Month: May 2016

Walking According to the Rules

“And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” – Galatians 6:16

One of the reasons I love golf so much, is because it is a righteous sport. What do I mean by that? It is one of the few sports, if not the only sport, where you are actually encouraged to call a penalty on yourself (even if no one saw you) when you know you have violated the rules. As an aspiring young golfer who wanted to become a pro, I was inspired by a quote by one of my childhood heroes, Jack Nicklaus. He said, “Know the rules and win!”

Now, having played the game for years, I know that the game of golf is a lot more complicated than that. But not so with life. Truly, it is safe to say that, “Walk according to God’s rules and live!”, is 100% true.

There are so many verses in the bible that speak of this truth. God’s word is true and it is eternal. His word tells us that when all of the world passes away, His Word, His truth, His rules shall stand.

Oh that we would always walk according to His rules and thereby win the greatest trophy ever, guaranteed, the crown of eternal life. When we walk accordingly, we win big time, both in this life and in the life that is to come.

Heavenly Father, guide us by your word, your word is truth. Thank you for the peace and the mercy that falls upon us as we are found obedient to those things you have spoken. Thank you for the eternal hope and confidence we can take in your word. In Jesus name…amen. 

Boasting Only in the Cross

“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.” – Galatians 6:14

Just this morning I was talking to my wife about our world’s preoccupation with selfies and what selfies communicate. “Look at my hair, look at my bathing suit, look at my new coat, etc., etc.” You name it, there is a selfie for it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have taken a few selfies myself, usually letting friends know of some event we are at, or some vacation spot we are visiting. I suppose it would be fair to say, “Aren’t you boasting about that?” I suppose they would be right, but I see it a lot different than that 145th head shot of your hairdo, your make-up, or your newest piece of clothing. I don’t take a lot of selfie head shots and post them, for two reasons: 1) I am 63 years old, 2) I don’t even like to look at my selfie in the mirror.

What does it mean “to boast”? It means “to speak with pride”. The Bible is replete with examples of the downfall of being prideful. In fact, according to God’s law, He will bring down anyone who seeks to lift themselves up.

However, when it comes to boasting, there is one thing that we are encouraged to boast about, “the cross”. Why is that? Because it takes all of the attention off of us and anything we could do, and it  points to Jesus. When we boast in the cross we are saying we are grateful in what Jesus has done for us. We boast in the powerful truth that when there was nothing we could do to free ourselves from the world, Jesus did it on the cross. The cross took my nasty wicked life and made it new. 

Now that is something to boast about!

Dear Lord, may we only look to you in anything we would ever boast about. We are new creations through nothing we could have ever done for ourselves. Help us to understand that as we boast in the cross, we are pointing people to Jesus and thereby more eager to boast. In His name we pray…Amen.

Don’t Grow Weary

“And  let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:9-10

Without question there is a weariness to doing good. Otherwise Paul would have not said it. There is especially a weariness in doing good in a world that rejects the good we are trying to do. This is the conundrum.

We must recognize that in our weaknesses, in our weariness, God is strong. In turn, we become strong, not in our own strength, but in Christ Jesus the source of all of our strength. Even when we are weak He is strong and to make things even better, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us, according to the perfect will of God, the One who knows and searches our hearts.

When we feel the weariness that comes from doing good, we must rest in the promises of God. When we do this, in due season, in God’s perfect timing, we will reap from the doing of good. The key is that we do not lose heart in the process.

We must first recognize that there will be times when we will be tempted to lose heart. Look to the promises of God which speak to the victory that we have in Christ Jesus, then stand firm, trust and let the Holy Spirit take over, who is praying, interceding, and crying out to God on our behalf, thereby bringing about God’s perfect will.

Oh Lord, when we are weary, take over. Help us to trust that the Holy Spirit is getting the job done, even when we are feeling weak. Help us to stay out of his way. Strengthen us in doing good, especially those who are of the household of faith. In Jesus name…amen. 

God Will Not Be Mocked!

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” – Galatians 6:7-8

It may seem odd to make such a bold statement in such a Godless world where God is mocked at every turn. However it is true! We see it in our own lives, in the history of man, and certainly in the history of the church.

Take some time and read 1 Samuel 5:1-12. It speaks of the Philistine god Dagon, who stood by the ark of God when it was brought into the Philistine city of Ashdod. There was no doubt a sense of great confidence in their false god Dagon, and this foolish ark of the Israelites where God supposedly presented Himself.

In the morning, when they came in, Dagon was laying face down before the ark.

It may seem that people are getting away with mocking God but it isn’t true. This is a tragic reality for those who insist at mocking Him in what they say, what they believe, and what they do. The Roman authorities and Jewish leaders, even the criminals crucified next to Jesus thought that Jesus was worthy of mocking. Fortunately, their mouths were shut on the day of His resurrection. 

The day will come, when “every knee” will bow, and “every tongue” will confess that Jesus is Lord. He will not be mocked. He wasn’t yesterday, He won’t today, and He will never be!

Oh Lord, guard our own hearts from every mocking you. Holy Spirit lead us to sowing to the Spirit that we might of the Spirit reap everlasting life, and a life that accurately reflects our love for you. In Jesus name…amen. 

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.” – Galatians 6:2-5

When I was a young, there was a popular song entitled “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” I remember it especially because of how close I was, and still am to my older brother. I would think of all we had been through as kids, how he had taken such great care of me when, as a 6 year old, our parents divorced (he was 12). I would think of how there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t have done for him. I would think of him every time I heard or sang the chorus of this song, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”

The reality is that the burdens of this life are in fact ‘heavy’, and sometimes they are extremely heavy. In many cases they are far too heavy for us to bear. What do we do when that is the case? Aren’t we called to bear one another’s burdens? Absolutely, but that burden carrying is to be done in the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is when we ‘think something of ourselves’ that we can expect to fail. But, in Christ we can carry those burdens quite easily.

Jesus tells us to come to him we we are weary and heavy laden (Matt 11:28), and He will give us rest. The wonderful truth about bearing one another’s burdens is that it can be done through a listening ear, with very few or no words at all. We can then carry the burden for them in our hearts, and in turn on the very short journey from our hearts to God’s. When we do this, we find that not only will the burden be light for us, but will supernaturally lighten the load on our brother.

Oh Lord, first and foremost we thank you that you have made our burden light, through your willingness to take it from us. May we have the same heart for our brothers and sisters in Christ, knowing that you are always willing to help us carry their burdens as well. Teach us how to be effective burden bearers for the body of Christ. In Jesus name…amen. 

Overtaken in Trespass

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1

If there is one thing that everyone of us can relate to, it is ‘temptation.’ We all face them, and most of us face them every single day. Some days multiple times per day. So much so that we get discouraged and want to give up. The enemy loves it when that happens. He knows that when we are discouraged, we will be weak, and he can strike.

There are a number of things to be mindful of when it comes to temptations. First of all, there is no temptation we will every face, that Jesus hasn’t faced. This is why we must always looked to him when we face every temptation. (Heb 4:15)

Secondly, there is no temptation that will every come our way, that God will not provide a way of escape. We must be alert to those temptations that seek to draw us away most easily, and then learn to recognize the escape routes. If we give in to temptation, it is not because there wasn’t a way of escape. (1 Cor 10:13)

Third, the Lord will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. This is a promise we can count on from His word. Even when we feel we cannot bear it, it isn’t true. The enemy would love for us to think that but it isn’t true. Again, look for the way of escape. The Holy Spirit will reveal it to you. (1 Cor 10:13)

Finally, we as the body of Christ are to stick together, to encouraged one another, to pray for one another and seek to gently restore anyone who have been overtaken by temptation. One of the best ways to overcome temptation is hanging out with brothers and sisters who are Biblically mature, and eager to restore you when you are weak.

Oh Lord, we know that we will be tempted as long as we remain this side of heaven. We stand on the promises of your word that You , Lord Jesus, are familiar with all of our temptations. We trust that you will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear, and will always provide an escape. Lord, open our eyes to others who are struggling with temptation that we might be able to restore them, in the gentleness of your Spirit. In Christ alone, we pray.

A Letter from the Apostle Paul

Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia. (Galatians 1)

I am always reminding our church of the importance of viewing the epistles (letters) as living documents to us, His church. It is far too easy to look at what Paul said to the Galatians as something that isn’t relevant to today, and perhaps pick up a nugget or two that might encourage us. That is the wrong way to think about it. 

I was reminded recently that these letters are as pertinent to us today, as they were when they were written, with some very, very minor cultural issues that are few and far between. And so I thought it would be fun to take the next six days of our break from our daily reading, and consider five truths that Paul spoke to the churches in Galatia and therefore to us as Christians.

Bear in mind, apart from the pastoral epistles (2 & 2 Timothy, and Titus) these letters are instruction to the church. We must read it as a living document that the Holy Spirit desires to speak to our hearts through. These letters profoundly instruct us in the things of this life that are truly important.

Here is the line up…

  • May 26th – Overtaken in Trespasses
  • May 27th – Bearing One Another’s Burdens
  • May 28th – God Will Not Be Mocked
  • May 29th – Do Not Grow Weary
  • May 30th – Boasting Only in the Cross
  • May 31st – Walking According to His Rules

These will be short things to ponder. Would love to hear your thoughts!

In Christ alone!