Tag Archives: faith without works

Living Honorably

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

How many times have you told someone, “Actions speak louder than words”? Probably too many times to count. A pet peeve that we all share is someone who says one thing and does another. It speaks to their credibility and your ability to trust what they say. I’m sure we can all think of examples right now of times we’ve encountered this in others. The sad thing is that it happens in the Church as much as anywhere. That’s why the book of James in the Bible is pretty much about just that.

We’re all familiar with “Don’t just be a hearer of the Word, but a doer also,” and “Faith without works is dead.” James continues this theme throughout his book to remind us that we can’t just talk like Christians, we must live and act like Christians. James 3:13 says, “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts” (MSG). As he wrote, it speaks to our reputation.

Living well can be translated into living honorably. People around us should be able to trust what we say. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich.” What is your reputation among other believers? Are you someone they can count on? Are you a person that has an honorable reputation among your local group of believers? What about your reputation among non-believers? To me, this one is of utmost importance. How can anyone accept our faith if the way we live our life is in opposition to what we profess to believe?

I was always told that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. What I’ve learned is that there is always someone looking. People are always watching us as believers. Our lives should reflect what we say we believe. I’m not saying you have to live perfectly because that’s impossible, but you do have to live honorably. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. So let’s not have dead faith. Let’s be doers of the Word and live a life that acts out the faith we profess.

Photo by JORGE LOPEZ on Unsplash

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Buy A Ticket


I used to live next door to one of the oldest members of our church. She was quite the character. One evening I was outside when she pulled into her driveway with a car full of groceries. After I helped her take them in, she told me a joke I’ll never forget. She said, “One day, the lottery was really large and a man wanted to win it. He prayed, ‘God, if you let me win the lottery, I’ll give 25% to the church.’ God replied back, ‘Buy a ticket!'” She then told me, “So many times we ask God for something, but don’t do anything about it.”

I think about that joke often in my prayer time. How many times have I asked God for something when I wasn’t willing to “buy a ticket”? God couldn’t help that man win the lottery if he wasn’t the owner of a ticket, and He can’t answer a lot of our prayers if we aren’t willing to put ourselves in position for Him to either. Remember, faith without works (action), is useless. He could have believed all he wanted that God would let him win the lottery, but without action on his part, it was useless.

In John 4:46-54, there is the story of a nobleman whose some was on his deathbed. He heard that Jesus was about 18 miles away, so he walked over a day to get to him. When he arrived, he begged Jesus to come to his home and heal his son. Jesus blew him off. He wouldn’t let up though. He pleaded, “Lord, please come now before my son dies” (NLT). Then in verse 50, it says, “Then Jesus told him, ‘Go back home. Your son will live!’ And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.”

In order for his faith to activate his son’s healing, he had to start home. He had to act without seeing the result. It wasn’t until the next day, on his journey home, that his servants met him on the road, that he found out his son was healed. What if he had stayed and continued to beg Jesus? What if he had never started home? Often Jesus would say, “Go. Your faith has made you whole.” Their healing, their answer to prayer, was always activated by something they did. God has the power to answer your largest prayer, but it usually requires some kind of action on your part first.

What action do you need to take as an act of faith to activate God’s answer? Mark Batterson often writes, “Pray like it depends on God. Work like it depends on you.”

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Stronger Faith

  
In Luke 17, the disciples asked Jesus for more faith. I’ve fallen into that trap myself: believing I could have more or less faith and that my amount of faith determines God’s response. They felt like it was the amount of faith Jesus had that gave Him the ability to do the things He was doing. The response Jesus gave them in verse 6, proves it isn’t the amount of faith you have that motivates God.

Jesus said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it” (MSG). There isn’t a size of faith. Either you have faith or you don’t. If you have faith that God will do something, you will act on that faith. If you have faith, you can speak to things and they will move.

James tells us that faith without works is dead. He’s saying, if you really have faith, you will act on it. If you aren’t doing anything by faith, you have none. Either you have faith and prove it daily, or you have none and prove it too. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” He understood that you will always act according to what you believe. If you don’t believe God will answer, you won’t really pray. If you do, you will pray and show you believe it.

Faith isn’t about size, it’s about action. When the disciples asked for more faith, they got schooled by Jesus. When a man in Mark 9 asked Jesus if He could heal his boy, Jesus responded in verse 23 with, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.” Our response should be like this man’s. He replied, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” You only need a greater faith than your doubts if you want to act on it. If your faith isn’t strong enough to act on, then ask God to help you with your doubts.

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Childish Thinking

I’ve had a lot of different types of jobs in my years. In each one, I got paid according to the amount of work I put into them. The harder or longer I worked, the more I got paid. Out of all my jobs, none of them paid me for doing nothing. For each one, I’ve had to submit a time sheet to prove I worked those hours. At the end of the pay period, I received a check that was equal to the agreed upon terms of my pay. Those pay checks weren’t gifts, they were an exchange for my hours of service.

All of our lives that’s how it’s been. We work and we get something for it. I think that’s why it’s hard for so many of us to accept that salvation is a free gift and nothing we could earn. We live with a “You get what you earn” mentality and we bring that into our faith. With that line of thinking comes thought that if I work hard enough, I can achieve a better or more full salvation. It’s hard to accept when we look at it like adults, but Jesus said unless you become like children, you cannot enter the Kingdom.

My child doesn’t have the ability to work to get what he wants. He simply asks and I give things to him because I love him. I think God approaches us the same way. There’s nothing we could ever do to afford salvation so He gives it to us freely if we ask for it. That’s how He chooses to bless us. He wants to give it away to us for free instead of making us earn it. Looking at it that way helps us to be in the proper father / child mindset for our relationship.

Romans 4:5 puts it this way, “But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. (NLT)” We could never earn enough in our life time to pay what Jesus did for our salvation. It’s a free gift to His children. Since He paid the price for us, the least we can do is live for Him. We just have to do it with the understanding that the works aren’t buying our salvation, they’re proving our faith and faith is what God counts as righteousness. 

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Christianity Is A Verb

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Our Wednesday night small group wrapped up our series on “Unstuck” last night. The video portion that included commentary from several people was challenging. Each person that spoke on that video had a question or comment that got them to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others around them. They also inspired me to do more than I’ve ever done for others, so I want to share with you in hopes of it challenging you as well.

One of the first things Mark Batterson mentioned in this segment is that Christianity was never meant to be a noun. It has always been intended to be a verb. When we allow our Christianity to become a noun, it leaves a bad taste in other people’s mouth. It becomes who we are and not what we do. Jesus said, “Go into all the world. Preach the Gospel to every nation. Make disciples of all men.” Those are all verbs that command us to do something.

There was also a lady on the video who shared her story of how God has used her. She was asked the question, “Who are three people you know who don’t know Jesus and need you to be His hands and feet to?” She couldn’t answer that question. Instead of thinking it didn’t apply to her, she prayed that God would increase her circle of influence. God began opening doors for her to minister to others through washing laundry, helping with résumés and providing necessities for. All because she didn’t think her Christianity should be a noun.

The next part that really spoke to me had to do with stats. Did you know 25,000 people in the world will die today from starvation? Did you know that 5,760 children will become orphans today? Numbers are numbing. They don’t cause action usually. Names are what matters. If you want to see the names and faces of some orphans behind those numbers, click here. I dare you to click that link and move beyond a stat to the face and name of an orphan who needs your help. The real question here is, “Are you ok with this?” Can you live in the house you live in, drive the car you drive, eat at the restaurants you eat at and still be ok with the numbers above? If so, your Christianity is probably a noun.

Mark Batterson said, “When all of the rules and regulations, all of the traditions and institutions, all of the liturgies and methodologies are peeled back, what’s left is the Great Commandment: Love The Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. That is Christianity in its purest form. It’s not enough to love God with 2 or 3 out of the 4 listed. We must find ways to love with all 4. He didn’t give us a choice. He said to do this was the greatest commandment.

Finally, Mark challenged me with this phrase, “On the final day, God isn’t going to say, ‘Well thought, good and faithful servant’ or ‘Well said’. He is going to say, ‘Well done.'” It’s not enough to think of others or to say, “Have a good day; stay warm and eat well” to the cold and hungry according to James 2:16. God is looking for us to stop using Christianity as a noun and to start doing something with it. If your circle of influence of others who need Jesus is too small, I challenge you today to pray what that lady prayed. Ask God today to increase your circle of influence and to give you courage to do something for others because you aren’t ok with where you are.

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