An ongoing look at the fruit of the Spirit (and gifts)

18/9/17

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.

Eph 5:8-10

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Eph 5:11

Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Eph 5:14

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Eph 5:15-17

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Eph 5:18-20

In which I infer that:

  • all the fruit of the Spirit is seen in the outworking of:
    • goodness (agathosune in Greek – intrinsic goodness especially as a personal quality with stress on the kindly rather than the righteous)
    • righteousness (dikaiosune – justness, of which God is the source, a divine righteousness)
    • truth (aletheia – not just spoken truth, but truth of idea, reality, sincerity and in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to man)
  • that we should expose the darkness (skotous – either in physical or moral form)
  • that the fruit of the Spirit is not self-generated but given by God
  • that wisdom (sophoi – wise in an expert, skilled, learned, cultivated and clever sense) is a fruit
  • and we are to utilise said wisdom in redeeming the times (eksagorazo – take full advantage of, making the most of the present and recognizing its future gain, to ransom or rescue from loss)
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A Word for our time

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Gal 5:1

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. Gal 5:6

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Gal 5:13-16

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Gal 5:18

Now the words of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:19-21

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Gal 5:22

Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Gal 5:26

 

In an age where opposing idealogies drive people to commit mass murder, when countries bandy threats of nuclear war, when a nation stands divided on a question of marriage and when rape, human trafficking and youth crime and violence are rampant, God’s word through Paul remains a true beacon.

 

Jesus, thank You for my freedom and for ushering in all the fruit that Your Spirit brings. Help me to live a life in a way that radiates Your love to those around me, by Your Spirit in me.

God-breathed

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:19-21

When I prepare a bible study, or a word to share, it often seems to be from a place of wanting to help others, or to accomplish a specific purpose which I feel God has birthed. There is always the tendency to insert a personal agenda into the message, however. This tendency seems to be stronger when the word has profoundly made me think, or has (I hesitate to use the term) impacted my life in some way. Coming from that position, I usually subconsciously (or consciously) feel that it SHOULD impact others as well, and craft a message along those lines.

2 Peter seems to draw out these thoughts, first of all noting that no ‘prophecy of scripture’ is of any private interpretation.

Prophecy: prophetieia in Greek: the gift of communicating and enforcing revealed truth

Private: idios in Greek: peculiar to the individual (stronger than the simple possessive pronoun ‘own’

Meaning, (as I take it), that while Scripture CAN be peculiar to the individual, and CAN have a personal impact upon one’s life, the revealing of truth within scripture top others should never be fully based on one’s private (or idios) revelation for oneself. Where then?

Moved: phero in Greek: to carry along, being brought

By: hupo in Greek: under, often meaning ‘under authority’ of someone working directly as a subordinate

This revelation of truth from the Scripture, then, is being carried along by the Spirit, and is from, and of God. This of course can be personal, and it may indeed be that a personal truth revealed to an individual may be similar to a truth that is for a group of people, but the distinction is clear: not to bring a personally-revealed truth and directly apply it to others without confirming if indeed that was God’s truth for them

Welcome to my crib!

Come and see.

The invite to the greatest relationship, and adventure of our lives. The ticket to Everest, or the Marianas Trench, or exploring Mars (but way better, and safer!) was being figuratively waved.

Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”

They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are you staying?”

He said to them, “Come and see.”

They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).

John 1:35-39

One of the first invitations Jesus gave during his ministry was in response to a question about where He was staying. And he responded by giving them a house tour! But notice Jesus preceded the question by asking one of his own: “What do you seek?”

We often think we know what people should be looking for, or want, or seek. And we then come up with nice answers and solutions to these perceived questions. And maybe get offended when we find ourselves the recipient of a polite refusal. Maybe we should be asking that simple question first. “What are you looking for?”

The next day, Philip was called by Jesus, and he had heard first-hand about Jesus via Simon Peter and Andrew. Philip got so excited he got another friend Nathanael to tell him about this Jesus character (and about how cool his house was, presumably). Interestingly, Philip also used the phrase, “Come and see.”

See‘ or horao in Greek: perceive, attend to, to see with the mind

So not just an invite to meet Jesus, but to experience the person of Jesus.

What am I doing in my spheres to extend that invitation to others?

Dreaming bigger

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Eph 3:20-21

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matt 17:20

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Rom 8:31

Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. Jer 32:17

 

Lighting

good-lighting-pollution

It’s all about the positioning.

And the intentionality of the act of lighting. Of finding the oil, getting the base steady enough so it won’t topple over, finding the right amount of cover so that the a stray gust of wind won’t snuff it out, and positioning it so it’s of the maximum use to people.

Lighting a light takes planning and time, if you want to do it right, and not have to come back to it time and again to keep re-lighting and re-positioning.

When you light something in a particular position, you also accept that there’s somewhere where the light may not reach, but that’s ok. You’ve positioned the light so it will be effective where you feel it’s needed and so no need to worry about where it won’t be seen. In the big picture, there’ll be other lights on, so no one gets lost.

And the final effect? People find their way to where they are going, what they are looking for, and can see one another clearly, as well as themselves. Sometimes, they’ll realise what they are looking for isn’t that great after all, and start a new journey to look for something new. Other times, the light will point out dangers looming in their path for them to avoid. Or ensure that other people can find them to give them a helping hand. And we can choose to journey with these people.

When we light our lights well, we save lives.

 

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt 5:14-16

The truth in Proverbs

“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”Prov 20:5

“The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.” – Prov 20:7

 

In the position of discussing finance and mortgage, deciding on issues of giving as well as meeting new people and trying to grow deeper with others, the above speaks strongly.

 

The call to return

The roll call of the faith-full:

  • Abel, in giving of his best
  • Enoch, in testifying about faith when it was not yet embodied in the form of Jesus
  • Noah, in preparing for a disaster foretold by God and taking a stand against popular opinion
  • Abraham, for leaving his comfort zone and journeying without clear knowledge of the destination, spending most of his life a nomad
  • Sarah, for accepting her conception at an advanced age as a gift from God

 

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Heb 11:13-16

 

These obeyed without receiving the promises, but ‘saw them afar’ and ‘were assured’ and ’embraced them’.

saw them: horao (Greek), meaning metaphorically to see with the mind, to perceive with inward spiritual perception

embraced: aspazomai (Greek), meaning to joyfully greet/welcome

 

Their desires were plainly to be seen – and if given the chance, if they had ‘called to mind that country from which they had come out’, they would be keen to return.

Called to mind: mnemoneuo (Greek), meaning hold in remembrance, make mention of

 

But now they ‘desire’ a heavenly country.

Desire: oregontai (Greek) meaning stretch forth, long for, aspire to

 

Even the most faithful, if allowed to dwell on the past and on what was once comfortable, will want to return to it. But they would be missing out on what is ‘better’.

Better: kreitton (Greek), meaning stronger, more excellent (what is better because more fully developed)

 

I do find myself dwelling in the past intermittently, and maybe in order to break the cycle, I need to fix my mind on what could be better and not to make mention of, or hold in remembrance what has gone past.

What is love?

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By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” I Jn 3:16

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” 1 Jn 3:18-20

 

God sees through our heart, which on occasions is given to waver. On our part, words and intentions are always to be accompanied by actions, and embodying what we say and mean, in real life (truth=aletheia in Greek, synonymous with reality)

It may seem that vs 21-22 indicate a measure of legalism in keeping all the commandments in order to be granted the right to ask and receive from God, but v23 lays down the commandment expected of us:

 

And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” 1 Jn 3:23

 

So what is love? It’s not just about feelings, or words, but needs us to get down and dirty, living our love out by actions and above all, believing we were the recipients of a love far greater and more forgiving and far-reaching than we could ever comprehend.

 

 

Stephen Strange

You always excelled, not because you craved success, but because of your fear of failure.

Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the greatest lesson of all.

It’s not about you.

 

Later that night, a dream in which I’m playing 4v4 basketball in which I’m being strangely competitive, but to my horror the basket is about 3 feet higher than I’m used to, where even layups are hit and miss. And for some reason, there’s no backboard to ricochet my shots off either! I try to reason with the umpire that the baskets are placed too high, that it’s against the rules. His reasoning: I’ve been practising all my life on baskets that are set too low.