The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 12

Welcome to Week 12 of the “Front Porch” Bible Study Series. In this last post of our study on JOY, we’ll look at one of the most amazing miracles of all: resurrection. When Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, His resurrection sealed our privilege of spending eternity with Him in God’s kingdom. Is there any greater JOY? Today we’ll read about the story of Lazarus’s resurrection.

Click HERE to read today’s Scripture about Jesus’s raising Lazarus from the dead.

Memory Verse: “‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die'” (John 11:25b-26a NKJV).

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

While Jesus ministered in another town, Mary and Martha sent word for the Lord to come to heal their sick brother, Lazarus. Although His disciples discouraged Him from going, Jesus explained, “‘This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.’” (v.4)

Two days later, Jesus and His disciples arrived in Bethany where Lazarus had already been buried for four days. Jesus spoke privately with Martha and then Mary before grieving at Lazarus’s tomb. The sisters and other mourners expressed their disappointment: Lazarus would still be alive if Jesus had come sooner. Jesus declared to Martha, “‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (v.25-26). Martha declared, “‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world’” (v.27).

Mary and the crowd of mourners joined together to mourn at the tomb.
Everyone noticed how strongly Jesus wept along with the others. They quietly discussed how much Jesus loved Lazarus, asking “‘Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?’” (v.37).

Jesus told them to remove the stone in front of the cave. He prayed aloud to the Father, asking God to answer His prayer that people would believe in Him. Jesus then cried out with a loud voice, “‘Lazarus, come forth!’” (v.43).

Can you imagine the shock when the dead man appeared alive at the mouth of the cave, still wrapped in his grave clothes? Overjoyed, many people believed in Jesus as the Son of God, but others went to report it to the Pharisees.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

As you may recall from our earlier study, Lazarus wasn’t the first person Jesus raised the dead. Remember Jairus’s daughter in Mark 5? (You can read about it HERE.)

Why do you think Jesus purposely delayed the call to go to Bethany to heal his dear friend Lazarus? Not because He didn’t care. Although He knew Lazarus would die, He also prophesied to His disciples that this sickness wouldn’t end in death (v.4). “‘And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe'” (v.15).

However, there was one good reason why Jesus planned to raise Lazarus’s body on the fourth day after burial. Since the Jews believed the spirit didn’t depart from the body for the first three days after death, this was a sign and irrefutable proof that glorified both the Father and Jesus, His Son.

What a paradox. He purposely chose his dearest friends, whom He knew He could trust to endure deep yet temporary sorrow, to prove His identity as the Son of God. We know He loved Lazarus very much, as evidenced by His emotional weeping at his tomb. But human reasoning expressed by Martha and Mary came forth loud and clear: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (v.21, v.32). Such a burden of disappointment and sorrow to bear.

But what joy filled their hearts after Lazarus was resurrected! All sorrow and disappointment vanished in that miraculous moment as they received their brother back into their loving arms. As He had said He would, Jesus used this opportunity to bring glory to the Father and prove His identity as God’s Son.

Let’s apply this lesson to our lives.

Don’t we do the same thing as Mary and Martha? When something that we treasure dies, we weep inconsolably at its tomb. We cry out that if Jesus had shown up sooner, it would still be alive.

Perhaps it’s a dream that you believe will never come to pass, and your hope is flickering out. Or maybe it’s a physical illness you’ve prayed about for a long time, but you’re still waiting on healing. Perhaps a relationship appears dead and impossible to bring back to life. Or maybe something to do with money or income has left you mourning and troubled about the future.

Just as Jesus came to Mary and Martha, let’s also take comfort that our Lord will come to minister to each of us. He is a compassionate and understanding Savior who weeps with us in our darkest hour.

Let’s listen as He speaks to our situation and commands whatever is dead to be resurrected back to life. Oh, the JOY that will fill our hearts!

Has the Lord brought you JOY by miraculously resurrecting something dead in your life?

I hope your JOY in the Lord has blossomed and grown this month. When the Holy Spirit lavishes us with the love of Jesus, gardens of JOY grow in our hearts. JOY isn’t conditional on our circumstances, thank goodness, but the Lord gives us JOY in spite of them. When we worship and praise Him through our tears, we are lifted up and out of this world. Isn’t God so good!

For more study on the topic of resurrection, click HERE for a sermon by Charles Spurgeon or HERE for a sermon by Ravi Zacharias.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Your compassion and understanding of our human sufferings. We ask You to speak resurrection to our dying circumstances, for You are the Resurrection and the Life. We glorify You and pray these things in Jesus’s Name. Amen.

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 5:16.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 9

Welcome to “Front Porch Bible Study Series. We are beginning our study of the second Fruit of the Spirit–JOY. This month we will discover the place where JOY lives deep in our spirits, waiting to be mined out, like precious diamonds. Let’s go mining today for this priceless gift from God!


The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Series Week 9: How to find joy in trials.

Click here to read today’s Scripture reading.

Memory Verse: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18 NKJV).

Let’s begin with a word study. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of happiness is “A state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable or satisfying experience.”
Happiness lives in our souls and is based on fickle feelings, emotions, and changing circumstances. This temporary fix is the best the world can offer.

JOY, on the other hand, doesn’t come from the world. God lovingly plants it in our spirits the moment we become His through salvation.
Just as our salvation is permanent, so is our JOY.

In today’s reading, the prophet Habakkuk cries out to God over witnessing the dreaded arrival of the Chaldeans, godless destroyers who have come to conquer and plunder Israel. He pleads with God over how long God will look on evil and not do anything to stop it (Habakkuk 1:2-4; 12-17 NKJV).

God’s response is that He is in control of evil and not to fret. In time, they (the Chaldeans) will pay the price. (1:11). The Lord declares to Habakkuk that
the day of retribution will certainly come, as it’s an appointed time for which to patiently wait. In the meantime, the righteous should live by their faith. (Habakkuk 2: 2-4 NKJV).

Have you ever had your life torn apart unexpectedly? I have. Whether it’s losing a marriage, a child or loved one, a job, career, or finances, we can go into a tailspin, paralleling Israel’s suffering.

We cry out for God’s justice, mercy, and His hand to reverse our situation. We plead with our God, who is too holy to look on evil, and ask Him how He can allow these things to happen.

What should our response to God be?
The answer is the secret to finding JOY during our trials .

Let’s meditate on Habakkuk’s ending prayer:

“Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines;

Though the labor of the olive may fail,

And the fields yield no food;

Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,

And there be no herd in the stalls—

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high hills” (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NKJV).

No matter our circumstances, JOY is planted deep in our spirits. Like Habakkuk, we can mine JOY out of our salvation and rejoice in the Lord–in spite of the trials we experience. God will make us sure-footed and guide us safely along narrow, mountainous paths. Isn’t God so good!

Can you rejoice in your trials?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Let us remember that our lives aren’t spiraling out of control when we face trials, but You are at the helm. May we trust You and not despair. Teach us to choose to rejoice in our trials and to draw joy from our wells of salvation. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

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 5:16.

Feasting on the Fruit of the Spirit

Feasting on the Fruit of the Spirit by Karen Jurgens

Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner. Some people will enjoy a meal out, while others will be guests at another’s table. Perhaps some will prepare a dish to take, while others may be hosting the entire family, like me.

Wherever we take our places at the table this year, it’s always a special time to pause and reflect on our blessings over the past year.

As we feast on traditional or not-so-traditional dishes, let’s also feast on some “delicious” scriptures—specifically, the nine fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Here is a list of my favorite Bible verses, from both the Old and New Testament—one for each spiritual fruit (all taken from the New American Standard Version).

LOVE: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

 JOY: These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full (John 15:11).

 PEACE: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

 PATIENCE: And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise (Hebrews 6:15).

 KINDNESS: Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4).

 GOODNESS: Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalms 23:6).

 FAITHFULNESS: They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).

 GENTLENESS: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS (Matthew 11:29).

 SELF-CONTROL: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

Now it’s your turn … what are your favorite verses we can feast on today?

 

Will You Choose Joy?

Will You Choose Joy? by Karen Jurgens

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises ~ Psalm 98:4 NKJV.

Christmas has recently passed, and if you’re like me, all the decorations are neatly tucked away for another year. Although the house is back in apple-pie order, my emotions mourn.

A month before Christmas, I labored for a week to arrange twinkling lights, pine boughs, crèche figures, and ornaments. But now, after just a few short days, no trace of that joyful celebration remains.

Will You Choose Joy? by Karen Jurgens

I admit, I was rather sad to see such lovely beauty vanish.  I also pondered why my JOY had disappeared along with the decorations.

True JOY isn’t a by-product of the physical realm–that kind is passing, not permanent. Instead, JOY is a lasting gift God plants deep down in our spirits.

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation ~ Habakkuk 3:18 NKJV.

Years ago, when I was still teaching, I used to always smile and bubble over with JOY. Students would often ask me why I was so happy all the time—especially early in the morning. Since it was a public school, I danced around the real reason, which was the JOY of Jesus living in my heart. But it thrilled me that my witness made a difference, even in a place where I wasn’t verbally allowed to share my spiritual beliefs.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven ~ Matthew 5:16 NKJV.

 

The Holiday Blues by Karen Jurgens

We realize Christmas isn’t just about outward glitter, presents, and holiday feasting. All that is a by-product of the JOY of the birth of Jesus Christ.

This first month of the New Year, let’s take that precious JOY, live it out in our daily lives, and let our lights shine from the housetops!

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! ~ Psalm 32:11.

Although happiness can turn upside down and dissolve with life’s circumstances, let’s allow the JOY of the Lord to shine through every word and action. No matter what comes our way, we can choose our response–JOY. 

Will You Choose Joy? by Karen Jurgens

 

So, let’s take off the lid of that pot of JOY bubbling in our hearts and allow the bliss of God’s love to overflow to the world in 2018. Let JOY be the witness of our salvation through the blood of the Lamb, having made us whole in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation ~ Psalm 95:1 NKJV.

Will you choose JOY to shine from your life this year?

Will You Choose Joy? by Karen Jurgens

 

 

 

Feasting at Thanksgiving

By Karen

Happy Thanksgiving!

www.KarenJurgens.com

www.KarenJurgens.com

 

If you’re like me, you’ll be in the kitchen chopping, whipping, mixing, roasting and baking for your Thanksgiving feast this week. This is one of two times a year that I go all out, preparing a knock-out menu that requires several days in advance. I absolutely love it! Here is a preview of this year’s holiday table:

www.KarenJurgens.com

www.KarenJurgens.com

 

Do you like to play games? If you never cook for Thanksgiving, or if you just take one dish to a party or family gathering, this blog post is still for you. No, it’s not about menus or recipe ideas—which are lovely—but it’s about thanking God for His blessings this year. And I’m inviting you to join me in doing it.

As we’re feasting on the turkey, dressing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie, let’s also remember to take this day to feast on the Word of God.

www.KarenJurgens.com

www.KarenJurgens.com

O taste and see that the Lord is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Psalms 34:8).

As I thought about how to choose some “delicious” scriptures, it seemed logical to pick the nine fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. For this game, I’ll begin by listing my favorite Bible verses, from either the Old or New Testament—one for each spiritual fruit. Here goes: (All from New American Standard Bible)

 

LOVE: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

JOY: These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full (John 15:11).

PEACE: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

PATIENCE: And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise (Hebrews 6:15).

KINDNESS: Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4).

GOODNESS: Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalms 23:6).

FAITHFULNESS: They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).

GENTLENESS: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS (Matthew 11:29).

SELF-CONTROL: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

Now it’s your turn … what are your favorite verses we can feast on today?

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Every season is beautiful

Fall is a beautiful time of year, isn’t it? Here in North Texas, temperatures still feel like summertime (but we’ll just wake up one day and suddenly need a coat and mittens, as those of us here know). But nonetheless, signs of the new season have arrived — leaves turning to red and brown, college […]

http://caitharrison.com/2015/10/15/every-season-is-beautiful/

The Holiday Blues

Can you imagine that Christmas is exactly one week away? In honor of the season, I’d like to share with you a previously published post from Christmas, 2014. I hope it will be a blessing to you today.

holiday shopping

Do the approaching holidays bring you joy? Or not?

Everywhere you go, anticipation of Christmas Day abounds. Neighborhoods glitter with lights outlining rooftops and everything on the ground that can be wrapped or staked. Reds, whites, purples and blues reign in the form of sleighs, Santas, and snowmen in the darkness. Christmas trees twinkle behind windows, promising wonderful surprises for December 25th.

But on the other side of the glitz and glamour is a different story that begs telling.

Shoppers exhaust themselves over the hunt for good parking spaces as they fight bumper-to-bumper traffic. Artificial trees, lights, wreaths and bows adorn malls and stores, luring buyers to the latest price reductions on popular merchandise. To find that perfect gift at that perfect sales price means pushing and bustling through the thick crowds, even at wee hours of the morning–even on Thanksgiving Day.

Then more work ensues, from tediously wrapping each present to cooking a deluxe Christmas dinner. As if that’s not enough, there’s the worry of how all those relatives– seen only once a year–will get along at the dinner table. Can the clashes of personalities, seasoned with sarcasm and a sprig of jealousy, lead to a bad case of indigestion?

By the end of Christmas, emotions are a mixture of a little bit of everything ranging from exhilaration to disappointment with a generous dash of exhaustion.

So how can we to find true joy in this season?

On the first Christmas, Mary rocked back and forth on the donkey which carried her from Nazareth to Bethlehem. She bent forward in pain as the growing labor stabbed her body. Joseph’s face set with anxious determination as he sought shelter for them. A stable with clean straw served as her maternity bed, surrounded by animals witnessing this miraculous birth.

Not a Christmas tree in sight, but a shining star blazed with triumph in the heavens.

No carolers, but real angels sang and blew trumpets as they announced His birth to nearby shepherds watching their flocks by night.

No engraved birth announcement, but His star in the sky announced that a Savior for all mankind had been born.

No exchange of gifts except from three kings from disant lands, who brought Him gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The Holiday Blues by Karen Jurgens

In the simplicity of the first Christmas, let’s put aside our 21st century first-world problems and reflect on Him. He is the perfect gift given to us by our God, His Father.

I pray that Jesus would be born into your hearts this Christmas season. Receive Him fresh this year and freely give away His love to others.

Focusing on Jesus is the way to find joy this holiday season.

Joy to the world, The Lord is come,

Let earth receive her King.

Let every heart, prepare Him room,

And heaven and nature sing!

 

Enjoy Joy to the World by Chris Tomlin. Click Here.