Tag Archives: fruit of the spirit

2 Chronicles 11-13; Not Blessed

There is a repeated theme in Scripture: Obey God and be blessed. Disobey God and He will remove His blessing.

Rehoboam’s life demonstrates this truth. He and the Jews over which he ruled enjoyed three years of peace and prosperity when they were following God.

But I can almost hear you. “I am a Chrstian. I live for God. I pray. Yet I struggle. Where’s my blessing?”

I’m going to say something you might not want to hear, something you probably already know: God never promised we wouldn’t struggle. In fact, He told us to expect hardship. They hated Him. They persecuted Him. And Jesus said we can expect the same.

Remember our enemy is not flesh and blood. It’s not the landlord who is threatening eviction because you don’t have rent money. It’s not the thug who sells drugs to your daughter, or the boss who refuses to give you the promotion you deserve. Our enemy is Satan who delights in making us miserable.

Satan loves to get our eyes off Jesus, and focused on that person who hurt us, or that difficult situation we are facing. He loves to hear us questioning God, or considering chucking it all and living like the world when the world seems to have it all.

When we read things like Rehoboam’s story we might be tempted to believe a right relationship with God equals easy living. It worked for Rehoboam. Why not me?

Because God wants to give you more than just temporary comfort. What comes out of a right relationship with God? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.

You can’t buy that stuff.

When you have that precious relationship with God, you have encouragement like what we find in Romans 8:31: If God is for us, who can be against us?

What about Hebrews 13:5? Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:19, But my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory.

The Bible is filled with promises like these for those of us who have confessed our sin, and accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord. However, you might be tempted to say, “It’s easy for you to say, Connie. You had money to pay the bills this month.” And I did.

I know many of you are going through unspeakable hardships. Health issues. Money problems. Family heartache. Persecution. And more. I will not promise you that a right relationship with God will erase the troubles in your life.

But I am suggesting that, even in the midst of the darkest days, you are blessed if you know Jesus. Don’t miss it. Don’t allow Satan to steal your joy, or your peace, or your confidence in the One who loves you and gave Himself for you. Don’t let Satan blind you from seeing the ways in which God, who does all things well, is working in your life and is standing with you in your troubles.

And I believe that God will open doors that can bring about a solution to your problem, maybe even perform a miracle on your behalf. You might get an unexpected check in the mail.

Or not. Obedience is not the ticket to getting what you want. It is the ticket to getting what God wants for us.

God delights in blessing us. But He can’t if we hold on to sin. Whether it’s during the days of Rehoboam or today in 2017, obedience = blessed. Disobedience = not blessed.

May we confess our sins, and be blessed.

 

 

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November 22 – Walk The Talk

My reading plan had me reading the entire book of James this morning. Every verse in these five chapters is gold, as far as I’m concerned. So I sat here and asked God what was the one thing I should glean for the sake of this blog today. Here are my thoughts.

I think, as I look at the entire book of James, the author’s challenge to us is to live a consistent Christian life. What does that look like? Words like patient, steadfast, humble, self-controlled, fair, wise come to mind. The fruit of the spirit comes to mind.

The theme of the book might be found in 1:22:

But prove yourselves doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

Or in 2:17:

Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

It’s one thing to profess faith in God, to believe that Jesus is the Savior. But the proof of that faith is lived out day by day, by the way we treat people, by the way we handle hardships, by what we say and how we say it. The Christian life isn’t lived in a closet.

I hope you’ll read James today and let God point out the things in your life that can use some refining. Let’s determine to not only wear the name of Jesus, but to live our lives in obedience. If you are a Christian, I pray you act like one.

 

October 4 – Fruit In Keeping With Repentance

Matthew 3; Mark 1; Luke 3

When John was preparing the people for Jesus’ ministry, he told them to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” If you say you’ve repented of sin, your life should demonstrate a noticeable difference.

Be warned. Saying the words, “forgive me” are meaningless without a heart’s change. And when a heart is truly changed, what we say and do and feel change as well. It has to.

Paul, in Galatians, gives us a practical list of what fruit keeping with repentance looks like. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. And self-control. If all of those aren’t evident in your life, I suggest you check the level of your repentance. Paul doesn’t say the Spirit gives 7 of 9 to a repentant heart. Notice the word, “and” in there. It doesn’t say “or.”

John told the tax collectors to quit charging more than the required tax. He told the soldiers to stop taking money from people by force. A repentant heart changes how we treat each other.

Bearting fruit in keeping with repentance starts with a change of heart, then it pours out in how we live our lives. Do your friends and family notice a change in you since you’ve asked Jesus to forgive you?

They should.

September 28 – A Worthless Pledge

Nehemiah 6-10

The school where I was guidance counselor celebrated Red Ribbon Week each year. I always tried to make the emphasis fun, informative, and challenging. We’d ask students and staff to take a pledge to be drug-free. They’d sign a banner or a poster, then receive a red ribbon they would wear to show evidence of their pledge.

Student leaders were in charge of sitting at tables in the hallway and asking kids to sign the pledge and receive their ribbons. I’d often have them perform skits or share information during our morning announcements about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. We’d have contests, and try to make it cool to be drug-free.

Years later, I got a call from a young woman who had been one of my student leaders while she was in Middle School. She had recently asked Jesus into her life, and felt the need to confess some past sins to people she felt she had hurt. She told me that she had started using drugs in Middle School, that while she had been one of the more vocal advocates of a drug-free lifestyle, she had been using. She’d signed the pledge every year. She just didn’t keep her pledge and wanted to apologize for lying to me.

I read the list of names of the men who signed a pledge to obey God (Nehemiah 10) and wondered how many of them were able to keep their promises once the ink dried on the paper. Did they sign it like my young friend, not intending to keep their word, but because it seemed like the acceptable thing to do? Or did they sign it with good intentions, only later discovering they couldn’t hold to it? We know the Jewish nation failed in their attempt to obey God. Did any of those men succeed?

Sometimes I think we Christians are guilty of trying to get people to say the right words, raise a hand or kneel at an altar, or promising to change, then we walk away and assume we’ve done our part. But salvation isn’t a name on a ledger. Salvation isn’t even a promise to quit sinning. It isn’t church attendance, or praying for a meal at the restaurant.

The New Testament tells us we can recognize Believers by their fruit, their love for one another. The test isn’t church membership. It’s a life that look’s like Jesus’ life. It’s a person who thinks more highly of others than himself. It’s a heart that belongs to the Savior because that person has asked Jesus to forgive them.

I wish I had paid more attention to that young Middle School girl. Maybe I could have recognized the signs of drug abuse in her. I think because she said what I wanted to hear, I figured she was ok. She wasn’t.

Do you know a person who is young in their faith? Get to know them better. Nurture them. Hold them accountable out of love. Don’t assume because they went forward last Sunday that they will be ok. Those of us who have walked with God for a while now know that accepting Jesus is the first of many steps in this Christian life.

Walk with someone today who is learning to use their faith-legs. Your interest might be exactly what they need to help them keep the promises they’ve made to the Lord.

 

 

Our Scapegoat

Have you ever had a bad day… or year? You are frustrated, disappointed, angry, unhappy, and maybe you have a headache on top of everything. Then someone close to you says something stupid and you erupt. You let them have it with both barrels and say things that are just plain cruel. But when you get right down to it, they didn’t really deserve all that. It’s not their fault you are miserable.

You made them your scapegoat.

God instructed the Israelites to use a scapegoat. (Leviticus 16) They symbolically put all their sins on this goat, then released the goat into the wilderness.

It’s a picture of what Jesus did at Calvary. God wants us to put all our sins on Jesus. All of them. It wasn’t his fault that we sinned. He doesn’t deserve our punishment. But God says, give them to Jesus anyway. Then, release them.

Too many of us put that scapegoat on a leash. We let it have some lead, but then we occasionally call it back. We feel the guilt. We may even repeat the sin.

But God, through this picture in Leviticus, and through his Son, tells us to let it go. (I saw Frozen this weekend and, even though I don’t know all the words to the song, I think the tune is going to be in my head all day!)

Let God remove that sin from the camp, from our lives. Cut the chord.

But, you say, my sins are too heavy. My sin is mine to carry. My sin is too ugly to place on Jesus. Where in the Bible does it even hint at such a thing? The only sin God can’t forgive is the unconfessed sin.

Jesus told the parable of the seed. (Mark 4) Here is a better use of your effort: Repent of that sin, and let the Scapegoat take it away. Then dig in, grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus, and bear fruit. Love, joy, peace…

So much better than clinging to a goat.

My Dear Scapegoat, thank you for removing my sin, for taking it upon yourself and taking it away. Forgive me when I continue to call those sins back. Help me to do what you intend, and that is to allow you to remove my sin as far as the east is from the west, never to be used against me… ever. Thank you Jesus. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for allowing me to live my life free from the guilt and pain my sins deserve. May I be rooted in Scripture, and may I bear fruit for your kingdom. Help me to allow you to remove my sin, to let it go, and enjoy sweet fellowship with my Savior.

November 20

Galatians 4:8-6:18

What does it mean to be free in Christ? Did Jesus erase the law when he died on the cross? Are the things that were considered sin in the Old Testament no longer sinful? 

Paul explains that because Jesus took on himself the penalty of sin we are no longer justified by following the law. Forgiveness for sin no longer requires slashing the throat of a cow. Salvation comes through the blood of Jesus and is ours for the asking.

But, Paul says, evidence of this work is played out in obedience. Sin is still sin. He tells us not to indulge in the sinful nature, rather serve and love each other. Paul lists acts of the sinful nature in 5:19-21. Among those are sexual immorality, jealousy, drunkenness, and hatred and people who live like that will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But he also says, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. People who have the Spirit of the Living God just naturally live like that. It’s as natural as an apple tree bearing apples.

Who wouldn’t want to live being filled with the those fruit of the Spirit? Aren’t those the things most people are looking for in this life? Dear one, we are free to choose that life! We are free to choose Jesus.

Father, once again I thank you for what Jesus did on the cross when he took on himself the penalty for my sin. Help me to recognize sin and flee from it. May I be quick to confess sin in my life and may I be filled with your Holy Spirit so that I will bear that precious fruit. Not only will my life be better, but I can reach out and help others, too. May I bear fruit for your kingdom today.

June 25

2 Kings 7:3-20, 8:7-15, 13:14-21, 24-25, 12-13, 14:15-16, 23, 17-22, 15:1-5; 2 Chronicles 25:25-28, 26:1-21; Amos 1:1-15

Elisha died. His death certainly wasn’t as dramatic as Elijah’s ascent into heaven by way of a chariot of fire. 2 Kings 13:20 says – Elisha died and was buried.

But read on. Elisha’s story doesn’t end there. The friends of a dead man threw the lifeless body into Elisha’s grave in a moment of panic. When the dead body touched Elisha’s remains, the dead man jumped up – alive.

Let me thank you for praying for me and my family yesterday. My sisters, some of my nieces, and nephews and a brother-in-law just kind of hung out together. We went to Geoff’s grave and sat there talking, laughing at memories, and praying. Then we went to my sister’s house for lasagna and talked and laughed some more. We just wanted to be together.

As I think about Geoff’s life and as I read about Elisha here in 2 Kings I am reminded that our influence continues even after God calls us home. I read Geoff’s Facebook page and see where many of his friends posted thoughts yesterday remembering Geoff and sharing the impact he continues to have on their lives. 

So I guess my question for us today is, what will you (will I) be remembered for when we no longer walk this earth? Will people remember love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control? The life you live today is making memories for someone for the future.

Read I Peter 3:8. That is engraved on Geoff’s headstone. That describes who Geoff was and continues to be in our hearts. 

May it be true of me.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for providing exactly what we need when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Thank you for being with us as we begin year two without Geoffrey. Lord, may your people live today aware of the impact we have on those around us, for good or for bad. May the fruit of your spirit be evident in us today and every day in every situation. Please bless those who remembered my family in prayer as we continue to adjust to life without Geoff. May you be glorified.