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Monday, June 3, 2024

Godly Wisdom vs Worldly Wisdom | A Sermon on James 3:13-18

As we continue through the Epistle of James, written by the biological half-brother of Jesus Christ, we come to the place where James compares two kinds of wisdom.  One kind of wisdom represents wisdom that comes from God in Heaven.  Another kind of wisdom is worldly, unspiritual, and demonic.  Would you like to know the difference between the two types of wisdom?  Listen to James 3:13-18.

James 3:13-18 (NIV)
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Christian Examples of Wisdom
Remember, James wrote his letter to people who were already Christians.  And in it he basically says, if you are a Christian, you will live an honorable life and do good works with humility.

Can you think of some examples of people who lived an honorable life?  Perhaps you might think of Mother Teresa, who dedicated her life to serving the poor and sick, displaying humility, compassion, and selflessness, embodying the qualities of wisdom, mercy, and sincere love for others.  Or maybe you would think of Fred Rogers, the beloved host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," who dedicated his career to educating and nurturing children through kindness, empathy, and understanding, promoting peace and genuine care for others in his community and beyond.  Or maybe you might think of Martin Luther King, Jr., who bravely and peacefully fought for civil rights and promoted harmony, righteousness, and compassion. 

Though all these examples are public figures who had fame and notoriety, fame and notoriety was not their goal.  They did what they did with humility and compassion, willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of others.  (It is interesting to note that all 3 were all Christian leaders.) 

Of course, Jesus is the ultimate example of a man who lived an honorable life with good works and humility.  He gave up the glory of heaven, humbled himself as a servant, lived a perfect life for the sake of others, and even died for sinners who didn’t deserve His grace and forgiveness, but desperately needed it.  Jesus is the embodiment of goodness and wisdom.

An honorable life, according to James, is one marked by humility, good conduct, and wisdom that is pure, peace-loving, considerate, merciful, impartial, and sincere, resulting in peace and righteousness.  Christians are to live and honorable life and do good works with humility.  Who have you known personally who has lived an honorable life, doing good works with humility?   How did they inspired you to live like them?

Worldly Wisdom
Worldly wisdom, has an appearance of wisdom.  It has the false-promise of success, but it is a lie.  It is demonic and it leads to sin, suffering, and death.   James says that worldly wisdom is full of envy and selfish ambition (see versus 14-15).  Envy is a feeling of frustrated inferiority where you are jealous of others and what they have.  Ambition can be a positive attribute that drives people to achieve goals and succeed.  But when Ambition is coupled with envy and selfishness, it becomes sinful, focused solely on personal gain, often at the expense of others.  Perhaps you can think of some people who embody the selfish ambition of worldly wisdom. 

You might think of Bernie Madoff, the financier orchestrated one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, defrauding thousands of investors out of billions of dollars purely for personal financial gain, with no regard for the devastating impact on his victims.

Or perhaps you think of Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, whose ambition for power and dominance led to World War II and the Holocaust, resulting in immense suffering and loss of life.

James 3:16 says, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”  Sadly, we see a lot of this kind of demonic wisdom in our world leaders today.  We need to pray hard during these troubled times.  

Can’t you see what worldly wisdom leads to?  It leads to conflict and strife, dishonesty and deception, pride and arrogance, short-term gains with long-term consequences, and discontent and unhappiness.  Be very careful of anyone who is full of worldly wisdom.  You can clearly see where it leads.  The Bible tells us.  history has shown us.  Yet people are still manipulated and misled by people with worldly wisdom.  You don’t want any part of the “kingdom” they are trying to build.

Godly Wisdom
In verse 17, James tells us a better way—Godly Wisdom.  This is the wisdom that come from God above—heavenly wisdom, the wisdom Christians should seek.  “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

For wisdom to be pure means it is free from moral corruption, selfish motives, and deceit.  It is characterized by sincerity, integrity, and a focus on what is right and just.  Godly wisdom prioritizes truth, goodness, and the well-being of others, reflecting a heart and mind aligned with God's will and values.

Godly wisdom is peace-loving and promotes harmony, reconciliation, and understanding among people.  Godly wisdom fosters an environment of cooperation and mutual respect, prioritizing the well-being of relationships and the community.

Godly wisdom is considerate, mindful of others' feelings, needs, and perspectives.  It shows compassion, empathy, and respect and seeks to understand and value the experiences of others.  Godly wisdom avoids harshness and insensitivity, instead promoting kindness, patience, and gentleness in all relationships and decisions.

Godly wisdom is submissive, meaning it is willing to listen, be open to reason and yield to others when appropriate.  It has a humble/teachable spirit that values collaboration and respects authority.  Godly wisdom is not stubborn or argumentative but is flexible, cooperative, and ready to consider others' viewpoints and make adjustments for the greater good.

Godly wisdom is full of mercy.  It shows compassion and forgiveness.  It prioritizes grace, reflecting a heart that is generous and ready to help others without judgment or condemnation. 

Godly wisdom has good fruit, meaning it produces positive, tangible outcomes in a person's actions and character.  This includes acts of kindness, generosity, and righteousness that benefit others and contribute to the well-being of the whole community.

Godly wisdom is impartial—fair and just, treating all people equally without favoritism or bias. 

Godly Wisdom is sincere—genuine, honest, and free from pretense or deceit.  It does not manipulate or deceive but is transparent and trustworthy, fostering trust and credibility. 

Which Wisdom Will You Choose?
Think about these two very different kinds of wisdom: earthly wisdom that comes from Hell and leads to death or Godly wisdom that comes from Heaven and lead to eternal life.

Wisdom from above is what truly leads to a life of peace, righteousness, and genuine fulfillment.  James, the brother of Christ, challenges us to embody this wisdom in our daily lives, living with humility, purity, peace, consideration, mercy, good fruit, impartiality, and sincerity.

The ultimate example of godly wisdom is found in Jesus Christ.  He lived an honorable life, full of mercy and truth, and gave Himself up for us so that we might be reconciled to God and to one another. As we seek to follow His example, we are called to come together in unity and love, reflecting His grace in all that we do.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Guest Blog - Lifted Up: Embracing Jesus' Sacrifice for Eternal Life by Noah Hunt

This past Sunday, we were blessed to have guest speaker Noah Hunt deliver a powerful sermon at Pleasant Grove Methodist Church. Noah's message, centered on John 3:14-18, beautifully illustrated the profound connection between Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness and Jesus being lifted on the cross for our salvation. For those who couldn't be with us or who wish to revisit Noah's insightful words, here is a summary of his sermon.

If you have a Bible with you this morning, or if you'd like to grab a pew Bible in front of you, the verses this morning will come from page 1,513. For those of you who brought a Bible with you, we will be in John chapter 3, reading verses 14 through 18. It is indeed a pleasure to be here with you this morning and to bring a word from the Lord. We'll begin reading at verse 14:

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God loved the world in this way: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God."

Let us pray.

Our Father in heaven, we are thankful for Your word to us. It is a clear word and a word of truth. You speak to us from the pages of Scripture, the Gospel, the good news. I pray this morning that You would awaken faith, belief, and trust in our hearts, that we might believe upon the name of Jesus Christ. I pray for those this morning who have believed for many years, that You would encourage our hearts, that we might want to follow You to greater depths of faith, and that we might want to act in greater acts of service for Your name's sake. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.

I don't know how many of you own pets out there or how many of you are dog people, but if you've ever had a dog and watched it grow old and gray in the face, seen its joints begin to move slower than they used to, it's sort of a sad picture. You realize the truth of the old adage: it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. I've had limited time in education—four years—but I can also say it's hard to teach older teachers new lessons. As we grow old, it's harder for us to learn, to become open to things that challenge us, to look at old truths with new sets of eyes.

In today's text, many of you who have studied the Bible for years know this passage comes from a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a wise teacher of the Bible, an older man with experience. I'm sure he was locked into his best practices and his understanding of how to communicate truth to his people. But here we have Nicodemus, an old Pharisee, coming in the dead of night to sit at the feet of Jesus of Nazareth, the Light of the World, a young Rabbi, a Carpenter's son. Who is He to you today?

Nicodemus, while old, callous, and perhaps jaded, knew there was something in the miracles and message of Jesus that he needed to hear. This morning, I invite you to turn the eyes of your heart upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face, because the concerns of this world will grow dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Jesus does not condemn Nicodemus. He does not berate him or tell him he should know more by now, though He is a little critical. Jesus begins to build on what Nicodemus already knew. He turns to what Nicodemus knew best—the Old Testament, specifically the book of Numbers, chapter 21. Jesus mentions an example from Moses: "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up."

This might seem confusing at first. You might think of Moses' miracle before Pharaoh where he threw down a stick that became a serpent, but that's not what Jesus was referring to. In Numbers 21, the children of Israel were brought out of Egypt and wandered in the wilderness. They began to grumble and complain against God and Moses. In response, God sent snakes into their camp. As the snakes bit them and they began to die, the people cried out to Moses, confessing their sin and asking for intercession. God instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent and lift it on a pole. Those who looked at the serpent in faith were healed.

This morning, do you need to turn your eyes upon the One who was lifted up on a cross for you, to cover your sin with His blood? Do you need to turn your eyes upon the One who did not stay in the grave but was raised for your justification and freedom from sin?

Jesus was building new faith in the heart of Nicodemus, and He can do the same for you today. You might ask, "Why should I turn my eyes upon Jesus?" I offer you two points from these verses:

  1. Jesus is God's greatest gift, given so that believers will live forever.
  2. Jesus is God's Son, sent to save believers from condemnation.

This morning, I encourage you to wrestle with the truth of who Jesus is to you. Is He someone you acknowledge in passing, a good teacher, a moral philosopher? Or is He the very Son of God? Jesus is God's final offer, the only offer for eternal life, a life that begins today and continues into eternity. If you believe this gospel, you are living that eternal life now. It's not something to wait for; it starts today.

To appropriate this gift into your life, you must believe—not just intellectually, but to trust, to have faith, to rest yourself in Jesus. This morning, if you want to believe in Jesus Christ, you are trusting in a personal Savior who will carry you from this world into eternity.

Let us pray.

Our Father in heaven, we thank You this morning for Your word to us. Convict us of our sin and show us the condition of our hearts. Help us to believe that Jesus Christ is who He says He is, and that He is Lord. If someone is making a decision of belief today, I pray they would not leave this church without confessing that belief. Go with us this day and help us to seek and save that which was lost. In Jesus' name, amen.

Thank you for joining us for this powerful message. We pray that Noah Hunt's sermon has touched your heart and inspired you to turn your eyes upon Jesus, embracing His gift of eternal life. If you have any questions or need prayer, please reach out to us. God bless you!

Monday, May 20, 2024

Controlling the Tongue - A Petecost Sermon on James 3:1-12 & Acts 2:1-4

We have been working our way through the Epistle of James.  And I think the Lord has a sense of humor, because today is Pentecost Sunday and it is also the day I have scheduled to preach on James 3:1-12.  Tongues are an important feature both passages.  For in Acts, the Holy Spirit descends on the church and appears over the heads of Christians as “tongues of fire” and James tells us we need to control our tongues.  So let’s get right into it.  First let’s read what James says about our tongues.

James 3:1-12
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

The Power of the Tongue
James compares the power of our words to the three things: 
1) A bit in a horse’s mouth,
2) a rudder on a ship, and
3) a spark that sets a fire.

The first two remind us about the power of our tongue to change the direction of our lives. 
A bit attached to reigns tells a horse where to go and a rudder tells a ship where to go.

I have never owned a horse, but I have been horseback riding several times.  You always get an orientation at the beginning of the excursion about how to get up on the horse and how to direct the animals.  You push the reigns o the right to go right or left to go left and pull back to make the animal stop.  They will often tell you, "You don't have to yank on the reigns."  It's not necessary to yank or pull hard.  The horse's tongue is very sensitive to the metal bit across its tongue (that's attached to the reigns).  Just a light pressure on the reigns and the bit is all it takes to steer a horse that weighs 1,000 pounds.

Cargo Ship
And James says a small rudder tells a ship where to go.  The OOCL Hong Kong is one of the largest container ships on earth.  It is as long as 13 football fields and as wide as 2 football fields.  It can carry 330,000 tons, which is about the same as 8,000 fully loaded tractor trailers!  That's huge, yet the ship is steered by a tiny rudder. 

That’s the potential power you have stored in the words that come out of your mouth!  Your words have tremendous power to direct your life and the life of people to whom you speak.  

What you tell yourself makes a huge difference.  We all have an internal voice.  When we wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, you might say, "Man, you look awfully tired today."  Or you may say, "You can do anything God wants you to do with His help."  Or you may be critical and say, "You're just a sorry excuse for a man.  You can't do anything."  Now what you tell yourself has a powerful effect on what you will be able to do.  We have to train ourselves to speak kindly and positively and truthfully and helpfully to ourselves, because it has a tremendous impact on the direction of our lives.

What you say to a child can change the course of their life.  I was at a band banquet for the Coahulla Creek High School Band last Thursday and the band director, Mr. Dodge, told the story of two adults that said things to him when he was in college that changed the direction of his life.  What they said to him when he was just a high school student made want to be a band director.  Now he is in his mid-twenties, about to have his first baby, and he is a band director and has a whole career in music ahead of him.  All this came from words people spoke to him in his youth.  

Your words have the power to change someone's life.  What you say to your spouse, your employees, your friends is powerful.

The Tongue is Also a Fire
James says, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

You know, fire is one of the most useful and powerful tools human beings can wield.  Human beings are the only animals known to purposefully start and use fire.  It keeps us warm.  Cheers our spirits.  And can be used for many other important things.  If you drive a car, you are able to get from one destination to another because of the fire that burns in the internal combustion engine.  If you drive an electric car, it was probably charged on electricity that wsa created in a power plant that uses fire to generate electricity.

Fire is a central part of our worship service.  In the center of our sanctuary, there on our sacred altar, are two candles burning with fire.  They symbolize the dual natures of Jesus Christ: His divine nature and His human nature.  Jesus is both fully God and fully man.  Additionally, the lighting of these candles at the beginning of our service reminds us Christ is the Light of the World, bringing light into the darkness of sin.

Fire is good and useful—even holy—when it is properly used and controlled.  But when it is misused or used carelessly, it can destroy and even kill.  So it is with our words.  They can be the most powerful and useful parts of our being.  Jesus is known as The Word.  And it is with The Word that God created everything in creation.  It is with your words that you can praise God, witnesses to His goodness, and speak life to all.  But, because of sin which corrupts our words, our words can also be a deadly fire that destroys.

Some of the ways our words can be a deadly poison, or a destroying fire are:
When we gossip about people.  When we slander someone.  When we lie. 
When we are overly negative and critical.  When we are verbally abusive. 
When are always blaming others.  When we are prone to angry outbursts. 
When we are always sarcastic.  When we are verbally manipulative. 

These ways of speaking are poisonous and an uncontrolled fire that destroys.

One of the important doctrines (or teachings) of the Christian Church is the concept of total depravity.  Total depravity is the belief that sin has affected every part of human nature and all human faculties—intellect, will, emotions, and even our speech. This does not mean that people are as evil as they could be, but that sin has infected every aspect of a persons life.  In fact, sin has even rendered people incapable of turning to God on their own.  If it were not for the prevenient grace of God, we wouldn’t even realize how bad off we are and how we desperately need to turn to God to save us.

But the glorious Good News is, God pours out His grace on us—sometimes like a splash of cold water—that snaps us back to consciousness and we realize, “Oh my God!  I am a broken, sinful, busted human being!  Even my words can be a deadly fire I can’t control!”

James says in verse 7-8, “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue.”  But Jesus words from Matthew 19:26 are the answer, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

God is the one with the power and the will to tame the human tongue.  If you will turn your life over to Him, if you will turn your tongue over to Him, He can and will transform your words.

We see this dramatically displayed in the story of Pentecost—the birth of the Christian Church
in Acts chapter 2 when God sent the Holy Spirit to inhabit His people, the Church.

Acts 2:1-4
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Tongues of Fire
The believers who followed Jesus were gathered together praying and worshiping God in an upper room.  And God did something amazing.  Before this moment, the Holy Spirit of God was primarily found in one place—the Holy of Holies inside the Temple in Jerusalem.  No one could enter the Holy of Holies, except one man—the high priest—one day a year, on the Day of Atonement.  A curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple so no one would be tempted to enter or even look inside.  

But when Jesus was crucified, the curtain was torn from top to bottom.  It was torn from the top not the bottom, showing God was the one who tore it.  It was torn to show there no longer needed to be a curtain to separate God from man, because Jesus died on the cross to atone for our sin once and for all.

And then on Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit of God descended on the first Christians.  No longer would His Holy Spirit live on the altar in the Holy of Holies.  Starting on that first Pentecost Sunday,
the Holy Spirit lives in God’s people who follow Jesus Christ as Lord.  The two candles you see burning on our altar are a symbol of who you can be if you will put your faith in Jesus.  But it has to be a living faith that moves and obeys.  It is a living faith that hands your heart and your tongue over to God and every other part of you.

If you do this, then the Holy Spirit of God will begin to speak through you, just as He did through those first Christian in the upper room on Pentecost 2,000 years ago.  He enabled them to speak in foreign languages so the people gathered in Jerusalem could hear the Good News about Jesus death and ressurection in their own native tongue.  If God can enable humans to miraculously speak in other languages to accomplish His plans, then He can surely help you learn to control your own tongue.
The question is, do you trust Him?  Will you choose today to let Him be in charge of your life?

As we worship here this Pentecost Sunday, let us remember the transformative power of the Holy Spirit that touched the first believers and is still active and available to us today. 
The same Spirit that descended as tongues of fire,
enabling the disciples to speak in diverse tongues, invites us to surrender our own tongues—
and indeed, our whole selves—to God's sanctifying grace.

Today, I invite each of you to consider the 'fires' your words may have kindled,
the relationships they have shaped, and the paths they have set.
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to fill us anew, to tame our tongues, to transform our hearts,
and to use our voices for the glory of God.
As the candles on our altar symbolize the divine and human natures of Christ,
let our words reflect the nature of Christ within us—words of life, hope, and healing.

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit,
Grant us the courage to speak as the Spirit leads, transforming every word into a testament of Your love and power. May our lives and our lips always glorify Christ, the Word made flesh, who dwells among us and speaks through us. Amen."

Monday, May 13, 2024

Faith Moves - A Sermon on James 2:14-26

I spent the day working outside in my garden yesterday.  What a beautiful day!  The garden was full of life—bees and butter were moving from flower to flower.  Birds were singing.  And the cicadas were droning!  I thought a lot my message while I worked, because it’s about living faith.  And, in general, living things move and dead things do not.  Birds and bugs move (if they are alive)If they are dead, they don’t move.  Even the plants growing in the garden move—although slowly.  My pole beans are climbing up their trellis.  The rocks and sticks, which are dead, do not move (unless I move them). 

Today, we continue our journey through the Epistle of James and today he teaches about living, moving faith.  Remember, James is Jesus biological half-brother.  And James wrote his letter to Christians to encourage them to remain faithful in the face of severe persecution that scattered them abroad.  His readers were already Christians who professed faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah.  So James doesn’t write to convince them to convert.  He writes to tell how truly converted people live.  The title of the message today is "Faith Moves."  Let’s read the text from James 2:14-26.

James 2:14-26 (NIV)
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Faith and Action
James starts off with a tough question: “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?” (2:14 NLT)
Here, James isn’t just making small talk; he’s challenging us to look at the reality of our faith.

Faith without works is dead.  James says if we see a brother or sister without clothes and daily food, and we say to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but do nothing about their physical needs, what good have we done?
Now, I want to make something clear:  James said “brothers and sister”,
which is a phrase we use for a fellow believer, a Christian
(In the Christian church, we consider other believers family, a brother or sister.)
So we’re not talking about some random stranger on a street corner asking for help.
We’re talking about family. 
If your brother or sister is in need and you do nothing, what good is that?  That faith is dead.

A Living Faith
James knows that talk is cheap. He challenges anyone who says they have faith without deeds to show it.  He’s bold about this.  He says, “I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” (2:18 NLT)

Do you remember what Jesus said about faith?  In Matthew 17:20, he said, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move.  Nothing would be impossible.” The point is, it doesn’t take much faith at all; even a small amount of faith can move mountains.  So if your faith doesn’t move at all, it’s a dead faith that doesn’t do any good at all.  Living faith moves.  It moves mountains.  It also helps a Christian brother or sister in need.

Here are 7 Ways a Living Christian Faith Moves:

1.     It Loves Actively: It goes beyond words, showing love through actions that support, heal, and uplift others.

2.     It Serves Willingly: It seeks opportunities to serve within the community and beyond, embodying the servant-hearted nature of Jesus.

3.     It Forgives Readily: It extends forgiveness, understanding that grace is a cornerstone of the Christian experience.

4.     It Shares Generously: It shares resources, time, and talents, reflecting the generosity of God.

5.     It Prays Continually: It maintains an ongoing conversation with God, seeking His guidance and offering thanks and supplication.

6.     It Learns Eagerly: It engages with Scripture and teachings of the church, always seeking to grow and deepen in understanding and faith.

7.     It Witnesses Boldly: It shares the message of the Gospel with others, not out of obligation but out of a genuine desire to see others experience the love of Christ.

This is a living faith that moves—the kind of faith that sees a mountain in the way and starts moving it piece by piece. It’s not just believing God can do something; it’s living like He will.

Examples of Faith in Action
The Bible is full of examples of people with a living, moving faith.  And James points out two.  First, there is Abraham, who was considered righteous for what he did when he offered Isaac on the altar.  Here is a man who God told to leave his homeland and everything he knew to go to a "Promised Land" he did not know that God said He would show him.  I took a lot of faith for Abraham to obey.  And he did this when he was already an old man with a lot to lose.  And when God blessed Abraham and with a miracle child, Isaac, in Abraham's old age, Abraham was willing to sacrifice Him in obedience to God's command.  (God saved Isaac and provided a ram as a replacement--foreshadowing the salvation winning sacrifice of Christ on the cross--but the point is Abraham trusted God even with his son Isaac.)

2.     Rahab was considered righteous for welcoming the Israelite spies.  She believed God had a future for her among His people and was willing to throw her lot in with the Israelites and helped them, turning away from her life as a Canaanite prostitute.  Her faith saved her and her family and gave her a new legacy as an ancestor of Christ, the Messiah.

Since it is Mother's Day as I write this, I can't help but think of my Mom who had the faith to leave an abusive situation.  She will be the first to tell you she is shy and timid and has always lacked self-confidence and struggled with low self-esteem.  All she wanted was to be married and be a mom.  But she found herself with four children and stuck in an abusive marriage.  But what could she do?  She didn't think she could take care of herself and four kids alone.  So, for a long time, she endured things she should not have had to endure for the sake of security until, finally, her faith overpowered her fear.  She stepped out in faith, not knowing how she could do it, and left her abusive husband.  And somehow, she finished raising her children as single mother.  I have always admired her faith and it is a powerful example of how God can help people do anything when they trust His help.

Faith That Moves Mountains
In Matthew 17:20, Jesus says if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can move mountains.  This isn’t just poetry; it’s a promise that our faith, when put into action, has tremendous power.  And it’s not about how much faith you have.  You only need a little—the size of a mustard seed.  So it’s not about having enough faith.  You either have faith or you don’t.  Your faith is either alive or it is dead.

What are the "mountains" in your life right now? How can your faith move these mountains?  Perhaps it’s through prayer, service, or a courageous act of love.  Perhaps it is stepping out into the unknown that you know God is calling you to.  Whether your challenges are big or small, faith moves.  Is your faith alive and moving or is it dead and still?

As we wrap up, remember, 
James isn’t just talking to people out there; he’s talking to us, to believers.
He’s urging us not to be satisfied with a faith that’s merely intellectual or emotional,
but a faith that is dynamic, active, and alive.
Let’s be people whose faith is not dead but alive and moving.
Let’s be doers of the Word, not hearers only.
Let’s have the kind of faith that sees mountains, not as obstacles but,
as opportunities for God to show His power through us.