Don’t be like a demon

“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. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” [James 2:18-19]

It is one thing to sit in worship on Sunday morning; singing, confessing, listening and the like but quite another to practice what you say you believe outside the walls of the church building.  Complacent and apathetic Christians are not what God has called us to.  Sitting on our butts as spectators watching a sporting event is not the Christian life. I love that phrase “even the demons believe” that God in Jesus exists.  The difference is that they do not reflect God’s glory on their actions.

So the real question is this:
Are you like a demon?


It’s a harsh truth to face but it is one we need to see.  Live your faith…don’t just talk about it.

edh -|—


If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
[James 1:5-8]

How many times have you gone to God asking for wisdom?
God…grant me wisdom.”
Help me to understand what to do.”
Guide me.

I have uttered those prayers many times.  I have asked God to lead me.  I have asked God to give me wisdom  The problem is that God wants to do this and when God does we often times don’t listen, believe or trust.  I think it is because that we don’t like the answer we get.

Really God?  That’s what you want me to do?
I can’t do that.
That is going to be too hard.

Sound familiar?

Imagine if we actually listened and trusted God when we prayed those prayers.
Imagine all that we could accomplish for the glory of God if we used the wisdom that God has for us.

Believe it or not, God knows what God is doing.  God has been around the block a few times.  God sees the whole picture (and we don’t).

So pray and believe…

…and imagine….and then pray some more…and listen…and trust…and then do.

God will be faithful.

edh -|—

Psalm 15 — “holy hill” living

This week I have been drawn to Psalm 15 (the assigned Psalm for this Sunday, Aug. 30).  I am not sure if I am preaching on this yet…I am still pondering it and praying about it.  Here are some of my initial thoughts thus far, but first here’s the text:

1     Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?

2     He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart

3     and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,

4     who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the Lord,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,
5     who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things
will never be shaken.

Verse 1 contains a question about who may dwell in the sanctuary; who may “live on your holy hill”.  Following this question the psalmist goes on to answer his own question.

Verse 2 is about faith; about what’s in the heart.

Verse 3 flows out of verse 2.  What’s in our heart will dictate how we will speak to and about other people.  If we live blameless lives, do what is righteous and speak truth from our heart then we will naturally speak well of our neighbor and do them no wrong.

Verse 4 – 5a flows out of verses 2 and 3.  This verse talks about our actions.  It is one thing to say we have faith in Christ and talk a good game, but what do our actions say.  James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.” (oddly enough that is part of the second lesson for Sunday).

And when all is said and done, the ending of verse 5 says, “He who does these things will never be shaken.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always follow the “formula” in verses 2 – 5a.  So I guess I will not dwell in God’s sanctuary and live on his holy hill…

…but maybe this is not a Psalm of law or one prescribing certain behaviors before I can enter God’s presence, but rather describing how a believer lives outside the sanctuary; outside the walls of the church building.  Maybe Psalm 15 is descriptive rather then prescriptive…”He who does these things will never be shaken.

Those are my thoughts now…as I am still processing.  Feel free to share you thoughts.  God bless!


Monday morning check in — Faith and Works

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his 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 what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor 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 justified by what he does 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 2:14-26)

The above verses are the latest to slap me in the face.  They are verses I have read many times.  They are verses that I have heard preached or have preached on myself.  But this morning they convict me…

There is a woman in my congregation who I will call J.  J is a sweet woman who is not as mentally/emotionally developed as others.  Everyday she is at the nursing home to visit her “mommy” and on Sunday she heads up there after worship to have lunch with her.  But here’s the thing…someone here at Salem has to give her a ride on Sunday since she can’t drive.  My wife is usually the one since she picks up/drops off someone from the nursing home already, but yesterday my wife was gone.  I didn’t think about that until J came in for worship and reminded me (as she does every week) that she is going to the nursing home to “have lunch with mommy” and made reference to Connie giving her a ride.  When I told her that Connie was gone, J got a little concerned and wondered who was going to give her a ride.  I told her not to worry about it (but inside I was hoping she would just ask someone herself).

After worship I spent some time greeting people, listening to some memory work from a confirmation student and cleaning up a little.  All I wanted to do after that was go home and rest, but J was still here.  So I grudgingly got my car to give her a ride.  All the way up to the nursing home she kept telling me how much her and her mom like me.  She kept saying “We really like you.  You are a good pastor.  We hope you stay for a long time”.  J was enjoying the time with her pastor and I just wanted to go home.

Now this morning…I read James…

…and James is indeed right…it is not good enough to say we have faith, but it must be shown through our actions.  Maybe I was tired.  Maybe I just simply let my needs get in the way of J’s needs.  Whatever the case, my faith did not shine through to J…even though she would say it did (if she could understand the question).  J had no idea what I was thinking and feeling yesterday, but I sure do.   So I pray for patience and hope that I will get another chance to show my faith to J.  I pray for forgiveness through Jesus Christ my Lord.  I pray that when given a chance again, I WILL show my faith through my actions.

I think we all need a dose of James every now and then (I know I do).  So take some time right now and read through James.  It is a short 5 chapters but ones that pack a punch.  But all the while you are reading, remember God’s grace and pray for more opportunities to show your faith to others.