Tag Archives: Jesus

The Soul of Faith

Ultimately, for as much control as we may give God in our lives, for as much as we may say that He leads us, in free will, we are defined not by faith but by the worth we place on it in the love that we have. For though it is our faith that ultimately saves us, it is love that “covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

Over the ages, considerable time has been spent debating how one truly becomes the most effective disciple of Christ, the way that one can most successfully use their faith. After all, it is James who reminds us that our faith, if it is without works, is dead. It holds not the power to save us because it has grown as stagnant, as hard and as hollow as our hearts. Our works, they represent the spirit and the soul of our faith. (James 4:14-26)

Let us consider that for a moment. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” You see, the soul and the body represent a special relationship with each other. Though one may be able to exist without the other, the body is ultimately created as a vessel for the soul, yet it is not the body that defines the soul, but rather the soul that gives its value to everything the body does, and is. Faith can exist without works, yet those works, much like the soul to the body, give faith its inherent value, its intrinsic worth in the most basic and fundamental of ways.

For faith then to hold substance it must be the vessel of our works, not only bearing its fruits but containing them, carrying them, and offering them as the means by which we edify, strengthen and uplift others. Faith, to hold significance, must be expressed by a life given in love to others. Without it, we can speak with tongues, we can seek to understand, to fathom the mysteries that surround a great and mighty God, and eloquence can drip from our mouths in defense of faith, yet it is the shell of what it must be because it gains nothing and offers less. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

How then do we love? How then do we serve as the effective disciple? This itself is easily answered by our blessed Savior Himself, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.… whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:31-46) It is to look at the world, to see the need around you with clear eyes, and, as Christ Jesus Himself had done, answer the call in patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

Though the ultimate act of love was the sacrifice of that Lamb of God who took away the sins of world, that was one example of Christ’s love amongst so many as great as it was. His ministry, His life would be eventually defined by that singular act of love in service to us, and yet it was a road paved by every act of healing, each act of giving, and the meaning that was behind it. It was a path that was laid down by His rejection of evil, hatred, slander and bitterness as we are taught the new commandment: to love one another as Christ Himself loved us. (John 13:34-35)

In the end, nothing can save us short of the faith that we have. Yet it is the character and the nature of our faith that it is the God who judges the heart who holds a power over us. Consider rightly the Lord’s admonition to the prophet, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) Are we, as the disciples of a living God to define our own faith, and thereby seek to build our own vessels for it, ones that seek to hold faith but are cracked and broken, with the dwindling waters it holds stagnate? Or are we to pour forth living waters with fresh springs of the Lord that quench the longing thirst of the spirit and the soul?

Let your faith be a vessel for love and the works thereof. See the world as it is, a place in desperate need of healing and hope, and let the soul of your faith shine as the means of love for others. In this way we can be the effective disciple, the effective believer God and Christ intend for us to be through the power and the strength of the Spirit working through us.

Forever and ever, amen

Ephesians 3:20-21  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Christmas isn’t over.  No, the message of Christmas is relevant throughout the entire year.  Pausing to honor the birth of Jesus is a good thing, but it’s not enough to stop there.  He is alive and active today, calling His people to carry out the mission He has for them.  That’s us.

He’s at work in us and through us to bring about things we can’t even imagine and only He deserves any of the credit for it.  How can we claim credit for something we didn’t even do apart from the power of Christ working in us?  He’s the one who is worthy of all glory and honor.  He’s the one that’s able to do far more than we can ever ask or think.

To Him be the glory in our lives, in our relationships, in our churches, our workplaces, and our decisions.  To Him be the praise and honor, now and forever.  He’s the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  Praise Him.  Praise Him for He is good!

Amen.

Have a blessed 2012.

Solus Christus

I Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

Many and varied are the ways that man tries to get closer to God.  New religions spring up all the time, each seeking to find the right way to become whole.  Hundreds of self-help books are shelved at each book store, none quite adequately fulfilling our quest.  None quite bringing us into that place where we stand in right relationship with our Creator.

It’s sad that we spend so much time searching when the answer our souls seek has already been given.  We don’t attain enlightenment by searching within ourselves.  We don’t achieve entrance into heaven through doing enough good deeds.  There is one way to God and He is Christ Jesus.  He is our Savior, our King, our friend. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36) and not one thing was created that was not created by Him (John 1:3). He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and only He qualifies to mediate between God and man (John 14:6).We can try to fix ourselves, try to gain knowledge, or try to work our way to righteousness, but in the end it’s all in vain.  Only Christ can save us.  Only He can set us free (John 8:32).

 

Serve others

A disciple

Galatians 6:10  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

To serve, or to be served?  It’s a choice we all have to make at some point.  Naturally, we’re inclined to lean toward being served.  Look all around at the culture of this era.  Everything is about how much we deserve and how we should get it now.  We don’t have to wait for anything and we can be served…even through a little window on the side of the restaurant.

But Jesus came to serve others and He calls us to do the same.  Does this sound familiar?  You’ve heard it before, but does it resonate?  How can you serve someone today?  Can you put aside something you want in order to make someone else’s day just a little bit better for the glory of God? When should we serve?  How much is enough?

Paul’s letter to the Galatians instructs them never to grow weary in doing good and suggests that at every opportunity to serve one should do so.  At every opportunity?  This can only be done by someone who isn’t thinking of themselves.  This can only be accomplished by someone who puts the needs of others first.  By someone who truly loves God and serves Him by serving His people.  By a disciple.

Serve God

A disciple

Mark 25:44-45 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’  Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

It sounds like it should go without saying, but a disciple serves God.  Why does this even need to be mentioned?  Shouldn’t all Christians by default be servants of God?  Well, yes, but the reality is that many who are saved are not servants.  Many are more interested in being served than in serving.  But that’s not the example Jesus gave us.

Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45).  If anyone ever deserved to be treated like royalty, never having to lift a finger, it was Jesus.  The God Man could have had a throne and a kingdom right here on earth.  But instead He spent His time here serving others, even to the point of giving His own life.  This is our example, not one of entitlement and expectation, but of humility and hard work.

We may get so caught up in living life that we think we have no time to serve God, but the truth is we can be honoring Him in all that we do, even at work or at school.  We can serve any and all people around us, even in simple ways, and this is indirectly serving our Lord.  But loving others, we show love to the One who made them.  And we point them to Him in the process.

Pray like Jesus

A disciple

Matthew 26:39  And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

A genuine disciple of Jesus Christ follows His example and walks as closely to Him as possible.  When praying, the disciple prays as Jesus would.  But how did Jesus pray?  What does our example to follow look like?

We all know the Lord’s Prayer, when Jesus taught the apostles how to pray, but when Jesus was alone His prayers looked different from those famous lines.  When He prayed to the Father, His heartfelt desires were lifted up to heaven.  But notice that He doesn’t stop at asking.  Jesus, having been sent by the Father to do His perfect will, knew that the Father’s purpose was more important that His own desires.  Can we pray like Jesus prayed?

In His greatest hour of pain, during betrayal, fear, and impending death, Jesus was able to put aside His own wishes for those of the Father.  Did Jesus really desire for the pain and suffering of the cross to be taken out of the plan?  Was He really praying that the very mission for which He had come to earth would be aborted?  Or was He showing us how to pray in great times of sorrow?  Was He modeling for us what it’s like to give up our own will in submission to the Father’s?  This is what it looks like.  This is our daily calling as disciples – to give up our own will in exchange for the perfect will of God.