Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mid-week Advent 3

James 5:7-11

Patience in waiting for the Lord’s return

Introduction: Do we possess the virtue of patience during these days before Christmas? We have grown so accustomed to getting what we want, when we want it. Instant information. Instant coffee. Instant replay in televised sports. 24-hour news. Served up in an instant.

We sometimes might expect God to respond in kind. We tend to forget that God has eternity while we have only time. God is never in a hurry as we are. He does not need to be in a hurry with eternity at His disposal. Our Epistle for this evening deals with the problem of Christ’s return.

Why does He not come now? It helps to be patient – if we agree that He will be worth the wait. The coming of the Lord often appears to be tardy. It’s been 2,000 years and the Lord still has not come! James urges us to be patient and reminds us that the Lord’s coming is indeed near—if we can only perceive the Lord’s timing.

1. Know that He surely is coming – V. 8 – “You to, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” 

For James, “patience” means not despairing over the return of Christ, which is “near” or “at hand”. When Jesus comes, all these other problems are solved. Meanwhile, hang in there! “Be patient . . . until the coming of the Lord."

Patience is not something we seem to value anymore. We value speed and efficiency. When have you had to be patient? When has patience brought you something better than what you could have gotten right away? James encourages us to slow down, be patient. Rely on God.

2. Follow the example of the patient ones – Vv. 7, – “Be patient, then brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains…

In Israel, the autumn rain comes in October and November soon after the grain is sown. Planting was in the fall, after the first rains had softened the ground. The spring rain comes in March and April just prior to the harvest. Early rains came in autumn, latter rains in spring.

See how many times James uses the word patience. He mentions a farmer - What happens when crops are harvested too soon? I remember pulling up onions in the garden to look at them, and carrots; way too early in the season, 'just to check'. It usually meant bad news even when they were ready! Oh that I should have been patient...

As an example of patience in the face of suffering take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” Circumstances will end. James reminds us. It looks so dark and unending now. You needed to be reminded - your situation will not last forever. In the same way, James has encouraged his persecuted readers with the hope of Christ's return. And so, he has helped us choose a stance of patience. - The practice of Christian patience is need by all!

3. Accept the fact that He is coming to judge – V. 9 “Don’t grumble against each other, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door.”  In discussing patience, why does James insert a seeming odd thought about grumbling again­st one another? Probably a lot of grumbling stems from our impatience with life and with people.

When things don’t go as you hope or expect, it’s tempting to blame someone else. Blaming others is easier than taking responsibility. By “grumbling”, James means blaming someone else and not taking responsibility for your actions or lack of action. Remember, Christ the judge will come -- no ifs, ands, or buts about it -- and will judge each of us.  He will not let us get away with shifting the blame to others.

When we are grumbling against an, our focus is not on God’s reality and work in our lives but on the differences we see as we focus on those around us. James doesn’t qualify this. He doesn’t say, “don’t grumble unless you have a good reason to.” Wh­en we are grumbling, we are unable to receive God’s peace and we are unable to give or receive a blessing from another person. When we grumble we are not content with God’s work in our lives and in those around us.

Conclusion: We sometimes forget that God has eternity while we have only time. God is never in a hurry as we are. He does not need to be in a hurry with eternity at His disposal. In your preparations for the coming Christmas celebration recall that your Father is making all things new and has your destiny planed. With the Psalmist we can say, “My times are in Thy hands.”

No comments: