Posts Tagged ‘Fruit of the Holy Spirit’

h1

RETELLING PROVERBS 7 – Sept. 30

September 30, 2015

“My son, keep my words and treasure up my commands with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.”  Proverbs 7:1-3

This is my attempt to retell the advice of Proverbs 7
in the context of this present age.

My son, I have some advice for you.

Pause for a time;

Hear what I have learned,

That you may receive wisdom and not pain;

That you will be guarded by knowledge and not nature.

For all that is shapely is not trim;

And not all that is buxom is natural.

Hear the truth in my words;

Value the understanding of experience.

A day will come when you will doubt the relevance of old men.

And dismiss advice as uninformed.

Therefore, settle the matter in your mind.

Decide if truth will be the foundation of your principles;

Be as familiar with her as of your sister’s image;

Know your principles as well as any intimate friend,

To keep you from the temptation of seduction.

The familiar story, you have heard.

A young man, full of naïve confidence,

Convinced of his own resolutions,

Purposefully pursues an avenue without sense.

Foolish boy who plays with indwelling fire,

Without an ability to extinguish.

He closes the door, beyond the eyes of elders.

A singular face illuminated by a screen;

Fully aware of the call echoing within;

Lying in wait.

Harmless browsing, bannered by advertising;

Images unsought sponsor a search;

Articles of the alluring allure;

Lists of the hottest ignite heat;

News of the attractive attract;

Only the simple ignore the sequence.

A swing of the door leads to a click on something dormant;

A scroll through the dormant germinates to a click on scantily cladded;

A scroll through the scantily cladded sprouts to a click on the claddless;

A scroll through the claddless blossoms to a click on the corrupt.

A slide starts with a solitary swing.

And now, O Son, listen to me,

And be attentive to the words of my mouth.

Do not believe those who claim no harm in pornography;

Do not value the famous who belittle the value of morality;

Do not credit bondage as freedom;

Do not confuse forgiveness with relevance.

This sin is written with a cursor of steel;

With an icon of diamond it carves cravings into the soul.

Cravings create a crack;

Cracks create a cleft;

Clefts keep one from the power of the One.

Everyday, you train your mind to either,

Seek the pleasure of God

Or the pleasure of flesh.

Let not your heart be turned by a door and swing;

Do not illuminate your face in privacy,

For many have been trapped

And their morality harvested;

Countless convictions have yielded to this call and compromise.

Pornography is a house along a path leading from God;

Those who travel it will never find Him.

Do not think that there are no consequences

To actions behind swinging doors.

PRAYER: Lord, I pray for all those caught in pornography.  Father, I ask that your healing and restoration will abide on all those caught in this sin who call upon your name.  Lord, keep me and my son from this hidden sin.  I ask that you will grow in us this fruit of your Spirit, self-control.  Help us to rely upon you in all things.  Help us to be aware of the danger.  Help us to be careful to love you with all of our heart, soul, and strength. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

h1

“No One Waits for a Domestique (LOTOJA Part 3)” – Sept. 21

September 21, 2015

“It shall not be so among you.  But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:26-28

Thank you for sticking with me as I have reflected upon my experience at the 2015 LOTOJA.  You can find part one and two here:  No One Waits for a Domestique (LOTOJA Part 1); No One Waits for a Domestique (LOTOJA Part 2).lotoja map_thumb[2]

I surmise that the general impression from the reading of my LOTOJA experience will be viewed as rather negative.

The LOTOJA is a very long bike ride on which you experience many emotions.  I experienced spectacular vistas, exceptional volunteers, and the exhilaration of achievement.  Yet, those experiences are not what come to my mind as I reflect upon the LOTOJA.  I have to consciously push aside my memories of frustration to mine the positive from my LOTOJA experience.

This reality demonstrates a distinct failure on my behalf. 

I allowed the behavior of others to dominate my perception of an epic ride.  I grumbled through seventy-five percent of my LOTOJA. My grumbling was fixated upon actions that demonstrated a disregard of my expectations.  I realize that the recounting of my fellow riders may characterize them as being rude.  However, it is not an entirely fair characterization.  They are good guys.  I never perceived any ill will through our trip.

Therefore, I choose to view my LOTOJA as a case study in differing expectations.

The term domestique, in cycling road racing, refers to the cyclist who works for the team and team leader.  They are the cyclists who carry the water bottles and food and do the work of pulling team members through difficult sections.  The French word, Domestique, is translated “servant.”

I had the expectation that this ride would consist of a team composed entirely of domestiques.  We were going to be servants to each other in order that we would all finish together.

981002_10201434224324276_965735367_oApparently, my team did not share my expectation.  They held an understanding more typical of cycling racing in which a domestique is dropped when he ceases to be useful.  My grumbling originated in the offensiveness of being treated as a domestique.  No one waits for a domestique and I had expected someone to wait for me.

I grumbled away the blessings of an epic ride dwelling upon unfulfilled expectations.

I confess that the LOTOJA is not the first time where I have allowed my grumbling to dominate the perception of my life.  I have expectations, like most people.  Those expectations typically reside upon people who are close to me.  I have expectations of family, friends, and Church fellowship.  I have the most expectations of those who have joined me on this spiritual journey called “life.”

I have relatively few expectations, beyond lawfulness, of those who are outside the immediacy of my life.  I don’t have a problem with them treating me as a servant.  If a person is not a Christian, I don’t expect him to display the fruits of the Spirit.  As John Newton  stated, they warrant my deepest pity, kindness, and prayers.  If he is a Christian, I seem to be more inclined to extend him grace because I don’t know his level of spiritual maturity.

I struggle most when those who are close to me treat me like a domestique.  I am referring to those situations when someone we consider a teammate in life acts upon differing expectations or fails to live up to our standard.

It hurts when those expectations are not fulfilled. 

It hurts to be disregarded.
It hurts not to be valued.
It hurts to be perceived as useless.
It hurts not to be included.

It hurts to be treated as a servant.

long_road-aheadI have wasted too much of this epic life grumbling about being treated like a domestique.  I know of too many circumstances where someone has allowed an offense to linger for years because of a failure to meet an expectation.

I have no solution to avoid the hurt.  We live in a messy world.  Those who are close to me are imperfect humans with indwelling sin.  I am an imperfect man in need of sanctification.  We will let each other down and treat each other in ways that are perceived as undeserving.

Our fundamental problem is that we don’t inherently want to be treated as a servant.  We get our feelings hurt when we are not appreciated or valued or included.

We grumble when we are actually treated like the very person we have been called to be.  Many Christians are comfortable with the title of servant just as long as they are not treated as such.

Ideally, we would live in a community abounding in the fruit of the Spirit where everyone has a servant’s attitude.  It would be like the perfect group ride where we are servants to each other in order that we would all finish well together.  That perfect world is coming, but it is not here today.   Our reality is that sometimes our teammates lose their servant’s attitude and do not reciprocate our expectations of servanthood and we are left feeling like a lowly domestique.

USAPCC_2Jesus called himself a domesitque.  Jesus did not come into this world to be served but to serve and he continued to serve even went He was treated like a servant…and worse.

We have been given an epic life to live.  Don’t allow the behavior of others to dominate your perception of value.  There are those in this world who may treat you like a lowly domestique.  Are you living for them?

God calls the true domestique great.  Greatness in the eyes of our Lord is our goal.  May we be true servants; in actions and attitudes.

PRAYER:  Father, forgive me for so often taking title of servant, but not the attitude.  Forgive me for allowing the opinions of others to dominate my perception.  Forgive me for not seeking first your kingdom and greatness in your eyes.  Help me Lord to be a servant in actions and attitude.  Help me to be joyful in being treated as your Son was treated; like a servant.  Give me a heart that values your approval above all others.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

h1

“No One Waits for a Domestique (LOTOJA Part 2)” – Sept. 18

September 18, 2015

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I apologize for the length of this recounting.  In the spirit of Treebeard, the LOTOJA (Logan, Utah to Jackson, Wyoming) takes a very long time to ride, hopefully, it is worth taking a long time to recount.   You can find part one here:  No One Waits for a Domestique (LOTOJA Part 1).
lotoja map_thumb[2]

After catching up with my team at the top of Strawberry Summit, we pedaled on as a reduced team of four.  We had two more climbs and about 60 miles until our next stop in Afton, Wyoming were we would meet our own support crew.  It was so nice to work within my own team.  I slowed my pace to fit the team as we all took turns pulling the group in order to conserve energy.  My irritation evaporated with the increasing temperatures of mid-day and the friendly chatter within the group.  We stopped for about 20 minutes to fix one team members shoe cleat but other than that we made good time.

We passed over Geneva Summit without much problem and headed into the last major climb after stopping to allow a couple of the team members time to recover.  I have a climbing cassette (12-30 gears) on my bike for rides like the LOTOJA.  It allows me to keep my cadence up on climbs without burning out my legs.  I can spin freely but I don’t go very fast.  As a result, I was the last team member to summit the Salt River pass.  My climbing cassette had worked wonderfully but the heat and duration of climb had still taken it out of me.   I rolled into the rest station to find one team member anxious to get off the pass.  I acquiesced after taking on some water but not fully recovering.  It is all downhill into to Afton, so I thought I would be fine.

The descent off of Salt River is fun.  It is a wide highway with long, sweeping curves that allow you to really let loose.  Since my legs were still a little fatigued, I let the team go on the descent at 40 mph.  I figured that we would regroup at the base and pedal into Afton together.  However, I was dismayed to see my team about a quarter mile ahead of me when I came out of the tuck of my descent.  They had jumped onto a group of other riders and were pedaling away.  I dropped into an aero position with the intent of trying to catch up but that was when the headwind hit me.

There would be no catching up with this head wind.

I finally soloed into Afton, exhausted and infuriated.  My team never waited for me and as a result I had expended precious energy bucking a headwind mostly by myself.  I tossed my helmet onto the ground as I approached my team already recovering in the park.  I thought I was done and I was ready to quit this so-called team.  I sat down and began to indignantly eat through my weariness.  Fortunately, my self-control returned just prior to my ability to coherently communicate so I was able to restrain myself from expressing my consternation in a manner that I would later regret.

We rolled out of Afton as a team.  I realized that my appreciation of landscapes was declining in direct proportion to the accumulation of miles.  Beyond 120 miles, I had to remind myself to periodically look up and behold the beautiful country that we were cycling through.  We were now focused more on the 8:30 PM cutoff time.  One team member abandoned the ride in Alpine so we were down to three.

I was concerned about the cut-off time so I took the majority of the pulls after Alpine.  I had gotten my second wind and was feeling pretty strong.  I pulled our group through the out-skirts of Jackson, Wyoming, accumulating slower riders who jumped on as we passed them.  I took a break after a particularly long pull, falling behind my two remaining teammates.  While I was still recovering, we passed over a drainage grate when I heard twang-clank-clank.  I wasn’t sure what happened but everything seemed fine and the sun was setting.  So, we pedaled on.

I realized something was wrong when my turn to pull came.  Pedaling had become really hard.  I was struggling to keep the pace of my team.  I fell to the back and did everything I could to just hang onto the wheel ahead of me.  The sun was going down and my team members turned on their headlights.  I didn’t have one.

We approached a slower rider and my team accelerated around them.  I tried to go when it was my turn but I didn’t have anything left.  It was taking all of my effort to just keep the pedals moving.  They were quickly 100 yards ahead and I had no voice.  I watched the light of their headlights flicker into the distance.  They had left me, again.

I rode on alone doing everything I could to maintain 12 mph worried that they were going stop me due to the darkness.  I surmised that I had expended too much energy trying to get us to Jackson before sunset and was now tanking out.  The last fifteen miles to the finish line were the hardest I have ever pedaled.

I crossed the finish line exhausted.  After dismounting, I started walking in the direction of the guiding volunteers.  I went to pull my bike alongside me but the rear tire would only skid.  I pulled harder and the tire rolled but again began to slide.  You don’t think very clearly after 200 miles so it took me a little while to realize my problem.  I could now see in the illuminated dark that the twang-clank-clank I heard at sunset was the breaking of a spoke on my rear wheel.  I had just ridden 10+ miles on an out-of-balance wheel, which was rubbing against my brakes.  That is why it was so hard.

The overwhelming feeling that coursed through me as I was handed my finishing metal was:

“I’m glad that is over.”

I learned a lot on that long ride through three states.  In the next post, I will share some of the reflections that a clearer mind has sifted through.

h1

“No One Waits for a Domestique (LOTOJA Part 1)” – Sept. 17

September 17, 2015

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 

The LOTOJA (Logan, Utah to Jackson, Wyoming) is an epic cycling event.  The ride takes you over 205 miles, three summits, and through three States, all in one day.lotoja map_thumb[2]

It is a very long day.

Accepting the challenge of the LOTOJA seemed like a good idea in March, but as September approached my trepidation grew.  I found confidence in the fact that I was part of a team.  We had five riders and we were going to stick together so everyone would finish.  We were not concerned about any time other than the cut-off time.  As a team, we could cross the LOTOJA off of our individual bucket lists.

That plan fell apart from the start of the ride.  Some of our team members are not morning people and as a result we got to the starting line with just minutes to spare from our 6:27AM start.  This was also the time when my decision to drink another cup of coffee while waiting made its presence felt.  I hurriedly sought out a Port-a-Potty.  I did all that I could to hasten this untimely call of nature but by the time I got back to the starting line they were already lining up the next wave of riders.

My team was gone.

I started my LOTOJA by cycling through Logan, Utah in the dark.  I pedaled along, slightly consternated about being abandoned, but I figured that they would wait for me at the first stop in Preston, Utah, 33 miles ahead.  I rode by myself for about 15 miles until another group came along and I was able to jump onto their pace line, which took me into Preston.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

I rolled into my designated feed zone at Preston with the surprise of not seeing any familiar faces.  I wandered around for a while in search of our support crew until I finally resorted to my cell phone.  Fortunately, the support crew was still there but it was disheartening to hear that my team had just left Preston within minutes of my arrival.  I was on my own, again, until the base of Strawberry Mountain, where I was told that they would wait for me.

I pedaled on, jumping onto other groups of cyclists when I could and pedaled solo when I couldn’t.  I passed a rest station at the base of the first small climb.  There was no team waiting for me.  My irritation grew as I watched the miles accumulate on my odometer.  I pasted over the summit of the first climb to find it vacated by my team.  “Surely they’ll wait for me at the bottom of the descent”, I thought.

1Buff Bill SH near UXU RncUnsurprisingly, there was no team at the bottom of the descent.  I started the ascent of Strawberry Summit with the realization that I might just have to finish this ride solo.  After riding through beautiful farm land and into rolling mountains canvased with a stunning combination of pine and deciduous trees, I came to the rest station at the top of Strawberry Summit.  To my surprise, there was my team getting ready to leave.  It had taken about 60 miles but I had finally caught up with them.  This time they waited but there were only three cyclists.  One team member had decided to drop them and ride solo.

I thought that odd.  This is not what I had expected from a team ride.

(The LOTOJA is a long ride.  It probably shouldn’t be surprising that the recounting of it takes a long time.  Therefore, I am breaking my tale up into a series of post.)

h1

FEAR OF FALLING – Sept. 8

September 8, 2015

“Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.”  Joshua 23:11

DSC_0011-ZF-5601-95690-1-001-010I recently returned with my family from our vacation to Northern Idaho and Montana.  A highlight of this vacation was ziplining within views of Coeur d’Alene Lake.  It was thrilling to soar from treetop to treetop, unencumbered by the constraints of the ground.  A zipline may just be the best substitute for wings available to man.DSC_0019-ZF-5601-95690-1-001-018

 

This activity was a huge accomplishment for my wife who has a fear of heights.  Her fear of heights is a misnomer.  She has a fear of falling.  Therefore, I appreciated the care taken by the tour guides of Timberline Adventures.  Our guides were very careful to make certain that we were always secured from falling.  We had safety harnesses that were always attached to the trolley, a tree, or a railing.

DSC_0021-ZF-5601-95690-1-001-020TheDSC_0023-ZF-5601-95690-1-001-022y were very careful because the danger was real.  That danger could have kept us from soaring.  It could have kept us from experiencing th
e heights.  It could have prevented us from encountering the freedom of an eagle.

 

By being very careful, we were prevented from falling and we saw the world from a new perspective.

The word “careful” has been resonating in my mind as I have observed the revelations and opinions spilling into the public awareness after the disclosure of the Ashely Madison registrants.  The mere existent of a website like Ashely Madison is a stark reminder of the current condition of our society.

We live in a careless culture.

Consider the habitual attitude inhabiting a mind, long before a person registers on a site like Ashely Madison.  Those exposed in this latest of scandals probably embraced the carelessness of our culture long before any action was taken.  This revelation is not an abnormality and not limited to the secular world.  The majority of professing Christians that I know, myself included, live in a morass of careless and muddled thinking.

I believe that careless minds devastate more Christians than anything else.

So, what causes us to be careless?

I am careless when I don’t perceive danger.  I am careless when I am comfortable, confident, and certain.  I am careful when I am fearful of falling.  I am careful when I sense danger.

My carelessness rises in direct proportion with my freedom from fear.

Joshua warned the Israelites to be careful.  He warned them to be careful because they were in danger.  The danger that they faced was from not following the commands of God.  The Israelites were warned many times to fear God and be careful to obey His commandments. Some will argue that the fear of God is an Old Testament warning.  However, consider Jesus’ warning to the disciples:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  (Matthew 10:28)

I know that a lot of people struggle with the ideas of both loving and fearing God.  I have reconciled these two seemly contradictory concepts by equating the fear of God to the fear of heights.

I don’t fear heights.  I fear falling.

I don’t fear the majesty or glory of God.
I don’t fear a God who is merciful and gracious.
I don’t fear a God who is abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
I don’t fear a God who forgives iniquity and transgression and sin.

I don’t fear God. I fear falling away from God.

I fear the indwelling unbelief of my own heart.
I fear the unbelief that prefers the trinkets of this world to the glory of God.
I fear the unbelief that the pleasures of this world are better than the love of God.
I fear the unbelief of a lukewarm faith.

We live in a spiritually dangerous world.
Yet, many live in careless tranquility.

We were meant to soar in the love of God. DSC_0026-ZF-5601-95690-1-001-025

However, I don’t have the ability to stand in God’s presence on my own.  I will certainly fall without the power of the Spirit working in my life.  It is those thrilling heights of God which increases my fear of falling from His presence.

Therefore, we must be careful to secure ourselves to His presence by being careful as to where we allow our minds to settle.  That is why we need to be careful.

It is easy to be critical of those currently blushing due to the revelation of their sin.

I cannot cast a stone.  I have too much carelessness in my own life.  For me, the Ashley Madison revelation has been a good admonition to renew a healthy fear of God and increase the carefulness of my own daily walk in the Spirit.

By being very careful, we abide in the Spirit and are secured to God’s presence.
There is no greater height than the throne of God Almighty.

So, before you start throwing stones, ask yourself:

How careful are you?
Where do you allow your mind to wander?
Do you allow your mind to settle on the things of the Spirit or the things of the flesh?
Are you aware of the dangers of your own unbelief?

PRAYER: Lord, I pray for all those whose carelessness has resulted in such a devastating sin as adultery.  Father, I ask that your healing and restoration will abide on all those caught in this sin who call upon your name.  Lord, I ask that you will raise up within your Church, followers who excel in self-control.  I ask that you will grow in me this wonderful fruit of your Spirit.  Help me to rely upon you in all things.  Help me to be aware of the danger.  Help me to be careful to love you with all of my heart, soul, and strength. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

h1

“MARITAL SPIRIT” – Oct 28

October 28, 2013

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since, they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”  1 Peter 3:7

Mall food court

Mall food court (Photo credit: Gaulsstin)

When I accompany my wife on a clothes shopping trip, I have an abundance of time.  I seek out the bench or chair, tucked away in some corner to make husbands feel less self-conscious of their surroundings.  While my wife beats every sales rack for the elusive prey of reasonably fitting jeans, I watch people.

You can learn a lot about a person by watching how they treat people.

Particularly revealing is the interaction of couples.  The shock of high divorce rates will no longer be a surprise once you spend a little time in the mall.  I sit in my little observation corner, watch, and shake my head:

I have seen a man marching down the middle of the aisle, barking orders over his shoulder to the mother of his children and their progeny.  I see a loud, manly, man with little regard for the impact of words.

I have seen a fashionista ricocheting down the aisle, enamored by the glamorous contents of sales racks with passing concern for the burdened man-servant kept in waiting.

I see a group of couples meandering along.  I hear a boy make a joke.  I see the payoff of laughs that he receives and I can see the impact on his girlfriend, who has to pay the bill.

I watch a family with every hair in place and every shirt tucked in.  There are obvious exacting standards at work within the family.  I wonder if those standards are held in place by one of the spouses demanding and unrelenting obsessive compulsions.

I watch a pack of young men ogle someone’s daughter with the same demeaning assessment as they make when purchasing a steak.

I watch young women freely displaying their produce in the proud manner of a farmer.

I cringe at what I hear.  The grate on my nerves comes from both what is spoken but also how words are expressed.  The honoring word is a rarity.  The respectful phrase seems endangered.

Couple talking on the Seine bank, Paris

Couple talking on the Seine bank, Paris (Photo credit: Laurent Scheinfeld ;-))

We should not be surprised by the difficulty that we have in our relationships when you consider how elusive the gentle and quite spirit seems to be.

Peter encourages our marriages to be characterized by honor and respect.  Men and women have different roles but honor for one another should be evident as we conduct our lives together.  Consider all of the problems that arise when we fail to honor each other.

I will inevitably hurt my wife if I am rude to her.
I will inevitably alienate my wife if I am indifferent to her.
I will inevitably crush my wife’s feelings if I am forceful to her.
I will inevitably devalue my wife if I refuse to listen to her.

When I respect and honor my wife as a fellow heir of Christ, it makes it easier for her to be respectful and honoring of me.  Her subsequent response to me makes it easier to honor her more.  The cycle of honor can become a wonderful catalyst to oneness between a man and woman.

I know of only one spring that produces this precious catalyst.  Marital honor flows from the spring of a gentle and quiet spirit.  Peter encouraged the women:

Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  1 Peter 3:3-4

However, this is not just an encouragement for women.  Men are encouraged, multiple times, to have the same spirit; to be gentle and to be slow to speak.  The admonition to have a gentle and quiet spirit is for both men and women in our specific God ordained roles.  We are encouraged to have the same spirit because it is the fruit of the Spirit of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control Galatians 5:22-23

How much our relationships would improve if we were more gentle with one another?

How many conflicts between men and women would be averted if more self-control was employed?

This is why you can learn a lot about a person by watching how they treat other people.  The fruit of our spirit is on display in how we treat other people, particularly our spouse.  No one can hide their spirit within the closeness of marriage.

We have problems in our marriages because we don’t have enough respect and honor.

We don’t respect and honor one another because one or both spouses lacks a gentle and quiet spirit.

We don’t have gentle and quite spirits because we lack the fruit of the Spirit.

We lack the fruit of the Spirit because we are not walking in the Spirit.

couple

couple (Photo credit: Michael Sarver)

For those who are single, do not be blinded by your desire for a relationship.  A prospective spouse should be evaluated on the fruit of the Spirit in his life.  You should know where he walks before you join him.  Is he walking in the Spirit or does he spend more time walking in the world?  There will come a time when the fog of romance burns away.  If you want to be in a relationship that is built on honor and respect, then it has to start on the sure foundation of Christ.  Do not settle for second best.

The same is true for marriage.  Marriage is a beautiful dance of individuals, maturing through time.  There are times when partners can get out of rhythm.  The beauty of a marriage between fellow heirs of Christ is that there is a unity of Spirit that can be relied upon.  It is the fruit of the Spirit that sets the beat of our hearts.  When our steps are in concert with the Spirit, the catalyst of honor and respect will start to spring forth in glory to our Father as a couple lives as servants of God.

The honor and respect in our relationships tells us a lot about our walks with God.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for my wife.  Thank you for her gentle and quiet spirit.  Thank you all the work that you are doing in her life that has produced such wonderful fruit from your Spirit.  Father, continue to do that work.  Continue to do that work in me.  Lord, give me a gentle spirit.  Give me a quiet spirit.  Teach me how to honor my wife like I should.  Help me honor her in my thoughts, actions, and words.  May our marriage bring glory to you as we strive as a couple to serve you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

h1

“ENDURING FAITH: Fuel” – Oct 2

October 2, 2013

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.””  Hebrews 10:36-38

I don’t know of anyone who wants to be a quitter.  Who has aspirations of being the weakest link?  I have never met a person who started their new life in Christ by setting their spiritual thermostat to lukewarm.

Yet, it happens to a lot of us.  I will venture to suggest that it has happened to the majority of us for at least a short period of time in our life.  That is why the Bible is full of encouragement to persevere and to endure.  We would not need to be reminded to fight the good fight if we were not inclined to stop fighting.

Walking in the Spirit is not a sprint.  It is a marathon and we need endurance for a marathon.

This is the second post exploring three principles from physical endurance that seem analogous to our spiritual endurance.  The first post was ENDURING FAITH: The Heart.  Today, I want to think about the fuel we need to endure.

FUEL

81191-2478-030fMy personal experiences of  “hitting the wall” have never been pleasant and have always made the road home very difficult.  I had thought that the mysterious wall, lurking out at some unknown distance could be eluded with improved fitness.  However, colliding with the wall has little to do with one’s fitness level.  Most of us have seen incredibly fit athletes stumbling against their personal encounter with the wall.  The wall always wins.

Hitting the wall” only becomes a concern when you have developed enough endurance to reach it.  Typically, the wall begins to become an obstacle once you engage in a continual workout that lasts longer than 1-1/2 to 2 hours.  Up until that time, most people are using the energy stored in their muscles and liver.   The collision with the wall happens when your body consumes all of its energy reserves and runs simply out of fuel.

The problems arise when we try to keep going when our internal tanks are empty.  Proper fueling is necessary to avoid this problem for the longer endurance challenges.  I don’t worry about eating anything when I do an Olympic distance triathlon.  I don’t need to bother with eating during the event since that distance is within my reserves.  However, I have to eat throughout a century ride.  I have to supply my body with energy to keep going for that type of distance.

Many people do not approach life like an endurance event.  They live like fueling their souls is optional.  Many professing Christians misunderstand the roller coaster nature of their spiritual lives.  They want to think of their spiritual highs and lows as a normal process when in reality their lives are more like a pattern of repeatedly hitting the spiritual wall.  They endure for a while until they run out of fuel from their last spiritual experience and end up on the curb, feeling horrible and miserable.  At that point, the process of recovery and restoration has to start once again to get them back on their feet.

The long walk in the Spirit requires endurance.  A life-time of good fighting requires fuel.  Just like a long endurance event requires fueling along the way, spiritual fuel must be consumed along the way of an enduring life.  Jesus instructs us about this spiritual food that we need.

Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.  (John 6:27)

Clearly, we are to be laboring for the food that comes from Christ to fuel our endurance unto eternal life.  This food is not one big meal, served at our salvation that has to last us through to the end.  Just like Jesus, we receive spiritual food throughout our duration on this earth.  Jesus explained what this food was.

My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.  (John 4:34)

This was the spiritual food that Christ received to strengthen him.  I think that this is the same spiritual food that Jesus provides to us along our spiritual paths.  Jesus feeds us along our long walk in the Spirit as we are doing God’s will.

BonkThe opposite is equally true.  We are not going to be fed if we are following our own will; if we are walking in the flesh.  Christ will allow us to crash into our personal spiritual walls when our will becomes supreme.  He will allow us to ride the miserable spiritual roller coaster of highs and lows.  There are many professing Christians sitting on the proverbial curb with their heads in their hands wondering why this whole religion thing doesn’t seem to be working.  They have run out of the fuel that they need to endure.  They have “hit the wall” because they have not been properly fueling for a life of endurance.

Fortunately, we have not been left to try and discern what God’s will is for our lives.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification:  that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.  For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.  (1 Thess. 4:3-7)

God’s will for His children is their personal sanctification.  He has called us all in holiness.  The Spirit accomplishes God’s will in our lives by transforming us from sin and death into holiness.  This transformation changes who we are and how we react.  This means that there will be evidence of God’s will being fulfilled in our lives.  It is called the fruit of Spirit.  God want us to bear spiritual fruit.

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:8)

The fruit of the Spirit only comes by living and walking in the Spirit; setting our minds on the things of the Spirit.  Therefore, God’s will is for us to live in His Spirit and to abide in His love.  When are doing the will of the Father, living in His Spirit and abiding in His love, then He will provide the spiritual food that we need to endure.

Endurance comes from doing the will of God because that is the source of our spiritual food.

There is no short cut.  Our race is too long to endure on our internal reserves.  Disobedience will cause us to “hit the wall” and it will ultimately lead to death because setting the mind on the flesh is against God’s will.

The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  (Romans 8:7-8)

We all have need of endurance.  Therefore, we all have need of holiness.

A life of holiness is not an option for the child of God.  It is the source of our daily spiritual bread our eternal life depends upon it.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for not valuing the work of the Spirit in my life.  Forgive me for not laboring for holiness.  Forgive me for seeking my will above your will.  Father, you have been so good to me.  Thank you for the fruit that has been produced in my life.  Please continue to help me walk in your Spirit and set my mind on the things of  You.  Lord, I need the spiritual food that comes only from You.  Help me to endure well and to eternal life.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

%d bloggers like this: