Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July 25 Thought for the day...are you selfish, disloyal, or judgmental? I hope not

As we continue today talking about the "works" of the flesh. Please keep in mind while these are things our flesh wants it doesn't mean we have to do them. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can overcome any "work" of the flesh and live in the fruit of the Spirit (which we will be talking about shortly). God's plan is joy, peace, love and so much more. The works of the flesh crush that.

Galatians 5:19, 20 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear:..... selfish ambition, dissension, division,

Are you self-consumed? Are you so focused on what you are doing that you never think to ask about others? This is what Paul is talking about when he uses the word, translated here as selfish ambition. Do the people around you know all about you, but you know nothing about them? Then you are most likely functioning in this "work." Ask the Lord to break the selfishness in your life and start being interested in the lives of others. They are key to your dreams as well so you hurt yourself and your dreams by being all wrapped up in your selfish ambitions.

The word translated here, dissension means to be a disloyal, rebellious usurper. It implies being rebellious against someone to whom you should be loyal. God places authority in our lives for our good, to cause us to grow, to keep us from harm. Some adults, like little children, try to undermine, lie about, and generally gossip, trying to usurp the authority of the leadership God places in their lives. They don't recognize that when they do so, they fight God, not a man or woman, they criticize God, not their authority when they do so. All authority, Paul writes, comes from God for our good. They might be blatant about their rebellion or subtle. Like a child, acting in stubborn disobedience. Every business and church has them. The business or church is hurt by these people, but God always rises above it and will use others in their place. The people who act this way always hurt themselves because God can not bless rebellion, in fact, you have found yourself fighting God if you operate in this "work."

The last word we are going to look at today is the word translated divisions. These are people or groups who consider themselves to have a special or hidden truth. Actually, people function in either of the two words we have already defined today could fit in this category. People who believe they are the only ones with that see clearly and understand properly. There is little love in them and lots of judgment. It is their truth, or you have no truth. They create divisions in families, businesses, churches, communities, and even nations. Jesus high priestly pray was Father make them one as you and I are one. Being "one" doesn't mean we are all "cookie cutter" Christians but instead that we use all of our difference to make the whole Body complete. Unity through uniqueness!

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 24 Thought for the day...pick a fight, blow up, and wanting everything everyone else has!

Today I want to talk about a few works of the flesh that you might not think of as evil but genuinely can be. They can be as destructive as any other "work" but can be masked as something else.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear.... quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,

The word for quarreling is a political word. It means divisions like differing political parties. This is not infringing on our rights to have differing points of view or opinion. It is however what I see happening in the church and in our nation every day. It is when we allow an opinion to get in the way of the facts, truth, and especially the love we are supposed to have for one another. This is especially grievous to Jesus because He said we would be known by our love for one another. When we allow divisions to come into the church in any way that limits the love and/or power of God, then we have stopped acting like Jesus and started being more anti-Christ. We should never allow offenses to take hold of our lives but instead, pray for one another and build one another up until we all attain to being like Jesus.

Next "jealousy" simply put anytime we do not cheer on the attention, blessings, and/or promotion a brother or sister gets we are exhibiting jealousy. If you feel resentful at another person's success you are being controlled by jealousy. God's plan is to meet and exceed all of your needs but he only does that when He knows He can trust you. If you are not generous, tithing, giving to those in need, and thanking the Lord for all you have on a regular basis then chances are you are living in a realm of jealous. Your satisfaction can and will come from the Lord when you live with a generous heart, being obedient to God's call to give and live with an attitude of gratitude.

Everyone gets angry every once in a while. Some anger is even godly, like when you see sin destroying a person's life. This is referring to the type of explosive anger, people you know who will at any time explode. They get offended, hurt, or wounded and rather than taking it immediately to the cross and asking the Lord to deal with it, they simply shove it down inside. Then when they are offended again, it could be even slight, because they never really dealt with the last offense, they explode. We are supposed to be dead to our flesh. This shows the flesh very alive. We are supposed to walk in grace and forgiveness and this shows that we have a lack of both. The real danger here is that if we don't forgive others then the Father will not forgive us. This work can literally cause us to wind up in hell.

So, walk in love, be generous and obedient to God's word, and live in forgiveness and you will have amazing peace, love and joy all of your life!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

July 21 Thought for the day!...today's witchcraft and the "H" word

When you think of witchcraft, you may think of the Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, or some other form of pure evil. However, the Holy Spirit reminds us that it is a work of the flesh that like all works of the flesh is a counterfeit to a blessing God has for us. Let's take a look together.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5: 19-21

This translation uses the word "sorcery" for witchcraft, but the root word is the same root for our modern word pharmaceuticals. In Rome, at this time people would go to the pagan temples looking for healing from their pain, heartache, and difficulties. What the priest would do is give them various drugs which would not cure their ailment permanently, instead they would get them "high," so they cared about nothing. This was a problem then and is a real problem now. Much of the struggle in our culture is regarding drug use, sales, and everything about it. God wants to be the one who gives real hope, heals every disease of the body, mind, and soul. Instead, some have chosen witchcraft (sorcery) to turn to for their temporary relief. God has real relief in mind. Everyone and anyone who uses drugs other than for their prescribed use is trying to handle a problem in an anti-Christ way. Christ brings freedom, peace, and hope if we will choose to allow Him.

The big "H" hear the translation reads hostility but the root is much deeper than that it would be more akin to "hatred, extreme hostility." This word pictures people who cannot get along with each other. They have deep issues with each other, holding resentments, grievances, complaints, and grudges that go way back in time and have very deep roots. Something occurred along the way that caused one or both of them to be offended. Instead of letting go of the offense, they became divided, hostile, and fiercely opposed to each other. Now they are antagonistic, aggressive, and harsh. They hate each other. They have a grudge and are determined to hold on to it.

We are called to love one another even to love and pray for those who hurt us. Don't misunderstand we are not to be doormats walked over by someone. God is our defender, protector, justifier. There have been so many time in my life where someone has come against me with false accusations, lies, or blatant slander. I have found that defending myself is not an option. Those who know me generally don't believe it or need a defense and those who don't need to see me walk in integrity, so they see for themselves the accusations are unfounded. Loving people especially those who don't love you or may seem to be your enemies is hard, but it is exactly what Jesus did. He calls us to overcome not be overcome. The tools we have are the power of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit these two things will cause love to win every time!

July 20 Thought for the day....stuff of the flesh, the big S and the big I

I know these next few days are sounding somewhat negative. The truth is we allow things in our lives that make us "feel" like garbage, our minds get cluttered with stuff that leads to hopelessness, we have a hard time hearing from God, and the fruit of the Spirit struggles to be evident in our lives. This is not God's plan. He wants us free, but our flesh wants us in bondage. It becomes our choice, and I hope once we understand better the battle, we will win!

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21

The word sensuality for those who have read the KJV is the word lasciviousness (there's a word you use every day) it describes an uncontrolled appetite for anything food, sex, exercise, entertainment, drugs, alcohol, fear, stress. If it is controlling you rather than you controlling it, you are losing to sensuality. Most of the things I have listed are not bad things, but they can become bad if you are trying to fill a hole in your life or heart with them. This sin is wrong mainly because God wants to be the one who fulfills you. He knows how He created you and knows what will fulfill you. Don't settle for a substitute that will only make you hungry and thirstier. Giving in to sensuality is like being very thirsty and drinking ocean water, it never satisfies so you try to drink more and it can kill you!

What do you think more of than anything else? What do you spend more time and money on? Be careful because whatever the answer is, this may be your god! Idolatry means giving your complete and undivided attention, devotion, passion, love, or commitment to a person, project, or object other than God. When something other than God takes first place in your life, you have entered into at least some version of idolatry.

Most of the things you desire have been placed in your heart by God, and He wants to fulfill you with them. Idolatry twists even good things like family, jobs, dreams, and desires, so we no longer keep God in first place and allow Him to fulfill these things. Instead, we make them first place in our lives. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33 if we put Him first in all things, we will fulfill us in all things. When we don't, we are left with broken hearts, empty dreams, and relationships.

God wants to fulfill every dream He has placed on our hearts, and He created us each uniquely to fulfill His dream and made us so that would be the thing we would love the most. Ask Him if He is first in your life. If He shows you things, repent and deal with them and watch the joy, love and peace return to your life

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July 19 Thought for the day....stuff of flesh, impurity

Our culture has shifted and changed. However, the Bible, God's Word remains the same. The things God out lines for our good are to be a blessing. The things He condemns are not to be prudish but instead to keep us from heartache, pain, and brokenness. Some fight God's ideals for us, we need to remember He has amazing blessings, a great hope, and a love that would overwhelm us if we would simply live as He asks us to live. Paul is outlining some of the things that will cause us great pain in Galatians 5:19-21

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Because of space, I am not going to go over things I think are obvious in our understanding. "Impurity" means unclean, or lewd the word suggests that these are thoughts. In Mark 1:23, we are told Jesus had to deal with a man with an unclean spirit. He had become so overwhelmed with pornographic, lewd, demented, thoughts that a demonic spirit had taken hold of him. We the same thing with Mark 5:2. Once again a demonized man controlled by an unclean spirit. Pornography has become so common place, things that should make us blush no longer do, and we simply accept them as normal, but even science has now proven that porn is more addictive than crack and it is doing mental and emotional damage to men and women. It begins in some popular ways through fantasy. The Shades of Grey movies are an example of erotica that some Christians have felt are normative but have damaged relationships and ideas in many. We have become numb to erotica in Game of Thrones and other series in our pop culture that has robbed us of true and real intimacy. This is part of the damage of impurity. OK, some are made and don't believe me let me just put it this way...keep watching this stuff, and I'll put you on my calendar for marriage counseling soon enough.

What are you watching? What are you reading? What music are you listening to? How does it make you feel after you allow it into your life? God's ways and plans are for love, blessings, joy, a deep sense of intimacy that is not dirty but fulfilling. God longs for you to be free. Don't allow the enemy the freedom in your life to place you in bondage and torment never being able to achieve the joy of real freedom and true love and intimacy in all of your relationships, knowing you are loved!

July 18 Thought for the day....there is a high cost

I remember some years ago ministering to a man I thought was in his late 60's to early 70's. I spent hours helping him through some of his problems. His face was sunken, his nails brittle, many of his teeth were missing. He was typical of many homeless men I had met over the years who had lived a hard life on the streets. However, not only had alcohol been his choice of vice but so had many harder drugs and concoctions of common household cleaners. My heart went from brokenness to shock when he told me he was only 38.  Paul talks about the cost we pay in Galatians 5:19

"Now the works of the flesh are evident..."

The word Paul uses for "work" is the same word that is often translated vocation or job. When the flesh is reigning in our lives, it is just like our job. In our vocation, we work very hard to reap the benefits of our labors. The flesh does the same thing from us it will reap...the flesh — if it is allowed to go its own way and do what it wants — will work very hard to produce fleshly results. When our flesh is not surrendered to the Holy Spirit, it will work overtime to accomplish what it wants to gain fleshly results.

The word "flesh" refers to sinful impulses and desires. Paul is implying here that it has its own desires. If a believer is not able to crucify their own flesh, it will have its way in that believer's life.

The last word I need to expand upon is "manifest." This word means, it will appear, be made known, become conspicuous. If allowed to have its way, our flesh will become very apparent through things like... (Galatians 5: 20, 21) uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.  The very things we long for, love, peace, joy, will be robbed from us. The fruit of the flesh will only hurt us! The gentleman I was talking to had never heard the Gospel, never knew there was another way other than the way he lived and the flesh reaped its toll on him. It cost him everything.

You may not be an alcoholic, drug addict, or abuser of some other type of substance, but you could be allowing bitterness, anger, frustration, fear, jealousy, or rebellion rule your heart. These things age you too quickly and rob you of precious life and your destiny. There is a very high cost to giving in to your flesh and God has an amazing plan for your future, but His cost is crucifying our flesh in exchange for His life and destiny

Monday, July 17, 2017

July 17 Thought for the day...being with God

One of the privileges I have as a pastor is being with people as they lay dying. You might not think it is a privilege, but when someone has lived a Christ-filled life, and they are going to be with the Lord, it is a time of great peace and joy, as well as sorrow. We don't need to wait until that moment to be with the Lord; we can be with Him all the time, right now and know it!

"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Galatians 5:16

There is a wonderful, loving, gracious plan God has for all of our lives, yet so many of us feel like God is so far away. Paul challenges us to "walk in the Spirit." We have super-spiritualized that phrase so that we have made it impossible to accomplish, but Paul is giving us a command that he expects us to follow!

The word "walk" is a Greek word that means to habitually walk around in one general vicinity, the implication being "live" in the Spirit. The idea is this, if you are habitually going and doing the same things over and over, it becomes second nature, it is normal, you know it so well there is no doubt where you are going. You have walked this way so much that you could do it blindfolded.

Paul's challenge is; keep focusing on life in the Spirit of God so much, you are living in the Spirit like it is your natural state. You have learned to hear from the Lord so well, you know and are comfortable in His presence. This takes time, practice and desire. It takes failure to know what "not" walking in the Spirit is like. As you keep at it, you will find yourself walking in the Spirit daily.

What does that look like? First, it is not spooky; you don't have to tell people you are walking in the Spirit, they will know. It is living out the fruit of the Spirit. It is walking humbly, looking for opportunities to be used of God to serve Him and others. Allowing the Holy Spirit to move through you to bring just the right words at the right time (he is the encourager), speaking a healing and delivering word and moving in the power to do both. Most of all it is loving people the way Christ loves them, that is truly walking in the Spirit of truth! We are then not just living out the fruit of the Spirit but also living in the fruit of the Spirit!

Paul chose, daily to "live" in the Spirit we will defeat the flesh and allow God's power to move through us. The flesh hopes for our bondage, God's Spirit is always working for our freedom! As we determine to and practice living there, we can live in His presence now, and heaven will be just a deeper extension of living in His presence here.  Paul goes on to say "not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Our flesh wants to do anything but serve the Lord and others. As we chose, daily to "live" in the Spirit, we will defeat the flesh and allow God's power to move through us. The flesh hopes for our bondage, God's Spirit is always working for our freedom! As we determine to and practice living there, we can live in His presence now, and heaven will be just a deeper extension of living in His presence here.