Distracted and Discouraged

James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Week 1: Who was James?
Week 2: Who were the Dispersed?
Week 3: Joy Under Trails
Week 4: Distracted and Discouraged
Context: Just like we learned at camp. Refugees! These Jews were kicked out of their hometown and left to a very uncomfortable situation. Lacking a lot!
James 1:1–8 ESV
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
I think the goal of this passage was to greatly encourage prayer and let me tell you why I think that. Throughout this passage and this letter, James shows us the very basics of who God is and the very nature of how we are.
James tells us to ask if we lack wisdom and God will give generously without reproach. Why would James have to remind his readers to ask God to give them wisdom? It doesn't make any sense if you don't remember what I told you about them living as refugees. Dispersed, embarrassed Jews. They let their environment cause them to doubt.
In daily life we can easily become distracted or discouraged.
2 Things about that:
A discouraged soul is an unwilling soul. They have to ask or admit, but they are unwilling! When we lose our hope and become discouraged, we get stuck. It's as if we've realized there's nothing we can do and our only resort is to wave a white flag and surrender to giving up. That's simply NOT true as Christians. Our surrender is to Jesus. ()
A distracted soul is an unhappy soul. What does that mean? It means it is restless. The distracted soul is constantly trying to fill the empty void with ANYthing BUT Jesus. Admitting that is VERY hard for us. We were meant to be made whole in Jesus Christ and we were created for relationship through Him with God. Jesus is no distraction, but our very life is in Him. ()
There's a few things we need to see in this passage:
Wisdom - is applied knowledge or as the Bible says the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Prayer - is communication with God. Speaking and listening. Doubt - a double-minded man described like the waves. As the wind blows the waves in whatever direction, so the man changes with his environment. Insufficiency - our inability to complete. We don't have enough.
Application: is prayer and relationship with God.
Vs. 5 "If any lack wisdom,"
Before I start to talk about this verse, just know that there is no real biblical definition of heavenly wisdom. All of the authors and scholars that I have read, agree that wisdom is described and not defined. I personally think that is God's way of showing us just how far above us He is. Here's why I think that.
Fear of the LORD is the "beginning" of wisdom. Wisdom from above is "first pure," peaceable...etc. Wisdom of God in Jesus. The Wisdom here is for the daily grind. Here's an example: ; ; David feared doing anything outside of God's will. He was reverent towards God. This is summed up in and . When you guys are considering movies, conversations, thoughts, do you filter your decisions through those verses? It's very simple. Are you ignoring your temptation and justifying what you want? OR, are you doing everything you can to praise God through your actions, thoughts, and words? God wants JESUS formed in you. Heavenly wisdom seeks Jesus in everything. No justification necessary.
Vs. 5 - "If any lack wisdom, let him ask..."
Asking is Praying. The type of asking here though is for wisdom. It's asking God how to go about life daily. How many of us, ask God about HIS agenda to start our days off? What's the first thing you go to in the morning? Who's the first person you talk to in the morning? What are the first words out of your mouth? What's your attitude? Ask Jesus to be LORD of your life. Praying is Listening. God speaks through His Word. Do you take time to listen? Are you listening now? Quiet and still is the best way to listen. Example - conversation. - emphasis on the "I will be." God does not need us, but desires us. Listen to the promises of God through His Word. He loves you, redeemed you. Prayer shows your relationship with God. You talk and listen with those in relationship. Example of Erin and I in marriage.
Vs. 6-8 - "the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea...unstable in all his ways."
You change with your surroundings. Unstable. Opposite of steadfast. Hope is an anchor for the ocean of life. No longer adrift because of doubt. Our hope: Asking without doubting - - Solomon - Hannah - Official's Son - 10 Lepers, 1 who came back
4. Insufficiency - WE are lacking... Not enough.
We are to consider it joy at trials.. lack joy. Testing of faith produces endurance...lack endurance. Let endurance have its full effect...we lack fullness. If any of us lacks wisdom, ask...lack wisdom.
This passage is showing you how all of us are in the same sinking boat without Jesus. There's nothing that can stand next to Jesus and fill us or complete us. Let me read to you why I think that:
Colossians 1:13–23 ESV
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
NOTHING compares to our Jesus. Clearly all of our joy, endurance, fullness, and wisdom is found in Him. All things are through Jesus and for Jesus. Amen.
Therefore, since we do not have enough, we admit, seek God, and earnestly pray.
Genuine Prayer, shows us, and admits to God we agree in our insufficiency. We are unable to fill the void and unable to navigate through this brokenness.
"Asking God," in verse 5 is prayer. James centers the whole passage around it.
God gives generously to those who ask without reproach. He doesn't make fun or laugh at our inabilities.
Ask because...
Prayer manifests the reality of relationship. Your situations create opportunities of prayer instigating your reliance on God. That is NEVER a bad thing. James is conveying the very nature of God that reveals in beautiful detail.
In the middle of embarrassing struggle and strife, James was pointing these Jews to the basics of Christianity through prayer. I'm pointing y'all to the same thing.
Learning to pray is learning who God is. Praying to God shows the inner desire to be in relationship with Him. You talk and listen.
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