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Revelation 5:11-13

Flesh vs. Spirit – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

I love coming back from vacation. In fact, coming home might be the best part. You can get back into your routine, you are energized and you are excited to see those you haven’t seen in a while.

While I was in Colorado I prayed a lot about what it means to live in the Spirit as opposed to living in the flesh. Paul says, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

What is the difference between living according to the Spirit and according to the flesh? Take food—you need to eat so you need food. God wants us to eat and it is good to eat. But here’s the problem with food…it’s temporary. It doesn’t last. Eating today won’t make you feel good tomorrow. You must keep eating and eating. And even if you eat well every single day for your entire life, you will still die. Food cannot save you. Food cannot give you eternal life. Food ultimately does not satisfy in a meaningful long-term way. Food is fleeting, but it sometimes feels like it’s the most important thing.

Satan used food against Jesus. He asked Jesus, “Why don’t you make these stones into bread?” Jesus retorted, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Satan knew that Jesus was hungry and if Jesus broke his fast, Jesus would be saying that food was more important than God’s word. That is the difference between living according to the flesh and according to the Spirit. The flesh says, “I’m hungry and the most important thing is food.” The Spirit says, “regardless of my hunger or pain, God’s word is the most important.”

Food is just one example of what we use to replace God’s word; it could also be relationships, money, alcohol or anything else. Unfortunately, I believe that many Christians today are more concerned with what they feel/think than what God’s word says. A way to challenge ourselves is to ask two questions. In what way(s) am I tempted to live in the flesh? What would it look like to live in the Spirit?

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By My Spirit – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

For 70 years the Jewish people were held captive in a foreign land. When they were free to return home, they arrived at a pile of rubble that used to be the city of Jerusalem. What was even worse, the temple of God was completely destroyed. God then called upon their ruler Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple as they rebuilt the city.

The people, along with Zerubbabel, were so consumed with survival that they lost interest and even forgot to rebuild God’s temple. We read in the book of Zechariah that an angel gave the prophet—from which the book was named—a vision. In the vision, Zechariah saw a lamp with 7 wicks. The lamp had a large reservoir of oil to feed the wicks. There were also two olive trees: one on the right and one on the left with the lamp in the middle.

Zechariah asked the angel the meaning of the vision. And the angle responded, “not by might, not by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty”. In other words, the oil, from which the 7 wicks spring, is the Holy Spirit, and it is the true source for the flame and is never exhaustible. The olive trees make the point that there will be an unending supply of oil to feed the lamp.

What does Zerubbabel and the people need to rebuild the temple? Many things I would say. They would need money and power and the strength, to name a few. But God tells Zechariah no, these things will not accomplish the task. What will accomplish the task? God’s Spirit.

When I think of Immanuel church, we want to build a strong and healthy church. We want to be influential and love our neighbors. The question is, what do we need to accomplish these things? Many things I would say. We need money and programming and a great church experience, to name a few. But God tells us, in the same way he tells Zechariah, no! These things will not accomplish the task. What will accomplish the task? God’s Spirit.

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