Life In The Spirit

What does it mean to be a witness for Jesus?  It isn’t always what we say, but rather what we do.  Now, to back track just a bit, let’s look at Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

These were the last words Jesus spoke, before descending into heaven.  We will receive power from the Holy Spirit and that power will allow us to be His witness, everywhere we go.  Our job, here on earth, is to be a witness for Jesus.

Sometimes through our speech, but always through our life actions.  We may be the only example of Jesus that someone sees.  So the question is, are others seeing Jesus through your life?  What spirit comes forth from you?  The Spirit of God or the spirit of the world?

We read in Galatians 5:16-26:

Life by the Spirit

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

This portion of scripture is telling us that the acts of the spirit are contrary to the acts of the flesh.  We are in constant conflict with our spirit and our flesh.  But, if we have the Spirit of God in us, we need to allow His spirit to rule through us.

What comes out when your fruit is squeezed?  When the pressure is applied?

Now, don’t beat yourself up if you fall, simply ask God to help you be more like Him. Ask Him to show you what parts of your life are still controlled by your flesh and allow Him to lift those areas from you and fill you with more of Him.  He is a gentleman, He will not take something from you.  You must be willing to give it to Him.

Next we visit James 1:19-27:

Listening and Doing

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror  and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James is encouraging us to not just say we are Christians, but actually be Christians!  That is a powerful statement.  Examine your heart.  Are you walking out your faith?  Be honest with yourself.  You can’t hide the truth from God.  Again, don’t beat yourself up if you are less than stellar in your walk.  But don’t be satisfied with being less than God wants you to be.  Jesus died for you.  Step up, step out, make a decision to follow Him, in all areas of your life!

We wrap up our study with Paul’s encouragement:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

We are not there yet, but we must continue to press on; to not dwell in our past, but to push forward towards Jesus and all that He has for us.

Your past is a place to learn from, not live in.

Paul’s wisdom goes on to say:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7)

We must stop worrying and begin giving thanks for everything so that God’s peace can surround our hearts and our minds.

Remember Proverbs 4:23: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

God will do His part, we must do ours.  We must guard our hearts; a hardened heart is the cause of broken relationships.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8,9)

Our actions reflect our thoughts.  And once we know these things, we must practice them.  A sports team doesn’t win a championship the first time they play together.  It takes much practice.  Anything worthwhile takes practice.  It takes practice to train our thoughts from flesh to spirit.  But the reward is God’s peace … peace that covers all!

And when we do these things:

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

I am so thankful that God meets my needs. I don’t do so well on my own.

Thoughts from Genesis – Passing The Test

We read Genesis 22 tonight:

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey … (Genesis 22:1-3)

What is this? We’ve spent the last 10 chapters reading about the covenant God made with Abraham and the blessings that would come through his descendants and now God wants him to sacrifice the son that he waited so long to be born.

And what’s even wilder is that Abraham didn’t argue with God. No … immediate obedience once more. Early the next morning he set off to do as God asked.

Wowza … no wonder God gave Abraham the honor of being the father of his children.

Abraham obeyed God because Abraham trusted God …

I want the faith of Abraham … but will I pass the test?