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Archive for December, 2011

Love’s Fruit Is Love

December 30th, 2011

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…

Galatians 5:22

The work of Christ within us is always new. He does not improve the old personality, rather He does a new work within us. Oswald Chambers’ devotional for today was exactly on this matter. He wrote:

Our Lord never patches up our natural virtues, He re-makes the whole man on the inside. “Put on the new man,” i.e., see that your natural human life puts on the garb that is in keeping with the new life. The life God plants in us develops its own virtues, not the virtues of Adam but of Jesus Christ. Watch how God will wither up your confidence in natural virtues after sanctification, and in any power you have, until you learn to draw your life from the reservoir of the resurrection life of Jesus. Thank God if you are going through a drying-up experience!

The first three aspects of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul described relate to our innermost life: Love, Joy and Peace. These three are connected, as are all the others also, but these three seem to frame the basic foundation of the New Man’s personality that God is creating. Paul wrote:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24

Love: Bible expositors take this in various ways – whether love for God or love for man or both. I believe it is best to take the broadest understanding of this, that the work of God transforms us into new creations possessed of His love at the very core of our being, and from this love all else comes as it overflows into every area of our thoughts and values. Because of its depth it encompasses thoughts, emotions, choices, actions, values, and perspectives. We cannot understand anything about life really until this love of God sets about transforming us within.

It is specifically love directed toward Christ; Peter wrote, “whom not having seen, you love” (1 Peter 1:8). It must have been an amazing thing for the apostles who had personally known Jesus of Nazareth to hear people they evangelized express their love for Him. I cannot love Jesus in the flesh and when I have tried I have failed. In his flesh Peter could not remain faithful to Jesus even a few hours at His arrest and trial, yet in the Spirit Peter’s dedication lasted to the very end of his life.

So the central business of a Christian is to let the love of God change us – not just the objective knowledge of the love of God for us, as inspiring as that is, but the personal receiving of His love, “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5). The example of others may help us (Phil. 4:9), and the sacrifice of Christ is intended to instruct and inspire us (John 13:12-17 and Rom. 5:8). But Paul is referring to something different here – the inner work of the Spirit.

We are very prone to equate love with emotion, but emotion is selfish and love is anything but selfish. Emotion is always about how I feel at the moment, and if I am not surrendered to God’s Spirit, if I am not allowing Him to do His work within, my sentiments may appear religious but they will not stand the test. Emotion surrendered to the Spirit that rises out of God’s work in the innermost person, will be but the tip of the iceberg of our experience. We will be conscious of a deeper and more profound work within – the reproduction of the character of Christ in our spirits.

Stay with Him in communion until you sense in your soul that His love is within you. Tarry, take time, abide, remain in His presence in devotion and thought until this has begun to happen, for this is the first responsibility of the Christian for the development of the inner spiritual life.

Prayer:

Lord, lead us to Your love. Fill us with Yourself. Pour into our hearts in abundance the character of Your true nature. Let us stand in Your love. Amen.

Evening Devotionals ,

The Fruit of the Spirit Is

December 29th, 2011

But the fruit of the Spirit is…

Galatians 5:22

The Bible often compares the proclamation of the Word of God to planting a seed in our minds, one that germinates and grows. God’s truth is a foreign influence to our souls, like a seed planted in a field, and the contrast between us and Him could not be greater. We are at our best like dead dirt, farm land that is prepared for planting, broken up, moist, ready for that work of God to take root and grow. At our worst we are like farm land filled with briers and weeds, hard like baked clay, exposed and open to anything that might steal or devour the seed before it can sprout.

Some come to the Word for an argument, ready to take on preachers, Christians, and ultimately God. Some shun it as unimportant, outdated trivia, as though God does not have the right to plant any thought or value of His into the soil of human thought. But for those who receive the seed of God’s truth, who believe in Christ, they find that their thoughts and values are changed.

Fruit – the word is not accidentally used here. Fruit has the idea of life behind it, something with immeasurable potential that catches on and produces in unlimited supply the work of God. The true amount of fruit that the tiniest seed can produce is impossible to say. We may count the seeds in an apple, but it is impossible to count the apples in a single seed. So the word “fruit” is meant to convey the life of God which also knows no limits. He revolutionizes the human soul, and has no limitations in what He can do within us, and He also spreads from person to person, from culture to culture, and nation to nation, even generation to generation.

Spirit – God is at work within each believer. We are not changed by seminars or courses, or dynamic teachers – though God may use all of these. We are changed by God as His Spirit takes His truth and re-molds and re-shapes our hearts. To the Corinthians Paul wrote:

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:2-6

Because there is One Spirit of God there is also one fruit; He is doing identical transformational work in all believers. Gifts may differ, and each soul is dealt with in a unique way, but the Personality that changes us is God Himself. The basic work of God’s Spirit is to liberate our hearts from the bondage of the old life, of sin, of pride, of death, of lust, and to bring us into His glorious freedom. And that freedom is described in terms of becoming like Christ through the ministry of His Spirit.

Is – The verb used is also instructive. He did not say was, will be, or might become, rather he used the simple verb estin, translated into English as “is.” God always “is.” He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Revelation gave us this beautiful descriptive phrase, “Who was and is and is to come,” and bound in those words is the concept of the being of God. Or as the old country preacher described it, the “Is-ness of God.” He is the great I Am, and He will always be who He is. We are to be molded into His image as He comes to abide within and just simply is Himself.

God is at work in our hearts today and tonight and at all times, reproducing His character, growing on the inside, maturing us, but more than just maturing. He is bringing real life inside of us. Day by day our duty is to repent from dead works and to lay our souls open to His Spirit’s work within, to be like good farm soil, soft, moist, and ready to receive. Some of the seed will fall on good ground. Will we be that good soil for His work? (Luke 8:15) In His work there are no man made limitations.

Prayer:

Lord, reproduce Your self in our hearts. Let that within us which was hardened by pride and lust be softened by Your love and grace. Amen.

Evening Devotionals ,