This morning as I was reading through of the passages of scripture that we all have heard a lot and that we know pretty well, the Fruit of the Spirit, I was struck by the last verse in that section in a way that’d I’d never noticed before.

Paul writes this:

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.

and this:

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

As I read this, I began to think about that notion of crucifixion. This notion of putting to death these things.  That we are supposed to die to our sinful passions and desire.

In short that we are supposed to be different.  As Christians, as those that follow Christ, we are called to be different that the world.

We are called to be different than the culture.

We are called to live, to love, to serve, to be different than the culture we are in. Different from the world.

We have a different Lord – so we have a different calling and a different way that we are supposed to live.  Not a life of self righteous judgment, mind you, but a life of love and service.

But, it comes back to that truth. We are called to be different. To put to death the past and it’s desires and live in the newness of life Jesus offers.

Today, are we different? Are we different than the world?  Do folks notice something different about us?  Do folks wonder what makes us different?  Why we have hope, peace, and joy?  Why we love?

Are we different?  If we are led by the Spirit and have put to death the old, we will be.

May we be different for our Lord in this day!

How to Pass a Test

One of the things that worries me, that worries many of us, is this, how will I be ready when a test comes?

None of us look forward to tests, want tests, desire to be tested.

We all want peaceful, calm, easy lives.

That’s something we all really, really want.

But, we all also know that a time of testing and trial will come. It’s something we all face.

Today’s readings seem to fit together (to me) in a way that showed me some truth about testing that I needed to be reminded of.

First, the Psalmist in Psalm 105 talks about the faithfulness of God, and recounts all God had done. But, he says in the Psalm

17 He sent a man before them, *
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet in fetters; *
his neck they put in an iron collar.
19 Until his prediction came to pass, *
the word of the LORD tested him.

Testing will come, even for God’s people.

Just because you love God and He loves you, that doesn’t mean that testing won’t come. Don’t regard your tests as a failure. Don’t thing you’ve done anything wrong. Don’t think you’ve failed. Test come to us all.

Then, in Zechariah, the Lord says these words to His prophet:

“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

The Lord has just given him a calling to go and proclaim God’s Word. But, before he does, the Lord reminds him – it’s by God’s Spirit that he will accomplish what God has for him.

That really nailed me this morning. So often I try to pass those tests on my own.  I try to beat back tests and trials and temptations on my own.

By my will.

My strength.

My might.

And, I fail.

But the Lord reminds us, not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.

The surest way to fail whatever test we face today is by relying upon our ability.  Our strength.  Our will.  We simply can’t do it alone.

How to pass a test?  The Lord.  His Spirit.  His life.  His power.  Through Him.

We will face tests, each day.  May we remember that it through Him and in Him, we can come through theses tests and cross over to new and abundant life.