Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit ~ Joy

Joy: A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

Throughout our lives we experience moments of pure peace. Moments that are embedded in memory our entire life. One's that we access when in need of happiness or when remembering those who have passed. These moments are known as joy.

Joy when a baby is born. Joy when two people get married. Joy when exchanging laughter with close friends and family. Joy, a word that is often misunderstood. The definition doesn't even explain the true meaning of the word. Its a word that is used when nothing else can describe what you are feeling. It is happiness, euphoria, and pure pleasure and thankfulness.

   1 Peter 1: 8-9
     " Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

As Christians we should live our lives for the eternal. Life is so short, we should be wanting to share with others so they can live with joy; knowing that we have salvation from our sins. The basis of our faith allows us to hope. Knowing that through grace we have hope for a joyful future, without which life has no meaning.

    Romans 15:13 
      "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit ~ Love

In Galatians 5 we find that there are several fruits of the spirit and that without them in our lives there is no law. Written by the apostle Paul for the Galatians, a group of several churches in Galatia, Asia Minor. Seeing that they had abandoned a faith based gospel to a works based, Paul wrote hoping to show them the error in their ways. Here is where we find the fruits of the spirit. Faith based on works yields nothing for the believer, yet faith based on grace from Jesus Christ, changes a persons behavior, and the works they do because of their faith yield great blessings to themselves and others. I am going to go in depth on each fruit starting first with love.

   1 Corinthians 13:13
       " And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Now Paul is not talking about the type of love that we have grown accustomed to lately. He is describing a love that exceeds all belief. A love that is unconditional, irrational, one that never stops. He is describing the true love that we all seek. A love that many never find. It is the greatest gift we can receive and also give to others. We reserve this love for only those close to us and even then sometimes only giving it fully to the person who means most to us in life. It is a sacrificial love. Giving and expecting nothing in return. It is fully devoted to another with an unselfish concern. It is Jesus.

Jesus did all things out of love, even in His anger, it was for the benefit for others. When He cleansed the temple he made possible for people who were afflicted to come to the temple to be healed. Jesus was willing to become the lowest to serve others. In Jewish culture the servant washed the guests feet. Feet that had walked in dirt, and mud, and feces throughout the day. Only one who was willing to give unconditionally would humble himself to a lower position. In this same way Jesus loved us so much that He humbled Himself into the image of a man. Lowering His position, yielding His power to serve His Father, and us. Even in His death there was love. So much in fact that He was willing to die not only for those at the time but for all who had been and would ever be.

    John 15:13
      "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."

Do you think God, Jesus, expected much from us in return? He knows our nature. We are selfish, undeserving, and ungrateful. He would have laid down His life for one if needed. The Lord said He would save Sodom if He found ten righteous living within the city.

   Genesis 18:32
     "...And He said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of ten."

The love Jesus showed was so great. He was willing to die to save the lives of few or many, His life was given to show the ultimate gift, the gift of love.

     John 3:17
       "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved."

By giving Himself up and demonstrating true love to those close to Him, Jesus instilled in the disciples the need to share what true love represents. By the disciples sharing their stories with others and demonstrating a faith that changed the world, we are able to love like never before. To be unconditional, and steadfast through all adversity. Because we know that our friend Jesus, laid down his life and ultimate love was given to us so that we could love others without consequence or worry. Without love, life and the fruits of the spirit would simply mean nothing. You cannot have joy or peace without love. Kindness, goodness and gentleness are nothing without love. The need for self-control and long-suffering would be void. The purpose of faith would be meaningless without love. Love brings all things together.

      1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
           " Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails..."

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Staying in the Word

     I am finding it difficult to read my Bible.
Personally I think this is something that people run into quite often. As Christians I think we believe that we need to read our Bible daily or as often as possible. However, for myself I go in spurts. Now I might read a couple verses here and there for support but not always an in depth study. I do notice that my mood changes when I am not reading my Bible. That is why it takes me some time to get back into a regular reading habit. Here are my tips to getting back into the word.

  1. Keep verses on your refrigerator. Read them over and over. You'll be surprised to see how much they impact your outlook on the day. 
  2. Find blogs or pages on Facebook to like. These give you inspiration for the day. 
  3. Schedule time in your day. I like mornings after breakfast with my coffee.
  4. Set a goal. Reading one chapter a day.
  5. Listen to Christian music. 
  6. Best for last: Don't stop in the first place.
When you are regularly reading, praying and communicating with God life changes. You sleep better. Your life is more peaceful. These are all side effects of God's word. It is a wonderful thing He gave us. It gives us hope and direction for our lives even when we cannot see through the mess life creates. Ever open your Bible and the passage before you answers all your questions that day an helps with your troubles? I believe the more you're in the word the more it gives you. Through all our trials in life the one place to never quit is in your Bible. God made it for us and gave it to us so we could find direction. To find meaning in life when we can see none. Never stop reading your Bible. 
      Romans 10:17
  "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"