Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 1 God is in Control

This morning I got up a little earlier than normal because I just needed a little more time with Jesus. As I filled my lungs with the cold crisp mountain air I looked up and there they were the stars shining in the darkness. The moon light dancing on the mountain and somewhere in the distance the call of coyotes and it hit me, creation wasn’t freaking out it was speaking out. Reminding me that God was still in control. I realized in that moment that this pandemic wasn’t my problem but rather my solution. You see it stripped away all the layers of false control, my job, my money, my supplies, did I have enough toilet paper! My real problem was where had I built my house. Where had I built my life, was it really on the ROCK of Matthew 7 or was this storm just washing away the grains of a false safety? And as each of these false sands of safety failed, I was forced to ask what had I really been living for? Am I thankful for a pandemic, no but I am thankful for the perspective this pandemic brings. That life is not about surviving but about truly living. In that moment I was confronted with the question what would I do with this breath of fresh air I had not paid for but had been freely given by a God who LOVES me? Would I waste it on worry or invest it in words of worship? So, I at 4am I chose to breath words of praise in the midst of the problems. Because in this moment as I breathed out praise, I was reminded of the reality that we are ALL going to die. That the real tragedy is not death but that we might never truly live. You see some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75. As Norman Cousins said, “The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live.” My safety is not in sand but in a Savior, who died for me. So today I chose to invest this lung full of air in praise. I choose to look around and invest once again in love. Its Monday morning the beginning of the work week yet most of us are currently unemployed. What does our week even look like now? What is our real purpose? Have we been wasting our life living for the weekend instead of living to worship? Parents this pandemic reminds us of a reality we may have forgotten, that we are called to be the real educators of our kids not a system. That we get to partner with teachers not complain about them. Maybe for the first time in our history kids are missing going to school and parents are missing their work! So today go have fun with your kids if you can, use this time as a gift to play with your kids. Our current system affords little time for play which is strange considering that during a child’s greatest growth and development they primarily play. Learn to laugh not because you don’t have problems but because you are alive. Start living for love not for a weekend.  Who do you know that needs an encouraging word today? I have friends who right now are battling cancer. Call and encourage someone today. Look for someone to love. Be intentional, make a meal for a trucker or a healthcare worker and their family that you know. Right now, they are working long hours. Pay the rent for a widow who is currently unemployed. Whatever you do, focus on someone other than You. Let’s do what we should have been doing all along LOVING our neighbor. What will you do with the breath you are given today? I’m choosing to live in love not fear.

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27. Test 5: The Works Test – Part 4

James 2:20-26

20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? 21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. 25 Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. 26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.

The third kind of works that reveal evidence of true faith are works that show a:

  1. Hope pinned on God’s promises (20-24)

A hope based on the belief that God will do what He says He will do. James reminds us of Abraham who was called by God to offer his only son as a sacrifice. As Abraham obeyed, God intervened and provided a substitute sacrifice. Now there are some sticky words here if you take them by themselves. Is James really saying that Abraham was saved through his work of laying Isaac on the altar? The word “justified” means for a person to be declared not guilty as if he had never sinned. But it’s used in two different senses. The first is the actual act of having been justified, the act of salvation, God’s grace given through faith. But the other sense of the word deals with being shown to have been justified. In the first sense, God signs the paperwork that declares the sinner, “not guilty.” In the second sense, the one whom God has declared not guilty produces the paperwork signed by the judge that declares him not guilty. The first is the fact, the second is the evidence. It’s the second that James uses here. He is saying, “Didn’t the fact that he was obedient reveal that he had pinned all His hope on God’s promises? Yes, it did. But what enabled him to do that? Hebrews 11:17-19 reveals the reason Abraham was able to lay his only son on that altar, because God had promised him a seed that would come from Isaac. God promised and Abraham placed his hope in God’s faithfulness to keep His promise. He believed God, even if He had to raise him up from the dead. Abraham exercised his hope with action, by cutting wood and building an altar. He obeyed God because He believed God. What about you are you hanging onto the hope of God’s promises? Are you focused on the problems around you or the promises that surround you? The fourth kind of works that reveal evidence of true faith are works that show

  1. Show service to God’s people (25-26)

James continues with his Old Testament example, which is not surprising considering his congregation was made up of Jewish Christians. He uses the example of Rahab the harlot who protected and provided for the spies that Joshua sent to scout out the city of Jericho. In Joshua 2:11 she gives her profession of faith as She said, “When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” But those were just words, was her profession of faith real? What did her works show? They showed her faith to be real when she gave service to God’s people. She became as a Jew just as Ruth would also later do. And, like Ruth after her, by God’s grace, Rahab is one of three women listed in the earthly genealogy of Jesus. Her works showed her faith by her service to God’s people. Her immediate service to the Israelite spies and her eternal service to the lineage of Christ. Do you risk or sacrifice anything to serve God’s people? What are you doing that will impact God’s church for future generations? If you don’t your faith might be dead.

Once again, we have been given a test. A test to see if your faith is real or not, a test comprising of 4 questions.

  1. Do your works show concern for the crown of God’s creation? Do you truly help the needy by giving them what they need most, Jesus?
  2. Do your works show total trust in God’s Word? Does God’s Word determine how you act? Does it fill your life so that it overflows into godly living?
  3. Do your works show a Hope pinned on God’s promises? Even though you might not understand the circumstances that God has placed you in, do you trust Him anyway? Trust Him enough to show Him by your actions?
  4. Do your works show service to God’s people? Are you doing things to serve God’s church? If not, your faith might be dead.