Works Without Faith

2 The one whose walk is blameless,
    who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
    who does no wrong to a neighbor,
    and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
    but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
    and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
    will never be shaken. Psalm 15:2-5

The key to this passage is found in verse four: fearing the Lord. Without a healthy fear of the Lord, i.e., faith, all the works associated are meaningless. I know it’s a strong statement but it’s not without Biblical precedence.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6

But without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6

And those being in the flesh are not able to please God. Romans 8:8

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

When we have faith,  our “works” now mean something and can be done to the glory of God. When you work according to that end, it doesn’t really seem like work.

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Opportunities Abound

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
    Who may live on your holy mountain? Psalm 15:1

King David begins this psalm with a question for God, one that he himself (David) answers in the verses that follow. It’s actually a derivation of a question that millions ask each year. It’s never wrong for unbelievers to ask that question. In fact, we should expect people to ask the question, and have a great answer when they ask it.

When people ask the question, they’re curious. Perhaps they’re hungry for the truth. In essence, they are asking, “how can I get to heaven?”

This is a great opportunity for us. We have and know the answer. Of course, getting to heaven is not a question that should be taken or answered lightly. There will still be dozens of followup questions and even debates about your answers. We have to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15

We pray for these opportunities, and pray that we say the right things.

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Happy Thanksgiving

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I sing praise to you before the gods.
I face your holy Temple,
    bow down, and praise your name
because of your constant love and faithfulness,
    because you have shown that your name and your commands are supreme.
You answered me when I called to you;
    with your strength you strengthened me.

All the kings in the world will praise you, Lord,
    because they have heard your promises.
They will sing about what you have done
    and about your great glory.
Even though you are so high above,
    you care for the lowly,
    and the proud cannot hide from you.

When I am surrounded by troubles,
    you keep me safe.
You oppose my angry enemies
    and save me by your power.
You will do everything you have promised;
    Lord, your love is eternal.
    Complete the work that you have begun. Psalm 138

Enjoy the day with family and friends. Thank God for his blessings.

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Oh That Salvation

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
    When the Lord restores his people,
    let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! Psalm 14:7

Oh but salvation did come out of Zion! As you may know, Zion was the hill of Jerusalem on which the city of David was built – Jerusalem. Today we regard it as a general reference to Israel.

As we approach the day Americans traditionally celebrate as Thanksgiving, it coincides with the first/second day of Hanukkah, the first time it’s happened in over 100 years.

Pray for the peace of Israel. These are very difficult times for the nation of Israel, especially regarding this weekend’s events with Iran. Pray that eyes will be opened and the darkness will fall away like scales.

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Arrow

You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
    but the Lord is their refuge. Psalm 14:6

My wife and I began watching a series on Netflix called Arrow. It’s an intriguing tale of a billionaire-turned-vigilante who uses highly unorthodox means to right the wrongs on his city’s most powerful people. To him, the ends clearly justifies the means. The ends in this case is ridding the city of those who pollute waters, underpay employees, and use inferior and dangerous products to maximize profits. That’s the world’s solution to solving problems.

In Scripture, however, we read that the Lord is a refuge for the poor. He has his ways and means of shielding them from harm. When you’re on one of God’s Top Three Protected Classes of People: widows, the poor, and aliens/foreigners, you’re noticed, not by society or even good people, but by God Himself. So anything that is done to harm these people is scrutinized – as it should be.

Today, you will have an opportunity to reach out to the poor in your community. You are able make a difference even in the little things you do. The added bonus is that God is watching and taking notes.

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