Posts Tagged ‘Fruit of the Spirit’

Thoughts and Destinations

April 9th, 2014

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 NKJV.

Thoughts without discipline and direction produce regrets unforeseen.

My thoughts and comments today are about “thoughts and destinations.”

Your mind is a powerful force. Thoughts are the origin of attitudes, desires, beliefs, and behavior. The noblest acts of self-sacrifice, as well as self-centeredness, begin and mature in the mind. The mind is fertile ground for whatever is sown there. “For as [a man] thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7 NASV. Years earlier, I read a simple but powerful statement, “Sow a thought, and reap an action. Sow an action, and reap a habit. Sow a habit, and reap a destiny.” Never start a journey in your thoughts that you don’t want to reach as your destination. Decisions and direction result from your deliberations.

Great achievements begin with a simple, compelling idea, just as unthinkable behavior can begin with unguarded thoughts. God’s indictment of Noah’s generation was severe but accurate, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great . . and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually . . but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Read Genesis 6:5-8 NKJV. “Every intent of [their] thoughts . . was only evil continually.” Wicked men allowed God nothing He could redeem. Bad behavior and evil lives had its origin in their evil thoughts. Thoughts without discipline and direction produce regrets unforeseen. Noah was different and He found grace. Read Isaiah 55:7-9 NIV.

But there is reason for encouragement. The Bible offers an effective solution, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus . . He humbled Himself and became obedient . .” Read Philippians 2:2-11 NKJV. You will not achieve the mind of Christ by your best efforts. However, you can receive the mind of Christ by your sincere welcome. For this reason, Paul assured your victory, “[You] have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV.

In the Philippians verses, I see these spiritual elements of the mind of Christ you are to replicate: Godly submission, absolute selflessness, humble service, and willing sacrifice, from which come the promise of God’s recognition and reward. From Jesus, you can learn the joy of yielding your rights and embracing responsibilities. You have the Godly potential to become all that you were created to be. The process is not passive; it’s proactive. Read Colossians 3:1-3 NIV/Galatians 5:19-25 NLT.

The mind is not self-governing; your thought life must be righteously managed. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ . . 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NKJV. Recognize, then cast down and capture every thought process that misdirects you spiritually – such as self-pity, remorse, anger, unforgiveness, disobedience, or such like. Read Romans 8:5-6 NIV.

Here is God’s answer; it’s simple and effective but not easy. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV. See Ephesians 4:23-24 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is for an uncluttered mind and thoughts obedient to Christ.

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Disciplines of the Spirit

March 28th, 2014

“God’s discipline is always right and good for us.” Hebrews 12:11 NLT.

A lack of discipline results in a comparable lack of accomplishment.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “disciplines of the Spirit.”

I still have much to learn, but I am grateful for the discipline I received from my parents, teachers, life events, and the Word of God. See 2 Timothy 4:16-17 NKJV. There is no success without significant discipline. A lack of discipline results in a comparable lack of accomplishment. That is true in education, marriage, family, business, finances, or spiritual life.

Discipline is the lifestyle of a disciple. Jesus understood the rigorous requirements of discipline that being His disciple would involve. Jesus said, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27 NKJV. To be a follower of Christ, you must decide if you have both the desire and discipline to give the sustained effort necessary to succeed. If you want everything God has for you, you must learn to appreciate and welcome His loving discipline, which is conforming you into His likeness. See Romans 8:28-29 NIV.

Does the word, “discipline,” make you think of harshness or unfairness? Angry reprimands and harsh retribution are punishment, not discipline. Punishment is inflicted for past conduct; discipline is concerned with future behavior. Godly discipline is an act of loving correction. Discipline is not concerned with exacting a painful price for a past mistake. The application of discipline is for correction as prevention and preparation for the future. Discipline is administered within the context of relationship. See Romans 14:4 NIV. Biblically, discipline describes, “the whole realm of a father’s instruction and correction of a son.” Instruction apart from correction is inadequate. Only discipline frees one’s soul to soar.

The Bible teaches the proper, Godly response, “Don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when He corrects you.” Hebrews 12:5 NLT. The Bible teaches the true heart of Godly discipline, “The Lord disciplines those He loves . . endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons . . for [your] profit, that you might be partakers of His holiness.” Hebrews 12:6-7 NIV/10 NKJV.

The Bible predicts your first, natural response to discipline, promises the benefits of discipline, and promotes the continuing submission necessary for best results: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. But later, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 NIV. Embrace Godly discipline as His expression of love.

The long term goal of God’s discipline is to develop self-discipline within your character, and yet even your best efforts will miserably fail unless you always have God at its source. “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control . . Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:22-25 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you welcome the disciplines of life and the Spirit.

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Joy and Rejoicing

December 2nd, 2013

“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” Luke 2:10 NKJV.

Joy releases rejoicing, and rejoicing increases joy.

My thoughts and comments today are about “joy and rejoicing.”

For many years, our congregational welcome of the Christmas season has been with exuberant joy, expressing that joy with the Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World; the Lord is come; let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room; and Heaven and nature sing.” It is my conviction that the entrance to all the other good things associated with Christmas rests in your personal discovery of the true joy the celebration of His birth can bring into hearts and lives. In fact, any Godly observance of the season that does not begin with and continue in unrestrained rejoicing is inadequate and unworthy of the One we celebrate. Peter describes such joy as being, “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” See 1 Peter 1:3-9 NIV.

An Angel of the Lord announced Jesus’ birth to shepherds, saying, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The joy God brings is qualified as excelling; it’s “great joy!” At such news, Heaven joy could not be sparing, “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.’” Read Luke 2:8-14 NKJV.

Christmas as a holiday has become many things that it needs not be but one thing Christmas, as the birth of the Savior, absolutely must be is to be celebrated with joy and rejoicing, both exuberant and unrestrained. Joy is your choice; rejoicing is your personal expression of joy. Joy abides within every redeemed person, sovereignly placed there by God. The Bible is clear; included among the other attributes the Spirit of God imparts is: “The fruit of the Spirit is . . joy.” Galatians 5:22 NKJV.

Rejoicing is an outwardly visible expression of joy which may become impacted by outward circumstances, but joy, God given and resident in one’s heart and spirit, is untouched by circumstance. Paul describes such a moment, “The grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.” 2 Corinthians 8:2 NKJV.

Peter affirms the same truth, “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice . . [that] you may be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 NKJV. Don’t be deceived by your feelings or current circumstances. The emotions of pain and disappointment may seem to lessen or eliminate joy. If God is in you, His joy is in you as well. “For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 NIV.

Here is a truth about joy and rejoicing. Joy is the original initiative of God; rejoicing is always at your initiative. Joy releases rejoicing, and rejoicing increases joy. Rejoicing, like faith or the giving of thanks, is an act of a sanctified will, independent of emotions or situation. This is the way that works. The greater your joy, the greater your rejoicing. Likewise, the greater your rejoicing, the greater your joy becomes. God gave you the power to renew or release joy anew.

My prayer for you today is that your joy is fully evidenced in your rejoicing.

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Empty Lives

July 22nd, 2013

“That you may be filled with all of the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:19 NKJV

A life void of internal strength succumbs to surrounding pressures.

My thoughts and comments today are about “empty lives.”

In High School, I learned a simple principle of physics; “Nature abhors a vacuum.” To demonstrate, our science teacher presented a metal can, proceeding to extract air out of it until we watched the sturdy can gradually collapse. As resistant, internal pressure is reduced, nature pushes into any void to fill the emptiness. The external pressure was stronger than the strength of the can to resist.

A person’s life can be like that. If your life is void of internal strength you lose the power to resist and withstand, gradually succumbing to the pressures of the world and culture around you. Life is not easy; temptations are many. The pressures to compromise – to give in, to go along to get along – will seem irresistible. The Bible recognizes such spiritual realities and gives the strength to resist such situations successfully. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore . .“ Ephesians 6:13-14 NKJV.

You can successfully stand firm, strong, and righteously if you have a greater power within you than the one oppressing you; “Because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” 1 John 4:4 NIV – a greater power with you than opposing you, “Don’t be afraid for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:16 NIV.

Jesus sat purposefully beside Jacob’s well at noonday when a woman from the city came to draw water. Read John 4:3-30 NKJV. Her supply was gone; her life was empty. In vain, she tried to fill her emptiness with relationships that did not work and pleasures that could not satisfy, never finding a sense of fullness until she met a Man unlike any other she had known. Her emptiness met Jesus’ fullness. Other men only took precious things from her – sanctity, dignity, integrity; Jesus gave the most precious of things to her – forgiveness, freedom, and fullness.

Jesus saw the emptiness of her heart, and invited her to a fullness of life she had never known. “If you knew the gift God has for you, and Who I am, you would ask Me and I would give you Living Water . . people soon become thirsty again after drinking this water, but the water that I give takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:10-13 NLT. In a moment, her life went from empty to full, from life always failing to life ever flowing. See Colossians 1:27 NIV.

Your response can be as hers, “Please sir, give me this Living Water that I may never thirst again.” John 4:15 NKJV.  Recognition is the first step to release. Read John 7:37-39/2 Corinthians 9:8. What did she do? She drank deeply of the Living Water offered her, and then straightway ran to her village and told everyone she knew, “Come; see a Man who told me everything I ever did!” John 4:28-30/39-42 NKJV. You don’t change by denying your past; you change by releasing it to Jesus.

You can know the Savior, yet still struggle with spiritual emptiness, lacking His sufficiency of grace, love, joy, peace, patience, trust, rest, or provision. See Galatians 5:22-25 NLT. God invites you to overflowing, abiding fullness, “That you may be filled with all of the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-21 NKJV. Everything you will ever need or look for, its fullness is found in Jesus. 

My prayer for you this day is: understand that empty lives find fullness only in Jesus.

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Rights and Restraints

February 8th, 2012

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 NKJV

“Liberty is your right in Jesus Christ; loving and serving one another is your responsibility.”

My thoughts today are about “rights and restraints.”

Freedom unrestrained by concern for others’ best is not freedom at all; freedom without restraint is freedom abused. I remember my fourth grade teacher describing for our class the difference between freedom to do whatever you want and the restraint of doing only what is beneficial to others as well as yourself. She spoke of personal rights and interpersonal responsibilities. She said that every person has the right to swing their arm as they please, but one person’s freedom to do so “stops at the end of another person’s nose.” I think the fourth graders understood the concept that day. One’s personal freedom should never be imposed at another’s expense. Why do many adults not understand what was obvious to those fourth graders – the simple concept of rights and restraints?

Some impulses are best restrained. You have a right to your opinion; you should restrain yourself from imposing your opinion on others when unwanted. You have a right to enjoy yourself, but not when doing so imposes on someone else’s enjoyment. You have the right to do what is best for you, when that is coupled with a regard for what is good for others as well. On a recent, full flight, I was seated on the aisle with an empty middle seat. When a man asked if the middle seat was taken, I offered to move over and allow him the aisle seat. My feelings of generosity lasted only until he commandeered the arm rest for the duration of the flight while I sat uncomfortably with arms folded, admittedly displeased at his lack of sharing such limited space. He assumed a right without similar restraint.

Let’s be real; self-interest is your first instinct, but it should not also be your last as well as everything in between. When liberty is only self-serving, it is something less than love and gives occasion for the flesh to exalt itself to the harm of others as well as your own detriment. Liberty is the fruit of love, the means by which you serve others. The Apostle Paul loved and taught spiritual liberty but he also qualified true liberty. “You have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an occasion for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Galatians 5:13-16 NKJV.

Are we capable of setting aside our prevailing self-interest – the idea of “myself above and before all others?” Probably not on your own nor in your own strength. Here’s the good news: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. We all . . are being transformed into the same image [of the Lord] from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NKJV. The Spirit’s work of liberty is the freeing of one’s selfish, sinful self to be who you were created to be and were redeemed to become. See John 8:31-32/36 NIV.

In the context of his instruction, Paul distinguishes between the ugly “works of the flesh – expressing sexual immorality, impure thoughts, lustful pleasure, idolatry, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions,” in stark contrast to the lovely “fruit of the Spirit – producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” Read Galatians 5:17-26. NLT. Liberty is your right in Jesus Christ; loving and serving one another is our mutual responsibility. You serve best when you pick up your responsibilities and lay down your rights, as Jesus did. See Philippians 2:3-11 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you practice restraint in everything except love.

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