It’s tough

In 1992, four and a half year old Jordy became the youngest person ever to make it on to Billboard’s Hot 100 with his dance hit, Dur dur d’être bébé. Loosely translated, It’s tough to be a baby, the song described the trials of being a toddler. Don’t touch this. Don’t touch that. Get your finger out of your nose. Sit still.

We all know that being a baby isn’t as rough as Jordy described. All a baby has to do is cry a bit and Mommy or Daddy come running to change their clothes, feed them, bathe them, cuddle them. While there are a lot of rules to learn as a child grows up, never again in their life will they have so much done for them.

Sometimes, we can be like a baby trying to convince the world how tough it is to be us. But you just don’t know what I’m going through. I feel like I’m the only one! While I don’t want to belittle anyone’s pain or suffering, you’re not the only one.

Take a firm stand against [the Devil], and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

1 Peter 5:9 (NLT)

There are times when we can get so caught up in our own pain and search for sympathy that we completely ignore the fact that we have family members that are going through the very same thing. They could use some of that comfort we’re trying so hard to find. And when we, like an infant, cry out for satisfaction, those same people look on and shake their heads. We are never alone in our pain and we are not the only ones deserving of compassion. Not only that, but God has already poured out on us all that we need.

In his kindness, God called you to his eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. After you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

1 Peter 5:10 (NLT)

When we look at our suffering—no matter what it is—in the light of what Jesus already endured, it pales in comparison. None of us are ever alone in our suffering. All over the world there are Christians who also endure hurt, pain, suffering, and persecution. Instead of seeking out sympathy, perhaps we would be better off giving it and sharing in each other’s suffering, helping each other through our trials until such a time as God restores, supports, and strengthen us.

It doesn’t have to be tough.

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 40, 1 Peter 5

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

The Great Appearance

When someone important appears in a certain place at a certain time, something happens. It’s usually significant. The date is set. The time is right. And then it happens.

What happens?

What is supposed to happen happens.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us…

Titus 3:4-5a (ESV)

He saved us. There is no greater appearance recorded in history than the arrival of God’s goodness and loving kindness wrapped in a package called Jesus. No one who has ever set foot on this planet has had a greater and more lasting effect than the mercy that was displayed upon the arrival of Christ.

…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)

Though our own appearances in certain places at certain times can never compare to that of Jesus’ appearance, do you ever think about how your own appearance may affect others? If the Holy Spirit that was so richly poured out on us lives in us, shouldn’t the appearance of Christ be reflected through us every time we enter a room?

The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

Titus 3:8 (ESV)

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 33-35, Titus 3

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