Month: January 2023

More About the Fruit of the Spirit

One might say that the fruit of the Spirit is inconsistent with being selfish or conceited; spiritual fruit is born of humility and thinking more of others than ourselves: Philippians 2:3 teaches, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.”

As the passage above indicates, the attitude of our minds—how we think—has everything to do with how we act and what we choose to do.

Therefore, if we take to heart this verse, Philippians 4:8, we will develop a mindset—an attitude—from which we can bear the good fruit of the Holy Spirit. It may prove to be a challenge for some of us to train ourselves to dwell on these good things instead of the trying circumstances around us; nevertheless, we can begin by giving the Lord what we do have…a willingness to change our thoughts.

A Secret to True Power

I once read about a very simplistic formula regarding electric power:

POWER = voltage/resistance

This formula indicates that it is not so much about increasing the electrical power as it is about the issue of reducing resistance. The voltage is decreased by the amount of resistance in the wire.

This brought a picture to my mind about true power—the power of the Holy Spirit—in our lives:

GOD’S POWER= Holy Spirit/ the resistance of our will

Once we believe in Jesus and are baptized in His Holy Spirit, God’s power is present; yet, we can set our will against His will (resist) and reduce (quench) the Spirit’s work in our lives:

May we endeavor to keep God’s spiritual power fully flowing in our lives.

Winning the Battle

Sometimes in our desire to exercise self-control, we end up actually battling with ourselves; and of course, this will be a losing endeavor. After all, the blind cannot lead the blind and we cannot rescue ourselves; we need a third party—someone stronger and wiser than we are.

As we read last week:

The fruit of the Spirit can be viewed as righteous changes in our character due to the working of the of the Holy Spirit within us. And, although we are responsible in manifesting this fruit (including the gift of self-control), we nevertheless need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to do so—we can therefore pray for spiritual help with confidence that we will have what we need. Here are two prayers I found on the internet that express these kinds of prayers:

My personal prayer at this time is similar to this:

May you experience many blessings as you seek the Lord for strength and guidance in your areas of weakness.

Prayerful Request for 2023

1 Comment

The following requests have become part of my prayers this year:

Dear Heavenly Father, fill us on the inside with your Holy Spirit and cover us on the outside with your Armor of Light…

We ask these things and thank you for them in the name of Jesus, Amen.

For Their Deeds Follow Them

2 Comments

The King James version interprets “deeds” as “works.” The message of this verse in Revelation—the idea that our works follow us when we die—is that deeds done here on earth will be judged regarding eternal rewards in heaven. Are we to conclude that ‘good’ works we do during our lifetime will automatically earn us godly rewards? The following verses seem to present two views concerning our works:

Although these verses appear to contradict each other, they are instead describing two kinds of works: Works that we do in order to merit/earn our salvation or to please ourselves; and, works that God ordains for us to do by the power of the Holy Spirit. The works done out of love and obedience to the Lord will indeed follow us to heaven for reward.

Here is more good news: The Bible is full of counsel on the kinds of deeds that will be upheld for heavenly rewards. We may think righteous works only involve what we do, such as helping the poor, supporting our church, or perhaps witnessing to the lost—all of which are good to do in the name of Jesus and through His Spirit. But let’s consider the following fruit that our Heavenly Father values and expects from His children; fruit that will stand under judgement:

Instead of merely striving to do good deeds for Jesus, we might benefit from examining ourselves to see if our works are bearing the good fruit cited in Galatians 5—the kind of works that flow from a heart attuned to the Holy Spirit.

Your Faith has Made You Whole

1 Comment

Focus Passage: Mark 5: 24-34

In this passage, a woman who had suffered for twelve years with an illness, reached out in faith to touch Jesus’ garment as He passed by in a large crowd. She had said to herself, “If I can only touch His garment, I will be made whole.” Then, as Jesus looked to find her, she came forward, fell down before Him, and told him what she had done. Rather than rebuke her, Jesus declared to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you whole.”

Are we to understand from Jesus’ comment to the woman that if we can just have strong enough faith, we can be healed? Conversely, if we are not healed, does that mean we did not have sufficient faith, or that we had some miracle-blocking doubt regarding complete healing? As I was reading this passage in Mark, I became acutely aware that for much of my life, I mistakenly believed these self-condemning doctrines about healing—indeed, I had received much teaching that reinforced that conviction. Yet, it became apparent in my spirit that this teaching was in error, as I read the following statement in the commentary notes in my Bible:

“Faith itself does not heal—it is the proper object of that faith, Jesus, who heals.”

Her faith had made her whole because she had properly focused it solely on Jesus. Although I had always understood that Jesus is my Healer, suddenly it became abundantly simple and clear that I still partially placed “faith in my faith”, rather than fully on Jesus Himself. How much more could I surrender to the outcome of any illness that would befall me if I did not carry the burden of my healing; rather, if I could completely come to Him with that burden; He— without fail— would make the weighty issue of my sickness light (Matthew 11: 28-30).

Do Not Practice Sin

Romans 6:6, “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.”

It seems that it is difficult to avoid contention in the world today; even within the sanctity of our homes, strife is easy to enter into. Conflicts, disasters, cultural differences, financial hardships, fear, stress, etc. are constant pressures that, unless we work diligently to counter them, can have negative effects on our attitudes.

During a recent morning devotion time, I sensed in my spirit the words, “Don’t practice a sin.” I must honestly confess that the sins in my life at that time were contentious feelings and words that contributed to an atmosphere of strife in my home. The Holy Spirit seemed to warn me that practicing a sinful behavior built up its “muscles”, making it more and more difficult to resist. Romans 6:6 assures believers that the old man (the pre-salvation nature that serves sin through unrighteous acts and behaviors) is no longer in control—we are freed from slavishly serving it through the work of Jesus on the cross. Furthermore, as Romans 6:13 indicates, we are well able to stop practicing any besetting sin by consistently and prayerfully choosing— through the power of the Holy Spirit—to submit to God’s will and instructions.

Light Dispels Darkness

2 Corinthians 6:14 asks, “What fellowship does light have to do with darkness?”

The answer:

Nothing… light and dark are mutually exclusive. That is, darkness cannot exist once light is introduced because darkness is the absence of light. In a sense, light—in any amount—will always defeat darkness; and darkness will never be able to cover the light.

It is good to remember and apply this truth as we face a new year that will likely afford challenges that may tempt us to become fearful. Fear is a dark spirit, because God does not give us a spirit of fear (see 2 Timothy 1:7); and so, it can only exist and persist if we ignore the light of God’s truth and fail to walk closely each day with our Heavenly Father. 1 John 1:5 says that “God is light and in Him is no darkness.” Therefore, rather than struggle to drive fear away, we would do well to simply introduce the Light: Place our trust in our Heavenly Father’s love, power and goodness; and speak the light of His words of truth over every situation.