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

Where is Your Point of Pain?

 girl in pain

 

A small girl rushes through the back door of her house, slamming the screen door behind her. Her tousled blonde hair is full of scraps of leaves and dirt, and a smear of blood crosses the front of her trousers at the knee.

“Mommy!” she wails piteously. Her mother bursts into the room in response to her child’s cry and scoops her daughter into her loving arms. Instantly assessing the situation as only a mother can do, she cradles her on her lap and coos, “Honey, show me where it hurts.”

These types of hurts can be cleaned and bandaged. After a few days a scab forms as protection for the new skin growing back. A few more days and it comes off, revealing healthy skin underneath. All that is needed is patience for the wound to heal (and maybe a kiss, too, for a small child).

Whether it shows on the outside or comes from within, we have all experienced physical pain. We can ache from our backs, stomachs, ears, teeth, head, and joints. These unseen causes can produce very real suffering.

But what about the unseen suffering from wounds in your soul, which is composed of the mind, will, and emotions? What about “soul-wounds?”

Although catalysts come in many different forms, one common cause is the weapon of words. This point of pain can be long in healing or leave you with a permanent inner scar carried throughout life. I know because I carried a wound through childhood and into my teen years.

Here is how it was inflicted: “Hey, fat-so!” And “You’re too fat to play.” And “Hi, Fatty Arbuckle!” And when we chose teams, I heard, “Don’t pick her. We’ll lose—she’s too fat.”

The most hurtful remark happened when the boys would chase the girls on the playground. When caught, the boy kissed the girl on her cheek. The boy who caught me changed his mind. “You’re too fat to kiss.” He didn’t care that those words had sliced off a piece of my soul.

The name-calling went on and on, day after day, year after year. I responded with the rhyme my mother had taught me to say in my defense: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I concluded by laughing with them, to appear as if their words didn’t hurt me. Then I went home and ate a piece of chocolate cake and a peanut butter sandwich before dinner to assuage my inner pain.

And my rhyme of defense? What a lie. Those taunts were like jagged glass cutting up my soul. No blood—at least on the outside. My smile and laughter hid my embarrassment and horror about my appearance. I didn’t know it then, but self-hatred was taking root and growing in my soul. Fortunately, I never got to the point of wishing to harm myself (although I do know of some like me who tried). This wound was the only lemon in my otherwise happy childhood days, but it colored the tone of my life since I didn’t know how to fix the problem.

The solution, however, arrived unexpectedly when I turned thirteen. My mother began taking me to a dermatologist for my complexion, and he prescribed a diet as part of my treatment. Suddenly I wasn’t allowed to eat fried foods, butter, oil, peanut butter, or desserts. Sugary, buttery treats abounded in our kitchen due to my thin mother who loved to shop at the bakery each week, making my new regime a miserable challenge. But I wanted clear skin, so I bit the bullet and was faithful to my instructions. In the course of about eight months, I had lost more than fifteen pounds. I’m not sure if the diet actually helped my complexion, but it certainly had wonderful side-effects.

The bleeding of my soul-wound was arrested.

The compliments rang out from friends and family, and my school friends looked at me with respect instead of derision.

The wound began to dry up and form a scab.

I can still see myself looking into a full-length mirror at a fancy dress shop, staring at a thin girl wearing her first pretty dress. AND NOT LOOKING FAT AT ALL.

My self-hatred shrank into a little tumor, dried up and eventually blew away–not overnight, but throughout the next few years until my soul was healed. I’m sure that it was my relationship with Jesus that made my healing complete. Without Him, I would probably still be nursing scars about my self-esteem to this day.

Where is your point of pain?    

IMG_7697                                                                         

In today’s culture we suffer from all types of wounds that cannot be kissed away or solved through dieting. We suffer through the stress of broken relationships and financial burdens, to name a few, which in turn can cause serious illnesses and disease. What is the answer to finding inner-healing?

The answer begins with a universal spiritual wound every human being shares. Because of Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, everyone’s spirit is born into sin. Think about it—do you have to teach a toddler to share…to be obedient…to be truthful? These sinful traits are inbred in everyone.

But the good news of the gospel saves us out of our original fate. That is why making a decision about Jesus is crucial to our lives on Earth and especially in eternity.

Where do we start? At the beginning, of course. We first must have a personal relationship with Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. It’s not a denomination issue—rather, it’s a relationship issue. Anyone can come to the cross of Christ from any religion–or none at all–to meet the living God.

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NASB).

At the point of salvation we receive the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth. He is our comforter and our teacher. Through daily prayer and study of His word, we develop that spiritual relationship where He will provide the answers we seek. We will find healing for our soul-wounds at the feet of Jesus. He comes running to us, picks us up, and lovingly asks us where it hurts.

When Jesus touches us, soul-wounds stop bleeding…. form a scab…and in time, disappear.

There is healing in the name of Jesus. Just ask Him now and see what He can do.

“…and (they) brought to Him all who were sick; and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured” (Matthew 14:35-36 NASB).