Tag Archives: the fruit of the Spirit

November 20; In Step

Galatians 4:8-6:18

Have you ever been awed by the precision of a marching band at half-time? You need to check out the Ohio State University marching band on You-Tube sometime.

In a military style marching band, each person takes an exact 30″ step, or 8 steps in five yards. No matter how big or small an individual is, their steps are exactly the same length. Knees are all lifted at exactly the same angle, no matter how short or tall the marcher is.

With all that precision, one person out of step sticks out like a sore thumb. One person marching right, left while everyone else is marching left, right ruins the whole effect of a precision marching band.

Paul is talking to the Galatians about precision marching. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (5:25) In verse 22 he tells us what that looks like:

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right.

So what happens if one of our number falls out of step? Paul tells us what to do in chapter 6. “Restore him gently.” Paul doesn’t say ignore it, or kick him out, or even to just pray for the one out of step. When a brother or sister is out of step, we who are in step need to address it with them.

Paul calls it carrying each other’s burdens.

I asked if you’ve ever been awed by the precision of a marching band at half-time. I wonder, have you ever been awed but the precision of a church fellowship in step with the Spirit?

I pray that each of us will be a part of an awe-inspiring fellowship of believers, walking in step with the Spirit, and making an eternal difference in the hearts of people in our communities. In a world where we are encouraged to “do our own thing,” let’s do the Spirit’s thing as we walk with Him in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Awesome!

 

 

September 30; Baptized With The Spirit

Matthew 2:1-23, 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 2:41-52, 3:1-20; John 1:1-18

John baptized with water for repentance. But he was always quick to say One greater than he would come after him and baptize with the Holy Spirit.

The thing about saying baptism saves, or repeating a prayer saves is that it gives people a false sense of security. The Jews thought they had an in because they were circumcised. But the Bible clearly teaches nothing we do can save us. Not surgery, not a dip in the pool, and not even saying a prayer can save anyone.

What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit? Many people point to the dramatic initial coming of the Holy Spirit as recorded in the book of Acts, and say that receiving the Holy Spirit is accompanied by euphoric babble. (which is not at all what we see in Acts) There are many examples in the New Testament of quiet humility in response to God’s grace.

I was appalled when I Googled “receive the Holy Spirit,” and found dozens of books written on the topic: “How To Receive the Holy Spirit.” As if there is something we can do to force God’s hand, or demand that He give us the gift. Friend, put those books down.

Salvation comes when we repent of sin, turn from sin, and ask God to forgive us. The Holy Spirit is given to us the moment we accept Jesus as the Savior. You can’t separate the Trinity. Paul in I Corinthians 12, Romans 8, and Ephesians 1 makes it clear that if a person doesn’t possess the Spirit, he doesn’t belong to Christ; that when we believed we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. There is no indication that a person is saved, then receives the Spirit after jumping through some hoops.

I’ve always bristled when anyone talked about “true” Christianity, or people who are “really saved.” I found that to be judgmental. After all, how can we know a person’s heart?

Well, I am beginning to realize my non-judgmental take on salvation is not Biblical. God through His Word, is showing me I not only can, but I need to recognize what is true and what is false in my own life, and in the lives of those around me. John said to the crowd, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Luke 3:8a) It wasn’t a suggestion.

How often did Jesus call people out for being hypocritical? How many verses can you find where Paul insists that the way we live is a direct result of our relationship with God? James went as far as to say, “faith without works is dead.”

If we receive the Holy Spirit when we repent of sin and accept God’s gift of grace through the blood of Jesus, then God Himself lives in us. Our lives have to look different than they did before that happened. They have to.

Being baptized with the Holy Spirit produces fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 says:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.

Notice Paul says “fruit” not “fruits.” All these things listed above are a direct result of having the Spirit in us, being baptized with the Holy Spirit. All of them.

So, am I saying if a person is kind or patient, but isn’t gentle and self controlled he’s not filled with the Spirit, and therefore not a Christian?

I’m not saying that. But I’m beginning to think God is.

Leviticus 11-12; The Most Tolerated Sin In America

I had some routine blood work done recently. Most of my levels came back in the normal range. But my cholesterol was a bit high, and my potassium level was on the high side of normal. Plus, I’m about 25 pounds overweight. Just great.

Gotta quit buying those chips.

I was reading God’s instructions to the Jews about what animals they could and couldn’t eat. Considering they were nomads with no refrigeration or antibiotics, and knowing the diseases the unclean animals tend to carry, it makes sense. God, always looking out for us, wanted His people to enjoy good health.

But I didn’t make the passage personal until I pulled out good old Matthew Henry. Listen to what he says:

“The Lord is for the body, and it is not only folly, but sin against God to prejudice our health for the pleasure of our appetite.”

Wait. What?

It occurs to me God didn’t just suggest a healthy diet here in Leviticus. He made it a sin to eat certain foods. Now I know in the New Testament He makes it clear that all food is acceptable this side of the cross. But aren’t there other Scriptures that have things to say about a healthy diet?

Deuteronomy 21:20 says if parents have trouble with a rebellious son, they should take him to the elders and say, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of the town should stone the son to purge the evil from among them.

Jesus seems to recognize drunkenness and gluttony as being in the same category in Matthew 11:19.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul calls our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit. And isn’t self control one of the fruits of the Spirit? (Galatians 5)

desiringgod.org says that gluttony is the most tolerated sin in America. (February 18, 2015 Eight Lessons on Gluttony) I don’t want to sugar coat this (pun intended). Look around. How many obese people consider themselves Christians? I’m not judging. Just wondering if we who are overweight should consider the possibility that we are sinning against God by how we are treating His temple.

I’m wondering if the time I spend eating, and preparing food, or thinking about food, is disproportionate to the time I spend in God’s Word and in sharing the gospel. Have I made food an idol?

The other day I told you about a friend who prayed for strength to lose weight. I’m beginning to think the Lord is speaking to me about this very thing. I don’t want to put my health in jeopardy just for the pleasure of my appetite.

Matthew Henry reminded me this is no joke. I can no longer think it’s no big deal if I overeat.

Dear God, I want to surrender all of me to you, including my appetite. Help me, Lord. I am weak.  You know I don’t have to be hungry to eat. I eat when I’m depressed, I eat when I’m celebrating or with friends, I stress-eat, and I eat when I’m bored. I like to eat. But, God, if it’s a sin, I repent of it. Help me to use food as You intend, to make me healthy and strong in order to serve You well. May the fruit of having Your Spirit living in me reveal itself in self control.

 

 

 

November 25 – Walk In The Spirit

Galatians 4-6

If we walk by the Spirit, it has to be evident. The Holy Spirit living in me just can’t look like everyone else. He is God, after all.

When we put our faith in Jesus, God sends His Spirit to take up residence. The evidence of that will translate into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Paul tells us we are free from the chains of sin and free to live godly lives. But he also warns not to let our freedom in Christ turn into an opportunity for the flesh.

“…walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.

This tells me temptations will continue to come, even after I’ve given my heart to the Lord. But through the Holy Spirit in me, I have the power to resist.

I want the Holy Spirit living in me to be evident to everyone I come in contact with. Not because I want them to think what a nice person I am. But because I want them to recognize the amazing God living in me, and want Him in their lives, too.