The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 32: Goodness

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

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

Matthew 9:35 NKJV

Matthew 13

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

Teaching in parables…

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

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

Mathew 13: 1-3 NKJV

The parable of the sower…

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

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

(click HERE to read the prophecy of Isaiah).

Matthew 13:11-14 NKJV

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

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

Matthew 13: 16-17 NKJV

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

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

Healing the sick…

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

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

The pool of Bethesda…

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

Blind Bartimaeus…

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

A demon-possessed man…

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

A deaf-mute …

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

How has God’s goodness blessed your life?

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

Or…

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

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

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

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 31: Goodness

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

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

Genesis 1:31 a NKJV

Click HERE to read Genesis 1-3

What is the truth about creation?

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

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

Genesis 1:1 NKJV

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

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

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

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

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

God’s masterpiece…

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

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


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

Genesis 1:26-31 NKJV

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

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

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

The Fall of Man

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

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

God’s judgments flow from His goodness…

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

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

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

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

The first blood sacrifice…

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

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

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

Psalm 33:1-8…

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

Psalm 33:1-8 NKJV

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

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

The Fruit of the Spirit Study week 30: Goodness

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

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

Psalm 118:1 NKJV

Let’s define GOODNESS…

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

God’s goodness is different…

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

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

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

Jesus defined goodness…

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

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

Psalm 145…

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

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

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

Psalm 145:1-10 NKJV

How has God revealed His goodness to you?

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

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

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 29: Kindness

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

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

Ruth 1:16 NKJV

Click HERE to read the book of Ruth.

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

Here’s the story…

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

A patriarchal culture…

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

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

Ruth’s sterling character…

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

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

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

Ruth 3:6-10 NKJV

A happy ending…

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

Redemption…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 2:4-9 NKJV

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

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

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

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 28: Kindness

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

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

Click HERE to read 2 Samuel 9

Here’s the story…

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

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

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

An unexpected gift of kindness…

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

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

2 Samuel 9:9-10a NKJV

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

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

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

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

Romans 3:23 NKJV

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

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

Luke 19:10 NKJV

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

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

Romans 8:16-17a NKJV

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

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

Psalm 23:5-6 NKJV

How has the kindness of God changed your life?

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

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

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 27: Kindness

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

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

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

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

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

(Luke 10:27 NKJV)

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

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

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

(Luke 10:36-37 NKJV)

Who is my neighbor?” (v.29)

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

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

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

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

A deeper meaning…

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

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

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

(John 10:10a NKJV)

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

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

(Luke 11:46 NKJV)

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

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

(Galatians 6:2 NKJV)

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

(James 2:8-9 NKJV)

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

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

(Psalm 25:6 NKJV)

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

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

(Ephesians 2:19 NKJV)

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

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

(I John 2:2 NKJV)

Jesus is our picture of true kindness…

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

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

(Ephesians 2:4-7 NKJV)

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

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

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

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

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 26: Kindness

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

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

Click HERE to read John 4:1-43.

Traveling through Samaria…

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

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

“Sir, give me this water…” (v. 15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jews v. Samaritans…

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

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

A lesson in how to witness…

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

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

The prophecy…

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

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

The kindness of the gospel…

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

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

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

Do you share the kindness of the gospel with others?

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

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Summer Review: LOVE

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

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

Click HERE to read today’s Scriptures.

Nicodemus, a Pharisee…

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

God is spirit…

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

Spiritual birth, a mystery…

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

Sins’ consequences…

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

Are you saved? Or not?…

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

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

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

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

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Summer Review: PATIENCE

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

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

James 1 (Click HERE to read).

How to respond to trials…

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

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

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

First, ask for God’s wisdom…

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

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

Second, understand the source of temptations…

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

Last, embrace these for success…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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