James 2:20-22 “You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the alter? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”
And. It is such a small word. And yet it clearly and very simply binds things together. It is your indicator that the previous and the following…go together.
Or. That is an even smaller word. Or, indicates that you have a choice. You can choose this OR you can choose that.
How can such tiny words in the English language have such powerful impact when reading scripture? Oh how easily my friend! Let me try to make sense of what God has placed in my heart for today! ;-)
I'm sure we can all agree that it took many…countless…hours… to translate, proof-read, edit and print our individual ‘preferred’ version of the Bible. I, myself, am not a strict ‘Bible snob’ when it comes to version. With that said, I do only like to use one of my own Bibles because I have written ALL through them. God has spoken so many powerful truths to me while reading His inspired Word and I KNOW that I don’t want to forget the words of my Father. I love to write the ‘always was…but is new to me’ truth with the date(mo/yr) beside the verse(s) that inspired them.
Think about what it might have been like though. Imagine being the person or group of people who started translating page one of the Holy Bible. It probably seemed like an ENDLESS job. How many previous people had felt the call of God to start and gave up before they even started? Why don’t we always remember that if God has called us…He will see us through?
Think about the significance of each word in the Bible. How careful they absolutely had to be! How many times did they have to check and recheck if what was printed was exactly what was intended. Had they really picked the BEST word from our language to portray what God wanted? Let me assure you that I never used to be…but am passionately now becoming, the type of person that focuses in on one, single word in Scripture. Today it is AND! =)
When I again opened up my Bible to James chapter 2 today, my eyes were drawn to a heading in bold print. “Faith and Deeds” There is that word again. And. Why is this word so important? What does faith have to do with deeds? EVERYTHING!
Faith must be accompanied by action. Let me give you an example from yesterday morning’s church service. After worship God led me TO the path of two women. Both of them hurting. Both of them in pain. Neither of them seeking attention. As I walked by both of them, God presented me with an opportunity. I was on my own path. I was standing at a crossroad. God only led me to the path of this woman…I was the one who had to choose to walk in it. I saw the tears in the first woman and I was drawn to her. Some people shy away when they see tears. Sometimes that is me. And yet…this day I knew I was supposed to talk to her. I leaned over and asked, how are you feeling? This woman was in pain. Excruciating pain. When I heard of her recent medical findings, I KNEW that I was supposed to pray for her radical healing. I have faith, so I know what to do. But the knowing is not nearly as important as the actual DOING! Knowing I needed to pray did this woman absolutely NO good. So, I pray. I approached the Throne of Grace boldly!
The next young woman was walking the halls of the school that we currently hold our Sunday morning worship service in. Her arms were across her stomach and her face had discomfort written all over it. Again…I was presented with an opportunity. Talk to her…or walk by and smile. Again I asked, ‘Are you feeling OK?” Again, this young woman said that she was not. Knowing what to do would’ve done her no good. Knowing the power of healing doesn’t heal. Knowing the plan of salvation is not enough. Knowing. Knowing. Knowing. Just as I said yesterday in Day ONE of this 30 day challenge…
Even the demons know. Even the demons believe. What is the difference!?
Action! The difference is when you have both faith AND deeds. When you pair faith WITH action…lives are changed. Those…are what show our God to be living and active. Jesus is not a helpless baby lying in a manger. He is the King of Kings who faced every trial thrown at Him…head on. He was/is forever victorious. He conquered hell and death when He ascended back to His Throne in Heaven. What would our reality be if knowing had been enough for HIM?! If Christ had known how to save man and did nothing…where would that leave us? Let that be your motivation to DO what you KNOW!
Knowing, accompanied by actually doing what we know to be right and true, IS what leads people to our Savior. Being presented with an opportunity to pray over someone can be missed if you choose to walk by. God’s healing for a person in pain can be prolonged or even thwarted if you ignore the nudge of God. People can and are dying without the saving Grace of God because of our fear of rejection. We live in the land of ‘What IF”. It is a land that the enemy happily and easily draws us to and then relentlessly holds us in. What IF I ask if I can pray and they say no? What IF they don’t believe in healing? What IF I try to lead them to Christ and they don’t accept it? God never asks you to figure out the what if’s. He asks only for obedience in the going out.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” " Matthew 28:18-20
That passage is not just for pastors. It is for YOU! Authority has been handed to you by the scarred hand of Christ. He said those words recorded in the book of Matthew to His disciples the first time they saw Him after He was resurrected. ‘All authority’…does not leave room for excuses and exceptions. ‘I am with you always’…does not leave you alone and helpless…EVER!
Let us be willing and available to teach people. Let us lead them, by bold example. Let us be sensitive to the call of God to pray AND go do it. Let us believe in healing AND proclaim it in Jesus name! Let’s choose to not only see the lost, but to LOOK for them AND pray with them.
We don’t have time to wait. We can’t leave this job to someone else. God needs each of us actively engaged in our faith because the world is lost. They are looking to anything, grasping at everything and coming up empty. They are hungry and thirsty for more and we, as Christians, know exactly what will satisfy. “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
Knowing is not enough. It never has been. Go and do.
Count how many words in the following passage are verbs. How many of them are words that ask us to perform an action? I encourage you to get out your own Bible and underline each action that God is asking of US.
“My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding
and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom,
and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds victory in store for the upright,
He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for He guards the course of the just
and protects the way of His faithful ones.
Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair--every good path,
For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.” Proverbs 2:1-11
Did you notice that the first five verses are our suggested action. What about the other six verses that follow? Ah, those are the action-filled promises of God, that will be fulfilled if you are fully engaged. Stale, stuffy, and stagnant are not words that define my Christian walk. How about yours?
Let’s strive to have contagious faith IN action! Look for your opportunities today! Search for them! Who is God asking you to pray for right now? GO! Who is God laying on your heart as you read? CALL! Is your heart beating faster? GOOD! Are you feeling a bit uneasy? Excellent…now that you know…
What. Will. You. DO?!
Words have power. Written words provide proof. You can read them, and reread them whenever you want. They can speak life to someone who needs encouragement. They can speak death to someone who is being deceived. The choice lies within you. How is it that you want people to remember you? Encourager...that is the gift that God has laid on my heart. To use my written, spoken, and/or sung words to lift people up. To be one link in their road to healing, restoration, joy. I have been without those things, and I claim them to be mine again. If you want me to seek God on a prayer for a specific situation...that is why I am here. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to pray God's Word of Life over you.