Mothers: Reflecting God’s Image

Mothers: Reflecting God’s Image

Since we celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday, I wanted to add some encouragement to the mothers in my life. And I think this is important because in today’s culture, we tend to either idolize or demonize people and positions – and neither does any good.

We can talk about how incredible and “perfect” mothers are, and unintentionally crush them into guilt as we put more on them than they can live up to.

OR, we talk of the imperfections we’ve seen in mothers or how we have been hurt by mother figures, and that does just as little good for all the mothers we ought to be thankful for.

Ultimately, the approach we should have towards mothers is one of thankfulness for the role they’ve played in our lives, and more importantly, their lives and roles should cause us to look towards God in thankfulness and worship.

So, let’s back up…

God Seen In Every Person And Position

As human beings, we have a very special position before God: we are “made in his image,” or “likeness” (Genesis 1:27).

But, even more than that, God has revealed Himself and His character throughout scripture by giving us comparisons for us to understand Who He is.

A classic example is that God is like a loving Father Who has compassion on His children (Psalm 103:13)…

But that is merely one example. The Bible is filled with comparisons so that we may get an idea of God’s goodness, love, kindness, gentleness and all Who God is by collecting these hundreds of glimpses into a single picture.

Here’s a few more examples to help explain what I mean:

God is described as or compared to a…

Shepherd (Psalm 23)
Warrior (Exodus 15:3)
King (Psalm 29:10)
Potter (Isaiah 29:16)
A friend (James 2:23)
Teacher/Guide (John 16:13)
And many more…

Each of these tells us an aspect of God’s unchanging character and role in our lives.

And one of the most great comparisons is how God is like a mother

God has used parental figures in His Word very frequently, which I’m sure is intentional since we all experience a parental figure in our lives at some point.

Here are just a few examples we see from scripture of how God is like our mothers.

Keep in mind that many of these are specifically God’s relationship to His covenant people, Israel, but we can definitely apply this love and character to God in how He loves and cares for all His people, especially now those who have been added to through His Son, Jesus (Ephesians 2:19, Ephesians 3:6, Romans 11:17-24)

“Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them.” – Hosea 11:3–4

“As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” – Isaiah 66:13

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” – Isaiah 49:15

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” – Matthew 23:37

Mothers have been used many times to remind us of God’s undying love, protection, compassion, care, teaching, leadership and so many more things that most of us have experienced from our own mothers.

And, for these great examples of God’s Character, we ought to be thankful to our mothers…

Unfortunately, We (As Examples Of God) Are Broken And Imperfect

And this is where the problem begins.

We see how God compares Himself to mothers.
And we begin to lift them up to a place they don’t belong.

On a day when we should simply be thankful for our mothers,
Many, even in churches, begin to act as if they’re perfect (or that they ought to be)

And this puts an impossible burden on them.

Or we go the other route.

And maybe we’ve seen poor examples of mothers,
And we begin bashing the hurtful things mothers have done to those we love.

And neither way is good.

Because we were never meant to expect perfection from our mothers.

Like every other person alive,
Mothers represent a piece of God.

They have been made in the image of God
And have the special role of motherhood to exemplify specific traits from God.

But they are not God.

As with every other person alive, their role as an image bearer is to have their lives point to God as the One Who is perfect, Who is complete, Who is lacking nothing.

Just as we have been made as image bearers of God (Genesis 1:27)
Just as every Christian is an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:11-21)

Mothers are to point us to God, who is the perfect and complete “mother” we all need.

And as we look at our mothers, we can see their strong points. Their godly characteristics. And know that our God is even more so.

And when we also look at our mothers, and we see their faults. Their imperfections. We are rest assured that our God is not lacking in any way.

And when we look at our mothers this way, we can be thankful for everything they are.

Their strengths, as they help point us to God’s even greater strength.
And their weaknesses and lack, as they also point us to God’s strength and fullness.

There is no need to put them on a pedestal, to put a burden on them that would merely crush them; because it’s a weight they weren’t meant to bear.

Instead, we can enjoy them more fully,
Thanking God for every part of them,
And having their role in our lives bring us even more blessing as it points us to God.

What Does Jesus Say? (And Should I Care?)

What Does Jesus Say? (And Should I Care?)

Yesterday, I got to teach the older kids class at our church as we continued through our study in the book of Mark.

Even better, we were studing the story of The Transfiguration (Mark 9:1–13).

Here’s the basics:

  • Jesus goes up on a mountain with Peter, James and John…
  • And… “He [Jesus] was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.” (Mark 9:2–3)
  • And… Then Moses and Elijah are there speaking with him…
  • And… Just as Peter is starting to say they should make tents for them and stay a while with them…

When Suddenly… This Happens:

And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.” -Mark 9:7–8

Even for Jesus’ ministry where “the miraculous” was synonymous with “just another Monday” (they were common)… THIS was uncommon.

In all of Jesus’ ministry, there were only two other times where the Father audibly spoke from Heaven. Once at His baptism (Matthew 3:17) and once when Jesus was publicly (John 12:28).

This Is A BIG Deal.

The Father felt it very important, to tell us something.

And what was that?

That Jesus isn’t just another prophet, miracle worker, or man greatly used by God. Jesus is His Son. And we should listen to Him.

Jesus Is God. And When God Says Something, We Should Listen.

Think about it this way:

  • If I called you a liar, it might hurt, but there’s no real consequence…
  • But if your boss calls you a liar, there could be consequences…
  • And if a judge calls you a liar, there will be even greater consequences…

Basically: the level of authority someone has over you, the greater their words matter.

Sometimes, we give someone authority over us by simply valuing them and caring what they say. Other times, their authority over us is given to them by someone else (such as your direct boss being given authority by the company you work for).

So, where does God fall into this?

Well…

  • He created us (Genesis 1:1)
  • Everything we are, have and see is His (Job 41:11, 1 Corinthians 10:26)
  • He is the final Judge of our entire existence (Ezekiel 18:4, Luke 12:20, James 4:12)

God’s Words Matter… A Lot.

And, if they matter so much…

Then what does He say?

The God Who spoke the universe into being…
Has said things to you in His Word.
Have you been listening?

We are told many things each and every day,
Some of them are truth,
Others are not.

And we would do good to follow Paul’s instructions:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:2

Renewing Our Minds

The idea of “renewing our minds” is simply this:

Correcting the lies with truth.

So, as we did in the kid’s class yesterday, I encourage you to write down everything you’re told, and more importantly, what you believe. The good, the bad, the truth, the lies and everything in-between. A few examples might be:

  • “You need “X” to be successful or happy”
  • “This life is all there is, so make the most of it”
  • “What’s most important is the experiences you have and people you meet”
  • “If you try hard enough, you can accomplish anything”
  • “Your life is what you make of it”
  • “What goes around, comes around”

Write a list of the thoughts, words, ideas and beliefs you hold most closely…

And see what Jesus has to say about them.

Does He confirm them?
Or deny them?

Because, as we’ve already alluded to…

What He Says Is All That Matters

To help you get started, here’s a list of some of the things God/Jesus says about some of the most important things we experience in life. May you take them to heart and be encouraged, corrected and renewed as you seek what God says about life.

  • Jesus wants you to do good to those who are unkind to you

1 Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”

  • Jesus wants us to do our best to be at peace with others

Romans 12:18 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

  • Jesus wants us to be encouraging to others

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

  • Jesus doesn’t want us to gossip

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

  • Jesus wants us to love God with all of our lives

Matthew 22:37–38 “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

  • Jesus wants us to love others as ourselves

Matthew 22:39 “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

  • Jesus wants us to live holy lives that obey Him

1 Thessalonians 4:3a “For this is the will of God, your sanctification”

  • Jesus won’t give up on us

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

  • Jesus has prepared good things for us to do

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

  • Jesus wants us to have faith in Him

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

  • Jesus can help us do good, AND He can help us want to do good

Philippians 2:13 “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

  • Jesus wants us to not be anxious

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

  • We can go to Jesus for comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3–5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

  • We can go to Jesus for wisdom

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

  • We can go to Jesus for help

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

  • Jesus is working all things for your good, and you have purpose

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

  • Jesus has a plan for your life

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

  • Jesus opposes the prideful and gives grace to the humble

James 4:6 “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

  • Jesus has given you the ability to do everything He has told you to do… today

2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

  • Jesus empowers you to overcome any temptation

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

  • Jesus is with you through all of life

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:13 “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

  • Jesus will make all things right (He will get revenge)

Romans 12:19 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

  • You can go to Jesus with your problems

1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

  • Jesus can give you peace

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

  • Northing can separate you from Jesus’ love

Romans 8:38–39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

  • Jesus wants you to obey your parents

Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

  • You are valued by Jesus

1 Peter 1:18–19 “Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

  • Our hearts are deceitful and wicked

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

  • Jesus wants you to trust in Him, not in yourself

Jeremiah 17:5,7 “Cursed is the man who trusts in man… Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD.”

All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon

All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon

As you saw last week, I’ve been listening to a podcast called “Hurry Up And Read” where they read old Christian books aloud on the podcast (that have entered public domain).

As such, here are some quotes and notes from another book I’ve listened to on that podcast. They’re great to meditate on, and if you like them, you can go listen to them too, or read the book, “All of Grace” by Charles Spurgeon yourself.


“The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride, the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair.”

“The medicine is for the desired.
The quickening for the dead.
The pardon for the guilty.
Liberation is for the bound.
The opening of eyes is for those who are blind.”

My note: Forgiveness is for the guilty. Are you “not guilty”? Then look to the law and find that you are. Do you recognize your guilt? Then there’s forgiveness in Jesus.




“If you justify yourself, you will simply be a self-deceiver. Therefore, do not attempt it, it is never worthwhile. If you ask your fellow mortals to justify you, what can they do? You can make some of them speak well of you for small favors, and others will backbite you for less. Their judgment is not worth much. Our text says: “It is God who justifies,” and this is a deal more to the point.

Read carefully the parable of the prodigal son, and see how the forgiving father receives the returning wanderer with as much love as if he had never gone away, and had never defiled himself with harlots. So far did he carry this that the elder brother began to grumble at it, but the father never withdrew his love.”




“Still, I again remind you that faith is only the channel or aqueduct, and not the fountainhead, and we must not look so much to it as to exalt it above the divine source of all blessing which lies in the grace of God. Never make a Christ out of your faith, nor think of as if it were the independent source of your salvation. Our life is found in “looking unto Jesus,” not in looking to our own faith. By faith all things become possible to us; yet the power is not in the faith, but in the God upon whom faith relies.”

My note: We are not saved by our faith. We are saved by Jesus, in Whom we put our faith. If we were saved by faith, then some could be “more saved” or “more secure” as their faith is greater. Instead, whether little or great, our faith all results in the same saving, because the saving is done by Jesus, not ourselves.

And, therefore, our Savior, our Lord, our King, is Jesus, not our own faith.



“My fear is lest the reader should rest content with understanding what is to be done, and yet never do it. Better the poorest real faith actually at work, than the best ideal of it left in the region of speculation. The great matter is to believe on the Lord Jesus at once. Never mind distinctions and definitions. A hungry man eats though he does not understand the composition of his food, the anatomy of his mouth, or the process of digestion: he lives because he eats. Another far more clever person understands thoroughly the science of nutrition; but if he does not eat he will die, with all his knowledge. There are, no doubt, many at this hour in Hell who understood the doctrine of faith, but did not believe. On the other hand, not one who has trusted in the Lord Jesus has ever been cast out, though he may never have been able intelligently to define his faith. Oh dear reader, receive the Lord Jesus into your soul, and you shall live forever! “He that believeth in Him hath everlasting life.”

My note: Your knowledge of faith cannot save you. Your speculation of salvation does no good. You must apply the faith to your heart, just as you must apply food to your stomach for it to do you any good.



“He who may have a treasure simply by his grasping it, will be foolish indeed if he remains poor.”



“Trust Jesus. And prove your trust by doing whatever He bids you.”



“I am told that years ago a boat was upset above the falls of Niagara, and two men were being carried down the current, when persons on the shore managed to float a rope out to them, which rope was seized by them both. One of them held fast to it and was safely drawn to the bank; but the other, seeing a great log come floating by, unwisely let go the rope and clung to the log, for it was the bigger thing of the two, and apparently better to cling to. Alas! the log with the man on it went right over the vast abyss, because there was no union between the log and the shore. The size of the log was no benefit to him who grasped it; it needed a connection with the shore to produce safety. So when a man trusts to his works, or to sacraments, or to anything of that sort, he will not be saved, because there is no junction between him and Christ; but faith, though it may seem to be like a slender cord, is in the hands of the great God on the shore side; infinite power pulls in the connecting line, and thus draws the man from destruction. Oh the blessedness of faith, because it unites us to God!”

My note: Jesus is the only one who is in a position and ability to save us from our sin.




“He [Jesus] died for men, not as believers, but sinners.”




“’Faith comes by hearing,’ therefore, hear often.”

My note: Read about Jesus. Hear about Jesus. Talk about Jesus. Build your faith in Jesus.




“It is well for us that as sin lives, and the flesh lives, and the devil lives, so Jesus lives; and it is also well that whatever might these may have to ruin us, Jesus has still greater power to save us.”




“If you look to Christ for your beginnings, beware of looking to yourself for your endings. He is Alpha, see to it you make Him Omega, also.”




“This faithfulness of God is the foundation and cornerstone of our hope of final perseverance. The saints shall persevere in holiness, because God perseveres in grace. He perseveres to bless, and therefore believers persevere in being blessed. He continues to keep His people, and therefore they continue to keep His commandments. This is good solid ground to rest upon, and it is delightfully consistent with the title of this little book, “all of grace.” Thus it is free favor and infinite mercy which ring in the dawn of salvation, and the same sweet bells sound melodiously through the whole day of grace.”






There are many more quotes and thoughts shared in the book, those are just a few for you to consider and think about.

Have a wonderful day!

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

I’ve been listening to a podcast called “Hurry Up And Read” where they read old Christian books aloud on the podcast (that have entered public domain).

I’ve enjoyed this book so much that I wanted to share with you some of my favorite quotes and thoughts I wrote down while going through the book. They’re great to meditate on, and if you like them, you can go listen to them too, or read the book “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” for yourself.


“Contentment is to “keep under” God’s authority. To submit to Him in all things. His power, His decisions, His protection, His will.”

My note: To do this effectively, we must remember that God is good and that He knows more than us, and sees things we cannot see.



“Whether you are content or not, can you change the Providence of God?” (And would you want to?)

My note: A great challenge to remind ourselves when we are discontent.



“In active obedience we worship God by doing what pleases God, but by passive obedience we do as well worship God but being pleased with what God does.”

My note: Contentment brings worship to God as it embraces His godness in our lives above us and our subjection to Him.

“It is right that the LORD should do with this poor creature what He will. I am under His feet and am resolved to do what I can to honor Him. And whatever He does with me I will seek Him as long as I live. I will be content with what God gives and whether He gives or not I will be content.”



“A Christian should consider how murmuring and discontentedness are so below the dignity of the place God has put us in. The lowest Christian is a Son of the King of Heaven and Earth.”

My note: When we complain, murmur or are discontent, we are becoming the slaves of our afflictions and situation as they are controlling our emotions and lives. This is below the place that God has desired to place us.





There are many more quotes and thoughts shared in the book, those are just a few for you to consider and think about.

Have a wonderful day!

We Need God’s Spirit to Bear the Fruit of the Spirit

We Need God’s Spirit to Bear the Fruit of the Spirit

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” – Galatians 3:3

One of my favorite stories of the late pastor Chuck Smith is from one of the pastors in the group he discipled as the Jesus Movement and Calvary Chapel first started.

This pastor said that in their weekly meetings, they would often ask pastor Chuck if there was any concern weighing on his heart that he was praying for regarding the church and especially the leaders in the church.

His response was always the same: he was most concerned that they would one day begin to work in the flesh and not in the Spirit.

Out of all of the things that he could be troubled over during this time of massive revival and spiritual transformation in people, his greatest concern was to make sure that everything he did was by the grace and leading of God’s Spirit rather than his own efforts.

We would do well to have this same healthy concern for ourselves,
especially when it comes to producing the fruit of the Spirit within our lives.

The temptation to do it on our own

When you consider the fruit of the Spirit, do you think some are easier than others?

(as a reminder, the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)

Even non-Christians who do not have the Spirit of God can be considered peaceful people.
Or patient
Kind
Good
Faithful
And so on.

This is because although none of us are perfect, we are still made in God’s image and reflect pieces of Him, regardless of how broken we are.

And this brings the temptation to rely on our own “goodness” in areas we are “naturally” bent towards. Maybe you are more bent towards being joyful, or patient with people. Maybe your personality leads itself to being faithful or disciplined.

It’s easy to think that we don’t really need God to help us in those areas; we’ve got them covered.

However, God’s Word tells us that it’s impossible to truly please God without faith in Him (Hebrews 11:6) and that even our good works, without His grace, are like dirty rags (Isaiah 64:6).

I think we all see our shortcomings clearly. Maybe you are someone who grows impatient quickly, or who finds it hard to be gentle. It is easy to see that we need God’s Spirit to fill us to empower us to be those things.

But the danger is found in the things we naturally do better.
They lead us to thinking we don’t need God’s help.
They lead to a prideful heart, which God opposes above all else.

We need God’s Spirit for every part of our character

Whether a godly character trait comes “easy” or not, we need to realize our complete need for God’s Spirit to bear the fruit in our lives that only He can do.

As Jesus reminded us in John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all”.

So may we rest fully on God’s Spirit for His character to be grown in our hearts and lives, and may we never begin to try to “perfect in the flesh” what was “begun in the Spirit.”

God has started this good work in our hearts and lives; and He has promised to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)

So let us let Him do it.

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:16

“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—” – Philippians 3:3

“Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” – Zechariah 4:6

If you missed the any of the fruits of the Spirit posts, you can check them out at the links below:

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Love
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Joy
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Peace
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Patience
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Kindness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Goodness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Faithfulness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Gentleness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Self-Control

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Self-Control

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Self-Control

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Self-Control

Self-control is probably the least “flashy” of all of the fruits of the Spirit, but it’s necessary for spiritual growth, in that the other fruits of the Spirit kind of rely on self-control.

Do you want to experience the fullness of spiritual growth and maturity that Jesus has for you?

It begins and ends with His Spirit empowering you to have self-control.

Self-control in showing love, even when it’s hard
Self-control in seeking joy in difficult times
Self-control in pursuing peace in the midst of hardship
Self-control in choosing patience when you don’t want to wait
Self-control to be kind when it would be easier to fight back
Self-control to be good when you want to go against God’s goodness
Self-control to stay faithful when you want to give up
Self-control to be gentle when it would be easier to be harsh.

If you remember, we began with the first fruit of the Spirit: love (which you can read about at this link. In that first post, I mentioned how many consider love to be the overarching discipline which is then “flushed out” in deeper description through the rest of the fruits of the spirit.

Likewise, self-control is the summation of what needs to happen in our lives to begin this journey of bearing these fruits of the Spirit.

In other words:
Without the first step of self-control, we will not bear any of the other fruits of the Spirit.

God’s Spirit and grace

By emphasizing the importance of self-control, I’m by no means saying that this is up to you to accomplish all of these things. I’m merely pointing out the order of experiencing the fruits of God’s Spirit in our lives: Before we can have God’s love, joy, peace, patience, etc. flow our from our lives, we must first experience God’s Spirit to bring self-control to our hearts and lives.

Which is why Paul emphasizes this in his words to Timothy when he wrote:

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

God gives us power
And love
And self-control
So that, by His Spirit, we may be transformed to be more like Him and bear the fruit of His character and Spirit.

The blessing of self-control

Before we ask God to give us more self-control and grace in our everyday lives, I thought it would be important to reflect on the blessing of living a disciplined life.

And, in many ways, it simply results in a more enjoyable life.

For example, you are able to enjoy and live life without being as tossed about by the difficult people and challenging situations you experience in life.

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” – Proverbs 25:28

“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” – Proverbs 16:32

By self-control, you are able to stay away from and resist the things that are not good for you (though they seem good at the time) and that God desires to protect you from.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

And, by self-control, you can enjoy pursuing the direction and life that God has created for you to live.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24–25

The blessings that come into our lives from self-control are undeniable.

It brings peace to our everyday lives
It keeps us from the sin and temptations that can easily bring our lives pain
And it draws us near to the good plan and purpose that God has for our lives.

All from God’s Spirit providing us self-control in our everyday lives.

Embrace the blessing

Just like the rest of the fruits of the Spirit, nothing can be done from our own effort.

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” – Galatians 3:3

We need the grace and Spirit of God to bring self-control to our lives in a way that only He can.

So, let us continue to pray for His Spirit to empower and guide us so that we may bear the fruit of His Spirit each and every day.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:3–8

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,” – Titus 2:11–12

“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;” – 1 Timothy 4:7

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Gentleness

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Gentleness

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Gentleness

I don’t know about you, but gentleness is not one of the first things I think of when I consider God’s character.

But it was gentleness that caused children to love coming to Jesus
It was gentleness that made “sinners” feel comfortable in His presence
And it is gentleness that allows the Church to be a refuge for the hurting and those far from God.

Gentleness is such a cornerstone of Jesus’ character that Paul wrote…

“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” – Philippians 4:5

And, our gentleness is seen most clearly in the most difficult of interpersonal circumstances.

Gentleness towards opposition

In life, we face opposition towards our beliefs and life choices every day, and Christians are no exception. Most people oppose what God says about our lives and how to live and so a Christian will meet opposition to the truth of God on a daily basis.

But we are told to be gentle towards opposition.

A classic verse you may have heard before reads:

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

Being gentle in opposition has a calming effect that can even help resolve the matter more effectively and quickly.

But we are not told to be gentle purely to help win arguments, God desires us to win souls, which is is why Paul wrote to Timothy and said:

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” – 2 Timothy 2:24–25

Have you considered that your gentleness may be the reason someone turns to Jesus years down the road?

I have personally experienced this and it is mind-blowing.

I went through a period of intellectual evangelism where I learned all the right answers and had all the right verses, but I didn’t see people consider them as much as I expected.

During that same time, I had a few experiences in particular where I feel like I had poor answers and incomplete thoughts, but I know they deeply understood my care towards them. And, years later, they approached me and told me what a profound impact our conversations had and how they felt my compassion and care… my gentleness… and that is what “won” them over.

Not logic or verses,
But someone, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, embodying Jesus’ truth and gentleness, has a powerful gospel impact.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t study and learn and know the right things to say.

But it is far more important to bring God’s gentleness, God’s love, God’s kindness and the other fruits of the Spirit to those around us, so that they may see a glimpse of God’s fullness and seek Him to experience even more.

Rest for the soul

As I mentioned earlier, Jesus embodied gentleness so that children and sinners alike felt completely at home with Him.

He called them out of their sin and to a life surrendered to God,
But He did so in a way that left people knowing how much He cared.

Jesus even said of Himself:

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:29

“Rest for your souls.” I think that’s a great way to describe a gentle spirit.

Someone who refreshes and brings rest to those around them.

And, just as Jesus has done that for us, He has called us to bring His gentleness to others. And, this isn’t an afterthought. Just as we have been called to make disciples and share the Gospel, we have been called to gentleness, as Paul reminds us in Ephesians to…

“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness…”

May we walk in the high calling.
May we be refreshing and life-giving to those around us
May we be like Jesus
May we be gentle.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” – Ephesians 4:1–2

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” – 1 Timothy 6:11

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Faithfulness

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Faithfulness

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Faithfulness

Faithfulness is one of those foundational character trades that is necessary for a godly life.

Just think about it: faithfulness is staying constant, loyal, steadfast, honest.

Without faithfulness, every other character trait will fall apart.

God’s faithfulness to us

Because of how foundational faithfulness is to the rest of a person’s character, I thought it would be important to remind ourselves how faithfulness is a core characteristic of God.

That God is faithful no matter what.

That His Word stands true
His promises won’t fail
And if it looks like God hasn’t kept HIs promise
You know that He’s not done yet.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22–23

I’m not saying it will never feel like He’s unfaithful
I’ve felt that many times.

But we have to choose to act and live our lives trusting and believing that He truly is faithful.

The call to live faithfully

There are many places in the Bible that tell us how we are being molded in God’s image and lists specific traits such as the call to “Be Holy even as He is Holy,” but in the case of faithfulness, it’s more indirect.

We learn of God’s faithfulness throughout all of scripture, and then we also find scripture calling us to remain faithful as well.

What is interesting is that our call to faithfulness isn’t one where we’re told to be faithful because it’s simply good to do, but in response to and confidence in God’s faithfulness to sustain, empower, reward and transform us.

For example…

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

Throughout the Bible we see God’s hand tied into our transformation to be more like Him – including us becoming faithful as He is faithful.

Rest in His faithfulness and be filled by His Spirit to be faithful to Him

As I’ve written for each of these posts, our faithfulness comes from and is empowered by His grace and power. So, let’s reflect on and rest in God’s faithfulness and ask Him to fill us with His Spirit so that we may reflect Him more, as we were made to do.

Let us pray to be faithful in…
Love
Joy
Peace
Patience
Kindness
Goodness
Gentleness
Self-Control

And to be the people we were created to be.

God’s faithfulness

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,” – Deuteronomy 7:9

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.” – Psalm 33:4

“if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:13

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,” – 1 Chronicles 16:15

Our call to faithfulness

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” – Matthew 25:21

“Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” – 1 Corinthians 4:2

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58

“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:5

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Goodness

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Goodness

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Goodness

I think one of the move vidid descriptions of God’s goodness, outside of the Bible, is found in the first book of The Chronicles of Narnia series:

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”
…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Our God isn’t safe,
Our God isn’t frail,
But our God is completely good.

I like this snippet from the Narnia series because it reminds us that goodness isn’t a character trait that also brings weakness – which is a common mis-association.

Goodness when it’s difficult

Goodness is simply “the quality of being morally good or virtuous” – even when it’s difficult.

Because sometimes it’s easy to do what’s right and it’s even popular…
Othertimes it’s difficult, but you still get recognition for it…
But there are even be times where being morally good and virtuous is not only difficult on its own, but you will be ostracized for it.

And Jesus knows this better than anyone.

The perfect embodiment of goodness.

Yet He was abandoned throughout His life for His Message.

The religious leaders wanted nothing to do with Him
Many used Him simply as a miracle maker, but wouldn’t heed His teaching
Others called Him crazy and ignored Him altogether
And during His most difficult hour on the cross, He was abandoned by even His closest followers and friends
(not to mention that one of them betrayed Him)

Yet, throughout all of HIs life, Jesus remained good. Perfect.

And, so, we can certainly look to Jesus as our example.

One who withstood all trials and pains and overcame them all.

But even more than that, we can look to Jesus as our Savior Who gives us His Spirit to empower us to live like Him.

Empowered for goodness

Goodness is one of those traits that really reveals our shortcomings. When I think about my own “goodness”, I am so clearly reminded of how short I come of perfection.

But that’s why Jesus and His Gospel (Good News) is so good for us!

Because Jesus wasn’t merely an example. He is also our Savior, Who gives us new life and empowers us to be transformed into His image.

Jesus not only saved us from our sins (Romans 5:6, Acts 2:38, Ephesians 2:8, 1 John 1:7, Hebrews 10:14, Isaiah 53:5)
But Jesus also provides us His Spirit, through His sacrifice on the cross, to be empowered to become more like Him, as we live by His grace and His strength (Galatians 2:20, Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 2:24).

By His grace

Just like all the other fruits of the Spirit, the most important thing to remember is that this is fruit that comes from the Spirit of Jesus.

So, instead of simply trying harder to reflect God’s perfect goodness, let’s surrender to His grace and ask Him to live through us.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Kindness

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Kindness

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Kindness

“When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel

I think most of us tend to take this route in life.

It’s easy when we’re younger to be mesmerized by the charismatic, the smart, the gifted, those with status, etc.

But, as we get older, and we begin seeing the fleeting reality of all I listed above, our values and role models begin to shift.

And the more we value simple, godly characteristics such as kindness.

The Embodiment of Kindness

It can sound strange that kindness is listed as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

It sounds so lowly and insignificant.

But check out the definition:
“The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”

That sounds a lot like Jesus, doesn’t it?

Jesus was friendly and approachable even by children
Jesus was generous with His words, possessions and actions
And Jesus was considerate and allowed the needs of others to be put above His own.

This really is the trifecta that embodies kindness.

Missing just one of these characteristics leads to a stool with less than its indented 3 legs to stand on.

Seeking Kindness In Everyday Life

“Cleanliness is close to godliness.”

Not really, but what we’ve seen is that being kind is close to godliness.

To grow in friendliness
To be more generous
And to be more considerate and think of others as more important than ourselves.

This is close to godliness.

This is the life and fruit that God desires us to have.

So, take the extra time to show some unexpected kindness.
Consider where you can be more generous in your money, talents and time.
And seek to put other’s before yourself.

And do so by His grace and strength.

As we’re reminded in Philippians 2:1–11:

Jesus lived kindness.
He lived love.
He lived perfection.

And now, He has paid the price for our sin,
And gives us the power, by His Spirit,
To have Him transform us to be more like Him.

And one day, we will be with Him forever.

So as we look forward to heaven,
Let’s ask Jesus to instill His kindness into our hearts,
And let us be kind to others the way Jesus is.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” – Colossians 3:12

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” – 1 Peter 3:8–9

“A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches. A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.” – Proverbs 11:16–17

“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” – Proverbs 21:21

““Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another.” – Zechariah 7:9

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Patience

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Patience

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Patience

“It’s hard to be patient, isn’t it?”

I have this conversation with my 3-year-old frequently.

And, patience doesn’t seem to get easier as we get older, does it?

I mean, we tend to get better at seeing the bigger picture, which helps,
And we at least get better at hiding our impatience…

But biblical patience is far more than just tolerating having to wait.

I found this definition that I think describes it out really well:

“The ability to take trouble (from others or life) without blowing up. To suffer joyfully.”

To be patience in all circumstances unlocks numerous opportunities to enjoy day-to-day life more and even to get better insight into when God is wanting to purposely interrupt our plans with his own.

Patience in everyday life

For me, the classic example is traffic.

I hate traffic.
In fact, I just hate lines in general.

Do you dispise the everyday situations of waiting? The mundane, normal waiting experience all the time?

God would have us be patient.

That we would not simply endure times of waiting, but that we’d find His divine opportunity in them.

The traffic as a time to talk to Him more
The checkout line as an opportunity to say something kind to a stranger
The simple times to slow down, recognize God’s sovereignty and see what He might have for us in that moment.

Patience in the “bigger” things

And what about those larger delays?

Struggling with a job you hate, or even unemployment
Waiting for the test results
Waiting for a judge’s verdict
Waiting for the result you’ve worked so long and hard for

In these times, it’s tempting to try to force the issue
To simply push harder

And yes, we ought to take responsibility during these times. To be diligent and do everything we can to better the situation.

But there comes a point where there’s only so much we can do.

And, as the saying goes:

“Do what you can do. And let God do what only He can do.”

Sometimes, you just have to wait.

More importantly, we have to be patient.

To trust God,
To endure trials,
To wait on God and His timing.

A saying I try to remind myself of during difficult times is this:

“God’s timing is not just perfect. It is precise.”

“Perfect” just sounds to sterile.

Precise really gets at the heart of it: that God has specific reasons for making us wait:

And that can help us be patient.

The root of godly patience

But even more than simply reminding ourselves why we ought to be patient,
Let’s not forget that patience is a fruit of the Spirit.

The patience God wants us to have is not something we can muster up, grow into, or reason our way to having.

God’s patience is wholly different and supernatural.

And so, I leave you with some of my favorite verses on trusting God, on having patience and living for His will

And with the reminder to ask God for His patience
Because you can build up patience for a moment
But the quality and quantity of patience God desires us to have can only come from Him.

So ask Him, receive and give yourself to the patience God would have for you today through all the struggles, pain, issues and may you be like Jesus more and more as He fills you with His Spirit and Fruit.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8–9

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6–7

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” – Romans 12:12

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” – Psalm 40:1

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” – Psalm 37:7–9

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” – Psalm 127:2

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:24–28

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:25–34

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Peace

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Peace

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Peace

Peace is often misunderstood as quiet solitude.
As a secluded and calm lake without a problem in sight.

But have you ever been in a place of physical calm and quiet…
While still experiencing a restlessness that seems to be tearing you apart?

I have.
I’m guessing you have to.

Although, those places can be naturally stress free,
That’s not what peace really is.

Peace can be enhanced by being calm, quiet or slowing down, and having a discipline of pursuing those things is definitely good,
But peace itself is much deeper.

The best illustration I’ve ever heard for peace is…

A story of a painting contest where the contestants were to paint ‘peace’…

As expected, many of them painted small cottages by quiet streams, or docile animals resting by the water.

But the winner of the contest painted something very different.

He painted a lighthouse with its light shining bright in the mist of a dark night and raging storm.
With waves crashing against the lighthouse
And up at the very top,
you could see a man calmly sitting at the very top.

That is a great analogy for peace.

Even though the outward storm and waves are crashing around you…
You can be secure and secure inside your solid lighthouse.

Even though the darkness is all around…
You have a light within that shines out.

Peace from within

As you probably gathered from the analogy, the peace that Jesus gives us is one that is placed inside of us
and can withstand any storm
And can pierce through any darkness.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” -John 14:27

The peace Jesus gives is one that is fulled with the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.

It is a peace that rests on the truth that Jesus has died, risen, has paid the price for our sins and that He promises eternal life to those who put their trust in Him.

So now, any storm we face is merely a blip on the map,
a moment compared to eternity,
And insignificant to the goodness He promises.

And so we can have peace throughout it all.

Deep Seated Peace

This all sounds great, but I’d be the first to admit that it also sounds like childish wishful thinking in the mist of hardship.

But that’s not what Jesus offers us.

Jesus wants us to have a big picture view that can bring peace in the mist of difficult circumstances.

Think of it like a movie where you’ve already been told the ending. You know who survives until the end and that the good guys win – and so all the hardships you watch during the movie seem far less disrupting; because you know how it ends.

The difficulties in the story can still be just as real,
And in some ways, just as hard to go through,
But knowing how it ends makes a world of difference.

Receiving His Peace

The examples I’ve given are obviously lacking.

Because life isn’t a single storm in a night
Or a 2 hour movie.

Life can be hard.
Real hard.

But we aren’t trying to simply work up a mindset of peace,
We’re told to simply receive the peace that Jesus offers.

We’re not told to “look on the bright side”
Or try harder and to trust that Jesus will come through.

Instead, we’re given God, Himself,
Who is called the great Comforter.

And, God doesn’t simply send us “peace” from afar in the mail,
He has chosen to hand deliver it into our hearts in a moment by moment basis.

So, instead of focusing on the storm in front of you: turn to God
Instead of trying to outwork the problems you face: turn to God
Instead of waiting out your problems, in hopes that they will pass: turn to God.

Because, as one of my favorite verses says:

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” -1 Peter 5:7

So, may you give God your cares, worries, restlessness and anxiousness
And let Him give you His peace.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” -Isaiah 26:3–4

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6–7

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Joy

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Joy

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Joy

Joy can be hard to describe.

To some degree, being joyful is being happy, but it clearly isn’t just happiness, as we know that even Jesus experienced sadness and we’re reminded in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything, even sadness and mourning.

But even when the happiness leaves and the sadness and difficult times come, there can still be an underlining joy found from the Spirit.

Essentially, joy is a bedrock foundation of happiness.
It’s the solid ground that remains when everything else is taken away.

No, this doesn’t meant we will always feel happy,
But it means that this foundational happiness (joy) continues to bring a solid beam of light to our hearts in the mist of our darkest days.

And, as always, we can find a perfect example of this joy in the life of Jesus:

“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” -Hebrews 12:2

In the mist of Jesus’ darkest hour,
He had joy that helped bring Him through to the end.

Even in the mist of enduring all the physical, emotional and spiritual pain that He was experiencing in that moment, Jesus turned and focused on the “joy that was set before Him” the solid foundation that could not be moved even in His darkest moment.

And we too can set our foundational happiness on solid ground as well.

A bedrock foundation of truth and joy that will weather every storm
Every pain,
Every loss.

Now, keep in mind, this foundational joy has to be something that cannot be taken away from us, no matter the circumstances or the struggles we go through.

And, the foundational joy Jesus promises us is that when all is said and done, He will wipe away every tear and right every wrong. And He promises to be with us for every step along the way. No matter how dark our days may be, Jesus promises that there will be a day of light that will shine brighter than we could ever imagine.

And we can trust that He will fulfill this promise to us because of His Spirit that He gives us.

The Guarantee Of The Holy Spirit

One of the many roles that the Spirit plays in our lives is that He reminds us of Jesus’ eternal promise to us: that Jesus has saved and redeemed us and will one day bring us to be fully with Him, forever.

And here is how He, the Holy Spirit, is part of that promise:

“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” -Ephesians 1:13–14

Jesus has fully paid our debt, and brought us into the family of God…
But we are not fully with God yet, as we will be in the New Heaven and New Earth. (we have not “acquired possession” of the promise)

And so, until that day, Jesus has sent His Spirit ”who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it”.

This guarantee is much like an engagement ring, which represents a soon-to-be marriage. One that is sure to happen, yet hasn’t happened yet.

You can also think of the Holy Spirit as a “deposit” with the “full payment” coming soon.
Or as having the title to a car in hand that you have yet to pick up.

Regardless of the analogy you prefer, the Holy Spirit gives us a foundational joy for our lives that can sustain us in any difficulty, because it’s rooted in Jesus’ death, resurrection and promise to give us eternal life with Him.

And here’s why this foundational joy can surpass any circumstance we face:

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:38–39

And the Holy Spirit in our lives reminds us of that.

That Jesus has died,
That Jesus has risen,
That Jesus has paid our debt,
That nothing can separate us from His love,
And that no matter how bad it gets,
No matter what darkness we face,
Jesus. Has. Won.
He’s preparing an eternal place for those who believe in Him,
And He is coming again.

I’m not saying it won’t get extremely dark and difficult,
But the Joy of the Spirit keeps it from getting pitch black.
And He promises to sustain us until the morning comes.

Receiving His Grace

As with producing the love of the Spirit, we need to recognize that this joy isn’t found in trying harder or doing better, but it’s found by coming to Him and asking for His power and grace in our lives.

As you pray for more of His joy and hope in your life, here’s some verses you can reflect on regarding having joy in the mist of trials and faith that God is working through it all.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” -Romans 15:13

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” -James 1:2–3

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” -1 Peter 1:6–9

“And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.” -Psalm 27:6

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…” -Romans 5:3

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Love

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Love

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

Some have said that love is the single fruit of the Spirit and that the others on this list (joy, peace, patience, etc) are merely descriptions of how love plays out in our lives.

Regardless, love is certainly a forefront attribute that should mark the life of someone who has been saved by Jesus, and have given his or her life to Him. Jesus even said that everyone will know that we follow Him by our love for one another (John 13:35).

As another way to look at the importance of love, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:13: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Paul is reminding us that faith and hope ought to be prominent pieces in our lives while following Jesus, but even those will one day go away because we will one day be with Jesus where we no longer need faith or hope, for we will be with Him… but even then, we will have and experience love.

To make love’s importance even more pronounced: Jesus told His followers to “love others as He has loved us,” which is no easy task (John 13:34).

In fact, I think it’s impossible on our own.

But let’s not forget,
This isn’t the “fruit of a person trying harder to do better…”
Or the “fruit of someone who has chosen a new life for themselves…”
Or the “fruit of someone who has experienced enlightenment and has risen to new heights…”

This is the fruit of the Spirit and only His.

Just as oranges don’t grow on pear trees…
And apples don’t grow on coconut trees…

The Fruit of the Spirit only grows by the power of the Spirit

Jesus said it best in John 15:4-5:

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

We cannot bear this fruit
We cannot do any God-glorifying act
Without the grace and presence and empowerment of Jesus and His Spirit.

As Paul wrote warned the Galatians earlier in the book:

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” – Galatians 3:3

The tempting to think of God’s grace as only a clean slate
A fresh start
A new day

But it’s so much more than that
It has to be.

Because no matter how many “second chances” we get,
We cannot please God by simply trying harder.

As it’s been said: “Jesus didn’t come to make good people better. He came to make dead people alive.”

Let us not look at the fruit of the Spirit, even one as simple as “love” as something that we need to simply strive to do better in.

Let us remember that this love will be the outflow of God’s Spirit transforming our hearts and lives.

And, since this isn’t something we can simply try harder to do
Our next best step is simple:

We ask for God to help.

Simply ask that He would fill you with more love
Joy
Peace
Patience
Kindness
Goodness
Faithfulness
Gentleness
Self-control

Here’s some of my favorite verses to reflect on as you pray that God would fill you with His Spirit, that you would abide in His grace and that you would bear more fruit that comes from His Spirit.

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” -Romans 8:11–14

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” -Philippians 2:13

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I [Jesus] have spoken to you are spirit and life.” -John 6:63

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 6:23

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” -1 John 4:16

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love.” -Ephesians 3:14–17

Jesus Gave Us His Spirit

Jesus Gave Us His Spirit

Jesus Gave Us His Spirit

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” – Romans 8:11

This is one of the most incredible verses in the entire Bible.

It reminds me of the story in Ezekiel 37 where God takes the prophet and raises up an entire battlefield graveyard back to life – an incredible visual to such an overlooked verse.

The reality is that all of the Bible has been leading up this moment.

Humanity experienced God’s Spirit coming upon people in the Old Testament, but it had never become available as a widespread experience.

Until now.

When the promised Holy Spirit first entered into the disciples, Peter quotes Joel 2:28 saying:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”

And the disciples proceeded to teach that God’s Spirit has become available to anyone who repents and confesses Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

What This Means For Us

Unfortunately, I think most of us (myself included) live below God’s intended goal for the Christian life.

We limit Christianity to Sunday services, Bible reading, prayer, even doing good things for others.

But look at how Jesus described the Christian life:

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” – John 7:37-39

In other places, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will be guiding, teaching, empowering, comforting and transforming our hearts into His likeness.

But so often, we get caught up in the busyness of life and the standard ‘to-do list’ of “Christian living”.

So, let us refocus these to-do lists, because they aren’t bad in of themselves. Think of them like you would a standard date night with a significant other. Having the structure and realizing the importance of quality time is good, however, you could easily check of the list of to-dos for them and not really draw any closer to each other.

It’s the same with God.

  • Read your Bible… so that you may know Him more and hear Him more clearly…
  • Pray to Him… so that you may pour out your heart to Him and learn to trust Him more…
  • Serve others… so that you may be used by Him and get to participate with Him in what He is doing.

Do all of the good things we ought to do,
But do them with the intentionality of being in relationship with God.
Do them as an outflow of living water that He has created in you.

May you not simply live a life with Jesus crammed into as many spots as you can put Him…

But may you live a live guided, filled, empowered with the Holy Spirit in your heart.

Subscribe To The Blog

Add your info below to get every blog post sent to your email.

Congratulations! New blog posts will be sent to your email.

Pin It on Pinterest