The Journey Thoughts

November 8, 2016

Is your faith alive or dead? Do you believe, that it is what you do, that
makes you righteous before God?  So then, you are a good person, but why are
you a good person?  James tells us some very deep things about the heart.
Listen to what Scripture says: "But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I
have works. Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from
my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe
- and they shudder. Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without
works is useless? Wasn't it Abraham our father justified by works, when he
offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was active together
with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. So the Scripture was
fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for
righteousness, and he was called God's friend."  James 2:18-23 This is an
age old argument about faith and works, for there are many who still try to
be good, so that God will credit them righteousness.  Yet, we know that:
"For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves;
it is God's gift - not from works, so that no one can boast." Eph. 2:8  But
what does this faith look like.  If we say we believe in Jesus, so do the
demons, but they are not saved. The bible tells us they shudder. Faith that
trusts God fully, and in that trusting, changes the very activity of the
individual.  We desire to do good, not because we have to, or because we
still want to show how good we are, but we desire to do good for the love of
Christ, for His glory and purpose for each of us.  So then I see this at
work also.  Man can by faith desire to do good works, but after doing  good
works for a while, it becomes something that he no longer thinks about as a
love offering to God, but rather, a means by which he holds on to his faith.
Now instead of faith prompting him to do good, it is the doing that is
causing him to remain faithful. He becomes legalistic in his view of God,
and promotes works so that others can see his righteousness.  On the surface
it may look the same, but the heart has changed.  His goal is no longer
love, but good works. If I love my wife and want to treat her to something
special,  I do a job that is normally one she would do, as a love gift to
her.  She likes it so much, I decide I will continue to do that job.  Soon
after however, I start to feel resentment that she expects me to always do
that job. But I keep doing it anyway, because it is expected of me.  But I
have lost the very reason for doing it in the first place.  I did it for
love, and now it has become a burden.  With a burden, the heart becomes
resentful.  We too, can be workers for God, but if we concentrate fully on
the works we are doing, we start to expect that God owes us something
because of our works righteousness.  But when trials come, and they will, we
want God to respond in the way we think He should. "After all, I have been
doing all these right things, now it is time for Him to do this one thing
for me."  You see how we can get all crazy in our thinking?  So works is a
by-product of faith, but faith and love are the drivers that constantly make
us want to please our Lord, not to earn brownie points, but because we are
compelled out of a heart of love.  When done that way, we will never reach a
point of frustration that God is not keeping up His end of the deal.  We are
always indebted to Him for what He has done through Christ on the cross.
How can we ever repay such a gift?  We can never!  We can only reveal a true
love, put in action by trying to become more like Him and less like us.

Pastor Andy

Heavenly Father, Please help us to desire to serve You through our good
deeds, and I pray that our hearts will always see those deeds as a love
offering to You.  So give us that new heart that desires to please You
always.  I pray for those who need You, and I know that Your will is going
to be done in their lives, but I will still petition You, not because I
think You owe me, but because I fully trust Your great love for us, and only
desire that we see Your activity in our lives, whether it is through
suffering or a mountain top experience.  I pray for: Those who struggle with
understanding Your will for us, especially those who are suffering right
now. Please touch them Lord.  I pray specifically for: Mike and his sisters,
Don, Dwight, Ellie, Anna, Jim, Vanessa, Becky, the Markle family, Travis,
Virginia, Eric, Eva, Max, Rita, Pastor Berkey, Nancy, June, JT, Candace,
Meredith, Carolyn, Mike S., Ramona, Loren, Judy, Ben, the Young family,
Robby, Kathy, Terri, Becky, Montella, Charlie, Kim, Nada, Angie, Isabel,
Terry and his dad, Tim and his mom, Shelly and her mom, Pam and her son,
Kelly and her son, Richard and his dad, Julissa and her friend, Ellen's
friend, Kristena, Abby, Malachi, Corbin, Ryan, Olivia, Jeremiah, Joanna,
Tom, Evelyn, Joy, Ruth, Ada, JV, BJ, Ida, Betty, Briggs church, Jackie Ann,
Tonia, Todd, Liam, Aiden, Alan, Fisher, Tuly, Betsy, Michelle, Trevor,
Maria, Choya, Alex, Ken, Eric, Sandy, Andrea, Shannon, Robert, Pat, Ryan,
Tyson, Wendy, Joyce, Betty, Gus, Lisa, Alice, David, Phyllis, Devon, Cindy,
Marliana, Cynthia, Berry, Johnny, Annette, Kim, Gary, Gavin, Shawn, Laurie,
Heather, Codi, Ron, Deane, Dan, Rheba, Pam, Mike, Austin, Harriet, Fred,
Dotty, James, Scott, April, Craig, Hunter, Betty, Asher, Lynette, Kathy,
Jennifer, Patrick, Abe, Trent, Garret, Mayeaux, Ben, Jason, Ashley, Marc,
Macy, Jade, Bob, Tracy, Abraham, Elijah, Japheth, Matt, Liz, Matt, Bethany,
Mike, Megan, Jeff, Laura, Carmello, Kaitlyn, Tim, Michelle, my family.  I
pray Father, that the things we do today, are done, not to feel we have
earned our way with You, but because we cannot help but desire to serve You
through the things we do, all for the sake of Love, and not expecting
anything in return from You, for You have already paid it all through Jesus,
whose name I  pray in. Amen.

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