Proverbs on Words

As we saw last week, the theme of the book of Proverbs is wisdom. The first nine chapters are on wisdom, but starting with Chapter 10, there are 375 individual proverbs that carry self-contained lessons. That’s different than any other book. This week we will look at aligning our words with wisdom. The words tongue, mouth, lips, and words are used almost 150 times in Proverbs.

Proverbs 18:21 says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Most everyone would agree that words are powerful! Tammy and I had never dated. We were best friends. On a Tuesday night, I went to her college campus with seven questions. The last one was, “Will you marry me?” Those four words changed my life and hers forever! After we were married three months, we said, “Let’s start a family.” On Christmas Day, she woke up with morning sickness! Words are powerful!

The Power of Destructive Words
Words can hurt, cut, and kill. Words have caused suicide, started wars, and destroyed friendships. Proverbs 16:28 says, “…a whisperer separates the best of friends” and 11:13 says, “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” Talebearer means to go about. A gossip goes from person to person running their mouth. Mind your own business! Think before you speak. Don’t get involved in someone else’s argument. Stop listening to gossip! “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips” (Prov. 20:19).

Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.” Some parents only speak negatively to their children. For some spouses, the only thing they ever really say to their mate is negative, short, hateful, or with a harsh tone of voice. Before you say a word stop and think, It is true? Is it confidential? Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it necessary?

Proverbs 6:16 begins a passage in which we read of things the Lord hates. Three of the seven have to do with the tongue – a lying tongue, a false witness, and one who sows discord. “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19). The more you speak the more likely you are to be misunderstood and hurt someone. Less is more! People, marriages, families, churches, and relationships are dying because of harsh words. They are dying to hear healing words of love, affirmation, encouragement.

The Power of Constructive Words
Proverbs describes positive/constructive words as silver (10:20), a tree of life (15:4), food (10:21), refreshing water (10:11, 18:4), and medicine (12:18). Words have the power to create and transform. Creation came out of communication. God said, “Let there be light.” Most of Jesus’ miracles happened through His words. Jesus spoke and the lame walked, lepers were healed, storms stopped, and the dead came back to life!

Proverbs 15 gives us another list of the ways positive words make a difference. “A soft answer turns away wrath… A wholesome tongue is a tree of life… The lips of the wise disperse knowledge… A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” Verse 28 of that chapter says, “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer.” Be careful about what you say! You don’t always have to respond. Proverbs 13:3 says, “He who guards his mouth preserves his life.”

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver…” (Prov. 25:11). “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him” (Prov. 30:5). Change your words and you will change your life! Words have power over the listener and the speaker. Speak words of life. Speak the word of God. You hear it. The enemy hears it. God hears it.

Proverbs on Wisdom

A proverb has been defined as “a short statement based on long experience.” The theme of the book of Proverbs is wisdom, the right use of knowledge. If you are perfect and have never made any bad decisions, you can take the next 12 weeks off. We are going to study this book and cover a wide range of subjects that will help those of us who know we need it. Today, we begin with wisdom.

The What of Wisdom
When Solomon was taking over for his father David, he had a dream in which God asked him what one thing he wanted. God was willing to give Solomon anything he asked. Solomon asked for wisdom. In the first few verses of Proverbs 1, we read that Solomon sought wisdom, instruction, understanding, knowledge, increased learning, and wise counsel (v. 1-5). Wisdom is the one thing we need more than anything else. It is to your life what the foundation is to your house.

Wisdom and intellect or education are not the same. The Bible says knowledge alone puffs up, making you arrogant. Knowledge is for the head but wisdom is for the heart. Knowledge teaches you, but wisdom transforms you. Wisdom is supernatural. More than information, wisdom is application. We live in a world that is drowning in information and starving for wisdom. Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way….” Wisdom is understanding why you do the things you do. When you are at a loss and don’t have a clue, ask God! He is not silent. He is speaking today.

The Way of Wisdom
Proverbs 2:1-3 says, “My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding….” A wise person is teachable. Tune in to God. Incline your ear to Him. Cry out for wisdom and discernment. James 1:5 says God will give it generously to those who ask. The wiser you become the more you realize how much you don’t know. Wise men receive rebuke and correction. How do you take rebuke? Fools get defensive, argue, and blame others.

The Worth of Wisdom
“If you seek [wisdom] as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:4-5). Wisdom is more important than all the wealth and fame in the world. You cannot separate wisdom from the word of God. How much time do you spend reading the news compared to the Bible? Do you dig and search for hidden treasure in Scripture? Proverbs 16:16 says, “How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” We are all capable of making decisions that we will regret and that will impact our children and grandchildren for years to come. Wisdom is a gift we can pass on that will last. Money they will spend, property they will sell, etc. Give them wisdom. Give them Jesus.

The Who of Wisdom
You can’t know wisdom without knowing Jesus. Colossians 2:3 says, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Wisdom is knowing what God is doing in our time. Our culture is addicted to youth. Everyone is looking for the fountain of youth but what we need is the fountain of life! The world thinks the Bible is behind the times. Proverbs tell us these truths have stood the test of time. The wisdom of God is a person, Jesus.

How can you become wise? You can’t know wisdom apart from knowing Jesus. Learning from Jesus and loving Jesus is wisdom. He is the way, the truth, and the life.

Greet One Another

I’ve certainly enjoyed the One Another series this summer! Thank you to Daniel and Dalton for preaching and blogging for me while I was away. It was great to be back preaching on Sunday! While there are 59 “one another” passages in Scripture, and we only looked at 10, it is clear that God commands us to do life with others. You cannot “one another” yourself! The way we live, act, and treat one another is evidence that we belong to Jesus. Living out these “one anothers” is living out the gospel before a watching world. The final command we will look at is “Greet one another…” (Romans 16:16).

It is Visible
Romans 16:16 says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss….” To greet with a kiss was a common practice in Bible times, and still is in parts of the world today. If it is not cultural to kiss, it may be to bow, to shake hands, or even to stick out your tongue. What these greetings have in common is that they can be seen. They are visible. A “holy” kiss takes the normal, cultural greeting and sanctifies it. We can greet each other with a holy handshake, a holy fist bump, or a holy high five. It is different in every culture. The form changes, but the function is the same. Demonstrate your love for others. A holy greeting is a genuine, heartfelt, appropriate, visible expression of love, not to be misunderstood or misused.

It is Valuable
In this chapter, we read the longest greeting list in the Bible. Paul mentions 35 people by name! He had many friends and he valued their friendship in the Lord. These people partnered with him and risked their lives for the sake of the Gospel! The church is family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ! Greeting one another is not optional or trivial. It is commanded. Paul used their names. The Bible lists the names of David’s mighty men, those who served with him. Do you know people’s names? When you go to a church it is obvious if there is someone there to greet you. Some churches are like the frozen chosen! No one smiles, speaks, or waves at you. Don’t be a cold fish or snobbish! We must work at waving at one another, greeting one another, and saying, “Good morning!” and “Glad to see you!”

It is Victorious
Romans 16:17 says to “note those who cause divisions and offenses.” It is the nature of love to warn against anyone or anything that would harm those we love. We must oppose what is harmful or evil. Spouses do that for one another. Parents do that for their children. The Bible not only lists David’s mighty men, but also his enemies! God lists those who helped Nehemiah, and those who opposed him. Whose side are you on? Will eternity reveal that you helped or hindered the work? Remember the story of the prodigal son? Did the elder brother greet his brother? No! The father embraced and kissed him, but the elder brother is religious. He hears the music and hates it. He refuses to celebrate. The greeting, the kiss, the celebration, and the focus on the lost is right! Churches are dying across America because they spend all their time and resources not reaching the prodigal, but trying to pacify the elder brothers! God has not called us to make sure cranky Christians are happy! Mark and avoid those who divide!

Verse 20 says, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” How did Judas betray our Lord? With a kiss. The kiss of death! Some people will mean the kiss of death on a church. That is not the end, however, because God promised in Genesis that He would send a Messiah. Satan would bruise His heel, and He would crush the Serpent’s head. Jesus is crushing Satan under YOUR feet!

Jesus welcomed the lepers, sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, and Samaritans. We must greet and welcome all nations, people groups, and the marginalized of our day. Because Jesus prays for, comforts, prefers, forgives, and encourages us, we can do the same for others. Because Jesus welcomed us into His family, we can greet and welcome others into the family.

You Can Trust the Lord

Guest Blogger: Dalton Stoltz

Trusting the Lord has been the best investment of my life.

You can trust him in your darkest hour. You can trust Him when you’re filled with fear. You can trust Him when you’re full of anxiety.

The most frequent teaching in the New Testament by Jesus was not to be holy, or to love one another, it was to not worry. It was to not be afraid. It was to not be anxious.

This is mentioned 365 times in Scripture, one for each day of the year, because He wants us to Trust Him.

Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

Isaiah, was a prophet and an evangelist. Isaiah believed the only hope for mankind was centered in trusting God.

“YOU KEEP HIM” is a powerful statement as it expresses confidence in God. The Hebrew wording states that God is acting like a watchman at night. Isaiah was declaring that our God is not passive, distant or ignoring his children. Rather, God is proactively keeping those in perfect peace.

Do you want perfect peace? People who have a perfect peace have what is translated as “a frame of mind, a perspective.” That is, “undeviating commitment to a purpose,” or “undeviating commitment to a conviction or person.” So, the big idea here is that someone who has perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on God, is someone whose thought processes and perspectives are totally dependent, totally trusting, totally leaning on the King of the Universe. The person who does this feels safe, secure, even confident. They feel this way not because they are trusting in themselves but because they are trusting in the Lord.

I know many people who want to live in perfect peace, they just don’t want the God of Peace who supplies it. Did you catch that? Everyone wants to live in perfect peace, they just don’t want the God of Peace who supplies it. It is impossible, however, to have the Peace of God without the God of Peace.

You can have perfect peace if you trust in the Lord. Verse 4 more accurately translates “Trust in Jehovah.” Jehovah is a name for God meaning, “The Existing One.” Trust in the Lord God, because He is an Everlasting Rock! He is not shaky. He is stable. He is full of protection. He is a firm foundation.

Today and everyday, I want you to know that you can trust the Lord because:

1) He is on His Throne- Isaiah 6:1-3
2) He is in Control- Isaiah 40:12,26
3) He Won’t Forget You- Isaiah 49:15

No seduction this world has to offer will ever come close to Him. Only He is BIG enough to give you true peace. Trust in God is like a tender seed. It can be nurtured or neglected. When we nurture our trust in God, through prayer, through worship, through studying God’s word, He blesses our lives and lifts our spirits. When we neglect intimacy with the Lord, we do ourselves and our loved ones a profound disservice. What are you going to do today? Who are you going to trust today?

The Lord is greater than your greatest fear, worry or anxiety. Trusting Him will be the best investment of your life.

Changing Your Perspective

Guest Blogger: Daniel Ethridge

Growing up Pastor Grant’s son was quite the adventure. I remember when I was five years old I packed a suitcase, full of all my essential toys, and walked out the front door. After a few minutes of walking down the road I heard a car behind me. When I turned around I saw my dad, hanging out the window, with our family video camera. He was filming me run away. Once I got tired, he put me back in the car, drove me home, and the minute we walked inside he sat me in front of the TV and made me watch the video. It was impactful enough that I still remember it. He gave me something extremely effective that day: a new perspective to see who I truly was.

This past Sunday, in Luke chapter 5, we saw a story of multiple types of people who encountered Jesus. Which one of them would you have been?

The Bystanders
The report about Jesus was beginning to grow and Luke tells us in verse 15 that “great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities.” The sad thing in this story is that only one man leaves healed. Why was it that out of all the people there, only one man would leave having been changed? The scripture explicitly says that the “power of the Lord was present with Jesus to heal.” Yet for some reason, they would leave the same. Every week we have people who sit in our congregation and leave the same. Many individuals want to get close enough to Jesus to experience the work of God, but not close enough to be changed by it. We want all the benefits without any commitment. How committed are you to the things of God? Are you a bystander? At Liberty we say, “It’s not just church, It’s life!” Does that adequately describe your life?

The Pharisees
The Pharisees are a part of the same crowd as the bystanders, but they are a very different group. Luke tells us in verse 17 and 21 that they were sitting and questioning the things of God. This is a great picture of religious people today. They come to be a part of the church activities but they aren’t active in the mission that Jesus was on. This crowd claimed to know the things of God but they couldn’t see Him when He stood in front of them. What was it that kept them from seeing and believing Jesus? When you look at the gospels, it can be summed up in two things: status and tradition. Have we become a people so set on our preferences that we are keeping others from getting to Jesus? My fear is that we’ve become a social club for the saved, rather than a home for the lost or a hospital for the sick. In Matthew 23:13-15 Jesus called out the Pharisees. “You shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” That is exactly what Luke 5:18-20 shows us they did.

The Friends
Not everyone in the story responded incorrectly. The friends completely reoriented their lives in order to get this man to Jesus. They believed that Jesus was what the crippled man needed and they were willing to do anything to remove the hindrances! Are you doing everything possible to see your coworkers, family, neighbors, and friends come to Jesus? Verse 20 says, “And when [Jesus] saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” Does your faith in Jesus lead others to Him? James tells us that faith without works is dead.

The Healed Man
This character was the one who left completely changed. Can you imagine when they lowered him at Jesus’ feet? He had to know something incredible was about to happen, and then Jesus said, “your sins are forgiven you.” It couldn’t have been what the crowd expected. This man was unable to walk! Yet Jesus sees our greatest need. His legs were what brought him to Jesus but his soul was what was really in need of transformation from God. What is bringing you to Jesus? It might be a failing marriage, an economic struggle, a wayward child, a physical illness, or even a death in the family. All those things are just a symptom of a greater issue. Ask God to forgive your sins and begin to walk daily with Him. The story ends with the man’s legs being completely restored. I cannot promise that walking with Jesus is going to be easy, but I can promise that it will be worth it. If He is able to save you and give you an eternity with Him, you can rest assured, knowing that He can guide you through whatever you are facing.

If you had been in this story, who would you have been? I am praying that God would personally touch you today, so that you will know the power of God and live a life bringing others to Him.

Comfort One Another

What a great day of worship we had on Sunday! Our son Daniel, Worship Pastor at the Greenbrier Campus, did his CD release concert. If you missed it, you can purchase a CD Sunday at your campus at the Media Center. He did a great job on this project and we could not be more proud of him and the worship team! Our services Sunday morning were so full of the Lord’s presence; it was one of those days where you don’t want to leave! The message was on comforting one another. Everyone is hurting. “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18) is so practical and personal. Paul unpacks this idea further in 2 Corinthians 1, where he uses the word “comfort” nine times. In this passage, we see four reasons why we can comfort one another.

The Presence of God
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, we read that the “God of all comfort… comforts us in all our tribulation….” Tribulation can be physical, emotional, financial, or relational. It is a one-size-fits-all kind of word. Fill in the blank with whatever you are going through! In John 14:26, the Holy Spirt is called the Comforter. God said, “When you go through the fire I will be with you” (Is. 43:2), and “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). We have a God who stands beside us to take up our cause, encourage us, strengthen us, and comfort us. In order to experience comfort, you must first experience tribulation, hurt, pain, and know what it means to mourn. God is the only source of comfort. When you complain, feel sorry for yourself, wallow in self-pity, or grow bitter, you cut yourself off from the only source of comfort.

The Purposes of God
The second half of verse 4 says, “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble….” God lets you go through some things knowing somebody will travel that same road. In 1992 when we buried our little boy, a lady said, “Pastor you cannot see it now but God is going to use this in your life to help so many couples who have lost a child.” God sent us to the school of suffering so we would learn comfort. God does the comforting, but He uses people. God’s comfort will fill your cup till it runs over! God gives us enough to meet our needs and the needs of others. Another purpose is that we might be emptied of all self-reliance. Verse 9 says, “that we should not trust in ourselves but in God.” Dr. Ron Dunn used to say, “You learn to trust God by trusting God. You only trust God when you have to. God will see to it that you have to.”

The Promises of God
Verse 20 references the promises of God. The difference between happy and unhappy people is not the absence of trouble, it is the way they respond to their trouble. There are two ways you can deal with problems: God’s way or the world’s way. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” God’s way changes your heart. The world’s way produces death, anger, bitterness, and resentment. There is no comfort in unbelief. There is a God and we have the promises of His word to hold on to! Think about the 23rd Psalm, Isaiah 42:1-3, Romans 15:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Romans 8:28, and more.

The People of God
In 2 Corinthians 1:1, Paul talks about Timothy. In 2 Corinthians 7:6, he says God “comforted us by the coming of Titus….” There are people all around us ready to give up on life, give up on their marriage, kids, job, church, etc., but God is going to send YOU to comfort them and spur them to keep going.

Sometimes, God allows things He hates to accomplish what He loves. Do you have a broken heart today? We throw broken things away but God never uses someone until they are broken. If you have a broken heart, broken hopes, a broken home, bring it to Jesus. Jesus was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. You can know Him, in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.

Forgive One Another

This Sunday, we celebrated 11 years together as Pastor and church. We have seen the Lord do some amazing things over this time! Tammy and I are so grateful the Lord brought us to Liberty! She and I also celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary last week. The only way to stay married 32 years or to pastor one church for 11 years is to prefer one another (last week’s post) and to forgive one another. When you look at the context of Colossians 3:13, there are three things we learn about forgiving others.

The Signs of Not Forgiving One Another
In Colossians 3:8-9, the Holy Spirit gives us several signs of unforgiveness. As you read through these, look in the mirror of God’s word to see if any of these symptoms indicate that you have not forgiven someone. “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another….” Who have you been angry towards, talked about, or lied to or about? In verse 11 Paul says, “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” Here, he is dealing with racism. Prejudice is a sign of unforgiveness. Are you holding something against a certain race of people?

The Steps to Forgiving One Another
Paul tells us that we are to “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…” (Col. 3:12-13). Mercy, humility, and longsuffering are inward, and kindness, meekness, and forbearing are outward. Forgiveness is a choice to release a person from a wrong done against you, inwardly and outwardly. We all need to forgive and need to be forgiven.

Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. You can forgive people that you are not yet reconciled to. We choose to forgive whether the other person apologizes or not. When Jesus died on the cross he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” They did not ask to be forgiven. Dr. Charles Stanley, in his book Forgiveness, says, “Understand forgiveness is not justifying, understanding, or explaining why the person acted toward you the way they did. It is not forgetting about it or trusting time will take care of it.” Get alone with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind the people you need to forgive. Don’t hold back the tears or emotion as you remember the offense. Choose, as an act of the will, to forgive them once and for all, even if you don’t feel like it. The feelings will follow. Release that person from the debt they owe you by saying, “You are forgiven.” If the person is a part of your life, accept them without trying to change them. Pray, “Because I am forgiven by Christ, I now forgive you.” Forgiveness is based on the atoning work of Christ on the cross, not on anything we do.

The Story About Forgiving One Another
“…Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Col. 3:13). Christ had a great deal to say about forgiveness. In Matthew 6, He told us how to pray. Verse 12 says, “and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” In verse 14, He gives further explanation saying that if we forgive, we will be forgiven, but if we don’t, we will not be forgiven. In Matthew 18, we read a story on forgiveness in which a man had a debt he could not pay. In today’s time, it would have been millions or billions of dollars! The man cried out for mercy and the King released and forgave the debt. The forgiven man went out and found a man who owed him just a few hundred dollars, a tiny fraction compared to the debt he once owed, and put the man in prison. When Christians do not forgive one another, we do the same.

God remembers our sins no more. It does not mean he forgets, but He holds them against us no more. Let it go! Put off anger, wrath, harsh language, and prejudice, and put on kindness and humility. “The moment you experienced the love of Jesus Christ, you forfeit the right to choose whom you will love.” Is there someone you need to forgive? Have you received God’s forgiveness?

Prefer One Another

Last week, we talked about bearing one another’s burdens. You will receive a harvest of blessing if you don’t give up! Our “One Another” series has also taught us to love, pray for, encourage, serve, and to show hospitality to each other. Today, we are going to look at the command to prefer one another. In marriage, Tammy and I never have a problem as long as I get my way! The same is true in the body of Christ. In order to have healthy, biblical community and relationships, we are to put others before ourselves. In Romans 12, Paul gives three ways we can do this.

In Our Thinking
First, we read that we are to renew our minds (v. 2). The word “think” is used repeatedly (v. 3). It all starts in the mind. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7). Paul warns that we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. This doesn’t mean to belittle yourself, but to recognize that you and others are made in the image of God. If we want to do right, we have to think right.

There are times I have to admit that others are better than I am in certain areas. I have to step aside and let them do their jobs. Don’t have too much pride to ask for help! There are other times, where I may be better than someone else at something, but still need to step aside. Are you willing to step aside in areas where you are gifted? That is the real test! We must let others with the same gifts go ahead of us. We need to be raising up the next generation. How will they learn if we don’t let them? When you think you are the only one that can do something, or you think you can do it better, or you think you are always right, you are motivated by self and it causes division in the family. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).

In Our Serving
In Romans 12:4-8, Paul compares the church, the body of Christ, to the human body. There are many individual members, but we are all interrelated. God wants every member to work together using our personality and spiritual gifts to change lives, communities, and the world for Jesus Christ. God has given us each specific gifts for a specific purpose. Don’t consider yourself more useful or less useful than others. Don’t evaluate people on the basis of your own gift. Don’t get proud of your gift and think it is better than someone else’s. Don’t underestimate the value of another believer’s gift. Don’t use your particular gift as an excuse not to manifest the other gifts. Put others ahead of yourself. Open the door for others. Offer them your seat. God is the One who gifted us, let Him put us where He wants us. Don’t toot your own horn or promote yourself. God’s promotion is always better than self-promotion!

In Our Loving
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:10-11). Be loyal to others. Don’t be lazy in loving them, but be excited about looking for ways to meet their needs. Paul goes on to say, “Bless those who persecute you,” and “Repay no one evil for evil” (v. 14, 17). Those can be hard to swallow! When you do this though, God will fight for you!

A classic example in the Bible is Abraham and Lot. In Genesis 13, Abram lets Lot take his pick of the land. He could have said, “I am the oldest, I get the first choice.” Instead, he preferred the other person. In letting Lot have first choice, Abram let God make the choice for him. You can prefer the other person when you trust God to make the choice for you. Let people take what they want and let God make the choice for you. God will give you far more than you ever dreamed! It does not matter who gets the credit as long as God gets the glory. Pray like John the Baptist, “I must decrease and He must increase.”

Bear One Another’s Burdens

This summer we’ve been going through a series on the “One Another” sayings in the Bible. In Galatians, we read that we are to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (6:2). What does it mean to bear someone’s burden? Paul explains with five instructions.

We Share
In Galatians 6:1, Paul says that if someone is overtaken in a trespass, those who are spiritual (those who are walking in, and are led by, the Spirit) are to restore him. He is talking to believers! Believers can be overtaken, surprised, and caught in a trap. Adam and Eve had to be restored. David sinned and had to be restored. Peter denied our Lord and had to be restored. I could go on! The word “restore” means to set a broken bone. We are to be quick to help if someone we know is trapped by sin. We should not rejoice that they’ve fallen, reveal their sin, or reject them, but restore them gently. In verse 2, he tells us to bear each other’s burdens. A burden is something too heavy to bear alone. Life has a way of dealing us crushing blows. We should share each other’s burdens when they are too heavy to carry alone.

We Shoulder
Verses 4 and 5 almost seem to contradict 1 and 2: “For each one shall bear his own load” (v.5). I heard about a member who had surgery and their AC went out. They requested prayer. Another member not only prayed, but paid to put a in a new AC unit. They helped bear the burden! It is one thing to buy an AC unit, it is another to think they should pay the utility bill, do all the housework, buy all the groceries, and cut the grass! People can take advantage. Verse 5 balances it out. We should help shoulder burdens, but we can’t carry the whole load. People have to be responsible. The Bible says, “If a man will not work he should not eat,” and, “If you do not take care of your own family you are worse than an infidel.”

We Support
Galatians 6:6 says, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” I am blessed and I thank you for the way you take care of your Pastor and staff! Teaching the word is essential. Faithfully proclaiming God’s word will sow the seeds of Scripture that you will need when the burdens of life come. Have you ever felt like the Pastor was preaching just to you? I hear people say, “Pastor, that sermon was just for me.” God is speaking to you through that Pastor. God knows what is going on in your life and what you need. When you give to those whose ministry has blessed you, you are helping bear the burden and sow the seed that will bear spiritual fruit.

We Sow
Verses 7-9 talk about reaping and sowing. Everyone is sowing something. What are you sowing? The law of the harvest says you reap IF you sow, WHAT you sow, MORE than you sow, and LATER than you sow. Verse 9 tells us to not grow weary in doing good. Vacationers get tired of traveling, millionaires get tired of money, kids get tired of toys, and Christians get tired of doing good. We get tired of bearing one another’s burdens. We get tired of doing good. During the difficult times, our job is to faithfully sow the seed, keep doing good, and God will bring the increase!

We Surrender
In verse 14, Paul says, “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The burden of our sin is too great to bear. We can’t save ourselves. Apart from the cross, we get nothing but judgment. Apart from the cross, we have nothing but condemnation. Do you remember the line in the old hymn? “My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought. My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord oh my soul!” Jesus is willing to bear our ultimate burden if we surrender to Him! He sets the ultimate example for us.

Serve One Another

Galatians 5:13 says, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” The book of Galatians is about the liberty we have in Christ. Freedom is never free. Someone has to serve. We have the Armed Services, Servicemen and Servicewomen. Thank God for those who serve! The church of Jesus Christ, the army of the Lord, needs some servicemen and women. Today, we will continue looking at the “One Another” passages in the Bible, and we will look at three hindrances to serving one another.

In Galatians 5:19-21 Paul describes the works of the flesh, things like adultery, idolatry, jealousies, etc. Then, in verses 22-23, he says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit are total opposites, but they are the only two ways to live. We either live in the Spirit or in the flesh. The flesh wants freedom to do what it wants without restraint. The flesh wants independence from God. The Spirit enables us to please God. If we want to hear from God and walk in the Spirit, we have to confess our sin and die to self. Verse 24 says, “…those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Are you walking in the Spirit or the flesh? Is your service motivated by love? Does your service bring joy regardless of your circumstances? Do you have inward peace as you serve? Do you have patience with people you serve? Do you show kindness when you serve? Do you want the best and good of others? Are you faithful in your service? Are you gentle? Do you have self-control? This is the fruit that should describe your service.

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:14). It is OK to love yourself, but self should always come last. Jesus said love God with all your heart, love your neighbor, and then love yourself. JOY is J-esus, O-thers, and Y-ou.

If He could have called 10 legions of angels on the cross, He could have called 12 angels to wash their dirty feet!

Jesus was Master but He washed the disciple’s feet. If He could have called 10 legions of angels on the cross, He could have called 12 angels to wash their dirty feet! Self is the toughest weed to pull up. The world is preoccupied with self: self-importance, self-indulgence, self-pity, self-centeredness, self-deception. Is your favorite subject to talk about yourself and your thoughts, plans, schedule, aches, etc.? Are you consumed with yourself? President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” What kills relationships, marriages, families, churches and countries is selfishness and self-centeredness. As Christians, we are to look to Jesus as our ultimate example and serve others, putting ourselves aside.

Galatians 5:15 warns against biting and devouring one another. You are not going to serve someone if you are mad at them. You are not going to serve someone if you are fighting with them. Just like we don’t want our children to bite, God does not want His children biting one another either!

We are saved to serve! Stop serving sin and self and start serving the Savior! We were created to serve God. We ought to wake up every day saying, “What is my assignment Lord?” When you serve others, you are serving God. Every time you serve, God sees it. God is keeping records. You will be rewarded. Don’t look for people to pay you back or serve you. You are not doing it for them, you are doing it for Him!

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