Monday, August 31, 2015

The Fruit of the Spirit - Self-Control

The last attribute of the fruit of the Spirit, but certainly not the least, is the quality of self-control.  This is a BIG one!

Self-control implies the restraining of oneself.  What are we supposed to keep ourselves from doing or saying?  The Bible says we are to be in control of our thoughts (2 Cor. 10:5).  We are to guard our tongues (James 3:1-9).  We are to avoid sinning in our relationships with others by not murdering, coveting, engaging in adultery, stealing, cheating, or quarreling and fighting (James 4:1-2).

Self-control is to have power over oneself.  This is not possible until we surrender to Christ’s management on our lives.  Self-control is a form of worship of God.  It’s living out His commandments by doing what He wants us to do.  Then God will fully bless us.

Self-control is about temperance, impulses, personal desires and passions.  It calls for self-discipline life following Christ’s example.  It is a restraint exercised over one’s behavior.

"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control." - Prov. 25:28
“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper that one who takes a city.”Prov. 16:32.

The world today is very self-centered and materialistic and many people have very poor impulse control.  They see something they want and will do anything to get it.  These people are very weak in self-control.  We humans are weak due to our fallen sinful natures.  This is why God gave us these 9 attributes of His Holy Spirit.  We need God’s self-control operating in our lives.
If you don’t have God’s self-control operating in you, you will never have victory over a bad temper, an unforgiving spirit, being judgmental, and lusts of the flesh.  If you are willing to yield to Him and allow Him to work in these attributes of the  Fruit of the Spirit, you will grow in many areas of your life you never thought possible.

Some examples of the lack of self-control in the Bible:
Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit - disobeyed God.
Cain killed Able – did not control his envy and jealousy.
Esau traded birthright for food – did not control his hunger.
Lot’s wife turned to salt – did not control longings.
David’s adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband – did not control sexual appetites.
Peter’s impulsive blow to soldier’s ear in Gethsemane – did not control his anger.

Some examples of self-control in the Bible:
Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife and did not give into sexual temptation.
Jesus resisted Satan’s temptation in the wilderness.
Jesus’ sinlessness.

This specific quality of self-control is one of the major keys in being able to have victory over lusts and desires of our flesh.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” - 1 Peter 1:13.

“So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.”1 Thess. 5:6.

Satan is the ruler of the earth and he wants us to fail.  He has designed ways of life that are fast-paced.  He makes many things appealing to us like entertainment, fashions, movies, computers, and gadgets of all kinds.  Our lifestyles are constantly busy.  We live on the edge most of the time.  We never seem to have control of our lives or our self-control.  

When possible, avoid temptation and you won’t have the pressure to sin and turn away from God.  Run from temptation.  Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife when she tempted him.  Don’t keep bad company.  We greatly decrease temptation by not associating with evil people.  It is impossible to avoid exposure to everything that is sinful.  So we must be strong enough to control our thoughts and actions and not give into temptations.

Where in your life do you need self-control?
Do you ask God to help you when you are tempted?

Someone who has learned the meaning of self-control and practices it is someone who is taking steps to be like Jesus.  Self-control in a Christian means instead of having our own way, we choose God’s way.  We look to Him and obey His commands.  We let the Holy Spirit live and work God’s will through us.  This brings us closer to God.

Have you learned self-control?
Do you choose your way or God’s way?

This last fruit of the Spirit is the most important of them all.  It is hard in this day and age to be a Christian of self-control.  It is hard to deny self and be self-sacrificing.  Being a true Christian is difficult, but can be done by trusting Christ.  We won’t be perfect, but Jesus makes it clear in Rev. 2 and 3 that overcomers (those who are steadfast and victorious over sin) will go into the Kingdom of God.  God gives us His Spirit to help us achieve the fruit of the Spirit.  His love will give us courage, strength, love and self-control.

What great lessons we have learned by studying the Fruit of the Spirit.  I hope you will put these into practice.  Next time I will be posting an overview of the book of Revelation.  You don’t want to miss it!  Hope to see you here.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit - Gentleness

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”Matt. 5:5.  Meekness means to not be easily provoked.  It is being gracious and kind with controlled strength.  A person who is truly meek bears God’s likeness and is easily directed by God.  At the same time he has great spiritual strength.

Being gentle or meek is not a weakness.  A river under control has great power.  So does a fire.  Meekness is power and strength. (Billy Graham)

Meekness and gentleness is a form love.  It is one of Jesus’ qualities.  He handled people with gentleness, but was always truthful.  He is our perfect role model.  There were times for tough love and times for gentleness.  Whenever He was insulted or falsely accused, Jesus was a model of restraint.  He never lashed out in anger, but always had a gentle word to those who attacked Him.

If you are a gentle person, people with gravitate toward you.  We are to be humble and considerate of others and submissive to God and His Word.  We are to be even-tempered.  Don’t you love being around a gentle person?

In today’s world we think meekness is not a good quality.  This is a characteristic that best distinguishes Christianity.  It is an attitude toward God that shows in gentleness toward others.  It’s an attitude of submission.  It is love of the things of God and others.  The meek are not those who never feel angry, but those who control it.

How can we have gentleness?  Be submissive to the will of God.  We have to have a teachable spirit and be willing to learn.  We need to be considerate of others by putting ourselves in their shoes and empathizing with them.  We need to help those who are struggling.  We also need to be forgiving.  In everything we do, we should strive to display a gentle spirit.

Rewards for the Meek -
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”Matt. 5:5
“But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”Ps. 37:11.
“The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live forever.”Ps 22:26.
“For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he will beautify the meek with salvation.”Ps 149:4.

The fruit of gentleness will bring real blessings to us.  So use this fruit in you life.

Next time we will talk more about the last characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit, which is self-control.  Hope to see you here.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit - Faithfulness

We hear people say “just have faith and it will work out” to comfort others when they are going through a stressful situation or a serious problem.  What does that really mean?  The Bible says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”Heb. 11:1.  The Bible also says it is impossible to please God without faith.  “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Heb. 11:6.

Faith is confidence, belief, and trust.  It is our evidence of what we have not seen or the invisible spiritual things.  It comes before prayer is answered.

The book of Hebrews is called the faith chapter and reminds us of some of the men and women in the Bible who lived by faith in the Old Testament.  The book of James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2).  Living in faith is not just believing that God exists.  It is demonstrated by service and obedience to God.

God is faithful to man.  He is the author of faith and gives faith to every person who wants it.  A true Christian’s faith means to be completely believe that there is no other truth apart from God’s Word on which to build their life.  A person of faith is a person who fully trusts God will do what He says in every situation. 

Do you have that kind of faith in God? 

You can be faithful in many things.  Faith is a devotion to others and principles.  It is a positive attitude and an active attitude.  It is steadfast and true in the middle of evil.  Faithfulness is love, steady, true, and trustworthy.  It possesses staying power in spite of feelings and difficulties, even after the first joys seem to have disappeared (John M. Dreshcer).

How are you faithful to others?
Do you do what you say you will do?
What kind of attitude do you have?
Do you stay positive in difficulties?
Faithfulness means to continue with the job you have been given and not yielding to your restless desire for change.  It is a quality of a friend.  It points to God and His purposes and away from self and any preoccupations (Evelyn Underhill).

God’s Word is the Source of Faith

How do you get more faith?  God gives faith to those who seek it.  Faith is increased by drawing close to God through prayer and studying His Word.  Our faith is increased by reading and hearing the examples of faith in church.  “… faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”Rom. 10:17.  Faith is surrendering all the way to Him and do His will, then praying.  That’s how you get to know Him.  We are too close to material things, but through prayer we come closer to God and the spiritual things.

Rely on Jesus completely.  Trust in His power and love.  Believe in His teachings.  Believe even though you don’t understand all the things He does in your life.  He has experienced all your pain and all your temptations.  He knows your daily difficulties.  He has overcome the world and has prepared the way for you to receive eternal life.  He is always ready to help.

How are you relying on Jesus?
Do you believe He died for you?
Do you go to Him when troubled?

Never before has the world needed faith in God as it needs it today.  The world is a mess.  It needs Jesus.  The world is killing babies through abortion and selling their body parts.  It is exchanging the truth of God for a lie (Rom. 1).  Men are marrying men and women are marrying women.  They call it marriage, but it’s not marriage in God’s eyes.  There are more and more murders, sex outside marriage, lying and deceit, and our prisons are full of lawbreakers of all kinds.  When will it stop?  The time is coming soon.  God has been waiting for people to repent and come to Him, but He won’t wait forever.  When Jesus returns, it will be too late.  If you are not a child of God, repent and confess your sins and trust in Jesus.  He is waiting for you.

Principle:  A person of faith is a person who fully trusts God will do what He says in every situation

Next time we will talk more about the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit.  We still have gentleness and self-control to cover.  Hope to see you here.

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