Jesus calls us to follow Him. Part of what that means is being led more by His Spirit and less by our flesh. What does it mean for us to wade deeper into the life of the Spirit? Where the river of God is, life emerges, and where the river is not, there never can be any life. What stops us from going deeper?
The Apostle Paul concludes his letter to the Galatians with an emphasis on the central theme of the Gospel: There is only one thing that really matters in this life... one event which divided the history of the world... one payment which covers the cost of sin—it is the cross of Jesus Christ!
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.