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About-Him.Com Devotional 01-21-2012
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We are Healed by the Prayer of Faith

 Text: James 5:12 ¶  But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. 

The text above is very similar to the instructions of Jesus in The Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:33-37), where Jesus told us to not swear at all. It seems hard to apply our Lord’s teaching in some matters such as in a court of law, but nevertheless. He told us not to foreswear. It is said that the  Jews at that time had a teaching that you could affirm an oath with your mouth while at the same time annulling it with your heart. This reminds me of kids thinking it’s alright to tell a lie, if they have their fingers crossed. Of course this made their oaths meaningless. Jesus told us to keep our answers to yes and no. We are to mean what we say and adhere to what we have said without variance. 

I remember years ago, I had promised to do something or another for my father, but was slow in keeping my word.  He quoted a scripture (Ps. 15:4) that has stuck with me for the rest of my life. More than a few times I have wished that I had not made a particular promise or commitment, but this scripture always came to mind. To paraphrase: The Lord honors them that swear to their own hurt and do not fail to keep their word. 

Psalms 15:4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. [He that] sweareth to [his own] hurt, and changeth not. 

Next, our subject matter turns to sickness and affliction: A careful reading shows that James considered that sin could be the root cause of both sickness and affliction. 

Text: James 5:13  Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 

God has always been a healer of His people. We read in Psalms 107:17-20 that fools because of their transgressions and iniquities are afflicted. The Lord hears their cry and delivers them out of their distresses. He sent His word to deliver them and delivered them from their destructions. I believe that we all, at one time or another, fit this description, but isn’t this a beautiful picture of what Jesus, the Living Word of God, did for us at Cavalry? 

Isaiah 53:5 But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 

Both healing and forgiveness are in the atonement of Christ. Before taking the elements of the Lord’s supper, we examine ourselves as we remember the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross. We affirm that He shed His blood for our sin and by His stripes we are healed.   

The apostle Paul offers some sobering words on the subject. 

1 Corinthians 11:29  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
30  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
 

Sixteen years ago on the evening before I was scheduled for cancer surgery, our family gathered and affirmed the Lord’s covenant promise of healing as we partook of the Lord’s supper. When they opened me up the next day, the cancer was dead. That was sixteen years ago and it has not returned. 

Exodus 15:26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I [am] the LORD that healeth thee. 

… the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; …..
 

We live in a pressure packed stress filled world. How easy it is to ask the doctor for a little something to calm our nerves and help us sleep. His pills may work for a while, but in the long run, they don’t work.  Some turn to alcohol, which may mask their problems for a while, but in the morning their problems are still there. How much easier it is to look to the cross and seek the peace of God that was purchased for us by the stripes on the back of Jesus. He promised that He would always be with us and that He would go with us, even until the end of the world (Mt. 28:20). We remember the admonition of Peter to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us (1 Pe. 5:7). When we have appropriated the blood of Jesus to cover our sins, we are entitled to the peace of God that Jesus promised. 

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 

We all have afflictions of one sort or another, and the older we  get, the more we seem to have.  We cannot look at another and judge that their affliction could be because of sin. That is between them and God. 

The apostle Paul had a thorn in his flesh. The reason that God allowed Satan to buffet him was so that  he would not become exalted beyond measure. He sought the Lord for deliverance and his answer was, “My grace is sufficient (2 Co. 12:7).”  We won’t know this side of heaven but suffering may be for our own good. 

Jesus healed a lame man at the pool of Bethsaida and told him that his sins were forgiven. He later saw the man and told him to sin no more, lest a worse thing should come upon him. 

On the other hand, when Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth, He was asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents. Jesus replied that neither had sinned but that the works of God  should be manifested in him (Jn. 9:2-3). 

Hebrews 12:4-12 makes it clear that we are chastened for our own good. God chastens us because He loves us as His sons. His chastening, although grievous, brings forth the peaceable fruit of righteousness. 

Text: James 5:14  Is any sick among you? 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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
 

When we are sick, our first action should be to call for the elders of the church who will anoint us with oil which is a type of the Holy Spirit. They will pray the prayer of faith and the Lord will raise us up, and once again if we have committed any sins, we will be forgiven. Once again sickness and sin are coupled together. It doesn’t seem likely that God would restore a person’s physical body to health without dealing with their sick soul. 

Text: James 5:16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 

Here our sickness is coupled to our faults. The sense of this verse is that I have faults and you have faults. We should be able to confess our faults to one another and pray for one another for healing. It takes genuine humility to confess our faults to another, but chances are that they are aware of them anyhow. By praying together we both can be healed. 

….The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much….. 

The word fervent comes from the same root as fever which means hot. Elijah wasn’t timid or mealy mouth when he prayed for the rain to cease. He prayed with passion and God heard his prayer. He will do the same for us. Remember,The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge?  She wasn’t timid and she persisted until she got what she came for.   

Text: James 5:17  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
18  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
 

Once again, James, as you’re probably noticed jumps to another subject very quickly. 

Text: James 5:19  Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
20  Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
 

Here a picture of the Good Shepherd finding the lost sheep and returning him to the sheepfold comes to mind. This is what Jesus did for us and we are obligated to help the poor sinner in the same manner. Likewise, we are to required to do our best to restore a fallen brother. 

1 John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin [which is] not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 

This concludes our expository study of the book of James.
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Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. - C. S. Lewis

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Don and Marie Spooner
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