EXPLANATION: James, the half brother of Jesus, has covered an array of topics in this his final chapter.
He has dealt with the emptiness of living a life for things.
One day the Rust of those things will testify against them
He addressed the struggle that so many were facing as they were being defrauded by their employers.
Then he pointed to the response of the believers to those who were defrauding them
He told them to have patience in their injustice
He told them not to hold a grudge, but rather to allow God to be the judge.
And we saw last week that he told them not to be like those who had wronged them, but to let their word actually mean something.
When you say you are going to do something, do it… and when you say you wont, don’t!
But James isn’t finished yet with giving counsel to these young believers.
In fact, v.13 could be easily read over and the point can be missed.
But that would be a terrible loss for the reader who simply skims over this verse.
Because the point that James brings across in this one simple verse may be the crux of everything he has said or is going to say.
To summarize all that he is saying into one simple verse and one practical thought.
APPLICATION: And I don’t know that there is a more encouraging and challenging verse that we could look to on this, the 24th anniversary of WBC
It will encompass the past 24 years of our church!
It will define the last 4 years that God has allowed me to be pastor
And it should challenge each one of our lives.
So join me this morning as James summarized all that he has said into one simple verse, and let’s allow God’s Word to challenge and encourage us today.


James 5:13 (KJV 1900)
13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
EXPLANATION: James asks these believers a question that he already knew the answer to.
He knew because he had been addressing the problems that they had been facing.
The word “afflicted” is an interesting word
ILLUSTRATION: It isn’t a word that we use very often today.
If you told me that you were afflicted with something, my mind immediately jumps to some kind of disease.
Right away I might start thinking I want to take a step back because I don’t want to catch whatever affliction you have.
EXPLANATION: When James uses the word “afflicted” it does include that idea of disease but it is a broader term
The greek word that James uses is only found 4 times in this tense in the Bible.
And each time it is translated a little different to give us a more complete picture of what this word is referring to.
2 Timothy 2:9 (KJV 1900)
9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.
2 Timothy 2:3 (KJV 1900)
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 4:5 (KJV 1900)
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
When James uses the word here in v.13, it is encompassing all three of these definitions
Suffer Trouble, Endure Hardness, Endure Affliction
It has the idea of suffering physical or emotional harm!
If we could simplify it for my simple mind, it has the idea of struggle, difficulty, hardship.
And here James is asking these believers who he knows is dealing with being defrauded and persecuted a rhetorical question, “are any of you struggling?”
“Are any of you facing difficulty?”
“Has life been hard for any of you?”
“Do you feel emotionally defeated?”
“Are you ready to quit?”
The readers could have responded with an overwhelming, “Yes!”
And then James tells them what to do in the midst of their patient struggle… “Let him pray”
Now before you think this is an oversimplification of a response to struggle, notice what James doesn’t say here.
He doesn’t say, “let him pray and then everything will be better.”
He doesn’t say, “let him pray and then all wrongs will be made right.”
He doesn’t say, “let him pray and then all the emotional struggles will be better.”
No, he doesn’t say any of that.
In fact in v.13, there is no sign of an answer to those prayers.
Now don’t get discouraged, because what James is teaching here is something that we can so easily overlook.
He is saying in the midst of your struggle and difficulty, turn you attention to the Lord!
What is the point of prayer?
It’s not special words
At it’s very root it is acknowledging your dependence the One Who is greater than your circumstances!
It is recognizing, this is too big for me, God I need you!
ILLUSTRATION: Moses had tried to take things into his own hands in Egypt when he rescued a Hebrew slave by killing an Egyptian guard.
His way of doing things landed him on the backside of the desert for 40 years.
One day while he was tending to sheep he saw a bush that we on fire but not consumed.
When he turned toward the burning bush, God spoke to him
God was about to give Moses the plan for how he would deliver the children of Israel God’s way
But before God did, he told Moses, take your shoes off.
Exodus 3:5 KJV 1900
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
“Moses, what I’m about to tell you to do is too big for you!”
“Moses, you can’t do it!”
“But Moses I can, because I AM!”
Moses turn your attention from the size of your trials and circumstances and turn your attention to the God that is over everything!
ILLUSTRATION: Elijah was on the top of mount Carmel
The prophet’s of Baal had been begging their god for fire all day to no avail.
And now it is Elijah’s turn.
He repairs the altar of the Lord that was broken down
He orders the altar and sacrifice to be doused in water.
And then, he begins to pray, 1 Kings 18:36-37
1 Kings 18:36–37 KJV 1900
36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
When Elijah prayed that prayer to God, he didn’t have v.38, where the fire came down.
Had God not answered that prayer, Elijah’s life would have been ended on the spot.
We always see Elijah as some bold man of God who called down fire from heaven, but I can’t help but wonder if God didn’t pause for just a moment.
In that moment, I wonder if Elijah’s wasn’t thinking, God you’ve got to come through… I’m depending on you!
APPLICATION: Have you ever been there before?
When your circumstances of life are just too big for you and you are turning every direction.
When you recognize this situation is too big for you.
When you are overcome with sadness and grief, and with heartbreak and pain.
When you are ready to throw in the towel and quit
It’s in those moments James says, “Let him pray!”
Turn your attention to God!
Hebrews 12:2 KJV 1900
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Colossians 3:2 KJV 1900
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
What will it take to bring you to a place of total and complete dependence on God?
God be so good that He will allow situations in your life that will bring you to the end of yourself.
To that point where you will turn to real prayer before Him?
Not some flowery prayer that repeats certain phrases.
Not just checking off some boxes on a prayer list.
But real prayer before God!
Romans 8:26–27 KJV 1900
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
In those moments where you are so broken that you cannot even form words, and the Holy Spirit steps into your place and make intercession to God on your behalf.
James is reminding these believers, in the midst of trials, turn to Jesus!
Place all your dependence on Him!
Proverbs 3:5–6 KJV 1900
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; And lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct thy paths.


James 5:13 (KJV 1900)
13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
EXPLANATION: In the second half of this verse, James writes to the other half of the equation.
“Is there anyone who is merry… encouraged… happy?”
Aren’t you thankful for the times when things are going well?
It seems like so much of life is spent in the valleys that it is such a relief to enjoy the view from the mountaintops.
But James knew a truth about these first century believers that is still true about us here 2000 years later:
One of the easiest times to become distracted away from God is when life is going well.
APPLICATION: When you are going through things that are bigger than you are, it is a natural response to turn your attention to the Lord.
But when life is going well… That is when we become distracted.
That is when we become, complacent.
That is when the walls come down
That is when we stop living an intentional Christian life.
We live in the easiest time and place in history to be a Christian.
Never in history has it been easier to be a follower of Christ.
There truly is no excuse that every Christian shouldn’t be a theologian of the Bible.
We have resources at our fingertips.
You don’t have to be a Greek or Hebrew scholar… there are apps that will explain everything to you.
It is so easy to know Christ and His Word on a deep level.
But how many Christians do you know that you would consider a scholar of the Bible?
How many Christians in the church are truly hungering and thirsting after Christlikeness and His righteousness?
We live in a day that it is so easy to be a Christian and it costs us nothing.
Our biggest struggle in the Christian life for most is choosing if we are going to go to church on Sunday morning!
And when something doesn’t cost you anything, it becomes easy to take it for granted.
I am convinced that the greatest danger for Whitehall Baptist Church going forward is not the persecution from the outside world
It is not the LGBTQ agenda and their attacks on religious liberty
It is not a person in the Whitehouse
It is not some religion down the street
The biggest danger to WBC from going forward for the Lord will be the complacency of the members that make up this church!
To be lulled to sleep by the lack of difficulty to follow Christ.
To never face the need to choose to follow God!
To just go through the motions week in and week out
To live in the merry, encouraged spot of life and never do the final part of v.13
James 5:13 (KJV 1900)
13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
EXPLANATION: The idea of singing psalms is to praise God!
James is reminding these believer that it isn’t a bad thing to be in the “merry” times of life.
But when we are in those times we must choose to praise Him!
It’s easy to turn to God when things are going bad… but when life is easy and things are going well, it’s then we must choose to turn our attention to God and to praise Him!
Yes, God does want to hear your voice when the waves are crashing around you and there is no where to turn.
But He also wants to hear your voice when you are enjoying the “merry” times of life!
Psalm 107:2 KJV 1900
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
Friend, if you’ve been redeemed, you’ve got so much to thank God for!
If you haven’t, today can be the day!
In the times of trial, God wants you to turn your attention to Him in prayer.
And in times of triumph, God wants you to turn your attention to Him in praise!
Psalm 34:1 KJV 1900
1 I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psalm 106:1 KJV 1900
1 Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: For his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 111:1 KJV 1900
1 Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.
Psalm 112:1 KJV 1900
1 Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, That delighteth greatly in his commandments.
Psalm 113:1 KJV 1900
1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise, O ye servants of the Lord, Praise the name of the Lord.
Psalm 135:1 KJV 1900
1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the name of the Lord; Praise him, O ye servants of the Lord.
Psalm 146:1 KJV 1900
1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.
Psalm 147:1 KJV 1900
1 Praise ye the Lord: For it is good to sing praises unto our God; For it is pleasant; and praise is comely.
Psalm 148:1 KJV 1900
1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: Praise him in the heights.
Psalm 149:1 KJV 1900
1 Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, And his praise in the congregation of saints.
Psalm 150:1 KJV 1900
1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: Praise him in the firmament of his power.
Psalm 150:6 KJV 1900
6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.
APPLICATION: When is the last time you came to the Lord, not to ask Him for something, but just to praise Him for Who He is and what He’s done?
Friend, don’t just turn to God in the bad times… spend your life in His presence in the good times as well!


ILLUSTRATION: Within the first 6 months of becoming pastor here at WBC, I had to lead 3 funerals.
One of a teenage girl, one for a man in his 30’s who took his life, and one for a man who had finished his course well for the Lord.
I was a new pastor with minimal experience, and these waves of challenges led me to my knees before God, begging Him for His help.
But that wasn’t the only thing that happened.
When I became the pastor we owed $35k from a $70 loan that our church had taken out to build this building.
From 2009-2019 we had paid off $35k dollar
My prayer was that in 2 years we would pay off the remaining $35k.
That was an impossibility.
Many of you were there about 18 months later when we received the letter stating that the remaining balance had been “paid in full”!
What a time of rejoicing and praise to God.
APPLICATION: As we come to this verse in James 5:13, and we reflect back on what God has done the past 24 years… the past 4 years, there is an overwhelming emphasis that we can take from this verse.
Whether through trials or triumphs, our focus and our attention should be on the Lord!
Our theme as a church should be prayer and praise!
No matter the circumstance, our attention should always be turned to God!
When the church makes the pastor the hero, it is headed for complacency
When the church makes the building the hero, it is headed for complacency
When the church makes what happened in the past the hero, it is headed for complacency
The only way to continue on into to greater victory for the Lord and make the next 24 years even greater than the first is to keep our attention on the Lord!
This morning, if it’s been a while since you found your way to your knees before God in prayer, let’s start our attention where it needs to be.
If you have been enjoying the blessing of God without giving praise to God, why not start today.
Our kids need to see a church full of Christians that knew how to pray and know how to praise!
Don’t get complacent!
Turn your attention to the Lord today!
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