Tuesday morning, November 22, 2011. It’s 11/22/11. I think that’s almost as cool as 11/11/11. Using this date format, it’s a palindrome. The two elevens also add up to 22.
In other news, this was in my spam comments this morning. “There is noticeably a bundle to comprehend this. I assume you have made specific nice points in features also.” What?? I think the link had something to do with instant loans.
I got confirmation yesterday afternoon that baby Bailey’s surgery went well, and that she is gaining weight. She is still premature, and still needs special care, but this surgery seems to have been successful. Thank you, Lord, for answered prayer!
Two days until Thanksgiving. I have noticed several of my friends posting daily thanks on Facebook this month. Part of me wishes I had thought of that. But another part of me thinks, “Why do we only do that in November?” Sorry…it’s just the way I am. It’s the same mentality that wonders why we wait until someone dies to smother them with flowers. And why will people travel for hundreds of miles to go to a funeral when they won’t do it to see you when you’re alive? I’d better shut up. Gonna get myself in trouble. Best get on to the Bible readings.
Today’s Bible readings:
James 5; Ezekiel 35-36; 29:10-18
James, in chapter 5, starts out with a strong condemnation against the rich person who cheats the laborers that work for him. 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. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. (vv. 4-6) That doesn’t sound anything at all like our culture today, does it? (In case you didn’t catch that, that was sarcasm.) Top executives in corporations rake in the money while those that actually do all the work are getting laid off by the dozens. Then the management doesn’t understand why the work doesn’t get done. Don’t EVEN get me on that soapbox.
From there, James moves on to calling us to be patient as we wait for our Lord to return. (vv. 7-12) He compares it to the farmer who must wait for the fruit of his labor. While we wait, we are not to grumble against one another. (Again, he brings this up!) He reminds us of the endurance of the prophets who suffered in the Lord’s name. He also reminds us of the endurance of Job. If you don’t know what he went through, read that book in the Bible. By the way, for anyone who thinks that the book of Job is pure allegory, I believe that James’s reference, here, gives validation to the story.
In verse 12, James warns us against swearing. Not using bad words…but taking an oath. 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. Should it not be enough to simply say, “yes?” There is no need to say anything further. If your word is good, then “yes” is all you need.
The next section concerns praying. He encourages one who is sick to call the elders; have them pray over him, anointing him with oil. The modern church has pretty much fallen out of that practice. Perhaps we are too busy. I know of one church that we attended for a while where the pastor of the church was almost unreachable. That is tragic. Verse 15 has been misunderstood over the years, I believe. 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. Part of the confusion centers around the article “the” before “prayer of faith.” There is no special prayer that is intended here. If it were, I think this “prayer of faith” would be included somewhere else in Scripture. The point is “the power of trusting and faithful prayer.” (Reformation Study Bible) “The Christian community should be devoutly engaged in intercessory prayer for the sick.” Some sickness can be related to sin. Therefore, we are encouraged to confess our sins to one another, and pray for one another, “that you may be healed.” (v. 16) To support the comments on verse 15, the last phrase in verse 16 says, The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Faithful prayer is a powerful thing.
The last segment, before James ends rather abruptly, concerns one who wanders away from the faith. 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. (v. 19-20) Elsewhere in Scripture, we are told to gently restore such a person. And Scripture also validates that, yes, in fact, you ARE your brother’s keeper.
Just to show that I’m still really reading Ezekiel, I have a brief comment on the last section of chapter 36. In this section, the Lord once again speaks of removing the heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh (v. 26). However, it is important to note one thing. In verse 22, God says, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.” Then, again, in verse 32, “It is not for your sake that I will act. Let that be known to you.” And in verse 38, he repeats the phrase that is stated over and over again in this book and other books of prophecy, “Then they will know that I am the LORD.” God is very jealous of his name. God does the things he does for the sake of his name. He does love us, that is true. He loves us with an everlasting and unequaled love! But if we think for one minute that he does the things he does purely for our sake, we are delusional. I know there are people who will not agree with this, but I believe that Scripture bears it out. God is more concerned with his own name and holiness than he is with us! He will always do right. He will always be just. He will, as Romans 8:28 promises, work all things out for good for those who are called ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE! It is HIS purpose!! Not ours! We would do well to get this small point straight.
Father, I first want to praise you for the successful surgery for baby Bailey. I pray that she will continue to gain weight and that she will be a healthy child for her parents to cherish and raise. The power of prayer is made evident, Father. This is a living example of the truth of the passage in James that I read this morning.
I pray, Lord, that the words of James will remain clear in my thoughts. Let them not fade away as the day progresses. These words are strong words, but words that will bring about more faith if heeded. Let the Spirit draw my attention to them throughout the day, so that I might constantly be examining my actions and thoughts, to see if they line up with your words. Give me the humility to confess when they do not. I pray that, as our lifehouse grows closer together, that we will fall in line with the encouragements that James gives us, as we confess to one another and pray for one another. I pray that we will get to a point that, if one is sick, the others will be called upon to pray for that one. Let us have faith that you, O God, are our true Father, and that you are sovereign in all things and do, in fact, care deeply for us.
However, let us never forget that all that you do is for you own name’s sake! I praise your name, Lord. I lift high your name. I cringe when your name is abused or taken in vain. Your name is holy and is to be exalted above all things, even your own word!
Father, I also thank you this morning for the scholarship that Phillip’s daughter has been offered to attend a junior college and play softball. I know that is an answer to his desires and a great relief to him.
I pray for this day, Lord. Let it be a good day for Christi and me, and I pray that Stephanie will make some headway on her homework assignments.
We also give you praise for the report that Joel’s injury from his wreck is minor, and will require no surgery or rehab, just rest. Thank you, Father, for it could have been so much worse.
May you be glorified in all things, Lord.
Let us be people of our word, people of faith, and people of faith and endurance. Let all people everywhere know that the Lord is God.
Grace and peace, friends.