Teaching at the Tree is communicated in a practical, easy to understand way that is relevant to your everyday life. It’s not religious jargon, just the truth of God’s word presented in a loving and challenging way.
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Galatians 5:16-24 (ESV)
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
The person speaking in this passage is the apostle Paul, who was a man called by Jesus. Paul wrote letters to the early churches that he helped establish. This particular letter was to the Gauls, or the Galatians, living in the Asia Minor region.
When Paul writes “walk by the Spirit,” he is talking about aligning our lives with the teachings of Jesus, to not indulge in how the world is “acting” and to deny ourselves what our flesh or selfish desires want to do. We are all born with a nature to sin, and Paul is telling Christians that we should not be constantly surrounded or involved in activities that are harmful or destructive to ourselves or others. Paul recognizes the internal struggle of every believer’s desire of the flesh to sin, and at the same time live a life following Jesus.
For believers, God has sent His Spirit as a helper and teacher to live inside us and guide us. Earthly desires of our flesh are in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit’s fruit. Just like a healthy tree produces good fruit to eat, our lives as believers should reflect a healthy lifestyle to others around us. We should be recognized by our actions in a positive light by nonbelievers. Showing love and kindness to others; having joy, peace, and patience in difficult times; reflecting gentleness, goodness, and faithfulness; practicing self-control…these are all fruits we should strive for. When we put our faith and trust in what Jesus did for us by dying for our sins, we should no longer want to hold on to things of this world.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (ESV)
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
Paul wants those who are reading this letter to have clarity, to know if they are truly walking out their gifts and lives through the Holy Spirit. He is reminding them that the work of the Holy Spirit will always honor the life Jesus lived. You can tell if someone is walking in the gifts of the Spirit if it is drawing and leading others to Jesus. These gifts are given to us to do the work only God can do in our lives and the lives of others.
Paul then breaks down the different gifts we are given by the Holy Spirit. Each one looks different and will play out differently in each life, but they all come from the same Spirit. God wants His people to utilize and use every single one of these gifts for the sake and good of others.
Often these can look scary, weird, or overwhelming, but God gives us these gifts so we can experience Him deeper, encourage others, and draw closer to His presence in our lives. He knows that by utilizing these gifts, we will grow closer to Him, but it will also cause others to draw closer, too.
Take some time to ask God to help you be more sensitive to the gifts and the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life. Find one that is harder for you to understand, and ask God to give it to you and help you use it for His glory.
Acts 8:27-35 (NIV)
So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
The Ethiopian eunuch mentioned in this passage was a high court official of Candace, the queen of Ethiopia. He was in Israel to worship the Lord at the temple, which means he was probably a first-century convert to Judaism. On his trip home to Ethiopia, he had a life-changing encounter with the Holy Spirit through Philip the evangelist. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it (Acts 8:29).” So Philip capitalized on this opportunity to explain the passage. He explained the passage was a prophecy about Jesus Christ, who gave His life to save the world.
Because of Philip’s obedience to follow the Spirit’s directing, Philip explained the Good News of Jesus, and the Ethiopian eunuch believed. Acts 8:36 then tells us, “And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” Philip baptized the court official.
Recently, I went to a conference and heard a quote from Charles Stanley, “Obey God and leave the consequences to Him.” That really is the way we should follow the Holy Spirit, but so many times we input our human understanding into what He is asking us to do. For instance, God asks you to pray for someone, but you argue in your head you will just pray for them on your way home. The thing is, He didn’t ask you to do it on the way home. He wanted you to do it in that moment. You don’t know what was going on in that person’s day, who was watching and would have their faith expanded, or if it was just for you to be obedient. The Holy Spirit will never ask you to do something against God or the Bible. If it is against God or the Bible, then it is not Him.
I was running and listening to a sermon. I ran past this bridge and felt like the Holy Spirit pricked my heart to pray for the lady on the bridge. I had one of those moments; “Holy Spirit, I will just pray for her as I am running.” I knew the Holy Spirit wanted me to do it in that moment. So, I turned around and did. I felt excited to trust and obey what the Holy Spirit called me to do.
I have had moments in my own life when I needed someone to pray for me because I was in the middle of something stressful and exhausting. Then one of my good friends randomly texted me, “You have been on my heart, I am praying for you today.” That was exactly what I needed. There are so many other things He has done because I have learned to follow Him in my life. There are times when I don’t listen, and I know better. That is when I ask for forgiveness and start over the next day.
The Holy Spirit was left for us as a guide through our lives, to comfort us when we are sad, and to help us when we need it.
Father, this week I ask you to be with us as we learn to follow your Holy Spirit and trust what He has called us to do.
“But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you (John 14:26 AMP).”
John 16:12-14 (ESV)
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
If you ever wonder how Jesus would handle a situation, look to the Holy Spirit inside of you. If you ever wonder how Jesus views your sin, look to the Spirit inside of you. If you ever need reminded about who Jesus is and who you are in Jesus, look to the Holy Spirit inside of you. We discovered last week that Jesus always pointed to the Father in His actions and teachings. The Holy Spirit is no different. He too is so aligned with the heart of the Father and the purpose of Jesus that we can look to Him for anything we need. He will guide us the same as if Jesus Himself were guiding us.
In today’s reading, we see the Holy Spirit referred to by Jesus as the “Spirit of truth.” The truth that resides in the heart of the Father also resides in the Spirit. He speaks directly to us about the concerns and cares of the Father’s heart. When we surrender and trust the Holy Spirit to lead us, He will lead us in truth…the truth of what matters most to the Father, the truth about what is best for our lives, the truth about how we are loved, the truth about what’s in store for those who are disciples of Jesus. My friends, we need these truths to guide us. We are reckless sheep without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let His truths lead you; let Him tell your heart the very things that are in the Father’s heart for you and for His kingdom.