I always marvel at "free-spirits", those who can travel the world alone, going on adventures to new places meeting new faces. They are living their lives to the fullest and enjoying every moment of it. The very thought of going anywhere by myself can strike fear in me - let alone getting on a plane and flying somewhere alone! It's not that I have opportunities right now to go on such trips or that I need to "run away", but when I do hear of people who travel alone on some great adventure, I admire them and like Elsie, think to myself, I wish I could be like that; how many wonderful experiences do I miss out on by allowing fear to stop me...
It seems the times I will rally myself to overcome a "fearful situation" is when I need to do so for my children. One such instance happened when my son was a small boy and wanted to go on a roller coaster at a children's amusement park. By roller coaster standards, the ride was fairly tame, but by Karen's standards, it was mountainous! In fairness to me, it still had pretty good dips though. I overcame and got on that roller coaster with my son and actually enjoyed it! I remember thinking to myself at that time what a special and fun time I would have missed out on with my son had I let fear stop me. A more recent instance happened a few years ago, when my grown daughter and I flew from Texas back to the East Coast while my husband flew out to the west coast. That was actually a really big step for me and gave me confidence. Confidence in my Lord...
You see I know God is with me at all times and He is indeed my strength, but there are times I have to step out in Faith to feel His presence and His strength so that my confidence is in the Lord, not what I perceive I can or cannot do.
"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." Deuteronomy 31:8
While doing my Bible study homework in Galations, where we are now studying the fruits of the Spirit, I recently read the following verse in 1 Timothy 6:17, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who richly supplies us all things to enjoy." I then found myself reading the last part of the verse over and over, "But on God who richly supplies us all things to enjoy..."
It was then that I was convicted that there are things in my life that should be enjoyed, but instead the very object of my enjoyment becomes a burden rather than a joy. I end up being more driven to pursue the enjoyment thereby creating discontentment if it doesn't go according to my expectations.
I guess I could throw up my hands here and exclaim, "I am a mess!". I either have opportunities to enjoy, but I'm afraid to pursue them OR I pursue too much those things I enjoy!
"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." Romans 7:15
In Tim Keller's book, Galations For You, he states that the flesh creates "over-desires" where a good thing can become our God, but that the Spirit has God-centered passions and yearnings which are just as strong as our fleshly desires. Therein lies the struggle... Tim Keller went on to say that we, in our flesh, glorify, adore and yearn for all kinds of created things, conditions and people, where the Spirit glorifies, adores and yearns for Jesus. The Spirit speaks of the beauty and greatness of Christ.
When the Holy Spirit is within us, our ultimate desire is to please God - to walk in the fruits of the Spirit. Our Pastor shared a wonderful analogy today regarding the fruits of the Spirit. He commented about the very snowy winter we had this year, and the piles and piles of snow that have been on the ground since January, but yet beneath the snow, as it finally starts to melt away, the daffodils have already pushed up, even though they were buried for so long in the snow, undetected. He said it is true of the believer who has the indwelling Holy Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are "buried" within all believers, sometimes undetectable. We are still capable of walking in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control, and only need to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit by "walking in the presence of God". This gave me such encouragement!
"He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. " Jeremiah 17:8
"If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit, Galations 5:16,18"
How do we cultivate the fruit of the Spirit and walk in His presence? By remembering that we belong to God. Whenever the Apostle Paul would encourage his disciples to return to the Lord, he would do so by reminding them that they "belong to God". The gratitude and love we should feel for our Lord and Savior who bought us with such a great price, His treasured possession, will spur us on to grow in our relationship with Him, to walk in obedience to Him. Staying in the Word of God, memorizing God's promises, praying, all will bring forth the fruit of the Spirit. Even on hectic, busy days, I may only read one verse of scripture, but the Lord will still meet me there in a profound way! When the desire of our heart is God and God alone, He meets us where we are.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:7-8
"But 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. Hebrews 11:6
Like the Holy Spirit, I want my life to be one that glorifies, adores and yearns for Jesus more than created things, conditions or people.
I want to have abundant life in Christ Jesus without fear, discontentment from unmet expectations or carrying self-inflicted burdens.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10
After spending time studying the fruits of the Spirit, I see now that much of my fear, discontentment and the everyday burdens I carry, are because I am squelching the fruits of the Spirit by wanting to have full control of my life rather than trusting control of my life to my Sovereign Lord. When I wholly surrender my life to Christ, relinquishing control, the rest of the fruits of the Spirit will grow and flourish.
"All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
in His presence daily live."
Judson W. Van DeVenter
I hope to memorize and live out the following Bible verses to help fertilize and grow the fruits of the Spirit within me that I may live my life abundantly for Christ. May you be encouraged as well.
LOVE: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." John 13:34
JOY: "For the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10b
PEACE: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..." Colossians 3:15a
PATIENCE: "And we urge you brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all." 1 Thessalonians 5:14
KINDNESS: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32
GOODNESS: "So then as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith." Galations 6:10
GENTLENESS: "To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people." Titus 3:2
FAITHFULNESS: "Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you." 1 Samuel 12:24
SELF-CONTROL: "Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable." 1 Corinthians 9:25
As I took a lunch break before closing out this post, I decided to download an app that sends inspirational Bible verses to my phone. I wanted to have more opportunities for Scripture to "pop up" and to be accessible throughout the day, even when I'm at work or busy in general. I laughed with sheer joy when I opened the app and this was the "random" verse that came up.
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you." John 15:16
I can't think of a more fitting closing to this post. Thank you Lord for providing! :-)
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