Tuesday, August 13, 2013


“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.”  Matthew 12:33

   God wants us to have our Light, Jesus, shine before men. Why? Because that is God’s calling card to the unsaved world. It is very important that through time with God and time in His Word we get to know Him so we can develop His character in ourselves. There are plenty of Christians that talk and act one way for people to see, but are not the same on the inside. Jesus addressed this issue in Matthew.

  The true gospel that Paul talks about in Romans 1:16, the gospel that has the power of God to save people is about peace, goodness, love, kindness and mercy, grace and the forgiveness of God.  It is about all of the good news, blessing, that came to mankind through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. It is important that once someone gets past the “good fruit” they see on the outside is the same fruit they will taste when they get to know us.

   The King James Version is the only version or translation of the Bible that I am aware of that uses the word “faith” in Galatians 5:22. I am going to stop here and do a little nuts and bolts work.  While the King James Version does use the word “faithfulness” in the Old Testament, they did not use it at all in the New Testament. The Old Testament was translated from the Hebrew, the New Testament from the Greek. Since the fruit of the Spirit is a part of our life in Christ and the verse and word we are talking about is in Galatians, I will stick to the New Testament and the Greek here. The olde English that was used to translate the word to ”faith” in Galatians 5:22 is by Vines1 dictionary actually the word “faithfulness”. You will find this again in Romans 3:3.

New King James Version
Romans 3:3  For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?

Original King James Version
Romans 3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

Amplified Version
Romans 3:3 What if some did not believe and were without faith? Does their lack of faith and their faithlessness nullify and make ineffective and void the faithfulness of God and His fidelity [to His Word]?

Romans 3:3 Is not talking about God’s faith (though there is a lot to be studied and learned on that subject), it is talking about the faithfulness of God. That verse is saying that just because we are tempted and can fall into unbelief (which is a different than lack of faith), God and His Word will remain faithful.  This verse is often cross referenced to 2 Timothy 2:13; 

Original King James Version
2 Timothy 2:1If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

New King James Version
2 Timothy 2:1 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

Romans 3:3 is talking about God not denying Himself, not being untrue, but being faithful.

   Love is listed as a fruit of the Spirit, the first one in fact. Love is the force behind everyone of the fruit of the Spirit. They are the characteristics of God, and God is love. So lets look at that “love” chapter.

1 Corinthians 13:7 ...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love endures all things. Yes, that refers to patience but endurance is faithful. As we read above in 2 Timothy 2:1, God is faithful.

We will leave it there. The fruit of the Spirit is;

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Faith comes out of your Spirit. Faithfulness (though a part of the reborn nature in your Spirit) is in you behavior.

God gives every man a measure of faith.
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3

Faith is a gift of the Spirit, not a fruit of the Spirit.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Faith is developed by hearing, reading the Word of God.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

Our faith unifies the body of Christ.
...till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; Ephesians 4:13

Our faithfulness draws the world to Jesus.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:6

God is pleased with our faith in Him.
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

God uses the faithful to serve Him.
My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land,
That they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a perfect way,
He shall serve me. Psalm 101:6

   After having broken all of that down to what faith is and what faithfulness is, I will now make the statement I did not want to make before I laid all of that out. In its essence, faith does mean faithfulness. When we choose to stand in and walk in faith, we are being faithful. Certainly we need to trust (faith) to be diligent (faithful). When our faith begins to waiver it is patience (endurance) that undergirds our faith to get us through until we receive the answer we are believing for. Remember the verse above, Hebrews 11:6?  Faith pleases God and those walking in faith will diligently seek Him. This does please God and here is one of promises that comes through faith and being faithful (diligent) because of that faith.

A faithful man shall abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich [at any cost] shall not go unpunished.  Proverbs 28:20

   I realize there are those that have a problem with other brothers and sisters in the body of Christ that talk about God’s blessings and promises and the abundance of the good life we should have. I am not talking about the worldly wealth. I am not talking about scheming or trying to do some “good works” or anything else other than just receiving what God has given His children. I am not talking about greed, or what some seem to like calling the “blab it and grab it”, or “name it claim it” behavior. I am talking about what Jesus said about “believe and receive”  in Mark 11:24 "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.We accepted Jesus by faith and through grace, and we don’t look back or question that miraculous gift. That is how we receive every blessing He promised us ~ finances, health, peace, simply prosperity in every area of our lives. God from the beginning has been trying to bless us. When God was ready to create man He declared that we would have dominion over everything. Two verses later when man drew His first breath, God blessed him and told him to be fruitful and multiply. That phrase includes having children, but it refers to being fruitful altogether. God gaves us everything and it was all good, very good. We own this place if we will just have faith in God for it that shows up in our faithfulness.
God is faithful and his promises and covenant to us were unconditional. God just wants children to have a relationship with and children He can bless. If we are faithful in that relationship we will do as Proverbs 28:20 says and abound with blessing.

   When we have developed the fruit of faithfulness in our life we will be ever aware of God’s constance presence, which will be the fellowship we enjoy that gives us His joy and our strength. We can then be good stewards over our time, our bodies, our families, our finances, our belongings, over all He has given us. And let’s not forget what we read in Psalm101:6. God gave us dominion over this earth and He needs us to take care of it and serve Him in it. We need to be faithful to do that. On top of which, in these last days God needs us to be faithful so that He can shine out, so He can be manifested and be seen by those that need Him.

   I love watching and experiencing the Holy Spirit take me from one level of faith to the next, one victory to the next as I spend time with God. I can see areas of growth in my life and areas where I need to be more faithful. Are there area’s you see in your life that you are strong in your faith and walk in faithfulness? Are there areas that more time with God developing your faith as you are in the Word, and being faithful in your relationship with Him could help you overcome something you have been struggling with? God is faithful and will do whatever it is in your life you need. I would love hear about either, or both.

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17

 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 
2 Corinthians 3:18

1W.E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament Words (Old Tappan; Revell, 1940), p. 71.

Friday, August 9, 2013

9 Fruits Alive

   9 Fruits Alive1  is a book I discovered after having grandchildren. I love children's books and this book caught my eye because I wanted to start talking about the fruit of the Spirit with them even at the young ages they were. Well, especially at the young ages they were. There is just no substance in teaching children, or adults, something unless their is life in it. I love that. You share something that God says, and you don't need to be Bible thumping ~ preachy about it, and the Holy Spirit takes it from there.

   In the 1990's I worked for both a library and then a lovely family owned Christian book store.  It was then I discovered Multnomah Publishers in Sisters, Oregon. I believe they are now WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Random House.  This children's board book published by their KIDZ division is one of their books I really like. I bought copies of this book for my grandchildren years ago when it first came out. It quickly became my grandson's favorite book. He is now twelve years old and still likes it.

Mindy MacDonald wrote this book. It is one of four in her series of God Counts books. The other three are Jesus and the 12 Dudes Who Did, Noah's Crew Came 2 by 2, and 7 Days of Creation. At the end of the book there is more to share and discuss with your child, grandchild, niece, nephew.... or just to ponder yourself. Here are the delightful stanza's Mindy uses. The illustrations by David Austin Clar are equally lovely!

Charlie P. Cooper, don’t you know?
You need some fruit to help you grow.

Apples, bananas and
grapes are yummy,
but fruit of the Spirit is for
more than your tummy.

Love is a fruit that is good for your heart.
Giving dad hugs is a good place to start.

Joy is a fruit you can pass along,
by singing your favorite silly song.

Peace is meant for you to share,
with friends who are fighting and need some care.

Patience is a fruit you can bring outside,
to have while you wait for your turn on the slide.

Kindness is sharing your best bouncy ball,
or helping someone up after they fall.

Goodness is a fruit you should have each day,
by helping your mom put your toys away.

Faithfulness is being a friend to the end,
playing together till you’re 110!

Gentleness is caring for friends who are sad.
Soft words and smiles will help them feel glad.

Self~control is something you can show,
by not getting angry when parents say no.

Fruit doesn’t just grow on a tree.
It also grows in you and me.

When you love God with all your heart,
His Spirit makes the growing start.

   We have three fruit left to talk about next week. There are so many facets of each fruit that it is hard to keep posts short. I will finish up the nine fruit, and then from time to time revisit them in future posts. For now, it is  Friday and I have homework assignments to review and have done by Sunday evening, and my husband and I have fun planned for the weekend.

 Enjoy your weekend!

MacDonald, Mindy, and David Austin. Clar. 9 Fruits Alive: Discover the Fruit of the Spirit. Sisters, Or.: Multnomah, 2004. Print.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Kindness and Goodness

  Yesterday we took a look at patience. You can hardly talk about any of the fruit of the Spirit without mentioning one or more of the other eight. These are the characteristics of God’s nature and you just can not separate them. In talking about patience we came across kindness. You really can’t say much about kindness without mentioning goodness. So let’s take a look at kindness and goodness today.

  Certainly there are many reasons and benefits for developing the fruit of the Spirit of God in our lives. To do so we must spend time with God and spend time in His Word. We get to know God that way. We learn what His voice sounds like when He talks to us. We grow in our relationship with Him and feel free to share our hearts with Him. We get answers to those things we are searching for. Getting to know God takes our relationship from His being our “Father”, to walking closely with Him as “Abba”, our Dad. We are meant to be conformed into the image of God's Son, and getting to know God better does just that. Also, the fruit of the Spirit are not just nine little personality traits that if developed will make you a more pleasant person. They are powerful forces that when developed, and used, bring victory to the Christian. Think about it. Love never fails. Joy brings us strength to overcome anything. Patience carries faith to the finish line for what you are believing God for, and kindness gives strength to patience. When we are meek, humble, God exalts us. The list of reasons and benefits for developing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives goes on, and on. What I want to bring out and look at here though is the aspect of glorifying God. 

   When we are disciples that means we are a student of Jesus Christ. Strong's Concordance says, "A disciple is a learner, one who follows both the teaching and the teacher." When we are just that disciple, we bear the fruit of the Spirit we are following. When we do that, we are glorifying, God.

“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:8

In glorifying God, we are honoring Him, worshipping Him and praising Him. That is what we are created to do. God created us so we could be in an intimate relationship with Him. Having said that let's move on to what we are called to do with that relationship where mankind is concerned. Our primary purpose is to walk with God, not evangelize. God enjoyed His relationship with us before we sinned. God had to go to plan B to reconcile us back, and now we have the opportunity to share that with others.

   In Psalm 34:4, David says, Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. When we are worshipping and praising God we are exalting His name. Since it is not likely that we are ever going to make God any bigger than He already is, we magnify Him like David did ~ by singing so others hear of His goodness and greatness. Magnify means to lift up, to increase, to boast of, to make larger. How do we do that? We show others the kind nature of God by being good to them. Our goodness toward others shows them the kindness of the God we love and serve. 

...for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:20

   You know the old saying, "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar." It is true. When goodness is developed in us and kindness is shown out of us it often looks like forgiveness.

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 

   Strong's Concordance says that kindness is, "Love for mankind, hospitality, human friendship and taking thought of others. Gentleness in dealing with others, benevolence. The word describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing your patience." It defines goodness as, "Beneficence, kindness in actual manifestation, virtue equipped for action, a bountiful propensity both to will and to do what is good, intrinsic goodness producing a generosity and a Godlike state or being." Kindness must be developed in us before goodness is shown out of us. Kindness always puts the welfare of others at an utmost priority, and goodness is the generosity shown that benefits them.

   In 2 Samuel 7:27-29 we read where Samuel is praising God for His goodness to David in the covenant God made with David. "For You, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, have revealed this to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You. “And now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant. Now therefore, let it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue before You forever; for You, O Lord God, have spoken it, and with Your blessing let the house of Your servant be blessed forever.” David had done things that you would think would negate the covenant God made with Him, but God's Words are true and established. He continued to be kind and did so through what Samuel calls goodness. This is probably one of the reasons David  said, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. Psalm 23:6

   In Isaiah 54:8 we read, "With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the Lord, your Redeemer.” Kindness is the characteristic, the virtue, the nature of God that produces His goodness.

  1 Thessalonians is the earliest letter we know of that Paul wrote.  Paul with Timothy and Silas, had ministered to the Thessalonians for only three Sundays, (Sabbaths), but planted a church there and grounded them deeply in faith. There was much political unrest and hostility toward Paul at that time and persecution was imminent. Being concerned for this young church he wanted to return to them. That was not possible so Paul sent, Timothy. Timothy did come back with a good report of the church and their faith. They in fact were concerned for Paul. In this letter we see a wonderful message of the time Paul ministered to them and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. For our purposes here I want to look at three little verses tucked up in chapter 2.

But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9

Remember, Paul is speaking to the church there at Thessalonica and is concerned about the state they may be in given the political climate against believers. In those verses he is referring to the time he spent with them and though it was hard to come up against the evil around them, he was trying to encourage them to be strong in the might of the Lord. For our purposes regarding kindness producing goodness, lets take a closer look at those three verses. In verse seven Paul talks about how he, Timothy and Silas ministered to them with hearts that were tender, some versions say gentle. He was telling them of the kindness they felt toward those at Thessalonica, Jew and Gentile. In verse eight he goes on to talk about the kindness (affection) they had for them and that they wanted to "impart" the gospel to them. That word "impart" there is the same word used in Luke 3:11 where it says, "give".  Strong's Concordance says, to give, share, impart, distribute, grant. The word implies liberality or generosity, to give with cheerful outflow. Paul goes on to say they devoted, gave, imparted their lives to those at Thessalonica. And in verse 9 he shares the cost of laboring for the gospel. So again we see where kindness preempts goodness shown.

 In the fruit of the Spirit kindness comes before goodness. God is a God of order and I think there is some deliberate placement of how the fruit of the Spirit are listed. We will get to that next week.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  
Galatians 5:22-23

   Developing the kindness of God in our life makes way for His goodness to show out through us. Jesus is the Light that lives in us, and His nature is kind. Our good works are the goodness the world sees that draws them to Jesus. In this, we glorify God!

“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 lamp stand, 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”.  Matthew 5:14-16

Monday, August 5, 2013


   God is so good, and patient. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering [patient], and abounding in goodness and truth...  Exodus 34:6-7. From the beginning of time all He has wanted to do was have people to bless and love on. His mercy, patience and love toward us is everlasting, and it is not contingent on us. He made a covenant with Abraham when he was still Abram, He made a covenant with David that insured his seed, descendent, would be on the throne of Israel and that came to pass even though David messed up badly. And though we sin we remain the righteousness of God through Jesus and all of the covenant, Old and New is ours. We can have faith in God because His Word to us is true.  Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Proverbs 30:5 God and His Word are unchangeable.

His word endures forever.
1 Peter 1:25
But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

In Psalm 136 it says God’s mercy endures forever twenty~six times alone, and there are at least twenty~one more times that is mentioned in the Old Testament alone. 
1 Chronicles 16:34
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

His righteousness endures forever.
Psalm 112:19
He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor. 

   His covenant with Abraham, Noah, David and through Jesus are all everlasting. And He will never leave or forsake us. God had to deal with nearly 4,000 years of stiff necked and rebellious people in the Old Testament. He sent prophets and mighty men of God to try and get them to be in a relationship with Him. Finally, after Malachi we see 400 years of silence. The next thing we see is Matthew, and God sent Jesus. God waited 30 years before He had Jesus step out into official ministry. The we see rebellion and religion at its worst through the leaders of Israel, the scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees. Even that does not stop God. He made a covenant with man and his longsuffering was going to remain, and prevail. He pays the price for all the people in the world that He loved so dearly with His own Son, Jesus. Since the resurrection of Jesus we still see rebellion, religion, stiff necks and hard hearts. And yet in His longsuffering for us He has given us the Holy Spirit for our comfort and guidance. God is patient. 

   I know there are a number of definitions out there for the word "patience", but I have one I live by and think it is accurate and powerful. Being patient does not mean gritting our teeth, holding our tongue and white knuckling it through a situation. But it absolutely has do with how we conduct ourselves while we go through something. Here is my very simple definition, Patience is behaving the same in bad times as we do in the good times. There is only one way to do that and certainly only one way to do that through any situation for a length of time. The only way to do that is to constantly cultivate patience in our life and do so with the deliberate guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. That happens to be from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. If I had chosen the Amplified version you would have seen that passage begin in verse 4 with,  Love endures long and  is patient and kind;. The last words in verse 7 would have been, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. God is love and later in Chapter 13 of Corinthians you see that love never fails. God being love will always be longsuffering and patient with us!

   When you take iron you should take vitamin C with it because the C causes the iron to assimilate in our bodies so much better. Faith and patience are much the same. We can know God's Word, know how to pray in the Spirit, know how to watch what we say with out mouths ~ watching to not speak contrary to God's Word, but if we want results, patience needs to be present. Faith is a powerful force but when an answer is not coming as quickly as we would like, and natural circumstances start dictating defeat, often people start talking negatively against the very Word of God and the promise(s) they started standing on in the beginning. Next thing you know their actions follow and they give up. Patience is what supports, reinforces and sustains our faith for the long haul. Our patience holds our faith up when when our flesh goes to war with us, and our soul becomes weak and wants to let go of our faith. Hebrews tells us that those who trust in God with faith and patience, inherit the promises. And James brings it home for us when he says in James 1:4, But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. There it is, the promise that tells us if we will let patience be fully developed in us and do the work of endurance in us, we will be without defect and so be perfect, and lack nothing. Patience is a very powerful force that we need to give attention to.

   I knew as a young girl God wanted to use me in a way that was going to require devotion to Him and honestly was the only thing that would bring me peace and fulfillment. I will leave all the details out of this post that took me off track. I will start up in my twenties when I was ready to be serious with God. I was in my living room, children napping, and reading my Bible. I came across this verse.

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,  2 Timothy 2:24 

   Not being given to process but being a goal oriented person, some of the clauses in that verse presented me with.... um challenges.  But I had made God's Word the final authority in my life, and whatever it said, I had committed to do. So I had to do some DNA surgery on myself, and renew my mind with God's Word in those areas, and then let the Holy Spirit mold me. That was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I learned so much about prioritizing, simplifying things and taking my hands off of situations. Oh... this took a few years so you know. Praise God He is patient. But at the end of that season God had me where I needed to be to get through things that were coming in my life and to be the handmaiden in His Kingdom I wanted to be.

   One of the many things that were to come along was going to be a season with one of my daughters. Being able to minister the Word of God and my family are the two most important things to me. So, I guess it is no surprise that through them I learn so well. She was and adult, over eighteen, nearly done with her post secondary education and doing things that were concerning me right into a horrible state. I had faith in God to fulfill all the promises in His Word regarding children that I was standing on, but I knew she had her own free will. Those days were some of the darkest of my life. I was at a five point intersection when God dropped the verse in James 1:4 into my heart. I had to go to the grocery parking lot on the other side of the intersection because that verse flooded my heart with hope and washed over me in such a powerful way I did not want to drive for a few minutes. I knew God was telling me if I would just keep standing on His Word and trust Him, I would see those promises come true. It got better soon after that and though there were years of her not being just where I wanted see her, :-) , she is now, and has been for some time, in a great church with her children and husband. I am always amazed at how God has redeemed the years in her life. Her love for God and amount of revelation knowledge is nothing short of amazing. I lack nothing where she is concerned! She did come back to her borders, God did teach her and great is her peace. She is such an amazing woman. I am blessed that God allowed me to call her daughter.

   I have cultivated God's Word in my life, and I have purposefully worked at developing the Fruit of the Spirit of God into who I am. I can tell you there is nothing that compares to that kind of walk with our Father.

Is there an area in your life that could use a little more patience? Patience is not that dreaded thing people say to never pray for. That is so like the enemy to try to shove that show off on God's people. Colossians 3:12 says, So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.... Paul tells us to "put on" patience. Patience is something we must deliberately and on purpose choose to do. Remember, patience is acting the same in bad times as we do in good times. Is there something in your life right now that you could take advantage of by using it as an opportunity to act in a kind and gentle manner, even when you feel like turning your emotions loose?

And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through
 faith and patience inherit the promises.
Hebrews 6:11-12

Friday, August 2, 2013

Rejoice and just keep Rejoicing!

   Rejoice, and again I say rejoice is exactly what we will look at here. We are going to take a look at another two roles of joy in our life. On Wednesday we took a quick glance at how our joy of the Lord is our strength. You know, Satan is a miserable creature and he is so because He wants to be God, the Most High. Since that did not work out for him he tries his best to make all the rest of God’s creation miserable. His plan is to rob, kill and destroy those of us that do love Go, and worship Him. So it only stands to reason, and there are supporting scriptures, that he absolutely hates it when we find joy in the Lord. He just does not stick around for the joy fest when God is the festival Honoree.

   Throughout Deuteronomy, Moses is preparing the Israelites to enter Canann, the land God promised them. He repeatedly exhorts them to obey God. Let’s face it, they had done 400 years of slavery in captivity. Disobedience, particularly grumbling and complaining ~lack of joy, got them there and would put them right back in bondage. Not to mention it had just taken them 40 years to make this eleven day journey to Canaan because of grumbling, complaining and disobedience.

   In Deuteronomy 12 Moses begins to talk to the Israelites about obeying God in regard to where and how God would have them worship Him. God has things he wants them to do like destroy all of the idols and places of pagan idol worship when they get to Canaan. God wants His people to be set apart and enjoy the blessings that only He can give. In 12:7 it says, And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you. For that, all they had to do was obey and do so with a joyful heart.

   Wednesday we talked about how our joy of the Lord is our strength. We looked at these verses.
Deuteronomy 28:47-48     47 “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you.

   We are going to dive a little deeper here today and grab some pearls. The next role joy plays in the life of a believer is that it will produce all things needed for living the life of abundance Jesus promised. Take a look at verse 47. So what about that abundance of everything?  Let’s start by refreshing out memory on this verse.

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."  John 10:10  

   God created the earth and when finished He said, "it was very good." He created earth and all in it for man to have dominion over and to enjoy. We handed that all over to Satan for a snack. From that moment on God had Jesus on the way to earth to get it all back to us. Jesus declares that in the verse above. Jesus did not come so we could eek through this life with meager means and poor health and emotional anguish. NO! 

Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole. 
Isaiah 53:4-5 AMP

   Jesus took everything that came with the curse and paid for it, for us, in full! If we accept Jesus as our Savior that is our inheritance ~ ALL of it and in abundance. It breaks my heart when people think God just meagerly hands out some things for some people and when He holds back it is to "teach" us something. That is such a lie from the pit of Hell, and completely contrary to our covenant and what Jesus said in John 10:10. Trials are one of the enemy's strategies to steal from us, kill and if not that at least destroy us, and keep us from those good things God intended for us. How we handle those trials determine the outcome. So let’s wrap this up with some wisdom from the book of James.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

   In those verses we have three powerful promises. When we allow that patience to be fully developed in us we will 1. be fully developed, mature, perfect. 2. we will be complete and 3. we will lack nothing. There is a catch though. Our attitude while in trials must be joy! I am sure you have heard it said that when are we are tested our faith gets stronger. That is nonsense. Our faith is built up by the taking in of God’s Word. When we face trials without joy, we are ultimately defeated like we saw in Deuteronomy 28:47-48. When our faith is tested in the trials we face, and we walk through them with joy, patience is produced in us.  That word patience in verse three means; cheerful or hopeful endurance, constancy ~ enduring, patient continuance (waiting).Patience is cheerful endurance. That simply means we behave the same in a trial as we do when everything is going well. Walking in joy while we face trials will develop that cheerful endurance, patience, in us. When we walk in joy we are operating in faith because to have joy regardless of circumstances means we are trusting and believing God. Hebrews 6:11-12 says, And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. There it is. When we have joy, which is birthed out of faith in God and His promises, we develop patience in the trials and that is the way we inherit the promises. That developed patience gives us the spiritual maturity to never lack anything we believe God and Word for.

   I will just briefly mention the second role of joy I referred to. In Deuteronomy 28:48 we see where bondage is result of not having the joy of the Lord. That is precisely what got the Israelites in slavery and bondage. The joy of the the Lord will free you from anything that tries to discourage, dissuade or depress you. Look at how God brought the Israelites out of bondage and blessed them, and their oppressors were glad they were leaving!

He also brought them out with silver and gold,
And there was none feeble among His tribes.
Egypt was glad when they departed,
For the fear of them had fallen upon them.
He spread a cloud for a covering,
And fire to give light in the night.
The people asked, and He brought quail,
And satisfied them with the bread of heaven.
He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
It ran in the dry places like a river.
For He remembered His holy promise,
And Abraham His servant.
He brought out His people with joy,
His chosen ones with gladness.
He gave them the lands of the Gentiles,
And they inherited the labor of the nations,
That they might observe His statutes
And keep His laws.
Praise the Lord!

Psalm 105 :37-45

   There are other important roles joy has in our life but I think next time we will move on to that little nugget that came up in this post. Guess what it is? Yep! Patience. 

   Later we will explore how to develop these fruit in our lives. Spending time with God and developing our relationship with Him around His Word is where it all starts. What do you enjoy when you are spending time with our Father?

1Strong, J. (1986). Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible  (p. 75 Greek Dictionary).   Peabody: Hendrickson.
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