Thursday, November 30, 2006



Beginning with the 26th verse in Luke chapter 1 the story moves from Elizabeth’s pregnancy to Mary’s. When Elizabeth was 6 months along in her pregnancy, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, announcing that she would be the chosen one of all women to give birth to the Messiah. According to Gabriel the Messiah would be called the “Son of the Most High” and should be given the name of JESUS.

Naturally, Mary was eager to tell her family, so she visited Elizabeth who was pregnant with John. Both Elizabeth and Mary were overwhelmed with what God had done in both of them.

Elizabeth gave birth to her baby and when it was time to name him, the neighbors and relatives were shocked. You see, it was customary to name the baby after his father. But Elizabeth protested against doing that and said, “No! He is to be called John.” When the people questioned this to Zechariah, he wrote out the name “John” on a tablet. Immediately when he wrote this, his mouth was opened so that he could speak.

He began to prophesy over his new born son and said, “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."

In chapter 2 Luke explains the birth of Jesus. They were in Bethlehem for legal registration for the census and Mary gave birth. Since there was no guest room available at the local inns, she gave birth in a cattle stall—a cave.

From that obscure location, the ripple effect began in the fields of Bethlehem among the shepherds. An angel appeared to them saying: ‘I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Luke is caught up in the motif of Jesus being the Savior of the world. He presents Jesus as the Savior in many ways:
• Gabriel tells Mary to name him “Jesus” which means “YHWH saves” (1:31).
• Mary exults in “God my Savior” (1:47).
• The angels tell the shepherds “there has been born for you a Savior, He is the Messiah, the Lord” (2:11).
• Simeon holds Jesus and prays, “My eyes have seen your salvation” (2:30).
• Jesus describes his mission as coming to “seek and save that which is lost” (19:10).

Luke makes it clear that the real Jesus has not come as a spiritual guru to guide you into the self-realization of your identity or even divinity. He hasn’t come to be your moral example, so you can try a little harder to be good. He has come to rescue you from your spiritual lostness. He came to be your Savior. He came to save you from your self and selfishness, from your self-centeredness and alienation from others and from your rebelliousness against your Creator-God.
His name is JESUS. Listen to Him. Believe Him. Follow Him.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006



In Luke 1:5-25 is recorded the miraculous birth of John. His dad was a priest (Zechariah) and his mom (Elizabeth) was unable to conceive. Both were righteous before the Lord. Then, they were chosen to have a baby with a special mission of introducing the Messiah. An angel appeared to Zechariah while performing a sacrifice:
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel said to him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time."

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."

John came in the spirit of Elijah. What does this mean? Well, John came wearing a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. So did Elijah. He was a hairy man with a leather girdle.

Maybe John the Baptist is a continuation of the stance of Moses. John confronted a king, stays in the area of Jordan and the wilderness. But listen to this. Elijah also confronted an evil king, spent a lot of time outside of Israel proper, called down plagues on the land as did Moses, called down fire and was supernaturally fed by angels in the wilderness. So, Moses and Elijah played similar roles representing God. Both their lives were ended near Jericho across the Jordan. Moses was buried there and Elijah was taken up into heaven in a firey chariot. Note that John the Baptist spent his time at the same location baptizing people in the Jordan River.
One more connection between Moses, Elijah and John occurs with their successors. Elijah was followed by Elisha and was granted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. At this point Elisha walked through the Jordan on dry ground. Centuries earlier Joshua walked through the Jordan on dry ground, leading the Israelites into the promised land to conquer Jericho (Josh 3:14-17; 6). Just as Elisha was Elijah's successor, Joshua was Moses' successor. Here in Luke’s portrait we see Jesus as the highest successor of all, preceded by John.

This background gives a great meaning to John’s baptism. Just as Joshua and the Israelites originally entered the promised land by baptism in the Jordan, now John is baptizing people in the same place. It wasn’t a convenient place to go for the people, but they went. It was like people who came to be baptized by John in the Jordan were re-entering Israel. This time, they were entering the land, acknowledging their prior failure to keep the covenant and now looking for a second chance.

I like to think that we all come in the spirit of Elijah and John with the privilege of introducing Jesus to the world around us. We don’t have to preach or prophesy nor do we have to be articulate witnesses. The thought of that is most intimidating to most of us. You can operate in the spirit of Elijah and John by simply introducing Jesus to those who are interested. Your best approach? Check out what Jesus did and said and go do it! Just by your loving touch on the people around you, Jesus will show up. Don’t forget the most powerful question of all, “What can I do to help?”

Tuesday, November 28, 2006



Over the next few weeks I want to walk through the Gospel of Luke. Remember, Luke is the Gospel that presents Jesus as the Son of Man. For those of you who are really doing your best to follow the person of Jesus in a new and fresh way will enjoy this picture of Son of Man.

The key verse seems to be in chapter 19 and verse 10: For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. As an educated physician and inspired historian Luke carries the message that Jesus is the Savior of the world.

Luke was probably a Greek and therefore was the only non-Jewish New Testament writer. 
Luke is the only gospel with a sequel—the book of Acts. The book of Luke is the longest gospel account and is more that 25% of the entire New Testament.

I think one of the most interesting things about this gospel is that there are 18 parables that are unique and not in the other gospels. We’ll discover some amazing principles together within these parables.

Let’s look at the first four verses of Luke’s gospel: Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

We don’t know who this Theophilus is—probably a Roman official. By the way, his name means lover of God. Luke serves the fellowship of Jesus well with his detailed account of the facts of what Jesus said and did. Although we know and love Jesus personally and each a different experience with Him, it is great to have these facts to nail down our faith.

I am reminded of the statement: “The heart can only enjoy what the mind can accept.” The key to knowing Jesus is to realize that everything about Jesus happened in real, space-time history. He really lived, really loved, really suffered and died, really resurrected from the dead and will some day really return. In the meantime, we live in the spirit of Acts 29—a continuation of Jesus really working among us today.

Let’s make it our prayer to experience Jesus through the writings of Luke—REALLY.

Monday, November 27, 2006



I’ve been thinking lately about how easy it is to become side-tracked with the vastness of the Scriptures and miss the point of it all. That point which the Scriptures present is simply Jesus. Luke, the author of two of the five Gospels, notes how central Jesus is to the Scriptures.

Luke references Jesus, Himself, using the Scriptures to explain His central role. After the resurrection, Jesus joins a couple of disciples walking along the road and He begins with Moses and all the Prophets to explain what the Scriptures have to say about Him.

When Paul was in the synagogue in Thessalonica, note what he said. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah," he said.

In the next chapter of Acts (18) we find Apollos was in the practice of proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah. Also when Philip met up with the Ethiopian eunuch, he began with the prophet Isaiah and explained to him the good news about Jesus.

The primary role of the Gospels was to take a teaching strand out of the ancient teachings of the prophets about the Messiah and pull that thread through to a fuller explanation. For instance, Matthew picked up on the teaching that the Messiah will take on the role of the King. Mark pulled through the thread that the Messiah would be the Servant. Luke picked up the teaching as the Son of Man and John presented Jesus as Messiah, the Son of God.

The Scriptures were not written to build a great religious or a theological system. The Scriptures were written to teach us and lead us to Jesus. And, this is the most frequent mistake Christians make. Too many Christians actually worship the Bible. This is what the Jewish leadership was doing in the 1st century and Jesus called them on it. Listen to this: You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you possess eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Salvation and eternal life is not a religious thing nor even a theological understanding; it’s a personal thing. The person? His name is Jesus.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006



Every great story reruns in cycles throughout history. For instance, the original story of thanksgiving has to do with the pilgrims who escaped bondage to be free here in this country. This story is not original at all. There is a great story several hundred years prior to the pilgrims. It’s known as the Exodus, when the Jews were led out of bondage into freedom by God through the leadership of Moses.

The main event that set the Jewish people free is called the Passover. God’s death angel was sent through the country of Egypt to kill the first born. Only those who had applied the blood of a lamb over the doorpost were “passed over” and their lives saved. So, the Jewish people to this day celebrate this feast as a time of moving from bondage to freedom.

The story continues today. We all have issues that bind us and weigh us down from the past. What we’re looking for is to be free.

Well, Jesus fleshes out the answer today to our freedom. His answer began way back at the time of the first Passover and it’s all tied up in a couple of agreements.

The first agreement was made through Moses, when God gave him the Law. The Jewish people entered into an agreement with God to keep His Law and become a blessing to the world. Every Jewish Passover dinner throughout the centuries has celebrated this agreement as they remember that what God did for them in setting them free.

About 800 years after the Exodus and the giving of the Law of Moses a prophet by the name of Jeremiah ministered to the Jewish people. Through Jeremiah God revealed that there would someday be a second agreement. Whereas the Law of Moses was written on stones, the second agreement would be written in the hearts of man.

A little over 600 years later Jesus was celebrating the Feast of the Passover with His disciples. And, at this dinner He fleshed out this second agreement with these early disciples. The Christians call it “communion”, but Jesus referred to it as a covenant supper. He was actually making a covenant (an agreement) with His disciples to be connected until He returns. He was also leading them into an agreement with one another to be connected in Jesus. This covenant supper was a powerful experience for these disciples. And, if we properly understood it as an agreement with Jesus and with one another, we might experience the same kind of dynamic.

So, what’s your story? How does your story recycle this same story-line of the Exodus and Passover as well as the early celebration of the pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving dinner?

It’s all about being free! So, what is it that has had you in bondage throughout your life or most recently in your experience? Whatever it may be, Jesus wants to film a rerun in your life. He wants to forgive you of those bad choices and entanglements and set you free.

Listen to Luke’s words in the thirteenth chapter of Acts: "Therefore, my brothers and sisters, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.

Today on this Thanksgiving holiday you have lots to celebrate. You are forgiven and you are free. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel absolutely whole and acceptable before the Lord. To me, that’s Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006



In Mark 5 Jesus encounters a frightening man who had a wild reputation around the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. I’m sure this man was the subject of many campfires, especially with the kids. Let’s check out what happened in this encounter:

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God's name don't torture me!" For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!" Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many."

Well, Jesus cast the many demons out of this man and into a herd of about 2000 pigs. The pigs ran off a sharp cliff into the sea and died. (I normally point out that this is the first mention of “deviled ham” in the Bible, but I won’t.) The demonized man was completely freed from all of his oppression and evil shackles that made him seem out of his mind. Note what happens next.

When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well.

This man who had been harassed and controlled by the demonic world had experienced a total transformation—inside out! He was scary before—out of control, shackled, rags for clothes, roamed in and out of tombs, kept hurting himself, yelled with pain and anxiety and was basically homeless.

Then Jesus apprehended him through this encounter. The transformation speaks for itself when he is described as “sitting there, dressed and in his right mind.” He was so grateful for this “Jesus make-over” that he wanted to follow along beside him the rest of his life. Note what happens.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him.

NOTE what Jesus tells him. He said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went to his people, telling his story of transformation through Jesus throughout all of the region of Decapolis. Now, the text says, “And all the people were amazed.

I think the application for us is that one of the best ways to show your gratefulness is to go home to your people—family and friends—and share your story of transformation with them. You don’t have to preach, just go home and share what’s happening in your life through your encounters with Jesus.

Now, there may be one problem here. If you aren’t experiencing Jesus, then you may not have anything to share. So, first go to Jesus and ask Him to touch your life in a fresh way.

Monday, November 20, 2006



In Luke 7:36-50 a fascinating scene occurs between a very religious man by the name of Simon and an unrighteous prostitute who is anonymous. Let’s take a look at it: When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."

Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." 
"Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little."

Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

The contrast here is clear. On the one hand, you have a self-righteous Pharisee who sees no great need that he has before God and therefore it doesn’t occur to him that he ought to feel grateful to God. Then on the other hand, you have a sinful woman, a known prostitute in the village, who is passionately attending to Jesus out of a deep feeling of gratitude.

The central idea here is forgiveness. Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and he also came to give His life as a ransom for many. In every one of the four Gospels you will find this same sort of scene where Jesus is forgiving those who are broken and in need.

In this particular scene this prostitute breaks open a very expensive jar of perfume and worships Jesus’ feet with it. Jesus takes the opportunity to make His primary, life-changing point—people are in desperate need of forgiveness. And, Jesus came to reach out to the broken, hurting, poor and spiritually bankrupt within society. But there is more to this story than just another broken person restored. This story revolves around her appreciation of being forgiven. It’s important to note that both characters in the parable Jesus shares are forgiven of their debts—one more than the other. Those who are forgiven little have little appreciation and gratefulness.

Since she was forgiven of much, she had this great need to thank Jesus in any way she could. She was indeed grateful while Simon, the man who had it all together, was not filled with gratitude, because he had not experienced this same level of forgiveness. In fact, Simon was too good, too righteous to see his need for Jesus and therefore had no reason to adore Him and thank Him.

Now, notice something here. Yesterday, we discussed the 10 lepers—pitiful outcasts of society—who were healed of their leprosy, but only one was grateful enough to thank Jesus for his healing. Today we are working with a prostitute who is unusually grateful for the transformation in her life because of Jesus.

Do you see the theme developing? Jesus is the great physician who is seeking out sick people—those who don’t have it together. He is not looking for those who believe they are all together. In fact, that is where Jesus finds the most opposition

So, I don’t know about you, but when I think of Jesus’ approach all I can say is “Over here Jesus, I am a crippled man who is in need of you.” Once I came to this understanding and stance, I find myself filled with gratefulness through and through. How about you?



During this week I want to pursue a study on those who were grateful to Jesus in the Gospels. In each case we’ll see something special being taught about us. Let’s begin with the story of the ten lepers. It is found in Luke 2:11-19.

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

So, here are 10 men who were suffering from leprosy. They reached out to Jesus, asking Him to have pity on them. Jesus promptly healed all 10 of them. Now this must have been an amazing thing to be ostracized with this horrible disease and then be totally healed from it. In fact, by tradition the Jewish leadership taught that when the Messiah comes, He will be able to heal the lepers. Now, Jesus, the Messiah not only heals one, but 10 at one time.

The shock to Jesus about this entire matter was that only 1 out of 10 bothered to come back to Jesus and thank Him. Only 1! He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. But there is a further shock to this story that I believe Jesus wanted to magnify a bit. This man who was healed of leprosy and returned to give thanks to Jesus was not a Jew. He was a Samaritan—a much maligned and disregarded people at that time.

There are two things here I want to emphasize:
FIRST—This grateful man is maybe the only non-Christian (Samaritan) out of the group of 10. Jesus receives anyone who will respond to Him.
SECOND—This grateful man was not made whole by being healed of his leprosy. He was made whole by his faith in Jesus. His heart was bent toward Jesus.

So, what I make of this for us is:
1. Jesus is responsive to those who are grateful.
2. Jesus is just as approachable for the non-Christian as He is the Christian.
3. Jesus is looking for a heart that is bent toward Him. He’s looking for someone who might be interested.

How is your heart toward Jesus? Are you grateful to Him for what He has done on your behalf or are you in too much of a hurry to say, “Thank you!”

Thursday, November 16, 2006



What are the themes being pushed in your church, local fellowship or your favorite media preacher?
• Evangelism and reaching the world?
• Prayer in schools?
• Moral depravity of our society?
• The 2nd Coming of Christ?
• Worship?
• Prayer?
• Bible Study?

In the book of The Acts of Jesus there are two constant themes that under-gird all that is going on as the new fellowship around Jesus is launched into action. I find this emphasis by Jesus and His disciples to be most important for us today. To ignore these two themes may be short-circuiting spiritual life in the US church today. The two primary themes are the kingdom of God and the person of Jesus. Check out these three passages in Acts:

FIRST—In the opening chapter of The Acts of Jesus we are told about what Jesus taught the disciples in the 40 day intensive He had with them before He ascended into heaven. In Acts 1:3 we read: After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive (That’s the person of Jesus). He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God (and here is the kingdom).

SECOND—Philip spoke to the Samaritans about these same two themes: But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God (That’s the kingdom) and the name of Jesus Christ (and the person of Jesus), they were baptized, both men and women.

THIRD—Then finally in the last chapter of Acts we see Paul hosting the many visitors who came to be with him. He was very careful to teach these same two messages. Listen to this: They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God (Kingdom), and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus (Person of Jesus).
Then, a few verses later Paul is described in this way: He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

Have you noticed how many themes, challenges, urgings and pleadings we receive from our churches and studies in a given week? If we tried to apply even most of it, we wouldn’t be able to do so. There’s just too much! This is why I like the simplicity of the two themes Jesus and His disciples held together.

Maybe if we put our emphases upon simply the person of Jesus and the kingdom of God, just maybe we might experience the same things as the early church. Maybe focusing in this way is what we are desperately longing for. Maybe this is all we really need—Jesus and His kingdom. Maybe this is why Jesus made such a big deal about it when He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything else you’re concerned about will be provided.” JESUS AND HIS KINGDOM.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006



There are 4 misconceptions with respect to Paul:
The first is the MISCONCEPTION OF HIS NAME. As a child growing up under the teachings of Christianity I learned along with most everyone else that Saul, the Jew, was converted over to become a Christian and now has the name of Paul. So, Saul was the Jewish name and Paul his Christian name. This is completely false.

There are two evidences that reveal the truth about his name:
FIRST—Saul was his Hebrew (Jewish) name and Paul was his Greek name (to the gentiles). So, with this in mind you will see that Saul and Paul are interchangeable.

SECOND—Saul, not Paul, is used several times after Jesus apprehended Saul on the road to Damascus. It is not a Christian conversion. If there is any sort of conversion, it is a personal transformation through Jesus. So, Saul, Paul, a Christian (a follower of the Christ) is now a follower of Jesus as the Christ.

The second is the MISCONCEPTION OF HIS CONVERSION. What was the core of Paul’s belief? Why was he so triggered by the followers of Jesus to the point of putting so much energy into stopping them? The core of his beliefs was the hope of the Messiah, Who would someday come and bring deliverance to His people. The followers of Jesus just didn’t fit into the “accepted” way of the Messiah Paul was looking for. In other words, Paul was looking for and protecting the purity of the coming of the Messiah. Or even more to the point, Paul was a devoted follower of the Messiah, the Christ. Paul could be called a Christian.

Now, as a Christian, Jesus apprehended his life on the road to Damascus. Jesus is still actively apprehending people’s lives today—non-Christians AND Christians.

The third is the MISCONCEPTION OF HIS MESSAGE. When Saul-Paul was blinded, he was sent to Ananias in Damascus to get relief. Ananias was given by God what Paul should say and do. But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel—(Acts 9:15). Paul’s message that he was to proclaim was very, very simple. He was to proclaim the name of Jesus.

The fourth is the MISCONCEPTION OF HIS MISSION. In the same verse Paul is given a specific mission—to proclaim the name of Jesus to three groupings of people. The three groups are the gentiles, their kings and the house of Israel. Paul was not just to speak to the gentiles as is normally taught.

Normally Peter is viewed as the one who speaks to the Jews and Paul is the one who speaks to the gentiles. However Peter is led by God to speak to the non-believer gentiles in Acts 10 and Paul continually speaks to a group of the believing Jews.

These are four common illustrations of how Paul and his mission are grossly misunderstood. Once you understand who Paul was and how Jesus came into his understanding, then it is much easier to make sense out of how Jesus works today. Paul doesn’t want to be a Christian. He tried that and found it lacking. Then he met Jesus. Jesus apprehended him on the road to Damascus.

Here’s the question: “Have you allowed Jesus, Himself, to apprehend your life?”


Jesus shows up “where two or three come together in His name.”

When Jesus shows up no one is the same again.
• The dead are brought back to life.
• The blind see.
• The lame walk.
• The deaf hear.
• The mute talk.
• Enemies and rivals become friends.
• Women’s status is elevated.
• The poor are made rich.
• The rich realize their poverty.
• The lost are found.
• The weak finds strength.
• The strong are made aware of weakness.

No transformation is more vivid than what happened to the early disciples. They were weak-willed and timid, then found inner strength and courage. The usual reason given for this dramatic life-change is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

The resurrection is no doubt paramount, however I see their transformation coming from something else. Jesus spent 40 days with the disciples, where He spoke to them about the kingdom of God. Check out what Peter shared regarding that time, when he spoke to those gathered in the house of Cornelius: "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

I think the real transformation took place during the time spent with Jesus, eating and drinking and discussing principles of the kingdom of God. And, this is the same today. When two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus, He will show up and make a significant difference in all who see Him.

In E. Stanley Jones’ book, Christ On the Indian Road, he shares this same principle of Jesus within the Indian culture. He says, “Jesus does not stand before the blind and the leper and the poor and the sinner and discourse philosophically on why they are in such condition, but lays His hands of sympathy upon them and heals them through his servants; and more—he puts his gentle but condemning finger upon the conscience of the hale and hearty Pharisee in the crowd and asks why he has allowed all this.”

Jones goes on to say, “Christ is confronting men everywhere. He has got hold of us. A Hindu lawyer of fine ability gave an address to which I listened on the topic, ‘The Inescapable Christ.’ He said: “We have not been able to escape him. There was a time when our hearts were bitter and sore against him, but he is melting them by his own winsomeness. Jesus is slowly but surely entering all men in India—all men.’”

“How is it possible to limit or demarcate the lines of the Kingdom any more? He steps beyond them, and shocked and frightened like the Pharisees of other days we stand and wonder how far he will go in his warm sympathy and understanding. He eats with publicans and sinners and with the Hindu, too. No wonder H. G. Wells in summing up the influence of Jesus upon human history in his Outline of History exclaims, ‘The Galilean has been too great for our small hearts.’”

Now, here’s my point. If Jesus brings positive transformation in every life He encounters, then doesn’t it make sense for us to introduce everyone we can to this Jesus? You see, when Jesus shows up, no one is ever the same again!

Monday, November 13, 2006



There is a great story of healing in chapters 3 and 4 of the book of Acts. Let’s take a look at it.

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: "People of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest's family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?"

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved."

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. "What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name."

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "Which is right in God's eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

NOTE the ingredients of a healing in the name of Jesus.
FIRST—When God sets out to heal someone, he will use ordinary, uneducated people to work through.
SECOND—When God sets out to heal someone, the one who is healed many times is looking for other solutions to his problem. The lame man was hoping for money.
THIRD—When God sets out to heal someone, there will be lots of opposition from the religious leadership.
FOURTH—When God sets out to heal someone, other ordinary people will be amazed. There is a ripple effect of faith that emerges from such an event.
FIFTH—When God sets out to heal someone, nothing can stop it. When God opens a door, no one can shut it.
SIXTH—When God sets out to heal someone, He will always heal in His special name—His unique and powerful name.

His name is Jesus.

Sunday, November 12, 2006



There is a great worship song that goes, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something about that name.” What is there about that name that is so important?

In order to get this in perspective we must go way back to nearly 3500 years ago when Moses was being sent by God to face the people of Israel. Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:13-14).

From the beginning God’s name is very important. His name is I AM WHO I AM. This means that God exists and always has existed. It is spelled in the Hebrew language by four letters without any vowels. It is YHWH. Some ancient rabbis have described the name of God as like taking a breath. It is Yah-weh. And every breath you take is like saying His name. His name is revered so highly by the Jewish people that they wouldn’t even pronounce it. Instead they would use the word for “lord” in its place. Even today, most Jews will not spell out the word, God. They usually write it with a hyphen, G-d.

When we come to the time of Jesus, there is a lot of emphasis placed upon the name of Jesus. In the first few verses of John it says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only.

Later in John Jesus says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." What is it about this Jesus that is so attractive? Well, in Acts 4:12 it says, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved." There is something about that name.

Remember when the Lord spoke to Ananias about what he was to tell Paul, who had just been apprehended by Jesus on the road to Damascus. He said, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.

When Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17, He makes an interesting reference about the name of God, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.

So what is the name of God that was given to Jesus? It is Jesus or “Yeshua” in the Hebrew. NOTE what this means. It is a combination of YE, short for Yahweh, and SHUA which means saves. So, the name is YAHWEH SAVES—Yeshua. It’s a combination of the name of God given to Moses and the Messianic name given to God in the flesh—Jesus—God saves!

Even more specific is that Jesus makes several claims to being the I AM. When Jesus announced to His disciples He would be leaving, Thomas said, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

There is something about that name. The name of Jesus sets Him apart from all others, everywhere. As a Buddhist friend of mine said, “Jesus trumps everything and everyone else!”

This is why Peter and John were able to give the healing touch to the lame man in Jerusalem. It was all in the name of Jesus. This is why when two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus, He shows up in supernatural ways. This is why we are to pray in the name of Jesus and He responds to our heart’s cries.

In the name of Jesus. There is something special about that name. JESUS.

Thursday, November 09, 2006



When Jesus spent His last few hours with His disciples, He gave them some of the most important principles ever given. One of the visuals Jesus used to describe His relationship with His disciples is a vine and a branch. Jesus posed Himself as the vine and His disciples as branches that are so connected to the vine that they draw their very life from this relationship. The purpose of this relationship is to bear fruit. Check out Jesus’ words: Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Jesus gives one command here—to remain in Him as a branch remains in a vine. To remain in Jesus is to abide in Him. This might sound like a passive thing to do, but abiding in Jesus is a very active work. It is work to keep your focus on this relationship.

But what is this work? Jesus had an encounter that might clarify this a bit: Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."

Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

So what is the primary work that God wants man to do? TO BELIEVE JESUS. TO TRUST JESUS! To trust Jesus is to follow the teachings and principles of Jesus—to follow Him. This is work. Have you ever tried it? This is why I instruct people to share with others: “I am doing the toughest thing I’ve ever tried to do. I’m trying to follow the teachings and principles of Jesus.” Believe me, this is the greatest work you will ever do in your life!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006



Most all religious systems are about doing more or doing and not doing certain things in order to be acceptable to God. Then with some you can achieve certain levels of acceptability after death if certain conditions are met.

But with Jesus, it’s completely the opposite. With Jesus all that makes you acceptable to God has already been done. There’s nothing you could do to earn this acceptance—nothing. Instead of do, do, do, Jesus says, “It’s already done!” Jesus took on flesh to suffer and die in order to turn the doing into done. Now, all there is to do is accept what He has done and respond to it.

Check out the message of the letter to the church of Jesus in Ephesus. There are 6 chapters and it lays out very neatly. The first 3 chapters set forth what God has done for us.
• He has redeemed us
• He calls us saints
• He has given us the same power that resurrected Jesus
• He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing
• He has already seated us in heavenly places

Then, one of my favorite passages says: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Paul’s prayer expresses the same richness: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!

So, the first 3 chapters present much of what God has done for us. Then, the last 3 chapters give us 33 things to do. Here’s the way I see it. Look what the Lord has done and is doing in you. NOW ACT LIKE IT! HIS WORK IN MY LIFE ALWAYS REQUIRES MY RESPONSE. SO, don't try to do it yourself. God has already done it. What He wants from you is to respond to Him and His work! NOW, would you look at all that God has done for you and will you act like it?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006



Throughout the Scriptures there is a constant theme that under-girds our discussion on genuine faith that is accompanied by works. It is best expressed as WALK BY FAITH. WALK—that’s what we are to do. BY FAITH is what we are believing God to do. So, in most every incident of life there is God’s part and man’s part.

By faith Noah built a boat. Noah worked very hard to build a boat by faith that God was going to do His part—to save the lives of Noah’s family in a boat that floats in the flood. Joshua fought the battle of Jericho. Joshua led his troops around the city to do their part by faith that God would do His part—to knock down the walls supernaturally.

Check out in the letter to the church of Jesus in Galatia:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

In another passage in the letter to the church of Jesus in Philippi: Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. That is man’s part. I am to work out in my life the salvation I have in my heart. This is my responsibility—to flesh out this faith life in my body. Now, if this was the entire story, we could easily be quite discouraged and overwhelmed. But watch what the rest of the passage says. It goes on with: for it is God who works in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure—the thing that pleases him. My work to work out my own salvation is totally dependent upon God’s work—to work in me with empowerment.

Here’s how it works. You are to do the possible (that’s your part), by faith that God will do the impossible (that’s God’s work). You cannot do the impossible, so don’t try. He will not be held responsible to do the possible, so don’t wait for God to do something that you can easily do yourself.

It’s 100% YOU and 100% GOD. Now don’t get upset with this. God’s 100% is far greater than yours. So now, live your life each day by faith. This gives you something significant to do while depending upon the God of gods to supernaturally intervene. So let go and let God! It’s the only way to freely and fully live!

Sunday, November 05, 2006



There’s a powerful passage in II Peter that offers more balance of a genuine faith that is proven out by your actions. In this case it starts out with what God has already done for you: Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
God has already given us everything we need to live the faith life most effectively. Then, because of what God has done inside us, we are told to do some amazing things—to supply: Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
Now, get this. God is not going to supply these things to our faith (moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love), we are to supply them to our faith. The word “supply” has the meaning of “underwrite” an event. This is to come from our efforts, so we must be capable of doing it.
Now watch the 3 results if we do these things: FIRST—For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. You will become fruitful in the true knowledge of Jesus.
SECOND—For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; If you lack these qualities, you will find yourself blind—can’t see where you are, short-sighted—can’t see where you’re going, and having forgotten your salvation—can’t see where you’ve been.
THIRD—for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. If you are faithful to supply these qualities to your faith, God will abundantly supply or underwrite a special entrance into the eternal kingdom.
TO SUM UP: God empowers us to live the faith life. We are commanded to do our part. Then, God supernaturally blesses us in our relationship with Him. It just doesn't get any better than this!



In the last few days we’ve been scoping out passage after passage where genuine faith will result in good works. All of this is under the theme “Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.” As I get into it further I see this could go on for many more days than I had initially thought. So, let’s take 5 more days on this theme.

Today I want to look at a very significant teaching in Ephesians 2:8-10: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

You are God’s handiwork. This word is where we get our word—poem. So, it would be best said, “You are God’s poem or message.” I believe each of us has a special and unique message given to us by God Himself. This message is not given to us to sit on, but to release it in our relationships. So, now you and I are His message to the world. In other words, your story is His story.

By the way, this means you are needed by the “others” in the world and you have need of the “others” in your life. There is a significance to your existence that goes far beyond your vocation or building your kingdom. God has a plan for you to fulfill—some good works for you to do.

Not only will find your most satisfying fulfillment as you embrace your God-given message for the world, but your good works will shine as a light in the world of darkness. Listen to the words of Jesus: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The world doesn’t need to be told about Jesus as much as it needs to see Jesus in you and me. The challenge to us is to hang out with Jesus close enough to catch on to how to walk like Jesus, think like Jesus, love like Jesus and talk like Jesus. Then the world may see His face.

Thursday, November 02, 2006



Yesterday I used the famous quote, FAITH ALONE SAVES, BUT THE FAITH THAT SAVES IS NOT ALONE. The faith that saves or the faith that is genuine and complete has a balance of faith and works.

Today I want to turn to another of the many passages that teaches that the faith that saves is not alone. I just ran across another time where Jesus chides those who claim Jesus as Lord of their lives, but He is stumped that these same people don’t do what He says to do. "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46

In the book of James there is a great visual of those who hear the word of God—they hear Jesus, they receive His words, but again they don’t do them. James speaks to hearers who actually do hear and welcome the word of God, but because they are not doers they delude themselves into thinking somehow they have already applied what they have just heard.

In James 1:19-25 he says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because our anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Those who listen to the word but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like. But those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continue in it—not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

As a good friend continues to say, “Look at what Jesus said and did and go do it. It is just too simple. If you believe it, then act like it.

You see, Christianity or any other religious system can be distributed by a class or a lecture. In this case, it is entirely possible to fill up people’s ears with so much stuff that they will never be able to do much of it at all. And after hearing these theological gems, they are able to pass along the thoughts point by point to others without ever allowing these teachings to be fleshed out in real life.

I find myself moving with the same innate tendency to disciple those who are interested by gathering them together in a seminar or workshop setting. But this is precisely what is totally different responding to Jesus’ revolutionary call to “FOLLOW ME!” Following Jesus is not a lecture, but a lab which demands definition & demonstration!

Jesus ends His first speaking session with these words:
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Be a doer of the words of Jesus and not a hearer who deludes himself.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Yesterday’s podcast begs the question—“When you put so much emphasis on following Jesus in order to get into heaven, isn’t that saying that salvation is of works and not faith alone?”

To answer this question I want to deal with a few passages over the next few days that will most surely give some clarity on this truth.

You see, I didn’t say that certain believers will not enter the kingdom of heaven—Jesus did! And there are all kinds of Scriptures that bring clarity to this. I can’t get it out of my mind the two most important words that have changed the world—FOLLOW ME! Jesus is still calling us today to follow Him.

Stepping out in faith, believing and trusting Jesus, requires some follow-through. That follow-through is to follow Him with all your heart. I referred to the false prophets/teachers and the devils as two groups that are believers in Jesus, but they won’t be entering into the kingdom of heaven according to Jesus. Why? Because they have chosen NOT TO FOLLOW Jesus.

Following Jesus is the necessary and natural “work” of genuine faith. So there is a certain balance of faith and works. One of the earliest writings is by James. He deals with this balance of faith and works in the following way:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if people claim to have faith but have no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

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. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father 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 people are justified by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead (James 2:14-26).

NOTE the primary points James makes:
1. Faith without action is dead.
2. You show your faith by what you do.
3. Abraham’s faith was made complete by his actions.
4. People are justified by what they do and not faith alone.
5. Faith without deeds is dead.

I have always liked this statement which sums it up best for me.