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Summary: The advice that James gives to his readers in the first century also applies to us as we deal with rising gasoline prices.

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A PROPER RESPONSE TO AFFLICTION

Text: James 5:7 – 12

Introduction:

• Affliction: a state of pain, trouble, or distress; misery (World Book Dictionary)

• James’ readers were being afflicted by wealthy landowners

o Becoming wealthy at poor’s expense (v. 3)

o Withheld wages from workers (v. 4)

o Took away means of providing for families (v. 6a)

o Poor were powerless (v. 6b)

Proverbs 30:14 – There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.

• There were people in James’ day that tried to benefit by afflicting others, and there are people in our day that do the same

• At the end of 2007, Exxon posted the largest annual profit by a US company in history - $40.6 billion; previous $39.5 billion in 2006

• Exxon’s revenues increased 30% in the last quarter of 2007 to $117 billion up from $90 billion last quarter of 2006

• Revenue for 2006 - $404.5 billion

• According to the Energy Information Administration, average gas prices at:

o End of 2005 - $2.30

o End of 2006 - $2.20

o End of 2007 - $3.10

o May 14, 2008 - $3.80

o Yesterday - $4.19 at Speedway

o Some places in CA $5.00

• Price of everything going up

• Just like in James’ day, becoming wealthy at poor’s expense; taking away means of providing for families

• James suggests that Christians should respond to affliction such as this with patience; advice still good today

• Gives us 6 characteristics of the patience he has in mind

I. It is a patience that requires action (vv. 7, 8)

• “Be patient” - verb

• Farmer waiting on harvest works in meantime

• While we are waiting, need to be busy for Lord, working for families

II. It is a patience that inspires hope (vv. 7, 8)

• “Patience” – Greek word meaning quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial; implies that hope is present

• Farmer waits for the rains because he knows they will come

• We should wait for the Lord to come back because we know He will come

• When he comes, our afflictions will be removed

III. It is a patience that is tempered with determination (v. 8)

• “Stablish” – be steadfast, determined

• Farmer waits for rains, plows, cultivates, plants, fertilizes, weeds, waits for rain because he is determined to have a harvest

• We need to wait for the Lord to come back, working in His kingdom because we are determined to have a harvest

IV. It is a patience that rests in contentment (v. 9)

• Contentment causes us to have a good attitude and keeps us from complaining and lashing out at others

• James – easy to curse those wealthy landowners and complain about the affliction, but what good does it do?

o It doesn’t stop the affliction

o It discourages everyone

o It harms your witness

Philippians 4:11 – 13 “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Paul in prison)

• Paul and Silas singing in prison

• You’d be surprised at the effect of a good attitude on afflictions; complement someone every time you start to complain; do something nice for someone every day; encourage someone

V. It is a patience that causes us to rely on God (vv. 10, 11)

• Jeremiah

o Called as a young man to deliver an unpopular message

o Opposed by kings, false prophets, religious leaders

o Charged with treason

o Imprisoned

o Survived plot to kill

o Thrown in a cistern and left for dead

o Witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem

o Forced to go to Egypt

o Prophesized for 40 years and no one listened

o Jeremiah 20:11 – “But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.”

o Jeremiah 39:17, 18 – God tells Jeremiah that he shall be protected because he put his trust in God

• Job

o Sabeans take oxen and asses and kill servants

o Lightning kills sheep and servants

o Chaldeans take camels and kill servants

o Wind destroys house killing children

o Job 1:20, 21 – “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

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