James #9 ~ August, 2019
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Growing up, my mama read Grimm's Fairytales and Bible stories to me. While Grimm's pictured the princess, the three bears, giants and little pigs in colorful renderings, the pictures of Bible heroes mostly materialized in my imagination. And somehow, the fellows usually had white hair and long, scruffy beards. Except for David, I never really pictured Noah or Abraham, Moses or Samuel as boys, though except for Adam, all of them of course had been!
Huh - was Abraham always old in my mind because I knew he was old when God told him he would be the father of a great nation, and older still when God gave him Isaac?
James uses old Abraham as a stellar example of true faith in action: 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, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: "Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith." He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. James 2.21-26, NLT
If you are unsure of Abraham's story and what he did to be described in such a way, you can refresh your memory in Genesis 22: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+22.1-19&version=NIV
>>Simply, God kept his promise to make Abraham the father of a great nation, and when finally he had Isaac at 100 years of age, God asked him to sacrifice him. Can you picture the white-haired fellow shaking his fist toward Heaven, 'What?! My wife, Sarah, went through labor and delivery at 99 and then you want me to sacrifice this child on the altar?! God, you're kidding me, right?!' Wrong. But then, God provides an alternate sacrifice. (Genesis 22 . . . you've got to know this one)
Here's the kicker: Abraham trusted God so completely, he was willing to obey. Am I? Are you?
Abraham was referred to as "the friend of God" because of his incredible faith to obey God no matter what. Just imagine . . . Megan, friend of God. Jeff, friend of God. AnitaMarie, friend of God. Brad, friend of God. Larry, friend of God. How would you like to be introduced as such? Oh, my goodness, could it get any better? I think not!
Why was Abraham called the friend of God? Because he OBEYED him.
Something to think about as you drive down the road or lie awake at night: some of the most valuable Christian concepts such as grace, mercy, obedience and prudence seem to be almost obsolete in our current culture and vocabulary ... why? (We just talked about mercy, remember?) Jesus told his disciples, You are my friends if you obey me.1 It is interesting to note that Jesus also said, I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! If you are lacking joy in your life, these words of Jesus provide your recipe for joy: obedience to him. Hmmm.
To the convinced, we obey what we know to do. Here are a few starters: >love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength ~ Mark 12.30
>love your neighbor as yourself ~ Mark 12.31
>pursue holiness ~ 1 Timothy 6.11 >be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other ~ Ephesians 4.32
>let no trash talk come out of your mouth, only what is helpful ~ Ephesians 4.29(my paraphrase)
George MacDonald was a Scottish poet, preacher, novelist who boiled all of life's truth into a simple two-step process: realizing who God is, then obeying Him. "True faith, true belief, is not possible where there is not a daily doing of the things he says. They are what make faith take root and spring to life... obedience is not perfection, but making an effort."
"What a man believes is the thing he does, not the thing he thinks."2
Lord, give us the faith and will to obey you today. We want your joy. We want to be called your friends. Amen.
Love to you, Friends~