A Letter from Pastor Carolyn

Sunday, May 10
10:00 a.m.
"Faith and Works"
  Book of James Series (4)

Genesis 15:1-6
James 2:14-26

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May 7, 2020
"Faith without works is dead.'"
James 2:26b
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
"All hat and no cattle." As I was trying to think of a sermon title this week, I kept chuckling as that phrase came to mind. When I lived in Oklahoma, that was a way to describe someone who was all talk and no action. I asked Pastor Steve if there was a Pittsburgh equivalent, and he jokingly suggested, "All pierogi and no butter." I laughed out loud at that one! Can you think of any other crazy phrases like that?

As we turn to James 2:14-26, we find James' famous argument about faith and works. The idea of someone being all talk and no action apparently goes back thousands of years. James asks in verse 14, "What good is it... if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?"

For the last couple of weeks, we have talked about the importance of living out our faith. James wants us to be doers of the word and not just hearers. He wants our religion not just to be about right beliefs but right actions, like taking care of widows and orphans. Last Sunday, we talked about favoritism and how that is not appropriate behavior for Christians-we have been chosen by God outside of our status or skin color, so we should demonstrate the same grace to others. We are beggars showing other beggars where to find bread.

Is James advocating some kind of works righteousness? No! He is talking about the importance of living a transformed life in Christ. Jesus himself describes how our actions demonstrate the heart, saying, "By their fruit you shall know them" (Matthew 7:16). Paul repeatedly talks about the importance of bearing good fruit, the most memorable of which is his description of the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Even in Ephesians, Paul writes, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10).

Good works are our response to the grace that saves us.

This week, I would encourage you to ask God to show you areas in your life where your faith and your actions are out of synch. Do you show love, joy, and peace with someone who disagrees with you about the pandemic? Do you demonstrate patience, kindness, and goodness when you need to go to the store? Are you living out faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control with your friends and family? All of us have a long way to go! Pray for God to fill you anew with His Holy Spirit. It is only with the Spirit's help that our faith and our deeds can shine with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Small Group Studies:
We would love to have all of you join an online small group - it's a great way to support one another and study the Bible together. We have a variety of studies throughout the week, including several on our current James study and one for women on Esther. If you are interested in becoming part of a group, please contact us at 412-531-3387 or info@mlepc.org. You can join by phone or computer.

Hour of Prayer (formerly known as Sundays at Seven):
A group of us are gathering on Zoom every Sunday at 7pm to pray together, and we would love to have you join us! Here is the Zoom link for a computer, tablet, or mobile phone:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/92561964416. You can also call in from a regular phone - dial 1-646-558-8656 and enter the Meeting ID - 925 6196 4416. For more info, contact Pat Gaudio at t4two98@hotmail.com.

Again, please let us know if there is any way we can support you or connect with you during this season. We need to be here for each other now more than ever. The email, info@mlepc.org , has been set up so you can send us any needs, prayer requests, or just updates on how you are doing. And you are always welcome to call us at 412-531-3387.

Many blessings,
Pastor Carolyn
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