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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirit, as Seen Through the Cross

Start with 2 God glorifying songs, "Lord, I Need You"  and  "Lamb of God" by Twila Paris

Galatians a book about establishing the true and good foundation of the Spirit. The enemy of the Spirit led Christian life is clearly stated to be, our own works. This is not new, Isaiah said 64:For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear,
Nor has the eye seen a God besides You,
Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.
You meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
Behold, You were angry, for we sinned,
We continued in them a long time;
And shall we be saved?For all of us have become like one who is unclean,And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on Your name,
Who arouses himself to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us
And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities.

But now, O Lord, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord,
Nor remember iniquity forever;
Behold, look now, all of us are Your people.

The plain meaning of filthy garment, in the original Hebrew language is...
so this isn't the ordinary “greasy, mechanic's rag” it is not just a dirty “washcloth”. So why do the translators hesitate to say what the words say? Is part of it a pride that refuses to believe our works are really that...repugnant?

It is not about you, most of my lack of patience, peace, kindness, self-control, come from an inward attitude that it is “about me.” So when my wife makes a comment or gives a look that indicates, “It's ON!” (not in a good way) Something rises up in me that makes this moment about me, I am being attacked, I need to kick in the “fight or flight” thing and handle this.... not so. I have another choice, a God-honoring choice, “Step back from the flesh and walk in the Spirit”, let Jesus answer.

Rom. 8:5,13, Galatians 5:16,25 We need the Spirit to walk in the Spirit. We need the fruit of the Spirit to live for God.

We have too low of a view of these words and their impossibility. Only the supernatural working of the Spirit of God in us, enables us to live this out.

Love=Hosea 14:4-6
Joy=Paul 2 Cor. 11:23-30
Peace=Job 13:15
Patience=Isaac (wells) Genesis 26:15-23
Kindness=Elisha, and the enemy troops 2 Kings 6:8-23
Goodness=slave girl, Namann 2 Kings 5:1-3
Gentleness=Joseph Genesis 45:4,5
Faithfulness=Jeremiah, Lamentations 3:21 Ruth 1:12,13
Self-control=David, when dealing with Saul, not Bathsheba, but he was a man after God's own heart, because he realized God did not want him to be better, God wanted him to recognize the mercy of God and the need of mercy, the perpetual need of mercy.

We can't love like Hosea
We can't work up joy like Paul
We would not have peace like Job
We would have never made it to the ? well, like Isaac did.
Kindness is not just putting up with people it is lavishing love on the person who came with the desire to conquer you.
Gentleness is not just “sucking it up” long enough to “get along” until they “leave” your space. Gentleness is restoring and offering forgiveness. BECAUSE God meant it for good, while you are recognizing the realness of what happened.
Self-control is only existing in you because it is fruit of His Spirit in you. Turn from God for 1 second and you will realize all the self-control that David exercised can be far, far gone.

King Alphonso of Portugal said that if God had consulted him at the creation, about the placements and motions of the planets and stars, etc.--that he would have contrived them better than they are. I suppose the poor man took the schemes and dreams of the astronomers of his day--to be an accurate representation of the solar system.
It sounds, however, like a blasphemous speech in our ears. We take it for granted that the Sun, the Moon, planets, and the stars are exactly where they should be--and move just as they ought.

But if we are content that the Lord should manage the 
heavenly bodies without our assistance--we are ready enough to advise Him how He should manage of our insignificant selves! We think we could point at twenty things in our situation which might be mended; and that we would serve Him much better than we do--if we were but at liberty to choose where and how we would be thus placed.

Thus we rightly censure 
King Alphonso's folly--without being aware that the thoughts that we sometimes indulge, are no less vain and arrogant than his! We might with as much reason, offer to assist God in the government of the universe--as in the direction of our own paltry concerns.

"All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: What have You done?" Daniel 4:35


The principle is this: Whatever we observe, study and contemplate most shapes our thinking and trains our affections. As John Piper says: We become what we behold. This is right from the Bible. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18,
We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
The more we meditate on true glory, the more true glory we will see and enjoy. The more we meditate on lesser things, the less we will see and enjoy glory. We become what we behold.

The Word of Salvation

I would add one more word of application. Even if modern medicine has wonderfully and rightly lifted much of the pain and lasting wounds of childbirth, every mother knows that sin takes its toll on every aspect of marriage, and birth, and child-rearing. Any of these may swell and threaten to swallow a woman in despair.
I believe it is a legitimate application of this text to say: God’s word to all those burdens and frustrations and miseries is No! This is not my last word to you! My word is salvation! My word, in and through every fiery trial, is to save you, rescue you, preserve you, and give you a future and a hope. All of that through faith in Jesus Christ.

Deep water that I came across as I was studying this, but I don't know it enough to teach it so I will just “share it.” There is a place that the faithfulness and mercy of God will bring a believer to, who keeps on pressing in. A place where they are no longer using God, even to obtain things that appear to glorify God. The will of God is desired above all self-interest. It is a place, where “the ruler of this world comes, but he has nothing in Me.” John 14:30
The deeds of the flesh, Gal. 5:19-21, Ingratitude definitely plays a part in this, but the majority of these works have a root in “instant gratification now.”

Hebrews 10:32 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33 partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34 For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

Rev. 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

All that sums up God; His heart and truth, are demonstrated at the cross. Wherever there is a willing suffering to maintain obedience to God, that wisdom is being demonstrated.
To choose as our first purpose of being, to demonstrate the wisdom of God.
To choose obedience when there is absolutely no benefit that will accrue to us.
To choose to embrace the call of God with no concern for self-interest.
This is ultimately where the fruit of the Spirit is leading us. To live a life with the glory of God at the center, with the single-eyed desire of His eternal purpose.

Isaiah 9:6,7 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Not your zeal (or we are right back to the first point) Faith is trust, quiet confidence in God that He will perform His word. How much time was invested in Elijah, before he appeared on the scene and said to Ahab, “As the Lord my God lives, it will not rain..”?
We do not know. God does not consider the cost too high, to form a man or a woman, or a couple, in such a way that they are totally pliable in His hands.

How do we get there, James? Just add, “by the power of the Spirit” to each of these statements.

Draw near to God . . .” (James 4:8). Knock— the door is closed, and your heartbeat races as you knock. “Cleanse your hands . . .” (James 4:8). Knock a bit louder— you begin to find that you are dirty. “. . . purify your hearts . . .” (James 4:8). It is becoming even more personal— you are desperate and serious now— you will do anything. “Lament . . . ” (James 4:9). Have you ever lamented, expressing your sorrow before God for the condition of your inner life? There is no thread of self-pity left, only the heart-rending difficulty and amazement which comes from seeing what kind of person you really are. “Humble yourselves . . . ” (James 4:10). It is a humbling experience to knock at God’s door— you have to knock with the crucified thief. “. . . to him who knocks it will be opened(Luke 11:10).

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