Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Faith That Works

We’re not saved by works.
Nobody is perfect.
God knows my heart.
I would, but. .

How often have we heard someone say this? How often have we maybe even wrestled with thoughts like ourselves? While there may be scriptural truths in these thoughts or thoughts like these, we have to be careful not to use them to justify our unwillingness to change. We certainly shouldn’t use them to avoid change, discomfort, and/or work. Our faith should not justify inactivity in service for the Lord. Instead, our faith should be the source of all of our activity and productivity.

Since I grew up in a rural area, my siblings and I often helped our parents to plant and care for our gardens. We understood at an early age that if you didn’t plant, you didn’t get fruit and vegetables. We watched my dad till the land, laboriously breaking up the hardened soil. Then, we would go through the entire process of planting, watering, and weeding the garden, happily reaping from what we had sown.
While most of us understand this principle, especially when it comes to other things, such as our jobs, if we aren’t careful, we will justify ourselves right out of doing much of anything to mature ourselves spiritually, let alone helping anyone else along the way. We don’t want to break up that hardened soil of our hearts. Sometimes we don’t have energy or desire to do anything but satisfy our own selfish desires, which, by the way, yield no real, lasting fruit. However, our faith should be the impetus for work, not the excuse to avoid it. After all, reaping and sowing are Biblical principles that work.

Even after planting, if we didn’t water and weed the garden, the plants would die. It is no different in our spiritual lives. Our water, our life source, is Jesus, the living Word and His Word. It feeds us, quenches our thirst, and strengthens us to grow in Him.

I am convinced that our faith doesn’t work for us when we’ve allowed the cares of the world to choke us. Just like the weeds will take all the nourishment from plants if they’re not eliminated, sin, excuses, and laziness can block our access to having our faith really work for us.

In other words, our faith is the foundation. Out of our faith, we should be compelled to do. In James 2:14-26 gives us a whole commentary on faith and works. One verse that will probably be familiar to most is found is verse 20, which reads, “faith without works is dead.” Then, the scriptures refer to Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. Like Rahab, who is also mentioned, Abraham’s faith and his works worked together—they couldn’t be separated.
So, while we are justified by faith (Romans 5:1), we can “then see how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” If we believe in Him, then we will work for Him and to His glory. In turn, our faith will work for us and will cause us to work.

Our faith is working for us and for others, if people see Christ in us. God really does know our hearts. His Word tells us that the just lives by faith. Living by faith is something that shows, and there is evidence by your speech, actions, and lifestyle. In addition, when you live by faith, you get results. Every person in the Bible who exhibits faith is a doer-he or she acts as a result of faith. He or she gets things done!

I’m ready to get my faith to work! How about you? Do you need to get more involved? Does someone need you to visit or call them? Have you been neglected praying for something or someone? Have you accepted that call that God has on your life to do something for Him? Do you just need to buckle down and join a church? Maybe become faithful in Bible study? Whatever it is, JUST DO IT!

Exercising Faith with You,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cleaning the Toilet

You know how you hear a song, and for whatever reason, you just can’t seem to get the song out of your head? Well, unfortunately, I’ve had a few times when the wrong song has played like a broken record in my head, and I just couldn’t switch the off button. However, a few weeks ago I heard a Fred Hammond worship song that resonated with me in a way that surprised me because of its simplicity. The song simply says over and over again, “Lord, we love you. You are good.” Then it goes on to say, “Lord we thank you. You are good,” and “Lord, we praise you. You are good.” I am so blessed to have that song hard-wired into my brain and spirit lately.
Things have been so chaotic, unsure, and downright scary lately.

Bleak circumstances can cause us to question God if we’re not careful. Although I never voiced it, questions have swirled through my mind. Is He still here? Does He care? Is He really good?

I’m going to be real. I was cleaning the toilet (I know, I know), and I started humming the melody to the Fred Hammond song. On a side note, we have really hard water, and I have three boys—let’s just say toilet cleaning is not a pretty job in my house. Anyway, I started to sing, “Lord, I love you. You are good.” I sang it over and over again, and without warning, I felt the weight of the pressure I had been under slowly release. I still kept struggling with the toilet, but tears streamed down my face. God assured me and reminded me that He is good—even in the situations where we might think that surely God can’t be in the midst. He met me right where I was that day, and He can meet each one of us in any place, circumstance, or condition. No place is off limits for Him to meet us there.

Nahum 1:7 says, “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” The assurance that the Lord is good and we can hold onto Him and His Word in times of trouble is so comforting. He knows those of us who trust in Him. In Psalms 107:1, the psalmist says, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.” Then, on down to the eighth verse, the psalmist continues, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness.” Countless times in scripture, we are reminded of the goodness of God.

However, we have to be so mindful not to just praise God just over the blessings He gives to us. Our praise and worship has to be grounded out of our love for Him and for His goodness. Regardless of what bad or difficult situation we may find ourselves in, God is still good.

Whether you’re scrubbing a dirty toilet, literally or figuratively, God is good. He loves you. He cares. He’s sovereign. He’s in control, no matter what it looks like. Psalms 31:19 says, “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!” I can’t even begin to imagine what God has in store for those who give Him reverence, those who trust in Him. He pours His goodness into us when we trust in Him. We know He’s done it, not always by the situation changing, but by how we are changed.

God’s peace, joy, love and kindness and other fruits of the Spirit strengthen and bless others as well as ourselves when we worship Him with all of our hearts. It doesn’t matter where we are, how we feel, or what is or isn’t going well, God is good. I’m so thankful that I serve a good God who never changes, and I’m praying that you worship Him today and always for His goodness, love and mercy towards us.

Blessings and Love,