An Example of Faith

Today’s Reading: Matthew 14:22-33
Today’s Devotional Thought From Pastor Kyle:
Today’s passage is Matthew 14:22-33. Here we have the miraculous passage of Jesus walking on water. The disciples were out at sea and a storm came along and was rocking the boat. The disciples looked out and saw Jesus walking towards them. They said at the end of verse 26, “It is a ghost” and cried out for fear. Jesus talked them down and said that it was Him and said not to be afraid and the passage goes on and Peter walked on the water with Jesus. 

There are times in our life when a storm comes about us and we get overwhelmed and afraid just like the disciples. We lose sight of Jesus and begin to worry. Jesus can calm our storm if we seek Him and have faith in Him. Scripture clearly reveals who Jesus is and the power He possesses. It reveals that He is for us but we must allow Him in our lives.

Sometimes we too much as Peter was. We believe in Jesus and we “walk on water” when we pray to Him but then we begin to remember what is happening in our lives and start to doubt. It is then that we begin to sink. We must keep our eyes and heart on Jesus and allow Him to guide and direct us.

The Message Is Near

Today’s Reading: Romans 10:5-17
Today’s Devotional Thought From Pastor Matt:
For many years I have heard the message of the Gospel discussed in many forums. When I say many, I mean many. I have heard it from various different work place environments like a paper bag plant, the rail road, and even a pizza place I worked at as a teen. I have also had many discussions in places like high school and (for a very short time) trade school. Of course after I surrendered my life to the calling to pastor I even had these Gospel centered conversations in places like seminary and staff meetings at church. So needless to say, even though I already did, I have had a lot of discussion on the Gospel. 

One thing that has always caught my attention is that in most of these places I came across, people had varying ways to be saved or at least varying degrees of difficulty to find salvation. To that I mean, they all had the basic idea of the Gospel right but surprisingly people varied on the difficulty to obtain the salvation they believed in. Today’s passage is one that lays out the Gospel in what I believe is a clear and simple message. 

“The Message is near you in your heart and in your mouth.”

So many times we make the message of the Gospel this big process and spend hours debating what exactly one must do to be saved. Then, we read a passage like this that clearly proclaims “if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord,” He will save you. This message is true for each of us. It does not matter if you are someone who has been raised in church all your life or just today someone introduced you to who Jesus is. Salvation can be found in a simple child like faith in the work Jesus did on the cross. Today, you or someone you know may need this message. I encourage you today, to come to Jesus, confess with your mouth that He is Lord, believe in your heart He alone redeems you from sin, and He will save you.

Where Are Your Works?

Often times, we as Christians overlook works as something not applicable to us “saved by grace” Christians. Although it isn’t what saved us, works are vital to our every day walk.

When I was a Soldier, I constantly trained to go to war. Everything we did prepared us to go to war. When I first got the alert to go to Iraq, I was worried. A friend gave me a stack of cds to take with me and one of them was titled, “Your fire lights my way”.  It said “a ship that’s in a harbor is still and safe from harm but it was not built to be there, it was made for wind and storm”. After I heard that song I was reminded that a soldier was not meant for the safety and security that training in garrison can provide. A soldier is meant for war.

So many of us Christians stay stuck in this same trap of wanting the safety and security that constantly training can provide. We stay in the mindset of feed me, feed me, feed me, but we miss the opportunity to feed others.

Paul tells us that faith without works is dead. Dead is such an extreme word to use. Dead is without life. Your works are an expression of the abundant life flowing out of you.

Brothers and sisters, James intended these verses to cut deeply.  He knew this would be controversial. He wrote this very intentionally to remind us fallen people that God has entrusted us with a mighty work.

My prayer for all of us is that the Lord will show us works that we need to do in our church, in our families, and in our communities. 

Can you work hard enough to obtain salvation?

Paul wrote to this church in Ephesus that is full of “saved” Gentiles and Jews! He stressed to them in this part of chapter two that grace is given to them and not earned or owed to them!

We are capable of doing a lot of “good” deeds. We can help a person in need, love a broken heart, care deeply, give time, and pray for others. But one good thing we do not have the ability to do is to give or earn salvation. Our spiritual life is a part of us that we can’t make a difference on our own. And neither could these early Christians in Ephesus!

Verse 8

Paul said “for by grace you have been saved through faith.” This is the most plain statement of how salvation works. This church had to understand that salvation was from the “grace” of God through the faith they had in God’s Son Jesus. To our church Lonoke Baptist, it’s crucial that we understand God’s grace is a given present that was undeserving for us! But He gives us this gift through believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives as he paid a spiritual debt we couldn’t pay to die as a sacrifice for our sins, so we can regain fellowship in God.

Verse 9

Salvation is not a result of works, or good deeds you can do. It cannot be earned but only given! If you could earn salvation than we would be saying God owes us a debt! That He can’t freely pay for it, but that He owes us it. God doesn’t owe us anything because “all have sinned and fallen short of the of God.” As an imperfect person, we can’t give enough good to a perfect God in trade for salvation.

So can you work hard enough to obtain salvation? No, we can not!

The Faith Of Scripture

Today’s Reading: Hebrews 11:1-3
Today’s Devotional Thought From Pastor Craig:
As we read through the confounds of Scripture, there seems to be a thread that connects all things together. From the struggles of Abraham to the struggles of Paul, the restoration of David and the restoration of Peter, and everything else in God’s Word, FAITH is an integral part of the narrative.

There is a short passage explaining faith in a long chapter giving examples of faith in Hebrews 11. It explains the faith of Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and many more characters in Scripture. What is faith though? What value does it have? What good does it do? Those are questions explained in the three verses beginning this chapter of faith.

Control is the one thing in life we realize that we do not really have. We may want it and desire it but we all know that we really don’t have much control over this world or our lives. Faith, as defined in verse 1, is that assuring and certain hope of those things that we cannot see, or we cannot control. They are the promises of God and the character of the Holy Creator. Within the promises and character of God, we are assured that all things will work together for the good of those who love and follow Him.

Faith is how we are able to maintain a good testimony. It may seem crazy to the world to believe in something we cannot see but verse 2 lets us know that obtaining a good testimony comes through believing. Having faith displays to the world a humble and contrite spirit and that will always lend itself to a good name.

Faith gives us peace. It gives us understanding. It doesn’t give us all the answers but it frames for us who God is and what God is doing in this world. We do not need to know every intricate detail. We simply to know that God is in control of His creation.