Thursday, August 28, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Key to Holiness (1 Peter 1:14-16 KJV)

Snowflake Photo credit: Sarah Iddings

As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:14-16 KJV)

Think about what was or is important to you when you were or are living according to your own ideas and rules.  All of us slip from time to time and that is why I stated that last sentence with  past and present tense. During those times how do you think?  Are you thinking more about what would benefit you than what God would have you to do?  Do you think more about how you want things to be for your comfort or do you think about what would bring glory to God? Are you more concerned during those times about climbing the ladder of success instead of defining success from God's point of view?

I think this is what Peter is driving at. Obedient children of God fashion themselves according to God's purpose...holiness, not according to their own fleshly desires. That's not to say we attain perfection by any means, but we should simply live with a conscience toward God and He will sanctify us and make us holy, fit vessels for His use. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Problem Solving Chart

This is a problem solving chart. I thought it was helpful. The original chart that I got from a book was designed for kids with autism spectrum disorders.  I took that chart and expanded on it so it would work for the Christian person.  It's a great tool no matter if a person has autism or other mental disorders or if one is neurotypical.  It brings clarity to a problem by helping you figure out just what your options are.

I copy the whole chart into an app on my iPad called My Script. Then I can use the hand writing feature cross off options, write solutions or problems associated with potential solutions.  It clarifies the whole situation and gives direction.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Three Preparations to Avoid Being Broadsided by Life's Disappointments, Disasters and Devilry (1 Peter 1:13 NASB)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13 NASB)

This is a verse full of action commands. 

*Prepare your minds for action.

The Christian life is a life of mental action. You can't just sit idly by not engaging your mind for action. The Devil's workshop is an idle mind.  If you do not prepare your mind for action then you leave yourself open to all sorts of temptation and sin.  

*Keep sober in spirit.

A mind prepared for action will by default be sober.  This doesn't mean we can't enjoy life and have fun. But it does mean that we are alert to what is going on around us and that we are serious about honoring God in what we do.

*Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

What is my hope fixed on?  There are so many temporal things I can fix my hope on. But if my hope is in any of these things I will be disappointed at some point. My hope must be fixed completely on the grace of Jesus Christ. It's the only thing that will not disappoint.

If I do these three things, I won't be broadsided by life's disappointments, disasters and devilry.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Marsha's Musings: One Package Deal (1 Peter 1:10-12 KJV)

Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:10-12 KJV)

Here I see that the Old Testament and the New Testament are intertwined.  This passage makes me think of Hebrews 1:1. 

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1-2 KJV)

The Old Testament prophets and the children of Israel had the types and shadows of the Saviour to come, His suffering and sacrifice on our behalf for our sin.  They had the tabernacle and the sacrifices and rituals which all pointed to Christ. They accepted by faith that there was a coming Saviour. Hebrews 11 attests to their faith.

They looked forward in faith to Christ's sacrifice while we look back in faith to His atoning sacrifice. We are all saved by faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice on our behalf. To throw out the Old Testament as being obsolete is a huge mistake that some make. We need the whole of both sections of the Bible or we miss out on a lot. It is one package deal that shouldn't be separated.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Blind Faith? (1 Peter 1:8-9 KJV)

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9 KJV)

This verse refers to verse 7 and is speaking of Jesus Christ.  Some would read this verse above and claim that Christians have a blind faith.  Do we?  

It is interesting that we all make certain assumptions in life.  For example, in the photo above, we made the assumption that the ferry boat would hold us up out of the water and get us to our destination.  We had no guarantee that that would happen.  The boat could have sunk in the middle of the trip!  But we had faith the boat would get us there.  People do this all the time.  They make decisions on faith that certain things will happen, yet they have no guarantee if those things will happen.

Yet, when it comes to the claims of Scripture and faith in God, somehow they can't bring themselves to do that.  Somehow this is "blind faith" to them.  We have the promises of the God of the universe that have stood the test of time, archaeological discoveries that show the Bible is not some made up fairy tale, and lives that are changed by the grace of God all around us, yet it's blind faith in their book. Why can they make leaps of blind faith in so many areas of their lives, but balk at a faith that is reasonable and sure?

Praise God in times of sorrow and heaviness that we can still rejoice with unspeakable joy and full of glory that the end of our faith is the salvation of our souls!  We sorrow not as the unbeliever does with no hope.  We have hope beyond the grave!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Green tea

I don't know about you, but I love a cup of green tea in the morning. There is just something calming about it and I don't feel like my day has started right unlessI have it. Here is an interesting link to a video about the benefits of green tea.

Green tea is full of antioxidants that help to keep your body healthy.  Experts say it may help stave off diabetes and heart disease.

It has a small amount of caffeine to give me a little boost in the morning.  And it seems to have a calming effect on my mind so my day starts out well.

A little sweetener makes it taste just right.  I like to use stevia.  My favorite brand is Kirkland Signature.

Marsha's Musings: The Trial of Your Faith (1 Peter 1:7-9 KJV)

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:7-9 KJV)

This verse refers to the last one that talks about being in heaviness through manifold temptations.  These trials that we go through have a purpose.  What are they trying?  They are trying our faith.  The purpose of these trials is to refine our faith, that it might praise and honor and glorify Christ at His appearing.

The reference to gold and being tried with fire is a reference to the refining of gold.  The gold is put into a big melting pot over a fire.  It heated until it liquefies.  When this happens the impurities rise to the top where they can be skimmed off.  The refiner sits by the fire and keeps the temperature at just the right place so as not to ruin the gold, but high enough to cause these impurities to rise up so he can skim them off.  When the refiner can see his own reflection in the gold, then he has finished refining it.

This is Peter telling us that our faith is much more precious than gold and these trials are the fire by which it is tried.  The goal is that Jesus Christ, the Refiner, would see His own reflection in us at His appearing and that our lives would reflect the praise, honor and glory due to His name.

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)

I can't help but wonder if Peter was around at the time Hebrews was written.  These two verses remind me so much of Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

Faith and hope are intertwined. Remember 1 Peter 1:3?  We have been begotten unto a lively hope!  Verses 8-9 are referring that hope mentioned in verse 3.  Even though we might be weighed down with heaviness in our spirits, we can still rejoice because we know that we will be saved from this world at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Marsha's Musings: If Need Be, You Are In Heaviness (Depression) (1Peter 1:6 KJV)

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: (1 Peter 1:6 KJV)

This scripture is so relevant to me today!  Yes, I rejoice in the inheritance of verse four!

 "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you," (1 Peter 1:4 KJV)

The reality, however, of life in a fallen world is that we have many trials and temptations to deal with down here.  Sometimes that gets us down and we feel heavy and discouraged.  Sometimes our bodies get sick and sometimes our minds/brains get sick too.  Christians can and do get depressed sometimes.

I, like many other Christians, thought depression was a matter of just "getting over it" and moving on.  Mind over matter.  I was particularly harsh in my thinking that they were just being self centered to get attention or sympathy.  It never really occurred to me that the brain is a physical part of the human body and it can be affected by illness too as much as the heart, lungs or any other part of the body.  Depression can be the result of actual chemical imbalances in the brain, and can be symptoms of other underlying issues. But for some odd reason, many Christians look down on a Christian who is in the deeps of depression.

I love the story of Charles Spurgeon on this:

If Spurgeon was acquainted with depression before, following the Surrey Hall disaster, it became a more frequent and perverse companion. In October 1858 he had his first episode of incapacitating illness since coming to London. Having been absent from his pulpit for three Sundays, when he returned he preached on 1 Peter 1:6: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” In the sermon, entitled “The Christian’s Heaviness and Rejoicing,” Spurgeon said that during his illness, when “my spirits were sunken so low that I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet I knew not what I wept for ... a kind friend was telling me of some poor old soul living near, who was suffering very great pain, and yet she was full of joy and rejoicing. I was so distressed by the hearing of that story, and felt so ashamed of myself.... ” While he was struggling with the contrast between his depression and the joy evinced by this woman who was afflicted with cancer, “this text flashed upon my mind, with its real meaning ... that sometimes the Christian should not endure his sufferings with a gallant and a joyous heart” but “that sometimes his spirits should sink within him, and that he should become even as a little child smitten beneath the hand of God.”~Darrel Amundson

We need to be merciful to the Christian who is depressed under a load of heaviness. It is no help to tell them that if they have enough faith God will heal them of this.  What if that is not God's will?  Then when the sought after relief does not come they are cast deeper into depression for they feel that they do not have enough faith or that their faith is not good enough.  We must not act as if depression should never be a part of the Christian's life.  Look at Job, David, and Elijah. These experienced periods of depression. 

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. (Psalms 42:5 KJV)

Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer–sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. (1 Kings 19:2-4 KJV)

We need to encourage our Christian brothers and sisters who suffer depression without unwittingly saying things that only add to their dispair.  Sometimes, as in Job's case, we just need to be present with them but say nothing.

So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great. (Job 2:13 KJV)

If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, remember, that God loves you enough to have included stories in the Bible about those who also have struggled with it.  You are not alone.  Depression is the great imposter.  It twists your thinking so that you feel all alone and that everything is going against you.  Be aware of these feelings and get help if you need it or if your loved one needs it, because depression can be a killer.  See the verse above in 1 Kings 19:2-4.  Elijah wanted to die because he thought life was not worth living. He felt like a failure.  This is the lie of depression. 

Yes, we may be in heaviness through many temptations and trials, but we have much to rejoice about coming in eternity!  Encourage yourself and your downcast friends and family members in this truth. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Look What is Ahead! (1 Peter 1:3-5 KJV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5 KJV)

Were it not for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we would not have a lively hope for the future.  Just look at what we have to look forward to!  We have an inheritance that cannot be corrupted, is undefiled and will not fade away.  This doesn't compare in anyway to earlthly inheritances.  What's more it's reserved in heaven for us.

Even better, those of us whom God has saved will perseve and will recieve that inheritance because we are kept by the power of God through faith.

There is one more thing I see here. The sentence structure is a little confusing, but I can take it two ways.  We are kept by the power to God through faith unto salvation and we will be ready to be revealed in the last time.  Or, we can take it that salvation will be ready to be revealed in the last time.  Either way works.

If it is talking about us being revealed in the last time, it indicates to me that God will complete His work in me so that I will be ready and fit for heaven.  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6 KJV)

If it is talking about salvation being ready to be revealed in the last time, this also works because salvation has a past, present and future aspect to it.  We are saved (justified).  We are being saved (sanctification).  We will be saved (resurrected to heaven). Another way to look at it, Christ saved us by his death, burial & resurrection (past).  The Holy Spirit is saving us through sanctificaiton (present).  And God will save us when He takes us home to heaven (future).

However you look at this verse, it is full of encouragement!  This world isn't all there is.  There is so much more to come! Take heart when things get tough...keep your eyes on the goal and know that this isn't all there is down here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Introduction to 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:1-2 KJV)

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:1-2 KJV)

Peter authored this book and it is assumed Silvanus wrote it down (1 Peter 5:12).  In reading this book it appears that Peter's audience are Christians who are being persecuted (1 Peter 4:12-14) for their faith.  Whether they are scattered throughout the regions mentioned because of persecution or just because they lived throughout a wide area, I'm not sure.

Peter says these Christians are elect according to the foreknowledge of God. To help understand the meaning of this, see Acts 2:23: 

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 

We can see that foreknowledge means more than God just looking ahead and acting in accordance with what He sees man will do, but rather it is God carrying out His predetermined planned. 

We are elect by His predetermined plan and His foreknowledge. This shows that He is sovereign over all.  

What are we elected to?  Sanctification, obedience and to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.  It is through His death, burial and resurrection that we are saved. We are saved to be sanctified and to obey Him.

It is through Him we have peace and grace to endure the trials that life brings to us.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Alright, I'll admit it. Worry comes all to easy for me. Anxiety is worry ramped up and can and does cause physical illnesses.  So I am working on this worry issue. When I saw this photo posted on Facebook, I thought, this is really helpful.  I turned it into my lock screen on my iPad so I will see it everytime I turn my device on.  I love this prayer because it acknowledges God's sovereign control over all things and helps me to take a deep breath, relax and rest in His will.

Marsha's Musings: Sharing the Gospel (James 5:19-20 KJV)

Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20 KJV)

Here is motivation to share the Gospel with others!  But a caution is in order here. The Bible does not contradict itself, so what are we to make of this verse in comparison to these below that show that God is the one who chooses people and saves people, when this verse in James makes it sound like we are able to convert people?

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.  -John 15:16

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: -2 Thessalonians 2:13

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: -John 1:12Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. -John 1:13

Given the whole of Scripture, I have to say that what this verse is driving at is that we are the means for taking the truth to others.  God uses means and we are supposed to tell others about Him and about His truth. It is the truth of God's word that changes people.  God is the one who does the converting, but we have a part in it by participating and obeying God by telling others the Gospel.

I was once a member of a church that had this messed up. They apparently believed they were the ones doing the converting of men's souls. Every Thursday evening they went out "soul winning".  Now I admire their zeal, but their method was deplorable. They would knock on a door and proceed to lay out the Gospel to whoever answered the door if they were polite enough to not send them packing.  Rather than allow God to work in the person's heart in His timing, they would stay on the doorstep and press the person to make a decision for Christ right then and there, refusing to leave until the person had prayed the sinner's prayer with them.

I watched in horror week after week as they hammered people over the head with the Gospel 2 x 4, refusing to leave the doorstep until the sinner's prayer was prayed.  Each Sunday they added the numbers of souls that were saved to a banner up front.  I found it sad that for all the numbers of souls they claimed to save each week only two of them showed up to church and they didn't keep coming. It was apparent to me that they thought they were the ones "saving souls". 

We need to be sure that when we share the Gospel, we remember that God is the one who saves. Our job is to plant the seeds and water it. God's job is to give the increase.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Marsha's Musings: On Being Open About Our Faults (‭James‬ ‭5‬:‭16-18‬ KJV)

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. (‭James‬ ‭5‬:‭16-18‬ KJV)

As the body of Christ, we need healing.  Many physical illnesses stem from stress associated with strained relationships.  When we make ourselves open to others and confess our faults so others can pray for us it has the effect of lifting a big burden from our shoulders. It brings a measure of healing to our souls as well as easing the strain of stress that tears at us physically.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Marsha's Musings: A Difficult Passage (James 5:13-15 KJV)

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? 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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:13-15 KJV)

So here (below) we have three men's commentary on this passage. Adam Clarke has a different take on the anointing oil than the other two. He says it was meant for medicinal purposes. John Calvin disagrees with this and John Gill doesn't seem to have an opinion either way.  

I once heard a sermon that agreed with Adam Clarke's opinion on the use of the oil and went on to say the passage makes more sense if the word sick meant weak or weary in a spiritual sense.  However that makes the anointing with oil seem out of place if it was used for medicinal purposes. We may never know the purpose of the oil.

This is one of those passages that causes a lot of confusion among Christians. We know that God does not physically heal everyone that prays in faith for healing.  He did not heal the Apostle Paul!  Yet the verse says, And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:13-15 KJV)

If physical healing is the meaning here, then God doesn't always keep His promise and we know that God does not lie.  But taking this to refer to the spiritually sick or weak, God will save those who pray in true faith and The Lord will raise him up (from the grave) and He will forgive his sins.

John Cavin:
Verse 13

13Is any among you afflicted? he means that there is no time in which God does not invite us to himself. For afflictions ought to stimulate us to pray; prosperity supplies us with an occasion to praise God. But such is the perverseness of men, that they cannot rejoice without forgetting God, and that when afflicted they are disheartened and driven to despair. We ought, then, to keep within due bounds, so that the joy, which usually makes us to forget God, may induce us to set forth the goodness of God, and that our sorrow may teach us to pray. For he has set thesinging of psalms in opposition to profane and unbridled joy; and thus they express their joy who are led, as they ought to be, by prosperity to God.

Verse 14

14Is any sick among you. As the gift of healing as yet continued, he directs the sick to have recourse to that remedy. It is, indeed, certain that they were not all healed; but the Lord granted this favor as often and as far as he knew it would be expedient; nor is it probable that the oil was indiscriminately applied, but only when there was some hope of restoration. For, together with the power there was given also discretion to the ministers, lest they should by abuse profane the symbol. The design of James was no other than to commend the grace of God which the faithful might then enjoy, lest the benefit of it should be lost through contempt or neglect.

For this purpose he ordered the presbyters to be sent for, but the use of the anointing must have been confined to the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Papists boast mightily of this passage, when they seek to pass off their extreme unction. But how different their corruption is from the ancient ordinance mentioned by James I will not at present undertake to shew. Let readers learn this from my Institutes. I will only say this, that this passage is wickedly and ignorantly perverted; when extreme unction is established by it, and is called a sacrament, to be perpetually observed in the Church. I indeed allow that it was used as a sacrament by the disciples of Christ, (for I cannot agree with those who think that it was medicine;) but as the reality of this sign continued only for a time in the Church, the symbol also must have been only for a time. And it is quite evident, that nothing is more absurd than to call that a sacrament which is void and does not really present to us that which it signifies. That the gift of healing was temporary, all are constrained to allow, and events clearly prove: then the sign of it ought not to be deemed perpetual. It hence follows, that they who at this day set anointing among the sacraments, are not the true followers, but the apes of the Apostles, except they restore the effect produced by it, which God has taken away from the world for more than fourteen hundred years. So we have no dispute, whether anointing was once a sacrament; but whether it has been given to be so perpetually. This latter we deny, because it is evident that the thing signified has long ago ceased.

The presbyters, or eldersof the church. I include here generally all those who presided over the Church; for pastors were not alone called presbyters or elders, but also those who were chosen from the people to be as it were censors to protect discipline. For every Church had, as it were, its own senate, chosen from men of weight and of proved integrity. But as it was customary to choose especially those who were endued with gifts more than ordinary, he ordered them to send for the elders, as being those in whom the power and grace of the Holy Spirit more particularly appeared.

Let them pray over him. This custom of praying over one was intended to shew, that they stood as it were before God; for when we come as it were to the very scene itself, we utter prayers with more feeling; and not only Elisha and Paul, but Christ himself, roused the ardor of prayer and commended the grace of God by thus praying over persons. (2 Kings 4:32Acts 20:10John 11:41.)

Verse 15

15. But it must be observed, that he connects a promise with the prayer, lest it should be made without faith. For he who doubts, as one who does not rightly call on God, is unworthy to obtain anything, as we have seen in James 1:5. Whosoever then really seeks to be heard, must be fully persuaded that he does not pray in vain.

As James brings before us this special gift, to which the external rite was but an addition, we hence learn, that the oil could not have been rightly used without faith. But since it appears that the Papists have no certainty as to their anointing, as it is manifest that they have not the gift, it is evident that their anointing is spurious.

And if he have committed sins. This is not added only for the sake of amplifying, as though he had said, that God would give something more to the sick than health of body; but because diseases were very often inflicted on account of sins; and by speaking of their remission he intimates that the cause of the evil would be removed. And we indeed see that David, when afflicted with disease and seeking relief, was wholly engaged in seeking the pardon of his sins. Why did he do this, except that while he acknowledged the effect of his faults in his punishment, he deemed that there was no other remedy, but that the Lord should cease to impute to him his sins?

The prophets are full of this doctrine, that men are relieved from their evils when they are loosed from the guilt of their iniquities. Let us then know that it is the only fit remedy for our diseases and other calamities, when we carefully examine ourselves, being solicitous to be reconciled to God, and to obtain the pardon of our sins.

John Gill

Verse 13

Is any among you afflicted?.... As the people of God generally are; they are commonly a poor, and an afflicted people; at least there are many among them that are so, and many are their afflictions: those whom Christ loves, as he did Lazarus, are not free from sicknesses and diseases; and these are rather signs of love than arguments against it; and when this is the case of any of the saints, what is to be done?

let him pray; to God that can save him; in the name of Christ; under the influence of the Spirit; believing in the word of promise. Times of afflictions are proper times for prayer; there is then more especially need of it; and God sometimes lays his afflicting hand upon his people, when they have been negligent of their duty, and he has not heard of them for some time, in order to bring them near to him, to seek his face, pay him a visit, and pour out a prayer before him; seePsalm 50:15.

Is any merry? in good heart and spirit, in a good frame of mind, as well as in prosperous circumstances, in soul, body and estate:

let him sing psalms; let him not only be inwardly joyful, as he should be in prosperity, and be thankful to God for his many mercies, temporal and spiritual, he enjoys; but let him express it vocally, and melodiously, by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs: not that these are the only persons that are to sing psalms, or this the only time, any more than that afflicted persons are the only ones that are to pray, or the time of affliction the only time of prayer; but as affliction more especially calls for prayer, so spiritual joy, and rejoicing in prosperous seasons, for singing of psalms: weeping, and singing of psalms, were thought, by the Jews, inconsistent. Kimchi, on the title of the third psalm, observes, that their Rabbins say, that when David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, he wept; and if he wept, why is this called a psalm? and if a psalm, למה בכה, "why did he weep?"

Verse 14

Is any sick among you?.... Which is often the case; the bodies of the saints, as well as others, are liable to a variety of diseases; they are sick, and sometimes nigh unto death, as Epaphroditus was: and then,

let him call for the elders of the church; in allusion to the elders of the congregation of Israel, Leviticus 4:15. By these may be meant, either the elder members of the church, men of gravity and soundness in the faith, persons of long standing and experience; who have the gift and grace of prayer, and are not only capable of performing that duty, but of giving a word of counsel and advice to the sick. It was a kind of proverbial saying of Aristophanes the grammarian;

"the works of young men, the counsels of middle aged persons, and ευχαι γεροντων, "the prayers of ancient men"F26:'

or rather officers of churches are meant, particularly pastors, who are so called in Scripture; these should be sent for in times of sickness, as well as physicians; and rather than they, since their prayers may be the means of healing both soul and body: so in former times, the prophets of God were sent to in times of sickness, for advice and assistance. It is a saying of R. Phinehas ben ChamaF1 that

"whoever has a sick person in his house, let him go to a wise man, and he will seek mercy for him.'

And it follows here,

and let them pray over him; or for him, for the recovery of his health:

anointing him with oil, in the name of the Lord; which some think was only done in a common medicinal way, oil being used much in the eastern countries for most disorders; and so these elders used ordinary medicine, as well as prayer: or rather this refers to an extraordinary gift, which some elders had of healing diseases, as sometimes by touching, and by laying on of hands, or by expressing some words, and so by anointing with oil; see Mark 6:13 which extraordinary gifts being now ceased, the rite or ceremony of anointing with oil ceases in course: however, this passage gives no countenance to the extreme unction of the Papists; that of theirs being attended with many customs and ceremonies, which are not here made mention of; that being used, as is pretended, for the healing of the souls of men, whereas this was used for corporeal healing; that is only performed when life is despaired of, and persons are just going out of the world; whereas this was made use of to restore men to health, and that they might continue longer in it, as follows.

Verse 15

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick,.... That is, the prayer of the elders, being put up in faith by them, and in which the sick person joins by faith; such a prayer is a means of bringing down from God a blessing on the sick man, and of restoring him to his former health:

and the Lord shall raise him up; from his bed of sickness, on which he is laid, and bring him forth to praise his name, and to fear and glorify him.

And if he have committed sins; not that it is a question whether he has or not, for no man lives without sin, nor the commission of it; but the sense is, if he has been guilty of any sins, which God in particular has taken notice of, and on account of which he has laid his chastising hand upon him, in order to bring him to a sense of them, and to acknowledge them; which is sometimes the case, though not always, at the same time that his bodily health is restored:

they shall be forgiven him; he shall have a discovery, and an application of pardoning grace to him: and indeed the removing the sickness or disease may be called the forgiveness of his sins, which is sometimes the sense of this phrase in Scripture, as in 1 Kings 8:34.

Adam Clarke's Commentary
Verse 13

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray - The Jews taught that the meaning of the ordinance, Leviticus 13:45, which required the leper to cry, Unclean! unclean! was, “that thus making known his calamity, the people might be led to offer up prayers to God in his behalf,” Sota, page 685, ed. Wagens. They taught also, that when any sickness or affliction entered a family, they should go to the wise men, and implore their prayers. Bava bathra, fol. 116, 1.
In Nedarim, fol. 40, 1, we have this relation: “Rabba, as often as he fell sick, forbade his domestics to mention it for the first day; if he did not then begin to get well, he told his family to go and publish it in the highways, that they who hated him might rejoice, and they that loved him might intercede with God for him.”

Is any merry? let him sing psalms - These are all general but very useful directions. It is natural for a man to sing when he is cheerful and happy. Now no subject can be more noble than that which is Divine: and as God alone is the author of all that good which makes a man happy, then his praise should be the subject of the song of him who is merry. But where persons rejoice in iniquity, and not in the truth, God and sacred things can never be the subject of their song.

Verse 14

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders - This was also a Jewish maxim. Rabbi Simeon, in Sepher Hachaiyim, said: “What should a man do who goes to visit the sick? Ans. He who studies to restore the health of the body, should first lay the foundation in the health of the soul. The wise men have said, No healing is equal to that which comes from the word of God and prayer. Rabbi Phineas, the son of Chamma, hath said, ‹When sickness or disease enters into a man‘s family, let him apply to a wise man, who will implore mercy in his behalf.‘“ See Schoettgen.
St. James very properly sends all such to the elders of the Church, who had power with God through the great Mediator, that they might pray for them.

Anointing him with oil - That St. James neither means any kind of incantation, any kind of miracle, or such extreme unction as the Romish Church prescribes, will be sufficiently evident from these considerations:

1.Be was a holy man, and could prescribe nothing but what was holy.

2.If a miracle was intended, it could have been as well wrought without the oil, as with it.
3.It is not intimated that even this unction is to save the sick man, but the prayer of faith, James 5:15.
4.What is here recommended was to be done as a natural means of restoring health, which, while they used prayer and supplication to God, they were not to neglect.
5.Oil in Judea was celebrated for its sanative qualities; so that they scarcely ever took a journey without carrying oil with them, (see in the case of the Samaritan), with which they anointed their bodies, healed their wounds, bruises, etc.
6.Oil was and in frequently used in the east as a means of cure in very dangerous diseases; and in Egypt it is often used in the cure of the plague. Even in Europe it has been tried with great success in the cure of dropsy. And pure olive oil is excellent for recent wounds and bruises; and I have seen it tried in this way with the best effects.
7.But that it was the custom of the Jews to apply it as a means of healing, and that St. James refers to this custom, is not only evident from the case of the wounded man ministered to by the good Samaritan, Luke 10:34, but from the practice of the Jewish rabbins. In Midrash Koheleth, fol. 73, 1, it is said: “Chanina, son of the brother of the Rabbi Joshua, went to visit his uncle at Capernaum; he was taken ill; and Rabbi Joshua went to him and anointed him with oil, and he was restored.” They had, therefore, recourse to this as a natural remedy; and we find that the disciples used it also in this way to heal the sick, not exerting the miraculous power but in cases where natural means were ineffectual. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them; Mark 6:13. On this latter place I have supposed that it might have been done symbolically, in order to prepare the way for a miraculous cure: this is the opinion of many commentators; but I am led, on more mature consideration, to doubt its propriety, yet dare not decide. In short, anointing the sick with oil, in order to their recovery, was a constant practice among the Jews. See Lightfoot and Wetstein on Mark 6:13. And here I am satisfied that it has no other meaning than as a natural means of restoring health; and that St. James desires them to use natural means while looking to God for an especial blessing. And no wise man would direct otherwise.
8.That the anointing recommended here by St. James cannot be such as the Romish Church prescribes, and it is on this passage principally that they found their sacrament of extreme unction, is evident from these considerations:

1.St. James orders the sick person to be anointed in reference to his cure; but they anoint the sick in the agonies of death, when there is no prospect of his recovery; and never administer that sacrament, as it is called, while there is any hope of life.
2.St James orders this anointing for the cure of the body, but they apply it for the cure of the soul; in reference to which use of it St. James gives no directions: and what is said of the forgiveness of sins, in James 5:15, is rather to be referred to faith and prayer, which are often the means of restoring lost health, and preventing premature death, when natural means, the most skillfully used, have been useless.
3.The anointing with oil, if ever used as a means or symbol in working miraculous cures, was only applied in some cases, perhaps very few, if any; but the Romish Church uses it in every case; and makes it necessary to the salvation of every departing soul. Therefore, St. James‘ unction, and the extreme unction of the Romish Church, are essentially different. See below.

Verse 15

And the prayer of faith; shall save the sick - That is, God will often make these the means of a sick man‘s recovery; but there often are cases where faith and prayer are both ineffectual, because God sees it will be prejudicial to the patient‘s salvation to be restored; and therefore all faith and prayer on such occasions should be exerted on this ground: “If it be most for thy glory, and the eternal good of this man‘s soul, let him be restored; if otherwise, Lord, pardon, purify him, and take him to thy glory.”

The Lord shall raise him up - Not the elders, how faithfully and fervently soever they have prayed.

And if he have committed sins - So as to have occasioned his present malady, they shall be forgiven him; for being the cause of the affliction it is natural to conclude that, if the effect be to cease, the cause must be removed. We find that in the miraculous restoration to health, under the powerful hand of Christ, the sin of the party is generally said to be forgiven, and this also before the miracle was wrought on the body: hence there was a maxim among the Jews, and it seems to be founded in common sense and reason, that God never restores a man miraculously to health till he has pardoned his sins; because it would be incongruous for God to exert his miraculous power in saving a body, the soul of which was in a state of condemnation to eternal death, because of the crimes it had committed against its Maker and Judge. Here then it is God that remits the sin, not in reference to the unction, but in reference to the cure of the body, which he is miraculously to effect.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Don't Be Wishy Washy (James 5:12)

But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. -James 5:12

How often do we hear people...even ourselves say, "I swear I didn't do it!"  This verse says we are to simply say yes or no when questioned. Yes or no when asked to make a committmtent.  

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time being straight forward with yes or no answers, especially if it involves potentially making someone unhappy or making myself look potentially bad.  For example, it seems like if I donate one time to a good cause then they think we have a bottomless pocketbook and call almost weekly begging for more money.  We have some high medical expenses hitting us now, so my standard answer is, "We can't afford to donate again now because he have some high medical expenses."  Of course they won't accept that answer and try to get a committmtent for a lower amount.  Of course they will never take no for an answer, so why waste my breath with the reasons?  Let my yes be yes and my no be no.  

Really, if I followed the principle here life would be less complicated and I wouldn't be so wishy washy.

How does this verse show the character of God?
God is decisive, not wishy washy.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Marsha's Musings: Is it Always God's Will that We Do Not Suffer? (James 5:10-11 KJV)

Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (James 5:10-11 KJV)

We see here that suffering affliction is part of doing God's work. The prophets suffered for speaking in the name of The Lord.  

Job suffered great loss and physical affliction when God chose to let Satan have some extra leash. 

It is interesting to me to see how many Christians seem to think it is never the will of God for a Christian to suffer.  They will tell a person who has an illness that God can and will heal them if they have enough faith. It is cruel to tell a suffering person this. What if God doesn't heal them?  Then they are left with the feeling that there is something wrong with their faith. 

How can these people in good conscience act like they know the mind of God in matters like this? It's as if they think they can demand that God do their bidding and heal the people they pray over and then when it doesn't happen they blame it on a lack of faith on the part of the suffering person. How cruel and unmerciful is that?

It is true that God can and does heal people from time to time, but it is wrong to presume it is His will to heal everyone.

The comfort here is that The Lord is full of pity and tender mercy toward those who suffer.