July 6: Faith
1 Samuel 12:1–13:23; James 2:19–26; Psalm 119:81–96
Sometimes it’s difficult to view our lives as a whole. We fulfill different roles as we interact with different people at school, home, work, and even church. In the natural donning and discarding of these roles, we might be tempted to compartmentalize our lives, yet we do so to the detriment of our faith. Even as we read our Bibles with intellectual vigor at home and participate in a small group at church, we might miss the mark of application. We forget to connect the dots, neglecting to treat our coworkers with kindness and our peers with love. We can know our faith intellectually but still miss out on the call to action and the response of obedience in our lives.
But James shows us that belief and action are inextricably linked. When we think about them as separate entities, we develop a deep-rooted problem: “But do you want to know … that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith was working together with his works, and by the works the faith was perfected” (Jas 2:20–22).
James wasn’t arguing that Abraham earned his righteousness before God; rather, Abraham was acting out of obedience as a response of faith. As people who have been redeemed by Christ, we can joyfully express our faith—we are enabled to do good works because of His work. Although we won’t attain perfect obedience in this life, we will desire obedience and love. We will desire to use our lives to apply what we know in our heads and feel in our hearts. Because of our faith, we will do good works.
Real faith doesn’t sit still, but it doesn’t move on its own, either. We need to pray for God’s Spirit to ignite this desire in us, prompting us to act with love and obedience.
In what area of your life are you missing the mark of application? How can you pray for wisdom in that situation? How can you act faithfully?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R.
- Samuel then said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have appointed a King over you. Now therefore behold, your King walketh before you, and I am old and gray headed, and behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day. Behold, here I am: bear record of me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I done wrong to? or whom have I have I hurt? or of whose hand have I received any bribe, to blind mine eyes therewith, and I will restore it to you? Then they said, Thou has done us no wrong, nor has hurt us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand. And he said unto them, The Lord is witness against you, and his Anointed is witness this day, that ye have found nought in mine hands. And they answered, He is witness. Then Samuel said unto the people, It is the Lord that made Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers out of the land of Egypt. Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord according to all the righteousness of the Lord, which he showed to you and to your fathers. After that Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the Lord, then the Lord’s sent Moses and Aaron which brought your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place. And when they forgot the Lord their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. And they cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served Baal and Ashtoreth. Now therefore deliver us out of the hands of our enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe. Notwithstanding when you saw, that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, No, but a king shall reign over us: when yet the Lord your God was King. Now therefore behold the King whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired: lo therefore, the Lord hath set a King over you. If ye will fear the Lord and serve him, and hear his voice, and not disobey the word of the Lord, both ye, and the king that reigneth over you, shall follow the Lord your God. But if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord, but disobey the Lord’s mouth, then shall the hand of the Lord be upon you, and on your fathers. Now also stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes. It is not now wheat harvest? I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain, that ye may perceive and see, how that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the Lord in asking you a king. Then Samuel called unto the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain the same day: and all the people feared the Lord and Samuel exceedingly. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have sinned in asking us a King, beside all our other sins. And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not (ye have indeed done all this wickedness, yet depart not from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart, Neither turn ye back: for that should be after vain things which cannot profit you, nor deliver you, for they are but vanity.) For the Lord will not forsake his people for this great Name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people. Moreover God forbid, that I should sin against the Lord, and cease praying for you, but I will show you the good and right way. Therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in the truth with all your hearts, and consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye do wickedly, ye shall perish, both ye and your King. Saul now had the King one year, and he reigned two years over Israel. Then Saul chose him three thousand of Israel: and two thousand were with Saul in Michmash, and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every one to his tent. And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines, that was in the hill: and it came to the Philistines’ ear: and Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Hear, O ye Hebrews. And all Israel heard say, Saul hath destroyed a garrison of the Philistines: wherefore Israel was had in abomination with the Philistines: and the people gathered together after Saul and Gilgal. The Philistines also gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousands chariots, and six thousand horsemen: for the people was like the sand which is by the seaside in multitude, and came up, and pitched in Michmash Eastward from Beth Aven. And when the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were in distress) for the people hid themselves in the caves, and in holds, and in rocks, and in towers, and in pits. And some Hebrews went over Jordan unto the land of Gad and Gilead: and Saul was yet in Gilgal, and all the people for fear followed him. And he tarried seven days, according unto the time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal, therefore the people were scattered from him. And Saul said, Bring a burnt offering to me and peace offerings: and he offered a burnt offering. And as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came: and Saul went forth to meet him, to salute him. And Samuel said, What hast thou done? Then Saul said, Because I saw that the people was scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together to Michmash, Therefore said I, the Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord. I was bold therefore and offered a burnt offering. And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for the Lord had now stablished thy kingdom upon Israel forever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be governor over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord had commanded thee. And Samuel arose, and got him up from Gilgal in Gibeah of Benjamin: and Saul numbered the people that were found with him, about six hundred men. And Saul and Jonathan his son, and his people that were found with them, had their abiding in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines pitched in Michmash. And there came out of the host of the Philistines three bands to destroy, one band turned unto the way of Ophrah unto the land of Shaul, And another band turned toward the way to Beth Horon, and the third band turned toward the way of the coast that looketh toward the valley of Zeboim, toward the wilderness. Then there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears. Wherefore, all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, his mattock, and his axe, and his weeding hook. Yet they had a file for the shares, and for the mattocks, and for the pick forks, and for the axes, and for to sharpen the goads. So when the day of battle was come, there was neither sword nor spear found in the hands of any of the people that were with Saul and with Jonathan: but only Saul and Jonathan his son was found there. And the garrison of the Philistines came out to the passage of Michmash. 1 Samuel 12:1–13:23
- Thou believest that there is one God: thou doest well: the devils also believe it, and tremble. But wilt thou understand, O thou vain man, that the faith which is without works, is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified through works, when he offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou not that the faith wrought with his woks? and through the works was the faith made perfect. And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God. Ye see then how that of works a man is justified, and not of faith only. Likewise also as not Rahab the harlot justified through works, when she had received the messengers, and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, even so the faith without works is dead. James 2:19–26
- My soul fainted for thy salvation: yet I wait for thy word. Mine eyes fail for thy promise, saying, When wilt thou comfort me? For I am like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes. How many are the days of thy servant? When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? The proud have dug pits for me, which is not after thy Law. All thy commandments are true: they persecute me falsely: help me. They had almost consumed me upon the earth: but I forsook not thy precepts. Quicken me according to thy loving kindness: so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth. O Lord, thy word endureth forever in heaven. Thy truth is from generation to generation thou hast laid the foundation of the earth, and it abideth. They continue even to this day by thine ordinances: for all are thy servants. Except thy law had been my delight, I should now have perished in mine affliction. I will never forget thy precepts: for by them thou hast quicken me. I am thine, save me: for I have sought thy precepts. The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies. I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceedingly large.. Psalm 119:81–96