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DAILY DEVOTIONAL – Sunday, January 17, 2016
Today’s scripture reading:
When someone claims to have faith, what he or she may have is intellectual assent—agreement with a set of Christian teachings—and as such it would be incomplete faith. True faith transforms our conduct as well as our thoughts. If our life remains unchanged, we don’t truly believe the truths we claim to believe. (NLT)
James 2:14-26 – Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by our actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone. Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all—it is dead and useless.
Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” I say, “I can’t see your faith if you don’t have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds.”
Do you still think it’s enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?
Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did—by his actions. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous.” He was even called “the friend of God.” So you see, we are made right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
Rahab the prostitute is another example of this. She was made right with God by her actions—when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also faith is dead without good deeds.
By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works. – Ephesians 2:8-9 (NRSV)
Dawn M. Adams (Massachusetts) titled her story “FREELY GIVEN;” here is a portion of Dawn’s story:
“My father wanted to give me an extravagant gift for my 40th birthday. I was embarrassed that he wanted to spend so much money. He replied, ‘You do so much for me. I want to thank you for what you do.’ I told him that I help him not for some payback but because I love him and want to help.
“As I said those words I realized that for many years I had been confused by what seemed to be conflicting directives in scripture: some passages tell us to do good works (Jas. 2:14-16), and others tell us that our good works are worthless (Gal. 2:16). But now, thanks to my father’s gift, I understand. I love my father so I help him; my father loves me so he gives me a gift. Neither depends on the other. I do good deeds to show my love, not because I am promised something in return.
“Both my earthly and heavenly fathers appreciate my actions because in them they see my love for them. They give me gifts not to pay me for what I do but because I am their child. Each action strengthens the other, but neither requires the other. . . . We do good works because we appreciate all God has given to us and want others to be blessed as we are.”
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY – How have I shown my love for God today?
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for your gift of eternal life, a gift that you alone bestow. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
To read the rest of the story in The Upper Room, click on the following link: http://devotional.upperroom.org/
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