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James Chapter 4

11/01/2010

James Chapter 4 and Challenge #4

Let me just say that I was not intending to make this entry so long!  However, this chapter is so full of wisdom that I just had to share!

Quarrels and fights…we all have them., some of us more than others ;).  James tells us where they come from!

  • Quarrels and fights come from not getting what we want. (v. 2) Think about it, it’s true.  I was just pondering how this doesn’t make us much different from my 20 month old :).

How much time, money and energy to you put into satisfying your own desires?  What about God’s desires for your life?

Here are some verses that I have been reading first thing every morning to help me get my priorities right.  Maybe you’d like to read them too.  Let’s pray together for God to show us how to view ourselves and others in light of what we read.  They fit right in with James 4 and the reasons we quarrel.  If we can stop focusing on ourselves so much and start focusing on others, we would fight less.  As Pastor Perry Noble would say, we need to stop focusing on our rights and focus on our responsibilities.  Philippians 2:1-11 says:

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

  • We don’t get what we desire for 2 reasons:(v.2-3)

First, we don’t ask God.  There are some things that God has to give us, but we miss out on because we don’t ask.  Man, I wonder how many things I have missed because I didn’t go to God in prayer.

Second, we ask with the wrong motives.  Do we ask for money, time, or even energy for our own desires instead of for God’s desires for us?  All of these things can be squandered to fulfill our wants and dreams when each could be used for God’s glory and His kingdom.

I have been very convicted by a song we sing at church.  I think sometimes we sing the words without even thinking about what we are saying.

Take my life and let it be

all for you and for your glory.

Take my life and let it be yours.

We sing these words and then go home and put our thoughts, needs and wants for ourselves before those of God.  Notice the lyrics say “all”, not “some”.  This may seem a little harsh to you, but it caused me to ask myself this question, “Am I lying to God when I sing these lyrics and walk out of church unchanged and just as selfish as when I walked in?”

  • When arguments arise, James tells us what we need to do!

*Go to God in prayer. (v.2)  Stop and ask God to show you your motives for being upset.  Is it coming from selfishness?  If so, ask for a change of heart.  Ask Him for His desires for you, how He would want you to handle the situation.

*Submit yourself to God (v. 7) After you pray about it, make God’s priorities your priorities!  Are you chasing things with your time, money, and energy that don’t line up with God’s will for your life?  If so, then today is the day to stop!

*Resist the devil (v.7) So true!  He will tell us lies and get us to elevate ourselves to a place only God should be!  Also, don’t forget, the enemy would like nothing more than for you to be busy and distracted so you (1) don’t recognize him and (2) miss God’s plan for your life because you are focused on yourself (your feelings, your wants, your needs).

*Do not talk poorly of others.  It’s so easy to do that when we are upset.  It all goes back to Chapter 3 and taming our tongues.  As I’ve heard it said, If it’s in the case of another believer, it’s like talking badly about someones bride since the church is the bride of Christ.  Can you imagine, “Hey man, great wedding, but can I tell you, your bride is UGLY!”  Not. Good.

So how can we avoid these things???

  • V.8 “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” I can tell you from personal experience that this is true!  Every time I have been close to Christ and have been able to put aside myself as much as possible, it’s been because I have searched for Him.  I know this to be true, yet sometimes, I still don’t make time with Him a priority!  Even though I know what I’m missing!  It’s so easy to slowly give in to those distractions, so lets make a commitment together to pray that God shows us our distractions and for the power to put time with Him first, no matter what! (Even in the hard times! If you want a real life story of how God came near to me in a difficult time, read While I’m Waiting.)

We need to repent and humble ourselves before God.  (v. 9-10)  Hence the mourning.  In order to get that intimate relationship that we crave with God and the ability to put God’s priorities in front of our own, we need to be repentant of our sins.  We need to go to Him and not just say we are sorry, but turn from what we are doing with the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • We need to realize our complete dependence on God when planning our lives.

We need to pray about our plans and decisions before making them!  This of course includes big things (career moves, where to send the kids to school, whether to move or not, etc.), but it can also include praying before making purchases, committing to things, etc.   This can allow us to be better stewards of our money, time, and energy.

  • We need to remember that sinning by omission is still sinning.  If we know what we should do and don’t , it is sinning, just as doing something we shouldn’t.  This one is a hard one.  When I read God’s Word, I am constantly confronted with commands He has given me that I am failing to do.  Changes need to be made in my life so I can do what He has called me to do.

This leads us to this weeks challenge: Challenge #4:  When you are tempted to quarrel with someone this week, remember James’ words.  Stop and reflect on why you are upset, pray about changing your desires, and bite your tongue…yeah, I know it’s hard.  Let’s do it together!

 

 

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