Saturday, December 7, 2013

Paul/Faith vs James/Works

Our women's bible study group is currently studying the book of James.  I did some in depth studying on our last session:  The role of good works in the believer’s lifeThis has always been an interesting topic regarding salvation because sometimes we read one or 2 lines of scripture and come to a conclusion that can be a little skewed.  

In reference to the scripture below from James 2:14-26, here are some interesting points that I found.


James talks about the external results; James says this is what saving faith looks like.

Faith and Works
14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can [n]that faith save him? Works bears testimony of the inner-man. 
15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, [o]be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is [p]dead, being by itself.  The cause must come before the effect.  As evidence of a changed life, salvation must come first.

18 But someone [q]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.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? James speaks to the man who is all talk and no show (actions).  True salvation always proves itself.
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and [s]as a result of the works, faith was [t]perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.  Abraham’s works mentioned by James were a result of justification which came by faith 25 years earlier.  Abraham was not being saved again.  He was showing evidence of his salvation, confirmed in the justification by faith, accomplished years before.  Paul and James cite 2 different times in Abraham’s life, events separated by 25 years. 

24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.  “Works” are the result of true “faith”.  Jesus Christ and His righteousness is the standard.

Salvation is the result of God’s grace and your faith. 


Paul looks at what goes on internally; Paul says we are saved by “faith”. 
Ephesians 2:8-For by grace, you have been saved through “faith”; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Romans 10:6-But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works.

Galatians 2:21-If Righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died needlessly.

Titus 3:5-He saved us not on the basis of deeds, which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.

I hope this helps others as much as it helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of both faith and works in a believer's life.  I touched a little on Ephesians 2:8 in my blog post titled: Salvation Is A Free Gift.  As humans, we believe that nothing is free and everything must be earned.  After all, hard work is everything and we really seem to struggle with accepting unmerited favor aka grace. Well T.D. Jakes helped me to realize that "Favor Ain't Fair".  This means that God shows grace on whomever he chooses and it's never about earning it.  We just aren't good enough, period.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Follow The Leader

It gives me joy to give my husband the space and support he needs to be the head of our household and to lead me as I submit to Him according to God's will.  Because of that, our relationship is much stronger than it would be if I didn't choose to obey God's will for our marriage.  If you don't allow a man to do what God has called Him to do as the head of the house, you could be setting him up to fail.

As we all know, in dancing two people cannot lead.  One must be willing to follow or both of you could trip and fall.  The same applies to married couples.  When you have a wife trying to control her husband or usurp his authority as the leader, disaster is in the mix.  Trust me, I know from experience.

As the wife, trusting your husband is trusting God.  You know that your husband will make mistakes at one point or another.  Finances, children, discipline, ego, etc.... That's why trusting God is essential when it comes to being a submissive wife.  What does it take to be a submissive wife?  I will share with you how things look for me personally as a submissive wife.

For the first 3 or 4 years of our relationship, I tried to control every aspect of my husband.  You see, he didn't believe in God.  He was angry at God for many understandable reasons.  Well I thought that I could somehow make him be a man of God and I actually viewed him as a control freak.  Guess what I learned in the process?  Not only was I the "control freak", I would never be able to control him w/o first surrendering to him.  But how do you surrender to a man that doesn't want a relationship with God?  You take him, your children, your finances, your household and you place it all in God's care.

By totally surrendering everything you care about to God, you are setting the stage for abundant blessings in all those areas.  When I disagree with something that my husband does or says, I try to remain silent until I know I can address him w/o being disrespectful or saying the wrong thing out of anger.  That is what I used to try to do and it only made things worse.  We used to argue all the time, even in front of our kids.

As I finally started to grow up,  God saved my husband and our marriage and I allowed myself to agree with God and let Him minister to me through His word.  I learned how to see things through God's eyes.  Of course we don't always agree but we try to work through it w/o disrespecting each other. I talk to God and I ask Him to help me get my point across the right way. But not before God shows me where I'm wrong or need improvement.  This has worked for us for years now.  My husband almost always sees things as God sees them and as a result we are actually in agreement most of the time.  That's what it's all about.  When we do struggle with each others decisions or behavior, we ask God to help us see the situation through His eyes.

Tips for married couples:
1. When we learn to humbly trust and obey God, He brings personal transformation.
2. Give 100% no matter what the other person does.
3. Do not make mountains out of mole hills.
4. Respect your husband-a man needs respect like a woman needs love.  He feels valuable and esteemed which is very important to him.  Be his cheerleader, believe in him and appreciate him.

There are no inferiors or superiors in marriage.  Your husband is accountable to surrender his own agenda and hobbies to serve and meet the needs of his wife.  He should be willing to deny himself for the good of your family.


References:
Family Life Marriage Bible
Dennis & Barbara Rainey-Best selling authors and co-founders of FamilyLife.



My husband and I are best friends, partners, lovers and companions for life.  We treat each other like royalty.  He will always be my King and I will always be his Queen.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Contract To Myself


This is my life.  It matters to me.  I was born to do great things. Through my veins runs resilience, determination, fight, drive, faith, and a hunger to get better each and every day.  I can't change yesterday, but I will have a massive impact on today and tomorrow.  I take my life serious.  If you choose to be a part of my life, I need for you to support me, push me, challenge me, and to encourage me as I seek my greatness.  This is my life.  I will not waste it.  My future dreams matter to me.

COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE, FOCUS, DEDICATION, THE NEXT LEVEL, CHARACTER, LEADERSHIP, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND PHENOMENAL COMPETENCE:

Those will be the words that drive me.  I have a destiny to fulfill.  I will always strive to be better.  Mountains, barriers, and challenges are temporary; I WILL NOT BE STOPPED.  I am a force for God.  I will intensify my focus.  I am what I am now, but I know that THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

These are words from a contract that I received from a safety class held at my job by a very beautiful and inspiring woman that I have known for a very long time.  When I finished this class, I felt like I was ready to make some big changes in my life and my career path.  I have big, big dreams and I know that God is growing me and pruning me for the right opportunity and the right moment.  It's amazing how far He has brought me in my life.  I know that as long as I continue to lean and depend
on Him, to trust Him, to hold on to His unchanging hand, I can face anything and I can succeed in everything!

From My Soul To Yours,

Starla E.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Misunderstood


Is he strange, or just misunderstood?
Is she mean, or just misunderstood?
Are they rude, or just misunderstood?
Are you good, or just misunderstood?

Sometimes we draw conclusions about things or people without enough information.  Do you know, what you don't know?  What I mean is, do you have enough information to make an informed decision or judgement about someone?  I cannot tell you how many times my first impression of someone was way, way off.

I have negatively judged people and I have even had a positive opinion about someone only to discover that I really am not the best judge of character.  That must be why it's best not to judge a person but it's not a bad idea to judge their actions.  Judge the sin not the sinner.  There is a fine line that's for sure.
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and[a]by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2

Things are hardly ever what they seem, especially when you don't have the inside scoop.  When you are on the outside looking in, your ideas and opinions can be formed by your own assumptions.  And you know what "they" (whoever "they" are) say about assumption right?  When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.  Well I personally like to say "When you assume, you make an ass out of you and umption."  (Excuse my language for the sake of making a very cliche point).  But really, don't you hate it when people expect you to assume what they want or assume what they are thinking like you must be some sort of mind reader?  I believe in verbal communication and assuming is one of my pet peeves.  I like to avoid making assumptions.  However, I know that I assume a lot w/o even realizing it.  I always say, "Don't expect anyone to assume what you expect.  Instead make it very clear by verbally communicating with them."

One thing that I always try not to do is judge someone by their appearance.  Good and evil can appear in all forms.  Evil people can appear to be good, and good people can appear to be evil.  I guess it depends on your definition of good and evil.  Not everyone would define good and evil quite the same way.

We can never really know what's on a persons mind.  They can tell you anything but that doesn't mean it's true.  However, their conversation will help you get a better understanding of who they really are.  How do they behave as a person?  What does their conversation consist of?  I have a great example.  I know someone who is always complaining and never happy.  This person is miserable all the time and doesn't really like dealing with people.  On the other hand, this person believe's in God and attends church.  They donate their time and money to charity too.  This person doesn't smile often but I have seen them show care in different ways.  What does all that really say about them?  Does it mean this person is good or bad?  Overtime I have come to realize that this person is constantly in pain and often feels unappreciated for various reasons.  I try to show them love by not judging them but showing concern for their feelings.  I believe it helps but they have a lot of unmet needs and I pray for them often.  My concern for them is genuine.  They have a good heart but they are hurting emotionally and just need someone in their life to care.

My main point is this:  We are all capable of being good and/or bad on a daily basis.  We can easily be misunderstood based on our good and/or bad actions.  God is the best judge of character and He will help you determine what you need to know and do regarding His definition of good and bad.

Are you good, or just misunderstood?  You be the judge of your own character and clothe yourself in righteousness.  That way when people judge your goodness, they won't be misunderstood.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bought For A High Price


If you are saved, a believer who walks with Christ.  You were chosen and you were bought for a high price.  Imagine that, you were purchased with something more valuable than silver and gold.  Unblemished and spotless, as that of a lamb.  The precious blood of Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to be bought with blood?  It means Jesus is your master and you are not your own.  Jesus loves you and He has chosen you out of the world.  You are not of the world and the world does not love you.  The world only loves its own.  You were bought for a high price, purchased by Jesus Christ.  Because of this, the world hates you but it has hated Him before it hated you.  But take heart, He has overcome the world.  So love one another, for this is His command.  The one with blood as precious as a lamb.

Though you have not seen him, you love him, and though you do not see him now, you believe in Him.  Your soul has been saved as the outcome of your faith.  1 Peter 1:8,9.

You were chosen and you were bought for a high price.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fear Factor

For GOD has not given us a
 SPIRIT of FEAR
but of Power
 Love  and of
a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

"Lord, I am just thinking about how grateful I am that You have not given us control of anything except ourselves, our choices and our thoughts.  Our understanding is finite, limited and for good reason.  Our minds cannot even begin to fathom or contain Your level of knowledge.  This should keep us humble because not one person on this earth knows it all.  I'm so glad that I don't because I believe it could destroy me to know too much."

When I was a child, I had no fear of most of the things that I fear now.  My brother and I used to spend hours in the desert hunting lizards and horned toads.  We would climb barbed wire fences and everything.  In the middle of summer days with no sunblock or water, the only thing we were equipped with was my brother's BB gun.  He would shoot a lizard and we would be so fascinated.  Talk about rough and tumble.

Now, you couldn't pay me to spend more than 20 minutes in the sun and my deficient vitamin D levels can attest to that.  I do not like to spend a lot of time outside, especially if there isn't any shade nearby.  My lack of sunlight may have caused me to be more susceptible to Multiple Sclerosis and now too much sun can cause me to have a relapse.  You can see details about my MS on my MS blog Did I Mention My MS???

Some fear is healthy and alerts us when danger is nearby.  I call that our animal instincts and we need to have animal responses.  Don't try to rationalize your God given instincts when something is amiss.  When most animals sense danger, they don't mind confronting it right away and nipping it in the bud.  Whether they flee or fight, they are quick to take action.  For most humans, our ability to rationalize causes us to hesitate.  Sometimes that hesitation can be the difference between life and death.  So trust your own instincts.  They are there for a reason.  I'm not saying fight every time you feel danger, instead get yourself to safety and in a safe position as soon as you feel the first hint that something is off.  You could be wrong, but you will at least be alive.

Most of my fears are unrealistic.  I am afraid to swim in the ocean because I just know a shark is out there waiting for me.  That's a true story.  Well that and the fact that I am not the greatest swimmer.  It's the things that don't scare me that have caused me more harm.  Thanks to T.V., I know just enough to be paranoid and irritating.  Getting connected with God on a regular basis is the only thing that helps me maintain a sound mind.  He teaches me how to combat my fears w/o worrying because I know He will always have my back.  He teaches me that even though I am not exempt from problems in this world, He will guide me through every single trial until the day He calls me to come home.

Yes, at times I worry.  Yes, at times I am afraid.  And in those times, the Holy Spirit ministers to me and helps me to keep my focus on Him.  To focus on what is true and how I can manage my fears.

Fear is not be a Factor for me, as long as I keep my mind stayed on Him.




Sunday, January 27, 2013

Baptized For The Dead??

Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?  If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?  1 Corinthians 15:29

I was reading my daily devotion today when I came across this scripture.  This is the one that caused me to stop, read it again, go back a few scriptures and read it again.  I have come across this scripture before and even had conversations with a person who actually believes in baptism for the dead.  At the time, I wasn't able to rightly divide this scripture so I didn't get into a deep debate as I usually would but the Holy Spirit led me to realize that this scripture wasn't saying that we should be baptized for the dead. That was a few years ago.

Today when I came across this scripture, I was able to practice something that is taught at my church known as SAR-Some Assembly Required.  The whole concept is to journal when you read and study the word.  Write the scripture, then ask yourself, "Why did this stop me?" then write a response.  In order to do this, you will have to go back a few scriptures, go forward a few scriptures and also read other scriptures that cross reference the one that you are trying to divide or understand.  I like the Ryrie Study Bible because it has footnotes and references other scriptures that relate to what you are reading.  If you are still unable to gain understanding, pray for God to reveal it to you and in His time, he will.

So back to baptism for the dead.  My response to the question, "should we be baptized for the dead" is, NO!  This scripture is referring to (those) some religions who say there is no resurrection of the dead but practice being baptized for the dead.  What is the point of being baptized for the dead if the dead cannot be raised??  They do not believe in the resurrection of Christ.  That makes their practices vain and their own doctrine false.  1 Corinthians 15:19 "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied."

There are no opportunities for salvation after death, period.  So please, don't get baptized for the dead.  That is a doctrine of false teaching.  Because Christ is raised from the dead, we can obtain salvation through Christ only.  We must believe in His resurrection.  His death and resurrection have bridged the gap between men and God.  Romans 4:25 "He was delivered up for our sins and rose again for our justification."