13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.– Galatians 5:13-15 NLT
Those who choose Jesus are “free indeed”. Jesus died to set us free from the bondage of sin. But, we must never take that liberty as a license to live a lifestyle of sin and indulgence in sinful pleasures. Whereas, before our repentance, we were bound to do those things that the flesh desires, we are now free to do the things that the Spirit desires. True repentance means turning from one way of life to a new way of life. In our old lifestyle, there was no compulsion to forgive anyone for anything or to love any one. Now, with the love of God and His Holy Spirit living in us, we are compelled to forgive and love. It is impossible for man to do that without the leadership of the Holy Spirit. If we truly love Jesus, we keep His commandments. Those commandments require us to love and forgive. Loving and forgiveness are not products of our emotions, they are willful decisions that we make. If “loving your neighbor as yourself” takes you to the cross, are you willing to go? Jesus was!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
We all know the old hymn, “Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow”. We sing it quite often in worship services across the nation regardless of the denomination. It is a great invitational song for getting people to commit to the mission fields. But I wonder if we really hear the words that we are singing or if we are just making noise. I think we need to change the song for a while and sing “Where He leads me, will I follow?”. Will I go on a mission trip? Oh no, can’t spare the time for that. Will I visit those in prisons? Nope, not my calling. Will I visit the sick in the hospitals and pray for their healing? Again, I just don’t feel the call. Will I feed the hungry? Well, you know I give to charities to do that. Will I walk across the street to witness to my neighbor? You know, they might be offended, really need to be careful there. Will I ask a lost family member if we could pray together? Well. they are not going to listen, they know I’m not perfect. Don’t I need a calling to do those things? Well, here is our calling,
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.20 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.” – Matt. 28:18-20
HEAR IT! HEED IT! NOW!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Before we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we were ruled by our own fleshly desires. Flesh does not want to love others or help them in any way. Flesh is a “selfie”, it is all about me, me, me. After we accepted Jesus, God’s Spirit came to abide in us. Now, we are walking after the Spirit and not the flesh. God’s Spirit teaches us to love one another. As we mature in our walk with God, we should be learning to love more and more. As we love others more, we learn to first look at our faults and the areas we need to improve. If we do this in light of the Scriptures, we find that we have less time to meddle and gossip. This leads to a more peaceful life. We need to stay focused on Jesus and what He has called us to do, so that outsiders see the love we display and they will be drawn to Jesus.
We have no strength of our own to accomplish the work God has called us to do. Just as God instructed Joshua to obey all the instructions Moses had given to him and to not deviate from them, so we must follow the instructions God gives us through the guidance of His Holy Spirit. This guidance comes to us after we have studied the Bible and while we are meditating on it. Meditation is more than having a passing thought, it is deeper and requires us to focus on what God’s Spirit is saying. It is concentrating so totally that our bodies are almost groaning and moaning. Not with complaint or pain but with intensity. The Bible is the only book that we can read and the author will speak to us. With God, all the things that He has ordained are possible, so be strong and courageous. Speak with love, wisdom and boldness. We are never alone, God is with us wherever we go.
Jesus gave His disciples (that includes us) a direct command: Love one another. If we look at our attitudes and lifestyles, it sometimes appears that we think we have a choice in the matter, we don’t! We can’t choose to show love for just one season each year, it is a 24/7/365 proposition. Jesus tells us that, as Christians, we are no longer slaves to our fleshly desires. We are free to make a choice. Jesus chose us and if we respond to that call and choose Him, then we are His friends. If we are His friends then we follow His commands out of our love for Him, not because we are commanded. That love requires us to go and produce fruit with the same power and authority that Jesus used. We have access to that power when we speak the name of Jesus. The question we need to ask ourselves and other Christians is not “How are you doing?”. The question that Jesus would ask and the question we should be asking is this: “Am I being fruitful?”.
This verse is a prayer that I need to pray every day. When I find myself getting irritated, I need to pray this verse so that I do not hurt others with unkind words. When I find myself judging others, I need to pray this verse. When I find myself criticizing, I need to pray this verse. When I see someone in need and I don’t take the time to help them, I need to pray this verse. When I feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit to speak to someone about Jesus and I refuse to do it, I need to pray this verse. When I spend money for things that I don’t need, I need to pray this verse. When God says “no’ or “wait” and I run ahead of Him, I need to pray this verse. Most of all, I need to pray this verse when I think that Jesus has done something or allowed something to happen in my life that is not for my benefit. Because that thought violates the highest command to “love the Lord your God with all of your heart”. You get the idea, I need to pray this verse a lot. Hopefully, the rest of you are better at allowing the Holy Spirit to control your thoughts and words than I am, if not, then just join in and pray this with me, “Now give me the sense to follow your commands”.
19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? 20 Listen, I received a command to bless;God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it! — Numbers 23:19, 20 NLT
God is the Creator, we are the created. We are bought and paid for with the blood of His Son, Jesus. He has every right, legal and anywise, to do with us as He pleases. He can, and does pour out blessings on those He chooses to bless and curses on those He chooses to curse. However, being a just God, He does not make random decsions out of anger or fits of jealousy. His decisions were made before the foundations of the earth were laid and they are based on HIs foreknowledge of our actions. He is never taken by surprise by any thoughts that we have or any actions that we commit. He can only reveal those decisions to us after the fact, so they often seem to be made in haste, but nothing could be further from the truth. Because of His great love for all of His creation, He has and still does warn us over and over about the consequences of unbelief and disobedience. The fact that He has complete foreknowledge of how we will respond has never and will never keep Him from warning us over and over and weeping over our disobedience. Recall what Jesus said about Jerusalem, how God had sent all the prophets to warn them and yet, they refused to be obedient and even murdered the prophets. Jesus wept bitter tears over Jerusalem saying “how often I have wanted to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not” (Matt. 23:37). He still gives us those warnings about greiving, bringing sorrow or rejecting the Holy Spirit.
30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
. — Ephesians 4:30 NLT
So, let each of us today, make a new commitment to listening to and following the leadership of the Holy Spirit so that God will be pleased with us.
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor,so that you through his poverty might become rich. 10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. — 2 Cor. 8:8-11 NIV
God is not impressed by the amount of money that we give. He is impressed by the attitude that we have toward giving into His work. We see this from the story of the widow who gave her mite. A mite is thought to be equal to about one half of one of our pennies. Regardless of what the world thought about it’s worth, because of the attitude and the sacrifice the woman made, Jesus thought it was much more valuable than the gifts of those who gave out of their abundance. God doesn’t need us to return a portion of the money He has allowed us to be stewards over. He wants us to give out of love and a grateful heart. He wants us to give with joy and hilarity because of our relationship with Him. Just as we give gifts of time and money to those around us that we love, we should offer up the best of both to Him. Would we invite a special guest to dinner and give him/her leftovers? We have the most special guest that lives with us all the time. Why do think that He is happy with our leftovers? He gave His life, we must make every effort to give Him the best of what we have simply because we love Him.
12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. — 2 Cor. 8:12
5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. — 2 Cor. 5:5-9 NIV
The ultimate goal for a Christian is to live a lifestyle that is pleasing to God.This doesn’t mean that all of us have to be involved in the traditional full time ministries. It does mean that God expects us to use the abilities and the resources He has placed under our control to glorify Him. It means that whatever position we are in that God has made us a steward over that part of His world and His business. We are accountable to Him for every second and every cent we spend. The time and the money are gifts from our Father and He expects us to use them to glorify Him and further His Kingdom. Besides the purchases of those things necessary for living, we need to be sure that the why, when and where we spend time and money brings glory to Him. As we spend more time with just us and God meditating on His Word, we find that our wants and desires begin to change. As we focus on Jesus, the worldly things become less important and pleasing Him becomes our heart’s desire. God has a plan and a purpose for each of us. We don’t need to know the whole plan, we just need to walk in faith trusting Him. We can take the next step knowing that the path leads to an eternity with Him.
3. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. — Proverbs 16:3 NIV
17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands. — Psalm 90:17 NIV
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. — Hebrews 2:14-18 NIV
Sometimes when I am reading about one of the great miracles that Jesus did when He was here on earth, I forget that He was a man just as we are. I want to attribute those miracles to someone with access to more power than we have access to. If I could truthfully do that then I would be relieved of trying to live up to His example. But, woe is me, because to do that would be to deny His full humanity and therefore, it would be a lie. So, I must agree with Jesus that I have access to the power that enables me to do “greater things than these”.
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. — John 14:12 NIV
I recognize the sins that I commit and I ask forgiveness for them. But how many times have I sinned by omitting or not doing what the Holy Spirit has asked me to do and used the excuse “I can’t”? God is not a man that He should lie and He says that we can through His power. To believe anything less is to believe a lie.
So, today, right now, Father, I ask your forgiveness for those times when I could’ve and I should’ve but I didn’t. Make me more aware when those situations arise again and arouse in me the boldness and power to do what you have asked me to do. Thank you for your forgiveness, your mercy and your love. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. — 1 John 1:8-10 NIV