Summary: God's desire is for us to desire Him.
Drawing Close To God
Text: James 4:1-10
1. Illustration: In 1857 there was a 46 year old man named Jeremiah Lamphere who lived in New York City. Jeremiah loved the Lord tremendously, but he didn’t feel that he could do much for the Lord until he began to feel a burden for the lost and accepted an invitation from his church to be an inner city missionary.
So in July of 1857 he started walking up and down the streets of New York passing out tracts and talking to people about Jesus, but he wasn’t having any success. Then God put it on his heart to try prayer. So he printed up a bunch of tracts, and he passed them out to anyone and everyone met. He invited anyone who wanted to come to the 3rd floor of the Old North Dutch Reform Church on Fulton St. in New York City from 12 to 1 on Wednesday to pray. He passed out hundreds and hundreds of fliers and put up posters everywhere he could.
Wednesday came and at noon nobody showed up. So Jeremiah got on his knees and started praying. For 30 minutes he prayed by himself when finally five other people walked in. The next week 20 people came. The next week between 30 and 40 people came. They then decided to meet every day from 12:00 to 1:00 to pray for the city.
Before long a few ministers started coming and they said, "We need to start this at our churches." Within six months there were over 5000 prayer groups meeting everyday in N.Y. Soon the word spread all over the country. Prayer meetings were started in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Washington D.C. In fact President Franklin Pierce started going almost every day to a noonday prayer meeting. By 1859 some 15,000 cities in America were having downtown prayer meetings everyday at noon, and thousands were brought to Christ.
The great thing about this revival is that there is not a famous preacher associated with it. It was all started by one man wanting to pray.
2. The Bible is very clear that if we come close to him he will come close to us. That if we seek him with all our hearts we will find him. That he stands at the door of our hearts and knocks waiting to come in.
3. However, sometimes we create obstacles that keep us from coming close to God...
C. Humble Submission
4. Let's stand together as we read James 4:1-10.
Proposition: God's desire for us is for us to desire Him.
Transition: The first roadblock that James talks about is...
I. Prayerlessness (1-3).
A. Because You Don't Ask God For It
1. "A praying man as well as a reformer of the church, Martin Luther expressed God's expectation of prayer in this way, 'As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray!'" (Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life, 68).
2. And when we fail to pray it gets us in trouble, and that's the point that James makes in this passage.
3. In v. 1 James says, "What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?"
A. The word quarrels refers to fighting without weapons, as in personal conflicts. These conflicts have nothing to do with quarrels with the pagan world; these are quarrels within the church, among believers.
B. James is describing a condition where a group has come to a state of war, with open skirmishes breaking out among people. Sides have been chosen, positions have been dug in.
C. In cases like this, believers have ceased being peacemakers (3:18); instead, they live in open antagonism toward one another.
D. The word fights refers to battles with weapons, an armed conflict. It was used figuratively to indicate the struggle between powers, both earthly and spiritual.
E. Obviously, disagreements will occur in every church. But when they happen, are we wise enough to understand why? Do we know their source?
F. When handled correctly, with godly wisdom, they can lead to growth. Sadly, however, some churches become permanent battlegrounds.
G. New believers find themselves in a cross fire of arguments, resentments, and power struggles that may carry a veneer of spiritual truth, but are more often simply personal conflicts between people.
H. In the process, innocent bystanders are sometimes deeply wounded.
I. Many of us know people who have been alienated from the church because of a conflict that had nothing to do with the gospel.
J. Fights and quarrels are being caused, not by some external source, but by the people’s evil desires.
K. When everyone seeks his or her own pleasure, only strife, hatred, and division can result.