The world believes in God, but faith without works is dead. Even the devils believe and have faith, but they have no works or trust to produce anything for God. Trust is an action word.
James 2:14-24 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say…Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham …justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?…Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
When God told Abraham to offer Isaac, he immediately worked, acted, and trusted to do as God said. He didn’t question or doubt but trusted God with all his heart. Faith by itself is not enough. Trust is putting into action what God says. The 19th century acrobat Charles Blondin was famous for his tightrope act where he crossed 1000 feet of rope 160 feet above Niagara Falls. In 1860 he performed for a Royal party from Britain. After stopping half way to cook and eat an omelette, next he took a wheelbarrow back and picked up a sack of potatoes to return to the other side. Blondin asked the Duke of Newcastle if he believed “I could take a man across the tightrope in this wheelbarrow?” The Duke said he believed but wouldn’t trust Blondin with his life to get in the wheelbarrow and go across himself. This kind of belief is not much good to God. He is looking for followers who trust him 100% with their lives to get in the wheelbarrow. Believing God can take the wheelbarrow without you in it is not trust.
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Jesus said some hear the word of God but have no faith to believe and be saved.
Luke 8:11-12 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
He said others believe for a while but stop trusting when temptation comes because they have no root. They start trusting in themselves, then they get offended because they’re trying to do things their own way.
Luke 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
Matthew 13:6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
It’s vitally important that we put into practice what God says to do or we’ll fail. Letting God direct us gives us opportunity for him to use us as he wishes. The attitude we need in trials is trust. God will work things out as we trust and lean on him. Some trusted for a while but cares, riches and pleasures choked the word.
Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
The enemy wants us to be overcharged by worry, anxiety, cares, and stress. We’re not trusting when we’re worrying or have anxiety because of situations. That will choke the word. We have to be serious about reading the word of God and praying each day for God’s direction. Hearing brings faith but keeping the word is trust – getting in the wheelbarrow. If we’re not getting in the wheelbarrow, we’re trying to work things out by our own understanding.
The Israelites in the wilderness forgot how God delivered them from Egypt, from Pharaoh’s army, and from the plagues. If you get discontent with God’s way, you’ll forget what God has done for you. Sometimes we need our pastor’s counsel because we aren’t smart enough to figure out everything. Sometimes we will not understand the counsel is from God, but if God says to do something, we need to trust and obey. We all need to trust godly counsel or we aren’t trusting God.
Psalm 106:12-15 Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness…And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.
Asa was king of Judah and wanted to do right. When an Ethiopian army of 1 million came against the 580,000 of Judah, then Asa cried to God for help. When the enemy comes to us like a flood and we cry to God, he will help us.
II Chronicles 14:2-12 And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God: For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves: And commanded Judah to seek the Lord…and to do the law and the commandment. Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him. And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the Lord had given him rest. Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars…because we have sought the Lord…he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered. And Asa had an army of men…out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin…two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valour. And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand…Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array…Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and…we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa…and the Ethiopians fled.
The prophet Azariah gave counsel and Asa followed the counsel. We won’t prosper if we don’t take counsel like Asa did.
II Chronicles 15:1-8 And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah…And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord…he was found of them…Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. And when Asa heard these words …he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land…and renewed the altar of the Lord…
When Asa had been king 36 years, Baasha the king of Israel came to war against Judah. Asa didn’t call on God or ask for direction. He took silver and gold from the house of God to send to the king of Syria for help. We can serve God for a long time and then start leaning on our own understanding. That’s why it’s so important to seek God every day for his direction. Sometimes people have to unlearn what they’ve done in the past. God has new things for us to learn every day.
II Chronicles 16:1-5 In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah…to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the king’s house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria…saying, There is a league between me and thee, as…between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart…Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and…when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease.
The seer or prophet reminded Asa of when God delivered them when they were greatly outnumbered by the Ethiopians. Asa was lifted up in pride and never repented so died lost. We have to serve God consistently and seek him diligently to help direct our lives, or we’ll not trust God but lean on our own understanding.
II Chronicles 16:7-9 And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa…said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians…a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the Lord run…throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly…from henceforth thou shalt have wars.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)