What does it mean, the fruit of the Spirit is love?

What does it mean, the fruit of the Spirit is love?

The Bible verse you are referring to is from a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to fellow Christians in the city of Galatia, in what is now central Turkey.

… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:22,23

Paul explains that when you ask God’s Spirit to guide your life, you will become more loving of others and know an overarching joy and peace in all circumstances. You will also become more tolerant of those who offend you, and be more willing to show kindness to those who are not kind to you—something that is usually very difficult without the Spirit guiding your thoughts and actions.

Likewise, you will find that doing good and being faithful in your relationships and your work will come more naturally. You will be gentle in your speech and actions, and in all ways you will find yourself better able to control your destructive behaviors.

A tree bears fruit based on its DNA plus water and nutrients it absorbs through its roots. Good genetics, the right amount of water and the correct balance of nutrients will yield good fruit. In the same way, when you allow God’s spirit to infill you, your life will yield wonderful fruit.

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What Can a Person do to have a Clean Heart?

What Can a Person do to have a Clean Heart?

There is a familiar quote that says, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” We know from life experiences that when something or someone needs gets soiled a bath or a cleaning up is required. We wash clothes, dishes, cars and of course our bodies to keep them clean and get the dirt out. In some fashion we want to be seen as Mr. or Mrs. Clean, just like the character in the commercial.

In most cultures, outward appearances are considered important. What most people fail to recognize is that while ‘man’ looks at the outside God looks and sees the inside, the condition of the human heart. God’s standard of clean is perfection because He is Holy.

In this context, we are not referring to the beating physical heart but to the very essence of a person’s being, or the real self that resides within the human eternal soul. The ‘heart’ defines the individual’s personality and character. In other words, the real you is on full display to God at all times. A person cannot achieve a clean heart on their own efforts. A clean heart is only possible by the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit through a life-transforming personal relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.

So, therein lies the answer. While there is absolutely nothing a person can do to achieve a clean heart on his or her own, God can and wants to do just that for everyone, as all are created in His image. It becomes a matter of personal choice and a decision of the will. In Psalm 51:1-2 we read King David’s prayer,  “Have mercy on me O God…cleanse me from my sin…create in me a pure clean heart.”

David is pleading with God to make his heart new, forgive his sin and receive the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit to keep it pure so he can have a restored loving relationship with God in the present and for all eternity. God is waiting to cleanse your heart today. All you need to do is ask. It’s that simple. Why wait? No one is assured of tomorrow.

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Does God Still Speak to Us?

Does God Still Speak to Us?

In the Bible, there are many references to times where God personally interacted with humans. A few of the examples were Adam, Abraham, Jeremiah, and Moses. God still speaks to us today in many different ways. The most common way now is by reading His inspired Word, the Bible. It’s often said, if you want to ‘hear’ God speak, read the Bible out loud, especially the quoted words of Jesus.(Red Letter Editions)

From the New Testament we know that for 3 ½ years Jesus spoke to us words given to him directly from God. He said,” I only say what the Father has given me to say.” We must realize that Jesus Christ, Emanuel, was and is God with us then, now and for all eternity. So, in addition to the above ways, there is still another way that God speaks to us now.

If a person is a Christian and has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit of God, if one is listening, speaks directly into one’s mind and reaches into our hearts. In personal quiet times of meditation and reflection on God’s Word we actually are able to engage in a conversation with Him. The secret is to just be silent and listen for God to speak.  Finally, yes, we can say with confidence that God still speaks to us.

What does it mean to have a Transformational Encounter with Jesus Christ?

What does it mean to have a Transformational Encounter with Jesus Christ?

Let’s start with a definition. Transform means to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, outward appearance and character of a person.

So, looking at it from God’s perspective, the first step in the transformational process is to personally commit your life to Jesus Christ. You will then know that He and His presence are real, both in the world and within you. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to guide the transformation. The principle is that God never leaves you as you were before you accepted Christ and decided to follow Him. God has a much better plan for your future than you could have ever dreamed or imagined. Your life’s purpose, activities, priorities, goals, worldview and much more will now be different. Here are some of the changes you can expect.

You will find yourself with an intense desire to get into God’s Word, the Bible, and learn and understand more about Him and the Christian life. You will really ‘hunger after His Word’, your ‘Daily Bread’. You will be praying more. Your prayer time will be both intimate and personal with the Lord. You will come to cherish your time together. Your friends will change. First, you will tell them about your new relationship and if they are not interested you will develop new friendships with other believers. Conversations will change from the usual mundane topics of weather, politics, events, etc., to those of a personal spiritual nature. You will look for new frontiers in your discussions.

Interest in materialism and the secular culture will diminish. Yes, you will continue to work and earn a living but it will no longer become the center of your life’s goal. Your interests and concerns will gradually be directed towards people, not things. Emotions like hatred, jealousy, envy, etc. will become a thing of the past and be replaced with genuine feelings of caring, compassion, forgiveness and love. You will develop a strong desire to share your faith with others because of the joy in newly transformed life and hope within you.

In this life each person thinks that he or she has the power and control over what life will be like. That discretion is called our free will. When the choice is made to trust in Jesus, one becomes a ‘New Creation in Christ’ and the transformation begins. No longer does the world’s value system determine life’s choices, rather the Holy Spirit directs your total existence if you are willing and listen.

Picture the lowly caterpillar transformed into a beautiful Butterfly. That’s what God’s intent is for every person because God is love and sent his son Jesus Christ into the world to give each person the opportunity to know Him, to live with meaning and purpose and gain eternal life. That is the Transformational Encounter!

Does God speak to us personally?

Does God speak to us personally?

Yes, but often we’re not listening. God created man and woman in his image, that is he gave them the capacity to communicate in a way that is different from all the other creatures in the world. He gave them the capacity to interact with the creator of not just the world, but the universe as well. He wanted these beings to enjoy a pain-free, stress-free eternal life in communion with him.

When the first man and woman decided that they could be the equal of the creator, they separated themselves from God and set mankind on a death spiral.
But God never abandoned his most precious creation and instituted a plan to restore his relationship with them.

That plan began with the setting apart a group of people through whom the world would be blessed. The plan culminated with the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ who sacrificed himself to atone for all the wrongdoings of everyone whoever lived and who will ever live on earth.

We read the story of God and his people in the Bible and learn of his personal interaction with him. Today we can still hear his voice. Sometimes it is through the Bible, the holy scriptures inspired by God. Sure, the various books in the Bible were written at different times, with specific purposes to specific audiences. However, the truths contained there can speak to those who open their hearts and mind to hear God speaking to them.

The apostle Paul, who wrote many of the letters that are included in the Bible, reminds us that:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”    2 Timothy 3:16-17

God speaks through the written word (logos), as well as through the Holy Spirit (rhema), which as believers, we receive when we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. God made us each individual and He speaks to us in the way that we receive information; a visual learner versus an audible learner. God confirms Himself through others, though it’s best to check with scripture and confirm that what you believe God is saying to you is true to His character.

Does becoming a Christian mean my life will be easy?

Does becoming a Christian mean my life will be easy?

Two weeks ago we addressed the question, “Why is life so hard?” We regularly need to be reminded that at times life can be difficult. There is no way around that. We live in a fallen world where sin reigns mostly due to our human nature and our own choices. Sometimes the choices that others make hurt us and contribute to our discomfort. Unfortunately becoming a follower of Christ does not mean that suddenly life becomes easy. So maybe the question should be asked a different way.

How will becoming a Christian help me deal with the hard times in my life?

Think about who we are as humans. We are selfish and prideful and make wrong choices. That pretty much describes everyone with whom you interact. That’s why we all end up hurting ourselves and others and why others hurt us. But God’s good news is that Christians have a helper, we call the Holy Spirit, to comfort us when we we’re hurting; to help us see clearly when the road ahead is cloudy and dark. Life doesn’t necessarily become easier, but you are better able to endure your suffering knowing that as you sincerely call on God, he will give you peace.

When the first humans chose to break their relationship with God (Gen. 2:16-17), he promised he would provide a way to restore that relationship. He did that by first sending his son, Jesus, to suffer the consequences of our separating ourselves from God. Then he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell all those who accept the death of Jesus as the substitute for their own death, and choose to become a follower of Jesus. They, in effect, are born anew. As such, each Christian can enjoy a measure of peace knowing that Jesus has “overcome this world” (John 16:33).

James, Jesus’ half-brother, wrote that we should change our perspective when we face these difficulties, because they produce joy and maturity in us when we rely on God for help in these circumstances (James 1:2-4, 2 Cor. 4:17). For a Christian, facing life’s difficulties is easier knowing that:

“The joy of the Lord is our strength”

          Nehemiah 8:10