Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Are You Spiritually Over-weight?

Spiritually Over-weight
A Devo from James 1: 19-27 & 2:14-26

I’m sure by now you are well aware of the growing obesity epidemic among most Americans physically, but are you aware of the trend in our churches of spiritual obesity? It may be somewhat of a far-fetched analogy but the parallelism between the analogy and actuality is startling. Allow me to explain. What causes an individual to become physically overweight? Basic nutrition principle: the more food you take in the more energy you must exert in order to maintain a current weight. If one desires to lose weight he or she must exert more energy than what he or she is taking in. Very basic, basic principles. Similarly, we as Christians take in a lot of church on a weekly basis. The following is the weekly “diet” of a typical church in America: church services on Sundays, prayer meetings, small groups, annual short-term local and international mission trips including fundraiser events, church potlucks, Bible schools, Bible camps, youth conventions and concerts, couples retreats, and even coffee with the Pastor on Thursday mornings (whew! To name a few). A majority of these take place safely inside the walls of the church where it is easy to be a believer. It is easy to serve one another and to give. It’s fun to be a Christian at church just like it’s fun to eat out at your favorite restaurant. But when you have to actually leave the bubble and go back into the real world where there are hurting, starving and frustrated people, it’s just easier to remain stationary and not “spiritually exercise.” It’s too risky! People may think you’re weird, a push-over or an over-achiever.

I look at Christ’s ministry located in the Gospels and find it somewhat interesting that it was rare to find Jesus in a temple. A majority of his parables, his miracles, his profound speeches and conversations all took place outside the walls of the church. Jesus exercised a lot! Don’t get me wrong, He sought out quiet times and fellowship with his disciples. We too are to enjoy the fellowship with other believers, to enjoy corporate worship and to encourage our pastor. But that isn’t it. That isn’t what being a Christian is all about—just like you can’t just eat and take-in food without expending some of that energy in a form of exercise. The body, physically, would not be as efficient and healthy if you did not exercise. Similarly, the body, spiritually, is not going to be as efficient and effective if it does not exercise. The Bible is living and active. In order for the Truth to penetrate the hearts of non-believers and for it to make sense, you have to exercise what it says. James 2:14-26 speaks directly on the topic of “Faith without Works is Dead”

Faith Without Works Is Dead-ESV (
14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith(A) but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15(B) If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16(C) and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith(D) apart from your works, and I will show you my faith(E) by my works. 19(F) You believe that God is one; you do well. Even(G) the demons believe—and shudder! 20Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21(H) Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that(I) faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed(J) by his works; 23and the Scripture was fulfilled that says,(K) "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"—and he was called a(L) friend of God. 24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25And in the same way was not also(M) Rahab the prostitute justified by works(N) when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James is not saying that our salvation comes from doing good works. He says that belief is simply not enough; your belief should compel you into doing good works because of our good God. God is good. If we believe in a good God, don’t we also want to participate in good works? Good works is faith being exercised. An athlete consumes a food that was high quality and sustaining energy it is going to show in the way he or she performs. In summary, I wanted to remind you of what Pastor Rick touched on at Oasis this past week. Pastor Rick shared the title of the book “The Hole in the Gospel” by Richard Stearns and the penetrating words in the prologue involving the current status of most of our churches in America:

“How could the great tragedy of these orphans get drowned out by the choruses of praise music in hundreds of thousands of churches across our country?”

Disturbing isn’t it? Can you picture our worship services taking place here in America and the millions of orphans and widows both in America and across the world crying? James 1:19-27 says this:

“Hearing and Doing the Word
19(A) Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person(B) be quick to hear,(C) slow to speak,(D) slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21Therefore(E) put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with(F) meekness the implanted word,(G) which is able to save your souls.
22But be(H) doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25But the one who looks into the perfect law,(I) the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts,(J) he will be blessed in his doing.
26If anyone thinks he is religious(K) and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s(L) religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:(M) to visit(N) orphans and widows in their affliction, and(O) to keep oneself(P) unstained from the world.

To re-iterate verse 27 “ Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Wow. Do you have that definition of religion written in your heart? If not, I suggest seeking-out the Lord today and asking Him to push you out the door, strap on your running shoes and begin putting the Word, your “Spiritual Food” into practice.


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