Paul's Passing Thoughts

James 4:1-4; You Do Not Have, Because You Do Not Ask

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 11, 2009

A pattern throughout the book of James is the author’s pattern of stating a problem, explaining the source or reason for the problem, and then pronouncing the necessary correction. Chapter 4 begins with the problem of “quarrels” and “fights” among the Jewish believers he is addressing [By the way, the fact that Bible writers address Jewish believers separately in the New Testament without any encouragement to assimilate into a church melting pot does not fair well for New Covenant Theology or Amillennialism].


James states the problem, quarrels. Then he states the cause, desires. Then he sites 3 corrections that also revisit the causes and further qualifies them.


The first correction seems brutally pragmatic, but remember, this is James writing. They don’t have because they don’t ask God and not having incites the desires within them. Lack of want always creates temptation, but if your needs are met, the temptation isn’t there, pretty basic. Do you think the Bible is void of these kinds of raw, practical applications? Granted, James is going to go much deeper than this, but remember what Paul’s counsel is to singles who struggle with lust: Get married! [1Cor 7:8,9]. Likewise, let’s say the Holy Spirit convicts you that you like to pray in public to show everybody how spiritual you are. Christ said to fix the problem by praying alone more than you pray in public, knowing that the private prayer is what you will be rewarded for in this life and the life to come [Matt 6:5,6]. And by the way, he encourages you to do it in order to get a reward. Oh my!!! Christ does however, put his finger on the problem. The motive thats driving this sin is the desire to be rewarded by men rather than God. More could be said about that but I digress.


James seems to be developing his instruction in a progression of cause and effect. At it’s most basic, individuals are trying to obtain their desires by their own means and God is not cooperating. They are totally dependent on self and not mindful of God. In other words, good old fashioned pride. They want to obtain their desires by their own strength so they can keep all the credit and glory for themselves as a self-esteem booster. They will fight others to get their way and the prize they seek, the supposed right to boast and feel superior to others.


Remember, James is dealing with religious people. So when all of the fighting and frustration leads to a total dead end, then they pray. We have all partaken in this kind of dead, drab, lifeless prayer time. It is this way because our life is marked by “you do not ask” [usually, you do not pray], then when you do pray, it is not a bold partaking at the throne, crying “abba, Father!”,it is a “double minded” faithless prayer driven by selfish “desire.” Along with this prayer comes the feeling we get when we only call our earthly parents when we want something.“Ya, I’m at a real dead end. All that’s left now is prayer, who knows, maybe God will give me what I want.” 3 words: ain’t gunna happen.


Where does this selfish desire come from that is “warring” within you, and causing all of this mess? That’s verse 4, friendship with the world. Friendship with the world trashes our communion [prayer]

with God in three way’s according to James in verse 4. First, friendship with the world feeds and gives provision to the fleshly desires James speaks of in verse 1 [Rom 13:14]. Sinful desires reside in the flesh and will be there till the Lord comes for us. Friendship with the world inflames this lust and empowers it to wage war within us [Gal 5:17]. As Christians, we keep the sinful desires dummed down and weak for lack of provision.


Secondly, friendship with the world makes us an enemy of God and then we expect to be able to go to God in prayer and get something while feeling the love. Again, 3 words: ain’t, gunna, and happen.

Thirdly, friendship with the world saps our desire to pray. This brings us full circle back to “you do not ask.” In turn, not praying according to the will of God feeds our propensity to fellowship with the world and fulfill the lust of the flesh. We are only then driven to cry out to God in the desperate result from a barren land, and without understanding of how we got there in the first place. If all of that is not enough, this whole nasty downward spiral gives Satan a foothold in our life [verse 7].


Friendship with the world is a subtle affair that creeps in unaware through attitude, beliefs, and influence. It also rushes in quickly to fill every void in our lack of spiritual duty and discipline, and the forces of darkness stand by to help with eagerness.


How friendly are you with the world? The answer can be found in another question: How often do you pray, and what kind of prayer is it?


Let it not be so with us. Let us instead rush the throne of God boldly with every want for ourselves and others, with every concern and deep desire according to the Spirit. We do not have because we do not ask. Christ came that we could have life and have it more abundantly, let us pray accordingly.



God’s love and purpose in failure: Luke 22:31-34

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 23, 2008

“This is the love of Christ, he meets us where we are in weakness with wisdom and extended hand to lead us out no matter how pathetic that picture is, and our failures and lack of faith paint that picture.”

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded {permission} to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.” Luke 22:31-34.

Christ speaks directly to Peter (formally Simon) and calls his name twice to make sure he had his attention. He knew Peter was still intoxicated by verse 29 where Christ tells the apostles that they will rule with him in the kingdom. Peter had no lack of appetite for such possibilities. Christ then informs Peter of an event at the throne in Heaven. When Satan and his hordes where at God’s thrown for their periodic mandatory parole meeting with God, Satan requested permission to destroy Peter’s faith. We have a clear-cut picture of this in the book of Job:

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face” ( Job 1:6-11).

Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). Here he tells God that Job will deny Him if God lets him attack everything Satan thought Job was living for. Satan is asking permission to sift Job like wheat the way they use to separate the chaff from wheat on the threshing floors.  In other words, separate Job from his faith. Christ informs Peter that Satan has requested permission to use the situation surrounding his crucifixion to destroy Peters faith. That’s why Christ prays that his faith will not fail. This prayer is according to God’s will because Christ already promises Peter will rule with him in the kingdom; a good lesson for us when we pray, to pray according to God’s will. The one thing we should all admire about Peter was  his deep desire and zeal to honor Christ and love him. He thought he was ready; Christ knew he wasn’t and also knew the plan was in place to fix that.  Christ informs Peter that his failure would be devastating and then reveals one of the purposes. When this trial was done doing its work, and he “turned again”, he was to “strengthen [his] your brothers.” Always remember this about trials and failures: God wants to use them to teach us so we can strengthen others. Hear this and hear it well, with all of the talk about knowing God’s will, here is something that is clear from the scriptures; when you have overcome a trial or failure in your life, you have your assignment from God.

Not many failures eclipse this one by Peter. He denied God three times, even after being warned that he would. Also, Christ said to Peter and the others just prior to being taken into custody: “and said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation'” (Luke 22:46).  Peter’s experience and what he learned through this experience may have colored this passage that he wrote at a later time, “Be of sober {spirit,} be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (IPeter5:8). Peter was not alert in this situation. He failed to remember the specific warning of Christ and obviously failed to pray per the Lord’s instruction. Also, Peter’s plan to be with Christ in that hour was not well thought out and led him into an environment fraught with the possibility of compromise. Also interesting is this: the part Christ assumed, was to pray that Peter would not be separated from the faith. Peter’s part was to pray that he wouldn’t  fall into temptation. We colabour with Christ always, knowing however, that he is the keeper of our faith (Phil. 1:6).

But now we come to this reality; that for the Christian, when we fail, the revealing of God’s love will follow. The greater the failure and personal devastation, the clearer we see God’s love. Peter’s spirit was willing but his flesh was weak ( Matthew 26:41 Mark 14:38), but God’s love revealed in failure will motivate us and make us stronger. Peter was not the only one that went AWOL after the resurrection. When Christ comes back in person, he begins to personally restore and uplift the faith of the disciples and other followers. Regardless of what Jesus preached over and over and over again about his death, burial and resurrection while he was with them, here was the mentality among the disciples as illustrated by this discourse with Jesus on the road to Emmaus:

“But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. “But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. “Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see” (luke 24:21-24).

1. Jesus did not do what they expected him to do.

2. Jesus said he would rise from the dead, but it’s been three day’s and no one has seen him.

3. Some angels said he was alive, but when some disciples went to the tomb, he wasn’t there.

Yep, that would be us if we were there, trust me. This is the love of Christ, he meets us where we are in weakness with wisdom and extended hand to lead us out no matter how pathetic that picture is, and our failures and lack of faith paint that picture. His goal is to draw us closer to himself through his word:

“And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25).

In addition to the encounter with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus ministers to more doubting followers as recorded in Luke 24:36-53. The way he counsels them to vanquish doubt is a study in itself. But in conclusion, we come full circle to Peter in John 21. The Lord entices him to profess his love for him three times, once for each time he denied him and then reveals that in the end, Peter would not deny him the second time:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me” (John 21:15-19).

For sure, at times, Christ rebukes us as he initially did to the two on the road to Emmaus. But the one who loves us and is greater than our failures never beats us down, but uses our failures to show his love for us and make us better for the kingdom. Peter, the rock that Christ built the church on, was not chosen because of his spiritual prowess. Even after everything Peter had learned, The Apostle Paul had to publicly rebuke him for downright silly behavior( Galations 2:11-14). If Christ used Peter in such a mighty way, he will also use you. Learn from your failures and glorify God because of his great Love. But also remember what else Christ seeks in His working with us; as he said to Peter, “Follow me.”