Tuesday, March 31, 2015

EXPLORE IT - Matthew 28

For those who have not made a commitment to Jesus, accepting Him as Savior, our passage this week creates doubt.  Matthew 28 begins with “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” coming “to view the tomb.”  This passage does not give the account of how Jesus rose from the grave, but how it was discovered that He had risen, “just as He said.”

Alternative explanations of the resurrection have been given over time in attempt to make sense of this supernatural event.  Some believe that the women must have visited the wrong tomb (not likely with the presence of the angel of the Lord).  Others suggest Jesus merely swooned on the cross and was later revived and walked away on His own accord (again, with the tomb sealed with the large stone, Jesus would have been shouting from within, not able to move it by himself in a weakened state.)  The most outlandish theory is that the disciples were overtaken by wishful thinking and collectively hallucinated seeing Jesus as risen (really?!?).

All of these alternative solutions to Jesus’ “disappearance” are faulty.  If the disciples were going to make up this story, certainly they would have made up a better lie.  First, they would never have had the women go to an empty grave or be the first to see the risen Jesus.  Women in this era were seen as foolish and not reliable witnesses.  If the disciples were making this up, they would have had men discover the empty tomb.  This one key detail is the same in all the Gospel accounts of this discovery of the empty tomb.

Accepting that Jesus was raised from the dead does take a leap of faith.  We don’t witness people being dead one moment and then alive the next.  We try to analyze this story and try to wrap our heads around it in order to come up with an explanation, but in the end, we have to accept on faith that Jesus rose from the grave, “just as He said.” 

Blessings,
Pastor Amy

Monday, March 30, 2015

READ IT! - Up Now Son - Matthew 28

Here is the scripture passage we're studying this week in preparation for  Easter Sunday and the final lesson in the Up Now Son sermon series.


Jesus Has Risen
28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
The Guards’ Report

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Saturday, March 28, 2015

PREPARE FOR IT! - Up Now Son - Romans 13:9-21, 10:14-21

Let's review again today the scripture passage we've been studying this week in preparation for tomorrow's sermon in the Up Now Son sermon series.



Love in Action
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:


“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”






21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Living on Mission Together as a Family

Living on Mission Together as a Family

I have a challenge for you when you read this week’s scripture passage about love in action. Don’t read it from an individual perspective, read it from the perspective of doing it together with the whole church family.

Why? Because we’re not meant to try to fulfill the mission of God on our own. In fact, we can’t! We are made to live as the family of God – each of us doing our part. Only together will we be able to do what God has called us to do. So, as we learn to fully love God and love people (both believers and not-yet-believers,) let’s bear in mind that we can only fully do it together as a family.

“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:9-21)

Let’s practice Living on Mission – and do it together as a family!


Pastor Angela

Thursday, March 26, 2015

PRAY IT! Up Now Son, Romans 12:9-21 and 10:14-21


I don’t have a tattoo.  I’m not opposed to tattoos.  The pain element does not even scare me away from getting a tattoo nearly as much as the permanence.  I’m not sure that I have encountered something of such interest to me that I want it on my body for… potentially… ever.  Maybe I’m lacking a singular focus.  Maybe I’m lacking commitment.  Maybe it’s the cost.  Maybe I don’t want the pain.  Maybe I’m lacking in trust of some stranger who is going to doodle on my body.

In this week’s passage from Romans, Paul outlines the marks of true Christians.  If we learned anything from our previous Mountain5 sermon series, it is that as Christians, we are called to look and live differently, perhaps radically so, as we live out our transformed life thanks to Jesus. 

We find a good portion of these in Romans 12:9-21.  Love.  Holding fast to what is good.  Showing honor.  Serving the Lord.  Rejoicing.  Praying constantly.  Showing hospitality.  Blessing those who persecute us.  Living in harmony.  It goes on and on. 

These are some things that would look good on us, God’s children… permanently.  Not so easy to put into practice, especially if we try it apart from God.

Maybe I’ll never get a “real” tattoo.  And that’s fine.  But when it comes to permanence, commitment, pain, cost, trust, and all of those things, what is my relationship with Jesus?  What am I willing to let Jesus do to me?  Do I trust Jesus enough to leave his markings on me, permanently?  Is this a long-term (see:  eternal) relationship or just a "temporary tattoo" that will wash off with soapy water?  Do I trust Jesus' quality?  Do I trust that any short term pain I experience (because dying to oneself and one’s own plans and desires can hurt!) will be helped and healed by his love?  That it is worth the cost?  Do I trust that what he will choose to do in and through me will be beautiful?

As a follower of Christ... as a child of God... I have to be willing to look and live differently.  “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  (Romans 10:15b). 
The good news is Jesus. 

According to Romans 12:12, one of our tattoos (or markings) as a Christian is to “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  This echoes the passage we have been mulling over the past few weeks in the PRAY IT blog:  Ephesians 6:10-20.  Let’s look specifically at verses 18-19 today.  “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints”.
With Jesus' help, we can persevere in prayer.  What a great way to "preach" the good news of Jesus - through our joy, through our patience, and through our prayer.  Let's pray-it-up, PoC! 

Dear Jesus,

Please help us trust you as you grow us and change us, not just for our benefit but for those we encounter on a daily basis who need to hear about you, our good news.  Please speak to us right now and silence any opposing voices.  Remind us that you are trustworthy, you are quality, you are our healer, and you are worth it.

Amen.

Continue to Seek God for the City - 2015!  Today we are praying for Christ to gather the nations in worship, for laborers, and for the following Middle Eastern countries:  Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

Pastor Celia

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

FAMILY IT! — Wednesday Family Devotional — “What’s That Look Like?”

Supplies: Bible; paper; pencils

SHARE 
Hand out a piece of paper and a pencil to each person in your family.  Have everyone draw a picture of what they want to be when they grow up.  If you are already “grown-up,” draw a picture of what you wanted to be when you were your child’s age.  When you’re done, fold your paper in half.  Now have one person collect them, mix them up, then take turns trying to guess who drew each picture and what career they’ve chosen.

How’d you do?

When you’re young, it’s fun to think about all the different cool jobs you could do as an adult.  We get pretty enamored by the surface appeal of different careers, but most of the time we don’t know what that job really looks like.  I remember wanting to be an archaeologist when I was in grade school.  Indiana Jones had just hit the theaters, and he made it look…well…awesome!  Thankfully, as I grew, my passion for digging was replaced with a love of writing.  “Children’s author” became my new career goal.  I pictured myself submitting my manuscripts and what it would be like to go on book tours, to see kids reading my amazing stories.  As part of a class assignment, I got to interview a local children’s author and find out what this job looked like.  

Boy, did she burst my bubble!  I’d never thought about the full picture of what being an author meant.  I hadn’t considered how much alone time would be involved.  I’d never thought about what I’d do if I got writer’s block—no ideas = no money.  I had no idea that once I had a manuscript, I’d have to hawk my beloved story to dozens of publishers, most of whom probably wouldn’t like it.  My full picture of “children’s author” changed drastically.  I realized I needed a fall back career choice.  Having grown up as a teacher’s kid, I chose education.  (Turns out I was pretty good at that, too.)  I knew what being a teacher looked like. I had a full understanding of the job and was able to step into that career and embrace it.

READ
Grab your Bible and read Romans 12:9-21.

THINK
When we decide to follow Jesus and enter into the family of God, we get the incredible gift of a new life.  Now we are “disciples,” “children of God,” “ambassadors of Christ,” and “lights of the world.”  That sounds so great, but…man, what does that look like?  I mean, most of us haven’t gotten to see genuine Christ-like love lived out as a lifestyle.  In fact, when you consider the world we’re used to, it’s hard to even imagine what that even might kind of look like.

Thank Heaven for Paul!  He gives such a wonderful picture of what it means to live like Jesus.  Each sentence is a new and practical way I can apply the love of Christ in my day-to-day life.  I just want to take this passage, write it out as bullet points, and tape it to my fridge. 
  • Don’t fake it.  Make sure my love comes from a real place in my heart.
  • Stay focused on the good that’s around me.  Reject the evil.
  • Treat other people better than me.  Make them the priority, whether they deserve it or not.
  • Keep my fire for God white hot and serve Him with all I have.
  • Because of Jesus, I always have hope that things will get better.  Focus on that, and I’ll be joyful!
  • When there are tough times, I need to be patient and let God move at the right time.
  • I need to keep praying through every circumstance.
  • Be kind to the people who go out of their way to make me miserable.  Do NOT sink to their level.
  • No matter what’s going on in my life, I need to be present in the lives of others, celebrating their high points and grieving their losses right along with them.
  • Work at keeping positive working relationships with the people around me.
  • Remember that I’m no better than anyone else, so I can hang with everyone from superstars to slum dogs.  
  • I will encounter evil and unfairness a lot.  It is NOT my job to balance things out.  It is NOT my job to make sure everyone gets what they deserve.  It is NOT my job—it’s God’s job.
  • My job is to care for the people God put around me: friends, enemies, and frenemies.
  • If I’m committed to live like Jesus, if I stay true to goodness, I will have the power to beat the devil with an ugly stick!

This is something I can use—today!  This really helps me see how I can be a mini-Jesus in the 21st century.  I can apply these at work, at school, with my family, with my friends. How awesome is that!

APPLY
Read through the verses again or take another look at the list above.  If this is what it looks like to live like Jesus, which point(s) are you already living?  Which one(s) describe your life, too?  Which of them not so much?  Prayerfully consider the areas you struggle with the most and challenge yourself to focus on applying one during the next 24 hours.  Maybe instead of focusing on your own demands and to-do’s, you’ll prioritize others and put their needs first.  Perhaps you’ve been stuck in the middle of a difficult season.  For the next day, when you start to feel down, turn your thoughts to the hope you have in Jesus and pray through.  Share your challenge with your family, then make a date to meet again tomorrow and see how it went.  End your time together praying for these steps.

PRAY
Loving Jesus, we are so blessed that You stepped down from the glories of Heaven so that we could have a living, breathing picture of love in action.  Help us as we strive to be like You.  Holy Spirit, transform our hearts!  In Your Name we pray, Jesus.  Amen

REPLY

Did you and your family enjoy this devotional blog?  We'd love to know about it!  Our hope is to continue providing this weekly opportunity for families to do a devotion together.  If your family did this devotion, please shoot us an email, text or just post a comment to this blog.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

EXPLORE IT - Romans 12:9-21

Our passage this week brings us back to the book of Romans.  Romans is actually a letter written by Paul to the believers in Rome.  Many of the original founders of the Roman church were Jewish Christians, but sometime in the 40’s A.D., the Emperor Claudius banished the entire Jewish community from Rome.  From that time until Claudius’ death in A.D. 54, the Roman Church was entirely comprised of Gentile Christians.

When Claudius died in A.D. 54, many of the Jewish community returned to Rome and dissention between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians began.  Paul wrote his letter to the Romans in A.D. 57 to address these “growing pains” as culture clashes continued to become more apparent.

In our passage this week, Romans 12:9-21, Paul uses a teaching style called parenesis.  This teaching method consists of a series of instructions that have little connection between them (“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:9-10).  Generally, most of Paul’s directives in this passage encourage the Romans to get along with one another!

Getting along with one another begins with the command that love must be sincere.  The word Paul uses here for love is agape (avga,ph).  This term for love refers to an unconditional, not expecting anything in return kind of love.  As “The Church” we are called to love one another without condition; not a fakey, fa├žade, showy love, but a true love filled with concern and care for each other.

We are excited to be launching our PoC|Coverage (the new Thursday evening prayer service/initiative) on April 9 at 6pm.  This will be an awesome opportunity for us to express agape love to our church family.  We would love to see you on April 9!

Blessings,
Pastor Amy

Monday, March 23, 2015

READ IT! - Up Now Son - Romans 12:9-21, 10:14-21

Here is the scripture passage we're studying this week in preparation for the next lesson in the Up Now Son sermon series.



Love in Action

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:


“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”






21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

PREPARE FOR IT! - Up Now Son - Galations 3:1-4

Let's review the scripture passage we've been studying this week to prepare for the second sermon in the Up Now Son sermon series tomorrow.

Faith or Works of the Law
3 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 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? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? - Galatians 3:1-4 (NIV)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Living on Mission with the Right Power Supply

Living on Mission with the Right Power Supply

If you’re reading this, you are an electronic device user. One thing about these devices is that they require power. Not just any power, but the right power. Did you know that if you plug the wrong charger into an iPhone, you could get a message that says, "Charging is not supported with this accessory"? I’ve heard of people using the wrong power adapter for their laptop and causing a “fried” motherboard. I’m no electrical engineer, but I know that’s bad. Trying to use the wrong kind of power can cause the device not to work properly or even to be destroyed.

As human beings created in the image of God, we too are designed to operate under a certain kind of power. It’s so easy for us to default to using our own power, but we are actually designed for our lives to be powered by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that trying to use another kind of power, such as our own human power, is silly and ineffective according to the Bible. “How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Galatians 3:3)

The good news is that we have the opportunity to be “powered up” by the Holy Spirit every day. He fills and refills if we simply ask.

Let’s practice Living on Mission and be sure to power up using the only source we were designed for: the Holy Spirit!


Pastor Angela

Thursday, March 19, 2015

PRAY IT! UP NOW SON - Galatians 3:1-4

Hamster, meet wheel.  Doing things in our own strength/power/might produces human-sized results.  And it gets tiring over time.  As Christians, we desire God-sized results.  Once we've experienced the magnitude of that, it can be hard to settle for anything less.  And we shouldn't.  But sometimes, we go right back to trying to "finish" things our own way and in our own power.  I'm not sure why we do that... but I think that while we're going to battle in prayer, we also need to ask Jesus to help us combat our "natural" tendencies (to take charge, do things "our" way, to rely on ourselves only, and not God, and our plan, not God's...) and to replace those tendencies with humility as we call out in need to our mightier, wiser God. 

This week, as we continue on in our Up Now Son sermon series, we will be exploring Galatians 3:1-4.  

Galatians 3:1-4
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?

Ah, we need to "get up" in God's strength and power, and then remain moving in His strength and power.  (Another win for daily presence!)  Simply, we can do things in the Spirit or we can do things in the flesh.  One of those is the blessed choice!  As John 15:7 reminds us "I am the vine; you are the braches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

So... in light of this passage, how do we "pray it?"  Over the remaining 3 weeks, in the "PRAY IT" blog, we're going to spend some time savoring Ephesians 6:10-18, which, in my opinion, illustrates another fine example of how we, as praying Christians, are to get up.  Right off the bat, in the first verse of this passage, we see how we are supposed to start/finish things (in the Spirit... in the Lord's strength... uh, in whose strength?  The Lord's strength!)... OH YEAH!!!

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

What we start in the Spirit should be finished in the Spirit.  To finish in "the flesh" would be akin to us putting on all that armor given to us from God, only to then take it all off and replace it for a Halloween costume version of armor - plastic, cheap, and ineffective in any real battle. 


Don't pray without your armor.  Don't don your armor and then forget to pray.

Spirit, not flesh.

Dear Jesus,
Please help us to abide in you and remain in you because truly apart from you we can do nothing.  Please reveal to us any ways in which we are trying to finish in the flesh what was started in the Spirit, and help us to correct this immediately!  Please grow our dependence on you and help us to confidently rely on you as you are steadfast and trustworthy.
Amen.

Continue to Seek God for the City - 2015!  Today we are praying for prisoners and their families, for the gospel to be declared to all people, and for the following European/Central Asian countries:  Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Portugal. 

Pastor Celia

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

FAMILY IT! — Wednesday Family Devotional — “I Can’t Do It Myself”

Supplies: Bible

SHARE 
I worked at a daycare for several years during college, and each class has a cute name based on developmental skills common to that age group.  While I’ve forgotten most of them over the years, I can still remember the two-year old group: “Do It Myself!”  How true is that!  Parents, I’m sure you remember that age, right?  When your little ones started to learn how to do those basic life skills, like putting on pants or climbing into their seats?  They got so excited that they could finally navigate this small section of life on their own that they just wanted to show you over and over and over.  And if you tried to step in and assist, you got the beat down. “No, Daddy, I can do it myself!”  At times it was hard to remember that this independent streak was a good thing and would go on to help make them strong, functioning adults who could contribute to society.

Do remember finally learning how to do something yourself?  Do you remember the pride that came with finding victory in that task?  Did you beam from ear to ear when you finally figured out how to button your shirt?  Did you drive your parents crazy turning the light switches on and off when you were finally tall enough to reach them?  In truth, this doesn’t stop with childhood.  Think about it--how many people did you brag to when you figured out all of the iPhone hacks, huh?  Pick one skill you remember mastering and share how it felt with your family.  What do they remember about that “achievement” in your life? 

READ
Read Galatians 3:1-4 together.  Depending on your translation, the wording in this passage can be a little tough to dig through.  Here’s how The Message reads:
You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.
2-4 Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

THINK
The Galatians were getting a bit of a talking to by Paul, weren’t they?  You see, the believers at this church had started their journey with Jesus like everyone does.  They had figured out that there was no way they could be reconnected with God by following the Law.  Doing it by themselves, “working their heads off to please God” wasn’t working; it was just too hard to obey all of those rules all of the time.   Like the rest of us, they needed Jesus’ forgiveness through His grace that He showed by dying for us on the cross.  

Now one of the coolest things about life with Jesus is that it doesn’t stop after that forgiveness is given.  He sends us the Holy Spirit to help us grow even closer to God through holiness.  The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us get over our selfish tendencies and become more giving, which is great, because we can have a lot more joy in our lives when we stop worrying about where our stuff is and if we have the biggest and the best around.  The Holy Spirit also teaches us to be content and satisfied no matter what’s going on.  Another great thing, because life’s a whole lot better when we’re not all frustrated and pouty every time life isn’t what we planned.  

These are just two examples, but already I’m sure you can tell that we need heavenly help to grow like this!  Unfortunately, the Galatians forgot.  They went back to that independent nature and tried to learn these holy characteristics through the Law and their own will power.  And, no surprise, it was blowing up in their faces!  People just can’t do these things without the help of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  (If we could, the world would be a much better place, don’t you think?)  Paul was writing to this church to help get them back on track.  He reminded them that just like they couldn’t have started their journey without Jesus, they sure couldn’t finish it without Him either.

APPLY
While our independent nature can be very valuable when we're growing up, it can mess us up in our relationship with God.  We get so proud when we accomplish something on our own—tying shoes, mastering math facts, or changing a tire.  We want that same feeling when it comes to learning to be like Jesus.  We try to learn how to be unselfish.  We try to practice contentment.  We leave the house in the morning determined that today we will love everybody.  And we fail.  Every. Time.  Because it’s just too hard to do on our own!

Paul and Jesus both want us to stop being so independent and learn how to be completely dependent on the Holy Spirit.  We need to lean on him and ask him to help us do the things we learn about at church and when we read the Bible.  When lunch rolls around and there's only one piece of pizza left, we need to ask the Holy Spirit help us not be selfish.  When the one thing we really, really, really wanted isn't under the Christmas tree, we need to pray for that contentment.  When the first person we see after leaving the house is the person who hates us most, we will absolutely need Holy Spirit help if we're going to even come close to being loving.  As much as we may want to be like Jesus, we just CAN’T do it ourselves.  We need help!

What are you trying to do for God in your own strength…and likely failing?  In what area(s) are you turning to your heavenly Father and saying, “I can do it myself!”  This is a great time to share with your family, because their prayers and encouragement, along with their accountability, can really help you ditch your independence and learn to look to the Holy Spirit for your success.  End your time together by praying for each area of dependence.

PRAY
Heavenly Father, thank you for your many gifts to us.  You gave us Jesus so that we could know you, and you gave us your Holy Spirit so that we could grow to be like Jesus.  Help us learn to depend, not on ourselves and our own gifts, but on you and your gifts. In Your Name we pray, Amen.

REPLY

Did you and your family enjoy this devotional blog?  We'd love to know about it!  Our hope is to continue providing this weekly opportunity for families to do a devotion together.  If your family did this devotion, please shoot us an email, text or just post a comment to this blog.