Posts Tagged ‘ Spirit ’

Things That Count

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Corinthians 13:13 NRSV

MP900180108[1] Paul had lots to say to his brothers and sisters in the faith at Corinth. His words to them were, at times, sharply critical. He was also instructive and encouraging. But in the end, Paul pointed them to what really mattered.

Paul had a deep love for these people, and a true burden for the preservation of their faith. So point by point he addressed his concerns with them. He took issue with their sinful practices. He exhorted them to remain faithful, and encouraged them to stay true to Jesus Christ.

Remain faithful. Stay true.

Then, as his letter drew to a close,  Paul left the  MP900400145[1]Christians of Corinth three things. These changed the tenor and focus of his whole letter. They made it clear that despite the fact that the Corinthians had a lot of work to do, their attention needed to stay God-ward. Their faith needed to remain grounded in their relationship with Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit.

That tells me having the grace of Jesus Christ is what really counts. Knowing about and receiving that undeserved merit that only our Savior offers, is the key to real Christian living. Accepting daily his gifts of forgiveness, redemption, renewal and new life must be the pivot point around which our lives revolve. Grace is the fuel we must depend on for living the Christian life!

Grace gives new life.

MP900438486[1] But grace is just the beginning. We don’t just need Christ’s favor; we need God’s love too. Our heavenly Father looks at us through eyes of loving devotion. He knows who we are, and sees us as we can be. God also draws near to us and walks with us in a covenant relationship of love.

The truth is God is love. God acts out of love and God seeks our love and devotion. If we accept God’s love, it will redeem us, and renew us for a life of love and service. So grace and love go hand in hand.

God acts out of love and seeks our love.

MP900409036[1] Not only do grace and love go hand in hand, they make possible the communion of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing more important than God’s own Spirit being present and active in our lives. It is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit that makes the presence of God palpable and the power of God available to us. The Holy Spirit renews our minds, equips us for service, comforts us in trials and sustains us in every challenge.

So what matters most is acknowledging God’s love, accepting Christ’s grace and submitting to the work of the Holy Spirit. Those who do will enjoy true peace, real joy and life transforming faith!

Accept grace, give love and submit to the Spirit!

Prayer:

Redeemer and Friend, what matters most is acknowledging your love, accepting your grace and living in the Spirit. Help me to make you the pivot point around which my life revolves. Keep me grounded in those things that will renew and remake me into the person you created me to be!

Amen.

Steadfast

A Blooming Faith

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22 NRSV

If your faith were a seed, what kind of fruit would your seed bear? Is it fruit that gives mouthfuls of sweetness? Is it fruit that carries life-sustaining nutrients? Or is it the kind of fruit that leaves a bitter aftertaste?

The seed of faith is designed to take root in the soul and grow until love blossoms, and the fruits of the Spirit are evident. That tells me the fruit that comes from faith in Jesus Christ is the best fruit of all!

Soon winter will begin giving way to Spring. The seeds hidden in the earth will send green shoots up through the dirt. There is amazing potential in those seeds to blossom into beautiful flowers and delicious nourishing fruit.

Recognizing the potential that’s in the seed of faith planted within us, let’s start preparing for our spiritual springtime. That means nurturing that seed, and letting God grow it into the kind of plant that blossoms with love! After all, when properly tended, a single seed can bear the fruit of the Spirit, which is the fruit of love!

Blooms

A Refiner’s Fire

The crucible is for silver and the furnaces for gold but the Lord tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3 NRSV

Growing up in a city known for its steel refineries, I watched out my backMP900422819 window as seemingly endless streams of molten slag were dumped out of train cars onto a large hill. What I was seeing were the leftover impurities of the refining process. The slag that was being discarded weakened the steel. So it had to be burned out.

When we are placed on the hot coals of daily living, what comes out first is usually not the purest and best. First the impurities appear. That may mean pride, arrogance, and selfishness rear their ugly heads. It may mean our worldly passions take over, our doubts scream out, or our fears intensify. We just get ugly!

The question is what do we do with all those impurities, as they bubble to the surface? They are too ugly to be ignored, and too powerful to be denied. Once they appear, there really is only one thing we can do, submit them to the refining work of the Holy Spirit. God’s refining fire will expose them, and burn away every impurity. But that only happens if we submit ourselves to the refining work God is trying to do in us.

Submit to the Spirit’s refining work.

Submitting doesn’t come easily. That’s because refining can be a frightening process. None of us want to see the nasty impurities that lie within us. Nor do we want our imperfections on display for others to see. Even more than that, we don’t like the fire that refines us. Sometimes that fire burns too hot. The pain seems too great, and the process seems unbearably long.

Unfortunately, without refining we’re never going to become what God created us to be. Our impurities will continue to limit our ability to shine the light of Christ into the world. They will also make us so fragile, weakening our resolve, and limiting our endurance.

So next time pride rears its ugly head, or your doubts pull your feet out from under you, don’t hurry to push them aside, or stuff them back down. Recognize them for what they are, the dross that the furnace of daily living has brought to the surface. Then submit them to the Holy Spirit’s work. Give them to God to refine.

j0178801Remember, God’s people are called to be holy. In fact, we are called a holy priesthood. Holiness means we live lives of integrity. Our motives are pure, and our hearts redeemed. We are not two-faced. We don’t have hidden agendas. Our hearts have been purified by God’s redeeming work.

Let’s fulfill our calling, and allow God to make us pure and holy. Let’s allow the Potter to shape the clay, and refine the impurities, so that we can shine with the light of Jesus Christ!

 

Create in Us Pure Hearts, O God!

Prayer:

Refining God,

There are impurities in me that weaken me, that compromise my faith, and keep me from reflecting fully the light of Jesus’ love. Continue to do your refining work in me. Create in me a clean heart!

Amen!

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