Defeating Satan’s Deception

How can we defeat Satan’s deception?

Think back to all those magic shows we loved as kids. We would be spellbound, watching a man in a tuxedo tap his magic wand over a top hat and pull out a rabbit. Or how about those fascinating card tricks? And best of all was a woman sawn in two. All hoaxes, but we loved the thrill of being tricked.

But magic is evil. Think of a dark veil made up of lies and trickery that we wouldn’t—and couldn’t—see through. As Christians, though, aren’t we immune to deception?

In order to answer that question, let’s begin with a definition. According to Merriam-Webster, deception means:

the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid :  TRICK fooled by a scam artist’s clever deception

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deception

Where did deception originate? We would all point to Genesis. That old serpent, the devil, deceived Eve to believe a lie and commit an act of sinful disobedience. Let’s listen in on their conversation and pinpoint how Satan’s trickery worked.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

Genesis 3:1-7 NKJV

Step 1: Twisting the truth

The first step involves questioning what God has said. (“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” ) Satan expected Eve to refute his question in order to engage her in a conversation to confuse her logic. But let’s review God’s exact words:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:16-17 NKJV

Now let’s backtrack. When God spoke this command to Adam, where was Eve? Apparently, not yet created. So if Adam had instructed her himself, it may explain Eve’s embellishment–that even touching the tree would result in death.

Step 2: Using Naivety Against Us

Satan knew that if he could deceive Eve about what God had said, he could win a battle against the Almighty. How? By dragging His trusting creation into the devil’s evil world of sin.

When Eve misquoted God’s command, the serpent used her mistake to his advantage. The serpent played upon Eve’s emotional naivety to convince her to bite the forbidden fruit. He dangled sparkling lies to convince her it wasn’t dangerous but would make her wise like God. He tricked her into trusting his words to be true.

Step 3: No Fear

Step 3: The serpent took away Eve’s fear of death. (“You will not surely die.” v.4) Remember, no one had ever died yet (her son Abel, not yet born, would be the first), so the concept of death was a great mystery. Satan’s false assurance must have given Eve comfort from her fears as she trusted the serpent’s words.

Step 4: Be Smart and Powerful

Step 4: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v.4). Here Satan claims to know God’s words, which he falsely twists. He tells Eve the end result of her potential disobedience, promising her that she will be equal to God Himself in power and knowledge. No longer will she take orders from God–she will be wise enough to make her own rules, to live her own way. The tantalizing promise of the knowledge of good and evil would be a glorious promotion to omniscience and omnipotence. And she fell for Satan’s bait–hook, line, and sinker.

Step 5: Justification of a lie

Step 5: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (v.6). Eve, no longer afraid to touch it, listened to Satan’s voice of justification. Who doesn’t want to be wise? Why not eat such beautiful fruit? Eve reached out to pluck the fruit and share it with Adam. At that moment, deception led to sin.

Like Adam and Eve, we can use our God-given free will to either obey or disobey. Our choice, yes, but also we must face the consequences.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

James 1:13-16 NKJV

How do we apply these truths to our lives today?

Lesson 1: Know God’s exact Word

Let’s make sure we know God’s exact Word so Satan can’t deceive us. He’s a master at serving up a glass of truth with a twist of lies. If the devil can confuse us about the truth, we drink it down, falling into deception and thus into sin. Memorizing and knowing the Word will cancel those plans.

When Satan tempted Jesus

Remember when Satan came to tempt Jesus after the Lord’s forty-day fast in the wilderness? Each time Satan tried to deceive Him, Jesus quoted Scripture to refute those lies mixed with truth. (Click HERE to read about it.)

Lesson 2: Naivety, our worst enemy

Satan deceives us to turn away from our beliefs at any age. Especially when we’re young, about to enter teen years, Satan uses our naivety to trick us into sin.

For example, kids will entice those who are inexperienced about the world, luring them with the promise of thrilling fun–drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. If they balk at first, the tempter will use other ploys, such as shaming them for not being cool, being a scaredy-cat, or threatening their inclusion in a group of friends. As innocent kids submit to rejecting their true beliefs in exchange for lies, their lives can be ruined, or in extreme cases, ended too soon.

Thankfully, Jesus provided forgiveness of our sins at the cross.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 NKJV

Lesson 3: Living without fear of God

For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 96:4 NKJV

Not too many years ago—back in the ’80s—kids used to wear tee-shirts emblazoned with No Fear. When the fear of authority and a living God are absent in the human heart and mind, falsely-enlightened people easily break rules and laws. No longer afraid of any repercussion or punishment, they have a cyclonic heyday, leaving behind a wake of destruction. Today we can especially witness the results of this deception in many crime-infested cities, failing schools, and corrupt governments around the world.

Beware of NO FEAR deception in the church. Have you wondered why Seeker-Friendly churches never display a cross or mention sin and its consequences? Their weekly talk is only positive, laced with the serpent’s classic cunning found in Genesis 3:1: “Has God indeed said,” and verse 4: “You will not surely die.” But a one-sided or twisted gospel is a deceptive gospel, smearing the truth of salvation and sanctification to afford sinners comfort and acceptance to remain as they are. And it’s another way Satan’s kingdom grows.

Churches must preach the truth of the whole gospel, which convicts sinners and brings them to the altar of repentance and saving grace.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 3:23 NKJV

Lesson 4: Not little gods

Satan also promises to give us God’s power and knowledge to make us equal to God. His false reasoning convinces us that we won’t need God anymore. We can be our own little gods, following our own false wisdom.

This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

James 3:15-17 NKJV

Lesson 5: Don’t buy the lie

Where do we find this principle? Advertising, for example. Companies pay a fortune for an ad or video to convince consumers they can’t live happy, complete lives without their product. That’s the lie. They play on our emotions and our five senses to make us crave it, rather like Eve: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” (Genesis 3:6)

Satan is waiting to deceive each one of us with his lies: good is evil and evil is good. He tempts us through sight, arousing our desire. He reasons falsely that we will benefit in some way–beauty, wealth, comfort, or status.

Here’s a description of Satan in Jesus’s words:

‘He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.’

John 8:44b NKJV

Are Christians exempt?

No. Satan comes to everyone with his deception—even Christians. The difference is that the Holy Spirit provides us with the gift of discernment to know the truth so we don’t fall for Satan’s lies.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: …to another discerning of spirits, …

1 Corinthians 12: 7, 10b NKJV

Let’s discern the spirit of truth by reading and memorizing God’s Word. His Word is truth–our sword of the Spirit that divides truth from lies. With the Word in our mouths, Satan can never deceive us with his false trickery.

Let’s always be prayerful that God will give us His truth and wisdom to discern Satan’s clever deception.

Let’s conclude in agreement with Paul’s prayer:

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Amen.

Philippians 1:9-11 KJV

How have you been victorious in using God’s Word to destroy Satan’s deceptive lies?

A Musical Christmas Lesson

Wishing you a belated Happy New Year!

I’ve missed posting on my blog since December, but these weeks have been reserved for resting and recuperating from the flu. The good news is that I was finally on the upswing and feeling back to normal, just in time for tying on my apron and heading to the kitchen for Christmas dinner. And although Christmas is many weeks behind us, it’s still a good memory. I want to share a story with you about what the Lord taught me during that season.

Early in December—before the flu—our family had planned a special holiday outing. I had purchased tickets for a concert in a nearby town where the venue was described as a charming theater in an old courthouse building. A relaxing evening with a symphonic jazz band and featured singers sounded like a good way to get into the Christmas spirit.

Upon our arrival, what a surprising sight greeted us inside. We had stepped back in time to creaking wooden floors, cement walls painted gunmetal grey covered with old posters of bygone days, narrow staircases with steel handrails, and groaning elevators designed more for carrying janitorial equipment rather than people.

After locating the second-floor theater, we settled into well-worn seats of red plush velveteen. The stale air roared with voices. Bobbing heads of every shade and style exchanged merry greetings with passersby searching for their ticketed rows of seats. On stage, high-heels and oxford dress shoes rushed across the floor on a time-sensitive mission. Violas and bass violins stood straight, and violins found their perches under tucked chins. Sequined dresses swept the floor, shimmering in bright stage lights. At one end, drums rat-a-tat-tatted and piano keys tinkled. A complete cacophony of dissonance.

Eventually a quiet swept over the stage, and its contagion gripped the audience into a hushed silence. The conductor walked solemnly to the front of a platform and bowed, signaling our applause. Clapping exploded like a bomb into the room’s acoustics, then subsided. One piano key sang out, and every instrument slid collectively into tune.

What good can come out of this?

My eyes roamed around the room. What kind of inspiring music could come out of such a musty, ancient place? I already regretted not traveling the extra miles to a downtown state-of-the-art venue featuring famous professionals. As I mourned over my mistake, beautiful string music began and sweetly beckoned a finger at the door of my heart.

My rising yawns cut off as the upbeat music carried me into its rhapsody. It didn’t take long before I was hooked. My soul stirred with delight and appreciation as each new song swelled from the stage and swept through the auditorium. Songs about Christ’s birth and the miracle of God coming down to earth in the form of a perfect, holy newborn. Angels trumpeting horns, proclaiming His birth as they led choruses of rejoicing. From jazz band to cultured symphony to rich-throated singers, I acknowledged my grateful surprise of this unexpected gift: deep love from the heart and soul of every stage performer’s instrument lavished itself upon the audience.

What must that holy night have been like?

I could envision through the music the rustic stable where Mary gave birth to Messiah. Almost smelling the animals’ earthy scent which enveloped the holy couple, I could imagine their clouded breath in the air as they snorted questions about who these intruders might be. The rough, wooden trough filled with straw would not feed them this night but would instead cradle the swaddled baby. Sweet peace must have filled the air and quieted the animal audience into reverent submission from their front-row seats as they witnessed the greatest story that would ever be told.

Have you ever wondered why God chose for His Son to make His earthly entrance into such poor circumstances? Humble, common parents in the midst of traveling for the census. Not even a decent indoor retreat for Mary’s labor and delivery. Yet, God provided and created a celebration fit for a king. The angels announced His birth—not to the world’s wealthy and royal—but to the lowliest class of people at that time–shepherds tending their sheep on nearby hills, drawn to that stable as human witnesses. Such a wonderful miracle, yet such a great mystery.

We can fully understand God’s symbolism as Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread. He was placed in a manger, a trough from which animals eat, because He is our Bread of Life.

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ ”

Matthew 26:26 NKJV

Prophecy also described Him as the Good Shepherd, which made us, His followers, His sheep. We can likely recite Psalm 23, but here is another reference:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel. ”

Matthew 2:6 NKJV

The comparison between this humble concert venue and Jesus’s humble birth meshed with clarity. From this simple stage on a chilly December night came something more than wonderful: the message of God’s divine, perfect love poured from a blend of harmonious instruments and voices, just as the angels sang and played for the shepherds and all of heaven on the night of Christ’s birth, set in a simple stable.

This message isn’t just for Christmas–it’s for today and every day of the year.

Finally, the Lord showed me these concerns for 2020. Are you feeling inadequate or discouraged about your life? Have you recently lost a loved one and feel as though you don’t know how to continue? Are you unsure about your financial future? Seeking a godly mate? Trying to find God’s purpose to chart your future? Seeking physical healing and health?

God takes our commonplace lives and works miracles for His glory, just like He did on the night Jesus was born. Something very special can come out of a humbled life. He can take our lives and make them into something wonderful, but we must first lay down our selfish god of SELF on God’s holy altar. We all must die to SELF.

“ ‘But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.’ “

Isaiah 66:2 NKJV

Have you been born again?

Have you surrendered your life to Jesus and accepted Him as your Lord and Savior? You can do that now by praying a simple prayer, confessing your sins, turning away from them, and asking Jesus into your heart.

“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ ”

Romans 10:9-11 NKJV

It’s what God does best–making us new creations in Christ Jesus, cleansing us from sin by His blood, and filling us with His Holy Spirit. Writing our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life and the Book of Remembrance. Making our lives a clean slate with a new story to write. Giving us the assurance of eternity in heaven where we will dwell in His presence forever.

May this be your best year yet as you serve the Lord. May He transform you and play His beautiful music through your life to bless others.

Wishing you all a blessed and prosperous 2020!

What do you need the Lord to do for you in 2020? Leave your prayer request in the comments and I will pray with you and for you. May God bless you richly.

Rejoicing in Christ’s Holy Birth

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas! God bless you as we celebrate the holy birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus. May His everlasting love and salvation be born in your hearts today. Please join me prayerfully in the lyrics of a familiar Christmas hymn.

It came upon the midnight clear,
    That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
    To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men
    From heaven’s all-gracious King” –
The world in solemn stillness lay
    To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
    With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
    O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
    They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel-sounds
    The blessed angels sing.

But with the woes of sin and strife
    The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
    Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
    The love song which they bring; –
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
    And hear the angels sing!

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
    Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
    With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
    Come swiftly on the wing; –
Oh, rest beside the weary road
    And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on
    By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever circling years
    Shall come the age of gold;
When Peace shall over all the earth,
    Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song,
    Which now the angels sing.

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
Also seen occasionally as “It Came Upon A
 Midnight Clear”
 Erik Routley, University Carol Book (Brighton: H. Freeman & Co., 1961)

Words: 
Edmund Hamilton Sears, in the Christian Register (Boston, Massachusetts: December 29, 1849), Vol. 28, #52, p. 206.
Afterwards published in Sermons and Songs, 1875, 5 stanzas of 8 lines.
Source: Edmund H. Sears, Sermons and Songs of the Christian Life (Boston: Noyes, Holmes, and Company, 1875), pp. 17-18.
©KarenJurgens All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 41: Conclusion

Welcome to the final chapter of our year-long study. What a wonderful time we’ve had studying God’s Word together! It’s been my honor to host you here and also on the Heart”wings” Ministry Facebook Page. Let’s take one last look at what we’ve learned this year about growing in the Fruit of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

Let’s take a look back and enjoy what we studied this year. All of our former posts will be linked under each heading for you to access here.

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

Spiritual Renewal for the New Year / Exercise Your Faith / Born-Again Salvation / Fighting Spiritual Battles

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV

Intercessory Prayer / Servanthood / Bearing Fruit for the Kingdom / The Perfect Sacrifice

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10b NKJV

Finding JOY in the midst of trials / Lost and Found / The Bride of Christ / The Joy of Resurrection

“He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. “
Matthew 28:6 NKJV

The Alabaster Jar / Palm Sunday / The Last Supper / The Passion of Christ / The Resurrection

“Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”
Mark 9:50 NKJV

Peace with God / Finding God’s Peace in Relationships / Finding God’s Peace in the Sabbath / Finding God’s Peace in Conflicts

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
James 1:4 NKJV

Patience in Trials / The Patience of Job / The Parable of the Sower / Waiting on the Lord

“Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”
2 Peter 1:5b-7 NKJV

The Woman at the Well / The Good Samaritan / David and Mephibosheth / Ruth and Boaz

“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 NKJV

God’s Goodness / God’s Good Creation / Christ’s Goodness / God’s Good Promises

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

Defining Faith / Faith and Works / God’s Faithfulness / Our Covenant-Keeping God

“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”
Philippians 4:5 NKJV

Meekness is Not Weakness / Strength in Gentleness

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”
Romans 7:15 NKJV

Our Dual Natures

I trust you have grown in the fruit of the Spirit along with me this year. The fascinating thing about the Christian walk is that we are always in the process of growth. No matter how many times we may read a particular Scripture or study a specific topic, the Lord always teaches us something new.

We’ve reached the end of our journey, and bidding you farewell is bittersweet. I have been very blessed to walk with you down life’s path this year. May you be blessed each day as you continue to grow in the fruit of the Spirit.

Please continue to follow me here on my blog, Touched By Him, for future posts where I’ll be sharing some thoughts for Christmas. I plan to continue posting as usual in January, as the Lord leads.

Dear Lord, thank you for this past year of growth in the fruit of the Spirit. Bless Your Word richly in each person, and water the seeds to grow up into mature plants. May we be known by our fruit, that we are Your disciples. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 40: Self-Control

Welcome to our study on the last Fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL. Just because self-control is last doesn’t make it least important. On the contrary, it is the strongest one, holding the other eight fruits in place. Without the discipline of self-control, the other fruits of the Spirit would spiral wildly out of control. Let’s see how increasing self-control accelerates our spiritual growth and gives us victory in our lives. This week we’ll look at our struggle against the flesh.

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”

Romans 7:15 NKJV

The Legend about Two Dogs…

Have you ever heard the legend about two dogs living inside us? One is disobedient and selfish, the other gentle and loving. They constantly fight, like an eternal tug-of-war.

The Apostle Paul decried this human condition. As Christians, we try to quash our former rebellious nature (our iniquities) and walk in obedience to please God. When we accept Jesus as Savior, our sin nature dies but never goes away in this life. Hence, our two natures continuously struggle.

How do we win the struggle?

We win the struggle through self-control and sanctification–by studying the Word and communing with God through Jesus in prayer. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to control how we react to temptations that enter our lives. Without Him, we would have no hope. With Him, we always have the victory. As Paul gratefully proclaims, “It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free” (Romans 7:25 TLB).

The flesh and self-control…

The flesh certainly has its specific appetites, doesn’t it? We all have our own particular battles to fight. Check off which ones apply to your life:

  • The mouth-gate:
    • what we eat and drink
    • words we speak
    • oral addictions
  • The ear-gate:
    • The message we receive through music or the spoken word
  • The eye-gate:
    • What we watch on television, the computer, or at the theater
    • What we read
  • The feet-gate:
    • The places we allow ourselves to go
  • The hand-gate:
    • What we allow ourselves to do, hold, or touch

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV

Back to the legend…which dog wins the fight? The one we feed the most. As we grow in sanctification, the struggle lessens. God gives us the power to overcome and be victorious through the fruit of self-control. Although we never “arrive” at perfection in this life, our blessed hope is that we will attain it in heaven through our Savior’s perfection.

How are you overcoming your struggles against fleshly desires? How are you developing self-control in areas of weakness?

Dear Lord, thank you for understanding our temptations and giving us the power to overcome them. It’s through Your Holy Spirit that we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. May we live in victory as we grow in the fruit of self-control. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 39: Gentleness

Welcome to the second part of our study on GENTLENESS. This week we’ll look at James’s teaching as he defines meekness in greater detail. We’ll conclude with examples of strength founded in humble meekness that we can model from the lives of Moses and our Lord Jesus.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

James 4:10 NKJV

How do gentleness and wisdom fit together? Click HERE to read James 3:13-18.

According to James, worldly wisdom is…

Unspiritual, earthly, and demonic, a kind of wisdom that has no substance of goodness. When others get ahead or attain success, bitter envy and jealousy rear their green heads. In competition, its red-hot ambition is not for the good of others–it’s purely selfish. James declares that envy and selfish ambition yield disorder and every kind of evil practice.

But heavenly wisdom…

The yield of heavenly wisdom is good deeds rooted in humility. Peacemakers sow seeds of peace and reap a crop of righteousness. Godly wisdom overflows with purity, peace, consideration for others, submissiveness, mercy, good fruit, impartiality, and sincerity.

May we always pray to receive God’s heavenly wisdom that allows us to grow in humble meekness.

Moses…

“(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)”

Numbers 12:3 NKJV

This passage of Scripture describes Moses as the meekest and most humble of all men. Bearing these powerful credentials of spiritual strength, God chose him to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land–a gargantuan task. He faced problems no one man has ever encountered, but God brought him through each one with success. Here are a few of God’s miraculous provisions: water in the barren desert pouring from rocks; daily manna from heaven; clothes and shoes that lasted forty years; a dry path through the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians; speaking face-to-face with Moses on Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments on stone tablets; and God’s guiding presence in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

One story shows Moses’s humble gentleness toward his siblings, Aaron and Miriam. Apparently these two became upset after Moses had married a Cushite woman, and they began to criticize their brother’s leadership. “’Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?’” (Numbers 12:2 NKJV). The Lord heard their words and became angry, dressing them down in front of the tent of meeting and dealing out retribution by making Miriam leprous. Aaron repented, and Moses pled with the Lord to take away Miriam’s punishment. (Click HERE to find out the rest of the story.)

Jesus…

Jesus shows His strength like a lion and His humble meekness like a lamb. From the Gospels through Revelation, He is depicted as the strong Lion of Judah as well as the humble Lamb of God. He embraced the little children to bless them (Matthew 19:13-14), and He treated women with respect and forgiveness (Luke 7:36-50).

The Scriptures about Jesus’s road to Calvary reveal the most about His gentle humility and controlled strength. Here are a few examples:

  • When Peter cut off the slave’s ear during Jesus’s arrest, Jesus rebuked Peter and performed a healing miracle (Luke 22:49-51).
  • Later when Peter denied knowing Him, Jesus sadly looked over at His disciple without a word (Luke 22:54-62).
  • He remained silent at the lying accusations of a mock trial and submitted to their physical torture (Mark 15:1-20)
  • When Pilate threatened Jesus that he held the power to either release or crucify Him, Jesus responded that God alone was in control of His fate (John 19:10-11).
  • Even as He was dying on the cross, Jesus forgave His enemies and voiced His will concerning His mother, Mary (John 19:25-27).
  • He forgave the sins of the thief on the cross next to Him (Luke 23:39-43).

Like Moses, have you ever struggled with humble gentleness as a leader of obstinate people? Have you ever forgiven an undeserving sibling or family member?

Like Jesus, have you forgiven your enemies–even in the face of the threat of death? Have you extended grace to them? Held your tongue when rejected or wrongly accused?

Whatever our trials, may we count them all joy because through them we will be made perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4) Our triumph and victory glorify our Savior, Jesus Christ. May we follow the humblest, gentlest and meekest man, the Son of God, and emulate His example.

Dear Father, thank you for teaching us about spiritual strength found within humble meekness. May we follow Your example and grow to be like You as we study Your Word and commune with You in prayer. May Your controlled strength shine through our lives as we humbly submit to You. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 38: Gentleness

Welcome to our final month of study. During the next two weeks, we’ll define GENTLENESS and examine what meekness looks like through Scriptural examples. Our goal is to understand how to do our part so God can grow seeds of gentleness in our hearts and lives.

“Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.”

Matthew 5:5 NKJV

Psalm 37

Let’s begin by defining GENTLENESS, also commonly called MEEKNESS. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the quality or state of being gentle, especiallymildness of manners or disposition.”

We’re weaned as children to understand meekness as someone who’s a wimp. Do you remember the cartoon, Popeye? One of the characters was a rotund man, even named Wimpy, who constantly ate hamburgers. Another example is hen-pecked Dagwood Bumstead in the cartoon, Blondie, who made the Dagwood sandwich an American cultural fixture. Even from childhood, we’ve been indoctrinated into the world’s definition: meekness equals weakness.

πράγματα / prágmata

But the Bible’s definition is the complete opposite. The Greek word written above is “prautes,” a challenging word to define in English. Picture a wild horse that’s broken and now under the control of a bridle. R.C. Trench in his classic work “Synonyms of the New Testament” says that “Prautes does not consist in a person’s outward behaviour only, nor yet in his relations to his fellow man…rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul, and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God.  It is that temper of spirit in which we accept his dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.”

Meekness means we have surrendered and entrusted our soul and spirit to God’s good control without argument or resistance. Therefore, gentleness implies great strength under control. It’s courage, not mousey fear; true humility, not false modesty; “a humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense while being free from any desire for revenge or retribution.” (John MacArthur’s New Testament Commentary)

How do we personally measure up to these standards? Let’s explore this divine strength in the Scripture by reading Psalm 37.

We see how Matthew 5:5 relates directly to Psalm 37:11. It says, “The meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” So, what does meekness mean in this Psalm and what does it have to do with God? Let’s read verses 5-8:

“Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.”

Psalm 37:5-8 NKJV

A portrait of meekness…

  • COMMIT: We commit everything to the Lord–our business, relationships, finances, health, fears–because we realize we are insufficient to deal with all the complexities of life. God is willing and able to sustain, guide, and protect us. (Verse 5a)
  • TRUST: We confidently place our trust in the Lord because we know God is on the side of the righteous. He will defend and vindicate us whenever the enemy attacks. (Verse 5b)
  • WAIT: This is perhaps the most difficult for us to do. Meekness means we are still and patiently wait for the Lord to bring His will to pass in our lives. In the middle of life’s storms, we are still and calm, trusting in God’s control and His willingness to work things out for our good. (Verse 7a)
  • DON’T FRET: Another challenge for sure! When the wicked go on their merry way in prosperity, it’s hard not to be upset or angry. Yes, it may feel very unjust and unfair. But since we trust God completely, it’s possible to rest in Him when we encounter opposition or setbacks. (Verse 7b-8)

If we have ever previously regarded gentleness as weakness, we now have a clear picture of its powerful, controlled strength. As Jesus taught in the Beatitudes, the meek will inherit the earth. What an amazing blessing awaits us as we understand how important it is to cultivate this strong fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

Next week we’ll look at how the Book of James defines meekness and also how we see it reflected in the lives of Moses and especially our Lord Jesus.

How is God growing seeds of gentleness in your soul and spirit?

Dear Father, thank you for teaching us that meekness is strength under control. It takes divine strength to answer with a soft word or to turn the other cheek. Help us to commit, trust, wait patiently, and not fret as You work out Your good will in our lives. May we grow in Your sweet gentleness each day. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 37: Faithfulness

Welcome to our fourth study about FAITHFULNESS. This week will wrap up our study on this fruit of the Spirit. Let’s examine God’s faithfulness by continuing to look at the last four covenants. There is one that is very special to us Christians–do you know which one?

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV)

Various Scriptures will be included in today’s lesson.

The Mosaic Covenant…

This covenant between God and Israel was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. God’s finger wrote out the Ten Commandments on tablets, and He also spelled out 613 laws for the Jews to live by. Breaking even one commandment made them guilty of all. The only path to forgiveness was the shedding of animal blood.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life.

Leviticus 17:11 NKJV

The Law contained blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. Signed and sealed by the Shechinah Glory in Exodus 24:1-11, this covenant was rendered conditional. (If you would like to read the 613 commandments, click HERE.)

The Land Covenant…

Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, unto the land that I will show you: and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and be you a blessing: and I will bless them that bless you, and him that curses you will I curse: and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV

The Land Covenant, an unconditional covenant, is still very much in effect. It is an expansion of the original Abrahamic Covenant and emphasizes the promise of the Land to God’s earthly Jewish people in spite of their unbelief. The Abrahamic Covenant teaches that ownership for the Land is unconditional. The Land Covenant, however, teaches that the enjoyment of the Land is conditional on obedience. (Read some provisions of the Land Covenant HERE.)

The Davidic Covenant…

The unconditional Davidic Covenant was between God and King David. You can read two accounts: the first emphasizes Solomon (click HERE) and the second emphasizes the Messiah (click HERE).

In summary, God made David four eternal promises: an eternal House or dynasty, an eternal Throne, an eternal Kingdom, and an eternal Descendant. This guarantees the eternal covenant since the Seed of David produces One who is Himself eternal: the Messianic God-Man, Jesus Christ.

The New Covenant and The Law of Messiah…

In relationship to the Church, the New Covenant is the basis of the Dispensation of Grace. In relationship to Israel, the New Covenant is the basis for the Dispensation of the Kingdom. The New Covenant itself is an unconditional covenant and therefore eternally in effect.

Behold, the days come,” says Jehovah, “that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them,” says Jehovah. “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says Jehovah: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them,” says Jehovah: “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 NKJV

This unconditional covenant is between God and the entire nation of Israel. (Please note that this covenant is not Replacement Theology. It applies to the Church but is not made with the Church.) Further, it is now a replacement of the Mosaic Covenant, considered broken. It promises the blessings of salvation and the regeneration of the nation of Israel. It provides for the forgiveness of sins, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and material blessings as well as the rebuilding of the Temple during the Millenial Age.

The New Covenant also contains the Law of Messiah: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2), and “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Although the Law of Messiah has some of the same commandments as the Law of Moses, it is different in many respects. We now have no Sabbath law (Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16) and no dietary code (Mark. 7:19; Romans 14:20).

Here is another difference. The Law of Moses said: “Love your neighbor as yourself “(Leviticus 19:18), making man the standard. The Law of the Messiah said: “Love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 15:12), making Messiah, who died for mankind, the standard.

Last, the Law of the Messiah provides a new motivation. Instead of the Law of Moses teaching, “Do, in order to be blessed,” the Law of the Messiah teaches, “You have been and are blessed, therefore, do.”

One New Man…

Here is a mystery: Gentiles have been grafted into this Jewish heritage and share in the blessings of this New Covenant. Two passages clearly explain it. The first is Ephesians 2:11-16: 

“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”

Ephesians 2:11-16 NKJV

Romans 11:17 also describes the concept of partaking:

“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, the Gentile believers.”

Romans 11:17 NKJV

The Olive Tree represents the place of spiritual blessings of the Jewish Covenants. The two types of branches partaking of the blessings are the natural branches, which are the Jewish believers, and wild olive branches, which are the Gentile believers.

However, the Blessing aspect, as highlighted by the New Covenant, included the Gentiles. The Church enjoys the spiritual blessings of these covenants, but not the material and physical benefits. The physical promises still belong to Israel and will be fulfilled exclusively with Israel, especially those involving the Land. However, the Church now also shares all spiritual benefits.

The blood of the Messiah shed at the Cross is the basis of salvation in the New Covenant. The blood of the Messiah ratified, signed, and sealed the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:1-10:18). The Church has become a partaker of Jewish spiritual blessings, but the Church is not a replacement for the Jewish people.

The Mosaic Covenant’s purpose…

An important purpose of the Mosaic Covenant jumps out at us. Is it possible for Man to keep all 613 commandments without breaking one of them? Of course not. Its purpose is to point out our sins and our need for a Savior.

Only Jesus lived a perfect life on earth without breaking one commandment. As God and Man, Jesus alone can identify with our human struggles, yet without sin. He is the Promise of God sent to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it.

The Land Covenant’s importance…

The special importance of the Land Covenant is that it reaffirms the title deed to the Land as belonging to Israel. Although she would prove unfaithful and disobedient, the right to the Land would never be taken from her. Furthermore, it shows that the conditional Mosaic Covenant did not lay aside the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant. It might be interpreted by some that the Mosaic Covenant displaced the Abrahamic Covenant, but the Land Covenant shows that this is not true.

The Impact of the Davidic Covenant…

The impact of the Davidic Covenant is its magnification of the Seed aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant. According to the prophecy, Messiah would come from the Seed of Abraham, the Tribe of Judah, the family or house of David.

The Benefits of the New Covenant…

Our gift of salvation comes through Jesus’s death and resurrection. He died for all mankind. Although the majority of Jews don’t believe in Jesus as Messiah now, they will believe in the future. In Romans 11, Paul taught that the Gentiles share in spiritual blessings, but these are Jewish spiritual blessings attained through the Jewish covenants.

As believers in Messiah, all spiritual blessings are available to us, whether we’re Jews or Gentiles. Through Jesus’s death on the cross for our sins, believers reap spiritual benefits that would never be ours otherwise. The eight covenants of the Bible pinpoint exact provisions, which are valuable for a full understanding of Scripture.

Thanks for joining me this month for a fascinating study about faithfulness. Not only are we to be faithful to God and to one another, but God shows His faithfulness to us through His covenants. I’ve learned a lot from studying God’s eight covenants–I hope you did too.

Next month I’ll be combining each of our last two fruits of the Spirit, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL, into two-week studies. I’m looking forward to concluding our year-long Bible study and hope you’ll join me in November.

Which covenant of God’s faithfulness means the most to you?

Dear Father God, we give You thanks for teaching us about Your holy covenants with Israel. As Christians, we also enjoy the blessings and benefits of them, especially the New Covenant. Thank You for Your faithfulness to us. We praise and glorify Your Name throughout all the earth. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 36: Faithfulness

Welcome to our third study on faithfulness. This week we’ll explore how God shows His faithfulness to us and how we experience it in our personal lives. Just as in a marriage ceremony, God makes a covenant to be a faithful husband to us. Let’s relish every moment with this covenant-keeping God who never breaks a promise and who vows to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”

Deuteronomy 7:9 NKJV

Today’s Scriptures are linked below in our study.

God’s Old Testament Covenants…

In the Holy Scriptures, God proves His faithfulness and the truth of His Word. Hebrews 6:18 states that God is not a liar, nor is He a promise-breaker of an unconditional promise He vows to fulfill. He keeps every covenant, every promise or foretelling that has or will come true. The Bible is full of one testimony after another of God’s faithfulness, which people still testify to today.

Did you know that the Bible mentions covenants between God and His people about 277 times? Deuteronomy 7:9 says “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9 NKJV).

Conditional versus unconditional...

A conditional covenant means God will fulfill His promise if Man is obedient to do his part first. Man’s failure to do so results in some type of punishment, but his obedience results in God’s blessings. The Edenic and the Mosaic Covenants are both conditional.

The Adamic Covenant, the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Palestinian or Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant are unconditional. These are dependant on God Himself and are a sovereign act of God to bring blessings to His people.

How are these covenants meaningful to us? Today we’ll discuss four: the Edenic, Adamic, Abrahamic, and Noahic. As we progress, be thinking about how each one affects your life.

The Edenic Covenant…

God first made a conditional covenant with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and spelled out the rules for a blessed life. However, they had to first obey God’s direction.

“And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:15-17 NK

The Adamic Covenant…

This unconditional covenant came about after Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Throughout the ages, mankind has been affected by this covenant, causing us all to be born in sin. God pronounced judgment on Adam, Eve, and the serpent as follows:


“And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed: he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.’

Unto the woman he said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you.’

And unto Adam he said, Because you have hearkened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.'”

Genesis 3:14-19

The Abrahamic Covenant…

God made several promises to Abraham, specifically to multiply his seed into a great nation. The token of this covenant is the male child’s circumcision on the eighth day after birth. This unconditional covenant is very lengthy, so I will quote one and link more Scriptures for deeper study.

“And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said, ‘By myself have I sworn, says Jehovah, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice.'”

Genesis 22:15-18; Genesis 12:11-3; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:14-17; Genesis 15:1-21; Genesis 17:1-21 NKJV

The Noahic Covenant…

God wiped out His creation of Man due to their rampant wickedness. However, He saved righteous Noah and his family along with pairs of all the birds and animals. The token promise of this unconditional covenant is the rainbow. Do you remember God’s promise every time you see a colorful bow in the sky?

“… I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.’ And God said unto Noah, ‘This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.'”

Genesis 9:1-17 NKJV

Our God demonstrates His faithfulness to us through His covenant-making and covenant-keeping. What impact do these promises have on your life? How has God personally shown you His faithfulness?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Your covenants. They prove Your love and eternal faithfulness to us, Your people. We bless Your Name, O God, for You are worthy of worship and praise. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 35: Faithfulness

Welcome back to our second study on faithfulness. This week we’ll be focusing on how faith comes alive through works. Although works alone don’t save us, they are important in relation to our faith. Let’s explore this important teaching by studying what James tells us in the New Testament.

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

James 2:26 NKJV

James 2:14-26

A review…

First, let’s review last week’s definition of faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV).

We know that faith isn’t wishful thinking. In fact, faith is probably the most practical possession we possess in our Christian walk. Do you realize that faith is a living thing, just like our physical bodies? Just as our bodies are dead without our spirits, our faith is also dead unless it shows action, proving it is alive.

James explains it by giving an example in James 2:15-16: “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” 

Helping others in need is a basic Christian work. All missionary and charity work flow out of our faith’s love for Jesus. We are all commissioned as believers to spread the gospel to those in our sphere. These noble works spark tangible life into our spirits, assuring us that the Lord is well pleased.

Faith versus works…

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14 NKJV).

James may come across as controversial with this question. In the Greek language, this question demands a negative answer. However, according to the Scriptures, we know that faith alone does indeed save us. But we need to realize that James is speaking to a specific group of Jews who, before Jesus died on the cross, only believed in salvation through works. His argument is an effort to base salvation on faith first, but second, to also show that works have an important place in the Christian walk. Christian belief can only motivate us one way–to do good works as part of our worship and love for our Lord and Savior.

Justification by faith alone…

Paul teaches that salvation is graciously extended to the Gentile as well as the Jew. He clearly tells us in Scripture that David and Abraham both agreed that salvation is through faith, not works:

“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works.”

Romans 4:5-6 NKJV

“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’”

Romans 4:3 NKJV

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

Romans 5:1-2 NKJV

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also…” 

Romans 3:27-29 NKJV

Saving Faith versus professing faith…

James is examining salvation is a different light. He sees it as a two-sided coin–as saving faith versus professing faith. For James, justification is by a faith that works—by a genuine faith that manifests itself in post-conversion works.

James explains that although a person may believe in God’s existence, that doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is saved. “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19 NKJV). We must first have a conversion experience by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Afterward, our faith grows and comes alive through good works.

John Calvin said, “Faith alone saves, but a faith that saves is never alone.” Thus, James’s question is not simply “Can faith save?” but as the Greek text may suggest, “Can that faith save him?”

Works’ benefits…

“For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

Romans 14:10 NKJV

Although good works don’t produce salvation, they are going to matter after we get to heaven. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, believers’ works will be judged by fire, and each one will receive rewards based on them. However, if a Saint has no works or if all his works are burned up, that person will still be saved.

“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 NKJV

Abraham’s justification…

James refers to Abraham’s justification, citing his willingness to sacrifice his son on the altar as his work to prove his faith.

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”

James 2:21-24 NKJV

I hope James’s teaching has inspired us to put our faith to work! Although works cannot save, we are commissioned by the Lord to go forth doing good and helping others as we are enabled. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our lost and dying world, spreading the gospel of the Good News. Let’s remember Jesus’s promise to us to reward every good work:

“‘And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.'”

Revelation 22:12 NKJV

How do good works prove your faith?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us that we all need to breathe life into our faith by doing good works. May we be inspired to serve You more by sharing our faith and ministering to one another. May we have acceptable, pleasing works to lay at Your feet at the judgment seat of Christ. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 34: Faithfulness

Welcome to October’s first study on FAITHFULNESS. This week we’ll more fully understand what faith is and how it operates in our lives. The Apostle Paul explains it by giving examples from the beginning of creation to Old Testament heroes. Let’s discover how God is faithful to us and how we can become more faithful toward Him and to one other as we grow in this seventh fruit of the Spirit.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

Hebrews 11

Faith defined…

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…what does that mean to us?

Faith is having absolute confidence that the Lord will do what He has promised. Not simply wishful thinking, but the absolute conviction that God is willing and able to accomplish all He has promised to us, regardless of our circumstances or obstacles that may look impossible to overcome. Through the ages, the saints of old learned that our confidence in Him is never in vain, for “He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).

Faith at the dawn of history…

The invisible Word of God formed our universe and our world. God’s Word is the substance of faith out of which all visible worlds have come. That fact alone negates the man-made theory of evolution, which proposes that a “big bang” created our universe (see Hebrews 11:3).

Abel’s testimony still speaks to us today. God accepted his animal sacrifice as an act of faith, declaring it righteous, although He didn’t accept his brother Cain’s (see Hebrews 11:4).

Noah believed God’s warning of unseen things to come and faithfully built an ark according to God’s direction. Noah “became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (see Hebrews 11:7).

Enoch was miraculously translated to heaven without dying. He had a testimony of being pleasing to God, which testified to his great faith. Paul sums it up: “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” (see Hebrews 11:5-6).

Abraham and Sarah…

Has God ever called you to leave your home and travel by faith to an unknown destination? Like a bride traveling to a foreign country, she trusts that her husband is waiting for her and will take her to his home where he will love, protect, and provide for her.

So went the story of Abraham. God called him to leave his homeland to follow His leading to a future Promised Land. Abraham’s willingness to believe the promise without first seeing it (2 Corinthians 5:7) proves his great faith. For us, too, living by faith means walking forward in obedience to God’s voice and trusting Him for His provision and safe arrival to the destination He has prepared (see Hebrews 11:8-10).

Abraham wasn’t the only one with great faith. His wife, Sarah, proved hers when she believed the promise that she would conceive a son in her old age. God rejuvenated their bodies to be able to conceive and bear this child whose descendants would be as numerous as the stars–the origin of the Jews, God’s chosen people (see Hebrews 11:11-12).

But the story doesn’t stop there. When God tested Abraham’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice his son of promise, his only son Isaac, God stopped him when he was seconds away from plunging the dagger into Isaac’s heart (see Hebrews 11:17-19). Abraham had believed that God wasn’t negating the promise of multiplying his seed through Isaac but would raise Isaac from the dead. Abraham couldn’t know then that God had future plans involving His own Son, Jesus, the final sacrifice for the sins of mankind whom God would raise from the dead.

The Faith of Moses…

What a glorious story of faith! Not only did his parents hide Baby Moses, refusing to put him to death and allowing him to be adopted by Pharoah’s daughter, but Moses also forsook the life of Egyptian royalty as an adult.

Later he obeyed God’s call to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. Moses witnessed God’s plagues of judgment on Pharoah when he kept refusing to let the Jews go worship in the wilderness. He watched God split the Red Sea, providing dry ground for them to cross over as they escaped the pursuing Egyptians and their enemy’s subsequent drowning. Moses experienced one miracle after another during their forty-year journey of faith (see Hebrews 11:23-29).

Overcoming Faith…

Paul cited several more examples of heroes of the faith for our encouragement (see Hebrews 11:30-40). So many have gone before us and set great examples for us to follow. Faith is truly a divine walk with God down the path of life. That’s how we learn to trust Him and walk boldly in our faith.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. As we hope in God, we know that He will bring forth the evidence in His timing. Are you living by your faith today, hoping and believing for something not yet seen?

Dear Father God, thank you for being a faithful God we can trust. May we obey Your voice each day and walk a walk of faith. We claim 1 John 5:4: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 33: Goodness

Welcome to our fourth and final study on the sixth fruit of the Spirit, GOODNESS. Goodness is a main attribute of God, and all His promises for us are good. As children of God, we have the legal right to claim every one of them for our lives. Which promises are you standing on?

“And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises.”

2 Peter 1:4

This week we will have our scriptures attached to each category of God’s promises. You can read each one by clicking directly on the scripture reference.

Right now the hymn, “Standing on the Promises of God,” is playing in my memory. Our church frequently sang it on Sunday mornings–such a good reminder as we began a new week. Let’s refresh our spirits as we begin this new week by remembering some of God’s good promises from His Word.

A long life…

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Exodus 20:12 NKJV

See Psalm 34:11-14

Good plans for our lives…

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV

More scriptures: Romans 8:28, Psalm 103:2-5.

Redeemed through salvation in Christ…

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9 NKJV

Also see John 8:16, Revelation 3:5, Romans 10:9-10, Romans 6:23.

Blessed with His love and peace…

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV

More references: Isaiah 54:10, Psalm 86:5, Proverbs 1:33, John 14:27, Romans 8:37-39.

Strengthened to be victorious overcomers…

“He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:29-31 NKJV

Additional scriptures: Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:1-3

Delivered out of trouble…

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,

Hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted in them.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He delivered them out of their distresses.

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

Psalm 107:1-3, 5-6, 8-9 NKJV

See Isaiah 54:17, John 8:36, Psalm 34:17

Blessed through tithing…

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.”

Malachi 3:10 NKJV

Provision for our physical needs…

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Matthew 6:26 NKJV

Also Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:31-33

A place prepared for us in heaven…

“‘In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.'”

John 14:2-3 NKJV

Healing the land…

“‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.””

II Chronicles 7:14 NKJV

More scriptures: Genesis 9:8-17, Genesis 8:22

The benefit of discipline…

“Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. “

Proverbs 22:6

Also see Hebrews 12:3-11

Trusting God for direction…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

The list of promises continues and is longer than I could possibly write here. Which promises are you standing on? If not mentioned above, please share the ones that are special to you.

Nothing is more powerful than praying God’s Word back to Him. Please join me in Paul’s prayer of blessing found in Ephesians 3:16-21.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:16-21 NIV

What a glorious ending to this fruit of the Spirit! Rehearsing God’s promises refreshes our hearts and minds. No matter what you may be dealing with in your personal life today, Jesus is the answer. Pray His promises back to Him. Stand firm and be encouraged. God will always bring His Word to pass, and His Word never fails. We can trust God completely.

Next month we will be studying about one of my favorite fruits–FAITHFULNESS. I’m looking forward to October, and I’ll be saving you a seat on the “Front Porch!”

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 32: Goodness

Welcome to our third study about GOODNESS. When Jesus walked the earth, His life fully reflected His Father’s perfect goodness. This week we’ll look at some of the stories focusing on Jesus’s words and actions from the New Testament. Pull up a chair and let’s get started!

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”

Matthew 9:35 NKJV

Matthew 13

While on earth, Jesus reflected the goodness of God through His teaching ministry and healing the sick.

Teaching in parables…

During the three years of Jesus’s earthly ministry, He began by preaching the Sermon on the Mount. (Click HERE to read the beginning part–the Beatitudes.) The crowds were astonished by the wisdom, truth, and authority of His teachings. He continued to attract crowds wherever He traveled, and He used parables to explain God’s kingdom.

“On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables…”

Mathew 13: 1-3 NKJV

The parable of the sower…

Do you recall the parable of the sower? (Click HERE to read it.) After Jesus finished speaking, the disciples asked Him why He only spoke to the masses using these metaphors.

“He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled…’ ” 

(click HERE to read the prophecy of Isaiah).

Matthew 13:11-14 NKJV

Jesus concluded by assuring His disciples, as believers, of their special standing with God.

“‘But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.'”

Matthew 13: 16-17 NKJV

The purpose of parables was to reveal as well as conceal the truth. Just as in Isaiah’s day, hiding the truth was a judgment for unbelief.

Matthew 13 has several other parables we can study. Verses 13 through 18 explain the spiritual meaning of the sower (click HERE to read). As believers, ask the Lord to reveal their mysteries to you, and He will.

Healing the sick…

One of the main displays of Jesus’s ministry was the miraculous healing of the sick. He opened blind eyes, unstopped deaf ears, made the lame walk, healed lepers, cast out demons, and raised the dead.

The Gospels document many examples of stories about healing. Here are a few of my favorites.

The pool of Bethesda…

Remember the man who had been sick for thirty-eight years? An angel would suddenly stir the waters of the pool, and the first person into the water was healed. The man couldn’t step into the pool fast enough when the waters began to churn, so he never received his healing. Click HERE to read about the miracle Jesus performed for him.

Blind Bartimaeus…

Stories about healing the blind are special to me since my mother and several other relatives suffer from eye diseases. Jesus healed a blind man near Jericho who begged the Lord to restore his sight. Click HERE to read the story.

A demon-possessed man…

Who hasn’t read the famous story of Jesus casting out demons, called Legion, into a herd of swine? Only Christ and His disciples had the power then to cast out demons, but on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to dwell in and give all believers the same power. Click HERE to read about this dramatic deliverance.

A deaf-mute …

As Jesus traveled by the Sea of Galilee, they brought a deaf-mute man to Him for healing. Read how Jesus opened his ears and made his speech normal HERE.

How has God’s goodness blessed your life?

Do you have a favorite parable? Would you share it and explain its hidden mystery?

Or…

Do you need healing in your body? Or have you or someone you know ever received the touch of Jesus and been healed? Would you share your testimony with us?

Dear Lord, thank you for God’s goodness in Your teaching ministry and Your miracles of healing. We praise You for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom of God to us. May Your Holy Spirit empower us to share the gospel with the world and draw the lost to the cross of Christ. In Jesus’s Name we pray. Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens © Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 31: Goodness

Welcome back to our second study on GOODNESS. God’s goodness is evident throughout all of His creation. This week we’ll look at the genesis of our planet and His masterpiece: Man. In spite of the Fall of Man, God’s masterplan to redeem us overflows with His goodness.

“And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”

Genesis 1:31 a NKJV

Click HERE to read Genesis 1-3

What is the truth about creation?

Who is the creator of the universe and the earth? In public school, the textbooks tell a man-made story that denies a creator in its Big Bang Theory. The true story, however, is recorded in the Word of God.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Genesis 1:1 NKJV

On the first day, God created light to separate the darkness and called them Day and Night. “And God saw the light, that it was good; ” (v.4). This is the first reference to a reflection of goodness, one of God’s main attributes.

The next reference to goodness happens on the third day of creation when God commanded the dry land–the earth–to appear, separated from the seas. He also created mature fruit trees with its seeds as well as seed-bearing plants. “And God saw that it was good” (v.10 and v.12).

On the fourth day, He created the sun, the moon, and the stars. Their purpose was manifold: to map out signs and seasons, and to mark days and years. The sun ruled over the day and the moon over the night. “And God saw that it was good” (v. 18).

God created all sea life and birds on the fifth day. “And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth’ ” (v.21-22).

On the sixth day, God created cattle, creeping things, and beasts of the earth. “And God saw that it was good” (v.25).

God’s masterpiece…

God’s masterpiece, however, was the creation of man, made in the image and likeness of God the Holy Trinity.

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’


And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”

Genesis 1:26-31 NKJV

And on the seventh day, God rested. The creation of the heavens and earth was finished. He blessed and sanctified this day “because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:3 NKJV).

The second chapter of Genesis describes Adam and Eve living in a perfect world inside a lush garden. God had lavished his goodness on everything He had created (Click HERE to read).

After reading this chapter, wouldn’t we expect to read, “And they all lived happily ever after?” So, what spoiled their perfect life?

The Fall of Man

The serpent deceived Eve to eat from the one forbidden tree in the garden, and she shared the fruit with Adam. In an instant, shame overcame them as they saw that they were naked. They didn’t experience physical death, but instead, they died spiritually, which resulted in separation from God. (Read the account HERE).

We can only imagine how their sin must have broken the heart of God. But out of His goodness poured justice and mercy, a two-sided coin. You can’t have one without the other.

God’s judgments flow from His goodness…

God first dealt out just punishments to Adam, Eve, and the serpent. Below is a summary of His judgments (Click HERE to read the Scriptures).

  • God cursed the serpent to always crawl on his belly and eat dust. But He also promised that the head of the serpent would be crushed in the future through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross (Genesis 3:14-15).
  • Eve would experience pain and sorrow in childbirth, and her husband would rule over her (Genesis 3:16).
  • The ground would be cursed on account of Adam’s sin, and he would have to do hard labor in the fields to grow food (Genesis 3:17-19).

God’s mercy and lovingkindness flow out of His goodness…

God’s new creation, Man, had created a terrible problem–sin now separated them. God had the power to erase His creation and begin over, but He didn’t. He mercifully planned to redeem mankind by sending Jesus to pay the price for sin that Man couldn’t pay.

The first blood sacrifice…

A holy God cannot look on sin without a blood covering. Out of His innate goodness, God showed His mercy and lovingkindness by first covering Adam and Eve’s nakedness. This is the first recorded blood sacrifice for sin in the Bible. “Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21 NKJV).

Today God covers us with His blood when we repent of our sins at the foot of the cross. As the song lyrics say, “Oh, the blood of Jesus that washes white as snow.” Jesus died once for all sins of mankind, and payment was made in full to satisfy our debt to God. Now we can commune fully with our Father in heaven and be secure in our heavenly home when we die.

What Satan meant for evil in the Garden of Eden, God turned around for our good. As a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, we’re all born in sin, but each of us has the opportunity to repent and accept Christ as Savior and Lord. Let’s be grateful and thank God for His goodness toward us.

Psalm 33:1-8…

“Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
For the word of the Lord is right,
And all His work is done in truth.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

Psalm 33:1-8 NKJV

Dear Father, we thank you for being such a good, good God to us. Thank you for creating the earth and everything in it to fully enjoy. We didn’t deserve Your mercy and grace, but You loved us enough to save us from our sin and redeem us back to You. We praise You for rescuing us from spiritual death and making us alive through Jesus, our Savior. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
© Karen Jurgens. All rights reserved

The Fruit of the Spirit Study week 30: Goodness

Welcome to our September study about GOODNESS. Let’s begin by grasping the meaning of this attribute of God. Isn’t it amazing that God grants us His goodness as one of the fruits of the Spirit? God’s goodness is a vast concept that blesses us richly.

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.”

Psalm 118:1 NKJV

Let’s define GOODNESS…

What exactly does GOODNESS mean? We might refer to someone as a “good person,” or write “good” across the top of a student’s graded essay. A rich dessert or a juicy steak may taste “good.” Or we might proclaim that a home run or touchdown was “good.” In Texas, we usually reply “good” when asked how we are doing (yes, it’s bad grammar, but it sounds right in Texas).

God’s goodness is different…

We use “good” to describe all sorts of things, but in relation to describing God, it falls short. God is far above our ways and thoughts. Let’s first look at some definitions to better understand this attribute of God’s divine GOODNESS.

  • Goodness is the central essence of God’s character.
  • It means God is not evil, abhors evil, and cannot be tempted by evil.
  • He uses divine wrath and divine justice to manifest His goodness to His creation.
  • His mercy flows out from His goodness.
  • God’s kindness flows out from His goodness.
  • His holy love for His people flows out from His goodness. He saves us through Christ, who is the propitiation for our sins.

God, Himself, is the definition of GOODNESS because He is naturally good in and of Himself. He cannot lie or deceive because He is Truth. God created the universe and its worlds, including our planet, and declared that it was good. Everything holds together in nature perfectly because of His goodness.

Jesus defined goodness…

A rich young ruler asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. “So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God’ ” (Luke 18:19 NKJV).

Let’s take time this week to focus on God and His perfect goodness. Let’s soak our minds and hearts in King David’s beautiful psalm that describes this divine attribute.

Psalm 145…

I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
And I will declare Your greatness.
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
And shall sing of Your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.
The Lord is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works.

(Click HERE to read the rest of Psalm 145.)

Psalm 145:1-10 NKJV

How has God revealed His goodness to you?

Dear Father, thank you for revealing your divine goodness to us through nature, Your kind actions, and Your free gift of salvation through Your Son Jesus. Plant seeds of goodness in our hearts today so we can reflect Your divine nature in our lost and dying world. May Your goodness draw all people to the cross of Christ. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 29: Kindness

Welcome to our last week of study on the fruit of KINDNESS. We will conclude the month of August with the story of Ruth and Boaz. Not only is it a romance, but it’s also a redemption story of God’s salvation for mankind.

“But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.'”

Ruth 1:16 NKJV

Click HERE to read the book of Ruth.

What a time to be alive! The story of Ruth took place about one hundred years before David took the throne as King of Israel. It was a time of hardship and famine in the pagan Moabite culture. But it was also a time when God showed His lovingkindness and faithfulness to redeem unexpected partners in amazing ways.

Here’s the story…

Naomi’s story begins with her husband, Elimelech, and their two sons–Mahlon and Chilion–and ends with her two daughters-in-law. Originally from Bethlehem in Judah, Naomi’s family left their Jewish homeland due to famine and settled in Moab. (Click HERE for historical background on Moab.) Over a ten-year period, her husband and sons died in a foreign land that worshiped false gods, leaving her with only Orpah and Ruth, both Moabitesses.

A patriarchal culture…

The culture of that day was patriarchal, so a woman without a husband or male relative was doomed to starvation or worse. With no protection or provision, she would be completely dependant on the kindness and generosity of others to survive. Facing a hopeless future, Ruth did the only thing she could: she departed for her homeland.

Naomi directed her daughters-in-law to return to their own families and their own gods. Orpah left, but Ruth clung to Naomi, promising to stay with her and become a worshipper of the God of Israel.

Ruth’s sterling character…

Upon their return to Bethlehem, Ruth set out to make a living for her and Naomi by gleaning in the barley and wheat fields. Ruth became known for her chaste character and her sacrificial loving kindness toward her mother-in-law. One day, Ruth carried jars of barley to Naomi, who discovered that Ruth had gleaned in the fields of Boaz, a close relative.

One night, Boaz was going to winnow barley at the threshing floor. Following Naomi’s instructions, Ruth washed, anointed herself, and dressed in her best clothes.

“So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law instructed her. And after Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was cheerful, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came softly, uncovered his feet, and lay down.
Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet. And he said, ‘Who are you?’
So she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.’
Then he said, ‘Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich.'” 

Ruth 3:6-10 NKJV

A happy ending…

Ruth’s action moved Boaz to redeem the property of Elimelech and marry Ruth in order to raise up children to her deceased husband. Isn’t it interesting how God grafted a Moabitess into the lineage of Jesus?

Redemption…

In order to understand this story, we must begin with grasping how redemption worked in a patriarchal culture. God established the Israelites in the knowledge that He was their Father or Patriarch. As such, God desired to redeem the family in relationship to one another and to Him. So, Boaz is a picture of God Himself working out our redemption.

Ruth was brought into Israel’s community, redeemed as the wife of Boaz. But it didn’t stop there. She also joined in the redemption process for others, becoming the great-grandmother of King David. By God’s redeeming a foreigner, we know ahead of time that Jesus would also redeem all men to Himself, not just Jews. The family of God embraces all mankind with lovingkindness and without exclusivity.

How does the story of Ruth show God’s loving-kindness?

We are sojourners born into a sinful world, like Ruth. Left there, we will spiritually starve and remain dead in our sins. But God’s loving-kindness invites us to come home to Him. Like Boaz, He redeems us through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He pays the price for us to belong to Him and become His bride. The best part? We will worship Jesus and reside forever in His heavenly kingdom.

Hasn’t this month been an enlightening study? The KINDNESS of God relates directly back to salvation in each story we’ve examined. Let’s praise our heavenly Father for loving us in our sinful state yet extending His hand of KINDNESS to us through the blood of Christ shed at the cross. It’s only through His grace that we can be redeemed from the curse.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Ephesians 2:4-9 NKJV

Which part of Ruth’s story impacts you the most?

Dear Jesus, thank you for teaching us about Your kind and loving character through the story of Ruth and Boaz. Although we are all born into sin, You are here to redeem us and make us Your bride. We give You all the praise, honor, and glory because You are worthy, dear Lamb of God. In Your precious Name we pray, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 28: Kindness

Welcome to our third study about KINDNESS. This week we’ll be looking at King David who, out of love for his dear friend Jonathan, extended kindness to Jonathan’s crippled son. Woven into this story is also the salvation message.

“So David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake’ ” (2 Samuel 9:7 NKJV).

Click HERE to read 2 Samuel 9

Here’s the story…

After King Saul and his son Jonathan were killed on the battlefield, David reigned as king over all of Israel. Although Saul was David’s enemy, Jonathan and David were the closest and dearest of friends.

Years after David had been reigning as king, he called for Ziba, a servant from Saul’s house, to ask if there were any relatives of Saul who were still alive. David’s motive wasn’t to murder anyone–which would have secured David’s title to the throne. Instead, his noble motive was to show God’s kindness for Jonathan’s sake.

Ziba informed the king that Jonathan’s crippled son named Mephibosheth lived in Lo Debar. (For the backstory on how he became crippled, click HERE.)

An unexpected gift of kindness…

So, David sent for Mephibosheth who, fearing he might be killed, prostrated himself at the king’s feet. But David assured him that he only intended to show him kindness for his father’s sake. David restored to him all of Saul’s land and instructed Ziba and his fifteen sons to be Mephibosheth’s servants.

“And the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, ‘I have given to your master’s son all that belonged to Saul and to all his house. You, therefore, and your sons and your servants, shall work the land for him, and you shall bring in the harvest, that your master’s son may have food to eat.”

2 Samuel 9:9-10a NKJV

David’s last instruction amazed everyone. Not only was Jonathan’s son reinstated with his family’s wealth (that now legally belonged to David), but also Mephibosheth ate every meal at the king’s table for the rest of his life.

How is this story of David and Mephibosheth reflected in the salvation story?

We are all like Mephibosheth– outcasts born into sin, living outside the kingdom of God.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:23 NKJV

Out of David’s love for Jonathan, he sought to bless any of Jonathan’s relatives left in the land. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, goes to look for us out of His lovingkindness and brings us to Himself.

“…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Luke 19:10 NKJV

David legally restored King Saul’s lands and servants back to Saul’s grandson. God makes us joint-heirs with His Son through salvation at the cross.

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”

Romans 8:16-17a NKJV

King David invited Mephibosheth to dine at his table for the rest of his life. God invites us to eat at His table with Christ for eternity and forever live in His presence.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
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 23:5-6 NKJV

How has the kindness of God changed your life?

Dear Lord, we praise You for seeking us out, inviting us to live in Your kingdom and to eat with You at your table. Thank you for Your precious gift of salvation through Jesus’s blood, shed for us at the cross. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 27: Kindness

Welcome to our second study about KINDNESS. This week we’ll be reading about the Good Samaritan who showed kindness to a man, beaten and robbed, as he traveled down the road. We’ll also discover some deeper meanings of this parable and how it relates to our lives today.

“ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”(Luke 10:27 NKJV)

Luke 10:25-37 (Click HERE to read)

A certain expert in the law stood up in the temple and tested Jesus by asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus also tested the lawyer by asking him to explain what the law said about it.

“So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

(Luke 10:27 NKJV)

Jesus commended him for answering correctly, but the lawyer wanted to argue in his own defense by asking, “And who is my neighbor?” (v.29) Apparently, the lawyer felt justified in choosing from an exclusive circle. That question was a springboard for Jesus to answer with a parable.

Here’s a short summary: A man traveled from Jerusalem to Jericho and encountered a band of thieves who beat and robbed him, leaving him naked and half-dead. A priest and a Levite both passed him by, but later a Samaritan stopped to help. He applied first-aid to his wounds and carried him on his animal to an inn where he cared for him. The next day the Samaritan paid the innkeeper to take care of the man in his absence and promised to pay him any additional costs upon his return.

Then Jesus questioned the lawyer. “ ‘So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?’ And he replied, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’  Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ ”

(Luke 10:36-37 NKJV)

Who is my neighbor?” (v.29)

Jesus rubbed more salty truth into the lawyer’s query by choosing a Samaritan as the hero of the parable. A Samaritan was the most unlikely person to help a Jew according to the culture of that day.

Notice that right off the bat, the Lord brought in two clashing cultures who had no dealings with one another. (To understand why not, click HERE to read last week’s post.) So, right away this story must have sounded unbelievable to the ears of the scholarly lawyer.

But Jesus had a solid point–that even those who should have been helping their own pretended not to see their suffering.

What was Jesus teaching us? Everyone is our neighbor. God extends His lovingkindness to all mankind, even to His enemies, and we must also emulate His mercy.

A deeper meaning…

This parable not only teaches us to be kind to all men–it has a deeper meaning, a picture of salvation. God, out of His lovingkindness and compassion, sent Jesus to rescue us out of the distress and hopelessness of our sinful lives.

  1. The beaten, naked, half-dead man on life’s road is each one of us.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”

(John 10:10a NKJV)

2. The priest and the Levite represent the lawyer but can signify anyone who reacts to others’ needs with a cold heart.

“And He said, ‘Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.’ ”

(Luke 11:46 NKJV)

3. The Samaritan is Jesus, a kindhearted, compassionate person who doesn’t hesitate to help anyone in need, whether in or outside his cultural or religious circle. He accepts us just as we are.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

(Galatians 6:2 NKJV)

“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin.”

(James 2:8-9 NKJV)

4. When we become saved, the Lord pours in the oil and the wine to heal all our inner and outer wounds, and he binds us up with His tender mercies.

“Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old.”

(Psalm 25:6 NKJV)

5. He carries us to the inn, His house of worship where we are sheltered and protected. There we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ during our earthly sojourn.

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

(Ephesians 2:19 NKJV)

6. The Innkeeper is God the Holy Spirit. Jesus paid the price to Father God for our sins by shedding His blood and dying on the cross in our place. We reside on earth with our Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to care for us until Jesus returns to take us to heaven.

“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

(I John 2:2 NKJV)

Jesus is our picture of true kindness…

Jesus gives us a picture of what true kindness looks like. Like Him, let’s show mercy to kindly help others in need. Let’s lead the lost to the lovingkindness of the cross.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

(Ephesians 2:4-7 NKJV)

Do you love God with all your heart, soul, strength, mind–and your neighbor as yourself?

How do you show God’s lovingkindness to your neighbor?

Dear Lord, We love and praise You for being our Good Samaritan and giving us eternal life. May we generously give Your love away to those who are hurting and always love our neighbors as ourselves. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 26: Kindness

Welcome to August! This month we will resume our study on the Fruit of the Spirit, continuing with KINDNESS. This week we’ll read about the kindness Jesus showed to the Samaritan woman at the well. Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord shows us, the undeserving, the same compassion?

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst’” (John 4:13 NKJV).

Click HERE to read John 4:1-43.

Traveling through Samaria…

Jesus and His disciples had to travel through Samaria on their way from Judah to Galilee. Jesus, weary from their trip, rested by Jacob’s well while his disciples went into the city to buy food. That’s when a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus, out of kindness, broke the customs of that day by asking her for a drink.

A conversation ensued between them, in spite of the fact that Jews never spoke to Samaritans. Using water as an analogy, Jesus piqued her curiosity: “’If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water’” (v.10).

“Sir, give me this water…” (v. 15)

Toting a heavy water pot was women’s work, so we can well imagine the lure of never having to do that back-breaking chore again. She swallowed the bait, asking Jesus for some of His “magic” water. But that’s when He knocked her off-balance with knowledge about her personal life. He said to her, “‘Go, call your husband and come here’” (v.16). When she answered that she had no husband, Jesus commended her answer. “’You have well said, “I have no husband,” for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly” (v. 17-18).

Thus began her journey of belief. The woman realized Jesus must be a prophet, and their conversation turned to the subject of worship. One of the main contentions between Samaritans and Jews involved their places of worship–Mount Gerizim as opposed to Jerusalem. Jesus countered that as for worship, neither the city Jerusalem nor the mountaintop mattered.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (v. 21-24).

“The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When He comes, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He’” (v. 25-26).

The woman ran home to tell everyone that she had found the Messiah. In turn, her witness led many in that town to also believe in Jesus as Savior. As Jesus’s kindness led one sinful Samaritan woman to drink from the fountain of living water, the door of salvation opened wide for many others.

In John 4:27, the disciples returned from their errand, bringing food for Jesus. Why were they so surprised to find the Lord conversing with a Samaritan woman? Prejudice has always existed throughout the ages, and Jesus’s day was no different. Jews had no dealings with Samaritans, and here’s why.

Jews v. Samaritans…

Like the Jews, Samaritans exist today and still live in Israel. Although they are a small sect, Samaritans are half-Jew and half-Gentile. Their origin dates back to the northern kingdom of Israel before the Jews were exiled to Babylon. During the seventy-year exile, the few Jews left in the homeland intermarried with Persians and Assyrians, thus forming the Samaritan race. They believe they are the true worshipers of God according to Jewish tradition, only accepting the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, as their holy Scriptures. They also claim Mount Gerizim as their place of worship, not Jerusalem. (Click HERE to read about the history of Mount Gerazim.)

When the Jews returned from Babylonian exile, they were greeted by the Samaritans who wanted to help rebuild the Temple. The Jews, however, refused to accept these “half-breeds” and their different religious practices, claiming they were no longer true Jews. Thus began a hostile animosity between the two people that still exists today, and Jewish travelers will still go out of their way to avoid crossing into Samaritans’ territory. (Click HERE to read more about the history of the Samaritans.)

A lesson in how to witness…

Jesus used everyday life to find opportunities to strike up conversations with ordinary people. The Samaritan woman had no idea she would go to that well to draw water and end up meeting the Messiah. As followers of Jesus, can’t we also use our daily routine as a platform for witnessing to the lost?

Jesus and His disciples were crossing land where Jews wouldn’t normally travel. Although Jews and Samaritans didn’t mix, Jesus also crossed the line of cultural prejudice by speaking to a woman. He showed kindness by not judging her for her sinful lifestyle, but by offering her eternal life through belief in Him as Savior.

The prophecy…

Prophecy is the accurate foretelling of a future event. It proves the truth of the Bible and Jesus’s identity as the Son of God. No fortune teller has ever predicted the future at 100 percent–that’s impossible. But, to date, God’s prophecies in the Word have come true at 100 percent—and the future ones will too. God cannot lie because His Word is Truth.

The Samaritan woman believed Jesus because He had correctly prophecied about all the things she had done. The others in the town initially believed because of what the woman had told them. But after listening to Jesus for two days, they said to her, “’It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world’” (v. 42).

The kindness of the gospel…

We may never know her name on earth, but this woman did a great thing that was recorded in the Bible–she ran to tell everyone that she had found the Messiah sitting at Jacob’s Well.

What about you? Has Jesus found you in your daily walk of life? Has He sat beside you and kindly offered you a drink from His eternal well of salvation that will never run dry?

He invites us to drink of His living water and then to run tell everyone that we’ve met the Savior of the world. The epitome of kindness is sharing the gospel with those who are lost.

Do you share the kindness of the gospel with others?

Dear Father, thank you for Your kind gift of salvation through your Son. May we be true worshipers of You, worshiping in spirit and truth. May we witness to others, especially those outside our social circles. Give us Your wisdom and discernment to speak the right words in those moments of opportunity, and draw all men to Yourself. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Summer Review: LOVE

Welcome to our final summer review lesson. This week we’ll review the theme of salvation, which is the ultimate gift of LOVE from God. Let’s travel back to the night when Nicodemus secretly visited Jesus to ask Him questions about how to be born again.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17 NKJV).

Click HERE to read today’s Scriptures.

Nicodemus, a Pharisee…

Nicodemus secretly met with the Lord one night, so he could question Him about His miraculous works. Can’t we identify with this Pharisee’s literal thinking? I know I can. Even with all his religious education and high position as a ruler of the Jews, he was baffled by Jesus’s statement that “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

God is spirit…

Jesus took the opportunity to teach Nicodemus the difference between the flesh and the Spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Jesus used the wind as an example to illustrate this principle. “‘The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit’” (John 3:8).

Spiritual birth, a mystery…

 Jesus explained spiritual birth to Nicodemus, a Torah scholar and intellectual who found Jesus’s teaching incredible. As was Jesus’s custom, He used an illustration to express what salvation is like–a mystery of God that we feel and witness but cannot see with the naked eye. Perhaps that’s why intellectuals, even today, find this concept difficult to understand because it can’t be dissected and examined under a microscope. It’s a spiritual place in our heart where true salvation takes place.

Sins’ consequences…

The consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience sentenced every person to be born into spiritual death, a condition which separates us from God. But God sent His Son into the world to save mankind and reunite us with the Father. God provided His only Son as the perfect sacrificial Lamb who laid down His life on the cross. Jesus took the sins of the world on Himself so we could be saved through His shed blood. Everyone who believes in the Name of Jesus will be born again, but those who don’t believe are already condemned.

Are you saved? Or not?…

How about you? If you’ve been born-again, would you share your salvation story with us? If not, pray this prayer below and let us know so we can rejoice with you! “‘Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents’” ~ (Luke 15:10).

Dear Heavenly Father, I’m a sinner, and I want to be born again. I confess and repent of my sins. Come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. Wash my sins away in the blood of the Lamb and robe me in Your righteousness. Thank you for making me alive in Jesus and writing my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Thank you for joining me this month to review some of our past posts about LOVE, JOY, PEACE, and PATIENCE. I’m looking forward to resuming our regular study in August, focusing on KINDNESS. How does the Lord show kindness to us? How can we show more kindness to others? Next week we’ll begin with the story of the Woman at the Well and learn how to win the lost to Christ. See you then!

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Summer Review: PATIENCE

Welcome to our fourth summer review! This week we’ll study about finding God’s patience. Today’s culture encourages prompt satisfaction of our needs and wants without any wait, so we’re out of practice when it comes to patience. Let’s explore Scripture and find the blessings that will be ours by planting and nurturing this important fruit of the Spirit.

“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 NKJV). 

James 1 (Click HERE to read).

How to respond to trials…

James instructs us to respond with JOY when we encounter trials in our lives. Although we aim to avoid them, we are all dealt those unavoidable cards at some point in life. Trials come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, and sometimes it seems as though they will never end. So, since they are inevitable, how should we handle them? Do they have a purpose?

God uses trials to test our faith. Our measure of faith may only be as small as a mustard seed, “‘but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade’” (Mark 4:32 NKJV). Our faith grows a little more through each test and has the capacity to become huge.

And the product of tested faith? Patience. James outlines the method for acquiring the precious fruit of patience as we endure trials. Here they are:

First, ask for God’s wisdom…

James tells us to first pray for God’s wisdom, which is free for the asking. “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6 NKJV). Doubt produces double-mindedness, which in turn robs us of God’s blessings. We can’t receive wisdom with one foot in the world and the other in the Spirit. Ask, believe, and rest in the assurance that you have received God’s free gift.

Wisdom will also help us when we encounter persecution. As Jesus faced persecution, so may we. The godly person prospers by enduring the noonday heat, which in turn scorches and wilts the persecutors of their faith. “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away” (James 1:9-10 NKJV). Wisdom will stand by us through trials and help us develop patience instead of a wrong response.

Second, understand the source of temptations…

Temptations can be hard to resist, and to do so requires spiritual strength. Does God send temptations to us?  No, not ever! We must never blame God for those trials because He is a good God who never tempts anyone to do evil. The true source of temptation comes from our own desires of the flesh. “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15 NKJV).

Last, embrace these for success…

  1. We must control our tongues and our tempers. Learning to practice silence and good listening skills help us walk in God’s righteousness. “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20 NKJV). Here “slow” means patient.
  2. As we humbly receive the Word that saves our souls, we must be doers of the Word and not merely hearers. “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25 NKJV).
  3. Practice pure religion and bridle the tongue. “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:26-27 NKJV).

Merriam Webster defines patience as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

In our hurry-up, instant world, our culture encourages impatience and entitlement. We abhor trials and try to avoid them at all costs.  God, on the other hand, performs a work inside each of us to give us patience, a precious fruit of the Spirit, to make us complete. However, we must slow down and learn how to wait. Learning how to develop patience may take a lifetime.

How can we develop patience in such an impatient world?  James gives us an example. “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient” (James 5:7b-8a NKJV).

What are you waiting on today? Whether it’s about finances, relationships, education, health, or something else—allow God to enlarge your faith. As you wait, you’ll be growing branches of patience inside your spirit. After all, “Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4 NKJV).

Dear Heavenly Father, help us face our trials with JOY. Grow our faith and produce the fruit of patience in our spirits. We thank you for making us perfect and complete through endurance in Jesus’s Name. Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Summer Review: PEACE

Welcome to our summer review about finding God’s peace. This week we’ll be exploring how to experience peace in our relationships with people. We’ll begin by looking at Moses and how he dealt with his huge assignment of leading the Israelites to the Promised Land–a 40-day journey that took an exhausting forty years.

“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7 NKJV).

Exodus 7-11 (Click HERE to read).

When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses balked. He claimed that neither the sons of Israel nor Pharaoh would listen to him due to his poor speaking skills. How could he find peace and have success in these new relationships God had thrust upon him?

“So the Lord said to Moses: ‘See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them (Exodus 7:1-5 NKJV).

But God had a plan. He appointed Aaron, Moses’s brother, as his spokesman. He also explained His plan from beginning to end and what Moses could expect from his relationship with Pharaoh.

Each time, Moses approached Pharaoh’s throne to make his request with humility coupled with God’s reassuring strength. God had already told Moses that Pharaoh would refuse to honor his word.

So, the plagues arrived as Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go: water turned to blood, frogs, lice, flies, diseased livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness– and finally– the death of every firstborn, which pried open Pharaoh’s chains and freed the Israelites.

Isn’t it interesting that God purposefully hardened Pharaoh’s heart? He tells us why:  “‘…so that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt’” (Exodus 11:9b NKJV). God always brings glory to His Name.

Therefore, God had a greater purpose in Moses’s relationship with Pharaoh. He also proved that He protects His children even while punishing His enemies. We witness this in two places: when Egypt was covered in darkness and when God smote the firstborn of the Egyptians. (Click HERE to read about the miracle of light and HERE to read about the miracle of Passover.)

God had forewarned Moses of His plan but also promised His peace and protection.“‘But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel’” (Exodus 11:7 NKJV).

How does this lesson about Moses help us find peace today?  We’re all called to be leaders, whether it’s in ministry, our jobs, or our families. No matter our title, we all must relate to someone above us as well as to those equal and below us in rank.

Relating to those superior in rank

Just like Moses approached Pharaoh, we should approach those who rank above us with respect, patience, and humility. But, in spite of our best efforts, what if our superiors treat us badly?  Moses must have dreaded the job of going before Pharaoh to continuously ask for freedom, but remembering God’s promises pushed him forward.

We, too, must go forward as God directs. If it’s God’s will, we must patiently endure harsh treatment, resting in God’s promises and the knowledge that He is in control.

Peter sums it up: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good” (I Peter 2:13-14 NKJV).

On the other hand, God is everyone’s superior. Moses found out the hard way that the Lord has boundaries he mustn’t cross. After God instructed Moses to speak to the rock so that it would yield water, Moses struck the rock twice instead of obeying the Lord. Therefore, God refused to allow him to set foot in the Promised Land. (You can read about it HERE.)

Relating to those equal in rank

Our relationships with friends and family may be sweet one day and sour the next.  These relationships may steal our peace the most. How can we learn to live without struggling against our loved ones?

Moses struggled in his relationship with his siblings, but God defended him. His older brother, Aaron, and his sister, Miriam, spoke against him because of the Ethiopian woman Moses had married. “So they said, ‘Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?’ And the Lord heard it” (Numbers 12:2 NKJV). God proceeded to give the two a dressing down for judging their brother, whom God honored as His faithful servant and with whom He spoke face to face. God’s punishment slammed Miriam by making her become leprous. After Aaron repented and appealed to Moses, Moses appealed to God for her deliverance. (Click HERE to read the story.)

Let’s heed wise advice from Peter for finding peace: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 2:8-9 NKJV).

Relating to those below us in rank

Do you gaze at those in charge of you and dream of future leadership?  It may look easy on the outside, but the responsibility is heavy. Those who lead others at work and/or children at home must learn excellent coping skills for maintaining peace.

As the Israelites roamed the desert for forty years, Moses had a plethora of duties as he cared for the people–and no peace. He dealt with everything–from their daily complaints to wars against various enemies they encountered on the way to the Promised Land. We can witness, for example, how Moses suffered over their demands for food (Click HERE) and for water:

“Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water, that we may drink.’ So Moses said to them, ‘Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?’ And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, ‘Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”’ (Exodus 17:2-4 NKJV).

Delegating authority is a good solution to attaining peace. As Moses experienced exhaustion and frustration from dealing with the people, God used Moses’s father-in-law to help find peace through governance. Jethro recognized that Moses couldn’t bear up under such a weight of responsibility and convinced him to get help. Read about Jethro’s advice HERE.

Peter shares the recipe for finding peace in every relationship

“For ‘He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers’” (1 Peter 3:8-12a NKJV).

Throughout our lifetimes, we’ll experience different relationships with people as varied as the stars. Let’s heed the Apostle Paul’s encouragement when he says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18 NKJV). 

How do you find God’s peace in your relationships?

Dear Father, we look to You for divine guidance and wisdom as we seek peace in our relationships. With your help, may we love one another and live in peace all our days. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Summer Review: JOY

Welcome to Week 10 where we’ve been studying the second Fruit of the Spirit, JOY. Last week we explored how JOY comes through trials in our lives. It’s a paradox for something so wonderful to come out of difficulty or suffering. (Click HERE to read Week 9) Where does JOY originate? Deep in our salvation, placed there the moment we say YES to Jesus. This week we’ll see what happens in heaven when just one sinner repents.

Memory Verse: Luke 15:10: “‘Likewise I say to you, there is JOY in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’”
Click HERE to read Luke 15:1-24

When tax collectors and sinners gathered around Jesus, the Pharisees and scribes criticized Jesus for allowing such men to be near Him. 
That sparked Jesus to relate three parables directed at these hypocritical Pharisees. 

The first one deals with a shepherd who leaves his flock of ninety-nine to seek for one that is lost. “‘And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing’” (v.5). But his JOY multiplies after returning home. He invites friends and neighbors to a party to celebrate with him over finding his one lost sheep.

The second parable tells about a woman who loses one of her ten silver coins.  She lights a lamp, sweeps her house, and searches diligently until she finds it. “‘And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’” (v.9)

The third relates the story of the prodigal son. After he squanders all his money, he finds himself working in a pigsty where even the pig’s food looks appealing to his empty stomach. After he comes to himself, he makes the long journey home to appeal to his father to make him as one of his slaves. 

Much to his surprise, his father runs out to meet him and welcomes him with a joyful kiss. “‘But the father said to the servant, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” And they began to be merry’” (v. 22-24).

Have you ever lost something of great value? I have. The situation caused my heart to canter and my mind to swirl in panic. I retraced my steps and got on hands and knees, feeling behind furniture and shining a flashlight into dark corners. Finally, my lost treasure was discovered–usually in the last place I looked. My relief turned to JOY, and my family and friends rejoiced with me.

What do these parables have in common? Probably something that has happened to each of us–something precious is lost and later is found. And the finders’ joy overflows to a celebration.

But the meaning is far deeper…

“‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me’” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV).

The lost sheep, coin, and prodigal son represent those who are lost in their sins but who find JOYful salvation at the cross of Christ.  Jesus uses these parables to show the Pharisees and scribes how God feels about one lost sinner. Each person is so special that God personally seeks out each one. Then He calls His angels in heaven together to rejoice with Him over every person who repents.

As an altar minister at my church, I have prayed with several people over the years for salvation. Through our tears, I remind them that the angels are celebrating JOYfully in heaven as well as writing their name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

There is no sweeter time of celebration on heaven or on earth than when a lost soul repents and meets Jesus as personal Lord and Savior. “The king shall have JOY in Your strength, O Lord; and in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!” (Psalm 21:1 NKJV) 

Can you share your story of JOY with us, either about your own salvation or the salvation of a friend or loved one?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making the salvation experience one that is full of JOY. May we feast on the JOY of our salvation and also rejoice with those whose salvation we witness. We ask You to send forth Your Spirit to draw in the Lost and use us as Your witnesses during these last days. In Your Son’s Name we pray, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Summer Review: LOVE

Welcome to the month of July! I’m pausing our study of the Fruit of the Spirit until August. In the meantime, we’ll be reviewing some of our past posts to refresh our spirits during this hot month. Pull up a chair on the “front porch” and enjoy a cool glass of lemonade as we dive into the theme of LOVE.

Memory Verse: “He said, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me’” (Genesis 22:12 NKJV).

Read: Genesis 22: 1-18 NKJV

Abraham’s obedience…

God tested Abraham by commanding him to take his only son, Isaac, to Moriah to offer him as a burnt offering to God. After a two days’ journey, he told the young men traveling with them, “’Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you’” (v.5). As they went up the mountain, Isaac asked his father, “’Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham said, ‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son’” (v.7-8).

The story of Abraham and Isaac parallels the future story of Jesus’s obedient sacrifice on the cross. God stopped Abraham from plunging the knife into his son’s body, and Abraham’s reward for His obedient faith was great. Read the climax of the story here.

Sacrifice is…

Sacrifice is defined by Merriam-Webster asan act of offering to a deity something precious especially, the killing of a victim on an altar.”

But in the case of Jesus, He was not a victim. He willingly laid down His life for our sins. That was the very reason He came to earth, to restore our salvation stolen by Satan in the Garden of Eden. Read about it here.

When Jesus walked the earth, He told His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35 NKJV).

Jesus added, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:12-13 NKJV).

Jesus, the supreme sacrifice…

Jesus complied with God’s request to become the supreme sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He willingly left his abode in heaven with the Father and the Holy Spirit and came into the world through the Virgin Mary. We praise and worship Jesus for His sacrifice on the cross where we are saved through His blood, and our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Choosing the assurance of eternity in God’s kingdom is an awesome gift.

Out of our overflowing love for our Savior, let’s generously demonstrate our love to one another through sacrifice. What better way for us to prove we are His disciples!

Have you ever sacrificed for someone else? Or has someone sacrificed for you? Please encourage us with your story.

Let’s conclude this week’s study with a look at the definition of LOVE as defined by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” ( v.4-8). To read the full chapter, click here.

I prayerfully leave you with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Lord, thank you for loving us enough to come to earth and lay down your life so we can be saved. May we love one another and sacrifice for our fellow man, and so prove to be Your disciples. In Your Name, we pray. Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 25: Waiting on the Lord

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study by Karen Jurgens Week 25 Patience

Welcome to our last week of study about patience. This week we’ll study how to be patient as we wait on the Lord. Waiting is proactive. We should be busy in the Lord’s service and fervent prayer, not only for ourselves but for others in similar circumstances.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Click HERE to read Luke 12:35-48 NKJV.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens

“Waiting on the Lord” means…

  1. Pray earnestly and seek God through disciplined prayer.
  2. Listen attentively to His voice by opening our spiritual ears to His leading.
  3. Rest in God’s sovereignty, trusting Him for the ultimate answer.
  4. Serve God while we wait by actively serving others.

And the result for waiting on the Lord? STRENGTH. (Isaiah 40:31)

  1. Inward strength: to persevere
  2. Upward strength: to mount up with eagles’ wings
  3. Outward strength: to run and not get weary
  4. Onward strength: to walk and not faint

Waiting on the Lord means being in a season where–what we’re waiting for–“IT”– hasn’t happened yet. During this time, we don’t sit back and do nothing, like waiting mindlessly in a line at the market. Instead, we proactively pray and seek God, the truest and most correct ways to wait on Him. Psalm 27 sums it up best:

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:13-14 NASB).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Pray, Trust, and Obey…

As we pray and seek the Lord, we must place all our faith in our good heavenly Father. We must trust in His sovereignty, for He alone is God. We are here to serve Him and bring Him all praise, worship, and glory through our obedience to His Word.

Here’s something I learned the hard way: we don’t have to understand everything first in order to obey God. We may still have unanswered questions, but that’s where trust comes into play.

Take Job, for example. Although he had lost everything and had lots of WHYS, he still worshiped in obedience. In the end, Job learned that God is Sovereign and can be trusted through the worst of trials. Remember…God blessed Job double for all he had lost. (Click HERE to read our study about Job during Week 23 if you missed it.)

The Parable of the Faithful Servant…

In this parable, Jesus compares waiting for the second coming of Christ to servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding. What is the parable’s advice?

“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them (Luke 12:35-37 NKJV).

As we wait on the Lord, may we faithfully serve one another, praying and showing Christian love…

Are you waiting on physical healing? James instructs us:

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:14-16 NKJV).

Are you waiting on financial provision? Pray for those who are also in material need. Isaiah 37:25 assures us we will have our needs met. The Apostle Paul tells us:

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV).

Are you waiting on a godly mate? Pray for others who seek a husband or wife. Following are some encouraging verses from Proverbs:

  • “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22 NKJV).
  • “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 12:4 NKJV).
  • “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.
    The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12 NKJV).

Are you waiting for a life’s situation to change? Jeremiah 29:11 is a favorite to cling to:

“‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you’, says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.'”

All Christians are waiting on the coming of the Lord. Here are some encouraging Scriptures.

The Ascension of Christ:

“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11 NKJV).

The Rapture of the Saints:

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.)

The Second Coming of Christ:

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God…And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:11-13, 16 NKJV).

How about you?

What is IT that you’re waiting for? As Christian brothers and sisters, let’s lift up one another in prayer. May you be blessed as you wait patiently on the Lord.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Dear Father in heaven, we are waiting on You. May we pray with discipline, listen with spiritual ears, rest in your sovereignty, and serve others while we wait. Strengthen us to run and not get weary, to walk and not faint. May we serve You faithfully and work diligently for Your kingdom. Thank you for growing our patience as we wait on You. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Thank you for joining me for our Fruit of the Spirit study. I’ll be taking off the month of July for summer vacation, but I’ll return in August when we’ll continue with KINDNESS. Each Monday in July, I’ll be sharing some of our past posts over Love, Joy, and Peace for you to enjoy in my absence. See you soon!

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 24: Sowing Patience

HeartWings Front Porch Bible Study Series June 17 Week 24

Welcome to our third lesson of study about patience. How do we prepare the soil of our hearts to plant and grow a mature crop of this fruit? Let’s learn from Jesus’s parable of the sower and the seed.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Patience by Karen Jurgens
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Parable of the Sower by Karen Jurgens
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Parable of the Sower Scripture Memory by Karen Jurgens

“But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15 NKJV).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Parable of the Sower Scripture to read by Karen Jurgens

Luke 8:4-15 NKJV

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Parable of the Sower Scripture to examine by Karen Jurgens

Jesus speaks in a parable…

What exactly is a parable? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s an allegory or a short fictitious story that teaches a moral or religious principle.

As an agrarian society, the people in Jesus’s day could easily identify with a story about farming. The sower in this parable scattered identical seed on four different types of soil, each yielding different results.

Same seed, different results…

Some seed fell by the wayside or the side of the road. People trampled over it, and birds devoured it before it had a chance to take root.

Some fell on the rock where plants sprang up immediately. But they withered and died just as fast due to a lack of water.

Some fell among thorns, which sprang up and choked out the new plants.

But the seed that fell on the good ground sprang up, producing a crop with a yield hundreds of times over.

“When He [Jesus] had said these things He cried, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’” (Luke 8:8b NKJV).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Parable of the Sower Scripture to discuss by Karen Jurgens

Why Jesus taught with parables…

The disciples asked Jesus why He spoke to the crowds only in parables. “And He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that “Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand”’” (Luke 8:10 NKJV).

Have you ever heard unbelievers remark that if they try to read God’s Word, it makes no sense? The Word springs from a spiritual source, not from the world’s cistern. That may seem counter-productive, but God’s Word is precious, and Jesus warns not to let “your pearls be trampled by swine” (Click HERE to read Matthew 7:6).

God’s Word provides ample explanation about salvation to draw us to the cross. Accepting Jesus into our hearts as Lord and Savior opens our spiritual eyes and ears to understand His Word. As believers, we cherish, study, and hide His sacred Word in our hearts.

As Jesus explained to His believing disciples, the Word of God produces varied results in different people due to the kind of soil in each person’s heart.

  • Some hear, but Satan comes to immediately steal it away so that it never has a chance to take root.
  • Others hear and receive the Word with joy, but as soon as trials or temptations arise, they fall away.
  • Many bear the cares of the world, along with the pursuit of wealth and pleasures, all which prevent them from bearing mature fruit.
  • But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear much fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15 NKJV).

What prevents us from bearing mature fruit…

  • Cares of the world: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6 NKJV).
  • The pursuit of wealth: “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:4-5 NKJV).
  • Worldly pleasures: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? … Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:1,4 NKJV).

The key to mature fruit…

And the most important ingredient? Patience. As we patiently serve the Lord, we must be steadfast while the fruit in our garden matures. Remember that a real gardener must hoe the soil and pluck weeds around the plants as he waits for the fruit and vegetables to mature to ripeness. So we must also patiently care for the Word as it grows in the good soil of our hearts.

Here are some tips that may help encourage you in your growth:

  • Listen to sermons often, not just once a week. The internet offers a myriad of sites where you can find a specific topic or a special minister. Many have YouTube videos you can watch online. Just type in what you wish in your search bar and see all the possibilities.
  • Listen to praise and worship music. There are many stations to fit your preferences on Pandora, for example, or you can download music from favorite artists to your device. Praise music lifts our spirits and lets us soar!
  • Too busy to sit down and read the Scriptures as often as you’d like? Download apps like BibleGateway. You can choose which translation you prefer and set it to read to you while you work or drive in your car. It’s a great way for your mind and heart to always be full of God’s Word.
  • Pray without ceasing. Talk to Jesus about everything because He cares about you–from your smallest to greatest concerns. He is waiting to have a conversation with you every day.

Are you growing patience in the good soil of your heart?

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Parable of the Sower Let's Pray by Karen Jurgens

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the parable of the sower. May the soil of our hearts be tilled and ready to receive your seeds of patience today. Let us flourish with the sweet rain of the Holy Spirit and let us bask in Your light as we grow mature fruit. We give You all the praise and the glory. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens James 5:16

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 23: The Patience of Job

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Welcome to our second lesson of study about patience. This week we’re focusing on the Book of Job. Of all stories involving patience shown through the worst trials imaginable, this man’s story takes first place. Let’s learn from his experience and apply that wisdom to our lives.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens

“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:12 NKJV).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Job 1-2 (Click HERE) / Job 42 (Click HERE)

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Probably no person on earth is as famous for enduring trials as Job. Job 1:1 tells us he was blameless, upright, feared God, and shunned evil. A godly man, he worshipped and sacrificed for the sins of his family on a regular basis. If anyone had favor with God, it would have been Job. On the surface, it appeared that Job was doing everything right.

Round One…

But in one day’s time, calamity struck out of the blue. He lost his oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, many of his servants, and all ten children. One by one, servants who had escaped each calamity came to him to report their master’s loss.

Why God allowed this to happen…

Why did God allow this to happen to an innocent, righteous man? God pulls back heaven’s curtain and allows us to witness something amazing–His conversation with Satan.

“‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’” (Job 1:8-11 NKJV).

God took Satan up on his challenge by allowing him to take Job’s possessions, but not to touch his body. Would Job curse God or not? Satan bet that Job would.

Job’s reaction…

“Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.’

In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-21 NKJV).

Round Two…

“So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life’” (Job 2:4-6).

In this second round, Satan tried to use Job to discredit God by inflicting Job’s body with boils from head to foot. As Job sat in ashes and patiently scraped himself with a piece of broken pottery, his wife criticized him in exasperation. “‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10-11 NKJV).

Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite…

When Job’s three friends heard about his adversity, they came to be with him and bring him comfort. For three days, they sat with their friend whom they hadn’t even recognized from a distance. For seven days and nights, they remained by his side, silent, witnessing his enormous grief.

From Chapters 3 through 37… (Click HERE to read)

To briefly summarize, the next thirty-five chapters involve the conversations of these four men. When they broke their silence, Job’s friends questioned his heart’s motives, declaring that God must be repaying him for sinful thoughts or actions. They defined God’s power and character with their limited understanding. Instead of bestowing comfort and grace to their suffering friend, they brought criticism and condemnation.

Job continually rebutted their arguments by defending his actions and motives. He argued that he had done nothing wrong to deserve such treatment by God, thus making his self-righteousness come into focus. He kept reiterating that he wanted a chance to sit down with God to argue his case.

Can you imagine his shock when God showed up and spoke to him out of the whirlwind?

From Chapters 38 through 42… (Click HERE to read)

Job got his wish—perhaps one just like our own–to debate God about his unjust trials. These four chapters are very much worth the read. Through them, we learn so much about our amazing God, His creative powers, and His sovereignty. They begin:

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me'”(Job 38:1-3 NKJV). (Click HERE to keep reading).

Throughout those chapters, God certainly dressed Job down. He quickly realized the debates with his friends had been utter nonsense. After God finished revealing His glory, majesty, and power, Job meekly responded.

“‘I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, “Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?”
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, “I will question you, and you shall answer Me.”

‘I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes’” (Job 42:2-6 NKJV).

The rest of the story…

True to His character, God was merciful and gracious. After Job prayed for his friends, God restored Job’s fortune two-fold. Here is the happy ending after the end of Job’s trials:

“Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold.

  Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.

After this Job lived one hundred and forty years and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days” (Job 42:11-16 NKJV).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Does God exempt us, His children, from trials?

Wouldn’t we assume that a person like Job, of such sterling character and strong integrity, would be untouchable to Satan’s plans of destruction? Perhaps Job’s story assures every descending generation that God doesn’t play favorites, and that obedience and godliness of character aren’t an insurance policy of protection against facing life’s trials. On the contrary, God exempts no one—not even His Son, who willingly died on the cross for our sins.

All humans have faults, and Job’s was his self-righteousness. But before we jump on the same bandwagon of criticism like his friends, let’s be honest…are we not also like Job? If while we’re living a righteous, obedient life to God and a trial suddenly manifests for no good reason, don’t we beg the same questions?

  • God, why do I cry out and You don’t answer?
  • What have I done to deserve this?
  • Why are the wicked allowed to get away with tormenting the righteous?
  • How can a holy God look on evil and do nothing?

What have you lost?

Like Job, you may have lost material possessions, loved ones, or your health. People close to you may criticize you for being a Christian and trusting God when you’ve lost so much. Wouldn’t we love to have a sit-down discussion with God so we could ask what the reason behind all our suffering is? We all have questions that may or may not be answered until we get to heaven, but we have to patiently wait until that day.

How to take heart in trials…

Whenever you feel discouraged, reread the Book of Job, for in it are God’s answers to the WHY’S. The fact that He is Sovereign God is a good start to understanding WHY. God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, and nothing can happen to us that He doesn’t allow. We are protected by His godly hedge, and our names are inscribed on the palm of His hand. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

All trials are for a purpose. I’ve personally learned that they are tests of faith that, once passed, will lead us to promotion to the next level. The patience we grow through them will be like steel—the kind Job possessed.

As we wait, take heart. In the end, the Lord is merciful and full of compassion. Every trial has an ending, and God is faithful to bring it to pass. God has a plan, and we must trust it.

How does Job’s story of faith help you grow patience in your life?

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Dear Father God, Thank you for teaching us about patience through the story of Job. May we trust you as You lead us through the trials of life. May we praise and worship You as we walk through those hard valleys, for You are always by our side. We pray in Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens Praying woman

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 22: Patience

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series June 3 Week 22

Welcome to June! This month we’ll be studying about patience. Today’s culture encourages prompt satisfaction of our needs and wants without any wait, so we’re out of practice when it comes to patience. Let’s explore Scripture and find the blessings that will be ours by planting and nurturing this important fruit of the Spirit.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series This Month's Theme Patience
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series This Week's Topic Patience in Trials
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Scripture Memory

“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 NKJV). 

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Let's Read

James 1 (Click HERE to read).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Let's Examine

How to respond to trials…

James instructs us to respond with JOY when we encounter trials in our lives. Although we aim to avoid them, we are all dealt those unavoidable cards at some point in life. Trials come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, and sometimes it seems as though they will never end. So, since they are inevitable, how should we handle them? Do they have a purpose?

God uses trials to test our faith. Our measure of faith may only be as small as a mustard seed, “‘but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade’” (Mark 4:32 NKJV). Our faith grows a little more through each test and has the capacity to become huge.

And the product of tested faith? Patience. James outlines the method for acquiring the precious fruit of patience as we endure trials. Here they are:

First, ask for God’s wisdom…

James tells us to first pray for God’s wisdom, which is free for the asking. “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6 NKJV). Doubt produces double-mindedness, which in turn robs us of God’s blessings. We can’t receive wisdom if one foot is in the world and the other in the Spirit. Ask, believe, and rest in the assurance that you have received God’s free gift.

Wisdom will also help us when we encounter persecution. As Jesus faced persecution, so may we. The godly person prospers by enduring the noonday heat, which in turn scorches and wilts the persecutors of their faith. “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away” (James 1:9-10 NKJV). Wisdom will stand by us through trials and help us develop patience instead of a wrong response.

Second, understand the source of temptations…

Temptations can be hard to resist and to do so requires spiritual strength. Does God send temptations to us? No, not ever! We must never blame God for those trials because He is a good God who never tempts anyone to do evil. The true source of temptation comes from our own desires of the flesh. “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15 NKJV).

Last, embrace these for success…

  1. We must control our tongues and our tempers. Learning to practice silence and good listening skills help us walk in God’s righteousness. “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20 NKJV). Here “slow” means patient.
  2. As we humbly receive the Word that saves our souls, we must be doers of the Word and not merely hearers. “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25 NKJV).
  3. Practice pure religion and bridle the tongue. “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:26-27 NKJV).
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Let's Discuss

Merriam Webster defines patience as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

In our hurry-up, instant world, our culture encourages impatience and entitlement. We abhor trials and try to avoid them at all costs. God, on the other hand, performs a work inside each of us to give us patience, a precious fruit of the Spirit, to make us complete. However, we must slow down and learn how to wait. Learning how to develop patience may take a lifetime.

How can we develop patience in such an impatient world? James gives us an example. “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient” (James 5:7b-8a NKJV).

What are you waiting on today? Whether it’s about finances, relationships, education, health, or something else—allow God to enlarge your faith. As you wait, you’ll be growing branches of patience inside your spirit. After all, “Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4 NKJV).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Let's Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, help us face our trials with JOY. Grow our faith and produce the fruit of patience in our spirits. We thank you for making us perfect and complete through endurance in Jesus’s Name. Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 21: Peace in Conflicts

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Week 21: Peace in conflicts

Welcome to our final week of study about growing in peace. This week we’ll look at how to find peace in the midst of conflicts.

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 21: Peace in Conflicts by Karen Jurgens
The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 21: Peace in Conflicts by Karen Jurgens
The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 21: Peace in Conflicts by Karen Jurgens

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV).

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 21: Peace in Conflicts by Karen Jurgens

This week all Scripture will be woven into our lesson. To read, please click on each New Testament reference below.

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 21: Peace in Conflicts by Karen Jurgens

“BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING…”

“‘These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’” (John 16:33 NKJV).

The peace of God is not absent from conflicts. When Jesus walked the earth with His disciples, He taught this lesson over and over. His followers were convinced that Messiah had come to establish peace on earth as King of Israel.

Conflict with His disciples

Little by little, Jesus disclosed the future to His disciples. But Peter especially rejected the Teacher’s words.

 “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matthew 16:21-23 NKJV).

The disciples reacted to Jesus’s arrest and crucifixion with incredible surprise despite the many times He had told them what would happen. In addition to His death, He also spoke plainly of His resurrection: Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.’ And they were exceedingly sorrowful” (Matthew 17:22-23 NKJV).

The proof of His deity as the Son of God always brought them to their knees in reverent worship and praise, both before and after His death and resurrection.

  • Click HERE to read about finding peace in the storm.
  • When the disciples couldn’t cast out demons the way Jesus had taught them, everyone despaired until Jesus revealed the remedy. Click HERE to read the story.
  • Click HERE to read about Doubting Thomas.

The disciples were anxious about many things. No matter the trials they had to endure during three years of ministry with the Lord, they always ran back to Jesus and experienced peace in His presence.  

“BUT IN ALL THINGS THROUGH PRAYER…”

Jesus continually prayed to the Father, especially in the early morning. We know that Jesus was the Son of God. So why was it necessary for Christ to pray if He and the Father were One?

As Christ demonstrated, prayer was of the utmost importance in His relationship with the Father. His prayer life is a model for us to follow. This pattern shows exactly how to commune with God and have a personal relationship with Him.

  • The Lord’s Prayer: The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. This beautiful prayer of peace is still our model today. Click HERE to read.
  • Prayer for peace in terrible, sudden tragedy: Jesus didn’t intervene in John the Baptist’s fate, but He reacted to John’s death by praying alone all night and then feeding the five thousand the next day. Click HERE to read.
  • Prayer for peace in the midst of betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane: We see Christ’s humanity as Jesus prepared to suffer and go to the cross. He asked for God’s will, not His, to be done. He sweat drops of blood in prayer while an angel came to minister to Him, strengthening Him. Click HERE to read.

“…AND SUPPLICATION…”

What does supplication mean? According to Merriam-Webster, it means:

  1. To make a humble entreaty;
  2. Especially in prayer to God;
  3. To ask humbly and earnestly.

Are our prayers humble? Earnest? Do we have an attitude of humility as we approach God’s throne with our requests? I can hear most of you respond with a resounding YES.

WITH THANKSGIVING, LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN TO GOD;”

But what about thanksgiving? Are our hearts appreciative toward God—even when His answer may be contrary to what we’re asking? That’s hard, isn’t it, when God says NO. Mature adults may suddenly turn into spoiled and entitled children, demanding their way, stubbornly asking, Why not? Or, I want it NOW, not later! Worse, some may be angry at God and turn their backs to Him. All of these reactions are wrong.

Thanksgiving means being thankful and accepting God’s answer, no matter what it is. He knows what’s best for us and will always rule in our best interest. He sees the big picture through the binoculars of eternity while we can only see a tiny corner of the present.

An Example of Thanksgiving…

One good example in Scripture is the story of Lazarus. Although Mary and Martha were extremely disappointed that Jesus had not arrived soon enough to heal their sick brother, they still accepted the fact that he was dead and thankfully would be alive again in the resurrection. They had no idea that Jesus would shortly present Lazarus alive, causing their thankfulness to skyrocket. (Click HERE to read about it during our Week 12 study or HERE to read it in Scripture.)

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 21: Peace in Conflicts by Karen Jurgens

“AND THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS THROUGH CHRIST JESUS.”

Jesus left us with a marvelous gift—PEACE. But not the kind the world gives. It’s a gift we receive when we ask Jesus to forgive our sins and become our Savior. A supernatural peace lives inside us, not something contingent on our circumstances. It’s how…

  • a person can attend the funeral of a friend or loved one but feel peace through the sorrow and tears.
  • we can hear a dreaded health report but know “all is well with my soul.”
  • we can regard a pink slip with the acceptance that the Lord has a better plan around the corner and trust Him with our finances.
  • our personal lives can take an unexpected turn for the worse, but we trust God for a good future.

Peace is the anchor of our souls. Although life’s winds and waves try to capsize our boats, Jesus comes to us, walking on the water. He speaks to the storm. “Peace. Be still.” He climbs into our boats and we fall to our knees in worship. He is in control, not our circumstances. We can trust Him completely.

As Jesus walks with us, we walk in His peace. It is well with our souls.

Do you have Christ’s peace in the midst of conflicts?

Let’s conclude this month of study about peace with the famous hymn by Horatio G. Spafford. After losing his children, Spafford found salvation in Jesus. He composed this beautiful hymn, “It is Well with My Soul,” to testify to his salvation in Christ through the good and bad times of life.

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 21: Peace in Conflicts by Karen Jurgens

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being our peace in the midst of conflicts. May we pray without ceasing and humbly give you thanks for guiding our lives through both good times and bad. May Your peace dwell richly in our souls today and always. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series Woman in Prayer by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 20: Sabbath Peace

Front Porch Bible Study Series May 20 Week 20 Sabbath Peace by Karen Jurgens

Welcome to our third week of study about finding peace. This week we’ll look at the Sabbath and how keeping it produces amazing peace in our lives.

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 20: Peace by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series Topic: Finding God's Peace in the Sabbath by Karen Jurgens
The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 20: Sabbath Scripture Memory by Karen Jurgens

“Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:3 NKJV).

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 20: Sabbath Let's Read by Karen Jurgens

Genesis 1-2:3, Isaiah 58:13-14, Mark 2:23-3:5

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 20: Sabbath Let's Examine by Karen Jurgens

Genesis 1-2:3

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. On the first day, He created light, dividing it into day and night; the second, the heavens; on the third, the dry land, seas, grass, and trees; the fourth, the sun, moon, and stars; on the fifth, sea creatures and birds; the sixth, cattle and creeping things. His masterpiece came last: man and woman, whom He created in His own image, giving them dominion over the earth and every living creature.

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:1-3).

Isaiah 58:13-14

God always teaches by example and by precept, laying a path for us to follow. He also promises great blessings for keeping His Sabbath Day, as He outlines in Isaiah 58. “‘Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord, And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father'” (Isaiah 58:14a NKJV).

Mark 2:23-3:5

The Pharisees closely followed the Law, including the Sabbath. Since no man was allowed to work on that day of rest, they highly criticized Jesus for healing the sick. Jesus answered back, pointing our their hardness of heart. (Click HERE to read the story.)

They also condemned Jesus and His disciples for plucking heads of grain to eat on the Sabbath. Jesus reasoned with them, pointing out that King David and his hungry men had eaten the showbread in the temple, reserved only for priests.

“And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath’” (Mark 2:27-28 NKJV).

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 20: Sabbath Let's Discuss by Karen Jurgens

Are we still obedient in 2019 to observe the Sabbath day? And how long does it last–just until noon when the church service is over? Let’s look at God’s instruction about it through the ages.

The Ten Commandments

God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai and gave him the Ten Commandments. The fourth one is the law of the Sabbath.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11 NKJV).

Click HERE to read the details about what God directed Moses to tell His people about the Sabbath, including the consequences of not keeping it.

A Sign of Sanctification

“Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you’” (Exodus 31:13 NKJV).

What does sanctification mean? Growing in the grace of God, His blessings, His purity, and His holiness. Keeping the Sabbath has great spiritual benefits, doesn’t it?

The Fruit of Peace

Sabbath rest yields the fruit of peace. As we pause our busyness, we walk into God’s tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose. This seventh day creates something good in us by allowing the Holy Spirit to commune freely with our spirits. It transcends the natural, physical world, bringing calm and quiet to our buzzing thoughts, burdened minds, and heavy hearts.

As we set the Sabbath aside to worship the Lord, we cease, stop striving, and trust. The physical practice of a day of rest changes our hearts and frees our souls from chains of bondage.

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

As Jesus stated, the Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath. It is God’s gift to us where we can devote that time to honor and worship Him. Let’s partition off this sacred day with pleasant boundaries to protect it. Let’s enjoy communing with God and appreciating Him.

How does keeping the Sabbath bring you peace?

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 20: Sabbath Let's Pray by Karen Jurgens

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for creating a day of rest for us every seven days. Just as we park our cars and open fuel caps to fill up our gas tanks, so may we be quiet before you. As we open our hearts, fill us to overflowing with the Holy Spirit’s truth and sweet peace as we prepare for the week ahead. We honor and praise You, giving You all the glory. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series Lady in Prayer by Karen Jurgens Sabbath Peace
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 19: Peace

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 19: Peace in Relationships by Karen Jurgens

Welcome to our second study about finding God’s peace. This week we’ll be exploring how to experience peace in our relationships with people. We’ll begin by looking at Moses and how he dealt with his huge assignment of leading the Israelites to the Promised Land–a 40-day journey that took forty years.

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 19: Peace in Relationships by Karen Jurgens
The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 19: Peace in Relationships by Karen Jurgens
The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 19: Peace in Relationships by Karen Jurgens

“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7 NKJV).

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 19: Peace in Relationships by Karen Jurgens

Exodus Chapters 7-11 (click HERE to read)

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 19: Peace in Relationships by Karen Jurgens

When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses balked. He claimed that neither the sons of Israel nor Pharaoh would listen to him due to his poor speaking skills. How could he find peace and have success in these new relationships God had thrust upon him?

“So the Lord said to Moses: ‘See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them (Exodus 7:1-5 NKJV).

But God had a plan. He appointed Aaron, Moses’s brother, as his spokesman. He also explained His plan from beginning to end and what Moses could expect from his relationship with Pharaoh.

Each time, Moses approached Pharaoh’s throne to make his request with humility coupled with God’s reassuring strength. God had already told Moses that Pharaoh would refuse to honor his word.

So, the plagues arrived as Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go: water turned to blood, frogs, lice, flies, diseased livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness– and finally– the death of every firstborn, which pried open Pharaoh’s chains and freed the Israelites.

Isn’t it interesting that God purposefully hardened Pharaoh’s heart? He tells us why: “‘…so that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt’” (Exodus 11:9b NKJV). God always brings glory to His Name.

Therefore, God had a greater purpose in Moses’s relationship with Pharaoh. He also proved that He protects His children even while punishing His enemies. We witness this in two places: when Egypt was covered in darkness and when God smote the firstborn of the Egyptians. (Click HERE to read about the miracle of light and HERE to read about the miracle of Passover.)

God had forewarned Moses of His plan but also promised His peace and protection. “‘But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel’” (Exodus 11:7 NKJV).

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 19: Peace in Relationships by Karen Jurgens

How does this lesson about Moses help us find peace today? We’re all called to be leaders, whether it’s in ministry, our jobs, or our families. No matter our title, we all must relate to someone above us as well as to those equal and below us in rank.

Relating to those superior in rank

Just like Moses approached Pharaoh, we should approach those who rank above us with respect, patience, and humility. But, in spite of our best efforts, what if our superiors treat us badly? Moses must have dreaded the job of going before Pharaoh to continuously ask for freedom, but remembering God’s promises pushed him forward.

We, too, must go forward as God directs us. If it’s God’s will, we must patiently endure harsh treatment, resting in God’s promises and the knowledge that He is in control.

Peter sums it up for us: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good” (I Peter 2:13-14 NKJV).

On the other hand, God is everyone’s superior. Moses found out the hard way that the Lord has boundaries we mustn’t cross. After God instructed Moses to speak to the rock so that it would yield water, Moses struck the rock twice instead of obeying the Lord. Therefore, God refused to allow him to set foot in the Promised Land. (You can read about it HERE.)

Relating to those equal in rank

Our relationships with friends and family may be sweet one day and sour the next. These relationships may steal our peace the most. How can we learn to live without struggling against our loved ones?

Moses struggled in his relationship with his siblings, but God defended him. His older brother, Aaron, and his sister, Miriam, spoke against him because of the Ethiopian woman Moses had married. “So they said, ‘Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?’ And the Lord heard it” (Numbers 12:2 NKJV). God proceeded to give the two a dressing down for judging their brother, whom God honored as His faithful servant and with whom He spoke face to face. God’s punishment slammed Miriam by making her become leprous. It was after Aaron repented and appealed to his brother that Moses appealed to God for her deliverance. (Click HERE to read the story.)

Let’s heed wise advice from Peter for finding peace: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 2:8-9 NKJV).

Relating to those below us in rank

Do you gaze at those in charge of you and dream of future leadership? It may look easy on the outside, but the responsibility is heavy. Those who lead others at work and/or children at home must learn excellent coping skills for acquiring peace.

As the Israelites roamed the desert for forty years, Moses had a plethora of duties as he cared for the people–and no peace. He dealt with everything from their daily complaints to leading them in battles against various enemies they encountered on the way to the Promised Land. We can witness, for example, how he suffered over their demands for food (Click HERE) and for water:

“Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water, that we may drink.’ So Moses said to them, ‘Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?’ And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, ‘Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”’ (Exodus 17:2-4).

Delegating authority is a good solution to attaining peace. As Moses experienced exhaustion and frustration from dealing with the people, God used Moses’s father-in-law to help find peace through governance. Jethro recognized that Moses couldn’t bear up under such a weight of responsibility and convinced him to get help. Read about Jethro’s advice HERE.

Peter shares the recipe for finding peace in every relationship

“For ‘He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers’” (1 Peter 3:8-12a NKJV).

Throughout our lifetimes, we’ll experience different relationships with people as varied as the stars. Let’s heed the Apostle Paul’s encouragement when he says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18 NKJV).

How do you find God’s peace in your relationships?

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 19: Peace in Relationships by Karen Jurgens

Dear Father, we look to You for divine guidance and wisdom as we seek peace in our relationships. With your help, may we love one another and live in peace all our days. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Week 18: Peace with God

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens Peace with God

Welcome to the month of May. This month we’ll be resuming our regular Bible study on the Fruit of the Spirit as we focus on PEACE. As Christians, our peace is not of this world–ours is a free gift from God. Today let’s plant seeds of peace in our eternal souls, focusing on salvation in Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens Peace with God

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Peace with God

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1 NKJV)

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Romans Chapters 4 and 5

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Finding peace with God begins with faith. We know from Hebrews 11:6 that “Without faith, it’s impossible to please God.” In Romans 4, Paul traces the beginnings of justification by faith before the cross of Christ. How were our forefathers like Abraham and King David justified in righteousness?

Peace with God: Abraham and Sarah

Although Abraham and Sarah were well beyond child-bearing years, He believed God’s promise of a son who would anchor the foundation of the Jewish race. “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). (Click HERE to read more.)

God established circumcision as the mark of faith in those days. Abraham’s justification occurred before he was circumcised, however, proving that the cutting itself didn’t result in salvation. It foreshadowed the circumcision of the heart, later established by Jesus at the cross.

David and Bathsheba

After King David sinned with Bathsheba, God sent Nathan the prophet to confront him. David repented before the Lord: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1 NKJV).

David received God’s forgiveness through faith, treasuring salvation apart from works. He sings, “’Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin’” (Romans 4:7-8 NKJV).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens Peace with God

The fact that Jesus died for the ungodly, even those not yet born, is amazing. Would a man die in another’s place? Perhaps one might die for a good man, but what about an enemy? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NKJV). At the cross, we are justified through His shed blood.

Adam versus Jesus Christ

Through Adam’s act of sin, condemnation rested on all men. But Jesus’s righteous act bestowed the free gift of salvation, resulting in our justification. Adam’s disobedience produced death, but Christ’s obedience produced salvation and everlasting life. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19 NKJV).

True peace with God begins with our salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV).

Let’s join King David as he rejoices in his salvation: “I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High” (Psalm 7:17 NKJV).

Can you rejoice today because you’ve found peace with God?

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us peace with You through Your Son. We are eternally grateful for the blood of Christ that is our justification. May those seeking peace today find it at the foot of the cross. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens




The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 17

Welcome to the last post in our Easter study. This week we will explore the resurrection of Jesus and its deeper meanings. How does God’s resurrection power impact our lives?

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live’” (John 11:25 NKJV).

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Let’s focus on Jesus’s resurrection in the final chapters of the four gospels. Click on each one to read: Matthew 28 / Mark 16 / Luke 24 / John 20 (NKJV)

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

As we read these accounts, we can feel the same amazement of Christ’s resurrection. Isn’t it interesting that the Lord first appeared to women? Following an earthquake, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (not His mother) encountered an angel who rolled back the stone. The Roman guards froze and shook from fright at the supernatural sight.

“But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you’” (Matthew 28:5-7 NKJV).

On their way, the women met Jesus who said, “‘Rejoice!’ So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me’” (Matthew 28:9b-10 NKJV).

The disciples were astounded at this news. Many found it hard to believe, although Jesus had told them many times that He would live again. Until they saw Him themselves–and Thomas placed his hand on the Lord’s side and examined His nail-scarred hands and feet–then they believed.