Fruits of Righteousness (Philippians 1:11)


At one time, I was traveling each week to some point in the country for a speaking engagement. At first, my trips were ill prepared leaving me many times at a hotel without all of essentials that I needed. Eventually, I created a packing list. It was a listed all the items that I needed for traveling and the list remained in the suitcase. In the event that I traveled and discovered that I had a new need, I would add that item to the list. Eventually, I had the perfect list. All I needed to do was check and make sure that everything on the list was packed and if it was, I was set.

Some people try to use the same process in their spiritual lives. They have a list and it contains the “do’s” and “don’ts” for righteous living. In their minds, if they do the things on the “do” list and refrain from items on the “don’t” list, then they are spiritual. I really wish it were that easy, but it is not.

Being spiritual is when a person lives as God expects them to live. In other words, the actions of the person’s life will be righteous. The problem is that any action that may appear to be righteous can also be sinful. For example, is giving to the poor a spiritual or righteous action? It could be, but it also could be sinful. If a person gave because God led them to give, then the action would be spiritual or righteous. However, if the person gave so that they would be recognized, then the same action would be sinful.

Being spiritual cannot be reduced to a list of “do’s” and “don’ts”. Instead, the spiritual life of living as God expects and desires is accomplished by abiding or dwelling in Jesus. When we do this, Jesus lives his righteous life through us. This is know as grace living. Grace living is when God empowers us by living his life through us and the righteous actions of our lives then are really though Jesus Christ.

Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:11)

Instead of trying to manufacture a righteous life, why not instead focus on abiding with Christ. As you do, he will enable you to live beyond your ability. If you don’t, you will experience so much frustration and failure, because without his empowerment, you can do nothing.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Advertisements

Propped Up (Psalm 37:23-24)



A number of years ago, my son came to me for help. It seemed that through a series of wrong decisions, he had found himself in a very poor state spiritually: sin seems to do that. Although I was greatly disappointed, I willfully stepped in to help. My support was not based on the severity of his situation, but instead on my love for him.   

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. Psalms 37:23-24

From this passage, we can see that good men, walking in the direction of the Lord, will fall and it is not of their own volition that they get back up and continue on for the Lord. They don’t get up: in fact it is the Lord who lifts them up and supports them to stand again.

You have seen card board cut outs of people, which contain a prop in the back to keep it standing. This item illustrates what the Lord does for us. When we can’t get up, he picks us up. When we cannot stand, he props us up. Whatever victory we get, it will not be based on our self will or determination. It will be based on the goodness of God and his support and strength in our lives.

When you fall, instead of trying harder, look to God for the support and strength you need. He will be there for you and do the work that only he can do.

As for my son, he too found strength that only God could bring to him. He stood him up, established his feet and has been guiding him to victory ever since.

Gird Up (1 Peter 1:13)


We tie up the turkey so that its appearance on the plate is more desirable. I tie up my tomato plants so that they have support in growing and I tie up the dog when I put him out to do his business so the that little bandit won’t run away. Why do we tie things up? We tie things up for their benefit or safety.

Spiritually speaking, we should do the same. The Scriptures admonished us to gird up our minds. 

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1 Peter 1:13)

The reason we are told to do so is because it is at that point that we get and maintain the victory. If you control how you think, you will control your actions. The apostle Paul stated it another way.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Both passages involved reeling in the thoughts of your mind. Those which don’t belong we need to recognize and cast down and those which are right should remain and we should continually think on them. (Phil. 4:8)

With our mind girded, we should be on guard and watch. Sober and watch are used interchangeably and it is this task that guards our hearts and minds. Jesus admonished his disciples with the same message: keep my commandments.  

Spiritually speaking, God wants us to closely watch and guard the commandments in our hearts. Keep sake, keep hold, the keep (the strongest part of a castle), she’s a keeper are all terms describing the act of watching or guarding a possession. Since the term keep means to watch or guard, then God wants us to guard our hearts and minds and keeping the commandments is to keep the thoughts that should remain in it.  

If you wait to govern yourself at the action level, you experience much failure and frustration. What you should do is gird up the loins of our minds with the commandments of God. Remember, how you think determines how you act.

Truth Inside (Psalm 51:6)



Have you ever faced a decision that you needed to make and you found yourself undecided?  Of course you have.  As you begin to figure out a solution to your problem, you convey it by saying, ” I am leaning towards …”

When it comes to pleasing God, he wants our hearts to lean towards truth.  The only way our hearts can do this is for truth to be present in our hearts.  Consider Psalm 119:11, where the psalmist states that he hides truth in his heart and the believer is encouraged to meditate upon truth as stated in Psalm 1.

Without truth in your heart, it will become more difficult for your heart to lean towards it.  It seems that when we sin, the effect of truth in our hearts is either erased or at least its effect is diminished.

It is like the old game, King of the Mountain where each person playing attempts to pull the one person down from on top of the mountain and once this is achieved, they take his place and the game continues.

Truth in the heart sits supreme, but our sin pulls it down and then has its time of power.  Only by cleansing away sin can truth again influence the heart.  That is why the psalmist asks the Lord purge and clean him (Psalm 51:7).

In order to live as God desires, get truth into your heart and when you fall, seek him to cleanse away your sin.  This is a daily process and should never be neglected or ignored.  With truth in your heart, your ability to lean toward and respond to truth will become more consistent and successful.

God Gives and Calls (2 Peter 1:3)

God gives and calls.  He gives us salvation’s promise and calls us to believe.  He gives us commandments and calls us to obey.  However, he also gives us ability and a calling.

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (2 Peter 1:3)

God has given us the whole of what we need for life along with its problems and loyally living for God.  He has called us to have a God glorifying testimony (glory) and an ability to face life and it’s challenges (virtue).

The divine power that we need comes from knowing God: not knowing facts about him, but a knowledge that comes from interacting with him.  Your knowledge, which will be your enabling, comes form your experiences with God.  The more you experience him, the more strength you have and the less you experience, the less strength you have.

Start each day looking for God’s hand and handiwork in your life. Make sure that you praise him for what you recognize and experience. Having this interaction is both pleasing to him and empowering for you.

Mercy and Truth (Proverbs 3:3)

Our attitude towards the law will determine whether or not we forget the law and commandments.  If we desire them and their benefits, our hearts will be inclined to guard God’s laws and commandments, but if we seek the world and its vanity, we will forget or mislay them.

Mercy and truth may come to us, but they will not stay with us unless we hold onto them.  If we do not bind them about our necks and write them upon our hearts, they will depart.  When mercy and truth depart, their blessings leave with them.

Victory Begins in the Heart (Psalm 17:4-5)

20141019-082501-30301899.jpg

Doing the right thing is usually not easy. You find yourself confronted with a situation and are torn between at least two options: what God wants you to do and what you want to do. David experienced the same conflict as us and recorded it in the Psalms.

Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. (Psalms 17:4-5)

What is vitally important for us to recognize is that we alone are unable to live the spiritual or righteous life. We need God to provide the strength and support that we need. David petitioned God to hold up his goings in the Lord’s paths and we must do the same. What the Christian life boils down to are decisions that we make in our hearts. We may not have the strength to live the life, but we certainly do have the ability to make the right choices. God’s plan is for us to make the right decisions in our hearts and then he will provide the support and strength needed to complete the actions that go with the decisions. The battleground is not with the world, people or flesh and blood, but in the heart. God’s desire is that man, by faith, chooses him and his way. If we allow him, God will take it from there. Remember, victory begins at the heart and not the actions.