Faith. . .It Requires Exercise

  “If it is alone and includes no actions, then (faith) is dead.” James 2:17

Tim’s life was a wreck after two marriages and a handful of job failures. Sitting alone at a local tavern, finishing his third beer, he wondered if there was any point in continuing his life. He was spiraling down into the abyss of despair, fueled by loneliness and discouragement. “What’s the point?”, he muttered to himself.

Just then he felt the familiar buzz of his cellphone in his pocket. “Bill calling” it announced. He paused a moment and decided to answer. That act changed his life.
“Hey Bill,” Tim said, as he headed for the door to talk in privacy. “It’s been awhile.”
“Tim, God put it on my heart to give you a call. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true. I have been fighting this urge for several hours but I’ve got to give you a message from the Lord!”
Although not drunk, Tim was a little foggy and deep within his pool of pity. “What are you talking about, Bill? This is crazy.”
“I know it sounds crazy, Tim, but I have a message from God for you and I have to tell you. But I’ve got to tell you in person. Let’s meet at your apartment in twenty minutes.”

Tim had barely kicked off his shoes and put on a pot of coffee when the doorbell chimed. A few minutes later, warmed by coffee, he and Bill sat on the couch.
“I’m not a guy who goes around telling people, ‘Thus sayeth the Lord,’ Tim. But I heard God speaking to me and it was for you. I have to tell you what He said. What you do with it is up to you.

So here goes: ‘I love you, Tim. I have always loved you. You are not a failure, you’ve simply made some bad choices along the way. The reason you are confused about your life is that you have not walked in faith. Just like a body needs exercise to make the muscles strong, so your faith needs exercise for strength.

‘Your joy will return as you practice living your faith. Faith by itself is dead. But don’t worry, Jesus is the author and perfecter of faith and we will encourage you along the way. You have been born again, Tim. Now walk in that faith.”
Tim’s life was changed forever by his faithful friend’s obedience to God. He dusted off his Bible and returned to fellowship groups and Bible studies, strengthening his faith, walking in forgiveness and the power of God.

Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

James 1:5-8 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

James 2:14-26 My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? Can that faith save you? Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!”—if you don’t give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead.
 
But someone will say, “One person has faith, another has actions.” My answer is, “Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.” Do you believe that there is only one God? Good! The demons also believe—and tremble with fear. You fool! Do you want to be shown that faith without actions is useless? How was our ancestor Abraham put right with God? It was through his actions, when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. 

Can’t you see? His faith and his actions worked together; his faith was made perfect through his actions. And the scripture came true that said, “Abraham believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.” And so Abraham was called God’s friend. You see, then, that it is by our actions that we are put right with God, and not by our faith alone.  

It was the same with the prostitute Rahab. She was put right with God through her actions, by welcoming the Israelite spies and helping them to escape by a different road.  So then, as the body without the spirit is dead, also faith without actions is dead.

2 Peter 1:3-11  By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Faith in Christ as Savior and the works of faith after salvation, are sometimes cause for confusion among Christians. Simply put, faith in Christ is initial belief in Jesus as Savior, with no external evidence.
The works of faith following conversion, are the natural outcroppings of good deeds brought about from the Holy Spirit within the believer. When a person experiences the love of Christ, part of their conversion is the desire to pass on that love in tangible ways to others.

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