Fruit of the Spirit

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” Galatians 5:16-26 NLT

I had a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary who said, “pay attention! It says Fruit not Fruits.” How often do you hear people say, “The Fruits of the Spirit?” These are not separate “fruits” to strive for but one big fruit, which is probably why I like this print so much. It’s one fruit with all the parts listed in it.

So that means that the goal is not to simply master one of these but to master them all, so that your fruit can harvest. Let’s take a look at the list again: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. What in the list do you find easy? What do you find hard?

For me love is easy when the person is easily loved. I read a newspaper article earlier today where a man with Developmental Disabilities who was supposed to be in a safe place but was used, abused and eventually murdered. It’s hard to love the people who did that. So I guess I have to work on love some more.

Joy, comes from the anguish, heartache and grief of difficult situations. So getting to joy is not fun but joy in itself is good. I still think some days I need to work on letting more joy into my life.

Peace, this feels pretty easy until I start worrying about something. Most of the time I am peaceful but when I’m not, it’s easy to pray to God and ask for peace.

Patience…oh boy. I really need to work on patience. I feel my sinful nature coming up when I’m impatient. I don’t have patience with myself, I don’t have patience with drivers on the road, I don’t have patience…. Let’s just say I need to work on this one.

Kindness, I feel pretty confident with kindness. Unless you’re that person on I-70 that cuts me off, then my patience is gone and all you are getting is my anger. Again, another moment when my sinful nature comes up. So kindness is easy when life is easy.

Goodness, again I feel like I have goodness down, until something happens that makes things not so good, then my sinful nature shows up.

But faithfulness, I’m definitely good on this one. I don’t like to brag, but I will for this purpose. My faith in God is strong, it always has been. When I was a child, I had a fight with a friend and was worried that we would never be friends again. I was tossing and turning while not sleeping in my bed and God tapped on my shoulder and I just knew that a) it was him and b) everything was going to be ok. And then I fell into a deep peaceful sleep.

Gentleness, hmm I could probably work on this one too. What can I say I’m a work in progress?

Self-control….I think I’ve explained that I need to work on this, just see above.

Ok, so I need to work on all the aspects of my fruit. What about you? Are you where you think you should be? What do you feel you need to work on?

Lord, we thank you for spending time with us tonight and for showing us what we need to work on and where we are letting our sinful natures rule. We ask that you walk alongside each of us as we work to have better love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We know that we are a work in progress, please help us to remember this as we work on the fruit of the spirit. We know that you give us these things from the Spirit and as we strive to do better at each of them we ask for your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, for we learn best by your example. Lord thank you for all of your gifts and please be with us in the days, weeks, and months ahead. We ask all these things in your precious and holy name, Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Fruits

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God’s Faithfulness #3

If you have missed #1 and #2 be sure to check them out.

Because of the place I am in right now this is a little more difficult than I thought it would be. I actually considered skipping today’s post but decided it is better to keep going than to stop.

God’s faithfulness #3:

3. Food on the table. God has fed me when I didn’t think it was possible.

My seminary career has been long and it has been hard. One of the hardest things has been staying afloat money wise. There have honestly been months when I didn’t know if I was going to be able to afford to feed myself. I could either pay a bill or eat that week.

Do you know how hard it is to live like that? It’s wretched. Any-who now is the time not to focus on how hard it has been but to actually focus on what God has done for me.

In times of great distress about money and eating money would come in the mail. There were several times when someone in my community (I think it was James) would put a card in my mailbox with money for food or a Ralph’s gift card. They always came when I was at my lowest, when I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to eat.

It was always enough and I always felt both loved and cared for. God met my needs through loving people and I praised God and said Thank you whenever I could (when they told me who they were).

See I don’t believe in coincidence. I don’t believe in happenstance. I believe God made good people, people who care, people who see a starving girl and give her what they can. These are the people who will be seated at the right and left hand of God because they don’t care. They do not do the work that they do for the acolades but simply because they can and know that it is right.

God has surrounded me with these people for the last several years. They see needs and fix them. They see my hurting when I cannot admit and they love me even though I cannot admit it, they love me in the moment and they are not annoyed by my pain.

God’s faithfulness #3 is supposed to be about the money but I think it’s really about the people. The people that love me. The people who met my needs, the people that were the hands of God reaching out towards me.

God through people provided food for the table and I never went without and as I go through this rough time I will try to remember that God has provided, often at the last second when all I had was faith that he would not let me go to waste, he has provided.

God’s Faithfulness #2

It’s the second day of remembering God’s faithfulness.

I’m exhausted but I’m still going to try to remember a time when God was faithful

2. Surgery when needed. Awhile ago, seven years or so, I was having an issue medically that made me feel older than I actually was. It was an issue that women usually have until after they have kids, not before, so of course all of my doctors were baffled and it took several tests and months for me to convince them that nothing was working.

I was home from college for a bit and it was Christmas time and the doctor had an opening. They said that if I didn’t have an infection and if the doctor could fit me in they would do the surgery. I was praying, my family was praying and my church was praying. At the last minute I got the call that I would be having the surgery. I was so excited that I did a little dance on top of my bed and then I proceeded to praise God for the goodness that he had brought into my life.

I was so excited that I finally got the go ahead for the surgery that was going to change my life. God was faithful in that time. He promised to do the best for me and he pulled through.

I’m worried right now that what God wants for me or that God’s plan for me is not my plan. What if this time I don’t get what I want? What if this time, his faithfulness is a no?

I do believe that God is faithful and he will take care of me but I guess what I am questioning these days is if what I want and what God wants don’t match up?

As I ponder these hard questions with no foreseeable answers I will try to remember that one time, seven years ago my dreams for surgery matched up with God’s plan for me to have that surgery. That’s God’s faithfulness #2. 

God’s faithfulness #1

I met with my wise friend Vicky today :). We meet once every couple of weeks to talk about things, usually our talks focus on me but this time there was a fair amount of sharing on all sides.

Anyway she mentioned how when we are in the midst of hard times it is helpful to look back and see when God was there.

It was an interesting enough idea that I thought I would take some time each day to write about God’s faithfulness. She actually challenged me to think about (and write about) 10 times where God has been faithful.

As we were talking I decided to take the challenge so here is God’s faithfulness #1:

There were actually a couple of things I thought about when I thought about God’s faithfulness and then I remembered my friend Laura and the discernment group we were part of a few years ago.

1. God held my heart until I could. Some might not understand this but it makes perfect sense to me. A few years ago I was a broken person (well more broken than I am now). I was just coming to grips with all of the abuse that I had endured through my life and I wasn’t able to hold it all together. I couldn’t even hold my heart.

When I pictured what my heart looked like I always saw paper torn apart. I couldn’t hold myself together. It was during this time that Laura had shared a picture that God had shown her. She saw God holding my heart in a bag, he was holding it for me, keeping it and me protected until I could hold my own heart.

He wasn’t going to allow me to rip my heart to shreds and was going to protect it and me no matter what.

Recently I feel like God finally gave me back my heart because I can stand to hold it. I see the beauty in me and no longer just see the damage. I see the scars of me but I also see that my heart is whole. God fixed it and protects it from being broken again.

God put me back together and held the parts of me that I could not hold.

So that’s God’s faithfulness #1. It’s not a tangible thing but maybe tomorrow I will be able to think about something tangible for now I will remember that God was faithful in his protection of me, even from me.

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