Just a picture for my friend Tom, from our week at camp. The music is a bit……contemporary!
We often don’t think much about just how serious our Lord wants us to take our commitment to Him. He is our master, and we are His slaves. Yet, we treat this as a burden, when in fact giving up ourselves to Him is the path to real joy.
Am I a Christian or a disciple of Jesus? I need to think this through. It is an important question. I think it is fine to use the term Christian. I am concerned that it is confusing to non-believers. That is why I favor other terms like disciple or follower.
Jesus used the term disciple but never Christian. The first instance of the word Christian is found in the book of Acts: “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).
Most Bible scholars agree that it is unlikely that the believers themselves thought up the name “Christians.” The early church had other names for themselves, such as “disciples” (Acts 13:52; 20:1; 21:4) and “saints” (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1; Ephesians 1:1) and “brothers” (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Peter 3:8).
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Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Previously we discussed the issue of people’s unfulfilled desires and lust causing them to act in inappropriate ways. Specifically, we discussed that these unmet perceived needs were causing the members of the churches to which James was writing to argue and quarrel among themselves. The root of this particular issue came from the source from which these believers were seeking their wisdom. As we learned, their desires were not being met because they were not asking God.
Suddenly James says something which on the surface seems to be contradictory. First, he basically says: “You don’t get because you don’t ask.” Now, James is telling us: “You ask, but you still don’t get.” Why on earth would this be so?
James, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has been kind enough to answer that question in a very direct way. We ask, but do not receive because we ask wrongly, “that ye may consume it on your lusts.” Here, again, lust has nothing to do necessarily with a sexual lust, but merely the presence of a strong desire for something. Some versions say, “so you can spend it on your pleasures.“
The problem is, God is not a giant cosmic candy machine where we put in a prayer quarter and get a wish granted. How are we to pray? We are to pray for God’s will to be done. Jesus taught us that in the Model Prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13) In Verse 10 of this passage, Jesus instructed us to pray saying, “Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus Himself prayed this way; as He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion, even though the man Jesus certainly wished to not die the horrible death he was facing said, “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”(Matthew 26:36-56)
If we pray for what WE want and not what God wants, our prayers will go unanswered. If we pray to be released from some calling God has clearly revealed to us, that prayer will go unanswered. If we pray to obtain something God’s Word has clearly revealed to be sinful, that prayer will go unanswered.
Enjoy this great Bible verse collection from Heather!
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the…
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Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
In some Bible translations, the phrase “desire to have” is translated “you are envious.” Personally, I think that phrasing does a better job of conveying the meaning of what is being said here. The verb from which the phrase comes also happens to be the origin of our English word “zealous,” or “zealot.” This puts a quite strong emphasis on the intensity of the wants and desires James is speaking of here. Back in James 3:14, 16 the word is actually the one that is translated “envying.”
The NASB renders this phrase as follows: “You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.“
Those two little “so s” in that rendering seems to have big importance, as they show the relationship between the wanting, the denial, and the fighting and quarreling. We fight because we do not get what we want. In other words, out of the reflection of our hearts come our actions.
Do we fight and quarrel in our churches today? Have you seen any news reports concerning splitting bodies of believers suing each other over church property? Have you, in your own communities, seen churches divide over what color carpet to put in a new building? Of course, churches fight and quarrel!
We fight because we are not getting our desires ( according to us) met. The question is, why do OUR desires matter? Is our objective in this Christian life to get our needs met? Of course, the answer to that question is a resounding NO! Our objectives should be God’s objectives. Actually, God’s objectives and plans should be ours as well.
I think the way James closes this verse is significant. We have not, because, “ye ask not.” To take a trip back to the source of our wisdom, we glean that if our desires are, in fact, ours then our actions will be wrong. What is the solution? We ask. Who do we ask? We all know that answer, don’t we?