Fruit Picking–Galatians 5 final

My wife always picks great fruit. When she is at the produce Dept, She is like a savant—perfect apples, grapes, pineapple…She tells me it is pretty obvious.  She talks about firmness, texture, color and other factors that from her view make the choices obvious and easy.  Well God tells us that there are clear factors for judging fruit in us as well.

The life we lead is a very public thing.  What we say, how we respond and our obvious focus and bias speak volumes to others about who and whose we are. If our lives are filled with selfish, impure and evil things, to others it is obvious we are not following any God but ourselves. And guess what, the world is perfectly OK with that. But if the world sees from us things like Love , Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness gentleness, faithfulness and self control—well that stands out.  As his children, we should resemble him. Our fruit should resemble his fruit. As we battle each day, we need to check color, texture and firmness and ask what fruit is noticeable.  Help me, Lord to not be a Banana!

God Bless You

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Following Which Leader–Galatians 5 continued

It is simply black and white.  Either you walk in your own power and attempt to guide your own journey or you walk in the spirit and allow God to direct your path.  They are mutually exclusive paths. S often we seek to hedge our bets.  We want God to lead, but then we also want to keep some measure of control (just in case). The problem is that the two paths are in constant conflict so trying to merge them causes chaos.

If we choose to direct our own path, we will suffer the consequences of being drawn into the old entanglements we used to cling to.  We all tend to move toward what we know.  BUT, if we walk in the spirit and allow Good to lead, we will not be entangled and we will experience the peace of freedom. There is no in between,  If we try to lead—God will allow it. He will let us walk into the struggles we choose.  But, when we then realize we cannot do it on our own, he is ready to lead—if we allow him.  He does not hold a gudge and is always ready to lead if we allow it.  Start today—start now ask him to take the lead! You will be so glad you did.

God Bless You

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Free to be Free- Galatians 5 part 1

There is no hidden agenda with our Lord.  So many people are working with a hidden agenda.  They speak words and do things that send a message, but within their hearts, there is a hidden agenda.  The lack of trust, their past mistakes or the simple fear of the unknown leave people guarded and less than transparent. Even within the religious community–both in early church and through today, traditions  and rules help to promote personal agendas and bring glory to men and not to God.

Jesus set us free to be free from those hidden agendas.  It was vexing to Paul to watch groups try to put man made rules in place to control the church. We come to Christ to be free from the bondage of sin and the world culture.  Why then would we simply change slave masters and begin to serve rules and traditions instead.  Paul was clear—You are free to be free.  Don’t let men change that.  Seek God and Him only and enjoy a life that is amazing. Don’t simply exchange slave masters—walk and be free.

God Bless You

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Child of Promise–Galatians 4 part 2

It is great to be a Child of Promise.  Like Isaac, who was born when Abraham was 100, God promises us an inheritance of heaven–if we simply believe.  Ishmael, Abrahams 1st son, was born from a slave and no matter how mighty or resourceful he may have been, he was not the chosen lineage of Abraham. Ishmael could have performed every deed known to man and still would not have been the child of promise.

We are the same.  We have been chosen by God to be his adopted children.  It was not based upon our behavior, which was sinful and in rebellion to God, but it was because of Christ’s sacrifice and our willingness to follow him. As we do, we are freed from the slavery to sin and to the world culture and transformed and become his adopted children. It is the greatest gift that can be given—one that we should never take likely. 

 Thank You Lord for choosing me as your own.

 God Bless You

 28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”[f] 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

Coming of Age–Galatians 4 part 1

Understanding the significance of Salvation is critical for doing life.  In the early Church, the traditions, sacrifices and mystery of the coming Messiah were significant cultural issues as well as spiritual ones.  All the worship of the day included the doing of things to achieve spiritual significance.  So the thought of salvation by grace was not only difficult for the Jews, but for every culture.  Paul summed it up with a picture of being an heir.  Prior to being of age Heirs were under the authority of their Guardian,  All the rules of a trust had to be followed so the heir could someday receive his inheritance.  Yet, while he had to follow the rules of the trust, it did not define who he was.  It was the same with the early church. All the Jewish tradition and rules were not designed to define the people, but to prepare them for becoming the Son’s of God.

It is still the same for us.  We are not defined by following rules.   We are defined by following Christ. He saved us by grace and leads us to by transformed into the image of God.  He guides us to be free from the bondage the world continues to entices us with.  He does not make us more saved or more his son—that is simply who and who’s we are.  The guidance is simply a father’s attempt to allow us to enjoy our inheritance.  Simply put, we are called to enjoy our lives of freedom and not try to earn our place as his children.

God Bless You

What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces[a] of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b] Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

 

 

God’s Children-Galatians 3 Final

Being someone’s child is not a thing you do—it is simply a function of who you are. The reason God has chosen to make us his children is to free us from the bondage of performance.  The “Children of Israel” followed God from Egypt to the promise land and through the desert for 40 years and, as the bible records, did not behave very well.  None the less, God’s commitment to them never diminished, he always stuck with them.

When Christ came and gave himself for us, he simply expanded the relationship from a national commitment to one that crossed all boundaries. If we follow him, we will be his kid’s. He will love and care for us as a father does. He will make no distinction related to race, gender, tradition or other human distinction. He simply adopts you as you are–to allow you to become free from human bondage and prepared for an eternal life with him. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says it best, “If anyone is in Christ they are new creations; the old is gone-the new has come.” Trust him and become a Child of God not a slave to the world and its rules.

God Bless You

23 Before the coming of this faith,[j] we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

It’s the Promise, Not the Law-Galatians 3 part 2

So many in the early church could not understand how one could be saved by grace and still have reverence for the Law. They either continued to cling to the traditions and legalism of the Jewish faith; or they walked away from rules and did whatever they wanted becoming selfish and hedonistic.  Paul was simply trying to change the focus from the law to the promise.  The promise was  that if we believe God and simply follow Christ—we will be saved.  That new life will affect our actions and desires—but those new actions will never replace the faith in God’s promise. Why the fine distinction? Simply put, people have short memories—once they begin to behave like Christ, they forget why and begin to believe it is the new behavior that makes them saved not the faith.

 Yes, this is where I insert—it is still the same today!  Even two thousand years later, we still forget why we have become new creations (Faith in God’s Promise).  We begin to abandon our old habits and lifestyles, as our act is cleaned up, we begin to receive recognition for the difference.  The recognition spurs a strong desire to do better and more. That brings more recognition and soon we are back into the cycle of the behavior being our object of faith rather than God’s promise of salvation.  Continue to seek God and his promise—You will be different, but, not as a means to an end…It will be the end itself!!!

 God Bless You

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[e] 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”[f] 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”[g] 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”[h] 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

The Trust Factor–Galatians 3 part 1

The struggle of faith.  I am reminded of the various times when I have been led by the hand–blindfolded.  It never ceases to amaze me how difficult it is to simply allow the friend or family member do their job. I should relax and trust them to lead me and do what is in my interest.  But, I still squirm and worry.   It has always been that way.  Since Adam and Eve were first asked, “Did God really say you would die?”people have questioned God’s real intent for us.  Couple that with trials, temptation and  it is easy to see why we want to open our eyes and peak.  The Galatians started walking by faith, but there were many forces that made them want to know all the answers, do all the right actions and have a completed checklist for God if he came to inspect—to that Paul said, “That is why Christ died.”

We still have a hard time walking.  To simply allow God to lead is scary and confusing.  Like the blindfold, we often cannot see his plan for our lives, but, seriously, as we follow, there is ample instances that should cause us to relax and allow him to lead. I have seen God do so many wonderful things in my family and my life, that I am ashamed when I try to pull away.  He wants to make our lives abundant, fruitful and eternally focused.  He only asks that we let go of the controls of our life and allow him to guide us in—Help me, Lord, to allow you to lead—Even when it seems pretty scary.

God Bless You

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?[a] Have you experienced[b] so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[c]

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[d] So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Crucified With Christ–Galatians 2 Final

 The reality of our walk with Christ is that like Christ, we are new creations when we choose to follow him. There are so many scriptures that emphasize our rebirth into the family of God.  One axiom that is so popular is “If you do what you have always done, but expect different results—that is the definition of insanity.” From the beginning, men have tried to be justified by their behavior.  They have followed rules, they have chased extravagant protocols.  They have DONE about everything under the sun–from sacrifice to philosophical manipulation, to achieve salvation—but, to no avail!

Our journey with Christ begins with his salvation made possible by his death and resurrection.  Then as we receive Christ we are Justified by faith to die to our old life controlled by us and raised to walk in a new life controlled by Him.  We do not regain control and expect to achieve a different result—no, we submit to his leadership and allow him to control our amazing journey. It is not easy, it requires a daily choice to allow Christ to lead. That is the one activity we must do—submit to his leadership and walk by faith—Help me, Lord to follow you today.

God Bless You

“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”[e]

Galatians 2 part 2–Justified

Even though we know we are justified by grace, why do we act like we can win favor with God by our actions.  Paul watched Peter, the leader of the Church become rigid and judgmental when he felt the pressure of Jewish Christians.  His behavior caused other Jewish Christians Paul’s mentor—Barnabas to treat the gentile Christians as 2nd class citizens.  It was a difficult problem—the Christians had to change their mindset from looking to gain approval by performance, to accepting the love and approval as a part of being one of God’s kids.  Paul learned the lesson and taught it to Thousands of Gentiles, now—the Jewish Christians had to accept the gift they were offered.

We have to accept the gift as well. We are all tempted with the idea that if we simply behave and use the right buzz-words we will be “Better Christians”. God’s only measure of performance is the measure of our willingness to release the control of all areas of our lives and allow him to lead. As we do, we tend to be more selfless and less drawn to the world and its desires—BUT, we are simply seeking God and allowing him to transform us into his image. Don’t Judge! Don’t try to earn your God’s approval—simply seek him and walk with him daily!

God Bless You!

When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[d] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.