Monday, September 28, 2009

How is your Spiritual Fruit?

Galatians 5:16-26
We are given a choice about the Fruit of the Spirit, how we would live out our Christian lives. It all comes down to our willingness to either live a life that is led by the Spirit or one that is led by our flesh. I feel called to explore more on this theme because the direction we choose will equal the type and quality of the fruit we make, either ripe and beneficial or rotten and damaging. We are offered a choice of roads in the Christian journey. Will I live a life that is all about me or one that is all about Christ my Lord? Will I be selfish or truly Christ-like? Will my life be fruitless and faithless because I am stuck in my fears or because of hurts and frustrations that lead to doubts, anger, and then bitterness, strife, dysfunction, and so forth? Or, will I master my past, my sin, and my baggage and embrace my Lord who gives me a hope and future along with what I need to live a really good Christ-like life?

When we start to think and believe more biblically, we will have lives that bring about love and goodness. We can have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control flowing in, through, and out of us. If we rather focus on what someone did to us or what we did not get, we will bring about chaos and suffering instead of the hope and the prosperity of faith, which is what the Fruit of the Spirit brings to the table of life. This is accomplished when we make the choice to see Christ, take hold of His hand, take a stand of faith, and live a life that pleases Him. Our lives will be filled with His leading when we adhere to His Word and not to our personal pride, will, hurts, or dilemmas; we rather can prevent the immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, and so forth from being our way of life. We can choose to have a life that is joyful and fruitful. We are called and empowered to have a life that is filled with fruitfulness that benefits us, others, and glorifies our Lord (Gal. 5:16-26).

You have the real treasure in the Truth of the Gospel (John 1:14; 1 Cor. 2:6-8; Eph. 1:8-9; 3:8-9; Col. 1:8; 2:9-10). You have the wisdom and knowledge of the ages at your fingertips. This means the attainment of truth and prudence regarding our judgments is at your beck and call. You have the knowledge to build your faith by His Spirit and Word, which must come before we apply our faith. But, real faith and spiritual growth must never rest on our knowledge and thinking alone, for then it is empty and of no use (Luke 11:42; 18:10-14; John 14:1-6; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 2:8-9 James 2:14). There is no excuse not to seek the application of His truth with our actions. When we do this, we model righteousness, holiness, and sanctification (Deut 4:6; 1 Kings 3:9; Psalm 119:97-98; Matt. 6:33; Rom. 11:33; 12:3;1 Cor. 12:8; 1 Tim. 1:18-20).

Be encouraged and be comforted; you are called to cheer, reassure, strengthen, comfort, and warn one another. Paul models this and gives us a picture of the loving shepherd. He is literally giving us a divine message, and handing over insights and truths from The Word of Christ (Acts 19:33; 1 Cor. 2:16; 11:2; 2 Thess. 3:6). Think what you and your church can do when you are all knitted together in love. We are called, as one of the purposes of the church, to join together as a group united in faith, reason, and companionship, with love and Fruit at the foundation. This is how a church and family must exist to be healthy. It is essential that the pastor, church leaders, and members be united in Christ so the fruit does not rot, and by His love and according to His Word, exercise the full understanding of His call and instructions and thus dwell as a cohesive unity, a Body of Christ (Luke 10:25-29; John 4:24; 10:25-30; 17:21-23; Acts 2 -4; Rom. 1:16-17; 12:1-3; 1 Cor. 12; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 1:10; 5:30; Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 1; James 4:8-11).

Yes indeed; you can do it. You can be fruitful and productive for our Lord no matter who you are, what you have been through, where you are, or what you will face!

See the rest of this series here:
Fruit of the Spirit Part I
The Practice of our Fruit Part II
Is there Fruit in your Church? Part III
The Rotten Fruits and What They Do! Part IV
How is your Spiritual Fruit? Fruit of the Spirit, Part V

Monday, September 21, 2009

Do you want to get well?

Read John 5:1-15

This is a seemingly strange question, for who would not want to be healed or restored to a better place in life? However, you cannot help someone who does not want to be helped. Either we do not realize we are sick or we like the attention too much when we are. The want we are to have is the desire to be transformed and the determination to carry it through with our Lord’s empowerment. Determination is the ability to make difficult decisions and accomplish God's goals based on the truths of God's Word, regardless of the resistance that may be encountered. It is the ability to point ourselves toward godly pursuits, and not allow ourselves to be distracted or discouraged (Psalms 33:15; 119:29-30; Isa. 1:5-6; Luke 5:31; Gal. 5:19-21; 2 Tim. 4:7, 8; Heb. 12:12-13).

This man said, I have no one to help me. He seemed to have the desire to be healed but not the means. This is, perhaps, a pathetic answer, either out of hopelessness or out of pride. Perhaps this is just an excuse. He is saying that he wants to be healed, but also says he has tried but cannot. It seems he is determined to be hopeless or he likes the attention from being sick. Most people tend to have an entitlement attitude and expect to be carried after they are helped, because they have gotten used to the attention and care they received. But, if Jesus gives you the power to rise, Jesus is the One who can give you the power to continue to walk every day, to keep going (Heb 12:2).

What about you?

Did you know that true healing is all about the transforming work Christ does in us. The physical healing is a mere unimportant shadow to His real important redemptive work and how we incorporate Him in our lives.

How can someone not want to be healed? The simple question is—do we want to grow deeper in the precepts of the Word and character of Christ? In other words, do we want to go through the obstructions to our faith and life that stops us dead in our tracks? Jesus asks that question just as if you were in a 12-step program where you have to admit your need and your higher power before you can get out of your drunken state! I have even seen many people turn their backs on real help. Instead of seeking help for a drinking problem, they stay drunk, destroying all of their relationships, career, hopes, and life. To continue to be sick is a powerful chain that holds us down. Sometimes, it is all we have and all we know, and we fear to venture into wellness. For the Christian, stuck in their faith, he or she has to want to grow in order to grow. The desire to draw near to God will bring down any barrier blocking us from that goal. We have to want to get well in order to do so. We have to want to be more mature and to have more character in order to be people of maturity and good character. Ask any doctor or therapist how important a desire to live and get well is for the patient’s recovery and most will say, assuredly, that it is quintessentially important. When a patient gives up, he or she will usually get worse, and sometimes even die. The way of deliverance from suffering is blocked by the bricks the patient laid down himself because he or she did not want to be healed. Of course, sometimes, our willpower and desires cannot help us. Nonetheless, whether we are in a spiritual encounter, a medical surgery, or in therapy, the desire to get well or grow is powerfully important.

People who are weak in the faith or stagnate in their spiritual growth are that way, for the most part, because they do not want to receive divine help with their problems. They do not see God as the equipper and sustainer of their lives. They do not want to be helped out of their weakness; they either think they can do it on their own, or have given up. They love their weakness; their helplessness is their comfort and identity. Perhaps it is the attention; perhaps it is from years of discouragement, and they are so beaten down they do not want to look up. They rarely, if ever, will seek the help of another. Perhaps, it is anger or pride or fear; whatever the case, they either tend to crave the attention of others through their helplessness, or hide under the bed of discouragement. The result is stagnation and ignoring the One who can bring them comfort. I believe we can all be there at one time or another. I know I have been.

Questions to Ponder

Why do people tend not to see God as the Equipper and Sustainer of their lives? What about some Christians?

What causes some people not to want to receive help, either divine or human, with their problems?

What needs to happen for you to have a faith that can progress deeper and deeper? How does it help for more of Christ to be revealed to you?

What it is that holds us back—is it fear? Busyness? Complacency? Bad ideas of what faith is, and how to use it? Bad role models? Not in a small group or Bible study? Or, what?

What blocks you from increasing your trust and faith in Jesus Christ? What can you do to grow in your trusting faith?

More here:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Authentic Love is not resentful

When God tells us that love keeps no record of wrongs, He means we do not go around with a list, writing down the faults of one another. Rather, we are to look for the positive things that happen in our relationships, and to affirm others. We are to seek reconciliation and forgiveness, never strife or dissention. We should not go around with a negative attitude, but rather with one that is positive, enthusiastic, and equipping to God's people. We are not to keep track of the mistreatments we may receive from friends or our spouse. Because God loves us so much, He does not keep a scorecard of our sins as long as we honestly repent of them. We do not need to reflect negatively or gossip about the flaws of other people in order to elevate ourselves. God refuses to do that to us. Love lets things such as resentment and anger go, so they do not build up and destroy us and our relationships.

Love that is real is a fruit that is also made from our faith. Real love shows our authenticity and trust in our Lord, which allows us to serve and to remain steady and secure. True Love comes from our true living faith that God gives and builds. This is synergized along with our struggles in love and life. Here, that love is a warning against negating our duty or neglecting what God gives. If we refuse to allow His love to work in us, then our faith and the future He has for us will not be received or achieved. If we leave the love in our own will and distresses, we limit our sanctification and cut ourselves off from having God further use us as examples of redemption, examples of His Love. Remember; we do have a great reward that awaits us for being faithful, so we need not fear to fail or reject His guidance or the fellowship of others

When bad things happen, when people do us wrong, we are to see it as our Lord does and deal with it as He did. We have to see the big picture of Christ and His work in us and in others’ lives as well as we all intertwine in one another’s lives and sin. It is out of our mistakes and sin as well as the sin from others that will cause our pain, hurt, and resentment. To stop the escalation, there is only one thing to do. We are called not to record it, not to harbor it, not to dwell on it, not to hold on to it, and not to even give it notice! Why? It would be like deciding to hold on to a poisonous snake after it bit you because you are mad that it bit you. All this will accomplish is getting more bites until you die in agony. Our blame, pain, and resentments will spiral into animosity and build into bitterness, until our relationships are destroyed and we are cast into isolation and further stifle, unless we do not harbor it. If we can avoid being resentful, really forgive, and not hold on to what and who has hurt us, we can then move on (Psalm 32; Matt 18:21-35; Mark 11:25; John 13:34-35; Eph. 4:29-32; Col. 3:12-14; Heb. 13:21-21).

Questions to Ponder

1. Have you ever kept track of the faults of others? How did that make you feel? How did that work for you? How does forgiveness make you feel?

2. Why is it that love can’t just mean anything or it would be worthless?

3. What can you do to look for the positive things that happen in your relationships? How would this help you affirm others? Who will you start with?

4. What can you do to prevent yourself from building up resentment and anger? How can you let these things go so they do not build up and destroy you and your relationships?

See more here:

Monday, September 07, 2009

Love is not Easily Angered!

When God tells us that love is not easily angered, He means just that.

We are not to be touchy, easily provoked, fretful, resentful, suspicious, or oversensitive with our feelings. We are to be very slow to get angry, and we are not to let little things cause us to “fly off the handle.” Because God loved us so much, He did not allow His anger to wipe us out of existence when we so much deserved it. Instead, He allowed His drama of redemption to unfold throughout history, climaxing with the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to try to understand other people, and with respect, place ourselves in the shoes of another. We need to listen, and not allow our hostile feelings to get the best of us. We are not to let the sun set before we extinguish our anger with our spouse. Since God is patiently working in us, we should reciprocate with the understanding of the debt we owe to God and the unfathomable love and concern He has for us. Love puts us in another’s shoes.

Authentic Love is not touchy or resentful, and does not “fly off the handle!”

Anger is a vice, sin that abuses others and us and should never have a foothold in us. When we are easily provoked, we show a lack of self control and a lack of trust in our Lord. All this does is bring us to the same level of spitefulness and bitterness as others and we come to live in it ourselves. When this happens, we must seek to break the bonds of this sin that seek to destroy others and us. Our faith must be love-filled so it affects our actions, our verbal expressions, our mannerisms, and our body language so we reflect our Lord. If not, our faith and thinking are skewed or even absent. Anger is formed from our doubts and fears as well as frustrations—our unmet expectations that will destroy God’s past, present, and future work in us. It will neuter what God wants to do in us and take a teaching point to edify and forge it into a weapon that harms others.

It is interesting to point out that the modifier word “easily” does not appear in the original Greek texts but first shows up in the KJV and survives in most translations today. Why? Two reasons: one, we sometimes have to add modifier words to smooth out the language from translations so it is more readable (grammar is different in Greek than English) as long as it is in context. Also, it is said that King James, who commissioned the translation, was easily angered and thus the translators wanted to convict him. Nonetheless, easily fits the context and meaning (Prov. 12:16; Eccl. 7:9; Matthew 5:22; Rom. 2:8; 12:19; Eph. 4:26-18, 31; Col. 3:8; James 1:19-21; 3:9-10).

Questions to Ponder

1. Any church that lacks love will have disorder. Why? How have you seen this so? How have you seen Christ the Lord replaced with pride and strife?

2. How does love help us be submissive to God and be better examples to others? How does your faith factor in with your love?

3. What needs to take place in you for you to be better at listening, and not allowing your hostile feelings to get the best of you?

4. What can you do to keep the little things from causing you to “fly off the handle?” What can be done to improve your attitude and your church?