Intro: Building off of last week’s series, where we ended with “Keep Walking”, this week’s series is “First Steps”. Now, if you’ve been a Christian for a long time, don’t think this isn’t for you. There are some good reminders in here of things we can do to strengthen our walk, and of why we do them. So this week we’re going to look at Daily Devotionals, Bible Study, Prayer, Obedience, and Acts of Service. I want to be clear: these things do not make you a Christian or get you to Heaven. They make you a better Christian, they strengthen your connection to God and your understanding of Him, which will have indescribable benefits for you both here on earth and in Heaven.
When we talked about obedience yesterday, we were talking about some very personal decisions to trust God by obeying His Word. That might look different in your life than in mine – depending on how you trust Him and what the circumstances of your life might be. But here’s something we are ALL supposed to obey: Acts of Service.
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Now, if you’ve been in certain churches, you might be thinking “this sounds like salvation through works”. Um, no. Salvation comes from Jesus sacrifice on the cross. BUT, just as we discussed yesterday with obedience, what you believe informs how you behave. Did your pastor read the verse just after the “not by good works” one?
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Our salvation isn’t a result of our works, but it is for good works. That’s the whole point. That’s WHY we were saved – to do God’s work here on earth.
James 2:14-20 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 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 is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Are you not convinced yet? It is in the Sermon on the Mount – in Jesus own words. (And in Jesus words in other verses too).
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Your works – how you serve God and help people here on earth – are evidence of your faith. Now, you may argue that it is possible to believe and not do works. James says that faith is dead. Jesus says to let your light shine by doing good works. This comes back to obedience. Obedience comes from trust. Trust is belief or faith. So if you had it, you’d be obedient. You’d be doing works of service.
Maybe you’d help out at your church, or volunteer for a charity, or take your elderly neighbor some food – if you actually had faith, and believed that this is what Jesus told you to do.
Maybe you have faith, and you just haven’t gotten started on service yet. Take some first steps.
This is why I support Operation Christmas Child – it gives you the opportunity to serve in a way that is easy, inexpensive, and fun. It is accessible It is for the children. It’s really hard to argue with that. Third Thursday for May is May 21st, and we’ll be turning over all proceeds from my Twitch stream on that day to Operation Christmas Child. But you don’t have to wait until then! There are several ways to support OCC, at several affordable price points, here: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/ways-to-give/