ACT__ION!

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION​ -

We approach God’s Word and that the Holy Spirit, will open our lives to encounter the Living Christ. Join me in a moment of prayer.

Heavenly Father, Open our eyes to see as You see. Open our hearts to love the broken as You love. Open our hands to greet our neighbors in your precious care. Open my ears to hear the gentle whispers of your Spirit and to obey what you say in Scripture. Open our mouths to speak your Truth to others. Open up our lives to the call of your voice and heed Your Good News. Amen

 

SCRIPTURE READING                 James 2:14-26                         Faith without Works Is Dead

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

THE MESSAGE                    “ACT­___ION”

“ACT __ION, Action, Action, we want action, ACT__ION,” the cheerleaders chanted at the edge of the wrestling mat. They cheered and encouraged to get something done. I don’t remember if they used this cheer when I was in the top or bottom position, or if they just thought not much was happening, or they were just going through their repertoire. I do remember this cheer and think it’s appropriate for our Scripture and our theme of being engaged in service.

With this 5th mark of Discipleship, we make a transition from personal spiritual disciplines that strengthen our faith to sharing outward expressions of our faith. The first three focus on being Christian and the last three inspire us to do Christian actions. From the Chapel by the Sea, the Scripture theme comes from Matthews Gospel chapter 25. I consider this my key verse for being a Christian, Jesus calls us to serve others. Jesus shares a parable of God, the Shepherd, separating sheep and goats in the description of the Judgement of the Nations.

The Shepherd discerns differences to place sheep in one pen and goats in the other. Jesus says that in the final judgement God will separate those who serve God, by caring for their neighbors and those who don’t. He explains that many times when we are serving the least of these in our community, we serve our Lord. On the other hand, if we only want to engage in ministry when we will see the immediate reward, we will disappoint our Lord and be excluded from heaven.

The other Scripture for this theme comes from the Epistle James. This would be my second Christian theme, faith without works is dead. Or as Rich Mullins’ song, faith without works is like a screen door on a submarine. While Martin Luther wanted to exclude James from the Christian Bible, the letter gives few references to God, a manual for living the Christian faith. So the other Reformation Theologians included it in the canon. James impresses that through our works we demonstrate our faith in Christ. A person can talk about having faith, but if they do NOT put their faith into action, it’s not worth much. Christianity is not so much about knowing and believing but about doing and living our faith. James even questions if just saying the right words will save us, that in living and serving we embody the faith in Christ who came to serve, not be served.

As a Mark of Discipleship, Jesus calls us to be engaged in service and mission. I’ve participated in various mission and ministry projects and believe that when we work for God, then the Lord works on us. When we open our hearts to those who are in need, God helps to be more grateful for what we possess. When deacons visit the homebound, they often come away blessed by the faith of those they visit, who experience suffering. As we provide Meals on Wheels, we can give thanks for the way the Lord provides our needs. When we serve others, Christ meets us in the face of those we serve.

I regularly talk about mission and ministry. Mission being the activities that takes God’s love and grace to our community. Mission feeds the poor, gives a cold drink of water to the thirsty, befriends strangers, cloths the naked, visits the sick and imprisoned, and provides paper products to those who can’t buy it. When we reach out in mission to our neighbors, we bless them with Christ’s love.

The other kind of service is ministry to those within our Christian community. When we assist with worship as a lector, usher, choir member, or give rides so members can get to worship. When we visit members in the hospital, nursing home or at home; we engage in Christian service or ministry. When we write a note, send a greeting card, or make a call to someone we miss in worship or know they could use a little encouragement, we serve our faith community.

Also, we are engaged in service as we engage in community service, even when it’s not a church sponsored event.  Again, we serve others in Christ’s name because Jesus calls us to serve others. I do hope you see your community service as service to God. I also encourage you to show your faith through you works and articulate that you serve to demonstrate your Christian action.

One note of caution, doing good works not backed by faith, does not earn your way into heaven. Faith and works are not mutually exclusive but in tandem combine to witness to God’s activity in our life and in our world. We serve and work for the Lord, in a multitude of ways to witness to our faith. We respond to God’s grace with a deep desire to serve our Lord.

So, I urge you to ACT__ION, action in the name of the Lord. I hope you will find ways to be in mission and ministry to demonstrate your great love for our Lord. Then, don’t rest on your laurels of past service, Christian action continues as a way of life, even as the ways we serve may change.  Christ invites us to an exciting journey to engage in service and mission. ACT__ION, Christian service in our Lord’s name comes with heavenly rewards. TGBTG. Amen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ajdsm9YmhU

 

The Seven Marks of Discipleship

Issue Number 5

February 13, 2012

Engage in service and mission

James tells us, “Faith without action is dead.” (James 2:26). At Chapel by the Sea you will find opportunities to put your faith into action.  

You can feed the hungry at God’s Table. You can join others for a bus ride to Immokalee to work in a soup kitchen. You can hold children and read to them at Brightest Horizons. You can hammer a nail and help build a home with our Habitat for Humanity team. You can join partners in our mission like Relay for Life and other groups.  

Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 25:31-40,

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

http://chapelbts.org/about-us/7-marks-of-discipleship/

 

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