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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Sunday School Lesson – “Doers of the Word” James 1:19-27

VERSE DISCOVERY: James 1:19-27 (KJV, Public Domain)

The word “do” is a word of action.  It begs for the spirit of complacency to be put off and done away with.

“Do” wants you to go after it, not just to observe it, but to put it to work.  To allow it to become a part of you.  To allow it to be represented in you.

“Do” wants to see things accomplished.  “Do” wants to act when others only want to hear and speculate.  And, when it comes to the Word of God, nothing less than “do” is acceptable. Because “do” puts into practice what it reads and hears.  Those who are doers are not satisfied with anything less than God’s active Word being active in their own life.

James, in his book, really talks a lot about Christian living.  His book opens our understanding of what it really means to live out God’s Word in our lives through deliberate action and not just complacent listening. 

Do – Be Mindful of Others

 James 1:19-20 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

Being mindful of others affect how we respond and communicate with individuals on a personal level.  It is the works and the Word of God we want to be manifested in our lives and not our own selfish ambitions, anger, or agendas.

In these verses and the ones following, James lays out guidelines and precepts for human communication and purposeful thoughtfulness in our response to others.  By using the words “every man” he implies that these are good guidelines for any and everyone to follow when dealing with one another.

First, “be swift to hear.”  I must admit in the age where texting and social media is the prevalent form of communication, really learning to sit down and hear someone out is a passing characteristic trait.  This being “swift to hear” is not for one who is running to hear gossip about others.  Rather, it is the ability to stay oneself in a conversation where another can unload a burden, where another can trust you to be their confidant in the time of trouble, or where you can invest in hearing the whole of the matter, digesting it completely before offering your two cents on the subject at hand.

Thusly, we are commanded to “be slow to speak.”  If you have ever been in one of those conversations where the other person is always jumping in and cutting you off, you know how it can be a real put-off.  Proverbs 21:23 reminds us, “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.”  Many of the misunderstandings that occur between people are because the right words were not spoken at the right time, rather the wrong words were spoken at the wrong time (see James 3 for more on this tongue of trouble).

Then, this verse admonishes us to be “slow to wrath.”  Proverbs 14:29 tells us, “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.”  The one with a quick temper shows his/her lack of self-control.  Oh, how easy it is to let loose and lash out.  But what great strength is shown in the one who does not.

One part of the fruit of the Spirit is “temperance” (Gal. 5:23), which means self-control.  In other words, the passions of the flesh that provoke one to rise in anger are not to have the final rule or say.  We, as Christians, are to allow the working of the Spirit to have free course as opposed to that of the fleshly desire.  That is why Paul said, “I keep my body, and bring it into subjection…” (1 Cor. 9:27a).  He, as well as we, are running this Christian race and often that requires putting the things we feel under the obedience of Christ who Himself was our living example (see Is. 53:7).

“For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”  “Man” operates with fleshly inclinations.  What that means is man is not infinitely wise and all-knowing as our heavenly Father is who said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD,” (Is. 55:8).  Man, judges according to his finite knowledge and abilities, especially in times of anger where his judgment could be clouded and impaired by raging emotions.

This often causes man to lash out on his own without first prayerfully considering the consequences and recourses of his actions, thereby not producing the “righteousness of God.”  That is why the Apostle Paul admonishes us, “Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” (Eph. 4:26).  Proverbs 16:32 tells us, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”  He who can control his emotions in this manner through inner strength is stronger than the one who can conquer a city with his outer strength.

James 1:21 “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”

“Lay apart.”  Take it off!  These things are not only destructive to oneself, but they are also destructive to others when unleashed.  These things can hold an individual back from being all that God has called them to be.  Hindrances that get in the way of one fulfilling God’s Word in their lives.  James said to lay it apart – take it off because it is not profitable to “save your souls.”

Rather, “receive with meekness the engrafted word.”  “Receive” means to bring into oneself.  This is what we want to lay ownership to and put on: “the engrafted word.”  The Word is an essential component in the spiritually mature life.  It upholds us (Ps. 119:116).  Through the Word, faith is increased (Rom. 10:17).  The Word is our weapon to fight with (Eph. 6:17).  The Word lights the pathway for us (Ps. 119:105).  The Christian cannot live without the Word.  God freely gives it to us “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Tim. 3:16), that when we “receive” it with “meekness” we will know how to operate like Him and not according to our fleshly wrath and ways.

Do – Put Actions Behind What You Hear

James 1:22 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

“But be ye doers of the word.”  A “doer” is a person marked by activity and action.  It is a person who is not complacent (refer back to the introduction), content with just sitting on the sidelines.  This person believes in getting in there, rolling their sleeves up, and working the Word to its fullest capacity.

God’s Word is not an aquarium.  In an aquarium, we view the fish from the outside.  We do not go in and interact with them.  We just watch them swimming along and think about how beautiful and peaceful they are.  God’s Word is beautiful and peaceful, but it is also meant to be lived out; it is meant to be interacted with, and it is meant to be active in the life of every believer.  One is not just to be an observer or a “hearer” but a “doer.” 

They that only hear are “deceiving your own selves.”  Many pack churches out on Sunday’s to fulfill their “weekly obligation” of attending church without having a personal relationship with the Word; without contemplating and applying its truths to their own lives.  This may make one appear spiritually rich on the outside, but on the inside, they have cheated themselves out of its rich rewards.  This is deceptive to self.

James 1:23-25 “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

There, in the morning rush to get out of the door, a dash to the mirror to make sure every hair is in place and the face is in order.  Walking away, another dash to the mirror to verify once again that everything looked okay.  Again, in the car, adjust the mirror once again to reaffirm what one looks like, and so on; readjusting and running back to the mirror so that outwardly things may appear right.

One who does not have an active relationship with the Word does not have it as a constant measuring stick to live by.  Think of a leveling tool that is used in construction to make sure everything lines up evenly and according to plan.  Without that level, walls could end up slanted and out of place causing the entire structure to be unstable.  Just taking a quick glance or eyeing it will not give a good representation.  You need the tool to be sure.

The Word is that tool that keeps us in line so that we will not “forget what manner of man he was.”  He who is a “doer” of the Word has an active relationship with the Word and keeps coming back to it to align his or herself aright.  This is the one who looks intently and intentionally into the Word, here referred to as “the perfect law of liberty” and sees it for the truth marker that it is.

“This man shall be blessed in his deed.”  Luke 11:28 says, “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it;” a promise that is spoken over and over again in the Bible (see also Deut. 4:40; John 13:17 and Rom. 2:13).  God’s blessings are poured out on the “doers,” not just the “hearers.”  The “doer” is the one who despite his/her feelings does the will of the Father (see Jesus’ parable in Mt. 21:28-31).  Jesus was a “doer!”  In agony, He declared, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” (Lk. 22:42).

Do – Match Your Actions with Your Profession of Faith

James 1:26-27 “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Here is a reiteration of where the lesson began with instructions on being swift to hear and slow to speak.  One can seem holy and pious on the outside but if that little inside member known as the “tongue” is not brought under control, “this man’s religion is vain.” 

If the Word is not active in his life causing him to operate in love and concern for his fellow brethren, rather seeks to tear others down, his religion is not fruitful.  It is not producing the things that will draw men to Christ, instead, it is repelling.  The Word is meant to go beyond just believing it.  It is meant to be put into operation and lived.

James, in essence, was saying, if you really want to know if the Word is at work in one’s life, watch what they do.  “Pure religion and undefiled” fulfill the command of God in their lives.  “Pure religion” is not seen in just talk, but in fruitful actions.  It shows in their care of others like: “to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.”  It goes beyond just being a hearer and displays actual evidence of being a doer.  It is also shown in how they line themselves up to the Word “to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  The proof is in the pudding, so to speak.  A “doer” shows what they believe, whereas a “hearer” is only a complacent bystander.

There are enough hearers, observers, and viewers of the faith.  God needs some action heroes that will allow the Word to work in their lives.  God needs more “doers!”

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 – Doers of the Word

Suggested Activities:

Lesson Opener: On a board, write the words Hearer on one side, and Doer on the other. Draw a line down the middle of the two.  Ask students to give you ideas on what can be used to describe each word.

Under the two columns in all caps write the word OBEY as big as your board will let you.  To obey is to hear instructions and then follow through.  Explain what it would be like to just hear without doing.  That is not obeying.  Ultimately, God is looking for our faith to be worked out in our lives through obedience and that means we have to not only listen to what He says, but we have to put into action what God says.

Lesson Lead-In: One option for a lesson lead-in is to talk about or show a fun online cute video about animal training. Talk about the ups and downs of training and the rewards when training is successful.

Our lesson tells us, “He being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed,” (James 1:25).  There is always a reward in doing what God asks us to, and not just hearing about it.  When we are Doers of the Word, we are living a life that is pleasing to God.  We put a smile on God’s face when we obey.

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Doers of the Word

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Doers of the Word

Draw the Scene: Doers of the Word Draw the Scene

Mini-Puzzle Activity: After students have drawn their picture using the Draw the Scene sheet (above), they can cut the square portion of the sheet and cut it into several pieces to use as a mini-puzzle.  If you choose this option for an activity, as always it is best to print out the page using cardstock or glue the regular paper to construction paper for stability.

Paper Bag Puppets: Younger students can design paper bag puppets featuring themselves.  After completion, have them attach the “I Will Be a Doer of God’s Word” Button to the back of their puppets.

Declaration Buttons: Using the buttons link and picture from above, students can make their own buttons to wear, declaring to be Doers of God’s Word (print out on cardstock or glue to construction paper for stability).  Color, decorate, and tape or glue a safety pin to the back.  Bonus: using the same materials, punch a hole in the top and string through with yarn to design a necklace. 

Aquarium Activities: From the statement pulled from the lesson saying, “God’s Word is not an aquarium just to be looked at.  We are called to be doers of the Word,” you can find any fish, aquarium, or similar crafts and activities to incorporate into this lesson.  Or, make a construction paper fishbowl with this lesson quote in it.  An easy activity sheet is provided below to be used as-is or you cut the fishbowl out as a template for a craft.

Doers of the Word Activity Sheet

 

Fishbowl Toss Review Game: Buy a cheap fishbowl or make one out of virtually anything and some little balls or toy fish.  Armed with a list of questions, if a student can answer the question correctly (also use True or False and Fill in the Blank questions), then they get a point for their team and a chance to shoot the ball or fish into the fishbowl.  If the ball or fish goes into the bowl, then they get another point for their team.  This review game can be as simple or as challenging as you want and can easily be adapted for many ages and levels of learning.   

Word Search: Doers of the Word Word Search  Answers: Doers of the Word Word Search Answers

Crossword: Doers of the Word Crossword  Answers: Doers of the Word Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Doers of the Word Word Scramble  Answers: Doers of the Word Word Scramble Answers

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“My eyes look to You, Lord!”

“Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.” Psalm 123:2

Father God, may our eyes focus more on You than what’s going on around us.  There are so many things pulling for attention.  There are troubles and disappointments that try to take a stand and demand to be noticed.  But Father God, may our eyes and our hearts rest on You and all the promises of heaven through every trying time.  May we see clearly, through it all, You are still for us.  You are He who is daily faithful, and daily offers grace and mercy.  You are where we find the strength to draw from when we feel weak.  When we feel like we’re at the end of our rope, it’s Your Spirit that whispers, “Hold on, for your story is not over.”

Father God, as we lift our eyes and our hearts to You, we place in Your hands our needs, our worries, our hurts, our everything.  You know it all better than we do and it’s in You we put our trust.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray, AMEN!

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“Before there was Egypt, there was a promise!”

Many times when we discuss the land of Egypt within the confines of the Bible, our minds automatically trackback to the time when the children of Israel were in bondage there.  We see them under the weight of the taskmasters, dealing with oppressive circumstances that are beyond their control.  They stand by and watch as some are beaten, others are killed; lack and degrading situations run rampant throughout their time there.  Fear, hatred, and jealousy by others drove them to the place where they are residing; a place where tough days seem like they will never come to an end.

Often times, when people find themselves in a hard spot of life, or when they find themselves coming up short and just not happy with the way things are turning out at this particular time, they refer to that circumstance as their place of “Egypt.”  This is where heartbreak and troubling times lie.  This is the place where it seems everything is fighting against them and no matter what one does it just doesn’t appear that they will ever come out on top.  People may not have taskmaster’s whips to deal with, but other things just lash and lash out at them, making it hard to get back up again.

As hard as this may be to believe, I assure you your Egypt will not last forever.  I’m sure the children of Israel had doubts about this.  After all, their time there lasted about four hundred years.  Yet, even before this family of seventy ventured into the land and grew to the astronomical numbers we see in Exodus, God knew all about their time there before they were even there.

In Genesis 15:13 God told Abram, “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.”  Outside of that prophecy God also said, “And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance,” (Genesis 15:14).  In this we see, there was a promise before they even set one foot in Egypt; before they even encountered a problem, God already had a blessing lined up for when they came out.

Today, we fight against so many unknowns.  We deal with all the this and that’s of life that it simply just weighs one down.  One might not find themselves in a literal state of captivity, but something just sits on them heavy, becoming an almost unbearable burden, that they just don’t know what to do.  With a feeling of exasperation, some just give up, content just to go through the motions of life, without grabbing hold of the feeling of hope because of the fear of being let down again, just to drift back into that state of uncertainty once more.

But, I am here to tell you today, continue hoping and never give up.  Your “Egypt” is not lost on God.  God knows what you are facing.  He knows every disappointment you are dealing with.  He knows every struggle you are battling.  He knows everything that you are fighting through and that’s fighting against you.

It may be hard to see the proverbial silver lining in a dark cloud at times or the light at the end of the tunnel, but we have something better.  We have a promise!  God told Abram when his people came out, they were coming out better than when they went in.  God was going to judge those who did them wrong, and God was going to bless them greatly.

Another promise Abram received was in a few verses prior to those noted above.  God told him, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be,” (Genesis 15:5).  Not only were they going to be blessed, but they were going to come out increased in the people they were.  To go from one individual to the millions they would come out to be, they were going to grow not only in number but in experience through their troubling times.  They would have to learn to endure some stuff in order to be the people who would eventually be fit to take on the Promised Land.

While it may at times seem like the hard times are breaking you, they may be actually making you.  So remember, before there was Egypt, there was a promise.  And, I don’t know about you, but I will take a promise of God over a so-called silver lining any day.  The promises of God are sure.  Through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are told, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us,” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

In other words, no matter what you are facing today, Jesus has you covered.  No matter the obstacles or hard places that make you feel like you are in Egypt and you just want to give up, God has an unfailing promise of His love, grace, mercy, peace, and deliverance through even the most difficult circumstances.

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“You are not alone!”

There can be days when the heaviness of life just won’t seem to let up.  There can be times when burdens leave you spent and wrung like a dirty little dish rag.  And, sometimes it’s hard during these down times to find something to smile about; to find hope in the midst of darkness; to know that you are not forgotten in the middle of the mess.

But, no matter what you may be feeling or going through, Jesus wants you to know, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” John 14:18.  He wants you to know that you are not in this alone.  His presence refuses to turn His back on you.  His presence doesn’t want you carrying these troubles by yourself.  His promise says that He cannot leave you without comfort.  You and I are not without the love of the Father present with us.  He said, “I will come to you!”

Our Lord Jesus Christ will not abandon you to deal with life on your own!  He is your help in the neediest of times!  He is your strength in the weakest of times!  He is your source in the emptiest of times!  He will not turn away from you!  He went to the cross for you that He might ever be with you!  He’s with you in the midst of it all to ease the turmoil you may be feeling.  He is with you to console raging emotions and thoughts.  He is with you to support you when nobody else will.  He is with you to show you how the love of the Father is very real and active for you!

He does this all through His abiding Spirit.  His loving presence takes up residence on the inside of those who believe in Him.  He is in there to fill any emptiness one may feel.  He is there to bring healing to the hurt and damage inflicted by others.  He is there to walk with you through all the ups and downs of this life, no matter how difficult it may appear right now!

He is with us as the rescuer of our heart, meeting the spiritual need in our life that nobody else can.  We don’t have to wonder about it because Hebrews 13:5 assures us, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Did you see that word “never”?  By absolutely no means will He not ever be with you where you are and in what you are going through!  It can’t happen!  It won’t happen!  He loves you too much to leave you out there to deal with this world and this life on your own!

With confidence, let your prayer be, “Jesus, I need you,” and His promise stands sure that He is with you where you are through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit.  You are not fighting this alone!  Every step of the way, He is there!

“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee,” Deuteronomy 31:6.

“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,” Matthew 28:20b

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Your Little Stuff Matters!

“I don’t have enough in me.”

“My gift is not as great as theirs.”

“The anointing is me is not as strong as another.”

“I can’t do this.”

“I don’t have enough to work with.”

“I am too small.”

“I don’t have someone supporting me like that.”

Have you ever struggled with the idea of you don’t have enough in you to make a difference or a positive impact? Do you feel God pulling you into an area faith but the fear that your “little bit of stuff” is not enough and it’s holding you back?

Many people struggle with thoughts such as these. If it’s not big, it won’t work. But God never called us to big things. But, what He did do was call us to step out in faith believing in Him, in where He wants to take us.

There is to be no inferiority complex among God’s people. We are not depending on what we bring to the table. Our dependence is upon Him and what He does with what we bring. God is the one that establishes the work of our hands (Psalms 90:17). God is the one who gives the increase off of what we do (1 Corinthians 3:7). Therefore, it doesn’t matter what we think of the size of what we bring because God is the one working behind the scenes; God is the one who works in it to outsize all.

All He asks of us is to step out in faith and work with what He gave you.

“For who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10). Every great tree that stands tall in the forest started from a small thing; from a seed. Your “small thing” is the seed of your gift that God is waiting for you to plant so that He can cause it to grow. An unplanted seed will not flourish and neither will your gift.

Don’t shun it because you think it’s not big enough. Don’t toss it to the side because you think it’s not good enough and doesn’t matter. It’s not about what you bring; it’s all about what He does with what you bring.

Luke 16:10 tells us, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much . . .” God wants to see what you do with the “least” before He turns it into “much.” Won’t you plant your little seed today?

Little stuff matters. If you don’t think so, take encouragement from these little critters:

“There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:

The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer,

The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;

The locusts have not king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;

The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces,” (Proverbs 30:24-28).

You see, it’s not about size or strength, but the wisdom God gives to those who render their little bit of stuff to Him in service. Size doesn’t matter to God because He is the God of increase. What matters most with God is our faithfulness in rendering what we do have to Him and trusting Him to let it grow.

“Little things make big things happen” (John Wooden). 

Especially, when God is in it. So, don’t cast it off. Work it!

Blessings.

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“Today, I Walk!” | Word For Life Says

The way one walks says a lot about them.  When I’m grocery shopping I’m a beast.  My walk is hard for my family to keep up with (which is why I shop alone, for the most part).  I can hit five or six different stores in one day of grocery shopping (I know prices by heart and refuse to pay more for it or I want a certain store brand – pray for me :)).  The way I walk shows everyone in my path, “I don’t play!”

You are identified by how you walk.  You can tell if someone is tired by the way they walk.  They may seem just a little slower and less focused due to exhaustion.  If someone walks with a limp they can be identified as being sore or perhaps injured.  A straight, persistent gait can imply confidence.  Someone with pep in their step can give the impression of happiness.  People pay attention to the way you walk.

People are not the only ones who pay attention to our walk.  God is watching each life that goes before Him.  That’s what the word walk means in the Bible.  It speaks of one’s life or conversation.  Their daily day-to-day affairs.  Colossians 1:10 exhorts us, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing.” (KJV).  Your walk matters.

The psalmist knew to whom he was living.  He did not possess his own life.  He did not own his own steps.  While he strode across the face of this earth, “in the land of the living,” he was walking “before the Lord.”

How many days do we waste living our days for other people?  How much stress do we put on ourselves to please other people?  It’s okay to work in cooperation with others, but we don’t live or walk for them!

Choose today to live and walk before the Lord.  Being a people pleaser will mess up your stride.  If you really want to advance spiritually and in this world, live your life “before the Lord.”  His opinion is the only one that matters.

Free yourself from the chains and shackles of people’s approval.  If you are straight with God – then, you are straight!  He’s the one that loves you!  He’s the one that saved you!  He’s the one that brought you to this new day.  Use it to walk “before the Lord!”

Today, I walk before the Lord!

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“Better Days are Coming!”

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9)

What do you do when you look around and all you see is a mess?  Nothing is as you’d hoped it would be.  Life all of sudden doesn’t seem to make sense.  You’re glad for where you are and what you have, but you also recognize in the midst of circumstances the discouraging realization that you still have so far to go.

Boy, if that doesn’t ring true for what many are experiencing today.  One day we went to bed and everything was normal.  Then, just as quickly, it seems we woke up to a new reality and everything was different.  Everything was harder than it was the day before.  Where there was once freedom, now a new reality of limitations and restrictions has taken over.

What does all this have to do with the above verse?  Simply this.  In the time of Zechariah’s prophecy, the children of Israel had returned home from Babylonian captivity some 15-20 years prior.  Even at this point in history, when they look around they still see nothing but the marks of destruction; they still see broken walls and broken dreams in the land, and discouragement was running rampant.

But in the midst of that discouragement, Zechariah brings a word of hope from the Lord regarding their future.

What seems to be their new reality is not all there is.  They might not understand their times of walking through the rubble and living in the ruins of their former life, but God has something – God has Someone coming on the horizon who is going to usher in the greatest story of rebuilding and restoration the world has ever seen or known.

Although God delivered His people from Babylonian captivity and brought them back to their homeland to start living and inhabiting it again, He is not as interested in their physical buildings that lay in rubble.  He is more concerned with their spiritual buildings, their hearts, that may have collected just as much dust in them as the ruins around them.

Therefore, through Zechariah’s prophecy, God focuses His people to not dwell on the mess of today, but rather, focus on the message for all the tomorrows to come.  For that’s where they and we will find hope for the future.

Zechariah lets them know better days are coming because there is a coming King like no other.  When He comes in, His appearance and riding may appear to the masses as lowly.  But this King’s reign will be a reason to rejoice in the midst of rubble and ruins.  The King’s coming would be a reason to shout because true salvation and deliverance have never been so close.  This King’s coming will be a reason to celebrate in full jubilation, and to shout, “Hosanna in the highest,” (Mark 11:8) because when He comes, victory comes with Him.  When He comes, restoration comes with Him.  When He comes, better days come with Him!

The triumphal entry of our Lord was prophesied hundreds of years before it occurred, and still brings a message of hope to us who hear it thousands of years later because it reminds us in the face of all the turmoil this world was bound up in, Jesus marched forth toward His destiny of the cross to bring more peace and victory than we could ever hope to receive on our own.   And, although things may not seem to be the way we planned or look how we envisioned, with Him as our hope and guide, we can be assured that if nothing stopped Him from moving forward into the hardest thing He would ever face just so that we all would have a better future, then nothing will stop Him now from being that source of faith that many so long for.

Even in the midst of adversity and hardship, Jesus is still riding in our lives with a message of hope and peace today.  Days and circumstances may seem discouraging, but you’re not riding through them alone.

When He came in on what we celebrate as Palm Sunday, “many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.  And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.  Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:8-10).  But we know His story didn’t stop there.  In Zechariah’s prophecy, He is also seen as the One who subdues enemies and brings everlasting peace for His people.

When Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of riding in on the donkey He didn’t stop there for you either.  He came to usher so much more in your life and mine.  Where do you find yourself today?  For many that question may bring some very difficult answers.  Although the answers may appear difficult and we may not find an immediate solution to those answers, one thing we can do is still celebrate this day in victory, by faith,  as we would any other Palm Sunday.  We may not be in physical church buildings, gathering together and shouting the victory, but I believe where we are we can set aside some time to still proclaim, “Hosanna in the highest!” because that day was not the end of His story, neither is it the end of ours.

What we are facing today cannot diminish His promises for all our tomorrows to come.  If He already walked into the hardest thing for us, surely He will see us to a victorious ending.  It may not always feel like it, and what’s going on around us may make many sway, but rest assured, what’s going on does not have the last word.  Jesus rode in victory and through His resurrection power (which we celebrate next week for Easter Sunday), He remains victorious today and forevermore!  Therefore, even if we can’t see it right now we know that better days are coming!

So hold on, my friends.  Don’t let what you see today make you question your tomorrows.  Nobody loves you like that same Jesus who rode in to save your life and mine.  The King has come once, and He’s coming back again.  Victory is His, and victory can be yours too.  One day this will all be over (both now, and in eternity), and every promise He rode in for will come to pass (2 Corinthians 1:20).  How can it get any better than that!

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“Know Real Love!”

 

“. . . Because the Lord your God loves you,” Deuteronomy 23:5, NKJV

Those last three words, “God loves you,” are a salve for the broken-hearted and for hurting souls everywhere. If nobody else tells you, it’s three little words that God wants you to know, “God loves you.” If nobody else will show you, God said, “I will!”

Human emotions are so fickle. One day we’re up and the next we are down. Depending on which phase of life we are in our perception of reality can be altered by how we feel about the moment we are currently in. If we’re up, then it’s not hard to fathom love coming from everywhere, centering on us and making us feel good about ourselves. But, it is just the opposite when we are experiencing a downward phase. We can be living in a whole house full of people, right under the same roof as yourself, and feel completely devoid of love; feeling empty, as you try to hand out to others what you don’t feel coming to you. Love!

Love is nothing to play with. It’s not a joke. It’s a passion that dwells inside each of us hungering to be fed, wanting to be filled. I don’t know anyone in their right mind who doesn’t want to be loved. Who in the world is there that doesn’t want to be cherished by another? Who doesn’t want to feel cherished by another? Who doesn’t want the tender security of love wrapped around them, embracing them until every inch of one’s heart can feel that affectionate overflow?

To deny the need for love is to deny the way God created us. 1 John 4:8, NKJV, says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Love is instilled in each of us as part of His creation. “God is love,” and in the Book of Genesis we read, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . .” (1:26, NKJV). We were made to feel and do as God does, and that means love, also.

“God loves you!” Throughout the pages of the Bible, the overflow of all He feels for us is pronounced over and over again. He has plenty of evidence to mark the extremes of His love for us. Here in Deuteronomy 23:5, He is noted as reversing a curse because He loves His people. But His ultimate show of love came when He initiated His plan to reverse the curse of sin once and for all. The plan was successful but it didn’t come without a price. His love for us cost the life of His Son, John 3:16. All that was done so that one day we might experience the joy of what it really means to be loved; such a tender embrace wrapped around us that can’t be felt anywhere else.

“God loves you!” While human love can and will be fickle, God said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you,” (Jeremiah 31:3, NKJV). There will come a day when “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love,” (Zephaniah 3:17, NKJV). That’s the tender embrace in action; that strong love that quiets everything else and gives us rest. It’s like stepping into His arms, the arms of love and crying it all out, and feeling nothing but His love. Knowing that God loves us in such a way inspires us for today. When one feels this love, it makes the broken heart feel revived and the hurting soul feels lifted once again. We may not always get the love from humanity that we seek, (and I won’t downplay the need for that), but “God loves you!” Unlike our human counterparts and those we seek affection from; God’s love will not fail us. It’s the real thing!

 

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“How Blessed Are You?” | Word For Life Says

 

There is no deep thought here or great spiritual revelation, just a question, “How blessed are you?”  One day I was sitting outside and just watching the trees blow lightly in the breeze.  I was listening to one of my favorite sounds of summer, the locusts in the trees.  I felt the warmth of the sun while watching the birds busy on the branch across from me.  My mind asked me, “How blessed are you?”  It’s kind of a rhetorical question because we are soooo blessed.  Not with great material possessions or new positions of honor, but with life.  Every day we are living is a blessing from the Lord.  Every day we breathe, no matter the outcome, is a wonderful gift from God.  Every moment with our families is to be treasured no matter how much they can pluck your nerves sometimes( 🙂 ).  Every day we get to experience is a day someone else didn’t get to enjoy.  Every book we get to read is a story that’s something special.  Every blog we get to meander over is a joy of fellowship bringing together people from around the world.  Every moment, every second of every day is God saying, “I’m still here.  I still love you.  I’m still in control of it all.”

“How blessed are you?”  I’m very blessed and I don’t take one day God has given me for granted.  Everything He pours into my life is a major blessing.  As I said, no deep revelation, just a question from a very grateful heart on today.  Enjoy your blessings today!!!

 

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