Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit-Self-Control

“For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

This week is the final devotion on my Fruit of the Spirit Series! It has been a fun, yet sometimes hard, journey doing my first blog series and I hope to do many more! Now on to this week’s subject, self-control!

The Bible wants us to control ourselves, our human desires and to do as the Spirit inside us wants us to do so that we can glorify God. We have to ‘let the Spirit direct [our] lives’ (Gal. 5:16) so we will do only the good things that God wants us to do. It’s difficult to do this, however, without the help of God’s Spirit. We must use His help to control our fleshly desires because our flesh and God’s Spirit are always going to be against each other. ‘For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what you want to do.’-Gal. 5:17. Since Jesus is our Savior, we must allow His Spirit to control our lives. (Gal. 5:25)
We must ‘keep [ourselves] in training for a godly life’ (1 Tim. 4:7). Titus 2:2-6 tells both older and younger men and women to be self-controlled. Because of God’s grace, we should ‘give up ungodly living and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this world’ (Titus 2:11-12) to show that we are God’s children through Jesus’ death on the cross and our belief and salvation in Him. We must let ‘God transform [us] inwardly by a complete change’ (Rom. 12:2) so that our flesh cannot rule over us. We need to let God’s Spirit rule over us and every decision we make is to be made on the wisdom of God’s Spirit in us, not on the desires of our human nature. Our minds and thoughts should always be filled ‘with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.’ (Phil. 4:8) 1 Corinthians 6:18 tells us to ‘avoid immorality’ because it is a sin ‘against [our] own bod[ies]’
Paul tells the Corinthians in his first letter that we should be like athletes and runners who strive for the prize. They keep their bodies and desires in check so that they can compete and win the prize. ‘I harden my body with blows and bring it under complete control, to keep myself from being disqualified after having called others to the contest.’ (1 Cor. 9:24-27) If we don’t keep our flesh in line with the Spirit, all of our work here on earth for the Kingdom of God may come to nothing because we didn’t listen to God when He told us to ‘let the Spirit direct’ us. We need to listen to God and His will, which ‘is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect’ (Rom. 12:2). ‘Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize.’ (1 Cor. 9:24) The greatest prize of them all: entering the Kingdom of God, having eternal life with our Father, and being crowned with ‘the glorious crown which will never lose its brightness.’ (1 Peter 4:5)
“The end of all things is near. You must be self-controlled and alert, to be able to pray.” 1 Peter 4:7
P.S. Did you enjoy this series? Did it help you in your journey with the Lord? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit-Gentleness

“Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised!” Matthew 5:5
Gentleness is also translated as humility and meekness in the GNT version and the AMP version respectively. Gentleness is not only a trait that women should work towards (1 Peter 3:4) but also a virtue that men should possess and it’s mentioned twice in one book-1 Tim. 3:3 and 6:11.
I believe being humble also means to be submissive to others, especially those in authority that God has put over us. Titus 3:1-2 says ‘Remind your people to submit to rulers and authorities, to obey them, and to be ready to do good in every way. Tell them not to speak evil of anyone, but to be peaceful and friendly, and always to show a gentle attitude toward everyone.’ This is repeated again in Philippians 4:5, word for word: ‘Show a gentle attitude toward everyone.’
God wants us to be gentle when we answer others or help them. 1 Peter 3:15-16: ‘But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honor him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect. Keep your conscience clear so that when you are insulted, those who speak evil of your good conduct as followers of Christ will become ashamed of what they say.’ When we help others or correct them when they are doing wrong, it should be done ‘in a gentle way’ (Gal. 6:1). 1 Timothy 2:24b-25 says ‘You must be kind toward all, a good and patient teacher, who is gentle as you correct your opponents, for it may be that God will give them the opportunity to repent and come to know the truth.’ All should know we are God’s children by the way we act and talk to others. If someone finds out you’re a Christian and they’re surprised by that, then you need to change your ways!
Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29 that He is ‘gentle and humble in spirit’ and since we should emulate Him, we should be humble and gentle in our spirits as well. ‘Because he was humble and devoted, God heard him.’(Heb. 5:7) If we are humble and devoted to God, willing to follow Him wherever He wants to lead us, then He will hear us when we cry out to Him and ‘will lift [us] up’. (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6) We will be the ‘greatest in the Kingdom of heaven’ when we humble ourselves like children or servants (Matt. 18:4, 20:26-28, 23:12). So we should ‘submit to God and accept the word that he plants in [our] hearts’ for our own salvation (James 1:21).
God wants us to be humble, never proud or boastful. James 4:6 and 16 tells us that ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ (also says that in 1 Peter 5:5) and that ‘boasting is wrong.’ Romans 12:16 tells us ‘not to be proud but accept humble duties.’ So we shouldn’t be proud in our spirits or in our daily lives or jobs. We shouldn’t think of ourselves ‘more highly’ than we really are and should always judge ourselves on the ‘amount of faith that God has given’ to each of us (Romans 12:3).
“So then, submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you.” James 4:7

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit-Faithfulness

“For our life is a matter of faith, not of sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
I’m going to start off by saying that this post is going to deal more with being faithful, rather than having faith, as faith is a subject apart from the fruit of the Spirit. Faith is something that should be discussed on its own and given its own series (or at least be separate from the fruit of the Spirit.)
1 Thessalonians 5:24 and 2 Thessalonians 3:3 tells us that Jesus ‘is faithful’ and since we are called to be like Jesus, we should be faithful like Him. Jesus is faithful, because our Father is faithful and He is a part of God. God is always faithful to keep His promises and to care for us.
The first half of Colossians 1:23 tells us we should ‘continue faithful on a firm and sure foundation, and must not allow [ourselves] to be shaken from the hope you gained when you heard the gospel.’ That ‘firm and sure foundation’ is Jesus. We should always keep our faith in Him and the hope we have in our salvation through our belief in Jesus as our Savior. Our hope is our future home waiting for us in Heaven.
We should always remain faithful to God and the callings He’s given us. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 tells us, ‘You should think of us as Christ’s servants, who have been put in charge of God’s secret truths. The one thing required of such servants is that they be faithful to their master.’ No matter what seasons of life we’re going through, or the trials or triumphs they bring, we should always be faithful to God, because He will always be faithful to us. Romans 12:6 tells us that we should always ‘use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us.’ I believe that means we should remain faithful to our callings. God has called each of us to do His Will and it should be done with all our might.
Trials should always prove us faithful. ‘Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.’ (James 1:12) James instructs us to remain faithful during our trials and tests. Some of our trials are due to our poor choices but we should still remain faithful to God because if we let them, they will always bring us closer to Him. Our reward for our faithfulness to Him and keeping the faith is our hope, our eternal life in Heaven.
“This calls for endurance on the part of God’s people, those who obey God’s commandments and are faithful to Jesus.” Revelation 14:12

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit-Goodness

“So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest. So then, as often as we have the chance, we should do good to everyone, and especially to those who belong to our family in the faith.” Galatians 6:9-10
The fruits of kindness and goodness go hand in hand. They are even synonyms of each other! We can’t be good to others if we first don’t decide to be kind to them. Goodness is showing others the love of God by caring for them the way Jesus cares for them. Hebrews 10:24 says, ‘Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.’ Titus 2:14 tells us that Jesus ‘gave himself for us’ so that we would ‘belong to him alone’ and would be ‘eager to do good.’
Jesus died not only to save us from eternal torment and separation from God, but He also ‘called us to be his own people, not because of what we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace.’ (2 Tim. 1:9) We should always be ready to do His Will and follow His example by caring for others and being good to them. If you are good, everyone will know by the fruit of your labor and mouth (Matt. 7:17-19, 12:33-35) 1 Thessalonians 5:15 tells us to ‘aim to do good to one another and to all people.’ Ephesians 2:10 tells us that through ‘our union with Christ Jesus’, God has already ‘created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.’ There are things out there that God wants us to do and people He wants us to touch and lead to His Son, their Savior, but we have to be willing to follow His Will and be His hands and feet!
We should do good deeds because it is one way to show the love of God and to put His teachings and example into practice. We don’t need to be good and obey the Law of Moses in order to save ourselves because Jesus has already saved us. Nothing we could do would be enough to make up for the sin in our lives. So Jesus came to save us from that sin and make us right with God through our faith in Him, not by our actions. (Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-5). Ephesians 5:10 tells us to ‘learn what pleases the Lord’ and Hebrews 13:16 gives us one answer: ‘Do not forget to do good and to help one another, because these are the sacrifices that please God.’
He does warn us, however, not to do our good deeds publicly, but privately so that we will get a much greater reward from our Father in Heaven and not the fleeting respect from the people of this world. Ephesians 6:8 reminds us that ‘the Lord will reward each of us…for the good work we do.’ We should always strive for God’s rewards and His approval, not those of the people around us. Only God should be glorified through our good works and not ourselves (Matt. 5:16, 6:1).
There are people around you that only you can help bring to God because He made you for that purpose. There are things that need to be done by you and you alone. We must get to work, doing good and helping bring the people of this dying world to life. We never know when Jesus will come, so we must make sure the time we have left isn’t wasted on the things of this world but on doing the will of God.
‘But you, friends, must not become tired of doing good.’ 2 Thessalonians 3:13