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Sermon #29 — James Series

 

      Title:                                 The Lord is Very Pitiful.

 

      Text:                                  James 5:11

      Subject:               God’s Pity Our Comfort and Strength

      Date:                                Tuesday Evening — January 19, 2015

      Readings:           Lindsay Campbell and Mark Henson

      Introduction:

 

The horrible atheism of our depraved nature continually quarrels with the Most High; and when we are under God’s afflicting hand and his providence crosses our will, the evil of our nature becomes evident. When greatly distressed, we are far too apt to think and to speak in rebellion the Most High. I wish it were not so; but it is. Our hard speeches and suspicions betrays a terrible lack of faith in and submission to our all-wise and ever-gracious God.

 

Goodness and Mercy

 

Looking back over my life, how I wish I could to blot out every murmuring thought and take back every murmuring word! They were all unwarranted and ungodly! I have repented of the evil privately and do so now publicly. When I take survey of my life in this world, I see that the kindness of God has run all through it like a golden thread. Goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life, always pursuing me and chasing me into his arms of God, even when I have wickedly rebelled against him and his goodness and mercy!

 

Are you not compelled to confess the same, my brother, my sister? Even our apparent woes have been real blessings. I do not know for which we should bless God most — for our sorrows or for our joys.

Š      The best piece of furniture I have ever had in my house is the cross of affliction!

Š      Adversity is the richest field in all the farmland of life.

Š      We have never reaped such a harvest from any seed as from that which fell from our hands while tears were falling from our eyes.

Š      When we have gone forth weeping, bearing precious seed, we have invariably come, again, rejoicing, bringing our sheaves with us!

Š      Truly the Lord has strengthened us “upon the bed of languishing” and made our beds in all our sicknesses (Psalm 41:3).

 

O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him!” (Psalm 34:8) — “The Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting!” (Psalm 100:5) — “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy!” — That is my subject — The Lord is very pitiful. My text is James 5:11.

 

(James 5:11)Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

 

Let every heaven born soul say, “He healeth all my diseases.” Let every tried believer say, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” Let the aged saint bring the spoils of his experience and lay them down at the feet of the Lord our God who, up to now, has helped him. My desire in preaching this message is to turn our eyes away from ourselves to God our Savior, that we may ever be mindful of this blessed, sweet, comforting factThe Lord is very Pitiful.

 

Proposition: The Apostle James, in this passage of Holy Scripture, aims at setting us right in our judgment of God and his providence, that we may patently endure unto the end of our days believing God.

 

Divisions: Let’s look at the four phrases of this verse one by one.

1.    Faith’s Counting — “Behold, we count them happy which endure.

2.    Job’s Patience — “Ye have heard of the patience of Job.

3.    The End — “And you have seen the end of the Lord.

4.    God’s Pity — “That the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.

 

Faith’s Counting

 

First, James calls our attention to faith’s counting. Faith never calculates like reason. Faith’s counting is different. — “Behold, we count them happy which endure.Faith counts those men and women happy who endure trials at the hand of God, knowing “that the trying of your faith worketh patience (James 1:3, 12). Happy, blessed, are those who endure affliction and trouble with courage, constancy, and patience unto the end; for “he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22).

Š      They are blessed, happy, and highly esteemed of God and beautiful in his eyes now.

Š      They are blessed, happy, and highly esteemed of God and beautiful in his eyes forever.

Š      The Spirit of God rests upon them.

Š      The grace of God is bestowed upon them.

Š      It is an honor done to them by God that they are counted worthy to suffer for Christ and with Christ; and they count it their honor.

Š      They who endure unto the end shall, in the end, be glorified together with Christ. — “If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:12).

 

(Romans 8:16-18) “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (18) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

 

(2 Corinthians 1:7) “And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.”

 

(Philippians 1:29) “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”

 

This is faith’s way of counting. — “Behold, we count them happy which endure.” — The pity and tender mercy of God are to be seen in the happiness of those who are called to suffer. — “We count them happy which endure.” Who counts them happy? It is a counting which is not general. This arithmetic is only known to faith and must be learned of the Lord Jesus. — “We,” that is, the Church of God, count them happy who are counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake.

Š      We do not think those people are happy who chase happiness, wasting their lives in the revelry of death in unbelief.

Š      We do not count those to be happy who are fattened like the calves in the stall, but shall soon be brought to the slaughter. — We sorrow because of them!

Š      We are not so foolish as to count those happy who spread themselves like a green bay tree, only to be the sooner laid low by the axe of doom!

 

We count those happy who endure because our Savior has taught us so to reckon. Did he not say, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you”? Did he not say, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted”? This is the verdict of the Savior and the verdict of faith. Faith does not dispute the Master, but bows to him and learns of him. — Those who endure the will of God are the happiest, most highly honored, most blessed people in this world. — “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord!” (Psalm 94:12)

 

This counting is not a delusion, but it is a proper and true estimate of things.There is a happiness in affliction which none can know except those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

 

(Psalm 119:67) “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.”

 

(Psalm 119:71) “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

 

(Psalm 119:75) “I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.”

 

Within the rough shell of sorrow, we find a sweet kernel of grace.Happy is the man who is enabled to endure! Rare gems glisten in the dark mines of adversity. We seldom, if ever, trust God so simply as we do in trouble, when we are at our wits’ end, and compelled by grace and providence to cast all our care upon him. When earthly comfort is gone heavenly comfort blossoms. God is never so much a husband to any as to the widow.He is never so much a father as to the fatherless! — Therefore, “we count them happy which endure.”

 

Enduring our trials, we find ourselves compelled to cling tightly to God our Savior; and that brings us into closer, sweeter communion with him.

Š      We are admitted into the inner chambers of him whom our souls love.

Š      Sorrows reveal to us the Man of Sorrows!

Š      Griefs cast us upon the heart of our God!

Š      Troubles take us to the Throne of Grace!

 

See the little chicks in the sunshine. — They run all over the yard, pecking and gathering whatever they find. But if a hawk appears in the sky the mother hen calls them with a sharp alarm. Immediately, they perceive the danger and run under her wings for safety. —— He was a much afflicted man who wrote, “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust” (Psalm 91:4).

 

One of the most delicious of sensations outside of Heaven is to fall helplessly into the arms of Christ! We find strength in helplessness, joy in submission, rest in resignation, and peace in surrender!

 

Anything which gives new life to prayer, brings us to the Throne of Grace, and renews communion with our God is so great a gift that, “we count them happy which endure.”

 

Besides all that, the Lord has a choice way of manifesting himself unto his servants in their times of weakness. He draws the curtain around the bed of his chosen and, at the same time, as it were shutting out the rest of the world, he shows himself through the lattices of grace to his beloved.

Š      In the fiery furnace we walk in the company a Man like ourselves, who is the Son of God.

Š      We never lose anything in the furnace, but the fetters that bind us.

 

There is no place in all our pilgrim journey more needful for our souls than the Valley of Humiliation. The tops of the Delectable Mountains are wonderful, exhilarating spots, from which we sometimes see the Golden City! But those are heights too steep for our trembling feet to stand firmly upon them. The valley suits us better, though flesh and blood find it hard to go downhill. — Here our dear Savior manifests himself to his chosen as he does not to the world. Therefore “we count them happy which endure.”

 

Once more, “we count them happy which endure,” because “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

 

Job’s Patience

 

Look at our text (James 5:11) again, and notice that James exhorts us to faith and confidence in God our Savior in the hour of trial by reminding us of the patience of Job. — “Ye have heard of the patience of Job.

 

Who hasn’t heard of the patience of Job? But you would have never heard of Job if he had always been a strong, healthy, prosperous man. His flocks and his herds, his gold and his silver, his children and their festivities would never have made Job’s name immortal. But his poverty, and pain, and patience have done it. — “Ye have heard of the patience of Job.” The malice of Satan and the grace of God toward this ancient patriarch have forced him into fame and made his name immortal. Time has erased every other prince of his age. We have never heard of them, but “ye have heard of the patience of Job!

 

1.    Job was a perfect man, righteous and just before God, loved of God, chosen of God, redeemed by God, called by God (Job 1:1, 8).

 

2.    Yet, Job was tried as no other man in history has ever been tried, except the Lord Jesus Christ himself (Job 1:1-2:10).

3.    And Job’s great trials were trials brought upon him by the will and purpose of the God who loved him and whom he loved, worshipped, and served (Job 1:8). But Job endured, believing God (Job 1:20-22; 2:9-10).

 

(Job 1:20-22) “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, (21) And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. (22) In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”

 

(Job 2:9-10) “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. (10) But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”

 

4.    Then, Job endured all the slanders of his three accusing, condemning friends (Job 2:11-31:40); but he endured still, believing God (Job 19:25-27).

 

(Job 19:25-27) “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: (26) And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: (27) Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”

 

5.    After this, Job endured correction from the mouth of a young preacher named Elihu, believing God (Job 32-37). Believing God, he continued in patience, still in great adversity, as he considered “the wondrous works of God.”

 

6.    Then God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind, and Job still patiently endured, believing God, in utter self-abhorrence, clinging to the horns of the altar, trusting Christ (Job 38-42).

 

The End

 

Third, James calls our attention to God’s object in our trials, saying, “and you have seen the end of the Lord.

 

(James 5:11) “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

 

I could say many things about this. Obviously, the Lord’s object, the end of the Lord in all our trials, in all those things he graciously and wisely causes us to endure is our spiritual and everlasting good.

Š      To Teach Us to Believe Him.

Š      To make Christ more Precious.

Š      To Wean us of this World.

Š      To Set our Hearts upon Eternity.

Š      To Make us Like Christ (Philippians 3:10).

 

But let’s stay with James. He is obviously referring to the patience of Job, when he speaks of “the end of the Lord.What was the end of the Lord in Job’s trials, in the things Job endured? —— By his trials, by enduring the things the Lord brought upon him Job

Š      Discovered how temporary and vain all things in this world are.

Š      Discovered how fickle man is. — His Wife! — His Friends!

Š      Discovered how sinful, frail, and unbelieving he was.

Š      Learned to be sympathetic, gracious, and kind to other sinful, frail, unbelieving souls like himself. — He made intercession for his accusers.

Š      Spirit of God, make it so with me!

 

And the end of the Lord upon Job was the double portion of the firstborn. In the end, Job was more blessed than in the beginning.

Š      He had twice as much in the end as he had in the beginning. — We have twice as much in Christ as we had in Adam — “Double for all her sins!

Š      Job had the fulness, completeness, and perfection of grace in the Triune God, represented in the seven sons and three daughters God gave him!

Š      God our Savior shall make it so with us!

 

(Romans 8:18) “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

 

(1 Peter 1:3-7) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (6) Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: (7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

 

God’s Pity

 

Fourth, our text closes with this sweet, consoling statement. — “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” No matter what appears to contradict this, nothing can alter the certainty of this fact. — “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

 

Truly God is good to Israel.” Though “my feet were almost gone and my steps had well nigh slipped,” “truly God is good to Israel!” How could it possibly be otherwise? — — “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

 

“Such pity as a father has

Unto his children dear

Like pity shows the Lord to such

As worship Him in fear.”

 

(Psalm 103:13) “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”

 

(Isaiah 63:9) “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.”

 

(Joel 2:18) “Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.”

 

The Lord is very pitiful!” That means that our God, the Triune Jehovah, has many bowls, or a great, great heart, overflowing with pity and tender mercy! In so far as his elect are concerned, God is all heart! — If the Lord God, our God and Savior, is very pitiful and of tender mercy

 

Š      How confident and patient we should be!

 

Š      How pitiful and merciful we should be!

Š      How forgiving and helpful we should be!

Š      How zealously we should seek to make him known!

 

(Isaiah 40:1-2) “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. (2) Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.”

 

(Micah 7:18-20) “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. (19) He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (20) Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.”

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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