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