Summary: Beginning Service of Ministry in a new congregation Teaching on how are actions need to be guided by God. Fruits of the SPirit
Today marks the beginning of a new church year. This new year will be filled with many things for us as we go forth in ministry together. Though we cannot be certain of what lies ahead of us, we can accept that there may be challenges along the way. We know there will surely be many blessings along the way. While we may not be sure of exactly what tomorrow holds for us, we can be certain that the Spirit of the Lord is always there to guide us and move us in the right direction.
In our scripture from Galatians, we read: Since we are living by the Spirit, let our behavior be guided by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25 NJB).
What does it mean to be living and guided by the Spirit? For one, it is letting God, lead your life in whatever direction He so chooses. In other words, by opening our hearts and minds, trusting in God and putting our fears behind us, He will lead and bless us.
Paul reminds his readers that their behavior, both in the public and private, should be guided by God. When we do this, we bear the fruits of the Spirit, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control, we let the glory of God shine through.
In our Gospel reading, we see examples of not only people who bear no good spiritual fruits, but also those who are unwilling to put God first in their lives and follow Him.
For example, in the Samaritan town, the people were so unwilling to receive Jesus into their community, they sent messengers out to meet Him. Why would they do such a thing? What do you think? For one it could have been out of ethnic bigotry. Remember, the Samaritans and the Judeans were not exactly friendly towards one other. Another reason may have been religious reasons, again Jesus was a Jew and while the Samaritans worshipped God, their worship was considered sacrilegious to the Jews. Lastly, His reputation preceded Him and they did not want trouble or a change to their way of thinking.
They were so blinded by their own desires and needs, that they turned away the Savior of the world. They shut Him out of their town that day.
Now in the next part, two of the men I can relate to quite well. Maybe even you would be able to as well. Here we have Jesus calling these men to ministry, yet what do they do? They offer up reasons why they cannot go at that particular moment. How many of us have ever made up excuses as to why we cannot do something at a certain time?
I know I have. For nearly two years, I warded off the call to ministry. I used excuses like, I’m not pastor material, I don’t have time to go back to school, or I don’t know my Bible well enough to do this. However, God over time nudged me through various doors until finally I answered His call for my life.
I was just like these two men, I wanted to follow God, but I wanted to do it on my own schedule not His. I was not allowing the Spirit to lead me in the way He wanted me to go.
Sometimes people do this with their behavior as well. God may be telling them its time to change. However, they feel they still got a few more good years to have fun, then they’ll change. Some people feel they can have a deathbed repentance and they will be forgiven. While this may be true, we do not know if we will ever have that extra moment to make our lives right with the Lord. When we accept the Lord into our hearts and lives, His Spirit guides us forth. From that moment on, we have a place of refuge. We have a place where we can go for shelter in times of strife, comfort in times of despair and joy in times of happiness.
The point is, putting off until tomorrow what God has in store for you today simply doesn’t make sense. We can always be assured in the fact that if we do what God asks of us, we will always be blessed in the end. He has promised us that.
That was the point Jesus was trying to make to those men in our Gospel reading. Elisha recognized this in his ministry with Elijah. The disciples recognized it as well. Remember that Peter, James and John had a fishing business. Matthew and Judas Iscariot were profitable tax collectors. In both cases, they heard the call, dropped what they were doing and took up the greater call, serving the Lord their God.