Sunday, July 14, 2013

Faith and Deeds (James 2:14-26)

If we were stranded on a deserted island like Phineas, we would need many things to survive. We would need water. We would need food. We would need fire. We would need clothing. We would need shelter.

As we learned in our study of the book of Daniel this Spring, we are exiles living in a foreign land. This is not our true home, at least not in the state it is right now. So how are we to survive as a stranger to this world? James lists four survival skills. Can you name them?

a.    Perseverance is trusting in God’s work.
b.    Wisdom is trusting in God’s way.
c.    Faith is trusting in God’s word.
d.    Humility is trusting in God’s worth.

Today, we will read a little more about faith. What is faith? [Allow time for kids to respond.] When are some times we need faith? [Respond.] Does it matter who or what we put our faith in? [Respond]

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?

Let me ask you that question James asked his audience. “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if a man says he has faith, but doesn’t do what he says? Can such faith save him? [Allow time for response.

In case you had a hard time understanding the question, James gives an example. [Call up 3 volunteers. Whisper the scenario in their ears. One enters the room pretending to be cold and hungry.  He approaches the other person (carrying a Bible, and munching on food) who says in as sincere a voice as he can muster, “Go, I wish you well. Keep warm and well fed.” The cold, hungry person just looks at him and walks off.]

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

What do you think this person really believed about helping others?
[Replay the scenario with the third volunteer showing his faith with actions.]
What do you think this person really believed about helping others?

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.

What is different about the faith demons have and the faith Christians have? [Allow time for responses.] The deeds of demons are very different from the deeds of Christians. So faith must mean more than believing something to be true. It means acting a certain way based on this belief.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

James gives the example of Abraham. Do you know the story of Abraham? The Lord asked Abraham to leave his country and go to a new land where he would be made into a great nation. Abraham obeyed and went. Years passed and Abraham did not have a child. God told Abraham, “I am your shield, your very great reward.” Abraham asked, “What can you give me since I remain childless.” God said, “You will have a son. Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

From the very beginning, the Bible makes it clear that righteousness comes by faith. Did Abraham’s faith lead to action? Abraham and Sarah had a baby, Isaac, the long awaited son. It was this promised child that God asked Abraham to sacrifice. This was a key moment in Abraham’s life. Did he really believe that God wanted what was good? Did he believe that God was capable of raising Isaac from the dead? Did Abraham trust God even when it didn’t make sense to him? Yes, yes, and yes. Abraham’s faith was made complete by what he did.

Did Phineas have faith in the video diary clip we watched? What challenge did he have to overcome to show his faith? Is it easy to say, “I believe?” Is it easy to believe?

One of my favorites songs is called “Faith to Be Strong.” It says, “Give us faith to be strong; give us strength to be faithful.” I think that’s a good prayer. Let’s pray and ask God to help us show faith.

1st Service Kingdom Kids = 12 
Kingdom Kids =  27
Kinder-Kingdom = 14

This Week: $5.75
This Month: $11.60

Kid Quote: "Did you know there are things inside you that you can't even see with an x-ray?" (Maxson)

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