Monday, October 6, 2014

How to be a Fruity Christian (Part 21)

As we observe our culture today, we can clearly see many problems, yet one of the more glaring problems is a lack of personal self control.  With the motto "Have it your way" implied  in every commercial you see or hear, it is no surprise that our children and grandchildren has chosen to act out in however the choose, and view the word "restraint" as a dirty word.  Our nation is filled with millions of people who live for self indulgences, living life out of control in their desires, appetites, modesty, sexuality, attitudes, and financial responsibilities; and this is just the  short list.  Why does our world seem to be out of control?  The answer is simple, most in this world is not filled nor being led by the Holy Spirit of God.

The ninth and final fruit of God's Spirit is called self control (Gal. 5:23).  Self control is love's victory in our lives.  Having self control or the lack of control will affect all the other fruit, and in turn ensure whether we walk in victory or defeat.  Victory is only achieved as long as our wills are aligned with God's will.  Self control is basically the proper use of our freedom that God gives His children.  In the Bible, the words restraint, control, or temperance are used to describe being in control.  The ability to be able to control what our inward, fleshly desires longs for can only happen when we have God's Holy Spirit living in us and guiding us.  To live a life "in control"  is a gift from God.  2 Timothy 1:7 states, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and of self-control."   I can guarantee that when you and I allow God's Holy Spirit to lead us, and we embrace His power in every area of our life, then we will exhibit self control and experience a less stressed life.  Until next time, keep walking close to Christ. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to be a Fruity Christian (Part 20)

As we focus on being meek or gentle, let us examine the life of Jesus.  In Matthew 11:29, Jesus states from His own lips, "...for I am gentle and lowly in heart,..."   From Jesus' own words we know that this characteristic in Jesus' life is not a synonym for weakness, but rather strength under control.  In these verses, Jesus is reminding His children that there is plenty of room in his arms, and enough strength in His shoulders to help carry each of our burdens.  We serve a God who does not drive His children away, but longs to carry each one in His gentle arms.  Yet, this is the same Jesus who took a whip and drove the money changers out of that temple (Matt. 21:1-17).  It was this same Jesus who stretched those bloodied arms horizontally, across on old rugged cross for our sins.  And it will be this same meek Savior who will come back through the clouds, leading the armies of heaven behind Him, to bring judgment upon the wicked and set up His forever Kingdom on earth (Rev. 19). 

As you and I seek to follow Jesus' example of living a life of meekness, where do we begin?  First, we ought to develop a meek spirit (1 Peter 3:3-4), learning how to listen and obey God's will for our life.  Second, develop a meek tongue (Pr. 15:1-4; 25:11-15).  It is a gentle answer that does more good than a fierce reply.  Third, develop a meek presence.  This speaks of how we interact with others (1 Thess. 2:7; Gal. 6:1-2).  And last, work to develop a meek appetite.  God's Word commands us to purse meekness (1 Tim. 6:11), put on meekness (Col. 3:12), walk in meekness (Eph. 4:2), and display meekness (Titus 3:2).  It is only when Jesus Christ is ruling as Lord and Savior in our lives that makes it possible for meekness to fill our life.  Until next time, keep walking close to Christ.     

Friday, September 12, 2014

How to Be a Fruity Christian (Part 19)

Our world has gone crazy over, or are addicted to their cell phones.  A survey in 2009 found that 82% of Americans have a cell phone.  I would say that number must be 90% or more today.  In fact, out of 7 billion people in the world today, it has been estimated that over 3.4 billion own a cell phone.  Cell phones are everywhere and so are those ring tones.  The ring tone that I have on my phone today is "Every Praise" by Hezekiah Walker.  This wonderful song reminds me that in everything I should praise my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It would be safe to say that if I were able to hear your ring-tone, it would in some way reflect your personality or your heart.  The same can be said about the eighth fruit of the Sprit, meekness (or gentleness) is love's ring tone.

The word "meekness" often gets bad press as being another word for "weakness".  But the Bible is clear that meekness is not a bad word, but rather a strong word.  In the Old Testament, the word meekness is closely associated with humility (Prov. 15:33).  In Zeph. 2:3 to seek after meekness is to seek the Lord.  Meekness is listed with truth and righteousness, inward qualities of true strength (Ps. 45:4).  In the New Testament meekness means gentle, mild, or an inward grace of the soul.  When Jesus stated, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5:5), He was not taking about cowards but those whose inward strength is under control.  Jesus, who is described as being "meek", was not a coward or a wimp, but rather knew best how to control his emotions and actions when facing difficult situations.  To be truly meek or gentle is a direct reflection of how much work we are allowing the Holy Spirit to do in our lives.  The more gentle we are in our interactions with each other, the less stress we will have in our lives.  Until next time, keep walking close with Christ. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to Be a Fruity Christian (Part 18)

*When archaeologists were digging through the ruins of the city of Pompeii, they found many bodies buried, in varying positions, most of whom were trying to flee the raining ash and lava from  Mt. Vesuvius.  Upon closer examination of the people in this town, one amazing revelation was discovered in the posture of the Romans soldiers who were stationed as sentinels.  Archaeologist found each soldier still standing at the gate of the city, where he had been stationed by his captain, with his hands still grasping the weapon, a spear.  While the earth shook beneath him; there, while the floods of ashes and cinders overwhelmed him, he had stood and not abandoned his post of duty until he was engulfed by the hot molten rock.

What a picture of faithfulness, duty, and responsibility! Can you say that you show that much faithfulness for God?  How is Godly faithfulness developed in our lives?  First, it develops as we grow in love and obedience toward God and His Word.  Second, it develops as we use our spiritual gifts for God's glory (Matt. 24:14-30).  Third, faithfulness develops as we interact with other believers in God's Kingdom (Prov. 11:13,13:17,14:5).  And as we grow in our faithfulness to God and His church, we must be on guard to the #1 villain to godly, faithful living, and that is the desire and pursuit of wealth and riches (1 Tim. 6:9-10).  Faithfulness begins with God, given to us by the Holy Spirit, to be applied into every relationship we have on earth.  The more faithful we are in our relationships to God and man, the less stress we will have.  Until next time, keep walking faithfully with Christ. 

*story taken from Robert Strand's book Faithfulness, p.p. 27-28   

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to Be a Fruity Christian (Part 17)

The sixth fruit that flows out of God's love is called "faithfulness".  Someone has described faithfulness as "love's quantity".  "Quantity" is a very important word.  For instance, if a doctor gives you "too much quantity" of medicine, it could cause harm to your body, or even kill you.  If that same doctor gives you "too little quantity" of medicine, it will not be able to have the needed effect to make you better.   Quantity speaks of the measurable whole, the body of, or amount of.  Faithfulness is the quantity that makes up love.  In fact, faithfulness always presupposes God's love. (Ps. 36:5; 89:1-2)

In the Old Testament, the word for faithfulness (emunah) means certainty, reliable, dependable.  It is synonymous to the word righteousness (Is. 11:5), loving kindness (Ps. 98:3), and justice (Jer. 5:1).  Men are called to show themselves "faithful" in their relationship with God Himself (2 Chr. 19:9).  And by being faithful, they are displaying their love for God.  In the New Testament, the word faith (pistis) is a foundational word.  Faithfulness speaks of one's loyal trust in God, or ones steadfast and constant walk before God and man.  The word "faithfulness" is a manifestation of God's saving grace in one's life.  Faithfulness grows out of one's saving faith.  As James 2:17 teaches, "When we have faith in God, we will act in faithful ways toward God and man."  As we learn to put all of our faith in a faithful God, then our lives will be less filled with stress.  Until next time, keep walking close to Christ.    

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How to Be a Fruity Christian (Part 16)

I and my family enjoy watching cooking shows on TV, especially the reality cooking shows.  After spending several years watching these shows, you start noticing familiar faces over and over on these shows.  A cook may come in as a rookie, but if they are any good, they will advance to a point in which they will be recognized as a "great chef."  What makes a person a great chef?  There are many answers to that question, but I believe one on the top answers is that chef who is now considered "great" has spent many years developing their skill and their recipes.  The longer the development, the better the food.  The same can be said about the spiritual gift of "goodness".  Goodness in the life of a person can only be perfected by time and experience.  Let us look at some of the ways goodness is developed in our lives. 

First, it is developed as we work in this world.  Matthew 5:16 states that as we work, those around us will, "see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven."  Second, it is developed as we warn and are warn by our brothers.  What I mean by this is that we are to "sharpen each other", as we grow as Christians.  True "goodness" looks out for the best of our brothers and sister, and sometimes it is best to say, "STOP!"  Third, goodness grows as we walk in God's righteousness and truth (Eph. 5:9).  Fourth, when our prayer life and faith grow then it will positively affect the goodness within our heart toward God and others (2 Thess. 1:11).  Goodness does not grow overnight, it takes discipline to live and do right according to God's Word.  When we struggle to do good, and are tempted to do wrong, please remember the Apostle Paul's instruction, "always overcome evil with good." (Rom. 12:21).  Until next time, keep walking close with Christ. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How to Be a Fruity Christian (Part 15)

Years ago, I read an article that interviewed people at work about their co-workers.  The key subject dealt with those co-workers who were always going out of their way to please others or do good around the workplace.  The conclusion of this article found that most coworkers did not like their peers constantly doing good around the work place.  The mentality of most came down to the following phrase, "Don't be a goody two-shoes!"  Yet when we come to Galatians 5:22-23, we see that the sixth fruit of the Spirit is "goodness" or "loves' quality". 

In the Old Testament the word for good is "tob" and it is first used by God in Genesis 1 & 2 to  describe "the good creation."  In the New Testament the word goodness is connected to the word "benevolence".  Goodness speaks of moral and spiritual excellence.  In Scripture, a person can not be considered "good" if separated in their relationship with God.  Since God is the standard for goodness (Ps. 100:5, Nah. 1:7, Ps. 23:6), only those who walk with the True and Living God are considered good.  Man is not naturally good, because sin defiled that good standing before God.  Man's goodness can only come from his relationship with God.  That is why we ought to be careful when making statement like, "They are good", or "They do a lot of good things", of people you do not know their spiritual condition.  In the eyes of God, there is no such thing as "good" unless that goodness flows from a personal relationship with God.  The prophet Isaiah makes this thought crystal clear when he writes, "All of our righteousness (goodness) is as filthy rags!"  Only those who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ have God's power within to live a "good" life before Him.  Until next time, keep walking close to Christ.