Fruit of the Spirit

As a mother of 2 energetic boys…Connor 6 and Bryce 4…I find myself…on a daily basis… finding ways for them to exert their energy! Like playing kick ball on the street…hitting tennis balls off a tee…or heading to a nearby playground or park with a splash pad.

When my boys do not have this outlet…for boys to just be boys…to go run…jump… play…collect bugs…explore the outdoors…they drive me bonkers and I find my patience tested!

God forbid we have rainy day here in Arizona and we get cooped up in the house all day! Playing board games indoors like Candyland…Trouble…and Sorry only go so far!

And so when my patience is tested I find myself asking God to give me patience…because there are certainly days I feel that I have absolutely no patience! Have you had any of those days?

I can laugh…for a minute at least…as I am reminded of the lines from the movie Evan Almighty…where Morgan Freeman who plays God asks…

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient?”

And then reality sets in that God has given me yet another opportunity to grow in patience when my boys are wrestling each other on the family room floor!

As Christians…we may all be familiar with patience being a fruit of the Spirit in the Bible.

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 NASB

The “fruit of the Spirit” is a biblical term that sums up the nine visible attributes of a true Christian life.

I have always found it interesting that the scripture says “fruit” and not “fruits.” Have you ever wondered that?

And there are some scholars and commentaries that may actually refer to the ‘fruits” rather than “fruit” of the Spirit. However, we can see clearly from this scripture that the singular “fruit” is used.

I do personally believe…and others may beg to differ… this is significant because the original Greek term translated as “fruit” is singular signifying that there is one fruit with nine attributes. And thus…I believe these are not individual “fruits” from which we can pick and choose.

For instance, an apple may have the following attributes: red…round… sweet… edible…seeded…juicy. But it is still an apple…one apple with these 6 attributes.

So the “fruit of the Spirit” is one “fruit” of the Spirit with nine attributes.

And even more importantly…we must understand that as Christians…we all have the fruit of the Spirit available to us! We don’t have to ask God for patience…or love…or joy…or peace…etc. because we already have it in us!

When we give our life to Jesus…the fruit of the Spirit…all nine attributes… are planted inside us in seed form. We are given the fruit of the Spirit…by the Holy Spirit!

And so although we don’t need to ask God specifically for these nine attributes…what we may need to ask for is a greater yield of this fruit on a daily basis…or determine what may be hindering the seed planted in us from further growing.

Because ultimately, Jesus commands us to produce fruit.

When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. John 15:8 NLT

So are you producing much fruit? Which attributes do you struggle with most?

Do you struggle with love…joy…or peace?

Do you struggle with patience…kindness…goodness?

Do you struggle with faithfulness…gentleness…or self-control?

We all have fruit of the Spirit attributes to further develop and grow. Uuugh…patience and self- control our certainly my big ones! And after reading further…I can probably add more to my list!

Check out each of these attributes and do a self-examination to determine which attributes you may need to further develop and grow.

Love

Dear children let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1John 3:18 NIV

Is your love unconditional? Or is your love most evident when everything goes your way?

This type of fruit keeps on loving even when it’s difficult to show affection to others. The capacity to love grows out of the agape love…the selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love…from the heavenly Father.

Joy

For the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Can you have joy in the midst of difficult circumstances? Or is your joy based upon a false joy that is found in people…places…possessions…positions…or personalities?

Not that anyone of us should be joyful about the hard times, but rather our joy comes from God who is with us…in it and through it. God uses every trial to help us become stronger in the faith.

Peace

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-8 NIV

Are you consumed with anxiety and worry when everything falls apart? Or can you rest in God’s peace?

There is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:2). But for us as Christians…it is available every time we pray and leave our concerns with God.

Patience

Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. Colossians 1:1NIV

Can you be still and wait on God? Or are you tempted to always move ahead so you can stay in control?

Patience is a fruit that will grow with your experience of being stretched in faith especially in times of trial.  Forbearance is another word for patience…We don’t have to pray for patience…it’s there already!

Kindness

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 2 Timothy 2:24 NIV

Do others sense your kindness in words and actions? Or are they more accustomed to your angry response?

A gentle word…soft answer…or a helping hand…all demonstrate the fruit of kindness in our culture of unfortunate rudeness and selfishness.

Goodness

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 3 John 11NIV

Are your conversations marked with genuine virtue and honor? Or is your conversation tainted with worldly language…immoral tendencies…or gossip?

Goodness doesn’t mean that we are perfect…but rather someone who sincerely reflects the integrity of God within. A Christian who demonstrates the fruit of goodness has the tendency to believe the best about people.

Faithfulness

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV

Does your reputation reflect dependability and steadfastness in the faith? Or do people expect you to be late…undependable…or irresponsible?

Our faithfulness represents God’s Spirit dwelling within. Those who cultivate the fruit of faithfulness are compelled to complete every good work for His glory.

Gentleness

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5NIV

Is your gentle and meek spirit felt around those who live or work with you? Or do they feel that you are a hard and legalistic person to deal with?

A spirit of gentleness gives grace freely…and consistently. Believers and unbelievers should feel at ease around us because of our presence of gentleness.

Self-Control

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Titus 2:11-12 NIV

Do you control your appetites? Or do they control you?

Christians can demonstrate a life of self-control and discipline in a world where every day is an opportunity to allow our flesh to take control. We have the power through the Spirit to control our worldly desires and actions.

Did you take note of any attributes that you struggle with? What may be hindering you from growing and maturing in these areas?

On our own…we will all struggle…I struggle!

But be encouraged! …Because we have been given the supernatural ability to overcome by the Holy Spirit! If the Holy Spirit planted the seed in us then He will certainly empower and strengthen us to grow and mature!

And furthermore…the growing of the fruit is not a passive process but an active one. We cannot do nothing and just expect the seed that is in us to grow!

Yes…we must abide in Jesus as John 15:5 says…But many of the nine attributes are listed elsewhere in the Bible as commands from God that we are to “do”!

We are commanded to “love.” (Matthew 22:37-39)… “be joyful” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)… “pursue peace” (2 Timothy 2:22)… “walk with patience” (Ephesians 4:2)… “clothe ourselves with kindness” (Colossians 3:12)… “do good to all men” (Galatians 6:10)… “stand fast in faith” (1Corinthians 16:13)… “show gentleness” (Titus 3:2)… “have self-control” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).

These are all active commands for us to grow the seed that is planted in us…to grow the fruit of the Spirit to maturity.

If you notice the fruit of the Spirit begins with Love and ends with Self-control.

Evangelist and Bible teacher Joyce Meyer has an interesting perspective. She says…

[Love and Self-Control are like bookends. All the fruit of the Spirit comes out of love. You can’t have joy…peace…patience…etc without love. And all this is held in place by self-control.] Paraphrased

Whenever we have those days where we feel we have no patience…or whatever area we may be struggling with…we need to remind ourselves that we can’t do it in our strength. We need to continue pushing through and rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit!

The more we draw near to God…praying and reflecting on His Word…the more we will experience the fruit of the Spirit in our life.

We aren’t perfect and we never will be…but we can certainly grow and mature in the fruit of the Spirit.

Reflection Points:

  1. Do you find yourself asking God to give you patience…or joy…or kindness…or self-control, etc?
  2. Do you understand that as Christians we are actually given the nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit? So we already have it!
  3. Are you producing much fruit? Which attributes do you struggle with most? What may be hindering you from developing and growing the seed that is planted in you?
  4. Do you struggle with love…joy…or peace? Do you struggle with patience…kindness…goodness? Do you struggle with faithfulness…gentleness…or self-control?

Action Points:

  1. When we give our life to Jesus…the fruit of the Spirit…all nine attributes… are planted inside us in seed form. We are given the fruit of the Spirit…by the Holy Spirit!
  2. And so although we don’t need to ask God specifically for these nine attributes…what we may need to ask for is a greater yield of this fruit on a daily basis…or determine what may be hindering the seed planted in us from further growing.
  3. God commands us to produce fruit. Read through each attribute listed and see which areas you may need a greater yield of in your life.
  4. Growing and maturing the seed that has been planted in us requires first and foremost that we are abiding in God and His Word. We will further mature as we pray and read God’s word on a daily basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Seasons

Growing up as a child back East…I was very accustomed to the 4 seasons…Spring…Summer …Autumn…and Winter.

I have sweet memories of experiencing and enjoying each season as it came …and always anticipating the excitement of the next season as one season ended and another began.

Having lived in Arizona for the last 15 years…I can say that even though we do have 4 seasons…many people would claim that we only have 2 seasons…hot and hotter!

There are certainly great benefits of living in Arizona and having warmer weather pretty much year round…but unfortunately we don’t experience the 4 seasons and the unique characteristics that depict each season as in other parts of the country.

And for some of you shoveling snow right now…you are probably thinking how you could care less about experiencing the unique characteristics of each season…like snow in the winter!

As we know…seasons are periods of the year that are typically marked by their own particular weather conditions and temperatures… depending on the part of the country you live in.

And whether we like one season over another season…God created the 4 seasons on the 4th day of creation and determined…according to His sovereignty…when one season ends and another begins. After all, He is the creator of time…and seasons.

Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. Genesis 1:14 NLT

Just as Spring…Summer…Autumn…and Winter mark the 4 seasons…we as Christians experience these 4 seasons…spiritual seasons…in our lives as well.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven… Ecclesiastes 3:1KJV

A characterization of each season is important in understanding just how these seasons correlate into our lives as Christians.

Spring is characterized by more daylight…moderate temperatures…and plants beginning or resuming growing.

Summer is characterized by the most daylight…warmer temperatures (Hotter than hot temps in AZ!)…and plants growing and maturing.

Autumn is characterized by daylight lessoning…moderate to cooler temperatures…and plants mature and beginning to go dormant.

Winter is characterized by less daylight…colder temperatures…and most plants either die or go dormant.

These 4 physical seasons can be correlated to 4 spiritual seasons in our spiritual walk as well as in our current circumstances.

Spring Season

Are you in a Spring season?

Just like the trees and plants and flowers are beginning to grow and bloom in Spring…we too may be beginning to experience a great hunger and desire to grow in our relationship with God…whether we are a new Christian or not.

Or maybe we are beginning a new season…a new chapter…in our lives…

Or maybe a new thing is sprouting up…like a new phase of parenting…or a new job…or a new vision for our lives.

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. Isaiah 43:19-20 NLT

The temperatures of your life are nice and fairly mild in Spring as you may feel a new freshness in your life!

Summer Season

Are you in a Summer season?

Just like the trees and plants and flowers are maturing in the Summer…we too are experiencing greater growth and maturity in our relationship with God.

And just as the temperatures in Summer are the hottest…sometimes the heat in our lives is turned up too!

We may be experiencing greater pressures…greater challenges…greater struggles in this season of our life…we may feel like we are literally going through the fire!

For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD. Malachi 3:3 NLT

But it is in this fire…it is in this heat…that we experience greater growth and maturity in our relationship with God!

Why? Because the challenges and pressures and struggles in our lives push us to seek God even more than ever! These challenges…pressures…struggles push us to rely on His strength…not ours!

9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 2 Corinthians 12:9 AMP

The temperatures of your life may certainly be hot in Summer…but God…as the Refiner…is sitting in the heat with you…every step of the way!

Autumn Season

Are you in an Autumn season?

Just as trees and plants and flowers have matured and their fruits are harvested in Autumn…we too may be experiencing a harvest in our lives.

We are reaping the benefits of spending time with God…praying and studying God’s Word. We are reaping the benefits of leaning on God and trusting Him. The benefits of spending time with Him is evident as our faith in God has grown stronger and we finally experience peace and joy in our lives.

I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. John 15:5 MSG

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22 NIV

We may have also put in a lot of time…energy…and efforts in certain areas of our lives…like marriage…relationships…physical well-being…jobs…and are now seeing the fruits of our labor!

You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be! Psalm 128:2 NLT

The temperatures of your life may be more pleasant…moderate to cool…in Autumn as you see God’s faithfulness in your life after you have sowed and sowed and sowed!

Winter Season

Are you in a Winter season?

Just like the trees and plants and flowers die or are dormant in the Winter…we too may be experiencing a death…the passing of a loved one…the end of a career or job…the end of a marriage or relationship.

Maybe you are experiencing a dormancy…an inactivity…in your relationship with God or in your prayers to God.

Maybe you have put forth a lot of time…energy…efforts towards a relationship…new job…or treatment for an illness…and just don’t see anything happening…

You have prayed and petitioned…you have trusted and believed in God… and haven’t yet received any answers.

Be encouraged in this Winter season!

God knows the seeds that are lying dormant underground in the stillness and cold of Winter. He knows…He sees…What you do not!

I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree.

“For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work and the way I think is beyond the way you think.

Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” Isaiah 55:8-11 MSG

The temperatures in your life are cold…and silent in Winter…but remember God is all-knowing and all-powerful and all-present…and He is always on time!

It doesn’t matter whether your current physical season corresponds with your current spiritual season because…

More importantly…remember that God created seasons to change! Just like the physical seasons change…so it is with our spiritual seasons!

Whether we are in a good season or difficult season…whether we like it or not…God is in complete control!

We will all experience these 4 seasons…We will all experience Spring…Summer… Autumn… and Winter spiritually in our lives. We must stay the course and embrace the changing seasons because change means transformation. And we are being transformed to look more and more like Christ!

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

And to drive this point even further…check this out!

In case you didn’t know, many scholars have researched that numbers in the bible are symbolic and have relevance. There is biblical significance in the number 4.

The number 4 means earthly completeness in form or function…it denotes creative works and always has reference to the material creation…as pertaining to the earth…things “under the sun” …and things terrestrial.

It is not coincidental that God created the 4 seasons on the 4th day! The physical universe was set into motion and created on the 4th day of creation. Interestingly…

There are 4 elements: earth…air…fire…and water.

There are 4 corners (directions) of the earth: north…south…east…and west.

Even the 4th Commandment in Exodus 20:8…Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy…. is a statement of God’s resting from His creative work. The Sabbath is commanded for His creatures to rest…enjoy Him…and glorify Him.

God is a purposeful God…nothing is formed or created by accident! Just like Him creating the 4 physical seasons is a sign of completeness in His physical creation…Him allowing us to experience all 4 spiritual seasons in our lives is a pathway and sign of completeness in Him!

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4 NIV

When we understand God’s ultimate purpose to make us mature…complete…and not lacking anything in these changing seasons…we can push through the difficult seasons of life and find joy and peace in the good seasons of life!

Reflection Points:

  1. What season are you in spiritually?
  2. What is God’s ultimate purpose in the changing seasons?
  3. Does knowing God’s plan and purpose help you to push through the difficult seasons in your life?

Action Points:

  1. God created seasons to change! Just like the physical seasons change…so it is with our spiritual seasons! Whether we are in a good season or difficult season…whether we like it or not…God is in complete control!
  2. We will all experience these 4 seasons…We will all experience Spring…Summer… Autumn… and Winter spiritually in our lives. We must stay the course and embrace the changing seasons because change means transformation. And we are being transformed to look more and more like Christ!
  3. God is a purposeful God…nothing is formed or created by accident! Just like Him creating the 4 physical seasons is a sign of completeness in His physical creation…Him allowing us to experience all 4 spiritual seasons in our lives is a pathway and sign of completeness in Him!