God in Everything

Where do you most readily see God? I mean…obviously, we’re told that no one really SEES God…but where do you experience the knowledge of his presence most? When do you most actively seek to acknowledge him in your life?  During the good times, or when times are hard? In church, or at the beach….where?

James encourages us to seek God in every circumstance as we come to our next to the last teaching in James. We’ll be reading James 5:13-18 this Sunday.

Whit shared masterfully last week about gaining a proper attitude of patience during difficult times, and James reiterates the need to pray when times are hard. But then he goes to the other side encouraging us to praise when we’re stoked about life. What are some of the things that happen in life that just make you want to whoop it up, or sing a tune? According to James, that’s the stuff we want to praise and thank God for.

Then we’re told to call the church around us if we’re sick…and we get these odd instructions about rubbing people with oil and God saving and raising up the sick. It clearly is something that has had something lost to us in the transmission from that culture to our own. There are a multitude of differing opinions on what James was saying here – we’ll cover a few of them on Sunday. How does what James instructs here jibe with your experiences?  – No matter how we read this part, one thing is for sure, when we’re physically sick and weary, we can look to God for his help in whatever form it takes. That’s a pretty comforting promise I would say.

Confessing our faults to each other – there’s another strange picture. That is, until we contrast it with the practice of putting on an image of having everything together – of being morally superior to our neighbor.  Maybe James was trying to remind us of the common ground of grace we all stand on. When you are acutely aware of your own need for forgiveness, how likely are you to condemn someone else? Maybe that’s the connection between confessing and healing…a community of people who all know they need to be forgiven sounds like a healing community to me. What do you think?

It should be an interesting study – hope to see you Sunday!

3 comments

  1. That’s a tough passage to digest.

    It reminds me of the Sufjans Stevens song where a girl is dying of bone cancer and he says: “We pray over your body, but nothing ever happens.”

    It reminds me of the many times “faith” has been used as a weapon — like in Job, where friends accuse Job of sinning because God had removed blessing. When we wrongly think God will answer any prayer made in faith, we risk blaming our own lack of faith for unanswered prayers.

    A child can ask a parent for candy, but if it’s not time for candy, it doesn’t matter how much the child believes the parent will give him candy — the candy’s not coming.

    I think we pray a lot while lacking faith, pray almost like a gesture, but when we do pray in faith, and the time is not right or the prayer is not right (as in, we’re asking for the wrong thing), we may turn inward and blame our own faith for a matter that was beyond us. And that’s what puzzles me about this passage. It seems like James is giving fuel to those who would want to question their own faith in matters of unanswered prayer.

    But given the surrounding passages, I’m thinking there is something more to this section.

  2. I guess I see God mostly in nature. In the serenity of a crystal clear lake reflecting the brilliance of the sun and trees surrounding it and in the turbulence of waves crashing down on the shoreline at the beach, both remind me of the presence and power of the Almighty. Really, as I think about nature it provides us a picture of the seasons of our lives. There are seasons of easier times like a summer day at the beach, there are seasons of storms, health issues, financial issues, relational issues, or times of grief. There are dry seasons when we may feel far from our Father and times where we are invigorated with new hope and health as in the spring when new life buds forth all around us.
    In all of these times James is encouraging us to pray. He points us to relationship with our Lover over and over. He wants us to know He is there and cares no matter what is going on. He wants our trust and longs for us to converse with Him when we are happy or struggling. I am brought to my knees most often when God does something that seems to good to be true. Usually it’s relating to something regarding my special needs son or especially when prayers for others hearts for whom I’ve prayed a long time are drawn closer to God. I’m not sure there is anything more cool than knowing the God of the universe has heard us and sent help from heaven.
    When I am struggling with something or when someone I care about is struggling all the things He’s done in the past help me to persevere through present pains. Knowing He has been faithful and will remain the same no matter what, is the hope that keeps me going.
    I think the confessing of our faults to one another lets us know that we are not alone.. I think sometimes the guilt we may feel about whatever things we struggle with is lessened when we know that we’re not the only one hurting or stumbling. Sometimes just knowing this is healing. We are relieved by one another knowing we are all in this together, like you said Rob. Then we have the opportunity to pray for each other as James encourages and see, the “goodness of God in the land of the living”!

  3. I feel the knowledge of God’s presence mostly when I am doing His will. It’s like he is tapping me on the shoulder saying, “that’s what I want you to do, or say”. So obviously it makes sense to do His will more often 🙂 Not often enough though, I feel His presence at odd times for no obvious reason. I just have this moment of perfect peace and I know it is the Holy Spirit filling me with peace. I want the moment to last forever and I want to run and tell everyone and anyone how wonderful that moment is! I feel so grateful to have experienced it and I feel so loved and I love Him! I want everyone to know they can know Him and feel that peace, too. When hard times come and I don’t feel Him or worse, I feel far from Him, I can reflect on the times past that I felt His love and I KNOW that time will come again and He just wants me to trust and wait…and I pray. It is in these times that I ask other believers to pray with me and I pray for them. It never makes sense to me really. It is mysterious how He works, but when He answers my prayers, it’s always so much more than I prayed for. I always underestimate how grand the answer is and I am awed!

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