fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Who’s Your Daddy?

Who’s Your Daddy? by Julie McAllen

The children of God, who are they?

And if God has children, does the devil also have children?

Who’s your daddy?

In tracing our own human ancestry, we see we had no choice in the matter of who our father, grandfather or great grandfather would be. But do we have a choice who to call the father of our spirit?

It is common knowledge that Jesus Christ came from the line of the Jewish people. In speaking about the Jews, Paul said, “from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ” (Romans 9:5)

This is why Matthew’s gospel traces Jesus’ genealogy from Abraham to Joseph (Matt 1:1-16). But Matthew also records when Jesus presented himself to a new birth receiving another father.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:16, 17)

Isn’t that interesting? It was not until his baptism at the age of 30 that Jesus Christ was clearly identified as the Son of God by the Spirit and voice of God.

Like Jesus, we also were born into this world physically through our parents and are invited to be born again and identified as children of God by His Spirit. But how?

When Nicodemus, a religious leader born of Jewish heritage asked that same question, Jesus replied “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.'” (John 3:6, 7)

You must be born again? For a Jewish man like Nicodemus, this was a hard lesson. The Israelites had always been called the children of God tracing their heritage back to Father Abraham. The concept of becoming a child of God through any other means was foreign to him. Nicodemus was born into a spiritual heritage after all. But then again, wasn’t Jesus also? And yet, even Jesus presented himself for this new birth. Even today, many people who grew up within the church having an ancestry of godly parents and grandparents often stumble upon the same lesson. They assume they are children of God validated by the family and religious heritage through which they came. What about us? Do we call ourselves by the name “Christian” because our parents took us to church or we can recite some Bible verses? Or, like Jesus, did we offer ourselves at some point to be born of Spirit and receive the affirmation from God that we are His children?

Could a churched, well-read religious person reject Jesus Christ? The Israelites knew of a Messiah’s coming through the prophets. God himself had separated them from other nations giving them His laws. They were a prepared people. That is why Jesus came first to them. And yet, even these religiously trained people did not all accept him.

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:2,10-14)

It was not just a matter of indifference for some. Thoroughly steeped in their ties to religious heritage more than hindered some Jews from believing Jesus, they wanted to kill him!!

Jesus told them, “I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.” (John 8:37)

Their reply was to stand on their religious heritage. “Abraham is our father,” (John 8:39)

What about us? Do we allow the pride of being affiliated with a certain denomination or family heritage to hinder us from entering the family of God assuming we have no need to be born again? Or in contrast, does our rejection of a bad religious heritage and family keep us from the call to become children of God? Either way, who have we made our father?

Blinded by religion, these Jews assumed their father was God only to be told by Jesus that the devil was their father and they were carrying out his desires (John 8:44). The Bible clearly states there are children of God and there are children of the devil (1 John 3:10) Are we children of God by physical birth or spiritual birth? Was it because of his religious heritage or God’s Spirit resting upon him, that Jesus was confirmed as a son of God? Even the Apostle Paul who could claim his heritage back to Abraham put no confidence in it.

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. (Phil 3:4-6)

Paul’s confidence was not based on where he came from or even his own faultless righteousness in keeping the law, instead he knew he was a child of God when he was born again by the Spirit.

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3)

A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2:28, 29)

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. (Galatians 6:15)

In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. (Romans 9:8)

because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:14-16)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

We become children of God by the choice to accept and follow Jesus. Only when we are born again of His Spirit, can we truthfully call God our Father. Until that moment, whose child are we?

Who’s your daddy?

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

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June 26, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , | 2 Comments

Heir to a Promise

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Galatians 3:18 – 4:31

Okay, folks – we’re getting into deep stuff, here.  I really take this lesson to heart because it calls us to examine our spiritual place as individuals. If anyone has a comment or explanation on the scripture in Galatians, please post a comment or email it to me and I’ll post it for you.

Paul had a strong argument about the promise God made to Abraham in Galatians 3:15-18 and how it relates to the Mosaic Law. The last known confirmation of the Abrahamic covenant was to Jacob just before he went to Egypt, which was 430 years before the Law was instituted. The promise made to Abraham was not invalidated when the Law came on scene; if the inheritance was based on the Law, then it wouldn’t be a promise.  18For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise (Galatians 3:18). Paul explained that the covenant between Abraham and God has never changed. He also showed that the Law brought a curse and that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law.

 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”–  14in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal 3:13, 14)

 The Law was inferior to the promise, but it did serve a purpose; it was to reveal man’s sinfulness and inability to redeem himself. Man couldn’t perform enough works to bring himself back to a sinless state. 19Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made (Galatians 3:19). The Law and promise of the Covenant (Jesus Christ) work in harmony. At Galatians 3:23, Paul brings out how imprisoned man under the Law. The Law served as a teacher leading us to Christ – so that when the Messiah appeared, they would recognize the need for salvation and invite Him into their hearts.

 1Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything,  2but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.  3So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.  4But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,  5so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  6Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  7Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God (Galatians 4:1-7).

When Christ died for our sins, we became God’s spiritual children. Galatians 3:29 says we are all heirs in the sense that we benefit from the spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, being justified by faith in Christ. Galatians 4:1-7 are such great verses because it clarifies our position with God. There is nothing worse than not knowing where you stand: whether it’s a job, a marriage, health issues and yes, even with God – we need to know our position in these matters. In His mercy, God lets us know where we stand so that we’re better equipped to fulfill His purpose for us. Paul basically explains this to the Galatians because, obviously, they’re lost. To help them understand, Paul uses an illustration of a child and a slave. God’s children are heirs who were entrusted to guardians and tutors until they became of age. These guardians and managers depicted the Law. However, when Christ died for us, God’s children were released from the “guardians and tutors”.  

 Jesus was born under the Law. This is significant because it emphasizes Jesus humanness; he had to fully be man to be able to substitute man for himself. He was also under the Law up until his death – he released us from the bondage and curse of sin (represented by the Law). As a result of Christ death, we have become God’s children by adoption (Gal 4:5). We are heirs of the covenant being “justified” by faith in Christ alone. It’s sad to see that unbelievers are still living their lives as if under the Law – trying to endlessly please God by the flesh.  23But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.  24Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:23-26).

Now that we know where we stand with God, how should this affect our lives? Rather than looking back – or even regressing back to the time we were alienated from the God of our salvation, let’s build our relationship with Him; we are His children. Prayer brings us into God’s presence. Study of God’s word allows the Holy Spirit to reveal spiritual truths to us. Through prayer and bible study we will deepen our love for God our Father and His son, Jesus Christ.

 The bottom line is that we are God’s adopted children. I could have summed it up with that statement, which is easy to accept and comprehend. But knowing how we came to being heirs to a promise adds significance to our existence as believers of Christ and worshippers of God. No one can take away our inheritance (unless we surrender it ourselves). May we never take our position in God’s sovereignty for granted – we are His children, justified by our faith in Christ. To Him be the Glory!

June 23, 2009 Posted by | Expressions | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Running with Endurance

42-15659276We come across many today who are facing some form of adversity in their lives; financial hardship, strained marriages, health issues, mental illness, loss of loved one, rebellious children, etc… We live in a world surrounded by anxiety and distress. The apostle Paul compared the Christian life to a race we’re all running in.

 24)Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  26Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;  27but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1Corth 9:24-27)

 Life is a race, however, the only way to run and actually finish the race triumphantly is by running on wings of grace. Grace is the only way because our legs will tire out. The race is long and the course has obstacles – we are sure to give out. Isn’t that how we sometimes feel about going through life – like we can’t go on anymore?  In His grace, God supplies everything we need to endure the race: Holy Spirit, His word, access to Him through prayer and encouragement from fellow believers.

 It is through God’s grace that we attain salvation, glorification and sanctification. Salvation is securing a favorable place with God made possible by means of Jesus Christ. Glorification is the conforming of our bodies to the image of Christ. Sanctification is the process of growing as a Christian. Some may feel that we are on our own in the process of spiritual growth – dependent on our desire to take action, but we are not on our own. Grace is involved in our spiritual growth, too.

 Paul mentioned that in his race, he slaves his body so that he’s not disqualified. Being trained properly prior to the race was pivotal. Runners were disqualified for not being trained appropriately for the race. Sanctification is compared to being trained to become like Christ and it’s through God’s grace that this can be possible. We can take heart when we’re faced with adversity because it’s during that time that we experience His grace. Each day will come with it challenges but we can overcome as long as we’re riding on wings of God’s grace.   God bless.

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Expressions | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Running with Endurance

Receiving the Gospel

j0438317GALATIONS 2:11-3:25

 

First things First. WELCOME BACK, SANDY! We missed you and praise God that you arrived back safely.

We continue our second week in the study of Galatians. The theme of the study is the acceptance that salvation is obtained only through faith in Jesus Christ and not in works. In his letter, the apostle Paul reproved the Galatians churches (Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe) with a strong message because they were turning away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ to a different gospel Paul did not preach.

1Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.  Paul continues to defend the gospel of grace. He relates the details of his visit to Jerusalem after his conversion and offered proof that the message he proclaimed was identical to that of the apostles.

11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.  This was a period of darkness for the spreading of the gospel because influential believers such as Peter was helping to spread the confusion of the doctrine of salvation and the apostle Paul had strong counsel him. Peter had withdrawn from Gentile (non-Jewish) believers to fellowship with Judaizers, despite knowing they were teaching a different gospel. Peter was guilty of sin by choosing to correlate with men he knew were in error and because of the harm he caused his brothers and sisters in Christ. We do know that Peter did adjust his thinking because he speaks about God’s saving grace and obedience in his first and second letters. We can learn so much from Peter!

16nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. Paul was very knowledgeable of the Law. He was passionate enough to persecute those who opposed it. The purpose of the law was so 1)remind God’s people they were sinners, 2)remind them they needed a savior, 3)foreshadowed the better things to come. Under the law, God’s people were subject to legalism, self-sufficiency, rituals and man-made redemption (which was only temporary). In the NT “In Christ”, believers achieved justification, forgiveness, grace, empowerment and freedom.

By adding good works to the gospel of grace by faith, it devalues and belittles Christ’s death for us. Grace refers to “unmerited favor”. If we are saved by the good works we perform, then Christ’s sacrificial death would not have been needed. 21″I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
More importantly, the gospel of grace opens the way for believers to be in God’s presence. With the Law, God’s people can only approach God through priestly intermediaries. Being we have been redeemed through the blood of Christ, we can enjoy being in God’s presence through prayer, worship and praise. The law could never do this!

19″For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20″I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  By accepting the gospel, Jewish Christians were free from trying to perfectly keep the law while at the same time being condemned by it. Before our conversion to Christ, we lived for ourselves; we were working hard to earn our salvation. However, when Christ lives in us, we become Christlike.
1You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?  3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  4Did you suffer so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain? 5So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?  Apparently, this was a message the Galatians took a while to accept because Paul used strong words to reprimand their way of thinking. He also raised thought-provoking questions to help the see the seriousness of their thinking.

Paul continually declared that no one is made right with God by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. Many times we fall prey to sin and yet feel burdened that there’s nothing we can do to make us right with God. That’s true – there’s nothing we can do. But having faith in God’s grace and trust that he will pardon us from sin (once we have repented in our hearts) will make us right. Continuing to strive to attain salvation by works is admitting that we don’t trust in God that He is capable of cleansing us of our sins. Faith in God means that we have total trust in His grace to forgive and redeem us.

Thanks, again Sandy for a great lesson today!

June 14, 2009 Posted by | Expressions | , , , , , | Comments Off on Receiving the Gospel

Legalism leads to more obvious sins

Legalism leads to more obvious sins by Julie McAllen

I love the letter to the Galatians! Paul wrote it to Gentile Christians who were being persuaded by Jews to add to their new faith another sort of gospel other than what they’d first accepted. They were thrown into confusion by those who said they had to be circumcised. Paul reasons with them that their faith in Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient. Near as I can tell, he did not write this letter to correct a problem of fornication in the congregation or misuse of the Lord’s Supper as he did in other letters. He wrote it to demonstrate the superiority of grace over works. That was his intent. Even Peter is brought up as an example of one who succumbed to the temptation of legalistic hypocrisy in Gal 2:11-21. Paul warned them that they were falling away from grace and Christ would mean nothing to them if they followed that example. He was not warning them about other sins such as fornication, stealing, lying, etc.

7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9″A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. (Gal 5:7-11)

Paul doesn’t bring up fornication or drunkenness as the cause for not obeying the truth. He points to the yeast as this persuasion to be circumcised. Trading the gift of grace for an outward show of religious piety. I personally believe the “whoever he may be” mentioned is Peter. So why does Paul bring up the works of the flesh later in Gal 5:19-21? Things like sexual immorality, witchcraft, drunkenness, the very things that strict, staunch religious people warn against all the time? Read the chapter! My opinion is that Paul is warning the Galatians about this little seed, this yeast of proving themselves righteous by works, is alienating them from Christ and will eventually lead them to those more obvious sins which can be seen. I don’t think the Galatians were actually involved in these sins at the time, but because some were beginning to walk in the flesh by trying to prove themselves righteous by circumcision and not eating with certain people in view of the religious elite (Gal 2:12), Paul had to lay out the warning in the latter part of his letter.

16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 1. 19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:16-21)

Legalistic religions who deny their followers the experience of being led by the Spirit, have given them over to the only choice they have––to walk in the flesh. They walk in the flesh to fulfill their religious duties demanded by the leaders. These appear good. Things like showing up for meetings, performing services, abstaining from certain foods or events and mingling with non-believers. Paul does not mention these specifically, but he does say that those who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ and have fallen away from grace (Gal 5:4). Yes, those trying to be justified by doing good works. They are walking in the flesh or sinful nature by this. Therefore, he gives the warning of what that leads to…….sexual immorality, etc. etc. etc. In a religion where no one is allowed to be “born of spirit,” there is a constant struggle between “serving God” and battling the sinful nature. How can a baby even begin to walk before it is born?

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

June 9, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , | 1 Comment

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