Fruit of the Spirit: A Deep Challenge
March 7, 2017
“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law.”
When I read these words I find myself deeply challenged.
Is it possible to have any or all of these fruits? I read each one and ask myself, “do I have this and does it show?”
Love, means to care for and love those who I don’t often want to spend time with. Love…is hard. It is an action word.
It’s easy when we are with others we care for but that is not often the place we find ourselves in.
Joy, we can have deep joy in our lives and then it shows up in deep peace. Those who have joy inside them are often the most peaceful people one can meet.
Remember the song, “it is well with my soul?” When peace like a river, flowing and fulfilling it spills out into forbearance, which means patient endurance and self control.
Kindness, is to be kind and good and faithful. If you have ever met someone without kindness they often show lack of self control.
They are rude and not approachable. Gentleness and self control go together very well.
Living in the Spirit means I must take inventory of every word, every action and every behavior I show to others.
It is a good thing.
It is a wonderful challenge if we choose to grow in the Spirit.
When I was in high school one of my very good friends was in college and she was a mentor to me.
Often challenging me to look inside my heart and think deep and spiritual. She had cystic fibrosis and I would call her and often ask how she was and in the end she was the one asking me matters of the heart questions. She lived by the fruits of the spirit. Gentleness, compassion, goodness, patient endurance. Her disease didn’t destroy her attitude in fact it made it sweeter for she knew her time was short. I learned from her to and her modeling of what a Christian was. She prayed, she listened and she asked questions. I never felt shamed or discouraged with her, she had a way of lifting me up even within the midst of her own suffering.
If we can challenge each other to live by the fruit of the Spirit and to show our ‘kindness to others’ in these crazy times of meanness, I think we will have more opportunity to show others who are watching, the love of Jesus. We can learn to answer meanness from other peoples words with forgiveness and the act of being gentle.
This last voting season has caused a great stir among friends and family and there has been a spirit of ‘righteous’ behavior that I have not enjoyed.
Living by the Spirit means to show fruit of ‘kindness’… goodness and self control. We really do need to look inward and ask ourselves have we done these very well? No matter what opinion we choose to share if it is done in the wrong ‘way’ we lose all of our witness.
I pray we practice the art of discerning which fruit we will give our time and attention to.
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.”
Are you ready for the challenge set before you?
Fruit of the Spirit: A Deep Challenge
Do you have a special place?
A place where it is your ‘peaceful place’ for your spirit and it renews you?
I do. I find when we get away to the beach; the wind and the waves and cool air refreshes my attitude.
In fact right now as I write I am in our travel trailer drinking my coffee and enjoying the quiet without noise or distractions.
Quiet is my peaceful place too.
There are many goals I have made to keep my writing schedule focused and on my calendar.
In fact my recent purchase is a small laptop so when we are out traveling I can keep at a steady pace.
Can’t wait for it to come to our home so I can learn it and begin a series for Easter.
Writing is my ‘hobby’ or a new way of journaling for me.
In saying that it is not often personal like a journal would be it; becomes more of a story telling or devotional thoughts to challenge the reader who is reading.
I appreciate those who are faithful to this quiet space of mine.
In the blogging world one should be a known name, or an author who has written a book in order to have faithful readers.
My husband keeps asking me when I am writing mine.
Good question, I haven’t been given the answer to that one yet.
The other hobby I am learning is the art of quilting.
Writing is a lot easier for me, but the reward of a new quilt made for someone special, is just like a ‘good writing piece’ it is something to be proud of and humbled by the gift of putting something together in a beautiful way.
So as I sit in this quiet place I have prayed that the words in this blog to be always challenging, always encouraging and always sharing the love of God to his people.
Without HIS leading this little blog space has no meaning for me.
the message version.
[Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.]
God began this journey of blogging and it will continue to be my life message until HE tells me to stop.
Have you ever known someone who really touched your heart in a deep way?
I have on a few occasions and it really is a life changing experience.
You begin to listen to their words, you begin to perhaps follow them as they go about their life.
They impacted you on some level. You desire more time to listen and learn from them.
I can count on one hand the few people who have made such a deep impact on my life.
Those who I can think of, were special. Worth remembering. Were authentic and very real.
The bible shows the word friend, 263 times so it seems rather significant to me that it is such a powerful word.
It is those kinds of people who challenge us to think about relationships.
I am not one who has a lot of deep friendships.
Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of people who are good ‘friends’.
Only those who ‘really fit into the’ special group, of ‘intimate friends’ are few.
Jesus when he was here training the disciples only had two or three who were ‘his special friends’.
We cannot cultivate and grow a good relationship when it is too large of a process for us.
My best friend lives about three hours from me, but what I find so special no matter how long it’s been since we see each other we always pick right up as if no time has ever passed.
She knows my heart and I know hers.
It is a good thing. It is comforting and very valued.
She is fighting for her life right now, with a serious illness and even though she looks very good physically, internally her body is fighting to stay here.
I am praying intensely for her journey, because I want her here with her family and me.
I challenge you to reach out to those who are in your address book or on your phone.
Is there someone you want to spend more time with, it takes effort to make it work.
A thought for you is to create and carve out some time for your ‘friend and you.’
It is a gift we can give each other. Our time.
For someday it might be gone and the opportunity will be over and really there is nothing more important.
A few verses for you to think on the subject.
[Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.] Proverbs 17:17
[God-friendship is for God-worshipers; They are the ones he confides in.] Psalm 25:14
[Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family] Proverbs 18:24
Most of all remember this:
[Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing!] Proverbs 25:13
The age old question …
We just had Valentines day and some would say love is chocolates, roses and cards.
When I was working in a florist shop I saw men scramble to get the expected things to show how much they cared for someone.
I challenge you to think of the question.
In the word we find the love chapter we have already read about: 1st Corinthians 13:
[Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.]
I value these words. In our throw away society where promises are not kept and vows are minimized, this is a challenge for us all.
I see love as a commitment and choice.
We are admonished in the word:
[So be very careful to love the Lord your God] Joshua 23:11
[Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life] Psalm 23:6
When we love; we love with a commitment and a joy towards someone to pray for them, walk alongside and encourage them.
Remember love is patient and kind.
At one point in time in my 50’s somehow I contracted the mumps, my face was very swollen and I was very ill, my husband would ask what he could do to help me feel better.
I was a complete mess physically and even emotionally.
I didn’t need someone to fix it because no one could, I just wanted calm, and quiet and restful days so I could recover.
He respected that. It is a love ‘decision’ to look beyond our needs.
When he had his knee replaced, it was major and I am not a good nurse and I don’t do well when waiting on others.
I had to help because he couldn’t do some things.
Love: In sickness and in health, because we choose to.
[I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.] Psalm 31:7
God had placed within each of us the capacity to love.
It is our choice but it is also a part of who HE made us to be.
If you have never read The Velveteen Rabbit book by Margery Williams I would suggest it. Love is spoken there.
What is love? it is looking beyond our own ‘broken places’ to help one another navigate this journey of life.
For no one wants to go on it alone.
Today, February 22nd would have been my mother’s 85th birthday.
She passed away two years ago from Parkinson’s.
I wouldn’t say we were close for we had many years of distance between us.
She was a single mom and she did what she could to raise the three of us alone.
There were three daughters, I was the youngest.
Times were not often easy, and she learned from her life experiences how to parent.
There wasn’t a lot of money available as we were growing up but our home was always nice.
We had food and even though it might not have been what we wanted it kept us comfortable.
She didn’t have child support or food stamps back in those days, sometimes she worked two jobs.
She was not what I would call a warm and fuzzy mom, didn’t overly dote on us or not overly affectionate.
I would imagine with the pressure and weight of being a single mom she didn’t have a lot of left over energy.
We had chores and we were expected to get them done. I know now it was her way of keeping her home nice.
We were not allowed to leave huge messes, or be lazy.
As I have grown into a mature ‘mom and grandma’, I realize we all pour out of the cups we were given.
If our life experiences are limited that is what we pour out, to others.
Not saying anything bad or negative just truth.
I was at fault many times as a mom too, when my own children were growing up.
We all make mistakes as we learn the job of parenting.
It is what it is. A truth we all carry if we are to be honest.
The years were hard for her, she had many deep heart aches.
She probably would fit more of a Mother ‘name’ and not so much mom.
Like dad was not the Father type, he was dad.
Life came back to her in full circle when in her mid years our dad came back into the picture.
They were married when they passed away. Loving each other in their old ages.
It was a love story that was fractured and then healed.
It was a nice to see the devotion between them as I watched and observed in the care home.
He lived in a setting that was not ‘his choice’ in order for her to be cared for properly.
That is love. That is healing. That is for better and worse, in sickness and in health.
Till death parted them.
Today would have been her birthday, a day to remember. Happy birthday Mother.