Not By Works

This is a whimsical folksy song that could save a lot of people a lot of trouble and heartache. Don’t miss God’s grace and goodness by trying to earn what He alone has already given to us freely. Give the song a sing-along look, then come back for a chat on working — and NOT working — God’s way.

Songs to work smarter

We hear it said “work smarter, not harder”. I have quoted that many times and thought just SAYING these words was as good as DOING them.

In the next few weeks I’ll offer lessons and songs to help you work smarter as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

First things first

Priorities. Let’s start with the most important thing:


Without life, nothing else matters. We MUST have life.

You’ve read Jesus saying, “I have come that they might have LIFE …”

That might sound odd, because, after all, aren’t we alive? Yes, now. But the life we are born with will not last. We need the kind of life Jesus brought, life that picks up where this life ends. The Bible calls that “everlasting life”, “saved”, “born again” and other names.

We call it wonderful, the greatest gift, the pearl of great price, the ONE thing we must not miss in this life.

If we want that LIFE we look to Jesus.

No ifs, ands or buts

Recall, Jesus said, “…might have life”.

Notice the word “might”. Might includes “might NOT”.

Might … or might NOT … have LIFE!?!?

Woah, woah, woah, back up!

LIFE is not something we want to take a chance on. How can we be CERTAIN we graduate to the life Jesus came to bring?

This is the single most important question every human needs to get right.

Thank God we don’t have to guess, we don’t need to miss this, we don’t need to be left behind.

We need to act.

Act … how?

What work must we do to earn the life Jesus brought?

That’s a trick question, because LIFE cannot be earned. Life is a gift, a precious, sacred gift. God gave it once, and the first man, Adam, gave it away.

HE GAVE IT AWAY! Yikes. No, no, no. YIKES!

God did not quit on humans. God, through Jesus Christ, has offered life, everlasting life, to every human one more time. THAT work to make everlasting life available to all people has been done.

The next move is ours.

We need to act

We don’t work to earn LIFE. It is not possible. We will never be able to do enough work to earn the life Jesus came to give people.

But we DO need to reach out and RECEIVE life. Call that works if you want, but keep your voice down when you do it, because our reaching out is not much to talk about compared with the work GOD did through Jesus Christ to bring life to our doorstep.

We need to act. We need to … RECEIVE.

Receive LIFE.

Jesus is alive, Jesus is lord

Have you heard Jesus lived, gave up his life dying on the cross, and God raised Jesus from the dead? Have you heard Jesus is alive now?

Jesus is ALIVE. Do you believe it?

Have you heard Jesus is, at this very moment, the head of the body of believers world-wide? That he actively directs their work so God’s will can be done on earth as it is in heaven?

Jesus is LORD. Will you accept him as your Lord?

Two things we do to receive LIFE: Confess Jesus as Lord. Believe God raised him from the dead.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

(Romans 10:9-11)

Out of work?

So, nothing left to do?

To get LIFE, no. We do not work to get life.

But … here is the beautiful truth: we are given life so we CAN work.

Spoiler alert: If you read ahead in Ephesians you’ll see where we are going on this “work” thing. More next week when we sing about a young man who wouldn’t hoe corn.

But TODAY, receive life, and think yourself into being thankful. Thankful to God, thankful to Jesus Christ, thankful for … LIFE!

God bless you lots!
–Dale R.

LYRICS: Not By Works
Song by Alan Josephson

I thought workin’ nine to seven would get me into heaven
And going to church ev’ry mornin’ noon and night.
I didn’t have any doubts but pretty soon I found out
That I was wrong but the Word of God is right.
It’s the same old story day by day I’m talkin’ about life
And thinkin’ you’re doin’ right when you’re doin’ wrong.
Ah, but I thank God for what I heard
’cause someone took the time and shared the Word
And now within my heart lies this new song:

That it’s not by works lest any man should boast
It’s by the grace of God
That it’s not by works lest any man should boast
It’s by the grace, it’s by the grace,
By the wonderful matchless saving grace of God.

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Your thoughts, please…

If you had to write a “help wanted” ad to work for God, what would you say? Please share your ideas on that or anything else in the “Leave a reply” section below.

5 Replies to “Not By Works”

  1. Hannah Tomlinson

    Thanks to you I grew up with this song, and you know what? Like so much of the music in my life, I always hear it in your voice! So listening now I’m nostalgic, and again I’m thankful for this beautiful, restful, faithful, peaceful message from God to all people.

    On a technical note, I am LOVING these colorful backdrops and how you’re mixing them up, plus so nice to add the lyrics to the video. Your singing and playing are warm and beautiful – the whole presentation is right on!

    THANK YOU for taking the time to record these, and to no only share the songs but the messages, elaborated with your own thoughts and packaging for such a quality final product. Every post a treasure! Certainly to me. I have no doubt to many others…and it’s only February!

  2. Sarah Durm

    What a simple, biblical truth that is so consistently forgotten, especially in America! We receive LIFE so we can WORK, not the other way around. Yet we try to earn the free gift and burn out in the process, unsuccessful and frustrated. God’s free gift inspires us and enables us to respond in thankfulness through our actions. This is a life-changing and life-GIVING truth. Thank you for posting! *misty-eyed*


    1. Dale Reichel Post author

      Thank you for adding those wonderful thoughts to the conversation! Thankfulness through actions — what a great way to engage with God’s goodness to us!
      God bless you lots! -D 🙂

  3. Cathy Reichel

    In this day of ease and abundance, the issue of our WORK can be undermined as we get by with doing less than we are able. However, psychologists have discovered that NOT doing our best with our time and talents is actually as much of a DRAIN on our energy as overworking! Apparently God made us to want to be our best. Accepting Jesus Christ as our way, truth, and life can reward us with terrific shortcuts to success, valuable avoidance of mistakes, and the energy to do the “good works” you refer to in your teaching 🙂

    1. Dale Reichel Post author

      Cathy, thanks for your insight. Ironic that some work so hard to get saved, not realizing getting saved (from our end) is easy, and that it opens so many doors to REALLY work/serve/live big for God. Life is a joy! 🙂


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