“Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18)

I had an amazing time last week. On Saturday, I went to two Rodeos one being a speed Barrel Race and the other Bull Riders. I was privileged to give the opening prayer at each one and a devotional and prayer for the bull riders. One was early in the morning and lasted till one in the afternoon. The bull riding did not start till five so I had some time to kill and just sat in the park and read and thought about what I had read. It was a peaceful time that I often miss having.

Sunday afternoon at four in the afternoon, Franklin Graham was in Plant City with His Sunshine State Tour. I went there to listen to his message of hope. Jeremy Camp opened the service with some wonderful praise and worship music. Then Franklin Graham took the stage and delivered a moving message of hope. His point was that the only real hope for America and the path she is on is to return to God. My thought on that is that we place our hope on a lot of things. In truth, when we put our hope in earthly things and possibilities, we wish for a favorable result. Hope is a farther-reaching desire. Hope can result in destination or destiny. Our hope demands a final goal that is secure in an absolute outcome. Hope then can only be placed in unchangeable things. I hope I make it is not hope, it is a wish. Hope in Salvation secured in God’s promise brings joy into your life while moving towards your hope.

God is absolute, and He is Sovereign over His creation. Only God can offer a place in His Kingdom because He has made provision for mankind to receive it. Jesus paid the way by removing the sin from our lives that prevent us from entering into the righteous Kingdom. There is no other way other than through Jesus. Jesus gives us that hope and therefore, we have joy because of Him.

As Franklin offered an invitation for those who felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit to come forward and accept Jesus in their heart, I began to wonder. I was wondering about the next steps in their new path. They would find a Church if they weren’t already attending. They would go to be fed the spiritual truths in the counsel of the Spirit through the words of the Pastor. Would they keep the truth in their hearts and live by it through the week, or let it gather dust as many Bibles do during the week.

I was reminded of a message our Pastor preached a few Sundays ago about the followers of the Good Shepherd. How the sheep love to be fed and always come back for more. Sunday after Sunday, perhaps throughout their lives, they come to God’s House and are spiritually fed. I pass several Churches on the way to the Church I attend and their lots are full of people going in to be fed. Yet I seldom meet anyone during the week, which is sharing what they learned the past Sunday. My question is where then is their joy?

Not changing the subject, but this lack of enthusiasm for the good news of the Kingdom of God causes me to pause. There is a lot of talk about sleeper cells here in America. The sleeper cell is an organization of people trained to be agents of resistance against the nation. The Iranians, Hezbollah, Hamas, and others have terrorist sleeper cells planted here in the United States. They are trained and ready at command to act against the people of the United States. We the people have learned the hard way of their existence and it is of great concern.

The Churches across this nation are filled with sleeper cells. They are trained as they are fed weekly and know what their duty is. Yet, they are not ready to obey the command when they hear it, or when they see the need for it, and most time receive it with complacently. These sleeper cells are sleeping in the pews of Churches across America. This lack of genuinely committed followers of Christ has been going on longer than I have been watching God’s glory rise each morning. It is not a stretch to look across our country and see the result of people sleeping in the pews.

The questions go on. Where were the Christian soldiers when Roe vs. Wade worked its way through the Supreme Court? Where in the Constitution does it say a mother has the right to murder her child before birth? Where in the Constriction does it say the guaranteed rights do not apply to all citizens of the United States? Where in the Constitution does it say that people of perverted sexual activities have exclusive right to practice their perversions openly? Where in the Constitution does it give the authority to support same-sex marriage? It that is based on love, which I fail to accept, and believe it is lust, what can stop that precedent? Where was the Church when they sat by and allowed these things to become law? Where was the Church when these evil people were voted into office? Why is the Church not voting them out of office? Are there that many sleeping in the pews?

I got into a debate with a friend of mine not long ago about this very thing. Why do so many Christians only practice their faith on Sunday? We went down a long road of conversation until my friend said this does not matter as we are saved by the grace of God freely. In answer, I said you seem to have parked on the word free and not the whole of the verse. Salvation is not free. God sacrificed the life of His Son to pay your sin debt. I think the only way you can balance that is to die for Him yourself. You have left out a keyword. Look at the verse again. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

No doubt in my mind, you were saved by the grace of God, as not one is worthy of being saved. It is His grace through faith that you are saved. Faith is an action word. Faith is living in God’s truth and promises as you have them now, not someday in the future. If God says you have been transferred, it is not when you get to Heaven; it is immediate. “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” (Colossians 1:13) We are not citizens of the world anymore but foreigners living in the world.

As foreigners in the world, we are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) We are His representatives and we are to live here as if we were there so the world can see our Savior through us. The command that Jesus has given us is to “go” and make disciples in this world. We do not do that in Church, as this is where we train for the ministry Jesus has given us. We go out in faith living the gospel message that others may see Jesus lifted up. Faith is action, and we accomplish our good works by faith in His word. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

We are saved by grace through faith, and our faith justifies our freely given salvation. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1) Jesus is our model, He is the author of our faith, and He is the one who came to save the lost. When He went home to the Father, He passed this ministry on to His disciples, which the Church is. His disciples didn’t sit around on the Day of Pentecost; they went out and preached the gospel of the Kingdom. They weren’t just feeders of the word. They took action and were doers of the word in faith.

The sleepers in the pews need to wake up. If they do not, then it will not be long before there are no pews to sleep in. Obedience gives understanding, understanding brings excitement, and excitement brings a desire to share with any who will listen. If we live our life actively lifting Jesus up, then He will draw men to Himself. Sleepers in the pews will never enjoy that joy. “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:23-25)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, January 17, 2020

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