James 4 and 5
Nov 24, 2013 AM
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction - Truths About God, and Prayer (Psalm 42:10, then 3)
A. Read aloud
1. 2Chron 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.
2. Psa 34:15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
3. Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
4. 1Pe 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
B. Evidently, the God of heaven loves to show Himself mighty in our lives!
C. He loves to answer prayer. God is moved by prayer more than anything else we can do
D. Then, WHY doesn’t God answer more of our prayers??? Why isn’t He helping us more?
E. Oh the sceptic asks this! They want ever greater proofs of the existence of God (Ps 42:10)
F. But this question is also asked by those of us who love Him, and trust Him with all our hearts! (Psalm 42:3) “Where is thy God?”
G. Let’s listen carefully to James, the half brother of our Lord Jesus, as he marvellously explains why God will not answer most of our prayers!
H. Because there will come a time (many, many times) where you will desperately need an answer to your prayers!
A. Because We Haven’t Actually Prayed (James 4:1-3)
1. Most of us never really pray!
a. Instead we fight for what we want out of life
b. We LUST for things – just grabbing for things like a child in a toy store
c. We hate and throughout history have even killed just to have what we want
1) All the wars, and battles of history
2) They all come down to someone fighting to have what someone else has
3) Ah, in the name of a god sometimes, but always for themselves!
d. In our modern “enlightened” world, even today, We would rather fight and argue and resist people, and carry grudges and hatred…, than we would pray!
e. James says, We desire to have, and are FRUSTRATED when we don’t get what we want!
2. The problem is…
a. You and I don’t really spend time in worship of God… No! We are at WAR with Him, and we don’t even know it!
b. We have just expected God to do things for us without us having to take the time to humbly ask God in prayer!
c. We have the bad habit of trusting OTHER people’s praying, without ever having developed our own prayer life!
3. When we DO try and pray, we end up just “wishing” for things
a. Said a few words into the air
b. Flippantly thrown a few of our “wants” up to God – like a child giving Santa their Christmas list
c. Other times we have gone into the presence of God and only Argued with Him over what we want versus what we know HE wants
d. We have even Arrogantly Demanded of God to do what we want – treated God like a Servant, instead of as the Sovereign Lord of lords!
4. But Prayer is:
a. Asking! Asking God for what we need… ASKING!
1) Not all the performing, scheming, manipulating God
2) Just asking like a child
b. Prayer is Believing!
1) Believing that He knows what you need and wants to meet your need
2) Believing He can do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think
3) Believing that God is all you need!
c. Waiting – don’t misunderstand. There is a lot of waiting on God most of the time
1) Gentlemen, your wife is worth waiting on
2) So is the Bank, and the coffee maker…
3) more so is GOD!
4) In this day and age we have sped everything up, and then expected God to keep up too!
5) Nope! He takes HIS time, on purpose, and for good reason!
6) Psalms 25:5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. GLADLY!
d. Prayer is also Wrestling – it takes WORK! Effort! Time! Thought! Struggle!
1) Wrestling with God some times
2) But usually wrestling with our own feelings and fears
3) Not fighting God, but learning how to hold onto God when everything else is out of control, and when He is testing us to see if we need only Him!
e. Praying not that complicated… but it is more than any of us want it to be!
5. Do you pray? Have you prayed today? Do you pray every day? About everything? You can! And you must, if you want GOD’S help! (James 5:13-15)
a. Jas 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.
b. Jas 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
6. The Christians of the First Century prayed!
a. “And when they had prayed the place was shaken.” (Acts 4:31).
b. The Holy Spirit guided those simple, uneducated disciples as they prayed to God for wisdom and strength.
c. I am afraid our prayer meetings fall far short of the great prayer meetings of the early Church.
d. Read James 5:16 “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” The Power of Prayer still works today! Prayer will cause us to turn our world upside down.
e. Our World today needs God! So it needs much prayer.
f. Think of all the unsaved and their destiny
g. Consider all the drug addictions, all the SIN people are in bondage to
h. All these things should motivate our prayer life. Our prayer list should get longer each day.
i. Do you pray regularly for your loved ones, for your neighbors, for your co-workers, for your friends, enemies. Do you pray for our government officials, for leadership in high places. Do you pray for our Taoisech, Dail leaders, the courts of this country?
j. We have SO much to pray about and for, and yet we pray less and less if at all!
7. Did you know that God has limited Himself to the prayers of His people? What a thought!!! “Ye have not because ye ask not.”
8. And therefore, THAT is why we don’t see answers to prayers – because we haven’t really prayed!
B. Because We Are Not Right With God (James 4:4-8)
1. Look at how strongly God’s word describes US
a. As adulterers and adulteresses
b. As friends with this world, with this culture – what’s wrong with that?
1) This culture is at war with God – hates God!
2) So, HOW can we flirt with it, and yet say we love God???
3) We mainly love this world – if we were honest! We spend so much time trying to have friends (which are important), yet we ignore the God of Creation!
4) You wouldn’t get away with that in your marriage?
c. As His enemy
2. All of that is what is blocking the answers to our prayer
a. Sin (Isaiah 59:1,2; Psalm 66:18,19) – blatant, unconfessed sin that we don’t care if it is there
b. Disobedience - We don’t live a life in obedience to God
1) Pro 28:9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
2) 1Jn 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
3. What kind of a heart do you have?
a. Don’t worry about having a perfect heart, or sinless heart
b. But a CLEAN, SOFT HEART (2Kings 22:19) Young king Josiah
c. Is your heart proud, stubborn, arrogant, demonic, filthy, envious, bitter, lustful, hard, apathetic, critical of others?
d. Then no wonder that we are not getting answers from heaven!!!
4. God has something that can cover all of that sin – HIS GRACE!
5. All He is looking this morning for is humbleness before him; calling upon the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ to wash you and I thoroughly from our sinful attitudes
6. And then he will draw near unto us!
C. Because We Have a Strong Enemy (James 4:7)
1. Don’t forget about HIM! Zech 3:1 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
2. He resists the work of God (Dan 10:1-6, 10-13)
3. And he spends his time resisting YOU – just like in sports… the opposing team is determined to NOT allow you to succeed!
4. So remember that, the next time you pray. There will be a fight
5. Just thank God we are already on the winning side!
D. Because We Have No Emotions in Prayer – We Don’t Weep (James 4:9,10)
1. Oh we do at the movies: thrilled, excited, scared, sad, even tearful
2. And we do at our sports: pulling for your team, angry at the opposing players, determined for your side to win
3. But we leave that all behind when we attempt to pray
a. That’s when we go so very quiet
b. We become so UNREAL before God – when we should be THE most real!
c. We only go through the “motions” of prayer, not the E-motions
d. Sin has hardened us from being able to show our emotions
4. God commands us to:
a. Drop all the fake laughter and fake joy that we carry around all day
b. And to become afflicted, and spend some time mourning and weeping over your sin, and over the lost and over the needs of this world
5. We are in need of a good dose of real-ness, low-ness, humble-ness
6. THAT’S when God will reach down and lift us up!
E. Because We Are Not Right With each Other (James 4:11,12; 5:9)
1. We are so calloused about how we treat each other: condemning, mocking, judging, speaking evil things about other people
2. Instead of praying for each other, we instead
a. Fight each other
b. Hold onto grudges because of hurts done against us
c. Become bitter and hard towards each other
d. Are unable to forgive each other for the smallest of things even!
3. Fighting, and strife only blocks the answers of God (1Peter 3:7)
4. The ONLY way to break the cycle Jesus says, is to (Mt 5:44)
a. Bless each other
b. PRAY for each other
c. And FORGIVE everyone of everything (Mark 11:25,26)
5. If you want answers to prayer, look at James 5:16
a. Confess your sins to GOD
b. AND… confess your faults to the ones you have hurt
c. And pray for those you have hurt
d. And THEN God will hear the prayers of yourself as a righteous man or woman, who is now right both with God and men
F. Because We Are Unwilling to Wait on God (James 5:7-11)
1. We are so Impulsive. Just expect God to act on our behalf the very moment we pray: Like a magic wand, or even ordering Pizza!
2. If there is a God in heaven (and there is), then HE is worth waiting for
a. Worth enduring, suffering while we wait on His perfect answer to our need
b. All God’s people throughout history have had to wait for God’s timing, not their own
3. If you want to learn to pray, be ready to wait on the Lord as he answers in perfect time – in HIS time!
4. Impatient people, have very few prayers answered – or at least they don’t stick around long enough to see them answered!
G. Because We Don’t Believe God is REALLY ABLE to Answer Our Needs (Jam 5:16-18)
1. God is usually our “last resort” – the being that we turn to when everything else has failed
2. THANK GOD He is there to turn to!
3. But what a way to treat the God who CAN do all that we need
4. I think because God does not do all we WANT, we end up thinking that God cannot do what we need! What a sad thought!
5. So many examples…
a. In the wilderness wandering years, Psalm 78:19 Yea, they (all the people who came out of Egypt) spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? WELL, YES HE IS ABLE!
b. Shadrach, Meschach and Abendego were threatened with burning in a fiery furnace and questioned whether any ‘god’ could save them from the fire… to which they responded in Daniel 3:17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
c. The God of this Book IS ABLE to help you through every temptation (1Cor 10:13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
d. He is able to give you more than enough grace for every day! 2Cor9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
e. God is able even to save the guttermost, the lowest and farthest from Him! Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
6. In other words, we need more than ever to believe that HE is able! Eph 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us!
7. No wonder we have so few if any prayers answered – because we just don’t believe God, and trust Him
A. The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.
B. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
C. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
D. God loves to answer prayer. God is moved by prayer more than anything else we can do
E. So, WHY doesn’t God answer more of our prayers??? Why isn’t He helping us more?
1. Because We Haven’t Actually Prayed
2. Because We Are Not Right With God
3. Because We Have a Strong Enemy
4. Because We Have No Emotions in Prayer
5. Because We Are Not Right With each Other
6. Because We Are Unwilling to Wait on God
7. Because We Don’t Believe God is REALLY ABLE to Answer Our Needs
F. No wonder we have so few if any prayers answered