Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

“Patience” …everybody’s favorite word! Not really, is it? When we think of this particular fruit of the Spirit, what often comes to mind is the tongue-in-cheek saying, “Don’t ever pray for patience!” Why? Because the Bible tells us in James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

The thought is that since, according to James, the “testing of your faith” or “trials” is what produces patience, then to avoid trials, don’t pray for patience! Well, while it may be cute or catchy, that is just plain wrong theology. Patience isn’t something to be avoided, rather it is another sweet expression of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

It all deserves a closer look. In James 1:2-4, the word translated “patience” is the Greek word ‘hypomone,’ and it literally means “an underneath abiding.” It can be passive, i.e. “endurance,” or developed through trial as in trials in general (Luke 21:19), in trials coming from service in the gospel (2 Cor. 6:4; 2 Cor. 12:12; 2 Tim. 3:10) or chastisement from God the Father (Heb 12:7). Or it can be active, i.e. “persistence, perseverance,” as in well doing, (Rom. 2:7), in fruit bearing, (Luke 8:15) or in running the race (Heb. 12:1).

However, the word in our text of study that is (unfortunately, in my opinion) translated “patience” in some translations, is the Greek word ‘makrothymia.’ It comes from ‘makros’ = “long” and ‘thymos’ = “temper.” Long-tempered means “long suffering.” This concerns the interpersonal relationships we all navigate in life. You see, because of our sin nature, the big “I” in the middle of sin or “Self – Ish – Ness,” we cannot just develop a strong enough Christian character. No, this is where God must work in big ways. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. The flesh screams “lash out, retaliate” when we are wronged. But the Spirit says, “wait, love, suffer long, leave it to the Lord.” As it says in Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”

To be able to “turn the other cheek” is a product of the fruit of the Spirit. Surely, you’ve noticed by now that it only comes from intimate, personal time with Him.

Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

I know it is painfully cliché, but what is the beauty pageant contestant’s answer to the question: “What do you wish for most?” Inevitably, she says, “World peace!”

“Peace” is defined in the dictionary as:
1. freedom from disturbance; a state of quiet and tranquility.
2. freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.
3. harmony in personal relations

While those are fine definitions for “peace,” is that what the Bible means that we are to have as a “fruit of the Spirit?” While it is clear that God desires for the Believer to know peace in this life, rarely is this life characterized by “a state of quiet and tranquility!” What is the Holy Spirit revealing to us about the “fruit of peace” that He desires to produce in us?

The Greek word used in the text is: ‘eirēnē’. It comes from the root word, ‘eiro’ which means “to join”. The idea is to “bring together” or to “tie together as a whole.” Therefore, as a child of God, it is possible for my life, even in the midst of the chaos of this world, to be settled, to be at one with Him and to NOT be coming apart or melting down. The key is at one with Him…God. Once again, we see that for someone to truly be at or to have peace, they must have peace with God, they must belong to Him!

Think of it this way: There has been much in the news the past year about hurricanes. The devastation and destruction, the utter chaos and horror that they bring. Well, I am reminded of a story about my daddy. While serving as a missionary in Bermuda, the island was directly in the path of a hurricane. The winds raged, the rain beat down. But then as the eye of the storm passed over, there was calm. Dad went outside to fix a broken shutter on the church building (much to mom’s chagrin, I assure you) taking advantage of the few minutes of a lull before the effects of the storm resumed with a vengeance as the eye wall of the other side of the storm came roaring in. The Spirit fruit of peace is like the eye of the hurricane: though the winds, rain and destruction of this life rage all around, if we walk with the Lord, fully leaning on and trusting Him even in the middle of turmoil, like walking with Him in the eye of the storm…there will be peace. Remember, Paul was in prison as he was inspired to write these words: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.” John 14:27

Take the time to stop…breathe…look to the Captain of your soul…and experience the sweet fruit of His peace!

Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permission)

Galatians 5:22 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”

The word “Joy” in the Bible is a unique and special word, in that it transcends mere happiness or pleasure, ignores temporary circumstances, and stays anchored to the solid reality of The Divine Joy giver! Again, as we look at the “fruit of the Spirit” we must understand that these life ‘fruits’ only come as a direct result of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

“Joy” in Galatians 5:22 is the Greek word ‘chara’ and it is derived from both the words ‘charis’ meaning “grace” or “gift” as well as the word ‘charos’ which means “rejoice” or “to express joy”. So, what that means is that Biblical “joy” is defined as the “natural response to a grace gift!”

Put simply, it means that there can never be true “joy” without the presence of Grace. And the only source of pure, untainted, and complete “grace” is The One and Only True and Living God! That is why in modern society and culture there is a desperate need to redefine the word “joy” and ascribe to it a false and shallow definition; because to acknowledge the true definition of joy is to acknowledge the need for Saving Grace, and therefore a Savior. Salvation is a “joyful” experience precisely because it is a “grace gift.” The arrival of Messiah was obviously a “joy gift” occasion. (“And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” Luke 1:14) As was His resurrection, His ascension, and will be His return!!

The world teaches a false joy that comes from possessions, prestige, power, popularity, or even a perceived great purpose. BUT joy comes ONLY from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (John 15:11). Try this exercise today: rather than focus on the circumstance of life (whether deemed good or bad), focus on the many evidences of the Grace of God in your life. Ask Him to fill you with recognition of Him and Who He is in your life. When we do that, I believe we will truly have, enjoy and minister through the fruit of the Spirit – JOY.

Let It Go

Let It Go

By Kendall Kelley

Self-reflection — The last month of 2017 has consisted of lots and lots of self-reflection. Anyone else still sitting in 2017’s hot seat trying to answer the questions of where the year went and what you have to show for it? The beginning of a new year will do that to you, won’t it? It reminds you that another year has flown by. It reminds you of all the things you did or did not accomplish from the list of resolutions you made twelve months ago. It reminds you of all the great memories you made, the people you met, and the places you visited. For some, the start to a new year is a celebration of a past year well spent. For others, you’re celebrating a fresh start, a restart and a better year to come.

I used to be a sucker for making lists. Every year around this time, I would get so excited to sit down and write out everything I planned to do in the New Year. I would fully embrace the “New Year, New Me” mentality and look forward to the satisfaction of crossing off my accomplishments one by one. Because we all know that is the best part of a creating a list, right? Nothing screams productivity louder than a thick, black line drawn through a task that has been completed. However, after a while, as I’m sure you can all attest, I found myself with lists of unattainable goals and/or a lack of motivation to really follow through past the month of January.

So two years ago, in an effort to take on a more attainable approach, I adopted the idea of a New Year’s phrase to embody what I wanted my next 365 days to look like. I simply declared it “A Year of (fill in the blank)”. In 2016, it was “The Year of Yes” – saying “yes” to things I would normally say “no” to and going “all-in” rather than overthinking. This past year, in 2017, it was “A Year of Giving and Saving”. I was going to give more quality time to friends and family and invest in others. Then, saving where I did not need to spend and being content with what I had. I have to say, sticking to these two phrases for an entire year has completely helped shape my outlook on life thus far.

As 2018 approached, I was reeling over what I wanted my phrase to be. In all honesty, this past year was not my easiest. I faced many highs and lows, but through my struggles came a lot of personal growth.

The last few weeks, I’ve been challenged to really dig deep into the core of who I am. This has been mainly due to a few real and honest conversations that have led me to wonder: What makes me, me? What is my purpose in this life? What am I called to do? And recently, I had a friend ask a question that hit me like a ton of bricks and really got me thinking: “What is your ‘messed up’?” Come again?? I mean, I may have a couple issues, but what’s my ‘messed up’?

As she began to explain her own struggles, I slowly started to understand and interpret the question in a different way: What circumstances from your past have, or still are, affecting who you are or believe yourself to be today? I carried this question around with me for a couple days, asking God for clarity.

I know I suffer from some underlying insecurities, but I’ve never taken time to specifically seek out the roots of these problems. But my goodness, did the Lord reveal some hard truths through this process. All of these self-reflecting questions ignited a thought: What if I accept everything I just discovered, along with the unknowns to my previous questions and just did one simple thing – let it go?

So, as I step into this New Year – I’m declaring 2018 to be:

A Year of Letting Go
Letting go to fully embrace the goodness of God.
Letting go of my need for things to go a certain way.
Letting go of resentment of others.
Letting go of expectations.
Letting go of complaints.
Letting go of all anger.
Letting go of the fear of outcomes or what others might think.
Letting go of worry.
Letting go of insecurities and self-doubt.
Letting go of failure.
Letting go of financial concerns.
Letting go of every past sin done unto me or I have done unto others.
Letting go of everything I cannot see or do not know.
I’m letting go of all control and I’m handing it over to the God who is in complete control.
I’m taking the steps to become more Christ-like: actively pursuing, actively loving, and actively forgiving. For He is in whom I find my strength, He is in whom I place my trust, and it is His name I long to glorify.

What areas of your life are you holding on to? How is God encouraging you to “let it go” in 2018?

 

 

A special thanks to Kendall Kelley for allowing us to use her post. You can find her online at http://www.onefinesoul.com/ and on instagram @onefinesoul.

Giving God Our New Year’s Goals

Giving God Our New Year’s Goals

By Danielle Harmon

At the beginning of each New Year, we are inundated with encouragement to set New Year’s Resolutions. Lose weight, save more money, read the Bible in a year – the ideas are endless. But what if we spent more time asking God to reveal His goals for this year instead of our own?

The problem with our goals is that, although well-intentioned, they are not complete without God’s input. Maybe we want to lose 30 pounds or start running every morning, but what if God has a better idea of what perfect health can be for each one of us? Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us that His thoughts are higher than ours:

“’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.’”

Our ways are not His ways, just as our goals for our lives are not necessarily His goals for our lives. But by spending more time in close relationship with Him, we can begin to think more like Him. As we learn to think more like Him, we also learn to hear and implement His ideas for our lives instead of our own.

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 serves as a great reminder that God has ideas and purposes for our lives that we could never dream of on our own:

“This is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But it was to us that God revealed these things by His Spirit. For His Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.”

God has incredible things planned for us, not just in eternity, but here on earth as well. God desires to share with us His divine purposes for our lives. So as we start this New Year, let’s extend an invitation to allow God to help us set those resolutions.

Fearing God

Fearing God

By Karen Baloy

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT). I felt so liberated the first time I heard this verse. I had been completely owned by my fears prior to hearing it. Whenever I would feel the signs of a panic attack starting, I would recite this verse. I sometimes had to chant it on loop until the feelings passed. I knew God’s words were truth. I wasn’t going to let the enemy’s lies prevail. I wanted to be calm and loving, just like my precious Jesus.

As 1 John 4:18a reminded me, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.” (NKJV) Fear had no place in my life! Romans 8:15a was right, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear”. These verses brought me to a place of total reverence and awe of God, not to mention giving me an appreciation for the continual peace His Spirit provides.

Once I became more settled in my New Testament understanding of God, I began to study the Old Testament. I was immediately bombarded with verses that told me that I needed to fear God to find peace. The voices of my fire and brimstone preachers and teachers of my youth came flooding back. Is God good or is God bad? I’m supposed to demonstrate my love to God by showing him I’m afraid?!? The mixed messages continued to confuse me, even while reading other chapters of Psalms.

Reading Psalm 25 was a transformative experience. I felt urged to research verses 12-14, “Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity and their descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”

After reading this verse, I wanted to find out why being afraid of Him would bring me wonderful things. It didn’t take long to discover that there are TWO definitions of fear. According to Eugene H. Merrill on BibleStudyTools.com, the two definitions of the verb fear are: 1) produces awe, reverence and obedience; and 2) that which causes one to cover in dread and terror in anticipation of his displeasure.

Prior to the revelation of these two definitions, I hadn’t quite reached peace because I thought I was flawed by not being afraid of God. But then I realized this is exactly what the enemy wanted. Now I can rejoice: Hallelujah, His truth has set me free! I’m no longer a slave to a misunderstanding of a single word. I have now released the spirit of fear by fearing God with all of my heart and all of my soul!