Live it! Blog

Wednesday, 25 August 2021 00:00

wed colossians

Colossians 1:3-8

Is there an example of a real, flesh and blood, non-apostolic person in the Bible who is a fruit-bearing Christian? I’m from Missouri – show me, plainly, please. The Scripture text tells us that the Colossians were bearing the fruit of the gospel: faith, hope, and love. They were praised by Paul who was thanking God for their faith in Christ Jesus and love for all God’s people – the faith and love that sprint from the hope stored up for you in heaven…in the same way the gospel is bearing fruit…just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it.

In contrast, Nervous Nellie, who vacillates between faith and fear, has a difficult time bearing the spiritual fruit of love, as she loses sight of the hope and foundation of her faith – Jesus. 

 

So how might she live out “fruit-bearing?" By abiding. By abiding in the faith of the gospel that Jesus saves. By dwelling on His love and truth – the grace He has shown her personally. 

Peter speaks to a process - beginning with faith and ending with love - of a fruitful Christian life (2 Peter 1:5-8). That faith is fundamental is also supported in Hebrews 11:6, And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Dr. Roy L. Laurin says in his commentary, “Faith is a fundamental fact of the Christian life. It is the foundation of character and the beginning of virtue…when faith is in Him there is a sufficient and lasting basis for life…the basis of such faith will be secure and certain” (Colossians, pp. 33-34).

Our fruitfulness begins with faith in the gospel of Jesus and from there it flourishes into moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. These qualities render you neither useless nor unfruitful (2 Peter 1:5-8).  jlh

Life Application Question

  • How is your faith impacting your fruit-bearing?
  • Is fear robbing your faith of hope and love? Show me, please.
Tuesday, 24 August 2021 00:00

tue freedom

Romans 7:4-6

    God sent His Son to earth to set people free to serve Him with joy and bear fruit. This freedom has been warped, dissected and many attempts have been made to explain and live in the freedom of grace. The mental pictures evoked by the word freedom come in many shapes and sizes. What do you picture in your mind when you hear the word, freedom? I always pictured the movie, Braveheart and William Wallace leading the charge shouting, “Freedom”. But my picture of freedom has shifted to a tiny white-haired Grandma doing her freedom dance. This Grandma and her husband were characterized by ministry. They served faithfully. The husband was critical and harsh. Their children felt the sting of harsh punishments and unrealistic expectations. The wife subjugated herself under her husband’s iron fist. The legalistic lifestyle sucked the joy out of her existence. Then, one day, after 70 years of marriage, the husband passed away. The granddaughter slipped into the house to console Grandma. She found Grandma standing on the kitchen chair, pumping her fist in the air, chanting, “I’m free, I’m free, free at last.”  Do you have a freedom dance?  God’s freedom dance for the believer does not look like the law. The authority of the law bound those who were not Christ-followers, just as legalism has gripped the lives of some of Christ’s followers. 

      In Romans 6, Paul told us how to stop doing bad things. In Romans 7, Paul tells us how not to do good things. You were not justified by keeping the law and you cannot be sanctified by keeping the law. Legalism is the belief that I can become holy and please God by obeying laws. It judges the outward and not the inward. In what ways have you observed Christ-followers imposing rules on themselves or others? When we lived “…in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us…” (Romans 7: 5) When we trusted Christ, we died to the law just as we died to the flesh. The law did not die, we died. What does it look like to live like you are not under the law? 

    Grandma’s freedom dance reflected the intense boundaries that held her spirit captive in her marriage to a man caught in the trap of living under the rules (legalism). “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit…” (Romans 7:6)  The motivation and dynamic of our lives does not come from the law; it comes from God’s grace. The Holy Spirit energizes us (Romans 7:6). Under the law, no enablement was given. But under grace, “…You are a letter from Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 

(2 Corinthians 3:3)  Relationships, health issues, work, heartbreak, and disappointment all have boundaries that can hem us in on every side; but our spirit can be free in Christ.

    Freedom results in fruit-bearing. How can the release from living under the law determine fruit-bearing in your life? “…you died to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another, to Him, who was raised from the dead, in order, that we might bear fruit for God.” (Romans 7:4) Celebrate the freedom that we have in Christ. “It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.” 

(Galatians 5:1) How will you celebrate your freedom day? “I’m free, I’m free, free at last.”

lkb 

Monday, 23 August 2021 00:00

mon rules game

John 15:16; 18-27

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” 

We've been chosen to be on Jesus' team in the game of life. Our study for four Sundays in John 15 includes some of the rules of the game. 

Wherever we go, whatever we do, we must show the world our team colors. White = righteousness and purity, evidenced by the display of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Green = personal growth by a strong connection with the vine and reproduction by recruiting more team members (Jesus followers). 

How do you show the world the fruit of the Spirit in your life?

Like most games, living for Jesus (which is more than a game, of course) will be hard. Our opponents are strong and devious; some of their plays include hatred, persecution, and ridicule. We shouldn’t be discouraged by this if we recall the words of Jesus: “Keep in mind that (the world) hated me first (vs. 18).” “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me” (vv. 20-21).

What kind of opposition have you faced? How did you handle it? 

The game is long and there may be times when you'll want to sit on the sidelines. Don't give in to that temptation. It’s a comfort to know that our coach (the Holy Spirit) will be with us during the entire game. Listen to the coach, as he calls new plays and enables you to carry the ball a while longer. He will show us how to play, help us when we seem to be losing, and he will bring in other team members to play beside us, just when we're thinking "Game Over!" 

Recall a time when God sent just the right person (people) to help you get through a hard time in your life. 

Remember, we are on the winning team. Look around you at other team members who are enduring greater difficulties and persevering. Take courage. In the very next chapter of John Jesus told his team, í have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (16:33).

Rule #1: Abide in Christ! Only a strong connection to the vine and dependence upon the Holy Spirit will enable you to withstand the opposition that's ahead.                           jbd & gmd

Friday, 20 August 2021 00:00

John 15:1-8; Galatians 5:22-23; James 3:17

At the end of the day, how are the branches on the vine?

traveled many miles with lots of smiles, but

have the branches been online with the Vine?

the nectar flowing from the Vine into the mind

the aim, to be inline with the source, The Divine,

The Word, The Bread of life, The Shepherd, The Living Water

Remarkably, all that HE is, can be all that we are.

Sad to say, the chosen people of a former day

took it upon themselves, their Choice of God to betray

a brood of evildoers, given to corruption (Isa 1:4)

God’s just response, death and destruction (Isa 10:22-23)

End of story? Good news! Out of nowhere came hope and restoration

like a hen seeking to gather her chicks under her wings, yet they refused

The result, devastating desolation (Luke 13:34-35)

It was time for the vine to be redefined—a new vine, the True Vine

ethnicity, heredity, genealogy, geography, no longer the issue

A new day dawning, the Son-rise of all sunrises appearing on the horizon

new connection, re-connection, divine direction

The vineyard, now with potential for verdant branches and abundant fruit

while the lifeless twigs of a former day, cut off, burned to ashes

But branches with advances—budding, blossoming, blooming, fruit-bearing

manifesting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness

faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, purity, yes, purity

peace-loving, considerate of others, merciful, impartial, sincere

Ashes or advances—it all depends on being online and inline

the branches attached to the Divine Vine

Life Application Questions

  • Was Jesus pleased or disappointed by the reception he received while here on earth? (See John 1:11) How about us? Do we walk faithfully in the Sonlight, or sometimes in Satan’s shade?
  • Are the fruit of the Spirit guaranteed as long as we remain in the vine? Or are the fruit a kind of test? If we’re not manifesting the fruit, then we’re not advancing in our attachment to the vine.

~ dbs

Thursday, 19 August 2021 00:00

SpiritualSightAndReconnecting

1 John 4:7-21

Our brother John describes multiple disciples ascending spiritual heights: “In this world we are like Jesus” (I John 4:17b). Left to my own wisdom John’s vision completely surpasses my ability. Left to my own wisdom I stumble over even small pebbles. However, accepting God’s call provides a cataract-free vision preparing me to spy-out hidden fissures and sometimes, to walk like Jesus.

Again, for absolute clarity: the high-holy challenge of being like Jesus surpasses my human ability. On some days this challenge is beyond even, my imagination. Perhaps you reply, “Well occasionally I am (meaning you) like Jesus.”

I reply, “Sometimes I am not like Jesus at all.” Sadly, there are more heart problems in my life than any other kind of failure.

If only being like Jesus was a simple collection of behaviors. Scripture explains that being like Jesus begins within. Proverbs teaches: “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (23:7). Jesus reminds me of my tendency to self-deception. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matthew 15:8).

Being like Jesus is fundamentally more about the interior of life rather than being confined to mere outward behaviors. Outward behaviors toward God and other people are discovered on the high pathway as I walk my faith.

Establishing this high pathway John writes, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:20-21).

Life Applications

Can you identify specific times when you struggle to be like Jesus?

Which practices of spiritual discipline help you maintain your heart?

~ajs

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