Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Fruitful Life




Live a Fruitful Life

The Bible often uses the metaphor of fruit to describe the produce of our lives. Are we producing fruit? A fruitful Christian (Christ Follower) will produce better results: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life” (Proverbs 11:30).

Fruit is the direct result of whatever controls our hearts (Matthew 15:19). The fruit of the Spirit of God is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).

God the Father is the gardener and He desires for us to be fruitful. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). As branches cling to the vine, we cling to Christ, drawing our very life from Him. The goal is “much fruit,” as Christ uses us to bring about blessed, celestial results in a broken, fallen world

Fruit results from planted seeds. When seeds grow the bear fruit.  True fruitfulness begins in the heart with the fruit of the Spirit. That inner fruit affects outward actions; our words and our activities will glorify the Lord, and God’s will is accomplished. God’s desire is to transform us into the image of Christ and make us as fruitful as He was.



Fruit represents outward, visible behavior.  Here are some inward qualities:

Love: Am I motivated by love for people?

Joy: Do I exhibit an unshakable joy, regardless of circumstances?

Peace: Do people see my inward peace and take courage?

Longsuffering/Patience: Do I wait patiently for results as I develop others or goals?

Kindness: Am I caring and understanding toward everyone I meet?

Goodness: Do I want the best for others?

Faithfulness: Have I kept my commitments?

Gentleness: Is my strength under control? Can I be both tough and tender?

Self-Control: Am I disciplined to may progress tow my goals?



Be Blessed and be a Blessing!



Monday, June 11, 2018

Self-Control





Why is the final fruit of the Spirit, Self-Control, so important in governing our decisions, especially in relation to demonstrating the other fruit?

For Christ-Followers self-control is not merely about temperament. It is about resisting the temptation to break God’s law (which includes losing our temper) and react to others without demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in our thoughts and actions. The apostle Paul wrote about bringing “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Since thoughts lead to actions, this includes controlling ourselves completely, despite the pulls of temptations.

Romans 7:23 describes it in this way: “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Paul is describing this pull of human nature that makes us think it is “natural” to sin.

We have to remember that the “natural” is part of this world, temporarily run by Satan the devil (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Therefore, as godly Christians, we recognize that self-control includes abstaining from the evils of the world.

1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

What is self-control? It is the active effort we put forth to resist the temptation to go back to the ways of the world around us once we’ve been shown God’s spiritual way of life. It is demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit instead of committing the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-23).

Why does God want us to demonstrate self-control?


The reason God wants us to grow in self-control ties in with all the other fruit of the Spirit that are listed in Galatians 5:22-23.

We are in a battle. As we read in 1 John 2:16, “All that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” That is Satan’s idea for the world, as we see in John 8:44: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

God’s idea for the world, on the other hand, includes having everyone demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

So where does self-control come in? Everywhere.

It takes self-control to show true godly love instead of lust and infatuation—to love others not as the world loves, but as Christ loved us. “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians5:2).

It takes self-control to have godly joy when we are facing a difficult situation in life. “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

It takes self-control to get along with others and make peace instead of constantly getting into conflict. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9).

It takes self-control to patiently bear with others rather than quickly condemning them. It’s very hard to “be patient with all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

It takes self-control to not automatically look out only for yourself but kindly look out for other people (Philippians 2:4).

It takes self-control to do good, to go through the narrow gate toward life rather than the evil, wide gate toward destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

It takes self-control to be faithful and not have our faith shattered by the mocking of scoffers (2Peter 3:3-4).

It takes self-control to be a gentle servant of the Lord (2 Timothy 2:24), showing compassion and mercy with real love as God does with us.


Be Blessed and be a Blessing!



Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Fruit of Gentleness




Gentleness: The Fruit of the Spirit



In Matthew 11:29, Christ said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Christ is making a connection between gentleness and humility.

This connection is also seen elsewhere in the Bible. The apostle Paul reinforced this idea in 2Corinthians 10:1: “Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you but being absent am bold toward you.”

Paul included the words meekness and lowly in conjunction with gentleness. These words help show that gentleness requires humility, because along with pride and feelings of superiority come rough reactions and stubborn, know-it-all answers.

What is gentleness? It is the humble and meek attitude of wanting to help other people instead of wanting to be superior to them. This attitude flows from a spirit of real love for the individual—having true, outgoing concern for their well-being. Such an attitude is shown in how we think about and treat others and what we say to them.

Philippians 4:5 tells us to “let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” Why does God want those He is working with to be concerned with how gently they think, act or talk? God has all the power in the universe, yet He is gentle with us, and He wants us to learn to be like Him. Then, when He gives us power, He will know that we will not use it cruelly or rashly.

Since humility is closely connected with gentleness, so we need to also consider how God views humility. James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 both say, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34). God resists pride, including our prideful justifications for not being gentle to those who have offended us, who have been harsh to us or who we don’t feel deserve gentleness. These attitudes are prideful and lead to rationalizing away the need to be gentle.

God wants us to show the same gentleness that Christ showed to the woman caught in adultery (John8:1-11). Instead of being full of pride and self-righteously casting the first stone at a sinner, we are to follow the example of Christ, gently telling someone to go and sin no more. This is an example of gentleness God wants us to learn from.

Why? There are several reasons: God is overwhelmingly gentle with us when we sin and need correction, and He expects us to be the same way with others. Also, gentleness shows the world that the way of violent encounters and situations ruled by emotion is not the better way. And God wants us to demonstrate gentleness because human beings require a gentle touch in order to truly change their lives and come to Him.

Being gentle doesn’t mean that we should not be strong in our beliefs, but it does imply that we should be wise and loving in expressing those beliefs to others. God shows tough love and teaches hard lessons to us, all the while being the very definition of gentleness.


Be Blessed and be a Blessing!




Thursday, June 7, 2018

More Patience - I Need It!


Is patience becoming extinct these days? What does this fruit of the Spirit tell us about ourselves and our Heavenly Father, who commands us to be longsuffering?

What is long-suffering? 




I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Patience is a virtue.” If you’re like me, you may have even used the phrases “I’m running out of patience” and “I have no patience for the likes of you!”

Few of us use the synonym of patience that the New King James Version uses in Galatians 5:22 in the list of the fruit of the Spirit: long-suffering. Fewer still would consider that a virtue! We don’t want to wait, and we certainly don’t want to suffer!

From walking, to horse-drawn carriage, to automobile, to jet plane, technological progress reflects our desire for speed and our growing impatience. Long-suffering, or patience, is in short supply in this world, especially now that people get frustrated if their mobile devices take five seconds to load the Internet instead of three seconds. This trend has also, undoubtedly, affected our relationships and attitudes. How could it not?

Part of Ephesians 4:2 says “with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love.” This verse connects long-suffering with patiently working with others even when it is not entirely pleasant for us.

A section of Colossians 3:12-13 uses the same language but adds another component. We’re told to put on “longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” This passage tells us that longsuffering is closely related to forgiveness. Both of these scriptures are from sections that detail how the “new man,” full of the Holy Spirit, should act.

What is long-suffering? It is the godly patience and mercy we need to show to others that mirrors as closely as possible the patience and mercy God shows to us. It is when we bear with others, put up with their mistakes and inconsiderate actions and truly forgive them for real or imagined offenses against us. It is enduring trials and waiting patiently and faithfully for God’s intervention.

As with all the other fruit of the Spirit, God wants us to be like Him. God cares for all humanity; and He does it with tremendous compassion, mercy and long-suffering. God’s people are in training to become kings and priests to rule with Him in the future (Revelation 1:6), and this involves learning to forgive others, to show mercy and to be forbearing—or else we would be just like the worldly leaders of today.

Psalm 130:7 states: “O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption.”

God set the example of mercy and redemption. God patiently waits (and has waited) for us to repent and to stop destroying ourselves. God desires that we turn to Him, and when we do, He even promises to help us overcome.

It can be a slow and frustrating process to go from selfish human nature (what the Bible calls the “old man”) to a new creation in Christ, but God lovingly guides us and helps us with amazing patience. And He wants us to become like Him and show the same patience to others.

Luke 17:3-4 gives us an example of what this looks like in everyday life: “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

This takes long-suffering! This passage makes no excuses one way or the other. Sin should not be tolerated and should be pointed out when it is our responsibility to do so. Yet even repeated sin must be patiently forgiven, even if it happens seven times in one day! This is what God does, and this is what He wants us to do.


Why? If we don’t learn to demonstrate godly patience and forgiveness, God is not going to forgive our offenses against Him (Matthew 6:14-15).


So how do we make sure we have this fruit overflowing in our lives?

We should write down the name of anyone we have a grudge against or have not truly forgiven, and then we should write down the reasons we have not been long-suffering with this person. Are these valid reasons according to the Bible? What do we need to do to forgive the person?

Calmly think about things said and done to us, rather than reacting rashly. 

One of the hardest areas to control in respect to long-suffering is our strong desire to let our tongues run free.

Whenever we’re offended or “sinned against,” we must remember to react in a way that we would want God to react to our sins.

Christ-Followers must be known by their patience—their patience with God’s timetable and plan for them and, especially, their patience with other human beings. Let’s show the rest of the world the long-suffering and forbearance God has with us.


Be Blessed and be a Blessing!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Faithfulness





Why is faithfulness such a needed fruit of the Spirit?

Faithfulness to God in the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 is loyalty to Him and to His teachings, which should shape how we think and act.

“Faithfulness” is translated from the Greek word pistis. In the King James Version this word is translated “faith.” Pistis includes both meanings (faith and faithfulness), but in Galatians 5:22 it seems to carry more of the meaning “trustworthiness or reliability”


The Bible provides a fundamental description of pistis in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
We grow in faith as we use the power God gives us through His Spirit to obey Him and build a relationship with Him. Faith in God grows in us as it did in Abraham as we see that God will always do what He has promised (Romans 4:18-22). So, faithfulness would include being full of belief and confidence in God and all that God promises.

Hebrews 11, often called the Faith Chapter, goes on to say: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the  things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (verse 3).
Faith is what keeps us from believing that we are all here on earth by accident. It assures us of our Creator’s existence and love.

Faith involves the way we live. Paul said we must “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Faithfulness includes loyalty. In Titus 1:9, toward the end of a list of qualifications for ministers, Paul says that an elder should be “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” “Holding fast the faithful word” means remaining loyal to what we have learned from the Word of God.
So the fruit of the Spirit of faithfulness includes trusting God and remaining loyal to Him and His doctrines.

Our faithfulness greatly influences how we love God and love others, including whether or not we remain loyal to relationships, sound doctrine and God. We must allow our belief and trust in God and the teachings of the Bible to shape our thoughts, speech and actions toward God and others.


Remember and think about God’s faithfulness in every area of life: protecting and providing for us, giving us forgiveness of sins, promising us eternal life and His coming Kingdom of peace. We can let His faithfulness inspire our commitment to be faithful.

Make God and other people a priority in our lives. How? We can make a list of our relationships and commitments and then honestly evaluate ourselves on how faithful we have been. Any unfaithful behaviors and practices have to be eliminated from our lives.

Faithfulness is more than just being there for someone. It is total commitment and loyalty to God that flies in the face of human reasoning. We may easily believe in God, but it takes faithfulness to actually believe His teachings enough to change our lives.



Be Blessed and be a Blessing!


Monday, May 28, 2018

What is Kindness




What is Kindness?

Some equate kindness with weakness. Others may think little acts of kindness are frivolous and unimportant. What is the spiritual fruit of kindness meant to be?


Our world is full of people who cut in line, insult those around them, don’t open doors for old ladies and people with groceries, laugh at others’ misfortunes and try to show their superiority by dragging others down.
Yet there are also many people who let others go ahead of them in line, compliment those around them, hurry to open doors for people, sympathize with others’ misfortune and show their humility and willingness to serve others.

It’s easy to pick out the people who are showing kindness!

Unfortunately, people who base their thinking on a “survival of the fittest” mentality may not see the rationale for true kindness. People like to receive it, but often don’t really see the benefit of being kind.
What does God say about kindness?

Kindness is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. According to the Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary, the Greek word translated kindness here is “the divine kindness out of which God acts toward humankind. It is what the [Old Testament] means when it declares that ‘God is good,’ as it so frequently does. Christians should show kindness by behaving toward others as God has behaved toward them.” It means “doing thoughtful deeds to others.”

Proverbs 20:28 describes qualities God wants in a leader: “Mercy and truth preserve the king, and by loving-kindness he upholds his throne” (emphasis added throughout).

Throughout the Bible, two other qualities are often associated with kindness: love and mercy. Peter wrote of adding love to “brotherly kindness” (2 Peter 1:7), while Paul wrote about putting on “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering” (Colossians 3:13).

What is kindness? It is based on the mind-set described in Philippians 2:3-4: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Kindness is humbly giving of ourselves in love and mercy to others who may not be able to give anything back, who sometimes don’t deserve it, and who frequently don’t thank us for it. Basically, kindness means a way of thinking that leads to doing thoughtful deeds for others.

Kindness self-examination questionnaire

Does the kindness I show to others reflect God’s kindness to me? Examples?

Do I seek to gain from the kindness I show, or is it pure kindness? How do I know?

Do my kind acts have the components of mercy, love and compassion? How so?

When I am truly able, how much do I sacrifice for others instead of showing selfishness?

How do we demonstrate more kindness?

The various fruit of the Spirit blend well with one another (kindness involves love, long-suffering, self-control, etc.) for good reason: God is complete and balanced. Kindness is another area that keeps our spiritual attitudes and lives balanced. How do we show more of it?

Sometimes it’s the little things that count. Striving to show more of these tender mercies to others little by little will add up to a completely changed overall attitude—one formed by kindness. Some examples of ways to show kindness include:

Give true compliments (not flattery) to others to help brighten their day.
Interact with strangers instead of just walking by them or looking down at the ground (open doors for them, smile, say hello, help them carry something).

Sit and talk with people who clearly appear to not want to be by themselves.

Make room for kindness in your personality and daily schedules. This may mean changing routines, taking more time for other people and developing an attitude of giving. It won’t happen overnight, but the more you think about showing more kindness, the more your daily life will be impacted by that thinking.

Don’t squander opportunities for kindness. They often come around several times a day. If you are ready for them, then you can make the most of them. If you miss one, then strive to show kindness the next time that situation arises.

Kindness is not a selfish attempt to get something for ourselves. It is a show of mercy and love to other human beings with no thought of reward. May we all develop the same type of love and kindness God has for us.

Be Blessed and be a Blessing! Most of all – remember to be KIND!






Saturday, May 26, 2018

God's Love




The Nature of God's Love

Sometimes when life gets discouraging, the best thing we can do is remind ourselves of the nature of God's love.

One of the most beautiful things the Bible says is that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (see Romans 5:8). He did not wait for us to deserve His love. He loves us unconditionally. To be honest, that's hard for many of us to comprehend because we are so accustomed to having to earn everything in life.



Because of His great, wonderful and intense love for us, God poured His life out for us freely. That is revolutionary love, real, revolutionary love that gives itself away because it can never be satisfied doing anything less.

It is God's unconditional love that draws us to Him, His amazing grace that erases our sin, and His powerful sacrifice that makes a way for us to enter His presence. His love will never quit, never give up, and never leave you. Whenever you feel down or depressed, remember the great love that God has for you

God, Your love overwhelms me. Even when I don't feel like it, I know that Your love never quits. You gave Your all for me, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that You love me. Amen

Be Blessed and be a Blessing!


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