A FUNDAMENTAL SPIRITUAL FRUSTRATION

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:3 ESV)

Prayer is a vital necessity for the Christian life. If we possess little of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – it is generally because we have petitioned for too little. The promises of God are so excellent, should they not inspire us to pray without ceasing? A consistent prayer life eventually aligns our motivation with God’s purpose.

Yet, many want to be friends with God and the sinful pleasures of this world system at the same time. This is impossible because you cannot be a friend of God and live in rebellion against Him. We pray self-centered prayers to gratify our desires and wonder that our prayers have no effect. We actually want God to be our servant. Such a prayer life leads only to frustration and spiritual emptiness.

Do not allow your prayer life to become like a barren wasteland. Go to your Father in heaven as befits a son or daughter. Through the blood of Jesus, enter into the Holy of Holies to approach the throne of grace with the boldness of a child. According to John Owen, your prayers are “a holy practice”. Pray for your personal gospel progress that you may grow in sanctification. When the righteous pray, God hears and answers. (Psalm 34:17 ESV)

THE EXCELLENCE OF HIS MIGHT

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV)

Sometimes a Christian will surprise me when it becomes evident that he or she has no true understanding of the great power of God. In the life of such Christians (if they are Christians at all), God is used primarily like a 911 call. Maybe they do not put it into words, but their attitudes reflect the belief that God doesn’t involve Himself in day to day life. Note, in the verse above, that by this power He has given us all we need concerning life and godliness. This is accomplished daily by His grace and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The knowledge of God is eternal life. (John 17:3 ESV) The Christian should desire, above everything else, to know God through Jesus Christ. If we glory in anything, let us glory in understanding and knowing God. (Jeremiah 9:23) He called us into His kingdom to become “partakers of the divine nature”.

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TAMING THE TONGUE

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, (James 3:6 ESV)

taming the tongueIn this verse, James is essentially telling us to watch our big mouths. If we don’t watch over our tongues, we are in for big trouble. (Proverbs 21:23 ESV)

Have you ever met someone who did not seem to have a filter between the mouth and brain? This type of person does not put his brain in gear before putting his mouth in motion. It is reported that once a woman approached John Wesley and told him that God had given her the talent to speak her mind. Wesley replied that God would not mind if she buried that talent.

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A LIFESTYLE OF FORGIVENESS

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

unforgivenessUnforgiveness can affect every facet of your personal life. It impacts the mind and spirit, and creates tension and anxiety. Most importantly, unforgiveness is the disobedience of God’s Word. (Matthew 6:15 ESV)

Unforgiveness may lock the mind in an ongoing stressful state. (“The Negative Effects of Unforgiveness on Mental Health”, Theravive April 28, 2014) Researchers report that people who tend to be unforgiving reported higher rates of heart disease, elevated blood pressure, stomach ulcers, arthritis, back problems, headaches, and chronic pain than those who reported they do not have this characteristic. (Feldman and Kravetz, “Grudge Match: Can Unforgiveness Be Bad For Our Health?Psychology Today 2013)

Unforgiveness is not a desirable characteristic for either the physical or spiritually healthy life. Jesus said:

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FAITH ACCOMPANIED BY WORKS

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? (James 2:14 ESV)

Is James contradicting Paul? Paul writes:

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, (Romans 4:5 ESV)

Both James and Paul are addressing the topic of true saving faith. What is real faith? What is the relationship of works to faith and salvation?

In Romans, Paul is addressing a faith problem. Apparently, some thought that salvation was earned by good deeds. They acknowledged God and Jesus Christ, but they were still in bondage to the Law. The overriding motive for their good deeds was to earn a place in Heaven rather than to glorify God and live righteously. Paul is pointing out that righteousness before God is obtained by faith alone.

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IMMEASURABLE RICHES

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)

The Scriptures teach that Christians are created in Jesus Christ for good works. At one time, we were all in rebellion against God because we each wanted our own way and to pursue our sinful passions with unrestrained lust. We were all spiritually dead. Yet, because of God’s great love, He has made us alive through Jesus Christ.

We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. In the above verses we are taught (as previously stated) that we are created for good works. Man cannot do, perfectly, enough good works to earn his salvation. Salvation is a work of grace through faith. Therefore, good works are a sign of the grace we have been given and our gratitude for the gift of salvation. Good works are done to glorify God, not to gain anything from Him. Since only God knows the spirit of a man, good works are a witness to others confirming our faith in Him.

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UNDERSTANDING THE END FOR WHICH WE WERE MADE

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. (Colossians 1:16 ESV)

There are many people, including Christians, who do not  godhave a clear understanding of the purpose for which God made them.The Westminster Shorter Catechism states this doctrine by way of a question and answer:

Q: “What is the chief end of man?”

A: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

The ultimate end or chief purpose of man is to glorify and enjoy God. Too few people have any concern for the glory of God and therefore, certainly cannot enjoy Him.

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