A Fruitful Life

One work of the Holy Spirit in our life is to sanctify us by continually, although often slowly, replacing in us the negative attributes of our personality with His spiritual fruit.

 

Galatians 5:22-23 describes for us the fruit of the Spirit…”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

 

Sometimes, it is confusing to put the meaning of these words in simple terms. The definitions I like are:

Love – affection for others

Joy – exuberance about life

Peace – serenity

Patience – willingness to stick with it

Gentleness – compassion from the heart

Goodness – kindness that pervades our entire being

Meekness – humility and service

Self-Control – guided by the Spirit

Faith – trust that God knows what He’s doing

 

When I compare these to their opposites, the negative characteristics cause me to shudder. I certainly want no part of them in my character:

Envy, strife, hatred, bitterness, self-centeredness, pride, criticism, worry, depression, quitters and complainers, backbiters, and people who put work and fun ahead of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

 

The Good News is that the Spirit of Jesus Christ within us sanctifies us moment-by-moment! He replaces:

hatred with love,

depression with true joy,

discontentment with peace,

irritation with patience,

criticism with gentleness,

backbiting with goodness,

pride with meekness,

excess with self-control,

and worry with the faith of God as we are controlled and guided by His Spirit.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we thank You for putting Your fruit in us in place of the negative traits we learned from others, those that are ingrained in our personality with which we are born, and those that we develop through the disappointments of life.

 

We give our life to You to mold and make into the divine nature of Christ as He abides within us. We want to be lights of Your character to the world around us, and to have the mind of Christ rather than the whims of our flesh, the world or the devil. Thank You for Your sanctifying work in our life.

 

Thought for the Day:

God replaces our negative character traits with the fruit of His Spirit as we willingly submit to His surgeon’s scalpel, the Word of God, which divides our flesh from our spirit.

– Hebrews 4:12

 

God Truly Cares for Us

Deep thinkers, mystics, scientists, authors and poets all try to pinpoint the origin and meaning of life, but they reject the truth of God’s Word. Then they come up with theories they cannot prove, even by their own laws.

 

Many people find fulfillment in their career, children, mate, church ministries, world travel, a new home, a sporty car, completing a “bucket list”, serving in a charity, getting involved in local politics, triumphing in a career, delving into alternative spiritual activities – which deviate from the traditional Christian world view.

 

This fulfillment may last for years, but as we age, we lose interest in these pursuits, because they do not really provide us with lasting fulfillment. Our human plans often operate on impulses, and are otherwise the results of us reasoning things out.

 

We are never quite able, however, apart from Christ, to come to understand the complete truth about life (2 Timothy 3:6-7). The wisdom and power of a nurtured life come only from the unconditional love of our crucified Christ (1 Corinthians 23-24).

 

Boasting in our own knowledge and human abilities is useless and quite humorous (1 Corinthians 4:7, 5:6). Looking above our human wisdom to Jesus, who is our only true source of wisdom and joy, is the way to bear lasting fruit in our life (John 15:11).

 

Making Jesus the center of our focus and submitting to God’s Spirit within us allows the Trinity to sanctify our carnality and nurture Christ’s divinity within us (Galatians 2:20).

 

We die to our self more each day, relinquishing our earthly pursuits in favor of spiritual maturity. Our soul – our thoughts, decisions and feelings – prospers, which allows our body and spirit to prosper as well (John 3:1:2; 1 Corinthians 15:31).

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for the opportunity to share in the peace and glory of Christ in us. We face the trials of each day with hope and optimism, because we know that there is a seed for a miracle within each one (Hebrews 12:2-3). Remind us to stop relying on our human talents and to depend solely on You, finding out what You are doing in our life and joining You (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

Clearly reveal to us that trusting in our self is useless and we end up humiliated and feeling hopeless. It is only as we walk away from evil and wholeheartedly embrace Christ in us, that health returns to our body and nourishes our bones (Proverbs 3:7-8). Reveal the truth to us that as we choose Your will over our own will we grow deeper in our union with Christ abiding within us. Jesus is all we really need to succeed in this life (1 John 3:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

Thought for the Day:

In our times of trouble, we cast our cares on God, because He truly cares for us (1 Peter 5:7); He gives us His peace in exchange for our worries (Philippians 4:6, 7; 1 Peter 5:7; John 14:27); and when Satan plagues us with guilt over our past, Jesus removes condemnation for those who trust in Him (Romans 8:1);.

 

Broken Walls of Fear and Mistrust

Even when we come to faith in Christ, we still often hesitate to relinquish to Him the power over our existence. We have a lifetime of experience with people letting us down, disappointing us and breaking their promises and commitments to us.

 

Therefore, we mistrust God as well. We have an overwhelming need to understand God, before we agree to believe in Him.

 

We use human wisdom for all of our decisions, and we collect friends around us that agree with our life view. We have such a strong compulsion to control our own life and everything that happens in it, that we dare not rely on anyone but our own self.

 

People feel safe somehow in trusting only in that which they can prove, and believing only in that which makes sense to their human mind.

 

Added to our human reasoning is Satan’s perfected art of deception. He often draws us away from following after God by his fraudulent schemes.

 

Add to this our own lusts and the powerful temptations from living life in the world, and it is amazing that anyone ever actually chooses to surrender their life completely to God.

 

Our sin nature doomed us to failure since birth; but Jesus Christ set us free from sin and death by His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension (Romans 8:2).

 

Only the Spirit of God can break down our walls of fear and mistrust and allow us to fully embrace a relationship that starts with our total submission to God through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

 

Prayer:

Father God, eventually Your Spirit leads us to the point in our life where we step over this boundary of fear into the freedom of faith and we completely trust in You. Your Spirit enables us to shun evil and honor You with all of our thoughts and actions.

 

You are always faithful to reward us with health and abundance in every area of our life. We learn to trust in You with all of our heart, rather than relying on our own strength and understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). We want to honor You with our life now and until the day of our death.

 

Thought for the Day:
As we seek God’s will for every minute of every day, He removes the ruts and bumps in our road (Proverbs 3:7-8), until we eventually learn to give Him every fear and insecurity that plague our life, because we come to understand that He really does care about us (1 Peter 5:7).

 

Give Me Jesus

We are foreigners in this world (Ephesians 2:19). We are no longer attached to any person, place or thing, because they are all temporary and subject to loss or change without a moment’s notice.

 

Our humanity is dead to sin, because we no longer care about things of this world; but Jesus lives His life in and through us. The life we now live in this mortal body, we live by the faith of Christ in us, because He loves us and gave His life as a ransom for our life (Galatians 2:20).

 

If Jesus is our whole life, then we are never abandoned and never alone (Colossians 3:3-4). He is there when we awaken in the morning, when we are sick or healthy, when we are alone or in a crowd, when our body wears out and when we enter eternity.

 

I never meet a stranger, only potential friends. I love pretty flowers and sunsets, special furniture and nick-knacks; but they are here today and gone tomorrow.

 

Even people are unfaithful, or move, or leave this world bound for their eternal place of existence. They leave us behind and we are void of their presence in our daily life; however, in actuality, Jesus is all we need both in this world and the next (Hebrews 13:5).

 

He is a refreshing waterfall of living water (John 4:14). His river of living water flows from us and changes the lives of those around us (John 7:38). He drenches us with His love, peace and joy, regardless of the circumstances of our life. We cling to Him as our lifeboat through the troubled waters.

 

He is our brother, and we are co-heirs with Him of our Father’s Kingdom (Romans 8:17). He lives in us and also walks with us. We are doubly cared for by our living Savior. We can relax, breathe and trust in Him.

 

Deep breathing helps us to regulate our emotions and enables us to increase our focus and lucidity when we make an effort to trust in the Lord alone, live in this one moment of time, and to breathe deeply throughout the day.

 

Prayer:

Father God, make us ever mindful that You are not here to serve us; but we are here to serve You. You make an eternal transformation in our life so we can live as an example of Your Gospel message, and make a difference in the lives of everyone that You lead us to encounter throughout our day. Teach us to trust in, rely on and believe in You alone each moment of our day.

 

You gave us Jesus as our center, our portion, our inheritance, our divine nature and character, etc. He is all we really need in both this life and the next. Thank You for covering us with Your feathers, because we gain our peace under the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 36:5-12).

 

Thought for the Day:

Taking deep breaths in through our nose will control our brain’s neurological signals, which leads to improved emotional feelings and the processing of our thoughts; slow, steady breathing activates the relaxing part of our nervous system, and slows our heart rate, reducing any feelings of worry and panic from stress.

 

 

Joyful Walk with the Lord

 

Due to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we have an enduring possession in Heaven (Hebrews 10:34). However, we do not need to wait until Heaven to enjoy them. God showers us with His blessings daily.

 

This helps us to endure the negative emotions and circumstances, which Satan uses to harass our peace and joy. No trial is overwhelming, because we face it with the power of Christ in us.

 

We enter His rest and give Him total reign in our life. We stop making our own plans and surrender instead to His will for our life (Ephesians 2:10).

 

Once we change our attitude, and focus on Christ in us rather than on the details of our day, we live in God’s peace and joy no matter what happens to us.

 

Our true home is Heaven, not this transitory life. Things here are passing away and do not really matter. We no longer work to amass worldly goods and it does not matter if we “keep up with our neighbor” in status, style and affluence.

 

We find our true peace under the shelter of His wings. No evil presence can shake us from this place of abiding in the presence of Christ within us. He is our peace and He breaks down every wall (Ephesians 2:11-22).

 

The more we totally surrender to God’s will and the direction of His Holy Spirit, the more capable we are to meet the challenges of daily living. We walk in His will rather than struggle with an uphill climb of our own making.

 

Prayer:

Father God, because of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary’s cross, our past is forgiven, our wounds are healed, we forgive the perpetrators of evil in our life, and we also forgive our self for our choices that opened us up to evil’s presence in our life.

 

You teach us to set boundaries to keep our self relatively free from future intrusions, and we do nothing without first consulting You for Your wisdom and will. This guarantees that You direct all of our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). We live for You and accept Your perfect will for us with Your joy and glory filling our hearts (1 Peter 1:8).

 

Thought for the Day:

We live according to the advice of God’s Holy Word, which releases the spiritual energy of Christ who is abiding inside of us; this healing, loving power effects our spirit, body and soul, and infects every area of our life.

Enter Heaven as a Little Child

God offers His Kingdom to people humble enough to assume the role of His child and to obey Him with abandon and trust. We live each day concentrating on each task He gives us. We live in the moment rather than attempting to multi-task through the day.

 

This is better for our mental, emotional and physical health, as well as our productivity than attempting to speed through life. Have you seen the driver that swerves around you, almost forcing you off the highway in his/her attempt to get ahead?

 

We see them a few blocks later stopped at the same traffic signal where we are coming to make our stop. Their rushing got them absolutely no place fast. Instead, we move along at a steady pace, walking in the Spirit through each moment of time.

 

More doctors today are following advice from ancient tribes who live close to the earth. They recommend that we spend short spurts of time throughout the day, sitting in the sun and fresh air with our bare feet or hands snuggling in the grass or dirt.

 

This outdoor siesta is the perfect time to pray and praise our Heavenly Daddy for His abundance of blessings on our day. This time, which we set aside for God, improves our connection with His presence within us.

 

We set-up an outdoor spot to sit, sip a cup of coffee or tea, and bury our feet in the sand or grass. We can even go to the public park and play with our neighbors’ or best friends’ children, our grandchildren or nieces or nephews, etc. We can volunteer at the local school to help the teacher in any way we can.

 

Our child-like attention to nature and God reaps blessings for us for the rest of the day by lowering our blood pressure, giving our body and soul time to rest, and feeding our spirit by focusing on God and His Word.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we are often too busy to spend time with You during our day. You gave us the beauty of nature in an attempt to keep us healthy and balanced in body, soul and spirit; yet, we often fill our life so full of stressful activities that we ignore this lovely gift. Remind us to make time to worship You in the grass or sand every day in order to give our self that mental, emotional and spiritual boost that we did not realize that we need.

 

You are not pleased with our devotion when we squeeze time for you in between a host of carnal pursuits. The more time we spend in intimate communication with You, the stronger our relationship with You grows and the deeper we enter Your rest and enjoy the fellowship of Your presence in our life.

 

Thought for the Day:

Sometimes, the most beneficial gift we can give to our self is to spend time in nature and with God; use some time of sunshine each day to walk, waltz or sit in the grass; we can even build a grassy plot on our patio if we live in a high-rise.

 

Christ in Us – A Clean Heart

We have been taught that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. This is a slight perversion of God’s Truth. It puts the emphasis on “I can”, rather than on Christ in me can.

 

The actual truth of this verse is: We can do all things only through Christ’s presence in us. His abiding existence in us provides us with God’s wisdom, strength and divine power.

 

We cease our self-effort, and we enter into God’s rest (Hebrews 4:10). Jesus actually gives us the desire and the power to fulfill His purpose for us in the earth (Philippians 2:12-13; 4:13; Ephesians 2:10).

 

Authentic Believers are already crucified with Christ; and therefore, we live in this world only for God’s glory. We no longer live as part of this world, looking out for our own interests (Philippians 1:21; Romans 2:20).

 

As our self-centeredness decreases daily, Christ will increase in us (John 3:30). When we walk in obedience to God’s Holy Spirit moment by moment, we do not sin or fulfill the lusts of our flesh (Galatians 5:16-17, 25).

 

We dwell in God’s rest and we no longer live for our own agenda, but Christ carries out God’s will for us as He lives in us and through us (Galatians 2:20).

 

Our negative emotions illuminate the areas in our life where we hoard our idols. As we surrender them to God, Satan has fewer areas where he can hinder our walk in Christ.

 

We experience more freedom to serve Christ with our whole body, soul and spirit. Our dedication, commitment and consecration to Him increases and we want less of this world.

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for redeeming us, calling us by Your name, drawing us closer to You each day and desiring an intimate relationship with us both in this world and in the next. You fill us with Your Spirit and presence, and sustain us through every trial we experience on this earth. We can never thank You enough for Your sacrificial love for us.

 

Create in us a pure heart, devoid of sinful desires, and renew a righteous spirit within us (Psalm 51:10). Continue to help us to crucify our flesh as we walk in Your Spirit until we have no desire to sin, but our only desire is to please You with our body, thoughts, emotions, choices and spirit.

 

Thought for the Day:

A person who desires true riches, will prefer the knowledge freely given to us in God’s Word and follows it pathway of righteousness and spirituality to gain true joy and peace; if we really believe God’s Word, we value it above all else and the world loses its tempting influence over us.

Trust Only in the Lord

Trust must be earned, rather than blindly given; and is more important to a relationship than love. If we spend our time telling little white lies to keep us out of trouble, this undermines the love that others feel for us.

 

When life boils down to the details, we are not even able to trust our self. We often disappoint our self, because we let our self down and then have a hard time forgiving our self.

 

God is truly the only trustworthy being in the universe. He keeps His Word through generations of time (Psalm 147:13). We can trust in the Lord with our whole heart and refuse to lean on our own human reasoning.

 

He will always direct our steps and lead us in His will and way (Proverbs 3:5-6). He preserves our life, and inspires us to devote our time and resources in His service. He is our God and He saves His children who trust in Him (Psalm 86:2).

 

We keep our focus on Him because He never leaves us destitute. He offers us continual refuge under His wings, regardless of how dire our circumstances become (Psalm 46:1-3, 141:8).

 

God is only a prayer away and provides us with all of our needs according to His glorious riches (Psalm 142:5). He hears our prayers and answers us in His faithfulness and righteous judgment. (Psalm 143:1)

 

Prayer:

Father God, even though our food supply stops producing or our drinking water is contaminated, we know that You will faithfully supply all of our needs. We may suffer persecution and hardships on this earth, but You are the strength of our life (Psalm 46:1-2).

 

We give You the praise, glory and honor that is due to Your name, even if we face imminent deprivation in this life. You will always see us through any and every trial, because You walk through it with us and in us (Colossians 1:27, Galatians 2:20).

 

Thought for the Day:
The Lord allows us to hear His promise of unfailing love with each new morning, and calls on us to totally trust His mercy and goodness for our life. – Psalm 143:8

 

 

A Good Marriage – Common Ground

Winning is not the ultimate prize of life; it is the manner in which we finish the race that counts the most. It is often the last straggler across the finish line that receives the most attention, because they persevered to the very end.

 

Winning an argument is not necessary to feel validated either. We can concede that we are wrong, if indeed we are, without any shame or recrimination.

 

We have a viewpoint that differs from our employer’s, friend’s, neighbor’s, child’s, parent’s or spouse’s perspective; but no less right or wrong than theirs.

 

There is nothing heroic about destroying a marriage, because we soon realize that we were acting as pawns on Satan’s game board, playing right into his hands and wreaking havoc for generations to come.

 

If both parties in a disagreement are willing to bear with one another and to lay our life down for each other, there is always a way to peacefully resolve all issues and to avoid fighting and drama.

 

Neither of us is the enemy, we are simply fellow sojourners in this life with equal rights and privileges in the family of God. Quickly apologizing from the heart for any hurt we cause during a disagreement goes a long way in keeping unity in our relations.

 

Repairing our relationships is so much more mature than rending them in half and going our separate ways – leaving a trail of broken hearts and lives behind us. A trained counselor can help us to negotiate our differences.

 

Seeking wisdom from God’s Word and His Spirit during times of prayer can also help us to breach any gaps in our unity. We negotiate until we find common ground on which to stand.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You remind us not to separate what You bind together. You admonish us not to break any vow that we make, but to honor our commitment to one another with charity, patience and kindness. You want us to work together to find an equitable solution to any conflicts in our marriage, as well as in our affiliations at work and in Your Body.

 

Give us Your wisdom to maintain peace and to show Your agape love to those who wound us; to turn the other cheeks and to bear with one another’s idiosyncrasies and foibles. Give us patience to love one another as Christ loves the church; so we can represent living sacrifices as a testimony to an unbelieving world.

 

Thought for the Day:

There is nothing heroic in winning at the cost of someone else’s expense; but in laying down our life and serving one another with the love of our Father toward us.

 

Surrendering to God’s Will

We can develop habits over time to create more joy in our life and to eliminate depression and melancholy. However, it takes a change of focus and total submission to God’s Holy Spirit.

 

Many people live in the realm of “what ifs” and/or wanting what they do not have. They think that happiness will finally arrive when they accomplish their bucket list.

 

We allow circumstances to color our thoughts and feelings, which may diminish our joy. We wait for God to answer our prayers rather than to enjoy the life, which He already provided for us.

 

His peace and joy are available for us each moment of the day and do not depend on circumstances. It is possible to live in an economically depressed area with impoverished circumstances and still have total peace and joy.
There is no guarantee that we will live to see the next moment in time; so focusing on having possessions or certain people in our life will reduce our peace and joy.

 

Without surrendering our will to God’s will each moment of the day, we hinder our effectiveness both in life and in our spiritual growth and ministry.

 

Once we repent of our sins and recognize Jesus as our only Savior and King, the very life of Christ saturates our entire body, soul and spirit. As His Spirit sanctifies us, we see more spiritual fruit and less of a draw from our flesh, Satan and the world.

 

The most critical exercise we can do as a baby Christian is to surrender our will to God’s will. Even as older Christians, if we never surrendered, it is time to do so now.

 

When we totally surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our life, we feel less and less tension and stress, and more and more of His rest, peace and joy.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we tend to regret the past and fear the future. We spend so much time focusing in these two directions that we waste the current moment. This moment in time is all that You guarantee us.

 

You forgave our past, and it is over and forgiven. We just have to remember to forgive our self too. Remind us that once we do surrender to You, Your Spirit begins replacing our negative personality traits with His spiritual fruit and You flood our spirit and soul with Your love.

 

Thought for the Day:

Our future is in God’s capable hands; therefore, trusting God in the moment provides us with a stress-free life.