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Part of the FBCS 2010 Read Through the Bible Project: Enter the Story. Join the Song.

Wherever the Spirit . . .

Galatians 5:16-26    Ezekiel 1    Psalm 148

“Wherever the spirit would go, they went” (Ezekiel 1:12,20). On a day when our readings include a hymn calling upon all created things to praise the Lord whose “glory is above earth and heaven” (Psalm 148:13) and a prophet’s vision of “the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 1:28), it is the creative, guiding, animating role of the Spirit in life that provides focus for our reflection. Think on these things: when God created all things, the story begins by noting that the “spirit of God” was “moving” over the empty and formless deep (Genesis 1:2) . . . when Ezekiel sees “something like” living creatures beneath the throne of God, he emphasizes that they went wherever the spirit would go . . . and the apostle? Well, he teaches that a God-pleasing and fruitful life is the result of being “led by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:18).

“Live by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16).  Because the Spirit gives life (see Genesis 2:7 and 2 Corinthians 3:6). And God is Spirit and those who worship him (Psalm 148) must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). And . . . it is impossible to live the life we were created to live apart from the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-23). So what does it mean to “live by the Spirit?” In large measure, it involves ceasing all efforts to live life under our own power and allowing ourselves to be “led by” (v.18) the Spirit of God, who is our life. As Paul writes, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit” (v.25). And the life that results from this submission to God’s creative, guiding, animating Spirit will be as “big” as that envisioned by the psalmist and the prophet, and as specific as the character traits pictured by Paul . . .

“The fruit of the Spirit is . . .” (Galatians 5:22). A God-pleasing, Christ-emulating life, that is itself a response of praise (Psalm 148:13). And it is Spirit-produced. In those who are filled and guided by the Spirit. As a gardener, I can do nothing to “make” a plant, tree, or vine produce fruit, but I can give my time, attention, and energies to creating the optimal conditions for fruit-bearing. Similarly, our primary focus is to be given not to “working on” love, or joy, or patience, but to being led by the Spirit and learning to go “wherever the spirit would go.” Fruit follows. Amen.

“Young men and women alike,
old and young together!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.”
— Psalm 148:12,13

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