Summary: To encourage the people to trust in the Lord and not to doubt Him or His ability to answer
SBC Philippi 6/26/05 am
Rev. Jeff Simms
Asking in Faith
Primary Purpose: To encourage the people to trust in the Lord and not to doubt Him or His ability to answer
When James writes this letter to the dispersed Jewish Christians outside of Jerusalem, he is writing to a group that has been intently persecuted. They are persecuted because of nothing less than their religious beliefs the same as many today in foreign countries and to a lesser extent here in America. These people had flee Jerusalem and had in some cases lost their jobs and homes because of their faith. Perhaps in the midst of this some where beginning to doubt God or his ability. They were living in poverty because of their faith.
James first answers them by assuring them that it is part of the character of God to be a generous giver. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 7:7-12 when he said to Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened. He went on to ask a rhetorical question: If your son asks for bread will you give him a stone or if he asks for a fish will you give him a scorpion. The very idea is ridiculous. The answer is “Of course we wouldn’t!” Then Jesus goes on to say that we are not good at our base, but God is. So, if we have a deprived nature and can give good gifts then how much more can God?
We have one example that should always be on our minds and hearts of how generous God gives. Romans 8:32 says it when it says in his generosity to us he gave us His one and only Son to redeem us. He didn’t withhold his own son from us. If he did this then why would he withhold anything else. It is God’s nature to give us what is best for us in His time and plan.
But, James cautions that a person should ask in faith and not doubt. Doubt can be defined in two different ways: double minded or double souled. He compares this man to one who is tossed about by huge waves. There is no stability there and that person shouldn’t think he would receive anything from God. Peter saw Jesus out on the water and came to him walking on the water. He did the impossible by placing his faith in the one who told him to come to him. But, when he saw the wind and waves and dark clouds he grew fearful. Jesus rebukes Peter and says, “Why did you doubt?” Matt 14:31 We can do those things we think are impossible to by focusing on Jesus and not doubting him.
Sometimes God will delay in answering a prayer because he sees at your core of your being you really do doubt. You can’t play games with God and win. You can tell everyone else something else, but God sees your very soul. We must wrestle with our doubt and repent of it and give it to God. When we truly do give something to God there will be a peace because it is “off our shoulders”. Jesus said in Matthew 21:21 that that person can expect that he could say to the very mountains to be moved into the sea and it would be done. This person knows that he cannot out give God. For God gives generously as it says in Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.”
As we said earlier, there is two kinds of doubt mentioned here that stop the work of faith. There is the double minded and the double souled. The doubled minded person could be either doubting God or doubting God’s desire. What I mean by that is that sometimes people doubt God’s ability to answer and sometimes his willingness.
By doubting God’s ability to give I would be saying that God is unable to do something. This person is a person of truly small faith for he is in essence not believing in the God of the Bible. The Bible clearly says that God can do more than we can ask or imagine to ask. God is never limited in His ability to answer. The only thing that he will not do is to violate his own perfect nature. These people are in a deep faith crisis.
But then others doubt God’s willingness to give to them. They perhaps doubt because they have prayed prayers and God didn’t appear to answer them in their time. We also have to remember that when we pray we don’t always know what God’s will is and perhaps don’t always pray according to God’s will. I always have to be willing to say in my prayers, “Not my will, but yours be done.” If I submit my will to God’s then I can be assured that he hears me. But, prayer is not trying to talk God into doing something that you know is right, but for some reason God seems unwilling. I can’t manipulate God by getting more people to pray for me or something like that. I need to understand that if it is God’s will then I need to simply believe and cling to Him and trust Him in times of delay.