my brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the return of the Lord. Look!

James 4-5

Worldly wisdom may promise the good life, but it leads to chaos and destruction every time. Ultimately true wisdom comes from God.

4 Where do you think your fighting and endless conflict come from? Don’t you think that they originate in the constant pursuit of gratification that rages inside each of you like an uncontrolled militia? 2 You crave something that you do not possess, so you murder to get it. You desire the things you cannot earn, so you sue others and fight for what you want. You do not have because you have chosen not to ask. 3 And when you do ask, you still do not get what you want because your motives are all wrong because you continually focus on self-indulgence. 4 You are adulterers. Don’t you know that making friends with this corrupt world order is open aggression toward God? So anyone who aligns with this bogus world system is declaring war against the one true God. 5 Do you think it is empty rhetoric when the Scriptures say, The spirit that lives in us is addicted to envy and jealousy? 6 You may think that the situation is hopeless, but God gives us more grace when we turn away from our own interests. That’s why Scripture says,

God opposes the proud, but He pours out grace on the humble.

7 So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes. If you do, he will run away in failure. 8 Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin. Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle, your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other.

Since the beginning, our loving Creator has been pursuing us, drawing us closer to Him. He invites us to move closer to Him so we can be fully His.

9 Now is the time to lament, to grieve, and to cry. Dissolve your laughter into sobbing, and exchange your joy for depression. 10 Lay yourself bare, facedown to the ground, in humility before the Lord; and He will lift your head so you can stand tall. 11 My brothers and sisters, do not assault each other with criticism. If you decide your job is to accuse and judge another believer, then you are a self-appointed critic and judge of the law; if so, then you are no longer a doer of the law and subject to its rule; you stand over it as a judge. 12 Know this there is One who stands supreme as Judge and Lawgiver. He alone is able to save and to destroy, so who are you to step in and try to judge another?

’13 Listen carefully, those of you who make your plans and say, We are traveling to this city in the next few days. We™ll stay there for one year while our business explodes and revenue is up. 14 The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. 15 It would be best to say, If it is the Lord’s will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue that dream. 16 But your current speech indicates an arrogance that does not acknowledge the One who controls the universe, and this kind of big talking is the epitome of evil. 17 So if you know the right way to live and ignore it, it is sin plain and simple.

5 Hey, you rich folk, misery is on its way; so cry and moan 2 because you will watch your riches rot before your eyes as the moths devour your fine clothes. 3 Your stockpile of silver and gold is tarnished and corroded, and this rust will stand up in the final judgment and testify against you. It will eat your flesh like fire and become a permanent and painful reminder that you have hoarded your wealth through these last days. 4 Listen. You held back a just wage from the laborers who mowed your fields, and that money is crying out against you, demanding that justice be done. The cries of the people who harvested your crops and made you a profit have fallen upon the ears of the supreme Lord of heavenly armies. 5 Your life on the earth has been one of luxury, pleasure, and endless consumption; you have feasted to your heart’s content on animals you slaughtered, but now the day of slaughter comes for you. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous man, and he did not defend himself.

7 For this reason, my brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the return of the Lord. Look! The farmer knows how to wait patiently for the land to produce vegetables and fruits. He cannot harvest a freshly planted seed. Instead, he waits for the early and the late showers to nourish the soil. 8 You need this same kind of patience, so in the meantime, strengthen your resolve because the Lord will be coming soon.

9 Brothers and sisters, don’t waste your breath complaining about one another. If you judge others, you will be judged yourself. Be very careful! You will face the one true Judge who is right outside the door. 10 The prophets who declared the word of the Lord are your role models, my brothers and sisters, for what it means to live patiently in the face of suffering. 11 Look, we bless and honor the memory of those who persevered under hardship. Remember how Job endured and how the Lord orchestrated the triumph of his final circumstances as a grand display of His mercy and compassion.

12 It is even more important, my brothers and sisters, that you remember not to make a vow by the heavens or the earth or by anything. When you say yes, it should always mean yes, and no should always mean no. If you can keep your word, you will avoid judgment.

13 Are any in your community suffering? They should pray. Are any celebrating? They should sing praises to God. 14 Are any sick? They should call the elders of your church and ask them to pray. They will gather around and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Prayers offered in faith will restore them from sickness and bring them to health. The Lord will lift them up from the floor of despair; and if the sickness is due to sin, then God will forgive their sins. 16 So own up to your sins to one another and pray for one another. In the end, you may be healed. Your prayers are powerful when they are rooted in a righteous life. 17 Remember Elijah? He was a man, no different from us. He prayed with great intensity asking God to withhold the rain; God answered his prayers and did not allow a single drop of rain to fall for three and a half years. 18 It did not rain until Elijah prayed again for God to open the skies, when the rain came down and the earth produced a great crop.

Why should we bother to pray if God already knows what we are going to ask for? Prayer involves so much more than making personal requests. It connects us with God and works to bring our wills into conformity with His.

How, then, should we pray? First, James tells us to pray in community, not just by ourselves and for ourselves. When we pray together, life is shared and community is born. We also confess our sins, not just to God, but to each other. Through this vulnerable transparency, God knits souls together in authentic community, and we discover the true benefit of prayer.

19 Brothers and sisters, if someone you know loses his way and rebels against God, pursue him in love and bring him back to the truth. 20 Know this: If you turn a sinner back from the error of his ways, then you will rescue him from the grips of death and cover the pain and consequences of untold sins.

The Voice (VOICE)The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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