Ezekiel 42:1-43:27, James 5:1-20, Psalms 119:1-116, Proverbs 28:6-7
Today is 21st of November. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. And of course, like every day, it is wonderful to be here with you as we dive in and take another step forward through this week, through this month, through this year, through the Bible. So, we’ll pick up where we left off yesterday, which leads us back into the book of Ezekiel, but then when we get to the New Testament, we will be finishing up the book of James. We’re reading from the New International version this week. Ezekiel chapter 42 verse 1 through 43 verse 27 today.
Okay. So, we just completed the book of James and if there is one thing about the directness of James that happens, it is that it creates contrasts that then invite personal examination. And we’ve been doing some examination as we’ve gone through the book of James. So, in order to look at the last things that James has to say in this letter, we have to kind of review, really quickly, the last paragraph of yesterday’s reading. Otherwise, it looks like James just launches into an unconnected tirade against rich people, but there’s a more complete thought here. And, so, as we were ending yesterday’s reading we were talking about plans, like, the plans that we make in our own strength. Or to quote James, ‘today or tomorrow we will go to this city or that city and spend a year there and carry on business to make money’. And James is like, you can’t know that, you can’t plan that in your own strength, you don’t even know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Instead, you have to humble yourself, first, before the Lord before you’re off out there making all of your schemes and plans. First, your posture is to be, ‘if it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’, which is kind of interesting and we didn’t talk about yesterday, but it’s kind of interesting, because, I guess the majority of my life I’ve heard teachings against ever saying ‘if it be the Lord’s will’ because that could introduce doubt into what you’re saying and you shouldn’t say ‘if it is the Lord’s will’ if you already know that it is the Lord’s will. And, as true as that might be, James is saying, no you actually do say ‘if it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’. ‘We will live and do this or that’, that’s pretty encompassing. And his point is, this is your first reaction in all things, to acknowledge God and our humility, our humbleness, before Him as we seek to follow His will and His ways in our lives rather than coming up with our own schemes and in our own strength trying to make things happen. And it’s here that we turn the corner. And in the same way, James was talking about words and owning what we say and actually sitting with it and being grieved by and mourning and wailing with the repercussions of the harm that we can do with our mouths. He does the same thing as we turn the corner about our own plans and acknowledging the Lord. ‘Now listen’, he says, ‘you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you’ and then he goes on to explain the temporary nature of wealth and its inability to be fully preserved. And from a scholarship perspective, it’s not quite clear which rich people James is talking about. And there’s a couple ways look at it that both make sense and, actually, both have value and meaning. So, the first would be that he’s talking about best laid plans and acknowledging God and then he turns his attention to the rich people of the world who are probably hiring and paying the poorer people who are in this church or in this community and the ways in which they are oppressing them, like, by holding back payment, by not actually paying them what they’ve earned, and thereby making themselves richer by preying on poorer people. And what are these poor people to do? I mean, they can rise up and claim injustice and maybe even be successful in getting their pay, but then they’ll be blackballed from working anywhere. So, it’s kind like this oppressive situation. The other way of looking at is that James is talking to people who have wealth that are in this faith community and are doing that, are making themselves more wealthy by exploiting people who are in the working class. For James, if you’re doing that, then it’s going to eventually completely fall apart and you are going to lose what you think you have and then you’ll have judgment to look forward to in the process. And, so, he launches into that warning and that warning is encouraging to people who have been exploited, which leads him to his larger point, ‘be patient then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming’. So, in other words, if this is happening to you and you don’t how ends are going to meet and you’re being exploited and in this way, anger, and bitterness, and rage are inside you because of this injustice, just know, God handles the scales. He is the judge and He sees and has always seen this kind of behavior for what it is. But in all of that, you have to adopt a patient posture. He uses the example of agriculture, ‘see how the farmer waits for the land to yield its crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm because the Lord’s coming is near’. So, don’t find yourself turning toward grumbling and this is stirring up more misery. The Lord sees all of this’. Then James uses Job as an example of a person who was patient and persevered. And then James abruptly changes topics and turns to the taking of oaths, and that change reads abruptly, but we have to remember, James has spent a good majority of this letter talking about words and the use of them. So, it’s not surprising that we revisit that idea at the end of the letter. And, so, what’s the big deal about oaths here? For James, this is about simply living true and patient and enduring whatever has to be endured with a good true heart and controlling our mouths so they don’t cause further and unending destruction in people’s lives. And, so, this deal with oaths is more about simply being true. There have been a diminishment of just simple truth speaking. And this comes up in other places in the Bible. And it shows up in our culture. So, it’s unlikely that you’ve never heard somebody say, ‘I swear to God this is the truth.’ Right? Or, ‘I swear to Jesus and all the angels’ or ‘I swear on my own life’ or ‘I swear on the life of my children that this is the truth’. This has been going on a long time. It was going on back then. And, so, the issue is, had you simply said yes this is true, would have been true or do you have to take these oaths, do have swear to something or on something or about something to make it be true? And if you have to do that, was the assumption of the person that you’re talking to that you weren’t saying the truth because you haven’t said the truth before? And, so, now you have to pile on all of these oath’s in order for something to be true? So, for James this is unnecessary. Just be true. Your yes means yes. And if you live that way for a long enough period of time people know that when you say something it’s the truth. If you say no it’s no and if you say yes it’s yes. You don’t have to say I swear to Jesus and Mary and all the angels and on my children’s life and in the memory of my mother that this is true. It doesn’t need all of that unless underneath all of that you are prone to being untrue. And so, you have to say all of these vows and oaths to make someone believe you. Just be true. And then James ends his letter with a set of postures or behaviors that should be espoused and their outcomes, what they will bring about. So James says, is anyone among you in trouble? Then their response is to pray, let them pray. Is anyone happy? Then let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Then let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. The Lord will raise them up. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. And that, my friends, is something that we have done well here at the Daily Audio Bible, confessing our sins to one another and praying for each other. That is biblical, as we all know, but what we may have missed is the why - so that you may be healed. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is a powerful and effective thing. So, when we come together and we hear each other’s voices and we pray over each other and for each other, that brings healing. And it’s not just like physical healing, that brings wholeness. And then James gives his final thoughts. And this letter doesn’t have a valediction or like a closing, a goodbye, it just ends. And his closing challenge is to not let anyone fade away. If people fall away, go after them. Don’t just let them go. Go after them. And, so, he says, ‘my brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this, whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins’. So, it only took us a few days but we covered a lot of territory in the book of James and have a lot to continue to contemplate and invite the Holy Spirit into. We talked about being quick to listen and slow to speak and how to control our anger and that our rage goes nowhere. We talked about the fact that we can’t just hear the word and expect that it’s going to work. We have to do. We have to live into what we hear and make our lives. We learned that our religious life is absolutely worthless if we cannot control our tongues. We learned that favoritism in the body of Christ is a ridiculous thing because everyone is made in the image of God. We learned that if we harbor and hold bitterness and envy and selfish ambition in our hearts then, not only is this an unspiritual thing to do, its allowing the demonic, and that’s a literal translation. And we learned that to avoid quarrels and fights we first submit ourselves to God. We acknowledge God first in all things, submitting ourselves to Him in all things. And if we would submit ourselves to God and resist the devil, He would flee. And we learned that in our own strength, we can make all the plans we want, but we have no idea what we’re talking about, we have no idea what tomorrow’s going to bring, and our posture should be, first, to acknowledge God and if it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. So, plenty of stuff that hits right at the heart of where we live in the book of James.
Father, we invite Your Holy Spirit to keep it rolling inside of us, to keep these issues that plague us coming up. And even sending us back into the book of James, ourselves, as we continue to understand our posture of heart, the one that is of Your kingdom, and the one that is how we were made to live. Come Holy Spirit, we ask forgiveness for the ways that we have messed this all up so many times. And we invite Your Holy Spirit to lead us to do better. Lead us into all truth. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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Community Prayers and Praise Reports
Hi. This is Paul from Houston. I’m calling to pray for Kayla from Nashville. Kayla you were pouring your heart out about some depression and thoughts that you were struggling with and thoughts of not wanting to go on and I just want to encourage you that I think Satan is trying to come and really to deceive us and to not understand who we are and just ask that God would just reveal himself to you as you cry out to Him, Lord, that He would find you and you would hear from Him and that you wouldn’t be stuck in those negative thoughts and I cast those strongholds down that have been in your mind and those things that have taken the place and have put themselves up. And I thank You Lord that Your Spirit, your peace would just dwell in Kayla and that she would be strong in You and I just ask, Lord, that You would bless her and be with her and show her her value and how much of a purpose You have for her. Lord, I ask that You would give her a calling and that You would draw her. And I thank You, Lord, as You draw her, Lord, she would find the redemption in You and I thank You Lord that Satan won’t get the upper hand because she’s a daughter of the King. And I just thank You God that You be with her and You just bless her and bring her that hope in the future that she’s just crying out to You for and I just thank You Lord that You meet her. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
What’s up everybody? It is Miguel from Santa Rosa and I just wanted to call in real quick and give you guys an update. And after little bit of prayer. I know some of you have been praying for Santa Rosa, you’ve been praying for me, you’ve been praying for my church, you’ve been praying for pastor and, guys, God is doing a great work here. There’s not enough time in a 2 minute call to explain it all, but here’s the short version. God is unifying the churches in Santa Rosa for a common purpose - to get out there and serve the people of the city, to bring people to Jesus. That’s an answer to prayer straight out of John 17. God has provided for our pastor, who lost his home in the fire. He has a home. Praise God. God is speaking to our church, City Alliance church, and showing us that He is going to be doing a work in this church. Guys, God is working. So, as I’m asking for you to pray, the prayer is not that God will you do something. God is doing something. God is working. That is happening. Whether we pray for it or not it is happening. The prayer is this, that we would be fixed on Jesus, as all of this happens, that we would be focused, that we would not take our eyes off of Him as things get turbulent as the work ramps up as God does his work in the city, in our church, in our lives. So, I just ask you guys to continue to pray for that and I am praying for all of you guys too. And I appreciate all the love and encouragement that I have heard on the line lately. I really do feel a part of this community and it’s amazing over…over simple voicemails. So, thank you guys so much. May God bless and strengthen every single one of you listening to this. Alright. Thanks guys.
Hi. This is Dave from Maryland and I’m calling for two of my brothers who are teaming on Kairos Prison Ministry weekends right now. One would be Billy from Montgomery, Alabama who had called in early last month and looking for prayers on whether to serve and for the support of his family and the other is friend, a coworker, who is also serving on his first Kairos Prison Ministry here in Jessup Maryland, on his very first Kairos weekend at this facility. I just pray that they both feel God’s presence through the entire weekend and they know that they don’t have to worry about anything that’s going on inside or outside, that God’s there, He’s with them, He’s on the outside with their families and with everything there. And I just pray for the other men on the team. And I’ve just been inside. Each team has about 42 men – outside guys and inside guys together - and I just pray that everyone involved is open to the work of the Holy Spirit and great things will come out of these weekends. Thank You. Amen.
Beautiful family. This is Pastor Gene. I wanted to bless Lisa the Encourager and thank you so much for all your calls as I hear you pray, I pray with you for others. My heart rejoices and I’m so glad that you have taken up the mantel of being in encourager, as well as so many others here in this community. Thank you so much. And family, before I completely closed chapter with the whole thing with my mom, I wanted to use it to give God glory and to build someone up. And, so, I thought about it, and prayed about it. I’m calling with an exhortation for anybody that is estranged from a loved one, whether that is a daughter, a son, a husband. If you have wronged your loved one, remember that repentance entails not only to say I’m sorry, but to change direction. And if you know you don’t have the power to change direction on your own then repentance also involves using every tool at your disposal to change. In my case, when I started hurting my husband, as a result of the way I have been brought up, I had to admit that I needed therapy. I had to admit that I needed medication. I had to let admit that I needed more than just prayer and reading the word. I had to change and I didn’t have the power to completely change because my personality traits have been affixed by my upbringing. So, I encourage anyone that is listening to this, if you’re estranged, not only say I’m sorry, but don’t whatever it takes to change. Ask God for guidance, create accountability, and use every tool at your disposal to change because, only when we change, we demonstrate to those that we have wronged that we really mean it. I love you family. This is Pastor Gene.