FAITH WITH WORKS – WORKS…


James 2:17-26 – “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”  NASB

The belief that a certain type of medicine will cure disease does not bring about the cure.  The medicine must be administered for the benefit to occur.  Believing that a certain type of weapon will win a war does not bring about the victory.  The weapon must be acquired and utilized for the victory to be realized.  The belief that God desires for His children to prosper and win souls does not fill the bank accounts or the altars.  Actions are required and the implementation of His principles for those things to become a reality.  Faith with works – works!

The biblical account of Caleb in Joshua 14 is a beautiful illustration of faith with works that worked.  There was something he wanted, and he declared, “therefore, give me this mountain.”  He had worked to reach the place of the promise.  He had waited for the day of the fulfillment.  Now, he was ready to possess the promise of God made years earlier. 

He had the promise in his heart and believed the promise. Now he was ready to act upon his faith.  “And Moses swore on that day, saying…”  Caleb was declaring that as far as he was concerned the promise was the assurance of reality.  He considered this a promise of God, not just a declaration of Moses the man of God.

He had determination and confidence.  He wanted what had been promised and he believed was rightfully his.  He was confident that having followed God fully and walked in obedience that God would keep His promise.  He believed that although the promise had been made 45 years earlier and now, he was 85 years old, he could still do what was needed to see the fulfillment in his life. 

The powerful declaration in 2 Chronicles 20:20 is relevant and applicable.  “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall you be established; believe His prophets, so shall you prosper.”  The writer of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 11:6 that, “without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

If we expect to accomplish anything for God and through God, it is mandatory that we not only believe what He has said, but that we do what He has instructed. Caleb’s actions provide an excellent pattern to follow.  There must be an objective.  We must have a promise and provision for that object from the Lord and confirmed in the Word.  We must have determination and confidence. Then we must act upon the Promise and allow our Faith to Work through Works!

Someone said, “God’s Promise plus man’s actions equals God’s miraculous supply.”  The question is, what do you want to accomplish for the Lord?  What is the scriptural basis and validation of that desire?  Do you believe it?  Now, go for it and put your faith into action through application.   Faith with Works – Works!

God bless you as you enjoy the day He has prepared!

WHICH DESCRIBES YOU? – Part Two…


Hebrews 9:27-28 – “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”  NASB

Last time we looked at the folly of being Unconcerned about the eternal.  Today we want to consider another type of person as we seek an answer to the title question.

THE UNCERTAIN.

I have encountered a number of people who are terribly uncertain about their spiritual condition and their eternity.  They are like the rich young ruler described in Matthew 19 and Mark 10.  He ran up to our LORD and asked the powerful question, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 

There are those who do not know the way to God.  They hope but are not sure and live in torment and turmoil Uncertain.  The apostle John offered hope in 1 John 2:3 – “And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.”  Jesus addressed this in John 14:15 telling those hearing, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” 

To the Uncertain, we say:  You can know about your eternity and settle the question today.  God’s Plan of Salvation is for ‘whosoever will’ according to John 3:16 and numerous other passages.  The pathway to Life is in repentance.  We confess our sins and the Bible declares that He is faithful and just to forgive our unrighteousness.    Therefore, we do not have to live Uncertainly but can live with Assurance.

THE UNAFRAID.

The apostle Paul boldly declared his confidence and the banishment of fear in his life in 2 Timothy 1:12 – “…for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”  He had what could be called a ‘know-so-salvation.’

The Bible gives clear direction on how to be Saved.  The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and leads us to the Light of God’s Mercy and Grace.  The Blood of Jesus has been shed so that we could have life and that life could be abundant and eternal.  I love how Paul addressed it in 1 Corinthians 15:54 – “…Death is swallowed up in victory.” 

It is important that each of us keep in the forefront of our minds the reality that there may not be a tomorrow for us.  Today may be the last day that we live on this earth, but we can have the calm assurance in our souls and have confidence in the Savior whom we have surrendered our lives.

We have an anchor that holds no matter the storms of life and that anchor is Jesus!  We have the promise of Heaven and have the assurance of our LORD in John 14:1-4 – “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 “And you know the way where I am going.”

So, we ask as the title question, “Which Describes You?”  Are you Unconcerned, Uncertain, or Unafraid?  The Promise of Jesus is that all that come to Him He will receive and not cast out.  Take advantage of the opportunity and turn your life over to Jesus today! 

God bless you as you enjoy this beautiful day in Him!

WHICH DESCRIBES YOU?


Hebrews 9:27-28 – “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”  NASB

Few people enjoy talking about death.  The subject is a morbid one for most people and most prefer to leave it undiscussed.  It is not the normal dinner table topic of conversation.  It is not a party staple where people enjoy discussing the matter.  There are a significant number of people who fear death, and by not talking about it fare better in day to day living. 

Here the writer brings us face to face with the sobering reality that life, for all of us, is at best, temporary.  In the Book of Job, we read, “Man that is born of woman is of few days…”  (14:1).  The reality is that death is not a respecter of persons and comes to one and all.  It is a sobering reality that all of us will die.  All of us die, it is just a matter of when, where, and how.  Because of that fact we need to investigate the future, beyond this life, beyond the grave and into the face of eternity.  We can face eternity in one of the following ways:

UNCONCERNED.

There are those who do not care.  There are those who believe that they have plenty of time to make things right with God, so they procrastinate and live as they live.  There are those that believe that a loving God would not send anyone to hell, therefore it is unimportant how they live.  There are those who believe that this is it, there is no life after death and what we have in this life is all there is.  There are those who believe eternity is not eternal so there is no need to be concerned.  There are others who believe that they are as good as the next person, so no reason to be concerned. 

The folly of the Unconcerned is amplified in James 4:14 – “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”  This thing we call life is too brief to spend addressing matters of earth and neglecting the eternal.  A clear illustration in Luke 12, the rich man and his barns.  In verse 20 Jesus brings the need to address the eternal home powerfully as He illustrates that the rich man’s life ended abruptly.

The Fruit of the Unconcerned is expressed in Proverbs 29:1 – “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”  Living unconcerned and failing to address the needs of the eternal is to assure one’s eternal doom. 

Therefore, to the Unconcerned, we say: Prove to me the surety of more time.  Prove to me the fallacy of an Eternal Heaven and Hell.  Prove to me that no God exists and there is nothing beyond the grave.  If you can do that, then we can join you in being unconcerned but if we are wrong about the existence of God, the brevity of time, and the existence of a literal heaven and hell and there is nothing beyond the grave, we have lost nothing in living as we do.  However, if we are right and you are wrong, there is a heaven and a hell, there is a God, time for man on earth is short, and there is life beyond the grave, you have lost everything. 

Are you willing to risk eternity?  There is too much at stake to be unconcerned about the eternal.  Therefore, I urge anyone that is unconcerned to reevaluate their position and consider what is potentially at stake.  Jesus awaits you now, call upon Him.

We will consider the next person in another devotional but for now, we will pause and say, God, bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

SEEK YE FIRST – – Part Two…


Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”  NASB

In the last devotional, we focused on “Seek Ye First” and discussed that the seeking was to be above everything in object and before anything in time.  In Matthew 6, Jesus has given a detail of benefits and promises the believer can expect from God and then in our text verse He commands or instructs us to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness.  That gives us an objective or a target for the beginning of our day and a guide for our lives.

The next part of that sentence or directive contains the promise that ALL THESE THINGS shall be added to us.  What things?  All the things He has been discussing in the preceding verses.  Those include God’s blessings for acts of righteousness done for right purposes and with the right spirit.  Blessings for giving in charitable acts and gifts, which infuses the truth taught in Luke 6 where Jesus promised, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”  (Luke 6:38).  Those alone would be or should be ample reasons to heed His instructions and desire His kingdom and Righteousness.

But, our LORD does not limit the promises with those two things but offers the hope of answers to our prayers if we pray for right purposes and do not succumb to the warning found in James 4:3-4 – “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” 

In our LORD’S pattern of prayer, we find numerous benefits of ‘seeking first’ God and His Kingdom.  His will done in our lives and in our world is a powerful enticement to seek Him.  The daily provision of that which we need is also powerful as is the incredible promise of forgiveness and guidance as we pray, seek Him, submit to Him, and practice forgiveness.  As we forgive others, the Father forgives us but if we harbor grudges we stand outside the mercy and grace of God.

He speaks of the benefits and power of fasting coupled with prayer and the dismantling of the fear of the future as He speaks of laying up treasures in the right places and for the right purposes.  No, He is not telling us to not be frugal and proactive in our planning for the future, but not make that our source and focus.  The promise is God’s provision, protection, guidance, and anointing.  We find deliverance from the fear of death and realize that God cares for the flowers, trees, plants, and animals.  The directive and promise are, “If He does that for them, how much more will He do it for you?”

Jesus called attention that undue or developing a fear that controls us regarding our future and provisions is a characteristic of those who do not know Him. In contrast a believer rests in the confidence and knowledge that the Father knows what we need, even before we make our petition to Him and provides.  That is the foundation of our lives and we need to recall the amazing declaration of Jesus in Luke 12:32 – “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”  God wants to provide for, care for, protect, guide, empower, and embolden us. 

The door to those benefits is found in the verse of our text, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and ALL THESE THINGS shall be added to you.” (Emphasis mine).  If we are living in lack, SEEK FIRST.  If we are struggling in peace, SEEK FIRST.  If we are facing obstacles and difficulties beyond our ability to comprehend, SEEK FIRST.

We may not know what tomorrow holds but we do know who holds our tomorrows.  I urge you to make the decision to become a SEEKER and make it a priority in your life to begin every day Seeking First Him, His Kingdom, and His Righteousness.

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

SEEK YE FIRST…


Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”  NASB

This is an involved and powerful passage and it is beneficial to read verses 19-34 for the broader context and application.  However, I want to take this isolated verse and delve into it for a greater understanding of this directive and its potential, power, and benefit for the believer.

Here, our LORD gives the command not suggestion to “seek first”.  But what are we to seek, when are we to seek it, and what can we expect as a result?  All germane and relevant questions.  I have learned that our LORD gives no instruction without a specific purpose and that purpose always provides a powerful benefit for the obedient.

What are we to ‘seek’?  The Kingdom of God and the Righteousness of God.  If we go back to the early part of this chapter, we discover what is often called ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ but I suggest it is the ‘Lord’s Pattern of Prayer’ for the believer.  Jesus had just given a warning to those listening to ‘beware.’  That is an arresting word and should immediately cause us to pay attention to it. 

What are we to ‘beware’ of?  Practicing our righteousness for wrong motives.  Jesus made it clear that the Father would not accept any display or act of righteousness that had the ulterior motive of notice and recognition.  The Bible frequently warns that what we do, we do as unto the LORD, not for the purpose of personal gain, recognition, or any accolades we might receive as a result.  Our motive is always heavenward and outward in servant-hood.  Ministry is, in truth, service not selfish.

Jesus then instructs about charitable giving and warns that when we give and do good deeds, we are never to do them tooting our own horns.  He called that hypocritical and a trait of the Pharisees.  If you do a charitable deed for the purpose of personal recognition or praise, that is your reward, God will give no additional honor or benefit.  The heart of God is for us to do what we do out of love for Him and for our fellow man and His preference is for us to do so anonymously.

He then gives instruction regarding prayer and we have all heard and seen long pretentious prayers in public.  He declares that if our prayers are for recognition and notice that’s the extent of those prayers and we should expect no response from God, the notice is our reward.  There should be no public praying that has not been seasoned through private praying in the ‘Prayer Closet.’  He then gave what we call the Lord’s Prayer taught that our praying should first be praise and worship of the Father, then we should pray for the Kingdom and will of God to come.  Doesn’t that sound a lot like ‘Seek Ye First’?

What are we to ‘Seek First’?  His Kingdom and in keeping with the early directive of Jesus regarding prayer we can realize that the primary mode of seeking is in prayer.  However, that is incomplete if we do not include study, meditation, and implementation of the truths discovered in prayer and study of the Word of God.  We want His Kingdom, which is His Rule and Lordship to be present and manifest in our lives and in our world. 

He is to be sought ABOVE or MORE THAN anything else, thus FIRST!  But He is also to be sought BEFORE anything else, thus FIRST in time as well as objective.  The first order of business of our day should be to “Seek Him, His Kingdom, and His Righteousness.”  Our day should begin with time in His presence and in our closet of prayer and reflection. 

I have had believers tell me, “But, I don’t have time to pray early in the morning, I have to go to work.  I have to get the kids ready for school.  I have to do this or that.”  My response may sound unfeeling, but I believe valid.  I frequently say, “Then get up a little earlier.”  If we are too busy to spend time in His presence, we are too busy and that is the title of my first book, “Too Busy With Busyness To Hear God.”  What would make us think that we are capable of managing the day without His guidance?  We need Him and need to become seekers of His Kingdom and His Righteousness. 

I want to address this further but ask that you consider the benefit of becoming one who begins the day ‘seeking’ the Kingdom of God and the Righteousness of God.  I want to address the benefits and the promise of our LORD for those who make this commitment and leap of faith.

God bless you and we will discuss this more in the next devotional.

HEIRS ACCORDING TO THE PROMISE – Part Two…


Galatians 3:29 – “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”  NASB

In the previous devotional we noted that God made the promise of Canaan to Abraham.  Canaan is a type of Salvation and was the Place of Promise where Israel would enjoy the bounty of the land and the abundance it offered.  I want to take a step deeper into this consideration today.

JESUS CONFIRMED THE COVENANT.

We read in Galatians 3:15-17 – “Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.” 

Why is this important?  Because when a will is made the will-maker must die before the will can be fulfilled.  It is also beneficial to remember that after the maker of the will dies there can be no changes in the will.  It is then permanent and whatever it declares is what must transpire.  The death of Jesus on the Cross sealed the Covenant.  His resurrection from the dead and ascension to the Right Hand of the Father made it sure.  God’s Promise can never be annulled or made void.  The Promise has been forever confirmed by God and will never change. 

BELIEVERS ARE HEIRS ACCORDING TO THE PROMISE.

We can truly sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.”  We are truly strangers and pilgrims passing through this thing called life and looking for a city whose builder and maker is God.  But, in the meantime, we are to live here on earth and the Promise of God is that we are victorious over the enemy of our souls.

I would ask that you review the promises God made to Abraham.  Abraham was to be the head, not the tail.  He was to possess the gates of his enemies.  He was to enjoy the abundance of the land.  God promised Abraham that he would become a great nation. 

We are called a kingdom of priests in the Bible.  God promised Abraham that He would bless Him and if we are in Christ then the Blessings of Abraham belong to us.  God promised Abraham that He would make his name great, if we are in Christ then we are given the promise of victory.  God promised Abraham that he would be a blessing, and if we are in Christ, we are to be blessings to the world.  God promised Abraham that He would bless those that blessed him and curse those that cursed Him.  We are told that in Christ, no weapon formed against us can prosper and we are more than conquerors through Jesus.  God promised Abraham that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed.  In Christ, we are to be lights shining into the darkness and Christ in us provides hope and blessing to the world.

Galatians 3:13-14 – “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us —  for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” —  14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” 

If we are in Christ, then we are Abraham’s seed and heirs of the Promise!  We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus.  God’s promise of the Place of Promise is ours.  God’s promise of multiplication and victory is ours.  God’s promise to be with us and never leave or forsake us is ours.  We were children of darkness and now we are children of the Light.  We are no more servants but sons.  We are heirs!  Let’s claim our inheritance!

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

HEIRS ACCORDING TO THE PROMISE…


Galatians 3:29 – “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”  NASB

I would urge you to study the entire 3rd chapter through verse 7 of the 4th for a greater context.  It is virtually impossible to read the Bible and not acknowledge that from the beginning of time, God has been concerned about man.  Man was created in the Image and Likeness of God.  He was given dominion over the earth and all that was in it.  Man was drawn into a close personal relationship and fellowship with God in the Garden of Eden.  Man was created in a state of innocence where he was free from the corruption and influence of sin.  He was created pure and holy before the All-Seeing Eyes of God, but tragically he rebelled and sinned. 

That rebellion resulted in his spiritual death and being driven from the earthly paradise, Eden.  All mankind now found themselves under the dominion of darkness and sin prevailed in men’s hearts.   Paradise was lost because of sin.

God could have simply forgotten man at this point and could have ceased His efforts to bring us back into fellowship with Him, but He didn’t.  Thank God, He didn’t.  God saw the wickedness of man in the world and spoke to Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, and declared that He would destroy man because of the escalation of iniquity in man’s heart.  After the flood, man once again began to drift into wantonness and iniquity and rebelled against God.  God could have lifted His hand and rejected man forever, but He didn’t.  Thank God He didn’t.

God spoke to Abram in the land of Ur of the Chaldees and instructed him to leave his family and friends and go to a place where he would receive an inheritance that would be a virtual paradise on earth.  Abram obeyed and went not knowing where or into what he was entering.  He obeyed and through obedience received a wonderful inheritance.

GOD’S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM – “The Declaration.”

God told Abraham that this land would be the “Promised Land.”  Canaan is representative of Salvation and God’s Plan of Redemption for mankind.  It is the place of abundance, life, freedom, and victory.  The Promise of Canaan was given before the Law was established.  The Bible reveals that Abraham believed God and was justified by his faith. 

Abraham obeyed God as we discover in Hebrews 11:8-11 – “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith, he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”   Abraham was heir to the Promise made by God through covenant.

The Promise of God was that Abraham would live in and enjoy a land that flowed with milk and honey.  It was a place of abundance and productivity.  It was a place of fertility and life.  It was a place of victory.  It was a place that was occupied by enemies who had to be evicted, but with the might of God Abraham and his descendants would be able to Possess the Promise.

The Land, the Place of Promise, is God’s offering to man and the benefits found therein are immense, providing man would continue in fellowship with God.  It is beneficial for every Christian to study the Covenant of God with Abraham and glean from those studies the reality that this Place of Promise is a Place of Victory.  It is a picture of what we can have in Christ as a result of the Finished Work on the Cross.

I want to talk about the confirming of that Promise and the reality that we are Heirs of the Promise but will hold those discussions until the next devotional.  I pray that the LORD will bless and keep you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him. 

Live victoriously because you are more than a conqueror through Jesus!