This doesn’t seem like August weather, but I’m glad to have it, especially the cool evenings. Great walking weather!
Our Sunday school continues to study the book of James. Today we studied 2:20-26, James talked about Abraham and Rahab and how their lives of faith were evidenced by their deeds. We had an interesting conversation about the difference between living lives of faith, evidenced by deeds, as opposed to lives filled with works, attempting to earn the favor and grace of God. It all comes back to motivation.
James tells us, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). It would seem that James is contradicting Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
The whole Reformation was built on the truth that salvation is a gift from God, one that cannot be earned through a good life or good deeds or good intentions. Martin Luther and the other reformers emphasized this truth, and for that reason some were not wholeheartedly excited about the book of James. Yet, with a closer look, we decided that James was not contradicting Paul, but rather taking Paul’s theology a step further.
The beginning of our spiritual lives is faith in God using the faith that comes from God. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” God gives us the ability to believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and through that faith we are saved. Paul tells us that faith is a gift from God, that God gives us the ability to believe. “But think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3b).
We commit ourselves in faith to God and we are born again, a new life in Christ. But if we stop there, we are stillborn, and our faith life, the expression of God’s gift to us, is dead, with no expression of life at all. This is where James challenges us. We cannot receive God’s gift and walk away without responsibility. James wants us to have active faith, one that, because of God’s mercy and strength, demonstrates all that God is and can be in our lives.
We’ll be continuing our study in James next week. Join us in Sunday school at 10 a.m.! You’ll be glad you did!
A few “gems” I found on the web.
4 Things You’ll Never Hear in Church
• Hey! It’s my turn to sit in the front pew.
• I was so enthralled, I never noticed your sermon went 25 minutes over time.
• Personally I find witnessing much more enjoyable than golf.
• Since we’re all here, let’s start the service early.
Speaking of “growing up” in faith, Jesus told us that unless we become like little children, that is, to have childlike faith, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. Think about when you were a child, and every adult was awesome. They knew so much. (It wasn’t until you became a teenager that every adult became an idiot!)
Childlike faith takes God at His Word, sees the beauty and glory in God’s creation, and sees the possibilities in this amazing world. What does your faith say about you? This week I’m including a poem I wrote for a friend’s little girl, expressing childlike faith.
My God is always with me
at daytime or at noon.
And when the sky is dark at night,
God hangs a shiny moon.
Deep inside my heart I have
a happiness that seems
impossible, but there it is,
just like in my dreams!
So as I learn and as I grow
I know He’ll always be
on my side and helping me
to be the very best me.
Now here I sit to say my prayers
and thank Him for His love
that brought me down to live with
Mom and Dad from heaven above.
May you be blessed with faith that sees God’s hand in every aspect of your life, because, you know, even if you don’t see it, God is there with you.
Pastor Mary Kay Glunt