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Posts Tagged ‘Works’

Do our works save us? No – God saves us, through His grace alone. But He uses our works – works that HE gives to us – in countless way including increasing our faith, revealing His glory, and yes, even to save us.

We all know the story of Noah: God gave Noah a BIG work to do with specific instructions. Noah did the work God gave him and he was saved. Could he boast that he saved himself? No – God saved him; but Noah participated.

What if Noah decided to do a different work for God? Instead of building an ark, he chose to build a really great orphanage where he would feed and care for every orphan in the world. Everything in the Bible leads me to believe this would be a GOOD work, pleasing to God.

But when the rains came, would Noah have been saved? No – because that was not the work God gave to Noah. Only by  doing the work God gave to him was Noah saved.

When God rescued Israel out of Egypt He could have transported them to safety. Instead He parted the sea and the Israelites “marched into the midst of the sea on dry land.” God created the way, they marched, and they were saved. Did they save themselves so they could boast of it? Of course not! But they were obedient, they participated by doing the work God gave them to do.

When people refuse to participate or are not obedient, are they saved? The story of Lot paints a very clear picture.

Genesis 19 tells us two angels came to Sodom to warn Lot that Sodom would be destroyed. Verse 14 tells us: “Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city ” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.”

The sons-in-law refused to follow; they did not leave Sodom. Were they saved? No. They perished with all the inhabitants.

Lot’s wife followed for a time, but was disobedient; she did not follow God’s instructions. Was she saved? No.

Lot and his daughters did the work as God instructed them; they were saved.

This same model is repeated throughout the Bible; God told Joshua He would deliver Jericho, but Joshua & the Israelites had to fight. Peter was sinking after walking on water and cried out, then Jesus saved; did Peter save himself? When Peter was imprisoned in Acts an angel came to him and told him to “Get up quickly,” “Gird yourself and put on your sandals,” “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” Peter obeyed and was delivered out of the prison; could he rightly claim that he saved himself?

Paul is very clear that we are to persevere; to press on; to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) What on earth does that mean, if not that we are in a partnership with Him?

Finally, read Judges 7 – Gideon was leading Israel into battle but “the LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many soldiers with you for me to deliver Midian into their power, lest Israel vaunt itself against me and say, ‘My own power brought me the victory.’ so the LORD & Gideon whittled the army down in size from 32,000 to 300 men before they went to fight.

The LORD won the battle for them … but they still had to participate. Again, it was absolutely by God’s grace alone that He saved all of those and none of them could claim they saved themselves or boast about it. But to say nothing was required of them (there weren’t certain conditions) isn’t correct, in my opinion.

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2 Peter 1 5-10

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble,  and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We are called to make an effort … to “add to” faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love.

It seems to me that just as there is a “slippery slope” when we rationalize a “small sin” in our minds, and it quickly roars out of control in our lives – there is also a natural compounding of “good” when we make an effort.

And it all starts with God.

Where does faith come from? From God. It is a gift from Him, and that is first on the list.

“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

How do we get the gift?  “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”  (Romans 10:17)

It is my experience that we can simply pray for God to increase our faith. And honestly … what prayer would He more like to answer?  He responds in amazing and surprising ways when we pray for more faith in Him.

All of the rest naturally flow from faith.  I think we do need to be conscious of making the effort though; the more we pray, the more we try, the more we practice, the more we are filled and fed and all good things are poured out.

It all comes back to the nature of free will that He has given us, in my mind … we choose and what we choose and pursue, we are given.

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Today’s Readings
JEREMIAH 19:1-21:14 | 1 THESSALONIANS 5:4-28 | PSALM 82:1-8 | PROVERBS 25:9-10

I cannot even imagine the terror of hearing the words in verse 3: “I am going to bring such evil upon this place that all who hear of it will feel their ears tingle.”

Jer 19:3  Listen to the word of the LORD, kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem: Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to bring such evil upon this place that all who hear of it will feel their ears tingle.
Jer 19:4  This is because they have forsaken me and alienated this place by burning in it incense to strange gods which neither they nor their fathers knew; and the kings of Judah have filled this place with the blood of the innocent.
Jer 19:5  They have built high places for Baal to immolate their sons in fire as holocausts to Baal: such a thing as I neither commanded nor spoke of, nor did it ever enter my mind.

It sure makes me wonder why the world today has escaped the same punishment … we are every bit as wicked, going about our daily work of building wealth for “self” and ignoring the poor; aborting our unborn children and ripping them limb-from-limb from their mother’s womb; glorifying sexual immorality. Lord have mercy on us all.

I am definitely feeling led to “do.”  I’m not certain yet whether it is with Birthright, reaching out to mothers who feel a lone and afraid and need help; or maybe with Food at First helping to organize all of those meals for all of those people. They are both such awesome and worthwhile works.

I am praying for guidance and I think the “first step” is closer than I realized.  God willing, things will fall into place soon …

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Why is it that when I ask God “what can I do?” and His answer is: “Pray!”

Why is it that one of my first responses is, “but what can I DO?”

LORD, that mustard seed’s worth of faith is soooooooooooooo elusive sometimes. Help my unbelief … I know you have been training me in prayer; I know it is what you ask; I know it is powerful.  Please help me to listen, to persevere, to pray, pray, pray! 

I realized driving in that the perfect prayer you have for me, you gave to me through Paul.  I posted about it a few days ago in this blog entry.  It is one I will commit to memory; maybe that’s my “do” as I don’t like memorizing. 🙂

17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Ephesians 1)

Today’s Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers had this and I think it fits today’s thoughts as well:

We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life— those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength.

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Today’s Readings
ISAIAH 62:6-65:25 | PHILIPPIANS 2:19-3:3 | PSALM 73:1-28 | PROVERBS 24:13-14

Yesterday’s readings troubled me deeply. As I drove to work I was praying, asking the LORD what He would have me do; asking how I could serve Him on behalf of those being led to slaughter; what I could really do.

And I know the answer …  pray.

It brings to mind His message to me when I was distressed about my children …

“Focus. Pray.”

I believe He has placed me in prayer bootcamp for the last many years; He has brought people into my life who are wonderful pray-ers to inspire me and to teach me; He led me to a Bible Study that taught me more; He nudged me to take part in weekly adoration where my prayer life has just soared; He has led me to a variety of novenas to pray faithfully.

I don’t know “what” He does with prayers; I don’t know why He desires them. He certainly doesn’t need “me” or my filthy rags … but He does desire them and I have come to believe they are powerful beyond our understanding.

And so I am committed to praying. Praying for the salvation of my beloved children; praying for the lives of the unborn; praying for their mothers and fathers.

God may also lead me to do some work related to pro-life; I will continue to seek and pray for guidance. But I know at the very core of what He is asking is …

Focus. Pray.

Earnestly, tirelessly, persevere in prayer.

6You who call on the LORD,
give yourselves no rest,

7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth. (Isaiah 62)

From today’s readings, I’ve always loved this passage:

24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.

25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
but dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD.(Isaiah 65)

This is something I PONder often … if I were ever to turn away from God; where would I turn? Seriously?!!

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. (Psalm 73)

amen, Amen AMEN.

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Faith and Works

I really do believe that our works play a role in our salvation. Do our works save us? No – God saves us, through His grace alone.

But He uses our works – works that HE gives to us – in countless way including increasing our faith, revealing His glory, and yes, even to save us.

That fact is so clearly evident throughout scripture but people are so afraid to use the word “works” that it’s become almost a dirty word. God calls us into a partnership with Himself and we are invited to become participants in His plan.

When God rescued Israel out of Egypt He could have transported them to safety. Instead He parted the sea and the Israelites “marched into the midst of the sea on dry land.” God created the way, they marched, and they were saved. Did they save themselves so they could boast of it? Of course not! But they were obedient, they participated by doing the work God gave them to do.

When God saved Noah He gave Noah a BIG work to do with specific instructions. Noah did the work God gave him and he was saved. Could he boast that he saved himself? No – God saved him; but Noah was obedient and participated.

When people refuse to participate or are not obedient, are they saved? The story of Lot paints a very clear picture.

Genesis 19 tells us two angels came to Sodom to warn Lot that Sodom would be destroyed. Verse 14 tells us: “Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city “ But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.”

The sons-in-law refused to follow; they did not leave Sodom. Were they saved? No. They perished with all the inhabitants.

Lot’s wife followed for a time, but was disobedient; she did not follow God’s instructions. Was she saved? No.

Lot and his daughters did the work as God instructed them; they were saved.

This same model is repeated throughout the Bible; God told Joshua He would deliver Jericho, but Joshua & the Israelites had to fight. Peter was sinking after walking on water and cried out, then Jesus saved; did Peter save himself? When Peter was imprisoned in Acts an angel came to him and told him to “Get up quickly,” “Gird yourself and put on your sandals,” “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” Peter obeyed and was delivered out of the prison; could he rightly claim that he saved himself?

Paul is very clear that we are to persevere; to press on; towork out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) What on earth does that mean, if not that we are in a partnership with Him?

What if Noah decided to do a different work for God? What if instead of building an ark, he chose to build a really great orphanage where he would feed and care for every orphan in the world. Everything in the Bible leads me to believe this would be a GOOD work, pleasing to God.

But when the rains came, would Noah have been saved? NO – because that was not the work GOD gave to Noah. Only by obediently doing the work GOD gave to him was Noah saved.

Nobody can save himself; no work can be done that will save us unless … unless God extends His power and saves us. But I do see a partnership and I do see Him requiring something of us.

I don’t know exactly how it all works; nobody does. But I love this quote from RC Sproul:

But as we study the Scriptures there appear to be three great mysteries in particular. The first is how God has always existed as three in one, the mystery of the Trinity. The second one is the person of Christ, how He is both God and man as the Bible teaches. The third one is the mystery of God’s sovereignty along with genuine human responsibility.

With all of these we can explain parts of them, we can study them in the Scriptures, but we cannot fully understand them. Christianity has room for mysteries because the God of Christianity, of the universe, of the Bible, is an infinite, personal being. To use Francis
Schaeffer’s language, He is a transcendent, imminent God. And because of that, apparently the divine sovereignty and human responsibility tension is a reflection of the fact that God is infinite and personal.

In that He is infinite, He is absolutely in charge. In that He is personal and He made human beings accountable to Himself, there is genuine human responsibility. Thus, the tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility seem to reflect a mystery within the person of God Himself and in His dealings with the world.

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