What Has God Done?

On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined where you are in custody, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households, and bring your youngest brother to me. So your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they did so. Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. Then he turned away from them and wept. And he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. And Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, and to replace every man’s money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. This was done for them.

Then they loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed. And as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place, he saw his money in the mouth of his sack. He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in the mouth of my sack!” At this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?” – Genesis 42:18-28 ESV

Joseph determined to keep up his charade a bit longer. After three days of confinement, had his brothers brought into his presence once again. Using an interpreter, Joseph informs his brothers that he will allow them to go, but only under certain conditions. One of them must stay behind as a guarantee, and the rest must return with their youngest brother. They will be allowed to purchase grain and take it with them for their families, but each of them will be required to return in order to save the life of the one brother who will be left behind. Joseph is testing his brothers by placing a huge temptation right in front of them. He remembers full well how easy they had found it to get rid of him. So he provides them with another opportunity to reveal their true character. He is not going to dictate which brother will stay behind, but will leave that decision up to them. Would they take advantage of the situation to get rid of yet another less-than-favorite brother, choosing to never return and leaving him to deal with the governor’s anger?

The brothers, shocked and dismayed by the situation in which they find themselves, begin to talk among themselves. They assume that Joseph, who in their eyes is obviously an Egyptian, cannot understand them because he has been utilizing an interpreter. But he overhears their conversation as they begin to discuss and debate their dire circumstance. They immediately assume this is God’s payback for the sin they had committed against their brother, Joseph, more than 20 years ago. Reuben, utilizing a bit of revisionist history, reminds them that he was the one who told them “not to sin against the boy” (Genesis 42:22 ESV). Then he smugly adds, “But you did not listen.” The truth is, that is not exactly how it went down. What Reuben had actually said was, “Let’s not kill him. Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him” (Genesis 37:21-22 NLT). Now, in his defense, Reuben had planned to sneak back later that night and rescue Joseph from the cistern and return him to his father. But that part of the plan had never been revealed to the brothers. As far as they were concerned, he was also willing to let Joseph die. It was actually Judah who saved Joseph’s life by recommending that they sell him as a slave rather than kill him. But as the brothers bickered and debated, Joseph overheard their conversation and saw their fear and regret for what they had done. And he wept. He could sense their remorse. He could feel their pain as they struggled with what they had done and wrestled with the apparent divine justice that God was finally bringing on them.

So Joseph made their task a bit easier by choosing Simeon, the second oldest, as the one to stay behind. Then he had their sacks filled with grain. Not only that, he secretly instructed that the money each of the brothers had paid for their grain be put back in their sacks. And he provided them with provisions for the long journey home. This is a significant feature of the story. The brothers had come to Egypt to buy grain. The goal given to them by Jacob, their father, was to purchase what was necessary to save the lives of their families. He had sent them with the instructions, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die” (Genesis 42:2 ESV). They were to purchase their own salvation. The brothers, each guilty of selling their brother into slavery, were going to use their personal resources to try and escape the devastating and ultimately, deadly, effects of the famine. But when they had purchased their grain, Joseph saw to it that their money was returned to them. Their salvation would be based on his mercy, not their merit or resources. Joseph had every right to enact revenge, but instead he chose to show grace – undeserved favor. He gave them what they did not deserve. He provided them with salvation, when what they really deserved was justice.

On the way home, the mood must have somber. They would have had plenty of time to think about what they had done and regret their actions. When they stopped along the way to feed their donkeys, things took an even worse turn, as they made the shocking discovery that their money was still in their sacks. It is interesting to note that their conclusion was negative, not positive. They exclaimed, “What is this that God has done to us?” (Genesis 42:28 ESV). They saw this as another example of God’s divine payback for their previous sin. What they didn’t realize was that this was actually the merciful hand of God, providing them with salvation rather than condemnation. Joseph had given them the grain they needed as a gift. It was free. Their money was not necessary. They would simply have to accept it willingly and joyously. But their reaction was one of fear. They immediately saw the presence of their money as proof of God’s unabsolved anger with them. Little did they know that the salvation God had in mind was going to be far greater than sacks full of grain and temporary relief from a famine. He had bigger things in store for them. He was going to fulfill His promise to Abraham. He was going to give them a land. He was going to make them a great nation. He was going to bless the nations through them. What is this thing that God has done to us? A great thing. A divinely ordained thing. A good, gracious, merciful, kind and undeserved thing.

 

What God Is About To Do.

Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind are also seven years of famine. It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will consume the land, and the plenty will be unknown in the land by reason of the famine that will follow, for it will be very severe. And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.” – Genesis 41:25-36 ESV

If you were going to have to interpret the dreams of the most powerful man in the world, wouldn’t you prefer that you have something positive to share? Nobody likes to hear bad news, especially someone like Pharaoh, who was probably used to having everyone around him tell him what he wanted to hear. But Joseph gave Pharaoh the truth, telling him, “God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do” (Genesis 41:28 ESV). According to God’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s two dreams, there was only one meaning. There was going to be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of drought and famine. The seven years of agricultural bounty would be completely consumed when the famine came. And as if that news was not bad enough, Joseph tells Pharaoh, “the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about” (Genesis 41:32 ESV).

This is going to be a divine act. Which brings us back to the issue of God’s timing. Why had Joseph had to stay in prison for two years? Why had God waited all that time before causing Pharaoh to have his dreams? It was all part of His divine plan and according to His perfect timing. At just the right time, Pharaoh had his dreams. At just the right time, the cupbearer remembered what Joseph had done for him in the prison. At just the right time, Joseph was brought from the prison to the palace to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. And it would prove perfect timing, not only for Joseph but for the land of Egypt. The events foretold in Pharaoh’s dreams were about to take place. And Joseph gives him some very sound counsel:

“Therefore, Pharaoh should find an intelligent and wise man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh should appoint supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the seven good years. Have them gather all the food produced in the good years that are just ahead and bring it to Pharaoh’s storehouses. Store it away, and guard it so there will be food in the cities. That way there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come to the land of Egypt. Otherwise this famine will destroy the land.” – Genesis 41:33-36 NLT

The passage doesn’t say this, but it seems clear that Joseph’s counsel to Pharaoh had been given to him by God. This was not some off-the-cuff advice that Joseph threw in for free. It was part of the interpretation. God had shown Pharaoh what He was about to do. Now He was telling Pharaoh what he should do to prepare for the inevitable. Honestly, I doubt that Joseph had any idea that the words coming out of his mouth were in reference to himself. That kind of grandstanding doesn’t fit the kind of character he has displayed throughout the story so far. Joseph wasn’t trying to audition for a job. We know that he was a hard worker, a good manager of the affairs of others, and had a track record of having God’s hand of blessing on his life. But there is no indication that Joseph was trying to get out of jail by jockeying for a role in the royal cabinet. He was simply sharing the words of God. The remarkable advice he gave Pharaoh was divinely inspired, not the result of human discernment. God was giving ample warning about the events to come and the steps to prepare for them. The famine had a divine purpose behind it. So did the seven years of plenty. But only those who heeded the Lord’s counsel and followed His prescribed steps of preparation would survive. And survival was at the heart of God’s message. This famine would be widespread and have an impact far beyond the borders of Egypt. And God was preparing the land of Egypt to be His divine resource for rescuing the descendants of Abraham and fulfilling His promises to them.

So often, the ways of God make no sense to us. His methods appear to be convoluted and confusing. We wonder why He does things the way He does. We question His reasoning and complain about His timing. Whether we intend to or not, when we doubt the ways of God, we are really questioning the wisdom of God. And He has some fairly strong words for those who raise questions about His wisdom.

“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.” – Job 36:2-3 NLT

This statement was addressed to Job, who had been through a great deal of suffering and loss. He had some legitimate questions about all that had happened to him. He was confused by all the pain and persecution he had endured. And his confusion caused him to lash out at God, questioning His ways and raising doubts about His wisdom. So God had a few questions of His own for Job:

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.” – Job 36:4 NLT

“Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east?” – Job 36:12 NLT

“Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you explored their depths?” – Job 36:16 NLT

“Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? Can you make lightning appear and cause it to strike as you direct?” – Job 36:34-35 NLT

God’s questions to Job are numerous and come in relentless waves. Then He adds one last question: “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” (Job 40:2 NLT).

We may not understand God’s ways, but we have no right to question His wisdom. He is God Almighty. He is the creator of all things. He is the God of the universe. His wisdom is beyond our comprehension. His methods are too much for our minds to grasp. But we can know this. He is all-wise, all-powerful and all-loving. He knows what He is doing and what He does is always right.

He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is! – Deuteronomy 32:4 NLT

The LORD is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness. – Psalm 145:17 NLT

 

God’s Marvelous Mercy.

As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. – Romans 11:28-32 ESV

This is a fascinating and difficult passage. It presents us with a somewhat confusing picture of God’s grace that could easily leave us accusing Him of injustice. For the time being, the Jews are experiencing “a partial hardening” until “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11: 25 ESV). While Israel had been seeking righteousness, a right relationship with God, they had been going about it the wrong way, by attempting to keep the law in their own human strength. And when the true path to righteousness was revealed, Jesus Christ, they rejected Him. So, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day” (Romans 11:8 ESV). But God did not cause their hardening or spiritual callousness. He simply allowed their hearts to go where they were naturally bent to go. He did not intervene. He did not extend mercy. And if we conclude that God’s treatment of the Jews was  unfair or unjust, we misunderstand mercy. Mercy is not required by God. By definition, mercy is a gift, not a requirement. Justice is required. Mercy is non-justice. In other words, when God determines to extend mercy to anyone, He is choosing NOT to enact justice, or to give them what they truly deserve. We see over and over again in Scripture God extending mercy to the people of Israel. Repeatedly, they turned their backs on Him and proved unfaithful as His people. As a result, they deserved His justice, His righteous, holy sentence of just punishment. But instead, God graciously chose to show them mercy, His undeserved kindness, goodness, favor and compassion. And to do so is God’s prerogative. “For God said to Moses, ‘I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose’” (Romans 9:15 NLT). When God shows mercy, we have no cause to complain or to cry foul. What should amaze us is that God, in His patience and love, chooses to show anyone mercy. Because mercy is never deserved. It is never earned. Paul has made it clear that all men deserve God’s justice: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV) and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 ESV). So if God chooses to extend His mercy to some, can we accuse Him of injustice? Paul would say, “No!”

“What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” – Romans 9:14-16 ESV

Which brings us back to our passage. As it pertained to the gospel, the good news regarding salvation through Christ, the Jews were essentially enemies of God, Paul contends. Their rejection of the Jesus as their Messiah had opened the door for the gospel to be preached to the Gentiles. But when it comes to God’s sovereign election or choosing of the nation of Israel, they are still beloved in His eyes. At this point, it would appear that Paul is now talking about the future state of Israel as a nation or a people. It would not appear that he is referring to individual Jews or individual Gentiles in these verses. At one time in history, the Gentile nations had been apart from God. They were separated from Him because of their sin. Paul puts it this way: “Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called ‘uncircumcised heathens’ by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope” (Ephesians 2:11-12 NLT). But Paul says that something changed all that. “But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13 NLT). Notice that he addresses them as a whole, as Gentiles. This does not mean that ALL Gentiles have come to faith in Christ, but that the Gentile nations have now been shown the mercy of God.

The same will be true for the nation of Israel. While they are currently experiencing a hardness of heart and a spiritual callousness toward God and His offer of salvation through His Son, the day is coming when God will show them mercy just as He has done for the Gentiles. “For just as you [the Gentiles] were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their [the Jews] disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy” (Romans 11:30 ESV). In other words, Paul wants us to understand that this is not a case of Gentiles replacing Jews as God’s favored people. This is about God extending mercy to those to whom He sovereignly chooses. God’s mercy knows no prejudice. He is an equal-opportunity mercy provider. “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all” (Romans 11:32 ESV). Again, this does not mean that all will be saved, but that all share a common state of disobedience and alienation from God, and if He does not choose to show mercy, none will be saved – either Jew or Gentile.

Israel’s rejection of the Messiah did not put them beyond God’s mercy. His inclusion of the Gentiles was not a sign of His exclusion of the Jews. It is a matter of timing. Right now, during the period of the Gentiles, His focus is on bringing the full number of those from among the Gentiles to faith in His Son. Then He will turn His attention to the nation of Israel. Yes, this is all hard for us to understand. It is difficult to comprehend why God does things the way He does. But Paul will clarify that for us in the closing verses of this chapter.

Romans 15:14-22

You Have What It Takes.

Romans 15:14-22

But I myself am fully convinced about you, my brothers and sisters,that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. – Romans 15:14 NET

While Paul has spent a great deal of time critiquing the behavior of the Christians in Rome, he begins to close out his letter with some words of encouragement. He wants them to know that they not only have within them the power to live lives that are different and distinct from those around them, they are actually pulling it off. His letter was not meant to depress and demoralize them. He was simply doing what God had called him to do as a minister of the Gospel. And that sometimes included having to say and write difficult things. But his goal was always the same: “that the Gentiles may become an acceptable offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:16 NET). Paul wanted them to live lives that were set apart, different and distinct from the way they used to live. He wanted their lives to be marked by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit – who alone can make a life of holiness possible. Paul knew that they had what it takes to live holy, set apart lives because he knew they had the Holy Spirit residing within them. As a result they were “full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another” (Romans 15:14 NLT).

Paul uses the term “goodness.” It is the Greek word, agathōsynē and it means “uprightness of heart and life.” It is the goodness that comes from God and reveals itself in spiritual, moral excellence. In other words, it is an inner quality that shows up in our character and our interactions with others. Paul uses the word in three other places in his letters and it is always associated with the work of the Holy Spirit. In other words, it is not of human origin, but is divine. In Galatians 5, Paul includes it in the list of the fruit of the Spirit. In Ephesians 5, Paul tells the believers in Ephesus that they are full of light and, as a result, they should live as people of light. For the light that resides within them only produces “goodness” – spiritual and moral excellence. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9, Paul prayed that they would be make them worthy of His calling and fulfill for them every desire they had for “goodness” and every act that was prompted by their faith. Paul wanted to see the power of the Holy Spirit “fleshed out” in their lives by the way they lived their lives and interacted with one another. They had it in them, but they had to live it out.

The key for Paul was dependence upon and obedience to the Holy Spirit. His life was marked by a constant reliance upon the Holy Spirit’s direction. He did what he was told to do. He went where he was told to go. He preached what he was told to say. In spite of opposition, difficulty, set backs, his own apprehensions, fear, physical illness or any feelings of inadequacy or inability. Again, Paul was simply doing what the Holy Spirit had directed and empowered him to do. “I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:16 NLT). Anything he had accomplished through his life had been done by the Spirit, not him. His life had been marked by “goodness” – spiritual, moral excellence. By allowing himself to be used by the Spirit, Paul had been able to see lives changed, and the message of the Gospel spread throughout the Roman Empire. The power of God had been “fleshed out” in Paul’s life, making a difference in not only his own life, but the lives of thousands of others. The goodness of God had done a good work in and through Paul. And Paul wanted to see that same thing happen in the lives of the believers in Rome. Having the Spirit of God living within us is great. But the key to living the Christian life is learning to let the Holy Spirit reveal His power through us. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:5 NLT). Our darkness has been penetrated by the light of the Gospel and the presence of the power of God in the form of the Holy Spirit. Now we need to let that light shine. He describes us as fragile clay jars. We are weak and worthless, and yet God has placed His Spirit within us, so that His power might flow from us – revealing and testifying to His life-changing presence in our lives. But if the Spirit’s power never shows up, if the “goodness” of God never reveals itself in spiritual, moral excellence in our lives – God doesn’t get the glory and the darkness around us remains unchanged. We have what it takes. Now we have to take what we have and let it out.

Father, too often we live in our own power and fail to reveal Your power that resides within us. Show us how to let the power of the Spirit within us out of us. May His light shine through us, proving that we truly are Your sons and daughters. May Your goodness flow from us in acts of kindness, works of faith, and the fruit of the Spirit. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Galatians 5:16-26

The Fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-26

But the Holy Spirit products this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! – Galatians 5:22 NLT

Not only are we free to love others, but we are free to live under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. But if we’re not careful, we are also free to live according to the desires of our own sinful flesh – our sin nature. It’s a choice. I can choose to let the Holy Spirit guide and direct my life, or I can give in to the constant cravings of my sin nature. It’s not only a choice, it’s a daily battle. “These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions” (Galatians 5:17b NLT). The Holy Spirit directs us one way, while our sin nature prompts us to take an opposite and radically dangerous path. Allowing ourselves to get enslaved to the law only feeds our sin nature. Paul pointed this out in Romans 7. “…it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, ‘You must not covet.’ But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me!” (Romans 7:7-8 NLT). The law tells me what I should not do, and then my sin nature desires to do just that. It’s like telling a young child not to touch a hot stove, and that becomes the one thing they want to try and do. Their sin nature creates a desire for the very thing they have been denied. Like Eve in the Garden, we can’t seem to stay away from the one thing God has told us is off limits. When you attempt to live according to laws, decrees, rules and standards, your sin nature will always resist, tempting you to break those rules or justify your ignoring of them. When you try to do what God wants in your own strength, you will fail. But when you live empowered and guided by the Spirit of God, you will have all the strength you need and the motivation to do what needs to be done.

Following the desires of our sin nature produces obvious outcomes. Paul gives us a comprehensive list. Sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these” (Galatians 5:19-21 NLT). Notice the diverse nature of his list. He includes sexual immorality alongside jealousy. Drunkenness makes the list right there by envy. All of these things, from the dramatic to the seeming inconsequential, all have one thing in common – they are focused on self. They are self-centered and driven by selfish desires. This list contains destructive behaviors that are anything but conducive to community and selfless servanthood. Trying to live your life according to some set of standards or rules will feed your sin nature and produce an unhealthy and destructive list of outcomes. You’ll end up comparing yourself with others. You’ll compete and attempt to outdo others in rule-keeping. You’ll attempt to justify your own insufficiencies and expose those of others. All this will lead to division, dissension, quarreling, jealousy, anger, and more.

It’s interesting that when we try to produce the fruit of the Spirit on our own, we end up with results that look nothing like what we were aiming for. Rather than love that is focused on others, we end up loving ourselves. In place of joy, we find ourselves with discontentment and dissatisfaction. Instead of producing patience, we become irritable, judgmental and angry. Kindness gets replaced with pettiness and an overwhelming need to find fault in others so that we can feel better about ourselves. Goodness gets trumped by selfishness. Faithfulness comes out as unreliability and self-seeking. Gentleness becomes harshness. And self-control goes out the window, as love of self takes over our lives, turning out attention inwardly rather than outwardly.

Only the Spirit of God can produce the fruit God is looking for in our lives. These things are not self-produced. We are incapable of manufacturing any of them on our own. If we try, we only end up with cheap imitations that are like those knock-off perfumes you can buy at the local drug store. They may cost less, but they stink in comparison to the real thing. Paul encourages us to live by the Spirit, according to His power, not our own. Rather than having to live enslaved to the desires of our old sin nature, we are now free to live in the Spirit’s power, allowing Him to produce in and through us what we could never have done on our own. He produces in us supernaturally what we could never have produced naturally. Like our salvation, it is the work of God, not man. This is no longer about trying to live up to some kind of standards, rules or laws. It is not about trying to behave in such a way that we somehow make God happy and satisfied with us. It is not about comparing ourselves with others and measuring our righteousness based on that of others. This is learning to recognize that our righteousness is the work of God, from beginning to end. It is the fruit of His Spirit, not our flesh. It is made possible by the work of Christ, not anything we do or don’t do. So Paul encourages us, “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (Galatians 5:25 NLT). Let’s live in His power. Let’s operate according to His agenda. Let’s seek His will, not our own. Let’s watch Him produce His fruit in us, rather than try to produce it on our own. “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Romans 8:1-2 NLT). We are free to live in the power of the Spirit and to bear the fruit of the Spirit – for the good of others, not ourselves.

Father, I want to live increasingly in the power of Your Spirit. I want to say no to my sin nature and yes to Your Spirit’s leading. I desire to see His fruit produced in and through me. My attempts at fruitfulness always fall short and never produce what You’re looking for. My sin nature tends to make everything about ME. But I want to live for You. Continue to patiently show me how to live in Your power, according to Your will, and expressing Your love for others through my life. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org