Ezekiel 40:28-41:26, James 4:1-17, Psalms 118:19-29, Proverbs 28:3-5
Today is the 20th day of no November. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian and it is a pleasure to be here with you today. It’s great to have this time to step out of it all, whatever the chaos may be, whatever swirling, Yeah, this is a busy week, there’s a bunch going on as we approach the holidays. So, we have this opportunity to step away, just take a deep breath and move into a different space and just allow God’s word to speak. Whatever’s going on, it will still be there. Whatever we’ve got a deal with it sure would be better to deal with it with the Council of the Scriptures in our lives. And, so, we step away and take the next step as we’re moving through the Scriptures this year. We’re reading from the Good News Translation this week. Ezekiel chapter 40 verse 28 through 41 verse 26.
Okay. So, in the book of James we began our reading with a pretty simple question but it’s a loaded question. And the question is, where do all the fights and quarrels among you come from? So, let’s think about it, where do all the fights and quarrels among you come from? It’s worth a moment. What is the root cause of the tension within that then erupts into conflict without? Well, James gave us an answer. They come from your desires for pleasure, which are constantly fighting with in you. I mean in that question and answer there’s a zip, there’s like a crackle in that. We’ve gotta slow down here. We’re being told something very important and we’re being told very directly. Where do all the fights and quarrels among you come from? They come from your desires for pleasure, which are constantly fighting with in you. James is explaining that conflict arises due to our sense of us not having what we desire or us not having what we think we deserve in some way. And when we get the feeling that there’s something lacking, right, or we get the jealousy kind of coming up inside of us, envy because something that we desire is unattainable but someone else has it. And when we do this kind of stuff, we will turn probably to domination tactics, right, to take it by force from others or to diminish the joy that someone else may have so that they don’t get to enjoy what they have because we’re jealous. Thus, quarrels and fights among us. And it’s complicated to open up a door like this because there’s so many nuances connected to so many different things inside of us, but we have to at least acknowledge this wasn’t that complicated for James’s. His view was that when we find a deficit inside of ourselves and we try to balance the scales by attempting to force our will upon somebody else then we’re gonna come up empty because we’re looking in the wrong place. So, James summed it up like this. You want things, but you cannot have them. So, you are ready to kill. You strongly desire things, but you cannot get them so, you quarrel and fight. You do not have what you want because you do not ask God for it. And when you ask, you do not receive it because your motives are bad. You ask for things to use for your own pleasures. So, you know, once again were brushing up a blunt style of James. But it gives us an opportunity to…I mean…sometimes when something is so stark and blunt there’s nowhere to hide, it’s in the light, there’s nowhere to run. Like, you have to take a second and actually use the opportunity to explore what’s going on in the inner terrain of our hearts. And it’s easy enough to get condemned, but James wasn’t trying to hurl condemnation. He was working his way to the root cause of all of this. And here’s what he had to say. “Don’t you know that to be the world’s friend means to be God’s enemy? If you want to be the world’s friend you make yourself God’s enemy.” So, basically when we try to get our identity by following the way of the culture, right, the world, then we’ve gotten it so backward that, according to James, we put ourselves at odds with God, which is not a small thing friends. And that could explain a lot. Like, if we were to look at this in terms of putting our faith into action, right? Because yesterday we went through this “faith without works is dead”, then we would have to admit that the behavior that James is describing in our reading today is our declaration that God is not enough. Therefore, we need to look outside the relationship for what it is that we lack and we’re willing to go to battle to get what it is that we lack or feel like we deserve. So, yeah, try doing that with your spouse tonight. Darling, I am unfulfilled, and I have to admit that you are not enough. And, so, I’m going to need to look outside the relationship for what I lack. Right? Try that over dinner and see if it produces quarrels and fights among you. So, looking at all this leads us to, what I do you know? You know, what’s my next step? And thankfully, James has something to say about that. And it comes by way of a very, very famous passage. And this brings up a good point to point out famous passages again. We have just spent a few minutes discussing the context of what was in our reading from James today, which leads us to a famous passage of Scripture that we use continually but now we understand that the context of this passage is the question, “what is causing the quarrels and fights among you” and then the exploration of the inner terrain of that question. So, in terms of next steps - what are we supposed to do now that we know this - here’s what James has to say. “Submit your selves to God. Resist the devil and he will run away from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash our hands, you sinners, purify your hearts, you hypocrites. Be sorrowful cry and weep. Change your laughter into crying, your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” So, that’s some humbling and convicting stuff there as we consider the things that are keeping us twisted up inside in conflict and quarrels all the time. So, let’s spend some time with James today. Let’s spend some time with this passage. There are keys to life in here that if we would begin to employ them would change the atmosphere. Like, no joke, would change the atmosphere around us. So, let’s invite the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts today to the places that our loyalties are divided because this is the source of the conflict within. these are the places that we’re trying to find an identity that only God can really give us. And, ultimately, this is what’s causing quarrels and fights among us.
Holy Spirit. Come, we invite you into that, every single one of us, we invite you into that. We become aware of our divided loyalties. We become aware of our selfishness. We become aware of the conflict and quarrels among us because of what we feel is lacking inside of us. And you are inviting us in the book of James to draw near to you, to come close to you, and you will come close to us. And when we are close, we are complete, we are whole, nothing is lacking. In your presence, there is the fruit of the spirit. In your presence there is unspeakable peace. We don’t have to go looking for how we can pilfer identity from what someone else may have achieved or as that we want. We are whole. We are at peace. All is as it should be when we are in your presence. And, so, it’s us, it’s not you. You’re not hiding, it’s us and we are commanded and given instructions to draw near. So, we do. We draw near to you. Come, Holy Spirit we pray. In Jesus’ name we ask. Amen.
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Yeah, a little bit later this week and we’re gonna be on, right? It’s going to be…the holiday seasons gonna be upon us with Black Friday coming and we’ll talk about that we get a little closer because we always have the Daily Audio Bible Christmas Box. And it’s a good one. And, so, we’ll talk about that later but that’s coming up.
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