Archive | July, 2013

Fruit of the Spirit: Meekness (or Gentleness)

July 17, 2013

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance – Gal 5:22-23

The underlying Greek word here is preotes. Gentleness, meekness, implies humility. (Note that the NKJV, ESV and others use gentleness for meekness)

While we think of meek being equivalent to mild, bland, timid and even weak based on the dictionary definition, these thoughts do not describe Jesus Christ. Moses was described as meek in Numbers 12:3. These words don’t describe him either.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s unfortunate that meek rhymes with week. Jesus doesn’t want weak Christians. He wants those who are strong enough to stand their ground yet do it with a loving gentleness – which describes meekness in a nutshell.

The meek will inherit the earth Matthew 5:3-10. Meekness as described here indicates we are giving ourselves over to God’s will. This might include being stern and determined when carrying out His commands.

As we consider how to apply this attribute of the fruit of the Spirit, we might think about the mighty elephant. He is able to rip trees out of the ground with his trunk, yet he can control it so he could take a peanut out of your hand without hurting you. Great strength under control.

Daily Bible reading for July 17

Ecclesiastes 10
Joshua 18-19
Jeremiah 11:1-17
Matthew 25

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Fruit of the Spirit: Temperance or Self-Control

July 16, 2013

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (or self-control) – Gal 5:22-23

The underlying Greek egkrateia means self-control

Self Control is a Decision

Openly sinning is becoming a very popular activity these days. Better yet, we don’t even have to take responsibility for ourselves. We fail to train ourselves for suitable employment. We fail to maintain our health through exercise and diet. We fail to make good choices because we think we want something else. These are all simple decisions we make ourselves, but think the outcome is unfair when we don’t like it.

Dave Ramsey, the budget expert and radio show host, often says that “children do what feels good, adults devise a plan and follow it.”file000299165828

Zig Ziglar, the original motivational speaker, says “overweight people got that way by choice because they never accidentally ate anything.”

Both of these ring true because self-control is the art of making good decisions and taking responsibility for them – even when they are not so good. Most of us have a “guilty pleasure” or a weakness that we know better than to entertain. Many of us simply choose to ignore the risks and do them anyway.

Peter urges us to maintain ourselves so even when we are railed against by sinners, they will know they are messing with Christians. (1 Peter 2:11-12) Our own self -control becomes very important when we are telling others about sin.

The more we avoid sin, the better we get at avoiding it. When this happens, we can present ourselves to God as his instruments for righteousness (Romans 6:11-14)

Daily Bible reading for July 16

Ecclesiastes 9:11-18
Joshua 16-17
Jeremiah 9:23-10:25
Matthew 24

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Fruit of the Spirit: Faith

July 15, 2013

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance – Gal 5:22-23

The underlying Greek word here is pistis defined as assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.

When asked to describe faith or faithfulness, we often think:

  • loyalty
  • trustworthy
  • steadfast
  • dependable

These are some excellent words to describe what we see in faithful people, but they are not what makes them faithful. Faith is a belief  in something so strong that we will take an action based on it. For instance I believe my boss will write me a paycheck, therefore I go to work each day.

Hebrews 11 teaches us the essence of that kind of faith:

  • Able offered his sacrifices the way God wanted them
  • Enoch did things in a way that pleased God
  • Noah built an ark with only a warning
  • Abraham moved his family to an unfamiliar land
  • An angel had to stop the knife in Abraham’s hand so he wouldn’t sacrifice his son
  • Moses chose to be numbered among his people and not the Egyptians

…the list goes on. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without this kind of faith, we can’t please him.

Here are some ways we need to respond once we understand that God is who the Bible says he is:

  • Obey his Gospel plan
  • Live in a way that demonstrates your faith (James 2:14-26)
  • Supplement it with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and with love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)

There are those that tell you that God’s salvation is available through faith only. This concept is foreign to the Bible.  When the Bible tells you that faith saves you, it is talking about a faith so strong that you are willing to move and do something.  It means that when you have gotten into Christ, you are living and acting in a Christ-Like manner all the time. This kind of faith takes a lot of maintenance, so keep reading your Bible and it will grow! (Romans 10:17)

 Daily Bible reading for July 15

Ecclesiastes 9:1-10
Joshua 15
Jeremiah 8:4-9:22
Matthew 23

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Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

July 14, 2013


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance – Gal 5:22-23

The underlying Greek for the word “joy” is “chara” which is defined as joy, delight and gladness.Apple

Where do we find joy?

In another person?
In family?
How about in exercise and health?
Maybe it’s in a day at the mall with lots of money to spend …

Those are the things a worldly view might tell us will bring us joy, but when they do, it’s either self indulgent or temporary or both. God wants you to invest in a joy that will last forever – a kind of joy that anyone can have.

Look at some places the Bible says to find joy:

  • Our Faith: Philippians 1:25. There is no reason to be fearful or worry when we have Faith.
  • Our Challenges: James 1:2. Who we are and what we know comes from experience – both good and bad.
  • Our Obedience: Acts 8:5-8 records joy in the city when the Samaritans were saved. Acts 8:35-39 tells us the Eunuch went away rejoicing after his baptism.

Where joy is not found:

  • Sin, the opposite of obedience, brings fear: Hebrews 10:26-27
  • Fleshly pleasures: Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 Solomon discovers that having all he wants results in no profit and vexation.

A truly joyful life then, comes from a little sacrifice now, preparing for God’s big reveal of what he has waiting for us.

Daily Bible reading for July 14

Ecclesiastes 8
Joshua 13-14
Jeremiah 7:1-8:3
Matthew 22:15-46

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Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

July 13, 2013


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance –
Gal 5:22-23

The underlying Greek word here is eirene: defined as peace, quietness or rest.

What is Peace?

Is peace the end of a work day when all is finally quiet?
Is it a nation not at war?
Is it financial security?

GrapeThese might be peaceful things, but they all tend to get interrupted. They may not even ever fully happen.

God offers a peace that rises above all that. He sent his son to die for us. When Jesus completed that task, there was peace between God and man and salvation was within our grasp. (Romans 5:1-10)

Sources of Peace

Our Faith:

  • Romans 5:1 …since we have been justified in faith, we have peace with God
  • Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified;  do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
  • John 16:33 …in Me (Jesus) you may have peace.

Our trust:

  • Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,…
  • 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
  • Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us.

We are commanded to seek Peace

  • 2 Corinthians 13:11 “… Live in Peace….”
  • Colossians 3:15 “Let the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts…”
  • Hebrews 12:14 “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy…”

No matter what our troubles, Jesus has conquered them and offers peace through eternal life with him.

Daily Bible reading for July 13

Ecclesiastes 7:15-29
Joshua 11-12
Jeremiah 6
Matthew 21:28-22:14

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Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness (or Kindness)

July 12, 2013

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But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance Gal 5:22-23 KJV

The underlying Greek chrestotes (khray-stot’-ace) derives from moral excellence and means gentleness, goodness, and kindness

(Note: The ESV and other versions use the word kindness so that’s how we’ll talk about it here.)36207472_425dc63827_m

When are the right times for kindness? If we follow the world’s pattern, it might be as a response to someone else’s gesture of kindness. If not that, then it’s probably a matter of convenient or when we want something.

How much value is there in that type of kindness? Jesus didn’t think much of it:

 if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. – Luke 6:33

if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? – Matthew 5:47

If we are following Christ’s example, kindness came from who he was, not what the other persons deserved or they were. We need to develop ourselves so we are kind…

  • every time we have an opportunity (James 4:17)
  • everybody all the time (Galatians 6:9-10a)
  • especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ (Galatians 6:10b)
  • even when we have been hurt (Luke 6:35)

The kindness to be able to live like this comes from deep within us, it cannot be superficial! The more we train ourselves to think about kindness, the easier it will be to show kindness in all of these situations. Think about it – God created you in his image so that you were ready to do good works so he could use you in his vineyard (Ephesians 2:10)

 Daily Bible reading for July 12

Ecclesiastes 7:1-14
Joshua 10
Jeremiah 5
Matthew 21:12-27



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Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness

July 11, 2013

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance Gal 5:22-23

The underlying Greek word here is agathosune defined as virtue or beneficence

If we really run with the metaphor of the fruit, we might consider goodness to be the skin or the rind. Goodness isn’t something that gets done, Goodness contains all the things we do. Look at Ephesians 5:9 KJV –

For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth

file661249526786It is difficult to get a gasp of what a “good” person is. The world looks at it as someone that does things that are socially applauded, but that isn’t a very good benchmark. They might even consider a person that does more good things than bad to be ultimately a “good” person.

The reality though, is that God is the only standard of good offered in the Bible. James 1:17 says that everything good is from above. Even Jesus told the rich young man that the only one good is the Father. (Mark 10:18)

This sheds a lot of light on what David sang about in the 23rd Psalm. When the Lord is our shepherd we know that

… goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…


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Fruit of the Spirit: Longsuffering

July 10, 2013

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance Gal 5:22-23

The underlying Greek word for longsuffering is Makrothumia (mak-roth-oo-mee’-ah). It is defined as – forebearance, fortitude, longsuffering, patience.

Longsuffering is Built Through Experience

James 5:10-11 – James points us to Job for an example of what Longsuffering means and the reward the Lord has in mind

Two reasons we need to be able to withstand situations that test us:6024251426_6226f0565a_z (1)

  1. Patience leads to perfection leaving us wanting nothing:

    My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. – James 1:2-4 

  2. Patience leads to the hope that is founded on God’s goodness and truth

     And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. – Romans 5: 3-5

Let us be those that works our way through life’s challenges for the growth we achieve and the reward God has in store for us!

Daily Bible reading for July 10

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
Joshua 8
Jeremiah 3:6-4:4
Matthew 19:1-20:16

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How Much Forgiveness?

July 9, 2013

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Prodigal Son illustrating God's forgiveness

Rembrandt – Prodigal Son

Forgiveness is a tough work. It’s a Christ-like trait and a trait Christ told us to have.

To not exercise forgiveness so that it comes easy and a way of life, to not give someone another chance every time they ask is to test the grace that God has shown us.

The Master Teacher shows us this in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. (Matthew 18:21-35) Here he compares God’s forgiveness of insurmountable debt to how we treat relatively insignificant debt. Here’s the takeaway Jesus intended:

  • In the same way that God is forgiving, he expects that from us (Matthew 18:33)
  • A lack of mercy is considered wicked (Matthew 18:32)
  • If we fail to offer mercy like God did, we can lose it (Matthew 18:35)

This isn’t just some command that God gave without demonstrating it himself. We can see throughout the Old Testament how quick he is to forgive his children. Literally every time they fell away he took them back – just for the asking.

That’s why God’s kingdom is such a good place to be.

Daily Bible reading for July 9

Ecclesiastes 5:8-17
Joshua 7
Jeremiah 2:1-3:5
Matthew 18

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Keep Thy Foot

July 8, 2013

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Influence Through Consistency

Ecclesiastes 5:1 KJV says to “Keep thy foot” when you go into the house of God. It’s a shame that later versions changed that. Keep thy foot is an expression of maintaining yourself in your usual pattern of life. In the context of Ecclesiastes 5:1-7, Solomon’s instruction was to be godly all the time. Not just when you enter worship.KeepThyFeet

In fact the heading on my Bible in that spot say Fear God. That’s as good of a summary as can be given of the paragraph.

As we plan our day, remembering how we carried ourselves into worship and looking for ways to apply the lessons we learned is a great way to “Keep our feet” before others. We are after all, to be the salt of the earth by flavoring the world with our influence. (Matthew 5:13)

And to freshen up … going back often to God in prayer and reading from his word is a great way to keeping that godly attitude all week.

Daily Bible reading for July 8

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7
Joshua 6
Jeremiah 1:11-19
Matthew 17

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Pulling Together

July 7, 2013

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Did you ever notice how small special interest groups gain momentum and eventually get what they want? They don’t really need to be in a majority, they just have to have plenty of support. They eventually are able to withstand all opposition and over power it.

Solomon compares this to a three-fold rope. (Ecclesiastes 4:12) A length of rope is made from a number of smaller strands twisted together. The total strength of each small strand is less than the strength of all of the strands working together as a unit.

Good rope has many small fibers twisted together to make it strong and flexible

Good rope has many small fibers twisted together to make it strong and flexible

  • Rope works as a unit – The weight a rope bears is distributed across all the strands
  • Rope is strong. – The weakness of each small strand is hidden by the others
  • Rope is dynamic – it can be stretched and the it returns to its original state
  • Rope is dependable – Mountaineers rarely attribute falls to their rope. When they do, the rope was often not maintained properly.

God gave us a gift that operates just like a rope. He gave us the church.

Your attendance, participation and contribution to the work of the church is how it grows (and therefore growing God’s kingdom.)

Just like the fibers that are wound into strands, that are wound into rope, your small contribution becomes huge to the group at large. That little bit of weight you bear could be enough to keep the whole operation running well.

If you are trying to decide whether or not to go to church today, I hope you’ll think about that.

Daily Bible reading for July 7

Ecclesiastes 4
Joshua 5
Jeremiah 1:1-10
Matthew 16

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Seeing the Big Picture

July 6, 2013

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Last night a group from my church and some guests from some other congregations sat down together and read Genesis. This is our no discussion, no commentary group reading I’ve written about before. We call it Biblepalooza to contrast our love for God’s word against the worldly activities that use up our time. These long sessions always take me through a new depth of understanding that I have never experienced before.

A quilt has hundreds of seems and edges pieced together for a single beautiful pattern

A quilt has hundreds of seems and edges pieced together for a single beautiful pattern

Last night I saw God’s plan unfold. It was almost like stepping back and looking at the big picture beside God.

Despite the efforts to tear down and defile God’s creation, he showed us over and over again that his will is going to win out in the end. Even to the extent of using evil men, God can make good come out of even the worst of situations. (Genesis 50:20)

When we take a Christian look at current events, it is easy to get shaken up. Sometimes we even ask, what has happened to “God’s people?” Our view might be described as that from the underside of a patchwork quilt. The rough edges of the seams, the hanging threads and faded colors do not do justice to the beauty on the other side.

Ecclesiastes 3 helps us understand a few things:

  • Man cannot circumvent God’s time and seasons
  • Man should accept that God’s will is beyond his control
  • Everything has a purpose in God’s scheme
  • Sometimes it is good to pull back and look at things from the perspective of eternity

It is God’s intent to use us in his kingdom. He wants us out there teaching and being an example as close to Christ-like as we can humanly be. (2 Timothy 2:2, Philippians 4:9) His plan will be complete in his time. It is good to know that the path we are on right now might have something to do with that.

Daily Bible reading for July 6

Ecclesiastes 3:9-22
Joshua 4
Zephaniah 3:9-20
Matthew 15

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Why Did You Doubt?

July 5, 2013

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Peter looked around and saw the waves and felt the wind pulling at his cloak. Then he saw how far away the shore was and that was enough.

Do you feel the disappointment in Jesus’ voice as he reaches out and grabs Peter?

Matthew 14:22-32 is the account of Jesus walking on the water. That Jesus could walk on the water isn’t the surprising part. What is surprising is even after all that Peter has been through with Jesus – after being able to heal the sick, just like Jesus – his faith faded.

Wouldn’t Jesus be disappointed in us if we let our faith slip a little bit? Doesn’t our situation often worsen when we forget to give our fears and doubts to him? Some of the little things we do (or forget to do) is a symptom of that happening.

  • When our giving isn’t at the top of our budget, our faith has slipped.
  • When we worry about the little things in life, our faith has slipped.
  • When we don’t pray regularly and earnestly, our faith has slipped.
  • When we choose not to mention Jesus when given an opportunity, our faith has slipped.

Just as when he got into the boat, when we let Jesus in our lives, the winds cease.

Daily Bible reading for July 5

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Joshua 3
Zephaniah 3:1-8
Matthew 14

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Avoiding the Thorns

July 4, 2013

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If you have been to church as many years as I have, you’ve heard the Parable of the Sower hundreds of times. (Matthew 13:1-23) Some new angle pops out of it every time I come across it. Any Bible teacher should refer to it often, but even as Bible students, we can look at it as a warning of what will happen if we fail to tend the garden of our heart.

When the seed fell among the thorns, that was the hearer caring more for the world. (Matthew 13:22) These are people that understand what they have heard, believed it and maybe even have taken the steps to respond to it through baptism. Every Christian was in this spot when they were first baptized.

What causes the thorns? Where do they come from?

So many things can cause the seeds of the kingdom to be choked out:

  • Allowing TV and Movies to influence us
  • Failing to be with the church at every opportunity
  • No self-reading and Bible study routine
  • Poor choices of friends
  • Allowing the world to guide our priorities.

The list can go on and on.

What is the thorn in your life? We all have one. Whether or not we fall to it depends on how much it is given an opportunity to grow.

Daily Bible reading for July 4

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26
Joshua 2
Zephaniah 2:4-15
Matthew 13

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Being Known By Our Fruit

July 3, 2013

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They shall be know by their fruit

They shall be know by their fruit

The world (and many that claim to be Christians) will use Matthew 7:1 as a way to avoid being told they are living wrong. To make that verse an instruction against judging good and evil causes a conflict with nearly everything else Jesus taught.

Take for instance Matthew 12:33-37. Jesus gives us a benchmark on how to tell the difference between good and evil. We can use a person’s actions and their speech to determine what kind of people they are because:

  • We can easily know the kind of tree by the fruit hanging on it.
  • Good speech comes from good people
  • Good things come from good treasure

In this passage, Jesus tells us we simply cannot be expected to consider sinful people good.

To prove my point, I challenge the reader to a little mental exercise. What goodness is demonstrated by a few of these “harmless” activities?

  • Gambling (The lottery, gas station slots, boy’s night poker games)
  • Social Drinking
  • Showing cleavage (Or dressing immodestly in other ways)
  • Crude language

Through Jesus’ point we can understand our lifestyle is a very accurate indicator of what is inside our heart. It will definitely be used in the final judgment!

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