Oct 21, 2018 – Love of God and Our Desires
Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series – James: Distilling Faith
James 1:12-18 (ESV)
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Your love for God (v12) can be overshadowed or uprooted by your desires (v14).
I) Observe your desires.
- v14 “lured and enticed”
- v15 “desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin”
II) Observe signs you are being overtaken by your desires.
- v13 “let no one say… ‘I am being tempted by God’”
- v16 “do not be deceived…”
- v17 “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”
III) Observe ways to direct your desires.
- vv17-18 “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above… from the Father…”
Questions for Reflection
- Is desire good? How do our desires make us vulnerable? Would we be better off having no desire at all?
- What do you want? Do you know? Think of specific things you know you want.
- What are examples of evil desires? What are ways we justify acting on our evil desires? What good do we point to in order to make sense of our wrong actions? What role does distraction play in our blaming others?
- What are examples of good desires? When you desire something that you know is not good, what kinds of good desires may be mixed in that have become corrupted or distorted? Think of examples of good desires and ways they are inflamed or misdirected towards bad ends.
- Why are we quick to blame others or attribute our own wrong doing to things outside of ourselves? How do we understand the role our own desires play even when we are right in our assessment that things outside of us are major factors in our own troubles? What is a wise and responsible way to navigate taking responsibility even while recognize larger forces outside of us at work?
- How can a deeper knowledge of yourself and what you specifically desire (“need”) help you change your habits? Is there a pattern you keep repeating despite your desire to change, and in what ways can being in tune with what you deeply want help you take steps to make better choices?
- Do you love God? What are signs you do? What are things you recognize you want that overshadow any sense of love for God?
- Jesus comes down as a gift from above to bring love, forgiveness, and invitation to receive and follow him. What can you observe in who Jesus is and what he has done that will help you trust him more firmly?
- How can you focus your desires on God? How can you cultivate the desire to love God?
- Is the promise of a crown of life, given to you if you remain steadfast in your love of God, compelling? Does it strike you as a greater goal than other things you are trying to gain or accomplish in life?
- Read Ephesians 4:1-16 and James 1:1-18. Reflect on similarities between the passages, and particular ways each brings its own insight or perspective.
Prayer of Confession
Our Father, the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change: we see that the corrupting nature of sin distorts, inflames, and redirects our desires such that we are easily lured away and enticed to do what is dishonorable. We want what is wrong, and when we want what is good we can be so desperate that even our good desires become a snare. Forgive us for how easily and frequently we are deceived. Forgive us for how we justify ourselves and blame or disregard you, or others, even as we do what we know is wrong. In mercy, continue to pour down your goodness into our lives. Plant your love deep in us. Cause it to grow so that our love for you fills our lives. Amen.