Let the Spirit control you.

The Book of Romans is one of the most humbling in all of the Bible. Paul outlines how we’re all sinners, fall short of God’s glorious standard, but by His grace we’re saved. It’s a marvelous explanation of what God did for His people.

You could find umpteen different verses to quote throughout the Letter to the Romans, but one of my favorites is found in Romans 8. It speaks to life in the Spirit and how the Holy Spirit can remove sin’s control over your life.

Romans 8:3 (NLT) reads, “The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.”

Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) goes on to say, “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”

Who doesn’t want peace in their lives? Come to Jesus Christ. Let go of your sinful nature and follow Him. Allow the Holy Spirit to reside in you, and you will experience a peace like no other. Allow the Spirit of God to take control of your life.


Two little words that make all the difference.

There’s a verse in the Bible that is oftentimes misquoted. How many times have you heard, “Money is the root of all evil?” While that’s a good attempt, it’s missing two very important words that change the entire context of this Biblical principle.

The verse I’m talking about can be found in 1 Timothy 6:10 (NLT). It reads, “For the love of money is the root of evil.” Do you see the difference? It’s not just the money, but the love of money that’s the root of all evil. That changes the entire meaning of this verse.

If those two key words are left out, the focus is on the money itself. But the money, the wealth, the inheritance, the financial windfall, those things in and of themselves are not evil. There’s nothing wrong with a good paying job or a big house or a yacht; so long as you’re not in love with, dare I say, worshiping those things.

The love of money deals with the heart. It deals with covetousness, and that is a problem. When you put money ahead of the Lord, that’s when you begin to traffic in evil. Setting your sights on money rather than God will lead you down a dangerous path.

1 Timothy 6:10 (NLT) concludes, “And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” Give thanks when something of value comes your way, but don’t let your heart become fixed on something that cannot be sustained. Give your heart to God.

Second, but equal.

Our previous message was on the first and greatest commandment; “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” That commandment is brought to our attention in the Gospel of Matthew. Today, let’s look at the commandment which Jesus calls equally important.

Matthew 22:39-40 (NLT) reads, “‘A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Let’s put this in perspective. The first commandment that Jesus gives focuses on our relationship with God, but the second commandment focuses on our relationship with people.

We looked last time at how Jesus’ initial commandment packages the first four of the Ten Commandments into one simple sentence. Look at how Jesus’ second, yet equally important, command takes the remaining six commandments that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai and brings them together.

The other six commandments are; (5) Honor your father and mother. (6) You must not murder. (7) You must not commit adultery. (8) You must not steal. (9) You must not testify falsely against your neighbor. (10) You must not covet your neighbor’s house.

Do you see what Jesus has done? He’s taken the Ten Commandments and brilliantly put them together into simple terms that anyone and everyone can understand. If you love God and one another, you will be living out the Ten Commandments every day.

The first and greatest.

We’ve all heard of the Ten Commandments. The pharisees, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, tried to trap Him by questioning which of the commandments is the most important. Jesus’ response in Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT) is fantastic.

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Isn’t that amazing. Jesus references the first of the Ten Commandments, You must not have any other god but me, and calls it the greatest commandment. But take a look at the the following three commandments as well.

(2) You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. (3) You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. (4) Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

Isn’t it interesting that the first four commandments are directly related to our relationship with our Heavenly Father? If you love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, aren’t you essentially observing the first four commandments?

If you truly love God, you won’t worship other gods, create idols, use His name in vain, or forget His holy day. Jesus took those four commandments passed down from Moses, and in one breath, enveloped them into a succinct sentence; love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.

Give thanks for God’s gifts.

The most fantastic part of the Book of Daniel is not his encounter with the lions. It may be Daniel’s prayer in Chapter 2 following the vision he received from God. In Daniel 1:17 (NLT), we’re told, “…God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meaning of visions and dreams.”

King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream and demanded that his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers interpret it for him. None of the men could meet the king’s request, so King Nebuchadnezzar issued a decree to execute all the wise men of Babylon (this included Daniel and his friends).

Daniel spoke to the commander of the king’s guard to find out why he and his friends would be killed. When he was told of the king’s request, he asked for more time and returned home and urged his friends to ask God to reveal the secret to them. That night, Daniel had a vision, and his response in Daniel 2:20-23 (NLT) is outstanding.

“Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors, for you have given me wisdom and strength. You have told me what we asked of you and revealed to us what the king demanded.”

I love Daniel’s response. As soon as he receives the vision from God, he immediately falls to his knees and thanks his Heavenly Father. That should be our response as well. Do you thank God when he comes through for you? Do you give thanks for all the wonderful gifts you receive because of His grace and mercy? When God grants your request, don’t wait. Give him thanks, and do it right away.

Keep it positive.

Are you a positive thinker? Do you block out the noise, stay disciplined, and remain focused on the good things life has to offer? Yeah, I know, struggle with that as well. However, what I’ve noticed is that when I’m able to have a positive, Christ-centered attitude, everything else kind of falls into place.

You’ve heard the saying, “One bad apples spoils the bunch,” right? That’s essentially a paraphrase of Proverbs 13:20 (NLT); “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NLT) might lay it out even better; ‘Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”’

Few things in life are more contagious than a bad attitude. Gossip, slander, and negative talk always seem to be a magnet for people. But what can you and I do to avoid such pitfalls?

Hebrews 10:23-24 (NLT) tells us what to do. “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”

Having a positive attitude and motivating others to the cause of Christ is what we’re called to do. The next verse reads, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” If you encourage others and focus on Jesus’ return, you can’t help but to have a positive attitude.

Think spiritually, not logically.

I’m usually a very logical person. Things have to make sense in order for me to wrap my mind around it. Needless to say, in today’s society, it’s a difficult task to be sure. Not a lot makes sense these days.

However, it’s important to not be so logical that you don’t leave room for your faith. After all, some of what the Bible teaches is based around the intangible. You must believe; walking by faith rather than sight.

This is never more present than the story found in John 4:43-54 when Jesus heals the son of a government official. The official met Jesus in Galilee, but his son was home sick in Capernaum. John 4:47 (NLT) says, “When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son, who was about to die.”

John 4:48-50 (NLT) illustrates Jesus’ power, as He healed the official’s son without being present at his side. ‘Jesus asked, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” The official pleaded, “Lord, please come now before my little boy dies.” Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!” And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.’ As he journeyed home, the official’s servants met him and told of how his son is alive and was miraculously healed.

The key takeaway for me from those verses of Scripture is the sentence, “And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.” The official believed what Jesus had told him. Despite not being able to see it with his own eyes, the official believed. Sometimes things don’t make good logical sense, but walking by faith isn’t always logical.

But first, pray!

What do you do when the bottom falls out? What do you do when worry overwhelms you? Where do you turn when you feel you have nowhere left to go? Those are chilling questions, aren’t they? However, the answer to each question should be the same; prayer.

Prayer is a gift that God gave us. It’s our way of communicating with Him. Through prayer we ask God for comfort, healing, safety, peace, happiness, protection, and a myriad of other things. However, prayer isn’t always about what God can offer us, but what we offer to God.

Through our prayers we can give thanks to God. While petitioning our Father for our wants and desires, it’s important to remember to thank Him for giving us what we need. Ephesians 6:18 (NLT) tells us to pray at all times. “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

Paul tells us to pray at all times and on every occasion. Now, don’t take that to the extreme and think that it’s necessary to stay on your knees in prayer and never arise. Rather Paul is saying that regardless of your circumstance, it is essential to maintain a prayerful, grateful, and thankful relationship with the Lord.

Paul tells us later in 1 Timothy 2:1 (NLT), “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” Isn’t it interesting that Paul charged Timothy to pray before doing anything else? That should give you some insight as to what you’re to do when facing adversity, pain, suffering, or hardship. Pray.

Be disciplined.

I love chocolate chip cookies. If you asked me to choose my favorite dessert, I’d be hard-pressed not to name a freshly-baked, warm chocolate chip cookie as the perfect thing to satisfy my sweet tooth. My problem is, when I bake chocolate chip cookies, I typically want to eat the entire batch.

The cookies represent a temptation, and if I’m not careful, I’ll give in and eat more than my fair share. This lack of discipline will typically result in immediate gratification, but later, an upset stomach and a couple extra pounds when I’m standing on the bathroom scale will cause me to feel guilty and ashamed.

If we’re not careful, that temptation that’s lurking at the door can have ramifications far beyond an upset stomach and a couple inches to our waistline. If we give in to the temptation of lust, greed, anger, etc., we will sin and fall short of the person God has called us to be. So what should we do? Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 (NLT), that we must discipline ourselves like an athlete.

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”

We must be disciplined in our walk with Christ. If we’re not, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27 (NLT), we may fall. “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”

Better than gold.

Solomon wrote three books of the Bible; Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. Solomon is regarded as the wisest man who ever lived and his books are littered with knowledge and wisdom. 2 Chronicles 1:7-10 (NLT) tells of how Solomon acquired these qualities.

‘That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” Solomon replied to God, “You showed great and faithful love to David, my father, and now you have made me king in his place…Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly, for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?”’

God granted Solomon’s request, and 2 Chronicles 1:11-12 tells us that because of his desire to help his people, God also gave Solomon, “wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before or will ever have in the future!”

True wisdom comes from God. Solomon speaks to this in Proverbs 2:2-6 (NLT), “Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

Wisdom doesn’t just find its way into our minds. We’re granted wisdom by the grace of God. The more you commune with Him, the more wisdom you’re sure to receive. While we may never be as rich as Solomon, the benefits of wisdom are far-reaching. Proverbs 3:14 says, “For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold.”