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Sunday, March 18, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 26 ~ Asking

Day 26 ~ Asking

James 4:1-3 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.

Here at the beginning of chapter 4 we see that the love of worldly pleasure is giving cause to sin. James is speaking to a specific situation where greed and base desires had lead to fighting (and even murder!) in the church. The pursuit of worldly pleasure produced sin.

We also live in a pleasure-driven world. We are told that we can have all the lustful, covetous desires our hearts desire...if. If, you just have enough money, if you just have enough power, if you just have enough success then all of your wildest dreams will come true! Sure, we hear the stories about the devastating fall the rich and famous have endured, but that won't change our goals. We will be able to handle our fame and wealth. We will be just fine indulging the desires of our heart if we could just get a little more money, success, etc.

But "if" never seems to come. At least, it doesn't come easy. So that we grow frustrated and angry. We find shortcuts to the "if" life. Shortcuts that may not be on the up-and-up, but put us on the fast track to success. We hurt our neighbor, undercut our coworker, spread rumors, and so on just to get what we want. A little lie never hurt anyone (or will hurt someone only a little bit) but it certainly will help me achieve my goals!

All of this selfishness flows from a heart of sin. Such activity demonstrates a lack of faith because it shows we believe true happiness to be both defined by the world and dependant upon my success. Such an attitude comes from a heart that does not believe that God is a good Father who gives good gifts. The problem is that we don't want just our daily bread from God, we want power, success, and money. Our goals are defined by the world, our lives are defined by our goals and not by God's gifts!

Our God is a good Father who hears our prayers and answers them in love and wisdom. He does not hear the prayer for selfish, worldly greed because such a prayer is sinful. You see, God is better and more gracious than that. He won't cater to our sins. Rather, Jesus says, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?" (Matthew 7:9-11) This is true even of forgiveness! God forgives us even when we let the world set the agenda. We can trust God our Father to provide our daily bread. After all, He has given us the greatest gift of all: Jesus Christ crucified for our sins!

Confess: Heavenly Father, I confess to you the sinful desires of my heart. I confess that I don't trust you as I ought. I confess that I believe true contentment is found in power and success. Forgive such selfish desires. I praise you for Jesus who set aside power and glory and chose a cross to forgive my selfish desires. For Christ's sake, I pray that you would teach me true contentment and joy in your Son Jesus. AMEN.

Challenge: Do a random act of kindness in secret. For example, bring in your neighbors trash cans, anonymously leave Starbucks on your coworkers desk, pay for the person behind you at the drive-thru, etc.

Pastor Bob

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