds.

You see, in the OT scriptures, which the Pharisees and scribes claimed to have a great knowledge of, when it came to God being a “father” they thought of Him as being a “father” primarily in reference to Him as being the “originator”…as the one who gave Israel their beginning.

So this concept of God as a loving Father was somewhat foreign to them.

But that is not the concept of God that Jesus had.

Jesus used the term “Father” 107 times in the Gospel of John.

Jesus saw God as a Father…but not just a Father…but a caring Father who wanted his children back.

 So Jesus, in order to try and teach these Pharisees, and in order to point out their error to the multitudes, teaches this parable and presents God as a Father.

So, this morning, let’s look at this parable…and let’s look at the “father”…and let’s learn some things about our heavenly Father…and how He feels about a son who leaves home…and is lost…and who is found.

And let me tell you what I suspect.

Look at verses 11-13. We have already read them so we won’t read them again but the first thing I want you to notice is when the boy left home the father didn’t stop him.

But the point is, our Father doesn’t want us to leave home; it is heartbreaking for Him, but if we choose to leave He will not stop us.

But keep this in mind.

So, this boy leaves his father…and many fathers in this situation would say, “You leave, don’t you come back.”

And notice verse 20. It says: “While he was a long way off his father saw him.

We understand that don’t we?

But you watch.

That’s the picture Jesus paints here of our “Father”…He is always watching…hoping we will come home.

And notice what He feels in verse 20. It says, “He felt compassion for him.”

And, notice what it says next. It says that He, “stubbornly stayed in the house and waited for that boy to come to him”…after all, “the boy left…not me…no way I am going to run to him.”

That is not what it says. It says that the father “ran and embraced him.”

I remember when my son  was at boot camp…and we went down for his graduation…we were finally going to get to see him.

And that is the way God feels.

Remember when the soldiers came home from Desert Storm?

You see, what is important is to get to your boy as quick as you can.

And it says, “He embraced him.”

And the verse says, “He kissed him.”

Do you know what this father did that the Pharisees didn’t do…and what some of us don’t do?

And notice something else; vs. 19.

We some times will allow someone to come back…but things aren’t going to be like they once were.

True story…J.W. Rosenberry…Methodist minister…young man on train…nervous, I am a minister is there something you would like to talk about….he and his father had literally come to blows. Boy left…change of heart…wrote mom…said….the train runs right by the farm…and if dad will let me come home…just tie a towel around the tree….looked like snow had fallen…sheets on fences…in trees…last image G. W Rosenberry saw was this boy running up the road toward that farm with his suitcase in his hand.

That is the kind of father we have.

Now, real quickly let me mention some things that you and I may need to do.

First, we may need to alter our view of God.

But do you know what we struggle with. I think we struggle to believe that people could matter that much to God.

Some of us may need to change our view of God.

The second thing some of us may need to do is alter our view of sinners.

Do you know who Luke 15 was written for?

What that means for us as His church is that we are in the business of trying to get His children home.

And then 3rd, some of us need to realize that our Father will meet anyone at the altar.

I cannot understand a heart that will say no to a love…to a father like that.

I do not know any reason in the world why anyone shouldn’t come back to the Father today.


Let Him Pray


James 5:13-18

As you look at this passage of scripture the general subject is prayer.

He has dealt with all these various problems and now, if these people were going to be able to over come these problems…if they were going to be as united as they were supposed to be…these people were going to have to be a praying people.

So in this passage, James tells them…but not only them…he tells us, as God’s people to pray. But James doesn’t just tell us to pray…he gives us some specific times WHEN we should pray.

Let’s look at the passage. In verse 13 James says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.”

What should you pray for? Well, let me make a few suggestions.

When you are going through a hard time…some times you can face some pretty strong temptations.

Remember what we call the Lords prayer found in Matthew 6. Remember what Christ told his disciples to pray for?

Another thing you can pray for is the REMOVAL OF THE SUFFERING.

But then, just like Paul’s situation with the thorn in the flesh…the Lord may choose not to remove the suffering.

Also, in a time of suffering you might pray for the one who is causing the hardship.

I don’t know that they will change…you can certainly pray that they will.

These are some things you can pray for in the midst of suffering.

But now, what if you are not suffering? Well, James says: Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.”

Now, look at verse 14. This is one of the most difficult passages of scripture in all the Bible. James says: 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, and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”

 This passage has caused a lot of people to feel guilty and question whether there really is a God.

So what is it that James is talking about here?

First of all, when James speaks of being “sick” here…he is speaking of a physical illness or infirmity.

So James says, “If anyone among you is sick…let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, and anoint him with oil, in the name of the Lord.”

But then there is the idea that these verses are not talking about a miraculous healing…but a providential healing.

And the one who is sick is to “let the elders pray over him.”

And James says that  the elders are to “anoint the sick man with oil in the name of the Lord.”

So what you have here is apparently a combining of prayer and medicine for the sick.

And notice James says that this is to be done “in the name of the Lord.”

And now, verse 15: …and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up,

Here is the tough verse.

I can tell you that I do not know all the answers on this verse…but let me share with you some thoughts and you can decide.

First of all, the term “prayer offered in faith.”

James says, “a prayer offered in faith will restore…or save…or deliver from danger…the one who is sick…and the Lord will raise him up.”

 Now, at first glance, this verse seems to be an absolute.

But then that brings up the question of Paul and his thorn in the flesh found in 2 Cor. 12?

And what about the old, the aged.? If this is absolute then the old would not suffer illness and die.

So the question is, IS THIS VERSE AN ABSOLUTE?

Well, let me remind you of an important principle of prayer. Look with me at 1 John 5:14.

14 And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

 Listen, you can ask for anything you want…but then trust God to grant that request…according to His will.

The point is, we cannot see the big picture…we do not know all that God is doing.

And look at the end of verse 15.  James says, “and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”

But, more times than not the illness is not due to a person committing sin..

But, sometimes when a person is sick…especially a serious illness…that illness can cause him to sin.

Sometimes an illness can cause us to reflect on our lives and make us realize that we may have not lived the way God wanted us to in healthier times.

Verse 16:  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.

I do not believe that is what this is talking about.

Now the end of verse 16: The effective or fervent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

And then James gives us an illustration or example of what prayer can do. Vs. 17:

7 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit.


Wait Patiently For The Lord


James 5:7-11

This morning God, through James, is going to ask each of us to do one of the most difficult things that we, as followers of Christ, could be asked to do!

I would like for you to look with me at vs. 1 of James 5.

 Vs. 4 says, Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (Host).

Now vs. 6:  You (the rich) have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

Now, if someone did this to you, how would you respond?

Something like that would probably make us angry (quite evidently it did these brethren that James is writing to or he wouldn’t write what he does in the next few verses) And if something like this happened to us it would frustrate us…and it would tempt us to get even…to strike out…to retaliate.

The world would tell us to get even; to do unto them as they have done unto you…to get revenge.

Look again at verse 1, and I want you to notice that, even though it often seems that those who do these kinds of things get away with it, they really don’t.  Look what James says:

 1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!

 Now vs. 5: You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

 Those who cheat and swindle and mistreat others often think they have gotten away with what they have done; they are so proud of themselves; but God knows exactly what they did…and they will receive their just recompense.

Look at verse 7. James says:  Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.

Listen, when the Lord comes again…every deed will be brought to light.

 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

 They may think they have gotten away with it…but they haven’t.

Remember 2 Corinthians 5:10? The apostle Paul says: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

 And this is the last verse of Ecclesiastes: For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether good or evil.

 The Lord knows the injustices; and He knows those who cheat and swindle; and He will take care of it…and as hard as it may be we must wait on the Lord.

In fact, remember what Romans 12:19 says: Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

So, it is not our place to exact revenge. The Lord will do that and we just have to be patient.

In fact, look at vs. 7again: Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.

We know what it is like to wait on rain don’t we.

But we probably had no idea that waiting for it to rain was the Lord’s way of training us to wait for His return.

And, just as the rain eventually comes; He will too.

Look at verse 8: You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

But, sometimes it isn’t easy to be patient…especially if someone is mistreating and cheating us like they were these people.

 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

 When we are going through hardships…it is so easy to start finding fault with others, even those closest to us.

Remember the nation of Israel…how they complained against God…and against Moses and Aaron.

We do no good for anyone or ourselves when we become impatient and attack our leaders…or one another.

And if you or I think we can “grumble under our breath…murmur in such a way that no one hears us.”

If you and I think we can grumble in such way that no one can hear…well, look at vs. 9.

So James tells us to “be patient…the Lord is coming…and he tells us not to complain against one another.”

Now look at verse 10. He tells us to be encouraged by historical examples. Look at this. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, 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.

 James says, “Look at the prophets of old.

How do we count those men?

When people endure…and are patient…and wait on the Lord…even when they are persecuted…that is what they are.

Remember what Jesus says in Matthew 5:11.  Jesus says:

Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 Steadfastness while being mistreated…patient waiting for the Lord while being persecuted is powerful evidence of one’s genuine faithfulness…and constitutes an assurance of his eternal salvation.

In James 5:11 James mentions Job to encourage us. And he says: 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.

 Job suffered it all…except for death.

 And what did God do? Job 42:10

And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold.

Now, I told you at the very beginning that what God asks us to do here would test our faith.

How we react to that kind of mistreatment will say a lot about our faith!

 It is not easy to simply let God handle it when we are cheated; swindled; and slandered.

Now, look at vs. 7 again. In vs. 7 James says that the “Lord is coming again. Just as sure as the rain eventually comes and brings forth the crops, the Lord is coming again.”

You and I do not want to be judged on our actions because no matter how good we have been we fall way short of God’s glory.


The Source of Conflicts


James 4:1-10

I have a picture that I want you to see.

Well, here in James 4, this is what is going on.

And I want you to notice what they are fighting about. James gives us some indications.

And if you go over to chapter 5:1-6 you’ll see that some of the conflict was apparently a result of unfair or perceived unfair employment practices…and the wages that were paid.

And if you look in chapter 3 you find that some wanted the “honor and recognition of being a teacher”…and there was jealousy and bitterness as a result.

Some of these Christians had come out of the Jewish religion….and they still wanted to draw on their Jewish background to make distinction between them and those who were out of the Gentile background.

So, here in James 4 the bride of Christ is fighting…and James deals with it. Look what he says beginning in verse 1.

 Vs. 1  What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?

What James says here applies to all kinds of conflicts and quarrels.

Well, look what James says; vs. 1:

 Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; {so} you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; {so} you fight and quarrel.

 These Christians that James is writing to had different ones who were trying to satisfy their own agenda….they were seeking to gratify their own desires and lusts…

And other members were doing the same thing.

And James says they were “fighting and quarreling.”

Putting it simply, they were being selfish.

I really believe this is the source of the conflicts we see in marriages…and families…and through out the world.

And notice here, James says that they are so selfish that they are even carrying it over into their prayers.

But then some of them ask anyway…and look what James says in verse 3.

 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend {it} on your pleasures.

 You know, so many times you hear people say that “prayer” doesn’t work…that it doesn’t do any good to pray.

First of all…have the right motive behind what you ask for.

And the second reason it seems that prayer never works is because some never pray.

A petition unmade…or a petition made selfishly so you can satisfy your desires…well, you are right…in those instances prayer does not work.

Look at verse 4. James is going to mention another reason why these people are fighting.

 You adulteresses…”

He says, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship…and that word “friendship could be translated “fondness”.

He says, “You adulteresses, do  you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Three conflicts…or three wars mentioned in this passage…and these people are losing all three of them. (war with self; with others; with God)

So, what is the answer? What is the answer for these brethren and their conflicts?

Well, verse 7: Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

 I think it is interesting here that James says, “Resist the devil” in this context.

We get in these conflicts and we think our battle is against our brother or sister in Christ…or against our husbands or wives…

When we get in these conflicts we are doing just exactly what Satan wants.

And James says, “You get back in your proper rank”.

“And you resist the devil…and he will flee from you.”

Now, verse 8-10, James gives us the disposition that makes for peace; peace with God; peace in the church; peach in a marriage; peace between nations. Look what he says; vs. 8.

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

 He mentions your hands here.

 He says, “purify your hearts.” That is to cleanse the inner being. Don’t just cleanse the inside of the dish, but cleanse the inside as well.

 Vs. 9   Be miserable and mourn and weep;

Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom.

 Vs. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

And what will be the result of drawing near to God; and cleansing our hands; and purifying our hearts; and mourning over our sin; and humbling ourselves in His presence? The result will be peace: with God, in the church; in our marriages; and in our families; peace in the heart.