If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Galatians 5: 25

 

God wants His children to live. He wants us to live it up, to live life fully, and to be utterly alive. Although, God does tell us to change the way that we live from one that is controlled by self-directed and self-serving thinking and uncontrolled actions, He doesn’t mean that we are to spend all of our lives locked away in sober, solitary, and silent reflection. The Lord wants us to live in a fully engaged and totally involved manner in our world. If we consider the way that Jesus lived as an example of the way that God intends for us to live, then we have a powerful model of what it means to be alive.

 

Paul gave us two contrasting lists of life qualities that we can examine. The first includes sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies; these actions describe the way that people tend to live when they are finding their satisfaction from within themselves alone and from the natural world absent the controlling touch of the Creator of that world. The second list is a description of the fruit that comes from the Spirit of Christ, and it includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The difference maker between these lists is Christ, and the difference is made by the continual work of His Spirit in our lives.

 

We are called to live!

 

This is a powerful imperative; we are to live in the fullest and most passionate way imaginable. The direction, strength, and empowerment behind this sort of life is from the Spirit, and the key to consistency in living this way is to keep filling up on Christ’s Spirit. Turn to Him through the Word, in prayer, and in relationship with other children of God. The life that courses through our veins brings about an ever-deepening knowledge and understanding of God and leads us to engagement with our world for His glory. As we continually allow Christ the opportunity to keep us living in the center of His very full life, He takes us to a depth of relationship with God that is the place where true life dwells.

 

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2: 10

 

In the United States it seems that we do not understand the concept of being a people as well as we might. We are such a widely diverse gathering of individuals who have racial and cultural backgrounds that have become a collection of most of the stories that are told of people groups from every corner of the world. In Peter’s time the world that he knew was beginning to become a little like ours, but the idea of being a people, especially the thought of being a select and a specifically set apart people who were designated by God for this position, was still clearly understood. Yet, even then, this concept of a separate people that was based upon nationality was false.

 

God’s intent was much greater than that. His desire was and continues to be to see all of humanity brought together. This was His creation design, and He has not changed the plan in the slightest from the dawn of creation to this day. God came personally into this world in Christ; the Messiah, Savior, Reconciler, and Lord; in order to bring about the destruction of all that divides. He is also the means through which the damage, the brokenness, of sin is healed. In Christ we people can find the commonality that bridges all of the fears that cut through our humanity with a jagged knife of division. In Christ there is race, nationality, gender, and culture. However, in Christ none these need to keep us apart. In Christ these distinctives are a part of the story of who we are, and they can be a part of the conversation that we have in the process of growing together in unity.

 

In Christ we are all a people. A singular, collective gathering of souls that resides in every corner of our world and that has a history as long and as richly diverse as the story of all of humanity. In the body of Christ there is no longer any reason to fear others, to separate from them, or to isolate ourselves from those who are different. Christ has granted to each of us the mercy of His grace. He demands that we do the same for others. As God has gathered us from that far away place of isolation into which we were born and given us a dwelling place in His presence, so we should reach out to embrace the various people of our world and through our lives show them the blessed mercy of Christ’s gift of restoration.

You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.

1 Peter 1: 23

 

Lasting change comes only from an everlasting source. Real transformation is brought about through a process that involves personal agreement that something needs to be different. It starts when we decide to yield ourselves to the change agent, and God affects it through the work of His Spirit in us. When we submit our lives to God’s authority by allowing Christ into our hearts, we begin a lifelong journey of regeneration, for God begins to replace the dead and the dying in us with His living word of truth.

 

God’s word is broad, far reaching, and multifaceted. It covers every subject possible, and it is relevant to the current life situation of all people. The expansiveness of the word of God is truly beyond my ability to imagine, for it is found in many forms and in all places. The obvious source is the Bible, and its words are the ultimate source for wisdom and understanding to use in my travels through this life. It also gives me a written frame work of knowledge about God and for understanding God’s nature, character, and will. God’s word, both as written in the Bible and as expressed through other means, is brought to life by the work of His Spirit in me. Without the Spirit, I would not have the ability to understand what God is saying, for otherwise, His living word would be spoken in a language that is completely foreign to me.

 

The word of God is also expressed through and by all of Creation. The hand of the Creator is on everything in the universe. As we look up and out of our own needs, wants, and desires and start to seek after God’s will and way of living, His word becomes more apparent, and His voice becomes louder and clearer. The voice of the Lord calls each of us to be alive. He desires to transform us into people who are fully living, and in order to do this, He speaks transformative life into our hearts and minds.

 

I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.

John 16: 33

 

Jesus tells things as they are. He had just informed the group of followers who were closest to Him that there would be hard times coming very soon and that during those times, they would fail miserably at being strong, steady, and faithful to Him. Still, during these hardest moments of His life on earth, Jesus would not be alone, for God, the Father, would never leave Him. Likewise, God never leaves us.

 

Living in this world has its tough moments, its harsh hours, and its tragic days. Episodes come to us all where simply living can be a challenge that seems almost impossible. Yet nothing that we are required to endure comes close to the stress, pain, and feeling of abandonment that Christ endured on the cross for each of us. I am absolutely amazed at the fact that Jesus took on so much for me, for you, and for everyone; yet, all the while He knew just how ungrateful and unfaithful we would be. God wants to be close to each of us so much that He would endure anything to make that a possibility.

 

As I go about the business of this day and as I adopt the attitudes that will shape may approach to what comes my way, I am praying that Christ’s Spirit will keep me remindful of the overwhelming victory that is mine through Him. This world in which I now reside is broken and crumbling from the destructive forces of sin, but those ruined halls are no longer my true dwelling place, for Christ has placed me in the center of His victorious kingdom. I am praying that trust in God’s victory and that faithfulness to His calling will allow Christ to direct my mind and fix my heart on Him alone. Therefore, I desire to claim this day and all of my interactions during it for the glory of God.

 

The Lord will not allow your foot to slip;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Psalm 121: 3

 

Even if we take steps that are slow, steady, and deliberate when we encounter ice storm covered sidewalks or a steep mountainside that is made of crumbling rocks, a fall can come at any moment. With that fall comes disorientation, pain, and fear of serious injury. With the fall comes a loss of confidence and concern about going on with the journey. Most of us have experienced this sort of misadventure at some time, and most of us have dealt with the need to get up off of our backs and to start to walk again, too.

 

However, my important concerns about traveling through life have nothing to do with an icy walkway or even a slippery road. They are related to choices and direction, actions and results. The areas where my feet tend to come out from under me with a disquieting suddenness are found mostly in my relationships with people and in the decisions that I make. There is an absolute certainty that when I fall down badly in these aspects of life, I have taken a path of my own choosing and have not allowed Christ to influence and to direct my thinking and my actions. Off I go headed along with my course charted out of foolish pride or motivated by some selfish fear; then, suddenly, I am flat on my back in the middle of a painful situation trying to recover from the damage that I have done to myself and to others.

 

It would all be so much simpler, and life would be a lot less painful if I would simply accept the guidance that the Lord wants to give me. He never fails to provide what I need to make the right choices. He does not need for me to even ask the right questions. God always knows what will be best for me, and He continually counsels me to make that decision. It is up to me to seek Him, and it is my decision to follow. Those are the choices that I can make now. The God who loves me totally is so much more worthy of this sort of trust than anyone else. Jesus who gave His all to save me from my own chosen path of destruction does go before and with me for every step of the journey through life.

 

Present yourselves to God as ones alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Romans 6: 13b

 

This is another of the ways that we have freedom and responsibility for the way that we behave in our spiritual lives, for God trusts His children with the decision to come to Him or to try to go it on our own. The Lord doesn’t tell us that going it on our own will produce a better result; since, it won’t. He did design and create us with a strong drive toward independence, and He gifted us with amazing capacity and capability. So, consider the fact that He made us in His image and then contemplate what that means in terms of what we might accomplish for Christ in our world.

 

The starting place for accomplishment is found in accepting the leading of Christ’s Spirit for our lives. Then it is brought to action by the ongoing filling of us with His Spirit. This is one of those points where we have a choice to make, for the Spirit fills what has been emptied of self, and the Spirit brings about true life as we yield our will to God’s. The ability to discriminate between what is dead and what is alive is granted to us by God when we are made alive in Christ; since, at that time, we are transformed from people who are eternally dead to ones who are forever alive.

 

How we choose to take advantage of our aliveness is the key to living in the full joy and the complete purpose of the Lord. God leads us to recognize the fact that we are alive so we can stop living in the land of the dead. We must stop trying to stay in control of every aspect of our lives and allow God to take us where He wants us to go. So, when we open ourselves to the Spirit, He will enable and empower us in ways that are beyond our imaginings.

 

For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve Him with one accord.

Zephaniah 3: 9

 

Consider how many forms of speech there are that we are exposed to regularly. There are the obvious ones. There are at least 6,700 recognized languages in our world, and there are many more that have not been discovered. Add to that all of the languages that have been spoken throughout history and the possibilities are beyond my ability to calculate. Additionally, all of the major languages have many forms of personal, regional, and situational speech in the manner of colloquial expression, professional jargon, and slang. So how exactly could anyone define “pure speech”?

 

Fortunately for me, God has done the hard work in this area of understanding. He tells me to love Him and to honor Him with all of my being. Christ tells me to love my neighbors unconditionally. He leads me into a form of self-sacrifice that is willing to give up everything out of concern for the well being of others. Jesus told me to put aside all of my fears and my reluctance and go into my world to clearly proclaim the message of love and hope that is found only in Him. According to God’s Word I am to live in a manner that indicates that I am a committed disciple of Christ so that my way of life would speak more loudly of that relationship than any words. This is the speech that God has modeled for me. This is the speech that He desires to hear coming out of my life.

 

The language of the committed follower of Christ doesn’t require an interpreter to be understood. It is formed out of a vocabulary that was created by God before the beginning of our world. There are no words lacking in it, and there is no need to create new expressions in order to make it fit with the way we live today. The Lord is greatly pleased when He hears His people uttering the language of lives given over totally to serving Him. Spoken words are wonderful and powerful, and God loves to hear our songs of praise rising up to the heavens. However, a chorus of loving service and engagement with our world in the name of Christ speaks with the volume of an eternal chorus.

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