Action alone does not mean there is faith; however, faith without action is “dead and useless.” If you have faith, it should result in some fruit. People should see your good deeds. People should see something different in you, something that will point them to the One with whom you have faith.
The fruit isn’t going to come if you don’t have action. If you say you have faith, but no one can tell, you may need to reevaluate this thing you call faith. James notes knowing that your brother and sister are without and simply telling them to have a good day, appearing oblivious to their needs, does no good. To know something and not act upon it makes no sense at all.
Today, test your faith. When was the last time you demonstrated your faith? When was the last time your faith was challenged?
“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’–but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” – James 2:14-17 [NLT]
After the twelve spies surveyed the land, only two came back with a good report. Ten men came back to share their fear of the strong people of the land. When the people were speaking negatively about the situation, Caleb boldly stepped forward. The Bible says that he “silenced the people before Moses.” He exclaimed, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30 NIV).
Caleb trusted the One behind the promise. He trusted God. Ten of the spies couldn’t look past the problems they saw with the land. They couldn’t imagine that God would see them through, that God would deliver on His promise. They were stopped in their tracks, stopped by mere men.
God says that Caleb had “a different attitude than the others have.” He also was called loyal. His loyalty didn’t change with circumstances. He was loyal. Some of us have an attitude problem today. We have the attitude of the ten, instead of the attitude of Caleb; we have an attitude of fear and distrust, rather than an attitude of trust and confidence. The Bible speaks of this hope—this confidence—we should have as believers. We should be confidence for judgment day (1 John 4:17-18). We should have confidence for prayer (1 John 5:14). We should be confident His plan is perfect and He desires what is good for His children (Romans 8:28). We should be confident that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). May the Lord be your confidence (see Proverbs 3:26, Job 4:6).
“But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.” – Numbers 14:24 [NLT]
“And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.” – 2 Corinthians 1:10 [NLT]
During the walk this morning, it was quite foggy. It was the kind of fog that when you walk forward, you cannot see a thing. Even so, I know what is supposed to be there. I’ve walked the same path every morning and evening for years. So I walked forward in trust.
The Bible speaks of many great people of faith. Hebrews 11 is known as the Hall of Faith as it is filled with many of these faithful followers of God. People like Abraham, who God commanded to leave all he knew and walk into the unknown. He said that He would should Abraham where to go. Now that’s faith. Things are different for us. Even though there is a lot of unknown, we have a lot more to go on than Abraham did. We have the Word of God. We have the Old and the New Testaments. We can read about the faithfulness of God. We can read about how God provided. We can read about how God protected His people.
We don’t always have the faith we should, because we are human. We have doubts. We have worries. It is in these moments we pray for God to help our unbelief. “I believe. Help my unbelief.” As the fog up ahead keeps you from knowing all that will come your way, walk with fog faith, clinging to the promises of God, trusting God at His Word, for He is the best promise keeper.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1 [NIV]
Who do you trust? Do you have people that you trust? Family? Friends? A spouse? A parent or child? Who do you trust? Whoever you trust, this person or these people are known to you. You have a relationship with them. You have known them for a period of time. You may know their secrets. You can describe them to others. You have been through a lot. You have seen them in action.
In 2 Timothy, Paul writes to Timothy about the One in whom he trusts. He trusts God. He knows God. He wrote, “I know the One in whom I trust.” He knows God. Paul is talking about a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Many people know of God, but not so many know God. There is a difference. To truly know God, you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. As you read His Word, you know Him more. As you walk in faith, you know Him more. As you serve His people, you know Him more. As you worship Him, you know Him more. Can you say today that you know Who you trust? Are you taking steps toward getting to know Him more? Your confidence in Him is strengthened by your knowledge of Him, which is strengthened by your walk with Him. As you continue to do life with Jesus, He continues to reveal to you Who you trust.
“That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the One in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.” – 2 Timothy 1:12 [NLT]
Sometimes we like to avoid or rush through situations all together. If something seems inconvenient, unsettling or as something that could possibly cause some damage or undesired consequence, we tend to back away. In Joshua 3, we read of this command for the priests to stand still in the Jordan. This is one of my favorite pictures in the Bible. Imagine the Jordan. Imagine the waters that overflow the banks. God tells these priests to go out and walk into this flood zone, to stand still right in the midst of it all.
I cannot say how I would react to such a command. I would consider the electronics in my pocket. I would certainly want to take off my shoes. I wouldn’t want to be wearing jeans. I would not like entering higher waters. These priests were to walk right in there and stand still. Why stand still? Why stand still after God causes the water to part as He did with the Red Sea? Consider how awesome it would have been as these men rested the soles of their feet on dry ground and raised their eyes to look around them. Consider the awesomeness they witnessed that could not have been appreciated as dearly if they simply ran across the dry ground or if they never had to get their feet moving forward in the water to see God move.
Sometimes God wants to take you into the flood zone. He wants to get you right where you can see Him move mountains in your life. There may have been a moment where He has done remarkable things and you missed it all because you didn’t stand still, because you were focused on where you placed your feet rather than stopping to look around you. God still can cause waters to stand in a heap. God is the same God who parted both the Red Sea and the Jordan. You have the opportunity to stand firmly today – to stand firmly and to stand still wherever God leads you in life. If you rush through you may just miss the waters standing in the heap. If you don’t move your feet in the flood zone, you may miss out on the remarkable ways God wants to move in your life.
“And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” – Joshua 3:13 [ESV]
When it was near the time for Elijah to be taken up, there was a group of prophets from Bethel that approached Elisha. They questioned him, asking him if he knew Elijah was going to be taken away. He told them “be quiet about it.” Again they questioned him, and he again gave the same answer.
In the American Standard Version, it translates “hold ye your peace.” He was not telling them to be quiet because he did not want to hear this news that his master was leaving. He was telling them to be at peace with it.
There are moments in life when we know something is coming. For some, it might be painful—it could even be the loss of a loved one. But Elisha reminds us to “hold ye your peace.” He had peace knowing that it was the Lord taking his master. We can each have that same peace. God is in control. God has a great plan. Sometimes we need to “be quiet about” things and trust that He is faithful. If you don’t have peace, it is because you haven’t let it come upon you.
“The group of prophets from Bethel came to Elisha and asked him, ‘Did you know that the LORD is going to take your master away from you today?’ ‘Of course I know,’ Elisha answered. ‘But be quiet about it.’” – 2 Kings 2:3 [NLT]
We all have issues with understanding the sacrifice of Isaac that was asked of God. We cannot imagine what was going through Abraham’s mind or how we would react in such a situation. Many of us cannot fathom the command.
I never realized the length that Abraham had to go to comply with the command of God to sacrifice his son. There is much focus on the command itself and the end result; however, there are about fifty miles equal probably to about 3 days of travel that separated the area where the command was given and the actual place of sacrifice. This means that Abraham continued to press forward on a journey that lasted miles and miles—days of travel time.
Do you have fifty miles of faith? God doesn’t always call us to simply do something right where we are at, something that is simply said and done. Sometimes we are called to journey fifty miles to trust that He will provide and that He has a great plan. Are you ready for the fifty miles?
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” – 1 Peter 1:7 [NLT]
We like to have everything planned out for our lives. We do not like to have unknowns in life. When we are planning a vacation, we calculate the cost and we plan the route to take, and we make a list of all of the items to pack. When we are getting a budget organized, we list all of our income and all of our expenses, and plan accordingly.
Yet in life, there are times when we cannot plan things. With Abraham, he was told to go but he wasn’t told where. He wasn’t given a map or even a general idea. He wasn’t given much of anything—but he was given a promise, a promise from God.
Abraham only had God to go on. He only had the promise God gave him to guide him and bless him. Today is a good day to walk in faith—to cling to the promises of God.
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” – Psalm 9:10 [NIV]