When your life is over, how would you like to be remembered? After ruling over the Kingdom of Judah for 25 years, it was written that Jehoshaphat “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” As we have learned, the king was not perfect, but he set his heart on seeking God. He went out and turned people back to the Lord. He appointed judges and setup a judicial system based on God’s Law. He also humbly sought God’s deliverance against a vast army. God delivered the King and his people. It would be great if that were the end of the story. The King was good-the end. But no, in the truthfulness of the scriptures we find out a huge blunder made by Jehoshaphat near the end of his life. He once again makes an alliance with another wicked king of Israel. This time he agreed to construct a fleet of trading ships. Of course, the ships were wrecked and these trading ships were never used.
From Jehoshaphat’s example, we should realize that it is so important that we use godly discernment in forming our relationships with others. Paul the apostle’s warning is “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) We want to influence others for good and to show them the way to God. We never want them to adversely affect our relationship with God. It is easy to pick up habits and behaviors from our social group, but we are to be imitators of the Lord. Our relationship with God and Christ should be the most important relationship in our lives. May you be blessed as you read the scriptures and spend time with our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sometimes, it’s easy to confuse serving God with serving our own desires. You can go out and do amazing things, things God would love to see you doing, but that doesn’t mean you’re truly doing it for God. Our intentions behind the works are what matter. Only obeying God when it happens to align with your own agenda is not truly serving Him. We are called to take up our crosses daily, to surrender our lives to God wholly and completely. Half-hearted obedience isn’t going to cut it. It can make the world a better place, momentarily, and it can even be used by God to carry out His plan. But God isn’t asking us to be lukewarm, available-only-when-it’s-convenient-for-us Christians. A true follower of Christ is willing to do whatever God asks, and go wherever He leads, everyday.
When Jehu was anointed and declared the next king of Israel after Joram (aka Jehoram), he was tasked with a very morbid vocation. He was called to bring judgement on the house of Ahab; a very harsh judgement consisting of a lot of killing. Fortunately, the intense Jehu was up to the task, and in a way, was one of the most successful kings Israel had during this time. After a long run of very bad kings, Jehu was a refreshingly obedient type of ruler, who did exactly what God called him to do… until he didn’t.
In 2 Kings 10:12-14, we watch as Jehu viciously takes the additional life of King Ahaziah. This was a whole separate ordeal from the righteous fulfillment of God’s command to end the house of Ahab, and later he kills more relatives of Ahaziah. This was not apart of the instructions God provided, but he went on ruthlessly anyways. His ego and yearning for glory gave rise to unsolicited murder, of which he was thoroughly proud. In 2 Kings 10:16-17, Jehu requests that the honorable Jehonadab come with him and see his zeal for the LORD, and then kills more people. Jehu’s continued obedience is noteworthy, and even impressive, but in the end, he was proud of his own zeal, and only followed God’s command when it went along with his own ambitions.
2 Kings 10:31 says: “But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel sin.” He was quick to end the worship of Baal in Israel, but continued with the worship of false idols of Jeroboam. Jehu fought hard against idolatry, but not with all his heart. He fulfilled God’s work, and served Him well, but he never really had a true relationship with God. He destroyed everything in his path, partially for God, but ultimately for his own gain.
As followers of Christ and servants of the Most High, we are called to live everyday for something greater than ourselves, whether or not that lines up with our personal plans, desires, or ambitions. I pray that we may always serve our loving God wholeheartedly, for His cause, and not ours.
After Jesus finished the Passover meal with his disciples, he retreated to the Mount of Olives, which is just outside of Jerusalem, to pray. While there, he was arrested by a crowd led by Judas, one of his own disciples. Jesus’s choice to stay at the Mount of Olives was significant for two reasons:
Jesus knew Judas would betray him.
In a previous conversation among the disciples, Jesus predicts that one of the twelve would betray him, even calling out Judas by name (John 13). The very night of the Last Supper, he makes a similar remark:
“The hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table” (Luke 22:21).
Judas knew Jesus would be at the Mount of Olives.
During the week leading up to Jesus’s death, he and his disciples had spent every night at the Mount of Olives:
Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives” (Luke 21:37).
Judas surely knew where Jesus would be on this particular night, yet Jesus didn’t try to hide.
Instead, Jesus invited Judas to his table to eat dinner together.
Jesus stayed the night in the very place Judas knew he would be.
You and I were a lot like Judas. We were full of ugly thoughts, misguided intentions, mixed-up priorities, and shameful feelings. Jesus saw our filthy sin, yet he invited us into his presence to give us freedom from it. The greatest irony is that the person who knows our flaws best, loves us the greatest.
You are fully known, and yet you are deeply loved.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
In the movie Elf, Buddy the Elf is taught the Code of the Elves, which the elves all recite and know by heart. Number three on the list is about spreading Christmas cheer, and by the end of the movie, Buddy has spread that message to lots of people.
In the book of 1 Timothy, Paul explicitly tells us his purpose when he says, “I am writing you these instructions so that…you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church.”
So, in essence, Paul’s giving us the Code of the Church. And what are some of the things in that code?
Remember you’re a big fat sinner (ie: Grace)
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (1:15)
Before we say a word to anyone else, our perspective on ourself needs to be right.
Unfortunately, there seem to be an awful lot of believers out there who don’t seem to see themselves as Paul did. They might rephrase this verse to say, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—praise the Lord I’m not like them” or if we’re really honest, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—thankfully I’m not as bad as the worst of them.”
And although I don’t really believe most Christians would actually rephrase Paul’s writing in those ways, our attitudes do it for us. Brennan Manning, one of my favorite authors said, “Jesus came not only for those who skip morning mediations, but also for real sinners–thieves, adulterers and terrorists, for those caught up in squalid choices and failed dreams.”
The lyrics to the song, “Come to the Table” are a lovely picture of recognizing that we are all sinners redeemed, and that our unworthiness does not exempt us from a seat at the table of mercy.
Must sin be called out? Of course. With a heaping side of grace.
Grace first. Grace always.
More on that later in the code.
2. Pray for your leaders
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (2:1-2)
Pray for them (ARROW) THAT…
The code dictates that we’re praying for leaders that will enable us to live out a Biblical faith.
If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church? (3:5)
Chapter three is almost entirely devoted to this piece of the church code, laying out indicators of what believers should look for in church leaders. This much real estate in Paul’s letter should tell us that it’s something that he found important, and should therefore garner our attention as well.
4. Train yourself to be godly…because it doesn’t come naturally
..train yourself to be godly. (4:7)
Training involves work, often times painful work.
As we alluded to in step one of the code, identifying sin is a part of responsibility of the believer. Both in our own life and for one another.
Paul writes in other places of ‘walking in the Spirit’ vs. ‘walking in the flesh’. Walking in the flesh could be described as doing what comes naturally to us, and that is frequently (almost always) not the same as what God would call us to.
This is why we need to train ourselves in it. Despite all the Chuck Norris jokes to the contrary…Chuck Norris wasn’t born all ‘Chuck Norris-y’. He has trained and worked hard physically to attain the physical strength and skills he has.
While we do want to train hard and push ourselves and one another to greatness, the underlying foundation must always be love. It must always be grace. (See #1 of the Code)
5. The church takes care of its own
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers,older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters (5:1-2)
Much of chapter 5 centers on the care of widows in the church, something we may deem a waste of Paul’s time. However, it shows a real care and elevation of women. A woman whose husband had died could become desolate very rapidly, and this was to ensure that this not happen to believers.
Although the specific issue of widowhood may not be as relevant to us today, the idea that God expects believers to provide for their family has not changed. Also unchanged is the notion of the church family stepping in for believers without blood-family to support them.
Good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever. (5:25)
Our church code of conduct may not be quite as catchy as the one Buddy the Elf learned in the North Pole, but ours has a far more lasting impact…and no tights required!
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Timothy
Acts 18:9-10 – One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”
Paul’s missionary journey has led him to Thessalonica where he spent a few weeks teaching in the synagogue but was eventually run out of town, but not before some were persuaded to believe and be saved. His escape took him to the next town of Berea, where again, the Thessalonicans caught up to Paul and he had to make a sneaky escape. He landed in Athens, a place known for philosophy. And while a few people accepted the gospel that Paul preached, others sneered at his message and so he continued his journey to Corinth. Corinth had a reputation. All kinds of sexually immoral practices existed in this place and yet, this is where Paul received a vision and was told “I have many people in this city”. Isn’t it just like God to take what many would consider the least likely of people and bring them into a relationship with himself.
Let’s remember something – we are all the least likely of people. There is nothing that I have done that makes me worthy of God’s love, mercy, and grace. It’s not my cultural heritage. It’s not my level of intelligence or my financial standing. It’s not who I know or what I do. It’s only by the gift of Jesus’ atoning death on a cross that I can even be in a relationship with God.
Too many people today believe that they have to “get right with God” before they can attend church or pray or be of use for service. Too many believers avoid interacting with non-believers because they fear the Gospel message (or more likely they themselves) will be mocked, rejected or persecuted.
Sometimes God gives us opportunities to associate and fellowship with other believers so that we can build one another up. Other times, God invites us into the messy lives of non-believers so that we can show them that God loves all of us exactly where we are. And then there are other times, when God provides opportunities for us to invest in others’ messy lives long term to really show them what a life serving God is all about.
As we read about Paul’s journey, we can appreciate that Paul made himself available to God’s leading, even staying for a year and a half in a city that was full of immoral practices because it was ripe for a spiritual harvest. Wherever God has you today, “Do not be afraid, keep on speaking, do not be silent” and look for the spiritual harvest.
Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 17:1-18:17.
In Luke 5, we find the story of Jesus calling his first disciples. Jesus was at the Lake of Gennesaret (better known as the Sea of Galilee) teaching large crowds. Peter had been fishing all night, without catching anything, and was washing his nets while Jesus was teaching. In order to help the crowds hear better, Jesus got into Peter’s boat and asked Peter to push out from shore. After Jesus finished teaching, he asked Peter to go into deeper water and let down his net.
Let’s think of this from Peter’s perspective. He was a professional fisherman and knew how to fish – fish at night in shallow water. What did this stranger know about fishing? And Peter had fished all night, and hadn’t caught anything. If I had been Peter, I think I might have pointed out these facts and then might have dropped this uninvited guest at the shore. Fortunately for Peter, and ultimately for us, Peter didn’t argue (much), he just obeyed – and caught so many fish the nets began to break. After Peter called his partners in another boat, they loaded all the fish into both boats – but there were so many fish, both boats began to sink.
Peter finally recognized he was in the presence of a great prophet of God, and ashamed by his own sinfulness, asked Jesus to leave. Instead of leaving Peter, Jesus invited Peter to follow Him. So Peter did something else irrational. He pulled his boat up to shore, left everything, and followed Jesus.
You might be thinking, “This is an interesting story, but how could this apply to me?” I’m glad you asked.
First, we see that Peter obeyed Jesus in a very little thing – taking Jesus out a little from shore. If Peter hadn’t obeyed this tiny command, he never would have witnessed a spectacular miracle. Later, when Jesus asked Peter to do something that totally defied reason, Peter also obeyed. I love the reason he gave in Luke 5:5, “but because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Peter was willing to submit to authority, even though he didn’t understand the rationale – and remember, there may still have been a crowd watching from shore. Because of his obedience, Peter was then able to witness an incredible miracle. Finally, when Peter acknowledged he wasn’t worthy, Jesus invited Peter to join Him. So, Peter left everything and followed Jesus.
I have found that God often builds our faith little by little. It’s important to obey God in even the smallest of things. God will then build on those experiences and obedience for the future. Sometimes, this may take the form of trials. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
I believe no one starts as a giant in the faith. We obey little by little. We face trials little by little. And at some point, you can look back on your life and realize, “Wow, God and I have come a long way together.”
So I challenge you to get into God’s word. As you do, God will prick your conscience and guide your thoughts. Follow God’s direction, even in the little things. At some point, you will recognize, like Peter – “I’m not worthy.” But the good news is, Jesus is still calling people to leave their former life behind and completely follow Him. This includes me. This includes you.
The story of Jonah is a strange one, isn’t it? Never mind the whole getting swallowed by a whale thing, Jonah himself is not a particularly estimable character, yet we have a whole book in the Bible named after him. I love the VeggieTales song “Jonah Was a Prophet” from their first theatrical movie Jonah. The chorus sums up the story quite nicely:
Jonah was a prophet
but he really never got it
sad but true!
and if you watch it you can spot it
he did not get the point!
Jonah just might be the world’s most famous hypocrite. He was shown mercy from God and rescued. He later rebukes God for being too merciful towards the people of Nineveh. I usually read this story with a sort of warning, “Don’t be like a Jonah,” someone who misses the point. But what made Jonah do these things? I don’t believe Jonah was just simply unintelligent. We are told he was a prophet. He must have been somewhat learned or at least skilled in communication for God to have chosen him to be His mouthpiece. So, while Jonah acts stupid throughout most of this story, he surely must not have been stupid.
What is it that changed for Jonah? What made him become so blind to God’s truth. Looking over the story, I think there are two things: pride and disappointment. In the final chapter of the book, when it becomes evident God is not going to destroy the city of Nineveh, Jonah becomes angry with God. He basically tells God he knew God wasn’t actually going to destroy the people and accuses God of wasting his time by sending him there (verse 2). It seems Jonah forgot his place as God’s servant. In the following verse, Jonah expresses disappointment. Jonah had hoped the Ninevites would be destroyed and becomes so wrought with this lost hope he fades into depression. Jonah’s pride and disappointment blinded him from seeing the truth about God’s compassionate mercy.
Are you a Jonah in your own life, right now? Has your pride or disappointment prevented you from seeing God at work? Our lives have undergone many changes over the last several months. With so much cancelled and shut down, disappointment almost seems like the new normal. Pride can also take hold during these pandemic times as we can become jealous of those whose lives seem to go on relatively unscathed. I have felt both these things, especially the disappointment. It can be blindsiding and out right devastating when something we have hoped and planned does not happen. While I have not the magic words to make the pain disappear, I do know I must not let it blind me from God’s truth. Remember where our hope and treasure truly lie, in the coming Kingdom of God. Fix your gaze upon those everlasting promises and don’t be a Jonah.
Yes, I know, a bit of a sensational title. In fact, I can hear my mom reaching for the Irish Spring to place in my mouth because “butt” is not a church word. Please give me grace just a few sentences longer as I am someone who spends a great deal of time at school with 11 and 12-year olds. I often use a bit of high-brow potty humor for the connection and to make sure that I have your attention. From here on out, I promise <crossing heart> I will use yes-men, suck-ups, sycophants, or something similar, but we’ll both know that I truly mean <in a whisper> “the ones who kiss b-u-t-t.”
Scattered throughout the last couple of weeks, we have read about the life of King Ahab. Today we will finish off Ahab [spoilers ahead] in more ways than one. Ahab has grown unhappy that a previously Israeli owned-city, Ramoth Gilead, is now occupied by the Syrian (Aram) people, the very nation that was given over to him by God (1 Kings 20). No doubt that Ahab’s misintentioned mercy to the Syrian nation (Again 1 Kings 20) has become less than advantageous, contemptuous, or is now, simply biting him in the…rear. Ahab forms an alliance with Judah’s king, Jehoshaphat, who says he will fight with Ahab to take back Ramoth Gilead if he consults the LORD first. Ahab thinks, “No problem; I have plenty of prophets.”. Enter the yes-men.
‘So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” – 1 Kings 22:6
Jehoshaphat isn’t convinced by the mass of soothsaying suck-ups for a simple reason: they do not mention God, YHWH, which prompts his head-scratching statement “Is there no longer a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?” “But didn’t the prophets say ‘the Lord will give <Ramoth Gilead> into the king’s hand?’” You may have heard it before, but it is worth reminding, that not all “lords” are equal in most English translations of the Old Testament. L-o-r-d means master, which is often used for God, but L-O-R-D is the indisputable proper name of God, the Father, YHWH. The sycophantic seers have not consulted with the Almighty, but have most likely consulted one another, telling the king whatever they think he wanted to hear. Ahab confesses there is still ONE prophet of the LORD, Micaiah, but he doesn’t like to use him because he doesn’t like to kiss-up like the others. In fact, Ahab’s reluctance shows that he most likely already knew the truth. Micaiah lives up to his reputation, delivering a Word from the LORD that was unfavorable to what Ahab had already set upon his heart to do.
Is Ahab’s folly not our own? As I read about his fatal flaw, I can feel my own groan, lurch, and tumult described by Paul in Romans 7:15-20, between what I have intentioned in my heart and what the LORD wants of me. What makes it worse is the body of booty smoochers ready to tell me that fulfilling my desires are what will ultimately make me happy. In 2020, it doesn’t take much searching to find 400 people that agree with you. Just because a crowd has formed in agreement with you, it doesn’t mean they (or you) know what’s best. There are well-established organizations, conferences, websites, movements, forums, etc. that have opposing views to God’s desire for your life. No matter how convincing the mob, there is only one way to get the truth: The Word of the LORD. Yet the fact of the matter is as I wrestle with my desire, my pride, and my sin, I’d rather hear comforting, confirming, justifying lies from hundreds than hear a truth from a single person that would convict me and cause me to change. This would mean that the problem doesn’t externally exist in the world I live in, but within me, which is the hardest thing to hear (and the reason why we don’t invite challenging scriptures or a truth-telling Christian friend to the party, i.e. Micaiah)
“The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrew 4:12
There is great advice in the word of Jehoshaphat, “First seek the counsel of the LORD.” Before taking any course of action, no matter how great or small, let me stop consulting my social circle of “yes people” and search the Word of the LORD for discernment. Almost always, our only reluctance is because we already know the answer that is buried not-so-deep within our heart. Let’s pray that God will bring his convicting truth to our aspirations and challenge us to listen to His voice only as He guides us to His way.
History is a curious thing. Today’s reading covers two different kings of Judah, Abijah and Asa, from the perspective of two different writers. It is quite interesting to see what is remembered and omitted and concluded from the lives of these two kings from the two different authors writing at different time periods for different purposes.
Let’s look at Abijah, King David’s great grandson. It is easy to love the Abijah recorded in 2 Chronicles 13. King Jeroboam of Israel is closing in with an army twice the size of King Abijah’s of Judah. But Abijah responds with courage, faith in God and a rousing speech. He speaks of Israel’s united history under David and God and then records the sins of Jeroboam (& Israel) in breaking with God, the God-ordained priests, and the house of David. He concludes that, “As for us (Judah), the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him….God is with us, he is our leader.” (2 Chronicles 13:10,12). And then, even though an army twice their size is before and behind them, God gives the victory and Abijah’s army wipes out over half of Jeroboam’s fleeing and destroyed army. It’s exciting to see how God shows His strength through Abijah.
And then we read the account of King Abijah as recorded in 1 Kings 15. The details of his life agree completely with what is recorded in 2 Chronicles: reigned 3 years, son of Rehoboam and Maacah, there was war between him and Jeroboam, and his son Asa would rule after his death. But, absolutely nothing is said of the moving speech or victorious battle or God as his leader. Instead, the writer of Kings sums up Abijah’s life by saying, “He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been.” (1 Kings 15:3).
Oh, Abijah, we had such hope for you from that one outstanding snapshot of your life. Your sermon that day was so full of convicting truth – that you forgot? What went wrong? How was your heart divided that sin won out? Didn’t you daily recall how God fought for you? Did you think you did that on your own? It is discouraging to see what could have been, or once was, a strong testimony for God crumble and cave to sin and a divided heart.
But, it is also encouraging to see what God can do for His purposes – even when He’s working with and through sinful, broken people. He can use the Joshua’s, the David’s and the Abijah’s and you and me. He has and can and will have the victory any time He wants – and He can do it using any one He wants.
It is also interesting to see what one chooses to remember when looking back on history. How do we portray and ultimately judge the heroes and the villains? Which statues do we decide to pull down, if any, or why not all? Everyone is certainly a mix of wise and foolish choices. Some of our forefathers had some really good, faithful days (like Abijah’s) and these can still be celebrated today. Remember the Chronicles were written long after these events took place and were written to encourage the returning exiles. They needed to remember the faithful God who worked through the house of David and the priestly line. They were being prepared for the coming arrival of a Messiah from the house of David who would be a priest like none before. It would be helpful for them to remember their history as they prepared for their future. It was time to bolster their courage and faith and remind them that God is their leader. They needed the story of Abijah’s Really Good Day and the God who supplied it.
And, it is also valuable to consider the bigger picture of someone’s life to see what to avoid in order to get us where we want to go. Rather than using our own flawed measuring stick to judge (popularity, wealth, good speaker, etc…), whenever possible it is helpful to know what God thought of the man. That is going to be what really counts, so that is what I want to pay attention to so I am not setting up heroes for my life that God would disapprove of.
All that and we finally get to Asa – one of the few kings recorded as, “good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 14:2). And the writer of Kings agrees completely. There are some beautiful passages you won’t want to miss about God’s provision and Asa’s seeking and working for God wholeheartedly, even when it meant going against some of his family. Although, for all his wise and courageous decisions, he still had a rough spot towards the end of his reign when he chose to rely on man instead of God – and there was a price to pay for that error. But it would be a mistake for us to judge and remember Asa only for that sin that sadly would affect him and many others for years to come.
History is interesting, as is our record of it, and our judgement of those who have come before. But first and foremost lets learn to us it to grow closer and closer to living a life seeking and serving with an undivided heart the God who created all history and present and future. What would He have you learn from His Story today in order to live better today and prepare yourself for His Future?
Genesis 8-11 is a story of great hope and promise, and also a tragedy that reminds us all of our brokenness before God. After the great flood that God brought on the earth to remove all the sinful people, He is now ready to start over with Noah and his family. God gives them the same commands that He gave to Adam and Eve: “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (9:1) The story appears to have taken care of humanity’s disobedience; unfortunately, that’s not the case. Noah apparently is just as sinful as everybody else, falling into a drunken stupor, and then something suspicious happens with his son, Ham. While we don’t know exactly what happened in this scene, we do know that it was sinful, as Ham’s son is cursed because of what took place.
This story should remind us all of just how broken we truly are. Although we have been redeemed by God through Jesus’ sacrifice and have escaped from the Final Destruction through his death, we still fall short and sin against our God. (Romans 3:23) The apostle Paul tells us his own struggle with sin, by stating that “I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15) He continues and says that, although his status is “in Christ”, his body still struggles to do the right things and falls into sin (Romans 7:18-25).
If you have accepted Christ, you are now experiencing a tension within yourself: the battle between the Spirit and the flesh (see Romans 8). Although you know that you have been saved by Jesus Christ, and desire to do the right thing, your “flesh” still struggles with sin. This is a constant struggle that we will face until Jesus comes back to finally deal with sin completely, in our hearts and in the world. This is a struggle that is painful and reminds us daily that “no one is righteous” before God (see Romans 3:9-12). However, it is a blessing, since God’s Spirit is working within us to clean up the areas where we are still dirty with sin.
Today, I challenge you to be aware of the decisions that you make. Is this something that is in line with God’s Spirit, or is it something that would be considered a “deed of the flesh”? (Galatians 5:16-25) Does the action I am about to take bring life or death? Does it build others up, or does it tear them down? Is it beneficial to my faith, or is it a barrier?
As you struggle along this journey of the Christian path, I want to encourage you that the hardship is absolutely worth it in the end! God loves you and is with you through this!