Faith and works

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

But would you like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. James 2.20-24

What you believe is important. Faith in God is essential, for without it, you cannot please him, Hebrews 11.6. However, faith, which does not motivate you to act, is useless. Even the demons believe and tremble, James 2.19. Just listening to the word and not living it out is of no purpose, for you are only deceiving yourself.

Abraham is a good example of faith and works. He obeyed when told to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God, Genesis 22. He acted quickly. It is interesting that the Bible does not tell of the emotions that he was bound to be experiencing. That is not what is important. What is important is that his faith in God motivated him to action.

Faith and works go hand in hand. One without the other is useless. May Christians act according to the faith that we profess to have.

#risingjoy #devotional #faith #works

I’m scared

Honestly, I am scared. I am afraid of this virus and the danger I might face if I caught it, as well as the danger I might put Doug in if I caught it. We take precautions as best we can, but I am still afraid. I pray about it, and ask God to please protect us, and I’m thankful that He is protecting us. At the same time I know God expects us to use good sense during this time and follow the rules. 

Some say, and I know the Bible teaches, we are not to be fearful. I remember how Ananias pleaded with God when He came to him in a dream and told him to go to the house of Judas on Straight Street, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. God said he was praying and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight. 

Whoa!!! Ananias said, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” Ananias was afraid, but he went and did what God wanted him to do.

I remember the replies Moses gave God when God asked him to go to Pharaoh to bring His people (Israelites) out of Egypt. Who would have ever thought of talking back to God, right?  After going back and forth with God several times, Moses finally said, “O Lord, Please send someone else to do it.” God’s anger burned against Moses, and He suggested Aaron go with him to speak, and that is what they did.

Moses and Ananias were desperate. They were fearful.

God knew. He knew about Saul. He had a plan for him…a great plan, and He needed Ananias to help with His plan. God had plans to get the Israelites out of Egypt and from under the rule of Pharaoh, the King. He selected these men to help fulfill His plan.

Who is to say that we haven’t been chosen for such a time as this to execute a plan God has to redeem his people from this sinful world? Lord, help us not be afraid, but trust You as we tread life’s highway.               

#bible-study, #faith, #fear

The faith of Abraham (2)

Number 593 • December 13, 2020


INITIAL QUESTION: Did Abraham believe everything God said to him and do everything God told him to do? If Abraham actually disbelieved or disobeyed any part of God’s commands and promises it could seem to disqualify him to be the example of faith and obedience that he is portrayed as in scripture. Six examples of possible disbelief or disobedience were suggested. We have shown that the first four of them do not disprove the faithfulness of Abraham. We will continue the discussion of that list of six objections and show that nothing invalidates or disproves the claims made for Abraham – at the end he is perfectly vindicated and proved in God’s estimation.

(4) continued. When Hagar saw that she was pregnant the spiteful girl reproached Sarah (Genesis 16:1-6). Sarah of course blamed the whole fiasco on Abraham, but he told her to do whatever she wanted with her servant girl – Sarah made her life miserable, until Hagar ran away. A meeting with the angel of the Lord convinced her to return to her place in the household and name the son who would be born Ishmael, which means God heard or hears me. One might wonder how Sarah and Abraham felt – guilty and ashamed? – whenever they heard or spoke that name knowing that “God hears the boy and his mother, and not us in this matter.” For thirteen years Ishmael was the only blood son of Abraham.

Continue reading

#abraham, #faith, #geraldcowan

The faith of Abraham (1)


Number 592 • December 14, 2020


QUESTION: Did Abraham believe everything God said to him and do everything God told him to do?

ANSWER: After a conversation with the questioner I understood the reasoning behind the question and I have expanded the question accordingly. If you read Romans 4:3 and 9, Hebrews 11:8,17-19, and James 21-23 you probably get the idea that from beginning to the Abraham understood and believed all that God said, and did without hesitation all that God commanded, so that he received everything God promised and was faithful in everything God asked him to do. But if you read the history of Abraham in Genesis, 11:24 through chapter 25 you will get a narrative that seems contradicting and confusing. Abraham seemed to fail God’s testing on several occasions. Does the scripture contradict itself in the story of Abraham? Continue reading

#faith, #geraldcowan, #obedience

Can faith be a disqualification?

Number 575 • October 26, 2020


Lucy’s brother Linus, in the now discontinued cartoon called “Peanuts,” was in the pumpkin patch looking for “the most sincere pumpkin” who would become The Great Pumpkin whom Linus expected to rise from the pumpkin patch and deliver candy and other goodies to children everywhere – including Linus himself and all the Peanuts gang. Of course it never happened. Maybe no pumpkin was really sincere enough to do the job – as for myself, I wonder how one can judge the sincerity of pumpkins.

If you know, please inform me. It could be useful information and could help me determine who will be spreading candy and other goodies around my neighborhood on 31st October when a pagan festival called Halloween supposedly occurs.

So far nobody has asked me if I am the Great Pumpkin. They would be disappointed in my answer. If I find out that YOU are the guilty one I will probably report you to the local authorities who will then present you with a Cease and Desist Order. It is incumbent upon all of us to protect the health, including the dental health, of vulnerable children who know what seems good to them but do not know what is not good for them. There are other reasons for rejecting Halloween but kids would probably not understand or appreciate them. Kids, including the really old but childish ones, resent anyone interfering with their fun – never mind the hazards and improprieties that may be attached — including some occult religious superstitions about which we will not speak here. But that last thought brings us to the point I intended to make with this essay: Is faith a qualification or a disqualification? Continue reading

#faith, #geraldcowan

Keep the faith

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets. Through faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained what was promised, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, put foreign armies to flight,(…) Hebrews 11.32-34

The writer of Hebrews is unknown, but his message is one that has encouraged people through the ages. The message is that Jesus is better. He is better than the angels and Moses. He is a better High Priest. The covenant he has established is a better one.

Why is he making all these comparisons? The Jewish Christians, at the time, were getting discouraged and were returning to the old law. This letter was written to help them embrace what was better and to hold on to it with all they had in them.

In chapter 11, we have a list of people throughout the history of the Jews who were commended for their faith, from Abel to Rahab, the prostitute who was saved by faith and entered into the lineage of Jesus. They kept their faith alive even though they did not see Jesus who was coming to establish a covenant that would have the potential to reach all people. Some of those mentioned are spoken of in positive terms, but many kept their faith alive in the midst of suffering.

Today, we have received what so many in the past awaited anxiously. Let us take it to heart and not diminish its value. Let us also keep the faith!

#risingjoy #Hebrews #faith

I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.

The editorial in the local paper said he was 30 years old, lived in Texas, and went to a “Covid party.” He died after being infected with the virus. The article continued with “Just before he died, he told his nurse: ‘I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.’” The editor continued as he encouraged people to be safe, wear a mask and wash hands…regularly!

“I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.” There’s a lesson to be gained by the young man’s statement both physically and spiritually. I wonder when we are standing at the entrance of death’s door if we will be faced with the same thought. Imagine with me…

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were a hoax.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of an antiquated book called the Bible was out-of-date. I scoffed at the idea and thought it was a hoax.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of being baptized for the remission of sins was a hoax, and flipped the idea away.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of attending the services of the church faithfully was a hoax.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the idea of serving the Lord while I was young was a hoax.” I thought I had plenty of time and would sow my wild oats before giving my life to the Lord.

I think I made a mistake. I thought the Lord’s example of taking the Lord’s supper every first day of the week was not something He meant EVERY week and necessary.

I think I made a mistake. I thought giving on the first day of the week as I had been prospered was a hoax, and just so I dropped in a dollar on Easter Sunday or Christmas when visiting my family would be enough.

I think I made a mistake. I thought His teaching about going into all the world and teaching others was a hoax and meant for preachers and others but not for me.

I think I made a mistake. I thought His example of loving your neighbor was a hoax and meant for my neighbors but not for me.

I think I made a mistake. I thought His teaching on praying all the time was a hoax but just for times when I was really in desperate need.

I think I made a mistake. I thought His teaching on Bible study was a hoax and just for preachers but not for me.

At death our history is written. All that we can do has been done. It is finished. The saddest thought we could ever have at that time is to say, “I think I made a mistake. I thought the Bible was a hoax, but it’s not.” It would be great if wearing a mask and washing our hands regularly could right the mistake but only the blood of Jesus can do that. Now is the time to make sure our life is not a mistake when our last breath is about to be taken. Christianity is not a hoax

#christian-living, #faith

More valuable than gold

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold – gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away – and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith – the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1.7-9

Our faith is more valuable than gold that has been purified by fire. Yet, it is not something that will last. For faith when Jesus is revealed will pass away for it will become something that is concrete.

How can you love someone that you have never seen? Or believe in a place that you have never been? We actually do that all the time. I believe that George Washington existed because of all the historical documents that have been written that point to his existence. I have never been to Europe or Africa, but I have seen pictures that others have taken. I know that these places exist even though I have never been personally.

How do I know that Jesus exists? I know that he exists by faith. How do I get faith? It comes from what is heard, Romans 10.17. The Bible is God’s word, his revelation to man. It tells of Jesus, of his life and of his mission. His mission was to give salvation to man through his sacrifice on the cross. His life was one of obedience to God in all things. I believe based upon the testimony of others.

Do you have faith? How valuable is it?

#risingjoy #1-Peter #faith

Useless discussions

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Because of this, in fact, I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, because I know the one in whom my faith is set and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day. Hold to the standard of sound words that you heard from me and do so with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1.12-13

Paul was nearing the end of his life. This is the last known letter that he wrote. He wrote to Timothy, his son in the faith, to encourage him to stand firm in the faith. Earlier he had told Timothy to not be ashamed to admit his faith in Jesus and in Paul. Timothy could be fearful at times. He would get caught up in useless discussions that served no purpose but to draw the focus away from Jesus and the work that Timothy was to be doing. Paul in 1.7 wrote to Timothy that God did not give him a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. If we are fearful, we need to recognize that fear does not come from God. He gives us the same spirit of power, love, and self-control that he gave to Timothy. If we are called upon to suffer because of our faith in Jesus, we should not be ashamed. We should look to Jesus in whom our faith is set. We need to have the same conviction that Paul demonstrated that Jesus is capable. Do you let doubt creep in? Do you let fear get a foothold? Go back to the sound words that we hear from Paul and Jesus. We have to continue in the faith and love that are in Jesus Christ to remain strong in our faith. Read your Bible! For it is there and only there that we will find the sound words that are to be our model to follow.

#risingjoy #2-Timothy #faith

Watches the wind, Ecclesiastes 11.4

“He who watches the wind will not sow, and he who observes the clouds will not reap.”

Ecclesiastes 11.4

The person who is always looking for bad signs and expecting the worst to happen will never do anything of value.

Faith in God’s promises causes one to sow the seed of the gospel and of kindness and of truth, even when it seems nothing good can come of it.

#votd #Ecclesiastes #faith

Witnesses of all he did, Acts 10.39

“We are witnesses of all the things he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree,”

Acts 10.39

Mass hysteria (which some allege) could not have been sustained over a period of three or so years. People in general knew “what happened” vv. 37-38. A few observed up close.

Our faith is based on facts. Eyewitnesses saw what Jesus did and said. In every way the gospel is confirmed, by them and by miracles performed.

#votd #Acts #faith

Faith is dead: James 2.17

“So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself.”

James 2.17

James is the book of action. He stresses how important it is to live out one’s faith, but always in the shadow of God’s help and guidance. Faith that does nothing is dead.

Teaching is not done as an intellectual exercise or to satisfy curiosity, but to direct Christians in God-approved works. From beginning to end, approved faith must engage in approved actions.

#votd #James #faith

God took him up: Hebrews 11.5

“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he did not see death, and he was not to be found because God took him up. For before his removal he had been commended as having pleased God.”

Hebrews 11.5

Not much is said about Enoch in Genesis, but his experience was unique. He walked with God. It meant God was pleased with him because he lived by faith. God freed him from the cares of this world.

What a wonderful legacy to leave to the world! If Enoch lived this way in primordial times, may we also live at the end time. Do we look forward to being taken up at Christ’s return?

#votd #Hebrews #faith

Sin, faith, duty

Some think that Luke has collected three separate sayings of Jesus in Lk 17.1-10, with little connection between them. That assumes much.

Jesus might well have said these three things in this order. Even if he did not, it also assumes that Luke is clumsy.

No such assumptions are needed. There can be seen a clear connection among the three points.

  1. The business of the kingdom is forgiveness of sin, 1-4. Don’t be a cause of sin, 1-2. Be a cause of forgiveness, 3-4.
  2. For that forgiving spirit, the apostles felt the need for a greater faith, 5-6. In one sense, Jesus anticipates Nike: Just do it. Faith is to be exercised. For it to grow it must be put into action.
  3. Duty in the kingdom deserves no special praise, 7-10, but it must be done. What is this duty? Again, seeking forgiveness for all.

#Luke #faith #forgiveness #duty

Increase faith: Luke 17.5

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’”

Luke 17.5

Perhaps impressed with the need for continued forgiveness, the Twelve ask for greater faith. The desire is a good one. It is an ancient desire, one that many feel today. Jesus gave a good reply, v. 6.

Am I waiting for greater faith in order to act? Perhaps I need to act now in order to have greater faith. Start now! Do your duty, vv. 7-10.

#votd #Luke #faith