Abiding Fruit – Part 2

As God’s Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ, we abide in His abundant love forever. We keep His commandments and love our friends, relatives, associates and neighbors with the love of the Lord (Matthew 22:37-39; John 15:10).

The Vine existed long before the branches ever grew, and He sacrificially shares His love and life with us (1 John 4:19). We choose to fully commit to our relationship with the Vine (John 15:16).

Separated from the Vine, we can do nothing (John 15:5). We display the fruit of the flesh, which is envy, strife, hatred, self-centeredness, criticism, worry, depression, pride, bitterness, complaining, quitting, backbiting, loving our self more than others, loving money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to our parents, ungrateful, unholy, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; inventing ways of doing evil; disobeying our parents; and as adults, we put work and fun ahead of God (2 Timothy 3:2; Romans 1:30).

Abiding in the Vine gradually renews our heart and replaces these negative issues with the fruit of God’s Spirit, which we bear through our obedience to Him. This is the evidence of our union with the Vine (John 15:13).

We rest in His grace and renew our strength as we wait on Him (Isaiah 40:31). His Spirit directs us each moment of the day (John 16:13). We increase God’s Kingdom by our obedience to Him and His Word (Mark 4:26).

God’s fruit in our life is proof of our faith in God (James 2:14-26). We abide in Him, but He also abides in us, completing the sanctifying work of holiness, which He started in us at salvation (Philippians 1:6, 2:12-13).

Prayer:
Father God, let us never break our connection with Your Vine. The life we receive through Your presence in our spirit is not paralleled by anything this world has to offer.

Help us to exhibit affection for others, an exuberance about life, serenity through the storms, determination and patience, a compassionate heart, and kindness that pervades our entire being (Galatians 5:22-23).

We trust that You have this world in Your control and have a perfect timetable for its culmination and the renewal of all things. Remind us to live humbly in service to You and others, and continually guide us by Your Spirit.

Thought for the Day:
Our God, who called us, is faithful to us and will fulfill us and care for us until we abide with Him in eternity. – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

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School of Hard Knocks

Life often sends us through a crash course at the School of Hard Knocks. We feel overwhelmed and hopeless, because of the weight of disappointment smothering the life right out of us.

As authentic Born Again Believers, we have Father God, Brother Jesus and their Spirit – who defend, protect, advise, guide, provide for and love us, so much that Jesus laid down His own life for us (1 John 2:1; John 14:16, 15:13).

We can have faith in God’s faithfulness, because He proves His love for us each moment of every day. He provides a miracle to accompany every trial, such as: spiritual growth, lessons learned, or blessings, which come in spite of our suffering.

In our trials, God surrounds us with His ministering angels, provides for our needs, builds our faith, gives us wisdom to share with others, and uses us as an example of one who maintains faith in God (Hebrews 1:14; Philippians 4:19; 1 Peter 1:7; Luke 22:32).

God’s Spirit uses trials to shape in us the fruit of His Spirit: love, joy, faith, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control and faith (Galatians 5:22-23; James 1:3).

God also teaches us contentment, which fills our heart regardless of the severity of the circumstances (Philippians 4:11-12). God continually abides in us through everything we ever experience (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27).

At times, Satan tempts us to blame God for our losses and to feel anger towards Him for what we perceive as Him letting us down. However, God sees the big picture and He allows trials for our ultimate good.

Prayer:
Father God, as we live through the school of hard knocks, remind us to adopt an attitude of joyful acceptance and thanksgiving. Help us to focus on Your sovereign purpose in everything we experience (Romans 8:28). Remind us to trust in Your foreknowledge and grace (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 4:16).

Your infinite ways exceed our finite human understanding; therefore, we can always trust that You have our good at heart.
We trust in Your faithfulness to fulfill all of Your promises, even when the circumstances appear hopeless.

Thought for the Day:
Praising God in and through trials helps us to feel contentment in spite of them and gratitude for His presence in us through each one of them. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18; John 17:23

Our Motivation in Life

As an authentic Born Again Believer, our motivation in life comes from one of four sources: the flesh, the world, the devil or God’s Spirit. At times, it is hard to discern which one is influencing our thoughts, emotions, desires and actions. We can discover the source of our motivation by checking on our responses to the situation.

Are our thoughts, words and actions mirroring the fruit of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) or the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)? Negative emotions and behavior are definite clues that the flesh, the world or the devil is influencing us, rather than the Spirit (1 John 2:16). Fleshly conduct and demonic oppression in a Believer is the direct result of not walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:15-18).

When we recognize that we are out of the Spirit, we can confess our thoughts and behavior as sin, and ask our Father to renew a right spirit in us (Psalm 51:10). God is always quick to forgive us and to empower us with His Holy Spirit. Once we turn away from our carnal behavior and seek the Lord’s direction, He enables us to make amends to anyone we hurt, while we operated in the flesh.

We walk in the Spirit as we stay connected to the Spirit throughout the day. He will direct each moment and everything included in it, if we seek Him first (Matthew 6:33). The more we rely on the Spirit, the more victory we have over the flesh, the world and the devil (Ephesians 2:1-10). We are no longer motivated by worldly success, the balance of our bank account, or the number and type of our friends, but by God.

Prayer:
Father God, remind us that we are an extension of Christ on the earth (John 14:12). We walk in obedience to You to the best of our ability, relying on the Holy Spirit to keep us on the straight and narrow and in the center of Your will (Matthew 7:13-14; John 14:15). Thank You for forgiving our shortcomings and inspiring us to focus on the eternal, rather the earthly aspects of our life. We want all that we think, say and do to bring You glory (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Thought for the Day:
Do not make plans; consult the Lord and follow His desire for every moment of your day. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Just the Way We Are

Just the Way We Are

Living in fear of someone discovering our true identity often drives us just this side of insanity. We dread someone else realizing that we are just “not enough”. Not pretty enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not kind enough, not capable enough…not enough. Jesus came to give us good news. We all fall short of the glory of God.

There is no one good enough, not even one (Romans 3:10-12, 23). Even people with a high opinion of their self have issues with insecurity. We all have little nagging doubts, which corrode our confidence and whittle away at our self-esteem. We live under a cloud of negative self-talk. We hide behind superficial masks, in hopes that no one will ever uncover just how deficient we really are.

Once we come to Christ, we can stop pretending, stop striving to be good and throw our self on the mercy and grace of God instead. He accepts us just the way we are (Romans 5:8). We need no pretenses with Him. He loves us in spite of our failings. God is our Father who cares for us, nurtures us and provides for all of our needs: spiritually, physically and in our soul – our mind, choices and emotions.

Our Heavenly Daddy gives us a sense of security as we dwell in Him and He dwells in us. His love fills in the gaps in our self-esteem and changes our opinion about our deficiencies. We no longer need to fear life and its consequences, to listen to any negative self-talk or to believe anyone else’s negative opinion of us. We are complete in Christ (Colossians 1:27, 2:10).

Prayer:
Father God, we drink from the living water of Your Word, which calms our soul and fills our spirit with godly character, Jesus’ divine nature and the fruit of Your Holy Spirit (John 7:38; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Galatians 5:22-23). When fears creep in to cripple us and render us ineffective for You and for a productive life, we can run to Jesus, who is the Rock that is higher than we are (Psalm 61:2). He gives us power over these demonic attacks and He strengthens us to prolifically bloom where You plant us.

Thought for the Day:
God provides His people with a Sabbath rest from our weary labors; for when we enter God’s rest, we stop spinning our wheels and trust Him to bless our lives with His fullness. – Hebrews 4:9-12

The Spiritual Fruit I Would Choose

Did you ever notice that the fruit of the Spirit are all characteristics of a servant? If I were picking fruit, I would have chosen traits like perseverance, wisdom, courage and strength. These would come in handy in life more often than not. However, these are all qualities, which help us to serve our self. God, in His wisdom, chose humble attributes for us.

The fruit of the Spirit are: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Meekness, Self-Control and Faith (Galatians 5:22-23). You can see how they would produce a very fine servant.

These traits mean:
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
Faith – trust that God knows what He’s doing
Meekness – humility and service
Self-Control – guided by the Spirit

The Bible describes characteristics of the flesh, which are the opposite of God’s fruit: envy, strife, hatred, self-centeredness, criticism, worry, depression, pride, bitterness, complainers, quitters, backbiters, lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful, those who invent ways of doing evil, and people who put work and fun ahead of God (2 Timothy 3:2; Romans 1:30).

We can focus on replacing hatred with love, discontentment with peace, irritation with patience, criticism with gentleness, backbiting with goodness, worry with faith, pride with meekness, and depression with true joy, as we are controlled and guided by the Spirit of God.

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for Your fruit and for faithfully healing us of the wounds in our life, which cause us to exhibit negative, fleshly characteristics in our life. We always feel so repentant when we do. It is good for us to humble our self and to apologize to those we offend. Thank You also for Your gifts, which You give us for the common good of Your Body. A message of wisdom or knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, prophecy and preaching, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts to each one as He sees fit (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

Thought for the Day:
God always provides us with wisdom when we ask for it. – James 1:5