Be patient–Jesus is coming!

Scripture reading for December 16th: James 1-5

James was the half-brother of Jesus Christ.  He was known to be the pastor of the church in Jerusalem and full of practical wisdom.  One of his nicknames was “camel knees” because of time spent in prayer.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  (James 1:2-4)  Not many people like trials.  But  James says we should embrace trials with joy, because we know they develop perseverance.  We need perseverance to grow and mature.

“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 waits for the autumn and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.  Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged.  The judge is standing at the door.” (James 5:7-9)  We need mature faith and patience because Jesus is coming.  Farmers regularly wait upon God for the needed rains to grow and mature their crops.    Grumbling is a sign of impatience.  God will judge those who are impatient and fail to wait.

“Brothers, as an example  of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  As you know we consider blessed those who have persevered.  You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.  The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James 5:10-11)  James is always addressing the “brothers” in an encouraging way, appealing to their past knowledge and understanding as Jewish believers.  They were familiar with the prophets and their suffering–especially Job, the oldest book of the Bible.   Job suffered patiently and God restored him completely at the end of his trial.

“Is anyone in trouble? He should pray.” (James 5:13a)  James ends his letter with an encouragement to pray when in trials or trouble.  Prayer helps us to persevere and develops patience.  Elijah of old prayed and waited on God.  God answered him.  He will answer us today as well!  We must persevere and watch and pray!  Jesus is coming!  The rains mean harvest!  The trials mean more maturity and joy!

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