In this complicated day and age, what does it mean to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God? How we respond to this question will determine who we become and how we represent God’s love and mercy to the world around us.
Many believers in Christ would affirm Paul’s words that we reap what we sow. And yet, when we examine our lives, we often find ourselves spending our time, resources and efforts on things that have no eternal impact. Enduring strength for Kingdom work can only come from Jesus, and His promise is that the fields are ripe for harvest.
Growing up, my grandmother would often say, “Don't judge a book by its cover; the real test is in the text.” It’s amazing when I think about how many times this truth has applied to much more than simply books. In our text this morning, we find the Apostle Paul talking about how we often focus on the externals of our lives instead of looking within ourselves for our spiritual development.
Paul reminds us that we have freedom in Christ Who offers us complete deliverance from the "yokes of slavery" that we tend to put on ourselves. Recognizing God’s deep love for us helps clarify the reality that our bondage is not part of the pathway of joy God intends for us. As we're changed by His love, we won't be able to help but have that love flow out to the world around us.
In one of his biggest hits, Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way.” When we stop and listen to the lyrics of this song, we can’t help but realize that the message being conveyed is very self-centered and not godly at all. Why then do we often find ourselves singing along with Frank as we try to accomplish God’s will or purpose for our lives?
How often do we find ourselves chasing after things that do not bring life? Jesus taught that life was found in him alone. And yet, we often return to old patterns of life. It’s even possible for our acts of Christian devotion to lead us away from God if they become the object of our affections instead of a means of experiencing God. Paul’s words are both a strong warning and a tender plea to pursue only Christ.
Many people feel uncomfortable around others who are different from them and tend to gravitate toward those who are similar. However, when we allow our differences to separate us from our fellow believers, we are disregarding clear biblical teaching. As we will see in today’s text, the Bible makes it clear that we have some major commonalities. In fact, the Bible goes as far as to say we are one in Christ.
Paul shares the incredible reality that those who put their faith in Jesus can become Abraham's offspring. Abraham is a profound example of a man of faith as he believed what God said and therefore acted upon that belief. Through the complete work of Jesus, we can be grafted into the family of God, a family which is not based on lineage, background, or works, but rather on Jesus' righteousness.
Conflict is something that most people tend to avoid. However, conflict is a fact of life. Many have made the point that conflict, even within the Church, is a sign of life; evidence of the fact that people really care. Avoiding confrontation is often a recipe for even greater conflict and pain. Therefore, the important question we need to ask is: how do we manage conflict appropriately within the fellowship of the church.
There is now no condemnation—not in guilt, not in measuring up, nor at the end of our lives. And instead of understanding this truth well and living amazing lives, we often misunderstand it and live selfishly and small. God help us!
Following Jesus is not what we thought it would be—the price is much higher, the status much lower, the timing not ours, the demands much greater—yet Jesus remains the Pearl of Greatest Worth and He calls us to be more than we ever thought we could be.
Outside factors and circumstances always have the potential to gradually shift our focus toward seemingly good things but away from what is truly the best for us. Having a community of believers around us is vital in keeping the Gospel central. Although backgrounds, cultures and spheres of influence greatly differ among believers, the message and the mission of Jesus Christ never changes.
All around us, different people offer messages of hope or paths to truth. Each has their unique spin on how one must believe or what one must do to please God or to find inner peace. However, the Gospel of Jesus alone holds the power to give us the “transformed” life that we all so desperately need.
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he addresses several issues within the church. However, his central admonition remains true for us today: do not stray from the gospel of grace. Faith in Jesus (and nothing else) is what brings about the transformation that leads to the Spirit producing good fruit in our lives.
Only our risen Lord has authority to define the mission of the church and He has defined it as on-the-go disciplemaking. Our role is to know Him and carry out His mission. He has given us the power to do so through His promised presence realized through the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Peter's word to the scattered and persecuted church in exile is a powerful word to the church today: be humble, be alert, and stand firm. We are called to live in the temporal world with an eye fixed firmly on the eternal. Our hope is found in the power and authority of Jesus alone.
One of the greatest gifts to the local body of Christ is a group of godly Elders. Elders are called to care for the body, lead the organization of the church, and humbly and eagerly serve. However, the most important role they have is to be an example to the flock. Elders, deeply aware of imperfection and sin, say with the Apostle Paul: "Follow me as I follow Christ."
Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This incredible declaration has become one of the most divisive statements made over the last 2,000 years. Peter reminds us that Jesus Himself is the Cornerstone of our faith, but He is also a stumbling stone to many. When we embrace Him, we are made into living stones and built into the living church!
The suffering of Jesus is a reminder that we too will suffer when we stand for righteousness and truth. While the degree and severity of that suffering will vary, the unified promise of Scripture is that we will indeed experience suffering in this world. We are called to remain steadfast in doing good while trusting in the hope that a new day is coming.
Standing against the flow of culture has the potential to isolate and wear down the individual believer. However, God has not left us alone—He has given us the gift of community. Jesus has created a new society of people who operate according to different values and motivations, together becoming a display of His glory.