June Letter 2018

June Letter 2018

Dear Faith Partner:

Did you know the greatest decision anyone can make in life is not to get married, buy a new house, or a new car? The greatest decision a person can make is to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Yes, nothing is more important than a relationship with Christ. It is upon that truth we must start renewing our mind with the Word of God, and cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit.

Often, after being born again, believers go no further when it comes to spiritual development. Notice what the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 5:22 (NIV), “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” The word “fruit” itself is singular and yet there are nine attributes listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Holy Spirit produces all nine of these qualities simultaneously and constantly. All together, they are the Fruit of the Spirit.

In the same way that light comes with all the different colors in the light spectrum, so the Fruit of the Spirit is all these different things. Yet, for the purpose of understanding, we can separate this fruit into these nine separate elements just as the colors of light can be separated by a prism.

Jesus spoke of bearing fruit in John 15 and declared that “without me ye can do nothing(v.5). The “fruit” spoken of in these verses is not produced by the believer but by Holy Spirit, as believers live in union with Him. In John 15:4 (NIV) Jesus states, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

The Today’s English Version translates Galatians 5:22, “But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control”. Our part is to yield and trust; God’s part is to produce the fruit. This fruit is the product of Holy Spirit, not the efforts of individuals. However, since “he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit(1 Corinthians 6:17), then this Fruit of the Spirit is also what our born-again spirits produce. Our spirits always have these attributes regardless of what we feel in our emotions.

Each of these is a characteristic of Holy Spirit’s active presence in our daily activities. Let’s look at each characteristic and ask some diagnostic questions to ensure we are spiritually healthy.

  1. Love.  It all starts with love; all the fruit comes out of love. This word for love does not refer to warm feelings but to a deliberate attitude of good will and devotion to others. Love gives freely without looking at whether the other person deserves it, and it gives without expecting anything back. The word “love” used here is the Greek word agape, such as is found in John 3:16. There we see when agape is at work it is a force so strong that it demonstrates itself with deeds and actions. This is not an empty love that talks but does nothing. It is a love that does something, just as God loved us and then did something to save us from our lost and sinful condition. 
  2. Joy.  Unlike happiness, joy is gladness that is completely independent of the good or bad things that happen in the course of the day. In fact, joy denotes a supernatural gladness given by God’s Spirit that actually seems to show up best during hard times. This is a product of fixing your focus on God’s purposes for the events in your life rather than on the circumstances. Joy is never the by-product of external circumstances and situations; it is a spiritual force that is release through Holy Spirit in our lives. (John 15:9-11)
  3. Peace.  Peace is not the absence of turmoil, but the presence of tranquility even while in a place of chaos. It is a sense of wholeness and completeness that is content knowing that God controls the events of the day.  “This is a peace that passes all comprehension.(Philippians 4:6-7)
  4. Patience. Other words that describe patience are lenience, long-suffering, forbearance, perseverance, and steadfastness. It is the ability to endure ill treatment from life or at the hands of others without lashing out or paying back. (2 Peter 3:9)
  5. Kindness. When kindness is at work in a person’s life, they look for ways to adapt to meet the needs of others. Kindness is moral goodness that overflows. It is also the absence of malice. (Colossians 3:12)
  6. Goodness. While kindness is the soft side of good, goodness reflects the character of God. Goodness in you desires to see goodness in others and is not beyond confronting or even rebuking (as Jesus did with the money changers in the temple) for that to happen. (Psalms 23:6)
  7. Faithfulness. A faithful person is one with real integrity. Someone others can look to as an example and someone who is truly devoted to others and to Christ. Our natural self always wants to be in charge, but Spirit-controlled faithfulness is evident in the life of a person who seeks good for others and glory for God. (1 Corinthians 4:1)
  8. Gentleness. Meekness is not weakness. Gentleness is not without power, it just chooses to defer to others. It forgives others, corrects with kindness, and lives in tranquility. (2 Samuel 22:36)
  9. Self-control. Our fleshly desires, Scripture tells us, are continually at odds with God’s Spirit and always wants to be in charge. Self-control is literally releasing our grip on the fleshly desires, choosing instead to be controlled by Holy Spirit. It is power focused in the right place. Each of us must continually ask ourselves, “Are my fleshly desires controlling my life, or am I allowing the Spirit to direct me to the things that please God and serve others?”

How important is allowing the Fruit of the Spirit to prevail versus permitting the flesh to rule? Proverbs 25:28 says “He that [hath] no rule over his own spirit [is like] a city [that is] broken down, [and] without walls.” I think that makes it pretty clear.

Galatians 5:23b-25 (NKJV) says “Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The phrase “against such there is no law” is another way of saying the law was never meant for people who demonstrate these qualities or there are no laws which speak against people who live in this way.

Have crucified the flesh” indicates an action that took place in the past. This does not refer to self-crucifixion or self-mortification, but rather to Christians identifying with Christ’s death. A parallel passage is found in Romans 6:6, 11, which states, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin…Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Victory over the flesh with its passions and lusts has already been provided for us by Christ through His death. We simply have to appropriate this truth by faith instead of self-effort. When we follow the Spirit’s lead instead of being led by our self-focused desires, He produces the fruit in our life.

Almost half of 2018 is behind us, Janice and I pray that in the remainder of the year you, your family, and ministry allow the Fruit of the Spirit to manifest in your life like never before and in doing so that you see great and greater victories all around you.  

God Bless You,

 

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