Dead Faith

Dead Faith
(Read James 2)
Are you all talk and no action? Are you filled with ideas, but none of them ever come to fruition? If you answered yes to one or both of the above questions then you probably have dead faith.
James 2 is how I want to live my life.  He tells us that in order for our faith to be alive it must be active. I’ve said it before, and I feel it worth saying again; faith is not faith unless it is tested. To say that you have faith is just words; to show your faith in action is truly faith. To give when you have little or none to spare, to show compassion to someone when they have hurt you; that is true faith.
James tells us in v. 14-17 that if we claim faith, but do not use that faith to bless others than our faith is dead. He goes on to tell us that even the demons have faith, so us having faith is not special. What does make us having faith special is our actions based on that faith.
Don’t be confused with works having anything to do with salvation, or buying your way into Heaven. The only way to Heaven is to be born again and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. You are called to be Christ-like, that means that your faith, like His, must be action based.
If you see a need fill it to the best of your ability; THEN share your faith. If I am cold and hungry I am too distracted by my suffering to hear your words about God’s love. If I was an unbeliever I would think “yeah right, God loves me? Why then am I suffering?” Times are tough, money is tight, most of us have enough to get through today. For many of us there is no “security” financially for the future anymore. But I am here to tell you that we can still meet the needs of a hurt and dying world. Most of us have clothes in the back of our closet that we haven’t worn in years. Most of us have blankets that have been sitting in the linen closet “just in case”. Pasta is cheap, so is rice and beans; we can offer a meal to those that may not have enough to eat tonight.  My point is, don’t say that you want to make a difference for Jesus but never put those words into action. DO SOMETHING!!!!!! ANYTHING!!!!!!

 

03.365 (02.08.2009) Faith

03.365 (02.08.2009) Faith (Photo credit: hannahclark)

 
No soldier when they are enlisted, when called to battle says “I’ll be right there.” or when he is asked to serve says “I will do that later.” He gets up and serves; he has action behind his title of soldier. We march in the army of God. Our mission is to win souls for the kingdom of Heaven. So what are you doing in your mission?
I want people to see Jesus at work in me and through me; the only way to make that happen is to show my faith by my actions; actions that are God based and Christ-like. Too often today I see people wearing the “title” Christian, but that’s all it is, a title. They walk around sour and negative, the weight of the world on their shoulders. They sputter and complain, they take and never give. Well I’m here to challenge all of us (myself included) that call ourselves Christians to rise above the mediocrity that we place ourselves in. Rise above our circumstances, rise above our fears and limitations that we set on ourselves. Rise up and put our faith into action! It’s time to show the world that our faith is a living breathing force in our lives. It’s time to revive that “dead faith”.

 

 

 

How Do We Triumph When We Have A Thorn In the Flesh

1.    We stand firm. We do not move to the left, nor to the right. We keep our faith. We know what is right and therefore we must stand for what is right. When we are pressed down and shaken out let’s be sure that what is left is pure gold worthy of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
2.    We rejoice. Satan will only spend extra time on you if you are a threat to him. This is a good thing, not the suffering, but the fact that you are a threat to him, this means that you are walking right and producing fruit for the harvest of souls for Christ.
3.    Let God use this time to create in you a clean heart. Sometimes God allows trials and sufferings in our lives because we need to change something within ourselves. For some of us change can only come when we are pressed down and shaken out. For some of us (like Paul) we need to be kept humble and the only way for that to happen is by having a thorn in the flesh to remind us that it is God at work in us, around us, and through us.
When you are facing troubles I want you to do four things;
STOP! LOOK! LISTEN! GO!
•    Stop: Try to see the will of God in every situation. Is He trying to use this time to grow you? Is He allowing this situation to occur so that you will change? Is He allowing this situation so that you will be humbled?
•    Look: At your life and what is going on. Are you innocent for the present trouble, or do you need to seek forgiveness and repentance? Look with a true and honest heart and spirit at the circumstances and test and try yourself to be sure that there is nothing that you have done. God is holy and just to forgive.
•    Listen: To the promptings of the Holy Spirit. God will use every situation, every circumstance, every trial, and every suffering to help us grow. He will use all of the negative that Satan throws our way to His glory if we are willing to stand in a godly manner (see my blog on; God does not promise to give us more than we can handle…), He promises to give us this escape to be able to endure.
      Now go forth, prepare your heart; your worship; your thanksgiving; your testimony; your mind; prepare yourself for change; for learning; for growing; prepare yourself to be honest.
     

 

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, ...

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Prepare yourself to be torn and put back together with a renewed spirit and a clean heart. Be teachable, moldable, and mendable. Because if you cannot be taught than you cannot change, if you cannot be molded than God cannot help you become what He wants you to be, if you cannot be mended than God cannot fix what is broken and you will never be whole in Him. So prepare yourself for change during times of trouble and suffering. You don’t know what God has in store for you when you come out the other side.
As always, God Bless you till we meet again…

 

 

 

 

 

Being a Blessing To Others, In Spite Of Your Conditions…

Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane),...

Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane), oil painting by Heinrich Ferdinand Hofmann (Heinrich Hofmann). The original is at the Riverside Church (Riverside Church, New York City). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus

Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philippians 2:17-18
“But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.”
    What do you think Paul is saying to us here? What does it mean to be “poured out as a drink offering…”? It means to be sacrificed for the cause. What cause? Spreading the good news of Jesus Christ! Paul in this case was being persecuted because he was trying to witness for Jesus. He was being “sacrificed” for the service of your faith! Are we willing to be sacrificed for the sake of another’s faith? What does that even mean? It means that every person has the right to know that Jesus died for them so that they may have eternal salvation. It means that we may be called into uncomfortable situations; it means that we may be unfairly persecuted; it means that we will suffer; it means that we will have to sacrifice. But for what? For the sake that perhaps through your sufferings maybe just one person will see the joy of the Lord upon you in your time of despair and come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It means that in spite of what our conditions are we NEED to be a blessing to the world around us. We need to show them that Jesus is enough. We need to show them that He comforts us. We need to show them that He speaks to the brokenhearted and wounded.
It is not easy to be a Christian, especially in these dark times. It is a sacrifice to be a Christian in today’s society. Television programs are geared for the worldly, radio is geared for the worldly, and movies are geared for the worldly. Christians have a very small niche in these markets. It is hard to resist all of the temptations. We cry and moan about the conditions of the world. We complain and grumble, but what are we doing to make it better? Are we being a blessing despite the conditions around us? Are we being a blessing despite OUR conditions? How do we stand out in a world gone mad? Stand out for Jesus that is. Paul tells us in V18 “And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.”
    What is Paul saying? He is telling us that no matter what the circumstances, we must remain joyful. Imagine what it would be like if instead of walking around like the world and grumbling about everything that is wrong with it, we try to be joyful that God is still on the throne? Can you imagine what it would be like if instead of when we are tried and suffer we would show the world that Jesus is still in control of our lives? How can the world tell if we are different being a Christian if we look like them? When we suffer we should still be able to share the joy that is the salvation of Jesus. We live in a world that wants instant gratification; they want to see the results now! They want to know that there are benefits to being a believer. Jesus saves us the instant we ask for forgiveness and ask Him to enter into our hearts. How is that for instant results! But what does the world see? They see a sour faced bunch; they see a group of people who say, “God bless you…”, “I’ll be praying for you…” But where is the fruit of that faith? Works will not get us into heaven that is not why we do them. We do them because it is the example that Jesus left us. Because in spite of what is going on in our lives we must still be a blessing to the world around us. Showing this broken and hurting world that there is hope; and that hope is found in Jesus Christ alone. This cannot be done with mere words; we must show with our actions. James 2:14-17 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Our works are for the blessing of others. It is to be a testimony of the love of Jesus. It is to show the world that in spite of what may be going on in your life that the love of God is the most important part of your life. It should be a testimony that God is bigger than any problem.
    Philippians 2:14
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing…”
    What happens to us when we are treated unfairly? Do we not grumble? Do we not dispute what is happening to us? This is not the example that Paul gives us. Nor is this the example of Jesus.  We get caught up in the woes of this life and in turn we give up the joy of the Lord. Romans 8:17 “…and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him…” It’s human nature to want to defend ourselves when we are treated unfairly. But Paul tries to convey to us, remind us, that this is not the way of the Lord. We must keep our joy in the Lord always under every circumstance in our lives. And most importantly, we need to share that joy with others.
    Nothing quite compares to meeting a person who is in the middle of suffering a trial and they have the joy of the Lord upon them. But more remarkable is this, THAT THEY SHARE THAT JOY WITH OTHERS! We tend to hold people like this in high regards; as we should, after all they are witnessing to us the perfect love of Jesus. Despite hanging on the cross. Despite the torment and disrespect. Despite all of it, Jesus still asked His heavenly Father to forgive those that were treating Him unfairly.
    When we suffer wrongs and count it as blessings and share those blessings with others; we are sharing the perfect love of Jesus. Then will we be, “poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith,” This is what it means to be a blessing to others in spite of your conditions.

As I sat here this morning typing this out a red cardinal came an perched itself upon a branch outside my window and stared in at me (or so it seemed, maybe it was only looking at its own reflection) I am reminded that God takes care of all that bird’s needs. I am also reminded that there is no clothing that could compare to the splendor of that birds feathering; the “clothing” that God gave it. Why do we worry so much when God clearly has it all figured out. We just keep getting in the way with our rationalizing everything. The beauty of this bird gave me joy and I wanted to share it with you. Wish I had my camera handy so I could have taken a picture of it. Have a blessed day. (This piece was written about 7 years ago and I edited it this morning.)

True Contentment Part 2

English: The Last Supper of Jesus Christ

English: The Last Supper of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

True Contentment Part 2

 

Philippians 3:7-17
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss, for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained it. Or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything  you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.”

 

Another key to finding “true contentment” in our lives is not focusing on the “what-ifs” in life. But rather, on the things that are “right now”. Ultimately if we focus on the “what-ifs” in life we either live in the past or we live in a fantasy of the future. Yes Paul tells us that he was reaching forward to what lies ahead, but this means that he can see past his present circumstances. This does not mean that he is focused on the what-ifs of his future. Because in V16 he states; “however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” I think this is confirmation that we are called to live in the present.
In V8 Paul tells us that he suffered the loss of all things. In this case the word suffer means, to suffer great mental or physical pain. Losing the things we have for Jesus is not without gain however. There is much to be learned through this experience, if we allow God to show us. According to V11 that blessing is “In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Salvation, this is our reward for standing strong in the face of trials of all sorts. For it is in the deepest parts of these trials that we find God. Therein we find true contentment when we realize that He is all we need.
True contentment comes when we know that we are going to be ok if we can’t figure out our next step. We don’t have to be in control as long as we allow that control to be God’s. I want to be content. Truly content and I know that the only way that I can truly ever be content is to follow the examples that Jesus Himself left for us; either through Jesus Himself, or through His disciples. He gave us all that we need to understand how to be successful in our walk, the BIBLE. Not success as the world sees success, but success as God sees it. To be able to stand before Him one day and hear the words “Well done my good and faithful servant.” To me that is the ultimate goal. Let’s not lose heart in this crazy rat race we call life; remember that this is not our home. We are just visitors waiting for the Lord to call us home. What a glorious day that will be! So till then, keep fighting the good fight and don’t lose heart!

 

 

True Contentment Part 1

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber to be an example of a charismatic religious leader. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

“When we are really in need is when what God gives us truly enough. In this place we find true contentment.”
In 2 cor. 12:5-10, Paul tells us that the Lord gave him a “thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to buffet me-to keep me from exalting myself!”

 

In other words, to keep him humble. again in Philippians 4:11-13 Paul tells us”…In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”
That is TRUE CONTENTMENT. And last, but not least, Paul tells us in Hebrews (specifically 15:5) tells us this: “Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”
This is the foundation for the assurance of our contentment.
How many of us when we have plenty are we content? Really content? Usually when we have plenty we want more. This is not God’s plan for us. He wants us to be content with what He gives us. I’m not suggesting that we should not strive to be better every day. My suggestion is this, “That when we are focusing on getting more, we are not focusing on the Lord. To be able to say, “Lord thank You for what You have given me.” With a true heart for what you’ve said.”
Thanking the Lord for what we have and being content are 2 different things. How often do we say “thank You Lord for this meal…BUT” THAT IS NOT TRUE CONTENTMENT! Or, “Lord thank You for providing for my needs everyday…BUT” THIS IS NOT TRUE CONTENTMENT! We must come to the place of true contentment. Thanking God and then saying “but” is like a small crack in a pot. Over time it will become a steady leak and continue to weaken. We will not be able to retain the “thankfulness”. Ultimately, one small crack in a pot over time will make the whole pot unable to retain its contents. Thus it will be with us. If we cannot find true contentment in every area of our life it is like a small crack in our spiritual armor. After time that discontentment will “leak” into other areas of our life. Then, before you know it you are not able to retain the joy in knowing that the Lord is sufficient.
Matt. 6:25-34 is another assurance our heavenly Father gives us for “true contentment”.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?…yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?…for your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Webster’s definition of content is this: “satisfy; please; make easy in mind.” Also: “willing; ready”.
This reminds me of Matt. 11:28-30. “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My load is light.”
When we are truly content we are more willing to be obedient. That is human nature. When our spouses meet our needs we are more content in our relationship. Thus, we are more willing to meet their needs in return. So it goes with our relationship with our heavenly Father. Whether we want to admit it or not, this is the case. It is just human nature. This is why finding true contentment in our hearts, our spirits, is so important. When Jesus tells us to take up His yoke because it is easy, do we really think that Jesus’ yoke was easy? Of course not! This is why so many of us are too afraid to try it. We see the trials that He faced and we are afraid. But if we look deeper into what He was saying we will find the true meaning. Let us take a look at this.
“Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” He tells us to learn from Him. He is gentle and humble in heart. What does that mean? Sometimes we think that we are humble when in our hearts we are proud. Jesus tells us to let our hearts be humble.
Next, He tells us;  “and you shall find rest for your souls”. Not that we will find rest from our troubles. Do not be confused nor be deceived, the Lord does not guarantee us the life that is free from trouble. He does tell us that if we will learn from Him and that if we are gentle and humble in our hearts THEN we will find rest for our SOULS! You know that place within you that communicates with God? That is where you will find rest.
Do you think that Jesus’ load was easy or light? Probably not. Again let’s take a closer look at what this is saying.
“For My yoke is easy and My load is light.” What was Jesus’ load? It was to save the world. But that has been done once and for all through His sacrifice upon the cross. So what does He mean by telling us to take up His yoke? That His yoke is easy and light? The load that Jesus was to bear (apart from the aforementioned) was the will of His Father. Now we come to the meat of the matter. If we let our will be the Father’s will than we are not the ones that are carrying the load. It is easy and light. So if we listen to the words of Jesus and trust that what He says is true than maybe we too will be able to find that “True Contentment” that Paul talks about.
Paul stresses so much on the issue of true contentment in so many of his letters. This problem of discontentment can rob us of the joy and full blessings, not to mention our ultimate effectiveness for the Lord.

 

(I wrote this 11 years ago. I have edited it a little today and added some more dialog to it.)