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Friday, April 19, 2013
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"Walking In The Spirit"
"For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Galatians 5:14-16).
During the spring we are serenaded by the pleasant natural background music of singing birds. We have purple and gold finches, nuthatches, mourning doves, woodpeckers, chickadees, juncos, tufted titmouses, an assortment of sparrows and other various birds. When the cardinal sings Brooksyne usually stops in her tracks to follow its sound since cardinals are her favorites. But the northern mockingbird gets the prize for its enchanting melody and imitation of about 13 other bird trills.
However early this morning we were awakened by another type of bird sound, an annoying tapping of a robin persistently banging its beak into our front window. This has gone on for four days now in spite of the efforts we made to thwart the activity such as putting sheets of white plastic over the window to remove the reflective qualities. (Left Photo: Robin in action on the other side of the window)
In looking up what may cause such self-destructive bird behavior one conjecture is that the male bird which is very territorial sees his reflection and assumes it's another male bird in his territory. He's attacking what he assumes to be his rival. You'd think the robin would eventually get the right idea and move on, but so far the banging continues, making a mess of our window and potentially damaging it, but also harming himself. To his demise, the robin is actually in conflict with himself.
Today's text is in a section where Paul is dealing with unmistakable conflict that is all too prevalent among Christian brothers and sisters, and especially visible in the world. I have often been intrigued by the verse that states, "But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another." Isn't that a powerfully true description of conflict! Assuming the conjecture regarding the robin is correct, he angrily seeks to attack his "rival" when in reality it's his own image. Is there a spiritual application here?
This text is bracketed by two statements to consider when dealing with conflict:
1) "For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" What a different world we would live in if this principle were followed. I even consider this as I listen to the breaking news out of the Boston area and the pursuit of the surviving terrorist(s). More have been killed or injured overnight. A massive manhunt is underway and an entire region is essentially locked down. It's our prayer that this will be resolved by the time many of you read this.
What evil religion would motivate such evil? Of course in far too many cases we know this answer. All over the world our Christian brothers and sisters are being brutally persecuted.
A fundamental aspect of true Christian faith, as taught by our Lord and in the Bible, is expressed in this text, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus taught this principle in the parable of "The Good Samaritan". Our neighbor is not merely those who live in close proximity to us but our fellow man regardless of where they live. Jesus also said in a text often called the Golden Rule, "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).
2) "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." We can only examine ourselves on this point. We need to walk in step with the Holy Spirit guiding us to live the right way in contrast to those who fulfill "the desire of the flesh." Carrying out the desire of the flesh is not only destructive to others but is also destructive to ourselves.
In this tumultuous world may God's true people heed the words of sacred Scripture and seek to practice our faith with this outlook, "Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. 'But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:17-21).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, Your Word assures us that if we are walking in the Spirit we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh but instead we will want to fulfill the desires that are in accordance with the Holy Spirit that resides within the believer's heart. Help us to be at peace with others, as far as it is possible. There are those, who like the robin attacking its own image, who live in self-conflict. No matter how much we reach out or respond in love or forbearance toward them we still have conflict. Give us peace when we cannot improve the circumstances and a prayerful heart for endurance toward that which we cannot change. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Last night Ester and I went to the opening game for the Lancaster Barnstormers minor league baseball team. Prior to the game Lt. Andre Kelley, a local firefighter, was honored who was severely burned in a fire in February. In fact he is still in a burn center. His two children threw out the first pitches.
We both wore our Boston Red Sox caps in honor of our favorite team and all the turmoil Boston is going through even as we prepare this message. Like many other ballparks around the country we sang "Sweet Caroline" as they do in Fenway each game and the flag was hung at halfstaff.
The very first pitch and out was a blazing line drive to third.
Ester and I left with the Barnstormers winning in the bottom of the eighth inning. I snapped this shot from the outfield when the Barnstormers had a two run home run to seal the victory. We listened to the rest of the game as we drove home.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Love One Another" Video Maranatha Singers
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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