Thursday, June 22, 2017

Galatians 5:22-26

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. gentleness and self-control."  Galatians 5:22-23

God expects His children to be spiritual fruit bearers.  John 15:8 tells us, "This is my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."  As children of God our lives must match the professions that come from our mouths.  Our salvation is all of grace and has nothing to do with ourselves.  We are saved for a purpose, however.  That purpose is to bring glory to the Lord.

One way that we bring glory to the Lord is by exhibiting the Christ-like characteristics of the fruit of the Holy Spirit  in our lives.  Galatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."  Others need to see Christ living in us through the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us.  There is a song whose words state, "They will know we are Christians by our love."  We need to show the fruit of sacrificial love to others.  Others also need to know we are Christians by our joy, peace, and patience in all circumstances.

Others further need to be able to see and know we are Christians by our kindness and goodness. Kindness and goodness are closely associated with patience.  If we are patient with other people and their shortcomings, we will also display the fruit of the Spirit of goodness and kindness. Kindness is exhibited in a care and concern for others.  It involves going out of our way to treat others the way we would like to be treated.  Goodness involves a willingness to help others. Goodness also involves a willingness to avoid evil and to follow God's paths.

Next, others need to see and know we are Christians by our faithfulness and our gentleness.  A faithful person is obedient to the Lord in all things.  A faithful person remains true and obedient to the Lord even when going through difficult times in his or her life.  A faithful person can be counted on to keep the promises and commitments that he or she has made to his or her fellow human beings. The fruit of the Spirit of gentleness should also be found in the lives of the children of God. Gentleness does not entail weakness.  Gentleness is God's power in us under His control.  Gentleness involves humility.  Gentleness involves a kind, considerate, and gracious spirit towards others.

Finally, others need to see and know we are Christians by the fruit of the Spirit of self-control. Self-control involves being willing to stop oneself from acting impulsively  and selfishly.  Self-control involves being willing to stop oneself from engaging in behaviors which are not good for oneself, not good for others, or not pleasing to the Lord.

The world believes greatness is found in personal power, position, talent, and wealth.  Our God tells us that those things are not important.  What matters is that we are living for the Lord's glory and that we are exhibiting Christ-like attitudes in our lives.  May we increasingly exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives of "joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."  May others truly see Christ living in us.

Galatians 5:25 says, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."  Living Spirit directed and fruit-bearing lives involves allowing the Holy Spirit to direct and lead us in all things throughout every moment  of the day. Living Spirit directed and fruit-bearing lives involves choosing each day to start anew and fresh in the Spirit's power.  It also involves maintaining that dependence on the Holy Spirit's power throughout the day.  We as children of God still have sin present in out lives, but it should be our consuming passion to increasingly live Spirit directed and fruit-bearing lives!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Galatians 5:16-26

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."  Galatians 5:22-23

The Holy Spirit first came on Christ's church at Pentecost.  We read about this exciting event in Acts chapter two.  Pentecost was a wonderful and spectacular event in the life of the early church.  The Holy Spirit does not come into the hearts of believers today with tongues of fire and a rushing wind, as it did on this one occasion. In spite of this, the Holy Spirit is in the heart of every child of God today also.    

It was the Holy Spirit who convinced us of our sins and caused us to have the ability and the desire to believe.  It was the Holy Spirit who caused us to repent of our sins and to turn to the Lord for forgiveness.  As children of God the Holy Spirit now reminds us of what we have learned from reading God's Word.  The Holy Spirit is the One who helps us to apply God's Word to our daily lives. 

The Holy Spirit lives in our hearts as believers and gives us the power and desire to live for the Lord Jesus.  If we are true children of God we must also grow in our spiritual lives.  We must more and more begin to display Christlike attitudes in our lives.  Galatians 5:16 reminds us that we must "live by the Spirit" and "not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."  We must get rid of anything impure and selfish.  We must rid ourselves of hatred, jealousy, and divisiveness.  In its place we must show the fruit of the the Holy Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit which should be increasingly evident in our lives are listed in Galatians 5:22:23.  That passage says to us, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."  Love, the first fruit of the Spirit mentioned in this Scripture passage, involves unselfishly putting the good of others first.  True love is willing to sacrifice for others and does not think only about one's own needs and desires.  

Joy as well as love and all the other fruit of the Spirit comes only from the Lord.  When the Lord changes our hearts He gives us a deep down joy that is not dependent on what we consider favorable circumstances.  This joy comes from the presence of Jesus Christ in our hearts.  It is a joy which we can possess even in times of great difficulty in our lives, because we know and trust the Lord.

Peace is yet another fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Peace is a calmness that we as children of God can experience in even the worst of circumstances.  We can experience peace, because we know the Lord is walking right beside us.  We can experience peace, because we know that He is in control of every detail of our lives.  Peace also comes from walking in God's ways.  If we are out of fellowship with the Lord  and walking in our own stubborn ways, we can not experience peace.

Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that is not often evident in our fast-paced society.  We tend to want things right now, and we do not like waiting.  God wants us, however, to follow His perfect leading and to depend on His perfect timing for the events of our lives.  We must learn to trust that the Lord knows what is best for us and that He knows when it is best for us.  Patience is waiting for God to lead us without grumbling.  The fruit of the Holy Spirit of patience also shows itself in our relationships with others.  Patience involves long-suffering and patience with the wrongs others commit against us.  We can only demonstrate patience in our dealings with others, if our hearts are filled with the love of the Lord.  

May it be our passion to truly show the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  May we show His love to others, His joy and peace in all circumstances, and His patience in our lives!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Galatians 2

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing."
Galatians 2:20-21

In the book of Galatians we learn the precious truth that our eternal salvation rests in grace alone. Our salvation entirely rests in our faith in Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice for our sins on the cross.  In the book of Galatians the apostle Paul was fighting against legalistic teachers who were falsely teaching the Galatian church that they had to return to the ceremonial practices of the Old Testament times. By teaching this the legalistic teachers were in effect saying that Christ alone was insufficient for salvation.

Paul admonished the Galatian church that these ceremonial practices of the past had merely been pointing to the coming of the Savior.  These ceremonial laws were no longer necessary. Jesus had fulfilled the law's requirement.  Jesus had paid the total penalty for sin.  So too, our salvation as believers today rests in grace and faith alone.  Praise God that this is true!  If our salvation rested even in part on our own merit, we would be in dire straits!  The law and our sins no longer have power to condemn us to a Christless eternity.  All of our sins have been washed away by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross!

Because of God'g grace we now are new creatures in Christ!  Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."  Because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross we now belong to Him.  As His children you and I have relinquished our lives to Christ. We are no longer in sin's grasp or in the devil's grip.  II Corinthians 1:22 promises us that the Lord has "set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."  Instead of living in Satan's realm we now have relinquished that life for an exchanged life in Christ.  "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."

Galatians 2:20b goes on to say, "The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."  As followers of Jesus Christ our new lives in Him are characterized by a walk of faith.  Our new lives in Christ are trusting lives.  In our new lives in Christ we can come to the Lord with all our needs and trust that He will always be with us. In our new lives in Christ we can trust that the Lord will always be our source of comfort and our friend. In our new lives in Christ we can trust that He will always guide and protect us. In our new lives in Christ we know we have a Savior who loved us so much that He was willing to give Himself on the cross to pay for our sins.

Finally, in our lives in Christ we are confident that Christ's sacrifice for our sins was sufficient. We need not and can not add anything to salvation's requirements.  It was all taken care of by our Savior! As His children we now can relinquish our old lives of sin and live new lives in Christ. We can do this; because Jesus Christ lives in us, giving us power to live for Him.  Christ died on the cross for us, and He lives within us.  Hence, we now can live lives of trust and faith in Him! Praise His name!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Psalm 42

We all have a passion for certain things in our lives.  We all have priority list for what we feel is most important in this life. We all have certain goals for which we strive and which consume our energies. The psalmist in Psalm 42 had a deep longing and passion for God.  His very heart was longing and crying out for the Lord.  What is most important to us in our lives?  Like the psalmist in Psalm 42 our consuming passion should be for the Lord God.  Our consuming passion should be for developing our love relationship with the Lord.  Our consuming passion should be to live for the Lord.

The psalmist said in Psalm 42:1-2, "As the deep pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?"  A deer pants and longs for water, because its life is dependent on water.  This is especially true when the deer is being chased by hunters.  So also the psalmist longed to be with God. Apparently circumstances prevented the psalmist from temporarily going to the temple and communing with the Lord on the level that he would have liked to commune with God.  Hence, the psalmist's heart was aching and longing for God.  His heart was crying out for God.  The psalmist was not running after and longing for pleasure, position, or the material things of this world; but he was overwhelmed with a longing for God Himself.

You and I need that kind of passion in our love relationship with the Lord.  The things of this world will pass away.  Only our love for the Lord and our relationship with the Lord will last throughout eternity.  Also our hearts will be restless and will not find true peace and joy until they are resting in the Lord.  The Lord alone is the answer to our soul's thirst.  Joy, peace, and the longing of our souls can not even be found in what the Lord gives us or does for us.  It is found in the Lord Himself! Jesus said in John 7:37b. "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink,"  The Lord alone is the answer to our soul's longing.

The psalmist apparently was going through a difficult time in his life when he wrote this Psalm. He said in Psalm 42:3, "My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long. 'Where is your God?'"  Sometimes during times of trial and difficulty in our lives, we may be tempted to think that the Lord has forgotten us,  Just the opposite is true, however, The Lord is always with us. This is especially true during the difficult times in our lives.  Also the Lord uses times of trial and difficulty in our lives to draw us closer to Him. Difficult times in our lives help us to grow in our love relationship with the Lord.  Hence, trials in our lives help to satisfy our passion and longing for the Lord.

When the psalmist was feeling overwhelmed with the problems in his life, he remembered the Lord's past blessings in his life.  He also remembered the past joys of worshiping with God's people in the temple.  The psalmists went on to say in verses five and eleven of Psalm 42, "Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed with me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."

God will fulfill our every need during both times of trial and during times of relative ease in our lives. The Lord will do this for us, if we put our trust and hope in Him.  The Lord will do this for us, if our consuming passion and longing is for Him.  Even when we feel overwhelmed with a difficulty in our lives, the Lord is always with us.  In Psalm 42:8 the psalmist said, "By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me-a prayer to the God of my life."  No matter what the circumstances in our lives the Lord is our source of joy and peace.  May the Lord be our consuming passion in our lives!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Psalm 37

Those who belong to the Lord experience true wisdom, prosperity, and success.  They may not be wise in the world's view of things.  They also may not be successful or wealthy according to the world's standards.  A true child of God, however, has all he or she needs for time and for eternity! As children of God we experience the Lord walking beside us and directing all of our steps!  As children of God we possess the Lord's wisdom.  We experience the Lord's definition of success and prosperity in our lives.  The secret to being wise and successful according to the Lord's definition is to trust in the Lord.

We need to not only trust in the Lord, but we need to actually delight ourselves in the Lord.  We must have a sense of the Lord's presence in our lives.  We must have a passion for the things of the Lord. We must delight in reading His Holy Word.  We must delight in seeking to do His will. Our ultimate delight should not be in our homes, our jobs, or even our families.  Our delight and purpose for our lives should be found in the Lord and in serving Him.  Then the other things in our lives will take their rightful place in our lives.  Then the Lord's desires will become our desires, and thus we will also be given the desires our hearts.

As children of God you and I are rich in His blessings and promises!  All the wealth and wisdom of this world can not begin to compare to the joy and blessings of belonging to the Lord.  He promises to always be with us.  We read in Psalm 37:5-6, "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this:  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun."

Even when we face insurmountable problems the Lord will see us through or around our problems, if we trust in Him.  No problem is too big or too small for the Lord.  God is all sufficient.  We only need to come to Him with our needs and leave them with Him.  Psalm 37:7 tells us, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret---."  We need to calmly wait in trust for the Lord to work out the details of our lives.  We need to be busy in God's kingdom, but we need to be trusting the Lord to work out His plan of our lives.  The Lord's command to us is "do not fret" and do not worry.

The child of God is rich and successful in the Lord!  The child of God is successful in things that matter for eternity!  The child of God is rich in the blessings of God's promises.  Psalm 37:17b-19 says, "---the Lord uphold the righteous.  The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever.  In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty."

God never promises that we will have all days of sunshine and days where everything goes according to our plans.  He does promise, however, to always be with us and meet our needs. Psalm 37:23-24 promises, "If the Lord delights in a man's ways, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand."  What an awesome promise!

No wealth or success we might experience in this world can begin to compare to the wealth and security we have in the Lord and in His promises!  Verse twenty-five is one of this devotional writer's favorite verses in Psalm 37.  It reads like this, "I was young and now I am old. yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread."  This devotional writer doesn't like to think of herself as old, but she has lived long enough to see that the Lord is always faithful. His plan is always best, and His timing is always perfect.  God's people will always be protected forever, and there is a future for the child of God!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

II Corinthians 12

II Corinthians 12:1-10

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."  II Corinthians 12:9

The apostle Paul had an affliction or infirmity of some kind.  The precise nature of this infirmity that plagued Paul's life is uncertain.  Paul called his affliction in II Corinthians 12:7b "a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me."  It would seem as if the "thorn" that Paul experienced in his life was significant.  Paul went on to say in II Corinthians 12:8, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me."

God's answer to Paul's prayer in II Corinthians 12:9 was "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  God was telling Paul that His love and kindness would be enough for Paul.  The Lord was telling Paul that with the Lord's strength in his life Paul would be able to bear the "thorn" in his life.

The "thorn" of affliction in Paul's life had been given to him to keep him humble.  It was given to Paul to keep him from self-reliance and to cause him to rely on the Lord alone for strength.  The Lord's strength and grace in Paul's life would be sufficient.  Because Paul was willing to accept God's will in not removing the "thorn" from his life, Paul experienced the Lord's blessing.  Even the "thorn" became a blessing to Paul!  Paul's "thorn" or weakness enabled Paul to experience the Lord's strength in his life.  God's strength was more clearly exhibited and completed in Paul's weaknesses!

God sometimes allows problems and afflictions in our lives also.  The Lord does not always remove every affliction and problem that we ask Him to remove from our lives.  He will instead give us the grace that we need to live victoriously in spite of those problems.  The Lord's grace is sufficient for every circumstance and need.  Only as we lose our dependence on self and avail ourselves of the Lord's strength do we become dynamic instruments in the Lord's hand. Sometimes the Lord allows afflictions and trials in our lives to keep us close to Him and dependent on Him.  Relying and resting on the Lord's strength brings glory and honor to the Lord. Trials are in this way turned to blessing and triumph in our lives!

Paul went on to say in II Corinthians 12:9b-10, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Through Paul's affliction Christ became increasingly real to him.  Through his trials Paul grew in his personal love relationship with the Lord.  Paul was willing to endure his affliction the rest of his life; if it would better display the power, presence, and glory of the Lord in his life.  Paul even delighted in his afflictions, because he knew they were bringing about favorable results in his life. He also knew they were bringing greater glory to the Lord.  Paul knew that his weakness in his own human strength resulted in a greater flow of the Lord's strength in him.

We also can glory and delight in our trials and weaknesses.  It is in our weakness that the power of our Lord is most clearly displayed.  The Lord can not use our foolish attempts at self-reliance. When we depend on the Lord and His strength alone, however, we can be used in powerful ways for the glory of the Lord.  Let it be our passion to rely on the Lord's all-sufficiency, power, and grace alone!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Il Corinthians 5

"So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it."
II Corinthians 5:9

How much time do you and I spend trying to please other people?  If we love someone we will try to show our love for them, and we will try to do things for them that bring them joy.  Our main joy and priority in life must be found in pleasing the Lord, however.  It is God's purpose for our lives that we live for His glory and that we find our ultimate joy in Him alone.  Paul said in ll Corinthians 5:9, "So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." We must seek to please the Lord in our words, thoughts, habits, attitudes, and deeds.  It must be our consuming desire to moment by moment live in the center of the Lord's will and to please Him in all things.

Earlier in the chapter in ll Corinthians 5 in the last part of verse two Paul spoke of His and every believer's "longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling."  Every believer knows that the moments of this life on earth are fleeting and temporary and that eternal joys await us in the future. Only in eternity will we be free from sin and its consequences in our lives and in our world, and only then will we be completely free to experience uninhibited joy in our love relationship with the Lord.

Until then, however,  ll Corinthians 5:7 reminds us that  "we live by faith, not by sight."  As we live our lives here on earth we also "make it our goal" to glorify and please the Lord in all areas of our lives (ll Corinthians 5:9).  We seek to avoid self-importance, pride, and the foolish pursuit of worldly things as our source of fulfillment.  Instead our goal and priority must be our love relationship with the Lord and our desire to serve Him with all our hearts.

We say with Paul in ll Corinthians 5:14-15, "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died.  And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again"  The love of Christ must so consume us that it controls, compels, and urges us to live our lives with purpose and to live them only for the glory of the Lord.

The Lord Jesus died for our sins, and He made us His children.  Because of His atoning death on the cross we are new creatures in Him.  ll Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"  As new creatures in Christ we have new attitudes, hew identities in Christ, and new purpose.  That purpose according to ll Corinthians 5:20 is to live for Jesus Christ's glory and be "Christ's ambassadors" to the world. By our lives we must create a desire in others to come to the Lord Jesus for His forgiveness and His grace.

II Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."  The Lord Jesus died to pay the punishment for our sins. Jesus Christ also lived a perfectly righteous life for us that we were unable to live. So Christ's righteousness is now given to us.  We now have a righteous standing before the Almighty God because of Christ's righteousness given to us.  We must grow in practical holiness also, however, and we must begin to more and more reflect the Lord Jesus in our lives.  It must be our consuming desire to live for the glory of the Lord.  We must increasingly think as God would want us to think and act the way God would want us to act.  This is God's purpose and will for our lives.