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Archive for the ‘works’ Category

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We lead people.  We do it in church.  We do it in community.  We lead people.

What do we leave behind?

We work tirelessly.  We leave a trail of blood, sweat and tears behind.  We put in long hours and endless days.  We end up doing much more than we ever make out of any of what we are given.  We do a lot and end up with little to show for it.

You need to leave a legacy behind.  You need to be sure to train your replacement and take him or her under your wing.  Make an impact in your community.  Make a difference in this world.  Take the opportunity to leave a legacy behind.  Plant seeds today that will lead to a bountiful harvest in the future.

The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways. – Proverbs 14:14 (ESV)

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25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. – Acts 11:25-26 (NIV)

Paul (Saul) and Barnabas went to Antioch on a mission.  Earlier, in verses 20-21, men from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and shared the “good news” and “a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.” Word of this reached Jerusalem and Barnabas, who was “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith”, was sent to Antioch where he encouraged the believers (vv. 22-24).  That’s when he went for reinforcements, seeking out Paul (Saul) in Tarsus.

The Book of Acts gives the Bible reader an account of the missionary journeys of Paul.  Barnabas, also known as “Son of Encouragement,” went to Tarsus and brought his partner to Antioch.  They spent a year there, teaching and discipling a diverse population of believers.  Obviously, they did some good works because the people were called “Christians,” followers of Christ.  At some point, their teaching and fellowship must have hit home with those with whom they shared the Word of God.

Think it through.  There were those who brought the Good News that sparked the movement among the people.  Barnabas stepped in and offered some support to the new converts.  After that experience, Paul (Saul) was brought in to assist Barnabas in discipling the people at Antioch.  That was teamwork.  The teamwork occurred in phases or stages.

We need to examine the example of these men further.  Our ministries need to do something similar.  There needs to be a team who can go into uncharted territory and break new ground with the Gospel.  They need to be able to share the Good News with fervor, winning hearts and souls along the way.  They need to return to the house of God, sharing what they discovered as fertile ground, so that others like Barnabas can come in and edify the new believers with words of comfort, gladness and encouragement.  From there, those encouragers can leverage their relationship with the believers and other evangelists and workers who can support and strengthen the believers.  That’s teamwork.

We need prayer warriors who can intercede on behalf of lost souls and those evangelists and missionaries.  We need workers within the ministry who are taught and trained, equipped to do good works beyond the confines of the house of God.  We need those who have the spiritual gift of exhortation, comfort, and other special gifts to serve in a variety of capacities in order to reach a dying world.

It takes a team who can work together to bring a community together in the name of Jesus.

5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.
– 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 (NKJV)



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A Fiasco of Faith

And let our people also learn to maintain good works,
to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.
– Titus 3:14 (KJV)

We, the faithful, are also called to be fruitful.  We are commandment to bear much fruit.  Jesus said so.  The Lord Himself wants us both faithful and fruitful.
So what’s the deal? Are we faithful? If we are so faithful, we should be full of fruit.  We should be fruitful.

We become unfruitful, in the words of Paul to Titus, when we fail to meet urgent needs and to maintain good works.  Being without fruit, barren in other words, we demonstrate little faith.

James said as much when he wrote: But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:18, KJV).  What you have to show for all the faith that you claim to have will speak louder than words.  Your actions will outweigh your words.  Your proclamation and profession of faith will be measured by your production of fruit.
Fruit is the byproduct of your works.  Your works should produce something.  The fruit stands as evidence of the effort on your part.  No faith equals no fruit.  It is a simple formula.
Keep the faith.

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Let God Use You

4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:4-6 (NIV)

God can choose you to use you.  He can sit on high and look down low towards the earth, seeking someone to use to work through to do many mighty works.  He knows all and sees all.  It is all within His power.

…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…

He chooses those who may be unwanted.  He goes about it in His own way, but He does it completely.  He leaves nothing for us to guess about when it comes to what he calls us to do.  We are to have faith and total reliance upon Him throughout the process until it is compete.  He wants us to hold on until He is done.

If we will let Him use us, He will:

  • Work on us
  • Work in us
  • Work through us

Let Him use you as he thoroughly furnishes you to do good works in His name.

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Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. – John 14:12 (ESV)

We have work to do.  We do not need to do this work because Jesus came and did many works.  We have great works to do because Jesus has gone to the Father.  We need to do such works as Jesus Christ.

We continue in the works that He began through His earthly ministry.  How? Just like Peter and the other apostles of Jesus Christ did.  Just as Paul did so.  Just as the early church did so.  We need to continue just as Jesus Christ started.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:- Philippians 1:6 (KJV)

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Show Me Your Faith

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. – James 2:18 (ESV)

James encouraged the church to demonstrate its faith.  He shared that it had to be more than lip service.  James wanted to see the church actually engaged in service.  He wanted to see them doing “good works.” The church is to serve as an example of good works, especially its leadership.

Look at the activism of the likes of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Adam Clayton Powell and other clergy.  Look at the martyrs of Christianity from the First Century church through today.  Consider the impact of individuals like William Penn and Mother Theresa.  The church has a long-standing history of showing its faith.

I am in the midst of reading Faith and Politics by former Senator John Danforth of Missouri.  Danforth is also an ordained Episcopalian priest.  I give Danforth credit that he never allowed his faith to dictate or dilute his service as a U.S. senator.  However, Danforth admits in Faith and Politics that the line between the two can never be certain or clear.  I love the quote below by Danforth as a means of understanding the fine line of faith and public service.

Most of all, faith brings recognition that our quest never leads us to certainty.  We are always uncertain, always in doubt that our way is God’s way.  That self-doubt makes it possible to be reconciled to one another.  It is a faith that makes the reconciling work of politics possible. – John Danforth

Perhaps, if we consider the Word of God as our guide, we will recognize that true faith requires us to depend on God.  We would definitely have to say so in regards to the political arena as well.  Social change and public policy may not be entirely left up to the Religious Right or the Moral Majority.  We have an agenda that predates any political platform or public policy.  God desires us to become a faithful force that brings about social change through good works based on the Good Book.

When we fully trust God, we will lay our burdens at His feet.  He wants His people living examples of what He has to offer all people.  He wants the church active and engaged.  We serve Him best when we serve others with the spiritual gifts that He has bestowed upon us through His Spirit.

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. – Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV)

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Where are Your Works

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.- James 2:18 (ESV)

Could we have works without faith?

How about faith without works?

James, the brother of the Lord, wrote that he could show you my faith by my works.  He shares something profound with the believers of his own time as well as something prophetic for those of our times.  He threw out some realism on faith and works.  Of course, the entire epistle is like a tenth round uppercut.  It hits home.

Got faith? Where are your works? Stop talking and theorizing about the depths of your faith.  Do something.  Demonstrate your faith.  Aren’t those the examples that James used? He attacked social inequity and so-called faithful efforts such as prying for the poor rather than clothing and feeding the poor.  Praying for a poor and freezing brother can be done after you have provided for him.  Love your neighbor.  If your love doesn’t extend beyond your lips, what good is it? Is it really love?

Show your works.  Show your faith through your works.   Don’t just speak about it.  Do something about it.

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