Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The War Waging Within You

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." James 4:1-6

Ever feel anxious and you're not sure why? Ever been fearful for no apparent reason? Have you exploded with anger and wondered where that came from? Does your life seem out of control no matter how hard you try to control it?

What is going on? Where does all this angst and turmoil come from?

James says there is a war waging within you. That is the problem and it is a major one!

In these several verses James diagnoses the problem and it is not good news!

First, he says you have a "lust" problem.

Lust is caused by misdirected desires. Your sinful nature, if unchecked, will pervert good God-given desires into selfish and sinful desires. Though you were created for God's pleasure you are driven to seek your own, deceived by the lie that happiness comes from "out there somewhere".

When you are on a quest for pleasure and self-fulfillment, nasty things happen. For instance, lust can never been satisfied. Living for selfish pleasure is makes you a slave to the next indulgence moment. Also, when you are out for selfish pleasure other people become either objects to be used or competitors to be defeated.

The result of this pursuit of selfish desires is turmoil within and trouble without. Being controlled by lust will wreck relationships rob you of joy.

Not only do you have a "lust" problem you also have a "trust" problem.

When you live under the delusion that you can find satisfaction from the outside in then you trust yourself to make it happen. In essence, when you trust yourself to fulfill your lust, you put yourself in the place of God. That is an impossible role for an unreachable goal.

The wisest man who ever lived once said, "Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."

To translate that in the terms of our discussion he is saying, "Trust - don't lust."

Why would you seek to fill your life with created things when you could have the Creator?

Let me ask you, how's your heart? 

Are you lusting or are you trusting?

August 21, 2018

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins." James 5:13-20

Last words are important. Last words of important people are especially important. Last words of important people talking about important things are very important.

So, as James draws this important Book to a conclusion what do you think his focus would be?

Since he has been reminding these believers what a healthy church looks like it would stand to reason that what he says would be most important and he would center on important stuff. What important stuff should a church know in order to be healthy?

According to what he writes in these last several verses, healthy relationships are essential to a healthy church fellowship. And healthy church relationships center around prayer, praise, personal purity, and passion for spiritually unresolved people. Healthy horizontal relationships result in healthy vertical relationships. The better we get along with one another the better we will get along with God and the better we relate to God the better we will relate to others - especially believers in our fellowship.

For years I have looked at this portion of Scripture and focused on the promise for healing. God does heal. But after He heals you, then what? How do you stay healthy? How do you become more healthy?

I think this is the focus of what James is communicating as he seeks to close an important letter filled with important reminders.

Let's explore some of these things together over the next several days.

I commented on prayer yesterday but there is much more to be said about it. Prayer IS the key to a healthy relationship with God and having a healthy relationship with Him is essential to your health. Praying with others is central to healthy relationships with them. Praying together with other believers is a key component of spiritual unity and power. As you call on Him together you are bonded to Him and to one another. As you intercede to God for one another, fellowship goes to another level. Love grows. Compassion grows. Trust develops. Friendship deepens.

Those are all healthy things!

You knew prayer was important but maybe you just didn't understand HOW important it is. Now you do! So, how will this influence your prayer life? What will you do differently in your prayer life - pray tell?

The old saying is trite but true, "The family that prays together stays together" and they like it!