Category Archives: Holy Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit – Patience

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…patience

Patience is never a subject that Christians want to hear a message about. We’ve all experienced praying for patience, only to have the worst day ever. This may be where the saying “Be careful what you wish for” came from. It seems that when we pray for patience, the Lord gives us some training.

But we should all strive to show patience, so that others may see that something different in us. We must be the ones in the frustrating situation who are keeping a cool head. This is an open door to witnessing to nonbelievers. When we keep our cool, even though everyone around us is losing theirs, people may ask us how it’s so. We must walk through that open door.

If we are to bear fruit as a witness to our Savior, we must have patience to deal with all things that come our way. If we do not have patience with nonbelievers, we will not show them love. If we do not have patience, we will not show kindness in a world that lacks it. Without patience, there is no self-control, and so on and so forth.

To bear any fruit of the spirit, we must exercise patience.

The fruit of the Spirit – Peace

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…peace

Love…joy…and now peace. The fruit of the spirit begins with three very related attributes that a Christ follower should exemplify. Related because the first leads to the second, and the second leads to the third. Without love, we would have no joy; and with no joy, we could have no peace. This means that, indirectly and directly, we cannot have peace without love.

Peace is a byproduct. If one merely strives for peace, but does not achieve the other fruit of the Spirit, peace will not be reached. Much the same can be said for the remainder of the fruit. And it all starts with love.

Peace can be a very elusive thing in our time. With our world constantly growing more busy, one can barely find the time to think about peace, let alone obtain it. It doesn’t help that we’re told from every source around us that we should only look out for ourselves and our own pleasure. The lie of the world is that we will gain peace by seeking the things of this world and thinking only of selfish ambition. But peace will never be reached in this way.

True peace, the kind that Christ promises, cannot be caught by trying to catch peace. No, it is a byproduct of a Christ-centered attitude and heart. When we follow after the will of God, when we love others, when we help those in need, when we exemplify love and have joy, we will get peace. The peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7) will be ours if we seek the Lord first and foremost in our lives.

Pentecost

Acts 2:38  And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In Christ, the many promises of God to His people, the Jews, came to pass.  He encompassed all that God had chosen to reveal to man.  In the Holy Spirit then, all of the promises of Christ to His people, the Christians, were fulfilled.  Jesus had told His followers to go and wait for Him after He had resurrected and reappeared to them.  He promised if they waited they would receive power.

And so they waited.  They hid, really.  They were all together in one place on that day, the day of Pentecost.  And when they received the Holy Spirit they all were given the power to speak in languages they didn’t know, for the purpose of evangelizing to others in his/her own tongue.  Those who heard them were amazed that these uneducated men were able to speak many languages.  Some scoffed, some mocked…but they listened.

As they listened, the previously timid disciples who were in hiding boldly came out among them and preached the gospel.  Peter delivered a sermon that brought around 3,000 to Christ that day.  It wasn’t a “here’s how to get a better life” sermon, or even a “Jesus loves you” speech.  Peter simply pointed to the truth through events that had taken place and then let the conviction of the Holy Spirit do its work in the hearts of the people.  They heard it and were “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37).  Then Peter gave them a chance to respond, which they did.

The work of the Holy Spirit in believers on Pentecost is the same power He employs today in us.  Things may not always be so drastic as to see thousands of people saved in one moment, but His conviction in their hearts and His work in us to be bold in speaking the truth is still very real, just as it was for Peter and the eleven. He may not ever urge you to speak in tongues or to preach in front of a massive crowd, but He will empower you to do God’s will in whatever situation you do find yourself in.

To God be the glory.

Romans: God’s kids

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God

What a precious gift salvation is from the Lord!  Yet even in this wonderful news there is more.  Not only has God saved us and freed us from sin, but He’s adopted us!  He didn’t have to do that for His enemies, and yet He did.

But we all run the risk of falling into doubt, don’t we?  We doubt His love for us, we doubt the forgiveness we’ve received, we doubt that we’re truly His.  And it’s there that we see that the gifts just keep pouring in.  He’s done all these things for us and still there’s more.

In those times of doubt we find that we have a Comforter.  It’s the Holy Spirit who bears witness to our spirits that we are indeed children of God, adopted by the Father of Lights.  Yes, He is our loving Daddy who would spare nothing for our sake.  He never wants us to forget that or to lose sight of it.  He keeps giving by reminding us through the Holy Spirit that we are His and He is ours.  Great news.

Romans: Spirit-led sons of God

Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

 There are two types of people in this world.  There are those who are led by the Holy Spirit and there are those who are lost.  There are no other options.  When left to our own wisdom to guide ourselves, we get nowhere.  Only by the Holy Spirit can we talk in the way God has for us.

To some, this may seem a ridiculous notion, pointing to the achievements of secular mankind who has not consulted God or been Spirit-led in their discoveries throughout the ages.  It is an interesting observation, however, those who think that mankind has the potential to know all there is to know, thus disproving the existence of God, are disregarding the fact that God created all there is to discover.  The achievements of man are of no eternal consequence.

But those led by the Spirit are children of God, adopted into His family.  We have been the recipients of the greatest gift of all time: God himself.  There is nothing of greater eternal significance.  It doesn’t matter what we accomplish in this temporary life in regards to greatness because true greatness is only found in one place.  It is God’s to give.

Miracles Great and Small

How often, in our times of trouble, do we pray for a miracle? In our faith and our hope we often just find ourselves kneeling down, laying it all out and wishing for something, for anything that will come, wanting it so badly and for it to be enough to encompass our lives, making it just that much easier.

Why not? After all, even in his sin, even in his fallen state of anger and hate, Saul of Taurus gave witness to a miracle. The ground rumbled, and shook and any questions, any doubt he had was chased away by the booming voice of God as the heavens split and His presence and will was made known to him. He didn’t even pray, he wasn’t working in faith, the persecutor of the early Church he didn’t even realize he was in need of that divine guidance, yet there it was. So why can’t we be blinded by the glory of God to be shown the path? Why can’t His voice come like thunder from the skies to tell us the road we need to go down?

It’s one of those questions, one of those struggles we battle with. We know the verses, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) or “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”, (Philippians 4:13) but sometimes it seems as if the God who tells us to be strong and courageous, reminding us that He will never fail us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6) just doesn’t hear. It almost feels as if He is waiting for us to figure it out for ourselves, removed from the situation as we plead with Him, in our faith, for a little more, for a little something, the weight of it all just bearing down on us.

God’s miracles are never far from us though. It’s just a matter of looking for them and seeing them right in front of us. Though He can, He doesn’t necessarily send angels with blazing swords to appear in front of us, nor does He split the skies to appear in His wondrous glory in front of us. Even as we want a dramatic example or an encompassing miracle that shows us the path of His divine design for our lives, it’s not the way it works.

The promise of God isn’t the promise that He will give us what we want. It’s the promise that, in His goodness and His mercy, in His love for us He will give us what we need. (2 Peter 1:3) With that, through the power of His Holy Spirit, His miracles are everywhere around us to behold, made manifest in His hope for us. (Hebrews 2:4) It’s just a matter of understanding what those miracles truly are, letting your heart and your soul, your spirit and your mind open to the fruits of His Spirit, (Galatians 5:22-23) the truest blessings of God’s wondrous plan and love for us.

Coming to our Heavenly Father, laying our burdens at the feet of Christ, means not only trust Him, it means not only having faith in Him, it means opening our eyes to the great and to the small, knowing that they happen all around us if we are truly receptive to the way that they come to us. With that it’s not about the lessons He can teach us or the hope He can give us when He makes things so easy for us that we can’t ignore it, it’s about the way He guides us to a better understanding, a greater understanding that only comes when we open our eyes to a world of greater possibilities through Him. It’s the reminder that, as our blessed Savior reminds us, it takes but a mustard seed of faith to move a mountain, (Matthew 17:20) and the greatest came come from the smallest.

Though He promises us His goodness, His hope and His mercy, telling us that He has plans for us and for our lives, (Jeremiah 29:11) God comes to us on His terms, not on ours. He does so because, better than we know ourselves, He knows us and what is best for us. With that He guides us and leads us according to who we are and who we need to be, we just need to keep our eyes and our hearts open to the signs and the wonders that He has all around us. Perhaps they’re not always easy to see, but they are there. What we need to remember is that coming to God in faith, coming to Christ in hope, trusting in their blessings, and their guarantees, means we are trusting in the power and the terms of the Divine, and not just our own want or desire for what that should mean.

Let your hearts behold the miracles of the living God, let your lives be encompassed by those blessings great and small. Let go of your own preconceived notions of what they should be or need to be. Once you do, you open yourself up to a whole new world of possibilities where the miracles you once considered small now become greater than anything you ever imagined as they give you the power to do more and be more according to the wonders of God through the grace of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans: Live According to the Spirit

Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Is your mind set on things of the Spirit?  It’s pretty easy in today’s culture so saturated with entertainment and technology to fail to think about the right things.  Without even realizing it, we sometimes ignore God’s voice.

We live in a time when there is literally no excuse to ever be bored.  If you don’t like what you’re watching on TV, you likely have 500 other channels to choose from.  If that isn’t working for you, there are thousands of websites, many that claim to be “social” to keep you  occupied.  Magazines, smart phone apps and games, online gaming, the list is endless.  If we’re not careful we can be consumed by the things of the world.

But as Christians we’re not called to be consumed by this world.  We’re called to be set apart from it.  In the world but not of it, if you will.  The only way to truly be effective for God’s purposes is to set aside the many pleasures this world has to offer for the sake of doing what we’re called to do.  That doesn’t mean we never have fun or never set aside time for pure entertainment.  It just means we have a different worldview from which we operate.  We set our mind on the things of God and when we do that, the other stuff out there pales in comparison.

The Place of the Disciple in the Political

What is the role of the faithful disciple amidst the political realm?

Of the numerous theological questions that are debated, there are few that seem to be more contentious than this one. Yet it hardly stands as a new issue or one that has only been faced in our present age. It has been one that has plagued the follower of Christ since the birth of his ministry and even before, one that even threatened to draw him in.

The irony of it lies in the inherent danger that comes through the misunderstanding of the faithful and vigilant disciples place amidst this debate. Consider, for example, the life of our blessed Savior himself. Knowing the people had intended to try and crown him an earthly king he would reject the concept himself and withdraw from them. (John 6:15) Yet, when he would stand before Pontius Pilate, he would stand accused of seeking to establish for himself an earthly kingdom with himself as the sovereign over the people. (John 18:33-34)

Though Christ himself did not confuse the two, the confusion that was reaped by others, it offers to us the reason why Christ himself taught to us that we need to “Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar.” (Matthew 22:15-22)

You see, as with all things, it is a matter of balance. Though the church, and, at the most basic of levels, the faithful disciple need be more concerned with the Spiritual Kingdom and the welfare of the hearts and souls of all people, whereas the state need be concerned with the body and the orderly governance over it, this does not preclude the follower of Christ from participating in the civil offices of government. What it means is that though, as in all things, their character and their leadership should be an example of Christ and His love, (1 Corinthians 4:16) there is no case by which they should impose their spiritual belief on the legal ordinances that administer and preside over the citizenry.

In fact, as exemplified by Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, the three who stood by their faith even as Nebuchadnezzar sought to force them against their conscience, (Daniel 2-3) the only place of civil disobedience against the laws of men are the acts that are forced because of the overstepping of Kings and Princes and States into the Spiritual Realm when they seek to, through any means, compel us to betray our faith. As we are not to force our faith on others, seeking to compel them to live by it, so can no government seek to force us to live contrary to it by their own acts and laws.

This is vital for the disciple of Christ to remember as it gives the primary means for us to successfully utilize ourselves and our faith in our understanding of the means by which God wishes us to live. After all, as C.S. Lewis would once observe, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

Our focus, if we seek to preserve and defend the principles of love, faith, charity and grace, need be on how we, through our lives, our works and our deeds, give testimony to it. There is a fundamental difficulty with this when we focus our faith on the temporal through an earthly focus, failing to understand that Christ’s kingdom is not of this earth. Rather than being a vessel for the Spirit to win hearts and minds, we become intent on being a vessel for our own morality as a weapon to force others to live as we demand in the most self-righteous of ways.

Guided by hope and love be a force for change, for good in the world. Focus on personal charity rather than expecting government to legislate it or mandate it, focus on sharing a message of love to those who are hurt and wounded, the broken hearted and the downtrodden, rather than pushing for a law. Strengthen each other by what you have to give in hope to those around you, and let your life testify to a greater understanding of unity and peace. Each of us, on our own, through the power of the Spirit have the capacity to the greatest good for others while showing them the path to Christ, each day, rather than riling yourself up with current events, ask yourself how you might do that.

In doing this, our concern must be more for the spiritual welfare and edification of others. It must be to uplift them in the true messages of Christ, of which the primary is the freedom of the spirit and the liberty of the soul. By understanding, by living this we can do more for the truest forms of hope and change in this world.

How then, as a disciple of Christ do you see yourself doing the most good? How do you strengthen others? How do you edify them? This is our mandate and it comes from the truest authority over us, our God, as a personal calling to each of us as Christ’s followers. How will you live in it today?

Judging

There are few greater controversies for the disciple than the question of judging others and the proper nature of it. After all, to read the words of Scripture, to read the words of our blessed Savior himself, we come to understand that there is an inherent evil that can come with the application of our judgment as we assess the nature of sin and apply to it our own understanding.

Does this mean though that we do not judge? What do passages such as “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her…” (John 8:7), “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) or the ever popular “Do not judge or you too will be judge…” (John 7:1) truly inform us of in our walk with Christ? What do they teach us of the true nature of discipleship and the way we observe others?

As with all things the truest measure of our judgment and the nature of our faith must be tempered with love. It must be met with a generous spirit given to hope and the edification of others, bearing the fruits of faith to nourish and strength the lives of others. The controversy itself was never meant to steer us away from assessing and evaluating the actions of others. It was meant to ensure that we look to ourselves, that we understand ourselves so that, in all that we do, we act in steadfast devotion to our brothers and sisters, not out of condemnation but out of affection for them.

You see, of the two greatest commandments given by Christ himself, the second is to love our neighbor, to love our fellow man, as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:36-40) What this means is that we must not be like the Pharisee, the hypocrite who deems himself righteous without a careful examination of himself, while condemning those around us for wickedness. (Luke 18:9-14) Our lives, they have to be given to a close and studious scrutiny as we daily inspect our own walks with our Savior as we are given to the Spirit of the Lord. With this this though also comes the understanding that we must hold others to the same level of accountability as we hold ourselves.

What we must remember is that, if given in the right spirit, if shown with the right heart, there is nothing more loving than to look at others, and to help them get back on the right path. If done with in faith, and charity, guided by a hope for them, it is done in a manner that does not seek to judge but that wants nothing more than to ensure that they are right with God even as we try to ensure that we are right with Him ourselves.

In hope and love for others this never comes in the form of an attack, nor should it be intended as a condemnation. The thought of stoning others, of casting them away, despising them for whatever offense they may have caused should never cross our mind. There is, after all, no means of spiritual death that we can heap upon the lives of others quite like the hurt and the sorrow we can bring with harsh words on our lips, haughtiness in our hearts and hatred in our eyes.

As a faithful and devoted disciple of Christ, given in a life of service, we cannot falter in our love for others, in our hopes for them, just as we hope for ourselves. Look to your life as a means not to judge others but to equip them for the righteous path, to nourish them for the long road through this world. This, at times, means helping them understand errors so that they can learn from them. Yet any help offered must be given in a clean heart and a right spirit that you may serve them for their greatest growth in a testimony to God’s love for them.

When this is done, when this is our nature, there is no controversy, there is no challenge, there is only the strength we can find in unity with others, rather than the pain that comes in the division of scorn.