“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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“Believing Beyond”

Difficult situations are something no one will escape this life without experiencing.  Even Jesus told us ahead of time, “In the world ye shall have tribulation…” (John 16:33).  So, as much as we want to avoid them or not have them there at all, what do we do with the difficulties and adverse times when they come?

I think it is not so much about what we do with them.  I believe it is more important to discuss how do we respond to them.  Our responses give us and the world a little insight into what is on the inside of us.  Our responses show what we carry in our hearts and what we genuinely believe, for it is out of the heart where the issues of life flow (Proverbs 4:23).

In prayer, I was reminded of the great truth that it is not all about how we see things.  Our perspective can often be overshadowed by the many factors of our story, our emotions, and so forth.  But, when faced with challenging times, how do we react?

Negative experiences tend to draw negative responses from us.  But what if we can turn that on its heels?  What if we could take what appears to be upside down and turn it right side up?

Mind you, when we go forward in this, it is not going to be based on what one sees because we are already coming from a perspective of not liking what we see.  Rather, what do we want to see?  What is our prayer for change in these types of situations?

Take, for instance, the very familiar story of the dry bones in the valley (Ezekiel 37).  Ezekiel knew what he saw before him.  They were literally dry bones.  No life was there.  No possibility of something better beyond what he could see.

But God encouraged Ezekiel to do something unusual.  To look beyond how his humanness wanted to respond to what was before him, and in essence, God was encouraging him to speak life over what appeared completely dismal and unrepairable (Ezekiel 37:4-10).  In that, Ezekiel got a chance to participate in experiencing something not only wonderful – but something truly altogether miraculous.

What miracles are you praying for today?  What looks like a valley of dry bones before you today, but you want to see a change in it and speak life over it?

Another thing I was reminded of in prayer was this great truth: “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)”, (2 Corinthians 5:7).  What is seen is not nearly as important as the faith one has – as what one believes.  When challenged with the question, “Can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3a) Ezekiel could have looked at the impossible dead things before him and not have reacted as God was prompting him to.  He could have based everything on what he currently saw.  Rather, he got into agreement with God, and declared, “O Lord GOD, thou knowest,” (Ezekiel 37:3b), and a few verses down, Ezekiel said, “So I prophesied as I was commanded…” (Ezekiel 37:7).

Both Martha and Mary were challenged in this area when Jesus came after Lazarus had died.  Both responded to what they saw, and said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died,” (John 11:21, 32).  But Jesus encouraged them to believe beyond what they could see.

Jesus, standing at the grave of Lazarus commanded the stone to be rolled away.  Again, how they saw things were how they responded.  It was Martha who spoke up and said, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he had been dead four days,” (John 11:39).

Jesus’ response to her reaction was, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” (John 11:40; see also 25-26).  Jesus’ response was for her to look beyond what she saw, and just believe for more.  Believe that He could do and speak something miraculous in what is dead.  And in Ezekiel’s case, it was believing that that which appears to be dry and beyond repair can now experience a new life.

What are these experiences speaking to you today?  Is God trying to shift our focus from always seeing the negatives?  Is He trying to encourage us to speak life into areas that need such a miracle they appear they could never be resuscitated?

Remember what the Bible says, “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)”.  Is it time to start seeing beyond?  Is it time to start speaking beyond?  Is it time to start believing beyond?

Wherever and whatever God is calling us to today if He is calling us, it is because He believes that we can.  Even if we do not see immediate changes to our circumstances as they did, keep going in faith and believing, because God applauds and is pleased with genuine faith, for the Bible reminds us, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Hebrews 11:6).

All the greatest stories in the Bible begin with faith.  And all that faith begins with believing beyond.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

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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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“It is wonderful to see the grace of God at work in our lives today!”

 

As I ponder this day, the new beginnings of this morning, this thought spoke deeply to my heart: It is wonderful to see the grace of God at work in our lives today!

As I muse over previous days and times, and that musing sometimes leads to disappointments, His grace speaks, “Not today.”  That was in the yesterdays gone by, but today is a time to rejuvenate what His faithfulness has always longed to fulfill in you.  Today mercy comes to the forefront and speaks on your behalf and declares what God has for you it shall come to pass as long as you believe, trust, and hold on to His unchanging hand.

His grace becomes not your crutch or something you take for granted, but your true inner support of strength.  Daily we depend on Him.  Daily we need Him to reach way down into our lives and do the impossible, work where flesh and blood can’t and revive His purpose, His goodness, His anointing, and His will in me.

Grace is more than just a word to toss about.   When the unworthiness of our being edges in, grace magnifies His love in showing what He freely gives.  Grace speaks to the crevices of the heart and fills it with something indescribable, something wonderful and beyond compare.  To bask in the newness of the grace bestowed upon me this day is to bask in the pleasure He seeks to give to a fallible creature such as I.  To lay myself out before Him and feel His rays of peace shine down on me is the best way to start this day.  Surrendering my all to Him.  My desires.  My failures.  My hurts.  And, even my expectations.

We all carry spiritual luggage from our previous days into the new day.  Carrying about the weight of it and allowing it to slow our progress for what God has in store for our new.  Lay it aside, dear Friend, and don that blessedness He so freely gives.  Put on His grace and let it cover you where you feel you need to be covered.  Let it build you where you feel the need for restoration, and let His grace carry you when it’s hard to hold yourself up and walk the days before you.

God’s grace is a beautiful thing.  We know what we deserve, but we see what He gives in spite of it.

Grace, His love for us in action.  The cross secured it for us, and daily His grace lets us know He’s in this for the long-haul.  He is still fighting for us.  He still believes in us and He is willing to pour on us abundantly what our lives can’t find anywhere else.

Father God, thank You for Your blessed grace.  Words cannot express my gratitude for this anointed gift You so freely pour out into my life, but I hold the thought and truth of it near and dear to me, allowing it to wash over me and renew my steps and my life in You daily.  It is so wonderful to see Your grace at work in my life personally today.  No words of thanks will ever be enough, but Lord, I thank You anyway.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray, AMEN!

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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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“Overlooked? Not by God!”

 

Do you ever feel like life is a series of “Duck, Duck, Goose” games?  There you sit in your circle, surrounded by other people.  Then, the opportunity comes.  The one who can tag you as the next one that can rise from the circle begins to make their turn around the circle.  They look at each one sitting and try to take in the possibility of who gets to be the privileged one; who gets to be “goose.”

All eyes and ears are opened to that one.  They watch.  They listen.  They wait in anticipation to see if the chance and opportunity to rise and run falls on them.  As the game proceeds, the favor of that one doesn’t fall on you and you are left to sit in the circle once more.

Times of sitting and waiting is rarely fun unless you see the possible potential that can flow from that downtime.  Often, many people, in many circles, of life are overlooked and passed by without a second glance.  And, while it seems the favor of man has continually ignored and/or snubbed you, in your downtime, there is One who sees.

It’s so easy in life to get caught up and focused on the human to human point of contact and favor.  While a better use of our time, down or not, should be focused on our human to God contact, and the potential of growing more in Him.

While David was a young man in his circle, he was overlooked not only by his brothers but his father too.  When the prophet Samuel came to pay a call to anoint the next one to rise out of the circle, the next one to be king, David wasn’t even thought of when all the sons of the house lined up according to the potential that human eyes could see.

But, in his downtime, there were oodles of potential growing and producing a God-fearing, dedicated life beyond the eyes of what man can see.  In my opinion, it is possible that even David himself didn’t see everything in him like God saw it, for he didn’t force himself to be seen by others and noticed.  It was not until Samuel exhausted all possibilities before him did he bother to ask was there another option.  Was there someone else who should be considered for this great honor?

He heard the whisper of God speak, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7), and as all the possibilities passed before him, he found out the Lord didn’t choose any one of them, even when man thought and believed they were the logical choice.

No, but in his overlooked season, a heart was developing in David that caught God’s attention when others neglected to see the power of potential growing within him.  A heart that loved God from the inside out.  A heart that was sensitive to the leading and moving of God.  A heart that had faith in God that would allow him to stand before a literal giant and make him fall.  A heart in David was growing and maturing for God alone.  This is what piqued God’s interest in him.  Not the outward stuff that others could see and overlook him for.  But God was excited and drawn to those things on the inside that only He could see.

Height.  Stature.  Good looks.  Outward talent and so forth will all fade and deteriorate over time.  But a heart that is truly after God will last and endure.

What we need to remember and take away from this story is that God sees it all.  Although it is not right, many will continue to judge by only what they see on the exterior of all you have to offer.  But God sees all the possibilities within.  And, although many may overlook you, God has not.

Don’t sit in your circle idly waiting for other’s approval.  Rather, wait on God, and live for Him.  Once again, David didn’t seek their attention.  He was outside with the sheep doing the work he was assigned to do at that time (1 Samuel 16:11) when he was called to be anointed the next king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:12-13).

Wherever you are in life, keep your focus on God.  Live a life that is pleasing to Him from the inside out.  Worry less about what others think and rest your hope in what God alone sees and knows all about you.  This is not a game to Him, and He will never overlook you!

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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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