A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on October 25, 2015 by Pastor Dale Raether
Please visit our Synod’s website at www.wels.net
The Lord Is Full of Compassion and Mercy!
James 5:7-11,13,16


This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
When someone you love is heading in a bad direction, do you get angry or concerned? Maybe some of each. We get angry, because there’s really no excuse for what they’re doing. In the Apostles Creed we confessed that God is our creator. He also takes care of us and sends His holy angels to watch over us. It’s sometimes said that a person’s home is his castle. The Lord is our castle; and there is no enemy or trouble greater than the Lord. Yet people are often insecure, and in their insecurity they pursue an empty life, like that man in our Gospel reading. Why? Because when trust in God goes out of a person’s heart, guilt comes in.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In the Apostles Creed we also confessed that God gave His Son to pay for everyone’s sin. Does that include the sins of the person, who’s heading in a bad direction? Absolutely, God so loved the world, and says to everyone: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – I John 1:9 So, why don’t people do that? Why do they instead lie about their sins that they didn’t do anything wrong? People hide from their guilt, because it’s hard for them to believe they are really forgiven. In fact Jesus said believing is even harder than it for a camel to get through the eye of a needle. On the other hand, no one needs to go through life thinking that God doesn’t really care about them or they aren’t truly forgiven, because as we confessed in the Apostles Creed, God the Holy Spirit calls us to faith. And through the Word the Holy Spirit keeps us in faith and strengthens us to live our faith.

So, given who God is and everything He does for us, how DO we feel about people, who should know better, but are still heading in a wrong direction in how they live or in what they believe? Angry, concerned, frustrated. Now in feeling angry, concerned, and frustrated, there’s actually a danger to our faith too. James, the brother of Jesus, saw this danger, which is why he wrote his epistle. His first readers were among those who were persecuted after the stoning of Stephen. This persecution hurt, because it was by people, who should have known better. In many cases it was even by their closest friends and relatives. Also, this persecution often consisted in the confiscation of their businesses, their homes and all their property, and they were made to run off and live like those refugees today escaping from IS.

And now here was the danger to their faith. Their anger over what was happening to them could turn into anger at God. Another danger was in their hurt they might start lashing out at each other. If they did those things, think how that would affect their faith. Or, think what this would do to sharing their faith. For this reason James urgently reminds them in our text that: God Is Full of Compassion and Mercy. Because this is so, no matter what we are going through: 1. Rejoice in hope. 2. Be patient in troubles. 3. Be constant in prayer.


1. Rejoice in Hope


Our text reads: Stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. – James 5:8 When someone does us dirt, it is not wrong to get angry. Well, then why did Jesus say we’re suppose to turn the other cheek? That kind of sounds like we’re supposed to stuff our anger and keep taking whatever someone is dishing out to us. This is not a safe thing to do. If we keep stuffing our anger, the pressure inside us is going to build, and eventually our anger is going to blow like a volcano. Instead of stuffing our anger, God want us to let Him take over for us. And God will punish that person in His time. Also, God’s anger at what people do to His children is frightfully worse than anything man could ever dish out. Anger at sin, then, is not a sin. Anger at sin is part of being created in the image of God. And as for turning the other cheek, that not taking matters into our own hands, because God is dealing with it. Also, because we know God is dealing with it, we know how much trouble that person is in. And so, anger at sin quickly turns into concern for that person to bring Him to the forgiveness of sins through Christ, if at all possible.

But getting back to all the things we go through. For all the things people do to us here, and for all the ways people hurt us, that’s going to stop. In heaven the evil will not be messing up our lives anymore. There is justice. Also, we have God’s promise to not let us be attacked more than He has strengthened our faith to endure it, plus through each attack He is preparing us for future blessings, and to BE a blessings for others. With all this in mind, we rejoice in hope. Furthermore we rejoice in hope for whatever the future holds too, because in every age the Lord is our refuge.

But some of you might say, “Pastor, this all sounds good, but my faith isn’t that strong.” Well, this isn’t about how strong our faith is. It’s about how strong God is, which brings us to James’ second point in our text:


2. Be Patient in Troubles


We read: Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient. – James 5:7 In Palestine they typically got rain two times a year. In the fall, just before they planted their winter wheat, and in the spring just as the wheat was maturing. The farmers of course had no control over the weather. They planted their precious seed in the ground, and it was precious, because it was some of that year’s food in the hope of getting next year’s food, and then they had to patiently wait for God to bless.

In the same way God has planted precious seed in us. This seed is our faith. Also God is gently watering our faith with His Gospel as we hear a sermon, learn a Bible story, and read our Bible at home. And then may come a dry season of trouble, like what Job went through, and all we can do is trust that God will not let all He has done for us in the past not be for nothing. Rather, He will bless again. And He will cause our faith to mature and to bear fruit unto eternal life. And so, when we are in any kind of trouble, let’s not only trust God’s fatherly love to care for us, and in His forgiving love through His Son. Let’s also trust the power of His Word to preserve us in faith. I would define patient as having that kind of faith.

But where does this kind of faith come from? From the Word itself! And so let’s hang in there with God’s Word whether we feel like it or not, or whether we feel like we’re being blessed or not. Actually we are being blessed every time we he hear the Word, and every time we share the Word, whether that’s with someone who’s heading in a wrong direction, or with someone who just needs a little encouragement and to know that they’re not alone.

Now, all of this together is an attitude adjuster for us. We may get angry and frustrated over what some are doing to our country. And we may get angry and frustrated over how people we care about are responding to God’s Word. But if we rejoice in hope and are patient in troubles, we won’t get angry with God or be tempted to give up. Instead we will constantly pray to Him.


3. Be Constant in Prayer


Our text reads: Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:13,16 Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. There are many times in the Bible that God, instead of taking care of a problem Himself, would let things get bad enough so that His children could see it, so that they could cry out to Him and be part of the solution through prayer. For example, those early Christians, who had to live like Syrian refugees, had to constantly pray for their daily bread, and their prayer was powerful. God worked things out so they could get through another day, and often it might be by moving a fellow Christian to share with them, which gave joy to both those who gave and those who received. Let’s also be constant in prayer for the physical or health needs of one another. And our prayers are heard!

But, of course, physical needs aren’t as important as spiritual needs, and we all have them too. We all have our weaknesses or certain temptations that especially bother us. But rather than be controlled by them or giving in to them, pray! Pray for forgiveness. Pray for a clean heart. Pray for new joy in our salvation, and we WILL be heard. Only, don’t think of prayer as a once and you’re done thing. Be constant in prayer.

Having prayed for ourselves, we are ready to also pray for those whom we see heading in a bad direction, or are treating us like enemies. Let’s pray for their forgiveness and for their repentance, so they may believe their forgiveness. And finally let’s pray for all who are teetering in their faith and in danger of losing it, because God wants us to be a part of their solution. So, pray that someone will be able to reach them with just the right words; and pray that God will bless His Word in their hearts, even if that someone whom God is sending to them is you. But will God really answer all of our prayers? You be the judge of that. Ask yourself, if God is full of compassion and mercy. If your answer to that is yes, say, “Amen!” And now put into practice what James has told us this morning. Rejoice in hope. Be patient in trouble. Be constant in prayer. Amen!

 

Please visit our Synod’s website at www.wels.net