Tag Archives: works

Numbers 1, Psalm 35, Ecclesiastes 11, Titus 3

“I don’t believe in heaven and hell. I don’t know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this life – the only thing I know to exist – to be wasted.” (Celebrity quote)

Although there have always been naysayers and critics of God’s true word, I feel like we are living in a culture that is more self dependent and selfish than other times in history. The days of common moral values are gone and people are out to get everything they can. It’s truly a dog eat dog world and why not? Aren’t we all entitled to the American Dream?

Slogans are so common you could finish these off without me typing the words. Slogans such as “Live everyday like it was your last” or “Create your own happiness”. We are conditioned to believe that we are responsible for our happiness and our own good fortune and outcomes.  We are quick to take credit for our own accomplishments and good works but can just as quickly turn around and blame God when “bad things” happen.

Even in Solomon’s day he knew there was a balance between good works, enjoying life and being accountable for one’s own actions. We are called to live each day to the fullest but who are we living it for is the real question that differentiates good works for the kingdom of God rather than for selfish and prideful gain. Solomon’s wise words also come with a warning:

So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.[b]

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

10 Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain[c] from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity. Ecclesiastes 11:8-10

Yes it is important that we live each day to the fullest but it is only by the grace showed to us by Christ and the washing of our sin with his blood that any “good” work is seen by God as righteous.

 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  Titus 3:3-7

The irony in the celebrity’s quote above is that the very thing he is trying to avoid (wasting life) is exactly what he is doing by living for himself and his own glory. Without Christ, everything is meaningless. May our enjoyment and blessing of each new day be evident in the our good works, done not for self pleasure or advancement in to heaven but in gratitude to our Savior who gave his all for our sin!

Dear Jesus, than you for your blood that washes over my sin. Thank you for dying in my place so that when the Father looks at me he see’s your righteousness. Holy Spirit, help me to live each day joyfully devoted to good works that bring you glory. Amen!

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Filed under 66 Books, Ecclesiastes, Titus, Uncategorized

Esther 7-10; Revelation 3

It may be a stretch to individualize the prophetic letters to the churches mentioned in Revelation, but all Scripture speaks to me as if I’m sitting across from Jesus Christ listening. So even in the different declarations to each of the seven churches of Revelation, I hear His voice speaking correction, affirmation, and motivation to the current state of my soul.

I am comforted by Revelation 3:1-6 “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Yet, you have a few names…” (those who have not soiled their garments) “who through righteous acts will walk with Christ in white, for they are worthy.” This admonition reminds me that creeping pride of going to a great church, reminiscing about the good works I was happy to do, or taking even the smallest joy at being noticed for those works can escalate into self-righteousness and self-absorption.  How do I discern righteous acts from dead works?

Remember how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.

Revelation 3:7-13 reminds me of my soul’s timid nature. “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” I cannot deny the great name of Christ; yet I confess that I am helped by His Spirit to declare His words when my voice is but a whisper. I keep walking through these doors – changes in locations, jobs, relationships, purpose. Sometimes the change was not what I expected and definitely not what I would choose for myself. So how can I step over the next threshold?

Hold fast what you have.

Sometimes it seems easier to play it safe. Fly under the radar. I regulate my emotions so that my thoughts and behaviors do not ruffle feathers; I agree and nod in approval to keep the peace, believing I am modeling a gentle spirit. But that is not what God has called me to do. He says in Revelation 3:14-22, “I know your works that you are neither cold nor hot…you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…” It isn’t hard to determine the cause of inertia, but what is one to do?

Be zealous and repent; when you hear My voice, open the door.

Funny, but Christ’s admonitions do not create fear or discouragement. Even when we think that we have lost what He has given, we are reminded that God will bring us victory The messages to these churches are for those who have known Him. This is cause for celebration, and turning destruction into shouts of joy is also found in God’s word.

Esther 9:20 The Feast of Purim – remembrance of God’s deliverance from a day of destruction. “the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.”

Dear Father God, and our Lord Jesus Christ,                                                                                                         In whatever state you find my soul, forgive me for failing you in any way. Restore the truth, comfort, and revelation of Your unstoppable will and purpose for my life, and I will turn the joy of my salvation back into worship and praise. Your presence alone can bring grace and mercy. I pray that this season of celebration is filled with preparations on holding fast to what we have heard and throwing wide open any door that separates us from hearing Your voice. Welcome, come in!

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Esther, New Testament, Old Testament, Revelation, Uncategorized

Jeremiah 22, 23, 26; Psalm 77; James 2

14My brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does nothing, his faith is worth nothing. Can faith like that save him? 15A brother or sister in Christ might need clothes or might need food. 16And you say to him, “God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat.” You say this, but you do not give that person the things he needs. Unless you help him, your words are worth nothing. 17It is the same with faith. If faith does nothing, then that faith is dead, because it is alone.

18Someone might say, “You have faith, but I do things. Show me your faith! Your faith does nothing. I will show you my faith by the things I do.” 19You believe there is one God. Good! But the demons believe that, too! And they shake with fear.

20You foolish person! Must you be shown that faith that does nothing is worth nothing? 21Abraham is our father. He was made right with God by the things he did. He offered his son Isaac to God on the altar. 22So you see that Abraham’s faith and the things he did worked together. His faith was made perfect by what he did. 23This shows the full meaning of the Scripture that says: “Abraham believed God, and God accepted Abraham’s faith, and that faith made him right with God.” And Abraham was called “God’s friend.” 24So you see that a person is made right with God by the things he does. He cannot be made right by faith only.

25Another example is Rahab, who was a prostitute. But she was made right with God by something she did: She helped the spies for God’s people. She welcomed them into her home and helped them escape by a different road.

26A person’s body that does not have a spirit is dead. It is the same with faith. Faith that does nothing is dead! James 2:14-26

One of my all-time favorite movies is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I like just about everything about that movie, including Harrison Ford’s handsome face 😉 .

One scene always stands out to me:  Indy is working his way through the cave to find the Holy Grail coming against tests to prove his worth. During one test, as he stares down into the abyss of the cavern, he realizes that he’s going to have to have faith to “leap” to the other side. He gathers his courage. He puts his foot out and leans forward, half expecting to fall to his death. As he begins to fall, his foot lands on an invisible bridge that stretches across the gap and he is able to walk across safely.

I often feel like this is how I live my life. So many chasms lay before me in this journey. When I have faith in God to be there every step of the way, I am able to stick my foot out and leap.

Indiana didn’t simply have faith and then walk away from the impossible. He took action. He did something. He put out his foot and started walking, knowing that it was quite possible it could lead to his death.

As James points out in his letter, both Abraham and Rahab had faith in the God of Israel, and they acted on it, being obedient to what God had instructed. They demonstrated their faith through their actions…and were blessed for it.

Faith doesn’t stop at believing that Christ died and rose again. Yes, that the first step, but faith is also about how I live my life, the outcome of the choices that I make, and the strong foundations that I strive to build in myself and others.

Faith is a tree, and works are it’s fruit. I’m saved because I believe in Christ as my Savior, but my maturity lies in how I live that faith out in my daily life – do I ignore the needs of the people around me, living selfishly in my own little bubble or do I reach out and help, encourage, and love them without an expectation of return as Christ instructed?

Do I demonstrate my faith through my actions, my behavior, my choices, my speech or do I pray and read the Bible only for brownie points and notches on my spiritual belt?

Yesappa,Thank You for your gift of grace given for all who believe and have faith. Help me grow strong in my faith in You and Your goodness and mercy. Help my faith in your be evident in the way I live my life and the things that I do to glorify You and honor those you’ve put in my life, be it for a moment or a season. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

 

Blessings – Julie

 

International Children’s Bible, Copyright © 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, James, Jeremiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Hosea 4-6, Psalm 58, Matthew 17

 

Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel,
for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
and no knowledge of God in the land;
there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns,
and all who dwell in it languish. Hosea 4:1-3b

 

Don’t swear. Check. Don’t lie. Check. Don’t murder, steal or commit adultery. Check, check, check. Overall, I’m doing pretty good when I glance at a passage like this. On the surface following God seems simple, right? It’s about being good and staying out of trouble. I think I can handle that!

As a person who grew up in the church, I knew early on right from wrong and genuinely wanted to please the Lord by following his commands. If I just look on the surface at those commands, I can check off the list that I am good and obedient. But if I take a step deeper, one by one, my check marks need erasing. Those words have deeper making to them. For example, I would never even think of murdering someone. The word alone sounds harsh and ugly. But when I have anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness in my heart towards another…..murder. And the thought of having a relationship with a man other than my husband is simply disturbing to e. But placing people and things above my relationship with the Lord and allowing other things to become more important than Him……adultery.

The Lord wasn’t and isn’t looking for perfection. He isn’t looking for “good” people to be rule followers like white washed tombs. What is he looking for?

 

“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6

 

That’s deeper. That requires something of me that doesn’t allow for a simple checklist. Steadfast love and knowledge are developed and matured overtime within a relationship with Him. As we mature, those checklist items are naturally avoided because our love is ever increasing. As our knowledge of Him increases we see how BIG our God is and how small we are leading to praise and worship. We more clearly see our need for him, producing repentance and thanksgiving.

Thank you, Lord for your true and Holy word. Your instruction manual to guide us along the way and lead us back to you, not a checklist but a love letter. Help us to not think too highly of ourselves but only highly of you. Help us to see our own sin and cry out in praise to you for your mercy and grace.

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Jeremiah 22,23,26; Psalm 77; James 2

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2: 14,15&17 ESV

Works are heavy when I am trying to do them on my own. They start to feel like a burden, a chore. And I have nothing left to give. That’s when I know I need give my honest, messy self to God in prayer.

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old, the years long ago.” Psalm 77:1-5 ESV

I was thankful for the sunshine after the many rainy days. I found myself thanking God for the reminder that there is always hope after a dark night, day, week, month…for a God who shows up in my pain and brokenness. He loves me anyway and is always ready to give me a fresh start.

Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.” Jeremiah 26:12&13 ESV

I don’t think I’ll ever have this faith vs work thing figured out. But, I am learning that God doesn’t desire perfection. He asks me to reach out with His love to others. Sometimes I get so caught up in my own little bubble that I forget there is a hurting world out there. I can get overwhelmed and it seems so big. But, that’s when I need to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prodding on my heart. Because He promises to go before me and knows the needs before I do.

Thank you Father for your compassion. That You love me no matter what. Help me to welcome others with that same love, so they will see You in me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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