“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.
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“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”
John 6:63 (NIV)
The terms devotion and devotional are linked with the verb “to devote.” Webster’s dictionary defines this verb as “a solemn act of dedication involving the giving of oneself wholly, as the focus of one’s attention is centered completely on the other.” When we have our devotional time with the Lord, we should be focusing our attention completely on God and giving ourselves wholly to Him and to the time we’ve dedicated to Him.
I’d like to look at why it’s important to spend time with God and study His Word. The first reason is because we are in covenant with Him and His Word is the primary way He has revealed Himself to us and therefore the primary way in which we get to know Him.
The Bible describes the church as the bride of Christ. Unfortunately, in today’s society, many see marriages simply as a legal contract. A contract is when two people enter into a legal agreement whereby if one person does not live up to what they agreed to in the contract, legal actions can be taken against them. Fortunately for us, God has not entered into a contract with His people, but a covenant. A covenant is an unconditional promise based on steadfast love. When we are unfaithful to God, He does not take legal action against us. The blood of His Son has already atoned for our unfaithfulness. Being in covenant with God is an honor and privilege we have received due to the sacrifice of His Son. Honor it by spending time with God and His Word.
We also need to spend time in God’s Word because it is to our souls what breathing, eating and drinking are to our physical bodies. Jesus tells us that man should not live by bread alone, but on every word that has been spoken by God (Matthew 4:4). Just as we need multiple meals throughout the day to nourish our physical bodies, so too we need multiple meals of God’s Word throughout the day to nourish our souls.
Next time we’ll look at a couple more reasons why it’s important to spend time with God and in His Word.
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“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
Ephesians 3:12 NIV
When I was younger, one of my best friends had connections to the music group Hansen (one of the heart throb boy bands of the 90’s).
One summer when I was visiting my friend for a week, her aunt surprised us with tickets to one of Hansen’s concerts. We were ecstatic! With squeals of girlish excitement we went to the concert, bought T-shirts and sang along to the music. About half-way through the concert my friend looked over at me and exclaimed, “Noree, I am such a fool! If had let them (Hansen) know we were coming beforehand, we could have gotten back stage passes.” (Believe it or not, this was before most people owned cell phones to let them know we were at the concert.) Needless to say, that put a bit of a damper on the rest of the concert: thinking of what might have been… but my friend and I still enjoyed it.
How many of us know in our heads we have full access to the throne of God, but forget to live it out? We have access to the King of kings and Lord of lords! The Israelites lived with a veil over their hearts, but through the blood of Jesus we who believe have had that veil torn away and now live reflecting the glory of God with His Spirit living inside us (2 Corinthians 3:13-18).
In Hebrews 10:19-22 Paul encourages believers to draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith. We need to live each day taking full advantage of our access to the King of kings! His power knows no equal; His might no limit. And we have His incomparably great power living in us to live each day victoriously and for the glory of our God (Ephesians 1:18-20).
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Free Images: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/vip-1549961