OPENING SONG AND PRAYER
We started our time together by singing hymn #1 "Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above."
MEMORIZATION & DISCUSSION
- Review: "always be a straight shooter." Go to the Lord and confess honestly to Him, dealing with sin and turning away from it.
- In every circumstance of life, we must look to God. We have open access to Him and thus ought to seek Him.
- 1 Peter 4:19 - Those who suffer entrust themselves to God.
- 2 Corinthians 12:8 - When Paul had a thorn in his flesh and endured suffering, he went to the Lord in prayer.
- The situation of being sick in James' day was seen as much more severe than as sickness is today. Modern medicine has helped make more common physical afflictions more tolerable or survivable, but the situation of being sick in James' day was seen as much more severe.
- However, we can observe a bigger picture here outside of the specific situation of being sick; as a church, we ought to come together, pray for each other, and minister to each other.
- If we are sick, we are to call on the elders of the church. The imagery here is that one is sick to the point of physical impairment, and thus elders need to physically go to the sick person.
- The elders are to pray over the sick person. They do not perform magic, but God can do great things. Through prayer, God works healing and good for the sick person.
- "Anointing with oil." It was known in James' day that olive oil was medicinal. We are to do whatever else is practical that we know to do in order to help ease of help with the sickness. However, the focus is on prayer; the act of anointing (or administering of medicine) is subordinate to the act of prayer. Even Psalm 103 tells us that God is the one who heals all of our illnesses; therefore, we should realize that, ultimately, God is the one who heals us. Even the availability of medicine and its ability to help us feel better is gracious provision from God!
- Does praying to God actually do something?
- Of course! When we pray, God hears us.
- "Raise him up" means to get the sick person "out of bed" and back to full health. This is NOT referring to a resurrection from death.
- "If he has committed sins." Why does James mention the sick person's committing of sins? (see notes below on v16)
- Verse 16 brings to light that confessing sins and praying for one another brings healing. This shows us that perhaps one purpose of sickness is a sign that God is using to show us that we have sinned or are sinning. In other words, perhaps God is trying to get our attention and cause us to focus on repentance. Therefore, when we confess sin and pray for one another, a result of repentance may also bring a result of healing.
- Is sickness also used as a form of punishment?
- God does not punish believers. God loves us! We know that Romans 8:28 tells us that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.
- However, God may use sickness (or other affliction) to train us or discipline us.
- Sometimes we may think, "what did I do to deserve this?" when some affliction comes our way. We must realize, however, this is a self-exalting view, or a reaction that stems from a certain set of expectations for this life. But even if we are going through situations that are taxing or excruciating that are worthy of empathy and aid, the truth is that none of us are ever in a fair or established position to shake our fist at God for our perceived misfortunes. We are all deserving of judgment and hell for our sins, but by God's mercy we have been offered a sparing from judgement, forgiveness, and reconciliation with God through Christ.