Be a Good Little Do-Bee

” I followed all of the rules, man’s and God’s. And you, you followed none of them. And they all loved you more. Samuel, Father, and my… even my own wife.” Alfred (at his wife’s funeral in Legends of the Fall, played by Aidan Quinn)  

I saw this film at a time in my life when I was struggling with my personal identity, and these lines struck me in the core of my being.
I began to weep.

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On Being Gentle

Whenever I teach a yoga class, I preface almost every change in position with the words, “Now please gently…”

One time a student called out, “Why do you always say gently?”

Good question.

Gentleness is not something most Americans know much about. Our approach to life is marked by force, attitude, determination, control, tenacity, a ‘git-r-done’ mentality. While none of that is wrong in and of itself, they most often militate against any “gentleness consciousness.”

We speed down the road in a hurry to get to our next task. We jockey for the best parking space at the store. We set things down with a bang/clang. We consume our meal as if it is the “Passover” and we need to be ready to flee. Even the way we tread upon the earth lacks gentleness.  Rice Paper Walk

When we are trying to persuade another of the rightness of our opinion, we raise our voice, intensify our language or tone–not gentle.

The Buddhist practice of “ahimsa” keeps gentleness in the forefront of the practitioner’s consciousness so that all they do is wrapped with gentleness.

What do Christians have in the way of a gentle practice? “A bruised reed he will not break, nor a smoldering flax will he not put out.” (Matt. 12:20) (When was the last time you heard a sermon from that verse?)

We often see the phrase referring to the “gentle Savior,” but we rarely find a gentle disciple. Yet Jesus said, “It is enough that the disciple be as his master.” (Matt. 10:25)

Gentleness should mark the life of one who considers himself spiritual. Gentleness should be the characteristic of all that we do in thought, word, and deed.

Why is gentleness in such short supply?

In what way could you practice being gentle today?

 

 

 

The Fruit of The Spirit

16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy,d drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (ESV)

With this article I am challenging the standard interpretation of Galatians, which is essentially “the fruit of being filled with the Holy Spirit in your life is…”

Most evangelical Christians claim this verse, and use it to measure the effectiveness of someone’s walk with the Lord. The various groups have differing views as to the work of the Holy Spirit and how that is accomplished; but that is not the focus of this article.

The focus here is on the context of the letter written by Paul to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The letter itself is written to combat the idea that one must perform certain things in order to be right with God. In this particular case, it is specifically about a requirement that Christians should follow certain Jewish traditions, especially circumcision. Paul writes that not only are they not necessary, but they are also detrimental to the believer’s walk with God. The issue becomes one of works vs faith, and Paul is totally on the side of faith for righteousness.

In the section under consideration, Paul is bringing his discourse to a close with a summary of the results one can expect in life. Living by the dictates of the flesh produces one kind of life and living by the dictates of the spirit produce another.

QUESTION: Where is the Holy Spirit mentioned in this letter, or in this passage?

The New Living Translation follows the implication of the other versions and translates it “Holy Spirit.” King James capitalizes the word “Spirit” as do most of the other translations.

First of all, the word “holy” does not show up in the manuscripts in this passage. So, to say “Holy Spirit” is an interpretation. Secondly, since the word “holy” does not appear, then capitalizing the word “spirit” to make it seem to be God’s Spirit is also an interpretation. Thirdly, most of the manuscript evidence available for larger portions of the New Testament were written in the uncial style, which is all capital letters. This is especially true for the evidence that was available for the King James translators. In other words, there is no evidence for the use of special capitalization to denote Deity (or a proper pronoun) as we do in modern English.

Therefore, this begs the question: was the writer talking of the Holy Spirit, or man’s spirit? Or, was he writing about the outcome of a particular kind of focus in life?

Plainly, Paul was speaking of a life devoted to the spiritual aspects rather than the physical appetites.

When fully comprehended, this will change not only your understanding of the passage, but also your focus in life and how you judge others. (Please don’t comment about how we are not supposed to judge. You will only reveal that you missed the point entirely.)

So… what does a life focused on the spirit look like?

Please post your comments below.

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Spirituality: Simply Complicated

Gal 5:16 ESV – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

 This is so simple, I am amazed how so few get it.

It is so complicated, there is no wonder that so few live it.

Simple, yet complicated.

This is a plain statement that we do well to understand–especially, if you have trouble with the flesh rearing its ugly head in your life.

First of all, notice that the reverse is NOT true–not gratifying the desires of the flesh will not make, nor prove spirituality. Many have forsaken this world, gone to the mountaintop to “contemplate their navel”, but all they become are aesthetics. That is not spirituality. It is not walking by the Spirit. Giving up some aspect of the flesh may be a penitent act, but it will not overcome the desires of the flesh.

No. The only way to overcome the flesh, with its desires that are against the Spirit, is to walk–or live–by the Spirit.

Secondly, notice that the word ‘Spirit’ is capitalized. There are no initial capital letters in the Uncial Greek (which is written in all caps) copies we have. Initial capitalization is a part of interpretation.

When we see ‘Spirit’ capitalized, we automatically interpret the word to mean ‘Holy Spirit.’ Is that necessarily true? Is that an accurate rendition of πνευμα (pneuma)?

If it is not the Holy Spirit that was intended in this verse, then may I suggest for your consideration that it refers to your own spirit?

Before you go thinking I have fallen off the deep end, take time to remember the new birth and what that entails and enables. What is it that was dead in us that needed to be made alive? (Eph 2:1-9)

I also understand the meaning and intent of Rom. 8:14. There we are told that we are to be “…led by the Spirit of God…” In fact, that verse is emphatic in the Greek and means that ONLY those who are led by the Spirit of God can be considered sons of God.

And this brings us back to my original reason for this post: how are we to be led by the Spirit?

Let’s look at the verse again with the new consideration: But I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Does that put it into a different perspective for you?

Putting Romans 8:14 and Galatians 5:16 together I can see that the Holy Spirit leads me through my spirit that has been born anew of God.

Spirit is that inexplicable, unidentifiable, indefinable ethereal part of us that is in connection with God.

It is the part of you that is now growing in relation to the Lord.

We are made of three parts–spirit, soul, and body–and theologians refer to this make-up as the tri-partite man.

The body is the Existence.

The soul is the Expression.

The spirit is the Essence.

Before Christ, you were dead in your transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1). It was your spirit that was dead.

Before Christ, all you knew was to follow after and fulfil the desires of the flesh. Your soul (personality, if you will) has grown accustomed to that expression of your being. It manifests a fleshly nature. That is its habit.

But, now, your spirit has come alive and is trying to grow and manifest a different reality. The soul doesn’t recognize this new reality, and often reverts to its habitual expressions.

However, you are wanting to be led by the spirit.

It is a practice; a learning of a new way of doing things, of expressing things.

It takes time. But you are changing and growing.

The more you learn to respond to the spirit and its desires, the less you will fulfil the desires of the flesh.

NOTE: This is the fifth in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Galatians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter five of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put this link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

It’s So Easy!!

Galatians 5:16       But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.

Here we have the formula for success in the Christian life and walk: Live by the Spirit and you won’t fulfill the desires of the flesh.

Nothing could be more simply stated than this; yet the struggles to not sin in the Christian life are tremendous–and for some, seemingly insurmountable.

The problem is that too many of us spend our time trying to NOT sin. This will only yield weak and temporary results at best. Following this method usually ends as an exercise in futility.

One of the main reasons this occurs is called the Law of Focus: what you focus on is what you get.

When you go on a diet, and you decide (for instance) that you will not eat banana splits anymore, it seems that the opportunity for a banana split is everywhere more accessible than ever. Just like when you buy a new car–all of a sudden, you see the same car on the highway in numbers you had never noticed before. It’s the Law of Focus. You will eventually cave in and eat that banana split you were so determined to avoid.

Safety courses in driving teach the same thing, especially when in dangerous situations. Do not look at the thing you want to avoid, because you will most likely hit it. Look, rather at where you want to go. (Does that not remind you of Hebrews 12:2—Looking unto Jesus?)

The exact same thing is true with sin–whatever its particular appearance may be in our life. Trying to not sin, to avoid committing that particular sin, almost always ends in failure at some point. Then we must throw ourselves on the mercy of God yet again.

Thank God for His mercy. Without it, we would all be totally lost and undone without remedy.

But, there is a better way. And Paul tells us what it is in this verse from Galatians.

Utilizing the Law of Focus, let us decide to live by the Spirit. Make that your ambition, your matter of prayer for help in time of need.

The one whose focus is on living in, with, by, through, and for the Spirit will find himself doing the will of God more easily and readily than the one who is trying to avoid offending the Lord.

Ephesians 5:10 tells us that we should be trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord–not trying to learn what offends Him.

If you can see this Law of Focus as it applies to pleasing the Lord, and begin to apply it on a moment-by-moment basis, your life will change dramatically for the better.

Try it. You’ll like it.

His Word is My Word

2 Sa 23:2  “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.”    NKJV

This is the beginning of the last recorded words of King David as found in the second book of Samuel. We all know that David was used of the Lord to speak His word to his generation and recorded so that all generations to follow would have that word.

How is this great king, from whom the promised messiah would come different from the rest of us?

His acts and his words are recorded in the Bible, and I doubt that any of my words or acts will ever be found there. In every other way, we are the same. Our level of passion may differ, but David was truly human.

His acts–the good, the bad, and the ugly are recorded. His words–of praise, of provocation, of depression, of exultation are recorded.

These are recorded for our learning and admonition (warning), and we are to learn how we are to walk with God by the example of others who have gone before us.

There is something powerful to consider in the verse before us.

Without adding to or taking away from the Word, and without claiming any special extra-biblical revelation, can we not say the same as David? Should we not be able to?

We have each been given the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. Each of us is in a different place in our walk with the Lord. Each of us requires different truth at different times for different reasons.

Sometimes, that word of direction comes from a different member of the Body.

Here is where it gets sticky and dangerous. (Some of you reading this are probably already forming your words of warning and correction. Put your sword away. I’m not going there. 🙂 )

It is not necessary, nor advisable to say, “The Lord told me to tell you…” It is equally unnecessary to say, “Thus saith the Lord…”

Those phrases have been used to misguide and entrap saints by well-intentioned believers and by deceitful false shepherds.

No. We should simply deliver that which the Spirit of God places upon our heart and let it go at that. If it is the word for that person in that hour, their spirit will witness to it as being of the Lord. That is all that is necessary.

But, we should be able to know–and at least say within ourselves–The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.

Jesus said that we are to do the works that He did and even greater. (Jn. 14:12)

He also said that His words were spirit and life, and that He only spoke what the Father gave Him (John 6:63; 14:10)

Part of becoming conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29) is being able to hear and speak what the Father says; to do only what we see the Father do.

And in that place, we, like David, will say, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.”

Child of God

Ro 8:16
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:      KJV

How great and wonderful it is to be a child of God!!

Many, though, must rely on the various verses of scripture that ‘prove’ that we are a child of God. (1 John 5:13; John 17:3)

How much better to have the witness of the Spirit within our spirit!!

Sadly, though, we have not had the training, the teaching, the emphasis on learning the life of the spirit. We have had more training and teaching on the sense life. This comes from both the pulpit and the world–mostly from the world, because we do not hear the kind of teaching that helps us to not be of the world.

We would do ourselves a heavenly world of good if we would begin to train ourselves to walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, to listen to the Spirit. This is simple, but not easy.

In fact, being led by the Spirit is an absolute must for those who claim sonship with God:

Ro 8:14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.     KJV

This verse reads in an emphatic sense in the Greek: Ie, “these and no others are the sons of God.”

Does that put a different light on your walk with the Lord?

Does that put a different light on ‘greasy grace?’