Week Fifty Thoughts

This week I want to bring us to the book of Jonah. Most of us are probably fairly familiar with at least the first three chapters of the book of Jonah. It starts with Jonah’s rebellion in chapter 1, his repentance in chapter 2 from within the belly of a giant fish, and his proclamation of God’s word to Nineveh and God’s compassion on Nineveh in chapter 3. It is easy to stop here, but there is a chapter 4 in the book of Jonah, and for some reason I find it gets overlooked quite often.

After God has compassion on Nineveh, we see Jonah get angry with God. Then we see a discourse between Jonah and God. The book does not end with a happy ending, but rather ends fairly abruptly with God’s final argument or statement to Jonah. We are not given any insight as to whether or not Jonah ever turns from his anger about the compassion God had on Nineveh, but rather we have chapter 4, a chapter that should challenge us. Do we rejoice when God shows compassion on our enemies or people we don’t deem worthy? Jonah had great enmity toward Nineveh, and he went to them with a message of destruction from God, and then they repented and God had compassion on them. Instead of rejoicing over the repentance of Nineveh and the fact that they were saved from the destruction, Jonah instead got angry. How would we respond to the salvation of our enemies? Let us not be like Jonah in this instant, but instead let us love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44), and rejoice when one is saved!

Just a disclaimer, I personally believe Jonah did have a change of heart, because I am inclined to believe he wrote the book himself, and that is why it seems rather harsh on how he is portrayed. In reading the book of Jonah it brilliantly paints God as the hero of the account and not Jonah, and I believe if we had been given another account of repentance of Jonah’s part we could get that misconstrued and bring some glory to Jonah, where all glory is due to God… Just a few extra thoughts there.

Thanks for reading!

Pastor Josh

Week Forty-Nine Thoughts

My thoughts this week come from Psalm 136. When I read this Psalm, I am reminded of the responsive readings in a hymnal. Each verse ends with the phrase: For His lovingkindness is everlasting. This Psalm covers many things, from creation, to the Exodus, to the promise land, to general provision. It is a beautiful passage that brings light on the fact that every good thing and perfect gift is from God (James 1:17), but not only this, but that God is doing all these things out of His lovingkindness.

Over this next week when something good pops into your mind, or something good happens to you, or you are dwelling on salvation, try repeating the phrase: For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Hopefully as we go through this coming week we can become more aware of God’s love and how great it truly is. As we do this let us also look back on all the good things we have been given in this life, and not forget about the trials that have produced perseverance, and again repeat the phrase: For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

God is good, and His love is everlasting, let us never loose sight of this. Thanks for reading!

Pastor Josh

Week Forty-Eight Thoughts

My thoughts this week bring me to the first three chapters of Hosea. The first time I read Hosea, I remember being surprised and almost taken back, especially chapter 1 and 3. In the book of Hosea, we see the LORD tell Hosea to go marry a woman of harlotry (promiscuity/or an adulteress woman). Hosea is a prophet and is told to go marry a promiscuous woman by God, quite the start to a book of the Bible. A prophet was someone that heard from God and proclaimed the truth that God would give them. In the case of Hosea we see God showing him quite vividly the unfaithfulness of Israel, through having him marry someone that was going to obviously be unfaithful to him.

Hosea had a tough calling, not only to knowingly marry someone that was unfaithful, but then see in the people he was a part of, Israel, their unfaithfulness to God. Along with this he was called to prophesy against them. In fact he had to give his children pretty terrible names in light of God’s feelings towards Israel, what fun that must have been. My thought of this week is pretty simple… I do not envy Hosea at all, and isn’t the Bible full of interesting accounts.

Thanks for reading!

Pastor Josh

Week Forty-Seven Thoughts

My thoughts this week come from the first three chapters of Daniel. In these first three chapters we see Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego being part of Babylon and honestly standing out in their positions of service to the king. These four were educated well in the language and literature of the Chaldeans, and given the food and wine of the king himself. This is where we start to see Daniel and the other three starting to stand out from the others. They would not partake of the food and wine, but would only eat vegetables and drink water, so that they would not be defiled from the food. Although Daniel and the other three were part of Babylon and did well there were still aspects of their lives that looked different and stood out as a testimony of who the served, the one true God.

In chapter 2 we see Daniel interpret the king’s dream, and then Daniel is promoted to a higher position of ruling over the whole province of Babylon and he became chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. He also appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon.

As we look at this we also know that the king knew where Daniel’s wisdom came from, but then we see him make a golden image and command everyone to fall down and worship this image. When this happens Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego do not fall down and worship, again they will not defile themselves. They then face the punishment of being thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, but they survive it!

When I read these chapters, I have to ask myself, in the face of persecution would I remain strong in my faith as these four men, or would I bend my knee to an idol? In America we face many temptations to bend or mold our faith to conform to the world, but we must stay strong in our faith and not let it be tainted. That means we must hold to Biblical beliefs on many issues. We need to have our identity as Christians, not as Americans, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, or whatever you want to put there. Our ideology at times as Christians will butt heads with all of these different views at times, as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego’s as Israelites did in Babylon. It is great living in a country where we can freely worship, but we must always remember we are aliens/exiles here, and our permanent residence is going to be in the New Heaven and Earth worshiping and living with God! Let us never forget to live as Christians, loving God and loving others!

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Forty-Six Thoughts

My thoughts this week bring me to Ezekiel 37. In this chapter we see the vision of the valley of dry bones. In the beginning of this chapter we see Ezekiel in the middle of a valley full of dry bones, and God said to him, “Son of man, can these bones live?” We see Ezekiel’s response, “O LORD God, you know.”

I want us to imagine we are there watching this happen, and then we see God tell Ezekiel to prophesy over the dry bones, and then bones start putting themselves together, and tendons and muscles start forming, organs start appearing and functioning, and skin starts forming over the bodies. Crazy right? Although this seems crazy this is what Ezekiel was experiencing, and by the words he was prophesying. Then he prophesied and breath came into them, and they were standing there alive. What a vision!

When we look at this it should point us to a few places in scripture. The first of these and most importantly is the Resurrection of Jesus. We have been promised a resurrection as well and a gather of all of the elect at the end. What will this be like, something like what Ezekiel saw, a great army of dry bones being made new with glorified bodies. It will be quite the sight to behold! But there is also one other place in Scripture that came to mind besides Christ resurrection and the resurrection of His elect, and that is in Matthew 27:52-53. In these two verses we see a small picture of the power of Christ’s death and how it brings life. When Jesus yielded up his spirit, not only did the veil of the temple get torn in two, but tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep (died) were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. This must have been quite the experience for the people that were brought back to life, and those that saw them.

Reading Ezekiel 37 makes sense in light not only through the lens of Christ’s resurrection, but also through the resurrection that is to come of all who believe and are saved. Ezekiel’s vision must have been an amazing sight to behold, but we have a promise of the resurrection of our bodies in the end, what an amazing sight and feeling that will be. To be clothed with a glorified body destined for eternity and united with God forever in the New Heavens and New Earth. Let us keep our minds and thoughts on the kingdom, and surrender to the Holy Spirit and love God and love others!

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Forty-Five Thoughts

My thoughts this week bring me to Psalm 110. This Psalm should be a familiar Psalm, and not just because you might have read it from time to time, but for the reason portions of it are quoted multiple times throughout the New Testament. This Psalm is known as a Messianic Psalm, meaning that it talks about the coming Christ. We see the royalty or kingship of the Christ, and also the eternal priesthood.

In the first three verses of Psalm 110, we see more of the kingship, or place of honor that Jesus holds, sitting at the right hand of the Father, when reading through the New Testament next time, search for verse 1 of this passage, especially throughout the Gospels. We see that Jesus holds this place of honor. The second portion of this passage we see not just the kingship, but also the priesthood that Christ holds. In order to better understand this passage one must go to a few places. The first place is back to Genesis 14 and then over to Hebrews 5 and 7.

So I urge you to reread Psalm 110 through the lens of the Gospel, find how Jesus fits in here. Also, remember as you are reading though the Psalms and the Prophets to always have your mind on the Gospel and how they all fit together. A passage like Psalm 110 is an easy example of how to do this, but we should be connecting all of the Bible to the Gospel message. It makes reading the Bible more exciting when you read the Law and Prophets with Christ fulfilling these things. Don’t just read, study.

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Forty-Four Thoughts

This week my thoughts come from Psalm 100, another short Psalm, but one packed with quite a lot to chew on. I want to focus on what Psalm 100 tells us about God and about God’s people.

Verse 5 tells us three facts about the LORD God. The first of these facts is that He is good. When I think about the term good, I tend to think of the opposite term evil, in order to define it. Good is the absence of evil, in a way morally perfect, but something deeper, because with this goodness of God there is also a showing of kindness and generosity that goes along with it. God is good! Verse 5 also tells us that God’s love is steadfast or faithful and it endures forever. This simply means, we can count on God’s love. God’s love is with us and it will not depart from us, it endures. God loves His people! The third fact is that the LORD God is faithful. This means if you are His, you are His forever. I am called to be faithful to my wife, and likewise if you are married you are called to remain faithful to your spouse. We have made vows to our spouses to remain faithful to each other, although some fail at this, God will always remain faithful, He will never leave or forsake us. Just as a little application here, imitate God’s faithfulness in your marriage, be a picture of faithfulness to the rest of the world.

Now on to God’s people. When I looked at the first 4 verses there were three actions we are called to that struck me. The first we are to serve the LORD. Not only are we called to serve the LORD, but to serve Him with gladness. When we think of serving the LORD, I don’t want us to be narrow minded, because as we learn from Jesus this idea of serving is not narrow, but rather pretty wide. Jesus, when teaching about the final judgement in Matthew, teaches that when you serve the least of these (brothers and sisters in need), you serve Him. (Matthew 25:31-46) We must serve with gladness! The next actions we are called to is to shout and sing. We are to shout triumphantly and sing joyfully. We are to praise the LORD God for who He is with shouts and songs of joy! Finally we are called to know that the LORD is God, that He made us, we are His, we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Know, acknowledge, and tell people that we are His!

This all culminates in verse 4 where we are called to enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, and to give thanks to Him and bless His name. We are called to this because of who He, the LORD God, is and who we are in Him. We are His people, let us make it known with not only when we enter His courts, but when we sing and shout joyfully and triumphantly about who He is, and when we serve Him and others with joy!

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Forty-Three Thoughts

This week I want to bring us to Psalm 93. I am writing this after cleaning up my yard in preparation for a possible hurricane. The last hurricane that hit our area brought a lot of flooding and destruction. I believe that is why Psalm 93 stuck out to me as I sat down to write. It reads as follows, “The LORD reigns! He is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed, enveloped in strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be shaken. Your throne has been established from the beginning; you are from eternity. The floods have lifted up, LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their pounding waves. Greater than the roar of a huge torrent—the mighty breakers of the sea—the LORD on high is majestic. LORD, your testimonies are completely reliable; holiness adorns your house for all the days to come.

When I read this Psalm I am reminded of two facts. The first is that God the Father is sovereign over all and completely in control. Although storms come and flood waters rise, God is still in control. The other fact is that God is majestic and powerful. He is bigger than any storm, more powerful than the seas, and more beautiful than the calm after the storm. We should not be anxious about anything, but rather trust in the one that is in control and can calm any storm. As a big storm approaches our state let us remember that God is more powerful than a category 4 or 5 hurricane, and that again this is not our home, we have a future home with our God that is far greater than this one where there will be no more pain, suffering, tears, or sin. As the storm approaches keep your mind on the Kingdom and seek to love God and love others!

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Forty-Two Thoughts

I want to bring us to Psalm 84 verse 10 today for this week’s thoughts. As I was reading this week what stood out to me was the profound and simple truth found in verse 10. “Better a day in your courts than a thousand anywhere else.” This is talking about how being in the presence or courts of the LORD God for just one day is far better than spending a far greater amount of time anywhere else. When we dwell on this, we should be brought to a place of amazement and wonder. Imagine the best time or the coolest place you have ever been to, and now think about spending 1,000 days there and how great that would be. What this passage is saying, is being in the presence of the God is far superior to this, so much so that one day there would would be better than you can even fathom.

As we dwell on this thought, I want us to start thinking about eternity. We are not promised one day with God, but rather eternity, and if just one day would be that awesome, try and comprehend how great and awesome eternity is going to be. It will be far greater than we can imagine, and far better as well. Remember, we are foreigners here on earth, so keep your treasure in heaven and not here on earth.

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Forty-One Thoughts

This week my thoughts brought me to Luke 18. The portion of this chapter that caught my attention comes from a very familiar account, the account of the rich young ruler. In this portion of chapter 18, verses 24 to 27 made me pause for a moment and think. The passage reads as follows, “And Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ They who heard it said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.’” (Luke 18:24-27 NASB)

This section is probably very familiar to you, and if you are like me, you have read it many times. What really struck me as I read this was the question those listening asked, and Jesus’ answer to the question. Through this section I always focused on verses 24 and 25, and how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. It’s easy to do, because Jesus paints this dramatic picture of a camel trying to fit through the eye of a needle, something that is impossible. The people realize this and then ask, not how then can a rich man be saved, but rather, how than can anyone be saved. Jesus’ answer is not, the poor and the destitute, or those who truly seek me. He instead responds, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” What this is then saying is something I have known and believed for a long time, that God is completely in control of salvation and that he alone saves us through grace, but I did not necessarily pick up on it in this passage, instead I wrongly focused on what Jesus said about the rich being like a camel. Salvation is unattainable through our efforts and striving, and it is only by God’s work of grace and mercy that we can be saved.

Let us not forget that it is impossible for us to save ourselves, and that salvation is a glorious gift from God given to those whom He has adopted as His sons and daughters. (Ephesians 1:5)

Thanks for reading and thinking with me,

Pastor Josh

Week Forty Thoughts

For this week’s thoughts, I want to bring us to Luke 12:22-34. Anxiety is something that can strike just about anyone, and if not anxiety at least worry. In this passage we have Jesus telling His disciples not to worry about your life, what you will eat, about your body, or what you will wear. He goes on telling them that life is much more than those things. Then Jesus goes on to discuss ravens and wildflowers and how God provides for them, and then makes the assertion that we are of much more worth than the birds or wildflowers, and then again says don’t be anxious.

Jesus does not just say “don’t be anxious,” but instead He goes on to say, “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided for you.” Then He goes on to say something that would probably make most people anxious and worrisome. He says, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So the question is why should we not worry or be anxious? The answer to this is quite simple, because God is in control, and He cares. The other part to this comes down to the fact that as Christians we are aliens in this land (or sojourners), this place is not our home! We have a promise of a much better dwelling with a treasure for eternity… Don’t waste your time worrying, but instead delight in your time here sharing the love of Christ through being generous with your time, money, possessions, and care. Remember, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

(All quoted scripture came out of Luke 12:22-34 out of the CSB)

Week Thirty-Nine Thoughts

I forgot to write last week, so this post is from last week’s reading. I want to draw our attention to Isaiah 58, and in particular verses 6-12. This passage jumped out at me, and I hope it did for you as well. It addresses something that was going on back in Isaiah’s time, but that is still going on today. This issues (people) I want us to think about today are the oppressed, the hungry, the homeless, and the marginalized. A lot of times it is easy to look at problems and turn a blind eye, or to get overwhelmed and think we can’t do anything. A lot of times I think that’s the problem, we look at issues and see issues and not the people that are there, those that are hungry, those that don’t have shelter or clothing. But what if we didn’t dwell on solving world hunger, but instead when we see a person hungry we give them something to eat. We all live in certain areas, and there are people around us that are struggling, that are hungry, that are lonely… What are we doing about it? Are we spending time with people that are lonely, are we regarding people that are different than us as made in the image of God, do we “share our bread with the hungry?” Are we living with the heart of Christ, or with our own selfish ambitions seeking only the good of ourselves?

Let us all take a deep look at what we do with our resources and possessions, and ask the question: Is glory being brought to God through those things?

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Thirty-Eight Thoughts

This week I want to bring us to Revelation 22:20. This verse says, “He who testifies about these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” This is the last time we see the words of Jesus in Scripture, and he says, I am coming soon. When you read this, what comes to mind for you? Do you get excited about Christ’s second coming? Do you hope it’s not too soon? Do you wonder why it hasn’t happened yet? In Revelation 22, Jesus states he is coming soon three times.

Jesus is coming again, that is a fact. The question we might get caught up in is when. It is not for us to know the time or date of his return, but we know it’s soon, and with that I think it is important for us to live that way. Have you lost your first love? Are you lukewarm in your faith? Let us never forget our first love, Christ, and let our faith be hot. Jesus is coming soon, so be ready!

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Thirty-Six Thoughts

My thoughts draw me overall to the book of Isaiah this week, and for sake of not being too long I’ll just focus in on one verse and challenge you as you continue reading through the book of Isaiah. I want to bring us to Isaiah 7:14. This verse reads, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” This verse should almost automatically bring your mind to the birth of Jesus. Isaiah here is prophesying of the coming birth of Jesus, and gives us a glimpse of who Jesus will be. Jesus is Immanuel, or God with us.

Growing up in the church I have read the verses in Isaiah and the other prophets about Jesus, and at times I think we can get almost numb to these things and not find them as astounding as they actually are. As you continue reading through Isaiah and the other prophets, remember they were written many years before Jesus was born. It should bring us awe and wonder when we read through passages written hundreds of years before the time of Christ that depict his birth, ministry, death and resurrection. So my challenge to you is to take your time when reading and marvel at prophetic words about Christ, and rest in your salvation.

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Thirty-Five Thoughts

My thoughts this week bring me to Revelation 3:15-16. Instead of talking about art this week let me go to another thing I have grown to enjoy more and more, and that is food. When it comes to food different foods are served at different temperatures. When it comes to soup it is normally served hot, and some soups are served cold, but I don’t know of any that are served lukewarm. If soup is lukewarm it isn’t very good at all, and to be honest in my opinion is not worth eating. When we get to this passage in Revelation, we see that Jesus is using a similar image here about the people in the church of Laodicea.

Jesus says of the people here, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.” Right after this He says I wish you were either hot or cold. He then goes on to say that they are lukewarm. When you taste something lukewarm it can be hard to eat, and Jesus in this case says, “I will spit (or vomit) you out of my mouth.” When we read this it is not the best image, but we know the feeling of not liking something about a food and wanting to spit it out. This is what Jesus says he will do with the people that are lukewarm. Are you hot, lukewarm, or cold? Let us be excited about our relationship with Christ and be hot. As you read through the first few chapters of Revelation take heed to the warnings Christ gives.

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Thirty-Four Thoughts

This week my thoughts bring me to Psalm 32. This passage has been one that I have loved for quite a while now. This past week I went to a local museum here in Jacksonville with my wife to check out a temporary exhibit of French Modernist artist, including works by Monet, Degas, and other greats of this period. It is impressive to me how different styles of art can convey messages and how a story can be told in a painting, but equally impressive to me is how sometimes words can paint a beautiful picture. In Psalm 32 David paints one of the best pictures of the weight guilt I have ever seen or in this case read.

Not all art portrays something positive, just like verses 3 and 4 in Psalm 32. We are given this vivid picture of guilt. David writes, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength (or vitality) was dried up as by the heat of summer.” This past week has had temperatures creeping up near 100, to say the least I think living in Florida we know the feeling of our strength or vitality being dried up or drained. David likens this feeling to the weight of sin in his life. I don’t know about you, but I believe this is an extremely accurate picture of the feeling of guilt.

Thankfully we see before and after in this Psalm that David also paints a beautiful picture of forgiveness. He does not necessarily go into detail on the feelings and paint a picture that way, but if we take the picture of guilt and we flip it we can paint a contrasting picture. Instead of the heat of the summer sun, the comfort of stepping into an air conditioned room, or jumping into a refreshing pool. Instead of our bones wasting away, a growing strength in our bodies. Instead of groaning all day, rejoicing all day long.

Take some time to dwell on the sweetness of forgiveness and rejoice over it! Share it with others. People need forgiveness, show them where it is, show them where your strength is. The forgiveness we have received from Christ is sweet and refreshing, but don’t forget about how repressive the guilt of sin is. When you forget, run back to Psalm 32. We have some really good news, let us share it with compassion remembering what guilt feels like. Share forgiveness with others! Also go out and enjoy some art!

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Thirty-Two Thoughts

My thoughts today take me to Matthew 10:16-25. Jesus here is talking to his disciples about persecution that will come to them. I think that a lot of times people expect once they become a Christian that life will get easier. Here we have Jesus telling his disciples the opposite really, that they will be handed over to the courts and they will be hated by all for His name sake. Jesus does not tell his disciples to quit or back down, but he tells them to not fear and to endure.

We live in a time that can seem hostile towards Christians, but if we look back over history we have it really easy. We don’t see much in the way of persecution here in America. The question is, if we did would we stay faithful, and would be endure without fear? Jesus not only tells them not to fear, but down in verse 28 he says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

So let us be bold in our faith wherever we are. Let us not fear what someone might say about us, or what they may do to us, but rather trust in God, and rest in Him know that even if we are persecuted even to the point of death, still let us not fear, for Christ has saved us and our reward is not in this life, but in the one to come. So be bold, share your faith, and don’t fear persecution. I’ve read the end, and we as believers win. So why fear what can only kill the body?

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Thirty-One Thoughts

My thoughts today bring me to Nehemiah 8-9. In chapter 8, we see the public reading of the law, and from here it seems that it sparks some reform in the Israelite part. The next thing we see is celebration over who God is, and then restore the Feast of Booths. Then we get to chapter 9, where we see the people confessing their sin.

When is the last time being in God’s word brought you to either to a place of celebration or of confessing of your sins? We should be impacted deeply by our time in God’s Word as the Israelite people were. So I will leave you with this question, are you actually paying attention to what you are reading in God’s Word? Let us pay attention to God’s Word and allow it to impact us and let the Holy Spirit work in our lives. Thanks for reading!

Pastor Josh

Week Twenty-Nine Thoughts

My thoughts for this week bring me back to the book of James. In chapter five of James we have a warning to the rich. What is the first thing you think about when you hear rich? If you are anything like me it might be, well that doesn’t pertain to me, I’m not rich or I don’t have that much. I think for most of us we would feel that way, but I believe especially as Americans we are actually very well off. Not only are we getting by, but we are able to fulfill wants and not just needs a lot of times, and when we look at a lot of other parts of the world we would be considered rich. I also want you to take some time to think about not only money and possessions, but think about the talents, gifts, and skills that you possess.

What has God given you in this life? This is the first question I think we should ask ourselves, not what do i possess, but what has God given me. This way we don’t have the concept of all I have is mine and I have earned it myself, thus it is mine to do what I want. Your gifts and skills were given to you by God. He created you, and even that hard work you put in to cultivate those gifts and skills, God has given you that desire and work ethic. As a Christian, we are all rich, not necessarily monetarily rich or skill rich, but rich in hope and rich in the Kingdom to Come.

The question we must ask ourselves is, what are we doing with our wealth? If we have much, are we helping those in need? If we are skilled to serve others or build things, are we serving others and helping where we can? If we are good cooks, are we sharing in meals and fellowship? If we have the Good News and Hope within us, are we sharing it? Let us take some time to evaluate what we are doing with what we have. I’m sure we can all grow in our willingness and practice of using our riches for Christ’s glory. Don’t let your riches (monetary, skills, knowledge, faith, etc.) go to waste, use them! Let us be less selfish, and more like Christ.

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh

Week Twenty-Eight Thoughts

I want to bring you to two passages today from our reading. The first passage is Hebrews 11 and the second is James 2:14-26. Hebrews 11 is sometimes referred to as the Hall of Faith, and James 2:14-26 can cause trouble for some people with the idea of a works based salvation. So I want us to dive into these passages together.

In Hebrews 11 we see a definition of faith, and we see many examples of faith throughout from the Old Testament. When we look into examples of faith given, there is always action that accompanies this faith. The one thing we have to keep in mind is that it was not the action that “gained God’s approval” (Hebrews 11:39), but rather it was their faith. The faith is the motivator for action, and I would even say that genuine faith always produces movement or action. Throughout Hebrews 11 we see active faith, which produces action, and now I want to take us to James 2.

In James 2, we James saying that faith without works is dead. He asks some thought provoking questions about faith, asking if faith without works can save someone? He answers this by saying faith without works is dead or useless, and that even the Demons believe that God is one, and they shudder. When looking at this one could wonder if James is saying that ultimately we are then saved by our works. This is not what he is saying, but what he is saying is that true faith will produce works. If we truly believe and have faith in Christ we are transformed, and we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. In all the examples of faith we are given from the Old Testament in Hebrews 11, there was obviously a belief in who God is, but there is also an action that comes along with that, thus showing that faith is not stagnant, but that there is movement and action involved.

In just reading through Romans, we know that we are justified and saved by faith, and not works, that no one may boast. Christ did the saving on the cross, and our faith in that saves us, but that faith is not inactive or passive, it is active and produces fruit, it transforms us. Take some time this week to read through Matthew 25:31-46, and contemplate what faith looks like. When I read this along with James 2, it brings me to believe that these works are a natural out-flowing from the believer, not done under obligation, but compulsion from our love for Christ, so much so that we do not even realizing we are doing them. Have you been transformed by the outpouring of grace from God? Is your faith active? Do you “perform” works out of obligation (or guilt) or out of compulsion for your love of Christ?

Thanks for reading,

Pastor Josh