Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 19, 2016

"But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." James 2:18

Talk is cheap!

Anyone can say anything! But unless you can back up your claims with action your words are empty.

I could say that I can beat Jason Day in golf, but until I actually get it done, my words would be empty and my claims foolish.

Saying that I could slam dunk a basketball over LaBron James would be a delirious claim I could never substantiate. Until I would do it no one would believe it.

The writer of Hebrews stated, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen."

Certainly, faith has an invisible component, but it also has a tangible aspect. Faith is a spiritual connection with an invisible God that results in visible and tangible evidence. Faith does not deal in wild or fanciful claims. Faith is not delusional.

Real faith, the faith that James talks about, makes an invisible God believable by the visible actions and attitudes that it transforms. When a man who once was a degenerate alcoholic and womanizer suddenly becomes sober and chaste, that indicates something substantial happened. What is behind this incredible transformation? Faith! You cannot doubt this man's faith because his life has dramatically changed.

Faith is a connection between two realities - an unseen spiritual reality and a visible physical reality. While faith originates in the unseen world it is expressed and validated in the realm of sight and sound.

What you think about faith and God are important. What you feel about God matters. But according to James, what really matters is what we do. That is what people see and what people see is what is real to them.

Making faith real - making God believable - is one of the things we are called to do as Christians.

How about you?

Are you talking a good game but not really delivering with the behavior and attitudes? Or is your life indisputable evidence because of your deeds, your attitudes, and actions?

Believers are to make faith believable by what they do!

Secret Service Saints

"His lord said to him, Well done, good and true servant: you have been true in a small thing, I will give you control over great things: take your part in the joy of your lord." Matthew 25:23

This is the age of the 24/7, 365 news cycle so everyone is looking for the next big personality and the next spectacular story. It is understandable in a medium that must draw ratings to survive (unless you are CNN or MSNBC).

But often lost in this are the people who really make America work and who are the genius of America's greatness. These are the millions who do the right things for the right reasons every day. Their faithfulness in the "small things" form the backbone of our culture. Maybe they are unnoticed by the mass media but not by the people who benefit from their dependability.

Perhaps you are one of these dependable "go to" people and wonder if anyone notices or who cares. If you are wondering whether it is worth it I have good news for you! According to our verse for this morning, God notices small things done well! (He also keeps track of the things done wrong!)

The Bible is replete with stories of "back bench" people who just showed up every day and did small things well.

My favorite is Andrew. He was one of the disciples who didn't get much notice but the few times he shows up in the New Testament he is bringing someone to Jesus.

It was Andrew who brought his brother, Peter to Jesus. Peter became an essential player in the establishment of the Church. It was Andrew who brought the little lad with the lunch to Jesus. Five loaves of bread and two fish - a simple lunch and a small act of generosity "hooked up" by Andrew. Remember how that turned out? Miraculous!

In forty-five years serving in local churches I have developed a profound appreciation for those servants who labor in obscurity doing those tasks that no one else wants to do but are essential to the function of the church. While most never get the notoriety they deserve, Jesus notices and He keeps track. Without those choice servants there would be no great churches like Saddleback or Shadow Mountain, or Willow Creek or First Baptist of Atlanta, or Spotswood or Parkway Wesleyan - or FredWes. Apart from those scores of unheralded heroes no one would have heard of Rick Warren, or David Jeremiah, or Bill Hybels, or Joel Osteen, or Charles Stanley, or Andy Stanley - or, you name it.......

Think about it, some unknown person changed Charles Stanley's diaper in a church nursery somewhere in Southern Virginia. Someone told Bible stories to Rick Warren and helped him fall in love with Jesus. You have no idea what God will do in the lives of those you care for or teach Sunday after Sunday that you sacrifice your opportunity for worship in order to minister to them.

Here's what I know about faithful servants in a local church. The secret service saints ministering in the shadows do more to make churches great and pastors successful than the other way around. So, here is my tribute to those of you who serve!

I love you! I appreciate you! I know the value of what you do! And to a much greater extent - so does God!