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Sabbath reflection #5: Living by the Spirit

Scripture Reading: Galatians 5:13-26
Take some time to read Galatians 5:13-26 (or even the whole chapter) and make a note of what stands out to you. What does the reading tell you about God the Father, Son and Spirit? What does it tell you about people and/or yourself?

Contrasting a list of vices against a list of virtues was common in ancient writings, and in Galatians chapter five Paul uses this familiar form to contrast two lifestyles: that of the flesh and that of the Spirit. According to Paul we can’t have it both ways (verse 17) – we either live by the flesh or by the Spirit.

A life ruled by the flesh (or human nature) is entirely dependent on finite human strength, effort and resources, and is inadequate to stand against sin. It ultimately results in the destructive attitudes and behaviours listed in verses 19-21.

A life lived by the Spirit, through the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, is one directed by God and, therefore, reflects His character for His glory. It is a lifestyle that results from prayer, discernment and immersing ourselves in Scripture so we can hear the voice and leading of the Spirit. Such a life is also one where we enjoy freedom from the law (verse 18).

A lifestyle that requires legalistic obedience to the law involves following externally imposed rules and can often lead to the belief that our salvation is achieved through such obedience. But life by the Spirit means we allow our behaviour to be controlled by the internal impetus of the Spirit, which requires faith and relies on relationship. The interesting thing is that when we live by the Spirit we will actually fulfil the moral principles of the law: to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves (verse 14).

Life by the Spirit yields a rich harvest of fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control. Note that ‘fruit’ is not equivalent to ‘works’. Fruit of the Spirit is not something we do, rather it is something we become. Our fruit is produced by the nature of our tree – in this case, the indwelling of the Spirit. It is like having a new moral ability that allows us to reflect God’s own character.

Jesus came in flesh but lived by the Spirit, and when we choose to walk in His ways we also choose a life led by the Spirit. It’s not a lifestyle that takes a break when we are on holidays or at rest, it is one that needs to permeate everything we do all of the time.

A time of Sabbath is a good time to take stock and reflect on what our lifestyles have become. Are we bearing the fruit that comes from a Spirit led life? Or are we relying on our own strength and showing very little that reflects the character of God? Are there any practices that we can adopt this year to ensure that we are living by the Spirit?

Thank God for the provision of His Spirit and pray that you might produce His fruit for His glory.

– Kirrily

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Additional Note
What We Believe

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God and inerrant in the original writings. We believe that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.

We believe that the lost and sinful man must be saved, and that man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe in and practice the holy ordinance of water baptism, which signifies the believer’s death, burial, and resurrection into new life with Christ Jesus, and the regular celebration of Holy Communion as commanded by our Lord.

We believe in the present ministry and baptism of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a Godly life. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the unsaved; those that are saved into the resurrection of life and those that are unsaved into the resurrection of damnation.

We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our History

In recognition of the tremendous growth forecast for the Plenty Valley, Bishop Stephen Hale set up a Taskforce in 2007 to investigate the possibility of establishing a new Anglican community in the area. With representation from local churches and Ivanhoe Grammar School, this Taskforce developed a plan that included the need for a point person to further the work. In response to this, two years ago St John’s Diamond Creek took a great step of faith by employing a staff member to not only serve its own congregation but to focus on establishing a new parish for Mernda. Craig spent his first year getting to know the area, building relationships and discerning what God was already up to in His mission of reaching residents and retailers with His love. Throughout the following year a core team began to form around a vision that arose again and again through prayer, of a red gum taking root in the heart of Mernda and growing while the roots reached out to every corner of the community. This vision of being organic church integrally connected to local community found a means of expression through the “Sheffield Model”, which was first developed by St Thomas’s in Sheffield (UK) nearly 15 years ago.

With a focus on “missional communities” the Sheffield model emphasises the need for Christians to meet with people in their own world rather than expecting them to enter ours. After spending time with the staff of St Thomas’s, Craig and the team began work on adapting the model for our own local context and subsequently launched two playgroups in the second half of 2010. A missional community has also begun forming around crafts and the creative arts which runs a stall at the Laurimar market to raise money for various causes. Three preview services were also held as God continued to draw people into the Plentylife community.

We now launch with a much clearer vision of who God wants us to be, a five-strong leadership team with responsibilities for missional communities, youth, families, and administration, and leadership for three missional communities focused on families, crafts and the creative arts and the outdoor life. And it’s true that we wouldn’t be at this point today if it wasn’t for the generous support of the Diocese, St Johns and other supporting churches! So now together we look forward to what else God might have in store for us according to His grace.