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

 

The Body of Christ – Safety in Numbers

As the body of Christ, we stick together, no matter where we live or how many miles separate us. We can stay connected through social media, even though we rarely see one another face-to-face.

 

In nature, it is the animal that wanders from the safety of the herd that gets attacked by a predator. Satan uses this same tactic on Believers. He finds us wandering alone and pounces (1 Peter 5:8).

 

God created Eve, because He saw that Adam suffered when he was alone. He also created us as His Body, because there is safety, encouragement and blessings when we dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1).

 

Without the Body of Christ we get lonely, roam from the straight and narrow path, and make poor choices. Alone, we are vulnerable, but a three-fold chord cannot be broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). The Body loves us and helps to protect us.

 

When we yoke with Jesus and other Believers, our load is lighter and we help each other with our burden of guilt, trials and storms in life. Our perspective is broadened by seeing things from another’s point of view.

 

Even Jesus chose 12 men to disciple and to keep Him company during His three years of focused ministry on His way to the cross. Daily, they walked together, healed the sick and reclaimed people from the devil’s kingdom of darkness.

 

Prayer:

Father God, help us to lay down our pride, to take the risks of being vulnerable which are inherent in relationships, and to encourage one another. Remind us that a best friend and prayer partner help us to diffuse our negative feelings and experiences, because they give us someone with which to share our burdens.

 

Friendships can be messy and cause problems in our life, but life is enhanced by transparent relationships, regardless of the ups and downs they may create. Thank You that You are our closest friend and that You always stick closer to us than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

 

Thought for the Day:

Jesus knew the value of walking together with other Saints, although many turned against Him or deserted Him in the final hours of His life on this earth; He chose to live vulnerably in front of both the multitudes and His disciples.

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.

 

Not of This World

Our God is so awesome, mighty in power, gentle in mercy, constant in grace, consuming in His love for us and faithful beyond measure. We can trust in Him with our whole heart and depend on His intimate involvement in our life.

 

God never, ever leaves or forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). His three personalities are all-encompassing (Isaiah 7:14; John 10:29; Matthew 12:32). God is our Creator and Heavenly Daddy; Jesus is the Trinity in the flesh who died on the cross to exhibit the Father’s love; the Spirit promotes Jesus and His words (John 3::8, 14:6, 26; Luke 24:49; Acts 16:7).

 

Through believing on Jesus we are constructed into the temple of the entire godhead of the Trinity (Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 12:13). The Trinity is our Father, our Brother and our continual comfort and guide (Mark 1:10-11).

 

The Trinity’s presence in our life nourishes us to grow in godliness, to consecrate our life to Him and to do the work He created us to do (Ephesians 2:10). The Trinity draws us into unity with the Godhead (John 6:44, 10:30, 14:10-13).

 

We are raised from sin’s degradation to walk in a new life in order to share in the glory of the Trinity through a consecrated and holy life (John 17:22; Romans 8:11). We let His light in us shine, so that people look at us and are drawn to believe in and trust in the Trinity for their salvation as well.

 

Vacation homes, worldly hobbies, time shares, multiple cruises in a year, smart phones for every family member, TVs in every room, expensive clothing stores, excessive clothing accessories and jewels, a car for every driver in the family, etc. keep us in bondage to this world and limit our participation in activities that promote the Kingdom of God.

 

We are not of this world, we do not rely on our human nature or characteristics, and we do not develop plans and goals for this life. We only live here to build up the Kingdom of God while it is still day, because the night is coming when no one may get saved (John 9:4).

 

Prayer:

Father God, break our heart with what breaks Yours, give us a Kingdom mind and focus in this life and make the fact that we are not of this world a reality in our life (Romans 12:2; John 17:16). Help us to stop focusing on building our nest in this world and to change our attention to furthering Your Kingdom.

 

Remind us that Christ is our whole life and that we no longer live, but Christ lives in and through us (Colossians 3:3-4; Galatians 2:20). Draw us into a more intimate relationship with You, so that we are not sidetracked by the lies and schemes of the devil to get our focus on this world rather than on Your Kingdom.

 

Thought for the Day:

We develop a Kingdom mindset and allow God’s Spirit to draw our attention to the presence of God within us, which is our only true source of comfort and joy, rather than on the riches and trappings of this world.

 

 

A Good Marriage – The Little Foxes that Spoil the Vine

Over the years of marriage, we recognize who our partner is and what they are not. We also develop a better understanding of our self and why we respond to people and events the way we do.

 

We come to identify what triggers negative reactions in one another, so we can avoid these issues whenever possible. We make concentrated efforts on working together to find mutually acceptable plans when our original personal preferences conflict.

 

We also fearlessly attack our personal issues and give the Holy Spirit full reign in our life, so that He can transform us with the mind of Christ. One way to recognize our faults is to pay attention to what our spouse complains about – do we procrastinate, withhold affection, watch too much TV, neglect to help one another with projects or daily chores?

 

Small adjustments in our schedule or habits will make a big difference in marital bliss and harmony. We can learn one another’s love language and show each other love in ways that will fulfill our mate’s needs and allow them to feel nurtured and cherished.

 

This will erase the small irritations which eventually erupt into major disharmony – the little foxes that spoil the vine (Song of Solomon 2:15). Do we expect too much from one another, forgetting that we are only human?

 

Do we greet one another as we would our best friend, or do we take one another for granted? We all appreciate being greeted with enthusiasm as someone who is highly cherished.

 

Do we agree to disagree or do we always feel like we are right and our partner is wrong? Do we need to have the last word, or do we stop talking when we have made our point?

 

No one like to live with condemnation, condescension, griping or constant belittlement. It is so good and pleasant when we dwell together in harmony (Psalm 133:1). This unity draws us closer to one another and makes us want to spend more time together.

Prayer:

Father God, teach us to recap once we calm down after a disagreement. Help us to honestly relate how we felt during the “fight” and what thoughts were going through our mind that we did not take the time to articulate. These thoughts fueled our emotional response during our discussion, and our spouse deserves to understand why we reacted as we did to their comment, behavior or reply.

 

Remind us to seek You in all of our decisions and discussions; not to rely on our own understanding, but to allow You to direction our thoughts, words and actions. Help us to be led by Your Spirit rather than to react in our flesh; but if we do act carnally, encourage us to ask for forgiveness from one another and to calmly discuss the situation until we find an equitable solution.

 

Thought for the Day:

Looking into each other’s eyes during a discussion enables us to see within the windows of each other’s soul; speaking honestly about how our partner’s words and actions make us feel will help us to understand one another better too and to make our interactions more intimate and productive. – Matthew 6:22-23

 

The Tyranny of Control

“Control Freaks” develop this habit out of fear and a desire to stay safe. They were deeply wounded at one time by physical, verbal and mental abuse. They were not given a “say-so” in the decisions made that affected their life.

 

Therefore, they decided to take control as soon as they got older. Now they are hyper-vigilant and over-reacting in their approach to life. They believe that “their” way is the only safe way; and therefore, the best way to do things and to make decisions.

 

They vehemently fight against anyone or thing that threatens their carefully choreographed routine in life. They hide behind anger in order to stay in control and to feel safe.

 

Most wounded people will adopt a mindset of attempting to control everything about the people in their life too – even when another’s decisions have no real effect on their life.

 

Our only hope of salvation from this demonic plague of fear, self-preservation and control is to realize that God has a perfect plan for our life. No matter what terrors we experience, God is with us in the midst of them, and worthy of all of our praise.

 

We can trust God with our life. No matter what terrors we experience, God is with us in the midst of them. His presence sustains us and provides for us. He is worthy of all of our praise.

 

With our confidence in God’s faithfulness, we speak up only when someone’s decision has an immediate bearing on our life, and we allow others reap the consequences of their own decisions. We mind our own business and pray for others.

 

We have our confidence in God alone, and that gives us peace and calm regardless of circumstances. We never insist on our own way, but we do insist on finding a Plan C when we and the significant people in our life cannot agree on their Plan A or our Plan B.

 

If they are unwilling to compromise their plans with us, then we give them the freedom to make their decisions; but then we prayerfully and calmly make our own decisions in order to keep our self safe from reaping the consequences of their decisions.

 

God has a perfect will for our life. We find it by praying without ceasing; we walk in it by walking in the Spirit, so we do not succumb to the idiosyncrasies and neurosis of our flesh (Galatians 5:15-25); and then, we reap the rewards of a life, which is faithful to His love and His will.

 

Prayer:

Father God, it is not natural for us humans to obey You or to rely on You from the depth of our heart. Our emotions are fickle and shallow at best. Yet, if we obey Your Biblical mandates, we prove that we love You and are willing to walk in Your ways.

 

If we surrender our will, desires, dreams and goals to Your Spirit’s direction, and live in Your will each moment of our day, we live a fulfilled, spiritual and successful life. We will prosper mentally, emotionally, financially and physically as well (John 14:15).

 

Thought for the Day:

There is healing from this unresolved trauma in the presence of God and our Savior Jesus Christ; this world is dysfunctional and trials are inescapable, but surrendering the pain of the past to the Trinity for healing is the only way to get completely free from its tyranny in our life.

 

Union with Christ – More than Religion

Christianity is not a religion. It is an intimate union with the Lord of Hosts who lives His divine life in and through every authentic Believer (1 Corinthians 6:17).

 

We do not earn a divine life in Christ by our good works; it is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-20; 2 Peter 1:4). Unless we grasp the fullness of our identity in Christ, we fall short of all that God wants to do in us and through us.

 

As God Word strengthens us, we overcome this world and we also live victorious lives over the wiles of Satan (1 John 2:14). We scatter the darkness by turning on God’s Light.

 

Deceiving thoughts flee at the mention of Jesus’ name. Satan cannot initiate anything in our life without God’s permission; and if we submit to God and resist the devil, he is obligated to flee from us (James 4:7).

 

Satan may try to distract us from serving God, but as we keep our mind on Christ, we remain in perfect peace as His Spirit leads us through each moment of the day (Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:7).

 

We keep our focus on spiritual aspects of life and the carnal, temporal issues fade into the background. We do not stress and strain after more of this world, but allow our spirit and soul to enter into God’s rest (Hebrews 4:1-10).

 

We live to praise His name in our heart and mind as we go about the requirements of our day. We look for divine opportunities to share God’s love and life with those we meet throughout our day.

 

We let our light shine so that others will see Christ in us and glorify our Father God (Matthew 5:16). They will desire to have the same peace and joy in their life, which they see abiding in our life.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You gave all of Your spiritual blessings and everything pertaining to life and godliness, to Your Saints in the past, to those present with us now, as well as those which will be born in the future (2 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 2: 20-21). We honor You and give You all the praise and glory that is due to Your name.

 

You work Your power in us and You are able to do more in us and through us than we can ever imagine or accomplish for You on our own (1 Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 3:16, 20; Colossians 1:11; 1 Peter 4:11). You give us an abundant supply of power for everything we need in order to sufficiently accomplish Your will for our life (2 Corinthians 3:5, 4:7, 9:8).

 

Thought for the Day:

We do not pound out a meager existence for our self in this life, but we live an abundant life through Christ in us. – John 10:10

 

 

Emotional and Mental Health – Healing our Thoughts and Emotions

It is healthy for us to take an inventory of our thoughts and feelings every day (John 7:24). This prevents negative thoughts and emotions from piling up in our soul and exploding at the least provocation.

 

Satan’s lies, our own insecurities and neurosis from our past, and the world’s judgment on us keep us captive to negative thinking. Yet, God’s Word admonishes us to take our thoughts captive in Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

 

We tend to dwell on this temporal earth embroiled by human reasoning and trapped by the hour glass of time – still eating from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil and attempting to save our self (Genesis 2:17, 3:5).

 

These negative constraints affect our thoughts and emotions. We attempt to improve our self, but whatever is conceived by the flesh can be aborted by the flesh. We live on a hamster’s wheel – always running, but getting nowhere fast. However, there is hope for us in God (Psalm 63:2:5; Romans 15:13).

 

God chose us and loved us while we were still sinners (John 15:16; 1 John 4:10; Romans 5:8). At salvation, He makes us His Children and co-heirs with Jesus (Galatians 3:26; 1 John 3:2; Romans 8:17). His Spirit is building us into His house (Hebrews 3:6).

 

We cannot craft any lasting changes to our character in order to earn His love. He makes us clean – not by our good deeds and intentions, but by the blood of Christ (John 15:3; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Psalm 127:1).

 

Jesus makes us wise, righteous, redeemed and a new creation; so that we glory in the Lord rather than to take the credit (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). Christ in us continually draws us into a more intimate union with Himself and our Father (Colossians 1:20). We simply obey (John 14:15).

 

Prayer:

 

Father God, Your love frees us from doubt and condemnation, which are fed to us by our own insecurities, the world’s condemnation and Satan’s lies. Please draw our loved ones away from the seduction of this world, deliver them from the lies of the devil, and allow them to feel Your love and conviction cascading over them like a waterfall.

 

In You there is no shame for our failings and idiosyncrasies, only love and acceptance just the way we are (Romans 5:8). Your Spirit perfects us through a lifetime of sanctifying exercises (1 Thessalonians 5:23). You make us one with You and Jesus Christ through His residing presence and Your Spirit’s sanctifying work in us until You become our whole life (Colossians 3:3-4).

 

Thought for the Day:

Jesus is one with us in spirit and in truth; and He brings us into His rest in His perfect peace and love as we keep our soul focused on Christ in us. – Colossians 1:27; Isaiah 26:3

 

Health for the Body of Christ

God’s plan for humanity is not a conglomeration of various unrelated events with a hodgepodge of results. It is as orderly and detailed as the planets in orbit around the sun.

 

God arranged the planets to all sit at just the right angle and spacing, especially the earth. Our world tilts at the exact slant it needs to support life. Its composition consists of the perfect combination of chemical elements and matter to ensure our existence.

 

King Jesus is also establishing His Kingdom on the earth in order to physically abide with everyone who is humble enough to accept His call on their life. He incorporates us into His Body of Believers throughout generations and nations from the beginning of time.

 

God designed His Body so that when one member suffers, we all suffer; and when one member rejoices, we all rejoice (1 Corinthians 12:26). Unfortunately, Satan makes sure that his character attributes of jealousy, covetousness and pride steal these ideal circumstances from us.

 

This causes God’s Body to operate dysfunctionally, to think more of our self than anyone else, to keep our own priorities as our focus and to lack any concern for those around us who, by their own choices (John 3:18), are lost and destined to spend eternity in hell.

 

Many people spend more time on vacations than in service to God’s Body; more money on their toys and gadgets than on the ministries of the church which promote God’s Kingdom, and more focus on their own agenda and endeavors than on the will of God.

 

They often reject one church Body for another, divorcing their former church family without one regret. They disfigure God’s Body – like an eye rolling down the path of life, leaving one church with only one eye and their next church with more than the two eyes it needs (1 Corinthians 12:14-22).

 

Sometimes, disgruntled people refuse to attend any church at all, despising a part of the Bride of Christ, which Jesus gave His life to redeem (2 Corinthians 11:2). They cut themselves off from the fellowship and blessings of their church family.

 

At times, certain people in our church Body may exasperate us or are irritating and hard to live with, but Christ is patient with us (Romans 5:8), and we can allow the fruit of God’s Spirit to help us to be patient with His Body as well (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us that when we determine to put our self first, to divorce Your Bride, or to stir up trouble with gossip and dissention, this says more about our character than the short-comings within Your Body. Help us to attain spiritual maturity through Christ in us, so that we can love Your Bride unconditionally and to serve with tireless devotion in the church where You plant us (Luke 6:32).

 

Your grace enables us to love others as Christ loves us, sacrificially, patiently and selflessly. You do not require us to “like” anyone else, but You do expect us to love them with the love of Christ within us. Help us to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, by stepping up and serving Your Bride where we see areas of need.

 

Thought for the Day:

Our Great Physician is a skilled surgeon who continually operates on the heart of each of us, to give us new life in Him in order to resolve life’s most complex issues, to bring peace in the more tumultuous circumstances and to draw us to the truth of His Word as we all continually abide in His presence.