Steadfast – Week 6

Steadfast Hope: The Coming of the Lord (pages 157-189)
James 4:13-5:12

Last week Lauren shared about Earthly Wisdom vs wisdom from above. This week we see in James one more example of earthly wisdom and then he moves on condemn the sins of the wicked rich and he ends with a call for patience in suffering.

Come now [and pay attention to this], you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and carry on our business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air]. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and we will do this or that.” But as it is, you boast [vainly] in your pretension and arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:13-17

James is addressing business men, believers. In vs 16 it is suggested that they knew the practice was wrong. It is interesting that we think of sin as when we do something wrong but James is suggesting it is when you know the right to do but don’t do it , that is sin. The word say is present tense and is something they have been doing over and over again. They are confident in their plans and their ability to carry them out no matter what. The idea of vapor I like. I remember being at a conference where the speaker blew air. She said that if we were outside we would have seen the breathe. I want you to know that this is what God compares our lives to – it is over that quick. This struck a chord in my life about the plans I make or the things I want to do. I don’t even know if I will be here tomorrow.

There are two things dependent on the Lord’s will. If we live and what we do.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

I love to plan vacations and dream about the future. This is not wrong when we do this with the right motive and attitude. James was concerned about these people. He was worried about the posture of their heart. If we say if the Lord wills are we being prideful or humble in the heart. He was saying these people are boastful with the wrong attitude. They were saying if the Lord wills but this was tacked on, like I have my bases covered. The submissive heart says I want to align my will with God’s will. One of the things I appreciated about the last study, This I Know, regardless of what happens God is good. If things don’t go as we planned or God doesn’t do what we hoped he would do, we can still praise him. I know I have shared about my nephew Josh and his wife Lindsey and losing their newborn son JJ. The sorrow they had and how they trusted God. I shared how she was expecting again. Here is a recent post she had on facebook.

“This is my favorite thing I’ve ever done and the second hardest thing I’ve ever done. The hardest was saying goodbye to sweet JJ. The sweetness of life with Holly shows us even more what we missed with him and the grief is heavy. When my fear is overwhelming and causes me to lose even more sleep than I’m already losing, I am grateful that I can remind myself who is actually in control of her days. I know the author and sustainer of life personally and He is good. I am so grateful for this sweet gift He has entrusted to us and I am grateful for the parent grace He lavishes on us daily. Three weeks in, newborn life is exhausting and amazing and terrifying and wonderful. We are so ridiculously in love with Holly. We are doing great.”

This reflects a life that is truly humble and trusting God and His will for their life. The bottom line is that James wants us to submit to God’s will not to have self determination.

I was surprised to hear that the song My Way was often sung at funerals. Most funerals I have been to have been believers so maybe that is why I have never heard it sung at a funeral. I Googled it because I didn’t even know who sang the song – Elvis Presley sings it and others too.

And now the end is here
And so I face that final curtain
My friend I’ll make it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more
I did it, I did it my way
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
Oh, and more, much more than this
I did it my way
For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has not
To say the words he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Wow, can’t you see that is who James is talking about. The same mentality of making plans and doing it their way. I want to contrast that with a special man. He submitted to the will of God. It was Pastor Tim Andrus, a prior associate pastor at Village Church. One of his favorite songs was “Blessed Be Your Name.” He was diagnosed with cancer and it was aggressive and less than 25% chance of a 5 year survival rate. Pastor Tim Andrus shared with us how he had asked God if he could live til his son graduated from high school but he did this asking that it be God’s will. As his health declined he lived “Blessed Be Your Name.” I remember one Sunday
morning worship he was leading us in worship to this song and you could tell he was weak but this worship was coming from his heart. At his funeral we sang this song.

I want to read these words.
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
Every blessing You pour out, I’ll
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out I’ll
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I’ll say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord blessed be Your name
This was a life that was lived in humble obedience to the will of the Lord

Then James moves on to condemn the sins of the wicked rich.

Come [quickly] now, you rich [who lack true faith and hoard and misuse your resources], weep and howl over the miseries [the woes, the judgments] that are coming upon you. James 5:1

He starts this section with saying to pay attention. These rich unbelievers weep and wail because of God’s upcoming judgement on them as opposed to believers that weep in repentance. If he is talking about unbelievers, he is still writing to the believers. Here is a lesson for us this isn’t how anyone should treat money or people. James isn’t condemning wealth but the misuse. He calls attention to the sins it can precipitate. They had so much surplus and it became evidence against them that these were their treasures. They were not paying their workers that were harvesting their crops. The workmen cried out to God, God the Lord of Host who heard them. This was encouraging because they knew they were at the mercy of their owners but they knew God was more powerful and would vindicate them in time. These rich men wanted luxury and self indulgence and they murdered innocent men – righteous men that did not fight back. 2 Timothy 6:17-19 says Don’t set your hope on riches because they are so uncertain but rather hope in God who provides us everything for our enjoyment. John Piper shares about grace – past grace and future grace. “Trust in past grace means to draw from it confidence in future grace. Remembering causes us to trust in the present”

So James begins with earthly wisdom and self sufficient and prideful planning. He condemns the sins of the rich wicked business men.

Now in vs 7 – 11 he will call us brothers, he calls for patience in suffering.

So wait patiently, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits [expectantly] for the precious harvest from the land, being patient about it, until it receives the early and late rains. You too, be patient; strengthen your hearts [keep them energized and firmly committed to God], because the coming of the Lord is near. James 5:7-8

James is using 3 illustrations, the farmer, prophet, and Job. He shows that this is in response to the righteous poor in versus 1 – 6. That is why he is calling for patience. I like this definition of patience – the self restraint that does not try to get even for a wrong done. This is the type of patience that God wants us to practice until His return. He compares this to the farmers that are waiting for their crops. In Palestine they plant their crops in October/November and there is the first rain and then in April or May there would be the second rain as the plants were maturing. They knew both of these rains were important to have successful crops. One of the things I am trying this year is to plant some seeds to plant flowers and vegetables in my garden. I am starting the seeds inside and this could be a whole podcast but – I am learning this idea of patience. Meantime James says establish your heart for the coming of the Lord. I love verbs so I looked up establish in my favorite bible resource- the Blue Letter Bible App – to make stable, to place firmly, to strengthen, to render constant, to turn resolutely, purposely determined. Wow, I want to turn to you as I wait patiently for your coming. He also encourages them to stop grumbling to each other.

Another illustration of patience is the prophets – who spoke in the name of the Lord. They experienced affliction and responded with long suffering. Jeremiah was put into stocks and lowered into a dungeon yet he persisted without bitterness. James mentions Job – perseverance in trying circumstances. We know the story of how the end result was in his patience he saw the Lord bring about to him twice as much as he had before. Those that remain steadfast will be blessed. Remember in James 1:3 where we said trials produce steadfastness and the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
In this passage James has one final instruction, above all – James echoes the words of Jesus in Matthew – instead of using oaths to convince people, we should be honest people. People of integrity. Oaths really make us more unbelievable.

Memory Verse –

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. James 5:11

So Whats –

Ask God to show you places you’ve wrongly set your hope. James shows we can set our hope in ourselves; our plans, our control, our riches, our lifestyles….but they will fail us.

More in the control. If I can control the disappointing thing then I feel better. So much of this though is that this is a broken world not even from people’s specific sin – but due to brokenness of the fall. If I can have this rightly planted then I know it isn’t about my control and my hope is in the Lord redeeming this and this is how I right my perspective. I have to ground my hope there, not just have it as a wish on top.

Mine is my plans and controls of my plans. Control can be an idol for me. I can see God working in my life as He has me give up control. That is an area I struggle and I can set my hope wrongly in my plans.

Ask God for strength to align your will with His will.

On Page 186 Courtney explains His secret will and His revealed will. His secret will refers to God being sovereign and He rules over everything. We won’t know that will until it happens. His revealed will is what He makes known to us in His Word.
1 Thess 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification….
It is interesting because we are more likely minimize His revealed will and focus on His secret will. Instead we should be trusting Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. It may be hard in those trials. How do we know God’s will? We need to be diligent to obey God’s revealed will.

Establish your heart to be steadfast until he comes again.

The only sure place to anchor your hope is in the Lord, his perfect purpose will stand, and our merciful and compassionate God is coming again!

We have so many practical commands from James to establish our heart. How do we intentionally establish our hearts?

Lisa: As we think of word Hope and use it as an anchor versus it being “hopes and dreams” – so much is God’s Word. I was considering where to go to college and I was looking for perfection to align with His secret will and when i looked at His revealed will it was broader. I remember talking to my dad, there are probably three good colleges that are all within his will. I was looking for His will to be a pin point spot. I then had a feeling like I wasn’t praying enough and not spiritual enough because if I was then God would tell me exactly what to do. But it was that His will was broader than I was making it. It is the tension of living in a spiritual world and realistic world and how to we blend the two. Sometimes they seem separate where I make decisions on facts and sprinkle God on top. Unfortunately this isn’t how we are to live but it is more of an art to figure it out and mature in our faith. For intentional grounding in God’s will can be spiritual disciplines fasting, praying, seeking the Lord, wise council – these are great and practical and then the main thing is living within God’s revealed will and being faithful in that. I can then be sensitive to hear His call to do something different but still not outside His revealed will. Be convicted of sins when outside of God’s will.

Julie: The implanted word – I want to implant His word to ooze out of me to those around me. The last months I have been asking God to point out sin in my life and confess and worship music. To put my mind and thoughts in the proper place.

What does steadfast hope mean…?

Continuing to endure and persevere in obedience each day, with confident expectation of Christ’s return. All the while, trusting his providence.

At the women’s conference we sang the song – In the Hands of Christ My King
All my hope is found, in the hands of Christ my King,
So may my life be found, in the hands of Christ my King.

Links From This Week:

In This Week’s Video:

Julie Antioho
Julie Antioho
Lisa Lewis
Lisa Lewis