Living With A “Wishy-Washy” Prayer Life

Blog’s Scripture:  James 1:5-8

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ILLUSTRATION:

A young business man went to an executive and asked for his wisdom.

“What is the secret of business wisdom?”

The man answered,  “Wise decisions.”

“How do you make ‘wise decisions’?

“Experience,” the executive answered.

“How do I get experience?”

“Dumb decisions!”

How do we make decisions, in our jobs, in our families, and even choosing a candidate in an upcoming election?

How do we make up our minds?  Do you use common sense?  Experience?

Or, do you see how it lines up with God’s Word in your bible?

We Are Only Human…

We have a great possibility to make mistakes or bad choices in life, and Lord knows, I have made plenty over the years!

We have said the wrong things at times, paid too much for something we desired, been deceived by someone, and let our emotions dictate our decisions–“GUILTY!”

JAMES, Jesus’ half-brother, talks about DECISION MAKING in verses 5-8 –

He tells us if we lack WISDOM, to ask God–God who is no respecter of person and will give to each one of us…IF WE WILL ASK!

WAVERING in our prayers –  (verse 6):

“WAVERING” or “DOUBTING” comes from the Greek word, diakrino.  This verb suggests, not a weakness of faith, but a “lack of faith.”  I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want someone praying for me in a given situation who is “wavering”–“doubting” in their thinking.  James addresses this later in Chapter 5.

James says that “IF” we are going to ask God, we should BELIEVE that He will give us the right answer, not DOUBT, not “waver”; and as the King James Version of the bible reads, we shouldn’t be “double-minded” and unstable in our asking.

The Amplified Bible reads,  [8]  [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides.

“TWO MINDS” – “DOUBLE-MINDED” Definition is two-souled–pulled apart in two directions, divided loyalties, divided priorities.

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I remember when I was a young boy living in Federal Housing projects during the post world War II era, most backyards were enclosed by picket fences.  People wanted what little privacy they could have while living in court-style living arrangements.

The unwritten PROJECT RULES, given to each kid, was stay out of neighbor’s backyards, unless invited!  Well, to a 8-10 year old boy, that was like a sign on a front porch that read:  Don’t touch!  Wet Paint!!  You just had to do it!!

Now how were my friends and I going to skirt the rules and not get caught by our folks or neighbors, or even God?

And, the thought process of never falling from walking the fence line, especially into a neighbor’s backyard!!

The problem with walking on a fence is, you cannot do it very long and a lot of times you fall off on the wrong side if you are indecisive–doubting in taking the right steps along the way.

Being “double-minded” in prayer will have the same results.

‘Wishy-washy’ doesn’t make a person strong.

We have all been to the fork in the road and had to decide which direction we will go.  That is why it is so important to hear from God to make the right choice.

In the GOD’S WORD Translation of James 1:8, it says “A person who has doubts is thinking about two different things at the same time and can’t make up his mind about anything.”

 ABP Strong, a variation of Strong’s Concordance with an interlinear Greek translation reads:  [man he is a double-minded], confused in all his ways.

  • CONFUSED in relationship
  • CONFUSED because of fear of the unknown
  • CONFUSED because it will involve change.

It becomes like the DRUNK who is staggering around telling his friends that he is capable of making WISE DECISIONS and able to drive.  He/she may think so, but medically proven, our senses are numbed by alcohol and we cannot function properly and make good decisions.

HERE IT IS–

THE PROBLEM:

Indecision, unstable, double-mindedness.

THE CURE:

Asking God for WISDOM!

We will pick up the phone and call someone and ask for an opinion on what to do in a given situation,

BUT…we won’t ask God for His help until everything else is tried.

HANG UP THE PHONE and go to the THRONE!

JAMES, A servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, gives us suggestions concerning DECISION MAKING and DEVELOPING FAITH THAT WORKS –

answers

Remember, the PROBLEM is indecision and bad choices.

The CURE is Asking God–Admit your need:  

[5]  If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.  (Amplified Bible)

WE ALL LACK WISDOM–we need God’s help –

WISDOM is different from KNOWLEDGE –

  • Wisdom is knowledge put into practice.
  • Wisdom is seeing life from God’s point of view and not our own.
  • Wisdom is making Godly decisions.

The world is impressed with KNOWLEDGE but God is impressed by WISDOM.

When was the last time you said that you were wrong?  Thought so.

Admit to God you don’t have all the answers:  “I don’t know God”  “What would You like me to do?”

Admit your need!

  • ASK – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask…
  1.  PRAY to God.
  2.  TALK to Him.
  3.  ASK God.

Proverbs 2:6 (NIV Bible)

[6]  “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

“Out of the mouth of babes” expression.

It come from the simple TRUTH, that sometimes, it takes a child to reveal lasting WISDOM.

For EXAMPLE:

Patrick, age 10, said,  “Never trust a dog to watch your food.”

Michael, 14, said,  “When your dad is mad and asks you, “Do I look stupid?” don’t answer him.”

Naomi, 15 said, “If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse.”

James 4:2 (AMP):

[2 b]  “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

20 times in the New Testament it says “Ask, and it shall be given.”

  • EXPECT IT – James 1:5-6 (The MESSAGE Bible):

{5-6]  If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father.  He loves to help. james-1-6You’ll get his help and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.  Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.  People who “worry their prayers [“Wishy-Washy” in prayer – added to text] are like wind-whipped waves.  Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

Anticipate and expect and BELIEVE that God wants to GIVE the answer you need!

If God asked you right now, where you are sitting, what do you want most in life, would it be WISDOM?

If you had to make an important decision, maybe moving to a different area of the country to take a new job, would God be the first one you talk to?

We do make decisions that affect our lives and we need God’s help.  

FIRST!

God, tell me what to do!

God tell me what to say!

God, show me your wisdom!  Teach me LORD your principles that will apply to this situation!

Bring to remembrance a scripture that will help!

Give me the peace that is found in Your Word and in our relationship!

NO MORE “WISHY-WASHY” PRAYING FOR ME!

 


CREDITS:

Commentary:  7 Characteristics of a Double-Minded Believer by Dan Delzell – CP Opinion & James 1:6 Bible Hub Commentary.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations used:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

 

So, Who Has the Final Say Here?

A STUDY IN COLOSSIANS – (Colossians 1:10-20)

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In preparing for this week’s blog, I came upon this story that illustrated my blog-title.

In August 1994, a Korean Air Jet skidded across a rain-soaked runway, running into a safety barricade while landing in Cheju, Korea.  All 160 passengers escaped safely moments before the plane exploded into flames.  What could cause such an accident?  According to news reports, the PILOT and the CO-PILOT had got into a fist fight…over who was in charge of the landing controls.  I don’t know about you, but I would have thought it would have been covered in the Flight Manual!!!

The main thing I wanted to point out in this story is that NOBODY knew who was in charge…and the CONFUSION that arose, resulted in absolute CHAOS & DESTRUCTION.

So, Who IS In Charge Here?

This question is important to answer in almost every situation.  When we don’t know who has the final say…who’s is ultimately IN CHARGE, we become left with confusion and frustration.

For example…who should be in charge in the CHURCH?

The Bible is very clear with the answer:

Colossians 1:16-18 (Amplified Bible – AMP):

[16]For is was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen; whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; ALL THINGS were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him.  [17] And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together).  [18] He also is the Head of [His] body, the church; seeing He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent].

Now that could sum up the answer to “Who Is In Charge Here?” in just THREE VERSES!  But I want to expound my thought process even further.

Every Church Has Structure –

No matter what the church denomination might be, a CHURCH has structure to it. And every local assembly has people who are so designated to run the day to day affairs.

In Scripture, we can find that the FIRST CHURCH had…

  • Elders–also called Shepherds of Pastors.
  • Preachers or evangelists.
  • Deacons.
  • Teachers (like me).
  • And all kinds of ministries within the church setting.

QUESTIONS:  “That’s all very informative…but who’s IN CHARGE?”

That would be JESUS.

“No…I mean, who has the AUTHORITY in the church?”

That would be JESUS.

“No, no  no…who has the FINAL SAY in the church?”

That again, would be JESUS!!!

Now if you are asking, Who makes the day to day decisions in the local congregation…that would be the ELDERS/DEACONS and…they are to get input from the Lead Pastor, his associates and everyone else within the body of Christ–the Church.

God has given the Elders a very important responsibility –

Their job is to take care of the Bride of Christ (the church)…to protect her from heresy and false doctrine and immorality.

These are the PROTECTORS of God’s family here on earth.  This is why God wanted His Elders to be good fathers and husbands (1 Timothy 3:1-5).  In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he refers to the term “elder,” “bishop,” “superintendent overseer.”  Paul also refers to the Elders at Ephesus as “overseer”, likewise in Titus 1:7.  

So, it seems to be a synonym for the term “ELDER”:  A GOOD FATHER and HUSBAND; one who will have experience protecting their own family.  They should know how to LOVE God’s children.

Since the Church Belongs to Jesus…

The Elders must ALWAYS make their decision based upon what they think JESUS would want–because the church doesn’t belong to the ELDERS.

And the Elders (along with preachers and teachers and other leaders in the church) will be accountable at the day of judgment on how they treated the Bride of Christ.

I am at fault here, by not continually lifting up our Elders in prayer and to encourage them wherever and whenever possible.  I am going to start doing this today!

JESUS IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH!!!

I have given you the importance of how the Elders and our church leaders’ needs of keeping JESUS as the head.

BUT, How About the Rest of Us?

How can we know, whether WE have allowed JESUS to be the Head of His Church ?

One ANSWER…JESUS earned the Right!

As Colossians 1:16-18 tells us,  “…in Him (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; ALL THINGS were created and exist through Him…and in and for Him.”

JESUS IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH, because that’s His RIGHT!

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But there’s another answer to the question of  “Who Shall Have the Final Say” in the Church?  Who’s in charge?

The ANSWER is, that Jesus being the head of the Church, should always have the final say because that’s the way God DESIGNED the Church to function.

I was reading an article in The New York TimesAltering Your Engine With New Chips, by Jim Motavalli.  It was about a man who owned a Porsche 944 Turbo and wanted to increase the horsepower.  He decided to install himself, a business-card size electronic part–a so-called “performance chip” designed to reprogram the car’s engine control module and giving the Porsche a “power boost”.  And it appeared to do the job–he gained 40 HP at first, but by taking charge of and installing the power boost himself…it all blew up in his face; $7000.00 damage and voided the auto’s warranty.

I saw a poignant parallel between this story and what occurs when we try to alter the performance of the local church, forgetting Who IS really in charge!

It is only when JESUS is the “HEAD OF THE CHURCH” that the church will ever run right.

Just before the apostle Paul introduces the idea of Jesus as the HEAD of the Church, he says this:

That you may walk, (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God…that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory… (Colossians 1:10-11; AMP bible).

When Jesus is the One Who Is In Charge of The Church…this is what you get:

#1.  You are EMPOWERED to live a life worthy of your LORD.

#2.  You can PLEASE HIM in every way.

#3.  You can BEAR FRUIT in every good work.

#4.  You can GROW IN KNOWLEDGE of God.

#5.  And be STRENGTHENED with ALL POWER of God.

How often have I tried to FIX things over my life–in the workplace, in the family, and yes, the church as well.  And when I can’t…like the owner of the Porsche, it eventually ‘BLEW UP” in my face; effecting not only my own spiritual life, but those close around me; from my frustration and anger, I was disrupting their spiritual lives.

When we don’t allow JESUS to be the Head of our lives, the Head of the Church, that is UNHEALTHY!

In Galatians 5, we’re told what constitutes SPIRITUAL HEALTH –

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious…hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy… (Galatians 5:19-21 NIV).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law”  (Galatians 5:22-23).

Notice the difference between the “acts of the sinful nature” and the Fruit of the Spirit.”  SINFUL NATURE is filled with ANGER and FRUSTRATION.  But the Fruit of the Spirit has no anger and no strife…there is no contention.

WHY?

Because when we [“I”] bear the Fruit of the Spirit, JESUS is in charge.  He’s our head!

When He is in charge we trust Him to control the situation we are personally dealing with.

Refreshment Is Always A Good Thing!

This week in my study and mediation of Colossians 1, I had to relearn some things about myself– I needed some refreshing.  Okay, not “some”, but a lot of refreshment.

When JESUS is IN a Church–people change.  When He is in charge of my life, your life, we become different…we are transformed by His presence and His power 

Who has the final say in your church and in your life today?  I HOPE it is JESUS!

 


Credits:

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Concordance:  The NIV Complete Concordance by Edward W. Goodrick & John R. Kohlenberger 111.

Bible Translation:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

 

 

 

 

What Does the Bible Say About Mediocrity?

The Best of the Worst or The Worst of the Best

Here is a quotation from Chip Crush that might peak your thinking, regarding the word MEDIOCRITY:

“It’s not that mediocrity is bad; rather striving [my wife likes “settling”] for mediocrity is the fault”.

A Definition:

Webster’s Dictionary says Mediocrity is;  “of moderate or low quality, ordinary, so-so”.  I know some people who read this blog regarding MEDIOCRITY, will look at Webster’s definition and say,  “What’s wrong with being an ordinary Christian?”  Is being “ordinary” really a bad trait in a Christian”s life?

I’m not much into popular music these days. The music that I listen to the most is from CD’s I’ve collected over the years and, I like all types of music for the most part.  I ran across a song the other day by group called Matchbox 20; a song titled “HANG”.  The tune was ‘catchy’ but the lyrics made me scratch my head just a bit. Is there a theme or verse I could use regarding mediocrity?  I’ll give you one verse and let you decide what the world is saying to those who are willing to listen and believe what they hear.

“HANG” by Matchbox 20:

“And we always say, it would be good to go away someday,

But if there’s nothing there to make things change, If it’s the same for you,

I’ll just hang.”

My mother used to tell me, “If you see someone jump into a fire, would you do the same?” NO, I would “just hang”.

Coram Deo:

Coram Deo” is Latin for, “Before God”.  As believers in Jesus Christ, whatever we do, NOT just on Sundays, is Coram Deo; Before God. What comes out of our mouths, how we act is seen and noticed.

After I graduated from high school in San Diego, my mom and dad sat me down at the kitchen table one day. They proceeded to tell me, now that you have graduated from high school and planning to go to college, a  reformation was going to take place. Get a job, and pay rent; fifty dollars per month [hey, it was 1959!]. In turn, I would receive room and board which included mom doing my laundry too.  Now to a 17-year-old, who had no clue what real life was about, immediately proceeded to go into shock.  Three months later I had my first REAL job, registering at San Diego State University and starting my brand new “real” job as a “box boy” aka “courtesy clerk, on the same day! Those experiences alone began my journey towards independence and the unknown. I was “waking up to smell the roses” for the first time in my life. And now looking back on my experiences, “And I thought life was tough at 17”.

Someone is Watching:

My dad explained to me, if I was to keep my job and my boss’s approval, never be idle on the job.  I was to find things to do even if there wasn’t anything to do.  If the floor needed to be swept, don’t ask the boss if you should sweep the floor, just do it! This statement was long before a tennis shoe company used the same terms.  “What if the floor had just been swept”, I asked?  My dad’s answer, “Sweep it again. Somebody is watching you and they will appreciate your hard work.”  Looking back on my dad’s wisdom, his telling me to work and live above the common, ordinary, commonplace, characterless, colorless surroundings would benefit me in the long run.  If you don’t do, you become “mediocre”.  My dad’s words about being mediocre have stuck with me all my working life and today, in my Christian life.

What Does “Abba-Father” Say to Us About MEDIOCRITY”; Does He Notice?

II Timothy 4:6-8 says,

For I am already about to be sacrificed [my life is about to be poured out as a drink offering]; the time of my [spirit’s] release [from the body] is at hand and I will soon go free.”

“I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.”

Anyone who thinks that the Apostle Paul  lived in mediocrity can see in verse 7,  that wasn’t who Paul was. This past Sunday, our Pastor continued his summer series on “The Matters of the HEART”.  He spoke about our CHARACTER and defined it by saying, “Character is the will to do what’s right as God defines right, regardless of the cost!”  I would add “What is right” is what God’s Word says is right.  It’s not what I feel is right based on “stuff”.  Dr. Creflo Dollar says, “when you do right because of what’s right you will prosper and prosper others”. NO MEDIOCRITY HERE!   He continued with this phrase on CHARACTER:  “You will never rise above your limitations of your character.”

II Timothy continues in verse 8:

“[As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for be right with God and DOING RIGHT], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day–and not to me only, but also to ALL THOSE who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return).”

Do you see a life of mediocrity in verse 8 into Paul’s character?  That is a rhetorical question. “Yeah, but I’m not Paul” you might be thinking. If that is what you are thinking, then it is you who are living in mediocrity.  Make it personal, I personally have done so before.  And YES, our Father does notice how we are living around others.

Staying out of MEDIOCRITY; Changes in your desires:

What would you say to a fellow believer, if he or she gave an answer to this question, “What type of Christian would you call yourself? After a long wait, the answer was, “I am just an ordinary Christian. Like everyone else I guess”. According to Webster’s definition that would be “mediocre”.

Turn to Romans 15:14-33 and read first, then let’s go back and underline or write down some important keys Paul gives in staying out of MEDIOCRITY.

1.  Being rich in goodness towards others. (verse 14)

2.  Amply filled with all [spiritual] knowledge. (verse 14)

3.  Being competent to admonish, counsel, instruct one another. (verse 14)

4.  Winning obedience from the unbelievers by your word and deed—CHARACTER. (verse 18)

5.  Fully preach the Gospel [faithfully executing, accomplishing, carrying out to the full the good news] of Christ in its entirety. (verse 19)

6.  An ambition to preach the Gospel, not where Christ’s name was already known. (verse 20) NO MEDIOCRITY in that ambition!

7.  Giving to the less fortunate among believers. (verse 26)

8.  Wrestling in prayer–fervent, boiling over, type prayers. (verse 30, JAMES 5:16)

There was 8 Keys to getting out of mediocrity as a Christian. See if you can go through the verses and list some other keys if you are willing and able.

You Need A Different or Changed Attitude to see RESULTS:

Romans 12:1-2  “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [ALL] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.”

Two of the most important steps that you can take in life are:

1.  Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior of your life.

2.  The Renewal of your mind [a new attitude with new desires].

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], BUT be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”

Almost every morning when I open my eyes, I first thank my Father for giving me another day. Then I ask for a renewal of my mind for that day; a new attitude TOWARDS OTHERS who aren’t always “lovely” in my life and I am not always lovely either.

God’s Word Always Lifts You Above Mediocrity:

“I don’t always have time to read in my Bible in the morning”.  With excuses like, “I slept in this morning, I don’t feel good, the kids are driving me nuts, I’m just to busy…I’ll read when I get home”.  Those are excuses and they will keep you in a life of MEDIOCRITY.  As Paul tells Timothy, there is a victor’s crown waiting for us someday and the Lord is watching our lives in Christ Jesus. 

Joshua 1:8 encourages us and gives us a promise:

“This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success.”

You cannot and will not live in Mediocrity if you obey that quoted verse!