2 Aug 2009
August 2, 2009
Living By The Spirit
So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law.
Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ cannot help you. I'll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey all of the regulations in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace.
But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive everything promised to us who are right with God through faith. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, it makes no difference to God whether we are circumcised or not circumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.
You were getting along so well. Who has interfereed with you to hold you back from following the truth? It certainly isn't God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. But it takes only one wrong person among you to infect all the others--a little yeast spreads quickly throughout the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to bring you back to believing as I do about these things. God will judge that person, whoever it is, who has been troubling and confusing you.
Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised--as some say I do--why would the Jews persecute me? The fact that I am still being persecuted proves that I am still preaching salvation through the cross of Christ alone. I only wish that those troublemakers who want to mutilate you by circimcision would mutilate themselves.
For you have been called to live in freedom--not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." But if instead of showing love among yourselves you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sincful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful natures desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict. But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealously, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkeness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that everyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another.
Circumcision....? The law....? "What does this have to do with me?", you might ask. A lot. You see, circumcision doesn't just refer to the actual act for babies in this reference. It refers to the cutting away of the old sin nature, our desire to sin. Even without the desire to sin, the action of our sin. OR/and the sin of our actions. The law also refers to doing what we think we are supposed to do by the law, the standards taught us, how we think we should act. Neither of which has to do with how God want's us to act, feel, think, and do. Nor does it allow us the gift of the Holy Spirit to do, think, feel, and act how or in the right ways God calls us. If, as a child, you are acting the way you think you should be acting, trying to act like an adult, you are not allowing Holy Spirit to have full control over your heart, so you can act the way you should act as God calls you to with love, nor are you living or giving love. If you are an adult and you are not letting Holy Spirit in, then you are not living and giving love fully as God calls and are acting like a child without thought, conscience, knowledge or wisdom.
Let me reference the Life Application Bible notes for Galatians 5 in their entirety. So, besides Paul, who by the Holy Spirit has written this, and myself, you have yet another...in fact, a whole lot of others...a group of Bible scholars, who can perhaps explain it in a way so as to be better understood and received. Please note, that since I do not reference every line or chapter, I will not be noting the references by number either. Also, my copy of the Life Application is the New International Version copyright 1991. It's a LONG one, but well worth the reading for understanding.
Chapter 5 notes read:
Christ died to set us free from sin and from a long list of laws and regulations. Christ came to set us free-not to do whatever we want because that would lead us back into slavery to our selfish desires. Rather, thanks to Christ, we are now free and able to do what was impossible before--to live unselfishly. Those who appeal to their freedom so that they can have their own way or indulge their own desires are falling back into sin. But it is also wrong to put a burden of lawkeeping on Christians. We must stand against those who would enslave us with rules, methods, or special conditions for being saved or growing in Christ.
Trying to be saved by keeping the law and being saved by grace are two entirely different approaches, "Christ will be of not value to you at all" means that Christ's provision for our salvation will not help us if we are trying to save ourselves. Obeying the law does not make it any eaiser for God to save us. All we can do is accept his gracious gift thought faith. Our deeds of service must never be used to try to earn God's love or favor.
Circumcision was a symbol of having the right background and doing everything required by religion. No amount of work , discipline, or moral behaviors can save us. If a person was counting on finding favor with God by being circumcised, he would also have to obey the rest of God's law completely. Trying to save ourselves by keeping all God's laws only spearates us from God.
We are saved by faith, not by deeds. But love for others and for God is the response of those whom God has forgivin. God's forgiveness is complete, and Jesus said that those who are forgiven much love much (Luke 7:47), . Because through love, you can check your love for others as a way to monitor your faith.
A little yeast causes a whole lump of dough to rise. It only talkes one wrong person to infect all the others.
Persecution proved that Paul was preaching the true gospel. If he had taught what the false teachers were teaching, no one would be offended. But because he was teaching the truth, he was persecuted by both Jews and Judaizers. Have friends or loved ones rejected you because you have taken a stand for Christ? Jesus said not to be surprised if the world hates you, because it hated him (John 15: 18, 19). Just as Paul continued to faithfully proclaim the message about Christ, you should continue doing the ministry God has given you--in spite of the obstacles others may put in your way.
Paul distinguises between freedom to sin and freedom to serve. Freedom or license to sin is not freedom at all, because it enslaves you to Satan, others, or your own sinful natures. Christians, by contrast, should not be slaves to sin., because they are free to do right and to glorify God through loveing service to others.
When we are not motivated by love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for the good in them and see only their faults. Soon the unity of believers is broken. Have you talked behind someone's back? Have you focused on others' shortcomings instead of their strengths? Remind yourself of Jesus' command to love others as you love yourself (Matthew 22:39). When you begin to feel critial of someone, make a list of that person's positive qualities. If there are problems that need to be addressed, it is better to confront in love than to gossip.
If your desire is to have the qualities listed in 5:22, 23, then you know that the Holy Spirit is leading you. At the same time, be careul not to confuse your subjective feelings with the Spirit's leading. Being led by the Holy Spirit involves the desire to hear, the readiness to obey God's Word, and the sensitivity to discrern between our feelings and his promptings. Live each day controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit. Then the words of Christ will be in your mind, the love of Christ will be behind your actions, and the power of Christ will help you control your selfish desires.
Paul describes the two forces conflicting within us--the Holy Spirit and the sinful nature (Our evil desires or inclinations that stem from our bodies; see also 5:16, 19, 24). Paul is not saying that these forces are equal--the Holy Spirit is infiineely stronger. But if we rely on our own wisdom, we will make wrong choices. If we try to follow the Spirit by own human effort, we will fail. Our only way to freedom from our evil desires is through the empowering of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:9; Ephesians 4:23,24; Colossians 3:3-8).
We all have evil desires, and we can't ignore them. In order for us to follow the Holy Spirit's guidance, we must deal with them decisively (crucify them 5:24). These desires include obvious sins such as sexual immorality and withcraft. They also include less obvious sins such as selfish ambition, hatred, and jealously. Those who ignore such sins or refuse to deal with them, reveal that they have not received the gift of the Spirit that leads to a transformed life.
The fruit of the Spirit is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us. The Spirit produces these character traits that are found in the nature of Christ. They are the by-products of Christ's control--we can't obtain them by trying to get them without his help. If we want the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us, we must join our lives to his (see John 15:4, 5). We must know him, love him, remember him, and imitate him. As a result we will fulfill the inteded purpose of the law--to love God and our neighbors. Which of these qualities do you want the Spirit to produce in you?
Because the God who sent the law also sent the Spirit, the by-products of the Spirit-filled life are in perfect harmony with the intent of God's law. A person who exhibits the fruit of theSpirit fulfuills the law far better than a person who observes the rituals but has little love in his or her heart.
In order to accept Christ as Savior, we need to turn from our sins and willingly nail our sinful nature to the cross. This doesn't mean, however, that we will never see traces of its evil desires again. As Christians we still have the capactity to sin, but we have been set free from sin's power over us and no longer have to give into it. We must daily commit our sinful tendencies to God's control, daily cruicify them, and moment by moment draw on the Spirits's power to overcome them (see 2:20; 6:14).
God is intercedes in every part of our lives, not just the spiritual part. As we live by the Holy Spirit's power, we need to submit every aspect of our lives to God--emotional, physical, social, intellectual, vocational. Paul says that because we're saved, we should live like it! The Holy Spirit is the source of your new life, so keep in step with his leading. Don't let anything or anyone else determine your values and standards in any area of your life.
Everyone needs a certain amount of approval from others. But those who go out of their way to secure honors to to win popularity with a lot of people become conceited and show they are not following the Holy Spirit's leading. Those who look to God for approval won't need to envy others. Because we are God's sons and daughters, we have his Holy Spirit as the loving guarantee of his approval.
And the people said, AMEN!
Let Us Pray
Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world...have mercy on me. Forgive me of my sins and help me to please not do as I think I should do, but do as you and your Holy Spirit call me to do. Then I will be knowledgeable and wise. I've not done as you have intended. I have not loved you with my whole heart. There hasn't been room for you because I've loved myself and others too much. Or so I thought. I now see I haven't been loving with your love, which is unselfish, but with my love, which has been to allow me to look good, or perfect, or hated to hate because it was what I was taught. It was selfish....self fulfilling. Not self giving and self less like you. It's been a pretty painful experience. It has hurt a lot to know I'm not perfect. I'm sorry. I really am. Well, I guess part of me is sorrowful because I don't like to hurt. But I guess the others around me don't like to hurt either...and I've been the source of their pain....how awful is that? I didn't mean to hurt...oh...wait, that's not true...I guess. I did mean to hurt others. Oh, it's awful knowing I haven't been acting with your heart, but been acting with my heart out of what I have been taught. How much pain my family must be in to have taught me hurt and show that pain. Oh, that hurts God. I'm really sorry. I want to say I won't do it again, but I am afraid I will. But you will help me, right? If I ask Holy Spirit into my heart, I'll get better right? I know I have to call upon him A LOT until I get this right...receiving all you have to give and then giving YOU away to others...not myself. But I will try, Lord. I'll give it all I've got because you know I've been taught to try and please everyone. After I've pleased myself. The one person I didn't take into full consideration is you, Lord. Gosh this hurts. Please forgive me for not putting you first in my life. I don't know everything yet, but I have known about this and just didn't really pay attention I guess, because I thought my way was the right way. Now I know I have to learn a new way. Your way. Help me learn this well and teach others, too, so they don't have to hurt either. I know now that you are not just about the surface things, like food, clothes and houses. You are about housing Holy Spirit who gives all things and makes all things right and good. I get it now. Let him in so I can love....and love fully. Holy Spirit is the basis of life, not money and things and pleasing people. Life is about pleasing you first. Heal my heart, Lord...please? It's hurting quite a lot. It hurts me to know how wrong I've been and own it. But thank you for letting me know so I can be a better person for you. And for others. Especially my family. So come into my heart fully, will you Holy Spirit? I'm not sure I understand all about you yet, but I know you live and I want you to live in me. Make me whole. Help me to grow....up. Into your arms, Lord, first and always. I love you God, Jesus and Holy Spirit. Thanks for listening and helping me, and being there for me and my family. Keep sending Christians around us to help us learn and grow...in and with love for you and others. I am grateful.....there I said it. As much as it pains me to know how wrong I have been, is how grateful I am that you are there to save me. Help me now. Save me now.Thank you. I love you. Amen.
Let us hear from Paul once again as he prays:
When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resouces he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT
Scroll down to read Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving...'The Unforced Rythms of Grace'.
Definition of a Christian: Anyone who believes in God, Jesus and Holy Spirit, and accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. Regardless of church name or religious affiliation.
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Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this:
I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Our NEW Current Cause
My family and I, and the church, are in crisis and could desperately use your prayers and financial support. Due to medical concerns, employment crisis, and economic devastation, I do not have funding to meet everyday expenses right now for the church, or home, nor those necessary to keep this website afloat, for those shut-in or needing spiritual support, nor the ability to help others along the way. But I am confident that, with your help, balance can be achieved. As God touches your heart, I hope you will pray earnestly for the church, my family and me, and send any amount of money you can to help. Please note 'Church and Family' on your check, and, I will see that all funds get divided appropriately. The church, I and my family, as well as to those to whom we reach out, will be sincerely grateful for anything you can do to help.
Please accept my sincerest thanks....and may God bless you!
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One last thing....
Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving
'The Unforced Rythms of Grace'
"Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: "Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You've concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that's the way you like to work."
Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. "The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father - Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I'm not keeping it to myself; I'm ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen."
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn how to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11: 25-30
And the people said,
I now write most prayers in the position of ' I ' (first person) because most people are sitting at their computer alone, not in groups, and it allows those reading and praying to personalize the prayer as coming from them going to God. Variations may appear on holidays when families may wish to use the prayer provided.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
Scriptures may be taken from the New Living Translations website.
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