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James 4:1-6. YOU DO NOT HAVE BECAUSE YOU DO NOT ASK – 5-21-19 devotional

James 4:1-6. YOU DO NOT HAVE BECAUSE YOU DO NOT ASK – 5-21-19 devotional

James 4:1-6           Kevin E. Jesmer

Key Verse: 4:2c     5-21-19

“…You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.” (ESV)

Dear Lord heavenly Father, we trust you for whatever the future holds. You are the Almighty God. You have provided. You are providing and you will continue to provide. Grant us that basic trust, day to day as we live by faith. Grant me some sight into today’s passage. I pray in Jesus’ holy name. Amen!

Part 1: Because You Do Not Ask God (1-2)

Verse 1-2, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.” (ESV)

Apparently in the early church there were quarrels and fights among members of the church. Obviously, they were a fellowship of forgiven sinners. Every so often their sinful nature would erupt. It happens. People are human.

But there is power in the Gospel to help Christians with their quarrels. Quarrels and fights do arise, but in Christ they do not continue to exist and fester. There is the power of the Gospel to mend broken relationships within the church.

We need to get to the core of why do people fight and quarrel with others. It is because they have a war going on inside themselves. They want something, and they try to get it by any means possible. God’s people should not struggle with other people because of their own selfish desires.

It is not wrong to have strong desires for something. God may work through that desire. It is wrong that we quarrel and fight with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. For example, a person may want to be a small business owner. They really want to do this. But they quarrel with others in the church. Maybe they are jealous over the success of other people. Maybe they don’t get the help or prayer support they expect. Maybe they don’t get the free advice from other business owners. Maybe they feel judged by some church goers. Maybe they overhear being criticized for their business dreams. There could be many reasons why quarrels arise.

What about the parent who wants their child to have an important place of honor within the church? Their child was not chosen for a mission in the church. Their child was not recognized by the pastor. Then quarrels arise between the parent and the leaders of the church. These quarrels could last for decades, even until death. School teachers go through this all the time. It is sad, but true.

But even though quarrels arise they don’t have to allow those quarrels to fester. God, in his wisdom can help people to forgive one another. The cross reconciles man and God but also man and man. That is why it is the cross. The word of God brings freedom from thoughts that have run roughshod in our minds. We confess our sin. We hold onto his word. We talk to and pray with our fellow Christian with the hopes to make things right. Then God does a miracle between the two quarreling parties. He grants them grace to forgive one another. The wall between them disappears and they are reconciled in Christ. It is all because of the power of God.

Another secret of overcoming these conflicts is to not struggle with other people all together. We must turn to God. We must trust in the sovereignty of God. God is control. He is the Lord over even the quarrels that arise among us.

Trust that God cares about our desires and is willing to listen. God may choose to work through our strong desires. What about the person who really wants to open up a small business? God can work through that. That person can provide jobs to people in the church. They can make offerings. They can financially support the church and missionaries. What about the parent who has high hopes for their children to fill a place of leadership in the church? They can plant seeds of hope in that child’s heart to be a pastor, to go to Bible College, to get the training and credentials he/she needs to fill a leadership role in the church. And so, don’t write off your strong desires, but find out how Christ can work through them to bring glory to himself and build up the church.

Have you thought about praying to God? If we have a strong desire within our hearts, and it is according to his will, we should ask God. He loves us. He did not spare even his own Son, but gave him up for us. If what we want is what we really need, and according to his will, he will give it to us–if we just ask him. He wants us to pray and to depend on him.

I thank God for faith in Jesus. We are not helpless. We are never helpless when God is with us. The creator of life and the universe is with us and is concerned and listens to us. No matter what our predicament and challenge and need, Christ is with us and listening. All we have to do is ask.

Part 2: Because You Have Wrong Motives (3-6)

Verses 3-6, “3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (ESV)

Sometimes we do ask, but we don’t receive. Why? It is because we have wrong motives. Worldly people make pleasure-seeking and self-preservation their main occupation. They are friends of the world, and a friend of the world is an enemy of God. Preeminence of worldly pleasures and self-preserving desires only make us want more. A godless person is never satisfied. They never feel secure. Such is the lifelong agony of those who are friends of this world.

God alone can satisfy the desires of our hearts. God alone can provide for our daily needs. He will do so if we ask him with pure and humble hearts. Our hearts should be filled with a desire to know God, to love him and to serve him. We should be seeking the will of God in our lives and ask for things that are in line with the will of God for us.

Christians must trust in God’s sovereignty. We need to be open and free to accept it when God does not grant our requests. He is saying, “no” or “wait”. That is OK. God is God. Maybe we are harboring some hidden ulterior motives in our hearts for pleasure seeking or self-preservation. We may not even know it. But God knows our hearts. He knows what is best for his children. He cares and he is listening.

God knows the desires of our hearts. We may think that we need this or that. We convince ourselves that only this or that thing will satisfy me. But we are more often deceived. God knows our hearts and he knows what we need and what will really thrill our hearts with heavenly joy. We need to trust him with that too as we pray.

A Christian must never cause conflict with another church member if their desires are not met. They must never get resentful or jealous. We must always trust God in all things. It is not the people around us that is part of the problem. But we know that God, who is with us, is always the solution. We just need to trust and submit to him.

Prayer: “Thank you, Father, for giving me the desires of my heart. Teach me to pray according to your will.”

One Word: Come to God and entrust your life to him. He cares and will provide.