Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Lead By The Spirit of God
23 July 2014
Hymn: God is Working His Purpose Out
Theme: God Our Maker
Topic: Led by the Spirit of God
Reading: Romans 8:12-25
12Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
The fact that God is our Maker connotes a lot of powerful images, including that He knows us more than we know ourselves, has a plan and purpose for our lives, knows where we are at any given moment, and is with us to guide us through life. Following the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, God sent His Holy Spirit to comfort, teach and lead us. Just as the world we live in, as chaotic as it may appear, is governed by systems, from laws and policies to software and theories, God designed us to be led by His Spirit. Notwithstanding the foregoing, there may be times in our lives that we feel we are drifting with neither purpose nor direction; it feels as if God is not with us. At such times, we should remember that God is the same yesterday, today and forever; and that His promised Holy Spirit is already here with us. The question is: will you allow Him to lead you?
1. What does it mean to be led by the Spirit of God?
10Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” 18Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19He called that place Bethel.
1The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
9You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!” 10See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. 11He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. 12Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? 13Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? 14Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? 15Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. 16Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. 17Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. 18With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him? 19As for an idol, a metalworker casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. 20A person too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot; they look for a skilled worker to set up an idol that will not topple. 21Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? 22He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 23He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. 24No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. 25“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. 27Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? 28Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
2. What are the lessons for us in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 regarding being led by the Spirit of God?
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
24Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ”
36Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
1Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2and all the brothers and sisters with me,
To the churches in Galatia: 3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
10Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
3. Discuss ways we can be cooperative to being led by the Spirit of God.
1Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
3For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.
4In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
6Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice,
8“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
9where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.’
11So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”
Psalm 139:1-11, 22-23
1You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
2You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
5You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
11If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
22I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
23Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
1 Peter 5:1-11
1To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 5In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
God designed us to be led by His Spirit; may we be willing and open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit all the days of our lives.
Closing Prayer (Collect for Sixth Sunday after Pentecost)
Almighty God, your Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence. Give us pure hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.