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Summary: 4th in a 5 part series from the book of James on making practical application to real problems.

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RELIGION THAT REALLY WORKS - Week 4

CONTROL YOUR CRAVINGS

JAMES 4:1-8

INTRODUCTION:

Several summers ago the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an article entitled "The Gold Circled Ring." It told about some Kent State University students that were arrested because of their involvement in a conspiracy to steal from their employers. The students stole over $150,000 worth of goods. They took everything from VCR’s and clothing to small items such as Pepto Bismo and Aspirin. Some of the goods were given as gifts to their friends but most were kept for themselves. One girl had 32 pairs of shoes closeted away in her room. Now, these were not some of the campus hoodlums but these were some of the brighter students and to add a touch of irony, many of them were criminal justice majors. It was especially disturbing to read the student’s comments when they were interviewed in the article. There seemed to be little or no remorse. Nobody said we were wrong. But some did comment they regretted that some of their group got careless and got caught. Most expressed anger that certain members of the group couldn’t control themselves. One student said, "You know, certain individuals just seemed to get so caught up in it all that they didn’t know where to stop."

That story is indicative of the cravings that we all have. Maybe you do not have a desire to steal but all of us have yearnings that we struggle to control. James 4:1 asks, "What starts wars and fights among you?" Is it not because you crave many things and are fighting to have them?" Now, if your like me, in my more honest moments I have to admit that I am a part of a society that wants a lot of things. America is a desire driven culture. Some of you have been pushed all your lives to succeed. You are goal oriented, highly motivated, type “A” personalities. You were taught to want and then go get it. But even if that doesn’t describe your temperament or upbringing, all of us are living in a very success oriented culture that drives us to fulfill our desires no matter the cost. And many people have been so consumed by their cravings that they have sacrificed their integrity, their family, even their health. When our cravings and ambitions are out of control it can cause havoc in nations, families, business’, even in the church. Last week we discussed bridling our tongue, today we want to talk about bridling our desires, keeping them under control.

Once again we find that God, through James, offers us some very practical and needed advice. And no matter where you are in your spiritual journey we can all use this installment of religion that really works. PRAY

I. CONFESS YOUR CRAVINGS:

{Video Clip - LOTR - Two Towers (Ext.ed) Start: Chp. 28:1:37:51 - End: Chp.29:1:41:04 = 3:13}

Now, you may not crave a ring, and I certainly hope you don’t struggle with a split personality like poor Smeagol. In fact, if you know this story you know that Smeagol’s victory over his alter ego Gollum, is short lived and he cannot maintain the victory over his evil desires. But that struggle we just saw is a vivid reminder that we all have cravings and desires that must be controlled. And that’s why James wants us to begin by admitting the reality of our inner cravings or desires. We all have wants that battle for our priority. Some of us have a passion for possessions. We have a desire within to own a large, comfortable home, a particularly nice car, we want that boat or vacation home. Some of you may have a goal to be a millionaire or are continually hoping to win the lottery.

Some of us have a craving for pleasure. We aren’t necessarily caught up in being rich, we just want above all else to feel good. I just want the simple pleasure’s of life- to have the freedom to play a round of golf whenever I desire, or to go fishing or play tennis or just to eat out at McDonald’s in Hawaii once in a while. Some have trouble controlling their desire for sex or booze or drugs, those things that bring the body temporary gratification.

Some of us crave influence or power. We are not driven by possessions or pleasure but we want to be esteemed. We want people to respect us because of achievement and accomplishment. “She runs her own company. He makes 6 figures. She has her doctorate you know. He preaches at the largest Church in town. He’s the captain of the football team.”

But it’s important to understand that these desires are not evil in themselves, they just need to be harnessed. It’s older, but it’s a classic. J. Wallace Hamilton wrote a book entitled, Ride the Wild Horses. In it he explains that the “Wild Horses” are our untamed impulses or cravings that are a part of our human nature. Hamilton writes, "Although we do not accept the animal philosophy of life we all acknowledge that we have a bit of the wild stuff in us. Often in common speech, we say of one another, "He’s as sly as a fox"- “He eats like a pig"-He’s as stubborn as a mule"- or "proud as a peacock." The resemblance is there all right; sometimes, we suspect, it is a bit unfair to the animals." So the question is not do we have these cravings, we all do. But, "What do you do with the Wild Horses of natural instinct, the desires that beat within the heart every human being?"

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