Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Galatians 5:17

What controls my life? What wants to control my life? According to the Apostle Paul, there are only two possible answers for believers: the flesh or the Spirit. Galatians 5:17 says, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." Ever been caught in the middle of a big fight? That's exactly where every believer finds him/herself as the Holy Spirit and our flesh duke it out for control of our lives. It seems strange to think of the Holy Spirit lusting. We normally associate lust as something dirty and secretive. The Greek term translated lust means to desire against or to protest against something. This means 2 things: 1) Our flesh actively protests against God's will and desires control of our lives, and 2) The Holy Spirit actively protests against our flesh and desires control of our lives. Like Paul says, these are obvious opposites. The result? - doing what you want to do always seems impossible. Our sinful flesh only wants us to do evil - and God's Spirit protests. God's will is for us to be Holy Spirit led - and the flesh protests.

What do we do? Paul teaches that we must commit to walking in the Spirit before we face the moment of temptation. It is much easier to follow God's leadership prior to our moments of weakness than if we decide how to act in the heat of temptation itself. When we wait until the temptation is the strongest to cry out to God, we will almost surely fail. It's like throwing a "hail mary" during the fleeting moments of a football game. Almost a sure sign that you're going to lose. "Lord, I am commiting to walking in the Spirit today. Help me to stay focused and sincere as I serve you."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Galatians 5:16

The Apostle Paul invested blood, sweat, and tears into the churches at Galatia. According to Acts 14:19-20, Paul had been stoned to the point of death in his attempt to plant and strengthen the churches in that area. Later he writes Galatians, an important letter that demonstrates how salvation is a gift of God's grace, and is not ever a result of doing good works or following rules. Now in Galatians 5:16, Paul gives this Biblical command to all saved people: Walk in the Spirit. He has invested too much in these people for them to get saved but then live in sin. "Walking in the Spirit" means to keep in consistent step with the Holy Spirit's leadership in our lives. We must recognize that God has a will for us, and a plan for us. If our values do not match God's, then we will be out of step with His leadership. Our relationship with God must define how we make life's decisions.

According to Galatians 5:16, it is impossible to have a healthy relationship with God while pursuing a sinful lifestyle. "Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." The word, "not" is a double negative in Greek. We aint never supposed to use double negatives in English... it's just bad English. But it is good Greek. Paul does this to show a STRONG point: When you walk in the Spirit, you will never ever fulfill the lust of the flesh.

What is absent in this verse is the reality of temptation. When we walk in the Spirit, we will not ever fulfill the lust of the flesh, though we will still be tempted by our flesh. When we seek to fulfill our fleshly desires, it is a clear indication that we have ceased to walk in the Spirit. As believers, our relationship with God will always remain intact, but any sin we pursue will damage and weaken than relationship. When we choose to daily walk with God, He will keep us strong in the face of temptation every time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Good Side of the Flu

"I need you home... now!" Anytime you hear those words, it's bad news. It was Saturday morning and I was in a counseling session in my office. My dear wife called my cell and frantically said, "I need you home, now! All 3 kids are throwing up!" Now on the one hand, I want to be there to help my wife and kids. On the other hand, imagining the smell, sound, or sights of everyone with the stomach flu, the thought did cross my mind to just stay in the office and do "pastoral things." I did the right thing, ended my meeting, and hurried home to help out. By late afternoon, LaVonna went down with it too. Ever been in a house where everyone is throwing up... except you? One of the worst days imaginable. Amazingly, I felt closer to my wife and each of my kids as I ran around all day taking care of each one. Showing people how much you love them is so important. Sometimes it's a hug, a date, a bedtime story, a gift, or a game of baseball together. But nothing says "I love you" more than holding the ol' barf bucket for someone else. "...walk in love, as Christ loved us." Eph. 5:2a