Works Are Necessary for Kingdom Growth

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25 But the one who looks at the perfect law of freedom and remains committed to it—thereby demonstrating that he is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of what that law requires—will be blessed in what he does. – James 1:25 ISV

Do works save us? Certainly not!

8 For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.  — Eph. 2:8, 9

Then why are works important? If we look back at the Great Commission that Jesus gave us in Matt. 28:18-20, we find that He tells us to do more than just get people to confess their sins. Jesus commands us to “go and make disciples.” What is a disciple?  Webster defines “disciple” in this way:

someone who accepts and helps to spread the teachings of a famous person

One can be a Christian without actually being a disciple. You can accept Jesus as your Savior and go on with your lifestyle pretty much unchanged (I don’t know how that is possible, but some claim to be able to do so).  But a true disciple follows after his chosen leader, uses His life as an example to follow, spreads His doctrines and teachings and encourages others to do the same. Those who are disciples of sect leaders and worldly religions take the idea of being a disciple much more serious than a lot of us Christians. Some of them take it so far as to be considered “militant” in their actions.  Their actions are governed by anger and hate and wrong teachings.  Our actions are governed by love, but that just means that we have to be kinder in spreading the Gospel of Jesus, not less active or effective. We have a message of perfect love and freedom, which is what the world really desires. We have the Holy Spirit inside us and working with us using the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead. If we are obedient to Jesus’s words that we should “make disciples” then we will “be about our Father’s business”.  That requires us to do the same works that Jesus did when He was here on earth. As Christians, we are not called to be spectators but, rather to be participators, in the work.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-31-2018

Human Anger Does Not Produce Peace

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20 For human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. – James 1:20 ISV
 
As the end of time draws nearer and nearer, satan seems to be reacting like the cornered, trapped animal that he really is. That same spirit of anger and violence seems to be permeating our society.  We see it in all the headlines, the senseless murders and crimes that are being committed on a daily basis. Yes, these things have been happening every since Cain slew Abel but the frequency and the intensity seems to be magnified more and more everyday. That is on a worldwide basis, but what about each individual?  There was a time when we could laugh at our mistakes and have a little fun with each other over those issues on which we disagreed.  But, more and more we have to be much more sensitive to these things.  Statements that once would have been seen as light humor are now taken seriously and great harm is done.  Even small, unintended injustices suddenly become someone’s newest campaign against whatever was mentioned.  We see over and over the truth of the verse that “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”  Therefore, we, as Christians must put aside all our foolishness and fill our hearts and minds with the Word of God. Meditating on and storing God’s word in our hearts is our strongest defense against any kind of unacceptable behavior.  
 
11  I have hidden your word in my heart

that I might not sin against you.
12  Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. 
— Psalm 119:11, 12 NIV

In a world of violence and anger, we must stand as lighthouses to lead others to Jesus, the Prince of Peace. We must let the light of Jesus shine through us.  We must be the ones to show others that in the middle of the storm, there is a safe harbor, a place of calmness and peace. More and more, the world needs individual peacemakers. By blessing others with our examples of peacemaking, we ourselves receive God’s blessing.

 
Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God. — Matt. 5:9
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-30-2018

“Our God Is An Awesome God”

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17 Every generous act of giving and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father who made the heavenly lights, in whom there is no inconsistency or shifting shadow. – James 1:17 ISV
When God created the world, after each day’s work,we are told that “God saw that it was good” .
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day ​– Genesis 1:​31 NIV
Everything in this world was created good and perfect to last forever and was given to man by God to enjoy and have dominion over it all. Then man sinned and decay and rot started in all of God’s creation. But God had a plan to fix all that even before He laid the foundations of the earth . So, He gave us “THE good and perfect gift”, Himself, to die on a cross to redeem all of creation.  He is still in the business of giving good gifts to us.  This very moment is called the “present” because it is a gift from God. The good earth we enjoy, the very air that we breathe, every particle of food that we eat are all gifts from God.  When He gives them, they are good gifts, but we have chosen to belittle and desecrate those gifts by refusing to give thanks to the Creator of all things.  Every second of our life is a gift from God and we need to give Him praise, glory and honor for those precious seconds. Our attitudes should always be an attitude of humility and thankfulness. We should stand in awe of our awesome God.
 
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-29-2018

God Does Not Tempt Us

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13 When someone is tempted, he should not say, “I am being tempted by God,” because God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.  – James 1:13 ISV
When we were born physically, we were born into a sinful world. We live in bodies of flesh that have carnal desires.  Because sin is still in the world and we are all infected and affected by it, we follow(ed) after those fleshly, carnal desires. The lifestyles that we live(d) are/were not pleasing to God. Jesus sent His Son to redeem us from this fallen state.  When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are born again spiritually, we become new creations in Christ Jesus. We get a new heart with new desires but, the flesh does not just automatically and instantly give up and die.  The old desires are still there and it is a constant, second by second battle to defeat the desires of the flesh.  To kill those fleshly desires, we not only need open heart surgery, but we need major brain surgery.  Our mindset and our attitudes have to be changed. When carnal, evil, unkind, sinful thoughts “pop up” in our minds, we can be sure that those thoughts do not come from God, but, rather from satan and his minions. We must always remember that they are liars and they are here only to destroy us.

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. — 1 Peter 5:8

We are tempted by these evil thoughts.  If we allow ourselves to be enticed and follow those fleshly desires, they lead us to sin and sin eventually leads to death.
But we have a way out, we have a redeemer and a High Priest who has suffered those same temptations and understands our weaknesses. He defeated satan at the cross, so that we could live full, abundant lives.

 
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-28-2018

We Are All Special In God’s Eyes

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A brother of humble means should rejoice in his having been exalted, 10 and a rich person in his having been humbled, because he will fade away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun comes up with its scorching heat and dries up the grass. The flower in it drops off, and its beauty is gone. That is how the rich person will fade away in his pursuits. ​- James 1:9-11 ISV​
God has people in all levels of society, from the homeless to those living in huge homes and castles.  Whether we are rich or poor, from the human viewpoint, has no effect on how God sees us and whether or not, He can use us. We are all special in His eyes and worthy of His death on the cross. Not all us are capable of playing musical instruments but, in a band or an orchestra, every player must play the right notes for the music to be appreciated,  Even fewer of us will be band directors or orchestra leaders.  And that is a very good thing.  Because we need farmers, doctors, business men and women, educators, engineers, scientists, as well as someone to fill all the other positions that are needed for our survival. God has given each of us a talent that He can use for His glory if we will allow Him to do so.  While we are all very special in God’s eyes and have special talents, we are all alike in that we will all have temptations to avoid and trials to go through. For us to persevere, we will need to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on Jesus and not on the world around us. Regardless of our social position or our economic value, Jesus expects us to allow Him to use us to further His Kingdom here on earth.  When we learn total dependence on Jesus, the worldly things will become of much less importance to us and we can be joyful in the fact that Jesus considered us worthy.  Worthy enough that He would choose to die for us, worthy enough to allow us to be a part of His team and worthy enough to spend an eternity with Him in glory.  We should never belittle His gift and His opinion of us by not using our talents to glorify Him.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 07-27-2018

God Faithfully Answers Our Prayers

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But he must ask in faith, without any doubts, for the one who has doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. – James 1:6 ISV
 
God has promised to provide our every need and He is always faithful to fulfill His promise. He provides for us spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally. When we pray as Jesus taught us to pray; “Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done” and truly believe that He will answer us, He always does. He responds to our faith in Him.  

 
28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them,“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. — Matt. 9:28-30
We need to pray for wisdom, especially for wisdom in how to pray and for what things and people we should pray about. Praying is one of the simplest and yet, one of the hardest things, a Christian does.  It can be as simple as Peter’s prayer, “Lord, save me” or it can be as long as is necessary, such as the prayer that Jesus prayed for us in John 17.  Regardless of length or what words are used, the important thing is that we be serious and believe that God will do what we are asking. We cannot waver in our faith that He will do what we ask.

 

13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. — John 13, 14

Prayer requires a lot of patience since we can pray for the right things and we don’t immediately see answers.  God has a plan and a purpose and a time for each phase of His plan to be implemented. We must trust that He knows best and continue to believe. We must be careful to watch for the answer because it may come in a totally different way than we were expecting. Just remember, God is always faithful and He always answers our prayers.  It may take years, just as it did for Abraham and Joseph, but He always does what He said He would do, He is “I AM”, past, present and future.

 
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-26-2018

“Testing Produces Endurance”

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because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. – James 1:3 ISV
 
We love reading those verses that make us feel good, like Romans 8:28, Phil 4:13, John 10:10 and John 3:16.  Those are great verses that encourage us by letting us know that God is good and everything is going to be okay. But those verses can seem pretty hollow when we feel like God has deserted us and we are all alone in this evil world.  It is hard for us to understand how God, who is love, can allow bad things to happen to His children. When these times come, we need to remember that all we can see is “now”, but God sees and knows all about the future. He allows testing so that we can know where we are on our journey.  He already knows but we need to know so that we do not become puffed up and prideful.  Jesus warned us that in this world we would be offended and tested, so, it should come as no surprise when we are. Our Lord and Savior was tested and tempted in every way possible. He understands our pain better than we do.  We should never deny that we are in pain or that we are sick and hurting.  We need to admit our weaknesses and ask God to bring us through this time of testing. We need to persevere so that we can become mature and complete, fulfilled in Christ Jesus. We don’t want to hear “count it all joy” while we are in the process, but after the test is concluded, we can look back on the experience and see that Jesus carried us through the whole process.  The joy comes from knowing who we serve and that He loves us so much that He will allow nothing in our lives that He doesn’t give us strength to overcome. We are to “count it all joy”, not because of the situation, but in spite of the situation. We can’t be overcomers and conquerors if we never face situations that require us to overcome or conquer.  

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delightin weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Cor. 12:9, 10 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-25-2018