Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Faith and Works: Summary

Chuckle: TEACHER: "John, why are you doing your multiplications on the floor?" JOHN: "Because you told me to do them without using tables!"

Today's Quote: “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. It is not enough that a thing be possible for it to be believed.” --Francois Voltaire


"Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did . . . In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?" (James 2:21-22, 25 NIV).

Genuine faith is (1) knowing with our minds, (2) believing with our hearts, (3) feeling with our emotions, (4) surrendering of our wills, and (5) evidenced by our deeds.

To summarize his teachings on faith and works, James gives two examples of genuine faith from the lives of Abraham and Rahab. These two were so very different: Abraham was a man, Rahab a woman -- A patriarch, a prostitute -- A major Old Testament character, minor character -- A Jew, gentile. They had one thing in common -- real life-changing faith. Abraham believed God and followed Him. He put his total faith in God, and God made him righteous. He understood that faith is taking God at His word and obeying him.

Rahab lived in Jericho, a pagan city, the first walled city the Israelites must defeat to claim the promised land. The Israelites sent in spies to get the lay of the land and evaluate the defenses. When they got there, they stayed in Rahab's house and they told her about God. She believed and then evidenced it by her works -- by hiding them, thus putting her own life at risk. Both Abraham and Rahab are listed in Hebrews 11 among the great heroes of faith.

Four basic truths about real faith: (1) based on God's word; (2) always centered on Christ alone - the object of our faith; (3) always involves the mind, emotions, and will; and (4) always results in good works (deeds). Jesus referred to these acts of kindness to others as "bearing fruit." "By their fruits you will recognize them" (Matthew 7:16 NIV).

For us to have the maximum impact on the world for our Lord, our words and actions must be consistent. "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him" (Titus 1:16). Ephesians 2:8-10 puts faith and deeds in perspective: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not of works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Jesus said: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21 NIV).

Finally, good deeds/works can never earn salvation. However, true faith always results in a changed life that produces good deeds. The true joy of being a Christian comes from the assurance that we have eternal life through faith in Christ, and from obedient service to our Lord and others through deeds of kindness and love.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, June 13, 2008

In Dad's Footsteps

Chuckle: "Before I got married, I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories!" --Lord Rochester

Good Quote: A little girl followed her father as he carefully stepped through a new garden. She stepped exactly where he stepped and said, "Daddy, if you don't get mud on your feet, I won't get any mud on me!" --Unknown


"And now a word to you parents. Don't keep scolding and nagging your children, making them resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice" Ephesians 6:4 TLB). "Fathers, don't scold your children so much that they become discouraged and quit trying" (Colossians 3:21 TLB). "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).

In the early 1700's, two men lived in New York at the same time. One was named Max Jukes; the other was Jonathan Edwards. Jukes was not a Christian and raised his children in a non-Christian environment. The record of Jukes' descendents is not precise; however, we know many spent time in prison; some were prostitutes. Others were alcoholics. His family cost the city of New York millions of dollars because his descendents made no contribution to society.

On the other hand, Jonathan Edwards loved the Lord and taught his 12 children the principles of God's Word. Edwards had approximately 929 descendents. 430 were gospel preachers (almost half); 86 were college professors; 13 were elected to the U.S. Congress; one was vice president of the United States (Aaron Burr). His family never cost the state of New York a dime; indeed, all of America was blessed by the children of Jonathan Edwards.

This graphic illustration reminds us that: what we teach will bring forth fruit in kind. If you're godless, your children will be godless. If you use God's name in vain, so will your children. If you're a hypocrite, they will be also. If you treat the house of the Lord lightly, they will do the same. If you abuse your body with drugs and alcohol, you can expect the same from your children. Because you, the parent, are the role model for your children. You have seen the plaque, "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." However, I believe the best thing a father can do for this children is to love Jesus.

You may be a descendent of a godly father or grandfather -- or not. But remember, every Dad or Granddad has the opportunity to start a new cycle of blessings and goodness for his descendents. Father’s Day presents us with a chance to look at the man and father God wants you to be -- the kind who will teach and discipline your children by God's standards. You will have a tender love for your children and avoid all severity and cruelty in the name of discipline. Cruel parents generally have children who are embittered, alienated, angry, resentful, rebellious, and cruel. Children are echoes of their parents.

Father's day would be a great time for us to commit our lives to being the kind of fathers, grandfathers, and husbands God wants us to be.

Love, Jerry & Dotse