Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit - Love

The Bible tells us there are 9 characteristics of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal. 5:22.  The first fruit of the Spirit is love.  Actually all the other 9 can be summed up in love.  It seems to be the most important. 

What is love?  Love is being unselfish, having brotherly concern for another, and denying self.  It is being loyal.  It is holding others in high esteem.  It is building them up not tearing them down.  It is being a friend.  It’s wanting the best for someone.  God wants us to learn how to love Him, love ourselves, love one another, and even love our enemies.

We as humans have a problem when it comes to loving one another.  That’s why we need the Holy Spirit to flow through us and enter into our personalities then we can really and truly live up to God’s command to love others.

Jesus promised that when He left this earth He would send the Counselor, the Holy Spirit.  He could not physically stay so He sent His replacement. (John 16:7).  His Spirit would continue to do His work.  “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.”John 16:8.  The Spirit is here to guide and direct us so we will do what is right in God’s eyes.  He will show us how to love.  We are to live by the Spirit so as to not gratify our desires of the sinful nature. (Gal. 5:16). 

Is the Holy Spirit present in your life?  We cannot see or touch the Holy Spirit.  If He is present, He will be in our minds.  Call it your conscience if you want.  God wants us to live by the fruit of the Spirit and not live in our sinful nature.  Living in a sinful nature is: sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, hatred, selfishness, envy, drunkenness, etc. (Gal. 5:19-20).  If we all loved, there would be no desire to do evil.  1 Cor. 13 sums up what it means to love.  In fact it’s called the “love chapter”.  Love is the greatest gift God can give.

Love is patient,
Love is kind and not jealous;
Love does not brag and is not arrogant,
Love does not act unbecomingly;
Love does not seek its own
Love is not provoked,
Love does not take into account a wrong suffered,
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails… - (1 Cor. 13)

There are two types of love:  the feeling love and the willing love. 

The feeling of love is when you are in love your spouse.  It is when you really, really like something.  We use the word love very loosely.  We say ‘I love chocolate’.  It is to love our own desires and not think of others.

The willing love means we join our will to God’s will.  It means that we consent to God’s commands and want things only if God wills it.  God is entitled to our love.  He gave Himself for us while we were terrible sinners and undeserving.  He laid down His life for us.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”John 3:16.  We are to love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19).

We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Mark 13:31).  Do you find it hard to love that awful person at work or that mean neighbor next door?  He is lazy.  He is rude.  He is very rich and doesn’t deserve all that he has.  He is a cheater and a bully.  God has given him this position in life.  God has given him the gifts he has.  God has given him free will.  You are not to think harsh thoughts about him, but content with what you have.  God loves him just as much as He loves you.  You yourself are not perfect.  You are rebellious, selfish, and commit many sins.  “There is no one righteous, not even one.”Rom. 3:10.  Neither he nor you deserve God’s love.  We are to love our enemies and even pray for them. (Luke 6:27-36).  God didn’t say to love the world, but to love one another.

God made us in His image and likeness.  God is love.  We are to love God and obey His commands.  God commands us to be holy as He is holy.  We are to love as God loves.   “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35.

There are many Scripture verses on love.  Here are just a few:

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" - John 15:13.

"For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" -
1 John 3:11.

“Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back” -
Luke 6:35.

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" -
1 John 5:3.

God has loved us for all eternity.  He loved us and our enemies before time began and will continue to love us throughout the ages, forever and ever.

Can you say that the Spirit’s fruit of love is found in your life?

As a believer you are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30); you are filled with the Spirit as one is drunk with wine (Eph. 5:18); you are to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25); you are to yield yourself to the Spirit’s leadership (Rom. 8:14); you are to submit to His leadership as the Holy Spirit guides (John 16:7-15).

If you are a child of God you are going to bear the fruit of the Spirit and that fruit must be evident in your life.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”Phil. 4:8.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”Col. 3:12.

This fruit of the Spirit list is what a Christian grows into, over time.  It doesn’t happen instantly.   It’s a process.  When you accept Jesus as your Savior and receive the Holy Spirit, you are a new creation.  You are then not controlled by sin.  You can’t change your attitudes by yourself.  The Holy Spirit is there to help you, guide you and teach you how to live a Christ-like life.  First you must love God for yourself.  Then you will be able to love others as God commands.  Christians don’t have to ask God for the fruit of the Spirit.  We have it available to us.  We already have it.  We just need to put it into practice.

Does your fruit of the Spirit look appetizing?
Is your love unconditional?

Note:  God loves everyone, but probably prefers 'fruit of the spirit' over 'a religious nut!'

Next time we will talk about more characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit.  We still have joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to cover.  Hope to see you here.

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is the most popular chapter in the Old Testament.  It was written by David who was a shepherd in his early years, now he is probably much older.  He is at peace and lives in tranquility.  This chapter shows his confidence and satisfaction of the care of his great God.  It shows that God is our personal Shepherd. 

Why is God compared to a shepherd?  Sheep have a natural tendency to wander off and get lost.  As believers we do the same thing.  We have a tendency to go astray. “For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies…”Rom. 7:5.  We follow the desires of our flesh and pursue prideful lives.  Sheep are basically helpless without a shepherd.  We too are helpless without the Lord to protect and care for us.

Jesus declared that He is our Shepherd and gave His life for us.  See the parable about the lost sheep in Luke 15:1-7.  We need a shepherd just like the sheep.  Psalm 23 tells us He is our Shepherd who supplies our every need, our leader and guide, and our Protector.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my Shepherd ---- That’s Relationship
I shall not be in want ---- That’s Supply
He makes me to lie down in green pastures ---- That’s Rest
He leads me beside the still waters ---- That’s Refreshment
He restores my soul ---- That’s Healing
He guides me in the paths of righteousness ---- That’s Guidance
For His name sake ---- That’s Purpose
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death ---- That’s Testing
I will fear no evil ---- That’s Protection
For You are with me ---- That’s Faithfulness
Your rod and your staff they comfort me ---- That’s Discipline
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies ---- That’s Hope
You anoint my head with oil ---- That’s Consecration
My cup overflows ---- That’s Abundance
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life ---- That’s Blessings
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord ---- That’s Security
Forever ---- That’s Eternity

The Lord is my Shepherd.  Is He yours? 
Do you have confidence in God’s care as David did?

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Bible Promises

The Bible is full of promises from God.  Some say there are over 3,000, others say over 8,000.  There are really too many to count.  It’s all in how you look at it.  There are verses where promises are implied and some that are very specific.  Any way you look at it, there are a lot!  God’s Word is powerful and life changing.  Remember that old hymn “Standing on the Promises of God”?  Are you standing on His promises?

One of my favorite promises is found in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

There are some conditional promises and unconditional promises.  Here are some other promises, but not all.  I would have to practically rewrite most of the Bible to get them all. 

Unconditional Promises
God will not destroy the earth by water ever again (Gen. 9:8-17).
God will not curse the ground any more for man’s sake (Gen. 8:21).
God will never leave you nor forsake you (Deu. 31:6, Josh. 1:5).
God has appointed physical death for all mankind, except those living at the second coming of Jesus (Heb. 9:27, 1 cor. 15:21-22).
God promised that Jesus will come again (1 Cor. 15:22-23, 1 Thess. 1:9-10).
God promised resurrection of all the dead (John 5:28-29, Acts 24:15, 1 cor. 15:12-26).
God promised a final judgment day (Rom. 2:16, 2 Tim. 4:1).
God promised that some day He will destroy the universe and everything in it by fire (2 Peter 3:10-12).
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34).
Jesus will return some day (Matt 5:13, 31-32).
We are blessed if we read His Word (Rev. 1:3).
Jesus is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him (Rev. 1:7).

Conditional Promises
We must obey the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17).
We must obey God and follow His commands (Deut. 27:10).
If we obey God fully and keep His covenant, then you will be His treasured possession (Ex 19:5).
God will give us our desires if delight ourselves in Him (Ps 37:4)
We must trust in God and not our own understanding and He will direct our paths (Prov. 3:5-6).
If you forgive others, God will forgive you (Matt. 6:14-15).
If we give to the needy in secret, God will reward us (Matt. 6:33).
If we come to Him, He will give us rest (Matt. 11:28-30).
We must follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ:  We must hear the word of God (Rom. 10:17).
We must believe in God and His Son, Jesus (Heb. 11:6).
We must repent of our sins (Luke 13:3).
God loved us so much that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
We must confess Jesus (Acts 8:35-36).
We must be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
We must honor our parents so it will be well with us (Eph. 6:2).
If we walk in the light, Jesus’ blood will purify us from all sin (1 John 1:7)
We must live faithfully (Rev 2:10). 

God’s promises are based on and if and then condition.  If we will do our part and remain faithful and obedient, then He will do His part.  He will send blessings our way.  We must repent and accept Jesus making us a Christian.  Then we will be freed from guilt of our past sins.  We must walk with Jesus and develop a character like that of Jesus.  We must faithfully worship God.

More Promises

Genesis 28:15 “I am with you and will watch you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.  I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Exodus 14:13-14 – “Moses answered the people, do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
Numbers 6:24-26 – “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Judges 8:33-34 – “They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side.”
Ruth 4:14 – “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer.”
1 Samuel 2:30 – “Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.”
2 Samuel 7:16 – “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”
1 Kings 2:2-3 – “Be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires; Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moss, so that you may prosper in all you do and where you go.”
2 Kings 17:38-39 – “Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods.  Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.”
1 Chronicles 16:34 – “Give thanks to the Lord, for his is good; his love endures forever.”
2 Chronicles 7:14-15 – “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek by face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive them their sin and will heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”
Ezra 8:22 – “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.”
Nehemiah 4:14 – “Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
Job 22:21 – “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.”
Psalm 37:4 – “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Proverbs 1:33 – “but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 – “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..”
Isaiah 41:10“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Jeremiah 33:3“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Jeremiah 29:11 – “ For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Lamentations 3:22-23 – “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Ezekiel 36:26-27 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.  I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
Daniel 12:1 – “There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until them.  But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered.”
Hosea 2:20 – “I will keep my promise and make you mine, and you will acknowledge me as Lord.”
Joel 2:28 – “And afterward, I will pour out my spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, you old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”
Amos 9:11 – “In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent.  I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be.”
Obadiah 17 – “But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and the house of Jacob will possess its inheritance.”
Jonah 2:2 – “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.  From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”
Micah 7:19 – “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
Nahum 1:3 – “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.”
Habakkuk 3:19 – “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”
Zephaniah 3:17 –The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.”
Haggai 2:4 – “… Be strong, all of you people of the land, declares the Lord, and work.  For I am with you, declares the Lord Almighty.”
Zechariah 1:3 – “Return to me declares the Lord Almighty, and I will return to you.”
Malachi 3:6 – “I the Lord do not change.”
Matthew 11:28 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Mark 16:16 – “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Luke 12:8 – “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.  But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.”
John 14:6“Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Acts 4:12 – “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Romans 10:9 – “That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
1 Corinthians 15:2 – “By the gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Galatians 5:16 – “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
Colossians 1:13-14 – “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”
2 Thessalonians – “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”
1 Timothy 4:8 – “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
2 Timothy 4:18 – “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.”
Titus 1:2 – “… a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.”
Philemon 1:6 – “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”
Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
1 Peter 4:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
2 Peter 1:3-4 – “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
1 John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
2 John – “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.”
3 John – “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your would is getting along well.”
Jude 21 – “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”
Revelation 1:3 – “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”

A good way to learn and be aware of God’s promises is to read one a day in your daily devotion.  Maybe even type some of them on an index card and keep them in your Bible or on your bathroom mirror.  That way you can be reminded of God and His faithfulness.

God is faithful and keeps His promises.  Hold on to His Promises!


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