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Thursday, September 19 2019
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
“But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” [AMP]
We started our in-depth study of the fruit of the spirit last week. We discovered that the true evidence of our salvation is by the fruit we bear according to Matthew 7:16 (KJV) “You will know them by their fruits.”
We discovered that, according to our text, there is only one fruit of the Spirit but with multiple seeds or graces. The branch can not produce any fruit without been connected to the vine or root according to John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches.”
Love, the fruit of the Spirit that we studied last week, is nonpartial and unconditional. It is Agape - the highest form of love. The origin is in God according to Rom.5:5; “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
First, love must be directed to God, to ourselves, then to our fellow man.
This week, we are looking at JOY, one of the seeds or graces of the fruit of the spirit.
We are living in a world that is under constant bombardment of negative news and evil round the clock. Majority of people are constantly looking for something to make them happy. Daily, many are in pursuit of happiness but not knowing that the joy of the Lord is what they need (Neh.8:10).
The world has a woeful shortage of joy and a surplus of fear, worry, discouragement and depression. Even all the advancement of man in “pursuit of happiness” and obsessive pleasure-seeking do not bring deep and lasting joy.
Merriam Webster dictionary defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”
However, joy is more than that definition! Joy is spiritual. Its root is the Lord according John 15:11; “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
Rick Warren wrote; “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
John Piper wrote; “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.”
Happiness is an emotion. “Hap” means chance and is the root of several words; happen, happening, haphazard (dependent on mere chance), hapless, happenstance (a chance circumstance) and happy.
It is a glad feeling that depends on something good happening. God wants you to experience happy times (as long as God approves of what is happening). Ps.127:3-5 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. 5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.”
God never intended for people to be in that emotional state all the time. There is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
Biblical Joy transcends circumstances according to Hab.3:17-18 “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Joy is a strong foundation that supports a variety of healthy emotions, including happiness. The long-range evidence of joy is general gratitude, contentment, optimism, a sense of freedom and other positive attitudes. It is rooted in the Lord not external happenings.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
God is joyful far more than any human being ever was and ever can! It’s tragic that many people think of God as somber and stern rather than cheerful and smiling with a great sense of humor. He is enjoying His creation, and especially the delightful anticipation of many new “sons of God” (Luk.15:7).
True followers (imitators) of God will be joyful also. Psalms 68:3 says, “Let the righteous be glad; … let them rejoice exceedingly.” God desires that we serve Him “with joy and gladness of heart” (Deuteronomy 28:47).
The source of our joy is the Lord and our relationship with Him connect us to that unending flow of joy unspeakable, full of Glory (1Pet.1:8).
Joy is a major topic in the Bible. In the King James Version, “joy” appears 158 times and “rejoice” 198 times (not counting other variations such as joyful, joyfully, joyous, jubilant, happy and glad).
Joy is not optional. The Bible repeatedly commands us to rejoice! The most emphatic exhortation is in Phil. 4:4, where Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!”
“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
The Bible describes two kinds of sorrow. “godly sorrow and then sorrow of the world. Godly sorrow can be the sorrow of repentance toward God or mourning over the suffering of others while having the joy of knowing that God will eventually solve all problems according to Matt.5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
God grieves: Gen.6:6, The Holy Spirit grieves; Eph.4:30, Jesus grieved; Mark 3:5 and he wept like any human with emotion according to John 11:35. We are not disobeying scripture when we grieve, but it is wrong to remain in sorrow because it will open the door for our enemy; Prov.15:13 “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”
“Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”
Joy is God’s nature and character! The evidence is everywhere in God’s creation; birds singing, animals leaping, flowers blooming, brooks babbling and the sun shining! Many people would be less depressed if they would spend more time outside. God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1Tim.6:17).
Since God is exceedingly joyful, His servants should also be joyful! Sadly, many who claim to be His disciples are austere, sour and dour. But take note of Luke’s description of true disciples: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52).
Thursday, September 12 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
“But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” Gal. 5:22 [AMP]
In the next few weeks, we will be considering the fruit of the Spirit. It is very easy for anyone to “claim” they are living life by the Spirit as Paul admonished us to; but it’s only those who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit that are truly living life by the Spirit. In Matthew 7:16 (KJV) Jesus Christ said “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”
It is also interesting to note that the Spirit produces ONLY ONE "symbolical" fruit as opposed to fruits that is generally quoted. It is a singular fruit that consists of graces such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; all these rich variety of graces, of conduct and character, are not isolated graces, but all connected, springing from one root and constituting an organic whole. The Amplified version refers to the fruit as “the result”, the Greek word that was used can be translated as “the harvest”. So, the result, product or the harvest of the Spirit within us is all of these graces.
Today, we shall be starting with the first of these graces called LOVE
Love is an attribute that spans across very many spectrums; it is also one attribute that is very easily confused. So, before delving into it, I will bring it to perspective.
The love referred to here is more than the one that stems from our emotions; it is one that is nonpartial and unconditional. It is Agape - the highest form of love!
It is firstly our love for God; and then our fellow man; a perfect and absolute guide for living life by the Spirit!
LOVE FOR GOD
Jesus revealed this in Matthew 22: 37-39 (KJV):
“Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Emphasis mine
1 John 5:3 says: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”
Without this love for God, we will just be going through the motions and only fulfilling the law and ticking the boxes. We should deliberately cultivate and express this love regardless of who the recipient is, give it unconditionally. Not getting it back is not an excuse not to give it!
It is when we love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds that we are able to, without difficulty or the compulsion of law, share this love with others through acts of kindness and service.
LOVE FOR OURSELVES
It is important that we are able to love ourselves; Jesus was deliberate in making mention of us loving our neighbours as ourselves because you can’t give what you don’t have.
Psalm 139:14 (TPT) says: “I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it!
How thoroughly you know me, Lord!”
Ephesians 5:29a (TLB) says: “No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it,”
LOVE FOR OUR NEIGHBOUR
Without getting over spiritualized about this; our neighbour doesn’t necessarily have to live next door to us or in the same locality but anyone and everyone our paths cross in our day to day life! Your neighbour can therefore be a family member, a colleague at work; a superior, a subordinate, a client, a patient, a guest, a student, a teacher, a church member, etc.
This love translates to caring for others who are in need. It also means, not hating another or wishing them ill or harm. It is this love that forms the basis of “duty of care” (a moral or legal obligation to ensure the safety or wellbeing of others). It is the love that expresses itself by giving. John 3:16a says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”
It is expressing the Father’s heart to others not because of what one wishes to receive in return but service to and for everyone in need, regardless! Romans 12:9a (NLT) admonishes us to love others genuinely. “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.”
Also, “passive love” does not exist! Love can only be seen by our actions! Here are the characteristcis of this love as spelt out in 1Cor.13:4 -7 (MSG)
Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” [NIV]
Luke 12:15: “And he said unto them, take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” [KJV]
James 4:16: “As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil”
James 4:6b: “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
Matt. 20: 25-27: “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant”
Romans 10:12: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves”
Prov. 25:28: “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”
1 Peter 4:8b “love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Proverbs 24:17: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,”
Psalms 1:2: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night
Heb.10:36: “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”
Prov. 3:5a: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart”
Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Luke 9:62: “Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Matt.24:13: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
Romans 6:9: “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.”
When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce a harvest of graces that the Law has nothing against but conforms to. The first of the graces is divine love in all its varied expressions. We see the attributes this divine love possesses in 1Cor.13:4 -7 (MSG) and why it is applicable in every facet of life. In church, at work, at home, everywhere.
Parts of this study was culled from: https://isekhua.wordpress.com/relevance-building-blocks/
Thursday, September 05 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
INTRODUCTION: In last week’s study we looked at living our lives by the Spirit of God; where we examined how to live in the liberty of Christ and using this liberty in serving one another in love and walking in holiness. The contrary to living by the Spirit is living in the flesh. And that is what we will be considering in today’s study – being able to identify the acts and works so as to be able to avoid and or discard them when faced with them. Galatians 9:19-21 (AMP) says:
“19 Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], 21 envy, drunkenness, riotous behaviour, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Let’s read the same scripture in The Living Bible version:
“But when you follow your own wrong inclinations, your lives will produce these evil results: impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, 20 idolatry, spiritism (that is, encouraging the activity of demons), hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group—and there will be wrong doctrine, 21 envy, murder, drunkenness, wild parties, and all that sort of thing. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
Paul starts off by saying: " Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these" and then he lists them
What is the flesh?
Paul uses the word "flesh" to mean: "something that is totally human, with no special grace attached." In Paul's use of the term "flesh" in Galatians, he does not simply mean: "possessed of a physical body"; rather, he means: "limited to only a physical body and the physical strength it contains."
So the flesh is what you do in your own power, in your own strength, what you can do yourself - which is legalism. Legalism is anything that I think I can do in order to make myself more righteous before God. It is human achievement; it's a form of self-righteousness.
To walk after the flesh is to seek life in terms of what man can accomplish of himself. Doing all kinds of religious things in the flesh. The flesh can preach a sermon, sing songs of praise, pray, fast, etc.
Most humans do not spontaneously, naturally and consistently humble themselves to serve others in meekness and kindness. Matter of fact, right attitudes and actions do not come out of us as naturally as light and heat come out of the sun. We know they don't.
On the other hand, walking in the flesh takes almost no effort whatsoever on our part - it comes quite naturally. What takes constant hard work and diligence is walking by the Spirit.
What Paul was delivering here to the Galatian churches is that if the flesh is defined as our humanity, and as life without the power of the Spirit of God, then let us just look at humanity without God and ask ourselves: Where does humanity go if God isn't in the picture?
As people are just left to do it themselves, where do they go? Do they become more righteous? Do they become more moral? Or do they just drift away from God into sin? Paul is saying the answer to that question is pretty obvious: just look around.
The same applies to us today. "You know what the flesh produces, just look around." Look at every environment where God (and true worship) has been pulled out from and ask yourself: Is that environment becoming more righteous or less? Is it becoming more moral or less? (Romans 1:21-32)
(a) SEXUAL: The first three sins Paul listed could be categorized as sexual: immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control).
Immorality: Foremost among the acts of the flesh is immorality, this is from the Greek word porneia, which is often translated as fornication.
Impurity: It is a more general term than immorality, going beyond the act to the evil thoughts and intentions of the mind. It could refer to what we would call perverted forms of sex - homosexuality, child abuse, and various strange and kinky sexual practices.
Sensuality: It speaks of someone who flaunts their immorality ((total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), throwing off all restraint and having no sense of shame, propriety, or embarrassment.
We are often appalled at the sexual immorality of our day, but we should remember that the times Paul wrote in were as bad, if not worse. The purpose of Paul listing out these works of the flesh is for our realization and abstinence. Clearly, God's will for believers is sexual purity
Let's look at some of the Bible's exhortations against this sexual sin:
(b) RELIGIOUS idolatry, sorcery,
The next category is Religious sin and Paul mentions two:
Idolatry: Idolatry is the worship of something or someone other than the true God. Christians commit idolatry when they put anything ahead of God. When we put our careers, business or family before God, we commit idolatry. Some people make money their god. Anything that we put in the principal place of our lives other than God Himself is idolatry.
Sorcery: Sorcery is the use of magical arts, often in connection with idolatry. This sin attempts to do something that normal means cannot accomplish. It steps into the domain of mysteries and exploits occult powers to enter the supernatural.
(c) THE FALLEN NATURE: The next category is sins toward others comprising of a fairly long list of sins we are conversant with. The Living Bible version lists them out clearly, hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group—and there will be wrong doctrine,
Paul now lists sins toward others. Sins of faulty relationships flow naturally from the fallen nature of the sons of Adam. Non-believers may be cultured or refined, but they are unadulterated flesh. They cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). They do what comes naturally. They do not care whether it is right or wrong, religious or irreligious. Life is simple for non-believers, because all they have is flesh. Every believer has the same potential as a lost person, if he or she allows the sin capacity to operate without the power of the Spirit. Victory comes to the believer, not by changing his or her overt behaviour patterns, but by the counteracting power of the Spirit of God.
VERSE 21 - CONCLUSION
Sexual promiscuity in our day is less shocking than it once was. Homosexual sins are less outrageous. This is because sexual looseness has become pandemic through television and other forms of media. Most everyone in our culture grows immune to this deterioration of standards because of the sheer weight of non-Christian information and communication in our society.
Some Christians “practice” some of these sins at least mentally every day. There will be great shock at the judgment seat of Christ when Jesus will hand out very few rewards because they allowed themselves to fall prey to the deterioration of morality. We can hardly distinguish between the standards of believers and non-believers today. Carnal Christians characterized by moral corruption shall not inherit the Kingdom of God
This study was culled from: http://www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/galatians/5_22.htm and https://versebyversecommentary.com/galatians/galatians-520/