Faith and Works

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Hello Friends,

It’s been a while since we last spoke. This is where I would usually apologize, but I am not going to do that this time. In fact, this will be the last time I start a letter off this way and if you catch me doing it, call me out!

You see by apologizing about the timing between my posts is like me saying the timing of them should be any other way and quite frankly, they are in His time and His timing is perfect. I will not follow the standards of this world and feel pressured to post more frequently than I feel led to do.

So…. Faith and Works…

Today in my Bible study the question was posed… ” Life and pleasure of the wicked is temporary. Sin ruins feelings of happiness and joy. How can you ensure that this simple truth doesn’t play out in your own life?”

This question comes from reading the following…

that the exulting of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless but for a moment?

Job 20:5

Without going into too deep…

I realize the flaws of the statement and the question. The statement is not a “simple truth”. The second sentence of the statement is NOT in the scripture!

Also, we need to take into consideration what is going on…Zophar is speaking to Job. Later on in Job, we read about how God is angry with him because he did not speak what is right about Him.

After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.

 Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves.

And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”

So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.

Job 42:7-9

Friends remember the coward tries to twist the scriptures! he did it when he was trying to tempt Jesus in Matthew 4  he will do it to you as well.

So back to the question…

So my response to this question was..

First I would look at how I define joy and happiness. Does it match up with scripture or does it match up with the world’s definition? The world’s and the Lord’s definition cannot be the same, they cannot even be similar because the are opposites as day and night.

Then I would look at is my joy and happiness focused on “me, my” (selfishness). Is it wrapped up with a bow of entitlement me and pride (I deserve… I earned …)

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Happiness in its very definition is just an intense feeling of joy.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.

I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 5:16-26

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:23-27

The Spirt and the flesh are opposed to each other…

The fruit of the Spirt … Friends that fruit you cannot earn you cannot will yourself to have it.Self-control is a part of that fruit of the Spirit! They are produced by walking in the Spirit.

Delight yourself in the Lord… He will give…GIVE… the desires of our heart.

And then God does like He always does with me. He showed me more. What I thought he had revealed to me as a wide open door. He showed me that was just a peek because there is more…

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

James 1:12-18

Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin….

Our desires give birth to sin… It makes me think twice about what am I desiring!

Then to recognize that every good gift is from above… Not some of the good gifts, not something we earn but a gift!

And then he solidifies it for me by showing me this….

By Grace Through Faith

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ

—by grace you have been saved—

and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith.

And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:1-10

We can not do it… It is a gift from God…

So often we try to fix our mistakes. We try to earn or will ourselves into not sinning. In which we know that we fail miserably.

I think it is deeper and more complicated than just not sinning. In fact, I think the enemy has twisted our thoughts to try and make us focus on what “we” can do about any given situation.

You see self-control and faithfulness are also a part of the fruit of the Spirit along with joy.

And as the scriptures I posted above states we are lured and enticed by our desires. Which God gives to us IF we delight ourselves in Him. If we delight ourselves in Him can our desires be desires of the flesh?

So I think and I want to emphasize the “I” here because I could be wrong and more than likely am missing some things because God’s ways are not truly able to be boiled down into a few simple sentences but hear me out.

I think that when we walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh the factor of sinning falls off because if we are in the Spirit we are not/can not sin because the are opposites.

I think the enemy would like us to focus on our sins to make us think “we” can change them. Therefore we continue to focus on ourselves and what “we” can do about things.

However, it’s when we focus on Him and give Him control of our lives He does the work we cannot. Then we see the fruit we cannot produce on our own. We receive His gifts.

And then I truly believe with all my heart, the coward tried to twist scripture and throw this thought at me…. “You’re crazy, don’t you know the Bible says faith without works is dead being alone.”

So then I looked it up…

The Sin of Partiality

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.

For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,”

have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?  

But you have dishonored the poor man.

Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?

Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.

 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.

 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Faith Without Works Is Dead

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.

 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.”

Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?

You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.

 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James 2

Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works….

You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead

When we walk in the Spirit and are following God, we will do the work of the father. The Spirit does not sin. It is the flesh that sins. ( review the verses at the beginning)

I see you, coward! I am calling you out!

The coward would like for nothing more than us to think “we” can work our way to a sinless life. While most of us realize the obvious we can not work our way to salvation. The coward wants us to think after salvation we need to will ourselves to a sinless life.

That’s not how it works! We seek after God. We surrender to Him. We walk in the Spirit and crucify the flesh. You know simply by seeking God we are turning our backs on the flesh because they are opposites.

Focusing on the sin is where the coward wants our focus. Focusing on Him is where the Father wants our focus.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

How many times have we piled up a list of our faults feeling like we will never get it right? What if we nailed those faults to the one who has already paid the price for them and followed Him? What if we chose to walk in Spirit? Would not the works follow because we are walking in the Spirit?

I think that was what James’ point in chapter two.

Nice try coward but I am not biting! I will choose to walk to Him and not try to will myself sinless. Watch the power of God work in my life! Watch the gifts He gives freely, undeservedly change the things I could never will myself. Watch the desires of my heart change from desires of the flesh as I seek Him!

Friends, what are the desires of your heart? Which direction are you walking are you walking toward Him or toward the flesh?

As Always,

Be Blessed!

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He is calling you Higher

Hello Friends,

I have had this saying stuck in my head for a while… You have called me higher. Part of that could be because a friend shared this song with me, and I cannot quit playing it over and over and over. Take a listen…

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?… It moves me to tears every time I listen to it.

Today God shared, or I should say re-shared, with me something about this…

Higher doesn’t mean  what we think in this world. It doesn’t mean the next step. It doesn’t mean we are moving up to a higher position like it might mean at work. It’s not a step-by-step process, perfectly laid out so where can map it out. We are not climbing up a ladder to Christ.

Make no mistake friends… it doesn’t mean it cannot be that way. God can do anything. He knows our plans and He has plans for us.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lordestablishes his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

Proverbs 16:3

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 19:21

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

David, a man after God’s heart, even talks about this in Psalms 25.

Ok, so what does “higher” mean? There is no simple answer to this question. There is no one size fits all answer. Like David mentioned, that is something you will have to seek after God to answer. And if you seek Him,  He will answer you. It may not be what you want to hear, you may not understand it, but He will answer you.

For me, He reminded me of this…

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:9

He reminded me that Higher is not a vertical thing for me but digging into a deeper relationship with Him.

So what’s deeper? Again there is no one size fits all answer.

For me… He showed me that deeper for me means to follow Him . Deeper means  listening to Him more than defending Him; He’s got that covered. He has a softer approach than what I would choose. Deeper means being real…

So I wanna take a rabbit trail here for a minute.

Being real… So yesterday and today I had the opportunity to practice what He was teaching me here about being real… and it was hard. Of course, He didn’t promise it would be easy. On the contrary, He said:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4

I had the opportunity to share my servings of humble pie yesterday; which was hard enough to eat let alone share with the world. Then today I had the opportunity to share I didn’t know something…

The second one may not seem that hard, but I was the leader in this group. While it may seem silly now, I struggled with this a bit.

You see, we all put this pressure on leaders no matter what they are leading, whether it be a small group, a Sunday school class, a preacher, a church leader, you name it…. to be perfect, flawless, knowledgeable.

Now, I know some of you may immediately jump up and say I don’t do that, I don’t expect that, and you may not… or you may not realize it until you are put in the position to see that a leader has fallen off the pedestal that they have been placed on.

Moreover, even if a leader has not had that pressure put on by others, they may put themselves under that pressure…. Maybe that is for good reason. James 3 talks about how much damage words spoken can do.

Even Jesus at the end of a parable, said this…

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Luke 12:48b

Does that mean teachers and leaders are perfect… no… They will be judged with greater strictness for what they say, but it doesn’t say they will be perfect.  I think that is also why we are told to…

Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:20-22

Also, it is pointed out in the scripture below that those who are called are not the strongest, the wisest…

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

All that to say that God showed me that going deep meant being real, and being real meant showing that I don’t know everything, that I mess up, that I am not perfect…

And that is ok…

That’s kinda why He called me.

Circling back… to me, Him calling me higher means  that He is calling me to go deeper. Deeper than my comfort zone, deeper than my understanding, deeper than I can imagine. I just need to follow Him.

Friends, He is Calling you higher… to what, how, when, or where I do not know, but I do know how you can find out… just ask Him and listen… He’ll answer you I know it.

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Jeremiah 33:3

Take a listen to that song one more time above….

 

 

As always friends,

Be Blessed!

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