James 2:19-20 (MSG) Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
When I asked Jesus to be my Savior, I was just eleven years old. My grandmother told me that after doing so that I should make a public profession of faith and go before the church to declare Jesus as my Savior and Lord so I did. After service and a wonderful lunch, she sat with me at her secretary desk with a paper and pen. She told me to write down my profession in my own words. What did I think it meant to make Jesus my Savior and Lord? So I did. Many years later, she shared the tattered piece of notebook paper with me. How precious it is? I have no idea what happened to it after she moved from her home after grandpa passed away and went to live with my aunt. I had no idea what my life would turn out to be. I was just trying to make it through my childhood with a bit of rough start. I remember the feeling inside me when I asked Jesus into my heart, and the unrealistic expectations that went along with it. Jesus was going to fix everything.
Today after almost 40 years of getting to know God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, trying to piece together the Godhead three-in-one, I have decided that most of the time our profession never becomes a declaration. To profess something is different than declaring it. To profess it and do nothing about it is the failure of most faith fights. The word profess is to lay claim to something. But if you read the full definition, it acknowledges that most professions are insincere. People pretending but never following through to have what they insist belongs to them. The affirmation of faith is evidenced in our ability to live our faith in belief. Our words must become our actions. Faith compromises our “control” giving way to God’s Plan which moves us out of comfort. Complacency is the idea that if I just sit and wait here long enough that the Lord will come like Santa Claus and dump out blessings in my life. It doesn’t work like that. Faith is free but it is not without a price.
To believe means a desire for change. To change mere conversation into faithful motivation to believe beyond what we see, feel or can do. Jesus told Thomas after allowing him to examine His Wounds now healed, “Now will you finally believe?!” Faith is acting on what we hope for. The impossibilities of life that exist just beyond our reach and ability to grasp. It is the final lunge out of comfort and control to allow God to fully have His Way. It doesn’t always mean that fear is gone but that one chooses to fight their way out of fear’s grasp to take grab hold of faith that will pull them closer to confident hope. My profession must become my declaration sealed by my actions in everyday life.
James 2:21-24 (MSG) Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?
I am challenged today to evaluate my life on the context of faith. Am I merely saying I have faith or am I acting on faith as the belief system in which I fully operate? I have an IPhone and an IPad. There are certain applications on my phone that are not on my tablet. Why? I asked myself that question preparing for a trip recently. I am carrying both with me, as well as, a laptop. Technology overkill for sure. The purpose of my life is to become one with the Lord. Too often – we diversify faith in our life. We reserve it for certain things and then withhold it from others. I believe that Abraham gave us a very explicit example when he made his way to the mountain of sacrifice with his son, his promise, Isaac and no other means of offering. He came willing to give God everything. Everything he dreamed of, hoped for, held on to. He took it all to the mountain that day and somehow as only God can do came back with so much more. Back to my technology burden, I must sync my life. All of my devices can be synced together which alleviates the burden of carrying them all with me so that I can have everything in one. We must sync our life with Jesus Christ, His Calling, His Purpose and His Plan is all-inclusive, comprehensive and in every detail of our life. Abraham laid his whole life and purpose on the Altar of Sacrifice fully believing and trusting the Lord. Have I? Are there parts of my life where I profess faith but do not fully declare it by the way I live my life?
Romans 4:17-18 (MSG) We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”
Abraham’s profession to be the “Father” of many nations. Was true? It was real. God told him that, but if when he tried to make his own family – he failed. His wife was barren struggling with infertility because clearly he could make children hence Ismael. Yet Abraham honored his commitment to the Lord and his wife, he just kept trusting the Lord and living like it. Once he held Isaac in his arms, Abraham felt natural fulfillment. This is where the real choice comes. We have been given the Gift of Salvation. It is easily within our grasp, but will I take hold of it and make Jesus Christ my Lord. Will I choose to keep going on this journey called faith that leads to confident hope? Will I “sync” my life now and futuristically to achieve the impossible? It is not up to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or even Father Abraham…it is up to me. Will I give up some of the things I hold most dear and precious to the Altar of Sacrifice? Total trust in God means that when the impossible comes I do not settle for possible but continue to give my all to the One who says that He will do more than I can think, ask or imagine. Comfort holds us back. Complacency is its cushion. Those who desire a life of not just professing our faith but make it a declaration must move from the place of comfort to uncomfortable giving up this life for forever.
Romans 4:19-25 (MSG) Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.
Abraham was a righteous man. He was not a saint. His title “friend of God” was given not because of his religious values or ability to uphold such traditions. His friendship with God was based on absolute trust and total faith in the Lord evidenced by his willingness to sacrifice his life, his future and all that was precious simply because God asked Him to. Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God. Faith must be planted in trust to give way to confident hope that solidifies our relationship with God the Father. We demonstrate faith in God by giving up our life to take hold of faith and confident hope completely. This is done by doing not by just saying. My declaration is a formal announcement of allegiance to Jesus Christ not in words or even useless works but to commit every deed, dream, desire and declaration to faith in action. Trust is faith in action. It can’t see beyond the natural yet chooses to take hold of the supernatural. It is not a one-time act but daily occurrence called life. Jesus honors such a life and gives us access to His Presence to live in close proximity and friendship with God. A life worth living. Lord, change every profession in my life that is not actively defined by faith and trust into a public declaration from the inside out in Jesus Name.
Hebrews 11:5-6 (MSG) By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.