Tag Archives: Healing

Brokenness to Wholeness

Peninsula Community Church

Brokenness to Wholeness

October 29, 2017

Jeremiah 18:1-6 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

Today, we will continue to look at the subject of the potter and the clay. We will focus on a couple of lessons we learn from this story. To appreciate these lessons, we must recognize that we are the clay. This is confirmed by Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. There is no doubt that we are the clay and He, the Father, is our potter. Whether we realize it or not, we are the works of His hands. Even from the beginning of time, He has been forming us and shaping us.

Remember the story of Genesis, the beginning of all things. In Genesis 2:7 the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. Someone has stated that we are nothing more than dirt and water mixed together. He formed us and shaped us into the distinct person we are today. We are set apart from all other parts of the creation because God breathed His breath into mankind. It is that breath of life that sustains us. It is God who continues to shape us into what we are becoming.

Robert Morris, of Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas, stated that the word “formed” carries the idea of being molded by squeezing into shape. When God formed man, He squeezed him. Man was formed out of the dirt. He molded and shaped our physical body. Today, He continues to mold and shape us, but He works more with our character and personality. For that reason there are times we can feel like we are being squeezed. Does it feel that way to you?

One of the themes evident in this passage is that God uses the pain of brokenness to grow us and develop us into what He desires. The presupposition is that in brokenness, we actually grow, if we allow God to work is us. So, if you will bear with me, I would like to make some observations regarding this discussion. I must admit that the basis of this comes from a message from Robert Morris. I am using his skeleton but adding my thoughts to the skeleton.

First of all, clay can only be molded by water. During the time of this writing, water was the primary source to keep the clay wet. From Scripture, we understand that water represents the Word of God. When Jesus stood before the woman at the well, He stated that if she knew the gift that stood before her, she would never thirst again. He was referring to the water of salvation and the fact that He was that water (John 4). He, being the Word, is what we need to be molded and shaped by God.

We must also recognize that it is the water of the Word that is the only thing that can mold us into a vessel of honor. Without the water of the Word, we will dry out and begin to crack and fall apart. We must also realize that while we are saved by God immediately, the process of being molded takes time. In fact, it is a lifetime of molding. Note in our passage that when the clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand he put it back on the wheel again and reworked the vessel into something even more usable. Truthfully, we are always in the process of being molded and shaped by a loving potter who knows the outcome and purpose for which we are being formed.

The second observation is that the clay has to be separated before being molded. To produce a usable vessel, the potter cannot leave any junk in the clay. If there is something left in the clay, it will cause problems later in the process. It could be small rocks, sand, or tiny limbs. If these things are not removed, they can cause huge issues down the road.

You see, God must pull everything out of us that does not look like the vessel He is forming. He is also taking everything out that will cause weakness later. He knows if He does not remove the junk then we will not be as useful as we could be. Without removing the junk in our life, we are susceptible to failure and breakdowns later. Within us are anger, pride, jealousy, insecurity, fear, and so on. Pride is one of the biggest issues, because we must admit we need Him. If you allow pride to remain in your life, you will fall.

The third observation is the vessel that is formed comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. We have different influences, talents, desires, and experiences. We must stop judging other pots and comparing ourselves to other pots. It is pride for a pot that is not finished to talk about another pot. We must know that we are not the potter and, as such, we do not know the purpose or plan the potter has for the other pots around us. We must trust that the potter knows what he is doing. We judge others on so many levels. We judge people on their race. We judge people on their social and financial status. We judge people on how they look or do not look. We must not arbitrarily judge others, as we do not know what God is doing in them. Besides that, we have enough to worry about in our own pot to worry about what they are doing.

The fourth observation is that clay has no input to its outcome. Listen to this interesting passage in Isaiah 29:16. You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding?” Sometimes, we try to exchange roles with the potter. We attempt to tell the potter what we want Him to do. In Isaiah 46:9, we find people often try to argue with God. In this passage we do not see the clay speaking to the potter. It never says “What are you doing?” Or, “I know a better way!” Some of us need to stop telling God what is best for us. We need to stop telling God what is best for the pots around us. Sometimes we do not like the pots around us, so we ask the potter to take a little off here, squeeze a little more here, and do a little more there. But we must remember that the Potter is in control of every pot. We must yield to Him. So, stop resisting and saying you know a better way.

The fifth observation is that the clay must go through the fire. The clay in its natural state is soft and the clay gets real muddy when the water is added. To resolve this, the clay must be cured and perfected through fire. For us, this happens through the difficulty of life. When we go through a fire, we are not to be surprised. If you put gold in a fire, the impurities come to the top. When the impurities come to the top, the refiner scoops out the impurities so that the gold is continually purified. So, how do you respond to trials? How you respond may define the impurities of your heart. When the impurities are revealed, we must allow God to remove these impurities so that we are made stronger. After this is complete, then God turns up the heat a bit more. We go from the wheel to the fire, back to the wheel, and then to fire.

The sixth observation is that the clay has a breaking point if it stays in the fire. If it gets away from the water too long it will dry out and be negatively impacted. The problem is that in the trials of life we can resist God, but if we are without of the word we dry up. If we are out of His presence, we dry up. We dry up physically. We dry up emotionally. We dry up mentally. If the common things of life are irritating us, then we might be dried up. We need to add the water of His word to our hearts.

In the final analysis, God is control and He has a plan for you. He is working in you, even if you do not see it. He is molding something new and fresh out of your life. God works in us and sometimes it is through brokenness that we grow the most. It is through brokenness that we become more pliable and more available for God to deposit His grace and His power in us. Sometimes, there are some impurities in our life and through brokenness God delivers us from those things. We experience what appears to be a crushing blow and we feel the pain of the moment. But, God uses the pain and when we accept His grace and we surrender to His way, He produces in us an enlarged capacity to understand God’s will and purpose in us.

In 2 Timothy 2:20-21 Paul states Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. There are honorable vessels and there are dishonorable vessels but even the must dishonorable vessels can be redeemed and positioned for honorable usage. The enemy loves to deceive us into thinking that whatever state we are in now and whatever we have done is what defines us, and nothing will ever change, but we are always being shaped and molded into something better than what we are in the present. In the end, His goal is for us to be like Him, being a reservoir for His presence.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Inside Out and Right Side Up

Peninsula Community Church

Inside Out and Right Side Up

August 13, 2017

Luke 11:37-41 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner.  And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” 

I began my formal ministry in 1979. Immediately following Bible College, I moved to New York where I began to minister in a number of different ways to a number of different communities. One of the things I remember about my earlier days of ministry is that there were times where I learned more about what not to do in ministry than what to do from those who were around me. Now granted, those that surrounded me were not evil people, they just lived out of the distortions in their life. It was these distortions that directly impacted the way they did ministry. After a couple of years of ministry, I realized that some of those to whom I was connected loved themselves more than they loved God. They loved the notoriety of being a pastor more than they did the glory of God. They tended to use people for their gain, but did little to personally assist in the growth of individuals.

As I read this passage, I began to identify with what Jesus was confronting here. It is noteworthy that throughout Jesus’ ministry, He showed such grace and mercy to the sinner and the struggling believer. He did, however, reserve His harshest criticism for the Pharisees and the spiritual leaders of His day. At one point, Jesus described them as tombs that were painted white on the outside but were empty on the inside (Matthew 23:27). The idea presented by Jesus is that outwardly they appeared to have it all together, but inwardly they were empty. Because of the emptiness experienced by the Pharisees, they tended to focus more of their attention on their outward appearance than on their inward depth. Spiritually they were wide but not deep. Today, we will look at the attitudes exhibited by the Pharisees and then make an application of this truth.

First of all, we find that the Pharisees were empty on the inside so they flexed their spiritual muscle on the outside. Listen to Jesus’ words here. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it (Luke 11:44). And then in Luke 11:46 Jesus had this to say. “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers (Luke 11:46). Here is the bulk of the problem for the Pharisees. They burdened people with rules, laws, and requirements that they themselves were unable to obey or follow. I have often said that when our hearts are not right with God it is easier to make a law than it is to allow God to transform our hearts. Jesus is and has always been more about the transformation of the heart than He is about obeying man’s religious rules. The Pharisees missed this as they thought they could legislate morality but from my experience you cannot legislate morality. And for that matter you cannot legislate immorality. Legislation does not make right wrong nor does it make the wrong right. For Jesus, it was more about relationship than it was the law. Now unless you misunderstand, there are biblical, godly principles that we are called to obey but when applied correctly they are not burdensome but in reality they are very freeing and they move us to a place of growth and depth.

Jesus had the Pharisee’s number. He uncovered the fact that they not only forced others to obey these mandates but they did little to help others to obey. Those to whom Jesus referred to as lawyers, loved to weigh people down with laws and regulations. They were well educated, well trained people but they loved to place great burdens on others. The problem is that they imposed laws on others but were not willing to lift a finger to help carry the burden they forced on others. This is juxtaposed to Jesus’ desire for us to help each other, encourage each other, and push each other to do our best.

These actions were a result of their emptiness and dryness inside. Their emphasis was on the outward man and not the inward. As you know, I love football. To me there are two types of players. There are the ones who are puffed up and brag about how great they are and then there are the guys who go out on the field and prove they have the ability they say they do. That brings us to our second point.

The second characteristic related here is that instead of grace they functioned from a perspective of legalism and idolatry to the rules.But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others (Luke 11:42). They thought the rules applied to everyone else but not themselves. They felt they were above the law. They expected everyone else to tow the line. They expected everyone else to follow the rules. And yet, they bent the rules when it favored them. It could be said they worshipped the rules of God more than they worshipped the God of the rules. When this occurs, it creates a disconnect between what is true and what is false.

Notice here that they were good at giving gifts. They were dutiful and followed through with outward spiritual disciplines but they missed what was important. They attended church. They sang in the choir. They even taught a class but they missed the mark by failing to exhibit justice and love. These can be summed up in one word, grace. They lacked grace. They were well educated on the rules but missed the mark of loving others and showing others the amazing grace they had been given. Outwardly, they were obedient and rigidly held to the rules of the day, but inwardly they were empty and lacked spiritual depth. Here is a truth for us. Following the rules is great but to do so without grace and love leaves us cold and indifferent.

The third characteristic is that the Pharisees were all about control which was centered in a spirit of pride. They wanted the best seats in the house. They wanted to be recognized in the town. They would enter a room with great fanfare and pomp and circumstance. You knew they were in the room because they made sure you knew they were there. Once again listen to Jesus’ words. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces (Luke 11:43). The Pharisees were the type that would arrive late and would make a fuss coming into the building so that you would know they were there. They were the type that would continually remind you how important they were. Again this action was a means for them to cover up the emptiness within them.

The fourth characteristic of the pharisee, and this for me is the saddest one of all, is that they stripped people of the joy of knowing God. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering (Luke 11:52). Because they burdened people with the law, they failed to minister with grace, and they exhibited a spirit of pride that stripped people of the joy of knowing God. The fact is they gave what they had, a lifeless, empty lifestyle. They stood in the way of others knowing the truth by virtue of their attitudes and actions toward others. Rather than seeking a knowledge of God by way of a personal relationship, they rejected that for an attitude of performance and outward visibility.

As we close this today, I am keenly aware that there two ways we can apply this passage to our life. First of all, we can look at this study and do an evaluation and then come to the conclusion that we often act as the Pharisees did. We want others to tow the line but we give ourselves grace and compromise on the very rules we set in place. We judge and condemn others while crying out for grace in our life. We are good at knowing the rules and we make sure that everyone else follows them when we fall short in accomplishing that ourselves. One way to illustrate this how do you respond when someone asks you about your Christian walk. Do you list your good deeds or do you list the good deeds of a heavenly father that loves us more than we will ever know or understand this side of heaven? Are we more concerned about following the rules, or receiving God’s grace which actually assists us in obeying the rules? Are you more concerned about how others follow the rules or do we come along side of others to help them grow in the knowledge of God.

The second way we can make application of this passage is to recognize that we often live under Pharisaical influences. We are subjected to the judgment and criticalness of one who knows the rules and expects everyone else to obey while they themselves fail to do so. They hold us to a different accounting than they are willing to hold themselves. The result is that we can become discouraged and weakened in our spiritual state. We are hindered by the words of others. But the truth is we don’t have to be. We can recognize that God’s grace is there for us and we do not have to be subjected to the emptiness of others. The fact is we must show the grace of God of those who show so little grace to us.

Here is the deal there is grace at the foot of the cross. There is grace to overcome the Pharisaical attitudes we express. There is grace to overcome the power exerted over us to obey the rules at the cost of a depth in Christ. In Matthew West’s song “Grace Wins Every Time” reminds that grace wins in every situation. We receive grace and we give grace.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Rebuilding the Broken Places of Our Life

Peninsula Community Church

Rebuilding the Broken Places of Our Life

March 19, 2017

Nehemiah 4:10-14 In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.” So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

As you take your journey through life have you ever found yourself being strong and making great head way in overcoming problems and rebuilding that which is broken, only to find yourself in a weakened state at other times. It happens to all of us at some point in time. Life can be an ongoing process of ups and downs. It is an ebb and flow. You know how it is, you start to make great head way and then there is some event or circumstance that sends you spiraling downward.

What are the broken places in our lives? I would suggest a few here this morning. I am sure that you can add many others. Misplaced theology can cause a broken place in our life. We end up with a false view of God which causes a false view of ourselves. We are broken when our faith is tested beyond measure and we feel there is no hope. We are broken when the relationships we are in are broken. We are broken by false expectations of life. We are broken by misplaced desires and lust that over takes us. We are broken by illnesses that catch us by surprise. We are broken by our addictions which seem to control our every move. We are broken by emotional and psychological weaknesses that deter us from living the destiny that we were given by God.

We have all been broken in some way, at some time. It is for that reason that we will deal with the question of how to deal with the broken places of our life. In this study, we will look at just a couple of tools at our disposal. Before we look at the solutions we will look at three of the tools often used by the enemy to discourage the rebuilding process. These tactics are used to defeat us and keep us from rebuilding the broken places of our lives.

To begin with, we must recognize that the enemy does not want us to rebuild the broken places in our lives. He knows that when we do this, his access to our life will be cut off or at least minimized. Therefore, he will do everything in his power to stop and distract us from doing what is necessary to rebuild the broken places. You see the enemy knows that if you rebuild the broken places in your life, you will be an effective power house for God and he cannot stand for that or even the possibility of your success. He knows that he is defeated every time we rebuild  a broken place in our life. He is afraid of a healthy, healed believer in Christ.

So what does the enemy do? One of the tools the enemy uses is the tool of ridicule and mockery.  Sanballat resorts to this tactic to stop the rebuilding of the wall by distracting them from their purpose. It is noteworthy that Sanballat had nothing to add to the process so he resorts to mockery and ridicule. Mockery and ridicule can become the dripping faucet of discouragement. His goal in ridiculing and mocking is to bring hopelessness and to cause the builders to give up on the task before them.

Notice that Sanballat did not directly stop the work of building the wall, he simply offered discouragement and confusion. He knew that he did not have to stop the work if he could discourage them. Here is a fact that we need to know. The enemy of our soul cannot touch us unless we give him the authority and give him room to do so. We give him access by allowing sin to go unconfessed. We give his access by believing the lies spoken against us. We give him access by failing to recognize our destiny in God.

Peter understood this spiritual dynamic when he penned these words. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:8).

In getting to know Christ, we come to terms with the ploys of the enemy to discourage and cause us to become disconnected from God’s grace, His mercy, and His love. By resisting the devil and turning to Christ, He will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Right now the way may seem rocky and may feel like you are on the ride of your life, but hold on because you are His child and He loves you more than you will ever know.

A second ploy used by the enemy is to cause confusion. When ridicule and mockery does not work the enemy then tries to engage with tactics that create confusion, doubt, and regret. When we walk in confusion, it is hard to know what to do and what the answers really are. Paul dealt with this issue when he stated that God is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). The underlying motive of all that God does is peace. It is the foundation and the basis of everything He is and does. The truth is, while the world can be falling apart around us we can still walk in peace.

You see the enemy loves to rob us of our peace by causing confusion which leads to doubt and desperation. On the other hand, God came to give us peace and not confusion. My guess today is  that if you are walking through a season of confusion then we need to identify the root cause and it is not God. Is there an unconfessed sin in your life, or is the enemy using confusion to distract and deter you from God’s purposes?

A third ploy used is to get our attention upon how much rubble there is. Sometimes when we are confronted with issues in life we can become overwhelmed with all that we are dealing with. The rubble around us relates to the health issues we face, the people we have to deal with, the financial struggles we face, or the unknown of the future. If we are not careful, the problems can mount up and we can be overwhelmed by all of the problems we are facing. The result is that we lose sight of the promise of God and we begin to believe that there is no hope for a better day.

The rubble we face becomes greater than the faith we have in God or in ourselves for that matter. To make this practical, we begin to believe that we are too messed up and that we have too many problems for our walls to be rebuilt. We get focused on what is left to be done rather than on what He has already done.

So how did Nehemiah deal with these things? First, Nehemiah encouraged and challenged Judah to continue to move forward. He knew that if they became stagnate that the work would never get done and they would never get the wall rebuilt which was paramount to their success and protection. So, they returned to work. They continued to move forward. They did not give up or give in. They continued to fight the battle. It is here that I am reminded of the words of God in 2 Chronicles 20. And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s (2 Chronicles 20:15). We can rest in and be assured that He will fight the battle, if we allow Him to.

Here is an interesting note, however, even though they knew the battle was the Lord’s and they had a confidence in Him, they also knew they needed to be prepared for battle, if necessary. That is why Nehemiah gives the order to be armed for battle but they were not to stop working. Therefore, they worked with a sword in one hand and a brick in the other. The understanding here is that whatever we are engaged in there will be a spiritual battle. We never stop focusing on Christ and His power to redeem us. The fact is, we can become so focused on the task that we forget that we are in a spiritual battle or we can be so focused on the spiritual battle that we never get anything accomplished. Nehemiah knew there was a healthy balance between the two.

Listen to the words of Paul in Ephesians 6. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6:10-15).

Notice too that while each one was responsible for their part of the wall and they were responsible for their own protection, they did not work alone. They recognized they were a part of a bigger project and plan. They worked together. They knew that it was a team effort. They worked side-by-side with the same goal and aspirations. They were not divided or disconnected. Their mission was to rebuild the wall so that they could come to live in a new normal. What Nehemiah did was pretty amazing. When anyone needed help or they were being overrun by the enemy they were to sound an alarm by blowing a trumpet. This meant that everyone was to rally to that point so as to protect that part of the building.

How does this apply to us? The fact is there are times where we need help to rebuild the broken places of our lives. The easy thing for us to do is to isolate and think we can do this on our own, but God has placed us in a body of believers for a reason. When we are going through a difficult time, there is a need to rally those around us that will support us and help us through the battle. We need people of faith to rally along side of us and help us through the battle. The problem too often is that we want to isolate and separate ourselves but we need one another. That is not to say that we do not need time along with God but when we isolate ourselves too often that is where we begin to live and that causes us to be defeated before we get started. That is where we can give room for the enemy to control our lives.

I love the Scripture that is on the front of our bulletin today. Don’t panic I’m with you. There’s no need to fear, for I am your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady and keep a firm grip  on you (Isaiah 41:10). Know this, God wants you to rebuild the broken places of your lives. He wants to bring you healing, restoration, and power. He is there to get you through the storm. He will help you rebuild. He will guide the restoration of your life. Give Him your worries and your cares. He will make a difference. In the final analysis, we need to recognize that the battle has already been won for us. We are redeemed and set free by God. Remember that all of our sins and past failures are under the blood.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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James – Asking for Prayer

Peninsula Community Church

July 28, 2013

James – Asking for Prayer

James 5:14-15 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 one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Notice the responsibility and the chain of events evidenced in this passage. A person who is sick, must first recognize they are sick. They take the responsibility on themselves to call on the elders of the church to anoint them with oil. The elder(s) responds by praying for them, but it is the prayer of faith that heals them. Please note that this does not mean that the elders are to be callous and not reach out to folks it simply means that if we need prayer we must seek it.

It is interesting to note the words used for “sick” here in this passage. The first word for sick is the word “asthenei” and means weakness. It references a sickness but more so of the kind that is evidenced in weakness or a lack of strength. While the word can be translated as a sickness, it can also be translated as a spiritually weakened condition. 

The second word used in this passage is the word “kamnonta.” it also carries the idea to be sick. It also connotes a sense of physical weariness. The idea here is that James equates being sick with physical weariness and spiritual weakness. 

While we call upon the elders to pray for us, we find that later in this passage healing is also a community event as we confess our sins to one another. The confession of sin is one avenue by which we are healed. For example, the act of forgiveness and then living in forgiveness can lower one’s blood pressure, reduce one’s heart rate, reduce possible heart issues, restores serotonin levels in the brain, and stabilizing one’s emotional outlook on life. This is a result of acting and living out forgiveness. But, lets save this for another sermon for now

As we look at this text, we must understand a couple of things. First, when we anoint with oil but the oil itself carries no healing properties. It is simply a symbol of the Holy Spirit who initiates forgiveness and brings the healing. The oil was used to anoint leaders such as the King in the Old Testament. We also find in the New Testament that oil was thought to have medicinal value. So it was when one was sick they were anointed with oil. In the case of the king, he was not dabbed on the forehead but it was poured over them so that it ran down their whole body. 

We see evidence of this in Psalm 133:1. David compares the unity in the church to the anointing of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! 

On the other hand when the oil was used for medicinal purposes, the oil was swabbed over the wound or the area of sickness. 

While these may be true, we must understand that the oil itself has no healing quality per se. We anoint with oil as an outward expression of dependence on the Holy Spirit to heal and restore. We could say that the anointing with oil is similar to that of the bread and the juice used in communion. The elements have no power in themselves but they point to and represent the forgiveness and healing that is available through Christ.

Second, we must note that the elder’s prayer is no more special than anyone else’s prayer as we are all called into righteousness through the death and resurrection of Christ. We see this in the reference to Elijah. James notes that Elijah was just a man who was obedient to God and who was willing to be used by God for His good. To somehow believe that the elders prayer is more potent or more powerful is to elevate him to a role of the priesthood. It is also causes one to miss the New Testament view of prayer in that every believer’s prayer has power. 

As we know in the New Testament Christ came to dissolve the priesthood as the only priest we need is Christ himself. He also established that his followers are a body of priests.We see this is 1 Peter 2:4-5 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Too often we are dependent on someone else’s prayer when we have all the prayer we need and all the power we need. 

Third, the action proposed by James should not be taken as some kind of formula that automatically works without considering the spiritual condition of our hearts and the purposes proposed by God. Just because we do all the things detailed here does not mean that we are guaranteed to be healed. Too often, we do not experience healing because we do not confess sin in our lives. To walk in repentance is to experience a change heart or mind that leads to a change of action. The problem is that we want the healing without the righteousness which is right action. 

For example, I know people who have issues with their lungs. They ask for prayer continually and yet they continue to smoke 2 to 3 packs of cigarettes a day. It is my belief that God does not have to bring the healing unless they are willing to change the actions that have brought the illness to them in the first place. When they live in disobedience and they live contrary to God’s word, God is not obligated to heal. God will not cast his pearls before swine. Now this does not mean that everyone who is sick is sick because of a sin in their life. That would be a judgement on our part and one that is warned against by God. 

This relates back to James 2:18 when James says You have faith, your works will express that faith.

If these are true then why do we pray and do what James has detailed? First, the prayer of faith is an act of aligning one’s self to His word, His will and His ways. When we are out of line with God’s word, will and ways we can pray and he will not answer because we pray amiss as recorded by James in an earlier passage.

Second, the act of calling on the Elders is an act of submission and an act of humility. It is to acknowledge that we need help. You can’t do it alone. It is also a recognition that where two or three agree on a issue it shall be done in the name of Christ. We are living in such an independent society where we don’t believe that we need anyone or anything in our life. 

The idea of calling on the elders is a gesture of obedience but it is also a gesture of submitting to those who are over you in the Lord and to those who are called to care for your soul

Third, notice that he calls on the church to confess their sin to one another. It is in that act that healing comes as well. We focus on the prayer of faith but we miss the confession of sin. We must choose wisely who we will share our confessions with.

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