Take the step of Faith

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

There is a voice that prompts me to do things or to abstain from things regularly. When I didn’t know better I listen to it only if it matched my feelings. So if I really wanted to go driving with a friend and that still small voice whispered something about homework or chores, that is not the voice I want to listen to. But, as I mature in my relationship with God I begin to see the importance of keeping in step with the Spirit.

take the step of faith
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To keep in step with the Holy Spirit means that I am sensitive to God’s direction in every area of my life, and not just the big things. I am in tune when the Spirit says to give something or to abstain from buying something. I’m in tune when the Spirit says to not watch a particular movie or when it’s time to read His word. Many times certain choices seem harmless when we assess with the natural eye but the impact can be grave to our spirit. It’s like you need faith to be obedient to the Spirit because we are trusting that God knows what’s best for us. There are so many times I chose not to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the outcome isn’t always favourable. Now, whenever I hear that still small voice whispering something to me I quickly take action. How do you really know?

READ MORE: Let your Father help you

Take the step of faith
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That’s the question I ask myself when I am ready to sin. How do I really know it’s the Holy Spirit? It’s when we are faced with something that is tempting when we look for a way to be disobedient – we use our wit to outsmart the common sense of the Holy Spirit. I remember when I was still in University and I was being invited to go clubbing with all my friends. I had never gone before, but my church told me it was wrong to go. Convinced about all the fun I was going to have, the music and the friends that would be there, made me ask myself, what is the harm in going anyway? With maturity though, or when we have made one too many mistakes, we will KNOW how to keep in step with the Spirit. As young christians we often feel as if we have to rely on someone else’s experience rather than our own or the Spirit’s guidance, so it gets a little difficult. There are so many voices in our heads that we never really know which is the Holy Spirit or our own. Rest assured, spending time in the word of God for ourselves and in prayer helps to decipher the noise in our heads. Because the only voice you really want to be in tune with is the one that comes from the Holy Spirit.

READ MORE: What is your favourite fruit?

To live by the spirit means that you have nothing to do with the flesh. And it is hard to do that on your own. We need God’s help to live by the spirit. It’s like you are learning how to walk. We can only do so, one step at a time. Each day we take a step in God’s direction and He will tell us what to do. Our daily prayer should be, Not my will but thy will be done.

Let your Father help you

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24

I have always considered myself God’s child. For someone who grew up going to church all my life this was a given. I just knew. I never think much about my behaviours as a child because I didn’t think that anything I did could impact my relationship with God. Even if I didn’t have an earthly father to be there for me, I believed that my Heavenly Father was the perfect father. As a child I dreamt about my earthly father being there for me just the way God promises He would be there. But for most/all of my life my dad was physically absent (even when I could see him). Yet, I knew I belong to my earthly father. And even more, I knew I belong to my Heavenly Father. I knew before I knew anything about the consequences of sin.That’s the beauty of God. He leads us with such care and teaches us just how much we need to know.

let your father help you
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When I became an adult, I became more intimate with sin, the deceptions and the pain it leaves behind. Just the same as how God nourished a personal relationship with me as a child with a kind of conviction and confidence, it wasn’t until I really became an adult, I realize Satan was doing the same thing to me, subtly. Once I moved out from the people who kept my life in check, my family and my spiritual family, I was all alone at University in a dorm. I was certain the Lord provided this room on campus at a challenging period of my life. Blessings sometimes come wrapped in their own challenges (or growth opportunities). This was the time Satan struck out at me. I questioned my beliefs, who I was, my relationship with God, and God himself. Soon enough I believed that I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. Satan helped me believe that my freedom should not be limited by Christian beliefs. That’s how seeds of doubt and confusion were planted. The easiest way to get rid of these I have come to learn is, just go with it. Instead of using spiritual wisdom to wrestle against “flesh and blood” and the snares of the enemy, it’s easier for the flesh to just do what feels natural. The guilt that comes thereafter goes away.

READ MORE: What is your favourite fruit?

The more I found myself wrestling less and feeling guilty less, I began to take this freedom to higher and higher notches. And yea, it felt good not to always be thinking about what it right or wrong. What do people do in their 20s right? You party, you travel, and you have a lot of fun. Fun can be defined as whatever you want to do. But, my eyes began to open to Satan’s traps little by little. When I got my first scare of a STD in South Korea, my body felt so disgusting to me. I didn’t even want to touch my own body. That was my wake up call of the tricks of sin. They are dressed up so refined, and rather than leaving the fruits of the spirit, love, kindness, gentleness, etc, you get a taste of lice! I thought I had learnt my lesson but after a few years, I forget. And like a pig, I get muddy again.

let your father help you
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There comes a time when we have to stop and assess our behaviours. Become spiritually mature. Are our behaviours serving us for the better? For years, I have made the same mistakes, thinking I found love and it turned out to be a fake (or a frog). But, this I am learning, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” My passions and desires cannot direct my steps because they take me in the wrong places, and I get hurt over and over again. The only thing I ought to seek after is Christ because when I do, the Holy Spirit will take care of everything else.

READ MORE: Find fulfillment in seeking the things above

With the Holy Spirit, even our mistakes begin to serve God’s purposes. As an adult, I have come to learn that God doesn’t waste anything, not our pains, our hurts or wounds, and not our tears. They all mean something to our Heavenly Father. So, whether or not your earthly father was present for you, this is no reflect on your Heavenly Father’s promise: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8). And while you do not see your Heavenly Father, He is present and hearing every one of our prayers. He’s no Santa Claus that shows up once a year, this God that says,”Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool” (Isaiah 66:1), is present even in the worse places of our lives. So let Him help you, because there are times you just can’t do it alone.

What is your favourite fruit?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Everyone has a favourite fruit. Mine is Mango. Naturally, I am a girl of the Caribbean and the tropical fruits are always my favourite. While on a vacation in Jamaica I purchased a bag of the juiciest East Indian Mangos from a roadside vendor. They were all yellow, very ripe and big! I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into one of them. When I returned to the Airbnb I was staying, I sunk my teeth into the mango and felt the juice running down my fingers. The taste was heavenly. It wasn’t until the next day when I was eating my third that I saw holes in the Mango, and the worms also having a feast of their own. I was horrified, sick even! I got rid of the half eaten mango, and checked out the rest of the uneaten ones. I saw holes in all them. I was too frightened to try another, so I also got rid of the entire bag, and started worrying, how much worms did I devour? I had a bad fruit and it was disgusting.

what is your favourite fruit?
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Fruits of the Spirit

On a spiritual note, when fruits are good they do not have worms. The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These good fruits don’t come naturally no matter how much of a “good person” you think you are. No, these fruits are ONLY produced when they are connected to the vine. And not just any vine, the true vine. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful (John 15: 1-2).

As Christians, we are expected to bear good fruits, both in season and out of season. I never understood that bible verse until now. Mangos don’t grow year round, not even in Jamaica. When it’s mango season, the fruit is in abundance everywhere, and they are juicy and delicious. Not like the mangos you get year round at the Canadian grocery stores. On the contrary, the spiritual fruits bear all year, in every terrain and temperature of our lives. In other words, the fruits don’t bear just when lives’ challenges/difficulties are at their minimum.

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The Fig Tree

Do you remember when Jesus was walking with his disciples and he tried to look for a fig to eat because he was hungry? The fig tree was in the right season and still it did not have one fruit on it. Jesus took a drastic approach to the fact that the tree was barren. He cursed it. And the next day the tree shrivelled (Mark 11:12–20). This is a spiritual analogy to all of us. There are times, we are so focussed on going to church, reading our bible, memorizing and quoting scriptures, but when the time comes for someone to eat from us, we have nothing to offer. That is, we can’t show love, we are not gentle, we are not kind. And so , the ones who came expecting something from us only receive the bitter fruit or worse, are eating “worms”.

The Apostle Paul is telling us what fruits we ought to be bearing, if these fruits are not visible we should check to see how well we are in fact connected to the true vine. The fruits of the spirit doesn’t come from our flesh it is internally connected to the Holy Spirit.

My Favourite Fruit is Love

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Finally, Paul says the fruits of the spirit doesn’t have a law. While there is a law against the acts of the flesh, when it comes to the fruits of the spirit, there needs to be no law. In other words, we can show as much love to our neighbours and we need not worry that there is a consequence. We can exhibit a 1000 acts of kindness each day, and no one will ever come to enforce a limit. So, while we have to be fearful when we are busy committing acts of the flesh, we do not need to worry about containing ourselves (or limiting ourselves) when we are sharing the fruits of the spirit with others.

Therefore, seek to be connected to the true vine and it will be evident when others are noticing how much good fruits you are bearing. People will come to you to eat of your fruits because your fruits will bear all year, both in season and out of season, in endless supply. Remember John 15:4, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Find fulfillment by seeking the things above

I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:21

The truth is, many of us hardly know or care to know about what the Kingdom of God is. Why would that be relevant as we live our lives, as we strive for earthly successes: the white picket fence, the Mercedes Benz, the booming career, and the walk to the altar. It appears as if these things are the pinnacles of success. Yet, as Christians our definition of success cannot be the same as the way the world defines it. The Kingdom of God is the very thing that should reign in our hearts, that should give our lives direction; and in actuality should be the very definition of success. You see, when we alter our definition to include the Kingdom of God, our life will become one with integrity, purpose, and fulfillment. So much that, even when the earthly successes land in our laps, our hearts are not transfigured by it.

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So, what exactly is the Kingdom of God? According to John 3:3, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” I believe Jesus is expressing that there is a process to enter the Kingdom while we live on Earth. And this process begins with baptism. Baptism is a symbolism of the transformation we undergo in the Spirit, signifying the death of the body (the sinful part of us) and the beginning of a new life in the Spirit.

According to Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” At the completion of this process, we exchange our earthly citizenship to a heavenly one (even though we are still present on this earth). And even though we are still on earth, we are primed to inherit the kingdom of God because the process has already started in our hearts.

READ MORE: Your body is not the boss of you

According to Galatians 5:21, those who live committing acts of the flesh are not going to inherit the Kingdom of God. These acts of the flesh: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies…, have nothing to do with God’s Kingdom. In fact they are the very identifiers as to who are not part of the Kingdom of God. The good news is that the door is open to whosoever will. “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9).

The thing is, when we set our hearts on higher and more eternal things, like the kingdom of God, the less important it is to achieve earthly successes. And when we do achieve them, we are able to separate our hearts from the temporal things and keep our focus on the eternal ones. What I have noticed is that we become less anxious, less worried, less fearful, less bitter, less jealous, and so on. In other words, we get to live out our lives on earth from a new place of power, confidence, and a certainty that our lives are in God’s hands. The things we do not know right now doesn’t matter. What I am saying is that, there is a peace that comes when we inherit the Kingdom of God. We get to make a choice whether we want to be part of this Kingdom. The door is always open whenever we are ready. Although one day it will be closed (Matthew 25:10). So, rather than striving to achieve earthly successes, let’s strive to inherit the Kingdom of God. That way, our lives will become one of integrity, purpose, and fulfillment.

Your body is not the boss of you

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. [Galatians 5: 19-21]

The moment we come out of our mother’s womb we have a propensity to sin. It comes so natural to us that we hardly think it’s wrong. Yet, deep down in our spirit we know it is. It’s crazy how the flesh can rule our bodies and our minds making us think we have no control. The still small voice that we grew accustomed to listening to is the one that demands that we gratify it, day after day. As living beings, these impulses mature over time and become the ones that Paul talks about thats wrong. But, sometimes these impulses are pre-mature because we may have experienced or seen them as children. It’s no wonder our world is so messed up. How do we know to do better unless the Holy Spirit teaches us?

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As a child, I recall indecent things I have done not fully mature enough to know that I shouldn’t because I was more consumed with the way it felt. Can you relate? Have you ever watched Jumanji? I am pretty sure that it’s witchcraft. But it’s a game kids play. When you watch the movie it seems more like an adventure. You see, it’s hard to tell that something is bad because most of the time as children we are so curious. I know I was. Have you played spin the bottle? Maybe that’s not a game these days, but when I was 10 years old I played it. How do children truly know that it’s actually bad to do something without someone telling them? And yet, this is how all the inclinations to sin begin. After a while, the things we did as children become habits. And you know what they say about habits when they are formed…they are hard to change.

READ MORE: Do you want to live happy and free from the law?

Have you had a drunk for a father? or a smoker or drug addicted mother? How does a child undo those experiences from their minds? It takes a strong child to see cigarettes lying around a house and not touch it. And when you see your parents having fits of rage towards each other, don’t you grow up thinking that’s how you speak to your spouse? The way we change is when we learn to become better. When we read, when we see other people’s parents acting civil, maybe even going to see a therapist will show us alternative behaviours. But before then, we are like a body of past experiences acting out in our present. As much as we have this powerful ability to think, we aren’t always using it. We prefer to rely on what we have seen- our experiences.

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I am saying that our human nature easily gravitates to the things that aren’t always good for us. And our culture doesn’t help, in fact it encourages such behaviours. When I went to college, I decided that this is when I was supposed to have sex and get drunk. As a seventeen year old leaving home for the first time (especially one that felt that I missed out in high school), I had my mind set on these things and it didn’t matter what order they came in. I wasn’t looking for a long term relationship, I was looking to check the boxes of life experiences. Get drunk at 19 years old- check, go clubbing in university – check. Over the years, I had to learn from the experiences, especially when they left a negative impact.

Paul just wants us to know that the things we think are okay and we have no control over them, they are hurting us deeply. Our sins do not have control over us.  According to Romans 6:12-13, “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

Have you ever suffered a broken heart and you thought this was never going to go away? But, one day, it does. Or, have you ever been hungry and you weren’t able to eat for a long time, but you realize it wasn’t going to kill you? That’s how sin feels. It is so powerful that you think you have no other choice but to give in- one more drink, indulge in the witchcraft one last time, one more cigarette, buy that gorgeous sports car instead of paying child support… the list goes on. You can change. And you can do it right now.

READ MORE: Do you ever feel powerless?

Finally, “don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living” (Romans 6:16). I say, take control of your own mind and body, and do not let it control you.

Do you want to live happy and free from the law?

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:18

I recently had one of many interviews in the last month. One interview was followed by a second component, a written test. One of the questions asked me to write a brief explanation about the Criminal Code of Canada. In Canada we are all bound under the Criminal Code, which codifies all of the criminal laws of Canada. Whether you read the Code or not, a citizen or not, as long as you live in Canada and break one of these laws, you will be punished. In essence, we are all bound by the Criminal Code. Yet, Galatians 5:18 tell us something else. What did Paul mean when he says we are not under the law, if we are led by the Spirit?

READ MORE: Do you ever feel powerless?

In last week’s article, I wrote about feeling powerless over temptations. We become so powerless that we do things that hurt ourselves and we hurt each other. What possesses a sexual predator to act so ghastly towards another human being? Is it a crave for control? a desire for pleasure? or are they also victims of their own circumstances? Regardless, the Criminal Code says bestiality, sexual abuse, child pornography, and many others, are all wrong. And when persons are caught breaking the law, they will go before the court of law and be punished for it. The accused might have many excuses: drunkenness, mental health concerns, etc, and even if some excuses were taken into consideration during sentencing, the accused is still going to be judged as guilty of breaking the law.

Do you want to live happy and free from the law?
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There are some temptations, though, that are not in the criminal code. For example, fornication (having sex with someone when you are not married), or adultery (a married person having sex with another person). According to the Criminal Code consensual sex at the age of consent is not a crime. But morally they are still wrong because these sins are hurting you or someone else. Although we might not feel the pain it is causing us during the act, we all can attest to the pain that a broken heart leaves behind. It feels like a dagger in the soul. But, the one who hurts the most is God. The One who purified us and called us chosen, holy, and dearly loved. He hurts when we act like pigs in mud. So, while some laws are not in the Criminal Code, they are in another code, the bible.

Therefore Paul is saying something so profound in those few lines that the naked eye cannot fathom it. It is this: We do not need the Criminal Code to govern us when we are being led by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never lead us into temptations, much less cause us to commit a crime. Therefore, it is when we are walking in the flesh that we need a law to govern us because the flesh is literally uncontrollable.

READ MORE: How to overcome temptations

Since we insist on living in the flesh, we need laws to govern our bodies. Like little children, we need an authority to tell us what we can and cannot do. But, when we become mature in the Holy Spirit and have no need for milk (Hebrews 5:12), we will agree with Paul, “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” When we are in Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, our instructions come from the Spirit. The Spirit needs no law. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

So, do you want to live a life that is pleasurable and happy? Like Paul, I say, choose to be led by the Holy Spirit.

Do you ever feel powerless?

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Galatians 5:17

Do you think that when you become a Christian that suddenly, you no longer think dirty thoughts? That you no longer desire the pleasures of food? Do you honestly think that your desire for sex disappears? Well, in one sense, yes this actually happens. This is when you are full of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit overpowers us in such a way that we don’t need to feed our flesh, physically or sexually. In John 6:35, “Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Essentially, by feeding the Spirit with the WORD you no longer need to feed the flesh. The strangest thing is that both the flesh and the spirit wants different types of food- one craves physical food and the other craves spiritual food.

READ MORE: How to overcome temptations?

Which one will you feed? Since we are human beings with a physical body, we have to feed the flesh. What I mean is, we need clothes, food, water, shelter, and even love. But, if we are not cautious, we might become gluttonous. While it’s important to take care of the body, it’s not okay to overindulge. However, the physical body has a way of tricking us. Why do you crave food or desserts when you are depressed? Or why do you drink alcohol to ‘take the pain away’? Why is the media telling us that to get over a heartbreak, we need to engage in sexual pleasures (fornicate with someone else)? These are all contrary to the Spirit’s teachings and needs.

Do you ever feel powerless?
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You see, the body somehow masks our deeper problems and gives us reasons to overindulge. However, the Holy Spirit wants you to be healthy. When you feed the spirit, you become more powerful over every pain, every disappointment, or the traumas that we face. You gain a power that you did not know you had.

Choosing to feed the Spirit helps us to become more of who Christ wants us to be.

READ MORE: What do you believe?

How do you feed the Spirit? First you have to believe in Christ Jesus and accept him in your heart. Second, you must be baptized by immersing yourself in water. Third, you ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit. According to Acts 2:38, “Peter replied, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

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When we are full of the Holy Spirit we do not steal, we do not lie, we do not fornicate or commit adultery, and we do not over consume food or alcohol. In other words, we do not give the flesh any control. I will add here, this is why we should not get drunk. We are not able to do any of this of ourselves, but it is with the help of the Holy Spirit. This is why we need to receive the Holy Spirit. It is our comforter, our strength, and our sober second thought.

Will you continue feeding your flesh or will you make a decision to feed your spirit? If you want to live your life well, with wisdom, self-control, confidence, purity and power, then I will encourage everyone to choose to feed the spirit. This is not a one time thing, this requires daily coming to Christ in prayer and say, “not my will, let your will be done.”

How to overcome temptations

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

From the moment we were born, we find ourselves wrestling with the discomfort of living in the flesh. To maintain life in the body, we must clothe ourselves from the heat and cold, feed ourselves to stave off hunger, and we yearn for attention and human touch. There is no mistake about it, we have physical needs. As we get older, these needs intensifies and become more pronounced. The lesson our body tells us is, its needs are more important than anything else. So, when do we decide to stop listening to the flesh, and instead walk by the Spirit?

overcoming temptations
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READ MORE: Let love last all year part II

The one need that develops as we mature is our sexual needs. It almost seem natural that, since we are used to feeding our bodies when we are hungry or thirty, we should do the same for this very great need. When the sexual need intensifies, it speaks louder than the pangs of hunger. To satisfy this need, therefore, one will go to great lengths- sinful or not. And what’s strange is that, once the body experiences satisfaction, the feeling quickly fades away without much appreciation. It’s like a hungry lion that swallows the food without so much as chewing the meal. The body has needs, and if you let them dictate your actions, you will quickly see that you will be driven to great lengths to satisfy it, and totally loose control of yourself. This is why the Apostle Paul says….walk by the Spirit. There is no other way to get around the need to gratify your every desires.

I know that we cannot do this on our own volition. Do you think you have a great amount of self-control? That’s great, but faced with the right kind of temptation, you will see how quickly self-control go out the door. Remember Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Those little children all had their weak points, whether they knew it or not. And Willy Wonka got them all, except one. Charlie was a poor boy who didn’t have much needs. He had been living in a state of lack his whole life, and resisting temptation wasn’t as difficult as it was for the other children. Have you considered what your weaknesses are?

overcoming temptations
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For many it is food, for others it is alcohol, and for a lot of men, women is their biggest temptation. Rather than pretending that you are perfect (which you are in Christ), we better stop pretending to ourselves. Seeking help from the Holy Spirit and having an accountability partner will help you overcome the wildest of temptations. Depending on your self-control is not going to work when you are in the middle of a temptation. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit will steer you away from the temptation altogether. When we become stronger in the Spirit, “… the things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace” (that’s an old hymn). So, like Paul I am strongly encouraging you to walk by the Spirit and not of the flesh. You really do not want to be trying to stave off sinful desires every moment of your life. To do this on your own is a loosing battle with the flesh. It becomes defeating and you won’t feel victorious as God wants us to be.

READ MORE: What do you believe?

Therefore, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. When it comes upon you, you will become a new creature. One that is born again, this time, into the Spirit. That way, you won’t have to worry about gratifying the flesh daily. You will know that you have power over the flesh and power in this world. When we walk by the Spirit we are living by faith and we will know that we are made powerful “because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Let love last all year, part II

If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:15

All we need is love, is just another Christmas song we play once a year. When it comes down to it, we can’t find love in the people we are supposed to love to save our lives. The reality is that, when we get up close and vulnerable with people, they find words to hurt us. They ignore, they walk away, they don’t meet our expectations, and they treat us worse than strangers. The reality is that we are destroying each other daily. Our families are the best at this, and for those who also have a church family, you are doubly likely to get bitten and devoured. [I am sorry to begin this article on a negative tone]. The Apostle Paul is giving us a heads up that we ought to follow the second most important commandment, that is, love our neighbours as we love ourselves. If we do not love then like animals, we will be destroyed by each other.

let love last all year, family sitting together
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Have you ever walked away from a church community to seek better pastures? Have you ever moved thousands of miles from your family so that you won’t have to see them too often? As Christians, couldn’t we find a different way to resolve our differences? Why is it all so complicated? And why is the easiest choice to give up and walk away? How do we know that we have loved enough? Or to phrase this another way, when has love not been enough?

READ MORE: Let love last all year, part I

Do you recall 1 Corinthians 13:13? “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Love allows us to compromise, it allows us to be patient, to trust, to not be so easily angered, to not be so rude, or proud, or envious or unkind. This is not just for the other person who does this to us, this is also speaking to the one who reads this (and of course, the one who is writing this). We tend to blame the other individual, but fail to realize that we ought to be first to forgive, first to not keep a record of wrongs, first to hope and perseverance, and first to surrender our pride. Yes, love actually calls us to be the first to show love, not to wait for it to be shown to us- that is the definition of selfish. And love is most certainly not selfish. So, have we been enabling the destruction of God’s gifts to us: The family and the church? Or, are we fighting like hell to love each other as we love ourselves?

let love last all year, family sitting together with flowers
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

So, when is love not enough? The Apostle Mark says, “If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand.…” (Mark 3:25). This is the trouble when there isn’t anymore love: Your house is not going to stand. Even God can’t or won’t work in a house that is divided. This is what God says in Revelations 2:4-5: “But I have this against you: You have abandoned your first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

When we surrender ourselves to Christ and let His Spirit be what the world sees, we have a chance at knowing how to love. It’s not as easy as the world says about falling in love. We do not fall into love. Love is a continuous decision we make daily, even when we don’t want to. When we cannot anymore, we ought to pray. Because without love, little by little, we will destroy each other. And, that is not what God wants from us, definitely not from His church.

READ MORE: Love will never fail us

We can admit that when we are not loved, it can be the worse feeling. And when there is no love in a home, it can be the coldest and loneliest place to be. Although you might choose to reside there anyway, it doesn’t bring out the best in us. God calls us to be the light of the world, and there can’t be any light when you are living in darkness. Therefore, pray for love, pray for a spark, and definitely pray for God’s candlestick. The reality is, if I…do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Let love last all year

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

Love is the answer- to this crooked, evil, and unforgiving world. Love is the answer to the dysfunctional families. Love is the answer to the chaotic, cold, and indifferent workplaces. Have you noticed how the Christmas season is totally different from the entire year? Over the Christmas season, we often feel a somber, joyful, unspoken presence of love in the air. It’s the music, the lights, and the excitement of giving. We are focused on preparing for this one big day which carries through the entire month of December, or until December 26. That’s the day, when the world goes back to normal. Don’t you ever wish that the feeling could last the whole year through? I think, when we are focused on loving one another, we have little room in our hearts to hate, to be impatient, or apathetic.

Let love last all year, gifting others
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Love transforms terrible marriages, restores broken children, and rebuilds unliveable communities. The world we know was built on love. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Yet, instead of love, we are bombarded with hate, violence, and evil. By the time children go to school, they are faced with envy, unkindness, distrust, and rudeness. From every angle, you see the opposite of love. Our world, though created by love, seeks to create in us this spirit of hate. Have you ever asked yourself why? Why is it so easy to express hate towards others, rather than show love?

READ MORE: Faith and love move mountains

Our past dictates the person we are. We allow our early interactions with our loved ones to become the voices in our heart that plays like a record years later. Our parents abandoned us, and now we no longer feel deserving of love from others. Our parents abused us, and we in turn abuse others. Someone in our early lives told us we were nothing, and now, we consider ourselves nothing. Have you ever asked yourself why you do that? Why do we let people of our past control our thoughts even when we turn adults? The only voice we ought to listen to is the voice of God, the one that calls us a chosen people, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12). I think we catch the spirit of hate quicker than the spirit of love, and we don’t notice when we have diseased hearts. We can’t tell when we are hurting others with our words, actions, or thoughts. We begin to say things like, I am the way I am, because to change seems too hard.

READ MORE: Love will never fail us

But, this we know, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). In other words, we have to let Christ come into our hearts and scrape out all that hate, all the damage that the world did to us. This is the thing, during the Christmas season, we are our best selves. The world tells us to stop all the hate, and bring our Christmas cheer. Be happy and jolly and spend our money on gifts. But, we don’t have to wait for Christmas to transform our hearts. We can actually do it all year round. We don’t need a special occasion to show love, whether through gifting others, doing acts of service, or words of kindness. Look for ways to show love, and you will be surprised to see how love will literally transform the broken, indifferent, and hateful attitudes around you. First, let YOUR heart be transformed by love through Christ, and then you will be surprised to see how easy it will be to love your neighbour as yourself.