Month: July 2019

Be Transformed

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Written by: Larry Van Laar

Being involved in ministry for many years now, I have often been asked by believers, “What is God’s will for my life?” Of course, this is always attached to a, “Should I go here or there?” or, “Should I attend this college or that?” or, “Should I marry this person or another?”

Nobody can answer these questions with any kind of certainty but I do know what God’s will is for our lives, generally speaking. It’s written very clearly in Romans 12:1-2. His will is that we be transformed. But transformed into what?

For the first 11 chapters of Romans, Paul lays out the foundation of salvation: God’s righteousness is ours through faith in Jesus. We are the undeserving recipients of God’s great mercy and grace. Then, there is a great “therefore.” He says we should not conform to this world, meaning the popular worldview that rejects Jesus and His teaching, but be transformed into God’s likeness. To be transformed into the likeness of God means taking on His character, which was laid out for us in this weekend’s teaching from Galatians—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. With great certainty, know this is God’s will for your life: that you bare His likeness.

7.4Thought of the day: At some point in your Christian walk, there will inevitably come a time when you wonder about God’s will for your life and it will probably be in a particular area. According to Romans 12:1-2 if we no longer conform to the world (live like the rest of the world does in disobedience to God), then we “will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.” The question is: Will you allow yourself to be transformed?

Prayer: God, I want to bear Your likeness. Impress on me where I need to be more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and help me to have more self-control to transform in all these areas of my life. Amen.

Presence Through Prayer

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Written by: Michael Burgard

When we choose to live by the Spirit, we are able to experience peace and comfort in a way we never have before. Life can be really tough at times and it might feel exactly that way for you right now. When you take your worries to God in prayer, you’ll never be alone.

It seems as I get older life gives me more to worry about. I know each time I’ve had a difficult situation and decided to let God in, a sense of calmness has come upon me and the weight that situation becomes lighter. It is almost as if the weight was being lifted off my shoulders as I gave God control. That didn’t mean my problems were gone, but I knew I was not going to face that battle alone anymore.

It can become difficult to keep up a healthy prayer routine during a busy season of life. When we take the time to reflect “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, and present our requests to God,” we can feel His presence and build our relationship with Him. It allows us to slow down and live in the present moment, often helping us to hear His voice more clearly.

7.3Thought of the day: Try talking with God just as you would talk with a friend. When you face a difficult situation, ask the Holy Spirit for His presence and direction on how to handle it.

Prayer: Jesus, I love You with all of my heart. Help me to know I need more of You in my life. Teach me to rely on You to help me with the stress and anxiety of my day. I ask for wisdom as I learn to connect with You through prayer. Jesus, help me to experience You in a way I never have before through our relationship in prayer. Amen.

The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Written by: Kyle Glenn

To be honest with you, when I read this list I am overwhelmed. I feel like if I had to be graded on this list at the end of each day I would fail. It would be easy to compare how I am doing on this list to other followers of Jesus. God does not ask me to keep such a list on my own power, and God does not grade on a curve. He looks at us through the lens of what Jesus has done and not what I have done or not done. The reality is this is an impossible list to keep in my own strength. The list is not the “fruits of my effort,” “my ability,” or “my strength.” The good news is these are the fruits of the Spirit.

When I am in tune with the Spirit, there is no religion, law, or rules forcing me or making me be kind, good, and gentle. These fruits will simply spill over into my life.

Think specifically about an apple tree. When you see an apple at the end of a branch, what do you think came first, the apple or the tree? Which comes first in this passage? The fruit or the Spirit? A person who has said “Yes” to Jesus in faith is experiencing the fruit of the Spirit. But the fruit has roots. Think about that apple tree. Do the apples on the tree make it alive? No—if you tied apples onto a dead tree’s branches, that wouldn’t make it alive. The life produces the fruit; not the other way around.

When you experience true peace, it points to something greater at work in you! It is the Spirit that produces the fruit in your life.

7.2Thought of the day: It is worth looking closely at the list of fruits of the Spirit again. Is there a characteristic from the list that is lacking in your life? If so, which one? What do you think this is revealing about your relationship with the Spirit? What one thing can you do throughout the day today to be more in tune with the Spirit?

Prayer: Father, help me to walk in the Spirit today. Help me to listen to You and, as a result, may people see You through me today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Uncommon Peace

Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Written by: Brett Humphrey

The Holy Spirit produces peace in our lives, even in the moments when peace should be far from us. Peace is a natural product of our relationship with the Holy Spirit; the same way apples are a natural product of an apple tree. This fruit of peace is good for us, but also good for those around us. When I read Paul’s words in Philippians 4:4-9, I realize that I can receive a peace which is uncommon and beyond my understanding because of my relationship with Jesus. This fantastic peace can give comfort, even in the most challenging circumstances.

On March 19, 2018, my wife Jennifer and I stood next to my mom’s hospital bed. I was holding my mom’s hand when she took her last breath and left this life. This was a profoundly difficult moment for me, and yet, I am grateful I was able to be there during my mom’s last moments on this earth. Even in the midst of sadness and great pain, I was able to receive God’s peace. I knew my mom had put her faith and trust in Jesus as her Savior and had a relationship with Him. I knew her passing wasn’t the end of her journey; it was just the beginning. God guarded my heart and mind in Jesus with His peace because I knew His promises and love for my mom. I was able to grieve and have God’s peace at the same time.

There will be times in our lives when things are chaotic, painful, and may even seem hopeless. God’s promises are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.

7.1Thought of the day: Ask the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of peace in your life and give you the uncommon peace that is beyond understanding.

Prayer: God, thank You for Your love. Thank You for Your promises and how You have given me the Holy Spirit to comfort me and be my friend. Please produce the fruit of the Spirit in my life. Give me Your peace so I can experience it myself and share it with others. Amen.