The wind is blowing. I can hear it and I can feel it but I can’t see it or know where it is coming from. Wind is a part of prairie life in Nebraska and it is still a great mystery to me. It makes me think of the blessings of God. I know that they come and I know that they exist but I don’t really know how it is that they come about and land upon me. It also reminds me that many people today take the wind for granted just as they take God for granted and don’t really give Him thanks or praise for all the blessings He bestows on everyone. It also reminds me that I can’t see God but I hear Him and I feel Him and I know that He exists, just like the wind I hear and feel today. Faith is the end result of believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died on the cross taking our sins to the grave with Him and then was raised from the dead thus conquering death for ever. Many people have the faith that Jesus is God’s Son but do nothing beyond their belief. Believing that God exists is not enough, we need to put what we believe into action and that comes through good deeds. Otherwise we are like the wind, going nowhere and yet everywhere without any concern for what we do. Today we read about the importance of good deeds in the book of James.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. James 1:14-26, (New International Version or NIV).
I can’t tell you how many people will close their eyes to poverty and those who live in poverty. I hope that you are not one of them. When we stop caring about those who have real and true needs then we are not putting our faith into action. There are so many opportunities to help others. Every community has agencies that will help those who need it. Every church has mission organizations that they support who could use your help. For people who love to sew or knit or crochet there are many missions that need blankets, clothes, hats, mittens, sweaters, and baby clothes. It is a wonderful way to share yourself with others just by making a quilt or knitting a sweater as you put your faith into action. There are many needs for foster parents in many parts of the world. Why not look into the opportunity to become a foster parent or financially support a mission that hires foster parents to work with those who need such services. How about becoming a mentor to a child or youth that lives in a single-parent household? My son has such a mentor and it is wonderful for him and the mentor says that the highlight of his week is spending time with my son. I appreciate that greatly. Whatever you do, please put your faith into action, what is it that James said about belief?
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. James 2:19 (NIV).
Let’s let that sink in for a moment. You see many people and demons believe that there is one God. We have examples of that from the New Testament and how the demons recognized Jesus as God, so let’s take a look at some of those passages.
“What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have You come here to torture us before the proper time?” Matthew 8:29, (NIV).
“What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!” Mark 1:24, (NIV).
And he shouted in a loud voice, “What do You want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You before God not to torture me.” Mark 5:7, (NIV).
Eventually, one of the evil spirits answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but you, who are you?” Acts 19:15, (NIV).
I especially enjoy the verse from Acts because of the back-story. Let’s look at this too.
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. Acts 19:11-16, (NIV).
Here are these seven sons of a Jewish priest who obviously didn’t really believe that the Apostle Paul was teaching truth so they decide to copy his methods and tried to cast out some demons. They soon found out that the demons don’t leave for just anyone, no, the demons recognized that these boys had no power in them and basically beat them up badly. Do you see how God and Christ as God’s Son were recognized by the demons? Oh they believe that the one true God exists but they won’t be in heaven because they did nothing with their belief. If we aren’t careful as believers in Christ and we don’t put our faith into action by producing some good deeds, good fruits, good works for the Kingdom of Heaven, for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then our fate will be the same as the demons. That is scary to me. I leave you with one more scripture passage that is inspirational to me and I hope to you.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:7-10, (NIV).