Silence and Centering : PAUSE FOR 2 MINUTES OF SILENCE
“Be still, and know that I am God; – Psalm 46:10
Lord, You are a good and gracious God: Offering forgiveness for all our mistakes and failures and restoring us to right relationship with You. Why, then, do we wait to confess our sin to You? Why do we wallow in our muck longer than we need? Our embarrassment hinders us. Our feelings of shame and guilt cause us to hide. You are quick to embrace us as Your children; cause us to be quick to turn back to You. Your mercies are new every morning; let us enjoy Your presence and Your grace. Forgive us, Lord, and allow us to live our lives fully for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” (James 4:1-3)
In today’s portion of scripture, we learn one of the reasons God sometimes doesn’t answer our prayers. Unresolved conflict can be an obstacle to our prayers. According to James, there are three areas where we might be experiencing conflict and thus hindering our walk with the Lord. Let’s take a moment and consider each.
1) There can be conflict with fellow believers
Only the Lord knows how many churches have split because of conflict between some of its members. It’s not the world or Satan that is keeping them from serving God, it’s themselves. Sometimes the conflict is obvious, other times it’s more subtle and demonstrated only thought the offering of a cold shoulder. Yet whether big or small, conflict can be a great hindrance to the work of God.
2) There can be conflict within ourselves
“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?” Note – conflict ‘among us’ comes from conflict ‘within us.’ How so? James explains this by saying – “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.” Often the reason we experience conflict with fellow believers is because there is pride, greed, and jealousy in our hearts. We are on an ego trip and therefore engaged in power-struggles with everyone else who tries to stand in our way.
3) There can be conflict with God.
“Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” Though we may try to justify our feelings and actions, the Lord knows the truth, and if our conflict with others is motivated by selfishness and self-centeredness, then our greatest conflict is going to be with Him.
In contrast to all of this, note what James also teaches us about how to reduce conflict and therefore receive more of God’s blessings.
“But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” (James 4:7-10)
Our flesh tells us to stand up and fight for our rights, but the Spirit tells us to humble ourselves in the sight of God and trust in His care. “Come close to God, and God will come close to you” James tells us. “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”
If we find ourselves in conflict with other believers, we need to step back a moment and ask ourselves some very important questions-
Why am I so angry?
What is the real reason I feel as I do?
What is the real motive behind my feelings and actions?
What is it about that other person that I think stands between me and happiness?
How am I praying? For what am I praying? Why is God not answering my prayers?
What is it that the Lord would have me to do that could turn all of this around?
Devotional By Terry Covey
PAUSE FOR 2 MINUTES OF SILENCE
The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.