A Look At Martin Luther’s Thoughts On the Opening Verse of Galatians Chapter 6
Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. The apostle is not speaking here about errors and offenses against doctrine, but about far lesser sins into which people fall not deliberately but through weakness. The words is caught in imply being tricked by the devil or by the sinful nature. The saints in this life now and then, through the enticement of the devil, fall into impatience, envy, wrath, error, doubt, distrust, and so on, for Satan always attacks the purity of doctrine through sects and dissensions, as well as attacking soundness of life with daily offenses. Paul therefore teaches how those who have fallen should be dealt with — namely, those who are strong should raise them up and restore them gently.
It is especially good for us who are in the ministry of the Word to know these things, lest while were are trying to touch everything to the quick, we forget the fatherly and motherly affection that Paul here requires of those who have charge of souls. He gives an example of this precept in 2 Corinthians 2, where he says that it was enough for the man who had been excommunicated to have been rebuked by many people, and that they ought now to forgive him and comfort him, lest he be swallowed up with excessive sorrow. Therefore, Paul beseeches them to be loving toward that man. Pastors and minsters must indeed sharply rebuke those who have fallen; but when they see that those persons are sorrowful for their offenses, they should begin to raise them up again, to comfort them, and to mitigate their faults as much as they can — yet through mercy only, which they must set against sin, lest those who have fallen are swallowed up depression. As the Holy Spirit is precise in maintaining and defending the doctrine of faith, so he is mild and pitiful in forbearing and mitigating people’s sins, if those who have committed them are sorrowful for them. Those who are hard-hearted and obstinate, who fearlessly continue complacently in their sins, we must rebuke sharply. But those who are caught in a sin and are sorry for their fault must be raised up and admonished by those who are spiritual, but gently and not in the zeal of severe justice. A brother ought to comfort his fallen brother with a loving and meek spirit. And the one who has fallen must listen to the word of him who raises him up and must believe it, for God would not have those who are bruised to be cast away, but wants them to be raised up. God has bestowed more on them than we have done — the life and blood of his own Son. Therefore, we ought to also receive, aid, and comfort such people with all mildness and gentleness.
Fear not, little flock. We are meant for a better kingdom.
I worry often about the health of the Church. Why is it that we struggle so much with fear and anxiety rather than trusting the Lord and His perfect will? Has fear become idolatry? Has political fear become a burden? Are you so overwhelmed with fear and grief that you feel unable to cope with even the smallest of setbacks?
I can tell you this: If your problems are big enough to worry about, they are certainly big enough to pray about. Seek Jesus. Find comfort in His Word.
What's going on in the world?
Don’t give way to discouragement, feelings of futility, or waves of fear, because the Father has graciously chosen to give you the kingdom if you are in Christ. There are so many reasons to be discouraged in this fallen world, it’s a wonder that anyone is happy. It’s discouraging to watch your marriage turn cold and distant. It’s disheartening to be betrayed by a dear friend. It’s disappointing to lose the job you worked at with such commitment. It’s depressing to face a sickness that you’re not sure you’ll ever kick. It’s hard to face the rebellion and rejection of your once seemingly innocent children. It’s discouraging to hear so often about corruption in politics and government. It’s disheartening to have to be concerned about crime and injustice. It’s tough to deal with the weaknesses of old age and the failings of your body. It’s hard to be mocked and rejected for your faith. It’s sad to see your church become more a place of controversy than gospel healing. It can seem as if everything in your life is in the process of decaying or in danger of going bad. People die, dreams die, flowers die, and marriages, churches, jobs, and friendships go bad. If you look around, the world that God created isn’t doing very well. In many ways, it’s a hard, discouraging place to live. The downward spiral of the fallen world can get to you. It seems that everything is impermanent or in the process of falling apart.
The discouragement doesn't end there. It often seems as if we have no ability to change anything around us. You do everything you can to restore your marriage, but it just seems stuck. You know you don’t have the power to change other people and you have limited power to change situations. Often you are only a witness or affected by things you have little ability to alter. So where does one even find encouragement? It’s found in grace, as Christ speaks these beautiful words: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Everything changes with these words. These words tell you that it’s not you against a world gone bad. Yes, you are a citizen of this world and you are touched by its brokenness, but as you are, you must remind yourself that you are the citizen of another kingdom. Your King rules over everything that would discourage and disappoint you, and he rules for your good and his glory. What is out of your control is under his unfailing, precise rule. What you don’t understand is under his careful administration. While everything around you seems impermanent, this kingdom will have no end. Long after the kingdoms of this world have been destroyed, you will reign with your King in his kingdom forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever...
What does Jesus say? Luke 12:22-34 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Let's look to the better kingdom!
The reality is that each and every one of us is a theologian. We are all well versed in doctrine. You have a solid grip on theology regarding the things that you worship.
But what do you worship? Do you worship your time? Do you worship the sport you play? Do you worship your popularity in the workplace or at school? Do you worship your family? Money? These things that you know and worship so well are your functional theology. It’s a self centered theology.
What is it that you have used to build your kingdom?
Now… all of these things are not necessarily bad things, but when they become RULING things in our lives… when they are the primary reasons that we get out of bed and work, they become ruling things and this way of living will only ever fail us in the end.
“Why?” do you ask?… Because these things will never satisfy or save you.
So when I say “we are all theologians,” I really mean it. We know a great deal about the things we care about and spend our time with these things.
If you have come to Christ, you have a better hope in him. He is someone who loves you and is always ready to meet you exactly where you are.
Between the “already” of conversion with him, and the “not yet” of you standing in his full presence in heaven, you have the opportunity NOW IN THIS LIFE, to have a relationship with the savior of the world. Not only that, we get to inherit that beautiful kingdom he has described for us in our text today.
With all of this that in mind lets move forward… Let’s look at what God centered, Christ centered theology looks like.
What would it look like to shift your focus from the constant use of social media or our time binge watching things on Netflix or Hulu, and instead replace that with the study of God’s Word? What if our deepest desire was to seek a deeper relationship with the One that loves us dearly. The One that truly has the ability to satisfy and save! Store up your treasure in heaven. Let your heart find its home there and not in the selfish places of this world.
HOW CAN WE ALL LIVE THIS OUT TOGETHER?
Let’s make an effort to be more intentional with our time. Let’s not let fear and sadness rule our lives. Let’s pray when we feel overwhelmed with the things going on around us.
Let’s be thankful for the ways we CAN stay connected with our friends and loved ones.
Fear is something that God can use for our good. in the same what that we have pain receptors to warn us of harm to our bodies, but remember this… Don’t give way to fear. Don’t let it drive your decisions or your actions. Let faith swell up within you and let faith lead you to act.
Pray: Pray that God would reveal to you the places in your life in which you need more faith in him. Pray that he will make clear to you what idols you may have in your life and that he would forgive you for doing so.
Read: Read Luke12:22-34 this week and take note of the attributes of Christ that appear in the text. As you study, pray God would grow you in the characteristics of Jesus.
Create: Make something to remind yourself that Jesus is supreme over all creation. Display your creation so you can see it and remember this passage throughout the week.
Meditate on Luke 12:22-34 today. Let the Word of God be a refreshing reminder that you can rest in His great promises. There is no need to worry. Remember the words, "HOW MUCH MORE..."
A portion of these thoughts are from the "New Morning Mercies" the daily devotional authored by Dr. Paul David Tripp.
What an effort it is to defend your ministry. But can you imagine the very harsh reality of being deeply oppressed because of your faith and worship practices? The Western world, I believe, has yet to truly see it because of the religious freedoms in our current society. (At least that is the case in the United States.) But there will be a day that this becomes more of a struggle. Apostle Paul has faced this numerous times by the time we get to this letter to Timothy. He now turns the focus onto his enemies and uses their own tactics against them. Paul points out that he once was a man that persecuted the Church because of their faith in Jesus Christ. It is because he had lived this out that his statements point to that much more grace. God’s grace through Christ shows that all sinners can confidently receive and expect forgiveness of sins if they have sincerely put their faith in Christ Jesus and believe in this ultimate, atoning sacrifice.
Jesus not only saves us, but shepherds us. Why so often do we call him Lord AND Savior while clearly skipping over the idea of him being Lord. We so willingly want our debt paid, but we so often forgo his lordship or authority in our daily lives. The idea that Jesus came into the world to save sinners should not be lost on us. Why have we so easily lost sight of our reverence and wonder about the One who brings us salvation? Why do we so quickly lose focus? Why do so many in the church doubt the continuous, comprehensive work of sanctification through the power of the Holy Spirit?
We must have this cherished mentality in every part of our life. In every temptation, we must face it with the great confidence and gratitude that we have been saved from our flesh and the bite of sin and we have been give the necessary grace to overcome the testing and tempting that we will surely face in the days to come. Between the already of the cross and the not yet of the glory to come, we must hold fast to the great promises that Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:15-17. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
What can we learn from this passage?
It is: TRUSTWORTHY // FULLY ACCEPTABLE // it speaks to Christ’s PATIENCE // HIS EXAMPLE // it is ETERNAL // it is INCLUSIVE TO ALL WHO BELIEVE, yet EXCLUSIVE in THAT IT IS IN CHRIST ALONE, THROUGH GRACE ALONE, BY FAITH ALONE.
Meditate on 1 Timothy 1:15-17 today. Let the Word of God be a refreshing reminder that you can rely on it and rest in His great promises that he is trustworthy and has sealed the work of your salvation through your faith in Jesus Christ.
Peter’s letter was not written to instruct believers if they experience suffering, but when they experience it. Suffering is a guarantee for the Christian life, but that should not be a source of discouragement for those who follow Christ. Peter wrote his letter to Christians experiencing persecution throughout the Roman Empire. During the first three centuries of the Church, believers were constantly oppressed because of their faith. They were threatened, imprisoned, and violently executed as entertainment, like that of the gladiator-like battle in front of the public. This is the context Peter was writing to address so let’s take a look at what he had to say.
1 Peter 1:3-12 (ESV) 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
Living hope is comprehensive. It means it is a balance of realizing it is always faithful and remains the same, but we, being the ones that change often, need Christ in different ways at different time. Christ as a living hope means that he is healer when you’re broken. He is joy in your sadness. He is savior to you sinfulness. He is hope to your despair.
After reminding his readers of who they are, Peter makes a surprising statement in verse 6: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” He doesn’t tell his readers that soon their faith will bring them reprieve, that God will reward them with worldly comfort. Rather, he makes it clear that suffering and joy can—and should—co-exist.
Like children adopted into a loving family, we have been chosen by God and blessed not only with a birthright, but also with an inheritance sealed for us by the Holy Spirit. We belong to a loving Father who allows hardship into our lives for the sake of maturing our faith. Once again, throughout these verses Peter is explaining who we are because our hope comes from a new identity, not merely new instructions. Again, our suffering and our joy exist simultaneously.
James 1:1-4 (ESV) 1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. 2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Here is the truth: You are living where you’re living and facing what you’re facing because that’s exactly how God wanted it to be. This is a hard saying, but God is sovereign and he is in control of what is happening. The hardships that we all face between the “already” and the “not yet” are not a sign of the failure of God’s redeeming work, but rather a very important tool of it. It creates opportunity for you to trust him in the storm. It gives you opportunity to have your faith tested to produce steadfastness. All of this so that when you are faced with a truly devastating reality at some point in your life, you will be lacking in nothing. When you face the mightiest storm imaginable you look that storm in the face and say, “I have an even mightier God and I am a child of the King of kings!”
1 Peter 1:6-7 says: In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I love that we get to see the greatness of God. He is steadfast. He produces newness of life in us through Jesus Christ. I love that this is something exclusive to humanity. Look at verse 12… they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. Even a creation as awesome as angels… something that if you ever saw it, it would blow your mind. Even angels long to look upon the incredible work of salvation. We experience something from God that even angels don’t get to experience. That is something to be excited about. That is what sparks the fire of joy into our hearts even in trials and suffering.
1 Peter 1:13-25 (ESV) 13Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
What are the commands we see in this section of scripture? 1 )Live holy. (The meaning of holy as something that is “separate” or “set apart.”) 2) Love others. A life of service and putting others needs above your own.
Life with Christ is one of both joy and suffering. The trials we face remind us that this is not our home. Because of his sacrifice, our hardships are temporary, but our hope is eternal. Even more, through faith in Christ the Holy Spirit has transformed us such that we can face suffering with joy. Our hope is no longer rooted in our circumstances, but in the unchanging faithfulness of God. I want to end our session by reminding you that your identity always drives your behavior. Who we are determines how we will live. If you have trusted in Christ, then you are a new creation and hardship provides the opportunity to reflect that to the world. So, take heart in the difficult days. They are not a surprise to God and he allows them to refine your faith and bring glory to his name.
Answer this: Where do you find it most difficult to “live holy” in your daily life? Memorize this: As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 Do this: Identify someone struggling, maybe even another believer having a hard time with feelings of being an “outsider.” Make an intentional effort to encourage him or her with the hope of Jesus, that he is near and at work within even if we cannot see it.
Meditate on 1 Peter 1:3-9 today. Let the Word of God be an encouragement of hope to you and may your faith increase.
I am deeply thankful that every sin, each iniquity, every lie, every ounce of self pride, my anger, my wrongdoing... all of it has been washed away by the blood of Christ Jesus. It wasn’t conquered by the empty, hollow deceit of failing philosophies of the world. All of my fallenness is redeemed by none other than the finished work of God in the person of Jesus. Because I have put off the former things that once consumed me, I can put on Christ’s righteousness given to me through faith. When the Lord looks at the perfect work of Christ, I am hidden within him. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:3-4
I also adore this prayer from The Valley of Vision:
"THIS IS THE FOUNDATION OF MY HOPE, THE REFUGE OF MY SAFETY, THE NEW AND LIVING WAY TO THEE, THE MEANS OF CONVICTION OF SIN, BROKENNESS OF HEART, AND SELF-DESPAIR, WHICH WILL ENDEAR TO ME THE GOSPEL.
HAPPY ARE THEY WHO ARE CHRIST’S, IN HIM AT PEACE WITH THEE, JUSTIFIED FROM ALL THINGS, DELIVERED FROM COMING WRATH, MADE HEIRS OF FUTURE GLORY."
Your world view changes completely when you meet Jesus. It’s no longer a worldview of God being at your call like some genie in a lamp. To treat him as such is wrong and to teach that this is who he is would be heresy. The entirety of your life begins to be transformed and used to serve God and be a witness to others about His goodness. You begin live a life showing the light of Christ to everyone around you. We won’t get this perfect all the time, but we know this… God’s grace will always be there to be given to us should we fail.
Here are some questions to consider:
How could focusing on the future glory of Christ help you keep your mind on Him today?
What kind of confidence does it bring you to know you've been forgiven and will have an inheritance in the kingdom of God?
What does it mean to you that you will appear with Christ when He returns? How does that truth offer hope?
Look to the cross of Christ. It is the collision of two worlds. This is the picture of God's mercy upon us. It is also the picture of God's judgement of sin. It is the connection point of Spirit and flesh. Sin had to be dealt with because the Lord's righteousness requires it. But in His wrath, he remembers mercy.
"O Lord, I have heard the report of you,
and your work, O Lord, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy."- Habakkuk 3:2
Those that have, by grace, come to have faith in Christ Jesus now bear witness to God's mercy. We were once dead in our trespasses and sins.... But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.- Ephesians 2:4-7
Even in our pain and confusion, frustrations, worry, or lament, we can still remember the goodness of God and that His mercy is abundant. In the book of Lamentations, a collection of laments, believed to be written by the prophet Jeremiah, we see this beautiful glimpse of hope.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”- Lamentations 3:22-24
Imagine with me, if you will, that you have suffered a great deal of grief. If you haven't, you are near to someone who has. Or you are currently being prepared to suffer through a time of grief. All of us are bound to suffer in between the "already" of the cross and the "not yet" of the glories to come. What is your response to having a broken heart? Even still; within the painful songs written by the melody of circumstance and to the tempo of your broken heart, can you sing hopeful promises like the prophet, Jeremiah? It is certainly difficult to wander through the wreckage that sin has left in our world today.
But we have this hope. We have this light. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. God that became man and born into a place that was known for being dirty, unworthy, or "on the wrong side of the tracks." This was God in flesh. This was part of His sovereign plan to see sin defeated. This was His plan to pour out His mercy upon those whom He loves. This was the Lord's way of showing that He is near and that He knows fully what it is like to suffer and experience loss.
Meditate on the Lamentations 3:22-24 today. Let the Word of God be a soothing balm to the wounds that the enemy has left in the wake of his destruction. Let these words be an encouragement to you and may they increase your faith.
Have you given your life to Christ? I mean fully...Does Jesus have your full allegiance? Discipleship, in the way of Jesus, means he must have your full attention. Do you still adhere to the false shepherds of this world or have you postured and positioned yourself within the flock of the Good Shepherd to be disciplined and guided in a path for your good and His glory?
A person that has been positioned in the flock of the Good Shepherd will be corrected in their thinking by the staff and defended by the rod. (Psalm 23:4) This should bring us comfort. Discipleship can sting a bit at times, but it is for our benefit. Think about the words of Proverbs 27:6; "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." A friend will faithfully warn you of wayward actions. This will sting our pride a bit, but it is a faithful thing to experience. Now think of the kisses of an enemy. The enemy will also see something about you that is a detriment to your relationship with God. They will do nothing and say nothing to see that your actions are changed. Rather, they will flatter you to the point that you will be encouraged to live this way. Why is it that we so often look to our own devices and our own righteousness to save us or give us hope? Why do we settle for these false and failing miniature glories rather than look to the faithful glory of God?How can we see this way of living turned upside down?The faithful will not allow us to settle for these things. They will encourage us and correct us with loving rebuke for the sake of our soul.
We must also allow ourselves to realize that discipleship will not happen simply from church attendance and hearing the Word of God preached from the pulpit. It happens when a trusted leader with a solid Biblical worldview pours into the lives of others, equipping them for every good work. Discipleship happens in an open discussion small group setting or a one on one setting with other committed believers praying for one another, sharing their testimony and experience, and raising one another up to become leaders of others that desperately need this model in their lives. Christ bids us to care for the welfare of our brothers and sisters.
- What are your feelings when you think of Christ asking you to follow him? - What do you think about following his ways? - Do you seek to be reconciled to your brothers and sisters in faith? - Are you seeking reconciliation with a spouse or children? - Are you seeking reconciliation with the Lord?
Each and every opportunity for reconciliation requires confession and grace. We need only look to the Father for our example of how to live this out. It is grace that we have been convicted of our sinful nature. It is grace that we can admit to ourselves and others that we have sinned against them. It is by grace we are saved. It is grace that must be extended to others. Christ speaks into this immediately after The Lord's Prayer. "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15Can you genuinely humble yourself to ask for forgiveness? Can you genuinely humble yourself to forgive?
Discipleship means caring for another and raising them up to do the same. Can you die to yourself and live for Christ? Can you take off the old and put on the new? Can you be clothed in the righteousness that God has imputed to you for the sake of your salvation and the health of the Bride of Christ (the Church)? Discipleship is not the act of debating theology and doctrine, but rather, the fellowship of rejoicing and exploring what it means that God has made dead people alive. A holy God has made it possible for unholy people to be in his presence eternally because of Christ's payment for sin on the cross. This is the foundation of our faith. This should be celebrated in our circles and communities. Then, through the process of the Lord continuing sanctification in us, we walk with one another until that day when we are in full communion with the Creator.
How can you be more aware of how The Good Shepherd is leading you? What do you need to let go of to follow him?
Pray to the Lord to help you truly see him as your shepherd and that you would firmly believe in his love for you.
Set a time this week to really evaluate your spiritual life. Invite the Lord into whatever it is you struggle with and ask him to lovingly lead you out of a sin that keeps you from experiencing the fullness of his love.
Lastly: GET INTO A SMALL GROUP AND ACCEPT THE COUNSEL OF MATURE BELIEVERS.
I was recently reading "God Is More Than Enough" by author, Jim Berg. His chapter entitled Unmasking the Source Of Your Noise had some great ideas about what it is that stirs inside of you. What makes noise inside of your heart and mind? He references 2 Peter 1:2-3. Here, Peter explains to us that increased and multiplied peace has something to do with the knowledge of God and the truth of God. This means that in some way, our noise problem is related to the absence of this knowledge and the absence of what is true about God in our belief system. (paraphrased from Jim Berg's "God Is More Than Enough")
What can we do?
As believers in Christ, we have a unique relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. We can worship the Lord through prayer, singing, study of the Bible, and through the service to others. David Platt explained at a recent worship conference that our worship is a response to a strong God that loves us. Our worship fuels our witness and fuels our drive to share the Gospel all around the world; In our living rooms, prisons, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and remote villages. There are people that have never heard the noise of Jesus' name or the noise of the words of the Gospel. We can hear the noise of truth of our God, but what good is that if we don't share the noise. We do this to build God's kingdom, not to merely entertain our emotions and feelings. What do you accept to be true? What is your belief? What have you encountered in life that makes a noise in you heart and mind? Are your beliefs rooted in fantasy, hatred, or divisiveness? Or, instead, are your beliefs in love, service, and kindness to all people that are made in the image of God?
I'd love to hear your answers to these questions! Email me if you feel led to share.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.Romans 14:19
The Christian faith should help model the change that is possible in the lives of the people around us. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we become an example of what it means to live a holy life. Instead, we have recently seen people identifying with the Christian faith, but they are divisive and militant. We haveto learn what it really means to love our neighbors in this current culture. We have to be aware that in order for this to happen, God needs to truly touch the hearts of people that are filled with hate, deceit, addiction, etc...
Certain world crisis issues are complicated and difficult to wrap our heads around. Other world crisis issues are not as complicated. There is a difference between compassion and justice; between grace and tolerance. Grace and compassion are simple. This is a conversation we should dig into in the church during our small group discussions. We need help from our pastors and elders to share with one another on how to make a positive impact in our communities.
Here are a few questions to ask to yourself, your spouse, your family, your church leaders:
What if we believed and lived like we do when we sing songs of praise in our churches?
What if we prayed to live life the way we proclaim that we do in our churches?
What if we prayed for a life of being brave and bold enough to set a better example for humanity?
What would it look like if we realized that our actions could have an impact on God's kingdom here and now?
How much could we influence the presence of peace if we lived a life like Christ?
Jesus modeled what it looked like to be dependent on God. He modeled what it looked like to depend on God's will and desire for us. He prayed to God and showed the need for prayer in our relationship with Him. We have the opportunity to experience this through prayer and our daily walk when influenced by the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to take some time to pray. Pray for eyes to be opened and hearts to be softened for the sake of learning what it means to be human. We have so much potential. Let's meet that full redemptive potential that is available to us. There is so much grace to be had. All we have to do is ask for it with a sincere heart.
I also urge you to be hyper-aware of your own attitude. As 1 Peter 3:9 says, "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."