James 3-5

Well this week’s Bible study lead our group on a wild ride exploring the concepts of faith and prayer. A lot of the verses in these three chapters of James focused on the subject of the power and meaningfulness of both our words and our prayers to God.
 

Chapter 3 focused a lot on the power of our words to affect change in the people and world around us, that our words by themselves can quite potently bless or curse, and so because of this we need to choose wisely the words that we use. Ultimately, that great good which our words alone can do, really ought to be used to bring greater peace in the world:

   But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
   Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
   Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
….
   Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
….
   But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
   And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. [8-10,13,17-18]

Clearly these verses tell us that our words alone are a very, very powerful thing. A point made by one person in the group was that our words can be very hurtful, and that we really should not be hurting others, cutting them to ribbons with our words. As well, to me, the power of our words are a sign of the God-power in us, and that we can direct that power however we wish, but that it is far better to use it for peace. And surely Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt 5:9).

As we read chapter 4, a major theme that stood out to us from so many of the verses was the concept of pride and boasting, and of its inherent evil. It is evil because it is looking for some sort of confirmation of our goodness from other people, when really, when we have truly come into our power, there is no need for confirmation, there is only knowing. To further contrast this, we went on to discuss how in scripture, Jesus said that we ought to pray in our closets and not make a show to others of our faith, but then we talked about how though public acclaim can be bad, to actually glorify God publically can be good. The example raised in our group was that of Daniel and the Lion’s den, who when told to pray to no one but King Darius, Daniel prayed by the open windows of his house anyway, to the glory of God, and God delivered him (Daniel 6).

As one considers the verses 13-17, it seems to have a thought provoking message:

   Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
   Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
   For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
   But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
   Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Surely we are nothing but a wisp of fog, a vapor extinguished quickly by the sun’s rays. As a vapor, you are in a place of separation and mortality. The separation is the sin. But when you come into your place of power, when the divine flows through you, filled with the spirit of the Lord, you will be doing “greater” than Jesus hirself having come into your eternal life — you are no more a vapor: the waves of the sea obey you, and the mountains move at your command. There is no boasting, there is only knowing.

Chapter 5 focuses a great deal on the power of faith. It talks to a great extent about miracles and living in full patience and courage:

   Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.
   You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. (7-8, New Living Translation)

As the return of the Lord is veritably in us and in the stranger – our group talked about that as we wait for deliverance and the Lord’s miracles in our lives, we need to picture them as not something to worry about or really work for, so much as something like unto the seasons, that when we ask for the miracles we need, they are coming as surely as the coming rains and cool weather in the fall. Other verses speak on prayer:

I really like verse 13, “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” James here tells us that no matter what our circumstance, if we are low, or if we are having the best day ever, our lives revolve around the Lord, in both prayer for healing and in singing praises to God. The next two verses particularly stirred conversation:

   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:
   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. (14-15)

The peculiar thing about these verses is that they speak of the idea of the lack of being whole in one’s body is a sin. Not whole in health = sin. That lack of wholeness, not being fully in our place of power, this is the place of sin. I hadn’t really put those two together as being the same until reading those two verses above in our group the other night, but Jesus hirself often would say the same thing after ze had healed someone, that their sins were forgiven them at the same time. The lines continue:

From Ninin Ga Shinobuden, v.1, p.18.

   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.
   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.
   And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. (16-18)

Especially verse 16 tells us, when we are whole, even righteous, our prayers are answered. By faith, our words of blessing, with the expectation like unto the farmer awaiting winter rain, our spoken desires for specific changes in the physical kingdom around us are met accordingly. We live and walk in the faith that God will answer and deliver us and ze does.

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