Seven Years ago our church created a daily devotional booklet for lent. Today we hear from two former members — Richard Spears and David Hazelwood — and remember them with gratitude. More will come each day during holy week!
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?” James 2:14
Merely talking about something is no substitute for actually doing it. That notion is woven into our culture. We see it evident in expressions like “Put your money where your mouth is,” “Pay lip service to something,” “Fine words butter no parsnips,” and “All talk and no action.” Does our faith require more from us?
James is taking us beyond our built-in cultural motivation to help others. He reminds us that we show our faith best by deeds that come from the heart and not as a religious obligation or for show. We long to live and practice our faith with the guidance of loving hearts. When our hearts lead us to respond to the needs of others out of compassion, caring, and respect, we are directing the flow of God’s grace through ourselves to other people.
Will people experience the peace of God’s grace because of my faith? What can I do to create a more loving heart in myself? What do I require to motivate me to do good works?
Lord, instill in me a wholeness of heart, and let me heart nurture compassion, caring, and respect. Lord, make me a channel of Thy grace and an instrument of Thy peace. Amen.
“What do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” (Mark 15:12-13)
When I read how the crowd demands that Pilate release Barabbas and crucify Jesus, I am first struck by the magnitude of the injustice. It is hard for me to comprehend their choice. Can I relate to that crowd?
The truth is, Jesus didn’t fit their picture of the Messiah. He didn’t look like the king they imagined would free them from their current Roman captivity through political force. He was a disappointment.
I can relate to that crowd.
Often I have a picture of how things should be and it’s not working out — not the way it is supposed to. And I am angry. I don’t want to trust that God knows the best way and has the best picture. I want, in those moments, to make my own way. I don’t want the way of faith, but a way that I think will “work”. I want Barabbas and not Jesus.
In his great mercy, God, through Jesus and the cross, brings his Kingdom and does his will, so that I get his infinitely better picture, and learn to trust him.
Heavenly Father, keep us from our attempts to make our own, fear-driven ways, but rather, teach us to not be afraid and to trust your ways.