In February 2017, we are did a SERMON SERIES on James - see
‘Gems from James’ sermon series
|Sunday 5th February
||James 3: 1 - 12
||Hold your tongue
|Sunday 12th February
||James 4: 1 - 12
||The Battle Within & Without
|Sunday 19th February
||James 5: 7 - 20
|Sunday 26th February
||James 2: 14 - 26
||Is faith enough?
Sermon at St Augustine's Locking: SUNDAY
5TH FEBRUARY 2017 James Chapter 3 Verses 1 – 12 - HOLD
Hands up, how many teachers or ex-teachers –
either in the church or other places we’ve got here
today……. Lets hear the reading……but
don’t let anyone else think they’re excluded from
these words from James. We’ll think about why in a few
We start today a short series of talks from
the letter of James………Its so practical and
down to earth, that its perfect as we come towards Lent and
the period of time up to when we reflect on our Lords sacrificial
death and celebrate his glorious resurrection. Let me briefly
give you the context of the letter. Firstly,it was one of
the earliest letters in the New Testament written –
scholars reckon just before AD50, less than 20 years after
Jesus death. Next, it wasn’t – as I once thought
– written by James, the brother of John, who were 2
of the inner circle of Jesus disciples, along with Peter;
it was written by another James, who was actually more important
in the development of the early church. This James was the
half- brother of Jesus himself, and he was a senior leader
in the church at Jerusalem – the central mega-church
whose founding at Pentecost and subsequent rapid growth is
described in the early chapters of the book of Acts. Thirdly,
the reason it was written was that – as again recorded
in Acts – the rapid growth of the Jerusalem church brought
it to the attention of the establishment religious and political
authorities…..who saw it as a threat, just as they’d
seen Jesus as a threat. The result, unsurprisingly, was persecution,
which led many believers to quit Jerusalem for elsewhere in
the Roman Empire. As an aside, does that sound somewhat similar
to the situation currently facing Christians in Syria and
Iraq? Anyway, back to the first century of the church. These
dispersed groups of Christians were without the support of
their central church so James, the senior pastor, sent them
this letter to encourage them how to live out the practicalities
of their faith in challenging times. For me, the key verse
is ch2 v18 “I will show you my faith by what I do.”
And for todays talk….I will show you my
faith by what I do – with my tongue.
HOLD YOUR TONGUE! What does the phrase mean.
In everyday language, its quite simple – its Shut Up.
But actually, we can visualise it in another way; its this.
As we “hold” our tongue, in fact what we’re
doing is pausing before we utter any words. And when you consider
the things that have been said over the last 12 months by
people of prominence in the UK and USA – let alone the
rest of the world – “think before you speak”
has to be some of the wisest advice that anyone can give.
1.VIEW FROM THE WORLD…..DITCH THE CLICHÉ!
Out there, the world is full of clichés about words
and the power of words – clichés that are massively
destructive. Some are old, some are new; all need to be challenged.
Heres one that’s been around for a while….”Do
as I say, not as I do”. Wrong – that’s called
hypocrisy. Jesus reserved some of his harshest words for hypocrites
Matt23.v13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees,
you hypocrites. You shut the kingdom of heaven in mens faces.”
And we’ve got 2 new clichés, thanks to the events
of the last 12 months.
We have “post-truth”. Wrong. Truth
is an absolute. There is nothing that comes after truth –
except lies and distortions. Then we have “alternative
facts”. Wrong. Facts are facts. Anything that is not
fact is either fiction or a personal opinion. The Oxford Dictionaries,
after much debate, named Post-truth as the word of the year
for 2016. Listen to its definition…….. As to alternative
facts, lets go to the online dictionary Wikipedia…..Jesus,
in the great passages in Johns Gospel where he is describing
his key characteristics made these statements “I am
the Way, the Truth and the Life” and “I am the
Living Word”. And his life backed up those statements.
Who do you believe to steer your life? Politicians or Jesus?
For me, though, the most destructive cliché
about words and their misuse has been around for a long time.
Its this:- “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but
words will never hurt me.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. Ask
anyone in the world of mental health. I was recently listening
to a lady preaching about rejection; and she said that if
you ask any congregation to raise their hands if they’ve
never experienced rejection, it is rare to find many, if any,
hands go up. And a goodly amount of that rejection is caused
by the words we speak or the words that we don’t speak.
And in this hurting and confused world, many
still look to the church, to us, for an anchor in the storm.
So why do far too many testify to the church only increasing
2 .VIEW FROM THE CHURCH…”DONT DIS
ME BRO”…..or in the Queens English “Please
don’t show me any disrespect, my brother!”
Do you know, we sometimes forget Jesus words “It is
not the well who need a doctor but the sick”, and that
many turn to Christ because they realise that all is not right
in their lives. Many join church fellowships, bringing the
baggage of hurting with them. And Christians who are young
in the faith or damaged look not only to those of us who speak
from the front, but to all the fellowship, to act as their
teachers by example in word and deed. There are quite a few
“dis’s” that people face – disrespect,
disdain,being disengaged, feeling disenfranchised; they were
some of the strongest emotions that drove peoples votes here
and in the USA. What do folks look to see in the church? –
the opposite! Respect for them, for each other and for those
who have different opinions. Appreciation of them as individuals,
irrespective of their level of talent, wealth, education etc.
Acceptance of them as they are. Knowing that their views and
perspectives will be valued, and that they will be included
in the community’s life unconditionally. And when that
spirit pervades a church, what do we see? We see healing of
deep wounds start to happen, we see people gradually opening
up to fully be thepeople God designed them to be, we see them
reaching out to their unchurched friends and saying “Come
and see what we’ve found”. Its not rocket-science.
The early church – to which James belonged – didn’t
have any study books on ‘How to grow your church’
or ‘The 12 steps to spiritual maturity’; but what
they did have was a burning desire to live out life the Jesus
way. It’s a familiar passage, but listen afresh to Acts
ch2. Vses 42 -47…. I don’t know about you, but
that’s what I want this fellowship to always be. So……
3.THE WAY AHEAD……BLESS YOU! Our
passage in James is bluntly graphic about the dark side of
the tongue. There is no way I could or would want to expand
on what those verses say. But what do we do about it? We cant
spend our whole lives in total silence in case we say something
wrong. Well, I think V9 gives us a hint. “With our tongue
we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who
have been made in Gods likeness.” Why don’t we
decide to take this verse and actually erase the word “curse”?
You could actually do it literally – write the verse
on a piece of paper, pin it on a board and scrub out or cut
out the word “curse”. What word would we want
to put in its place? Well, the obvious one is love, of course…..but
can I make another suggestion – it’s the word
bless. And by that, I don’t mean the automatic catch
phrase response to someone sneezing! If you look in the Oxford
dictionary, one of the stripped-back meanings of the word
bless is this – to give honour to someone as being divine
ie as being a child of God. Its an active word, not the mushy
touchy - feely word that love can often deteriorate into.
How do we bless each other, our parents, our partners, our
children, our neighbours? In a thousand different ways –
in sending a card, in asking about their health, in making
a phone call, in praying for them, in offering to help, in
popping in….and just listening. As Ronan Keating famously
sang on the soundtrack of the film Notting Hill “You
say it best, when you say nothing at all”. But in most
ways of blessing, the written or the spoken word is involved.
Let me give you a few quick true examples of
words/people/churches and 1 example of blessing people…
from TV….. Danny Taylor from Without a Trace. How do
we look to live consistently- when we know, if we’re
honest, our tongue is not too different from that described
by James? Firstly, by determining to change and keep watch
over our mindset and our tongue, and to look for ways to bless
people day by day, inside the church and outside it. And by
recognising that, like the recovering addict, we’re
always just one step away from going backwards, and therefore
looking day by day to the Holy Spirit to change us inside
and finding other believers to support us on our journey.
But I’d like to leave us all with another
challenge as well. It’s a toughie, but it's this. Our
tongues are all too often the source of the fracturing of
relationships. We’re going to have a moment of quiet
now, and I’m going to ask the Holy Spirit to move among
us….and prompt us if there is anyone we need to contact
to seek to restore a fractured relationship, be that by letter,
by email, by phone, or in person. Also, if there’s someone
we could bless in the next week, as a practical step. Friends,
it’s the Jesus way, and you and they are worth it.
Cliff Dumbell, Reader, St Augustine's Locking
Sermon at St Mary's Hutton: SUNDAY
5TH FEBRUARY 2017 James Chapter 3 Verses 1 – 12 - HOLD
Today we are beginning a 4 week sermon series
on parts of the book of James. To get the most out of this
I would encourage you to read the reading beforehand and let
God speak to you before I or whoever else does. We are calling
this series ‘Gems from James’.
So off we go….. In our modern day society
we use words in so many ways don’t we – we speak
directly to people face to face, we talk to them on the phone,
we text people, put posts on Facebook, Twitter or whatever,
we e-mail people and sometimes we write letters. I received
a lovely letter from an old friend before Christmas –
hand written and several pages long. It was quite a rarity
and this friend is younger than me. Words are used in so many
different ways aren’t they? Words themselves are neutral
– squiggles on paper or sounds that come from our mouths.
But in reality words are one of the most powerful things in
the world. Think of the key times in your life and the things
that have made you the person you are today for the good or
bad. I bet each time you remember the things that were said
– what an idiot, you silly boy, you’ll never achieve
anything, I’m so proud of you, you’re my best
girl, well done, I hate you, will you marry me, we’d
like to offer you this post, it’s a boy, you’re
fired, it’s not looking good, you can do it……
I’m sure we can all think of such phrases that have
stuck in our minds and make us who we are today.
The title for this week is hold your tongue.
In the book of James we hear what makes a mature Christian.
So far James has mentioned in chapter 1 that they are patient.
In chapter 2 they practice the truth. Now in chapter 3 they
have power over their tongue. With any of the letters in the
Bible I always have a sense of frustration as you only get
one side of the correspondence and you have to guess what
the writer is responding to. James is clearly writing to Christians
because they are having problems controlling their tongue.
In 1: 19 he writes ‘be quick to listen, slow to speak
and slow to become angry.’ And in 1: 26 he writes ‘If
anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a
tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion
Our speech and how we use it is an indicator
of where we are in our Christian life – it’s like
a gauge or a measure of how much God has changed us. Firstly
James speaks to teachers of the word – preachers, home
group leaders, anyone with that role and warns us that we
will be strictly judged. Our lives must match the things that
we preach. There should be no great chasm between what I tell
you and teach you and about how I live my life at home. No
point me telling you to love your neighbour if I then go home
and scream at the kids – I don’t. No point today
teaching about the use of speech and then this afternoon telling
someone how much I dislike someone in the church. I and all
preachers and teachers must be wissywig – what you see
is what you get. If you want to know what I’m like then
ask my kids. They know me warts and all. Preachers and teachers
use words as their instrument – so I/ we need to be
careful of how we use our speech. Which leads James to talk
to all Christians – you as well as me. James uses 6
images or pictures to make his point. They are the bit, the
rudder, the fire, a wild animal, a fountain and a fig tree.
We can pair them up – so firstly the bit and the rudder.
Verses 3 and 4.
Our words have power – great power. Think
of the effect that the words of the new US President have
had on the world. He is trying to change the direction of
the country by his words first and foremost. They are so powerful.
Both a bit on a horse and a rudder on a boat are quite small
things – but they have the ability to turn a ship round
or make a horse change direction. So James says in verse 5
that the tongue is a small part of the body but has the ability
to change a person or a situation. It makes great boasts says
James. It exaggerates, twists the truth, tells lies. James
says that we all stumble in many ways and the thing we all
stumble with the most is with our speech. If we can keep what
we say in check then the rest will follow – because
it is difficult. This is set in a negative context –
but you could also say it in a positive way.
Our words can also accomplish great things.
A right and godly word can change your day, change the course
of your life….. it can bring comfort and encouragement,
it can bring someone to Jesus… we can invite…
we can tell our story. In a negative and a positive way words
are so important because they lead to deeds. In the second
world war there was a caption ‘Loose lips sink ships’
about being careful what you said. But loose lips also sink
lives too. The bit and the rudder have to overcome other forces
– the wind and waves and the wild strength of the horse.
So we struggle to say the right thing. Or sometimes we say
the right thing in the wrong way. E-mails or texts are a great
way to communicate – the downside though is you can
misread them as you don’t know the tone of what is being
said. Sometimes it is the way you say things that can hurt.
Outside forces might be the people you are with – when
someone gossips are we are pressured to join in. Or inside
forces – we are angry and we can’t contain our
angry words. What is important is the controlling hand of
the bit and rudder – is it Jesus or is it us. Proverbs
18 says ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue.’
King David said ‘Set a watch O lord before my mouth;
keep the door of my lips.’ (Ps 141) Jesus in Matthew
12 says ‘out of the overflow of the heart the mouth
speaks.’ What does our speech say about the state or
our hearts? Secondly the images of fire and wild animals in
verses 5 – 8. All fires start with a spark.
Our words can start a fire – can destroy
and harm. To be honest some of the worst fires happen in churches.
The people who have caused the most harm and hurt have been
the ones who have a problem with their tongue. Again David
said ‘My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated
the fire burned, then I spoke with my tongue.’ Psalm
39. David had a temper and it came out in his speech. Maybe
that is us also. Fire spoils and makes dirty – you get
smoke damage even where there is no fire. Our words can spoil
and taint as well as bring hurt. Jesus himself was wrongly
accused of being a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors
and sinners. They said he was in league with Satan. On the
cross they hurled cruel words at him. Fire and poison spread
– so do wrong words. They need taming and each of us
needs to stop things from spreading. A tame animal can be
used for work and a fire for power. So words can be used for
good. Think of Anna last week – who gossiped about Jesus.
Lastly the water spring and the fig tree. ‘The mouth
of a righteous man is a well of life’ Prov 10 Water
– and words – can be life giving. Words such as
God loves you, you look nice, I will help you…. Can
change a person in an instant. Water like words can also cleanse
– I forgive you, I am sorry. Salt water on the other
hand can kill.
As Christians our words should bring life to
others. The image of the tree shows us that our words should
bear good fruit. Trees bring shelter and can feed us. Trees
need good roots – so we need to be rooted in God’s
word each day. There are 12 words if used daily they can transform
your life – they are please, thank you, I’m sorry,
I love you – (even to those we don’t like), I’m
praying for you. So let us ask ourselves – do I have
a problem with my tongue – as I believe while we all
struggle some do have a bigger problem than others. If we
do then we need to acknowledge it and do something about it.
Give God your heart and your speech each and allow him to
use you to be a blessing to others.
Rev Anne Lee, Rector, St Mary's Hutton and St
SUNDAY 12TH FEBRUARY 2017: James Chapter 4 Verses 1 –
12 'THE BATTLE WITHIN AND WITHOUT'
If you Google ‘wars in the 20th Century’
you will get a very long list. At the top of one webpage it
gave a terrible statistic that 160 million people died in
wars during the 20th century. The last century was the most
murderous ever. Today there are 34 ongoing conflicts including
the Syrian Civil war, the civil war in South Sudan (why David
and Heather had to leave) and the Mexican Drug War. Today
there are only 11 countries who are not involved in some conflict.
Those who study these things say that since 2007 the world
has become a much less peaceful place. They say that it will
get worse not better. Wars always start with people –
and in people wars start in the mind and in the heart. I have
never been in a war situation – my mum was a girl in
the Second World War and it was a terrible and frightening
thing to live through. I have though listened to countless
stories of people at war with each other, war in families,
(very sadly often this comes out at a funeral visit when people
have not spoken to each other for years and now they have
to see each other), sometimes the reconciliation is too late,
even wars in churches, I have listened to people battling
with things within themselves.
Today’s reading from James is called the
battle within and without. We will look at this in 3 sections
– firstly the war with each other. James begins this
chapter – what causes fights and quarrels among you?
He was teaching about this because there was a problem between
the Christians. In Ps 133 it says ‘How good and pleasant
it is when brothers live together in unity. It is like precious
oil poured on the head… for there the Lord bestows His
blessing.’ Unity is God’s way for His people –
here they had gone off the path badly. James identifies different
wars going on in the church. 2: 1 – 9 class wars between
the rich and poor. People are being judged by their clothes
and appearance and favouritism shown. Employment wars 5: 1
– 6 rich employers are not paying their workers a fair
wage – some things never change. And church fights.
I witnessed a real fight in a church that I worked at in Nottingham
– but usually battles in church are more subtle and
go on for months, years even and are far more destructive.
Especially if they become part of the identity and history
of that church. I still sometimes hear stories when I visit
people in the parish, of events that took place years ago!!
Wars always begin in the heart and then the
ammo that people use is their speech – which was last’s
week’s sermon. In the church that James was writing
to they were warring over positions in the church –
wanting to be teachers and leaders. People thought that their
ideas were the only right ones and their ways were the only
right ways. Usually the root of the problem is the desire
for power. This resulted in personal wars between individuals
– people spoke ill of others, they judged them. When
this sort of thing happens then it is like a bad stink that
cannot be contained and which leaks out into the community.
People may look on and say ‘behold how they hate each
other’ rather than ‘behold how they love each
other.’ At a couple of Locking PCC meetings ago we started
to write a new plan for the future. After a church day of
prayer various themes came out – one of which was unity
and love. We then agreed – in this church we will -
• Work towards changing attitudes towards
• Reach out with love and kindness
• Respect one another
• Welcome all ages, cultures etc in love and friendship
into our church community
• Be committed to always being kind to each other and
those in the community – and to kindly stamp out any
unkindness they come across
Taken really seriously and lived out –
not just by the PCC – but by every church member –
can and will totally transform the church.
Jesus prayed – That they all may be one as you Father
John 17: 21
This is not just about us all getting on together
– which is good – but is also about witness and
mission. ‘By this shall all men will know that you are
my disciples, if you love one another.’ John 13: 35
So why are there wars in the church – we belong to the
same family, love the same Jesus, all have the holy spirit.
James explains why – what causes fights and quarrels
– don’t they come from your desires that battle
within you? It’s the problem of the heart and the problem
is sin and that usually begins with selfishness – wanting
what we want – you want something but don’t get
it, you kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.
You quarrel and fight.’ Verse 2. Wanting what we want
leads to wrong actions and also wrong praying – when
you ask you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives.’
It has been said the purpose of prayer is not to get man’s
will done in heaven but to get God’s will done on earth.
You can tell when a person is at war within themselves –
they are unhappy and never show any joy. Instead of being
thankful for what they have, they complain about what they
don’t have. They don’t get on with people because
they envy others and what they have – either happiness,
possessions or their position. Sometimes people are angry
at God because their lives aren’t as they want and this
anger spills over into anger at the church and people.
Which leads to the last point and which gets
to the real root of the problem – people being at war
with God. So how does a believer be at war with God? Well
being friendly with the world – following the ways of
the world, how it thinks and behaves, being no different from
people around you who are not Christians. As yourself –
in what way am I different from people around me? Have I sold
out to what I hear and see, do I speak as the world speaks,
do I do as the world does, do I think as the world does?
Which goes back to being selfish again –
because me first – is the way of the world – rather
than God first. If you were watched every second of the day
would anyone watching it notice that there was something different
about you? The devil would want us to be proud but it says
God opposes the proud. James tells them to submit themselves
to God, to resist the devil, to come near to God. If we seek
our hearts and look at our lives and know that they are far
from what God have them to be then we need to make a conscious
decision to return to God. To return like the prodigal with
a desire to change. We must be repentant before God can lift
us up – as we know to repent is not just saying sorry
but being willing to change direction. When this is sorted
we will stop being at war with God, which results in war within
ourselves, which results in wars and quarrels with others.
It always goes back to our relationship with
God and our willingness to be changed and transformed by him.
So today in this service there are opportunities to put things
right – in Matthew we heard – if you are offering
your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother
has something against you, leave your gift there in front
of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother,
the come and offer your gift’ That is why we have the
peace. Maybe there are people outside the church we need to
stop warring with. Maybe we need to get right with God –
use receiving Communion to draw close to God again. James
says ‘He gives us more grace.’ When we step out
in this way – then God will give grace – undeserved
love and forgiveness and will give us all we need. Let us
Lord we are sorry when we quarrel with others,
when we are proud and think we know best – we turn from
that. We are sorry when we are at war in ourselves –
we are unhappy because we want what others have, we envy and
are dissatisfied with our lived rather than be thankful. Lord
change our hearts and thinking. And when we are at war with
you and follow the ways of the world – when we try to
serve 2 masters and so don’t really follow you. Lord
may we repent, turn from disobedience and may we come back
to you. Amen
Rev Anne Lee, Rector, St Mary's Hutton and St
SUNDAY 19TH FEBRUARY 2017: James Chapter
6 Verses 7-20 'Why Me?"'
As I was preparing this sermon it struck me
that 2 years ago this week on 17th, two days ago, I had surgery
for cancer. It was a tough time as you may remember a week
after the op, and I thought I was on my way to recovery, I
was told they had found and removed another cancer and I needed
chemo and more surgery. During that time I don’t think
I said or even thought ‘why me’ – though
at times I did think – please stop this, please may
this all end, I can’t keep going, I can’t do this
anymore. I was thinking about the title of this sermon –
why me – and I was thinking what underlies that statement
– what beliefs and ideas are within it? I came up with
the following:- That somehow being a Christian excludes us
from suffering in the world – that knowing and following
Jesus means that we will always be protected and nothing bad
will ever happen to us or our families. It also gives the
idea that you are somehow selected for suffering – why
me, why have I been chosen? And then we might think –
I’m a good person, I’ve never hurt anyone –
what have I done to deserve this? We forget that we are living
in a fallen, broken world, that it is indiscriminate in who
suffers and who doesn’t. It’s not just the world
that is broken but we are too. We are indeed fearfully and
wonderfully made – but our bodies fail us – I
was born with a faulty repair gene for example which gives
me a high risk of cancer. My body is fallen. When we say why
me – we might be saying that to God – why have
you allowed this? Couldn’t you have prevent it happening
– you can do anything can’t you God? It’s
that big mystery of suffering again. So my friends –
let’s be real about some things – bad things do
happen to Christians. The world is fallen and we are part
of that – none of us are exempt. Instead of why me –
we could say – why not me?
So what does James say about suffering? Firstly
be patient – he says it twice along with stand firm.
In John 16:33 Jesus says ‘In this world you will have
trouble.’ Fact. But we need to be patient. James uses
2 words for patience verse 7 – 8 meaning long tempered
and verse 11 the word he uses means endurance – to remain
under – to carry something even though you are under
great stress. Patience means ‘to stay put and stand
fast when you’d like to run away.’ Scholars think
that longsuffering refers to being patient with people, while
endurance is about conditions and situations. The thing that
James tells them to be patient about is the return of Jesus.
I’m not sure that we get impatient for that do we? But
it makes sense, as it is only when that happens that all suffering,
sin, stress and pain will be totally gone from the world.
James gives 3 pictures to put over his point. Firstly the
image of the farmer – he can’t make the crop grow
faster and he has no control over the weather. When we undergo
suffering one of the biggest problems is losing control. We
are at the mercy of the illness, the treatment, other people.
Yet we must be like spiritual farmers – waiting for
the precious, valuable crop to appear. It is out of our hands
but in God’s hands. The crop might be the end of our
suffering, it might be the harvest at the end of the age,
it might be in seeing people become Christians. The soil is
our hearts and the seed is the word. In our spiritual lives
there are seasons.
People say – I’m going through a
dry patch. Sometimes a time of hardship and suffering is God’s
way of ploughing the hard ground. I have known people who
were once quite hard and then something difficult or some
suffering came their way and they changed – they became
kinder, more patient, more open. Sometimes a time of endurance
is actually preparation for a time of fruit – it might
be the fruits of the spirit. This is something we don’t
have to do alone – that is why we need to belong to
church. James tells them to not grumble about each other.
Tough times will test our tongues (yes it’s back to
that again.) It is easy to moan and groan, to criticise, to
seek for scapegoats when we are hurting. Farmers help out
and support each other – remember when the Somerset
levels were flooded – farmers from all over the country
came to help. So we must support each other when troubles
come. Like the farmer we should not give up working but keep
going. The second image that James uses is the prophets. They
were doing God’s will yet they suffered.
Sometimes suffering is as a result of faithfulness
to God. Jesus was obedient to His Father but that led Him
to the cross. Despite the suffering of the prophets God looked
after them. It is said that ‘The will of God will never
take you, Where the grace of God cannot keep you’. It
may seem unfair – why me again – that the prophets-
and indeed God’s people have to suffer. Yet it is true
that our actions speak louder than words – that a life
of faith lived out through suffering – in patience and
even joy – speaks volumes to those around us. The farmer
keeps working and the prophet keeps witnessing – despite
the pain and trouble. The last image that James uses is Job.
In verse 11 James says ‘we consider blessed those who
have persevered.’ But you cannot persevere unless there
is some hardship. Sometimes the blessing comes when we are
going through trials – like the 3 men in the fiery furnace
in Daniel – they were joined by who I believe was Jesus.
At other times the blessing comes after. Job lost everything
– wealth, family and health. Then his friends tell him
he must have committed some terrible sin for this to happen
to him. Job says he is innocent but not perfect. Everything
was against him – it seemed like God was too. Job questioned
God’s will but never gave up his faith. ‘Though
he slay me, yet will I hope in Him.’ Through his sufferings
Job met God is a new and deeper way.
The second part of the reading is very practical
and covers many situations – if you are in trouble then
pray – may that be the first thing we do – unless
it is an emergency. Then send an arrow prayer help as you
dial 999. Trouble should bring us to God for help. To those
who are happy – allow them to rejoice. If you are sick
then ask for prayer and anointing with oil. If you sin then
confess to others and be forgiven. If somebody strays from
the faith and from church – then bring them back. All
practical. So if and when we are in trouble and it will happen
at some point – then keep going, keep working like the
farmer – allow the suffering to soften your heart not
harden it. Be like the prophets – who suffered because
they were faithful but they kept witnessing. Be like Job –
who lost the lot but was a changed man and met God in a new
way. Let us all be patient and uphold each other when we suffer
– carry them in prayer, in kindness and practical deeds,
in listening and encouraging, in just being. And let us remember
that Jesus will return and there will be no more tears, pain,
sin, sickness or suffering.
The will of God will never take you, Where the
grace of God cannot keep you.
Where the arms of God cannot support you, Where the riches
of God cannot supply your needs, Where the power of God cannot
The will of God will never take you, Where the
spirit of God cannot work through you,
Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you, Where the army of
God cannot protect you,
Where the hands of God cannot mold you.
The will of God will never take you, Where the
love of God cannot enfold you,
Where the mercies of God cannot sustain you, Where the peace
of God cannot calm your fears, Where the authority of God
cannot overrule for you.
The will of God will never take you, Where the
comfort of God cannot dry your tears,
Where the Word of God cannot feed you, Where the miracles
of God cannot be done for you,Where the omnipresence of God
cannot find you.
Rev Anne Lee, Rector, St Mary's Hutton and St