Fruit of the Spirit: The End of the Beginning

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

Woah, hard to believe this series has already come and gone.  I have received such great responses from all of you and look forward to doing another series soon! If you have any ideas for another series or know of something you would like to see on “Coffee Breaks With Jesus” feel free to email me at: coffeebreakswithjesus@yahoo.com.  I love hearing from my followers and appreciate your input!

But before we move on I would like to take a few minutes and sum up everything we have talked about while studying the “Fruits of the Spirit”.

Our journey first led us to the fruit of Love.  We talked about how love is not about us, it is about others.  We choose love, it is not just a feeling that comes and goes. It is the conscious choice to love an imperfect person no matter what.  Love also stays in the present, it keeps no record of wrongs in the past.  It forgives and it moves forward.  We have the opportunity to show love to others because God first showed love to us.  God is love.  And we are to be more like God.

After love, we went on over to Joy.  First we detoxed, we talked about things that we could use less of in our life.  Things that can kill our joy, like comparison or discontentment.  No one’s life is perfect no matter how it may seem on instagram.  Next we need to stop and realize how much we already have. To choose thankfulness each and every day.  Our last point was only Jesus can bring you true joy.  He is the vine, we are the branches, remain close to the vine in order to grow and flourish in this life.

Peace, the world offers us comfort, but Jesus offers us peace.  Comfort is temporary, but peace is eternal.  Trusting God brings us peace because it removes the situation from our human hands and places them in the hands of an all-knowing God.  With this peace no matter what is going on in the world around us we can trust that we are going to be okay.  God is greater than the storms, and if He does not calm the storm He will calm His child.

Next we talked all about Patience.  I did you a huge favor and told you not to pray for patience, because God would only give you opportunities to choose patience!  Just kidding, but that is how God works sometimes.  First, we have to choose patience, especially when we really do not want to.  Secondly, we have to wait with a good attitude.  A negative attitude can make a small situation seem so much worse.  It also removes God and put us in charge, which is never a good idea.  Lastly, trust that good will comes to those who wait.  It may not be the answer you are looking for or happen when you want it to, but if you give it God you are guaranteed to come out of the waiting better that you went in.

Kindness, so easy yet so easily overlooked.  Kindness is free, it does not cost you anything to be nice to someone.  Consciously look for opportunities to show kindness.  Kindness takes practice, it will not always be the first response that comes to mind.  Treat others the way you would want them to treat you.  No one has shown kindness equivalent to what God has shown us.  Because of that we have a responsibility to show kindness to others so that they can come to know Him as well.

After kindness we talked about Goodness.   It is a commitment to do good and not evil.  Naturally we are sinful, not good, but if we spend a lot of time with God eventually His goodness will start to rub off on us.  Goodness also develops actions, the good in your heart begins to translate into good deeds.  It is inevitable because your love for God is so strong.  Do not give up doing good when you do not see immediate benefits.  Our rewards are in heaven and even if they go unnoticed on earth God sees each and every one of them!

Faithfulness is a loyalty to God, to His teaching and a life lived for Him.  Faithfulness comes with a lot of responsibility, but God will never give you more than you can handle.  Thanks to Jesus we have grace, our faith does not come by works but rather works are a product of our faith.  Every day we have to choose faithfulness, are we going to do what our flesh wants to what God wants?

Next we dove into Gentleness.   We talked about the importance of words and how they can damage or repair.  We are never to confuse gentleness with weakness.  We have a mighty power in us from God.  We are called to be bold, powerful and yet still gentle.  Gentleness is merely strength under control.  Like all the other fruits gentleness without action is pointless.  We are called to point others to Christ through our actions.

Last but not least we had Self-Control.  We talked about how even too much of a good thing can still be a bad thing and the importance of moderation.  Secondly, the importance our thoughts have on our actions.  Our thoughts become actions, so take captive your thoughts and filter them through God’s Word.  And lastly, the more of God I put in the less of me comes out.  I can try all day to have self-control but without Him I will always fall short.

I hope you enjoyed following this series as much as I enjoyed studying it.  I learned a lot and I am seeking God to develop more of these fruits in my life.  I find such joy in sharing my spiritual journey with each and every one of you.  God has given me a desire to write and as long as I am able I will continue to do so.  This is only the beginning!  Thank-you ♡

Lots of Love,

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Fruit Of The Spirit: Self-Control.

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

Ah, last but certainly not least we have reached the last fruit in Galatians, self-control.  Like patience, self-control is not a favorite of mine.  Because self control can be tough sometimes, especially when I want to eat a cupcake, but need to go to gym instead.  Saying “no” to self is not a very easy thing to do, saying “no” to others however I have no problem doing that.  Anyone else?  But self control is about us, not others.  So today we are going to examine ourselves and hopefully learn a little something about saying developing and practicing self-control.

Moderation Is Key

Self-control is not merely saying “no” all the time, it is also about moderation.  Whether it is food, internet, social media, etc. we could all use a little moderation in our life.  The best way I have found to use moderation in my own life is to not necessarily just remove something, but rather replace it with a better choice.  This works best when done gradually and not all at once.  Diets have a tendency to fail when you cut out every enjoyable piece of food all at once.  But gradually changing your eating habits would lead to greater results.  The same goes with other things in our life that we could use less of.  Self control must be practiced daily, and moderation is a great way to start.  I am not talking about sin here, but rather bad habits.  Moderation does not apply to sin, because no amount of sin is beneficial to your walk with Christ or living life to it’s fullest  But if you have a bad habit you would like to kick then begin to gradually replace and remove it.  Limit your time online,  add healthy food to your diet,  read a chapter in a book for every tv show you watch, just find a way to enjoy the things you like but in a healthy way.  Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing.

“Do you like honey?
    Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!” Proverbs 25:16

Captive Thoughts

Thoughts tend to be ignored because no one else knows what we are thinking.  But God knows our thoughts and He tells us to take them captive, to tell ourselves what to think, and to filter our thoughts through the Word of God.  This is very important because every action begins with a thought, good or bad.  Thoughts decide just about everything for us, and if we having bad thoughts eventually we will have bad actions.  It is inevitable.   You have to be conscious of what you are thinking and ask yourself these questions:  Is it good?  Is it pure?  Is it kind?  It is productive?  Does it contradict the Bible or God’s best for me?  If the answer to any of those is “no”, you need to remove that thought and think on something that does meet those requirements.  Do not let negative thoughts produce negative actions in your life.  Only you can choose what you think and what you put in your mind, practicing self-control on our thoughts equals practicing self control on our actions as well.  There is a quote I like, “We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.”  Thoughts are so important, choose wisely friends.

“We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Less of Me More of You

No one can help you more with self-control than God.  The more of Him you put in, the less of you comes out.  While we can do a lot to practice self-control, the best results come from just growing closer to God.  Spending time with God, and continuously choosing Him first strengthens your relationship with Him.  He gives us good desires, those produce good thoughts and those thoughts produce good actions.  God is the root of all of the fruits of the Spirit, He is the foundation.  I will continue to fail without God, I can use moderation, I am can try to think good thoughts and I can get advice from others, but without God this is pointless.  I need Him, you need Him, everyone needs Him. This relationships develops from prayer, reading the Bible, loving and serving others.  These things bring us closer to God and develop godly character in our lives.  We can do so much more for His kingdom when we seek first the kingdom.  The more like Him we are, the more others will want to be like Him too!

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”  John 3:30

“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. proverbs 16:32

Lots of Love,

Fruit Of The Spirit: Gentleness

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

Gentleness can also be translated as “meekness” but never to be confused with weakness.  Gentleness tends to be one of the fruits of the Spirit that I forget about.  Like I know it is there, but I just kind of read over it, anyone else?  But gentleness is just as important as the rest of the fruits. Gentleness is not about being weak or a victim, which is usually how people see it.  Gentleness is about putting others first, being thankful to God, and being kind/ polite to others.  It is love and kindness in action.  Once again the fruits are building upon each other, one leading to another.  Today we are going to talk about what Gentleness is and practical ways to practice it in our lives.

Gentle Words

Words…words are a BIG deal.  Our words help or hurt, no matter what we say no word goes from our mouth unnoticed. Our words can damage and destroy or they can uplift and heal.  We get to choose.  The Bible puts a lot of emphasis on our words and the effect that they have.  Think before you speak, you have probably heard that before most likely when you were a child.  Children are notorious for speaking their minds, no matter how it sounds.  But as adults we have to be more careful with our speech.  Is it kind?  Is it helpful?  Is it necessary?  How could this make this person feel?  There are lots of questions we should ask before we say something to or about someone.  Even among close friends we should be careful what we say about others.  Sometimes when we are comfortable around people we let our words slip a bit.  But gossiping with close friends or family is still gossip. If you would not say it to that person, you probably should not say it about that person.  Because regardless of whether that person heard you, God still heard you.  Not only should we stop and think about what we say, but we should examine how we say things.  Our tone or facial expressions tend to show our feelings even more that our words do.  If you feel your self getting angry or irritated, step away from the situation take a deep breathe, say a prayer and come back.  Gentleness is about showing love in all aspects including our speech, so think before you speak, if it meets the criteria then say it if not then don’t.

“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”  Proverbs 15:1

Gentle Giants 

Gentleness does not equal weakness.  People have this idea of Christians where we are all beat down and weak, where we are not allowed to stand up for ourselves because it is not “Christian” to do so.  But that is not the case, greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4)! Gentleness is merely strength under control.  We have power, a mighty power from God Himself.  In fact even in OUR weakness, HE is at His strongest.  We have nothing to fear.  We already have the victory, we are not fighting for victory we are fighting from victory.  I have read the last chapter I know how it ends.  So do not ever feel like being gentle means you are weak or should back down because it is the opposite of that.  Gentleness is being kind and loving, AND also being powerful.  It is literally the best of both worlds.  Do not walk around defeated in the name of Christ, that is not at all what He intended for us. Walk in power, love, kindness and gentleness.

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.  But do this in a gentle and respectful way.  Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.  Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!” 1 Peter 3:15-17

Gentleness In Action

Gentleness allows us to be kind and loving to others.  It stays calm when emotions run high,  and to does the right thing when we do not feel like it.  People need to know that we care.  Hurting people are all around us and they desperately need someone to speak life into them and to treat them with gentleness.  Look for opportunities to help others, to offer a kind word, to do an act of kindness.  We need to set aside our pride and be the person that others need us to be, the person God wants us to be.  God is gentle with us, breathing life into us, choosing us even when we fall flat on our faces.  We have to be that for others.  We have to lift them up when they fall down, brush them off and leave them better that when we first met them.  Do not lose an opportunity to be a light to someone.  Correct with Kindness, not condemnation.  Realize that the person’s salvation is more important than our pride.  Accept that God is in charge and we have a mission to spread His love to others.  That is what gentleness is all about, pointing others to the love of God.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”  Phillippians 4:5

 

Fruit Of The Spirit: Faithfulness

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

We have reached the seventh fruit of the Spirit, Faithfulness.  Faithfulness is a loyalty to God, to His teaching and to a life lived for Him. The Bible talks a lot about God’s faithfulness to us.  He sets a perfect example of being faithful by never giving up on us.  In return we should remain faithful to Him.  But how can we remain faithful to God?  All too often being faithful to God for the wrong reasons can turn to religion, obligation or our “Christian duty”.  God does not want your faithfulness based on obligation, just like you do not want someone to nice things to you because they have to, or they are scared of you or because they have nothing “better” to do with their time.  Religion can quickly come in and make our faithfulness to God nothing but rules and obligations.  But is that really faithfulness at all?  Are we acting like servants or sons and daughters?  Today I want to look at some others ways and reasons to be faithful.

Faithfulness Comes With Great Responsibility

Uncle Ben from Spiderman said, “With great power comes great responsibility”.  The same goes with our relationship with God.  The closer we get to Him and the stronger our faith gets the more responsibility He gives us.  The less faithful we are, the less responsibility we have.  This being the case He will not give you more than you can handle.  We simply have to remain faithful and trust that God knows best and has the best for us no matter how our situation looks right now.  God has an amazing purpose for each and every one of us, but if we are still holding back we may never reach that purpose.  We have to take action and responsibility in order to grow.  Faithfulness comes from a strong desire to do right and the action to make it happen.  A desire is nothing without action. When we seek God and seek to grow in our faith we begin to see our human desires change.  Our desires change and become more like the desires God has for us.  Our desires become His desires.  Human relationships require a lot of responsibility, love and trust, without those things our relationships suffer.  When you love someone your desires are for them and for them only.  This is the responsibility we take on when we are in a committed relationship with someone, but when we love them this feels less like our responsibility and more like our natural desire.  It no longer feels like a responsibility because your desires have changed. The same goes with God the more committed and in love with Him we are the easier it is to remain faithful.  Not because it is our responsibility but because nothing else even comes close to what we have with Him.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”  Luke 16:10

Faith With Works Not By Works

Religion has taught us that we must “do”, Jesus says “I have done.”.  When Jesus died on the cross He did away with the laws and regulations of the Old Testament.  His grace took the place of those laws, of animal sacrifices and of faith by works.  No amount of works will make God love you any more than He already does and no lack of works will make Him love you any less.  Because of grace we have faith with works, not faith by works.  While works are not required under grace,  a relationship with God can bring about the desire to do good works.  Like I mentioned about, the closer we get to God the more our desires change, and those desires produce actions.  Not because we need to earn God’s love, but because we already have it and desire to express it to the world around us.  Our good deeds are an expression of the love we have for God and others.  Faith produces actions.

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  James 2:17

Choosing Faithfulness Daily

Faithfulness is a daily choice.  Every day we have choices to make, we can do what is wrong or what is right.  Are we going to do what we want or what God wants is a daily struggle?  How can we make the right choice to remain faithful to God when the wrong choices look so tempting?  In order to make good choices we have to stay in communication with God through pray.  Stay prayed up, you start to feel tempted, pray!  You start to have doubts, pray.  Your emotions try to get the best of you, pray.  When you do not know what to do, stop and pray!  He will hear your prayers and He will speak to you too, you just have to listen.  Which means taking the time to be still, to listen.  How can you hear God when you are doing all the talking?  Pray, but also listen.  Also you can stay in His Word, read it, study it and apply it.  That is another way that God has already spoken to us, we just have to read it.  Remaining faithful requires remaining close to God.  He will change you inside out if you will let Him.  Put your faith to action by growing closer to God, it will change your life!

Lots of Love,

Fruit Of The Spirit: Goodness

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

  We use the word “good” a lot to describe something that meets a particular standard for us.  It was a good movie, the food was good, I had a good time…etc.  My good may not be the same as your good because we all have different standards for everything.  So how can we all have goodness, if the word good means something different to each of us? The Greek word translated “goodness,” agathosune, is defined as “uprightness of heart and life.”  Goodness is a way of life. But who sets that Standard?There is no better standard for goodness than the one God gives us in the Bible.   Goodness is a commitment to do good not evil.  God does no evil therefore He is good and He wants us to be more like Him.  Being good helps us to be kind, patient and forgiving to others.   How can we develop goodness in our lives?

Goodness Comes From God

We are not naturally good, naturally we are full of sin.  By ourselves we can never be good, that’s why God sent Jesus to die for us.  Jesus dying for our sins, cleared our records and put us in right standing with God.  Before Jesus people had only the law which was impossible to obey 100%.  Grace did away with the law allowing nothing to stand between us and God.  This relationship with Him is the first step to developing not just goodness, but all of the fruits of the spirit.  And to be more like God we have to spend more time with Him.  Ever had a friend or family member that you spent a lot of time with and suddenly you found your self doing and saying the same things as them?  They were rubbing off on you.  The same happens when we spend a lot of time with God, you will begin to develop goodness from growing closer to God.  Your heart changes, your thoughts change, eventually you change!  You can not have good without God because just like James 1:17 says, whatever is good comes from God.

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.  He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” James 1:17

Goodness = Action

Goodness requires practice, practice comes through action.  We can not develop goodness by simply not doing evil.  We have to replace it with good.  This again I believe comes from knowing God better.  When we love someone we want to do good things for them the same comes from our relationship with God.  Good works are not a requirement for love or salvation but rather something we do because we love God and want to share that love with others.  Nothing can make God love you any more of less but your good works do not go unnoticed.  God will greatly bless those who serve Him by serving others.  This includes doing good to everyone, if we only do good to those are who good to us we are merely returning a favor.  Doing good and not getting anything in return or doing good to someone who is not kind can be much more challenging.  But God sees your efforts and those efforts develop goodness in your life.

“Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.” 3 John 1:11

Do Not Grow Weary

Being a Christian is not always easy.  Sometimes is feels like the whole world is against you, we are often mocked by the people around us, the media, etc.  People complicate the gospel in the church, we feel condemned or unworthy, time and time again the gospel is twisted and distorted by man.  It is easy to feel down, to feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel and for some people it sometimes feels easier to just walk away.  But I want to encourage you dear friends not to give up, God has not forgotten us.  Life may never get easier here on this earth, we might never see the results of our good work.  But do not give up, our reward is heaven.  Continue to do good, you are making a difference even it feels like you are not.  Goodness is planted with God, grown with action and ripens by determination!  You have got this, you are not alone, and in due time you will see the results of doing good, if not here then with our Father in heaven.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith”  Galatians 6:9-10

Lots of Love,

Fruit Of The Spirit: Kindness

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

Kindness, the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.  Kindness is more of an external fruit compared to the other fruits we have studied in the last two weeks.  Kindness shows through your actions, but you need internal fruits to prompt those actions.  As I study the fruits of the Spirit for this series, I see again and again how connected they all are.  I feel like kindness goes hand in hand with love and patience which we have covered in the last two weeks.  Can we truly be kind without showing love and being patient?  I do not think we can because having love proves itself through being kind and patient with others.  Without love kindness is next to impossible.  We can not  be friendly, generous and considerate without love in our hearts.  So what is kindness?  Today we are going to seek to find a better understanding of what kindness is and how to live it out!

1. Kindness is Free.

Kindness is free, it literally costs you nothing to smile or say something nice to someone.  Why is it so hard?  In today’s world we see less kindness and more “every man and woman for themselves”.  I sometimes wonder how many opportunities I miss to be kind, while checking my phone, while worrying about the next task or being in a hurry.  What if we slowed down and just looked for opportunities to show kindness?  How much would the world around us transform?  How many people would come to know Jesus?  Our mission as Christians is to look for opportunities to be more like Jesus.  Find a need and fill it. People have needs everywhere, people are hurting everywhere, a kind word, a thoughtful action, just something to show you care can have a huge impact! Serving others feels awesome because you are serving your purpose as a Christian.  Kindness is love lived out loud and it changes everything!

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

2. Kindness Takes Effort.

While Kindness is free it is not the natural thing to do.  Our natural response in life is very rarely a kind one.  We can get stressed, frustrated, angry, impatient, and just plain rude sometimes.  And all too often the people we who receive the backlash of those emotions are people who had nothing to do with the root of the issue to begin with.  They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time during our angry tirade.  I think sometimes we forget that other people have emotions too, that other people have feelings.  The cashier you did not speak to has feelings, the waiter who was not fast enough for you has feelings, your friends and family have feelings, be careful how you treat them.  But not even just how you treat others, kindness is also your response to those who are not kind to you.  This is hard one for me,  I sometimes get stuck in this “you get what you give” mentality.  If someone lashes out at me, give me 2.5 seconds and I am right back at them.  But that’s not kindness!  Kindness is treating someone the way you want to be treated not the way they treated you.  Some people are just mean, I do not know why but they just are.  They do not have to make you mean.  And while there are people who are mean and enjoy mistreating people, most of the people we encounter are just having a bad day.  We tend to allow ourselves a multitude of “bad days” but no one else is allowed to have them.  There is always a bigger picture, hurting people hurt people, so show a little grace and a lot of kindness.  Kindness does not give up when the going gets tough.  Kindness stays anyway.  Who knows you may be exactly what they person needs or say exactly what they need to hear.  Stay alert and put in some effort, you never know the difference you can make.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”  Philippians 2:3-4

3. God Shows Us Kindness.

What better example of kindness is there than God Himself?  A perfect omnipresent, omnipotent God, and yet He cares about my needs.  He does not need me, yet He wants me.  He loves us more than anyone else ever could.  Time and time again we fail, we let Him down yet He loves us the same.  He showed kindness not because we earned it, but because He is kind.  His kindness turns us from our sin and into a relationship with Him.  We in turn should seek to point others to Christ through our kindness.  A nice word, a smile, an act of kindness, just do something.  Big or small, no kindness goes unnoticed.  You may never get acknowledgement or a thank-you for your kindness, but God sees it.  Your kindness does not have to public to have an impact.  Our reward is not here on earth, but in Heaven.

“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,  he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:4-5

 “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”  Romans 2:4

This fruit of the Spirit post comes with a challenge, for the next week seek do one kind thing everyday, (or more if you have the opportunity.  The more the merrier.)  Look for opportunities, and fill the needs.  Our lives get crazy sometimes, but we are never to busy to be kind!  The more opportunities you choose kindness, the easier choosing kindness will be.  Because kindness is always a win-win!

Lots of Love,

Fruit of The Spirit: Patience

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

Oh patience, whatever you do refrain from praying for patience!!  God has this funny little way of working where He will not just give you patience but rather a lifetime of instances to be patient.  I love the quote that compares us to microwaves and God to a crock pot.  Our timing and outlook are very rarely the same as God’s.  If patience is not your strong suit ( and it sure is not mine! ) then be prepared to learn. Whether you are in the 15 items or less line at the grocery store stuck behind a lady feeding a small army,  waiting on something you are starting to think will never happen, or stuck in traffic and late for work patience will hunt you down.  Just writing this blog was a test of my patience,  I had written 3/4 of it when the browser decided to shut down and not save any of it.  Talk about frustrating! In the battle between you and patience who is going to win?  You or patience?

First off what is patience?  According to the dictionary Patience is : the ability to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people : done in a careful way over a long period of time without hurrying.  Funny thing about those definitions is they both mention the words “long time”.  Patience involves a waiting period, but not a definite waiting period.  I think that is what is so frustrating to me is the “when?” and “how long?”.  I need a plan and answers like I need oxygen, it’s how I am wired.  But unfortunately that wiring does not leave much room for patience and trust.  So let’s call the electrician, and dive into our manual, the Bible, today.  What are you waiting on today?  We are all waiting for something, but are we choosing to wait correctly.

1. Choose Patience.

I think first we must realize that patience is indeed a choice.  Which is why God does not give you patience but rather the choice to be patient in your surrounding circumstances.  I believe that patience has to be chosen, then planted, then nurtured and grown.  It will not happen over night,  I think the reason God uses fruit as an analogy is because fruit do not happen over night either.  He could have used the “Popcorn of the Spirit”, three minutes and we are done.  But He did not, He chose fruit because fruit takes time and care.  But in the end they are sweet!

“But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.” Romans 8:25

Romans 8:25 says we “must” wait patiently, if we can not see the results of our waiting then we must wait patiently.  It is not a suggestion, but rather the only option.  We can not always change our circumstance but we can change our response to the circumstance.  Besides waiting patiently we must also wait confidently, knowing that our waiting is not in vain.  This leads us to our second point…

2. Wait With A Good Attitude.

Patience with a bad attitude is not patience at all.  Being forced to wait and waiting is not patience, but rather choosing a good attitude while waiting.  Often times when things do not go our way we tend to complain, get irritated, and say things we do not mean.  This is definitely something that I need to work on, because it is so easy for me to complain about situations that I can not change at the moment.  This is no way helps my situation or plants patience, but rather stirs up negative emotions (usually anger in my case)  and allows them to take control of my mind.  These negative emotions can also blow your situation our of proportion into something much bigger than it actually is.  Our lack of patience turns into a wrong perspective.  This perspective usually removes God from the equation.  The Bible talks about having a good attitude in the following verses.

“Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool.”  Ecclesiastes 7:9

“A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them.” Proverbs 15:18

Anger never solves a problem, but very often creates one.  Remaining calm is the best way to practice patience.  Like me you may have to spend a lot of time praying in order to do this.  But God hears your prayers, and when we surrender to Him He can help us overcome.  I am not saying it is easy, because it is not but long term leaning into God and asking for His help is much easier than doing it on your own.  It is all about growth, patience is a process.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Romans 5:3-4

3. Trust That Good Comes From Waiting.

Ok so we have chosen patience, we are asking God to give us a good attitude, now what?  Well we wait…for however long.  Because our waiting is not in vain, God has a plan for you no matter how it appears right now.  He hears your prayers, and he is working on behalf.  All too often people think that God’s silence is a no, or that He is ignoring them.  This is not the case friends, He hears you, He loves you and He has an answer for you.  It may not always be the answer you had in mind, you may not understand it, you may not even recognize it when it happens.  But He will never let you down and His plan is always the best plan no doubt about it.  So trust that God has a plan and that He is working it out for good, because you love Him and He loves you.

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1

“So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”  James 1:4

“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”  Hebrews 10:36

Stay Patient My Friends,

 

Fruit Of The Spirit: Peace

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

Peace :  a state of tranquility or quiet

Peace, seems to be almost non existent in today’s world.  Noise is everywhere, stress is everywhere, and the news reminds us all day of the lack of peace in our world today.  Is peace even possible in 2015?  I believe that it is, I believe that peace is possible in this crazy upside down world. Why?  Because Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27.  If  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever ( Hebrews 13:8) then we still have the peace He gave us.  We have no reason to doubt that!  Peace does not mean that everything around us is going to be great or that life is not going to be stressful, or that terrible things are not going to happen all over the world, but it means that we can be at peace in the midst of it.  He may not calm your storm right now, but He can calm you.
“When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39
The world offers us comfort through our finances and our possessions.  But those things do not last forever nor do they bring peace.  Often times our possessions wreck more havoc in our life than peace. Computers freeze, cars break down, houses require constant maintenance, etc.  Our promised comfort is interrupted by responsibility and unseen circumstances.  This can cause us to shut down and  get overwhelmed with our responsibility.  But Jesus came that we may have peace in the midst of the storm.  This peace does not mean a life of comfort, even Jesus the Prince of Peace did not have a place to call home.  The Christian life will not always be a comfortable one, but it can be a peaceful one.  It all lies in how much we trust Jesus, and what we value as important.  We can choose to worry or we can trust Jesus.  We can choose temporary comfort, or we can choose the perfect peace that Jesus offers us.  It is a choice we have to make.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”     Isaiah 16:3
But how are we going to choose peace?  This is a lesson I am still learning, and it is not an easy one for a perfectionist who needs a constant plan.  It is one of the hardest things for me to do as a Christian, but it is something I have to learn in order to grow my faith.  I have to make a conscious choice about whether I am going to trust God or do it on my own.  This is a decision that needs to be made every morning, every morning I have to ask God to help through the day. Through the struggles I have not even faced yet, and through the ones I set aside yesterday.  I think that is the first step, just admitting that you can not do it on your own, admitting that you need Jesus just to get you through the next 24 hours.  He hears you, and He will help you.  No prayer goes unheard and no need goes unmet.  We may not always see what He is dong behind the scenes but He is working and He is working on our behalf.  Worrying will get you no where, you have to step out the boat into the unknown and walk towards Jesus.
Peace is not natural, our natural reaction is to worry.  I think the second choice we have to make is to decide what is really important.  So many of the things we worry about are not even that important!  we get caught up in silly arguments, worried about how we look, worry about how people think of us, etc…none of these are even important.  If we are seeking God, and loving others then really nothing else matters.  Even if the entire world is falling apart around us we can choose to be at peace, by simply handing it to Jesus and not worrying about the things that do not even matter.  He has the victory, and because of Him we have the victory as well. I love this quote, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of God no matter what the conflict”.  You might have a storm, but God is greater than that storm.  He may calm the storm, or He may calm you.  And when He does all you will remember about that storm is what a great God you serve!
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation ; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Peace is Possible,

Fruit of The Spirit: Joy

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

Hey friends, this week we are taking a look at the Fruit of the Spirit Joy.  What do you think of when you think of joy?  I think of laughing with the people I care about, smiles, warm fuzzy feelings, the moment when I see my waiter coming with my food, etc.  These things make me happy!  Joy is often confused with happiness, while they are similar they are not the same.  Happiness is a feeling, it comes and goes depending on your circumstance or the day you are having, it is for the most part external.  You can usually see when someone is happy, but may not always see when someone is full of joy.  Joy is not as easy to distinguish because it is often internal.  While happiness is a feeling, joy is a state of mind.  It is not dependent on what’s going on around you, but rather a conscious choice to be joyful.

My circumstances do not determine my joy, but my attitude to my circumstances can determine my joy.  We all have a lot going on, usually too much.  We have jobs, school, family, friends, relationships, pets, deadlines, and various other activities begging for our attention.  It is very easy to get down and out about life when we feel like we do not have time for everything we need to do.  We get stressed, and stress is an instant joy zapper.  When our circumstances begin to take away our joy, it may be time for a detox.  I am not saying to quit your job, leave your family or throw out the dog, but rather to take a step back and evaluate what is important in your life.  Here are few steps and scriptures to help put back joy in your life.

1. Detox

I am not talking about a juice fast here, but rather removing things that are no good for you and replacing them with something that is good for you.  We all have things that we would be better off without or at least better off with less of it.  For example, social media is a great thing to detox.  If you are feeling down because the people you follow on the internet are having more fun than you it is probably time to log out and have some fun of your own.  I have said this before and will continue to say it every time I get the chance…do not let your joy be dependent on the highlights of someone else’s life.  Because that is all they are, the highlights, those people have bad days too, they have days that are not very fun and exciting, and they compare themselves to people that they think are better off than them too.  But no one’s life is perfect, so quit allowing that to steal your joy.  If you are in a season of singleness and it is affecting your joy then stop reading romance novels, watching chick flicks, etc.  These things will not change your situation, they will only leave you feeling miserable and bad about yourself.  Your joy will not come in the form of any other human, no matter how perfect you imagine it to be.  Our joy comes from Christ, and being at peace with who God has created us and where He has put us for this time.  Perhaps God has something He wants to show or teach us in our current season, but we are too concerned with the next stage of life to notice.  We can not move from one chapter to the next until the chapter we are in now is complete. God will not waste our time!  We can not all be in the same season together, it would be far too crowded.  We each have a different story, but it is our story and that is what makes it special.  God is doing something in you, whether you see it now or not.  Do not let your circumstances (or someone else’s circumstances) determine your joy.  Detox from things bringing you down and find peace in knowing that some things may make you happy for a little while but only Jesus can bring you true joy.  The Bible says that a cheerful heart is like good medicine, so your prescription is to detox and seek joy.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22

2.  Be Thankful

How often is our joy robbed from us just by not realizing what we already have?  We are so blessed, just by waking up today we are blessed…not everyone got to do that today.  We have people in our life that love us, we have clothes on our back and probably a closet full of them at home.  We have access to clean water, and the money to have it bottled up and packaged for us.  We have kitchens full of food, and can go through a drive thru to buy more without having to even get out of our cars.  Compared to the greater part of the world we have way more than we actually need!  We often forget this, and become wrapped up in what we do not have.  This can lead to a lack of contentment, greed, selfishness, or the like.  All of which are enemies of joy.  In our search for joy finding contentment is key.  If we are always looking for more, we forget to enjoy what God has already given us.  Jesus said, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life”, John 10:10.  He does not want you being miserable He wants you to live a life full of joy!  So do not sit around wishing your life was different, wishing you had more of this or less of that, but rather be thankful.  Because you have been blessed and the only thing keeping you from a rich and satisfying life is the inability to see that you already have one.  So thank God for what He has done every single day.  And when you forget make a list to remind yourself, because as you begin to see all that you do have suddenly what you do not have seems so trivial.  Joy comes with thankfulness, so choose to be thankful.

“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” Psalm 95:2

3. Jesus = Joy

You can not have real joy without Jesus.  You may find temporary happiness but there will still be a void that only Jesus can fill.  True Joy comes from knowing and serving Jesus with all your heart.  That is where your fulfillment lies.  My life can be falling apart but if I am close to Jesus I can still have joy.  We will all hard times and bad days, but Psalm 30:5 says that joy comes in the morning. That means that even in our hard times and bad days we are promised joy!  Joy through Jesus requires dependency on Him.  The Bible says in John 15:5 : “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  The Bible once again mentions fruit, but this time it refers to Jesus as our vine.  The thing about a vines and branches is that branches receives everything it needs from the vine.  The vine sustains them.  The branch can bear fruit and grow as it please as long as it is connected to the vine.  This symbolizes our relationship with God, our joy comes from Him, He does not require our good works and deeds, He just wants us to remain close to Him.  And when we remain in Him, we bear good fruit automatically.  Staying in the presence of God produces not just joy but all of the fruits of the Spirit in our life.  But we have to submit to the vine, because apart from the vine the branch is of no use at all.  So cling to this my friends, God has a lifetime of joy for you just remain in Him.  Trust Him!

“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” John 15:11

So leave today comforted that you have a God that loves you, a God who offers you Joy and a rich, satisfying life!  Remove the things in your life that are holding you back, remember to thankful Him for all that He has done and stay close to Jesus.  Choose joy, my friends, it is there for the taking!

“This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Abide In the Vine Friends,

Fruit of The Spirit: Love

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

 Love, we sing about it, write about it, read about it, and watch movies about it, but what is it?  In English we only have one word for love, compared to the multitude of words that several other languages have.  While the love I have for cheese is not the same love I have for God, I am limited to using the same word in the English language.  I think that because of the limitations in our language and the effects of the media our view of love has been skewed.  The Bible however uses a lot of words to describe love in 1 Corinthians 13.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Today I want to talk about what love really is and what it is not.  I believe that to truly understand love we have to re-program everything the world has told us about love. First we are going to look at things that love is not.

1. Love is not about me.

Woah, major shift from what we hear in the world today!  “Things were not going my way”, “I was not happy with (insert male or female here) anymore”, “Why can’t I find someone to date/marry?”, etc.  As long as we believe that love is all about us and about making us feel good then we can never truly experience love.  Every relationship we encounter will leave us disappointed.  Love is a gift, and gifts are meant to be given.  I spent over 95% of my life single (not even kidding), and only when I realized that I was looking in all the wrong places and for all the wrong reasons did my heart begin to change.  I was more concerned about looking for a person to meet my needs than becoming the type of person to meet someone else’s needs.  I assumed that finding the right person would automatically make me the right person.  My reasons for wanting a relationship were selfish, unintentionally selfish, but selfish none the less.  But when I took a step back and began to seek God about becoming the right person rather than finding the right person a change happened in my heart.  My view on love drastically changed.  Everyone wants a good Christian boyfriend/girlfriend, but the truth of the matter is are you what those types of people are looking for?  People will never be perfect, and they will never be able to meet all of our needs that is why we need Jesus.  Only when we begin to change our view of love can we find true love, because just like 1 Corinthians 13 says “love does not demand its own way”.  Until we realize that it is not about us can we really open our hearts to love imperfect people.

‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

2. Love is not a feeling.

People date and break up, marry and divorce all because they “fell out of love”.  But I am convinced that love is not a feeling, but rather a conscience choice.  People do not fall out of love, they merely choose to quit loving that person.  They may focus that love on something or someone else, but the love is still there it is just not considered an option anymore. Love was never created to be conditional, or to have a time limit.  I do not believe that was ever God’s intention, but rather another distortion of His perfect plan for us.  God has given us a perfect model of love, through His son Jesus.  I am so thankful that when I fall flat on my face, God does not give up on me.  We are imperfect people trying to love imperfect people, things will not always be easy but when we choose love all the other options fall short.

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

3. Love does not live in the past.

I have a pretty good memory, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.  If you ever say anything hurtful to me chances are I will remember it…and also the way you wore your hair that day and clothes you were wearing.  I have a pretty detailed memory, and I have a hard time forgetting when I have been wronged, so this third point is not always an easy one.  Things happen to us daily, good things and often bad things too.  But when we walk in love we have to choose to not let that stand between us and the person that wronged us.  We have to choose which is more important, that relationship or the issue. Holding the past against someone does not only affect our relationship with that person but also our relationship with God.

“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Mark 11:25

You are going to get hurt, this a fact of life and there is no avoiding it.  But you do not have to allow that hurt to overcome you.  Trust me it will do you no good in the long run, I have been there and it will only keep you from God’s best for you.

“…it keeps no record of being wronged.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

Now that we have covered some things that love is not, I would like to talk about what love actually is.

1. Love is for everyone.

Love finds the good in people, and love brings out the good in people.  Have you ever been around someone who could just light up a room, someone who was just so kind to everyone?  I have known a couple of people like that!  They were different and in the very best way.  It is so hard to come by people that genuinely love and radiate kindness.  What if more people chose to love just for the sake of being kind, wanting absolutely nothing in return?  What a beautiful world we would live in if that were the case.  The Bible says to treat others the way that we would like to be treated, but how often do we actually do this?  How often do we treat others the exact opposite of how we would like to be treated?  No one ever came closer to Jesus by Christians treating them with unkindness.  You do not have to agree with someone’s life decisions to love them, love does not have to equal approval.  God does not approve of everything we do, but He loves us anyway!  His love draws us closer to Him not further away.  Your love can do that too, choose to love people so much that you point them to Jesus!

“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” Luke 6:31

2. Love is loud.

Your love should be obnoxious!  When people are in a relationship it shows up everywhere!  Suddenly social media is blown up with the happy couple because they are just so happy to be together and they want to share that love with that world. The same should go for our love for God.  No one should have any doubt about the love God has put in your heart. Tell everyone the great love He has given you, no one should have to ask what makes you different.  Post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.  God’s love has changed your life and everyone needs to know about it.  Do not go around looking miserable, smile, laugh…radiate the love you have experienced through Christ.  Being a Christian is not a chore, it is a lifestyle of love.  Treat everyone around you with love, ask the cashier how their day is going, leave your waiter a little extra tip, see an opportunity to love and seize it.  It is the little things that can make the biggest difference.  Love out loud my friends!

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”  Ephesians 5:2

3. Love is Jesus.

Last but certainly not least is “Love is Jesus”.  He is the epitome of love.  He came from the best seat in the house, the right hand seat of God, to this earth for the sole purpose of dying for each and every one of us.  What a great example of love!!  No one was, is , or ever will be exempt from this great love.  Christ had never sinned yet took on every sin that was and ever will be committed, because He loves you.  He loved you before you were ever even born. And if you learned absolutely nothing else from the post I hope you learned that!  If you do not know that love I pray that you would seek it, I pray that you would accept Jesus as your loving Savior.  He is only a prayer away, you are only a prayer away from a lifetime of love. (If you would like to pray that prayer today but do not know what to say please go the “Free Gift” tab at the top of the home page for more information.)

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”  Romans 5:8

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

This is the first fruit of the Spirit, and the greatest commandment of them all:  Love God, Love People.  You can not successfully do one without the other.  I am so very excited about this journey through Galatians 5:22-23, tune in for our next post soon!

Love out loud my Friends,