Single Mindedness

Believe Series Chapter 14

So far… We studied 10 specific BELIEFS we adhere to in this church.


We started the next 10 studies which are PRACTICES that we need to be engaged in.


Prayer. Bible Study and now SINGLE-MINDEDNESS.


Key Idea:  I focus on God and His priorities for my life.


Key Verse: Matthew 6:33 (ESV) 33  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 


James 1:5-11 (ESV) 5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 9  Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10  and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11  For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. 


Today, we are going to look at what James has to say on being "Single-minded".  


The opposite of single-mindedness is “double-mindedness.”  James talks about this.


We could also say… "absent-minded", "scattered", or perhaps just "distracted."

  • absent minded - having or showing a habitually forgetful or inattentive disposition.
  • scattered - disorganized, disorderly, diffused
  • distracted - disturbed, panicked, inattentive, faraway


Websters Dictionary - Hypobulia - trouble making up one's mind; the inability to come to a decision.


Life is full of decisions and life is basically a series of choices we make every day.  We have to evaluate, decide, draw conclusions.  


There are good forms of "single-mindedness" and bad forms. Here's the difference.


The bad single minded person: This is when one becomes so preoccupied with a task that they lose all grip with their daily responsibilities and accountability to others, this is obviously a form of self delusion. We often label these personality types as "self-centered" or "self obsessed", carrying a negative connotation. 


The good form of "single-minded" is the ability to block out distractions and erroneous thoughts in order to concentrate better.  


What are the distractions in our world that disrupt our single-mindedness?

        Sports    / Careers /Relationships/Family/ Hobbies / Technology . . .


These things are not necessarily wrong - but they become wrong when they are the thieves that steal our single-mindedness from Christ! 


Frank Borham said, "We make our decisions and then our decisions make us."  


The quality of your life will be determined by the kind of decisions you make in life.  Some of them we regret, some of them we feel good about.  


A young businessman went to an executive one day and asked for his wisdom, "What is the secret of business success?"  The man said, "Wise decisions."  "How can I learn to make wise decisions?"  "Experience."  "How do you get experience?"  "Dumb decisions!"


For all of us in this room – EXPERIENCE IS OUR TEACHER! (We alluded to this last week).


The fact is, because we are human we all have a great possibility for error.  We wait too long, we pay too much, and we say the wrong things.  


Some of you are making difficult decisions this very week.  Some of you don't know it yet but you'll have a major decision tomorrow.  


Life is full of choices. I heard the other day that someone figured out that there are 87,000 possible options that a person can get at Starbucks.


James talks about how to be single-minded/ focused.   


He gives us the problem, then he gives us the prescription, then he gives us the promise from God.


1. The Problem:  Double-Mindedness


James 1:6-8 (ESV) 6  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.


In Greek, the word "double minded" literally means "two souled" -- pulled apart in different directions, divided loyalties, divided priorities.  


How many have felt that way?  This is when you're trying to do two things at the same time.  You're not really sure what you want.  


Story  by Dr. Seuss:


The Guy who Couldn't Make Up His Mind


    Did I ever tell you about the young Zoad

    Who came to two signs in the fork of the road

    He looked one way and the other way too

    The Zoad had to make up his mind what to do.

    Well, the Zoad scratched his head, 

    And his chin, and his pants.

    And he said to himself, 

    "I'll be taking a chance.

    If I go to Place One, that place may be hot

    So how will I know if I like it or not.

    On the other hand, though, I'll feel such a fool

    If I go to Place Two and find it's too cool

    In that case I may catch a chill and turn blue.

    So Place One may be best and not Place Two.

    On the other hand, though, if Place One is too hot,

    I might get a terrible earache and die.

    On the other hand, though, if Place Two is too low,

    I might get some terrible pain in my toe

    So Place One may be best." 

    And he started to go.  

    Then he stopped and he said,

    "On the other hand though, 

    On the other hand, other hand, other hand though...  

    For thirty-six hours and one half that Zoad 

    Made starts and made stops at the fork in the road

Saying, "No, don't take a chance.  It may not be right.     

Then he got an idea that was wonderfully bright.  

"Play safe," cried the Zoad, "I'll play safe, I'm no  dunce.     

    I'll simply start off to both places at once."

And that's how the Zoad who would not take a chance

    Went no place at all with a split in his pants.


Sometimes in life we are out of focus – we don’t have a single-mindedness.  Double-mindedness is devastating, debilitating.  It makes you unstable.  


The word “double-minded” is translated "confused" in many parts of the Bible.  


It's used to describe a drunk who's staggering, reeling, unstable in all his ways.  


He's saying, If you can't make up your mind it produces an unstable lifestyle.  All your ways will be unstable.  Constant turmoil.


Three Results Of Being Double-Minded:


  • Unstable emotions.  


It's a strain when you can't decide.  You worry and strain, you're confused.  You can't sleep and can't eat.  


You wonder, "Did I do the right thing?" 


It creates emotional instability in your life when you can't make up your mind.  


A Guy goes to a psychiatrist.  The psychiatrist says, "Are you indecisive?"  The guy says, "Yes and no."  "What do you mean by that?"  "I used to be but now I'm not sure."  


William James said, "The most miserable person in the world is the person who is habitually indecisive."  It causes unstable emotions. 


  • Unstable relationships.  


Lack of commitment destroys marriages.  When you can't decide, Do I want in or do I want out? I can't get on with it, I can't get out of it, I can't get with it?  What am I going to do?  


Instability in relationships.  


When you're unstable on the job and switching back and forth between careers.  


When you're a parent and say one thing then you say another thing.  We give double messages to our kids.  It causes instability.  


You can't decide in a relationship.  Am I going to get out of it or am I going to get on with it?  


I've discovered many times it takes more energy deciding than it does to do it. Once you do it, it's a snap, but the key is deciding.  


  • Unstable spiritual life.  


James 1:7 (ESV) 7  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;


It blocks your prayers. Indecision causes God from giving to you and keeps you from receiving what God has to offer.  


Some of you say, "Why doesn't God answer my prayers?"  Maybe you're not specific enough.  


Maybe you've never really decided what it is you want and you don't have a clear cut goal.  


Double mindedness can lead to a double life.  You'll be a spiritual schizophrenia Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.  


In Pilgrim's Progress it talks about a man named Mr. Facing-Both-Ways.  


That's when you want to do your will and God's will at the same time.  It’s when you know what's right but you do wrong anyway.  When you're trying to live for two people.  On Sunday you come and sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and Monday you go AWOL.  


Double-mindedness produces a double life.  In causes instability in all of your ways.  It produces an unstable life style.  


The problem is double-mindedness.  What's the solution?  James says, Get wisdom.  


2. The Prescription: Get Wisdom (vs. 5-6a)


James 1:5 (ESV) 5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.


Then he gives Three Practical Steps.  You admit, you ask, you anticipate.  


  • Admit Your Need.  


v. 5 "If any of you lacks wisdom..." 


I detect a little sarcasm in that statement.  "If any of you don't have it all together."  


James is the book of wisdom in the New Testament like Proverbs is the book of wisdom in the Old Testament.  


We all lack wisdom.  It is universal.  We all lack wisdom.  


Wisdom is different from knowledge.  Wisdom is knowledge put into practice.  


Wisdom is seeing life from God's point of view.  Wisdom is making decisions the way God would make decisions.  


The word for wisdom in Greek is the word "sophia". "Phila - sophia" equals "philosophy" -- the love of wisdom. 


Wisdom means practical application of knowledge.  The Bible talks a lot about wisdom.  But all we're interested in is knowledge. 


The world is impressed with knowledge.  God is impressed with wisdom.  


What do you do with your knowledge?  Do you put it into practice and make use of it?  


Wisdom is the ability to make decisions the way God would make decisions.


Proverbs 11:2 (ESV) 2  When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. 


Proverbs 11:2 (MSG) 2  The stuck-up fall flat on their faces, but down-to-earth people stand firm. 


Pride blocks wisdom.  You can't learn anything if you think you know it all anyway.  One of the reasons why we never learn wisdom is we think we have it all together.  


He's saying, when you admit that you lack in wisdom is the beginning of wisdom, "I don't have it all together.  I don't have all the answers."  


For some of you that may be hard for you to go home and say to your wife, "I was wrong."  When was the last time you said, "I was wrong."  


That shows how wise you are.  The admission of the lack of wisdom is the beginning of wisdom.  


But the key to wisdom is to start by saying, "I don't know, God.  What do You want me to do?"  Admit that you don't have all the answers.  Admit your need.


  • Ask For Wisdom.  


Pray to God.  Talk to Him.  "If any man lack wisdom he should ask God."  


How do you get wisdom? By listening to Jerry Springer? By reading Cosmopolitan magazine? By watching TV? By taking pills?  


The Bible says you get wisdom by asking God.  That's where wisdom comes from -- God.  


So you talk to Him about it and you ask for wisdom.  


Proverbs 2:6 (ESV) 6  For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; 


If God were to come to you one day and say, "I'm going to give you one wish.  You can ask for anything in the whole world. You can have one wish."  What would you ask for?  


A guy got a chance at that one time.  In the Old Testament, God came to Solomon and said, "You're the king of Israel.  I'm going to grant you one wish.  What do you want more than anything else in life?" 


Solomon thought it over and said: "I'm so inadequate as a leader. I don't know what to do with these people.  More than anything else I want wisdom. I want to be able to think the way You think, to see things from Your point of view, be able to make decisions the way You would make them.  I don't want to make mistakes.  I don't want to look back on my life later and have regrets.  I want wisdom."  


The Bible says that God was pleased with that request.  He granted it to him, just like God always gives wisdom to those that ask for it.  


He said, "Solomon, because you asked for wisdom, I'm going to give you the other things too:  wealth, fame, long life."  


Solomon not only became the wisest man, but he was the wealthiest man, a famous person, and he lived a long life.  


If God came to you and said, "What do you want in life more than anything else?"  If you could have one wish from God, what would you ask for?  Would you ask for wisdom?  


He says, that's how important wisdom is.  


Proverbs 4:7 (ESV) 7  The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. 


The reason we don't have wisdom is we don't ask.  


James 4:2 (ESV) 2  … You do not have, because you do not ask.


Twenty times in the New Testament it says, "Ask, and it shall be given."  


This word in the Greek literally says, "keep on asking, be persistent, be continual."  


As your pastor, I wouldn't dare presume to lead our church without continually asking God for wisdom.  I pray this prayer every single day of my life.  


Some days I might ask God 50 times for wisdom – to be single-minded.  That's not an exaggeration.  Some of you might call me at the office and before I pick up the phone I say, "God, give me wisdom as I speak to this person."  


When I’m told that I have an appointment -   Before I bring them back to my office I'll say, "God, give me wisdom as I speak to that person."  


3- Anticipate It.  


Expect an answer in faith.  You anticipate an answer.  God will give you focus – single-mindedness


James 1:6 (ESV) 6  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.


Circle "with no doubting".  If you want wisdom or to be single-minded -- first you've got to ask the right person.  


Then you've got to ask the right way -- in faith, believing, not doubting. The means the key to wisdom is prayer, the condition is faith.  


Have you ever prayed a prayer then later while talking to someone say, "But I knew I wouldn't get it."  


You set yourself up!  God says, If you can't believe you're going to get it, don't even waste the time praying.  


Pray in faith, believing, thanking God in advance.  Doubt is debilitating.  It hinders God from working in your life.  


Remember Peter.  Peter's in the boat one day and Jesus comes walking on water.  Peter jumps out and starts walking toward the Lord.  


If you want to walk on water you've got to get out of the boat. You've got to take risks in life if you're going to live by faith. 


 It doesn't require any faith to stay in the boat.  You've got to jump out of the boat and take that step of faith and then God will take care of you.  


He starts walking across the water. He's got his eyes on the Lord.  All of a sudden he looks down and thinks, "I'm not supposed to be able to do this."  Instantly he sinks. 


The moment you get your eyes off the Lord and onto the circumstance, you're dead in the water! (no pun intended)!  


Some of you have a major problem you have to make a decision on this week.  


The reason you don't have wisdom is because you're looking at the problem and not the Lord. 


You're saying  "I've got this huge problem!  How will I ever solve it.  I'm backed into a corner.  It's impossible!"  


God specializes in the impossible! Get your eyes off the problem, off the circumstance.  Get your eyes on the Lord.  


If you have your eyes on the problem, you're going to sink!  You must believe and not doubt.


James 1:6 (ESV) 6  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.


A lot of Christians are like corks in the ocean, blown around, back and forth.  They are victims of their circumstance.  


Some of you are blown away right now because you haven't been asking for wisdom.  Eventually you pray, as if prayer is the last resort.  That ought to be the first option.  


Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) 6  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.


Circle "must believe."


If you want to receive anything from God you've got to believe in advance you're going to get it.  That's faith.  


If you thank God after you've got it, that's not faith.  Faith is thanking God in advance.  


3.  The Promise:  God Will Give It!


James 1:5 (ESV) 5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 


God wants to give you wisdom.  He is eager. He wants to give you focus. 


Just like it pleased God when Solomon asked for wisdom, it pleases God when we come to Him and say, "I haven't the foggiest idea what I'm supposed to do. ..."  


Ask God.  It is God's nature to give.  God is a giving God. 


Look at How God Says He'll Give Wisdom:


  • Continually"Ask him..."  


In the Greek that is in the continuous tense.  He keeps on giving.  He doesn't run out of energy.  He never wears out. 


  • Generously.  


His resources are unlimited.  He has enough resources for everybody.  He's got plenty.


  • Without reproach  


God gives cheerfully.  Have you ever received a gift from someone you knew was giving it to you grudgingly and it took the joy out of it?  


They knew they had to and there wasn't any joy in it.  


The Bible says God does not give wisdom that way.  He loves to give.  


It's His nature to give. You never need to feel embarrassed.  


There should never be any hesitation.  God does not resent your asking for wisdom.  He is pleased when you ask.  


Aren't you glad it's God's nature to give?  God is our model for giving.  If we want to be like God, we need to become giving people. 


 God wants us to give continually, generously, and cheerfully.  That's what giving is all about.  He says, You give because I give.  



Where do you need wisdom right now?  Where do you need to get singlely focused  What's the big decision in your life?  Is it a career decision?  Marriage?  Kids?  Where to live?  An investment?  


It's interesting that James, in vv. 5-8 and vv. 9-11, gives us a practical application of where we need wisdom.  Of all the areas that James could have chosen to give as an example, he choose money.  (v.11)


James 1:9-11 (ESV) 9  Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10  and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11  For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.


Why?  More people make unwise decisions and foolish choices regarding their finances than almost anything else in the world.  


More people are double minded and unstable when it comes to dollars than any other area.  I see so many Christians in financial bondage, because they are violating God's principles.  


The point James is making in these verses is that regardless of poverty or prosperity we all need to realize that wealth is temporary and won't last forever.  


Jesus said you can't serve two masters.  You can't love God and money at the same time.  We need to decide.  


We need to make up our mind what we're going to save, what we’re going to spend our money on, tithing, giving, and the list could go on and on.


This is a fantastic promise here and all we have to do is claim it.  A couple of things James is saying about decision making:


God will help you make decisions in your life but you have to make up your mind.


It doesn't say, Pray and ask God to make the decision for you. Otherwise, you'd never mature.  God wants you to grow up.  


If you want wisdom, if you want to be singlely focused– then ask God who gives to you liberally.


Psalm 119:105 (ESV) 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 


(Put picture of Abraham Lincoln with the quote: I love the words of Abraham Lincoln who said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.”


Can you identify with those words today? 

Do you face a problem which has exhausted your best efforts to solve? 

Are you looking for answers which seem to evade you? 

Has your wisdom and the wisdom of those around you fallen short?

There is hope. The One who is Himself All-wise delights to give His wisdom to those who ask with a trusting heart. Have you asked God for wisdom?

We need to ask for wisdom for our marriages. We need to ask for wisdom to parent our children. 


We need to ask for wisdom to help us on the job. We need to ask for wisdom to deal with difficult relationships. 


We need to ask for wisdom to minister to others.

Does anyone lack wisdom here today? Let him ask God.


If we are going to be single-minded today – we must…


Seek him first in your family.

Seek him first in your job.

Seek him first in your finances.

Seek him first in your decisions.

Seek him first in your time.


A century ago, a band of brave souls became known as one-way missionaries. They purchased single tickets to the mission field without the return half. And instead of suitcases, they packed their few earthly belongings into coffins. As they sailed out of port, they waved good-bye to everyone they loved, everything they knew. They knew they'd never return home.

    A.W. Milne was one of those missionaries. He set sail for the New Hebrides in the South Pacific, knowing full well that the headhunters who lived there had martyred every missionary before him. Milne did not fear for his life because he had already died to himself. His coffin was packed. For thirty-five years, he lived among that tribe and loved them. When he died, tribe members buried him in the middle of their village and inscribed this epitaph on his tombstone.


When he came there was no light.

When he left there was no darkness.


It’s time for us to go all in and all out for the All in All!


FIVE Secrets that improve single mindedness that leads to a Victorious Christian Life:

    First moments of every day;

    First Day of every week;

    First dime of every dollar;

    First thought of every consideration;

    First love of our heart!


Psalm 37:4 (ESV) 4  Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 


Song – I Surrender.


Next week - SURRENDER