Your name here

As we read the Bible, we should always take into consideration the context in which the verses were written. Who wrote them? Who are they talking to? Are they talking about a specific event or period of time? Is it culturally relevant? There are many variables that can change the way we perceive the Word of God. As Pastor Morris Watson put it in his message Do You Know What You’re Asking For?, not everything in the Bible is meant for us personally. But that’s not to say that we can’t take some of it personally.

There are those who like to take scripture and insert their own name into it. I’m not usually one to make a habit of it, but since today’s portion of scripture already has a name in it, why not try inserting your own name in place of Timothy’s?

But you, (insert your name here), belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love,  perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for what we believe. Hold tightly to the eternal life that God has given you, which you have confessed so well before so many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT)

Paul has been writing to Timothy about avoiding many of the pitfalls the Jewish nation was prone to. We’re pretty much in the same boat as the Jews were at that time. The world pushes against us trying to force us into their way of thinking and holding on to the truth becomes more and more difficult.

So today, if you find your faith being pressured, remember these words. Insert your name here and remember that you belong to God. Follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life. All of these things that Paul encouraged Timothy to do still apply to us today.

Take these words to heart. Take them personally and then you and I can fight the good fight for what we all believe.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 17-19, 1 Timothy 6

Stay free

It would seem that the Galatian church struggled—as many churches still do—with the concept of freedom, how it works and how it is to be applied to our lives. Being free from the law—receiving salvation as a gift rather than earning it through works—is a difficult concept to grasp. And, no matter how much revelation some people get, there always seem to be those who want to find a set of chains and shackle the Church back to the law.

So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

Galatians 5:1 (NLT)

How do I know when I’m getting tied up again? The answer is quite simple and you probably know it already.

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

If you are being led in a direction that produces anything but these things, you’re being led back into the bondage of the law. The Holy Spirit will never lead you into anything that is based on works and produces selfish results. He will only lead you into things that produce good fruit with selfless results.

For you have been called to live in freedom—not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:13-14 (NLT)

So if you’re questioning where you’re being led, ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • Is this solely for my benefit or will others benefit from it?
  • Will this result in producing the fruit of the Spirit?
  • Does this reflect love for my neighbour? How so?
  • Am I serving myself or am I serving others?

In the end, our freedom is all about serving one another. If you’re not serving your neighbour—whether you like them or not—you’re not really free. There are no qualifiers on the love we are commanded to give. It’s not always easy and that’s why we need the Holy Spirit to guide us. If we are truly free and have nailed our own passions and desires to the cross (Galatians 5:24), we live by the Holy Spirit and must follow his guidance in every part of our lives.

Love your neighbour. Stay free.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 10-12, Galatians 5

Come to me

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

This passage only serves to emphasise what we discussed yesterday about whispering and shouting.

Jesus whispers. He is gentle and humble. You rarely—if ever—find the humble and gentle hollering at people. Jesus didn’t go around planning to offend people or turn folks away. In fact, His Gospel was (and still is) completely inclusive. All He asks is that we swap our burden for His. That we leave our sin behind and take up the yoke of His grace.

Grace is a heck of a lot lighter than the weight of sin. Who wouldn’t want a lighter load.

The truth is that those who were offended by Jesus were those who enjoyed the burden of sin. They liked the position it afforded them. While grace is lighter, it would mean trading the load they’d grown comfortable carrying. They didn’t want to be taught about humility and gentleness. What they couldn’t see was the ease a life of humility might offer.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

James 4:10 (NKJV)

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind dropping a heavy load, trading it for a lighter one, and then having Someone help me carry that one.

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 33-35, Matthew 11

Glorified

We hear often in the church that we must bear good fruit. If you were raised in the church, you know the songs that go along with Galatians 5:22-23. You know what the Fruit of the Spirit are (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). But do you know what they’re for?

Sure, being loving and kind makes us look good as Christians. It may even help draw people into our churches, but is that the only reason we’ve been commanded to display these traits?

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

John 15:8 (ESV)

If we do everything as unto the Lord according to Colossians 3:23, God gets the glory. That’s the point of all of it. God gets glory, people see that we are His followers, and those same people are attracted by our traits that reflect God.

By your words and actions, the people you associate with can see who you’ve been spending time with. You reflect their traits and, in a way, bring glory to them because you’ve deemed them important enough to emulate. Do we do the same with God? Do the people around us know that we’ve been spending time in the presence of God by the traits we reflect? Is God glorified by our behaviour?

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 17-19; John 15