James 4:1-12

At Christmas I'm going to be 30 and I'm already making a list of things I want. I can instantly think of three big pressies because they're at the top of my list (v-drums, Macbook and a new bike just in case you're interested!). I really want these things but I haven't prayed to receive them and I'd probably feel stupid if I did. I'd like to think that the things I ask God for are slightly more important than my birthday presents.

Today, James speaks to us about our desires and how to make sure they don't get us into trouble...

What are your greatest desires? What things do you want more than anything else in the world? James tells us to do four things that will help us make sure our priorities are good for us:

Pray real prayers (v1-3). We should ask God for what we really want and we should really want what we pray for. If we're embarrassed to ask God for what we really want, then maybe we shouldn't really want it! Likewise if we're asking God for things we don't really want, then why are we asking? God sees right through our prayers to our hearts and motives so let's make sure we're honest about our priorities as we bring them to God and let's be ready for God to re-order them too.

Be different from most people (v4-6). James is basically saying - 'Don't want what the world wants.' Most people have their priorities up-side-down. They want things that won't last and don't bother with things that last forever. Let's make sure, that our priorities are the same as God's and not like most people's.

Resist Satan and love God (v7-10). Some excellent promises from God here. First, the promise that if we're prepared to resist the devil, he starts getting scared and runs away. Second, the promise that if we come to God, he will come near to us and welcome us every time. And third, the promise that when we do this, God will forgive us and purify us once and for all. We go to him with our guilt, shame and mourning and we walk away forgiven, clean and innocent!

Remember God's the Judge - not us (v11-12). With a proper perspective of God as ultimate Judge, it's not so easy to slag off others and put ourselves up above them, even when we know we're rightand they're wrong. We're ALL in the wrong when measured against God himself and our disputes become embarrassingly insignificant when we consider the things God could level against us if he weren't so gracious.

Maybe one of the four things above stands out because you know you need to make a change or realise something afresh. Thank God for his grace and ask his help to shape your priorities and relationships along the lines of his own.