Note from Jesus
Read My harsh words to the Pharisees about their all-talk-legalism and not-much-help religion (Matthew 23:1-36). When you do, you will know that I loathe empty religion full of just religious words with little redemptive action. I want you to read through James’ teaching in the verses below. He is all about caring for the poor and forgotten — underlined in the verses below. James reminds you that you must have a faith that demonstrates itself in action — bold in the verses below.
While Nike’s marketing phrase “Just Do It!”® became a registered trademark in your era, that concept has always been at the heart of My kingdom. My teaching was not about just doctrine. My teaching emphasized the necessity of living to please the Father while you live in a world of moral depravity, human need, and religious confusion. I wanted the things I taught My disciples to be done… to be obeyed… to be put into practice.
Remember what I taught while on earth?
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. Simply calling Me ‘Lord‘ will not be enough. Only those who do the will of My Father Who is in heaven will join Me in heaven.”
As I was finishing the Sermon on the Mount, I told the story about the wise man who put into practice what I taught,and the foolish man who heard My words and didn’t obey them and his life came crashing down (Matthew 7:24-27).
When I washed My disciples’ feet and demonstrated My love for them, I told them:
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”
(John 13:13-17 NLT)
When My own family came to see Me in the crowds, I told My disciples this:
“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he [Jesus] looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Mark 3:33-35 NLT)
Do you remember what I said in the Great Commission about obedience?
“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20 NLT)
So My question for some of you Christians is really simple: When are you going to quit just talking religion? When are you going to get around to doing what I ask, obeying what I taught, and doing something that makes a difference in the lives of real people?
James is pretty clear about what I want from My disciples: Live holy lives and help needy people! It’s really pretty simple to understand. So now I ask that you “Just Do It!”®
Verses to Live
Although these verses come from two different chapters in James, their thoughts parallel each other and drive home the message I want you to know and follow. All throughout Scripture, We — Father, Son, and Spirit — have called Our people to reflect our righteous character and gracious compassion. My half-brother James reminds you to do the same. Don’t just read these truths; put them into practice! (Underlining highlights instruction about caring for the poor and forgotten while the bold emphasizes the necessity of faith that demonstrates itself in action.)
Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. Human anger is a futile exercise that will never produce God’s kind of justice in this world. So walk out on your corrupt liaison with smut and depraved living, and humbly welcome the word of truth that will blossom like the seed of salvation planted in your souls.
Put the word into action. If you think hearing is what matters most, you are going to find you have been deceived.
If some fail to do what God requires, it’s as if they forget the word as soon as they hear it. One minute they look in the mirror, and the next they forget who they are and what they look like. However, it is possible to open your eyes and take in the beautiful, perfect truth found in God’s law of liberty and live by it. If you pursue that path and actually do what God has commanded, then you will avoid the many distractions that lead to an amnesia of all true things and you will be blessed.
If you put yourself on a pedestal, thinking you have become a role model in all things religious, but you can’t control your mouth, then think again. Your mouth exposes your heart, and your religion is useless. Real, true religion from God the Father’s perspective is about caring for the orphans and widows who suffer needlessly and resisting the evil influence of the world.
Brothers and sisters, it doesn’t make any sense to say you have faith and act in a way that denies that faith. Mere talk never gets you very far, and a commitment to Jesus only in words will not save you. It would be like seeing a brother or sister without any clothes out in the cold and begging for food, and saying, “Shalom, friend, you should get inside where it’s warm and eat something,” but doing nothing about his needs — leaving him cold and alone on the street. What good would your words alone do? The same is true with faith. Without actions, faith is useless. By itself, it’s as good as dead. I know what you’re thinking: “OK, you have faith. And I have actions. Now let’s see your faith without works, and I’ll show you a faith that works.”
Do you think that just believing there’s one God is going to get you anywhere? The demons believe that, too, and it terrifies them! The fact is, faith has to show itself through works performed in faith. If you don’t recognize that, then you’re an empty soul. Wasn’t our father Abraham made right with God by laying his son Isaac on the altar? The faith in his heart was made known in his behavior. In fact, his commitment was perfected by his obedience. That’s what Scripture means when it says, “Abraham entrusted himself to God, and God credited him with righteousness.” And living a faithful life earned Abraham the title of “God’s friend.” Just like our father in the faith, we are made right with God through good works, not simply by what we believe or think. Even Rahab the prostitute was made right with God by hiding the spies and aiding in their escape. Removing action from faith is like removing breath from a body. All you have left is a corpse.
Response in Prayer
Almighty God, thank You for Your words of truth in the Scriptures. Please help me understand and act on these Scriptures as I am guided and led by the Holy Spirit. I commit to living Your truth, O God, to honor You and be a blessing to those in need. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.