My memory verse for this week:
"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." -- Galatians 5:25-26
NTC Day 29
Luke 8 and Galatians 4-6
My dad was a farmer. He had some acres in hay to feed his animals through the winter and he had some acres in corn to grind for feed for his animals as well. If those fields didn't do well, he would have to buy hay and feed for his sheep and cows, and that was costly. It was to his benefit to raise good crops. He had good soil so if he planted well and the weather cooperated, he usually had good results. But, he had to take care of those fields, giving them good fertilizer and making sure the weeds didn't overtake the crops.
In Luke 8, Jesus tells the parable of the seeds. We know the one...if seeds are scattered along the way in the paths, the devil comes along and takes away the word from their hearts. Those planted in the rocks aren't deep enough to survive the trials and tests of life. Those planted in the thorns get the word choked out of them by life's worries and they don't mature. Those planted in the good soil hear the word and flourish, producing a good crop.
That's how the parable ends, but there is more too it. Just like my dad knew...even seeds planted in good soil need tending and care. In Galatians, Paul is explaining this to the church in Galatians. They were planted in good soil...they heard the word, and believed, but they are going back to their old ways of being tied to the law and religious practices, and their crop was being destroyed.
Paul is desperately trying to get them (and us today too!) to see that it is by faith in Christ that we are saved, not by our works or by following the law.
Going to church and following certain religious practices and following the law is not bad...all those things keep us in contact and in relationship with Christ. But...if we open our hearts and let our faith in Christ allow the Spirit to take control of our lives... the Spirit will guide us PAST our sinful nature...THAT is what saves us!
We sing a song in KidsPraise about the fruits of the Spirit...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. If we are living with THOSE fruits in our lives everyday...then the sinful nature has no room to flourish in our lives. Does that mean we don't sin? Absolutely not! We can't be perfect and live with all of those fruits thriving perfectly all the time. But...when we allow the Spirit to fill us with love, and love be what we live by everyday, we will find ourselves more able to fight off the sinful nature that seeks to destroy us.
It is the law that makes us aware of our sinful nature. It is wrong to envy...it is wrong to lie...it is wrong to steal...and so forth. But...if we were ONLY judged by the way we followed the law, if THAT were the only thing that decided our eternal life, we would ALL be in trouble!
There are those who do a good job following the law. They watch their own behavior and make sure they aren't breaking any laws. The problem with these people...they get so obsessed with following the law that they become self-righteous and critical and judgmental of others. The only things that end up coming out of self-righteousness, judgement and criticism is cruelty and hatred. When such a person sins himself, (which he is bound to do) he sees the sins of others even more and lets self hatred turn into hatred of others.
God knew this...he gave us the law so we would be aware, but he gave us Christ to be saved. It is through that faith that we come new creations. Not creations that never sin, but creations that let faith and the Spirit guide us through life, fighting off our sinful nature and loving those around us.
So, if we want that Spirit within us...we have to KNOW that God's word was planted in the good soil of our hearts and then TAKE CARE of those seeds by giving it food and water to make it grow (reading the Bible and going to church to be fed.) When you open your heart to God's word, you will grow and flourish and produce a good crop.