28
Aug
15

Is God Calling You His Friend?

James 2:20-24 (NIV)

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

Are you God’s friend?  How do you become a friend of God?  Abraham was called God’s friend because he believed God.  He did not merely believe in God.  He believed God.  His faith was expressed in action.  He did more than just give lip service to his faith.  He lived it out by obeying God.  Therefore, God credited it to Abraham as righteousness and called him His friend.  Abraham’s faith was proved by his deeds.  His faith was tested and Abraham came through.
According to one commentator, D. L. Moody often said, “Every Bible should be bound in shoe leather.”  It means that we need to be putting feet to our faith.  We need to be proving our faith by our actions.  Remember that James said that faith without deeds is a dead faith.  Faith only has a pulse when it is put into action.  Faith is more about how we live than what we say.  Many people claim to have faith in God, but they don’t live like it.  We all have moments when our actions betray our words.  Let us put feet to our faith and fit our feet with shoes that take our faith to the world.  We need to serve those who are not being served.  We need to be peacemakers where there is so little peace.  We need to obey God even when no one else is obeying God.  Saying, “I believe” is no good unless we live out those words each day.  
 
PRAYER: Lord God, I believe in You and in Your Son, Jesus Christ.  I want to do more than just say it, though.  I want to live it out.  Give me opportunities today to demonstrate my faith and to put it into action.  Help me to see Your hand behind these opportunities.  Help me to obey.  I want to be considered Your friend as Abraham was Your friend.  Amen.
27
Aug
15

Make A Choice, Take A Stand (re-post)

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV)

Joshua gave the people a choice – serve the Lord or worship idols.  He did not wait for their answer as he told the people where his family stood: we will serve the Lord.  It didn’t matter what everyone else was going to do.  Joshua’s household would stand firm and serve the Lord.
We all have to make a choice and take a stand.  What will you do?  As the world around us seems to be moving further and further away from faithfulness, righteousness and holiness, what will you choose to do?  Will you choose to go with the crowd or will you choose to follow Jesus?
Jesus said that we have a choice to make:

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. – Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

Make up your mind today.  Make your choice.  Take your stand.  But be wise with regard to the road you choose.  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
 
PRAYER: ​Heavenly Father, help me to make a choice and take a stand for You today.  I want to walk the narrow road and walk through the narrow gate today.  I want to follow Jesus and serve Him today.  Help me to say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”  Thank You for hearing my prayer, amen.
26
Aug
15

Repaying The Lord

What can I give back to God
for the blessings he’s poured out on me? — Psalm 116:12 (The Message)
I heard this Psalm quoted by Bono at a U2 concert back in 2001 in Indianapolis.  It is a profound question.  What can we give to God that He doesn’t already have?  What can we give to God that could possibly measure up to all of the blessings He has poured out on us?  The simple answer is: ourselves.
First, we can surrender our lives to Him in humility and submission.  I believe that God gives us a choice to accept Him or reject Him.  If we reject Him, He honors that choice throughout eternity.  If you don’t want to live with God, He’ll honor that choice.  If you accept Him (by grace through faith in Christ expressed in baptism) and desire to live with Him, He’ll honor that choice as well.  In accepting His gracious offer of salvation, we must submit and surrender to His leadership in our lives.  We must repent and turn away from sin and turn to God in total surrender.  We give Him our lives and He gives us His Spirit.
Second, we must recognize that He is the source of blessing in our lives and we give Him our praise, thanksgiving and adoration.  Romans says that to offer ourselves up as living sacrifices is our spiritual act of worship.  As we begin to understand more and more that everything we have is a gift from God, the more our hearts yearn to repay Him.  We could not possibly hope to repay Him with offerings of tithes and praises and with good behavior.  All we can give Him is the most valuable thing we “possess” and that is ourselves.  Let us take up our crosses today and repay the Lord with our very lives lived in His service and praise.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to surrender everything to You today.  I know that I could never repay You for all of Your love, kindness and goodness to me.  Help me, instead, to live a life filled with gratitude for all You have done.  Help me to give You all of me and all of my heart.  Help me to love You with everything that I have and to put You and Your will first in my life.  Thank You for Jesus in Whose name I pray, amen.
25
Aug
15

The Night Is Almost Over

The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. — Romans 13:11b-14 (NIV)

I have a friend who says something to the effect that “nothing good happens after midnight”.  And when you think about it, he’s just about right.  When there is light shining, people behave more appropriately.  When there is darkness, there are all kinds of evil.  As Christians, we are to “walk in the light, as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7, NIV).  Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12, NIV).  If we are going to clothe ourselves with Him (Galatians 3:27), we must step out of the darkness and into the light of His glorious presence.  We must reject the darkness of evil and sin and instead, we have to allow Christ to shine His light into the dark places of our souls.  His light will expose everything that is evil and then it can be done away with.  May His light shine in the darkness in and through us today.

PRAYER:  Father God, help me to walk in the light today.  May I seek to live in such a way that I do not need to hide my life in the shadows of darkness.  Remind me that I am clothed with Christ by Your grace.  Remind me that I represent Him everywhere I go.  May I shine His light in the darkness today.  I praise You in the holy name of Jesus, amen.

24
Aug
15

Jesus Gives Us Greater Hope

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.

24
Aug
15

A DOA Kind Of Faith

James 2:18-19 (NIV)
 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

James says that faith without deeds is dead (James 2:26, NIV).  Saying, “I believe” is not enough!  It is impossible for a Christian to say that they have faith in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ and not back up their words with action.  If you are not living out your faith in good works, then your faith is dead on arrival.

James points out that the believers of his day would say that there is only one God (bringing to mind the Hebrew Shema as well as denying the polytheism of the pagans of his day).  He then compares those folks with demons!  The demons know and believe that there is one God.  The demons, when they came face to face with Jesus, said, “What do you want with us, Son of God?” (Matthew 8:29, NIV).  In Mark 1:24 (NIV), the demons said, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” and “I know who You are — the Holy One of God!”  The demons expressed belief in who Jesus is, which is more than we can say for many in our world today.  They did not express that belief in their works.  Their belief did not change them when they rebelled against God eons ago.

Do not merely say, “I believe.”  Faith in Christ does not allow a believer to sit idly by with no evidence of said faith in one’s life.  Good works fueled by faith, hope and love are not optional.  Our faith must be more than surface deep.  Our deeds must be the demonstration of our faith in Christ.  True faith in Jesus does not allow one to sit in a church building on a Sunday morning in one’s Sunday best only to leave one’s faith behind for the remaining 167 hours.  Take your faith with you and let it fuel your good deeds throughout the week.  Show love to the world in Jesus’ name.  Help those in need.  Pray for those who are far from God.  Share your faith with those who are lost in their sins.  Volunteer in your church’s ministries.  These things do not save us, but rather they are the evidence of a saving faith.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I believe in You.  I believe that You are the Son of God and that You died on the cross for my sins.  I believe that I am forgiven by Your sacrifice.  Help me to demonstrate my faith by putting it into action.  I know that I am not saved by my works.  Help me to remember that I am saved to do those good works You have prepared for me to do.  Thank You for giving Yourself for me, Amen.

21
Aug
15

The Rubber Meets The Road

James 2:14-17 (NIV)
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
We know that we are saved by the free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  We know that there is nothing that we can do to earn God’s grace.  We can’t buy it or be good enough for it or do enough good deeds to balance out our sin.  On our own, we are sunk.  We are dead in our sin and sinfulness.  When we come to faith in Christ, God changes our standing and reconciles us to Himself.  So how do we know that we truly belong to Him?  The answer is simple – by our deeds.
We do not do good works to be saved.  We do good works BECAUSE we are saved.  Good works are God’s love in action.  Good works are the evidence of the transformation that is brought about by the saving work of Jesus Christ in us.  Good works are where the rubber meets the road.
It does not do anyone in need any good if we wish them well on their way without putting our faith in action.  Faith is more than intellectual assent. It is more than just agreeing that Jesus Christ is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  It is demonstrating that faith by our deeds.
As you encounter people, especially brothers and sisters in Christ, in need, be quick to lend a hand in Jesus’ name.  Christians and churches who do not help those in need are merely giving lip service to their faith.  Let us use our resources, our time and our abilities to demonstrate the reality that we have been saved by the free gift of God’s grace.  Let us demonstrate our gratitude to Jesus by sharing His love for the world with those in need.
PRAYER: Help me, O God, to be generous with good works.  May I have opportunities today to share Your love with those I encounter.  May I seize these opportunities that You have prepared in advance for me to do.  I know that apart from You, I am lost.  I thank You for Your grace and mercy.  Help me to extend mercy to those in need that they may know You and Your grace and that they may find Your salvation.  In the name of Jesus the Savior, Amen.



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