“Have A Warmer Heart Than Usual!”

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,” Luke 10:33

I live a good distance from the church I attend which means lots of driving and observing time.  Often times, on my way to church I look out my window and I stare.  Some may think I’m being rude, but it’s the exact opposite.  I look at that person sitting on the stoop or the one standing on the corner, and I wonder.  I wonder about what they may have gone through that day.  I wonder what it is that made that person look so sad.  I wonder about the mom on the bus stop struggling to get the stroller, baby, and bags onto the bus.  I wonder.

How often have we really taken the time to see beyond the people to see the person, to really try to imagine you walking in the shoes of another?  To see what’s going on inside the person without judging the outside?  To show a tender heart instead of a wagging head, disapproving eyes, and a simple tsk-tsk-tsk?

When it’s all said and done, it is the “royal law” of love that wins out every single time (James 2:8).  Thinking beyond oneself will go farther and make more of a difference in the world we live in.  Why?  Because that’s what Christ did for us!  He looked beyond Himself, beyond His own needs and hurts, and saw what the world needed.  The world needed a Savior.

Even during His earthly ministry, it has been noted in the Bible, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion…” (Matthew 9:36).  To the leper: “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him…” (Mark 1:41).  To the mom who just lost her son: “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her…” (Luke 7:13).  To the world: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22:42).  To His enemies: “Father, forgive them;  for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34).

That’s how warm Jesus’ heart was toward people.  He had a genuine concern to look at people from the inside out instead of the outside in.  He saw the person beyond the people.  So did the Good Samaritan.  Despite the rejection and animosity he had faced down through the years at the hand of the Jews, the wounded man lying before him needed his help.  He was not going to let those years of bitterness or even indifference change his resolve to help the one that needed him now.

Paul taught the church in Ephesus to “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us…” (Eph. 4:32-5:2).

Followers of God are concerned with the person on the inside.  A child of God is warmed to the plight of the human in humanity and sees them for who they are.  They are someone that God is concerned enough about to allow His Son to die.  Shouldn’t we then have that same compassion for one another?

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Living This Life for the Life to Come

Uncertainty. If it is not a word on many lips, it’s a word that many are feeling in their hearts. A bothersome restlessness that leaves one’s thoughts in an upheaval of mess because they just don’t know what’s around the corner next. Will this happen or that is a question many are asking.

Worrying about our times and futures seem to be among many normal conversations of the day. Not that any can blame one for expressing their concerns regarding the menagerie of mess that seems to be swirling around us. With so much hanging in the balance, making many feel like their load is going to capsize at any minute, what can we, as individuals do?

In the natural, I think the most any of us can do is prepare as best as we can with the means we have available to us. This will not look the same for each of us. For many, these times bring greater stress than for others and it really stretches one beyond their comfort zone.

There are just things that we as individuals cannot control. We just can’t. And the constant worry and stress over it gets us nowhere.

Then, there are things we can control, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to others.

Physically, everything is dependent on what a person is able to do or not to do. But the preparation for a better spiritual future is the same for everybody and is not dependent on any earthly resources, means, or ingenuity. The greater spiritual outcome we hope to obtain, and the heavenly reward up ahead is only dependent on what Christ already did on the cross for us, and us choosing to believe and accept Him and follow Him with our whole heart and our whole life, for He is the only way to experience that greater future. Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven (John 14:6).

As we watch the news and look out into this world, we may scratch our heads wondering what this world has come to. It’s hard for us to digest some of the despicable acts of human nature. It’s hard to see evil running rampant. It’s hard to see innocent people being hurt. People making wrong choices. Disfunction knocking on so many doors. It’s hard to witness what this world has come to.

It’s also hard dealing with some of our own personal issues and struggles. And the word “uncertainty” seems to just get bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, taking on a life of its own.

While uncertainty in the here and now seems to keep growing for myriad of reasons, in Christ, we really do have a future that is certain, secure, and real. It’s better than anything we can prepare for or lay up in our present-day. For everything here will pass away one day and all that will matter is the future we have prepared for in the time to come.

John, in the book of Revelation, wrote, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sin,” (Revelation 21:1).

One thing is certain, all that we see with our natural eyes will one day be gone for good. Our hope is to be in what we have laid up for spiritually. Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” (Matthew 6:19-21; see also Luke 12:34; read Luke 12:33-44).

While many are so focused on the here and now, how many are living this life for that life to come?

I’m in no way bashing being prepared and taking steps to secure things needed for family and friends. Rather, I want us to examine the focus of our hearts and where our treasure truly lies. Putting more stock in the here and now will not ultimately profit us (read Luke 12:16-21). We must ask ourselves, are we worried about being more “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21) or toward the things of this world?

Live this life for the life to come and no matter what takes place down here, you will have a greater reward, a greater treasure up ahead that will never fail you or be taken away from you. The word “uncertainty” doesn’t exist there.

There, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,” (Revelation 21:4).

There, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son,” (Revelation 21:7).

There, “The nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it…” (Revelation 21:24).

There, in that heavenly place, “There shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads,” (Revelation 22:3-4).

While uncertainty may remain here, there in heaven, will be nothing but blessed assurance, peace, beauty – everything good, right, and holy.

Live this life for the life to come and your preparedness will not be for naught, and your treasure will never be misplaced or lost.

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“Thou art my hiding place!”

When trouble comes my way,
You are my hope and stay.
When the winds of adversity blow near,
You are He in whom I have no fear.
When I am dazed, lost, or confused,
You and hope in Your Word will see me through.

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“You Have to Work It!”

“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough,” Proverbs 28:19, NKJV

“Something for nothing!”  It seems to be the way of the world.  Many are searching for the next big thing that is going to push them toward success yet when the face of work peeps around the corner they run in the opposite direction.   The truth is, life takes work and a lot of it.  Anything worth having is going to take work.  Something will never come out of nothing,  It takes an effort of heart and mind, strength, and endurance to see the results we may desire for our futures.

For example, the farmer will not dare to go out into the field hoping to reap that which he has not sown for.  If no seeds were put into the ground and the field had not been tended to – if the work has not been done, he knows that when the time of harvest comes there will be no produce, no benefits to reap from.  Yet, many still go out into the field seeking to reap when they have not planted.

“He who tills his land!”  He who works it!  He who puts forth an honest effort knowing that if he keeps persevering and keeps pushing forward eventually he will reach the point of plenty, of being able to reap off of the goodness he put into it.  Your land is what God gave you.  It is your gift, your ability, your talents, and skills.

Many put a lot of faith in things that will not produce a harvest.  Work what God gave you!  Guard what you do with your time and efforts.  Are they leading you to where you want to be?  Is what you’re doing sowing into your future?  Will you be able to reap “plenty” from the seeds you have planted today?  We only have one life to live, by the grace of God, make it count!  Work it today!  God bless you in all your endeavors today 🙂

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There are some mornings…

There are some mornings while making the bed, I long for the ending of that very day when I climb back into the bed and the day is done.

Why is that?  The end of the day signals completion.  All the toils, all the works, and worries are now being laid to rest.  My evening routine tells me it’s over for now.  Settle in peace for the night as the cares of the day come to a close and the door shuts on what is behind.  Let the heart, mind, and body lay down and take its rest to prepare for the new ahead.

Facing the new sometimes comes with inspiration and energy.  But, there are times when facing the new feels like an arduous task, asking for so, much when I feel like I can give so little.

Today is the beginning of today.  Whether I’m facing it wanting to climb back into bed or if I feel I can take on the world – regardless of how this day may feel, I am grateful for it.

The psalmist declared, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it,” (Psalm 118:24).  Why?  Because no matter how the picture of today is painted for us, it is a gift.  This day is a bestowing of God’s grace into my life, and for that, I settle my heart in His peace and I can rejoice in this day.  When the ugly tries to poke its head into the newness of this day, I can reflect on the beauty of God and let all that He is wash over me, comfort me, and hold my hand through it all.

I admit every day will not seem some glorious affair, but when we have our wonderful, glorious God, we can look to Him and look for ways to inject His beauty into the ugly parts – letting His light shine in those dismal areas, and re-inspire, reinvigorate, and re-energize us for this day.  Because wherever God shines, it will be made beautiful regardless of how it appears.

While there are some mornings that may make us scratch our heads, there is always our God who is ever faithful and forever in love with His creation – with you.  Therefore, we can still find reason to rejoice!

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“Unchanging Joy!”

“The joy of the LORD is your strength.”  Those words penned from Nehemiah 8:10 we generally claim or hear quoted when people are experiencing adversities or may have a monumental task ahead of them.   Sometimes they are even expressed in moments of celebration.  For days of sorrow or for days of peace, any day is a good day where a child of God can declare, “The joy of the LORD is your strength.”

One thing I have learned in life is that we do go through many different seasons and circumstances.  Some good.  And yet, some which can make one feel a little void or empty.  Happiness and joy can’t seem to be found in any activity or normal pleasure.

During these seasons, one must remember that life will always act as a variable. It may seem a simple thing to say or write, but in the midst of the challenges and sorrows, yes, it is sometimes hard for us to see these truths, therefore, we must be gently reminded of how things really are at times.  And that is life changes.  Things get added and taken away.  Some changes affect how we feel and when we base our feelings on these variables we experience many ups and downs.

What then?  It is the unchanging, the solid, the constant that we need to build everything else upon.  As long as we live in this world things will always change.  One hundred percent of our time will not stay in a state of sameness.  We will have times of exaltation, growth, and increase.  But, we will also experience those things that grieve us, break our hearts, and spend our energies with the multitude of tears flowing from us (see Ecclesiastes 3:1-11).

Therefore, since we are susceptible to these changes we must base our life, our joy, our foundation to everything else upon Him who never changes.

God is our constant!  “For I am the Lord, I change not,” He exclaimed in Malachi 3:6.  We also have this promise written through James: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” (James 1:17; emphasis added).

Our Heavenly Father will always be the wonderful, Heavenly Father that He has always been.  No matter how your circumstances may feel to you right now, that truth will never change.

That being said, if the happiness and joy you once felt or usually feel have escaped you today, perhaps it is because we have become more dependent on too many changing factors rather than filling our heart, mind, soul, and life with the true joy of Him and from Him that never changes.

In dealing with many sorrows and afflictions himself, David penned his own beautiful words, declaring the assurance of his joy.  He stated, “And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation,” (Psalm 35:9).

When we bring our all to focus on God… When we tune our souls into the proper source, we will find that situations may still be adverse, but because I have Him, because I have a relationship with God, and because His salvation has raised me from far worse than where my soul would be without Him, I can still rejoice!

I think it’s safe to say that we all want it to feel good all the time.  But feeling good and have everything go our way or turn out just as we desire is not a prerequisite for true joy because those things and feelings will also and always change.  But my God won’t, and when it is He that I open my heart to and allow all that He is to shine on me and everything that I am feeling, then I can experience that true, unchanging joy!

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Devotion | “I Come Quickly!”

Once, while attending Bible study, this verse in Revelation 22:12 became a point of reference.  But, as I perused through the rest of the same chapter I noticed those words written in red, indicating Jesus speaking, were written exactly the same way three times: “I come quickly,” (see verses 7 and 20 also).  This really got my attention for any good Bible student knows that if Jesus repeats anything it means to take special heed to it.  This statement which is triple repeated is as a warning siren beckoning one to be aware of what’s about to happen.

Preoccupation with this world has so many in its clutches and has lulled multitudes into a false sense of security.  How many of our waking hours are spent on the temporary trappings of now instead of the glory that awaits our future?  Our time on this earthly sojourn is not infinite.  Time will pass.  Days will turn to night and eventually, at our proper time, we will step into eternity or as some say, when Jesus cracks the sky – then, it will all be over.

Will we be ready or caught unawares?  On more than one occurrence that coming day and the Lord Jesus Christ are described as happening by surprise as if a thief came in the middle of the night (1 The. 5:2, 4; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3; 16:15).  Just as suddenly, the end will arrive.  There will be no processional heralding His coming as during the time of His triumphal entry.  Only what is heard in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, but by then, it’s already too late.  The preachers, teachers, and sharers of His Word are heralding now from the pulpits, at the street meetings, and witnessing through the many avenues available even as we speak.  Rather, without warning, He shall appear.

At that time we will all be forced to answer for the life we lived while here.  What will our story tell?

As much as mankind tries to dismiss the truth of the second coming or sweep it under a spiritual rug – it will happen.  Jesus is coming back.  Now is the time to get ready.  Tomorrow is not promised.

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus,” (Revelation 22:20).

Blessings~

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The Anointing Breaks the Yoke! | An Isaiah 10:27 Prayer

 

Father God, we know Your Word declares that it is the anointing that destroys the yoke that tries to bind Your people (Is. 10:27). We are praying that You would rain down Your anointing this day and break every chain that tries to hold Your people down. We pray for release to walk in the power of all You have declared for us over our lives. We believe in You! We know that You are at work on our case even as we speak. You are our hope and confidence in everything we face.  We are praying in the name of the ultimate Anointed One, Your true source of anointing, our Lord Jesus Christ.  May many people everywhere find true freedom and deliverance in Him!  Amen, and AMEN! “THE YOKE SHALL BE DESTROYED BECAUSE OF THE ANOINTING!” (Isaiah 10:27) 

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“Regrowth!”

There are so many times the Lord could have taken away from us, but instead, He gave.  Our daily steps before the Lord probably have not been the picture of perfection.  I know I personally have had many ashes during my lifetime that needed beautifying.  And yet, every day when I wake up, every day when I open my eyes, I am blessed with the gift of new mercies (Lamentations 3:22-23), as are you.

Those mercies are much needed, as anyone can easily testify to.  Because, as I am walking forward, I can easily take a look back and cringe at the litter my previous pathways left behind.  But that renewed mercy smiles at me and encourages me in the newness of this day before me.  It helps to push me to walk where my feet may have previously felt unworthy to walk.  It draws me to step out of the door into what is presently before me, bidding me try again.  Believe again.  Make the effort to do better again.  It draws me to see God is still in the business of using me for His works, for His kingdom, and for His glory.

Reading Judges 16, I see how Samson broke away from the stipulations God placed on him through the Nazarite vow of not cutting his hair and the suffering that came because of it.

But then, there is this one verse out of his whole story that jumped out at me: “Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven,” (Judges 16:22), which was the symbol of his Nazarite vow.  It was by grace that God allowed for regrowth.  He could have just washed His hands of Samson and kept away what he had lost, but God is the one that allowed for the grace and mercy of regrowth.

Every day we are given is another chance for us to experience that same kind of regrowth.  It may not be our hair, but maybe there was something we let go of, something we didn’t guard or tend to as we should have, something we may have neglected, and as a result, we didn’t end up where we were supposed to be.

But with the new mercy of today, we have a chance for regrowth.  We have been given the grace to plant again and work in the fields God has given us.  Samson used his regrowth period to go out with a bang.  What can you do with yours?  If we are here today, that means our story is not over.  The grace for God’s regrowth is real and very present for us today.

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Sunday School Lesson – “Faith Without Works is Dead” James 2:14-26

VERSE DISCOVERY: James 2:14-26 (KJV, Public Domain)

Remember the days of “Show and Tell” at school?  It was an opportunity for one to not just talk about what they do or have, but to display visible evidence before their classmates of a possession or skill.

Jesus was a “Show and Tell” Savior.  He drew many crowds to Himself through the many miracles that He performed: feeding 5,000, healing the sick, raising the dead, and so on.  People would often marvel at what He could do.  He did more than just talk the talk or preach and lecture, He demonstrated the power of the Kingdom of God through Himself.

While you and I may not be multiplying a boy’s lunch to feed 5,000, we can through our actions and service toward one another, volunteer to feed some.  We may not be raising the dead or healing the sick (although, miracles really do still happen), we can volunteer to comfort and help those around us in need.  What this does is it shows that we are more than just talk; rather our faith is manifested in what we do.

James knew that people needed to see the church displaying tangible evidence of what they say they believe, especially when it comes down to how we treat one another.  Jesus, along with many others in the Bible, let their works speak for them.  And, how they worked showed what the real measure of their concern and faith was on the inside.

No Actions. No Proof.

 James 2:14 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

This section of verses picks up right where James left off his teaching against having respect of persons and dealing with how we treat people.

In my opinion, right at the beginning of this lesson, James seems to be questioning the validity of someone’s faith without works, without evidence.  He said, “What doth it profit?”  What does it profit you?  What does it profit for others around you?

For a man or woman to say they have faith or are in the faith without evidence to back it up is like saying one is a doctor without a degree to prove it.  When I go into a doctor’s office, I am one of those people who will read the accreditations on the wall.  This is proof that they can take care of me.  What I see before me is speaking up on behalf of the individual to whom I am submitting myself for care.  Those papers hanging on the walls are little, personal testimonies.

Faith that is worked out operates in the same manner.  Faith is not silent.  Faith is full of action.  Faith is alive.  Faith is shared through works to testify of its genuineness and sincerity.  Faith does more than move mountains.  If it is lived out in the lives of the men and women of God, it can help move hearts toward salvation!

When one is living a life of faith people should be able to look at their life, their actions, as signs of accreditation that we belong to God.  They should be able to tell by how we operate and carry ourselves through our display of service, that we live what we talk.

Where is the profit if there is no proof?  What can you and I show to a hurting world that we have their best interest in mind; that we genuinely care about them as a person?

James 2:15-16 “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”

Is this one’s faith real or not?  Words without supplying to the physical, emotional, or spiritual comfort and support of another in distress are what these two verses speak of.  But, all too often, how many times have we heard or spoken of what should be done to help others without putting in some work to help society move toward that goal?

All that talking becomes useless speech.  Unless we move past the act of just talking and show that we care through the act of doing; unless we put some backbone and muscle behind our mouths, the world will never see the true love of Jesus Christ in action.

That is what it’s all about, isn’t it?  It is going beyond pulpits and church walls to work at meeting the needs of the communities that we are in, to put the love of Christ on display through our actions and not just our words.  Obviously, some people, churches, and communities can do more than others.  That is not what James is after here.  He just wants us to get up, move past complacency, and just do something.

James saw no positive effect for others in just words alone.  Speaking “peace” without lifting a finger to physically help satisfy the present need, to him it was not true faith.  True faith believes and then allows that belief to be put to work.  True faith has heavenly aspirations that work out to show good on earth.  So, he asked, “What doth it profit” without it?  What is each of us doing now that is benefiting his fellow man and the kingdom of heaven?

James 2:17-18 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

What you profess and what you do together should match up to display a well-rounded Christian.  People cannot claim they are heaven bound and yet show no heavenly fruit in their lives.  Such claims to faith are “dead,” meaning there is nothing in it to prove it is alive and real.

Don’t you know, you can start today to make a difference?  You can start where you are and with what you have.  You do not need a personal invitation to love and serve others.  What are you waiting for?  Show the world that God is alive in you!  Put some action behind those words you speak!

One may say, “Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”  Our faith, which comes through hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17) should compel us to actively participate in the things that are written of or spoken through that Word; it should get us involved in the things that God is concerned about.  The faith that shows that the Word is working in us is the faith that can do more.  Therefore, faith and works do not go against each other, rather, they support one another in proving that Christ is alive and active on the inside of the believer (compare with James 2:22 notes below).

When that happens, this, in turn, shines a light to the world reflecting Him.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (emphasis mine).  This light shines by what it is doing; by “good works.”  This kind of faith can make a bigger impact in this world and draw more people to God.

James 2:19-20 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

One’s claim to faith goes beyond just believing in the very real fact that there is a one and only true living God.  It is living out that belief in one’s daily life.  It’s working His works.  James opened our perspective this way by saying that’s good; that’s a start, that’s right, “thou doest well” to believe.  Everything in our faith walk begins with believing.  But, where does it go from there?    

He goes on to say, “The devils also believe, and tremble,” but they’re still “devils.”  They know there is a God.  They believe He exists, but they are not bowing their selves to working His works.  They are not obeying Him.  They are not working His will.  They are not in a relationship with God; rather, they work against everything God is, loves, and stands for.

But, what of those who claim they are in a relationship with God through faith?  Where is the fruit of their faith?

Faith without fruit is not an operational faith.  It is stale.  It’s stagnated.  It does no good.  Real faith must act out what it is experiencing on the inside.  Real, genuine faith will not just be content in a life of mediocrity – never accomplishing or making a difference for His kingdom.  Real faith wants to see better in and for people’s lives.  Real faith shows itself and overflows to those around him or her.

Therefore, if faith is meant to be alive and active and shown to the world through works, then “faith without works is dead.”  The one who claims they believe without any evidence to support that proclamation is “vain,” useless, hollow, in other words, no good.

Rather, when we come to that great and glorious day, Jesus wants to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” (Matthew 25:23, emphasis mine).  Those who have put their faith into action and have “done” something with what He has given them can make a difference.  God can use people like this in the world.  But He cannot do that unless you work what He has given you.

If it is not working – it’s “dead.”  It’s lifeless with no functioning activities.  It is useless!

Much Action. Much Proof.

James 2:21-24 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

Genesis 15:6 declares of Abram, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”  This was after God told him to count the stars and see if he could number them.  God then told him, “So shall thy seed be,” (Genesis 15:5).

At another point, Abraham was forced to send Hagar and Ishmael away, but God gave him this promise: “for in Isaac shall thy seed be called,” (Genesis 21:12).

Then there came the day when Abraham’s faith was tested to see if he still believed in the God of those promises that were spoken unto him; to see if the faith and righteousness that was attributed to him was true on the inside and not just an outward, surface claim to faith.  By taking action to obey God in going forth with the procedure to offer “Isaac his son upon the altar,” he manifested through his works the very realness of his faith.  His faith, in turn, became a testimony before the whole world.  Abraham’s story does not just talk about faith, it shows how his faith was worked out (compare Hebrews 11:17-19).

His actions demonstrated his heart.  “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.”  Pay attention to that word “with” (compare this to the notes above in James 2:18) which speaks to the accompanying factor of each coming alongside one another as agents together to show what he was really made of; to show his true belief in God alone, regardless of the way things outwardly appeared.  Jointly, they showed his true faith nature, and jointly, “by works was faith made perfect,” or complete.

“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.”  Referencing the above verse quote I noted earlier from Genesis 15:6, James saw a fulfilling of that verse through the actions of Abraham, through his obedience.  Abraham’s faith was real, and it was shown by what he did (compare Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6).

“And he was called a friend of God.”  Abraham’s experiences with God drew his heart closer to God in obedience and in turn, he was considered a friend of God (compare 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8), in such a way that God was even able to reveal to Abraham what His plans were for the destruction of Sodom (see Genesis 18:17-18).

Jesus once taught, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you,” (John 15:14-15).  As His Father revealed to Abraham, His friend, of His plans, so too does Jesus reveal the will of God to those disciples, to those who obey Him, for they are His friends, too.

James put the two together as in a great summation: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”  James was calling his readers to put their faith on display.  To show they had a lively faith.  To show the world that you are not just all talk, but the love of Christ is in you and manifesting through you to touch a world in need.  Put Him on display that when eyes see you, they might see Him.

The Apostle Paul put it like this, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ,” (1 Corinthians 11:1).  In the chapter before, he left off saying he was not seeking his own profit.  But in all that he did, he was seeking the “profit of many, that they might be saved,” (1 Corinthians 10:33).

While works cannot save us they show that we are saved, they are telling proof that we are “justified” and moving in the same direction as our Christ.  And, what we do, can, in fact, profit others (compare to Paul’s statement above from 1 Corinthians 10:33 regarding what he was doing was for the “profit of many” and James asking in the above verses (James 2:14-16), about what does it profit when the works are missing from the faith).

James 2:25 “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?”

Here is another example of WHAT YOU DO MATTERS!  I cannot overemphasize those words enough.  Rahab could have lost her life if she had been found helping the enemy of her people.  But she heard about all God had done in delivering His people against their enemies (Joshua 2:10) and it made the people of Jericho’s hearts melt (Joshua 2:11).  But Rahab believed for more. She said, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us,” (Joshua 2:9). Not only did she express belief in all that God has done and was still doing, but she also went as far as to take these men in her home and personally sought for their care and safety.  That was a bold step for her.  Her faith was put into action.  To make a long story short, for those in her house, their lives were spared in the fall of Jericho because of her active, working faith which landed her in the hall of fame of faith (Hebrews 11:31).

James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

The body is a physical shell, so to speak, that houses the spirit.  At the time of death, the spirit departs and goes back to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7) leaving behind the lifeless shell that remains.  When we attend funerals and view our dearly departed all we see is what is left, the outer man, the shell.  “So faith without works is dead also.”  Faith, without the outward workings of tangible evidence, is just as dead as a body without a spirit.  Life is not represented there.

Our actions testify to the faith that we say we have in us.  What we do or how we live out our faith matters.  Jesus taught, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” (Matthew 25:40; read Matthew 25:31-46 for further explanation).

Let us remember, we are not saved by works: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Rather, works give proof to the faith living on the inside of you: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:17).

No action.  No proof.  Much action.  Much proof.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Faith Without Works is Dead

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Faith Without Works is Dead

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Faith Without Works is Dead

Blank Journal Pages: These pages, one designed for adults and one for children, can be used to bring out, remember, or write a particular part of the lesson you wish for you and/or your class to focus on.  Click>>Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages to access the journal pages.

Draw the Scene: Faith Without Works is Dead Draw the Scene

In getting across the idea of “Faith Without Works is Dead” I used crafts incorporating the hands (as seen in previous lessons) since that’s what we use the most to show other’s love to and help them (see below). Enjoy!

LACE IT UP HANDPRINT:

One craft idea is to simply have students trace their handprint on cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout printed on cardstock for this project because it’s sturdier, and then cut it out.   Using a hole punch, go around the outer edges of the picture of the hand (these will be for lacing).  Students can then decorate and lace with ribbon, colorful shoelaces, or yarn (note: if you use ribbon like I did, you may want to wrap the ends in tape to make a little aglet like on a shoelace to make it easier to navigate through the holes).  You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project. (Example pictured below)

 

HANDPRINT NECKLACE:

Continuing with our hand theme, students can make a Handprint Necklace (example pictured below – I used construction paper with tracing).  Students can trace their handprint onto construction paper or cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout and cut out.  Punch one hole in the top.  Using ribbon or yarn and cut up straws, beads, or whatever you have laying around (even loop cereal).  Let them have fun and decorate it as they see fit. You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project.

Charades: To bring home the idea of “doing”, have students play a game of Charades.  But, for this game of charades, have ideas in the bucket that people can do to help others, make them feel loved, and show your faith (ex. Sweep the floor for someone, pick flowers to show love, wash the dishes to be helpful, visit the sick, welcome everyone, etc.)  Emphasize there are a lot of ways we can show our faith through our “doings”.  You can even have students come up with ideas to throw in the bucket and see if others can figure out what they wrote.

Card Match: Play any card matching game (or make your own using ideas from the lesson) to highlight the idea of how our actions should “match” the faith we say we have.  If you do not want to do a “Show and Tell” as a lesson opener (as listed in the PDF lesson packet), this activity would work well in its place as an object lesson.

Word Search: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Search  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Search Answers

Crossword: Faith Without Works is Dead Crossword  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Scramble  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Scramble Answers

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