James 5:12-20 I won’t swear, I will pray

 

(Props – 2 chairs on stage, and radio mike)

 

Well good morning again.

 

No – you can do better than that.

 

Nice to see you – to see you – nice

 

Now you may be wandering what is going on – all will be revealed.

 

And I need some helpers (gets kids up)

 

Now this morning, I’m going to ask you a few questions – so I thought we ought to get the audience - sorry congregation – into the mood.

 

We’re looking at James 5 this morning – I’m going to ask some questions, and you’re going to give me the answers – and then we’ll see what James 5 has to say – and then we’ll ask the question again – and see how we do.  Got it?  You’ll work it out as we go along.

 

Now, our first question is about making promises.  It’s about how we use words.

 

And I need two contestants – volunteers?

 

Here it is:

 

TRUE or FALSE – If I cross my fingers its not a real promise

 

And question 2:

 

TRUE or FALSE  - If I say cross my heart and hope to die, it makes what I’m saying true.

 

And everybody else – play along with us – find a piece of paper – and play along.

 

Okay, we’ve got some answers – let’s reveal what James has to say:

 

James 5:12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear--not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No", no, or you will be condemned.

 

James says – when you make a promise, don’t bring anything else in to swear by – just say Yes, or No.

 

If its true, just say Yes, and if it’s not, just say No.

 

So when we make promises – we just make them.  And if we don’t want to make the promise, we shouldn’t make it.  And if we do make the promise, we need to keep it.

 

(Ask the contestants)

 

So if someone asks you to tidy your room, and you say yes – what do you need to do?

 

And if someone asks you to be home by 6 o’clock and you say yes – what d you need to do?

 

Let’s look back at our questions:

TRUE or FALSE – If I cross my fingers its not a real promise

 

TRUE or FALSE  - If I say cross my heart and hope to die, it makes what I’m saying true.

 

What would you say now?

 

Thank you volunteers.

 

Simple isn’t it.  Let your yes be yes and your no, no.  But do we do it?

 

How many times have you promised something for Friday, knowing it won’t be there until the following Monday?

 

Or said ‘we’ll see’ when you really meant no?

 

James says – just say yes, just say no.

 

Right – has everybody got the hang of the game?  Two more contestants then.

 

As we ask a question about Prayer.

 

Here it is –

 

TRUE or FALSE We should let go and let God

 

Let’s see what James has to say:

 

13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

 

God doesn’t want us to let go and let God.  God wants us to be involved – he wants us to pray.

 

But when should we pray?

 

Now – how many of you use email?  And how many of you use smileys in your email?  I do  - but I only know two so I’m a bit limited.  Anyway, what I’m going to do is draw some smileys, and you see if you can guess what they represent – they are all situations in which we should pray.

 

Okay – here we go

 

L  Pray when you are sad (in trouble) - Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray

 

That’s straightforward enough I think

 

J  Pray when you are happy - Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.

 

Worth saying this one isn’t it.  How often do we treat prayer as a resource for difficult situations – and forget to say thanks to God when he answers our prayers!  James tells us that we need to constanly be giving thanks to God – that we need to keep praying to him

 

:-#  Pray when you are sick - Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him

 

Worth looking at these verses a bit more closely I think:

 

14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.

 

James encourages us to pray for those who are sick.  Encourages the elders of the church to pray for a sick person, and to anoint with oil – to set apart the sick person for God’s special care.  And then James goes on to talk about the prayer offered in faith making people well.

 

Does that mean that we should expect all our prayers for the sick to be answered?  Or that if they are no answered, that the fault is ours – that we didn’t pray with enough faith?  No, it certainly does not.  What it does mean is that we pray in faith – recognising the supremacy of God’s Will.  We pray, knowing that God has the power to heal – but at the same time recognising that God’s will might not be for healing.  We pray in faith – faith in the Lord of the universe, faith that he does no best – faith in his will.  We pray, as he has told us to pray – and yes, we pray for healing.

 

:-{  Pray when you are sorry - Therefore confess your sins to each other

 

We’ve doen this already today haven’t we – recognised that we come together as forgiven sinners – and we’ve prayed.

 

J J  Pray together - pray for each other so that you may be healed.

 

James wants us to pray together.  To take the opportunities we have to pray together.  Do you pray with someone regularly? Do you pray with you wife, husband, sons, daughters, parents – Pray together James says

 

<<  :-)  Pray conscious of God’s power - The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

 

I didn’t think you’d get the last one.

 

Always in prayer we pray recognising the power of God to answer prayer:

 

James 5:17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

 

Elijah may have been a prophet – but he was only a man.  We have the same access to God he had.  So we can pray – and we can be confident that God is able to answer our prayers.

 

Let’s go back to our question again – what do you think?

 

TRUE or FALSE We should let go and let God

 

 

Okay  - last one – and I need two mre contestants.

 

We’ve thought about Promises, we’ve thought about Prayer, and now we’re thinking about People

 

Here is the question – Am I my brothers keeper?  YES or NO

 

Let’s see what James has to say:

 

James 5:19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

 

James says – look out for one another.  Yes you are your brother’s keeper.

 

You need to help keep your brother in the truth.

 

What truth?

 

This truth.

 

The truth that God is the creator of the universe

 

The truth that we reject his rule, and go our own way

 

The truth that we won’t be allowed to reject his rule forever –and that we deserve death

 

The truth that Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross.  That he took the penalty we deserve, and died in our place.

 

The truth that Jesus was raised from the dead and is in heaven.  That we can know him as Lord and Saviour – and live our lives for him

 

This is the truth.  Let’s encourage one another in that truth

 

In what we Promise

In Prayer

With People

 

Let us pray

 

James Hughes 1st May 2005