Friday, July 25, 2014

Life is filled with Highs and Lows

Life in general is filled with highs and lows, but it can especially be apparent for those in Christian ministry leadership positions. Just look at how many pastors, youth ministers, and worship directors eventually leave ministry. The work wears on a person. The constant complaints of doing too little of this or too much of that can drain anyone. As a leader, you are expected to be there for everyone at every moment of the day. No one is able to be there at all times. Still, guilt fills the mind and causes you to doubt your ministry and your effectiveness.

Malachi preached after Haggai, Zechariah, and Nehemiah—about 430 B.C. The Temple had been rebuilt for almost a century, and the people were losing their enthusiasm for worship. Apathy and disillusionment had set in because the exciting messianic prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah had not been fulfilled. Many of the sins that had brought the downfall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. were still being practiced in Judah. This complacency gradually led to blatant sin, such as marriage to those who worshiped idols. Ezra and Nehemiah also had confronted this problem years earlier (Ezra 9–10; Nehemiah 13:23-31). Divorce was common, occurring for no reason other than a desire for change. People acted as if they could do anything without being punished. And they wondered why God refused to accept their offerings and bless them (Malachi 2:13)!

God has made provision for the Christian to fulfill the requirements of the Law through the Holy Spirit’s power. “In order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). What could never be accomplished in the power of the flesh—the meeting of the righteous standards of the Law—can be achieved in the power of the Spirit.

My friend in Christ, Whitt Madden, from Treasuring Christ says: Sometimes I have to break down scriptures in order to see it laid out for myself.   The law of the Spirit of Life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  Basically God did what the law could not do, by sending Jesus to die for our sins, so that the requirement of the law might be completed in us.

This changes everything for us.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6)

Let’s understand this today:

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  (Romans 8:9-10)

The flesh cannot please God for several reasons.

(1) First of all, the flesh is hostile toward God. “Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the Law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Romans 8:7).

(2) The flesh is incapable of producing righteousness. That is surely the conclusion we must draw from Romans Chapter 7.

(3) The flesh can only produce death: “For the mind set on the flesh is death …” (Romans 8:6).
The Spirit is the source of liberty and of life: “However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9)

Paul says to the Christian,

“If you are a true Christian, then the Holy Spirit indwells you.”

The Holy Spirit that indwells us is a life-giving spirit.  Do you believe this?  He has power over death.  The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in you, if you are saved.  This is truth. If you have the same Spirit living in you that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, don’t you agree that this Spirit should have power over sexual sin as well?

When things get tight, the problems don't seem to go away, and we struggle with guilt--the false guilt of not being able to be there for everyone--God will comfort us. He shields us even during the assaults of bitter people and harsh words. He will always lead us in a path meant to protect us and keep us strong.

When the road is dark and tough, God will guide and protect you. When you feel overwhelmed with loneliness, the Lord is close beside you. When your heart is asking hard questions and you feel beaten down, God will sustain you. We don't need to live in fear, for God is always with you. He is willing to comfort and protect you. He guides you through every mountain and valley of life. He is your true Shepherd. And the more you trust him as Lord, the more you will experience the wonder of having a Shepherd.


Raj Kosaraju

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