Bible Reading

The Two Types of Faith

In his epistle, James writes about persevering through difficult times, wisdom, boasting, wordiness, the tongue, and works. James includes a brief discussion on faith and works, saying, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James tells us that there truly is a difference between just talking the talk, and walking the walk.

In my daily interactions with people, I meet a lot of self proclaimed Christians. Several of these Christ-followers say all the right things, yet when it comes to taking action, there’s a lack of response. They say and know all there is, but when it comes to changing their lifestyle, they’ll have none of it. People like this are knowledgeable about scripture, know of Jesus, but don’t live a life that produces fruit, or action. But I also know that we’re not saved by our works, or our good deeds that we do, but it’s by grace through faith that we’re saved. How does all this line up?

 

Saved by Grace Through Faith

If you read any of my other blogs, I’m sure you’ve heard this before but I’ll say it again: we didn’t deserve to live. Right from the beginning of time, creation has chosen to please our selfish desires over God. We’ve all screwed up, we’ve all sinned. Because of this, we are forced to pay the consequences for our actions. In Genesis 3:19, God introduces the punishment for sin: death. Since we sinned, we have to die physically and also spiritually. That’s where Jesus comes in. He put on flesh and lived the perfect life. He was beaten, tormented, and went to the cross. On the cross, Jesus became sin for us, and died so that we won’t have to. Sure, we’re still going to have to die a physical death, but the worst part (spiritual death) is now taken care of because of the cross. We’re saved, not by the good stuff we do, or the humble actions we take. We’re saved by grace through faith because of the cross.

 

A Price Only Jesus Can Pay

Since we’re saved by grace through faith alone, we can conclude that it’s not about what we do. Many people today, claim that they’re saved because of all the good stuff that they’ve done. But, that’s incorrect. We sinned. Our consequence is so big, that a few good deeds cannot pay the price. Sin separates us from God. It’s the only thing standing in the way. Giving to the needy, caring for the sick and hurting, feeding the hungry, or even attending an occasional church service isn’t going to be enough to erase that sin. Jesus is the only way that price can be paid. Sin was the only thing separating us from God, until Jesus put on flesh. He came to live with us in our sinful state and die for us so that our sins were wiped clean. We can’t give enough, worship long enough, sing loud enough, in order to pay that price on our own. No matter how many lives you change, there’s only one way to fix the problem of sin: Jesus.

 

Genuine Faith Always Leads To Action

James isn’t saying that were saved because of our works. He’s just saying that real faith always leads to action. When we truly have faith that God became flesh, that he lived and died for us, things are going to be different. When we have faith that Jesus went to the cross for us, our lives should be changed. The Gospel, or the good news of Jesus Christ, is a call to action. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus tells us to go make disciples. After we’ve heard the good news and been changed by it, we should in turn go out and share that news with others. When we experience life-changing, genuine faith in Jesus, our lives will be different. They’ll be defined by gospel action.

 

Are you living a life where you simply talk the talk, or are you walking the walk? Maybe you know all there is to know. Maybe you know of Jesus, but do you really know Him? My challenge for you today is to pursue a real faith and be pushed to action.

 

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Thoughts? Leave a comment below!

Fish

Live Deep

I know several people that will tell you that they know Jesus. They talk the talk and say all the right things. The problem is that when it comes to waking the walk, they walk a completely different walk than the one that Jesus has called us to. These people are surface level in their relationship with Jesus. Unfortunately, we’re not supposed to be just surface level. For the past several weeks, we’ve been going through a series titled Deep in Christ at Hillside, where we’ve been looking at Romans 12. This week was a little different.

Sunday, I had the honor of filling the pulpit. We took a break of sorts from our Deep in Christ series, and we spent the day looking at an Old Testament character that lived deep. Noah wasn’t a surface level guy. The flood account in Genesis 6-8 tells us that Noah was different from the rest of the world. Noah’s example helps us to understand how exactly we might live deep. Let’s review how we can do just that.

 

Be Deep in Character

Noah found favor with God. He was righteous, blameless, and walked with God before the events of the flood took place. Noah had a deep relationship with God because he was deep in character. Have you found favor with God? Do you live a righteous, blameless, walk with God sort of life? Noah had faith in God. He put complete trust in Him. We need to trust God that He’s got our best intentions in mind. He already has proven that he does. The proof is shaped like a cross.

 

Go Deep in Calling

Character wasn’t the only thing that Noah had, he also found God’s calling. Just believing isn’t good enough. James tells us that faith without action is dead. Instead, Genuine faith always produces action. Because of Noah’s deep character, he was pushed to live a life of deep calling. He built the ark, the animals were assembled, he brought the food, he went aboard with his family. Noah did all that God asked of him. Are you living the life God has called you to live? Are you living a life of prayer? Are you in God’s word? Are you different from the world? Do you share the Gospel?

 

Live a Deep Life of Commitment

When the flood waters were washed away, and the ark finally came to rest on dry land, the first thing that Noah did was build an altar and offer burnt offerings to God. Noah saw all that God had done and he was pushed to worship after the storm had passed. Noah was committed to living a life of worship all the time. We should do the same. When things are going good: worship. When you’re healthy: worship. When you’re surrounded by family and friends: worship. But life’s not all good times. We must be committed to living a life of worship in the good and the bad. Are you sick, dying, alone, hurting, depressed, or angry? Time to worship.

 

Noah lived deep. He had deep character, deep calling, and deep commitment. What kind of life are you living? A surface level sort of life, or are you deep? Go deep this week!

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Matthias Hiltner)

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Thoughts? Comment below!

Rahab

God Used a Prostitute

The nation of Israel had left the slavery of Egypt, and had just spent 40 years wandering around the desert. Finally, God was telling them to take the land that was promised to them long ago. Joshua was the one that assumed the leadership role of the Jewish people. He sent spies into a town called Jericho in order to retrieve information prior to their conquest. The two men came across an unlikely of characters: a prostitute.

Rahab had heard what God was doing with the people of Israel. She and her family had heard the stories, and fear came upon them. The entire town of Jericho was afraid of what God could do to them. She was willing to do whatever it took to fight for that God. Are you?

 

Don’t let your past define you.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: we’ve all screwed up. At one time in our lives, we’ve all chosen sin over God. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul reminds us that nobody is righteous. Nobody alive can say that they’vbeen a good person, because there’s no such thing. We all have pasts that we’re ashamed of. That’s why Jesus died. He took care of it. The price was paid on the cross. Don’t let your past haunt you. Don’t let it define you. Start fresh just like Rahab did. Begin on a new journey of life that God is calling you to.

 

Life isn’t about what you did. It’s about what you do.

Because we’ve sinned, we all get death. The good news is this: if you have come to know Jesus as your savior, your price has been paid. When we start a relationship with Jesus, our slate is wiped clean. This means that life isn’t about what you did, but instead about what you do. With Jesus, you have a fresh start. What are you using that fresh start for? What are you doing for Jesus? Go live for God, just like Rahab did.

 

Don’t let your past define you. God used Rahab, a prostitute. He can use you too! If you haven’t started a relationship with Jesus, I encourage you to do so. Take a minute and read through the good news. If you want to begin that relationship today, or if you have questions, I’d love to talk.  Go live for Jesus!

 

(Photo by Flickr User: martinak15)

 

How has God been using you? Leave a comment below!

Light

Let Your Light Shine

So, maybe you’ve heard of the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus walks up a mountainside, sits down, and after a crowd gathers he begins to teach. Jesus instructs his disciples and the crowd about many things. But there’s a little passage at the beginning of his famous sermon, that I’m interested in today.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus calls us the light of the world. He told the crowd, the disciples, and even his followers today that we must go out into the world and spread the light. But what does this mean exactly? How can we let our light shine in this dark world? Here’s a couple of ways…

 

Living as the light means living a Jesus-honoring life.

When we sin we don’t want others to see. We often disobey God in the shadows of life, intending to hide it from the world and even God. In the light however, we tend to put our best foot forward. What if your life were in the light all the time? Light exposes darkness, it exposes sin. That’s how Jesus wants us to live. He wants us to live lives that would glorify our Father, free from darkness and sin. Turn from what is evil, and cling to what is good. Live a life of light.

 

Living as the light means living a life of action.

Living as the light not only means living a Jesus-honoring life, but also living a life of action. Jesus says that when we live as the light, people will see our good works and give glory to God. Our good works are not done just because they’re fun. We don’t do good works to show people how good we are. We live a life of action for a purpose: to push people toward Jesus. The life that Jesus called us to live is a life of light and action. Go out and be the light.

 

This week, be the light. Live a life that honors God, and a life of action. Be purposeful this week in your interactions with others. Go out and spread the light. As always, don’t forget to comment below about your experience as the light.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: mccun934)