Work in Progress

As I am reading through the Bible, trying to learn how to be the best leader I can, I am stuck on 1 Timothy. In Chapter 3 Paul talks about how an overseer must be temperate and self-controlled among other things.

Those two ways of being are both VERY hard for a passionate, impulsive person like me!

Now I can use the cop-out of, that is how God made me…OR I can understand that I want to obtain maturity be being able to be temperate and self-controlled.

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean subdue and a passive doormat. It just means there is a time and a place.

What I learned today…To remember that the Fruits of the Spirit show Maturity in Christ. I can say I am following the Bible…but in less I am growing in each of these areas, I’m not growing in my maturity as a believer.

Fruits of the Spirit

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Rotten to Healthy Fruit Part 2

Okay, lets get back to the fruit of the Spirit.

So far we know –

Love – what we need to do all the time, even to the people who we don’t quite like.

Joy – is a choice. Don’t fake it, but do your best to choose it.

Peace – in relationships, at work, in your own mind, is key. Always strive to keep peace in all you do. It’s not a weakness, it takes determination and strength.

“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

4. Patience -The thing we are taught not to pray for. Why? Because when we pray for patience, God will give us the opportunity to practice it until we really get it! I love what Matthew Henry has to say, “Cast not away your confidence because God defers his performances. That which does not come in your time, will be hastened in his time, which is always the more convenient season. God will work when he pleases, how he pleases, and by what means he pleases. He is not bound to keep our time, but he will perform his word, honor our faith, and reward them that diligently seek him.”
It’s all about God’s timing. Though, as we wait, we have a hard time seeing why God would make us wait so long, HE is in control. We also have a hard time believing He could ever want better for us than we can plan, but He DOES. When I need to remember to be patient, I look to Romans 8:28 “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” If you believe in Him, you need to believe He does want good for YOU. The one who loves Him, who He loves. Remember this….

waiting

5. Kindness – This is a challenge for people. Kindness means “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourself,” Philippians 2:3 IF you are thinking of others, you are opening doors, helping carry items, stopping to talk AND listen, writing notes of encouragement, etc…etc… Sometimes it can be as small as a look, word and touch. Our pastor calls that ministry. Look someone that might be having a bad day, IN THE EYES. Say a word of hello, encouragement, SOMETHING. Then touch their arm, hand, back – NOT IN A CREEPY WAY, but in a “I SEE you” way. How can you be kinder EVERY DAY?

6. Goodness – How to define goodness? I always thought if you were good that meant boring. However in “The Goodness of God ” Tim Temple writes “theological definition of the goodness of God is the collective perfections of His nature and the benevolence of His acts.” As I think of the words ruthless and determined, I can understand those them. When I think of the word goodness, I think I get thrown. Good…lacking bad. Just good. I forget who at work, but someone just brought up the fact that God used the word good when he was finished with creating the earth. He didn’t say “great”. The Bible reads, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…” Genesis 1:31a In this way, I can strive to be good in every way. I know God already looks and me and sees who I am through His eyes. I can only pray I can become better at being good each day and show goodness to those around me. How can you be better at being good?

7. Faithfulness. – Okay, faithfulness I get. I am an extremely loyal person to those I believe in and I have the upmost faith in God. Though I may whine, I am faithful and know God has everything under control. Currently we are in a difficult season, and I am thankful I have yet to feel fear as I know He has something better for the situation planned. I just need to show faithfulness to Him. How can you show faithfulness to God today?

8. Gentleness – There seems to be quite a lot of these that I have trouble with! We are in a society where being ruthless wins. The harder you are the more you will receive. That is counter to the culture Jesus teaches. He teaches the first will be last and the last will be first (Matthew 19:30). We need show gentleness to all. In words as well as spirit. Sometimes, even with our family, we forget to be gentle. We subconsciously thing they HAVE to put up with us. Well, the people around you don’t have to. They do because you are loved. If you have anger issues…make a conscious decision to be nicer today. To be gentle with those God has put around you. Even if it’s hard. Call on the Spirit to help you!

9. Self control – This says it all for me…

Lord keep your hand onWhat area of your life do you need help with self-control? Substances? Porn? (Ladies, that is not just for Playboy, Romance novels count too). Anger? Eating? (That is eating too much or needing to eat). Self-control is needed when you are too controlling, too.

Sometimes you have to have self-control to NOT control everything. I’m working on going to God with EVERYTHING so I make sure He is in control of all, not trying to take it on myself.

What I learned today…There is SO much in the Bible I need to read and re-read. I also learned that I need to pray for the Fruit of the Spirit in my life. For God to help me remember fruit is GOOD for me.

Rotten to Healthy Fruit Part 1

Fruit of SpiritWhat is your past like? Mine isn’t very bright and shiny. I have done many things I am not proud of. Paul wrote about some of them in 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.”

Though I hit those sins and more, I can take comfort in knowing that the Bible also says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

I have become a new creature. I have to constantly renew my mind against the old ways, and work on becoming a better me.

What do I work on? Well, by reading the Bible, having accountability partners around me in friends and my small group, plus through the Holy Spirit, I work on praying for the fruit of the Spirit to become evident in my life. The fruit of the Spirit is found in Galatians 5 as well –

“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

A girlfriend pointed out the other day…it says FRUIT of the Spirit not fruitS of the Spirit. I hadn’t caught that! I had always looked at it as a list of separate things, not one whole.

I will process that more for awhile. For now let’s look at each section of the ONE Fruit.

  1. LOVE – Jesus said the GREATEST commandment was to Love God and Love Others, so of course this would be the first on the list. Another great passage that points to love is –  1 Corinthians 13
    “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” …              For me, it is HARD to love everyone. But it shows my spiritual maturity, when I do my best to change my heart so I can love everyone. When are some times YOU can choose to be more loving?
  2. JOY – I am naturally a fairly joyful person. But I have to fight HARD to not let the darkness of depression and self-doubt over power that. Also, have you ever noticed, some people get irritated with joyful people. When I am joyful, it’s not because I’m a clueless “Pollyanna”, but because I’m CHOOSING to be joyful, sometimes in spite of difficult circumstances. How can YOU choose to be joyful more?
  3. PEACE – I have written before on how I feel about peace. I was always a natural instigator. Whenever there is injustice, my anger gets riled up and I want to move instantly to action. Instead I have to remember to keep PEACE in my mind and soul. To wait for God’s direction so I know if it’s righteous anger or personal anger from my own brokenness. Now, at times, I have seen “peaceful” people as weak. The ones that let people walk all over them. That is NOT what this means. It means that regardless of my feelings about anything – God is in control of everything. I can’t jump in and want to fight everybody about everything because of how I feel. I need to pray more for peace in my heart, soul, and mind. Where can you bring PEACE to your life? Your family? Work? Your schedule? With your kids?
  4. PATIENCE –

We’ll have to be patient, as I’ll have to continue with patience tomorrow. 🙂

What I learned today…There is so much more to process regarding the fruit of the Spirit! It will be a constant challenge to get better with each throughout my life.