Faith Working In Love

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Paul concluded his letter to his Galatian friends (290).

The only way living faith is possible, said Paul, is for us to surrender our entire lives to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit.  Our human nature is essentially selfish; only God’s Spirit can make us unselfish.  When we are born again by God’s Spirit into new life, we must then let God’s Spirit control that new life.

Paul listed some of the many sordid sins that result when we are ruled by the desires of our flesh.  These were contrasted with some of the many virtues that result when we are ruled by God’s Spirit.  Foremost among these virtues is love — which expresses itself variously as joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control — all known together as the fruit of the Spirit.

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Our love for God is shown when we love other people & help them bear their burdens in life.

Paul said that it simply doesn’t matter if a person is circumcised or not.  All that matters is that we live by “faith working in love.”  In other words, we have to show our love for God by loving other people.

Paul’s bottom line in his letter to the Galatian believers was essentially this:

  1. We are freed from trying to live by the letter of the law of Moses, when we accept the impossibility of ever doing that in the strength of our sinful flesh.
  2. We are freed to begin living by the spirit of the law of Moses, when we faithfully submit to the leading of God’s Spirit & rely on the strength of God’s Spirit to love other people.

LORD, please help us to love showing our love for You by loving people.

(290)  Galatians 5-6 (This letter is known simply as Galatians; some believe it may have been written several years later.)

Gentiles Grafted In

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The witnesses and other believers in Jerusalem heard that Gentiles (non-Jewish people) had received the spirit of God at Caesarea (278).

When Peter returned to Jerusalem, some Jews — who insisted on circumcision according to the law of Moses – accused Peter of unlawfully sharing fellowship with Gentiles: “You went in to uncircumcised Gentiles & ate with them!” they exclaimed.

So Peter explained everything to them in careful detail, exactly as it happened from the time of his vision in Joppa through the time of his message to the house of Cornelius – including the messengers from Cornelius, the vision of Cornelius, and how the Gentile people gathered in the house of Cornelius to hear from God.  He concluded in this way:

“After I began to speak, the Holy Spirit suddenly invaded & took over the Gentiles’ hearts & lives, just as he did with us at Pentecost!

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“Then I remembered that Jesus said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

“So if God was blessing them with the same gift He gave us when we surrendered to Jesus, how could I withstand God?”

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At first, there was stunned silence when Peter finished speaking.  Then all the church leaders glorified God, saying, “Praise the Lord for also leading the Gentiles into repentance & new life!”

LORD, please help us to love Your leading.

(278) Acts 11:1-18

Thomas

 

Thomas, one of the twelve chosen witnesses, was not there when Jesus came (242). When he joined them later the other witnesses told him, “We have seen Jesus!”

Thomas said to them, “Unless I touch the scars on his hands & the wound in his side, I cannot believe that!”

A week later the witnesses were together again behind locked doors; this time Thomas was with them. Again, Jesus appeared suddenly among them & said, “Be filled with peace.”

Jesus turned to Thomas & said, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then put your hand in my side. Stop doubting & believe.” Then Thomas did believe & exclaimed, “My Master & my God!”

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Jesus replied with this promise: “Do you believe because you see me? Many people will believe without seeing me & they will be blessed by God for their faith.”

John the Witness wrote down many accounts of events in the life & ministry of Jesus.  He wanted his readers to believe that Jesus is the Messiah of God.  He wanted you to have new life by believing in Jesus.

At the end of his account of the life & ministry of Jesus, John also testified that Jesus did many other miracles which were not written down.

LORD, thank You for sending Jesus to give us new life.

(242) John 20:24-31

Living Ambassadors

 

After he had eaten the fish, Jesus began to teach his friends (241).  “All these things that have happened are the very things I told you about before I was executed.  Everything inspired by God to be written about me — in the law of Moses, the writings of the prophets & the psalms — had to be fulfilled.”

Jesus went on to open their minds to understand the inspired scriptures, saying, “This is what is written: the Messiah must suffer & must rise from death three days later.”

Then Jesus told them, “As my living ambassadors, you must preach the message of repentance & forgiveness of sins to all nations, beginning here in Jerusalem. You are my chosen witnesses.

“I will send you the power promised by God so you can do this.  Wait here in Jerusalem until God’s power comes upon you.”

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Finally, Jesus said to them again, “Be filled with peace.  As God sent me, so now I am sending you.”

Then Jesus breathed new life into them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Let him fill your heart & take charge of your lives!

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“Tell people everywhere that God will forgive their sins against him!  And warn them of the danger of rejecting God’s forgiveness.”

Jesus, please help us to love being Your living ambassadors.

(241) Luke 24:44-49, John 20:21-23

The Way: Truth, Choice & Power

 

Then Jesus told his friends a little more about the work of the Holy Spirit in the world (217).

“I didn’t tell you these things before, because I was still here with you. But now it’s time for me to go back to God who sent me.

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“I know it’s not easy for you to ask me about this, because your hearts are full of sadness. But please believe this: it’s better for you that I leave, so God’s Holy Spirit can come to you.  The Holy Spirit of God will give you the power you need to serve as my witnesses.

“When the Spirit comes, he will show people the truth about sin & righteousness & God’s judgment – which is basically this:

  • People sin against God by hanging on to their old independent self-lives.
  • People become right with God by letting go of those old lives & embracing the new lives which I offer them.
  • And all people, including the ruler of this world, will be judged for the choices they make between the old life & the new life.

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“There is always much more for you to learn about God, but this is enough for now.  When the Spirit comes, he will reveal to you more & more truth about God.

“He won’t speak on his own authority; instead, he will give me glory by speaking to you what I tell him, all of which I have received from God.”

LORD, please help us to love serving You in the power of Your Spirit.

(217) John 16:4-15

The Promise Of New Life

 

Even though Jesus had performed many miracles among them, many people still were not inclined to trust Jesus (205).

Hundreds of years earlier, the prophet Isaiah had been given visions of Jesus’ glory. But he had also been inspired to see that many people would not trust Jesus.  This was distressing to Isaiah, so he asked: “God, has anyone believed our report? Has your power been revealed to anyone?”

Then God revealed to Isaiah the reason many people were not able to believe.  God told Isaiah: “I blinded their eyes & closed their minds, so their eyes wouldn’t see, and their minds wouldn’t understand, and they wouldn’t turn to me to be healed.”

Nevertheless, some Jewish authorities were inclined to trust Jesus.  But most of these were not willing to talk about Jesus openly — because they feared the Pharisees & didn’t want to be kicked out of the synagogue. So, basically, they wanted the approval of men more than the approval of God.

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Then Jesus said for all to hear: “Anyone who believes in me also believes in God. Anyone who sees me also sees God.

“At this time, I have not come into the world to judge people.  Anyone who rejects me & does not obey me will ultimately be judged by my words on the last day.  All my words have been spoken on the authority of God.

“At this time, I have come into the world as light, to save from darkness anyone who believes in me.

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“At this time, God has sent me so you can begin to experience new life now — new life that will continue in heaven forever, even after your physical death.”

LORD, please help us to love living the new life You graciously give.

(205) John 12:37-50

The Light Of Love

 

Some Greek people were among those who had gone to Jerusalem to worship during the festival (204). They went to Philip, one of the twelve witnesses, and said, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip went & told Andrew, and the two of them went & told Jesus.

But, instead of responding directly to their information,  Jesus took Philip & Andrew in a different direction.  “The hour has now come for me to receive great glory.  A grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain, unless it’s planted in the ground & dies. When it dies, it becomes a plant that produces many more grains.

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“Anyone who loves his life in this world will lose it.  But anyone who doesn’t love his life in this world will experience new life that will continue in heaven forever, even after physical death.

“Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me.  My servants must be with me wherever I am. God will honor anyone who serves me with such dedication.

“I admit, my heart is troubled, but does that mean I should ask God, not to make me go through this hour of suffering?  No, I came among you for this exact purpose – to go through this hour of suffering.  My prayer is that God will bring glory to his name.”

Then a voice was heard speaking from heaven, “I will bring glory to my name.” Some in the crowd who heard the voice said it was thunder, while others said, “An angel spoke to him!”  But Jesus said to them all, “This voice was God speaking to you.  When I am lifted up on the cross –in order to draw people to God — that’s when Satan is going down.”

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Jesus was referring to his impending execution.  Some in the crowd vaguely got this &  questioned Jesus: “Our law says the Messiah will live forever. How, then, can you say that you will be lifted up on a cross? Who do you think you are?”

Jesus replied, “My light will be with you a while longer. Continue in this light, so darkness will not overcome you, because if you’re in the dark, you’re lost.  Trust in my light while you have it, and always be people who share my light.”

After this, Jesus went off by himself for a while.

Jesus, please help us to love sharing Your living light with others.

(204) John 12:20-36