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]
What if you did not help work on a project—not even for a second—but you received recognition for the great work you did on the project? During a ceremony, you were called up on stage to accept this great honor when you never even did anything to assist. Wouldn’t that be strange? Would you feel awkward receiving recognition when you did not even help with the project? What if you were given special access or a higher position with greater privilege because of this project? It sounds crazy, right?!?
The Bible speaks about this place of undeserved privilege, a place that we now stand. We are just like this person who never worked on a project but gained honor and privilege from the project. We do not deserve to stand before God. We do not deserve to have this privilege. Nonetheless, Jesus Christ has “brought us into this place.” He has allowed us to enter the inner veil. He has given us this great honor through Him.
Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we can “confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Because of what Jesus Christ has done, we have been “brought… into this place of undeserved privilege.” Never forget that it is an undeserved privilege. Praise Him for He alone deserves the honor, glory, and praise. Share your hope with others and continue to look forward to what is ahead.
“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” – Romans 5:2 [NLT]
As it nears my son’s sixteenth birthday, there is great expectation. This is a big day for any teenager. When I consider the months and weeks prior to his birth, there was great expectation. He was my first child. I didn’t know what to expect, but I spent a lot of time considering who he would be and couldn’t wait to meet him.
In 1 Peter 1, we read about our great hope. In verse 3, Peter talks about how “we live with great expectation.” We live with this great expectation because “we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.” We know that because of this, “we have a priceless inheritance” (v. 4). The Bible also tells us that God is protecting us “by His power” until the day comes when we receive the revelation of our salvation.
Some of us have lost the joy of this great expectation. We are so focused on this world that we cannot be “truly glad” that “there is wonderful joy ahead” (v. 6). Perhaps our trials have hardened our hearts. God reminds us that this is on “for a little while.” The trials “show that your faith is genuine” (v. 7). Today, be reminded of our great hope, our great expectation. Remember, “You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy” (v. 8).
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation.” – 1 Peter 1:3 [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]
Even though Lot chose the land to the east, it didn’t remove the promise of God. Remember, God promised Abram descendants, land, and blessing. Lot making a choice for some land, does not cancel a promise of God. No one can take away from the Word of God. This is why it is so vital for us to have His Word written in our hearts. This is why it is so important for us to be deep in the Word, reading it, meditating on it, cherishing it. So that we know these promises. So that we know what He says, what He commands, what He desires. So that we know Him.
Abram was given these promises and these promises would stand. Abram never saw all of the promises come to fruition; his descendants did. At this moment in the narrative, as Lot goes in one direction and Abram is to go the other, it would appear as if this promise of land would now not happen. That’s how you and I think so often. Well I guess this won’t happen now. God says this, God promises that, but I’m not seeing anything appear to be moving in that direction. At this point, God told Abram to stand and walk the land He would deliver.
Arise, walk into the promise of God. That’s basically what He told Abram. Arise, walk into the promise of God. See, God promises you and I a lot. He promises you things. Look into His Word. Read His promises. Speak to Him. Through the Holy Spirit, He will reveal His Word to you. Listen. You will read of His promises. But these promises do not just fall upon you. The world will tell you they aren’t true. Some will make you think they couldn’t possibly happen. You will look around and think that it’s never going to come to fruition. Arise, walk into the promise of God. Stand up. Walk forward in faith. Embrace the promises of God. Hold onto them. Trust that He will deliver.
“Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” – Genesis 13:17 [ESV]
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]
A few weeks ago, I bought my daughter some Cross Country spikes as recommended by her coach. As she’s now on the varsity team, I wanted to be sure she was equipped with the equipment that would help her get to the next level. Like her mom, she likes to keep her shoes loose. During her latest run, another runner stepped on the back of her shoe. As a result, her spike flew off. My daughter ended up with only one shoe. I couldn’t imagine running with only one shoe. Even more so, I couldn’t imagine running a few miles without a shoe. Despite the pain, my daughter continued to press forward. She didn’t let another runner disrupt her race. She actually ran faster and more focused. She finished with a personal record. Yes, her foot was a bit sore, but she finished the race and she finished it well.
We are each running a race. The Apostle Paul talks about this race. Remember, we are to run so that we win the race (1 Corinthians 9:24). There are people out there who will step on our shoes. We often think it’s the people who don’t believe that step on our shoes. We make non-believers out to be the enemy. Stop doing that! They are lost people, just like you and I were once lost.
Oftentimes, the reason our race is slowed down is because of the other runners—our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible speaks again and again about unity, about harmony with the body of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Head and we all are the body. Yet, we have a terrible time at getting along. We argue over doctrine. We tear each other down, instead of building each other up. We promote our own agenda, even if it means sacrificing what God is doing through the ministry of others. We are divisive. We are judgmental. We live by our opinions and emotions rather than God’s truth. Our human nature leads us off course. We get in the way of what God is doing through others because we want to be control happy.
Today, look at your feet. Are you running the race? Are you running to win? Are you encouraging the other runners, or are you stepping on their shoes? Are you running alongside your brothers and sisters in love, or are you slowing them down as a stumbling block? Live in harmony. “Be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.”
“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10 [NLT]
As I was reading about Lot and his journey from sinful Sodom, I couldn’t help but note the interesting plea Lot made to his escorts who led him away from the area. God was destroying Sodom. Because of Abraham, Lot was saved. As he and his family were exiting, Lot’s wife looked back and lost her life. The group traveling onward included Lot and his two daughters.
As they continue onward, rather than go where he was being led, Lot begs to go to Zoar. He sees this small village. It’s nearby. It seems like an easier place to stop and find shelter. Instead of going onward, separating himself further from Sodom, he asks to remain in this “small village nearby.” But then what happens? Not so much further along in the text, we read that he “left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there.” He begged to be somewhere and yet had to leave in fear.
Imagine where he may have been led. Imagine if he would have not begged to stay in this small nearby village. We often think our plans are best. When we get an idea in our head, that’s what we want. God has something better. Perhaps we want the small village but He wants to bless us with a larger one. Perhaps we want a small thing, but He has something much bigger in mind. Today, look at the nearby villages you continue to beg for God to provide. Consider He might have something else for you. Consider the moments you drag your feet to stay near where you already are, and the possibility that God wants to move you further then you ever imagined.
“’See, there is a small village nearby. Please let me go there instead; don’t you see how small it is? Then my life will be saved’… Afterward Lot left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there, and he went to live in a cave in the mountains with his two daughters. – Genesis 19:20, 30 [NLT]
What a great command from Paul to Timothy in his second letter. He says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” We are to run from our youthful passions. Instead we are to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. But we aren’t supposed to do it alone. We are to pursue it “along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
This verse tells us that our journey includes other believers. It also tells us that we need to have companions who have a pure heart. We need to surround ourselves with other believers who have a pure heart. In doing so, it helps us to be supported and built up in Christ. It allows for us to walk faithfully with Jesus, and when we fall, our companions will help pick us up.
If you don’t have many Christian friends, you have a problem. You need a good, rock solid community. This is typically a community you find at your local church. Get engaged at church. Join a small group. Build strong relationships. Find some pure heart companions, people who always point you to Jesus Christ.
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:22 [NLT]