James 5:19-20 | Save a Brother

James: Faith in Action  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  47:33
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EXPLANATION: We are nearly finished with our study of this amazing book of James.
My prayer is that you will be changed because of the time we have invested in delving into the depths of this book.
Lord willing, next week we will conclude our study, and then prepare to move on to our next place in God’s Word.
But before we do, as we are in these final verses, we once again find James bringing forward the matter of prayer.
These verses, pulled from the context of the passage and preached on these own are incredibly powerful verses!
I have heard messages and quotation brought from these two verses by themselves.
I myself have undoubtedly used these verses as a reference as I’ve preached messages from God’s Word.
There is much we can take from them and be challenged by.
While the temptation to simply pull them out a “let er rip” is certainly there for me… I desire most of all to once again strive to preach within the context of Scripture.
To allow God’s Word to speak for Itself in the context the words are placed.
As I have studied these verses, God has shown me that the most powerful conviction comes from the study of God’s Word within the context it is placed.
And I believe as we look into these verses together today, you will agree with me as well!
James the half brother of Jesus begins by bringing an OT hero into the picture.
He does so as an example for us.
It may not seem that way to begin with, but it is unquestionably his goal, and we will see that as we dive in!
James brings to the forefront the most familiar event in the life of Elijah… or Elias.
I’m all too excited to refresh our minds of exactly what happened back in 1 Kings 17-18
In 1 Kings 17:1 we are introduced to Elijah for the very first time.
1 Kings 17:1 KJV 1900
1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
Right away, we find the proclamation Elijah had made against Isreal and Ahab.
Ahab was a wicked king… 1 Kings 21:25
1 Kings 21:25 KJV 1900
25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
At the end of that verse we are reminded, it wasn’t just Ahab who was wicked… but often it was his wife that was the initiator.
The two of them made for one of the most evil and wicked couples that we find in the entirety of Scripture!
It was with these two in power, that we find Elijah prayed, according to our verses in James, and the rain stopped!
3 1/2 years pass between 17:1 and 18:1.
It was 3 1/2 years of famine as their was no rain to feed the ground.
The lakes and the streams were dry and water became a scarce commodity.
God gives us a glimpse into just how bad things were becoming when Elijah made his way to Zaraphath and met a widow woman who was preparing a final meal for her and her son before they would die.
God used Elijah in a miraculous was as Elijah asked the women to feed him first and when she obeyed in faith, she found that she had meal and oil that would last for the duration of the famine of water.
When we find our way to 1 Kings 18:1
1 Kings 18:1 KJV 1900
1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
For 3 1/2 years God had hidden Elijah from the eye of Ahab.
But now the showdown was about to take place!
The most wicked king vs the prophet of the King of Kings
When Ahab finally found Elijah we find the initial confrontation in 1 Kings 18:17-18
1 Kings 18:17–18 KJV 1900
17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? 18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.
After the initial insults and finger pointing is done, the plan is put in place for the showdown at mount Carmel!
1 Kings 18:19–20 KJV 1900
19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. 20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
When all the people had gathered on top of mount Carmel, Elijah addressed the crowd 1 Kings 18:21
1 Kings 18:21 KJV 1900
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
The word “halt” is an interesting word… it has the idea of limping.
In the Gospels we find the Bible speaking of the poor, maimed, HALT, and blind.
When Elijah told them to stop halting or limping… it didn’t mean they stopped somewhere in the middle…
No, they were bouncing from one to the other.
APPLICATION: Friend, you understand you can’t have more than one God.
Matthew 6:24 KJV 1900
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Exodus 34:14 KJV 1900
14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
Deuteronomy 4:24 KJV 1900
24 For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
God is jealous of your praise and your worship.
He is jealous of your loyalty and your time
And He is righteous in His jealousy.
Isaiah 42:8 KJV 1900
8 I am the Lord: that is my name: And my glory will I not give to another, Neither my praise to graven images.
So many in the church house are not struggling with worshipping different little idols or figurines, but for many their loyalty is divided between God and something else.’
Your time is a toss up of whether you will give it to God or if you will just go do what you want.
Hebrews 10:25 KJV 1900
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
God is righteousness to declare that their is a time in the week that He demands we come together and corporately worship Him!
God is righteous in telling us in Isaiah 1:18
Isaiah 1:18 KJV 1900
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
God desires our time with Him and our cleanness before Him.
God is righteous in declaring their is only one way to get to heaven.
John 14:6 KJV 1900
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Jesus told them in His sermon on the mount, Matthew 7:13-14
Matthew 7:13–14 KJV 1900
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
How narrow is that gate that leads to life… there is only one way!
And it isn’t up to you or I or anyone else to decide what that way is.
The only One Who can tell you which is the right way is the One Who made that way!
Romans 6:23 KJV 1900
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 5:8 KJV 1900
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Titus 3:5 KJV 1900
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Romans 10:9–10 KJV 1900
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
God made the way and it is a narrow way… it is the only way!
And He was righteous in making it that way because 2 Peter 3:9
2 Peter 3:9 KJV 1900
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
He made the way so that anyone and everyone can come to faith in Him.
And one day you will stand before God and you will have to give the answer to the question, “Which way did you come?”
If your answer is by any other way besides Jesus and Him alone you will spend eternity in a very real eternal lake of fire!
How long will you halt between two opinions… God isn’t looking to be one of the gods of your life.
It really is all or nothing!
EXPLANATION: The day continues on and the prophets of Baal are given the first chance to call down fire from heaven.
For hours they are crying out, to no avail.
1 Kings 18:27–29 KJV 1900
27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. 28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
And then it was Elijah’s turn.
1 Kings 18:30 KJV 1900
30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
For years the altar to the Lord hadn’t been used.
For years the altar to the Lord had been neglected.
For years, no sacrifice had been offered to God.
And that meant for years, there had been no communication by Israel to God.
It had been silent.
But now, Elijah repairs that altar that had been broken down!
And then the Bible says 1 Kings 18:32-35
1 Kings 18:32–35 KJV 1900
32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. 34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. 35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
It’s interesting to think about where all that water came from.
Maybe they walked the little over 2 miles down to the Kishon river.
Maybe they walked the nearly 10 mile walk to get water from the sea.
But I think, maybe they emptied the water pots of all the people that came to see the event that day.
Wherever the got it from, they filled the trench with the water.
Then it was time for Elijah to get down to business, 1 Kings 18:36-39
1 Kings 18:36–39 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. 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
When God had done the miracle, Elijah took all the prophets of Baal down by the Brook Kishon and he killed every one of the 450 prophets.
Wow, what a story… but the day wasn’t finished.
And we have only now got to the second part James drew attention to in his book.
1 Kings 18:41 KJV 1900
41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
It seems to bee kind of a strange thing to say, after the events of the day.
“Ahab, I can here the rain.”
But there were no rain drops.
In fact we find right after 1 Kings 18:42-45
1 Kings 18:42–45 KJV 1900
42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, 43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. 45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
Wow, Elijah prayed for the rain to stop and it stopped… and then three and a half years later he prayed for it to rain and it rained!
Some of the farmers out here want to know the secret to Elijah’s prayers!
Some of us just want a couple nice days without any rain and we want to know the secret to Elijah’s prayers!
But what if I told you the secret was, it wasn’t really about the rain.
And what James is drawing attention to at the conclusion of his book isn’t really about Elijah praying for rain.
Let me prove it to you as we wrap up.
About 50-75 years before, there was another king of Israel named Solomon.
Solomon had just finished the building of the temple and was preparing to dedicate it.
As he did, he was reminding the children of Israel of some promises God had made to them back in the book of Deuteronomy.
In 1 Kings 8:35
1 Kings 8:35 KJV 1900
35 When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:
Did you see the first part of that verse?… Solomon was reminding the children of Israel, when their is sin God will shut off the blessing of the rain.
But then he goes on… 1 Kings 8:35-36
1 Kings 8:35–36 KJV 1900
35 When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: 36 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
Solomon says, but when you repent and turn your attention to this place, the Temple that contained the Ark that represented the presence of God, God will forgive your sins and will give rain on the land!
So when Elijah prayed what was it exactly that Elijah was praying?


EXPLANATION: Elijah knew God’s Word!
And Elijah prayed according to God’s promises!
He knew God’s Word and He walked with God and He knew how to pray according to God’s Word and God’s Will
Do you remember what we mentioned a couple weeks back as we were studying v.15 in James 5?
James 5:15 KJV 1900
15 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.
The “prayer of faith”… that is praying according to God’s will!
And now here the example is given of Elijah who knew God’s Word and had a relationship with God, and when He saw Israel turning away from God, He prayed for God to honor His promise!
But what was it that Elijah was praying for?


EXPLANATION: When Elijah prayed for rain, he wasn’t praying for rain.
Now I know that is what he said, but don’t miss what he was really praying for.
Back in 1 Kings 18:41
1 Kings 18:41 KJV 1900
41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
That was immediately following Israel crying out in 1 Kings 18:39
1 Kings 18:39 KJV 1900
39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
Yes Elijah prayed for rain, but that rain was a symbol of God’s forgiveness because of Israel’s repentance!
When Israel turned from their sin… when Israel stopped halting between their little gods and THE God
Elijah knew that God was merciful and gracious and would forgive their sins!
Elijah didn’t pray for rain, he prayed for God’s forgiveness!
He prayed for God’s mercy!
He prayed for God’s grace!
And when Elijah spoke those words to Ahab, He knew that God would answer because God is a God that forgives!


APPLICATION: Now here is the cool part about this whole thing… the beginning of the verse tells us:
James 5:17 KJV 1900
17 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.
The Bible tells us that James was a man just like you and me.
He was not some superhero
Elijah didn’t have a special corner on God.
But Elijah knew God
Elijah knew God’s Word
And Elijah knew that God’s predisposition is to give mercy and grace when His people repent
2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV 1900
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Friend, God desires to answer your prayers.
But for most of us our prayers are just selfish wishlists of things we want.
When we truly know God and we know His Word, our prayers start to change!
Romans 12:2 KJV 1900
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The closer we get to God, the more His desires become our desires… the more His wants become our wants… the more His will becomes our will.
You see it isn’t that Elijah had the corner on God… it’s that God had the corner on Elijah!
And today, I hope every Christian will purpose, like Elijah, you will allow God to have the corner on your life.
Because when you do, you will begin to see your prayers answered as you pray within the will of God!
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