1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. 2 But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. 3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.– Psalm 1:1-3 NLT
There are thousands of books written in an attempt to make us feel better about ourselves. Do this and get rich, do this and influence people, do this and look better. Money, power and good looks do not come with bags of joy that can be opened at any time we need to feel good. All of these things are external and have nothing to do with the real problems of today.The changes we need are from the inside out. It isn’t our natural diet that makes us who we are, contrary to what we have been told, we are not what we eat. The diet that determines whether we will be full of peace and joy is our Spiritual diet. Be filled with the Holy Spirit! The third person of the Trinity really is a person. He abides inside us to give us all the peace, joy and hope we need or desire. He knows our every need and is waiting patiently to give it to each of us. He weeps with us and when our hearts are broken, so is His. He feels the pain that we feel and He wants to restore our joy and hope when we are down and out. We need to learn to praise God and tell others what He has done for us. While we are praising Him, we will find that our joy will start to flow out from us to those around us. Praise and pray! God hears the praises and the prayers. He will not reject our prayers or withdraw His love from us. Eat your fill of Spiritual food each day, it is non-fattening, fulfilling and it purges us, pushing out all the sadness, worry and fears. Start with a taste and soon you will find that it takes a lot of Spiritual goodness to keep you satisfied!
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. —Psalm 34:8
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Paul keeps encouraging the new converts to go forward and not turn back to the old law and traditions. Since we now live under grace, we are no longer bound by the laws of the Old Testament. Why? Have they been destroyed or nullified by God? No, definitely not. Why, then? Because, as Jesus Himself said:
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.—Matt. 5:17 (NIV)
Since Jesus fulfilled the law, we are no longer bound by that law. We live under the covenant of grace. If we believe keeping one point of the law is necessary for salvation, then we are bound by all the points of the law. If it were possible for man to fulfill every point of the law, then Jesus died a useless death on the cross. Our salvation comes only by “grace through faith” in His finished work at Calvary. Does this mean we just accept Jesus and do nothing? No, there is work for us to do, but the work does not add to our salvation.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.–Eph. 2:8-10 (NIV)
Jesus “paid it all” and we are the beneficiaries of His death.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
We humans are a mess! Look at these religious leaders! Here they are participating in a mockery of justice and falsely accusing Jesus of being a criminal of some sort. Yet, they would not go inside the Roman governor’s palace lest they become defiled and unclean. Then they would not be able to eat the Passover meal. The Jews had the authority to hold court and try their own people, so that is what Pilate tells them to do. But they wanted Jesus to be put to death and they did not have the authority to administer that kind of punishment. We, too, can be as hypocritical as these religious leaders. We judge unfairly and gossip about others, even our own Christian brothers and sisters. We can go to church every day of the week, but if we don’t love our neighbor, we are just as guilty as these people. Remember, every word of gossip grieves the Holy Spirit who is living inside us. As I write this, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is guiding me because I need to be the first to hear this admonition. Thank you, Holy Spirit, my friend and my guide, for loving me enough to take the time to teach me again and again and again. Thank you for forgiving me even though you know I will fail and grieve you again. Amazing love!! Amazing grace that saved a wretch like me!!!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Jesus came to set us free from the captivity of our sins. When we spiritually died with Christ and we were raised up again, we were set free from the powers of this world. Our lifestyles should reflect that death and resurrection. We should live our lives free from old laws and traditions. As Jesus instructed Peter in Acts 11: 9 The voice spoke again from heaven, ‘Do not consider anything unclean that God has declared clean.” But we must never let our liberty be a stumbling block to outsiders or those that are weaker. We should use our liberty in Jesus to attract others to Him. We are to be filled with the Spirit of the Living God and led by His directions. Only the love of God and His Spirit abiding in us can stop us from doing the evil things that the flesh continues to want to do. We should be Spirit-fed and Spirit-led. Will we be accused of trying to be little “Jesuses”? Probably so, but is there anyone better for us to attempt to imitate than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
20 Since you died with Christ and were made free from the ruling spirits of the world, why do you act as if you still belong to this world by following rules like these: 21 “Don’t handle this,” “Don’t taste that,” “Don’t even touch that thing”? 22 These rules refer to earthly things that are gone as soon as they are used. They are only human commands and teachings.23 They seem to be wise, but they are only part of a human religion. They make people pretend not to be proud and make them punish their bodies, but they do not really control the evil desires of the sinful self. — Col. 2: 20-23 NCV
We think we are far advanced from the first century AD. In technology, dress, and the comforts of life, we are. But human nature itself has not changed much. We still have those who want to regulate everything that each individual does or wants to do. That is why we have so many laws that we can fill numerous buildings storing all the paperwork. But, as Jesus knew and we should have learned, external laws don’t keep us from sinning. Jesus pointed out to the religious leaders of His day that they kept adding man-made rules and regulations to the laws God had given them. These had no spiritual value since what goes into us that makes us obedient or disobedient, it is what comes out of us.
10 After Jesus called the crowd to him, he said, “Listen and understand what I am saying. 11 It is not what people put into their mouths that makes them unclean. It is what comes out of their mouths that makes them unclean.” — Matt.15:10, 11
As Christians, we have liberty, but we must use that liberty wisely in choosing what we do and what we don’t do. We must be sure that we are not adding to what God has said is right and/or wrong. We must not allow the things that we have chosen to rule our lives to the extent that they become our “god”‘ and we impose those things on others as if they were laws or commandments.
12 “I am allowed to do all things,” but not all things are good for me to do. “I am allowed to do all things,” but I will not let anything make me its slave. — 1 Cor. 6:12
Wrong choices are external symptoms of an internal problem. The problem is that we have not allowed God’s Word to conform our thoughts. If we bring all of our thoughts into captivity to God, we will not need external “dos” and “don’ts”. It will be our hearts desire to do what God wants us to do and not do the things He doesn’t want us to do.
4 We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses. Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy’s strong places. We destroy people’s arguments 5 and every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ. — 2 Cor. 10:4, 5 NCV