God of This City

Today in church we revisited the hard-hitting book of James. Our pastor called us out — in a nation where 82% of the people profess to be Christians, how much of that profession is true? True faith occurs when we start acting like we believe what we say we believe. We are God’s workmanship — we are the pottery he created — and he has a special purpose for each one of us. If we keep on living the way we were living before we were saved — if there is no discernible change in the way we behave Monday through Saturday, then James has some eye-opening words for us: our faith is dead.

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? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God.[f] Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions 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.”[g] He was even called the friend of God.[h] So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath,[i] so also faith is dead without good works.

This is not to say that we are saved by our deeds — no, we learn from the Bible that our salvation is a GIFT from God, and we receive it through our faith. What James is talking about is this:The evidence of our faith is in what we do when no one is looking as well as when everyone is looking. For example, if I say that I believe John McCain is the right leader for our country and then I go and vote secretly for Barak Obama, then I am not backing up my belief with my actions. If I say that I believe that Chevrolet makes the best automobiles in the world but then go and purchase a Subaru, then I am not backing up my belief with my actions. One could assume that I did not really believe in McCain or Chevrolet. Likewise, if I say I believe in Christ as my savior but then continue to allow myself to be conformed to this world, then I am not backing up my belief in Christ with my actions…and those looking on at my life…and they are looking on, could assume that I do not really believe or have faith in what I say I believe in….Christ.

As Jesus said in Matthew 5:

You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

What does my light look like to the world? Is it bright? Is it dim? Is it one of those bulbs that has so much dust and grime built up on it that the light has a hard time penetrating the outer layer of muck?

It was one of those convicting services where the Holy Spirit nudged my heart. I have been so caught up in the politics of this day that I look more like the world than like my Jesus. And that is so not my intent!

Our pastor reminded us that instead of trusting in man, it is time to put our actions where we say our faith is: in God. It’s time to trust Him, no matter what. It is our duty as Americans to go vote…but then we are to step back and TRUST. Trust that God…

  • Is sovereign
  • Turns the hearts of the king, as stated in Proverbs 21:1:

The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord;he guides it wherever he pleases.

The king spoken of in that verse was not David. It was an evil king. All kings are in the hands of the Lord, just as we all are in the hands of the Lord.

  • Causes all things to happen for our eventual good. All things. For a Christian McCain supporter, that means even an Obama victory. For the Christian Obama supporter, that means even a McCain victory. In Romans 8 we learn that:

And we know that God causes everything to work together[m] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

I often remember the struggles of young Joseph who was his father’s favorite son. Because of his father’s sin of favoritism, his brothers hated him to the point of death. They sold him into slavery. But Joseph kept God first in his heart at all times, and God had a plan for his life. He knew that one day he would put Joseph in a leadership position almost as high as Potiphar’s himself. Yet Joseph had to go through some horrible trials. Thrown in a well and left for dead. Sold into slavery. Falsely accused and thrown into prison. But God in his perfect wisdom orchestrated all of that not just for Joseph’s eventual good, but for the good of his entire family and his nation.

In the same way, God is at work in our nation. Godly people are bowing in prayer even as I write these words, lifting words of praise and petition. God hears our prayer. He is the God of This City…of my city, of your city, of our nation.

We sang this song today, and I felt my spirits rise to the heavens as the words reminded me once again that our God is a GOOD God! He has our back. He is on our side. We already know the last chapter. The battle has already been fought…and won!

I leave you with these beautiful verses from Paul in his letter to the Romans. Read them. Believe them. Live like you believe them:

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[n]) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[o] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen and Amen!

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