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Focal Passage:  Romans 8:12-17

Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

The process of sanctification in the believer is possible only by the Holy Spirit’s presence.  The goal of pleasing the Father through obedience is possible only by the Holy Spirit.  Even more so, the actual “desire” to be sanctified and please the Father is only possible in the Holy Spirit.  Consequently, our assurance lies in the Spirit’s presence in our lives, thus giving us the tools we need to move toward sanctification.  Truly none of us would center our hearts on the one true living God and His glory were it not for the residence of the Holy Spirit within those very hearts.  His existence, which guides and leads, is the witness we need to give us further assurance that we are in God’s family.  We are His children, and as Paul reinforces in this verse, the Spirit bears witness to this fact.

Study/Meditation:  What else does Paul tell us about the Holy Spirit’s presence in our hearts in 2 Corinthians 1:14 and 5:5?  How does this comfort you in your struggles in the here and now?

*Father, thank You for the Holy Spirit who guides and directs me, but who also serves as the guarantee that You have made me Yours.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 8:12-17

Romans 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry ‘Abba!  Father!’”

Still in the avenue of assurance, Paul reminds us here that we have been brought into the family of God, and inasmuch as this is true, the fear and guilt and sin that reigned in our lives has been replaced by the hope and future and inheritance of sons and daughters.  Our former selves were dictated by a “spirit of slavery.”  We were in bondage to our sin natures and the death that nature brings.  However, since we are now adopted by God into His family, that spirit has been replaced by the Holy Spirit, or the “Spirit of adoption.”  Now instead of crying in misery and fear, we cry out to our Father in heaven, “Abba!  Father!”  What glorious assurance and contentment has been afforded to us now as fellow heirs to eternity in the Kingdom of God!

Study/Meditation:  Read Ephesians 1:11-14.  What more does Paul teach us in this letter about our inheritance as sons and daughters of God?

*Father, thank You for bringing me into Your family, giving me all of the rights and privileges of being Your child.  I love You.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 8:12-17

Romans 8:14 “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Paul just told us that those who are living “by the Spirit” are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, thus giving us life.  Now he further tells us that this sanctification, or mortification of the flesh, is the proof that we are in God’s family; we belong to Him as His children.  Any of us who are looking for assurance in our salvation need only follow the backward course of Paul’s train of thought:  God’s children are listening to and following the Holy Spirit and this is evidenced in their continual striving towards obedience and godly behavior.  We aren’t expected to be perfect as we are being led; otherwise we would be walking equal to the Spirit.  Instead Paul is sure to say that we are being “led” by the Spirit, which translates that we are looking to Him and following after Him daily.  This is simply sanctification and it is the evidence that we are indeed sons and daughters of the Almighty.  Assurance lies here.

Study/Meditation:  What does it mean that you are a “son” or “daughter” of God?  How should this relationship further increase your desire for holiness?

*Father, thank You for making me Your child.  Help me as I walk daily in that role, striving ever to evidence that station.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 8:12-17

Romans 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Once again Paul is stressing a basic equation when it comes to being born of the Spirit—living according to the flesh brings death and living according to the Spirit brings life.  But notice that he is also saying that this activity, though fully spiritual, is not a passive activity for the believer.  We are to be actively involved in the process.  We are to “put to death the deeds of the body;” that is, there are actions we must take in this battle.  However, also notice that one little phrase, “by the Spirit.”  It’s not “me against the flesh;” it’s “the Spirit at work in me against the flesh.”  We are fully incapable of even waging this war on our own, much less winning it.  Only by the Spirit can we live according to the Spirit.  It is a beautiful paradox.

Study/Meditation:  How did what Jesus said in Matthew 16:25 reinforce what Paul writes here?

*Father, help me this day as I, by the Spirit, do battle against my flesh.  Thank You for the ultimate victory.  Amen.

By Christian Bonner

How do you feel about the word “balance,” because personally I have a love-hate relationship with it. No matter the age of a woman I talk to, it is clear that we struggle to feel our lives are appropriately balanced, even though we desire it. We have many different roles we live in daily and to be honest, balance is necessary in this thing we call “life”.

Sometimes I find myself defining what balance should look like by looking at others. But God’s design for us isn’t to compete or compare with others. The amount and type of hats that one wears isn’t always the same as another person, nor is what the Lord uses to help us find balance. Instead of looking at others, we should seek Him personally and try to define balance by what the Bible says it is. (Matthew 6: 33-34)

I heard a business leader once share; “True balance isn’t walking through life on a tightrope with a monkey on our backs, trying not to fall off”. Though it can certainly feel this way and we do all we can to stay on that rope, one unexpected event, task, comment, failure, etc., knocks us right off.

So, what is true balance?

Here are some ways others have defined it:

  1. An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady and to remain in a steady position without falling – Oxford Dictionary
  1. A desirable point between two or more opposite forces-Wikipedia

Now look at two ways the Bible uses the word balance:

Proverbs 11:1 “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight”

Leviticus 19:36, “You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt”

These verses are referring to cheating others, or better yet, the importance of NOT cheating others. When we get out of balance, we cheat someone or something that God has placed in our lives. It can be ourselves, our spouse, our boss, church, children, friends, etc. I believe we know this and deep down, that is part of the cause of our distress and desire for true balance.

With that in mind, let’s talk for a minute about a scale, like the one pictured below.

scale1

 

As you can see, these specific scales have two sides. It works by putting an item/weight in one bowl and the other is slowly filled up until both sides are of equal weight.

I would like to designate the use of the bowls with our Wikipedia definition in mind (a desirable point between two or more opposite forces), because truthfully, we are “between” two forces.

Held in one side are the forces of this world; its obligations, temptations, desires, family, etc..

The other side holds the force of our relationship with Jesus: efforts to please our Lord, getting to know him and living in his will, etc..

So, as our day unfolds, the sides fill up.

We may get up and read our Bible- bing! a few weights on the God side.

Then the kids get up, we feed them breakfast, that’s like 5 weights on the other side.

We pray, a couple more weights on the Jesus side.

We get ready for work, another on the “world” side.

We do this all day, all week, all month and all year long. Sometimes we are so involved at church or a ministry, we can feel like we have too many weights in the Jesus side. Or we are working overtime that we barely have time to put weights in the Jesus bowl.

We spend our lives doing this, trying to stay balanced, when just one tiny weight from either side knocks us out of balance.

Herein lies the problem.

We are putting our relationship with Christ on the same level as everything else, and we have started seeing our imbalance as a problem to be solved instead of what it really is:  a symptom of where our relationship with the Lord is. To my knowledge, the Bible never instructs us to keep enough of God in our lives so we can balance with the world. It says the opposite as you can see in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

To do this, I suggest we change our idea of how balance is found.

What if we pictured our lives with the Bible and our relationship with God as our foundation? If we put that foundation under the scale, more specifically, under the bowls, they don’t move at all.

1 Corinthians 3:11 says, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ”

Ephesians 2:19-20 says, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone…”

We need to build our lives in a way where the foundation is so solid, we won’t feel imbalanced as often.

We build this foundation by loving the Lord:

Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “You shall love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”.

We build it by seeking the Lord:

Colossians 3: 1-3, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”.

We build it by finding our strength in Him:

Isaiah 41:10, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand”.

As we do these things, searching Him out in Scripture, we realize that we are first, above all else, women of God. When we stop defining ourselves by our hats and others, we see our true balance comes from knowing who He is and who we are in Him. As we grow and rest in that knowledge, we then are more sensitive to His guidance in our daily lives. We have more confidence in Him and what He has placed before us, which leads to wisdom in what we choose to do and to a feeling of better balance. It is also easier to gather ourselves when we do get the feeling of falling out of balance, because we know where to direct our hearts.

Let me reassure you that I still struggle with finding the feeling of balance. As life changes, which is quite often with little ones at home, I try to stay focused on the one constant, my Lord. I encourage you to do the same.

Things to consider:

How do you need to adjust your view of what true balance is?

What areas do you need to surrender to the Lord that may be causing you to feel like you are walking a tightrope?

What can you do to keep your relationship with the Lord above the level of the world?

Focal Passage:  Romans 8:12-17

Romans 8:12 “So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, not live according to the flesh.”

The Bible gives us a myriad of reasons for living in obedience to God.  Often it speaks of doing so out of gratitude, which is entirely correct.  However, in this verse Paul gives us another reason we ought to live a life of obedience and that is obligation.  We are obligated to God because He chose us; He chose to give us the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our lives so that we might become more and more sanctified to Him.  We have no debt or obligation to the flesh.  The flesh has done nothing for us, would do nothing for us but lead us to certain death.  God, however, in His rich love and mercy, snatched us out of the hands of death and gave us life, and so in that we are obligated to that love to obey it.  We cannot repay this debt, but that does not negate our being indebted all the same.

Study/Meditation:  What does it mean to be “indebted” to God while fully knowing that there is no way we can repay that debt?

*Father, thank You for Your love and mercy.  I will seek to live a life obedient to You because You chose to love me.  To You be all glory and majesty.  Amen.