Kindness – The Fruit of the Spirit (part 6)

The fifth fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is kindness.

When we speak of kindness, we speak of treating others well. It’s the attitude that is expressed in the “golden rule”, do to others as you wish they would do to you (Matthew 7:12). It is also the same attitude we find in 1 Peter 2:17, “Honor everyone.”

Kindness goes out of the way to treat people with respect, it seeks to brighten someone’s day.

The reason this is a fruit of the Spirit is that unconditional kindness is not natural to us. We hear people say, “If you want respect then you must show respect.” We tend to base our kindness toward others on how people treat us.

The Spirit leads us beyond ourselves in this. So that even if others disrespect us, we still seek to show them kindness.

Kindness can come in many forms. You can hold the door open for someone. You can let someone merge during rush hour. You can write an encouraging note. You can compliment someone. You can smile and sincerely ask how a person’s day is going. You can buy a person an unexpected gift. You can speak well of someone behind their back (the opposite of gossip). And the list goes on and on.

So, let us pray that God would grow more kindness in our hearts through his Spirit and let us seek ways that we can show kindness to others, no matter their attitude toward us.

Next time, we’ll consider the fruit of goodness.

All scripture references taken from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).

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Patience – The Fruit of the Spirit (part 5)

The fourth fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is patience.

In his book, The Curious Christian, Barnabas Piper writes:

What if there is hope? What if the sun will rise again tomorrow on a new day with new mercies? What if God’s promises are really worth trusting in and holding to? These are the questions we must ask while living patiently. (pg. 56)

When we think of patience, we often think of waiting without complaining. But from the Biblical view, as Piper’s questions point to, patience is more about waiting with hope. Romans 12:12 tells us to “be patient in affliction.” But how can we wait with hope when things seem to be going bad?

We look forward to the return of Jesus.

This is why James wrote in his letter: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7-8)

James uses a practical illustration to make his point: The harvest is the good thing longed for by the farmer, but he can’t force it. He has to work the ground, plant the seed, wait for rain, and wait for it to grow. But he waits with hope and expectation, knowing that the crop will come.

In the same way, life has its ups and downs. We experiences gains and losses, joys and sorrows, pleasures and pains–in the good, we wait for the even better to come with Jesus, and in the bad, we wait for the perfect joys to come with Jesus.

But patience isn’t simply directed at our longing for Jesus’ return. We’re also to be patient with others, just as God is patient with us (1 Corinthians 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, 2 Peter 3:9). Patience realizes that we are all works in progress in this life and that God isn’t finished shaping us until we breathe our last breath.

So, we strive to be patient with ourselves as God works in us, and we strive to be patient with others as God works in them. And it is the Spirit that helps shape patience in our lives. The Spirit reminds us of the hope we have in Christ and keeps it as a light in our heart during times of struggle. The Spirit also changes our perception of others, helping us to see them through Jesus as either our brothers and sisters or potential brothers and sisters. This, also, helps us to grow patient hearts.

So let us pray for greater patience–waiting in hope as God works his plan in the world and in the lives of others.

Next time, we’ll consider the fruit of kindness.

All scripture references from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).

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Peace – The Fruit of the Spirit (part 4)

The third fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is peace.

For followers of Jesus, there is a vertical element to peace and a horizontal. The vertical involves our peace with God. In Romans 5:1, Paul wrote, “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul went on to remind us that without Jesus, we stand as enemies of God, or “children of wrath” as he would say in Ephesians 2.

Enemies and wrath are two words that denote the opposite of peace. But by bringing about forgiveness of our sins, we move from being enemies against God to children of God–a movement to peace. And this a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, using the good news of Jesus to bring our hearts to spiritual life.

The horizontal element of peace is with others. In Matthew 5:9, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Then, in Romans 12:16-18, Paul wrote, “Live in harmony with one another… If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Our natural inclinations lead us away from this. We get hurt and we want to hurt others. We get offended and we want to lash out. But the commands still stand to seek peace. This requires an act of the Spirit, helping us to see other people in a new way.

If we meet someone and they also are a follower of Jesus, then they are our brother or sister–a part of the same, big, eternal family. If we meet someone and they are not a follower of Jesus, then they are fellow human beings in need of Jesus. It may very well be through our witness that they come to know Jesus, but that witness is greatly hindered if we act like their enemies.

Being peacemakers and seeking peace with others won’t mean they’ll always want peace with us. But with the Spirit’s work in our hearts, we can still strive to be at peace with others because we are at peace with God. So, let us pray for a greater reality of peace in our lives.

Next time we’ll take a look at the fruit of patience.

All scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).

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Love – The Fruit of the Spirit (part 2)

The first fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is love.

Most people will tell you that love is “more than a feeling.” True love is a commitment, especially committing to another’s good. But love isn’t only a commitment. Love indeed involves the affections. If you ask a man if he loves his wife and he says “yes” but the thought of her doesn’t bring a sense of happiness as well, then you would naturally wonder what is wrong in the relationship.

If you consider passages such as 1 Corinthians 13, love could be best defined in this way: A commitment to happily seek the best for another.

Love is listed first among the fruit of the Spirit, because in the Bible’s story love takes a preeminent role. Indeed, the Bible is a book of love, an adventure romance about a valiant warrior (Jesus) pursing and winning back his wayward love (the church). We are also told that God is love and that all true love flows from God.

And then, in Matthew 22, when Jesus is asked about the greatest command in the Law, his answer is that we love God supremely and love others deeply.

Love is to be the blood pumping through the veins of God’s people.

It’s easy for us to love others when we feel loved by them or when they benefit us in some way. But the Bible doesn’t tell us to only love those who love us. We also are to love all that we encounter (granted this will be a different type of love than we have for spouse or child or parent, but still it’s a seeking of their best as we are able), and we are to even love our enemies.

This is where things get hard and it takes a supernatural strength within. This is where the Spirit works on our hearts so that our love will expand. God, after all, loved us when we were his enemies, giving us Jesus so that sinful rebels might become beloved sons and daughters (Romans 5).

That is one of our great hopes–that people who in the moment count us as their enemies might instead be brothers and sisters in eternity, relishing the joy of Christ.

So, let us seek to love well and let us pray that God would grow this fruit in our lives.

Next time, we’ll consider the spiritual fruit of joy.

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The Fruit of the Spirit (part 1)

When we turn from sin and put our faith in Jesus, one of the great things we experience is God in us. The Holy Spirit indwells us and gives us a new heart and mind. Then, as we follow Jesus, the Spirit spends the rest of our lives reshaping and refocusing who we are and what we do.

The Spirit doesn’t bring an end to our individuality and personality, but he does empower and enable us to be the most supremely Jesus loving and deeply other loving people we can be.

In Galatians 5, Paul detailed two ways the Spirit does this–in terms of what he leads us from and what he leads us to.

If we “walk by the Spirit” then we “will certainly not carry out the desires of the flesh” (5:16). Such desires of the flesh are found in sexual immorality and misconduct, false religious ideology, bad attitudes or actions toward others, selfishness, and so forth (5:19-21). Such things as these are what the Spirit leads us from.

What the Spirit leads us to are things Paul described as fruit. These are the result of experiencing God’s grace and growing in faith. These are attitudes that produce positive actions toward others. This fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (5:22-23).

In future posts, we’ll take a brief look at each of these traits and how they are manifested in our lives. But to close this post, a few thoughts on how we grow in the fruit of the Spirit.

  1. Spend time listening to God and speaking with God. In John 15:7-8, Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: That you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.” Jesus tells us to live in his word. This is how we hear from God: Opening the pages of the Bible. Read it, think on it, and seek to live it. Then, also, spend time in prayer, talking to God. These two things help produce fruit in our lives.
  2. Spend time fellowshiping and worshiping with other followers of Jesus. This is Ephesians 5:18-21 in a nutshell, where Paul described being “filled with the Spirit” in terms of religious practices that involve others. We sing to God together, we give thanks to God together, and we serve one another together. And the Spirit grows us as we do.
  3. As mentioned in #2, serve others. Paul spent several chapters in 1 Corinthians talking about the gifts of the Spirit present in our lives. All the various gifts have one purpose–to serve others. While the gifts and the fruit are not the same things, the gifts are to be manifested in our lives with the fruit, especially the fruit of love. The Spirit uses our serving of others to grow us in his fruit.

May we have hearts set on growing in the Spirit’s fruit. And next time, we’ll take a look at the fruit of love.

All scripture references taken from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).

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Sunday 05.13.18 (the two mountains)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at Exodus 19:9-20:26 and see how Jesus frees us from the Law and leads us from Sinai to Zion, the spiritual mountain of joy and salvation. We also want to wish all our moms a “happy Mother’s Day!” We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
**No evening activities at the church

Sermon Notes
The Two Mountains ~ Exodus 19:9-20:26

The sermon in one sentence: Israel in dread met with God at Sinai and received the Law; because of Jesus, we in joy meet with God at Zion and receive true freedom.

  • Israel’s experience with Sinai…
    • They faced repeated warnings and cautions to keep their distance and worship carefully (19:9-25, 20:22-26)
    • They faced darkness and noise that produced fear and caused them to draw back (19:16-20, 20:18-21)
    • They received the Law through ten initial commands
  • Our experience with Sinai…
    • Jesus leads us away from Sinai to Zion, a much better mountain (Hebrews 12:18-24
    • Jesus frees us from the burden of the Law (Galatians 4:21-5:1, 5:13)
    • Jesus redefines the Law positively in the terms of love (Matthew 22:36-40)
    • Jesus gives new purpose to the Law
  • Our response:
    • Realize your need for Jesus and seek the eternal joys of Zion through him
    • Having turned to Jesus, walk in the freedom to love and obey that God has given

Songs for Worship
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
Free From the Law
Take Time to Be Holy
O Church, Arise
Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)

Good Reads 05.10.18 (on #marriage, #bible, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On the Bible: What the Word of God Says About the Word of God by Jared Wilson

What God says about his word is a deep, complex, and staggering thing. And each book of the written word testifies to the wonder of his revelation. I decided to take a look, book by book, selecting a representative passage from each to highlight many of the things God’s word says about God’s words.

The word of God is . . . (click here to read more)

On Social Media: The Oldest, Most Ignored Social Media Command by Aaron Earls

Notice how Paul frames this rule. He didn’t say don’t discuss disputed matters. And he didn’t say don’t argue over vital matters. Specifically, the command is not to argue over doubtful issues. We are not to get emotionally wrapped up in arguments over third tier (or lower) issues. Yet, so many Christians are consumed by this very thing.

What happens when we violate this rule for life and social media? Several of the points Paul makes following this verse in Romans 14 gives us an indication of what it would be like… (click here to read more)

On Marriage: 7 Ways to Increase Intimacy in Your Marriage by Casey Lewis

While the world has distorted the purpose of sex, the Bible, and specifically the Song of Solomon teaches us that sex serves a greater purpose. Sex is a way to increase intimacy that already exists in marriage, which means that without sex a marriage will grow stagnant and cold. Sex, then, is important to the vitality of the marriage relationship.

While it’s true that sex is an important part of marriage, it’s just as important that a relationship exists before and after one has sex, which is what I want you to see from the Song of Solomon. A careful reading of the text reveals that their marriage relationship wasn’t consummated until the end of chapter 4 and the beginning of chapter 5. Everything before those chapters consist of their courtship and wedding. (click here to read more)

On Confidence: Confidence Comes from a Clearer View of God by JD Greear

Moses couldn’t see that at the time. His thoughts were dominated by the insecurities that always come when you focus on yourself. In time, he would come to see these things and appreciate God’s sovereign preparation of him for the task. When he was called, though, he only saw his lack of potential.

But what is most interesting is that God, in trying to give Moses confidence, doesn’t point to any of Moses’ potential, even though it was there. He doesn’t say, “Moses, wake up! I have been preparing you! You have what it takes!” Instead, he simply says, “Moses, I am with you. Walk forward in confidence, knowing that what I have called you to, I will supply you for.” (click here to read more)