“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
Emerson’s urging is to forget your failures, not to give up and look to tomorrow and all that tomorrow promises. God is the God of promise. He keeps his word, even when that seems impossible; even when the circumstances seem to point to the opposite. By accepting God’s promises our response to His call is established. So what does God call his people to do? He calls us to serve Him and to represent Him in the world around us.
This is made clear in the letter of the Apostle James. His comments provide us with a fair idea of what a Christian should be like and how he should respond to God’s call. James has a positive attitude to the difficulties of life. He knows where to turn for help and guidance. His values are right. He sets himself to discover God’s standards and to live them out. It is so easy to sell out to the world – the hostile, unchristian world – without even realising it. It happens every time we let the things we want overrule our judgement and Christian principles. It happens when we plan our lives without reference to God.
How can we avoid it? By prayer – the right kind of prayer. By continually resisting things we know are wrong. By seeking God out and by stepping out in faith and responding to His call. By submitting whole-heartedly to Him. By realising that we can count on nothing in this life – not even tomorrow – and depending on Him.
But the critical message in James’ letter to the Christian church is found in chapter 2, verses 14 to 18. This speaks of faith and deeds – faith to step out and deeds to respond to God’s call. “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James 2:14-18 NIV)
Faith that stops at words is not faith at all. Faith is proved – and develops – as we act on it. Edward Bouberie Pusey (1800–1882) wrote: “All of this world will soon have passed away. But God will remain, and you, whatever you have become, good or bad. Your deeds now are the seedcorn of eternity. Each single act, in each day, good or bad, is a portion of that seed. Each day adds some line, making you more or less like him, more or less capable of his love.”
Have a good and responsive week. Dedicate some of your week to others. Your dedication will not be a sacrifice; it will be an exhilarating experience.
Pastor Ron Clarke
Optional Bible reading: Psalm 13.
This is one of a series of weekly messages of encouragement, now in its twenty-sixth year, originating from Gympie, Fraser Coast, Queensland, Australia. A companion Bible study page is available each week. To subscribe via email send an email here with the words ‘Subscribe Word (or) Subscribe Word & Study’. Our ministry is free and emailing lists are confidential. Tell a friend or why not put a note in your church newsletter or pew sheet about this ministry – we welcome new subscriptions. Pastor Ron Clarke OAM Word for the Week Mbl.: +61 488 424 321