More Than A Declaration

More Than A Declaration
--from October 8th  --
This week’s devotions written by Carl Brown and Jamie Walker

Day 1

Do you keep a to-do list?  When Faith Works
Read Psalm 118:1-29

When reading James 2:14-26, the verse, “So Faith without deeds is dead,” I was convicted about the countless deeds I do daily.  If I’m honest, I can sometimes idolize my to-do list.  If I was really brave, I’d take a picture and send you the evidence!  Then I began to think about how I start each day’s journal entry:  “This is the day the Lord has made:  we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24).  I wondered, do I ever rejoice about my to-do list?  Do you?  

So in considering the passage for today, I would like us together, to re-evaluate and rejuvenate our “to-do” list to become our “blessed to-do” list.  Let’s take a look at the following action steps/reflections together.

  • Step 1-Look at your to do-list and circle any of the items that you feel already show your faith in action.  (Psalm 118:17)
  • Step 2-Make a star next to any of the deeds you begrudge or don’t look forward to.  Think about how begrudging these items is possibly dead faith or deeds without faith.  Is it the task that you begrudge or the perspective about the task?
  • Step 3- Of those starred ones, underline any that are a result of an answered prayer.  Think deep on this one.  Is it having to go to a PTO meeting?  At first, you may think boy, I don’t think one more thing on my plate is an answered prayer.  But what if, you saw it as an answered prayer that you have a child to go to a PTO meeting for? (Psalm 118:21) Or, if you understood that there are many unsaved people at the PTO meeting and God may need you to speak truth and love on someone or several someones at that meeting? (Psalm 118:26)
  • Step 4-Pray over that to-do list.  Recite Psalm 118:5-8 as part of this prayer.  Ask for God to direct our steps and prioritize our deeds, so that our faith may be the light of the world as we show by doing.  
For those of you who don’t keep a to-do list, I respect you in a whole new way!  But think about how you approach the day and how the deeds you do could change if it became a privilege that you rejoiced over. 

Day 2

Read Genesis 12:1-9, Joshua 24:2
In Sunday's sermon we talked about walking out our faith. An example of someone in the bible walking out their faith can be found in Genesis. This story is about God telling Abraham to leave his family and country to a land that God will show him (Gen 12:1-2). 

Why was Abraham so willing to follow God? 

Are you willing to follow God into the unkown? 

Later on in this passage we see Abraham making altars to God along the way. These altars are important because they are a symbol that Abraham used to thank God for the land that he will bless his offspring with. (Gen 12:7). Why did Abraham feel the need to thank God along the way? 

Where along your journey have you stopped to thank God for what he has given you? What does thanking God have to do with walking out our faith? 

Take time to write down the blessing that God has given you throughout this season of your life.
In Joshua it refers to a time before the call to Abraham with his family. In Joshua 24:2  we see that Abraham’s family served other gods. Why would God use Abraham if his family served other gods? 

Why was Abraham so willing to follow a God that his family didn't follow? 
Is there a moment where God asked you to do something against our culture?

Day 3

Read Genesis 22:1-19
One of the stories that James talked about was Abraham's faith when he offered his son Issac on the altar (James 2:21). In Genesis 22 why was Abraham willing to offer his only son to God? 

God made a covenant to Abraham and his offspring that they were in his favor. Do you believe that is why Abraham had so much faith that God would provide a sacrifice? 

Abraham showed selflessness by giving up what he wanted most which was an offspring in order to show his faith to God. This Story shows that Abraham had faith in God that he would hold his promise to him and without questioning him followed through with taking Issac to the altar. 
This story is one of my favorites because it shows even something that Abraham really wanted, which was a child. He was willing to give up his only child because God asked him to. What is something that you have that you would be willing to give up for God? In return to Abraham faithfulness God provided Abraham a sacrifice. This is like how God provided Jesus as a sacrifice so that we could be saved.

Day 4

Read Romans 4:1-8, Galatians 3:6-9, Ephesians 2:8-9
So the last two days we talked about Abraham and his examples of living through the faith. Today we look at some of Paul’s teachings. In Romans 4:1-8 Paul explains how just through Abraham's faith he was righteous in God’s eyes. It was also said “if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about” (Romans 4:2). So If Abraham was a pretty good guy, why did he not boast before God?
Next in Galatians 3:6-9, It talks more about Abraham’s faith with how different that looked to others. In verse 7-8 it says “know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith.” The gentiles here are being justified by God for their faith. Later on it references Abraham being “the man of faith” (verse 9). It calls us that we can have the same faith as Abraham. 

So, what is the faith that Abraham has that we can all have? Also, what should that look like in your life?

In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul once again talks about how all we need is faith. In verse 8 he says “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And THIS is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” The first time I read this I was thinking what does THIS refer to? Does it mean Grace, Faith or is it Salvation? For me I think it refers to salvation with the gift that Chirst gave us for dying on the cross and we get it through our belief and faith in Christ. I would like to hear your opinion on what THIS means to you in the discussion section of the Keystone app?

Day 5

Read James 2:12-26
This message from James always gave me a lot of trouble. The last few devotions have been about how Abraham’s faith alone made him righteous with God. Paul said that “by grace you have been saved through faith.” With this I was thinking that James must have gotten something wrong because it does not say anything about needing deeds to get to heaven. Then I reread it again trying to understand what James is saying. Verse 18 helped me the most by saying “ show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”  I think what James is saying here is that he agrees with Paul that faith alone can save you but true faith will call you to move. Yes, Abraham had faith in God but he listened to his command by leaving his family, and going to sacrifice Issac. 

Was this something that you have struggled with or are currently struggling with? 

Do you think that James and Paul are talking about the same thing with faith?

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