Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV)
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We had pasta for supper last night. Why lie? We have pasta almost every other night. Our family really likes carbohydrates. I have an old plastic blue colander that I have used to drain pasta and other foods for years. I don’t know where it is. Probably another vain attempt by my teenager to dissuade me from having her unload the dishwasher, one of the most dreaded chores on the planet apparently. In the very back of the cabinet on a shelf hidden out of sight is a colander my mother-in-law gave me a while ago. When I couldn’t find the old blue one, I dug it out and rinsed it off to use. It really is shiny and beautiful. Not really sure why I never used it, maybe it is too shiny and new. Or maybe I had more confidence in the old one. Nevertheless, I poured the pot of boiling water pasta and all in it. It did an amazing job filtering the water so we could enjoy the linguine left behind. After dinner, as I was washing dishes, I realized that this colander is much easier to clean. It was shiny and new all over again unlike the blue plastic one that I have had for more than a decade. The holes on the old one are hard to clean. However, not with the new one. Lesson learned. I don’t miss the old one anymore. I am persuaded that this is much more functional and better for draining things in my life.
Well, you knew this had to tie in with the Word of God or why waste the time sharing it. I know the Lord speaks to me in the most ridiculous and uncommon ways. In the kitchen, using a colander, cooking pasta, whatever we do in life is completely interesting to God and totally attributable to the Lord. He is constantly speaking to us. His Spirit is ready to lead us from glory to glory in a single moment. When we take the time to splice or graft Christ completely into our life including every activity, attitude, thought, moment and breath something happens. We become convinced. Each time we attempt to use the Word of God, the Way of God or wait for the Will of God – is the opportunity to be more persuaded of His Love and Attentiveness. I believe there are things hidden in our life already that can be used for His Glory if we just give the Lord a chance. How many times do we do what comes naturally or choose what is comfortable never thinking that there might be something more, better or satisfying if we give up the known to experience the unknown reality of God and His Promises.
I am persuaded. Am I? I am convinced. The evidence of our conviction is the fruit of our life. Those who are completely persuaded and entirely convinced that God is good all the time and Jesus is more than enough will submit their life to the cultivation of the Holy Spirit and produce His Fruit. What is the Fruit of the Spirit? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) When we allow Jesus to work in us and work out our salvation, this is the evidence produced in our life that the process is successful. We are not only filed with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Note self-control is last because it takes a whole lot of the first eight fruits to feed and nourish our soul to develop it. This promising verse is tucked in a chapter of Paul warning about religiosity and obeying the law not Christ. I believe that if we strain our attitudes and actions through this chapter, we will see areas of our life that the Lord is ready to make new. We must be fully persuaded in the Love of God given through Christ Jesus and run the rest of our life through this Truth.
Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Have you ever lost a potato in the pantry? You know you forget you had any potatoes until you open the door and the smell knocks you out? It is the worst smell in the world. You begin digging through everything to find the offensive odor and rid it from your house. Sin is the same to the Lord. It is a rancid odor no matter how small one may think the offense. We must learn to sense sin the same way that the Lord does. It is equally is disgusting considering the high price that He paid to free us from it. With that in mind, Paul opens with a call to stand fast in the liberty or freedom given in Christ and to not become caught up in a yoke of bondage.
The yoke of bondage in life looks different to many people. The enemy does not walk up to us and catch us in such a way. Instead, he uses persuasion. He offers it to us repeatedly until the weak take hold of it again. The enemy cannot yoke us to sin or bondage but rather we must accept it. This is why self-control born of complete confidence in God being fully persuaded that nothing can separate us from God’s Love is so important. The enemy’s lies are convincing. They sound formidable. They come across as reality. Galatians 5:7-8 says, “You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.” We must reclaim our freedom in each moment of each day to maintain it. The world and the enemy will offer us logical choices and realistic options. However, Christ has set us free. In us, His Spirit produces every single fruit needed to satisfy our soul so we do not have to give our life, time and efforts to anything other than faith in God.
Galatians 5:16-18 (NKJV)
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
I have been saved and serving Christ for more than a decade, almost two. The longer I serve Him the less I am confident in myself I become. Walk in the Spirit. Do not fulfill the lust of the flesh. We predetermine the deadly sins and purpose to avoid them when we come to Christ. Relatively successful in our efforts, it is common to take our confidence from the Lord and become confident in self again. I am going to tread lightly here because I may make somebody mad with my meddling. If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Okay we all agree that God’s Grace is sufficient right? Of course! This is where the road gets a little rough so hang on.
Galatians 5:19-21 (NKJV)
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
I have crossed out the two obvious sins as “NO ONE” is committing adultery or fornication in the Body of Christ anymore because these are “CLEARLY” offensive to God. So ignore the divorce rate in the church and the number of single parents. Everyone who comes to Christ completely avoids such lifestyles. (Written with an eye roll and obvious sarcasm not directed at those who seek Christ but those who judge everyone else because they are obviously sinless.) This is my point sweet Child of God, this list applies to me and you. Every single one of us have allowed sins just like these to remain in our life and tear away at our confidence until we bear a yoke of bondage forsaking our freedom in Jesus Christ. Pride is prevalent among religious people. It is my relationship to Jesus Christ that takes the pride of life and nails it to a bloody cross. I must take the colander of His Word and wash away those things that Jesus finds offensive even though I may entertain them. I Samuel 15:23 calls rebellion against God “witchcraft”. Stubbornness is called idolatry. So before those two can be stricken from the list, we must examine ourselves according to God’s Standard and not our personal best. Those who “practice” such things WILL NOT inherit the Kingdom of God. It’s time we wash our lives through the Word of God and examine ourselves for such impurities again. We must not forsake our love for religion. We cannot disregard sin and make it into the Presence of God. The fruit of His Spirit is born of rotten flesh. As we die to self, His Love springs forth as fruit in our life.
Galatians 5:24-26 (NKJV)
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Religion looks at the law. Even after coming to Christ, it is easy to get caught back up in the rules and regulations of the law as presented. Our relationship with Jesus allows us to become sons and daughters of God which make doing what His Word says our privilege. No longer are we at odds with God but through Christ part of His Kingdom again. Why do we rebel? Why do we stand off? We are persuaded. The enemy wants to persuade you today and will come at you whatever way he can to get you to disconnect from Christ and become yoked in bondage. Passions and desires are often our own worst enemy. We become passionate but then our passion turns to pride and we fall short again. It happens again and again. But if we can learn to look for God’s Fruit in our life and become concerned in their lacking, we may just learn to live in freedom.
Last night, I did our taxes. For the first time ever, we had to pay. (Sigh.) I have known since January that this was coming. Saving a little each month, last night I finally bit the bullet and filed the return. I have dreaded it for months. When I hit submit, I was anxious but then immediately the Holy Spirit began to press inside of me. What’s wrong? Didn’t the Lord provide everything you needed? You will not do without or experience any difficulty but simply rendered to Caesar what was his. Are you really going to act like this? Then a song began to rise up in me. It was “Freedom”. You know the one by Eddie James that says, “No more shackles. No more chains. No more bondage I am free.” Throwing a load of laundry in the washer, I am singing, “Halleluiah!” Our response to life is suggestive of the pervading conviction in our life. The devil was after my fruit last night. The moment I became aware and asked the Lord to forgive me, I was free again.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God is inside of us thanks to Jesus. We must become yoked to Jesus by not allowing ourselves to be bound in this life but maintain our freedom in the Lord.
2 Timothy 3:12-15 (NKJV)
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Excuse me while I wrestle the plank from my own eye. I know that there are areas of my life that I must reclaim my God-given freedom in. Like everyone else, I need the Grace of God as I have fallen short of His Standard of Living and the Glory of God time and time again even since I decided to follow Jesus. Not that I necessarily do everything that I used to in the name of sin, but that I am aware that there is still a great deal of rotting flesh that needs to go. I believe that until we are bound completely by the Love of God – we will continue to struggle in life. Lord, do not let me ever become immune to, unaware of, or persuaded by anything but Your Amazing Love for me.
If I compare my life to others, I might think that I am doing pretty good. But when I compare my life and my love to Jesus Christ, who is my example, I have a very long way to go. Each day as I wash my life in His Word – He can wash away impurities while He keeps me safely tucked in His Love. His Mercy is new each day to fill the voids left by sin that is now removed. He gives me the opportunity to take His Yoke which is easy and light – it’s called love. Amazing love. Overwhelming love. Neverending love. Unconditional love. It is all I have of worth to give this dying planet and everyone in it. Am I doing that? Abraham achieve righteousness not because he was a religious man or even a good person. No, Abraham was fully persuaded and completely convinced that God was able to perform everything that He promised. Did Abraham try to help the Lord? Of course. Did Abraham sin? Yep. His Righteousness was strictly because Abraham believed God and did not waver in unbelief. A sinless life is impossible. Complete faith in God is our goal. When the Fruit of His Spirit is spread abundantly through our life it will feed the souls of the lost and dying. Revival will come to our churches when religion is exchanged for true relationships with Jesus Christ. It begins with me. It begins in you. When we are fully persuaded that God’s Love for us is real, true and valid, we will allow the Lord to move freely in our life, washing us, straining out the sin even those hidden deep within so we can flourish in His Kingdom forever. It is in our confidence in Christ we obtain every promise. If you are comfortable, don’t be. If you are satisfied with your progress, push yourself. There is more. Are you worried, anxious or afraid? Turn it over to Christ, He has a new yoke for you today called love, joy and peace. Let God have His Way so at the end of today – you will say, “I am fully persuaded.”
Hebrews 6:9-12 (NKJV)
But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.