Calloused Hearts- James 2:17-18, 26

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.
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

COMMENTARY

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also
Yesterday I shared how we can only be made alive through Christ, and that means we need to be a part of Christ, and that means we are actively striving to live a Christ-like life every day. There are other factors, of course, such as the all-important role of grace, but our personal striving is a very real piece of the puzzle.
Which James further emphasizes in today’s verses: faith without works is dead.
We can and should pray to God for a fire to be lit in our hearts. We should show our faith by inviting Him to plant an active desire to do good within us. We should trust that He can remake us so that choosing the right becomes an easy and pleasant experience.
But in my life it seems that He often does not often pour that spiritual fire into my heart right away. He usually takes that prayer of faith and responds by giving me a small choice. Perhaps a twinge of conscience for something simple and good to do right then and there. And I’m sorry to say that sometimes I haven’t taken the invitation. The simple good action I am being offered seems disconnected from the greater good I was asking for the strength to do, and so I overlook it. And then my faith is separated from my works and my heart is left feeling dead.

Calloused Hearts- John 10:10

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

COMMENTARY

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy
Once we dwelled with a direct connection to God, now being apart from Him feels like being spiritually catatonic. It is a debilitating condition, one that many of us misdiagnose and then chase all manner of false remedies to try and fix.
These remedies are like the thieves described in this verse, come to sink us even lower than we were before. Some of them promise artificial sustenance through addictions, others promise release through numbness to the pain. Both of these paths deaden our soul more than it already was. They distract us by over-stimulation or by silencing of the senses, all while leaving the spirit entirely dissatisfied.

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly
What we really need is to recognize that our souls just aren’t designed to live without a connection to our Maker. We simply cannot thrive without Him, it isn’t possible.
Man did not breathe until God put it into his nostrils to do so, and the soul does not thrive until God has been allowed to stoke a fire within it.

Influence and Persuasion- Ephesians 2:1-6

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

COMMENTARY

You who were dead in trespasses and sins; ye walked according to the course of this world,
had your conversation in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath.

Yesterday I considered how ineffective forcing people to obey you is in the long term. In this verse Paul describes those of us that have been wrapped around Satan’s finger for years, doing all manner of soul-wrenching sins due to the anxiety, fear, and addiction he smothers us with. And we might confess that we hate what we do, yet feel doomed to continue doing it all the rest of their lives.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ

And yet, for all that control Satan seems to have had over us, one day, on a whim, we will say that they have had enough and leave him for something better. God simply walks by and offers to take us somewhere new and we say “Yes, please!” And just like that the power and control and dominion of Satan is shattered.

The Resurrecting and Enabling Power of Jesus- John 11:39-41, 43-44; Matthew 14:25, 27-31

Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
Straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

COMMENTARY

And he that was dead came forth.
And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water.
Jesus is empowered to do the impossible and the improbable. As I mentioned yesterday, no matter what your own individual situation is, you are not so removed that his power cannot reach you.
Lazarus was dead. He was not sick, he was not wounded, he was not mostly gone but still holding onto a shred of life still. He was dead. Maybe you feel like parts of you have died as well. Not just parts that have been hurt, or parts are weak, but ones that are actually dead. No light and no life in them. Jesus can work with that, after all he is the life and the light.
Peter had never walked on water before. This wasn’t some skill that he had been struggling with and wanted to do better at. Maybe you feel at times like you are asked to do something you simply cannot do. It isn’t something that you are just weak or unskilled at, it is literally something you have never done before because for you it is impossible. Jesus can work with that, too. So long as you have the faith, he will empower you to do the things that couldn’t be done.