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Winning Souls, part 4
James 4:2 “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” I’m sure many of us have quoted this verse from time to time. It makes sense: if you don’t have something, it’s because you haven’t asked God for it. From that we can conclude that James is talking about something that is in the Will of God. If it is as simple as asking for it and receiving it, then it is something God Wills for you to have.
James 4:3 “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives.” Right after telling us that the only thing necessary to receive this thing is to ask for it, James throws us this curve by saying that when we ask, we do not receive, because we have wrong motives. I believe that we can pursue the right things from God for years without receiving them because of wrong motives.
The context of this teaching is that of winning souls. We know that it is God’s Will to save all people. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack, as some men count slackness, but is long suffering towards us not willing that any should perish but that all men should come to repentance.” So when we pray for people to get saved we are asking God for something that is in His Will, and verse two would have us believe that the only reason they have not yet gotten saved is because we haven’t asked, and yet we have asked, and they still have not surrendered. Therefore the only thing left to look at is our motives.
Many times people pray for the salvation of others because it will make their life better. It’s a right request but with wrong motives. When we pray, we should pray for one reason: that’s that Jesus would be glorified. It’s as simple as that. We pray for people to turn to righteousness, we witness to people so that they would turn to Jesus for one reason: Jesus died for them. Since we sent Him to the cross, we should do all we can to make His death count.
This isn’t about us. We cannot want to be a renowned soul winner so that others will look at us and talk about our great level of spirituality – that’s wrong motives. Parents, why should you be praying for your children? Why should you want them to turn to righteousness? Because the Son of God died for them, not so that you would be looked upon as the most wonderful parents ever, but rather that their salvation will bring glory to God. When we do this for the glory of God we have right motives; then we have the things we ask for.
Medication: A Merry Heart
The sales rep, the administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a genie comes out in a puff of smoke! The genie says, “I usually only grant three wishes, so I’ll give each of you just one.”
“Me first! Me first!” says the admin clerk. “I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.” Poof! She’s gone.
Astonished, the sales rep cries out, “Me next! Me next! I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of pineapples and the love of my life.” Poof! He’s gone.
“Okay, you’re up,” the genie says to the manager.
The manager says, “I want those two back in the office after lunch.”
Moral of the story: Always let your boss have the first say.
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: Isaiah 58:10-11 ESV
Today’s readings: Exodus 28 – 29