James (Today's New International Verson unless otherwise noted)
Submit Yourselves to God
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Jesus, that is me! I am just now thinking about my quarrels with my wife. They happen because in my heart, I am not totally given to You! I am thinking of my own wants and needs. I think about worldly things and worldly pleasures. Lord, when will I change?
Please Lord, help me to completely disown all the thoughts and pleasures and glories of this life. Help me to just ignore them. Help me to be so full of You and what You want that I don't even think about the worldly "stuff". Then the battle within me will end and I will have peace within me and with my family.
4 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
Jesus, how often do I choose to be Your enemy? Clearly there is no middle ground here. When I choose the world, I turn away from You. Thank-you for Your mercy so that You do not completely abandon me, for I choose the world so often. When will my mind stop even considering the possibility? I feel so wretched! Yet perhaps I should be filled with joy because You still love me, despite my sins.
5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?[a] 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
"God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble and oppressed."[b]
Jesus, help me to be humble. The prayer sounds almost crazy to me. How could I be anything but humble after the life of sin and failure that I have led? What have I done to be proud of? Nailed You to the cross with my sins? Though my sins I have whipped You and crucified You. How could I be proud? And yet pride does raise its head in my life. Why Lord? Please help me change. Help me keep my sin before me always.
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Jesus, this is an awesome promise. Help me to mourn my sins and be humble. Give me a holy sorrow from the depth of my soul. Help me to wait on You. I have no idea why You would lift me up, but You say You will, so I will put my faith in Your Word. Of course, when You were "lifted up" it was on a cross. If that is my future, so be it Lord.
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Jesus, let my words about others be kind and gentle. I know that doesn't mean that I always say everything someone does is OK, for sin is sin. But it means I speak out of love and hope and gentleness, for I have surely sinned more than anyone I know, and You still love me. My tongue can be so evil Lord. Please guide me and train me to speak only Your words in Your love.
Boasting About Tomorrow
13 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17
Jesus, let my business be Yours. You know I have done a lot of planning and changing, but without You, it is all for nothing. Please bless our business Lord. Use it for Your glory Lord. Without You, it is all a mist.
So then, if you know the good you ought to do and don't do it, you sin.
Jesus, what a fearful sentence! There is so much good I should do. In the end, this will be the greatest of all my sins! Oh give me courage Lord. Open my eyes to what You want me to do, and give me the courage to do it quickly. Help me Lord, be my hands and feet.