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LEARNING TO LIVE UPSIDE DOWN, INSIDE OUT

 

Upside Down, Inside Out. It sounds like a response to a ride at a theme park or Disney World with the need of an "s" at the end of inside. Ever been on a ride like that? Me too; sorta, but that's not what I'm thinking about in this article.

I have these two terms written down in my Bible next to some verses that continue to work on me; I go over them at least a couple of times a week, and one of them several times a day when necessary. If you're committed to having God's Word form your life then you may have discovered that repetition is important. First through memorization and then through regular application. I call that lifting God's Word off the page and allowing it to live in me and through me. That's greater than, "having devotions," if you're familiar with the term. For example, as a husband I need to keep Ephesians 5:25 active in my marriage: "And you husbands must love your wives with the same love that Christ showed the church. He gave his life for her to make her holy and clean..." And that includes the mouth! Marriage should make our spouse better, not bitter. What do you think, guys? I'll leave Ephesians 5:22-24 for your wives to work out before the Lord.

Now to the scripture I want to explore in this article which, as I type, reminds me that it has an upside down, inside out application. First of all, Galatians 5:16,17. Paul writes to the Christians in Galatia (and to us): "So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit." This is learning to live from the Upside (God) Down (to us). When we give our lives to Christ, accept him into our life as Savior (and Lord) or whatever terminology you're comfortable with, God's Holy Spirit comes to live in us. What died in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) and was passed on from generation to generation is brought back to life again through Jesus when we commit our life to him. We must be "born again." The apostle Peter, who preached the first sermon of the Christian Church on the day of Pentecost proclaimed to the great assembled crowd that day; "Each of you (salvation is personal) must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you and to your children (if they also believe), and even to the gentiles (that is non-Jews) – all who have been called by the Lord our God. (Acts 2:38, 39).

Paul wrote to believers in Romans 8:11: "The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as he raised Christ from the dead, he will give life to your mortal body by the same Spirit living in you." That's the Upside Down or God coming down to live within us by the Holy Spirit. God came down and entered the world through his son. The apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 1:19) "For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ." Just before that, in Colossians 1:15: Christ is the visible image of the invisible God." Jesus not only modeled for us how to live (summarized in the command, "Love your neighbor as yourself,") but through the Holy Spirit he empowers us to live that way. When the Holy Spirit comes to life in us he gives us new life.

Paul said of Christians, "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." That's getting the Inside Out. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17: "And whatever you do or say (that's pretty broad), let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus..." In Galatians 6:10 we read: "Whenever we have the opportunity (pay attention to what's going on around you), we should do good to everyone (that's pretty broad), especially to our Christian brothers and sisters." sounds good, huh? But it ain't automatic!

Remember Paul's counsel, which I quoted near the beginning of this article? "so I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit." the indwelling Holy Spirit is the Upside come down to indwell us. But! But! The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God which has also come down from God and has been penned on earth by God's carefully chosen people (including the apostle Paul). That's how we got the Bible. We need to give the Holy Spirit something to work with through God's word.

God forms his "masterpiece," through the Word applied in the power of the Holy Spirit in us. How much of his word do you have on the inside for the Spirit to bring out through your life? Remember the scripture for husbands I quoted early in this article? That's just a sample of what the Spirit wants to bring to life in Christian husbands. Paul wrote in Romans 12:2: "...let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." That comes through the Word of God. Paul continues: "Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will is." Sitting under the preaching of your pastor or priest on Sunday morning isn't enough!

Now here's the danger of not allowing God's Upside Down to become your Inside Out. Paul says that by yielding to the Holy Spirit "...you (we) won't be doing what your sinful nature craves" (and we all have a sinful nature). Have you noticed that? Paul continues: "The Old sinful nature loves to do evil (many times in disguise – see Romans 12:2a), which is just the opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires (the Upside Down) that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other (have you noticed?), and your choices are never free from this conflict." It ain't easy getting God's Inside Out. But here's the key.

Galatians 5:22,23: "But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit (results) in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." That's the Inside God wants to get out in our lives. The first three have to do with God's direct relationship with us; the second three have to do with our relationship with others, and the third three have to do with our relationship with ourselves That's living Upside Down, and Inside Out.

An outspoken atheist out of the past, and right now his name escapes me, leveled this accusation against Christians: "If Christians want us to believe in their redeemer, then they need to act more redeemed!"

Until next time,

Pastor Joe

 

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