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Fruity Spirit: Peace

Peace can be mean many things; it can mean rest, safety, refuge, shelter, and more. The Lord is the ultimate peace-giver, as his word says time and time again.

May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” Ruth 2:12

Taking refuge in God is your ticket to eternal peace in Heaven. To be peaceful, and to have peace at mind and heart, we have to rely on Christ’s encouragement and protection. As humans, we have a nasty tendency to revert to anger or aggression in place of peace. Under God’s wings we take refuge in him, in the Lord, and find peace in his refuge.

Or else let them come to me for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.” Isaiah 27:5

Again, this verse talks about refuge in God, which is very important to our faith, and we remember to let God take care of the bad guys and we help get  them saved. Being peaceful can make such a difference to our reputation and in the lives of others. To be someone who has peace and brings peace to the chaotic lives of others, who are living everyday in such a violent world, can change their lives for eternity.

This week, I encourage you to find peace in Christ. Pray, reflect, worship, and set your heart at rest, so that you can show others the rest and restoration that the Lord offers freely.

Before you can do anything else, you have to be saved and redeemed by confessing your sins. Just as well, in order to listen to the Spirit, follow Christ’s example, and obey God’s commands, we need to have our heart in a place that is ready to listen, follow, and obey–in the refuge and sanctity of the Lord.

The Lord will rescue his servants;  no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.” Psalm 34:22

 

Don’t forget to check-in next week for my post on Patience!

Fruity Spirit: Love

Last week, I introduced our new series: Fruity Spirit. This week, we’re talking about the first fruit of the Spirit, love. We’ll continue our series right on down through every fruit on the tree, so hang around…

Love isn’t just a wonderful thing that God gives and shows us, it is required of us to give it as Christians. Giving love is definitely a big part of our faith – though the biggest part of our walk with God is loving God.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

I really like these verses, because they talk about what true love is. The passage explains that when you talk and teach about God, but don’t love God,  you don’t really believe what you’re saying.  If you give everything you own, but you don’t love it, doesn’t mean anything. Lastly, love is so incredible that it can be an amazing gift of prosperity that God gave us. Does the love in your life look like that?

God loved us so much to give us his son, and that’s the ultimate love. God calls us now to reflect that love by loving others enough to show them Christ’s love! You get that? We are called to love God and to love people, and without first having love, everything else you do is worthless. We can live a life of love by doing good things, being the good Samaritan, living the golden rule, and I think you get the idea.

Don’t forget to check in next week for my post on joy!

Fruity Spirit

You all know of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. Applying these things to your life means that you are trusting in the Spirit before anyone or anything else.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 

Briefly, I’m going to go through each fruit of the Spirit. Starting, naturally, with the first.

Love is probably widely believed to be the easiest, but really to love how God wants us to is much harder than it seems. Outside of loving God, love is also treating others the way you want to be treated:

‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.'” Leviticus 19:18

That verse is really powerful as its talking about neighbor as your self loving which I find very difficult. Jesus also talks about loving your enemies, which is really crushing at times. Most important, though, is loving God. The verse below is repeated throughout the old and new testament, for good reason:

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5

Joy is being happy with everything that happens, and it can often be more difficult than anything else.

On the following day he sent the people away. They blessed the king and then went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the Lord had done for his servant David and his people Israel.” 1 Kings 8:66

This verse explains that the people of Israel were happy with what good things God had done for their nation. And for us this means that you must always be joyful–even if something horrible happens.

Peace (also called forbearance) can be a lot of things, from being content to being a moderator between family or friends. Peace can be compared to love, because love is often required. With it, you can be the bridge between a friend and his enemy, or even two friends. Peace is incredibly important to  our faith, because if you’re violent then nobody will listen to your testimony.

Patience, this could possibly be called the easiest fruit to grow in your heart. Patience can be waiting and not complaining or…

…in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left…” 2 Corinthians 6:5-7

… a weapon. Yup, I said it. A weapon. In fact, all the fruits of the Spirit are weapons (I’ll talk about this further in another post).

Kindness is mentioned in that last verse, saying it too was a weapon, but it focuses on reaching out to people.

Goodness is incredibly crucial; it is our purity, righteousness, and obedience to God. Having goodness means that we strive to walk with God in everything.

Faithfulness could possibly be the most important fruit of all.

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”” Exodus 34:6

This verse talks about how God is eternally faithful to us and how because of his faithfulness, we need to return it. Faithfulness basically means devotion, which means that God is devoted to us.

Gentleness, I always think of whales when I hear the word gentleness because they’re so gentle (except maybe Killer Whales). Gentleness basically means hugs and pillows, but that doesn’t mean you go around giving hugs and pillows.

Last but definitely not least is self-control. This is important because, without it, we won’t have the will to strive for any of the other fruits of the Spirit.

It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” Titus 2:12

Paul tells us specifically that the only way to live a successful life is to be self-controlled.

The fruits of the Spirit may appear to only be contained in a few verses of Galatians, but, in reality, are important and powerful qualities found in places all over the bible, and to be applied all over our lives. Over the next nine weeks, I’ll be getting into detail for each fruit in a new series called “Fruity Spirit”.

Jaws: Revisited

I really wasn’t going to do another Jaws post. Really. Watching the movie again, I just had to come back to it. Partly because I am such a huge shark fan, but mainly because God refilled my ideas on the subject.

Try to look at it as a visual. Jaws ate around a dozen people. But in the end, everyone knows how it ends. The difference is that sin takes a lot more people than Jaws ever did.

This one is perhaps a little too literal, but it gets the idea across:

All your enemies open their mouths wide against you; they scoff and gnash their teeth and say, “We have swallowed her up. This is the day we have waited for; we have lived to see it.” Lamentations 2:16

Let’s face it. Sin isn’t pretty. The bible describes it as a prowling lion, and countless accounts of enemies lying in wait depict a dangerous world. I’m not just revisiting Jaws because I’m a fan, but because the parallel provides such a great image of sin. We have to learn to face the grueling dangers and difficulties.

But we don’t have to do it alone.

My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” Daniel 6:22

Ok, so it isn’t sharks here, but lions. But Daniel was protected from the predator. Daniel was the diver, and among the sharks, God provided him protection (shark cage?). Jesus guards us from all dangers, and protects us from all things we face, but that doesn’t mean we won’t face some sharks in our life.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 3:12-13

Jesus faced lots of things, but he didn’t let it get to him; he relied on and trusted in God.

He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 1 Peter 2:22

You don’t need to hear me say we aren’t perfect. But the only way we’ll be able to fight off sin is through Christ, so trust in him.

(Word of warning: I somehow haven’t seen the second Jaws yet. You may be seeing another Jaws post in the near future…)

Jesus Endured for You

We like to think Jesus’ life was easy. Jesus really had a tough time living, though; he hiked through deserts, towns, anything just to get to us He did everything necessary to get to us so he could show us that he was the Son of God and become our savior.

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20

This excerpt explains that those who follow Christ must give up everything–often, even their home. Jesus did this because he wanted to teach us that he was even willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice. Nothing that happens to us can ever compare to what Jesus went through when he was on earth, and we should be thankful that we give our lives for him. We can’t give God enough to repay him, but we can give him our lives and dedication.

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.” Matthew 27-31

Jesus didn’t only go through thicket or walk down the road in shame. In fact, he thinks so highly of us that even after he died for us, he’ll do anything to help us accomplish our purpose. He not only sacrificed for us then, but he loves us and looks after us now.

Couch Potato

I admit, I’ve been a bit lazy this summer. No lie, no hiding it. In all honesty, I’ve been distracted and less productive. You know God tells us basically that being lazy is just as bad as doing evil. Servants certainly aren’t rewarded if they’re not punished for being lazy–and, as Paul put it, we are truly servants of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, hard work is rewarded.

Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.”
Proverbs 12:24

Sounds to me like diligence and hard-work means success, while doing little until someone makes you isn’t the choice path. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good to rest, but sitting on a couch all day without reason isn’t right.

Jesus told more than one parable on the subject, but I love this one:

 Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”

After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.” Matthew 25:14-27

I sure don’t want to be the “wicked, lazy” servant who didn’t work. Inactivity can be as harmful as doing something wrong.  Only God can give us strength to do what we need to do–even when we don’t feel like doing anything at all.

Light-wise Living

Nothing I say can directly help you stop sinning. Nothing you do can either; no goals you set. Personal determination alone can’t win battles of heart, but a change of heart can.

There’s a reason Jesus comes into our hearts when we become Christians. To help us, to guide us, to be close to us. But mostly to change our hearts, through and through; to ready us to listen to and serve him.

Unlike the Israelites, we have more than just a big book of rules to read, and then be left to hope we can find the will to follow those rules. We have God as our strength and guidance, helping us to do the right things at the right time. Living a radical life starts with realizing the power and potential God has placed in you.

The apostle Paul is possibly the greatest Christian of all time. And, as he said himself, he wasn’t anything special. On the contrary, speaking in 1 Corinthians, Paul describes how he went in “weakness and fear”, something we all feel when faced with a challenge. That’s one of many reasons why I chose and love the following verse.

I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 2:3-5

I wish that God gave us all step-by-step directions on how to live our lives, but everyone’s life is different–and so is God’s plan for it. That means we have to live ready, waiting, trusting, and the way to do that is in the light and truth of the Spirit. This classic proverb never grows old:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Olympic God

Around the world, millions of people are watching the Olympics and cheering for their nation. How does God feel, though? I’m sure God loves the Olympics; he probably loves watching them because people are getting together to show their skills in sports. And God gave them those skills. For a reason, too — to spread the Gospel.

The real question is how do they reach out to people? One: they have to be saved, of course. Two: since they are well known, they can speak to a lot of people and tell them about Christ; they have to take the opportunities they’ve been given. Three: they let the people decide what to believe.

Just today, United States sprinters Kellie Wells and Dawn Harper in the 100m repeatedly thanked God, saying he was good to NBC reporter Louis Johnson after the race, giving God the glory in a great example of this.

All Olympians have at least a few fanatics that will listen to the Olympian they love and adore; those fans can see the truth behind that Christian Olympian’s words. It’s important that we use the power that God has given us, like an interview on TV, to the benefit of his kingdom and glory.

We all know that there are people who want to challenge God, and Christian beliefs, it’s kind of pointless when God is all powerful. The Pharisees in the new testament kept challenging Jesus — and they kept losing.

 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.””      John 8: 13-14 

Those verses show that nothing can challenge God–no Olympian or religious leader. Nothing can challenge God’s power.

Also note that God can do any thing, and he gave the idea of any sport to the guy who created it, and the ability to do it as well. Even if a Christian athlete loses in the Olympics, it’s for God’s purposes, and we all know who wins in the end.

Three Wise Guys

Sometimes life can get hot. Heated, I mean. Heavy, difficult–hard. And sometimes you have to walk through some seriously challenging things. But I don’t suppose you’ve ever walked through a gigantic bonfire.

The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar made a giant gold statue of himself and made people worship it. The punishment for any person not worshiping the statue was being thrown into a huge, blazing furnace. Naturally, God really didn’t like that the king made a huge statue of himself. That, and he kind of had an entire kingdom which he gave himself all the credit for. The Israelites Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all knew the right person to worship–rather than a giant gold statue–God. So what happened when they told that to Nebuchadnezzar?

 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”” Daniel 3:16-18 

The three men were thrown into the furnace and King Nebuchadnezzar ordered it to be seven times hotter than it originally was. In fact, it was hot enough to kill the soldiers that took them into the furnace, and those soldiers were some of the strongest of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, one of the biggest in the world. There were only three men in the furnace, but those present saw four men in the fire. Nebuchadnezzar said that the fourth man looked like a son of the gods (or the son of God), for he was actually Jesus. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all walked out of the flames unscathed. Later King Nebuchadnezzar basically lived like an animal until he had humility enough to respect God, upon which he returned to Babylon.

We can all live through the fiery furnace of a sinful life if we turn to God just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did. If they could walk through an actual fire, you can walk through a figurative one, right?

Bad Habits

There are a lot of people out there who may not be accustomed to living anywhere but a lie. Not just criminals or thieves, but ordinary people. And that’s the way the Israelites lived when they fell away from God.

The description God gives of Israel at the time of Jeremiah 9 is shows how the Israelites lived in their lie and their sin. He describes it as a place of deceit and lies (9:4-6), with people who act one way and are another way at heart. They live without honesty or truth–and so many people live their lives this way:

With his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets a trap for him.” Jeremiah 9:8

Sound like you or someone you know? It’s easy to get caught up in this. God said, “…it is not by truth that they triumph in the Lord.” Living the lie means you’re not living in God’s truth. It means you’re denying him and living the way you see fit. But there’s always consequences.

I have a saying: “It’s not karma. It’s life.” The Israelites became like they were because of their own actions–because they weren’t following God’s plan. And how did that start? You don’t follow God’s commands in the little things, and it keeps getting bigger. It grows.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Call it the inverse of the conditional, but Matthew 5:8 makes it clear that without a pure heart, you won’t see God. The tiniest sin can escalate to blind us from seeing God, and that’s exactly what happened to the Israelites.

That’s why, every time we sin, we need to remember God has redeemed our sins, and ask him for forgiveness and redemption for our actions, so our heart will be pure. It is because of our sin that we blindly make mistakes that end up hurting ourselves.

Jeremiah 9:13 should have new meaning for you now. As God is talking about the terrible place that Israel is to live in, he says knowingly:

It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law.”

End those habits before they start. Ask for forgiveness, and ask that God will help you succeed next time.

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