For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
Lord, we pray the kingdom of God over [name it] our village and area, a blessing of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
May we see a move of Your Holy Spirit that moves hearts to turn from independence and self-centredness, to Jesus and invite Him in.
May we experience the peace and joy that only He can give us, by softening our hearts.
May others see the difference and be attracted to seek Christ for themselves. Amen.
THOUGHT BEHIND THE PRAYER
Paul was addressing Christians in Rome who made a play of keeping special days and observing fasts and dietary rules — all of which was part of the way of life…
Romans liked to know the rules and found security in following them, and in many ways this has been passed down to us. We like to bring relational faith — difficult to quantify, difficult to define — down to a system of belief.
In other words, we like to make a religion out of it.
Gaining and maintaining a relationship with God is, in the first place, costly. Nobody finds sacrificing their independence an easy write-off. And keeping up that relationship needs ongoing investment! A routine that involves certain prescribed actions — and where we can judge how well we and others are ticking the boxes — is much easier. All we need is genuine faith in Jesus — giving Him our trust. Humanly, faith in Jesus alone does not seem enough. We feel the need to add our own effort.
But Paul discounts attainments ‘earned’ through lifestyle and points to the evidence of new life that comes through character and joy.
It’s not anything we do that produced that. It’s what we allow the Holy Spirit to do. Our efforts are like us denying that the grace of God can only be received and never earned. The whole point of God’s grace is that there is nothing good we can do which counts.
When God’s Spirit is free to do His work in us — the work He can do and which we cannot do — the joy and peace we have will be evident to all. And depending on our lifestyle before, our being right with God may strike others as a remarkable change!