Spiritual Gifts - Wisdom

Spiritual Gifts - Wisdom

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!” Wisdom begins with the fear of the LORD. It begins with knowing who God is and who we are in comparison to Him. That leads to understanding and then to practicing righteousness. A life of wisdom ultimately results in the praise of God.
— Psalm 111:10 ESV

Often when we think of wisdom, we think of the lessons learned through a multitude of mistakes or overall life experience. We think of our grandparents telling us their "back in the day" stories or counsel from others that are older and more mature than us. However, the spiritual gift of wisdom is more than just acquired knowledge over time. You don't have to wait until you are 50 years old to gain God's heavenly wisdom and there's not a list of steps you have to take to get to a place of being wise. The gift of wisdom is powerful and relevant to where you're at right now. You as an heir should ask for God's abundance. With receiving God's abundance, you can ask for spiritual gifts. Asking for wisdom isn't scary. It doesn't mean you have to learn a lesson to earn it or studiously go after it. Receiving the gift of wisdom looks like asking for God to move in you and give you the lens to see him, the world, and others the way He does. It looks like knowing who God is and who you are in Him. Wisdom comes from trusting Him with your prayer life and most of all living out of a place of love. Living a life of wisdom encompasses living a life that praises God. 

When we go through the motions in our walk with Christ and reduce our spiritual lives down to a quiet time or church service once a week, we are not walking in the promises God's given us. 1 John 5:13 says, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." You may have heard that verse a million times before but have you actually heard it and then reflected on the way you live your life? Most of us don't walk around believing that we are immortal through Christ Jesus. That because we believe in Jesus, we attained the Holy Spirit and through Him we have everything we need to live out heaven on earth. Spiritual gifts help us live out heaven on earth, especially the spiritual gift of wisdom. Wisdom is often associated with the virtue of love. Because the deepest understanding of God doesn't come from any theology we can wrap around our heads, but from the ability to walk in pure Christ-likeness. The world needs people who have been imparted the gift of wisdom to speak up; because those who pursue the gift of wisdom receive insight into God-given knowledge and perspective. Those who have wisdom have a deep understanding of holiness that is meant to be shared. Tapping into this spiritual gift is vital because others need to hear the wisdom that God has shared with just you. Think about the times where you have made a bad decision that affected you or where you lived in hopelessness and doubt. How different would things have been if someone spoke to you divine wisdom before or after that moment? How different would we act towards each other if those who had God-given wisdom weren't afraid to let their light shine. 

This wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (James 3:17). Sometimes the gift of wisdom might be difficult to attain. That's because we as humans often slip up and get complacent with our walk with God. When applying this gift to our lives, we need to first keep asking for it and surrendering to God. We don't want the gifts more than we want Him, because God's character is so much better than anything He can ever do (and He can do a lot). Then, practically applying the gift of wisdom looks like putting yourself in situations where you can use it. Meaning getting involved in a leadership position where you are pouring out, or not being afraid to share wisdom with the people around you. Whether someone is struggling or not, we should trust the Holy Spirit with the words He gives us. What He tells you is breathed with life. Even if His perspective doesn't fully make sense, we can live in joy through His understanding and not by our own. 

prayer

God, through your truth give me Heavenly wisdom that surpasses Earthly understanding. I ask that you would show your mercy on me and let me live out a place that understands more of your perspective and who you are. Give me clear eyes to see you and others the way you intended. I love you, AMEN. 

Spiritual Gifts: Teaching

Spiritual Gifts: Teaching

When thinking about spiritual gifts, a lot of times I do not remember about the gift of teaching. As soon as it comes to mind, it makes me think of the people in my life where I have really seen the spiritual gift of teaching come to life. There is some sort of way ease in the way complex concepts of God are communicated that seems to only be explained that it is God. When listening to teachers and preachers, I find myself desiring to have the gift of teaching hoping that I could communicate in such an effective manner.

In James 3, James warns against this thinking in telling us that not many should become teachers because teachers, as he says, will be judged more strictly. He goes on to talk about how important what comes from our mouth is. I believe this is the reason he talks about teachers being judged more strictly. This idea is to convey how important those who teach about God and the ways of God hold an important yet risky position in the God 's kingdom. James relates our mouths to being the thing that directs our steps. God using teachers to guide others through what is said through our mouths.

I believe the spiritual gift of teaching is to be desired, but we must desire holiness as we desire to have the spiritual gift of teaching. The importance is not just in that we teach, but what is coming from our mouths. James tells us that though we may try to "tame our tongues," we must rely on God to do this because humankind is unable to tame the tongue. My encouragement to you and to myself is to continue desiring the gift of teaching , but ultimately desire holiness so that our words may direct others to God.

pray

God, please tame my tongue because I am unable to do so. Let me guide others toward you and direct my steps to follow more in line with you. Thank you for grace on my life and let me communicate that grace to others in word and deed. Amen

Spiritual Gifts: Gifts of Exhortation

Spiritual Gifts: Gifts of Exhortation

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;  if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
— Romans 12:6-8

To exhort means to address or communicate emphatically urging someone to do something. People who have the gift of exhortation have an ability to help people live to their fullest, God-given potential by how they speak to others. They offer encouragement, support, and counsel to people with ease. Those with the gift of exhortation are quick to see and call out the gold in others. Because gifts of the Holy Spirit are from God, the gift of exhortation comes from a place of love.

You more than likely know someone with the gift of exhortation. Think of your friends – are there any that seem to always know just what to say and do to lift you up? The ones that can call out your faults and call you higher – all the while highlighting your strengths and uniqueness? They can say a hard thing in a way that is loving and kind. People with the gift of exhortation are able to do that so seamlessly because of their heart. The holy spirit in them has put a desire in their heart to see the people around them live like the children of God they are. They believe in the more for people.

This gift is valuable and crucial to the kingdom of God and the power that words of exhortation holds is incredible. When people are encouraged and pointed toward what Jesus says about them, they start to walk in more of their God-given identity. As people see other people living their life empowered by Christ, they see the character of Jesus. As people see Jesus, the kingdom advances!

So you want to gift of exhortation? Then ask for it! Ask God to help you to see the gold and the special things that He has put inside people. Ask Him to help you to be pure and generous with your encouragement. Ask him to give you and grow the gift of exhortation in you. Start calling out the good to you see in people. If you see something that looks like Jesus in them, speak it. When giving someone a word of encouragement, be sure that your words are focused upward (toward God), that they leave the person with a better understanding of who God is, and that they are honoring and loving.

Spiritual Gifts - Serving

Spiritual Gifts - Serving

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
— Colossians 3:23-24 NLT

When we serve others, we should not do so with the intention of gaining glory for ourselves. Serving should be done with the intention of glorifying Christ.

When we serve others, our hearts are to be aligned with that of Christ so that it is for his glory and not our own. By doing so, we are able to dive deeper into the character of God and who he is. The more that we choose to serve with a humble heart, the more God reveals his own heart to us.
Serving is an incredible spiritual gift, but it can often be overlooked, because we often believe that it "comes naturally" to all Christians. This is not always the case though. When we forget that we are ultimately serving God through the way we are serving other people, it can often times become extremely self-seeking, where we want all the glory and reward for ourselves. But our reward, has already been given to us through Jesus's sacrifice on the cross.
Jesus represents the ultimate example of serving others through his choice and mission to sacrifice his life for us.

Jesus represents the ultimate example of serving others through his choice and mission to sacrifice his life for us. We should look to him for our inspiration and joy in serving. Serving is a gift that we have been gifted with from God, and it should be used to honor and glorify him. When you have the opportunity to serve someone whether a friend, family member, or stranger do it with a servant's heart that honors that of Jesus.

pray

God,

I ask that my heart and purpose for serving would match yours. When my posture changes, would you align my heart with yours so that you are honored. God, I think you for the gift of serving, and that you trust me with something so sweet and close to your heart. I pray that I would steward your mission well.
Thank you. I love you.
Amen

- Kelly

Spiritual Gifts - Intro

Spiritual Gifts - Intro

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
— 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV

At times, spiritual gifts can seem intangible and impractical. It feels really easy to overcomplicate or over-spiritualize these gifts, but at the core of it all, spiritual gifts are all about loving the people around us as God loves them. They are like tools that Holy Spirit gives us to more specifically join in with God’s heart for the world. All of us have different backgrounds regarding spiritual gifts—some of us have good experiences, some of us have confusing/negative experiences, and some of us have never experienced any of this at all. Wherever you might be on the spectrum, know that God believes it’s good to specifically give you spiritual gifts to love the people around you. 

Please read 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. These are two really wonderful chapters that address the heart of why spiritual gifts exist and how to use them well. It’s really beautiful that after the list of spiritual gifts there are several verses emphasizing the importance of unity and embracing the different parts of the body of Christ. God desires to reaffirm the importance and the power of having different parts of the body with different gifts stand together in unity. 

Spiritual gifts are not a measuring stick you use to compare where you stand next to other people. These gifts are ways God designed to bring heaven to earth for the good of those around you. Read the first few verses of chapter 13… You could have all the wonderful gifts in the world but if you don’t know how to love, it’s all a waste. God doesn’t want us to overcomplicate love; He gives us these gifts to love better.  

As we start the series on spiritual gifts, remember that they are given by God not earned by reaching a specific spiritual level. Say no to divisive comparisons and say yes to love expressed in power. You are not the exception of God’s desire to equip his church body to love well. Spend some time with God the next couple weeks asking Him how he has equipped you specifically to love well and live for the good of those around you. 

 

Psalm 37:3-4, 23-25 - He Will Not Forsake His Saints

Psalm 37:3-4, 23-25 - He Will Not Forsake His Saints

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and feed on faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart… The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
— Psalm 37:3-4, 23-25 ESV

One of my biggest fears in life has been that I wouldn’t have what it takes to fulfill God’s purposes for my life. I have feared that God would trust me with something only to throw it all away because I made one big, irreparable mistake. I have been paralyzed by decisions I’ve had to make because I feared they would drastically alter the course of my life in a negative way. I have wondered if God would be there for me when I need Him most. I’ve feared that He would forsake me because I didn’t measure up to what He thought I would be.

Then I read Psalm 37 and all of the fear, anxiety and depression that used to rule my life suddenly vanishes at the sight of this unshakable truth. David, the man after God’s own heart, digs deep here into what it means to live fully without fear of abandonment by God. And as much as David was a man after God’s own heart, he was by no means a perfect man. He committed adultery and was well acquainted with depression and the feeling that he’d thrown away everything God had given Him. So I trust David’s words and insight. And when I read this Psalm, I realize that God is infinitely bigger than our mistakes.

There’s no one small decision that will rip us from the love of God. David writes, “though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong.” In Acts 1:18-19 Peter says that Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, “acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle.” That means that Judas used the money the Pharisees gave him for betraying Jesus to purchase some land. But instead of reaping from the land and dwelling in it for years to come, he fell while walking through the land and was impaled and died.

Look at the first part of the Psalm. It says to trust in God and His faithfulness. It says to dwell in the land. It says to delight in just who God is. Our primary duty as sons and daughters of God is to love and trust God for who He is. No more. No less. If you do this then “he will give you the desires of your heart” because you will want what He wants. And when you delight in His way instead of yours David says that “the steps of a man are established by the LORD.” You see, every single one of Jesus’ disciple’s messed up big time. They all denied Him. They all forsook Him at the cross. None of them really understood who He was when He was right in front of their faces. So why did Peter, James, John and others go on to become the founders of the Church and the pioneers of our faith while Judas bled out in a field? Because Jesus knew their hearts. He saw that their hearts were good and truly loved Him as friend and teacher, but they were afraid. Judas didn’t truly love Jesus. He loved himself and money more. So every disciple fell, but Jesus upheld the ones who truly delighted in Him. He let the one who didn’t fall.

So stop thinking fatalistically about your life. Your future is not predicated on one mistake you may or may not make in the next 5 minutes. In the last sentence of this scripture David writes that he has NEVER seen the righteous forsaken. NEVER. If you spend your whole life loving God the best you know how, He considers you a saint. A saint that He will never let go of and “upholds his hand”. If you mess up one time you haven’t abandoned God’s will for your life (go read Romans 8:28), but if you truly love and are devoted to Christ the Holy Spirit will convict you and lead you to repent of your sin so that you may enter back into communion with God again. He won’t let you fall. He won’t let you stray. He loves you too much. All you have to do is delight in Him.

 

Psalm 139:13-16 - Set Apart

Psalm 139:13-16 - Set Apart

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
— Psalm 139:13-16 ESV

God made you set apart. In this Psalm, David was declaring the truth that God fearfully and wonderfully made David. David cries out to God and says "For you formed my inward parts. You have knitted me in my mother's womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." He spoke the truth over himself that God knew him from the inside out. David can praise God for the way he was created because God makes no mistakes. God created us on purpose with purpose. The Psalm then goes on to say that we cannot hide from God. He knows us deeply, more than we know ourselves, and is faithful in bringing His works to completion. 

The things that make you different are intentional. For most of my life, I believed the lie that I wasn't good enough. That somehow, for whatever reason, I needed to strive to earn my place. This led to destructive thought patterns of hating my appearance. Because my appearance, to some degree, was something that I could not change. I could dress myself up and fool others into thinking that I took care of myself, but really there were deep rooted lies within me. That how I was created wasn't good enough. It took repeatedly choosing to agree with God's truth over my own for these lies to be broken off. I had to say yes to His truth whether or not I fully believed it yet. I had to believe that the words that I spoke over myself really did bring life. Then one day it finally hit me. If I believed in God, than how could I not believe in what He says? If He loves me, than how could I not choose to love myself? If He was worth it to me, than why wasn't I treating myself like He was worth it?   

Surrendering to Him is worth it. Towards the end of the Psalm David declares, "Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." God knows you better than you know yourself. This isn't just some Christian saying. This is something that you can give yourself to and rely on. If He knows the days that were formed for you, then He knows why He created you. He has a plan for you and a purpose for you to fulfill. When you live out of that place, then there's no sense of striving with Him. You can choose to surrender yourself to your Father everyday because He loves you so much that He will never stop pursuing you. You can't mess your purpose up when you are actively trying to be in His will. He's got you in the palm of His hand. 

pray

God, I believe that I am your intentional creation. I believe you to be a Father that formed me from my mother's womb and made me with a purpose greater than my own. God I ask that you would help me live out of a place of full confidence through intimacy with you. I love you, AMEN. 

- Sarah C.

Psalm 66 - Responding With Praise

Psalm 66 - Responding With Praise

Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.

All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing the praises of your name.”
— Psalm 66:1-4 NIV

Read the whole passage here.

Have you ever taken a moment to dwell on the majesty of God? Or be in awe of His creation? I want you to read over the Psalm one more time and take some time to simply be in wonder of our God. The author of this Psalm speaks about His awesome deeds, how He delivers His people over and over again, and even how the earth bows down to Him. So how does the author respond to His marvelous deeds? With PRAISE. Even when he was tested and brought through suffering, he praises the Lord for bringing him to a place of abundance and listening to his prayers. 
 

So often we forget just how faithful the Lord has been in our lives, yet it is these times that become the building blocks for our faith and trust in Him. When was a moment that was painful or difficult or lonely for you? Okay now I want you to think about where you are currently. Think about how much stronger you are now and more refined then you were before that happened. The Lord delivered you from that place and He will do it again. And again. And again. The writer of this Psalm knows that life isn't easy and their will be trouble, but he chooses to be thankful in the midst of suffering because He knows the Lord is with Him and that He is good through it all. 
 

a practical step

I want to encourage you all to live in a place of awe this week. When you are walking to class, be amazed by His creation around you. In your quiet time, praise Him for the ways He showed you His love that day. Take time to celebrate the victories in your life, even the small ones. When you begin living your life from a place of gratitude and praise, your perspective on everything will being to shift and you will find yourself walking in more joy and more excitement for what is to come. 
 

Pray

Lord,
I praise you for your goodness. You have never left my side and I thank you for that. I pray you continue to expand my awe of you every single day. Thank you for your love!!
In Jesus' name,
Amen

 

Psalm 16 - God is With You

Psalm 16 - God is With You

I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing”
“I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand
— Psalm 16 NIV

This psalm has affected my walk with the Lord more than most other passages in the bible. God regularly places these verses on my heart and teaches me new truths and applications each time. I am confronted by the greatness of God as David writes “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Too often, I focus on the blessings God gives me more than God himself. I become distracted by the gift and elevate it above the Lord. However, this verse brings me back into a place of recognizing that I have nothing good in my life outside of the grace of God. This verse leads me into a place of worship and gratitude centering around simply the character of God. 

The most frequent verse I have declared over myself in the last year is “I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” A little over a year ago, I started addressing deep-rooted fears and anxieties in my life. All I could do was look at my fears and crumble under the weight of anxiety. I couldn’t focus on anything else, and I was easily thrown off by my thoughts of fear or worry. Yet, when I read this verse I am reminded of this life-changing truth. God is always with me, He is a firm foundation, and He is holding me tightly. The more I started to set God before me instead of my fears, the more my life looked grounded and unshakeable. Now, before I speak or do something scary, I declare this verse over myself and remind my heart that my God is at my right hand steadying my soul. 

One of the most recognizable shifts in my life as I gave my life to Jesus centers around His joy. The more I got to know God, the more I saw the difference between the happiness of the world and the joy of God. This joy overcomes trials and pain, this joy exists beyond circumstances, and this joy confronts the brokenness of the world with the wholeness of God. Everything made sense to me when I read “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Nothing compares to the joy of being in the presence of God. It’s life changing and perspective shifting. The world longs for joy and pleasure, and it looks for it in every other place than God. But true joy and pleasures are found in His presence and at His right hand.

a challenge

I challenge you to read this Psalm for yourself and allow God to speak to you through these verses. My prayer isn’t that this Psalm becomes your favorite, but I do pray that you know more of God’s goodness. That you know how He overcomes fear and anxiety. That you know the joy of being in His presence. 

- Tim

Psalm 91:2 - Our Refuge

Psalm 91:2 - Our Refuge

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.
— Psalm 91:1-2 NLT

When we put our trust in the Lord, we can fully live like he intended us to live. 

This is important for us to believe and live in, because we are so fully loved and covered by God. When we choose to trust God, then we can walk more fully into the promises that he has for us. Choosing to follow God is a big step for all of us, and it can be scary, but it is even more rewarding. When we declare that "He is my God, and I trust him," we are giving over full control to Him and acknowledging that He does know better and has more for us than we could ever imagine.

God knows your heart and the things that you long for, whether it is freedom in a specific area of your life, healing, provision, more understanding, your dreams, etc. There is nothing that he does not know about you, and yet we still try to hold onto the control of our own lives. God gives us the choice to trust him, and this is sweet because it is not a demand. It gives us more of a reason to love Him, because he has so carefully laid out a plan for us.
I choose to trust God, because "He is my God." He is not going to let me down or leave me. He has my best interest at heart. I choose to dream with him, and I rest easy knowing that I am covered and protected by Jesus. 

God has more for us than we could ever dream of. When we step fully into trusting him, we can begin to understand more of his character. Our relationships with Christ are forever changing in every season of our lives. Our God remains constant, but our relationships with him are always growing when we give him the space to be God. I want to encourage you to talk with God about the things that are on your heart. He hears them and he cares for you. 

pray

I want to encourage you to talk with God about the things that are on your heart. He hears them and he cares for you.

God,
Thank you that you hear me and know me. I know that I tend to want control of everything in my life, but I am choosing to trust you. I am declaring that you are My God and you know what is best for me. I want to rest in your shadow knowing that I am fully protected and surrounded by the God who created me and loves me. Thank you for what you are doing in my heart. I pray that you would continue to shape my heart like yours, and that I would trust the process.
God, I trust you. I love you.
Amen

- Kelly

Psalm 37 - Delighting In The Lord

Psalm 37 - Delighting In The Lord

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
— Psalm 37 NIV

Read the whole psalm here.

Psalm 37 is a beautiful Psalm, I would encourage you to read all of it. It’s about waiting on the Lord and knowing He will make things right, even when it seems like bad people are getting their way over everyone else. I’m going to focus on verses 3 and 4 for this blog, where the psalmist tells us to trust in the Lord and to take delight in Him, and He will give us the desires of our heart.

Trusting in the Lord and doing good even when we see bad people get their way is hard. It takes believing that the Lord is better and actively choosing the right thing. A lot of times it could be so much easier to cheat, gossip, or lie, but God is always better. I know that I have never looked back and regretted taking the higher road or making the right choice. 

the desires of your heart

When the psalmist says “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart”, he isn’t saying “if you act excited about the Lord he will give you everything you ever wanted.” When we begin to delight in the Lord (spend time with Him and worship in awe of Him), He will give us desires that He will fulfill. Isn’t that so cool? God will give us dreams that He will help us achieve to further His kingdom. Our desires will be like His once we get to know Him. That’s something I want to be a part of! 

- Clare Thomas

Psalm 34:17-19 - The Lord is Our Strength

Psalm 34:17-19 - The Lord is Our Strength

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
— Psalm 34:17-19 ESV

The Lord is not only your deliverer. He is your strength. Throughout this Psalm, David is writing to proclaim the fact that He is always good. Through these verses, he is saying that the Lord hears you at all times. There is nothing to big or too small for Him to take care of. He wants to take care of it. Not only that, He wants to project you into a more abundant life with Him and deliver you from the thing that is keeping you down. He is merciful. He draws near to the brokenhearted because of His love towards those that are hurting.  

There is beauty in your mess. For most of my life, whether I actively took notice or built myself around distractions, the same lie was buried in the back of my mind: I am not enough. In sports, school, or friend groups, I would compare myself to the people around me, believing that I needed to earn my seat at the table. I was desperate. Not just in acceptance but in achievement. Through burring that lie deep within me, I found myself in different degrees of brokenness. One of those times included separating from a long relationship. As I was distancing myself from that relationship, I was confronted with the lie that I wasn't good enough to be committed to for the long haul. My self-esteem was tattered and my confidence was shaken, so I did the only thing that seemed appealing at the time. I went to God. He wasn't intimidated by my doubts or insecurities. He wasn't on the outskirts of my life. He was just as deep in my mess as I was, walking me through the process of believing what He says over my own thoughts. He saved me. Metaphorically, as I gave my life over to Him, but also literally God saved me from being crushed in spirit. He delivered me. Instead of thinking "I can't believe I have to step away from the person that knew me the most". I was transformed by the idea that our intentional creator knew me not just in my pit but also on His platform.  

No matter the circumstance, God has empowered you through the Holy Spirit to trust Him as your deliverer. He wants you to get real with Him. He wants you to be open about the raw parts of you. He wants you to confront Him with all your doubts and questions. As you go to Him fully as you are, He can use those times to speak to you. He LOVES speaking to you. He is already near to you, but as you draw near to Him you'll begin to realize it for yourself. Even if you pray over and over for the same thing, you drawing near to Him is your reward. You drawing near to Jesus opens the door for a transformation of the mind. If this is hard for you to believe or practice in your own life, talk to someone strongly pursuing God and let them share with you their own mess and insight. We were never meant to do this alone.   

pray

Jesus, thank you that you are close to the brokenhearted. Thank you that you are good and that you are exactly who you say you are. Help me in my unbelief and let me walk in the freedom that you've died for me to receive. Though I may not always feel it, I know that you are worth it. You are my reward. 

- Sarah C.

Galatians 6:15-16 - We Are Free

Galatians 6:15-16 - We Are Free

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.
— Galatians 6:15-16 NIV

Paul understood that Christians had a moral standard to live by. But here in these verses he made clear what really matters: not what we do in keeping the law but what God has done in us. What did God do in us? He made us a new creation. He created us to live completely free. And Paul continues to say that “peace and mercy” are for all to follow this rule.

I think this is a good reminder that we didn't make ourselves the new creation. God did it in us. And I think here we see the difference between law and grace. It is easy especially in this season of life to want to follow law rather than grace. Even in little things. Think about your exams that you have each semester. It is so easy to think that it is going to be us to get the grade we need. That it is going to be us who puts in the effort, us who stays up until 2am, us who bubbles in the scantron and us who receives the grade. And yes, we do all of these things. But sometimes I think we lose sight of Him. Our focus gets skewed. His spirit is within us. And we get to bring things to Him so that He can move through them. Even school, even our roommate issues, and even our most “silly” thoughts. He created us in a new creation— and that new creation involves Him.

I would challenge you to start to invite Him into the parts of your life where you think you are in most control. It is a lot less about us. It’s not about what you do or where you do it but it is about the who the author is. It is changing the “how can I’s” to “where are you.” Instead of “how can I make an A?” or “How do I get a boyfriend/girlfriend?” we get to focus on “God, I am studying really hard right now and would love to see you even while I’m studying” or “God, here is the desire of my heart have your way” When we start focusing outward on Him rather than inward on what we can do to make things happen - that is where we find His peace and His mercy.

God, I thank you that we aren't alone. That each and every day you move in and through us. Come and open our eyes to see and rely on you instead of our flesh. We love you. Amen.

 

- Gibs 

Galatians 6:7-10 - Never Give Up

Galatians 6:7-10 - Never Give Up

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith
— Galatians 6:7-10 ESV

The Bible gives us a bunch of different perspectives, analogies, etc. by which we can better understand life and how we’re called to live. This scripture is one of those. You’ve probably heard people say, “You get into it what you put out of it.” Well, that old adage has explicitly Biblical roots found right here in Galatians 6. It’s not any more complicated than it seems. If you do good, you will reap that which is good. If you sow into evil things, you’ll reap evil things. In fact, in Hosea 8:7 it says “They sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” The “wind” is Bible-speak for things of this world. It’s something that’s there, but you can’t really grab hold of. It’s something that isn’t eternal. That’s actually part of the point Paul is making in this Galatians passage. When he says “the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption” he means that if you sow into things that only satisfy momentarily, they will ultimately let you down. That’s why he says “the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” The consequences of that are huge. That means that the normal,everyday things you do have eternal consequences. And if you sow into the things of God, you will reap eternity with Him.

seems simple enough

It is, in fact, very simple. The issue usually isn’t understanding in what we should or shouldn’t do, it’s that we know what we should do and choose not to do it. Paul says “in due season we will reap, IF we do not give up.” That’s a big IF. Think about how easily we often give up on stuff because it gets hard. What if we stuck with the things that we know are good and believe God has called us to, and just chose to trust Him that we will reap when it’s time. And you don’t even have to guess what it is that you will reap, because God promises it will be eternal life. There’s this amazing part of being a born-again follower of Christ that allows us to access eternal life on this side of Heaven. The abundant, eternal life doesn’t start just when you get to Heaven. It starts now. That’s why what we do here matters. We are living in a world that will pass away, but the life we are sowing into is eternal.

I challenge you to start living in a way that reflects this truth. Obviously, we live in this tension of having access to things eternal while living in a world steeped sin, so things won’t be perfect. But 1 John 4:4 says, “He who is in you is greater he who is in the world.” That means you can win. It might be short and easy, but often it’s a hard, long process of sowing without seeing anything. But God promises you that you will reap if you don’t give up. So never give up.

- Adam

Galatians 6:4-5 - Excellence

Galatians 6:4-5 - Excellence

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.
— Galatians 6:4-5 NLT

In this passage, Paul tells us that we should try to do the work God’s given us with excellence. Every part of it. I remember when I had the realization that doing a job with excellence was actually honoring to God. The kingdom of God doesn’t just need good pastors. It needs good bankers, doctors, accountants, teachers, and businesspeople too. We should look at the work that God has called us to do (whether that’s an actual occupation or the work that he’s called us to outside of our occupation) and devote ourselves to the task of completing it with excellence.

By devoting ourselves to what God’s called us to, Paul says that our joy will be in doing what’s right and beyond ourselves -not by what others have to say about us. We won’t be caught up in comparison. We won’t rely on other’s affirmation to feel successful. We will experience the true freedom that comes with being ourselves and knowing God is pleased with us. 

a practical step

So what does this mean for you? Look at your daily life. Your classes, your friendships, your family. If God’s already shown you what you’re called to as an occupation, look at that too. Now ask yourself, what does excellence in these areas look like? How can you practically get there? 

pray

God, I thank you that you’ve called each of us to live life with you. I ask that you would give us clarity on the things you’ve called us to. I ask that you would give us the grace to devote ourselves boldly to what you’ve set before us. We love you. Thank you. Amen

- Clare

Galatians 6:1-2 - Love and Accountability

Galatians 6:1-2 - Love and Accountability

Brothers, if a person is caught doing something wrong, those of you who are spiritual should restore that person gently. Watch out for yourself so that you are not tempted as well. Practice carrying each other’s burdens. In this way you will fulfill the law of the Messiah.
— Galatians 6:1-2 ISV

Loving people means keeping them accountable. In this scripture, Paul is talking about the importance of helping each other. Here he is saying that whoever is intimate with the Father's heart, has the authority to act in His character. When you see people around you acting in ways that don't align with the Father's heart, how do you often respond? It's easy to turn the other cheek and let things slide, but this isn't what Paul is suggesting for us to do. Paul is suggesting that as children of God we have the power to gently restore the people around us. This doesn't mean that we should cast out judgment and point fingers left and right. That is falling into the bad representations of how some non-believers might view Christians. By restoring the people around us, God's heart behind Paul's words is to not let our brothers and sisters fall into even greater sin. Instead, we should be empathetic towards others and encourage them to walk in the identity God has for them.  

the two mindsets about accountability

There are often two mindsets that we fall into when thinking about the act of accountability. Either we as people are quick to point out the bad things in others; or we ignore people's actions altogether because we are afraid of not being accepted. However, both mindsets have a shift in focus. It's not about the sin; it's about the person. Even more so, it's not about you it's about them. Jesus was the restorer of humankind. He was tempted like us but never acted in the ways of the flesh. Instead, Jesus' focus was all about the Father. His life was not of His own, and His purpose was wrapped up in His love for us. When Paul says to practice carrying each other's burdens, this means that we need to shift our focus from us to Him. Once you put yourself in someone else's shoes, you start seeing that person the way God sees them. More importantly, you want that person to see themselves for who God created them to be.     

We must be people of our word. If Paul is saying that those who are spiritual should restore others gently, then we as spiritual people also need to hold ourselves accountable. Imagine how hard giving advice would be if you didn't fully believe that what you were saying would help. Our lives should be active testimonies of God working in us. If there are things that hinder our relationship with God, then our roles should be to seek counsel from those walking in a greater spiritual maturity. We need to give our Christian community a chance to fight for us; because we are also worth being set free. We don't have to strive in our relationship with God. We just need to give Him the space to move.

pray

Holy Spirit, impart gentleness over me so that I may love the people around me the way you have called me to. Use me to develop others into the daughters and sons you created them to be, so that sin has no power over them anymore. I trust you above all things. God let your will be done. 

- Sarah C.

Galatians 5:24-26 - Living by the Spirit

Galatians 5:24-26 - Living by the Spirit

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
— Galatians 5:24-26 ESV

In chapter 5 of Galatians, Paul is really hitting on the idea of freedom and no longer living under a burdensome law. A big part of this, as illustrated by verses 16-23 is identifying those things that come from the Spirit of God and those that do not. Paul calls them the “fruits of the Spirit” and “works of the flesh”. So when we pick up in verse 24 and says “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” That means that the moment you put your faith in Jesus as the Son of God and profess Him as Lord and Savior, your sinful nature, what Paul calls the “flesh”, is crucified. And for the rest of your life, your crucified flesh withers away until all that is left in eternity is the beautiful “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) that you are in Jesus. And notice that Paul says that not only is the flesh itself crucified, but its passions and desires along with it. That offers a deep hope for a renewed mind (Romans 12:2) and a clean heart (Psalm 51:10) and the chance to focus on those things which are life-giving (Phillipians 4:8).

So what does life look like when our flesh begins to wither away and the new creations that we are begin to take over?? Well, to be certain our life begins to bear more fruit of the Spirit, but the application of what Jesus has taught us could look different for many of us outside of the principle disciplines (i.e. prayer, knowing scripture, fast, giving, etc.). What I’m trying to say is one person living out a devoted life for the sake of the Gospel could look wildly different from another person doing the same thing. That’s why Paul says what he says in verse 25. The Greek verb for “keep in step with the Spirit” is literally translated as “walk in line behind the Spirit”. Paul is simply saying to go where the Spirit is leading you. He knows and understands that this will take people to all sorts of places to do all sorts of things. Which is why he couldn’t possibly make a list of potential outcomes for a person’s life. The Holy Spirit is God Himself. He doesn’t want to be predicted, He wants to be followed.

Verse 26 was an admonishment specific to what the Galatians were dealing with, namely pursuing selfish desires and becoming jealous of what others had. Have you ever been in that place where you see someone following the Spirit and it takes them right to something that you’ve always wanted. And here you are, trying your best to keep in step with the Spirit also and you’re being taken in a direction that is uncertain and honestly scary. That’s why Paul is warning the Galatians to be guarded against this. Keeping in step with the Spirit isn’t just following some mystical force that could lead you into nothingness, it’s following God our Father who Jesus promised would take care of us, provide for us and love us (Matthew 6).

- Adam

Galatians 5:16-18 - Living by the Spirit

Galatians 5:16-18 - Living by the Spirit

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, you keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
— Galatians 5:16-18 ESV

Paul is telling us in this passage to walk by the Holy Spirit rather than walking by the desires of our flesh. If you go on and read the next five verses, he gets much more specific on what those two things mean. Living by the Spirit means living in freedom and abundance and not under the law. Living by the flesh means living controlled by things that aren’t from God – things like idolatry, jealously, and anger. He says that living by the Spirit and living by the flesh don’t go together. They are actually opposed to one another – meaning you can’t do both or just flip flop between how you’re feeling that specific day. 

The reason Paul refers to worldly, not-from-God things as “the flesh” is because that’s what our natural, human inclination will lead us toward. According to the world we live in, it’s normal and acceptable to live by the flesh. The goods new is, even though it’s difficult to tune out these desires and inclinations, it’s entirely possible because of the Holy Spirit. That’s one of the reasons why God even gave us the Holy Spirit – to empower us and help us to live in freedom and wholeness. Because of the Holy Spirit, we get to have hope in something much bigger than us and our world and actually live the life God has called us to. 

To live a life by the Spirit and not by the flesh, we have tune into the Holy Spirit. When our selfish desires or sinful nature start to take hold or overcome us, we can remember the fact that Jesus died so we wouldn’t have to live like that anymore. When we continually return to and be grateful for the truth that because of the cross we don’t have to live as slaves to our flesh, living by the Spirit makes perfect sense and becomes what we truly want and desire to do. So, next time you are really angry and frustrated or you are tempted by an old habit, remember that Jesus has more for you. He has freedom for you and you have access to that freedom right now! 

pray

God, thank you that even though I mess up and fall short, you still love me just the same. Thank you for giving me your Holy Spirit. Teach me to look quickly toward you in all circumstances – good or bad. Thank you that I don’t have to live as a slave to my flesh. Today, show me what it means to live a life empowered by the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

- Sarah T

Galatians 5:13-14 - Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

Galatians 5:13-14 - Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.
— Galatians 5:13-14

In this passage, from the letter Paul wrote to the Galatians, he is reminding them of the freedom that they have been given through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His intention is to help them walk in freedom, while clinging to the commands that Jesus has spoken, rather than living for their own human desires. Above all else, he wants them to remember that they are called to "love one another" by choosing to serve one another, as they would serve themselves. 

It is very easy for us to live for ourselves, because we are human and we are sinful by nature. Through Jesus's sacrifice we have been called into more by the power of his blood. There has been grace poured out on our sins, and we are completely forgiven. This is incredibly humbling, because we did not deserve this gift that we were so sweetly given. Jesus loves us without agenda or his own gain, and he calls us to do the same. We are called to forget our human desires, live humbly, and serve one another as Christ has served us. This can be done simply and faithfully by "lov[ing] your neighbor as yourself." 

This is important for us to remember, because as believers, we are called to live in the same way. Christ's sacrifice gives us the freedom to live as God calls us to live and not the way we want to selfishly live. We are given simple instructions to "love [y]our neighbor as [y]ourself." The love that we have been shown through Christ's sweet sacrifice is the way we should live and love those around us, whether they are believers or not. Our freedom gives us authority to serve humbly and love as He did. 

pray

Jesus,
Thank you for your sacrifice that covers my sin. I ask that I would serve you and others over myself, because it is what you have asked of me. When I start to selfishly live, would you redirect my heart toward yours, so that I can live more like you. Would you always bring me back to you, so that I can become more like you.
I love you.
Amen

- Kelly

Galatians 5:5-6 - Living as a Child of God

Galatians 5:5-6 - Living as a Child of God

For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
— Galatians 5:5-6 ESV

Here Paul is urging the church to believe in what God has done for them and is continuing to do in them. That God is bringing them deeper into righteousness, and that, at the same time, that righteousness is their inheritance as Children of God. That nothing they do can earn it, that it is something God works in them, with them, through faith. 

Righteousness in God is achieved by faith, by believing that we are children of God because of what He has done for us. Believing that in partnering with God he is bringing us deeper and deeper into righteousness by his grace rather than by our ability. Paul is exhorting the church of Galatia to believe they are in this position towards God. That it is one of faith and dependence, rather than one that works to be righteous. There is no level of “enough” you can do to earn righteousness. When Paul references circumcision here, he is more so referring to the old ways of Judaism; living under the law and achieving righteousness by the works of the law. He is pointing out that that is no longer the way of living they are called to. That because of Christ, they don’t live under a system that asks them to achieve their place in Christ by works, but one that is achieved to by faith in what Christ has done. 

Our culture is one centered on performance. We see this in the way our social media is built, likes, approval, getting a yes from everyone around you that what you are doing is cool, good, w/e. We have learned it in school, sports and it isn't necessarily bad! In fact, in many cases it's good. It becomes bad when we live our lives by it. When we are making choices based on the approval of others. Often, we bring that way of living into our relationship with God.

A lot of times we believe that we have to "do do do" for Him to love us, or invite us in. Which is not true. What we are actually doing when we have that approach to God is pretty dishonoring. We are taking the position that Jesus dying on the cross for us wasn't enough- that we have to do a bit more to be accepted by God, and it will really distort your relationship with Him. Because then you approach Him from a slave-master type of way when He didn't actually want that. He wants you as a daughter or a son, as a friend, as someone He co-labors with. Approaching God as a good and loving Father also frees you up to be open and honest with Him and enables you to do good works out of a desire to please Him, rather than to earn His love (which is freely given). 

a practical step

In what areas of life do you need to believe you are already a daughter, already a son? Do you fully believe God's love for you, his bringing you into His family is done by Him and not something you can earn?

pray


Pray this, "Father, thank you for your wild love towards me. Thank you that you have made a way for me to be in relationship with you. Thank you that you are calling me into deeper righteousness and freedom, and that you are co-laboring with me, working in me to see me there. I ask that you would reveal to me your love and acceptance of me. God please show me any area where I am striving for your love that is already freely given to me. I lay down all my attempts at your affection and I as fully as I know how receive your love. Come and encounter me today. I love you, Amen."

- Merrick