June 3, 2008

Taste of good fruit

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

Galatians 5:22-23

There is nothing like the life of the Spirit filled believer, it is a life led by the Spirit that is abundant and full. I keep this verse posted in my home and have made each of my children memorize this verse because to me, it is such an important verse because it is how we as believers are recognized. When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and His fruit. We are given the seal of the Spirit, the identity of Christ, which means we have Christ-like character. The fruit of the Spirit is made up of nine character traits that set apart a believer from a non-believer. They are the result of being filled and led by the Spirit when we pray and ask He to daily fill us full and reside on the throne of our lives.

Jesus taught us that genuine believers would be known by the fruit that they produce,
"By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." (Matthew 7:16-20) He promised that having the presence of the Spirit in our lives would produce in us the fruit of love and obedience. When we have these qualities and we "live by the Spirit", we are fulfilling the requirements of God's people.

The fruit of the Spirit is made up of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All of these qualities paint a beautiful picture of what relationships should look like when we are walking in the Spirit but the first and most important of the fruit is love. We know that God has commanded us to love Him and others. We are to love God with all our mind, soul and heart and to love others as ourselves. We are to "serve one another in love"
(vs13). Love fulfills the law, "The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14) and it is the truest expression of our faith,
"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6)
Love was best demonstrated for us in the sacrifice that Christ made for us upon the cross and we in turn demonstrate love through our love and service to one another. All the other characteristics of the fruit flow from that of love. Once we understand and have godly love, the other traits will flow naturally from us.

Joy is the result of loving one another unconditionally and having healthy relationships. When we understand God's love and forgiveness and we practice it in our lives, we are filled with His Joy inside of us. Some may never know true joy because they cannot let go of resentment and anger and cannot find love and forgiveness in their hearts towards those who have wronged them. When we cannot let go of our hurts and we are focused on ourselves, we cannot experience the fullness of joy that fills our hearts when we allow the Holy Spirit to reside on the throne of our lives. When we practice true love in our relationships, the result is the renewal of joy in our lives.

Peace is the result of serving one another in love. We are more likely to have peace in our lives when we are focused on the needs of others and not ourselves. There is satisfaction in serving and ministering to those we love and through this, our Spirit finds peace.

Patience is the quality of staying with the people who constantly irritate us or who have hurt or wronged us.

Kindness and goodness go hand in hand with patience, teaching us that having a soft, non-judgmental heart and doing good for others is how we stay on the course of God's true love.

Faithfulness is keeping the commitments we have towards one another in our relationships. It means seeking truth at all times no matter what our minds may lead us to think about those around us. Only living in the Spirit can generate true devotion in our relationships.

Gentleness is the result of humbleness and it involves considering the hurts and needs of others before our own personal goals and agendas. It means giving our time, money, even ourselves when we may not have it to give. It means trusting and having faith in God that He will provide and bless because you are choosing to live to love those that He has commanded you to love.

Self-Control is having the strength to say no to our desires and to sinful nature. It is knowing truth, recognizing when our desires become sinful, and having the strength to walk away.

When we put to death our sinful nature and become a new creation in Christ, we open the way for the Spirit to come and reside within our lives. It means that we die to our sinful desires and turn from our evil passions. Just because we become filled with the Spirit does not mean that all those sinful ways will disappear. It is up to us to crucify those sinful ways. It means that when we hear a bit of juicy gossip, we choose to say, "no, I don't want to hear it" or when there is pornography before our eyes, we turn the channel or throw away the magazine. We make the choice as to whether we will sin or honor God. We are "to keep in step with the Spirit" (5:25) by serving and loving one another at all times. We do not have the right to say we are too tired or do not have time. It has been commanded to us to "love one another as ourselves "and to "serve one another in love". (5:13) When we choose ourselves over the needs of others, we have entered into sin and have returned to our sinful nature thus taking Christ off the throne. We must keep our focus upon the cross and the One who was the perfect demonstration of love for us for if we do not have love, we have nothing.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,
but have not love, I gain nothing."

1 Corinthians 13:1-3


"Without Him I could do nothing. Without Him I'd surely fail.

Without Him I would be drifting like ship without a sail.

Jesus O Jesus, do you know Him today? You can't turn Him away.

O Jesus, O Jesus, without Him, how lost I would be.

Without Him I could be dying. Without Him I'm be enslaved.

Without Him life would be hopeless, but with Jesus, thank God, I'm saved."

Hymn-Without Him

Mylon R. LeFevre 1963




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