Faith in Action 5

James 2:14-17

In my childhood I was taught the song “The Deacon Went Down.” Some of the lyrics are,

“Oh, the deacon went down

In the cellar to pray.

He fell asleep

And he stayed all day.”

The song is a clever little commentary on pious appearances. The church person, the deacon, made a show of his piety by going in to pray. But the result was that nothing happened other than he fell asleep.

Unfortunately there are so many who think that faith begins and ends with how they look to others. We have far too many people in our churches who look good – like the deacon going to pray – but don’t live out their faith – falling asleep.

James has some strong words about living out your faith. He uses the example of a needy person confronting a faithful believer. If we as believers simply say that we want things to go well for the needy person, our heart goes out in sympathy to those who struggle, yet we do nothing then we haven’t truly lived out our faith.

All of our best intentions and holy thoughts and attitudes can be nice but they do nothing to share the love and mercy of God. When we fail to do anything about the situation the needy are in we are allowing our faith to fall asleep. James says that our faith is dead.

We must keep our faith awake. We must keep our faith alive. To do that we must put our faith into action. We must be willing to give of our time and efforts in helping those who are in need.

And when we feel that we are stretched beyond our ability, that we have given all we can and there is nothing left for us to do, we must trust that with God all things are possible. Nothing is impossible with God, and through Him we are able to give out of our poverty and enjoy the privilege of sharing with others.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How will you keep your faith alive and awake?

Faith in Action 4

2 Corinthians 8:1-4

So many people have the attitude and misconception that the church only wants money from those who attend. Yes, every place of worship has its share of expenses to remain functioning, but as a church leader I can say that I am not out to get everyone’s money.

What people fail to see is that THEY need to give – not for God and not necessarily for the church – but for themselves. We can claim to be faithful believers, but if we refuse to give up any of our money, time, talents or possessions aren’t we being selfish? And if we are selfish then we are not truly faithful.

To illustrate this attitude Paul relates some information about some churches in Macedonia, an area north of Greece. What situation were these people apparently experiencing? What did they do? What did they plead for?

We don’t know many details about what the Macedonian churches were going through at the time of Paul. We just know that they were going through “severe trial” and “extreme poverty.” Severe. Extreme. Were they experiencing a drought? Had they been invaded by another nation? Maybe their economy had collapsed.

No matter what the problem was these people were able to give from what little they had. It may have been money. It may have been food. Whatever it was they were able to see that even though they had very little they could still be generous to others in need.

And not only that they saw the act of giving as a privilege (see verse 4). It was a gift from God that they were able to experience the joy of giving even when they were struggling.

These people put their faith in action. They lived out their faith, and we can surmise that they were able to do this because of their strong confidence in God. They knew that with God all things were possible.

We must see that even though we feel we have very little to spare God will provide for us. When we give we must see it as a privilege, a joyous thing that we can do to honor our Lord. And as we put our faith in action we must believe that God will supply us with the ability to give.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What is your attitude in giving? Do you see it as a privilege?

Faith in Action 3

Philippians 4:12-13

Verse 13 is a very powerful punch of a verse, isn't it?  I can do EVERYTHING... ANYTHING... SOMETHING? 

Many days, it feels like we can do NOTHING.  When the world is battering you on all sides and your sick and tired and you feel like you're going to drop, it's then that we realize that we are in the time of need that Paul refers to here.  There are days where I feel like if one more person asks me to do something for them I'm going to collapse into a heap and cry.  And they always do, and I usually manage to hold things together.

Life is tough.  And it's so important to realize that we don't just feel like we can do nothing... we literally can do NOTHING. 

It is only with God's grace and power and the support of those around us that we can do ANYTHING at all.  When I get feeling overwhelmed, I will make myself a checklist of what needs to get done.  And I keep telling myself if I can just accomplish SOMETHING today, that will be a good day.  And I get up and get going and get doing what needs to be done. 

But verse 13 tells us we can do EVERYTHING, just not in our own power.  Only through the one who gives us strength.  We need to constantly be reminding ourselves of that.  It's not our power or accomplishments or greatness -- it's God's.  All of the THINGS we can accomplish should be giving glory to Him and not to ourselves.  He is our superpower!

So the next time you face a day where it feels like you can do NOTHING, acknowledge that it's true.  And then set out to do SOMETHING and realize that with God's help, you can do EVERYTHING.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  Whether you are in a time of need or plenty right now, what THING will you accomplish with God today?

Faith in Action 2

Matthew 19:23-26

With man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

What an amazing claim--when we have God on our side, there are literally no limits to what we can do.

There is somthing really interesting that jumps out at me in this story. Jesus talking to the “Rich Young Ruler.” We don’t know who he was, but we know that he was young, interested in what Jesus was preaching, trying to live a good life, rich and probably very respected by everyone around him.

When Jesus tells him it’s impossible for him to enter the kingdom of heaven, the disciples are shocked that Jesus would tell this young man that. If he ain’t gonna make it, then who is? He’s nice, rich, polite, rich, respects his elders, rich, goes to church, rich,… (you get the picture).

Just a few verses later, Jesus says that famous line about the last being first and the first being last. In their culture (and let’s face it ours, too) someone with everything going for them is just expected to be rewarded. But when we rely on our own good deeds and our own attempts to follow the “law” then we are doomed to failure. This guy couldn’t “nice” his way into the kingdom of heaven and he couldn’t “rich” his way into the kingdom of heaven.

No, the only way to get into the kingdom of heaven was by God performing the impossible and making a way for him to get in.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What are you relying on for your eternal reward? Your own goodness or God’s eternal grace and impossible logic?

Faith in Action 1

Matthew 7:24-27

If you have ever tried to build a house of cards you know that you need a solid foundation on which to build or all of your efforts will be for nothing. The same is true of a house in which you plan to live. You need a firm foundation so the structure can withstand all the wind and rain of nature.

Now we see that the same is true of our faith. We need a firm foundation in our beliefs and in our connection with God before we can face the challenges of living out our faith.

In Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus provides a short parable about two men building houses. Where did the wise man build? What happened when the weather turned bad? Where did the foolish man build? What happened to his house?

Like so many of Jesus’ parables we need to look closely at what is being said so that we can fully understand what is intended by the teaching. If we read this too quickly we come away with the idea that we need Jesus and God as our spiritual foundation so that we can weather the trials and troubles in life. While this is true – we DO need to have a sincere and genuine connection with the Lord to endure life’s challenges – there is more to the story.

In verse 24 Jesus says that those who hear his teaching “and puts them into practice” are like the wise builder. In verse 26 Jesus says that those who “do not put them into practice” are like the foolish builder.

We need to do more than simply have a deep and sincere connection with God. Or we might say that a true connection to the Lord, having Christ as our spiritual foundation, is more than just being loyal to God and spending time in church and prayer and Bible study.

To have a firm foundation of faith requires that we hear the Lord’s teaching and then we put it into practice. We must live out our faith, be active in our loving, in order to have that firm base of faith. I believe the storms of life are never a threat to any believer who is living out faith and sharing love with others.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What does your faith foundation look like?