Ephesians 4:7-16; Draw near to God to give your life to Him.

Thursday, August 19, 2021


When you feel that you are starting to take yourself a bit too seriously, memorize, or remember:


Psa 39:4-5

Lord, make me to know my end,

And what is the extent of my days,

Let me know how transient I am.

5 Behold, Thou hast made my days as handbreadths,

And my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight,

Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.


To serve one another with our gifts (Eph 4:7-16), we have to be ready and effective in the fear of the Lord, knowledge, wisdom, faith, and prayer.


The disciples, who in Luk 9:45 were too afraid to ask Jesus about His statement that He was going to be delivered into the hands of men, failed to have enough faith to cast the demon out of the boy, and failed to pray for the ability to do so.


Then in Luke’s and Mark’s account, after revealing their fear of asking, directly after, on their way to Capernaum, the disciples discussed among themselves who was the greatest.


Luk 9:43-48

But while everyone was marveling at all that He was doing, He said to His disciples, 44 "Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men."  45 But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they might not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement.


46 And an argument arose among them as to which of them might be the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, 48 and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for he who is least among you, this is the one who is great."


Mar 9:33-34

"What were you discussing on the way?"  34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.


In the house where they were staying in Capernaum, there was a child and Jesus took the child, stood him at His side and put His arms around the child. In eastern culture the youngest is the least in importance and authority. Remember when Samuel went to Jesse’s house to anoint the king that God had chosen, only knowing that the blessed one was one of Jesse’s sons. The prophet assumed it was the oldest. Jesse didn’t even bother to think of David, the youngest.


There could be no greater contrast. The greatest in that house, the Son of God, Creator of the world, standing aside the least in that house, a child. And then Jesus says, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for he who is least among you, this is the one who is great” (Luk 9:48).


I think we can conclude that the littleness of their faith and their failure to go to the Father in prayer is directly connected to their desire to be recognized in a worldly way.


Desire for the world’s way will make our faith little and our prayer lives weak.


Jesus told us to ask, seek, and knock, and to do so with persistence. He used the parable of the neighbor seeking bread to illustrate it. He said this to them directly after teaching them how to pray in Luk 11:1-4, “Father sanctify Your name; Your kingdom come …”


He taught another parable of the widow who nagged the judge until she received a hearing (Luk 18:1-8). Introducing that parable, He said:


Luk 18:1

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,


Losing heart is the result of getting our eyes off Christ (Heb 12:3), seeing bad situations as hopeless (Eph 3:13; 2Co 4:16), thinking our faith has no reward (Gal 6:9), and not praying (Luk 18:1).


When Paul tells the churches not to lose heart at his tribulations in Eph 3:13, he writes just prior:


Eph 3:8-13

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; 10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.


The parables of the neighbor’s persistence in asking for bread, and the widow’s persistence in asking for justice, does not mean that God needs to be asked more than once, but that we don’t always see the open door and fail to enter, we must return and ask, seek, and knock again.


It is our own weakness and blindness that demands persistence in prayer, not God’s forgetfulness or stubbornness.


God knows infinitely more than the wisest believer. We must never fear seeking all we can know of Him, while humbly knowing that there are some things unknowable.


Don’t fool yourself, drawing nearer to God is much more than academic or mystical. It’s more than a feeling. Drawing nearer to God will mean a change in your thinking and conduct – a change from unholy to holy. It is more loss of self and more of self placed trustingly in His worthy hands. It is going to scare you, and when you overcome the fear by taking those steps, the same situation is going to happen again sometime in the future, and you will fear those steps, and the losses they mean to your old life, all over again. This repeatedly happens only for the believer who is advancing, seeking, asking, knocking. Others fool themselves that the status quo is good enough.


The opening paragraph of Jam 4 clearly reveals this truth.


Jam 4:1-10

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? [chapter 3 shows us that they were envious and self-seeking, trying to excel one another in teaching and wisdom] Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God [not an unbeliever, but takes a position opposed to God]. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? [God does not accept infidelity with indifference] 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (Pro 3:34 from Septuagint) 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.


James finds the “source” for their conflict in the pleasures that wage war within their members.


James’ statement virtually personifies the word “pleasures” so that these pleasures become like hostile soldiers who wage war within his readers’ members. This statement is very much like Paul’s in Rom 7:23.


Rom 7:23

but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.


The flesh will make us prisoners within our own body with sinful pleasures acting like enemy soldiers waging war against us. Doesn’t sound like a very appealing circumstance.


We find another great truth here: war within ourselves will mean battle with others. War within ourselves means that we cannot be good to others, for to truly do good to others, like God does, is to not fear losing anything from self. The solution to inner conflict is to draw near to God and He will draw near to you.


Their selfish desires, in competition with one another, greatly collapsed their prayer life: “You do not have because you do not ask.” And whenever they did ask, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (vs. 3). James uses a remarkable word, “spend,” to show that if they did receive, the pleasure would be temporary. When you spend, whatever it is, is used up and gone. Therefore, we can see that when James states, “You do not ask,” he means that they don’t ask for the permanent things, the eternal things, which they actually need, like peace, harmony, love, sacrifice, holiness, etc., but they do ask for personal pleasures which they can quickly use up.

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