Hi. We continue in our series looking at walking in the Spirit. We’ve talked about the Fruit of the Spirit: Love and Joy. Now we’re going to look at Peace, the Shalom of God. What does it mean to have the fruit of the Spirit producing peace in and through your life? Can people notice it when you have the fruit of the Spirit of peace in you? Do they notice that you’re not anxious, that you’re not worrying?
Here’s a definition of Peace: a state of assurance, a lack of fear provided only by God, the unity between believers, freedom from worry and oppressive thoughts.
I know so many people that come to me in pastoral counseling and in mentoring situations that are just anxious and concerned about where their future is going. And sometimes it doesn’t feel comforting at the get-go to encourage people to live by faith, to walk into the unknown and be unafraid. I think our world has so trained us to be in control that when we don’t feel that we know where we’re going, we start getting anxious. That way of thinking and that way of living is putting us in the driver’s seat, us in the Lordship seat of our lives, if you will. Not God. The peace of God comes when you submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In and through His grace, He’s guiding us to that place. You can breathe! You know that you are loved! You let that love and that joy of walking in obedience, produce that peace. You are anxious for nothing. But in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests before God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus, we are told.
So I want to encourage you in that. Another part of the definition of peace is the confidence and rest in the wisdom and sovereignty of God more than your own. You see, when I can believe that God is all powerful, all-knowing, and He can bring anything about, it brings me peace. If God wanted me to have something that I’m anxious about, He’d let me have it. And if not, I’m at peace. I can embrace my lot in life. I’m content.
And then, can that peace move between people? Can we have peace with each other? Jesus commanded us to be at peace with each other. Again, that is the fruit of the Spirit, my ability to bear with others, to love them anyway and to give them grace. To be at peace comes because I first have received the grace of God and I feel loved. I feel at peace.
I pray that that fruit of the Spirit would be yours today.
Let’s pray: Father God, I’m so grateful that you want to bring your peace into our lives. And that Shalom that we can all experience by the power of your Holy Spirit is right here for the having. Father, I pray that we would get away from leading our own lives, that we would stop trying to control it, and that we would learn to rest in You. You lead us by your still waters, as we are reminded in Psalm 23. You restore our soul. Father, help us to be at peace. Help us be still and know that You are God. I pray that You’d bring that about today in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
God bless you. Let His peace reign in your heart and in your mind. Amen.
Here’s another devotional on walking in the Spirit vs walking in the flesh, looking at Galatians 5. Last time we looked at the fruit of the Spirit of Love. Today I want to look at the next fruit, Joy. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy….”
Here’s a definition of Joy for you to consider: “to delight in God and His salvation for the
sheer beauty and worth of who He is, not based on circumstances. It’s obtained by doing the will of God.
Joy is mentioned in Scripture many times. One example is, “for the Joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Well, what was so joyful about that? This is right after the Garden scene, where Jesus is literally crying tears of blood and weeping and begging God to take the cup from him. Joy really does transcend circumstantial realities. It’s not happiness; it’s Joy. It comes from doing the will of God. There’s that inner satisfaction. There’s that inner joy from knowing that I’m doing what my Lord and Master has commanded me to do. You’re doing it in His strength, so you’re not actually the one doing it. It’s His love moving through you and you have that Joy knowing that even though you’re being resisted by the world and Satan and your sinful nature, you’ve submitted and you feel the joy of being on mission with God. You know that He will accomplish His will, even though you might not know what that is. Sometimes we don’t need to know. Sometimes I’m on a need to know basis and I don’t need to know. I’m just told to go … and God moves through me.
So I want to challenge you to consider your obedience with God these days. Is it bringing this gladness, this delight, this special presence of God, this inner Joy, this inner glow? And do people notice it? It is the fruit of the Spirit. God will help you experience Joy as you follow Him.
One of the things I love to watch is when pilots fly aircraft, especially in dogfight situations, in F15s and Raptors, etc. When they lose sight of their target, they call out, “No Joy!” So this would be you losing sight of the target of God’s will for your life. You will have no joy, but once you have acquired the target again which would be the will of God, you will be fully Joy.
Let’s pray: Father God I pray that you, by the power of your Spirit, would make your will plain to every one of us. Father, we come seeking your will. Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done. On earth as it is in Heaven. Father, we want to hear, “well done, good and faithful.” We want to obey. We want to be guided by you today. We don’t want to be distracted. We don’t want to be off-mission with you. We don’t want to be tempted away to pursue any other idols and listen to them. We want you to be our God and our Lord. Command us this day, Father, and strengthen us that Your will might be done. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
God bless you. Walk in the joy of the Lord today. Amen.
Let’s continue our devotional series on the Fruit of the Spirit: the difference between walking in the Spirit and walking in the flesh. Last time we walked through verses 16-21, which encouraged us to walk in the Spirit rather than gratifying the desires of our sinful nature manifested in sexual impurity, debauchery, idolatry, etc. Paul finishes with a big statement: “I want to warn you as I did before that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Those who have the Holy Spirit in them and have been baptized have the possibility (because only God can bring this life about through us) to walk in the Spirit and have the abundant life. But yet we choose to disobey God, to resist the Spirit moving in and through our lives, and we engage and live in ways that are not engaging God and are not good for us.
And then Paul shifts (and this is one of the more famous passages of Scripture). Verse 22: “But the fruit of the Spirit ….” How am I going to know when I’m walking in the Spirit? What will be the fruit of what God does in and through my life? “The fruit of the Spirit will be…” and then he gives 9 fruit: “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Then he says this, “Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, [since we are dead when we walk in the flesh] let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Let’s always remember that it’s the Spirit doing this. Don’t get conceited. When you see God doing all these miraculous, amazing things through you, don’t get conceited. Be humble. Remember that it’s God doing it.
Today, I want to talk about love, the first fruit listed. Love is what God desires to do in and through us. This IS what God does through us when we’re walking in the Spirit. The definition of love is “to serve a person for THEIR good and intrinsic value, not for what the person brings to you. Not just emotions and feelings, love is the decision to commit to the well-being of others.” Unconditional. Love is a decision to commit to the well-being of others.
It’s very clear in my journey of faith that any time I had the loving disposition in me toward others in my life, it was definitely the Spirit empowering it. I know that I am a very self-centered person walking in the flesh, a person who engages in relationships for what I can get from those relationships. The kind of love that the Holy Spirit empowers, though, is a self-giving love, a love that considers others better than yourself, a love that wants others’ good, no matter what, even if it means you don’t get anything in return. You want others to have. It’s that unconditional, agape love where you love people even if they hate you. You keep coming at them with love. That is the supernatural fruit of the Spirit that Paul is talking about.
So if you remember the acts of the sinful nature (hatred, anger, discord) that he mentions in the previous verses, this blows those out of the water. This says, when I walk in the Spirit, I love even my enemies. And I love them with the ever-flowing stream that I’m tapping into as I submit to God, as I abide in Christ. He flows through me and love comes out.
So I want to challenge you to believe that LOVE is what God wants for you today. God wants you to experience and express His supernatural love in all of its manifestations. He wants you to know the life that is truly life: to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. Remember, those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. As we grow in Christ, it’s less of me, more of God. Less of me, more of God, over time. That’s part of being crucified with Christ. Therefore, I no longer live but Christ lives in me.
The unfortunate part is that we are a decision away, a thought away, a drift pattern away from disconnecting with God. His Spirit is constantly calling us forward, constantly calling us to live by the Spirit.
Let’s pray: Father we want to be your people of love. We want to know your agape love. Father please come. Transform us from self-centered people who only think of ourselves to people who are like you, who are love. God is love. Make us more like you. Empower that love in and through us. Thank you, first and foremost, for loving us that way: loving us without condition. Your grace keeps coming. Father, move your grace through us this day, that others may see our lives, see you moving in and through us and bring glory to your name, and see the fruit of Your Spirit. We pray this all in Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen
God bless you as you walk in the Spirit. May you see the fruit of the Spirit of love today. God bless!
I want to do another devotional series this time, walking in the spirit, or life in the spirit. I want to look at Galatians, chapter 5 where it talks about the fruit of the spirit. Verse 16 starts, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.” They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness and orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Let’s stop right there. There’s this plead by Paul to the people in Galatia to understand the difference between walking by the flesh and walking in the Spirit. The key is to trust the guidance and power of God, to live in submission to the Spirit which guides and enables this spirit life. Then he shows the comparison right away: live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of your sinful nature. Paul is very clear: these two natures are in opposition to one another. My flesh, or my sinful nature, are going to desire things that are opposed to the will of God: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery and on and on.
I think it’s one of the hardest things for Christians to understand: apart from Christ (see John 15) we can do nothing. Nothing good, that is. I can do lots of evil. But only as we are guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit as we’re living in the Gospel. The Gospel is a living thing, intended not only to save us, but to transform us and live through us. Jesus himself, through the power of the Holy Spirit, lives within us through our baptisms.
So I want to encourage you as are getting started to going week by week looking at each fruit of the spirit. But it starts with an understanding that is very clear: any good that has come in and through my life, God has done it. Everything else, I did. The only stuff that’s going to be helpful to people and loving and transforming and blessing and growing people, God gifted us and does that through us. All the other stuff, we through walking by the flesh bring into this world.
So there’s an opportunity for us all. Every day we live to wake up, live by grace through faith, remember how much God has done for us and then submit to Him and let Him live through us and produce (as we’ll see in the upcoming weeks) the fruit of the Spirit. Don’t walk by the flesh. Walk by the Spirit.
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” The law was given. You should do this. You should do that. The law was given to convict us of our sin. Not only does the Gospel (because Christ died for our sin) to set us free, but the Gospel motivates and moves us to follow the will of God. You see, God does it all. I’m no longer under the law because I’m empowered by God to no longer be enslaved to the law. He empowers me to be able to follow His divine will through His strength. Isn’t that good news?
Let’s pray: Father God, we’re grateful, not only that you came, not only that you died, but that you rose again. And you invite us to walk in your resurrection power. Father I pray today that we would recommit ourselves to the living Gospel, to You living in and through us, breathing life to us and then through us to a watching world. Father, any of those acts of the sinful nature we looked at (sexual immorality, debauchery, etc.), it definitely convicts us that our sinful nature desires these things. We confess them to you Lord. We ask that You’d forgive us. Father, we are grateful that you forgive us every time we come in true repentance. And I pray now God that You’d empower us to live a new and different life, not under the law but walking in your grace, experiencing Your strength moving through us. We pray You’d bring this about in Jesus’ holy name. Amen
God bless you as you walk in the spirit today. Give’m heaven!
In every role that we have in life there are sin-related challenges. Sometimes these are the same sin tendencies no matter what situation or role we’re in at the moment. On the other hand, it could also be that certain sin tendencies only come into play when we are exercising particular roles in our life.
Sin is hardly a popular subject, even in Christian churches. It is not unusual to hear that someone will in fact stay away from church because the preaching was on sin, and they don’t like being made to feel guilty. Perhaps as a consequence of that, the emphasis in some churches is placed invariably on things that will affirm people and not invite them to focus on their sin tendencies.
To perceptive observers, however, the question of sin is unavoidable. A good example is a book written in the late 70s by British journalist Henry Fairlie, entitled The Seven Deadly Sins Today, in which he freely admits that he’s not a believer and yet points out all the ways in which various kinds of sin are destroying society. Merely ignoring the problem will not make it disappear any more than ignoring any other kind of threat will cause that to disappear. It must be confronted with the power of Christ crucified.
Let’s look briefly at how sin might confront us in different roles. In particular let’s look at our roles as family members, as stewards of resources, as friends, and as professional people:
- As family members, one of the besetting sins that is so often weakening family life is wrath (vs. meekness). The records of divorce and family dysfunction are filled with stories about the explosive temper of one of its members. People who truly and sincerely love their family members and yet fail to confront this sin have been known to say or do things that have completely destroyed everything they have most deeply loved on this earth. When we feel lonely, we are also tempted to the sin of gluttony (vs. temperance). Filling the hole left by disconnected relationships we turn to food, drink or drugs. We are roughly four percent of the world’s population in America, yet we consume 50 percent of the world’s legal mood-altering pharmacological drugs and 2/3rds of the world’s illegal drugs.
- As stewards of resources, we see many instances of sloth (vs. obedience) or greed (vs. stewardship). Sometimes we read in the newspapers about the constant wrangling over public policy, usually in the form of what the government should do or not do. Without making a political point, it is worth wondering whether the government would have to be involved in certain things at all if people at the private level were taking seriously the issue of overcoming sloth or greed. The government and other agencies can do little more than deal with those problems after their consequences have taken effect. They are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, while it’s up to us at Christians to build the fence at the top.
- As friends and neighbors, the sins of envy (vs. contentment) and lust (vs. chastity) come to mind. Many friendships have been destroyed by the resentment that comes from someone else’s success or prosperity. Entire revolutions have been attributed to envy as a causative factor. As for lust, society is experiencing a tsunami of relevant imagery that is having powerful effect. It is reported that among working-class white families in America, only 37 percent of children are living with both their mother and father (compared to 96% in 1960). Surely the promotion through the media of an anything-goes ethos bears major responsibility.
- As professional people, as in many other roles, the question of pride (vs. humility) often rears its ugly head. We are trained by our world to base our identity on what we do, rather than what God does through us. Therefore, we are led away by Satan, our sinful natures, and this worldly system to achieve and accomplish things in our own strength, so that we might receive the glory. What a stark contrast to the life that God calls us to embrace, where He is guiding and empowering everything we say and do.
Let’s choose a bracing view of the tremendous power available to us as we deal with sin in all our roles in life. We have the duty and the opportunity to be dead to sin and alive to Christ and righteousness. Hear Martin Luther: “But what is God’s righteousness? It is when there is no longer any sin in us, and all our members and powers are subject to God, and used in his service that we can say with St. Paul (Galatians 2:20): ‘I live yet not I, but Christ lives in me.’ That happens when no sin reigns over us, but Jesus Christ alone with his grace.”
Ok, let’s wrap up this devotional series on the Lord’s Prayer together. Let’s put it into context. We’re recalibrating our lives with God. This is how Jesus taught us how to pray. I’ve tried to break this down for you according to seven values that I’ve created throughout the years from a variety of different sources. These values help us understand the abundant life we have in Christ.
We started, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” May You be glorified. “Thy Kingdom come.” May I live as your kingdom citizen, in your church, in your group. “Thy will be done.” Father, train me to do your will. Grow me up in you. “On earth as it is in Heaven.” Father, I can’t do any of this apart from your strength. Father, send your supernatural power, here, in and through me, as it will be in heaven. I’ll be completely empowered by you in heaven. Father, I surrender to your strength. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Father, everything in life is a gift from you. I live as a steward of life. Empower me to be content and live as a steward, doing whatever you call me to do with your resources. “Forgive me my sins, as I forgive those who sin against me.” Father, let me live as a man of grace. Thank you for forgiving my sins and letting me forgive those who’ve sinned against me and give them another “do-over” to keep the relationship going. That’s grace.
And now the big finale: guidance. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
This is where we are finally submitting to His guidance in our lives, not just to be advised by God, but to submit. Command me Lord. Teach me where to go and I will go. It is placing yourself under the authority of the lordship of Jesus Christ in your life.
“Lead me not into temptation” (that’s where I lead myself) and “deliver me from the influence of evil in this world.” I need a double deliverance: from the influence of the Evil One and the influence of my sinful nature, which when it takes control and I’m walking by flesh, I lead myself right into temptation. So, I’ve got this co-conspiracy going on: the Evil One and my sinful nature which want to co-conspire to lead me away from God. But Jesus is trying to teach us to pray. Submit your life to the leadership of Jesus, to the leadership of the Holy Spirit/God in and through us. And you will live. He will guide us. He will prompt us through prayer. He will prompt us through community: people helping re-correct us. And He will prompt us through His word – how to understand how to follow the revealed will of God.
I’m challenging you to be people of guidance today, people who truly submit to the lordship of Jesus. You move as if commanded. You’re looking for guidance, not just advice.
Father, God, where would we be without you? Father, we come to you with humble and contrite hearts, saying “we can’t do it without you.” We want to submit to your leadership, to your guidance in our lives, not our own. Father, prompt us through the power of your Holy Spirit all day today and for the rest of our lives, to know where it is different: where you are trying to guide us and where our sinful nature or the influence of evil are trying to dissuade us or distract us or trick us away from your will for our lives. Father, we pray that you would find us faithful, that at the end of this day, we would hear in our spirit “well done, good and faithful.” Thank you God that you
provide your guidance to us. Help us seek it in your word, to seek it through prayer, to seek it through the wisdom of others and wise counsel. Father, help us to see your work in the circumstances of our lives guiding us into the future. Father, bless us as we seek you. In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
So go and live as people of guidance today. As we’ve completed the series on the Lord’s Prayer, I pray that we would be people who live out the seven values of abundant living that He is guiding us towards. In Jesus name. Amen.
We understand the value of collective action, and it is this unity of purpose toward which we must continually strive. However such unity and power is impossible to attain if it is not built on the foundation of individual character and godly intention.
Certain cultural trends have been working on all of us to discourage the building of character, the building of community, and the interaction between those two:
- Narcissism. It is one of the paradoxes of spiritual life that we edify ourselves by serving others. Conversely, we weaken ourselves through habitual self-regard and self-seeking. Today’s culture features an intense focus on celebrities, in addition to advertising that has slogans such as: “because you’re worth it.” (That one has been around for a long time, a sign that it really works.)
- Technology. Few, if any of us, are not tempted to think we can solve most of our problems with one more computer program, spreadsheet, or handheld gizmo. We keep looking for new methods of reducing our essential helplessness. This, of course, is nothing new. Our grandparents realized that freedom from excessive heat or cold could be achieved with the mere press of a button. In other words we keep reducing the need to depend on God until that tendency becomes a way of life. A warning against this aspect of technology shouldn’t signal a return to a pre-industrial age but just serve as a reminder to renounce the illusion of independence from God.
- Autonomy. It is natural to avoid an unhealthy dependence on others but the quest for autonomy can often lead to illusion and unhealthy pride. A friend of ours, for instance, wrote a biography of a well-known Christian leader who started a broadcast ministry on a shoestring and built it up to where he was very secure and didn’t seem to need anything from anyone. In spite of the good accomplished through his ministry, he behaved in an autocratic and unaccountable manner to the extent that close associates were aware of a general environment of fear throughout his organization. This diminished his personal character and simultaneously the quality of community life in his ministry.
- Lack of Standards. For several decades at least, the avant-garde, or forces of the counterculture, have been assaulting moral standards with impressive success. In fact the transformation of culture has been so thoroughgoing that the word “countercultural” can now only be assigned realistically to those who are trying to restore firm standards of behavior. The world laughs at them and conspires against them.
Even in many churches, the last thing people want to discuss or hear about is the challenge of overcoming sin tendencies. It is, however, this victory over individual sin tendencies that holds the key to stronger community, and it is stronger community that holds the key to victory over individual sin tendencies.
The two things exert reciprocal influence on each other. If we neglect the character side of the equation, we fail to trust in God to transform our character and help us to partake of the divine nature. We can learn to pray in a way that affirms that trust, e.g., “Thank you, Lord, that you’re working in me to strengthen my love and self-control.”
Ok, we’re rolling here now with the Lord’s Prayer. Let’s look at the next phrase. First, let’s put it all into context. “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” May You be glorified. “Your Kingdom come.” May I live as a kingdom citizen, living as a part of your church, your group, under biblically functioning community. “Your will be done.” Train me today Lord. Train me to live in your kingdom, to pursue your will, not mine. “On earth as it is in Heaven.” Father, I can’t do any of this without your Holy Spirit’s strength, your diving enablement in and through me, the gifts of strength and power you bring to me through your Spirit. “Give us this day my daily bread.” I will live as a good steward of all you have provided. I’m dependent on you for absolutely everything. Teach me to steward it all according to your will.Now he shift gears to talk relationally. “Forgive me my sins, Lord.”
So this is the confessional piece where we’re looking for God’s grace. We’re grateful that it’s there every time. God is faithful and just. As we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins. So this is the value of Grace. We say that grace is God’s bridge to us and our bridge to others. Isn’t it interesting to hear how it is in the Lord’s Prayer? “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” So, Father, I can only forgive as I’ve been forgiven. As I know that forgiveness can I forgive. He who has been forgiven much, forgives much. Not only do I want to receive freely your gift of grace and forgiveness, but I will live (strengthened by You to do it) as a person of grace, an ambassador of reconciliation in this world. I will not be among those who hold people’s sins against them because mine have not been held against me.
Father, empower me to be a man of grace today. As it says in the Spiritual Armor, strap on the sandals of peace and run into the battle ready to forgive. Let’s be peacemakers today. Let’s be people who believe in the power of grace, and recalibrate our lives around that.
Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for your grace. Thank you for your faithfulness to forgive us every time. Father, we’re embarrassed at how many times we have to come and ask for forgiveness over the same sins even, Lord. We are so grateful that you are faithful and just because of what has been done for us through Jesus Christ every sin can be forgiven. So Father, give us humble and contrite hearts that come to you and ask for your forgiveness and then pass on your forgiveness as people empowered by your grace. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Go and be ambassadors of reconciliation today. Live by His grace in Jesus’ name. Amen. God bless.
“Your mind matters,” said the late British evangelical Anglican, John Stott. Christians have sometimes doubted that they should pay much attention to questions pertaining to the mind. But we are told by St. Paul to “put on the whole armor of God.” How else can this be done but by the deliberate, intentional employment of the mind? It is our duty and our privilege to put on that armor and put on any promised blessing relevant to our need.
If the need is urgent or ongoing, the most potent use of the mind is epitomized by that word “decision.” Think, for instance, of how we receive Christ and His salvation. If we, empowered by the Spirit, don’t respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but rather choose to resist the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives as a matter of decision, then we become the plaything of every worldly, religious, quasi-spiritual or even emotional wind that blows. On the other hand, once we’ve made that Spirit-empowered decision, then the mere reminder of it can steady the rudder of our lives in all changes of weather. For example remembering God’s promise to us in baptism and in Holy Communion. These Sacraments given to us by our gracious Creator, Redeemer and Lord to be His means of grace along with the Word, transforming our lives.
In the same way, we can use our minds regarding all the other promises of God, such as the promise of peace. That is, we can accept each promise in the same way we accept Christ – by decision. Life being what it is, we then experience circumstances that are at variance with a promised blessing, but we can again make a deliberate use of our mind to recall and affirm our previous decision of acceptance. That puts a stop to what otherwise can become a neurotic condition of being afraid of ourselves and our own weaknesses.
God wants us to have a frame of mind that is habitually positive and believing. This isn’t just something for times of challenge, permitting us to have a self-directed and self-empowered frame of mind at other times. A God-guided and empowered frame of mind should be the way we “live and move and have our being.” To do this, we mustn’t regard prayer and godly affirmation as a mere burden to bear or an expense to pay. It is a frame of mind more delightful than any other.
We should even think of repentance in this way, and repentance should be a daily experience. For when we repent and receive absolution we are simply living back into God’s baptismal promise to us to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Therefore, because of what He has done we are forgiven. We might liken the experience of repentance to a day when we’re planning to drive to a pleasant location but entered the highway in the wrong direction. After we have “repented” of our error, we naturally put it out of our mind and think instead of our destination. By the same token, when convicted and redirected by the Holy Spirit we turn from sin and self, we then have the privilege of anticipating the joy and peace of believing (Rom 15:13).
Trying to turn our minds away from negative things on our own is futile. It’s like not thinking about elephants. Have you ever tried that? Try it right now — just five seconds of not thinking about elephants. How did you do? They were probably stampeding across your mind, waving their trunks around.
Instead, we can focus gently yet intently on God, who is Love. Focus on how dependent you are on Him. In fact, use every challenge throughout the day, every difficulty, every disappointment, as a means of deepening that dependence and expecting a closer relationship with Him to result from that.
Discipline your mind to accept His promised power and love on a moment-by-moment basis. If you have a little time for meditation, let your mind dwell on a phrase from Scripture or an affirmation derived from that. Even when you have to focus on other things, maintain a watchful and thankful frame of mind.
With each new day this year – even each new hour – let’s move forward in transformation by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2).
Ok, let’s dive deeper into the Lord’s Prayer together, looking at the next phrase. First, let’s put it into context. “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” May Your name be glorified, Lord. “Your Kingdom come.” May I live as a kingdom citizen, your group we call the church. “Thy will be done.” Grow me Lord. I’m on a journey and I’m your disciple. Train me today. Teach me to obey everything you’ve commanded. Train me, grow me. “On earth as it is in Heaven.” Strengthen me. Help me submit and surrender to Your power in and through me.
And then He shifts gears. He says, “Give me this day my daily bread.” This is living as a good steward. It’s understanding, “give me” everything is a gift in your life. We’re intended to walk with Him and with one another one day at a time. “Give me this day my daily bread.” My daily provision that I need: food, shelter, everything that I’m going to need in my life. Not just your power, not just your training, not just your community, Father, give me all that I need, all that we need (we’re thinking like a community person now) to live today. I will be content with that. I will live as a good steward, stewarding the resources that you’ve given me, according to your will.
Framing this up in America is so important. Praying this prayer everyday, recalibrating your life as a good steward is so vital in a culture that is training us to be discontent. It’s training us to want, want, want and not live as good stewards.
I want to challenge you today: look how blessed you are. If you have food and you have clothing, you’ll be content with that. That’s what Jesus said. How much further beyond food and clothing has God provided to us? And we still wrestle with discontentment. We live as poor stewards of His resources. We don’t even ask Him “what would you have me do with this, Daddy?”
So I want to challenge you to do that today. And ask for His guidance as to what He wants to do with the provisions He’s given you. Let’s pray.
Father, God, first we are so grateful and thankful that You provide everything to us. Every little thing is a gift from You. We don’t want to take anything for granted. So thank you Lord. Teach us how to live as good stewards of Your provision for us. You are our Lord. You are our Provider. Teach us to walk by faith with grateful hearts and to be generous as You guide us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
So live as a good steward today. He has given you everything. Amen.