1 Peter 1:1–2 (ESV)
1 Peter, an
apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the
Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
We begin now with the Apostle Peter’s
writings in 1 Peter. He is called the Apostle of Hope. We believe that Simon Peter wrote this in the time period of AD 60-66. It was a time of persecution and suffering. He is reassuring them to stand firm and to endure in the faith. Verse one clearly identifies
the author as “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.” He also names the intended audience of his letter as “those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” It is easy to read verse 2 too
fast and miss the heavy words that Peter is addressing. He points to God’s foreknowledge, the growth in faith through the work of the Holy Spirit, and the plan of Salvation of Jesus “Great Exchange” on the cross. This Great Exchange will
be dealt with later in Peter’s letter. And he closes the introduction with “May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Peter’s letter is a challenging letter that teaches us that we are to “expect persecution!” We want to avoid
it, but Peter tells us to expect it!
I pray: O Lord, Help me to prepare for my journey through the great Apostle Peter’s letter. Help me not to get in the way of the Holy Spirit to work in my life
and to change me... and to prepare me for the future. Amen.
James 5:19–20 (ESV)
Prayer of Faith (Part 2)
19 My brothers,
if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
reading closes our journey through the book of James. Again, we see a scripture that goes against the “once saved, always saved” teaching. I love the sound of once saved, always saved, but the more you study the man-made theology, the more you
realize that it does not hold up to the scriptures. There is a seriousness to those who wander away. Heaven and hell are very real and it will be a horrific tragedy for those who have fallen away... to die and realize that they possessed the truth and later
abandoned it. James teaches “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
This is talking about the sinner’s soul, which was hell bound, is now restored and is heaven bound. The restoration is the work of the Holy Spirit converting the heart of the sinner, to repent and trust in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
He does not have to do a thing but believe.
I pray, “O Lord, help me to reach out to the lost and to plant the seeds of faith, not only to the lost who never heard of Jesus, but also to those who have
known the truth and walked away. Use me as a seed planter and to trust you to provide the growth. Help me to stay out of your way. Amen.
James 5:13–18 (ESV)
The Prayer of Faith
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 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. 15 And the prayer of faith
will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power
as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
You see in today’s reading that we are to pray and praise in all situations. Both prayer and praise is communication directed to God. I would call praise a joyful prayer that often can be in the form of singing with
joy. Another form of prayer is confession. When we repent, we take it to the Lord and confess our sins. Whether we are crying, speechless with hurt, or dealing with the guilt of sin, we take our sins to Jesus and lay them at the feet of the cross. Prayer is
very powerful. It is important to talk to the Lord.
I pray: O Lord, I am excited to share my joys with you and to give you praise for all you have done for me. There are times that my prayers come with heavy
heart. Let me never be afraid to talk to you, but to always come to you in prayer. Thank you Lord for your forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation. Amen.
James 5:7–12 (ESV)
Patience in Suffering
7 Be patient, therefore,
brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those
blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear,
either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
I have often joked about “not to
pray for patience. Every time I prayed for patience, the Lord gave me another child.” While it is a joke, my children have taught me much about patience. The Oxford Standard Dictionary defines Patience as: “The capacity to tolerate delay,
trouble, or suffering without becoming angry or upset.” Whatever is going on, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and his Second Coming. Don’t be distracted.
I pray: O heavenly Father, help me
to tolerate delay, trouble and suffering without becoming angry or upset. I know you have given me patience, but when I look at Job, I realize that I need more. Amen.
James 5:1–6 (ESV)
Warning to the Rich
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire.
You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on
the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
Today’s message does not
sound good for rich people. But it doesn’t have to be that way. God gives abundantly, but some are set out to be poor, some rich, and some in the middle. It’s not how much do you have, but what do you do with it. If you have a lot of money, it
is easy to trust in your finances instead of trusting in the Lord. You begin to see yourself as the provider instead of God. Much like Jesus’ parable of the Rich Young Ruler, the young man said that he has kept the commandments, and lists out the 4th,
5th, 6,th 7th, 8,th 9th, and 10th. Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and to give it to the poor. The man walked away sorrowful, for he had much. Jesus was teaching him that he fell short in the first three commandments which pertain to God. Jesus showed
him that his god was money. There are a lot of rich folks that will go to heaven, because they don’t trust in their wealth, but God. While they may save a lot, they are very generous in giving to the church and to helping others. Their giving usually
extends above and beyond the 10% tithe. Getting into heaven is not based on how much you give, but in your faith in Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sins.
I pray: O
Lord, help me to be content with what you have given me. If money starts to become my god, then take it all away from me. I would rather be poor and dependent on you than rich and forgetting you. Amen.