A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Monday, April 20, 2020
"Walking By The Spirit"
Message summary: Viruses and other disease ravage us physically, but in today’s text Paul deals with Christian brothers and sisters who ravage one another with their words and actions.
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“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).
We are so thankful in these days of isolation that we live out in the country and have an essentially private walking path (2 mile round trip). Across from our home we walk down a long tractor trail, through a wooded path (our main photo today), then along Donegal Creek. We are surrounded by natural sounds and generally a pleasant aroma (unless the fields are getting treated!) The only loud honking we hear are the ducks and geese warning us to stay away, especially the dogs. If only they knew we have no plans to inhabit their water space. Donegal Creek is theirs to enjoy along with beavers, muskrats, fish and other inhabitants of rivers and creeks.
We seem so removed from the conflict that rages in various manifestations all around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, as time progresses, we are coming to hear of those we personally know who are dealing with the harmful, even deadly effects of the coronavirus.
Viruses and other diseases ravage us physically, but in today’s text Paul deals with Christian brothers and sisters who ravage one another with their words and actions. 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 the consequences of conflict!
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. We awoke this morning to more news of deadly shooting rampages over the last couple days where innocent people were gunned down.
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 servants 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 seek 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 live in self-conflict, much like a bird, looking at its reflection, begins to attack its own image. No matter how much we reach out or respond in love or forbearance toward them we still have conflict. Give us a deep settled 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.
Yesterday Rick Masciantonio, a longtime friend from New England, sent a prayer written in 1860. It's so powerful and seems like it could be written for our country (and any country) right now. One line especially grips me, "Heal all our unhappy divisions".
A Prayer for nation blessings to follow national repentance (read Psalm 72)
For the Advancement of true Religion in our own Country.
O ever blessed and most gracious God, we would thank thee that thou hast preserved us through the past night, and hast raised us up this morning, and given us another opportunity of meeting together before thy throne of grace.
O thou Lord and Giver of life, shine upon our souls; incline our hearts to follow Him who is the light of the world, that we may not abide in darkness, but have the light of life. May we by the grace of thy Holy Spirit obtain from day to day a deeper conviction of our own guilty and corrupt state, and a more lively faith in the abundant mercy and exceeding riches of the grace of our God in Christ Jesus. And, O blessed Spirit, the Comforter of the church of God, fill our souls with all joy and peace in believing; and grant that our love to thee may abound more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.
Look down in mercy upon our native land. We bless thee that thou hast vouchsafed unto us the light of thy glorious gospel. We praise thee for all the national mercies and privileges which we enjoy. But, alas! we would remember before thee, with shame and confusion of face, the rebellion and ingratitude which we have continually betrayed towards thee, who art ever loading us with thy benefits. Send throughout the land, O Lord, an universal spirit of repentance, that we may turn every man from his evil ways, and may amend our doings. Turn us, O God of our salvation, and so shall we be turned. Pour out the influence of thine illuminating Spirit upon us; that we may still be a favored nation, fearing thee, and working righteousness.
We beseech thee, Almighty God, whose kingdom is everlasting, and power infinite, to save and defend all Christian nations and Christian rulers and governors, and especially thy servant, our President, that under him we may be godly and be quietly governed. Let his administration be established in righteousness; and so rule his heart that he may above all things seek thy honor and glory. Instruct all his counsellors, and direct their measures to the preservation of domestic concord, the maintenance of peace among the nations, and the furtherance of the Redeemer’s kingdom.
May the continual dew of thy blessing be sent down upon all the ministers of thy gospel, and on all congregations committed to their charge. May they all rightly divide the word of truth, and direct sinners to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. Make thy ministers mighty in the Scriptures. Open to them an effectual door of usefulness. Let thy hand be with them, and let thy word be accompanied with thine own almighty power in the hearts of sinners, that many in our day may believe it and be turned unto thee. O Lord, we lament, among other national sins, the neglect with which thy blessed gospel hath been treated by many in our country. Oh that the true and blessed religion of our Lord Jesus may prevail powerfully; and gain more converts daily of such as shall be saved, throughout the world; that Jerusalem may be the joy and praise of the whole earth, and that we may see the good of it all the days of our life.
We humbly beseech thee to bless the rising generation; may the youth of our land be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; may the principles of faith and love, and of the fear of thy name, be early implanted in their hearts; and as they advance in years, may they grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And let thy blessing rest upon all the instructors of youth in our colleges and seminaries, in our public schools and Sunday-schools, and in private families. More especially bless those who bestow their time in teaching the children of the poor. May they themselves be taught of thee, and may their labor not be in vain in the Lord.
Bless all our fellow-citizens throughout the land. Multiply grace, mercy, and peace upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Heal all our unhappy divisions. Deliver us from all sedition and violence. Put to silence the deceitful lips of infidelity, and show to them that are in error the light of thy truth. Bless and preserve the fruits of the earth. Satisfy our poor with bread. Prosper their endeavors to provide things honest in the sight of all men; make them poor in spirit, and partakers of the unsearchable riches of Christ. Visit with thy mercy the sons and daughters of affliction, and overrule the dispensations of thy providence for their good. Strengthen the weak in faith; comfort those that mourn; subdue the enmity of the hardened heart; and cause sinners of every description to flee to thee while the door of mercy is still open.
Finally, O Lord, we implore thy protection and mercy for our dear relatives and friends. May their names be written in the book of life. May they be members of thy family while on earth, and heirs of thy glory in heaven.
We offer up these our supplications and intercessions at the throne of grace, in the name of Jesus Christ, our most blessed Savior and Redeemer. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Walking In The Spirit" Video David Morris
Walking along Donegal Creek on our walk last night on Meeting House Rd. which is actually just a tractor trail across the street from our house that leads to this paved lane which ends at Colebrook Road. Since it is not a through road we don't have any traffic on it apart from neighbor's golf carts!
Hmmm! I wonder what this squirrel has on his mind? The tree is a Pinkheartbreaker Redbud, a gift from our friend Don Eaton.
On the Old Windmill Farm this morning Cookie the goat jumped in our van and took a tissue this morning. Perhaps she was going to make a mask!
Holding a 2 day old baby goat always brings a smile.
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