My Musings – Verses eight and nine are very well known. Memorized by many. It is these two verses that many say are at odds with James’ admonition that faith without works are dead. Funny how we sometimes see and hear what we want to and gloss over the rest. Verse ten makes Paul’s thoughts complete. You see, Paul and James are not at odds. James goes on to say that his faith is demonstrated by deeds. Paul is essentially saying the same thing. We are saved by faith (not by works), but a faith that does not cause us to do “good deeds” is a questionable faith in deed. Said another way: Salvation is not the result of good works, but our salvation should result in good works. Faith is the cause, good deeds are the effect.
My Advice – Be a good workmanship, just make sure it stems from your salvation and is not an attempt to obtain salvation.
My Musings – Perhaps the most universally known Bible verse (at least by football fans) of all time.
He loved – before we loved Him. No guarantee we ever would. Him knowing that many never would.
He gave – at the greatest cost imaginable. While we were still sinners. No fine print. No purchase required.
Whoever – no one is disqualified. Not just the elite. No exclusions apply. That means you and me.
Believes – that’s all there is to it. Pure grace. Maybe it’s because the offer is so unbelievable that so many will not believe, will not accept. Maybe it’s because we think that free is actually too costly – we don’t have to pay anything for it. But we must be willing to give some things up (our sinful lifestyle). Yes, that is part of believing, but look what we get in the exchange.
Eternal life – That’s forever. Heaven. With God. Pure bliss.
My Advice – Believe. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” (Jim Elliot)
My Musings – “Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.” Probably said by Rosa Parks (Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, 1913 – 2005, African American civil rights activist). Variations of the first part of this quote have been attributed to many different people, with the true origin of the quote unknown. I think we might be safe in attributing it to Isaiah.
The Biblical definition of faith, is found in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (NIV 1984).” In other words, a firm belief in something for which there is no proof. Another version states that it is the substance (what’s tangible) of hope (what’s intangible), the evidence (proof) of what cannot be seen (unprovable). You may end up being called a nut. But if you don’t stand firm, you’ll never become a might oak. in fact, if you do not stand firm, you will not stand at all.
My Advice – Don’t just stand for something. Stand for someone. Stand for a firm belief in Jesus Christ. If you do, though you cannot see it, you can be certain that you will never fall. You’d be nuts not to.
My Musings – As often as not, real trust is more a matter of the heart than it is of the mind. We often have to follow our hearts, when logic and our understanding on how things appear to be are telling us we should not trust. If we do not trust with all of our heart, can it really be trust?
“If my heart could do my thinking, and my head begin to feel, I would look upon the world anew, and know what’s truly real.”— Van Morrison
My Advice – In God we can trust. Your mind may have its doubts at times, but in your heart you know you should.
Jeremiah 17:7-9 – “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (NIV 1984)
My Musings – God is trustworthy. Like a tree planted by a stream that provides a constant (never-failing) source of water. The tree has no fear of the things it normally should fear (heat and drought), and that experience should have taught it to fear. Why? Because the stream (our “Living Water”) has never failed it, even in such difficult times.
So if God is trustworthy, why are we so often incapable of trusting Him? Not because of His failings, but because of our hearts. This text states that “the heart [by nature] is deceitful above all things and beyond cure [absent God’s intervention, of course].” Because it is in our nature to break trusts (deceive), we find it difficult to understand someone who by His very nature is incapable of deceit or of being untrustworthy. Because of our nature we are very suspicious, wondering when He is going to pull that proverbial chair out from under us (because often enough, that is what we would do).
And we tend to think, because He has not always answered us in ways we think He should or when we think He should, that these are instances of when He has broken trust and failed us. It is easier for us to believe He failed us (was untrustworthy), than to believe that He has something better, or that the timing is not right, or that it was actually us who failed Him. In so doing we are measuring Him by our standards, when His ways are higher than ours and His thoughts are higher than ours.
My Advice – “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known [trustworthy] God” ― Corrie ten Boom. For the true measure of trust is to continue trusting, even when circumstances appear to indicate that the trust has been violated. Don’t trust the circumstances. Trust the God who you know will never break trust.
1 Peter 1:6-7 – Though now you have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trial. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV 1978)
My Musings – One reason we face trials (and there are many) is to refine (remove impurities) our faith.
My Advice – Endure hardship, knowing that God will use it to refine your character and faith.
James 2:14, 17 – What good is it my brothers if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by actions is dead. (NIV 1978)
My Musings – Good actions or good deeds cannot result in salvation. But salvation, which is by grace, should produce good actions and good deeds.
My Advice – Do your best to make your faith alive by doing what is right, good and decent.