Be careful not to offend

An offended brother is harder to reach than a fortified city, and quarrels are like the bars of a fortress.

-Proverbs 18:19

I have always thought about not being offended or taking offense at others, but the scripture also teaches us not to offend or be offensive to others. I’ve heard it said that one word of criticism equals about ten words of praise. It is so easy to hurt people with our words.

How do we navigate relationships when people are so easily offended? Kindness. The character of the Christian’s life is formed through walking in the Spirit.

I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

-Galatians 5:16-22

When you say or do something, that might offend, are you walking in the Spirit? Notice that the flesh produces offensive content: “hatred, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions… “

Do Not Forget The Poor

Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.

-Psalm 82:3

God’s heart is for the poor.  Whatever emphasis that we have or our ministries have, we must never forget the poor.  Benevolence is something that all believers should have in common.

If you do not care about the poor, you have no connection to God.  God’s heart is for the poor.  The worst form of injustice is when the weakest people are not helped by those who have the power and resources to help them.

Your calling or your ministry could be any of a thousand things, but do not forget the poor.

You may be in any of the thousands of the different denominations, non-denominations, tribes or movements in Christianity.  But remember to not forget the poor.  God’s heart is for the poor.

You yourself may have a lot or have a little.  You may have many friends or a few.  You may be famous or unknown.

Just do not forget the poor.

Defend, vindicate, stand up for, be fair to, do right by and give justice to:

  • The needy, the poor, the weak ones, the helpless, the lowly and the defenseless ones.
  • The fatherless and the orphans.
  • The forgotten, destitute, the afflicted, the wretched and the oppressed people.
  • The disenfranchised, suffering and powerless children. 
God’s heart is for the poor.  Our hearts in God’s will be for the poor.  This is a marker of the authentic people of God.
A few New Testament passages and verses on serving the poor:

Luke 10:25-37; Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 10:1-8; Gal. 2:10; 1 Tim 5:3-16; Jas 1:27; 2:15-16

It’s Me!

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

-Galatians 2:19-21
I was thinking about my troubles, my struggles, challenges, and relationships; basically every negative aspect of my life.  Is it spiritual warfare?  Or did I take offense?  Or am I just sleep deprived and have a stomach ache?
Maybe all of the above.  You know the phrase, “get a life”?  Well, how about, “get a new life”?  That is kind of what Galatians 2:20 says.  I groused and grouched.  But when I stilled myself, turned to the Lord, and listened, Holy Spirit gave me my verse, again, for the umpteenth time.  
And that verse says: “When my heart is weak, I cry out to you from the very ends of the earth: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”  I read that, and said that, and prayed that; again.

And after I took it in, I looked back, over my shoulder, at the road I had just traveled on, and the things I was just thinking about.   And I said, “It’s me”.  It’s not all this or all that or all them…  it’s me.

And that brings me to Galatians 2:20.  The whole “me” thing:  Have you noticed how many times “I’ and “me” are in Galatians 2:20?

  • I have been crucified with Christ.
  • I no longer live.
  • But Christ lives in me.
  • The life I now live in the body.
  • I live by faith.
  • In the Son of God, who loved me.
  • And gave himself for me.

“I” and “me”, is what I am responsible for in my life.  And “I” and “me” is very different in Christ than not in Christ.  “I” and “me” needs to be crucified with Christ, and then “I” and “me” needs to walk in Christ’s redemption, transformation, and live his resurrection life in my “I” and “me” life.

After and while I am doing that, I will still have my life, with my stuff, with my troubles, and with all my relationships.  But, I am now living out of, relating to it all, all people, and even to my self; “I” and “me”, through Christ.  And that is the Christian life, that I am still learning to live, and I will always be learning and re-learning it.  Disciples are always learning.

Freedom in Christ

Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

-Galatians 5:1 (HCSB, NIV, NKJV)

Freedom in Christ

Christians are free.  Set free and changed.  This happened through the cross of Christ.

We need to know that following Christ does not put us or bring us under the law.  We have to say this because there have always been people who teach that we need to come, dwell, or abide in, under, or through the law to be saved.

We are now free to live in Christ, desiring to serve God, in love.

The center and the life of Christianity is the person of Christ.  The life of Christ in me makes me a Christian and his life in me desires righteousness and lives the godly life.

Living in Christ

The freedom of Galatians 5:1 is predicated on, is based on, and comes out of the life of Christ and the death of me.  Galatians 2:20 says,

“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but the life of Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  

We are not saved and become Christians so that we can now finally obey the law, but we come to Christ and die to our selves and he begins living through our lives.

Our freedom, our liberty, is now in the resurrection life of Christ, in our lives.  We are set free to live freely in Christ.  That is the life of love.

Freedom to love

The whole law which Christ kept is summed up in, “You shall love your neighbor as your self” (Gal. 5:14).  The freedom in Christ is to love others (Gal. 5:13).

Before Christ, the law was given for people who do not wish to be righteous, to force them into righteous living.  We now have liberty from religious legalism imposed on us.  God wants us to take His strength and walk in freedom.

This is different than legalism, which is being bound to the law, which attempts to bring us into a righteous life, from the outside.

Freedom from the Law and freedom from sin

Freedom and liberty are not for us to do anything we want, not denying our selves any desire, ‘living large’ in some sort of life with no boundaries.  The liberty or freedom in Christ is freedom from the tyranny of having to work our way to God and freedom from sin.  He set us free so that we do not need to find our righteousness by following of rules, laws, or codes.

He is our righteousness.

Freedom in Christ is not a door way to selfishness (Gal. 5:13).  Freedom in Christ is about your having Christ and He having you, and your freedom to live out your life, learning to live in love (Gal 5:13).

The works of the flesh, just like the desire to live under the domination of the Law, are both what we are set free from.  We are freed to live free.  We stand in freedom and live by the Spirit.

The free life is now lived by service to others in love (Gal. 5:13).  The freedom is so free that there is a temptation to sin in the flesh, which is another form on slavery or bondage.  This is why Paul says, “stand firm” in your place of freedom, and “follow the Spirit” (“keep in step with the Spirit”).

The life in Christ of standing in freedom and following the Spirit

There are ‘some-things’ that we must do, and there is someone (the Spirit) that we need to cultivate a relationship with, to walk out the Christian life.  Jesus indeed does not leave us as orphans (John 14:18).  We ought not live as orphans who don’t belong, but live belonging and loved and guided, helped, and comforted by the Spirit.

The freedom comes through the cross and the living out of Christ comes by the Spirit.  One cannot avoid the cross nor avoid the Spirit and be a Christian.  A Christian is one who has been to the cross and lives by the Spirit.

Rules are good, boundaries are good.  God created rules and boundaries.  It is a problem or an enslavement when we begin to tell ourselves or tell others how well they are walking with God based on following rules (Gal. 2:4).  Freedom is within boundaries and within Christ.

However, if we see or experience that someone is walking in sin, we know that they are not living in Christ and we can call them back to Christ, lovingly.  Lovingly, lovingly, lovingly.  Some ‘Christians’ rebuke, judge, and try to fix people; before loving or instead of loving them.  This is not love.  This must change.

We are free in Christ through the cross.  We need to stand firm in that freedom, from Law and from sinfulness.  We stay free and live free through walking with the Spirit of God.

Notes: An overview of Galatians from G. W. Hansen:

  • Freedom and unity in Christ are central themes in Galatians.
  • Paul addresses Christians whose preoccupation with keeping the Law was splitting their churches along racial lines, separating Jews from Gentiles.
    • These splits are intolerable because the new unity in Christ (Gal. 3:28) that transcends racial, social, and sexual barriers; is based upon the “truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:5): Christ was crucified to set us free from the curse of the Law so that we might receive his Spirit (Gal. 3:13-14).
      • It is the Spirit, not the Law, that gives us our identity as children of God (Gal 4:6).
      • Believers must protect their freedom from the Law (Gal. 5:1) and also use their freedom to fulfill the law by serving one another through love (Gal. 5:13-14).
      • We are no longer under the Law that divides;  we are under the Spirit who unites.
  • The central teachings of Galatians are freedom through the cross and unity by the Spirit.
    • Complimentary themes in Galatians are:
      • Paul’s account of his calling to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:13-16).
      • Paul’s story of his loyalty to the gospel for the Gentiles in relation to the other apostles (Gal. 1:17-2:21).
      • An explanation of justification by faith, not by works of the Law (Gal. 2:15, 3:6-12).
      • An exposition on OT texts regarding the Abrahamic promise and the Mosaic law in the context of salvation history (Gal. 3:6-25,; 4:21-31).
      • A defining of Christian ethics, in terms of the flesh and the Spirit (Gal. 5:13-10).

The message of Galatians is, “stand firm” for freedom in Christ by “keeping in step with the Spirit”.

– G. W. Hansen: Galatians, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, IVP, 1993. pp. 323-334

Notes On Baptism From Michael Green

So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
-Acts 2:42

Photo: Luke Addison (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Here are some notes about baptism from Michael Green (b. 1930), in his book, Evangelism Now & Then (1979), pp. 81-3:

They baptized new believers

There can be no doubt that in the first days of the church baptism was administered as soon as possible after profession of faith. Quite apart from the day of Pentecost, the case of the Philippian jailer and the Ethiopian eunuch give a good guide to early practice in the matter. Commitment to Christ, baptism in water, and reception of the Holy Spirit were three sides of the same thing, Christian initiation. In Galatians, for instance, we see that justification by faith or becoming ‘Abraham’s offspring’ comes about through reception of the Spirit, or being baptized into Christ, or believing in Christ (3:2, 14, 29, 26). Ideally, they belong together. In practice, however, one element would come first, sometimes another: such is still the case.

Two second-century developments can be traced back, at least in outline, to the earl days of the church. First, there was a growing tendency to postpone baptism, preface it by a period of instruction, and perform it, along with first communion, at the highly significant season of Good Friday and Easter. Scholars have seen many signs in the New Testament itself of a basic catechism leading up to baptism, and many people think 1 Peter was written as a homily for a baptism occasion.

Infant baptism?

Second was the practice of baptizing infants when born into a believing family. This is a divisive subject nowadays, and was to the end of the second century when we find Tertullian discussing it in his Treatise on Baptism. He was advocating delay in baptism when only one parent was a believer: it is clear he wrote against a background where the baptism of infants was common. How could this be justified when originally baptism was the mark of the new birth, and appropriate only for believers?

Well, I doubt if baptism was ever as clear-cut as that. We read in the New Testament of whole households being baptized, and an ancient household consisted of not only children, but the slaves, all of whom were committed by the action of the head of the house (1 Cor. 1:16, Acts 16:33, etc.). You see, baptism was not exclusively the act of man, representing his faith: it was also the act of God, representing his grace. And that free grace of God sent Jesus to the cross to die for us and rise again whether or not we ever respond. It is that once-for-allness of Jesus, his sacrifice and triumph, which is marked upon us in baptism. It should ideally be matched by our total and immediate response. But that sometimes comes later – and sometimes does not come at all. Even if it never follows, that cannot destroy the initiative of God, who gave himself once for us in history: that holds good whether or not we respond – thought of course we cannot make any use of his gift unless we receive it in adoring gratitude. By far the largest part of the Christian church has believed in baptizing not only believers but their children. The Baptist view regards baptism as appropriate only for those who have already responded in faith to God’s gracious initiative. Christians will continue to have differing views on this matter since no clear Biblical teaching clears it up one way or another. And as far as the nurture of new believers is concerned, you will find that some of your converts have already been baptized (generally in infancy) while others have not.


I believe that those who have already been baptized should not be rebaptized. It makes no more sense to be baptized again than to be justified again or to enter the Lord’s family again. Baptism emphasizes the once-for-allness of our incorporation into Christ, and by its nature cannot be repeated: communion is frequently repeated and stresses the ongoing side of the Christian life.

– Michael Green (b. 1930), Evangelism Now & Then (1979), pp. 81-3

Bad Moon Arising? Don’t Give Up The Fight

Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap,  because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.  So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.
-Galatians 6:7-10 (HCSB)

Photo credit: Pixabay

Don’t give up the fight.  The epitaph of every Christian’s life, should be, “I have fought the good fight” (2 Tim. 4:7).  I could not find a verse that said, “don’t give up the fight”.  But, Galatians 6:9 comes the closest, with the phrase, “don’t give up”, or “do not give up”.

The perseverance concept or way-of-life is common to the believer’s life, referenced in the Bible.  Galatians 6:9 is one of the best verses that expresses this.  I grew up, hearing the KJV version that says,  “Do not become weary in well doing”. 

That verse is there, because believers can become weary in well doing.  We get worn out, discouraged, and we forget the value and need of rest  We also get tired, because we keep sowing or doing good, with seemingly little return.

So, as we go on to maturity, we must learn perseverance.  In Romans 5, for example, Paul teaches that tribulations (NASB), suffering (ESV), or problems (CEB); produce in us perseverance (NASB) or  endurance (ESV, CEB).  Persevering and enduring during hardships build your character, resulting in solid hope.  Being justified by faith is a glorious experience that gives us great hope, as we move through this life.  We take that righteousness that we have received through Christ’s faithfulness and let God apply it transformationally, to our lives as we endure suffering.

Don’t give up the fight.

The book of Hebrews mentions “Don’t give up”, several times:

  • “Don’t give up meeting together” (10:25), means don’t stop having fellowship (twos and threes (Matt. 18:20)) with other believers, when you get discouraged in life.  
  • 12:3 says that we have the example of Jesus who did not give up when he continually faced opposition, during his life.  We should fix our eyes on Jesus, when we are going through problems.  
  • 12:5 tells us to not give up or not fall down, fainting, when God disciplines us as his children.

We just had the “Blood Moon”, this past weekend.  Some Christians have made a serious issue of that astronomical event.  Some others have said that it is, “much ado about nothing”, and just like any other eclipse.

I was considering Credence Clearwater Revival’s song, “Bad Moon Arising”.  I read that John Fogerty was inspired by the Faustian movie, “The Devil and Daniel Webster”, wherein he saw a hurricane coming in one scene, foreboding calamity.  Seeing the trouble coming, John’s lyric says, “Don’t go out tonight”.

I thought about this song, related to current events and the end of times, and I changed the line, in my mind, to, “Don’t give up the fight”.  I don’t know if that Blood Moon means anything, but I do believe that the world will end one day. Christians are called to keep on keeping on, fighting the good fight, doing good, and praying; until the end.

The word to all Christians is, “Do not give up”, “Don’t give up the fight, no matter what happens in the world.”  The call is to perseverance, endurance, and sharing in Christ’s sufferings.

If you are very interested in The End Times; there is nothing wrong with that.  The Thessalonian church was very interested in this topic.  If you open 1 Thessalonians, in chapter 1, verse 3, perseverance is mentioned.  And both of these letters are encouragements to Christians.  Opening to 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1, in verse 4; endurance is mentioned.

I give this example to say that if you are a Christian who is very interested in “End Times”, then, you are not alone.  The first churches were also very interested in this, and Paul wrote to them inspired words, that today is the Bible.  All of the letters are about, “how to live in the end times”.  The four gospels and Revelation are also about how to live, in Christ, in the end times, too.

We are people living in the end times, but the big question is not, “when will the end come?”, but, “how then shall we live?”  Matthew through Revelation answer that question.

So, if we ask, “Are apocalyptic events about to unfold?”, the answer is always, “perhaps”, or “they may”.  Asking that question, puts us in very good company.  After everything they had seen and experienced of and with Jesus, and when he was about to ascend to heaven, the first disciples asked him if this was “the time”, or when would “the time” happen; and he told them two things (Acts 1):

  1. It was not for them (or us) to know, and only the Father knows (Mt. 13;32, Matt. 24:36).  Jesus not knowing shows us that his submission to the Father is eternal.
  2. That they would soon receive power, when the Holy Spirit came, and be witnesses to the ends of the earth.

So, we are still in that time, the time of receiving power and being witnesses.  Don’t give up in this time.

Rickshaw: Power Source

But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God; He bestowed this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God’s will.

-John 1:12-13 (The Voice)
A rickshaw is a mode of human powered transport.  A person pulls you, while you sit in a two wheeled carriage.  Rickshaw is short for jinrikjsha.  It is a Japanese word that means human power source.  The rickshaw likely originated in Japan, possibly invented by a missionary, to transport his disabled wife in Yokohama in the 19th century.
The picture of the rickshaw is a picture of what drives you or what is your power source.  What drives you?  What is your power source?  We are all driven by something and we are all empowered by something.
In John, chapter one, we are told that Jesus is the light who came into the world that he created.  The world, for the most part, did not recognize him.  They refused to listen to him.  They rejected him.  They did not welcome him.
But some did get it.  They welcomed him.  They believed in him.  They received him.  They trusted in him.  They accepted him.  For these, he gave power or authorization, the right and privilege to be children of God.
That is, adoption back into God’s family.  That is, birthright.  We are now children of God, who are entitled to full inheritance in Christ.
This all does not come from human effort, or human power.  Being reborn, born again, or born from above is a spiritual thing that comes from God, through Christ.
When we are reborn into God’s family and adopted in Christ, our power source, what drives us in life, is transformed.  Our lives are redeemed.  Who we are in our deepest parts is activated.  We find a purpose in life, a calling, a giftedness.  We have passion, given by God, for a purpose.
What are you driven by?  What is your power source?  Is your power from inside or outside?  Do you make it happen in your life or are you lifted by God and being taken for the ride of your life?  What is your purpose, what is your drive?
After Jesus rose from the dead, but before he ascended to heaven; he told his followers:

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be My witnesses, first here in Jerusalem, then beyond to Judea and Samaria, and finally to the farthest places on earth. (Acts 1:8)

It happened, and this is what Peter said to the people who were the first to be witnessed to, by Jesus followers:

For the promise of the Spirit is for you, for your children, for all people—even those considered outsiders and outcasts—the Lord our God invites everyone to come to Him.    (Acts 2:39)

This is God’s power.  The same power that is miraculous is the power to be His witnesses.  Do you have God’s power, driving you in your life?  What is your power source and what drives you?

God is a covenant God.  Christians are under the new covenant.  Everything is paid for with Christ.  He is the door for our lives.  We procure our birthright in Christ.  There is hardship, suffering, waiting, searching, and baffled-to-know-better seasons; but it is all in Christ.  We are dependent on God in Christ.  That is the Christian, the in-Christ, life.

New birth is a miracle and we can only do things that are meaningful in Christ and by being or staying connected to him (John 15:5).  The Christian life is Christ plus nothing.  We don’t do good to get with God or be righteous, but we do good things because Christ is in us and we are his.

If you are empowered by God’s power, in your human spirit, and live out your life, driven by the gift God put in you, that brings Him pleasure; there may be people who won’t like it and don’t share your passion for purpose and who may even mock you, try to discourage you, or even persecute you.

A terrible conflict was happening in the Galatian  church that prompted Paul’s letter.  In a nut-shell, a group of people, who didn’t agree with Paul, that salvation is a free gift that is completely paid for by Jesus; were perverting Paul’s message of grace alone.  This really got Paul angry.

Paul wrote that, figuratively, legalism is like Hagar and Ishmael; and grace is like Sarah and Isaac. Isaac was the miracle child, the promised child, conceived by the elderly mamma and papa, with God’s help.  Hagar birthed Ishmael, through a bad idea from that same mamma and papa.  Here is what Paul wrote to the Galatians about this:

 Listen to this:  it’s recorded in the Scripture that Abraham was the father of two sons. One son was born to a slave woman, Hagar, and the other son was born to a free woman, Abraham’s wife, Sarah.  The slave woman’s son was born through only natural means, but the free woman’s son was born through a promise from God.  I’m using an allegory. Here’s the picture: these two women stand for two covenants. The first represents the covenant God made on Mount Sinai—this is Hagar, who gives birth to children of slavery.  Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and she stands for the Jerusalem we know now. She has lived in slavery along with her children. But there is a Jerusalem we know above. She is free, and she is our mother.  Isaiah wrote,

Be glad, you who feel sterile and never gave birth!
Raise a joyful shout, childless woman, who never went into labor!
For the barren woman produces many children,
more than the one who has a husband.

So you see now, brothers and sisters, you are children of the promise like Isaac. The slave’s son, born through only what flesh could conceive, resented and persecuted the one born into the freedom of the Spirit. The slave’s son picked at Isaac, just as you are being picked at now.  So what does the Scripture say? “Throw out the slave and her son, for the slave’s son will never have a share of the inheritance coming to the son of the free woman.” So, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but sons and daughters of the free.  -Gal. 4:21-31 (Isa. 54:1, Gen 21:10) The Voice

What empowers you?  What gives power to your life and drives you?  Is your life like Ishamael’s, a human, born out of and living  by and through human, purely human passion and drive?  God calls that slavery to sin.

Or is your life a promise fulfilled that only God could fulfill?  No hamburger helper needed or allowed.  Is your life a life of freedom and grace?  Is it a life that is a poem or a tapestry, made by God?

God needs our participation and cooperation, but not our power to deliver, save, or make-it-happen.  Did you know that God is offended when we, “take it from here”, and make it on our own?  He wants to provide.  He wants to be depended on.  He wants to take care of us in every dimension or arena of our lives.  That is why God’s name is Father.

Who is your source?  Who empowers you?  What is the gift of God within you, that drives you to give back to the King?

Greater Grace Needed

Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy.  Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, “The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning”?  But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.”  So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into despair.  Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. -James 4:4-10 (New English Translation)

I believe that we need more grace.  God has in store greater grace than any carnal, worldly desire that we have.  God’s grace is more satisfying than the world and is what we need.  God wants to satisfy our deepest desires.

More grace, greater grace, is the answer to our deepest desires. We are designed to live in and by grace.  God is jealous for us to desire him.  Grace got us saved.  Grace gives our Christian life oxygen to breathe.

The context of the word from James that God can and will give us greater grace to float our boats above worldliness, is an indictment of a church that has become worldly, rather than Christ-like.  God notices, God cares.  Christianity does not work, “in name only”.  Christians are Christ’s bride and God’s children.  We are covenant people.  Worldliness, carnality, arrogance, and self-focus go against walking with God.  God is righteously jealous for His children to walk in grace before Him and not to love the world:

“Doesn’t God long for faithfulness in the life he has given us?” 
“The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning.
“God jealously longs for the spirit that He made to live in us.” 
“the Spirit which he made to dwell in us jealously yearns for the entire devotion of the heart” 
“he’s a fiercely jealous lover.”
 -James 4:5 (CEB, NET, NET notes, and MSG)

The church who loves the world in in danger of being the enemy of God. (James 4:4)  The world is, “a system of values and character qualities that are in opposition to God.(1But, how do you know if James’ indictment is towards you? Are you filled with selfish desire or desire for God?  Do you have a jealous heart that envies others and covets and hates those who have more?  It’s a spirit of, “keeping up with the joneses”, gone wild.  We compete, we compare, we shamefully idolize people “above us”, and proudly look down on those “below us”.

God’s Spirit longs, yearns, and is jealous for us. “Jealousy is an intensely painful and powerful emotion that the conduct of the believer elicits from the Spirit of God.(2)  He misses us intensely when we are “away” from Him. 

The church who loves the world more than God is selfish.  We are self centered.  We see prayer as a way to impose our will on God, a formula, or magic; rather than an ongoing, 24-7, relationship with Father God.  James 4:3 says, “you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.”

The world urges us to love ourselves, to put our pleasures before God’s pleasures. If we agree with that idea, we are unfaithful as the Lord’s spiritual brides. We have deliberately chosen to follow the world’s philosophy rather than God’s will. We cannot be on friendly terms with God if we follow the world’s philosophy (Matt. 6:24). The world wants us to exclude God from all aspects of life. God wants us to include Him in all of life because He is in all of life, and without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

God has set a high standard of wholehearted love and devotion for His people, but He gives grace that is greater than His rigorous demand…  However, He gives grace to the humble: those who put God’s desires first in their lives. He gives grace (help) to withstand the onslaughts of the flesh within and the world without.(3)

If we have messed up in our Christian life, there is grace for us.  Grace saved us and greater grace will get us back on track.  “First John one nine it”, my pastor used to say.  God is always ready to forgive, if you are ready to repent.  Repentance is a way of life for the one who walks with God (Isaiah 30:15).  Don’t be ashamed of this.  Humiliation is the path to humility.  Repent and receive more grace.

What is grace?  God’s unmerited favor.  That means favor that you cannot earn.  It is by grace that you have been saved.(Eph. 2:8)  Grace can also be defined as God’s sufficiency or God’s fullness in the life of the believer.  God said to Paul, “my grace is sufficient for you.”(2 Cor. 12:9)  Grace is from the Greek word “charis”, like charismatic.  A.W. Tozer said that, “Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits on the undeserving.”(4)  Louis Berhof wrote that grace is, “the unmerited operation of God in the heart of man, effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit.”(4)

A simple definition of grace is the word favorHow does more, grace, more favor operate in James 4:6?  On this verse, Kurt Richardson writes, “God wills the correction of his people through the continuing application of his favor.(5)

We all stumble, make mistakes, or get it wrong (James 3:2); but he gives us more, greater, grace (James 4:6) to live the life of walking with God. We need more favor, charis. Charismatic people are favored people. We follow charismatic people. We might say, in Christian terms, that they are anointed. There is favor there to succeed.(Gal. 2:9)

Grace empowers us to succeed against sin. I have the grace to live the life.

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!  -Galatians 2:20-1 (NET)

Grace is not just a theological concept that describes a position God puts people in, that we want to live in, but it is an atmosphere or a source from which the life is lived. We live the life by grace.

Grace is more than a descriptive term.  It is participative, tangible, substantive, and locomotive.  Grace moves you forward.  Grace empowers you to walk the walk.  Grace gives you the words to say with power.  Remember that The Gospel is the power of God (Rom. 1:16) and God’s Kingdom isnt about words, but about power (1 Cor. 4:20).  So, where is the power?  That is what all believers need.

Acts 4:33 says, “The apostles continued to bear powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and an abundance of grace was at work among them all.

Grace is favor.  The unmerited part means you didn’t earn it.  If we are a people who have seen the sick healed and demons cast out; it’s a sign of God’s favor upon us.  Grace got you saved and grace keeps you keeping on (Col. 2:6).

Jesus came to save.  Grace and truth came through Jesus (John 1:17).  He came to reveal the Father and to empower us to walk and live, as he did.  We need to grow in truth and grace (2 Peter 3:18).  Sin can not out do grace (Rom. 5:20).  There is enough grace to extinguish all sin, the most depraved sin; in the world and in believers, because the resource of grace is unlimited.  We serve a God with unlimited resources.  

James gives some bullet points on how to position your self to receive more grace:

  • So submit to God. 
  • But resist the devil and he will flee from you.  
  • Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. 
  • Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded.  
  • Grieve, mourn, and weep. 
  • Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into despair.  
  • Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.
The last verse of the Bible is Revelation 22:21:   

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.
Julia H. Johnston (1849-1919)


1.  An Out-of-this-World Experience: A Look at “κόσμος” in the Johannine Literature,  W. Hall Harris III
2. The Holy Spirit and Our Emotions, David Eckman 
3.  New English Translation, NET, notes
4. What Is Grace?,  John MacArthur
5. James, Kurt A. Richards on


The Life That I Now Live

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.  -Galatians 2:20

  • The life
  • That I
  • Now
  • Live

Christ is the life of the Christian.  For the Christian, to live is Christ.  Christ is what makes the Christian life different. When Christ came into my life I started to live in him.

In Galatians 2:20, the word “I” occurs 4 times and the word “me” occurs 3 times.  Something very personal for each Christian person is described here, by Paul.  It’s not general, collective, or theoretical.  It’s real, intimate, and personal for each one of us.  You, an individual, singular Christian, have Christ living in your life.  Christ did something profound for you and you did something profound in him when you put your faith in him, and now he animates your life towards God.  God’s mission in his son, becomes you and me.  We are now intimately part of that because the power and person that saved us now lives in us and we live our lives through him, to the glory of God.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.”  I died.  It’s past tense, but appropriated now.  You don’t seek be be crucified or say you are living the crucified life.  That “I” is my self, my sin(full) nature.  If my sinful nature or my selfish self is very much alive, something is not complete in my salvation and I need to die.  When he was crucified, we were all crucified in our sinful nature.  You don’t crucify your self.  It is something that has happened and is already made available in Christ, that we step into.  It is something that has happened that we enter into.  Being crucified with Christ, does not mean you are completely dead to self.  It means you are participating in the dying of your self, through Christ.

“But Christ lives in me.”  The Christian, “Christ-I-In”, life is a new life where my old, sinful nature is taken over by Christ.  When I receive Christ into my life, when I start walking with Christ as his disciple, Christ and his life lives in me.  Instead of sin and selfishness motivating me, I am motivated by Christ.  Through you and through me, Christ touches people and talks to people who don’t know him yet.  It is a misconception to say that we will bring people to church to hear of and know Christ, when Christ is living and breathing through every Christian.  People who do not know Christ can get to know him through those Christ lives in.  To say that you can not share Christ because you think that you do not have the gift of evangelism is a deception.  If you have Christ, you have the good news and if you have been a Christian for more than 5 minutes, you have something to share.  If you are a Christian, Christ lives in you and the life you now live is Christ’s life.  The Lord Jesus Christ loves to be among people and point them to his father and that’s what Christians do too.

“And the life that I now live.”  Jesus came to give us a new life to live.  The life he gives us is the 7 days a week life.  Life is now, it is every day, every minute.  Jesus does not make us Christians so that we can now go to church on Sunday, but be miserable, secret Christians during the other six and a half days of the week.  Jesus did not punch our ticket to heaven and leave us.

“The life that I now live”, is resurrection life.  Resurrection life is life raised from the dead.  It’s still me, but it is me with Christ living in me and the old me died.  This life that I now live is my life that has been to the cross, died, and been raised in Christ. It’s now life, present tense life.  Whatever you are going through now, Christ is with you.  He is inside your life, your suffering and your joys.  Life in the “now”.  “Now” life. 

“In my body.”  “The life that I now live in my body”.  In my body is translated “in the flesh” in other translations.  Some people think that any effort made, “in the flesh”, is bad, and therefore, should not be made.  “Don’t get in the flesh”, or “he’s in the flesh”, we hear.  This idea carries with it a misconception or error that our flesh should disappear or be completely set aside when we are doing ministry, in Christ, or doing things or speaking for God.  People who have this misconception wait for God to  evangelize or disciple or help the poor; because they don’t want to act, “in the flesh”.  There is another school of thought that is also deception or error that says that since the flesh does not take part in the kingdom and will not go to heaven, go ahead and indulge the flesh in the smorgasbord of sinful activity.

“The life I now live in my body, I now live by faith, indeed by the faithfulness of God’s Son.”  Paul here says that Christ is now living in the Christian’s life, in his or her body.  That life is now a life of holiness and good works.  Christ lives in me and I now live that life.  Live-ing, living is not passive.  I have to get out of bed and make my coffee each day.  I have to love my neighbor with actions.  That getting up, making coffee and actively loving my neighbor all take exertion in my body, my flesh.  That’s life, Christ living, in and through the body of me.

Life and live occur 4 times in this verse and are the Greek word, Zao, which, according to Strong’s Greek Lexicon, means “to live”, as in experiencing life.  It does not just mean being alive, but living; as in experiencing.  Zao has to do with natural, physical life; and it has to do with behavior: how you live.  So this is the how of Christ living in me, it is in experiencing life and in how I behave.

“The life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  This new life is incarnational, “Christ lives in me”.  It is only through this union with Christ that I can live the Christian life.  The life of the Christian starts with faith and continues with faith, all the way through.  You never stop faith-ing.  It’s by faith and through faith.  As Phil Newton states, “Not only are we justified by faith, but we also live by faith. This means that saving faith cannot be reduced to a one-time decision or event in the past; it is a living, dynamic reality permeating every aspect of the believer’s life.”

“I live by faith.”  Faith is not just belief, but action.  Believing is good, but faith is when you act on your belief.  Faith’s A-B-C’s:   Faith is an ACTION, BASED upon a CONFIDENCE.  I may have confidence in someone or something, but it is faith when I act.  Wayne Grudem states that, “saving faith in Scripture involves this personal trust, the word “trust” is a better word to use in contemporary culture than the word “faith” or “belief.” The reason is that we can “believe” something to be true with no personal commitment or dependence involved in it.”  How’s your commitment to and dependence on Christ?  That’s trust and that’s real faith.

“I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  My faith is a trust in him.  My faith is rooted in him, in his faithfulness.  Do I believe in his faithfulness?  What do I see when I see him on the cross?  Faithfulness.

My faith that I live by is his faith.  The life that I now live, I live by faith, Christ’s faith.  He was faithful.  I have faith in him.  I live live by him, his faith, his trust and commitment in the Father.  I am now living in this intimate, trusting relationship.  That is the life that I now live.

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