Stand Firm in Truth

11-21-16
Monday
 
 
 
Galatians 5:1
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
 
Standing firm requires an understanding of and faith in the truth. As we approach the topic of truth and freedom it is easy to see how truth sets us free.
 
 
When Rick Zgraggen and I were kids our parents would take us camping together. A big part of camping was hiking and I remember one hike in particular. As my aunt Drothey and a large group of us kids started a hike, Rick and I (we knew the way) went on ahead of the group… way ahead. We were on our own, hiking and talking and feeling the freedom – one with nature and with God – on top of the world. As we sat and waited for the rest of the group to catch up to where we were it began to take longer than we expected. Way longer. We began to second guess our location. Did we take a wrong turn? Were we on the wrong trail? Were we ever going to see our family again?
 
 
I was sure we were on the right trail, and if we just held out long enough they would show up. That was truth to me. But Rick was doubting. My assurance of truth was slipping, and when Rick bolted back down the trail I was right behind him.
 
We ran all the way back down the trail, giving up all the ground we had gained when suddenly around the bend we heard voices. We slowed down to a walk. It was our family. We tried to remove the panic from our faces and nonchalantly asked “what took you guys so long?”
 
 
All we needed was a confirmation of the truth and we could have stayed put – standing firm on the trail we knew was the right one. As believers we are called to stand firm and not give ground to the enemy. Paul reminds us of this in his letter to the Ephesians:
 
 
Ephesians 6:14
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
 
 
What is the first article of armor? The belt of truth. We can stand firm if we put on truth. Wrap your mind around God’s truth… live in it, walk in it, stand firm in it. Truth will keep you on the right trail and the correct path of life.
 
 
And when you doubt? Don’t rely on your emotions, don’t search for new truth, and don’t make up your own truth but fall upon the truth of God’s word. It never changes, it never takes you the wrong way. It frees us to stand firm.
 
Prayer: Teach me to rely on your truth, especially when I doubt and fear, make me stand firm.


The Slavery of Sin

11-20-16
Sunday
 
 
 
Galatians 5:19-21
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
 
 
We have spent a great deal of time this week talking about what we have been set free to do… and that is to serve God by serving others. But as we close out this week let’s take time what we have been freed from… So here is the list:
 
sexual immorality
impurity
sensuality
idolatry
sorcery
enmity
strife
jealousy
fits of anger
rivalries
dissensions
divisions
envy
drunkenness
orgies
 
 
These are the sins that enslave us. God has promised to meet all our needs, but every one of these sins is a way to obtain satisfaction outside of the will of God. This is the very definition of sin.
 
 
A believer still has the ability to sin and might even commit some of the things on this list but the Holy Spirit who lives inside a believer’s heart continues to convict and make us feel miserable when we get involved in things like these. We have a fallen nature but we also have the Spirit of God living inside of us. We have God’s grace working in and through us.
 
 
Paul asked the question in his letter to the Romans:
 
Romans 6:1-4
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
 
 
We are free to serve others, but we can’t serve others if we are not first obedient with our life.
 
 
Prayer: Father, expose my sin and reveal the intents of my heart so I will repent and be obedient to your will… and then I can serve others.


The Equality Of Freedom

11-19-16
Saturday
 
 
 
Galatians 3:27-29
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
 
 
There are people all over the world that are oppressed by racism. Here in this country we see lots of political turmoil when it comes to the question of how to address the concerns of minorities. People are suspicious of our leader’s motives, and even though we are in the closing days of the first African American president of the United States we are still fueling the fires of divisive rhetoric and racial division.
 
 
Martin Luther King had a vision of racial tranquility that was based on the freedom we have in Jesus Christ. His vision is clearly defined in this excerpt from that great speech “I Have A Dream” made by Dr. King in 1963
 
 
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
 
I have a dream today. … where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
 
I have a dream today.
 
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
 
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
 
 
This was Paul’s vision before it was Martin Luther King’s vision. In a culture struggling with racism, Paul gives them hope. He guides them to the truth that as believers we are all equal. There is no ethnic division, no cultural division, no class division, no gender division… we are all equal in our relationship with Christ.
 
 
That idea, that reality is our only hope of racial equality and freedom from primitive ideas of racial superiority. Freedom in Christ is freedom from racial persecution.
 
 
Prayer: Empower us to serve one another as brothers and sisters pointing them to Christ our only hope of freedom from the culture of racism.



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