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).
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 defined by Merriam-Webster as “an 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.
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.
“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).
Pray earnestly and seek God through disciplined prayer.
Listen attentively to His voice by opening our spiritual ears to His leading.
Rest in God’s sovereignty, trusting Him for the ultimate answer.
Serve God while we wait by actively serving others.
And the result for waiting on the Lord?STRENGTH. (Isaiah 40:31)
Inward strength: to persevere
Upward strength: to mount up with eagles’ wings
Outwardstrength: to run and not get weary
Onwardstrength: 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).
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.
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.
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 yousoon!
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).
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?
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.
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.
“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the endintendedby the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:12 NKJV).
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.
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.
‘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).
“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.
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?
“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
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).
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.
How does Job’s story of faith help you grow patience in your life?
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.
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.
“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).
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…
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.
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).
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.
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.