Ezekiel 39:1-40:27, James 2:18-3:18, Psalms 118:1-18, Proverbs 28:2
Today is the 19th day of November. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian. It is always, always, always a pleasure to be here with you, and that includes today, that includes right now. So, it’s great to be here with you to take the next step forward as we continue to move through this month and through the Scriptures. We’re reading from the Good News Translation this week. Ezekiel chapter 39 verse 1 through 40 verse 27 today.
Okay. So, we moved through the middle of James in today’s reading and if we’re paying attention then the profound implications of the letter of James continue to become more and more clear. James, his like main argument has been that faith is indeed where the story with God begins. However, faith without works is dead, right? So, faith without some kind of corresponding action isn’t a faith that is alive. So, quoting James, “show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.” And then he gives like searing example. “Do you believe that there is only one God?” Right? So, like, if we were asked this question we would say yes. And James would respond, “good.” “The demons also believe, they believe there is only one God and they tremble with fear.” Right? So, he’s using this as an illustration to say okay, faith without it transforming you and in transforming you changing the way you do what you do, right, in other words your works or your actions. If they are not complementary, if they are not together then…well…then…we’re no better off than the demonic because they also believe what we believe, that there is only one God. In fact, they may have a more intimate knowledge of it than we do and they tremble with fear. So…ughhh…so this is why, like, the reformer Martin Luther didn’t appreciate the letter of James because so much of the apostle Paul’s work and for that matter what Martin Luther stood on was by faith alone - sola fide. So, if you are Protestant, then yes, the doctrine is…it is a gift…it is by faith. There’s nothing you can do to earn it. So, if you are Roman Catholic or are of the Orthodox Church or any non-Protestant church, then good works is the doctrine that you are taught. Good works are part of the conversion process. So, it seems like we got a pretty glaring discrepancy because on the one hand, we can hear from the apostle Paul it’ by grace alone, by faith alone, we can hear these things from the apostle Paul and then we can turn to James and find faith without works is dead. And, so, trying to define exactly what this all means, this is one of the reasons that we have different persuasions in the Christian faith. But I wonder if it’s really all that big of a discrepancy. I mean, I think we’ve lived long enough in our lives to understand that on our own we are not going to be able to perfect ourselves. And I have tried hard in my faith. I have tried hard. And no matter what I do I can perfect myself. And, so, we probably all feel the same. Maybe a few of you out there have perfected yourself and I would love to meet you. For me, I have to lean into grace every single day and mercy every single moment. And the only way that I can even believe that God would be merciful to me, a sinner, is through faith. And Paul and James are neither one arguing against that, right? It is through faith. In fact, James includes the reference to Abraham, sort of the centerpiece of Paul’s theology. So, I mean, like, the bottom line is, if you are shown mercy and grace in any area of your life do you not respond to it? Let’s say you’re late for work. Your rolling down the highway, you’re going 10 miles an hour over the speed limit, your frantic, it’s a mess, and you get pulled over and are like. great this makes matter so much worse, and the officer says hey, you were going 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. And you’re like, I’m so sorry, I’m running late and he lets you go. Are you gonna just go 10 miles an hour over the speed limit or will that grace cause you to actually obey the law and pay attention, right? Or maybe last week you got in a big fight with your spouse. It was a mess, it was really ugly, it was World War III, things were said that can’t be unsaid, it’s been kind of a Cold War in the house for several days now. And one spouse comes to the other and says, we were both wrong but I’m sorry for my part and I’m forgetting about the rest of this and forgetting about your part. Well, that’s probably going to lead to an embrace, like a work, an action. It’s probably going to lead to the restoration of something because something that was broken has been restored. So, maybe we can’t perfect ourselves before God and come into His presence in the end and say…with demands…I deserve to be here. I am here because I am perfect, and you have to acknowledge my perfection. None of us are gonna be able to do that. The only way that we can reach for perfection and actually put it on is through faith. However, if we do that, if we lean into the grace and mercy of God through faith, then it’s got to change the way we do what we do. Our actions become the outward representation, the physical expression, of the faith that we claim we have within. Like, if by faith we are…we are leaning into the mercy of God for all of the missteps on any given day, and we are looking through faith to the fact that sin is not a part of our story before, that God is making us perfect because He is perfect and He is within us, well then, that should be represented in every area of our lives and everything that we do. Hence, faith without works is dead. Where this all becomes a theological quagmire is whether your works have anything to do with your salvation. Paul would say, your salvation is a gift. James would say that salvation is a gift, but you better spend your entire life appreciating a gift you don’t deserve and that must be evident in the things you do. And one of the things that we do is talk. And for James, one of the ways we put our faith into action is evidenced by the way that we steward what we say. So, he likened our tongues to a bit in a horse’s mouth or to the rudder of a small ship. It’s a small part of our body, right, or a small part of a boat, but it steers the trajectory of our entire lives. In fact, James is bold enough to tell us that we can burn our entire lives down around us with our tongues. And we probably have. We know that there is power in words. We usually don’t think about the power of our words were saying them, but there is enormous power in our words. And it’s in the harnessing of that power, and using that power for good that we find ourselves challenged. But James point wasn’t there is mighty power in what we say, it was the duality that we use that mighty power, for good and for evil, which is bringing his “faith without works is dead” point home. So, quoting from James speaking of our tongue. “We use it to give thanks to our Lord and Father and also to curse other people who are created in the likeness of God. Words of thanksgiving and cursing pour out from the same mouth. My friends, this should not happen.” So, since our tongues have such power to bless and such power to curse, maybe the first and fundamental step that we have to take in putting our faith in the action and actually showing and demonstrating our faith, maybe the first step is to harness and control our tongues. We all know what can happen when we lose control and say things that we shouldn’t say. Like, we have the power to be angels of mercy or a stone-cold killer all on the same day and as James is telling us, this isn’t right, this shouldn’t be happening. So, plenty to consider from this little letter of James today, plenty to confront ourselves within today. And let’s do that. Let’s invite the Holy Spirit into the ways that we are and the ways that we are not putting our faith into action because, as we’ve learned, one of the ways we can immediately respond is to harness the power of our tongues for good. If we can control our tongues, since it’s steering the ship as it were, right? So, since it’s guiding the direction of our lives, if we can control our tongues the rest of us is going to follow, my body and soul, and will set us on a path that will put our faith in action in everything we do.
Father, we invite You into that. There’s a lot there but it does kind of boil down to this one action point, this one thing that we are commanded to do and can do if we’re paying attention, and that is to harness the power of our tongue. We are using that power for good and for evil and we are being encouraged to use it for good period and not use it for evil. And what would happen in our lives if all that we did was harness our tongue for good and for the use of Your kingdom? It would certainly change the trajectory of our lives and put our faith into action. So, come Holy Spirit we pray. This is a tall order and we cannot do this on our own. We need Your grace and we need Your mercy but we also need Your guidance and we submit ourselves to Your authority and we give the authority of our tongue to You. Come Holy Spirit we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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Community Prayer and Praise:
Dear Heavenly Father, sovereign Lord, You who are faithful and true, full of mercy and grace. Lord, please be very near to our sister Paula, the child advocate from LA who lost their home, her and her husband, in the fire. Lord, thank You that a cross still stood in the yard and an annual plant. And Lord, thank You that You will be present every step of the way to lead them forward into goodness and blessings such as they could never have imagined. Thank You, Lord that You hold Paula and her family in the palm of Your hand. And we pray for all the victims of these fires and of the shootings in Thousand Oaks and at the synagogue. Lord, please come…come to comfort and restore and show us the next right thing and power to live in Your love and believe You Lord and all Your promises to us. In Jesus’ name I pray. This is Candace from Oregon.
Good morning Daily Audio Bible family, this is Deborah from Providence, Rhode Island. Brian, family, and all behind the scenes, thank you for all that you do. Paula, the advocate, I heard you and I am praying for you and your family. I’m so sorry for what has happened, but you seem to be strong and I know you will come out of this stronger than ever. The new caller, I believe is Justin, welcome. You have joined a wonderful caring, loving community, that we’re all hear from you. Asia, I heard your call two weeks ago and I am praying for you. And all the other callers that have called in, you may now heat your name, but we are all praying for you. You may not always call but we are praying. I know I pray every day. I’ve been listening to DAB since 2006 and I haven’t missed a day and every day, every caller that calls in, I pray for them, I glorify God for them. And I thank Brian and his family for such a wonderful opportunity to come together and pray for others. Deborah from Providence, Rhode Island. You all have a blessed one.
Good morning, this is November 16th and this is Kris from South Carolina. And I’m just calling to ask for some prayer. Still…still separated and there’s days that I really struggle. I know that I’m supposed to hang on. God, He spoke to me in the last year. Trusting and believing and He put an end to this…put a stop to the divorce. And my husband and I have been married for almost 30 years and we haven’t been living together for five. And it’s been really hard. I still see him as the love of my life and I miss him. He had an affair, he moved out. And since then we had moved on but he appears to be with someone else. And I still love him and I’m still praying for him. And it’s hard because the relationship with my son is also strained. He lives with his dad and I don’t get to see him that much and I don’t get to talk to him that much. And I feel like I’m the bad guy in all of this. And all I’m doing is just praying, believing, and trusting for my entire family for restoration in my family, restoration in my son, and restoration with my husband. And sometimes I really struggle. And nights and weekends are the worst. And I just really need some prayer over this. Thank you so much for everything and for this Daily Audio Bible family. Have a good weekend. Thank you.
Hello, this is Christine with the bumpy dog and I am in a hospital because I have acute leukemia. I came into the hospital the end of September. The chemo I took doesn’t seem to be working. So, they did another bone biopsy, but it’s been such a horrible couple of days and the nighttime is always worse. Please pray for me that the Lord would heal me from this cancer. I thank you for your prayers for my family. And I just want to go home. Thank you. This afternoon someone had to be resuscitated across the hall. I’ve moved my room five times. I’m just so very frazzled and tired. Thank you for keeping me in your prayers.