Keep stepping!

PNG image-B25C2AE93D1F-1But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirt you are not under the law.  Gal 5:16-18

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Gal. 5:25-26

Finishing up in Galatians chapter 5 today. When I first started reading Galatians I thought it was a hard book to read. (That may show how truly inept I am at this.) But this week when Galatians 5 grabbed me and I decided to dig in a little bit to this chapter and break it down I came to realize that this chapter anyway is really very simple and it is summed up right here in these verses. I actually read verses 16 – 26 but the whole theme of this chapter and really our christian walk are summed up in verse 16 and in verse 25. At least as far as my simple mind can see. Paul is saying here very simply “walk by the Spirit, live by the Spirit”. So what are some practical ways. we can do that? Well he addresses that as well when he says “keep in step with the Spirit.” When you are keeping in step with the Spirit it becomes easier to think like the Spirit. Kind of like a married couple or friends who spend lots of time with each other. The more time you spend together the more you tend to think like the other person. I have a friend that we spent so much time together when our kids were younger that we truly reached a point where we were finishing each other’s sentences. We even found ourselves carrying the same purse on 3 different occasions and we were never together when we made that purchase. When you are spending time with the Spirit, with Jesus then you start to walk in step with him and the other stuff that is mentioned in these passages just start to happen. You begin to put away the things of the world and the fruit of the Spirit within you begins to grow.   Walking in step with Him is letting Him direct your life and your steps. I am not saying all in the world will be sunshine and lollipops but when you walk in step you have the helper, the Spirit to guide you and to show you the way and yes, even to carry you through the hard times.

Please pray for our service industry today. There are so many people who are hurting financially during this time. Please pray and if you need something or you can, please buy from the local shops. If you are not ready to sit in a restaurant or if your community is not open, please get takeout and be sure to tip well. (if you can)

Run well – Gal. 5:7-15

IMG_1683“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who call you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve on another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Gal. 5:7-15

Apparently the church in Galatia that Paul was writing to had started out well on their faith journey but they had allowed false teaching in their midst. (v.7)  This was upsetting to Paul as he was trying to warn them that you let a little “leaven” in and eventually it can run through the whole batch. In other words if you let one person in to teach and they are teaching false doctrine then next thing you know they are leading the whole bunch of them and it is negating what the cross did for them. But he is also encouraging them when he tells them “I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view”. (v10)  In other words he is telling them I know you know the truth and I know that you will follow the truth. I was thinking this can be a scary fine line because we are supposed  to be open to others and welcome them to the church. But before you allow them to lead you be sure they are leading you to the cross. Paul even ends this part of the passage with loving your neighbor as yourself.  (hmm we’ve heard that recently) We have freedom in Christ and we do not want to be judged “by the company we keep” but what I think Paul is saying to them is to remember the cross. Remember who called you and the freedom to which you were called. He says don’t let this freedom be an opportunity for you to sin. Again don’t think of it as a list of do’s and don’ts. But also don’t think I can do whatever I want and keep asking forgiveness. But realize that legalism leads you away from the cross and freedom leads you to the cross. When you run well, when you run toward the cross with all you have, you will serve one another and you will love one another without the backbiting and judgment that legalism can bring.

Please pray for the pastors and for our churches today. Many churches are trying to figure out the best way and when to open back up!

Sunrise Surprise!

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Anyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for a good sunrise!  This morning I thought I was not going to get a particularly pretty sunrise as it is a little cloudy here at the Lake!  But as I was sitting in my chair reading this morning, I suddenly looked up and here peeking through the clouds very prettily was the sun! It was almost like God was saying “SURPRISE!! Here you go!” I got out of my chair and immediately walked out onto the deck so that I could share it with you! (This has nothing to do with the devo!)

Today I read through my Bible reading and I pondered and asked the Lord what He wanted me to write on today.  I have been reading through the gospels over and over this year but I am also reading in Galatians right now. I kept going back and forth to the passage in Galatians, because well quite frankly, it bothered me a bit when I first read it.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law, you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Gal. 5:1-6

This part that says “Christ will be of no advantage to you” is what really bothered me. So I kept digging. I wanted to see what Paul meant by this. You see I really want to hang onto Christ so that He is an advantage to me. I want my faith in Him to be what carries me because if it is not then where am I. When I dug into this passage that is precisely what it is saying. You see if I am only living by a list of dos and don’t in the world then I am not living in the faith that what Jesus did on the cross is enough for me. If I follow all of the lists of rules or the law to the letter of the law and I do not lean into Christ and who He is and what He has done for me then the laws that I keep mean absolutely nothing! The laws and the rules are the yoke of slavery. I have seen people and I would say I have been there myself that get so caught up in the can’t, and shouldn’t, and don’t do things of this life that we forget about Jesus. The last verse of this passage says “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (the rules, the laws, the list of dos and don’ts) count for anything, but only faith working through love.” (verse 6) Lord let me not get so caught up in the rules that I forget the faith that works in love!

Please pray for your educators and students today (combining these 2)!

Mark 4:1-20 The Parable of the Sower

You are probably like me and have read those verses many times before. Maybe you thought about them and knew what it meant and maybe you didn’t. As I was looking today I was really wanting to dig in to this one. One of the commentaries I read pointed out all of the many different ways that the crowd may have perceived this parable. The farmer may have thought “I should be more careful”, The salesman may have thought, “I can sell this Farmer something to help him not waste so much seed.” What was Jesus’ point in teaching this parable to a wide diverse audience? The disciples asked him later what it was and lucky for us he explained it and the author of Mark decided to include it for us. In verses 13-20 Jesus explains to the disciples that the seed here is the word of God and the ground is people and how they perceive the word. I don’t want to be the path that lets the word blow away in the wind or the rocky ground that has no root at all and lets the cares of the world choke out the word.

 

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But I want to be the good soil, I want to dig in, I want to be one who bears fruit. I have to admit that I wonder when I think of this why Jesus would have taught this parable this way. Why doesn’t He want to just tell people what He means instead of saying it in a parable. Well for me personally, I have to say that I retain more when I dig more. I like to plant flowers this time of year. I don’t necessarily have what you call a green thumb. You know some people it seems can just put a seed in the ground and it is going to grow. My mother in law used to grow the most beautiful plants and flowers and when I would comment to her how beautiful they were she would always say well I just stick it in the ground and wish it well! And it would grow! I was amazed and I have to admit I do not have that gift! But I have learned a little bit. I have learned that the soil that you use matters. You need good soil for things to grow well. You need good soil for the roots to grow deep and grow strong. The better the soil, the better the roots and then the more beautiful the plant. A plant that is growing in good soil that has deep roots can grow healthy and strong and beautiful. I want my mind to be good soil for His word. I want my heart to have good roots so that when my mind digs into his word that it takes root in my heart and then I want my life to bear much fruit. I have also learned that sometimes things can appear dead on the outside but the roots are there, they just need to be watered and loved on so that the plant can flourish later. In Isaiah 55:11 it says “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” If you know someone or love someone that you have been praying for and they seem to have the rocky soil and the cares of the world are choking them out, grab hold of that verse in Isaiah and keep cultivating the word in them. Send them encouragement, let the words take root in their heart and dig deep in your own so that we can all bear fruit. I believe this gift of time we have been given is a good time to cultivate new things in our own hearts and to reach out to others and sow good seed in the heart of others.  

Pray for our medical professionals today.  It’s been nurses week this past week. If you know a nurse, hug them, virtually of course, send them a word, or a happy to make their day and let them know we appreciate them.  

Mark 3:1-5

I read this morning in Mark 3. The passage tells us that Jesus entered the synagogue again and there was a man there with a withered hand. It says that “they” watched Him closely to see whether or not Jesus was going to heal the man. They is the Pharisees and the religious leaders of the day. First of all this right here proves that they knew that Jesus had the power to heal the man. Jesus told the man to come forward and then He asked the question of the Pharisees “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to kill?” (v. 4) My first thought was that they didn’t know what to say. How do they answer this man who always asks these questions. Jesus was very good at His questions and well basically causing them not to speak because His questions were actually pointing something out to them. But when you read the next sentence. “But they kept silent.” And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts. (v. 5). Ouch! I wonder how many times do I grieve Jesus with the hardness of my own heart. How many times have I thought, “Lord, that person is too far gone, too mean, too bad, too much of a sinner. There is no point in even praying for this or that person because I don’t see that they will ever come around. Or worse, “what are they doing in church!” Yes, I know that in this passage Jesus was healing the man’s withered hand. But in many of Jesus healings He points out that not only is He here to heal the body, but He tells many of the people that He heals that they have been forgiven or to go and sin no more. Jesus was frustrated with the Pharisees. He was giving them the opportunity to come to Him in belief and to change their minds. Yet they were holding on to their own thoughts and their old ways and the law and weren’t willing to look at this man who needed healing with compassion. They weren’t willing to look at Jesus and realize that He is the Messiah. I pray that God will give me a compassionate heart and that I will not grieve Him with my hardened heart when I look at His people. I pray that I will allow Jesus to change me.

Please pray today for our President, and our government leaders who are making the decisions!