“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
Happy New Year! I’d like to start this year by doing a series on the fruit of the Spirit. Each fruit could be a series in and of themselves! Each one is jam packed with marvelous truths and applications regarding the Truth of God and His will for our lives. While there isn’t space to expound so deeply, my prayer is that you will be challenged to go deeper yourselves as to how you can live out each fruit to grow more intimately in love with God. Let’s dive in.
I believe Hollywood has deluded us with thoughts of love. We watch as women are romantically and passionately swept off their feet, as men are finally made whole through the love of the right woman, as flowers are sent, giggles are voiced, and the honeymoon stage never ends. We have fallen in love with a “love delusion.” But what about the love that crawls out of bed at 2am to rock a sick child after cleaning up their vomit filled room? What about the love that stands by a partners’ bed as cancer ravages their body because you are in it “for better or for worse,”? What about the love that takes the time to make an extra meal for a neighbor, despite your kids screaming in the background, because your neighbor is going through a rough patch? Philippians 2:5-8 tells us that although Jesus was in the form of God, He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. He therefore emptied Himself, took on the role of a servant, and died on the cross in our place. THAT is true love my friend. Jesus did not live to be self-centered. He came to be selfless, to empty Himself so you and I could come into right standing with God.
Take a moment and ask God how you can grow more in love with Him this year. Does He want you to read His Word more regularly; have a daily, intimate prayer time with Him to be still and listen; take more time to surround yourself with worship music? Then take a moment to reflect on how you can live out God’s love more practically towards those around you. Practical evangelism is a marvelous tool! When done with the intentionality of extending God’s love, every practical deed is a seed being sown.
“Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone… Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18 (NIV)
This short passage from Paul to the church in Thessalonica is brimming with practical advice for godly living! Below is a short list detailing Paul’s instructions to the Thessalonians’:
Respect those ministering for the Lord and those who are in authority over you
Live at peace with each other
Warn those who are idle
Encourage the timid and help the weak
Be patient with everyone (yes, even those who have a driver’s license even though they obviously failed the test)
Be joyful always
Give thanks in all circumstances.
While these are wonderful instructions to follow, if we try to accomplish them in our strength we will fail. It takes humility and discipline on our part to surrender ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit so He can victoriously live out this godly life within us. It is not a onetime surrender, but a daily, sometimes hourly, surrender. But when we do, the result is we will be living out God’s love and being His light in a dark world that desperately needs it.
“Many are the plan in a mans heart, but it is the LORDS purpose that prevails,”
Proverbs 19:21 NIV
God teaches us lessons every day. Today as I write this He is showing me that being prepared is not necessarily a prerequisite to act in faith. When we live from faith and act accordance to His will, there is no “winging it”. Every decision we make following the direction of the Holy Spirit is the step we are predestined to take.
Winging it isn’t really winging it at all, it is working from a place of faith instead of preparedness.
When we have something in mind to write or say but the Holy Spirit shows us something different.
When we have a detailed plan for our day but “random series of events” derail our plan.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
Sometimes the most spontaneous things end up being the best things.
A phone call with an old friend that lasts for hours.
An impromptu trip to the mountains or the beach.
A conversation with a stranger.
An unexpected gift from a spouse.
Listening to those promptings or gentle nudges of the Holy Spirit allows us to experience these things.
We don’t need a detailed plan because we have a greater purpose.
Today I really want to encourage you to pay attention to the Holy Spirit within you. What is He guiding you to do? What is He asking you to say? It is not about your plan as much as it is about your purpose.
Remember our faithfulness to God gives us what we need so we can walk and talk in line with Him.