The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 26: Kindness

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

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

Click HERE to read John 4:1-43.

Traveling through Samaria…

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

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

“Sir, give me this water…” (v. 15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jews v. Samaritans…

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

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

A lesson in how to witness…

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

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

The prophecy…

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

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

The kindness of the gospel…

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

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

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

Do you share the kindness of the gospel with others?

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

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Summer Review: LOVE

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

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

Click HERE to read today’s Scriptures.

Nicodemus, a Pharisee…

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

God is spirit…

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

Spiritual birth, a mystery…

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

Sins’ consequences…

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

Are you saved? Or not?…

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

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

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

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

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Summer Review: PATIENCE

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

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

James 1 (Click HERE to read).

How to respond to trials…

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

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

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

First, ask for God’s wisdom…

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

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

Second, understand the source of temptations…

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

Last, embrace these for success…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Summer Review: PEACE

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

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

Exodus 7-11 (Click HERE to read).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relating to those superior in rank

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

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

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

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

Relating to those equal in rank

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

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

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

Relating to those below us in rank

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

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

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

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

Peter shares the recipe for finding peace in every relationship

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

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

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

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

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

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Summer Review: JOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the meaning is far deeper…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Independence Day

God bless America and all the freedoms our Constitution affords to our citizens!

May we also be mindful in the midst of our celebrations that freedom isn’t free. It comes with a great price–the priceless blood of those who have fought and died for the political freedom we celebrate today.

Jesus also paid the ultimate price on the cross for our spiritual freedom. His shed blood sets us free from death, hell, and the grave. His resurrection power seals our eternity with Him in heaven. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1 NASB).

How has America’s freedoms blessed your life?

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Summer Review: LOVE

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

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

Read: Genesis 22: 1-18 NKJV

Abraham’s obedience…

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

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

Sacrifice is…

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

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

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

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

Jesus, the supreme sacrifice…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Waiting on the Lord” means…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pray, Trust, and Obey…

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

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

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

The Parable of the Faithful Servant…

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

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

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

Are you waiting on physical healing? James instructs us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ascension of Christ:

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

The Rapture of the Saints:

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

The Second Coming of Christ:

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

How about you?

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

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

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

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

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

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 24: Sowing Patience

HeartWings Front Porch Bible Study Series June 17 Week 24

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

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

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

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

Luke 8:4-15 NKJV

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

Jesus speaks in a parable…

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

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

Same seed, different results…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Jesus taught with parables…

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

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

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

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

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

What prevents us from bearing mature fruit…

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

The key to mature fruit…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round One…

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

Why God allowed this to happen…

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

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

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

Job’s reaction…

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

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

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

Round Two…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of the story…

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

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

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

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

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

Does God exempt us, His children, from trials?

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

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

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

What have you lost?

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

How to take heart in trials…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens Praying woman