Self Examination

Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  (1 Corinthians 11:28 ESV)

Sunday we learned that the sin in question was most likely persistent prejudice.  The early church had become a group of wealthy and poor followers.  God has never condemned wealth, nor has he exalted poverty.  One’s possessions do not determine his or her standing with God.  The church was meeting and requiring that those who had less eat outside, while the wealthier and more influential Christians ate on the inside.

Here’s a simple assignment.  This week, find someone who doesn’t  fit into your circle of friends.  Maybe they have less (or more) than you.  Their skin color may be different or their education level below (or above) yours.  Befriend them.  Let God speak through you into their lives.  Maybe they’re polar opposites from you politically.

Look past the surface to the soul.  Reach out to them.  Really get to know them.

Who knows how God will use you to be salt and light.

Living out the Lord’s Supper requires eating dinner with sinners and saints, black and white, Hispanic and Asian, rich and poor.

The Same Spirit

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  Galatians 5:25

When we came to Christ we were drawn by the Spirit.  We did nothing to bring ourselves to Christ–He wooed us to Himself.  The same Spirit that wooed us, then saved us from our sins, doing a work of regeneration in our hearts.  We live by that Spirit.  We got our spiritual life by that Spirit.

Paul says here, “If you live by that Spirit, then walk by that Spirit.”  Doesn’t it make sense.  If we trusted the Spirit to bring us from death to life, can we not trust the same Spirit to take us through this life!  We can!  As a matter of fact we must.

In Romans 8:11, Paul said, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”  If the Spirit is powerful enough to raise Jesus from the dead, then He is powerful enough to raise you from any circumstance in which you find yourself.

The Spirit who brought Jesus to life lives in you!  Live the life today!

The War Zone

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.  Galatians 5:17

The Spirit is God’s agent of prevention.  Without the Spirit, no one knows what you might have done by now.  The Spirit “keeps you from doing the things you want to do.”  Someone has already irritated you this morning.  You want to tell them about it.  The Spirit says “no.”

Why is He qualified to speak to such matters.  He knows their heart–you don’t.  He knows what kind of morning they had–you don’t.  He knows them and He knows you.

This is why the war within shouldn’t catch us by surprise.  As a matter of fact, if you can continue in sin without the war, you’re in trouble.  The ability to sin uninhibited points to the absence of the Spirit inside you.  If the Holy Spirit isn’t preventing you from sinning, He will not also prevent you from spending eternity in Hell.  The Spirit who drew you to Jesus is the same Spirit who will prevent you from sinning.

What a great gift we have in the Spirit.

For a midweek refresher, let me recommend a great preacher, Tim Keller.  His sermon is called “How to Change” and it’s from Galatians 5.  Listen hard–he’s crazy smart!  Google “Tim Keller free sermons” and you should find it…or maybe google his name and the sermon.

Let me know what you think!

Listen to the Spirit today.

Walking by the Spirit Nothing New

On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. At the command of the LORD the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the LORD they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.
(Numbers 9:15-18 ESV).

Trusting God, walking by the Spirit, is nothing new.  Israel, when leaving Egypt and headed toward the promised land also learned to trust God.  Their trust was moment-by-moment.  God used a cloud to guide them.  The cloud was cloud-like in the daytime, like fire at night.  Whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, the people pulled up camp and moved.  They stayed as long as the cloud stayed.

Been camping lately?  Remember how hard it was to pull up camp at the end of the week.  Multiply that by 600,000–men!  Plus women and children!  Most likely 2 million people on the move.  When the cloud lifted, 2 million people pulled up camp.  Moses goes on to say that sometimes the cloud stayed a day, sometimes a year!

Are you willing to follow God anywhere, do anything?  Are you so in tune with His presence that when He says to do something, you’ll do it…without asking why?  Or how?

Today, learn to listen to God.  Henry Blackaby says that God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, circumstances, the Church and prayer to reveal Himself.  I imagine that every morning when the Israelites woke up, they looked at the tabernacle to see the Presence of God.

We should, too.

Take time today to seek God–to truly seek His perspective, His heart, His glory.  And then walk in light of His presence.  Simply do what He says.

When Changing is Hard to Do

But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  Galatians 5:16

God’s command to walk by the Spirit comes both as a welcome relief and as a frustrating reality.  If you’re struggling with a particular sin, you catch a breath of fresh air.  Finally, there’s an answer.  You no longer have to get drunk.  You can live without the prescription pills.  You can go an entire day without gossiping about someone.  You can be free.

The frustrating reality:  change is hard.  You’re 40 years old and you’ve spent 20 of those years doing this sin.  How do you stop?  What can you do?

This week, every day, I’ll post steps.  These are practical and theological.  They involve changing how you act and think.

Today’s step is simple.  Reread Galatians 5:16-25.  Choose one of those verses and memorize it.  Write it on a card, put it in a prominent place (Hannah, my 17-year-old, likes to write on her mirror!).  Ask God to make that verse a reality in your life.

Change is hard…and it is a process.  Later this week, I’ll recommend another sermon on the topic by a great preacher that will offer some welcome relief as you begin to change.  I’m pumped about what God is going to do in your life!