Fruit of the Spirit – Part 1

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“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)

This past week I began taking a closer look at the fruit of the Spirit:

  • Love >> “this means the attitude or emotion of deep affection with a focus on action and not feeling alone.” So basically – Love does. The commentary in my Bible (NLT Study Bible) says this …”It is significant that love heads the list. Love is not merely a first among equals in this list but rather the source and fountain from which all the other flow.” We are able to love because He loves us. We love each other because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19, NLT) Perhaps love is listed first because it is of the utmost importance that we KNOW to the depths of our being that God. loves. us. Not that He loves or that He loves others or that He loves everybody. We must come to the place where we KNOW God loves {{insert your own name here}}. For it is then we will be able to love others. It is then we will be able to do (remember love does) for others with and in and through the love of God. May you know He. Loves. You. Deeply. Eternally. Tightly.
  • Joy. We all want joy in our lives. Joy is not the same as happiness, which is based on what is currently “happening” to me. So here are some truths I discovered about joy:
    ~ joy is a divine dimension of living not chained by circumstances at all. You can have joy no matter what is happening.
    ~ joy stems from discovering and concentrating on the truth that God is totally trustworthy.
    ~ joy is “to sense the sovereignty of the Spirit of God bringing order out of confusion, direction out of despair, and joy out of despondency.” (from “A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit” by W. Phillip Keller)
    As I have thought about joy, I realized joy is marked by a feeling of celebration. But what is it exactly that we are celebrating I ask? We celebrate, we rejoice, that our God brings victory. He makes us overcome in this life. This brought me to a familiar Scripture in which I think I missed something important until now …
    In Nehemiah 8, Ezra is reading the Scriptures to the people. The people weep as they realize their failure to have kept His Word the way they should have. And Nehemiah says this in verse 10 –
    “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” We always seem to quote the end of that verse but not the beginning. In spite of feeling sad, he is telling them they can have joy in the Lord. Now continue to read down to verse 12 – “So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share the gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy BECAUSE they had heard God’s words and understood them.” Did you see it? Their joy came BECAUSE they heard God’s words and understood them. There is a joy which comes from being in His Word, from the understanding He brings of His Word. This is why we need to be in His Word each and every day. May we hear His Word today and understand what He is saying to us. And “may the JOY of the Lord be your strength” today!
  • Peace >> “The quiet, potent, gracious attitude of serenity and good-will that comes to meet the onslaught of others with good cheer, equanimity, and strong repose.” (Keller). Based on that definition I can see why it is a fruit of the Spirit because only God would be able to keep me at peace when facing the ” onslaught of others”. Yet Jesus was our example, the man of Peace. The one who even made Peter, the impetuous “cut off his ear” man, into a disciple. This tells me that when Jesus enters our lives, He penetrates our personality, He is the One who makes us into a person of peace. “Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” (Psalm 34:14, NLT)  “And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:17, NLT) “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9, NLT) Interesting that this “peace”, mentioned in Galatians 5:22, is a peace with God which then spills over into peace with others. He makes us into peacemakers. And this will take His Spirit in us for sure!
  • Patience. This is the ability to bear with people who are difficult or adverse circumstances without breaking down. It takes in endurance under intolerable circumstances. “It is the quiet willingness to wait” (Keller). I loved that this author then went on to say what patience is NOT: It is not… “weak indifference. Does not say, whatever will be, will be.” Patience is a steadiness in situations. It enables a person to keep on. Patience allows us to prevail. Patience produces hope in those around us. It produces a toughness in us because God is at work in us to produce it. This is a toughness to endure hard people and hard situations with stability. Keller calls patience “gracious optimism”. The more I read about patience, the more I understood only God can truly produce this in us and how very grateful I am for His patience with me.
  • Kindness. I found it interesting that this is included in the list of fruit and Paul is writing to the Galatians who were known “for biting and devouring one another”. We shouldn’t need to be told to be kind to one another and yet we surely do. Kindness is associated with mercy as you can’t be kind without showing mercy. It is a deep and genuine concern for another. Kindness is “getting involved with the personal sorrow and strains of other lives to the point where it may well cost me real pain or inconvenience.” (Keller). Kindness takes courage as we don’t know if the other person will appreciate and receive our kindness or turn around and refuse it. Kindness will demand that we treat others or see others with work, dignity and esteem and regard them as such. And just because we are kind to someone does not guarantee they will treat us with kindness. But here’s what hit me  … God saved us because He is rich in mercy and loved us so much (Ephesians 2:4). Why? “So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as show in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7, NLT). We become examples of God’s kindness toward us.

This was only the first five characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit. To live displaying these will take a work of His Spirit in us for sure! Next Monday I will share on the last 4 fruit of the Spirit > goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

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Photo Credit: my friend Gypsy Orange.

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As You Walk …

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Mother and daughter (4-5) walking hand in hand, Germany

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, NIV)

Give us courage, Lord, to speak our faith. Script our tongues with the language of your holy Word, and sanctify our mouths for your intended purposes. Let not our fears keep us from speaking the truth of who you are, and let not our weak and sometimes feeble faith be a hindrance to those we teach. You have entrusted us with your faith story; keep us faithful to grow it in the generation that sleeps beneath our roofs this night. Amen.

(from Beyond the Scars by F. Elaine Olsen, pages 95-96)

 

Photo Credit: © Thomas Koy/Corbis

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5 to feed your soul

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Spring cleanup happened this week. Outside that is :) The sounds of a lawn mower and a leaf blower were like music to my ear. Obviously, our resident woodchuck felt the same way for as soon as the noise died down, he came out for a good, old grazing and he looked mighty happy about it too!

Here are some finds this week which I hope you will “graze” as well and find nourishment for your soul …

1) I could just write the words “Mercy House” and it would be enough said. But don’t miss out on this wonderful update about the beauty God is doing there. And in this post, you will find simple ways in which you can still help.

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2) If you have gone back to your walking routines, you may notice that leaves can leave an imprint on the sidewalks. In this post, we find the reminder, much like a leaf etched into stone or names carved onto a tree, we will all leave an imprint.

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3) We can leave an imprint of another sort. What would happen if this were to be our prayer?  … “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” In this post, we will read how the generation gap can be bridged leaving its impact forever.

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4) Mothers – we come in all shapes and sizes. We all have our opinions on child rearing. And we all compare and think we know best. In this post, we will find the challenge to erase the boundary lines, admit our struggles and come alongside of one another.

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5) We can often find our concept of God’s love challenged when hard times hit. Especially when hard times, like cancer or disease, hit our loved ones. In this post, we find the powerful reminder, “Love holds us even as our loved ones get cancer. Love sustains us even when the worst possible thing happens here on earth.”

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These are a few of the post I feasted on this week. They challenged me. They made me cry. They made me think more deeply on the goodness of our God to me. May they do the same for you!

Happy Saturday!

Love,
Joanne

 

Today I am joining … Recommendation Saturday and The Weekend Brew and Faith Along The Way .

Hide

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I’m joining Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday. One word prompt. Five minutes. No editing. Lots of women. All of us writing on that same word.

Today the word prompt is … Hide.

I see the word and immediately a familiar children’s game comes through my thoughts – Hide and Seek.

I remember playing with my children and grandchildren. It is almost always the same, no matter which young child you may play. As long as they cannot see you, they are under the impression – you cannot see them. Even though arms or clothing or a head may peek out from a small piece of furniture or a thin tree trunk, they think they have been able to hide.

“Hide” as defined by dictionary.com >> “to conceal from sight; prevent from being seen or discovered”.

As I read the definition, I wondered how often I (maybe we) play this game with God.

Do I really think I can prevent God from seeing me or discovering what I am doing, where I am going, what I am thinking? Do I think I can successfully hide myself from Him?

I forget at times – this is the God who knows all things and sees all things. His eye is on every single sparrow and not one can fall to the ground without Him knowing it. And yet, I seem to think I can hide from Him.

This morning the word prompt reminds me:

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea;
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
(Psalm 139:7-10, NIV)

It really is quite simple – I cannot hide from God. And just so you are certain, neither can you.

There’s just no hiding from God.

Girl with autumn leaf in front of face, Stockholm, Sweden

Photo Credit: © Fredrik Nyman/Johnér Images/Corbis

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A Wine Lesson

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Caldaro, South Tyrolean Wine Road, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy

I am not a wine drinker. At all. So when I kept returning to a story about wine, I became curious what the story held for me ….

Jesus and His mother are attending a wedding and the wine runs out. Weddings were a big thing then, often being a week long celebration. Running out of wine would be a huge source of embarrassment for any family. Mary comes to Jesus saying, “They have no more wine.” Jesus performs His first miracle transforming the water in the jars into wine. Now that’s the story in a very condensed fashion. You can read it for yourself in John 2:1-11.

Going back to read this for several days, I learned a few things and not about wine :)

  1. State the problem. Mary notices the empty wine jars and immediately realizes there is going to be a crisis for this family. She does not discuss it with the disciples or other guests. No Facebook or Twitter rant. She goes right to the One who can remedy the situation and tells Him of the situation at hand.
  2. The jars are filled. Jesus takes care of the problem – in His time, in His way. Nothing will destroy us quicker than an emptiness of our soul. It is then we often seek to fill the void outside of and apart from Christ. We need to take the burden off those around us and place it on the only One able to truly meet our needs.
  3. Repeat. We must come to Him each and every day to share our burdens and to be filled by Him.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first.”

May we be like Mary …

State our problem and then,

may He alone fill and satisfy our hearts.

 

Photo Credit: © Franco Cogoli/SOPA RF/SOPA/Corbis

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Caterpillar or Butterfly?

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As we go through our lives, we change. We evolve over the course of time. Goals are met. Some dreams we hold onto, others we let go. New goals are formulated. Old habits die. New and better disciplines are hopefully embraced.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2, NKJV)

In this passage, we find the very means of change. The word ‘transformed’ comes from the Greek word “metamorphoo”, which we get our word metamorphosis. We change from one form to another with the end result being our intended form.

As we permit God to change us, we are being moved to our intended form. The person He knew we would be before time even began.

At times, it may look as if there is a death which is occurring. But much the same way a caterpillar dies to itself, there is a death which much occur for life to truly be lived.

The caterpillar gives up of itself in order to achieve the greater goal, the intended form and purpose for which he was created. Although he emerges into life in the form of a caterpillar, he was not meant to remain as such. It is through this process, it then fulfills its God-intended purpose. Beauty is seen. The butterfly soars.

Can it be that our lives are the same? Do we go through changes, parts of our lives dying off, in order for new birth to occur? Is it then we become all God intends?

Perhaps Pooh and Piglet are onto something ….

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Just Stand Firm

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One of the hardest things to do is “wait”. Waiting doesn’t sound like a faith word or even a word that demonstrates believing God. Waiting almost seems to have a faltering connotation, like what one would do at those times when one has no idea what else to do.

“To wait” >> “to remain inactive or in a state of repose, until something expected happens” (as per dictionary.com).

There are times in life when we are confronted with a circumstance or difficulty in which we have no idea what we are to do. And like Moses, we must remind ourselves …

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm [wait] and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” (Exodus 14:13, NIV)

There it is – Wait. Wait until something happens. Faith says, “Wait. Stand firm.” Our feelings may tell us otherwise ….

  • Discouragement says, “Throw in the towel. Give up. What’s the use?”
  • Impatience says, “Do something! Why waste time? Take the bull by the horns. “
  • Pride says, “You’re savvy. You know what to do. You don’t need anyone. Just go with what you know.”
  • Fear says, “This is too hard. You’re too weak. You have no idea what will happen if you try.”

And to each of these, our faith says, “Stand firm and watch the Lord rescue you today.”

The Israelites panicked when they saw the Egyptians bearing down on them and ready to overtake them. In their panic, they forgot all that God had already done in order to get them out of Egypt. But one person at least had not forgotten. Moses remembered all God had done and he knew to apply what he had learned to this current crisis of faith. Moses had no idea what God was going to do. But in this one statement of faith, he declared his confidence in God before the people.

Waiting is not a hesitancy at all. It is not an idleness but actually an action. It takes strength to restrain oneself from jumping and doing every idea which comes into our heads. It takes believing in God to do something on our behalf, which will cause us to be calm and stand firm. In standing firm, we don’t back down to our feelings, our fears or suggestions from others. In standing firm, we wait in expectancy upon our God to do something, to direct us to action, or to tell us to move.

We must never force ourselves into action.

  Rather may we stand firm and wait on our God.

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Photo Credit: © Arman Zhenikeyev/Corbis
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