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At War With Ourselves


"What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is the source not your pleasures that wage war in your body’s parts? 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. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures."
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's day! We're so glad to have our brothers and sisters from around the world here with us today. Please know, that we continue to lift all of you up in our prayers. We would  ask that you would do the same for us. We would also appreciate if you would share our website with all of your family and friends.  We again would like to encourage you to visit our Prayer Wall, not only to pray for our brothers and sisters in their time of need, but to also add any prayers or concerns that you may have. 
As Christians, though we are called to be peacemakers, we are often find ourselves being in conflict. Many are war makers rather than peacemakers. In the world in which we live, church splits are all too common, strife, infighting, conflict, outbursts of anger, and contentions all making the church look just like the world. Scripture tells us that conflicts and fights and strife don't originate from outside; they come from within, originating from our own selfish desires.
In Matthew 5, Jesus points out the association between anger and murder, "You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell."
I believe that it is tragic that so many Christians quarrel among themselves. Yet, many Christians lives are plagued by conflict rather than permeated with the peace of Christ. So, why does so much conflict exist in the lives of those who are promised Christ's peace? In chapter 3, James quite clearly showed us that the conflict we often face is connected with our words. If we would only learn to control our tongue, the potential for conflict is greatly reduced. Let's be honest, it is much more difficult to argue, when only one of the parties is speaking. However, in order to control our tongues, we must have a right relationship with God and submit to the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father,
Father, we thank You for this much needed Word. Lord, we pray that we who stand as enemies, would be made friends in Christ. That our faith in Christ, would truly transform our hearts, that we would live in unity with one another, as Your beloved children.
We acknowledge that even though we belong to You, we are often overwhelmed by the lure of the world, Lord, we need You every day to keep us from being conformed to the world. You have called us to think, act and speak differently than those of the world, help us that we would live up to Your calling upon our lives. Reach down and touch the hearts of Your beloved children, deliver us from worldly wisdom, earthly lusts, uncontrolled tongues and selfish desires. Lord, grant us the wonderful peace that comes to those who place their faith in Christ, that controls passion and puts an end to frustration and conflict. 
Father, we pray for those who are still friends of the world,  we ask that You would touch their heart and bring the conviction of sin, that they would reach out to Christ in faith and take hold of the gift of salvation, through His death and resurrection and receive the promise of eternal life. May it all be for Christ's sake and Your glory.
In Christ's name we pray
Today's Message: At War With Ourselves
Many Christians and churches are dominated by a self-will, that which pursues pleasure, power and prominence rather than the Will of God. Choosing pleasure as the chief end of life is to be given over to the spirit of this world. God wants His people to live with a conscious commitment to follow His divine will.
The reason for family quarrels, neighborhood feuds, strife between labor and management, and war among nations is the inherent greediness, self seeking, self gratification of human beings. Since everybody is seeking his own interests, it is inevitable that sooner or later, he will come into conflict with the selfish desires of others. The world will show little or no improvement until sinful people experience a change of heart.

It is easy to hate war. However, it is just as easy to overlook the selfishness in our own hearts, which is the seed of all conflict. For at the root of all conflict is a selfish heart.

Open your Bibles with me to the fourth chapter of the book of James. As we continue our study of the magnificent, practical epistle, we come to the fourth chapter. Although this entire section runs through verse 12, today we will be looking at verses 1 through 3. In this particular section of our text, James is speaking about resolving conflicts, and judging our selfish motives. War is horrific, and it is that graphic imagery, that James uses to portray conflicts within the church. I believe it is a tragedy when believers fight amongst themselves. Often times taking it too far and far too lightly, however, the apostle James understood the true nature of it.

I invite you to follow along with me as I read to set the text in our minds, as we prepare our hearts, may we understand and apply what the Spirit is saying to us. Let us bear in mind, that James is dealing with issues within the local congregation. Nor may we not miss the significance of the imagery that James chooses to use. I believe, this is very potent for the times in which we are living in today. James 4:1-3.

James is again giving us another test of living faith.  It is one thing to say you’re a Christian, to go through the motions, it is yet another thing to prove it by your life. Throughout his epistle, James has been giving us a series of tests of living faith. In chapter 1, there was how you respond to trials, how you respond to temptations and who you blame for them. And then there was how you react to the Word of God. Do you receive it and obey it? Are you a doer of the Word or only a hearer? Next was how you respond to people in need. Do you have the kind of true faith that reaches out to the fatherless, the widows and those in need. Or do you show partiality to people, as described in chapter 2.

Then there was a very comprehensive test of true living faith, if you faith is real, you life will be able to prove it by your good works. Because James tells us, that faith without works is dead. Then in chapter 3, there was the test of the tongue as a test of true salvation, it’s a test of transformation because out of your mouth comes the evidence of what’s in your heart, and so James is really echoing what Jesus said, that it’s the heart that produces the vocabulary and the speech.

Then, at the end of chapter, James says the kind of wisdom we exhibit is another test of living faith. Whether it is wisdom from above or wisdom from below, which is earthly, sensual and demonic. Then, he gives us another test of living faith, which is one’s attitude toward the world, for to be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God. Now, its not so much that you are God’s enemy as it is that God becomes your enemy when you become friends with the world. Which, by the way, is far more fearful.

As James unfolds these tests, he frequently revisits them throughout the epistle as a reminder of something he previously introduced. In case you hadn't noticed, James isn't the kind of guy who beats around the bush. He gets right to the point, to the very core of an issue. I believe, that many pastors today, would do well to do the same. You certainly aren't doing anyone any favors by sugar coating God's commands. In fact, quite the opposite, you're be doing them a great disservice! Not to mention, one that has deadly eternal consequences! That doesn't mean you cannot be kind, caring and compassionate. God doesn't call those who teach to be mean spirited, however, He does call us to boldly state the truth.

"What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is the source not your pleasures that wage war in your body’s parts? 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. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures."

As James opens this passage, he again gets right to the point. Verses 1-2, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask." By using the plural form of both words,in verse 1, he indicates these conflicts were chronic rather than simply a one time incident. Much like lava, that smolders beneath the earth looking for the right place to erupt, so some believers burn with belligerence. 
The language that James chooses to express the conflicts and quarrels, animosities and controversies among Christians, is not because there's no other way of saying it, but because there is no other way of expressing the horror of it. Here, he is seeing the relationship of the church through the eye of God. I believe that James is making a clear connection to chapter 3:13-18, that if heavenly wisdom is not our disposition, the result will be 4:1-2, quarrels and conflicts.
Take a look around, you, the world is in serious turmoil. Terrorists, hijacker, gunmen, mass shootings. Government officials are venomously criticized. While they get the brunt of the blame day after day,  others are at fault as well. Everyone is out for himself, employees, managers, politicians, citizens. The whole world is one big selfish mess!
Chaos and strife are plaguing the nations of our world. And, when selfishness is expanded to national proportions, that conflict results in the sacrifice of our sons and daughters on the battlefield.
God created the world with beauty and harmony, these things contributed to man’s rational happiness. However, Satan became the prince of this world and sin began luring man's heart away from his heavenly Father, the result is the world is enveloped in jarring discord. And, all of it is hostile toward God, antagonistic to His Word and opposes His will. There is no spiritual Switzerland. You're friends with God, or you're friends with the world, but you cannot be both.
James reveals the cause as the "lusts" that warred within them. The word lust speaks of passions. Most often tend to think of the term lust terms of sexual desires, however, that is not James’ intention here. Rather he is talking about the propensity in us to set our own will as supreme. Public problems tend to arise from private causes. James was not talking of physical murder. He is describing what can happen when men choose pleasure rather than a godly way of life. 
When God’s law of love is disregarded, and self-gratification directs lives, men do things they never dreamed themselves to be capable of doing.  He is comparing their inner attitude displayed in fighting and quarreling, which are as offensive to God, as killing. Jesus linked an attitude of hatred and contempt with murder.
Romans chapter 1 describes the violent animosity between God and man. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures."
I believe that there is no prayer that is more needed today, as much as the prayer that we may love God’s Word and desire His will.  Conflict in the church exists because there is conflict in our hearts. James cannot make his point any stronger. People are not searching for God, they are merely searching for all that God can give, but not for God. The only God they want is a God of their own making, who will tolerate their sin! James is saying that you will not resolve conflict until you correctly identify the source of it. If you blame the other person, you have not yet correctly identified the source. You must look within and see that your own selfishness is at fault.
The churches today are filled with the kind of people that James is confronting with the same issue. He knows that some of them are real and some of them aren’t. Back in chapter 1, verse 5, he said if you lack wisdom, ask God, He’ll give it liberally and hold back nothing. God is the giver of all good gifts if you’d only ask. You have not because you ask not. And again at the end of verse 2, "You do not have because you do not ask."
Now, in verse 3, he says "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures." In other words, you’re not going to get what you ask for because you ask for the wrong reasons, you ask not for the glory of God, not for the honor of God, but that you may consume it on your own lusts. They don’t ask God on His terms. That's the issue. 
Obviously, when he says you receive not because you ask not in verse 2 he’s not implying that their lusts would be fulfilled if they asked God.He's talking about what is beyond their lusts, joy, peace and happiness and  hope, that is available from God but they never ask God on His terms.The word he uses here is the Greek word "aiteó," it means to plead or to beg. Its a common word for the humility of an inferior. In other words, he's saying you don’t plead with God. And when you do ask, you ask the wrong God, the God of your own making. You ask with wrong motivates seeking personal gratification and pleasure. 
There are many people in the world today, people who love the world, people who ask God for things. But they ask for all for the wrong reasons. He uses the word hēdone, from the root hēdos, meaning what is enjoyable to the natural senses at the expense of other things. Those who forfeit the peace of God, often end up forsaking prayer. Essentially, what James is saying, is that when we begin warring and fighting amongst ourselves in the church, our prayers are futile. When we allow our love of our own will to become the driving factor in our lives, we either will not ask or we will ask wrongly. When prayer is forsaken, so is the power that might be ours forfeited.
When we are the source of conflict, it is often difficult to pray. We may well go through the motions, but when there is no heartfelt prayer for God's wisdom, we have forsaken His wisdom by choosing conflict instead. As we have noted before, there are close parallels between the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus pronouncing a blessing upon peacemakers, and that is what James is urging us toward.  
Because we have been reconciled to God by His grace, the peace that we lack, the wisdom that we have forfeited; can be ours if we only align our will with God’s will. Prayer is not about us getting what we want but rather God getting what He wants.
In Closing...
The man centeredness of the church today creates an atmosphere of conflict, but if we have a passion for God, His name’s sake and the extension of His kingdom, conflict will be minimized. People who love the world, exist for self pleasure. God does not fill the requests of people seeking worldly things for selfish purposes and self pleasure.
If you’re in love with the world, then you’re at odds with everybody else in the world, because they're all stepping on each others backs to get what they want. You’re never going to have the fulfillment of those things. The enemy isn’t the other person, the enemy is our own sinful, selfish flesh. When we love our will more than the will of God, we are living at war with ourselves.
Many today who profess to be Christians, are trying to use God to make self happy. Our prayer should be for God's will to be done in and through us, for the needs of others and for asking God to bring peace into our homes and families and for the lost of this world, so that God might be glorified. Ask God to be glorified in your relationships, and He will answer! It is the sine qua non of following Jesus Christ.

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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