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.

boys-walking-fence-washington-indiana-date-1941-july-g3adfy

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.

 

Separating the Gold From the Junk – (Part One)

A TREATISE ON SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT:

With the my conversations this past week [Adult Sunday School time;  plus trying to define the word “DISCERNMENT” and its meaning with my wife],  the Spirit directed me towards obtaining a clearer understanding.  I hope, as you follow along, you too will have a deeper understanding of discerning.

In its simplest definition, DISCERNMENT is nothing more than the ability to decide between TRUTH AND ERROR, RIGHT AND WRONG!  It is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth.  In other words, the ABILITY to think with DISCERNMENT is synonymous with an ability to think biblically [I will discuss the “GIFT OF DISCERNING SPIRITS” and the differences in Part Two].

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches us that it’s the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning–

21  “Test ALL things; hold fast to what is good. 22  Abstain from every form of evil”  (NKJV).

Paul’s Admonition in a Letter:

Now my pastor used several bible verses relating to the topic of DISCERNMENT, but in particular, my focus in PART ONE will be directed to…

1 Corinthians 2:1-2:16– [The New King James Version].

Christ Crucified–

2  And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.  [2] For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  [3] I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  [4] And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  [5] that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Spiritual Wisdom

[6]  However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  [7] But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery [“secret”] of the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,  [8] which none of the rulers of this age know; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

[9] But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

[10] But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God.  [11] For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man who is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the word but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

[13] These things we also speak not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  [14] But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.  [15] But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  [16] For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”  But we have the mind of Christ.

8413196065_fb484f0a2f  The Truths Are Deep, and Yet Simple–

There are no commands in this chapter of I Corinthians 2.  No rebukes given to the First Church of Corinth.  Instead, Paul is calling us all to appreciate and puzzle over what God has given in Christ by the Spirit.  While the truths are deep, at heart, they are very simple.

Paul is arguing against the Corinthians for trying to find some deeper, profound, scholarly wisdom.  When all the depth they ever need is found in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, DISCERNMENT is an area where most Christians stumble.  They exhibit little ability to measure the things they are taught against the infallible standard of God’s Word.

“SPIRITUAL WISDOM IN A FOOLISH WORLD”

Waylon Jennings lyrics in the classic Country Tune, Lookin’ For Love, started out with the conundrum this way:

“I was looking for love in all the wrong places

Looking for love in too many faces…”

Paul’s Letter to the Corinth Church–

A Church in Greece
A Church in Greece

The church members in a large Greek city also were in a “conundrum”; they were searching for spiritual wisdom in “all the wrong places”.  They had formed elitist groups based on certain teachings and opinions.

We do the same today in our towns and cities.  Church people form groups based on some new spiritual guru, the latest best seller and seminar, seeking with levels of advancement in “spirituality”.  It can get really silly!

In Corinth, what the church thought was WISE…

What was WISE ends up being foolish sometimes and in modern Christian circles, some groups use “buzzwords” to express our take on what it means to be “spiritually mature.”

Ever have someone ask you if you were “full of the Spirit”?  Have you got the “second blessing”?  Does your church believe in the “full gospel”?  I’ve certainly asked the same questions.

Corinthian “Catchwords”–

The apostle Paul uses their buzzwords to reclaim them; re-defining them in the light of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

 In using their language but filling it with his own content, Paul rejects them.  He uses terms that the Corinthians had adopted to justify their spiritual elitism (“wisdom,” “mature,” “secret,” “spiritual”); showing that when these terms are properly understood, they include that which is available to ALL believers, not just the super-spiritual.

The Problem in Corinth–

The problem was not that some Christians didn’t have the Holy Spirit, for all the Christians in Corinth had the Spirit.  The problem was they were not living as spiritual persons ought to live!

Our problem today isn’t that we don’t have what we need to live Christ-like lives, but that we are not embracing what has already been given to us.  We are instead,  “Misfocused In Unfruitful Directions”.

WE’VE BEEN BOMBARDED WITH CLAIMS. 

Claims like: THE KEYS to a happy and healthy Christian Life is to be found in some new technique [Prayer, self-help therapy, a Christian book, spiritual warfare, certain style of worship, personal revelation, a prayer tongue], and on and on.  When these so-called “KEYS”, move away from the humbling, central focus of the Cross of Jesus, we risk becoming elitists, potentially divisive, and if not rejected…can cause a ‘church split.’

Ironically, many deeper life Christian movements have evidently appealed to the church in 1 Corinthians 2; to justify their approach, which is the opposite of Paul’s intent.

Paul’s Intent–

The Apostle’s intent is that we should embrace “spiritual discernment” in God’s wisdom in Christ and by the Spirit.  When we shift our focus off Jesus, to some other secondary teaching or emphasis, we have lost our way.  When we seek and pursue some “deeper” meaning or “better way” that only we and our group have seen, we’ve missed the opportunity of reaching SPIRITUAL MATURITY available to ALL… through Christ and by the Holy Spirit.

Now the Corinthian church members thought they were mature and spiritual in their pursuit of wisdom, but in fact, they were but spiritual infants, missing the TRUE WISDOM of God through His Son.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE “KEY” IN DISCERNMENT:

(Verses 10-12):  “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God.  [11] For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

The Spirit of God knows ALL the things of God, including the DEPTH of who God is, and His thoughts.  So the Spirit can and does enable us to know what God has already given us!

What is amazing to me is what the Holy Spirit does for us; providing for us to know the things God has graciously given to those who believe.

What are the “THINGS” He has provided?

The NIV bible translates “freely given” from the Greek word Charisthenta, from the word GRACE, charis.  So Paul is talking about Christ and everything we have available through JESUS through His cross and we are to grab hold of the WISDOM that is present in Christ Crucified!  This is TRUE WISDOM, which the Spirit makes possible for us to know–to “discern”.

So what do we do with this knowledge?

“…which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words”  (verse 13, NASB bible).

We are to DISCERN SPIRITUALLY, then we are to explain spiritual truth to others around us, all by the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

Then Paul continues the thought in verse 14, sharing that the person without the Spirit doesn’t accept “the things” or “the depth” or understand because…only discerning is through the Spirit.

The ‘natural’, ‘nonspiritual man’ doesn’t accept the truth.  They appear foolish, not understood.  The Greek phrase here doesn’t describe a ‘weak Christian’, but rather a person who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, so they’re NOT a Christian.

This is a person who lives on a purely human plane, so following Christ crucified doesn’t make sense to them.  It’s like a deaf person trying to listen to music; or like trying to get email on a phone that’s not smart.

THE AMAZING TRUTH REVEALED: 

Separating the Gold from the Junk
Separating the Gold from the Junk

The last two verses in our text brings us to the Amazing Truth:  The ‘Spiritual’ person discerns [or “judges”, “separates”] ALL things–what is wise and foolish, by sifting out the gold from the junk.

[15]  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  [16] For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”  But we have the mind of Christ. 

The Holy Spirit of God enables us to DISCERN WISDOM as we evaluate ALL LIFE with the mind of Christ.

Paul Verifies His Final Point:

Paul’s reference to a Scripture quotation in the Old Testament from Isaiah 40:13, asking rhetorically: ‘for Scripture says who can know God’s mind?  Who can instruct God?’

Of course the answer is that no one can; no one knows the mind of the Lord, which makes the final phrase seem so outrageous.  He says…we can know God’s mind.  He says…but we have the mind of Christ.

By the Spirit we have the mind of JESUS which is to have the mind of God.

If you want to continue looking at the word DISCERNING, you might look up and read some other *Bible verses in reference to this study in 1 Corinthians 2:1 – 2:16.

 In Part Two, we will again look at DISCERNMENT, but as a spiritual gift of discerning “spirits” and the understanding within the context of the verses found in 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 2..

*Bible References for DISCERNMENT:  [1 John 4:1; Hebrews 4:12; Philippians 1:9-10; Hebrews 5:14; Proverbs 3:1-12; 1 Corinthians 14:33; 1 Kings 3:9; Proverbs 18:15].