Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit ~ Goodness

Goodness: moral excellence, virtue, the essence of something or its strength; integrity and honesty.

This week I took some time to reflect on life. To see where I have come from; the goals I have accomplished and looked excitingly toward the future. And in that I realized in order to stick to your goals and remain not only true to God and being a Christian, but also to yourself, you have to maintain your morality. You cannot compromise your integrity or your goodness, and not compromise your future. Goodness in the bible is accounted to ones character, and uprightness in what they believed. To Abraham, his goodness saved him.

   Genesis 15:6
      "And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness."

   Romans 4:2
      "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God."

Abraham was not saved because of offerings but because he believed in the Lord and His promises to him, and did not compromise his belief because of others. His goodness and morality did not waver. Now this is not to say that men are perfect once they believe. Abraham knew God promised him a child, yet he thought his plan was the way. God brought the Jews into the world through Isaac, not Ishmael. Yet God fulfilled a promise to both sons to become great nations. Abraham compromised his future here, and it changed not only his life but the world.

One's goodness is what maintains them. Their reputation is what people remember of them and reputation can change based on one's moral compass. So the fruit of the spirit is not just telling you to be a "good person" but rather to be upright, virtuous and grounded in God.

The word good is considered a dead word in society. That means we use it to explain beneficial things without true explanation or description. Instead of "That was a good meal" we would substitute with excellent or obedient  for "He is a good child." But the biblical meaning is much more. It is not a dead description or rotten fruit. It is something to strive towards, a standard to obtain. We pray for goodness, and to obtain goodness you need peace and patience.The fruits of the spirit go hand in hand. Goodness is not being perfect. We saw Abraham was not that, but he trusted in God as we should, and he was faithful and true to God.

   Psalm 23
      "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit ~ Kindness

Kindness: The quality of being friendly generous and considerate.

The use for the word kindness over time has drastically declined in the last 200 years. Why is that? Have people become less kind? Or do we not know the true meaning of the word and use others in its place? Kindness, I believe, is often replaced with the word nice. However, nice simply is to be pleasant and agreeable. Nice is not generous, nice is not considerate. Nice is tolerant.

   Ephesians 4:32
      "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."

God's act of forgiveness wasn't nice, it was kind. He did not have to save us, we are dirty rotten sinners to the core, and some of us still reject His kindness. His mercy and grace upon us is what has saved us, not His ability to be nice, but rather His ability to be kind.

   Psalm 117:2
      "For His merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord."

You can walk down the street and smile to people that is nice, but is it kind? Kindness would be asking a stranger how they are doing; helping another person when in need.

   2 Peter 1:7
      "to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love."

In my opinion this is a difficult fruit. One that renders the need for several others before you can truly be kind. Kindness comes from love. Love for one another, for the greater good of society. Kindness is telling someone the truth about Christ and his grace towards us. Kindness is giving from yourself and enjoying the look on someones face as they receive a gift of love, or peace, or hope that they have never seen before. Kindness is more then generosity. You can give and not give of yourself. Kindness requires the giving of yourself, your time, and your abilities.

   John 3:16
      "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

This is God's act of kindness. What is yours?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fruit Of The Spirit ~ Patience

Patience: (Longsuffering) the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without complaint; steady perseverance, even-tempered care, diligence.

The fruits of the spirit are something we work toward as Christians. When you accept Christ into your life you are not a perfect person overnight. In fact we can never be perfect ourselves. Only through the grace of God can we become perfect in Christ. Now all of us our born with inherent qualities, yet none of us are born with all of the fruits of the spirit. The qualities we are lacking take time, trials, and work to obtain. I for one lack patience. "Patience is a virtue." My mother said this to me more than I can count. It is so instilled in my mind that whenever I find myself lacking, I remind myself that patience is a virtue.

In the bible I believe patience means more than waiting in line quietly or respectfully. Patience is the understanding that time will bring pleasure, however the amount of time is unknown and will not go any faster if you plead for your reward. It is the willingness to delay happiness. To be slow to anger and to give others a chance before becoming frustrated. 

    Luke 8:15
      "But the ones that fell in the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, kept it and bear fruit with patience."

This verse is not talking about trees or bushes, but rather the hearts of Christians who understand that by grace through faith we have salvation in Christ. That we are willing to wait for our blessed hope while doing Christ's work in the time we have, serving others with humility and love. 

    1Thessalonians 1:3
        "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father."

We need to demonstrate in our lives what the Holy Spirit has done for us. How He has given us new life and an ability to help others without expecting a reward in return. Our reward is undeserved salvation. We should be more than willing to wait for a gift we could never earn nor repay. 

   1 Timothy 6:6-7
       "Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."

   1 Timothy 6:11
       "But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness."

In this day and age patience and contentment are bygones. Everything is for the here and now. You can buy things on credit; no wait and no money down. Get the new version while the old works just as well. We live in an age that only cares about today and it shows. People are unwilling to wait, they think only about themselves, and when they do think about others it is only for self-reward. We lack patience and contentment. Do we really need a new car? Yours might be out of style but does it get you from A to B? Will a bigger paycheck solve all your problems? Or maybe some of our needs are really wants and our problems and inflicted due to our lack of patience. 

   James 1:4
      "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

By having patience, we are not denied anything. God is a loving and generous God. He is more than generous to those who love Him. He wants us to have everything we could possibly imagine; but some things cannot be bought. They are immaterial and in order to be obtained trials, or a lack of material items, are necessary for us to understand and obtain things such as patience and the fruits of the spirit. 

There is a saying, "The longer the waiting the sweeter the reward."

I believe heaven, when we have longed for it with patience, at first glance will be more mesmerizing than we ever could have imagined. 

   Colossians 1:10-11
      "That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Fruit Of The Spirit ~ Peace

Peace : Freedom from disturbance or violence; quiet, tranquillity and serenity. 

Peace in the bible is often used to help calm someone or something. It is a product of God and His will for us to have no worries. 

  Philippians 4:7
     "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

This verse often helps me when I am unsure of the future. I know God's plan for my life is the best however, not knowing the intimate details of that plan worries me. Why should uncertainty get me so flustered? God did not give us a spirit of fear. That is not a fruit of the spirit! I am starting to learn that my anxiety is an indication for prayer. Often I realize that prayer for guidance brings overwhelming peace into my life. Jesus gave us a beautiful depiction of how allowing the Holy Spirit to have complete control and surrendering fully to the Lord can benefit your life. 

   Mark 4:37-39
     "And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm."

To me this story show what happens within our hearts the moment we put God in control. Before we may try to fight our battles as best as we can in our own way; even if we know there is a better plan laid out for us. All we need to do is simply ask for help. 

  Matthew 11:28
    "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

When we do this God steps in and calms all our storms. There may still be difficult waves ahead but they will he met with assurance that God will lead us through. 

   Psalm 119:105
     "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

By consistently reading God's word we prepare ourselves, and by doing so we receive peace. Peace that makes the greatest fears seem like mere trifles. Peace that brings clarity to life. Peace that calms storms.

Many in this world ride the waves of storms and never see a placid sea. To those souls, peace is unattainable and they would give anything for it. But when you say to them all that is needed is complete surrender; peace becomes something that you can have but are unsure you need. It is when all other options flee. When there is no light ahead. That is when you call for peace. Then God will be your lighthouse and His light will never go out. 

   Deuteronomy 31:6
     "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

White As Snow

I know right now I am in the middle of the Fruits of the Spirit, however, with recent conversations I finally grasped the concept of white as snow. It might seem weird to some that I didn't fully understand because how could you get a better description than white as snow? You can't, but you can not fully understand just how white snow actually is until you have seen it first hand. I have seen snow before, I grew up in Idaho, but I had never seen snow like this.

Recently Ethan and I took a trip to Alaska to visit family. We had a great time and took many excursions on our trip but the most memorable adventure was a glacier landing on Mount. McKinley.
Now we had an amazing time but as you can see in this photo, we are surrounded by snow. Beautiful, untouched, perfectly clean snow. I had never before seen something so perfect in my life. This wasn't the kind of snow that sits in your driveway and slowly accumulates dirt until it melts in spring. It was breathtaking and is still difficult to describe how vast the snow extends in these mountains and how the mountains are so tall; yet we were seeing them exactly as God intended. Untouched by man or animal; in the state that they were created. This is where I understood why God said He would make us as white as snow. 

    Isaiah 1:18 
      '"Come now, and let us reason together," Says the Lord, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool."'

The guides for our mountain tour wouldn't let us go up without sunglasses, and we thought it was because it was a nice, warm sunny day and it would be a little bright with the snow. We were wrong; completely wrong. It is not just bright; it is blinding! I took my glasses off for a brief moment to see how bright it would be and my eyes had an instant headache. It was too white to look at with my bare eyes. It was as if my eyes were seeing a color that they couldn't comprehend. I had never seen something so amazing in my life. I don't know if there ever will be such an eye-opening look at the perfect picture God gave us to demonstrate how perfectly clean we, as believers, appear to Him. 

 These are just a couple photos to show the crystal clear brilliance of the snow. The first photo is edited to take out the glare, but the second is the raw picture of just how bright it was.

Psalm 51:7
  "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow"

Another image that has really resonated with me throughout my life is a story that my mother told me when I was a teenager. She told me about a time she went hunting with a friend and he was extremely dirty. After he had made his kill he was using the blood to clean his arms from the dirt and grime. At first it sounded so gross, (I am not against hunting in any way it is something I was raised on, however I don't know of anyone who openly enjoys being covered to their elbows in blood) but then she explained how she understood what a beautiful thing that God did by using Jesus' blood to cleanse us from our sins. That after her friend had washed the blood off with snow, ironic, he was perfectly clean. Perfectly Clean.

   Acts 3:19
     "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."

God gave us images in this world so that we could understand what He has done in the spiritual. He has used blood, something that stains and is difficult to clean, to be the cleanser for our souls. By so doing He has made us blindingly white as snow.