Friday, January 23, 2015

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 25, 2015

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(Pray in all situations)
(James 5:13-20)

Suffering (in the Greek, kakopathei) is allowed in our lives, because GOD wants to elicit, or evoke, our prayers in times of need. Sufficiency (in the Greek, hikanotes) is given to us, because GOD wants to elicit, or evoke, our praise in times of great blessings. Prayer can remove our affliction, or, it can obtain for us, the grace we need to endure in, and through, our suffering.
The experience of our suffering can give us the patient endurance we need in order to accomplish GOD’s will in this life for us, and, for those whom GOD wishes for our lives to touch. GOD balances our lives by giving us “times of suffering” that “brings us to prayer”, and, “times of blessings” which “should bring us to singing of praises”. Praying and singing are just as important to today’s church as it was to the church in the first century.
In James chapter 5, James concludes his letter of instructions to the early Christian church by emphasizing the power we can all obtain and share over our afflictions through a healthy prayer life. This passage, that strongly links prayer, sickness, church elders, anointing with oil, and confession of sin, has fascinated Christians for centuries. There are several things that come into focus in this passage, just as it does throughout this wonderful letter of church doctrine that goes a long ways toward helping us to mature as Christians.
In verse 15, the Greek word James uses in his original Greek writing for “sick” is “kamnonia”, and it is actually “weariness caused by a moral, and or, spiritual deficit in one’s life”. First of all James tells us that prayer is very much needed during sickness, both of a physical, and spiritual nature. And whenever such sicknesses come, it is the role of the elders in the church to pray for them. Prayer is primary, and anointing with oil is secondary, in dealing with human afflictions.
In the first century, oil was the most common ingredient used in medical treatments. In verse 14 the Greek verb used by James to describe the use of oil in this function is “aleipsantes” and it means “to smear on, or rub on with oil”. Thus this verse teaches us that we need application of both prayer and normal medical treatment to heal our sicknesses. We know this because, if James had meant anointing in a sacramental sense, he would have used the word “chrio”, which means “to anoint ceremonially”.
Then there is “confession”, which is important should sin be the cause of one’s own illness. In this case discipline would be the correct action to take. And since confession and prayer are associated with good spiritual health, it is important for Christians to be sensitive to those times when they sin, and develop a practice of confessing their sins, not just to GOD WHO already knows, but also to each other, who may or may not know, and then, we should all pray for each other.
The, prayers of a righteous person, or, a person who is in a right relationship with GOD, is truly a powerful weapon against human afflictions and sicknesses. Each of us can be a wonderful resource for the other, if we try and live our lives according to GOD’s directives. And each of us can help the other guard against going astray when our behavior reflects the ways of CHRIST.
When a person strays, we are expected, by GOD, to reach out and turn that person back to a life that is lived according to GOD and HIS Word. And historically, we can all be inspired by the likes of Job, and take comfort in his great example to us, of suffering, and being able to emerge into an experience of GOD’s mercy.
As we persevere through suffering, we must strive to stay focused on GOD, WHO can deliver us through it all. And steadfastly, we have to remain committed to living and telling the truth. That way, we can all be certain that the great and powerful JUDGE, CHRIST JESUS, WHO is standing at the door waiting, will encourage us, and comfort us, for all time and eternity. GOD does not promise that we won’t have nightmares, but, what HE does promise is that, when we do, HE will be there to hold us tightly and comfort us.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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