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