Dear Ministry Partner,
With chapter 5 this month, we say farewell to our friend James, one of the first disciples to join Yeshua. I pray that his insights thus far have made a lasting impression on your spiritual journey. The best way to acquaint yourself with God’s Word and His purpose for you is to study each book of the Bible individually. I realize that working through James has been a long walk together, but it’s been a very productive one for me personally, and I hope for you also!
James’s closing words of chapter 4 guard against arrogance and boasting: “… whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
The final chapter divides itself nicely into four categories: patience, reverence, prayer and praise, and diligence.
PATIENCE: IN LIFE’S TRIALS
James began his letter with an exhortation to “let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing” (1:4). He continues in 5:7 with “Be patient.” James is encouraging his readers to leave revenge and retribution to God for the wrong that was often committed against Believers (“Believers” is short for “believers in Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah.”) in his day. To be patient or long-suffering is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in the Believer’s life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” (Paul in his letter to the Galatians 5:22).
James, like Paul, expected the Lord to return soon. He writes in 5:7–11 that His coming is to be met with patience, like “the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain” (5:7). Our generation is not patient. In fact, people today have been trained to be impatient with fast food, self-service gas stations, convenience stores, internet purchases delivered next-day to our front door, and more! The satiric saying echoes true: “I want patience, and I want it now!”
The early Jewish Christians were looking for Yeshua to come back soon, but they were not confident that it would happen immediately. “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). They also knew that “with God, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). In times of difficulty, we all become impatient for God to act! James warns Believers not to blame our troubles on each other.
James gives his readers three examples of patience (5:7–9).
- The first example: James speaks of the “early rain” that came near the end of October, just before the fall planting, and the “latter rain” that came in late April or early May, just before the harvest. If you have ever been involved in agriculture, you understand the nail-biting patience it takes to trust God for the rain necessary to grow your crop, blessing your hard work and providing an income.
- The second example: James uses the experiences of the prophets. Keep in mind that prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Jeremiah were tasked with messages that had to be delivered regardless of the personal consequences. Their messages were rarely received in a positive manner, so they waited patiently for God’s deliverance.
- The third example: the experience of Job. Nothing more needs to be said, as Believers all admire Job’s patience and loyalty to God. But we also should remember the mercy of God in the trials that beset Job.
REVERENCE: FOR GOD’S NAME
Our modern culture has fallen short in reverence for God’s name. How often do you hear someone say, “Oh my God” or exclaim, “Jesus Christ!”? When did you last hear someone ask God to damn something? I’ve heard self-proclaimed agnostics use God’s name maliciously. And what about the athlete who raises his hands toward Heaven as if God cared about who won an athletic event? Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad that some athletes use their public venue to give thanks to God for His blessings on their lives. But honestly, do you think that with all the problems and chaos in the world God really cares to influence who wins a football game? (Apologies for my soapbox moment.)
James asks Believers in 5:12 for reverence and honesty in their everyday conversation. The clear message is that no one should use God’s name flippantly to guarantee that a statement is true, e.g., “I swear to God.” James’s use of the phrase “above all” references the Pharisees who made frivolous oaths on Heaven, Earth, Jerusalem, or anything else. He is warning that people need to know that a Believer’s “yes is yes” and “no is no” (see also Matthew 12:34–37).
As the Lord’s return rapidly approaches, we Believers need to be respected in our speech so that unbelievers give serious consideration to Yeshua’s gospel when it is preached and shared in our traffic patterns of life. He is coming! We must venerate His name as witnesses to His great mercy and saving grace.
PRAYER & PRAISE: MAKE THEM PRIORITIES
James takes us through a very practical lesson regarding prayer in verses 13–18 as we look toward Yeshua’s Second Coming.
Regardless of the circumstances in life, we should first pray! If we are suffering, we should pray. If we are joyful and everything is going our way, we should pray. In fact, consider with me James’s advice: It is easy for us to forget about God when everything is going our way. We are healthy. Our children are healthy. There’s food on the table and money in the bank, and our roof doesn’t leak. But James, as well as Paul, tells us that we should especially think about God in those times and sing praises to His name. Consider Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks (or praise); for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
All is well, except that verses 14 and 15 have caused more than just a little difficulty for some Believers. When someone is sick, James advises calling together the elders (men of prayer) of the Church to pray over and anoint the sick one with oil “in the name of the Lord.”
It is absolutely true that God heals! He can do so with or without medical means. In fact, if there is healing, God does it. But it may not be in God’s will for healing to occur in a particular case. Believers are instructed to pray for healing, but we are also instructed to seek God’s will. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14). Our Lord set the perfect example: “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). We’ve all prayed for someone whose physical body was not healed.
When Zola became ill with cancer, multitudes prayed earnestly for his healing. Did God heal Zola Levitt? Not in his physical body in this earthly existence. But God did call Zola out of his suffering and into His peaceful presence. He will restore to Zola a perfect body at the resurrection — like that of Yeshua, his Messiah (Philippians 3:20–21).
As we approach the end of the Church Age and the time for our Lord’s return, the Church must be a people of passionate prayer — confessing our trespasses and forgiving others. James reminds us, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (5:16).
DILIGENCE: REACHING FOR THE FALLEN
Believers have an obligation to reach out to those who “wander from the truth” (5:19). This could be someone who professes to follow Christ, but whose lifestyle doesn’t support that claim. It could be someone who has wandered down the endless road of sin and is in danger of losing his or her life. Clearly, James is bringing out the “works” part of “faith.” Whatever the interpretation of “truth” may be, James considers wandering from it to be extremely serious.
In 5:20 James warns that this wanderer risks losing his soul. James concludes by admonishing all Believers that eternal separation from God is real. We must be diligent to proclaim the Gospel while there is time! James echoes the words of Yeshua from Matthew 16:26, where He asked, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
Standing firm with Israel and ZLM,Tony
P.S. Time is running out! Please share the Gospel with your Jewish friends and support ZLM as we continue to minister to His chosen people in these last days.
“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” — James 5:20
A Note from David and Kirsten
Thank you, Tony, for the conclusion to your in-depth, seven-part study of James’s teaching. I actually lived your first subtitle — Patience in Life’s Trials — when I recently drove to Colorado for a babysitting week with our granddaughter Bella Rose Hart. As I crossed the long state of Kansas (by myself!), one of those “freak” Kansas blizzards surrounded me on I-70. Just days earlier, the weather forecast called for only rain and precipitation. However, within moments of entering the Interstate, I was caught in white-out conditions and couldn’t see taillights in front of me. It was a trial … and I worked hard to keep my patience!
That blizzard was completely unexpected. I prayed out loud for two-and-a-half hours while trying to navigate a single lane of frozen tundra highway! Thankfully, David (back home in Branson) got online and found a hotel room for me. Through snow drifts — and a closed Interstate! — I found some peace and shelter in Hays, Kansas. I am extremely thankful that we Believers serve a God who hears our prayers and still performs miracles! Yes, He’s the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; but he’s also the God of David, Kirsten, and you!
During my week with Bella, I pondered a legacy for our baby granddaughter. What things, memories, and experiences would David and I leave with her? One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children, and our grandchildren, is a trip to the Holy Land. Bella’s time will come. Won’t you consider giving your family the gift of a lifetime in the form of a tour to Israel? Let them meet Yeshua in His homeland. Go as a multi-generational family. Leave a legacy that will live on through the generations of your family.
Zola Tours to the Holy Land
Our travel manager Sandra can answer your questions about taking your whole family on a tour or just yourself. Contact her at 214-696-9760, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit levitt.com/tours to explore the following options:
Fall Tour 2019 options
|Deluxe (Israel only)||Sep 16–26||$4,988|
|Grand Petra (Israel & Petra)||Sep 16–29||$6,188|
|Grand Athens (Greece & Israel)||Sep 10–26||$7,988|
|Ultra Grand (Greece & Israel & Petra)||Sep 10–29||$9,188|
David and I would like to personally thank you for supporting this ministry. Even though Zola has passed on to his heavenly reward, new fire and energy has enveloped ZLM and Zola Levitt Presents. We are filming a brand-new television series about Joshua, and the enthusiasm is contagious. If you have yet to become a regular contributor to this ministry, please consider “jumping on board” with what God is doing through our outreach these days. We need your support, especially with our substantial TV airtime expenses. And as always, we shout out a hearty Hebrew Toda Raba (thank you very much) for partnering with us to spread the beauty and depth of Christianity’s Jewish roots.
Our newest series, Divine Deliverance: from Avraham to Yeshua, examines how the Lord offered a message of deliverance through 12 significant Bible characters, beginning with faithful Abraham and culminating with Messiah Himself. Dr. Jeffrey Seif teaches on location in Israel and discusses each lesson’s application with David and Kirsten Hart in the studio. We enjoy enlightening dramatic re-enactments from past series, along with Zola’s music, completely re-orchestrated and sung by David and Kirsten.
- The promise of a child to an elderly couple came in an angelic message. Father Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, involved an act of obedience by each of them. Their successful test of faith pictures the Believers’ redemption to come.
- Family dysfunction followed the birth of twin boys. The younger held tightly as he wrestled with an “angel,” wanting a blessing. Yet the best news of all time, the good news of salvation, came through this man who became “Israel.”
- Israel’s sons experienced tension and betrayal before receiving redemption and deliverance from famine and drought. It is important that all people discover their Deliverer.
- At age 80, Moses heard the call of God to deliver His people out of Egypt. At that time, these former slaves gained access to the God of Heaven through His Holy Sanctuary. Today, Believers still have access to atonement and mercy. Deliverance is only a prayer away.
Sunday School teachers will find this series very fitting for class viewing and discussion. You can view current and past weeks’ episodes on www.levitt.tv. Open the class for discussion after viewing each episode. We’d love to hear how the classes go!
And please, Sha’alu shalom Yerushalayim! — Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! — Psalm 122:6
In His service,
David & Kirsten
P.S. Faithful giving to this ministry enables you to see our brand-new series on television! Please join the donors who contribute regularly. Select weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually at levitt.com/donate. Your good stewardship helps our good stewardship. Thanks in advance for signing up.
Zola Levitt Ministries is ECFA approved
I joyfully support ZLM in proclaiming to gentiles and Jews the “good news” from both Testaments that Yeshua/Jesus is their Messiah.
Here is my donation for April. Thank you for continuing your part of the ministry’s God-anointed teaching that Zola Levitt began.
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