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There is an interesting dichotomy in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. He wrote: “Carry one another’s burdens.” And then three sentences later, he wrote: “For each person will have to carry his own load.” (Holman CSB, Galatians 6:2, 5) So, which is it? Carry each other’s load? Carry our own load? Answer: Yup!
Remember in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is talking with those who wished to follow Him, and He told them, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two”? He followed that statement with, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” These verses are about the ones who are in the active role of serving others. These verses are about our attitudes in serving others. How’s my attitude when I am carrying another’s burdens? Am I carrying in the manner of a son of Father in heaven? There are some things, though, that seem to me must be the responsibility of each person; certain things (and this certainly isn’t the total list) that require each person to “carry his own load.” Let me give you three that come to mind.
1. Each person must carry his own worship load. Worship is our relationship with God--loving Him, praising Who He is, thanking Him for what He’s done. If I’m waiting for a worship team to play my favorite song on a Sunday morning before I join my spirit to Him, I’m waiting for some-one else to carry my load for me. But my relationship with Him is my responsibility; and in fact, no one can love the Lord for me, a surrogate worshiper. No, it’s for me to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
2. Each person must carry his own destiny load. My destiny (destination) is determined by the decisions I make in life, by the direction those decisions take me. No one else can determine for me what I will do with today. How will I use the resources (like time, energy, money, focus) He’s given me? What am I doing with the lessons I’ve learned over the years? If I blame others for where I’ve ended up, I’m stuck. I can’t move, because I’m dependent on whoever to make different decisions. But they can’t make decisions for me.
3. Each person must hoe his own soul row. What I permit to exist in my own mind, will, and emotions can be no one else’s responsibility. No one else can change my mind for me, or give up unforgiveness I’m holding on to for me. I am responsible for what I let remain in my thinking, in my desires. If I choose to take my own revenge, I can not later blame the person I injure, at least not in the eyes of God. The other person will not report to God for what I chose to do.
In my opinion, too many Americans have become too dependent on some-one else. Too dependent on public schools to educate their children, too dependent on the church to fix their family, too reliant upon society to meet their needs. Of course we may all hit bumps in the road where we have to rely on others to help us meet our needs. My family received the blessing of a Church family who helped “carry our burden” when we adopted our daughter from China. They pitched in with finances, garage sale items, and helped in numerous ways. it would definitely have been a different story for us if our family hadn’t helped us.
I guess what I’m saying is that dependence as a lifestyle wastes lives. Interdependence entwines a healthy independence with the independence of others, in accomplishing something far beyond what we could have done as individuals. So, get your hoe out and take care of that next thing that is for you to do, whether it’s cleaning out the weeds in your soul, or worshiping your Father in heaven.