Thought for the Week - 13th AugustPastor Gareth Watkins
James 5: 13-15
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.
Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church,
and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.
And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Last week I wrote about evaluating ourselves so we can go on in our faith in God until we see Christ face to face. Both Habakkuk and Paul shared how we can go on in our faith day by day. We want to go on to the standard of excellence that God has got for us. We are His workmanship, created anew! God has got provisions for us as we go along that road.
If we agree with this, then why don’t we turn to God to ask for His provisions as we go along that road? In some ways we only ask God for His provisions momentarily, if at all. We tell ourselves that if we’re good, we’re doing it in our own strength and don’t need God; and if we’re too bad we’re too bad and don’t deserve to ask God.
The consequences of wrong thought means that we don’t go to God as we should for His provision as we go along this journey. Because of our sinful thinking, we don’t get the provision of God, ask God and interact with God as He would want us to do. Sinful thinking towards God limits God because of ourselves. We think we’re not good enough, we’re too sinful, not acting correctly, or that we’re good enough anyway… all those thoughts mean we don’t interact with God correctly, and thereby limit His blessing because we’re not doing things correctly.
How does God interact with your life? Do you think God interacts with your life in the way you look, speak and behave? I think He does. We see people every day who look almost demonic. Do you think God interacts with our lives in how we live, work, socialise and interact with others? I think He does. What about the things that affect our thinking – the way we act and process information – does interact in that? I think He does. What about our health and well-being? Yes!
God interacts with all the ways we are! We limit God so much! If we’re going to increase our spiritual anointing, God needs to interact with us in the way He has already prepared for us, and we have to let Him by going toward Him for it. God is not a far off God. Jesus told us to call Him our Father!
Jesus started to teach us how to relate and interact with God. God is not supposed to be so far off that we cannot communicate and interact with Him. He wants us to communicate with Him. The earliest example is Adam and Eve – God was in Eden calling out for Adam. God knew where he was, but Adam was hiding from God. The interaction of God is there from the beginning.
In James above we read three sets of circumstances: that of suffering, cheerfulness and sickness.
Suffering can mean so many things – being in prison, going through a hard time in work, being financially strapped, not achieving your ambitions, having difficulty with your family, and experiencing mental attack. There are times when every one of us suffers. If we are suffering then we have an obligation… we are to pray!
We make excuses – I’m too low to pray, too emotionally drained to pray, still sinning, argued, have a circumstances etc. We read about the circumstance: “Is anyone among you suffering?” We then we read our obligation. If we want to go on with God and receive the limitless benefits that God has for us “Let him pray”.
We read “Is anyone cheerful?” In the times that we’re happy, we have an obligation unto God: “Let him sing psalms.” Let us praise God and give thanks to God. God has made provisions for us, not only in times of suffering and hardship, but also in times of happiness! Some people think happiness is a self-given right, and a time when they don’t need God. But our obligation is to praise God. And if we fulfil our obligation, we get more of God! We get the provision of God and don’t limit Him to what we think He should be.
We read “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” None of these provisions are out of date! God still brings His presence, peace, blessing, restoration and healing with prayers and oil. That is a provision of God Himself – nothing of ourselves can bring these things. When we pray in obedience to the scriptures and when we step out in faith to fulfil our obligations through prayer, then God brings His provision!
Yet we limit God ourselves. We limit Him in so many ways. The conditions we have, the circumstances we have, the obligations we have to God, we dismiss. We don’t think we have an active part to play. But we do – we have obligations.
Romans 8: 11
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies
through His Spirit who dwells in you.
If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies!
Some Christians make the oil itself a religious act. But the oil is nothing of itself. The oil is almost an Old Testament thing, and is almost a description of the Holy Spirit coming down on a person. If we think of the Holy Spirit coming on a person, having an effect. In James, they have to call in obedience for the elders to come. There have to be elders to come. The oil itself is a mark of the Holy Spirit coming down. If He comes down, He “gives life to your mortal bodies”. The Holy Spirit comes and brings life!
Being obedient to God and having obligations to God, that’s important!
Whether we’re sick, suffering or joyful, the obligation we have is to act according to the scriptures that are given to us. The outworking of it is that God has provisions for us, step by step, all the way through to the time we pass over unto Him. That is a blessing of the biggest kind that we could possibly have! Way beyond what we could think or ask God for. We can’t think what God has for us. And there comes our problem – we think what God has got for us. We limit God in a sinful way by our sinful thinking.
We have to ask God to take our minds and renew our minds – we need Him in our thinking, our hearts and our spiritual being. We cannot do it without Him. As we do, He gives us a pathway through it. He gives us an understanding of what we have to do.
When we’re cheerful, are we praising God? When we’re sick are we crying out to God in prayer? In times of suffering are we praying? In there are the limitless resources of God.
Think on these things. Are we fulfilling our obligations? Are we thinking we can do everything ourselves? God brings blessing and contentment. God is the head and the leader. We’re not to put ourselves above God. If we think correctly, then God does the impossible! That’s the God we’re part of!