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Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Coming of the LORD…


A sermon based on James 5:7-10

By Charles J. Tomlin, DMin;

November 14th, 2021 Flat Rock-Zion Baptist Partnership

Series: The Book of James, 11/12


Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.

 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

 9 Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors!

 10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

 11 Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

 12 Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your "Yes" be yes and your "No" be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. (Jas. 5:7-12 NRS.


 Not long ago, The Los Angeles Times published a story about a commercial airline flight cancellation that resulted in a long line of travelers trying to get booked on another flight.

One man in the line grew increasingly impatient with the slow-moving line.  Suddenly, he pushed his way to the front and angrily demanded a first-class ticket on the next available flight. 

 “I’m sorry,” said the ticket agent, “but I’ll have to first take care of the people who were ahead of you in the line.”

 The irate man pounded his fist on the ticket counter, saying, “Do you have any idea who I am?”  

 The ticket agent picked up the public address microphone and said, “Attention, please! There’s a gentleman at the ticket counter who doesn’t know who he is.  If there is anyone in the airport who can identify him, please come to the counter.” 

 Hearing this, the man retreated, and the people waiting in line burst into applause.”

 Today’s message from James begins with an attitude we want a person like that, and the person standing behind us to hear and learn—-



 It has been estimated that the cost of traffic violations for running red lights in the world runs up to about 7 Billion dollars per year.  Just think how much money could be saved if people could learn 50 seconds of patience.  That’s the average delay of a traffic light; about 50 seconds.

The modern world we live in has a lot of trouble developing patience because modern technology has given us the means to control much of our world, to hold back floods, cure disease, predict the weather, forecast the future (or at least it has given us the illusion that we have control).  Interestingly, most of these our modern technologies arose out of our human impatience, because someone got fed up with patiently enduring the crippling effects of certain diseases or the ravages of unchecked nature.  When you think about it, our modem world is built on impatience.   Patience is now a virtue that goes against the grain of modern mentality.

One of the main of charms of affluence is that it frees us from having to wait patiently for most things in life. We have transportation, meals, clean clothes, entertainment when we want them.  We live in an instant, ‘I want it now’ society, especially in most of the United States. When I lived in Europe we spent a lot of time waiting to ride buses and trains, having to walk and ride bicycles to our daily destinations.   We kind of liked it too, because the different pace of life gave us time to think!".  Who has time or patience for living like that where we live?

Have you ever thought about the fact that our lack of patience in our modern society could be attributing to much of our dysfunction, especially in developing deep and lasting relationships.   It takes quiet a bit of patience to learn how to love someone, doesn’t it?  Marriage involves being patient and trying to understand another person who is very different from you—-different background, different habits,  different ideas and different likes and dislikes.

    Besides all that, it’s quite a risk to give yourselves to another person you really don’t know that well.  You  put yourself at risk when you marry "for better, for worse, richer, or poorer, till death.”  And with that you really don't know what might happen. You hope that you'll be patient with each other and grow closer day-by-day, but you have no guarantees.   People change, get sick, become poor, get worse. Who knows where you'll be, who you'll be at 64?  The Beatles sang the right question: Will you still need me, Will you still feed me when I’m 64?  

It takes quite a bit of patience to live with someone when they are 64, just like it took a lot of patience to stay with someone until they turn 64 too.

Maybe that’s part of why James compares patience to being a farmer who has to wait on something good to grow.  Most all human relationships go through challenges and changes, growth and development, and we have to relinquish some control over ourselves and develop patience in order to keep moving forward in our relationships.  I don’t know how many times my wife has reminded me to fill up the water pitcher or check my pockets before putting them in the wash.  I know, it’s a small thing,  she has a developed a lot of patience living with me and waiting for me to grow up in some things.  

 But isn’t that guess  exactly what makes marriage so interesting, being patient and allowing time for things to work out, giving both yourself and the other person time to grow and change?  You really don’t know just how it might turn out, but you have to give everything time and you sometimes just have to be patient.  Patience in a marriage can grow out the conviction that the other person is a mystery to be enjoyed rather than a problem to be solved, that our differences and difficulties are even bearable, if we bear them together. Marriage, and the patience it requires, is an everyday witness that don’t have to have total control over our lives in order to live life well.  Such control is, after all, only an illusion anyway.

And if you get good enough at being patient with a husband or a wife, then you might get to have children which will really teach you a thing or two about patience!   

 You may have thought, until you tried raising children,  that when you had children you could "bring them up in the right way", exactly like you planned.   Then, however you discover that your children had other plans than you had planned, and if you try to control them, it only gets worse.  Recently I watched the biographical movie made about the first woman to when the Melbourne Cup Horse race in Australia,  Michelle Payne.   She was the youngest of 10 children whose Mother died when she was small.   She grew up around horses and in horse racing and was determined to ride in big races before her father said she was ready.  He said no, she wasn’t quite ready, but she found a way to do it anyway, in spite of many broken bones and several near death falls. 

Most of the time we eventually have to be patient and let our children grow up in their way and in own good time.  A lot of well-intentioned and determined parents did either too much, or either too little, which is just another way of realizing we should have been a little more patient and waited just a little longer.  How many older parents have you heard tell about they went through several years of struggle with a certain child, trying this strategy and then that one, only to have the child end up reaching adulthood and becoming an decent and good human being for which the parent could take absolutely no credit. Patience!

Okay. So what does any of this have to do with waiting for our marriages to get right or for our children to turn out right, have to do with learning to be patient and waiting on God to come and set the whole world right?  It really does get in a mess sometimes.  What is God waiting on?  Why doesn’t he split the eastern sky and fix this world?  Waiting for God to come, or for Jesus too return takes quite a bit of patience too.  How long has it been now, 2000 years and we are still waiting?


Last week, we read how James condemned the irresponsible rich who were making it hard on the working poor.   Now,  James is addressing his “beloved” community who were suffering due to the self-centered and self-serving practices of those same rich people.  He tells these beloved  believers to be patient and to show endurance until the coming of the Lord.’   Clearly, James expected that the Lord would come in their lifetime.  But nothing happened even like James expected it too either.


In Matthew's Gospel, there is story about the time when John the Baptist, imprisoned by Herod.  In that difficult moment John sent some of his people to ask Jesus, "Are you the one we've been waiting for, or are we supposed to wait for somebody else (11:2)?"  That sounds like a strange question, coming from the preacher who was so sure that Jesus was the one who would bring the fulfillment of God’s purposes.  In a most confusing and difficult moment, John asked:  "Are you the one we’ve been waiting for?"

Consider this closely.  Here was John, a man who spent his whole life trying to get Israel prepared for the coming of Messiah, the God-anointed one who would come and drive out the Romans, establish justice, peace, and God's reign. At Jesus' baptism, John had put his money on this young man from Nazareth. "Behold the Lamb of God," John had proclaimed. Here, in the flesh, is Emmanuel, God with us, Messiah! But now, John is in jail, Jesus doing everything except what they expected, John is beginning to have doubts and second thoughts.

"We too have been waiting for peace, justice, and for God to break into our world clearly and visibly, and the church has been waiting some two thousand years, Jesus! Get with it!"  That’s what John said.  Thanks what we say too!  ‘’Come quickly, Lord Jesus!  Get with it!  The Spirit says come!

John's problem in prison, and James’ problem is also ours too.  The church has been waiting, and is still waiting for God to come and set things right. We wait to marry, we wait in marriage, we wait for children, we wait for them to grow up, and we still wait for God to come.

And we get tired, exasperated, impatient too. Is this marriage right, or  there something better? Is this really my child, will they ever turn out right?  Is this all there is? Is this God really for us or should we get involved in something else? Is God really coming, or we take matters in our own hands and do what God cannot or will not do?

Patience in a marriage, or as a parent, or as a Christian too, arises from a deep conviction that it is still better to wait, than to force anyone or anything to just what we want.  If that person, our child, or the world only became only like us, it would be no more than a mere projection of ourselves. And what good can that do us?

Patience in waiting, especially for God, arises from a conviction, deep within us, that it is better to wait on God than to force God to do or be what or who we demand, because if we did that, then He wouldn’t be God, diff one thing.  By only doing or being what we want the god we controlled would be no more than an idolatrous projection of  our own selfish desires. And what good can that kind of God do us?  How can God save us, unless he is God?

So, Be patient, James says.   Wait, for the coming of the Lord.  



even like Job did, through what he had to endure.


E. Stanley Jones was a Methodist minister and missionary who served in India for fifty five years during the early twentieth century.   As a preacher, evangelist, and best-selling author, Jones was a prolific writer and speaker and is revered as an gifted preacher.  He was also an early human rights advocate both in India and in the USA.


E. Stanley Jones life and service in India brought him into contact, and ultimately into a close friendship, with Mahatama Gandhi. As Gandhi worked out his own version and vision of protest — both against the British rulers of his country and of the divisive caste system of his own countrymen — Jones offered Gandhi the example of Jesus as a possible model to follow. Jones suggested to Gandhi that the gospel defined patient love and enduring suffering and difficulties as ways to bring peace and justice into the world.


Gandhi founded much of his non-violent resistance movement upon what he learned from his Methodist friends Jesus-centered messages. Gandhi took to heart the teachings that Jesus offered in his Sermon on the Mount, his parables of love and forgiveness, his morality of turning the other check, of loving ones enemies.  As we all know, Gandhi attitude and actions, which he called Satyagraha, transformed and ultimately freed India from its oppressors and its own oppression.


Shortly after Gandh death in 1947, Jones wrote a book about his friendship and relationship with Gandhi.  Even though E. Stanley Jones was“the Billy Graham of his day,” the book he wrote about Ghandi went largely unread

Until a few years later, when a young graduate of Crozier Theological School and a doctoral candidate at Boston University  stumbled upon it in his studies.  As he read about Gandhi commitment to a nonviolent, yet non-compliant form of protest, this young pastor and civil rights leader found a basis for forming his own resistance to abuse and oppression.  The book that Jones deemed his greatest failure was pulled from the shelf of a theological library and  that young student wrote in the margins:“THIS IS IT!”Based on that book, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. formed and formulated the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott and the nonviolent resistance model of the early civil rights movement based on what he read in a “failed”no one was interested in


Consider this too: Some of our biggest failures might not be.  In fact, some of our biggest failures might end up being some of our greatest successes.


Folks,  like James, like Job, like in a marriage or as a parent, or even like a faithful missionary who had no immediate result, or like the patient endurance or suffering of. Ghandi or Martin Luther King, Jr, patience is the path we are all called walk.  Waiting, enduring, trusting, that is what good we are all called to do, and called to be today, will impact what happens tomorrow.

Doing good and waiting patiently on the Lord, is what life is now, and it may be why the Lord is slow in coming, so that his mercy and compassion can keep growing in us.   Amen.


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