Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit-Kindness

“Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.” Ephesians 4:32
I think kindness is love in action. 1 John 3:18 says, ‘love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.’  When you are kind to others, you put their needs before your own. You sacrifice yourself and your plans to do what the other person needs. It’s not always easy for me to do this, but thankfully I don’t have to do it all on my own! Through ‘fellowship with the Spirit’ we ‘have kindness and compassion for one another.’ (Phil. 2:1) We should be kind to others, even when they don’t deserve it. We should also return kind words for harsh ones and never let our attitudes mirror the attitudes of this world (1 Cor. 4:13; Rom. 12:2)
Through our kindness to others, we show we are ‘God’s servants.’ (2 Cor. 6:6) In telling the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus gave us another example to look at for kindness, the first one being Him coming to die for us, even though we didn’t deserve it! This man, who was looked down upon by the very man he helped, went out of his way, used his own animal, belongings, and money to care for someone he didn’t know. Kindness is going the extra mile to care for someone in need, showing God’s love for them through our deeds (Matt. 5:42; 7:12). Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 twice in Matthew; once in 9:13 and again in 12:7, showing kindness to be a quality God desires for His children to show. God desires us to be kind, not to try and make ourselves holy.
When we are kind, we should speak life into other’s lives and build them up with our words, not tear them down or gossip about them (Eph. 4:29). We must be honest, but never rude, short-tempered, or uncaring. Galatians 6:1 says, ‘if someone is caught in any kind of wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should set him right; but you must do it in a gentle way. And keep an eye on yourselves, so that you will not be tempted, too.’ We should always take care not to force change on someone when we believe they are doing wrong. We must pray for them and let the Holy Spirit convict them. We don’t want to forget the log in our own eye and exam the speck in someone else’s (Matt. 7:3-5)!
‘To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another, and be kind and humble with one another.’ 1 Peter 3:8

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit-Patience

“Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.” Ephesians 4:2

I’ll readily admit that I’m not very patient, but I am working on it. It’s gotten better, working with the public, but I’m not sure I would be recognized as a patient person. I interrupt, rush, and get frustrated very quickly. But I’m working on it and praying about it and, by God’s grace, I will get better.
By nature, we’re not very patient people and the world we live in now is not helping. We want everything and we want it now! Everything is instant, faster, and readily available. But when we become a Christian, flipping out over how long the drive thru is taking isn’t an option. (I’m talking to myself here too.) As I mentioned, waiting is not one of my favorite things to do! ;)  But God is good! He gives us chances and opportunities to exercise patience. He reminds us of His Word when we study it and commit it to memory. He doesn’t give up on us when we’re taking too long to follow His Will. I was recently given the opportunity to exercise my patience and honestly, I’m failing. It’s been very difficult to wait to move into a house that’s yours but I must be patient. It’s going to be difficult but this is something I need to work on so I’m focusing on the positives of waiting to move into our new house.

We’re reminded in Romans 15:5 that God is our ‘source of patience’. Through Him, we can exercise patience. I’ve found that patience is divided into different segments:

1)    Waiting on the Lord--Hebrews 10:36, 37: ‘You need to be patient, in order to do the will of God and receive what he promises. For, as the scripture says, “Just a little while longer, and he who is coming will come; he will not delay.”’ We must have patience to wait for God and His perfect timing. ‘As for us, our hope is that God will put us right with him; and this is what we wait for by the power of God’s Spirit working through our faith.’ (Gal. 5:5) Our patience is only made possible through our faith in Him.

2)    Waiting for His Second Coming--James 5:7-8: ‘Be patient, then, my friends, until the Lord comes. See how patient farmers are as they wait for their land to produce precious crops. They wait patiently for the autumn and spring rains. You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord’s coming is near.’  What a great day that will be! When Jesus finally returns for His followers and takes us home with Him forever more! That’s hard to wait for but like all good things, it’s worth the wait!

3)    During trials and tribulations--James 1:3-4: ‘for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.’ Even though it’s hard to think trials are good for us while it’s happening, they are, even if they hurt at the time. We must endure through them to be refined and shaped to be like Christ. Not all trials are tests from God. Some come as the result of our bad choices. Thankfully, God is there, waiting for us to come back to Him. His love for us is never-ending and neither is His patience.

4)    With each other--Eph. 4:2: ‘Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another.’ God wants us to show His love to the world by being like Jesus. Jesus humbled Himself to be like a servant (Phil. 2:7-8), He was gentle (Matt. 11:29), and very patient (Rom. 2:4). Colossians 3:12-13 says: ‘You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you.’

‘But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.’ Romans 8:25

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit--Peace

Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

When I started working on this, I was very frustrated and I felt rushed from not having much time left to work on it. I wrote in my prayer journal and prayed while listening to praise songs and the irritation slowly left me. God used my frustration and irritation to work for me so that I could write to you from experience! Just like it says in Phil. 4:6-7, “Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.”  Granted, I didn’t have a very thankful heart at that moment, but I poured out my heart to God and asked Him for His peace and calm. I listened to my praise songs playlist, really trying to focus on the words of the songs and the verses I was looking up. I was then able to concentrate. Prayer and praise are very important tools for the Christian that should be used frequently, every day. 1 Cor. 14:33 says “God does not want us to be in disorder but in harmony and peace.”

I believe there’s a reason peace comes directly after joy in the list on the Fruit of the Spirit. You can’t have peace without having joy. When was the last time you were angry and it made you peaceful? Obviously, that doesn’t work for me. J Many greetings throughout the New Testament begin as “Peace be with you” as well as many concluding statements in the letters written to the churches.  Peace is given through Jesus, much like joy. Romans 5:1 says, “Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ.” True peace, the peace that doesn’t come from this temporary world, but from our eternal Savior, comes from Him. John 16:33 tells us, “I have told you this so that you will have peace by being united to me. The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” Through the suffering and trials we go through, the peace of our Lord is always with us.

Romans 14:19 and 1 Peter 3:11 tell us to “strive for peace” because Jesus declared, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matt. 5:9, NIV) That command is listed again in 2 Timothy 2:22: “Avoid the passions of youth, and strive for righteousness , faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help.” The pursuit of peace is very important to God. He doesn’t want us to unnecessarily stir things up. That’s not to say we shouldn’t stand up for our beliefs and proclaim the Word of God and its infallibility. But He wants us to do it in love, like Jesus did and like it says in Titus 3:2, “Tell them not to speak evil of anyone, but to be peaceful and friendly, and always to show a gentle attitude toward everyone.” And again in Hebrews 12:14, “Try to be at peace with everyone, and try to live a holy life, because no one will see the Lord without it.”

“May God, our source of peace, be with all of you. Amen”—Romans 15:33


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study--Joy

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 (emphasis added)

Several times throughout the New Testament, joy is associated with the Holy Spirit so it’s no coincidence that it’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says it simply: “Be joyful always”. Joy is our God-given happiness through our difficulties and our trials (1 Peter 4:12-14). It is a deep happiness that does not fade with time, like the ‘joy’ of this world. It is not due to our circumstances, our possessions, or our positions. It is given to us by God.

I believe there are two parts to receiving this inexpressible joy (1 Peter 1:8): coming in contact with the Holy Spirit and our belief in Jesus. I’ve come in contact with the Holy Spirit before, and let me tell you, it’s amazing! It definitely brings joy! And though it’s easier said than done, remembering that we have a future hope (Eph. 4:4 NLT) will help us to be joyful in the Lord (Phil. 4:4 NLT), even in the hardest of times. Remember, Phil. 4:13!

First, joy is found when we come in contact with or are filled by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts and fills us up, bringing us joy, even in the hard times (Luke 6:23). We experience joy when we are in His holy presence (Acts 2:28). The Kingdom of Heaven’s “about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness.” (Romans 14:17 CEV) In Luke chapter 10, we see Jesus rejoicing. Even He felt this wonderful joy as a human being! Verse 21 tells us He “was filled with joy by the Holy Spirit.” In Acts 10:52 it states, “The believers in Antioch were full of joy and the Holy Spirit.” (bold emphasis added)

Second, the hope and belief we have in our Lord also brings us joy. Just the thought of Someone loving you enough to die for you should make anyone happy! “Let your hope keep you joyful” (Romans 12:12). But truly believing in Him and Who He is and His Word brings His followers joy. “The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord.” (John 20:20b GNT) Even new believers experience the joy of the Lord from the get-go! “He and his family were filled with joy, because they now believed in God.” (Acts 16:34b)

Our hope in our Savior and the Spirit's presence is strong enough to give us joy through the toughest time. 

I think a good verse to sum up this post is Romans 15:13: May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.”(emphasis added)

“In conclusion, my friends, by joyful in your union with the Lord.” (Phil. 3:1a)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study--Love

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.—1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV (bold emphasis added)
When you think of love, what comes to mind? Valentine’s Day hearts? Your children or spouse? An expensive object? What about Jesus and all He did for us and all He went through for us? Love is not only the first fruit we receive from the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 2 Tim. 1:7), it is who God is! 1 John 4:8 says it in plain English, ‘God is love’!
There’s a reason love is the first fruit. Love is so important to God, He inspired an entire chapter dedicated to love (1 Cor. 13)! That also happens to be one of my favorite chapters. You can’t have anything else without love because without love, we are nothing and can accomplish nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
What is love? Here’s how Paul described love to the church in Corinth (NIV):
Patient. Kind. Forgiving (does not keep a record of wrongs). Rejoices in the truth. Protecting. Trusting. Hoping. Persevering.
What is love not? Again, here’s Paul’s description:
Envious. Boastful. Prideful. Dishonoring. Self-seeking. Easily angered. Delights in evil.
Love is the binding that holds the traits of the Christian together (Col. 3:14).
We come from God  and belong to Him if we love others and obey Him(1 John 4:7, 5:2-3) Jesus tells us we are His disciples if we love others (John 13:35).
There’s no way to be a part of God’s family and not love others (1 John 3:10). We show that we have ‘come over into life’ if we love others and are not ‘under the power of death’ (1 John 3:14). I don’t know about you, but I want to be under the power of love, not death! Love ‘shows itself in action’ (1 John 3:18), it is a choice. Jesus loved us so deeply He ‘gave his life for us. We too, then ought to give our lives for others!’ (1 John 3:16, John 15:13) and love like He loved. This doesn’t necessarily mean dying physically for someone else. It could mean denying yourself and your desires and putting others before yourself (and after Jesus of course!)
Jesus said in John 15, ‘Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me.’ (v. 4). The only way we can bear ‘the kind of fruit that endures’ (v. 16) is if we remain in Jesus and His love. How do we do that? By obeying Him (v. 10). He wants us to ‘love one another’ (v. 17), even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). We have to show the love of God to others if we want to bring them to their Savior.
So, to show the fruit of love in your life, you must love others,  be patient, kind, forgiving, protecting, trusting, hoping, and persevering. You should rejoice in the truth and deny your flesh’s desire and obey Jesus to remain in Him. Ephesians 4:2 NLT says: 'Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love.'
I have barely scratched the surface of love! There is so much to the attribute of love that I couldn’t fit it all on one blog post for this study. The love of God and Christian love is something that should be studied, written and read about in depth. Maybe one day I will make a Saturday study on it but not anytime soon. I only want to work on one thing at a time so I don’t get side-tracked. J
So 'live a life filled with love' (Eph. 5:2 NLT)! Next up is JOY! :D