I was reading in 2 Kings yesterday (part of YouVersion daily read on my iPhone) - it was the story of Josiah in chapters 22 & 23. A couple things jumped out to me...
There's NO excuse. Unlike his Father or his Grandfather, Josiah "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord" - despite becoming King at age 8. He deliberately chose the a much harder path and refused to be normal. It says he "walked in all the ways of his father David". This means he had to dig 13 generations to find a role model - now, that's determination!! The truth: you can't blame your parents or grandparents for your behavior or sin.
The Word of God is so powerful! Josiah did not even know the Word existed - the godless & wicked culture of his day (and those before him) had attempted to bury & destroy the Truth. They replaced it with immorality, greed and the worship of idols. But this didn't work... As the Bible of Josiah’s day rose from the heap of rubble, so, too, the attempts of so-called "higher critics" and skeptics to "bury" the Bible with their doubts and criticisms have come to failure. Josiah heard it and immediately knew it was God's Word and he changed everything in his life & influence in order to follow it.
I'm gonna have 'guest bloggers' more often (great job!).
I like sleeping to the sound of waves...
my iPhone does not enjoy the hot-tub like I do (ouch!)!!
Thanks a lot to ALL of you who prayed for us while we were away. We had, perhaps, the best vacation EVER! I'm blessed to have such great friends and allies. Would love to hear your thoughts, questions or comments to this random list... please leave a comment or two...
Also, stay tuned this week, I have a BIG change coming... (curious?) Much love, Chilly
The other day, my wife pointed out how Galatians 5:22 says, "the fruit of the Spirit is" instead of "the fruits of the Spirit are". This implies the fruit of the Spirit comes altogether, as a package deal. You either have fruit or you don't. For a while, this didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. At least, until I really thought about it. When I looked over the list, I asked God to show me if my life really does bear this fruit and, thankfully, He showed me. How? By reminding me of a time I lacked the fruit of the Spirit...
A few years ago (before Ruth and I were married) my complete lack of the fruit of the Spirit was made known. It was a stressful time in my life with school and family issues and I was not doing everything I should to grow in relationship with the Holy Spirit. One night, I was so stressed out and angry about things I went into a fit of rage (see Galatians 5:20). My reaction was so severe, I actually scared Ruth (even though she was not the subject of my anger). It was a complete lack of self-control. Aside from emotionally hurting my future wife, I was dismayed to see what else this episode revealed about me: I did not have the fruit of the Spirit like I had thought. In a split-second instance of rage I spilled the beans about my life (to myself)... My love was more of a shallow and self-serving politic. My joy was really positive thinking and plastic smiles. I was not satisfied with peace - I created strife. I was losing my patience with God. My kindness was selective and unreal. Any goodness in me was a public facade, not reality. My lack of self-control sold me out for what I truly was: disconnected from God. Clearly, I was not living in the Spirit or growing in my relationship with Him. I may have displayed other fruit in my life, but self-control was the deal-breaker proving the real deficiency. It had been a while since my life beared a full harvest.
Thankfully, this has changed. The grace of God and how He receives us in our most pathetic moments made a way for me to connect again with the Spirit and trust Jesus with the things I was stressed and angry about. God has reminded me of this event to show me how I've learned to submit my reactions to Him better now and be led by my passion for Christ more than anything.
When we lose our cool or give in to a passion other than Christ, we fall off the wagon of our Christian life and everyone sees our failure. But here, God desires to restore us and use this moment to call us closer and further with Him. His desire is for us to bear all of the fruit of the Spirit - and He will do it in you! Have you lacked self-control? Have you ever lost it? Is self-control the deal-breaker for you? Or any other fruit of the Spirit? God is helping you bear fruit. What is He asking you to do next?
The first thing that came to my mind when I was thinking about gentleness was a sweet little old lady who is always smiling and baking cookies... or me being nice to the lady at the post office while i'm standing there waiting in line for an hour or even the line at the grocery line being nice to the usually grumpy clerk. but as i began to look into what gentleness means and look into the word i came up with a whole different conclusion...
Gentleness is more than something that we just "put on" it comes from within. It's who we are and starts in our thoughts.
Philippians 4:5 "Let your gentleness be evident to all the Lord is near."
WHO? Me-those I am around a lot. WHY? Christ has been so kind and gentle with me... so i need to follow his example. (titus 3:2-3) WHEN? Always... Christ is coming soon. From God's view a thousand years is like a day. So for each generation his return is near. HOW? Taking a thoughtful approach for others even when things are difficult for me. When I think only of myself it is easy to hurt other's unintentionally. So thinking about others instead of just me.
Matthew 11:29 "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest in your souls."
The thing that I've learned about gentleness is it's not a quietness or passiveness but it is a confidence and comes with humility. In difficult or stressful times my thoughts can be planted right on me... "hows this going to work out... i feel.... what about me?"
But not gentleness it has a consideration and concern for others. Wanting the best for everyone. It's more than just a kind smile or thoughtful word it is something that begins in our character. We learn how to be gentle from Christ. He has been so gentle and patient with us.
Gentleness starts in my thoughts and is clearly and accurately displayed to those I am around the most. It's displayed when I'm at work and things get a little crazy, or when I'm at home with my roomates. We see our true gentleness spill out or not spill out when we are around people we see the most.
When I began thinking about what it means to be faithful, I couldn’t help but think of a verse from a favorite Psalm of mine. Psalm 119.
I have chosen to be faithful. I have determined to live by your regulations (v30)
Faithfulness doesn’t just happen. It’s a series of choices. To be faithful to God, I must choose to obey God in every moment. Yes, even the difficult moments.
It is choosing to obey God…when I don’t feel anything. It is choosing to obey God…when I don’t understand. When I’m tired. When I don’t feel like it. When I don’t see automatic results. When everyone else has given up. When it hurts. When it’s scary. When I am weak. When it doesn’t seem possible.
I choose to be faithful. You choose to be faithful.
Paul went through it all (see 2 Corinthians 11:25-29). But remained faithful to God through it all! And at the end of his life, he could say…
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8
There is a reward in store for us too, if we choose to remain faithful to Him.
"For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord." -Ephesians 5:8-10 (ESV)
Do you remember as a small child being told to "be good" by your parents? Perhaps there was company over, you were going out somewhere, or maybe you were just doing something bad. Basically, your parents were saying "act right," whatever that view of righteousness was in their eyes.
God asks the same thing of us, His children when He calls us to be lights in this world. (Matt 5:4) That means the world has to see the fruit of that light and we can no longer walk in darkness, because our Father has told us not to; and as good children, we seek to please Him.
Others will see our goodness in our actions and in our speech, but God will see it in our faith. (Gal 3:11) That kind of faith that we are to live by tells us that we are to obey God no matter what, because we have faith. God knows when we are good; and that goodness is powerful in our prayers: "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." (Jas 5:16)
We will never be as good as God, and as "imitators of God," (Eph 5:1) we will fail sometimes; but no matter what, we should always be seeking a righteous life in the Lord. (Matt 6:44)
Gal 5:22 – "But the fruit of the Spirit is… kindness…"
Whenever I think about kindness, I think about opening a door for someone that is carrying groceries, or smiling at the cashier at the market when she looks like she hates her job, or even helping the guest out at work by digging out some change from my uniform apron so they have exact change for the bill.
These acts are not too far from this word "kindness" that we find here in the Galatians 5. This word in its original written language can also be translated as "goodness" and "usefulness". When I first read the word "usefulness", I paused. Huh… usefulness… that's different! I never considered kindness to be associated with usefulness! Here we get a taste of the practicality of who Jesus is!
This Greek word for Kindness is found a few other times in the New Testament. Specifically in Titus 3:4-5
"But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, buy the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Sprit,"
Jesus is the embodiment of God's kindness and love! His love for us, and the plan to make a way for us to be with Him, was lived in out in the life of Jesus! Being good and useful at the same time is what makes up kindness – which embodies the work that was done on the cross by our Savior Jesus Christ.
The "usefulness" of our lives is best demonstrated when others see Jesus in us and because of us! After all, isn't that the reason why we even have life? Not that we may get any recognition, but that the Father be honored and glorified! You might say, "But I'm tired of feeling used!" The beauty of being used by the Father, as opposed to some person that you need to get away from, is that He is our purpose, the giver of our strength, our very breath! The more you are poured out as a cold drink to those who thirst, the more He pours back in!
Am I useful to those around me? Does my attitude reflect a desire to be useful, that they may see Christ? Or do I simply do for the sake of doing, that I may work my way to the Father?
To be good and useful, motivated by the love of the Father… now that's some tasty fruit!