- Fruit of the Spirit -

Abed_nego2

Well-Known Member
Galatians 5:19-21, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God”

Galatians 5:22-23, “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”
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The apostle Paul presents a dramatic picture of the radical change that grace exhorts in the lives of those who believe and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. The two lists, the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21 and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, are intended to clearly display the "total contrast between the ‘natural’ life and the ‘spiritual’ life and does so in embarrassing detail. and very appropriate to the situation in Galatia when written, and including the United States of today. Paul depicted what life in the Spirit is really all about in practical terms. This list of the nine characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit does not necessarily represent a comprehensive listing of all the Spirit-produced graces; however, these that especially demonstrate the beauty of the Spirit-controlled life are:

(1) LOVE - The primary key to everything is love. Along with temperance (self-control), love is a bookend that helps hold the other fruit of the Spirit in place. Ephesians 5:2, “Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us”. To “walk in love” means that we continually do the little acts of kindness that can make life bearable and better for another person.

Unconditional love – how refreshing to see it in action! A story has been told by a doctor who recounted how moved he was by a young husband’s response to his wife’s facial surgery. In order to remove a tumor, the surgeon had to sever a facial nerve that controlled the muscles of her mouth. After the operation, as he and the husband stood by the woman’s bedside, she asked, “Will my mouth always be like this?” The doctor said yes. The husband looked at his wife, smiled, and said that he found her mouth “kind of cute.” Then he bent over and kissed her, twisting his own lips to meet hers.

Later, as the doctor reflected on that husband’s complete devotion to his beloved. He wrote, “I hold my breath and let the wonder in.” Unconditional love – that’s what the prophet Hosea showed toward his wife, who had left him and lived as a prostitute. He searched for her, paid a price to obtain her freedom, and brought her home. God said that’s how He loved His wayward people Israel in spite of their unfaithfulness to Him. He said He would continue to love them so that they would return to Him and receive all the blessing He has reserved for them.
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God is love and no one is beyond the reach of His love. Few people today do not understand what true love is, nor can they comprehend the unconditional love of God who sent Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son to Calvary, to die for our sins. My friend God's love is unconditional, i.e., it matters not who you are, nor what you have done, God loves you anyway! What is so amazing about this love is that it has been available to you ever since you were born.

Maybe you were never told that God loves you or you never realized He loves you because of who you are. It’s possible you never experienced love in your life simply because of who you are. Well, today you have the opportunity to receive God's unconditional love He has for you. He loves you as a special, one-of-a kind precious child, just like a loving parent does with their child. How much more so is it with God? His love is unconditional – Agape love! That is no matter what you say or do God’s Agape love is there for you. What a comfort! He expects us to love others the same way. What a challenge!
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(2) JOY - The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. Joy gives spiritual strength. John 16:22, “You now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you”. 1 John 1:4, “These thing we write to you that your joy may be full.”

Some people are blessed with a cheerful disposition. They always seem to be happy. They wear a perpetual smile almost as if they were advertising toothpaste. But then there are others who seem to be chronically sad. They continually complain about life and its burdens. And who can deny that afflictions are discouraging? While we acknowledge that not everybody is blessed with a bright outlook on life, we need to remember that joy is one of the gifts Jesus promised to His followers. And we need to resist any tendency to let sadness dominate our emotional lives.

Genuine happiness, a mood of contentment, joy, and hope, doesn’t depend on the country one lives in or the circumstances of one’s life, but depends on a right relationship with Jesus Christ. As David observed so succinctly in Psalm 144:15, “Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!” In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul gave these reasons for joy: We have peace with God through Christ, access into grace, and hope of future glory. We have assurance that tribulation produces perseverance, which in turn builds character and leads to hope. We have hope that does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.

I was reminded that the prophet Habakkuk declared triumphantly, “I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18). Even if everything were taken from him, the Lord would be his strength. He didn’t need to “put on” a smile, because the joy in his heart would do it for him. Remember that happiness depends on happenings, but JOY depends on Jesus.

Jesus said, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20), and the apostle Peter spoke of the reason’s believers can rejoice with joy inexpressible (1 Peter 1:8). Have you compiled a joy list lately? I would venture to say that any joy list that we compile will no doubt include many references to the presence and power of Jesus Christ. Because, no matter what our circumstances may be, joy is His gracious gift to all who trust in Him. Even as Jesus faced the cross, He looked beyond its agony to the glad result of His sacrifice. He told His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 5:11). So, my friend and brethren, why not begin your own joy list today. It can be a good reminder of the Lord’s faithful love and the gladness of heart He brings into your life.
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(3) PEACE - Romans 5:1 says, "Therefore, since we have been justified [made right; declared innocent or guiltless] through faith [in what Christ accomplished for us on the cross], we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". We must learn to maintain peace in three important relationships:

(1) With God,
(2) With our fellow man, and
(3) With ourselves.

There are times when life seems so unbearable especially when storms come in our life. Physical pain, hard decisions, financial hardships, death of a loved one, and shattered dreams threaten to engulf us; not to mention the news headlines regarding unemployment, foreclosures, budget cuts, and homelessness. It’s one thing to hear the despairing news but another to have it affect you. We then become perplexed! Plagued by doubts that creep in we find it most difficult to coup with the stress. However, those who know the Lord through personal faith in Jesus Christ have in Him a calm retreat in the storms of everyday life. We can experience peace of mind and calmness of spirit even when the howling winds of adversity are sweeping over us.

We are to cast our burden on the Lord and leave it with Him. While many people know about casting their burden on the Lord, very few really do it for very long. It is our tendency to pray about the problem, give it to the Lord, so to speak, and then take it back as soon as we say, “Amen.” We let the Lord see our burden, but our tendency is to never really leave it with Him, and my brethren, that formula never produces peace. When we’re battered and burdened by the storms of life, we may be tempted to give in to feelings of hopelessness. But if we look to our sovereign Captain and commit our way to Him (Psalm 37:5), we will find peace even in the midst of turmoil. We can trust Him to bring us through the storm.

As recorded in Isaiah 26:3, when our eyes are stayed on the Lord, we are making a conscious decision that the physical trials that we see will not control us, but will be controlled by the invisible God in whom we believe and trust. Remember we will be in perfect peace not because we are focused on the problem, but rather because we are focused on the Great I AM. Encourage yourself in this promise and if you need to, refocus your eyes and keep them stayed on the Lord because only in Him is there Perfect Peace in the storms of life for your spirit, soul and mind (Hebrews 11:3; Exodus 3:13-14; Psalm 46:1-5). Peace, real peace, is only found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The question that remains is, have you found that peace?
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(4) FORBEARANCE - Can also be known as patience. Forbearance is love on trial. It enables you to be emotionally strong and forgive others. Colossians 3:13 says, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Our flight to Hawaii was delayed because of mechanical problems. The 15-minute delay turned into 30 minutes, then 60 and then 2 1/2 hours. The ground staff was scrambling to calm the passengers, but they were tired and soon became angry. As the night stretched on, the passengers began to turn into a mob – screaming at the staff with harsh language. The pilot even came to offer encouragement, but the passengers turned on him as well. As I watched the scene unfold, a Hawaiian standing beside me softly said, “Patience will be a much-needed virtue tonight.”

Life can be frustrating and even exasperating. Yet, many times impatience is just a reflection of our own self-centeredness in response to life’s disappointments. Real love is pictured in the Bible as self-sacrifice (John 15:13), and one demonstration of that love is patience toward others. “Love suffers long and is kind; love … does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). It sets aside our personal agenda and seeks to model Christ. Sound impossible? It is, if we attempt it in our own strength. But as we pray for help, God provides us with patience that reflects His love – even during frustrating circumstances. When you are tempted to lose patience with others, remember God’s patience with you.
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(5) KINDNESS - Being moderate, kind; the absence of harshness or severity. An unknown author penned these thought-provoking words:

I would rather have one little rose
From the garden of a friend
Than to have the choices flowers
When my stay on earth must end.

I would rather have a pleasant word
In kindness said to me
Than flattery when my heart is still,
And life has ceased to be.

I would rather have a loving smile
From friends I know are true
Than tears shed around my casket
When to this world I bid adieu.

Bring me all your flowers today,
Whether pink, or white, or red;
I’d rather have one blossom now
Than a truckload when I’m dead.

Recalling the good qualities of deceased friends or relatives at their funeral is appropriate, but how much better to give sincere praise to them while they are still living. It may be the encouragement they desperately need. As the apostle Paul closed his letter to the Romans, he publicly commended those who had helped and encouraged him in the work of the gospel. He not only greeted them by name, but he also expressed his gratitude for what they had done (Romans 16:1-15). What an example for all of us to follow! Do you owe someone a word of thanks or appreciation? Don’t put it off. Say it today. Tomorrow may be too late! Someone put it this way, “You can’t speak a kind word too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
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(6) GOODNESS - Moral excellence; virtue. God is the ultimate example of goodness. Goodness is holiness put into practice and results from knowing God. Goodness enables you to do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27) as well as those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). It is the goodness and grace of God that leads people to repentance. That's why we need to be good to people. Our witness won't have any power unless we are kind to others. We are called to be light in a dark world, and we must make up our minds that we are going to shine!
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(7) FAITHFULNESS - Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Let’s see. What is the crisis of the day? It could be terrorism and its random threat. Or the economy and the fear that we will run out of money before we run out of time. Maybe it’s a personal crisis with no foreseeable solution – a tragedy or a failure too great to bear.

Before we fall under the weight of our accumulated fears, we would do well to look back to a 20th-century woman who bore sadness, pain, and heartache with grace. Corrie ten Boom lived through the hellish life of Nazi concentration camps – a place where hope was lost for most people. She survived to tell her story of unfaltering faith and tight-fisted hope and faith in God. She saw the face of evil up close and personal. She saw some of the most inhumane acts man can do to man. And when she came out of it all, she said this: “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Jesus, you’ll be at rest.

Where are you looking? Are you focusing on the world and its dangers? Are you gazing at yourself, hoping to find your own answers? Or are you looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith? (Hebrews 12:1-2). In an uncertain world, we must keep looking to Him.
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(8) GENTLENESS or MEEKNESS - Humble and patient. Meekness is not being mousy or weak, but rather a servant-like submission to God and others in your care. Your spirit is free from rebellion and pride. Meekness or humility is defined as "freedom from pride and arrogance; modest estimation of our own worth." Humility or meekness is the opposite of pride. The Bible says in I Peter 5:5 that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Lacks ambition. That is not a phrase you want to see on your performance review. When it comes to work, employees who lack ambition seldom rise to the top of an organization. Without a strong desire to achieve something, nothing is accomplished. However, ambition has a dark side. It often has more to do with elevating self than with accomplishing something noble for others.

This was the case with many of the kings of Israel, including the first one. Saul started out with humility, but he gradually came to consider this position as something that belonged to him. He forgot that he had a special assignment from God to lead His chosen people in a way that would show other nations the way to God. When God relieved him of duty, Saul’s only concern was for himself (1 Samuel 15:30).

In a world where ambition often compels people to do whatever it takes to rise to positions of power over others. God calls His people to a new way of living. We are to do nothing out of selfish ambitions (Philippians 2:3) and to lay aside the weight of sin that ensnares as (Hebrews 12:1). If you want to be someone who truly “rises up.” Make it your ambition to humbly love and serve God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). The road to victory is paved with humble submission to God
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(9) SELF-CONTROL - Moderation or self-restraint in action; It is control over your entire being (body, soul and spirit). A person who has self-control is mild and calm, avoids extreme behavior, and exercises self-restraint in both actions and speech. After all, temperance and love are the bookends that hold all the other fruit in place.

Since these graces represent the "fruit of the Spirit," it’s clear that they are not the product of human work, discipline, or determination. They are gifts given to every child of God. In other words, this is where the Spirit is leading every believer … toward the display of Christian character as represented by this list. While the "deeds of the flesh" violate God’s will and Word, there is "no law" against the spiritual fruit (v. 23).
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REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE

Galatians 5:24, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires”

This whole idea of ownership is something we sometimes lose sight of, especially in a world which teaches us that we become our own island, we determine our own destinies without anyone else. Well, Jesus made it clear that ownership determines outcome. And in the case of the Jews of Christ’s day they learned from the lips of our Lord that ownership was something we should consider as there are really only two owners in a spiritual sense with two entirely different outcomes and destinations. Who we belong to makes an eternal difference?

And if we belong to Christ than we have the assurance that He will never let us go. If we belong to Christ then there is nothing in heaven or hell which can snatch us away from our God and Savior. Jesus says, I shall lose none, and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:39-40, "And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

As Paul testified in Galatians 2:20, when a person puts their faith in Christ, he or she is crucified with Christ. The believer continues to live and to face the challenges of temptation; however, the believer does not face them in his or her own power but in Christ’s power. Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” which Paul affirmed.

Thus, in Christ, the flesh with its affections and lusts has already been crucified. The believer is no longer in bondage to the sinful nature. He or she is now free to live and walk in the Spirit. The believer is liberated to live out the godly character that the Spirit is developing in him or her. Spiritual victory comes when we understand our identification with Christ and cooperate with the Holy Spirit in His ministry of glorifying Christ in us.
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WALK IN THE SPIRIT

Galatians 5:25, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit

If the Spirit of God has given us eternal life, then it makes all the sense in the world to walk or keep in step with the Spirit who not only gave us this life but who now empowers us to do that. How do we keep in step with the Spirit? We follow Christ. We seek after the living word and we become doers of the word. The things of the Spirit by which we keep in step with the Spirit are those things the Spirit has given us. He has first and foremost given us the word of God as we have it in both the old and new testaments as He revealed this word through His prophets and apostles.

When my brother was in the Fayetteville High School marching band, I liked to watch the young musicians march in step at halftime during a football game. They moved as one to the cadence of the drums and the lead of the drum major. Galatians 5:25 states, “If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit.” That last phrase can also be translated, “Keep in step with the Spirit.” It means that as we walk along in our Christian lives, we are to follow the Spirit’s lead. We are to be in harmony with Him. If we get out of step, follow a wrong cadence, or stray off the correct pathway, the results will be obvious (Galatians 5:19-21).

So, how can we tell if we are walking in step with the Spirit? Paul spelled it our clearly in Galatians 5. We will not be guilty of the practices mentioned in verses 19 through 21. Rather, the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – will be clearly evident in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). How would you rate yourself when it comes to walking in step with the Spirit?

(1) Are you in cadence?
(2) Or are you following a drumbeat of your own making?
(3) Always remember if you keep in step with God, you’ll be out of step with the world.
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Romans 8:5, "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." ; Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." Are we being renewed into the image of Christ? That can only truly happen as we engage our minds, which includes our wills, as we seek Christ through the means He has given us through the power He has given us in His Spirit. Not to pursue the things of the Spirit will lead us to pursuing the things of the flesh or old nature.
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CLOSING ILLUSTRATION:

Ephesians 6:11 tells us to, “Put on the whole armor that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil”. Four young men crept silently through the late-evening shadows toward the unattended farm market. One picked up a ripe watermelon and slipped to the edge of the darkness. He handed it to the second young man, who relayed it to the third. The fourth put it into the trunk of their car. In a few minutes they had taken a dozen watermelons, and they sped off.

Fruit-stealing happens more often than we realize, not only with real fruit but also with what the Bible calls spiritual fruit. The apostle Paul told believers to develop the fruit of the Spirit, which includes love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). But Satan doesn’t want that fruit to be on display in our lives.

As soon as we begin to develop these spiritual virtues, the devil uses his wiles to “steal them away” from us by tempting us to sin. The next thing we know, Christlike character traits are replaced by un-Christlike ones. Our fruit is gone. To protect ourselves, we need to focus on the truths of the Bible, choose to do what is right, remember our purpose as God’s redeemed children, trust God, and pray always (Ephesians 6:13-18). As we do these things, we will be fruitful and not be victims of the fruit-stealer.
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The Holy Spirit is our ever-present protector and he who has the Holy Spirit as his resource has already won the victory.
 

Abed_nego2

Well-Known Member
This was absolutely wonderful to read through! Thank you for posting! :thankyou
Thank you BlessedAssurance ... I very much like that name and is one of my favorite hymns and one that our church sings. It's my prayer that through these writings, that individuals like yourself, will find encouragement, comfort, inspiration and conviction, as the Holy Spirit speaks to your own heart. God’s “Eternal Word” still changes lives today and He gives hope, comfort and courage to those who have put their faith and trust in the living and risen Christ. May the Lord bless you also and keep you in His care.
 
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