Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BIBLE STUDY WEEK # 2 (2/25/14)

Bible Study "The Fruit of the Spirit"
[By Glenn Pease]
Week # 2 (Fruit of Joy)
Date (2/25/14)


2.  THE FRUIT OF JOY
 
Martin Clark said every church should have a humor committee because there are more funny things that happen in church than in a zoo, for people are funnier than the animals. God made man to be the only creature on earth who can laugh because of his sense of humor. Christians need a sense of humor to deal with the reality that they are so fallible. If all the mistakes pastors make were compiled in a book, it would make the unabridged dictionary look like a postage stamp in comparison. One of the funniest mistakes I have ever read about was of the young pastor who just moved into the parsonage next to the church. On his first Sunday they were having communion. So he and his wife poured the grape juice into the little cups, and they thought they were ready. But when it came time to serve, the pastor saw that they had not poured enough cups for the size of the congregation. He leaned over the front pew and whispered to his wife, "Run next door and get that bottle of grape juice out of the refrigerator. If you run fast enough you can be back before the deacons serve the cups." She batted out the side door and flew to the parsonage. She did not bother to even switch on the lights. She just grabbed what she thought was the bottle of grape juice, and tore back to the church. What she had was a bottle of green persimmon juice. The young pastor, with complete faith in his wife, did not bother to read the label. He just uncapped it and poured its contents into the cups for himself and the deacons. It was perfect timing, for just as he finished, the deacons were marching down the isle with their empty trays. The pastor then served the deacons and led the congregation in drinking the juice. Suddenly his lips began to pucker and he knew he had a problem. He leaned over and wheezed, "deacon Jones will you please lead in closing prayer." Deacon Jones was having his own problems, and was barely able to smack his lips and get out, "Please excuse me!" The pastor surveyed the situation and could see none of the deacons were able to pray. The congregation had no idea what was going on, for they had perfectly normal grape juice. Finally the pastor motioned all to stand and said, "Well, friends, let's whistle the doxology and go home." Murphey's law has not been repealed for the church. Even in the most solemn and sacred moments Christian leaders provoke laughter by their slips of the tongue. Billy Graham in a message in Atlanta roared out, "David slew Goliath and then he turned around and killed him." Another pastor prayed, "Oh Lord, make us more offensive--I mean Lord, put on the offensive." Another introduced the new music director with these words, "We are delighted he is coming to lead us in our sinning." At a testimony meeting on the campus of a Christian college a tearful freshman concluded his personal testimony with what he thought was a sincere request. He said, "Please pray I'll not be found sleeping with the five foolish virgins when Jesus comes." At every homecoming since, this is remembered as a choice moment of laughter. There is no end to the laughter producing goofs of Christians, but my point in sharing these is to make it clear that this sort of laughter is not what we are dealing with, as we consider the fruit of the Spirit, which is joy. You do not need the Holy Spirit to see the humor in life. This is a gift God has made available to all men. The non-Christian can have as good a sense of humor as the Christian. Jews have always been the major contributors to the world of comedy. So Christians do not have a monopoly on laughter. Laughter is a universal gift. But joy is something else. Joy is much deeper, for joy is based on love and not laughter. Joy is the feeling that even if I blew it, and made a blunder that everyone laughed at, I am loved and not rejected for my mistake. That is a good feeling that lasts after the laughter quickly passes away.

 Laughter is momentary, but joy is a state of mind that is permanent. Joy makes you happy even when there is nothing funny to laugh at. We see this all through the New Testament. This was the joy of Jesus. He is about to go to the cross and suffer on a level we can never comprehend, yet He says to His disciples in John 15:11, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full." Again in His great prayer in John 17:13 He says, "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." Jesus was loaded with the fruit of the Spirit, and He had all the joy one is capable of possessing. But you will notice, it was not because life was funny, and He was having a ball. He was facing the worst life could throw at Him with evil, suffering, pain, hate, injustice, cruelty, and betrayal. Yet, Jesus had fullness of joy. We see it also in Paul and Silas in Acts 16. They were attacked and beaten, and we read in verse 23, "After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison; and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully." So he put their feet in stocks so they could not move. It was not what you would call a fun day at the park. It was a terrible day, and these men had to be in pain. Nevertheless, we read in verse 25, "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them." This is when God sent an earthquake, and the jailer was converted with his whole family. Joy is not a positive feeling that life is going great. Joy is a feeling that no matter how hard life is, I have the best that life can offer in Christ. Anyone can feel good and be happy when all is going well and life is free of negatives. But with the fruit of joy you can rejoice in the Lord always, even when life is full of negatives. This is not man generated joy, but the joy of the Lord which is our strength. Madam Guyon was thrown into prison in France, and she wrote-

 "I passed my time there in great peace, content to pass the

rest of my life there, if such were the will of God. I sang

songs of joy, while the maid who served me learned by

heart as fast as I made them, and we together sang Thy

praises, o my God. The stones of my prison looked in

my eyes like rubies. I esteemed them more than all the

gaudy brilliance of the world. My heart was full of that

joy Thou givest to them that love Thee in the midst of

their greatest crosses.

Her poetry, which she sang in prison, is still read and sung today, thou she died in 1717. She wrote forty volumes. Here are just a few lines-

Tho my foes have combined

and my body confined

yet my soul is with liberty blest.

I am humbly content

With whatever is sent

For I know that Thy pleasure is best.

Thy wondrous defense

Makes a cell seem immence.

It sheds so peculiar a grace.

Such a pleasure abounds,

Such a glory surrounds,

And the joys of Thy kingdom embrace.

 This is not natural joy but the fruit of the Spirit joy. The joy that can only grow in the life of one who knows, that no matter what, they are loved by God. Joy grows out of love, the first fruit of the Spirit. Joy is not the laughter of the sense of humor, but the laughter of love which says, nothing can separate me from the love of God. This joy does lead to laughter, and what we call happiness, for it fills one with a sense of optimism. It is a denial of Christ's joy to make Christianity a solemn and somber faith. John Wesley said, "Sour godliness is the devil's religion." Jesus said in the Sermon On The Mount, that even when Christians are persecuted and slandered, they are to rejoice and be glad for their reward is great in heaven. Joy in hard times is a Christian obligation. That is why we need the filling of the Spirit, for we cannot produce this fruit on our own. Paul says in I Thess. 5:16, "Be joyful always." He does not say ninety per cent of the time, or ninety eight per cent of the time, but always. That is not natural, but is of the Holy Spirit. Augustine said over 1500 years ago, "There is a joy which is not given to the ungodly, but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake, whose joy Thou Thyself art." Jesus was the most joy-filled person ever to live on this planet. We are told this in Hebrews 1:9, where it says of Christ, "...your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." In other words, there has never been another above Jesus in joy. He had the highest level of joy possible, and none has never matched it. An apple is an apple, and a pear is a pear, but not all apples and pears are equal. Some are better than others. They are bigger, juicier, and sweeter than others. So it is with joy, and all the fruits of the Spirit. They grow like fruit, and so there are all different stages of growth. Jesus had the perfect fruit of joy. This is what all believers will have in heaven. This was the hope of even the Old Testament saints. David says in Psalm 16:11, "You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasure at your right hand." Until then, the goal of the Christian is to be filled with the Spirit, and get as near to having the joy of Jesus as possible. The New Testament has 11 words for different aspects of joy, and they are used 326 times. It is a major theme of God's Word, and a major obligation of the Christian life. There is a wealth of English synonyms for joy-bliss, buoyancy, cheerfulness, delight, ecstasy, elation, exuberance, felicity, gaiety, gladness, glee, hilarity, jubilation, rapture, and rejoicing. All of these can be summed up in the word happy, which the New Testament calls blessed. Vernon Grounds, the well-known evangelical theologian, commenting on Paul's declaration in I Tim.6:15, that God "is the blessed and only Potentate or Ruler", says, "Since blessed means happy, Paul is here affirming that God is happy. The Happy God! God in Himself is a shoreless sea of vibrant glory, a fathomless ocean of sheerest ecstasy...God Himself is the Rejoicer who before the hosts of heaven reacts with a thrilling happiness that baffles the language and logic of earth. Infinitely joyful, He is the Source of all genuine joy." Does this mean the Christian has to be a pollyanna, and be blind to the reality of a fallen world?  Not at all, God knows the evil of man like no other, but He is by nature happy and joyful, in spite of His knowledge. Joy is not a denial of evil and a pretense that all is well. It is a conviction that life is a comedy and not a tragedy, and that in Christ good will triumph over evil. History is His-story, and it will have a happy ending.  Listen to Cyprian, the Christian leader of the church at Carthage in A.D. 200.  He wrote, "This is a cheerful world as I see it from my fair garden...But if I could ascend some high mountain and look out over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see. Brigands on the highways. Pirates on the seas. Armies fighting. Cities burning. In the amphitheatres men murdered to please applauding crowds. Selfishness and cruelty, and misery and despair, under all roofs. It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it, a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians, and I am one of them." There is no blindness here to evil, but eyes wide open to the good news in Christ which produces the joy that overcomes the world. The Christian deals with his fallen nature in a different way than the world does. Leslie Flynn and his book, Gift of Joy, says the way the world deals with sin is to-

 

1. Minimize it. It is no big deal, everybody does it.

2. Rationalize it. They blame their genes, parents, or their mates, or the world situation.

3. Anesthetize it. By a constant round of activity, or by drugs.

4. Neutralize it. By doing good to counteract their bad.


 
Christians are not immune to any of these. David, after his great sin, tried all of these routes, but they were dead ends, and he lost the joy of his salvation. He learned the hard way, that the only way to deal with sin is to recognize it for what it is, and seek the grace of God. We need to confess our guilt and receive the forgiveness made possible by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. This is the only way to deal with sin that leads to joy. David did get there, and he sang songs of joy again, but he took the long hard route of the world before he took the short cut of grace, and he suffered a great lost of joy because of it. His folly is recorded that believers might learn to avoid his mistakes, and come to Christ for cleansing and renewal right away David prayed in Psalm 51:7-8, "Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice." Then in verse 12 we read, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation..."

When a Christian falls and fails the Lord, he or she is to immediately get right with the Lord and be restored, so the fruit of joy does not wither on the vine, as it was doing with David. The Christian who delays confession and forgiveness will see the fruit of joy wither and they will be a poor witness to the grace of God. Lack of joy is a sin that is seldom recognized. R.W. Dale, the great English preacher, said, "We ask God to forgive us for our evil thoughts and evil tempers, but rarely, if ever, ask Him to forgive us for our sadness." Sadness is not just the expression on our faces, but the negative views of life that rob us of joy in the midst of so much fallenness. The face is not the key factor. Jesus often had a sad face as he wept over the lostness of the world, and the weakness of His disciples. Sadness of face and sorrow over sin and death did not rob Him of His joy. Joy is deeper than sadness, and can be real even when the face is not expressing it. It is superficial to suggest that Christians should always have a smile to show their joy. Optimism of the mind and soul goes far deeper than the face. This does not mean it is okay to go about looking like a sad sack. Spurgeon said to his students training for ministry, "When you talk about heaven let your face light up with a heavenly glory. When you talk about hell, your everyday face will do." This was a rebuke of their everyday face, for it usually reflected pessimism and not the optimism of Christian joy, and was thus, a quenching of the Spirit. If you have people who know you who think you are a pessimist, you are probably quenching the Spirit, and have ceased to produce the fruit of joy. Joy is deeper than mere laughter and smiling, but these are still ways by which we can express that joy to the world. The external ways of letting people know of the inner joy is important in our witness. You may not always feel like giving an external witness, but it should be a common part of your witness. Joy that is never seen is not the kind of fruit that makes others hungry to taste it. One of the major purposes of worship is to help us develop our expression of joy. Praise is the twin of joy, says John Drescher. Praise is the joy we express to God, but in so doing we water the joy in our own lives and help it to grow. The goal of all worship is to grow the fruits of the Spirit. This pleases God and man, and the self. Pulsford said, "There is no heaven, either in this world, or in the world to come, for people who do not praise God." Praise is the fruit of joy turning toward the Son of heaven to receive that light that makes it even more luscious and appealing to the world. The goal in going to church is that you might become more optimistic about life and how God can use you to make a difference in this fallen world. Just as natural love is not enough, so it is not enough to have just natural joy.

 The fruit of the Spirit love enables you to love those who are not loving, but who are even enemies.   Fruit of the Spirit joy enables you to be optimistic even in the trials of life, and, thus, be a witness to the world of a joy that is beyond what man can produce. Henry Van Dyke said it profoundly, "There is something finer than to do right against inclination; and that is to have an inclination to do right. There is something nobler than reluctant obedience; that is joyful obedience. The rank of virtue is not measured by its disagreeableness, but by its sweetness to the heart that loves it. The real test of character is joy. For what you rejoice in, that you love. And what you love, that you are like." If worship is a bore and service is a chore, it is because you have lost your first love, like the Christians in Ephesus that Jesus rebuked in (Rev. 2).  Worship and service are pure joy to those who do not quench the Spirit. Frank Lauback, who has helped millions learn to read so they could read the Bible, said, "I have had more fun than any other man in the world." It was such joy to serve Jesus because he loved Jesus and he loved the world. He carried a globe of the world in his arms as he spoke, for he loved the whole world. His love was the source of his joy. You cannot skip over the first fruit of the Spirit and expect to get to the others. They all grow out of the main vine, which is love. When you are loving, which is to say, when you are Christ like, then you will also be growing the fruit of joy. The most loving Christians are the most joyful Christians.  Romans 14:17 says, "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."  Joy is a choice to see the world a certain way. Joy involves a choice to see the good, the wonderful, the surprising and the positive in every situation – simply because God is in every situation and is ultimately working it for our good, and for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).


Extra: Joy
I choose Joy. . .I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical. . .the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

Read Galatians 5:22-25

"22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."(NIV)

Scripture Reading:

II Thessalonians 5:16

Psalm 16:11

Psalm 51:7-8

John 15:11

 
Reflection Question: Joy

1.   Are you happy only when things go your way? Are you capable of being happy in difficult circumstances?
2.   Do your prayers revolve more around spiritual blessings, or limited only to material and physical needs and thanksgiving?
3.   Does the Bible seem more like a self-help, to-do manual for happiness in life, or an unfolding story of God's saving work for our joy?
4.   Are your spending habits reflective of how you use money for material satisfaction, or are you pursuing a higher happiness?

Personal Prayer:

Lord, thank You for all You have given me. Thank You for the gift of the Salvation. Help me to see all the wonderful things in my life and not focus on the negative. Help me to have a positive attitude during difficult seasons in my life. Help me to develop joy in my life and to attract others to You through the joy that overflows from my heart. Thank You.  In Jesus' Mighty Name, Amen.

 

Ending Scripture: Isaiah 55:11

"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ending Scripture: Isaiah 55:11

God has promised us that His Word will not return to Him void, what a comfort!!

Isaiah 55:11

"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

This is why its at the end of every study.

Reflection Questions........

 1.   Do you find yourself putting others' interests above your own more often?  Yes

2.   Do you enjoy serving and delighting in the success of others more than your own? Yes

3.   Do you see yourself as chronically unappreciated, forgotten, and hence, bitter towards others? No, not anymore!

4.   Is your life revolving essentially around you, or are you also pursuing the needs and goals of others around you? My heart and desire is to make others happy, and share the Gospel with whosoever needs it.  I pray as much as I can for others' needs.  I didn't have this before, but God has blessed me with this through His Holy Spirit.  And, I am still praying for more of God in my life.

I pray this personal prayer now.......

Father God, thank You for giving me another study, and the time to study Your Word.  Bless us to apply this study to our lives daily.  Your love has kept me, and I trust Your love will grow in me and all the prayer warriors today.  Your Word says, You loved the world so much that You gave your only Son to die for us, so that we would not have to perish. That love is what we need today in our lives.  Father, I ask You to fill us with a deep love for You (Romans 5:5). Grant that our love for You be passionate and not lukewarm.  Please fill us with Your powerful love for things that further Your Kingdom. Endue us with a love for souls and a passion to grow our church. Fill us with a burning love for serving You.  Baptize us with a selfless, compassionate love for our families and for that we meet each day.  God, by the power of Your Spirit, please fill our hearts with Your powerful love. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

Our scripture reading...............WEEK #1

 
1 John 3:16-18 (KJV)
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

1 John 4:7-12 (KJV)
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (KJV)

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
 

Confession:

 Whatever I sow in my life, I reap. So I plant God's Word and reap life, healing, joy, protection, guidance, peace, and safety.

I just wanted to post this from our daily healing devotion from yesterday.  This is my desire as I study! 

I have a question.......

How do we produce the fruit of the Spirit?

I believe its in John 15:1-8

"1  I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples."

What do you think?
 

This is a good thought........

Joy is love's cheerfulness.
Peace is love's confidence
Patience is love's composure
Kindness is love's consideration
Goodness is love's character
Faithfulness is love's constancy
Gentleness is love's comliness
Self-control is love's conquest.


What is Love?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

BIBLE STUDY WEEK # 1 (Fruit of the Spirit/Gift of the Spirit)

I want to share this from my study.

There is a difference between the Gifts of the Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit..........

The spiritual gifts are the work of one Spirit and He gives them as He determines (1 Cor 12:11). Depending on which part of the body we are, we each have different gifts (1 Cor 12:27).  These include apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, those with gifts of healing, those who help others, those with gifts of administration, those speaking in different kinds of tongues

Some gifts are greater than others (1 Cor 12:31), so they are not all equal.  Prophecy builds up the church (1 Cor 14:3).  Tongues will build up the person speaking in tongues (1 Cor 14:4).  You need to build yourself up, especially during your personal prayer time with the Lord.  But you should also fervently desire the greater gifts, so that you can build others up (1 Co 12:31).

The spiritual gifts are signs, which the Lord performs on the earth (Acts 2:17-19). They are evidence that the Holy Spirit has come upon us and given us power to be His witnesses (Ac 1:8).  They are evidence that we have been filled with the Spirit (Ac 2:4).
Ephesian 4:11 talk about the administration of the offices "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers;"

And the gifts are not revoked once they are given (Rom 11:29). Once the Lord gives you a gift, he doesn't take it back.  But the Word tells us that the spiritual gifts are only temporary in that they will one day all cease and be stilled (1 Cor 13:8-12).   This is not true of the fruit!
On the other hand, the fruit of the Spirit are the Holy Spirit's fruit found in the life of the believer.  They are not our own fruit or they would be called the "fruit of the disciple" instead of "fruit of the Spirit." 

We can do nothing without the Lord, and it is only as we remain in Him that we bear any fruit (Jn 15:5). The fruit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22,23).

If you'd like a way to summarize the fruit of the Spirit, here is how.  They are summed up in love, which sums up the whole law and the prophets (Gal 5:14). Love is the most excellent way (1 Cor 13:31). Love is proven true by its actions, not by feelings (1 Cor 13:4-7).

Jesus said we would know people by their fruits not their gifts (Mat 7:16-23). People will know we are Jesus' disciples by our love (Jn 13:35). The fruit are evidence of godly character in a disciple's life, because the can only grow out of a life that is dead to self and that lives by the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 24, 25).

Someone might mistakenly think that they need to produce the fruit of the Spirit in order to be saved, but that would not be correct.  The Scriptures say we are saved by grace and not by our works (Eph 2:8).  But once we are saved, we should produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

Ultimately at the judgment, the test that will determine whether we truly know the Lord will be the fruit found in our lives (Matt 25:31-46).  Those who merely function in the gifts, but do not obey the commands of Jesus Christ, will be eternally separated from God (Mt 7:21-23).  It's the ones who hear the Word of God and act on it that will be able to stand in the judgment.

There is an eternal aspect to the fruit.  It never fades away or fails.  The fruit of faith, hope, and love will remain long after the gifts like prophecy and tongues have ceased (1 Co 13:8, 13). 
 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

BIBLE STUDY WEEK 1 (FRUIT OF LOVE) (2/18/14)

Bible Study "The Fruit of the Spirit"
[By Glenn Pease]
Week # 1 (Fruit of Love)
 Date (2/18 /14)                                                    
 
Part 1
 
 
1.   THE FRUIT OF LOVE
 
Howard Thurman in "Disciplines of the Spirit," tells of one of the most unusual jobs. A large General Hospital hired a high school girl to be there mice petter. Her sole occupation was to take white mice out of their cages several times a day and pet them. They had learned that when mice are made to feel loved and secure they give much more authentic results in experiments. When they are relaxed and given a sense of well-being, they better cope without panic.  Science is confirming all the time that God is love. It is finding that all God made needs love to be at it's best. People who love their garden and their plants produce better crops and more beauty.  Love is the universal need of all life. Dogs and cats can admit their need for love. They thrust their heads into your hands and face, and demand to be loved. But man likes to be independent and not admit to needing others, even though it is the number one need of man for happiness. There are endless numbers of movies and novels where people delay love and even lose it because they will not admit their need. This is the ultimate in pride, for God Himself is willing to admit He needs love. The first commandment is that we love God with our whole being. Paul in Romans 8:28 says that God works in all things for good for those who love Him. In I Cor.2:9 he writes that no mind can conceive of what God has prepared for those who love Him. In time and in eternity the best is reserved for those who love God. Jesus did not hesitate to declare His need for love.. He needed the love of His heavenly Father, but He also needed the love of man. In John14 He repeated His need often. In verse 15 He said, "If you love me you will obey what I command." In verse 21 He said, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love and show myself to him." In verses 23-24 Jesus sums it all up with these words, "If anyone loves me he will obey me, if anyone does not love me he will not obey me." If God the Father and God the Son long to be loved, it is the height of folly for any man to deny his need for love. Ashley Montague writes from the point of view of a scientist- "The study of love is something from which scientists long shied away.  But with the increased interest in the origins of mental illness, more and more attention is being paid to the infancy and childhood of human beings. What investigation has revealed is that love is, beyond all cavil or question, the most important experience in the life of a human being.  Show me a hardened criminal, a juvenile delinquent, a psychopath or a "cold fish," and in almost every case I will show you a person resorting to desperate means in order to attract the emotional warmth and attention he failed to get but which he so much desire and needs. "Aggressive" behavior when fully understood is, in fact, nothing but love frustrated, a technique for compelling love-as well as a means of taking revenge on the society which has let that person down, disillusioned, deserted and dehumanized him. Hence, the best way to approach aggressive behavior in children is not by aggressive behavior toward them, but with love. And this is true not only for children but for human beings at all ages." The Scripture and science agree, the greatest of these is love. Love is the highest virtue man is capable of giving or receiving. You cannot give God or man any higher gift than the gift of love. The highest goal of life is to be like Christ. The only way to approach this goal is to be a person filled with love. This is the same as saying one need to be filled with the Spirit for He is the source of love. The fruit of the Spirit is love. The more we are filled with the Spirit of Christ the more we will have the fruit of love. Many say that the sign you are filled with the Holy Spirit is that you will speak in tongues, but that is an experience that occurred only in Corinth and was not an issue in any other church of the New Testament. The real sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit, and the first fruit and main fruit is love. The most loving Christian is the most Spirit-filled Christian. Paul links the Holy Spirit and love in Romans15:30 where he writes, "I urge you brothers by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit...." In Col.1:8 he writes to them and refers to "Your love in the Spirit." The Holy Spirit is the channel by which the love of God fills the heart of man. Paul makes this clear in Rom.5:5 where he writes, "God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us." The love of God that enables us to love our neighbor as our self, and to love one another, and to love our enemies all comes into our heart by means of the Holy Spirit. He produces the fruit. We cannot make it grow by works. All we can do is to let the Spirit have control, and He makes this Christ like fruit grow. We can plant and we can water, but God gives the increase. We cannot make fruit grow, but we can provide the cooperation that makes it possible for the Holy Spirit to use our hearts as fertile soil that will be fruit producing. We can't make anything grow, but we can provide the environment for things to grow. We are responsible for preparing the soil of our hearts. We do this by clearing it of the rocks, trash, and brush that makes growing anything unlikely. Our soil gets hard and the seed cannot penetrate and take root. We get stubborn and set in our ways, and do not yield to the Holy Spirit. Christians need to be flexible and ever open to the winds of the Spirit, and to the new fires He may wish to kindle in our hearts. Lawrance Kusher gives us an illustration on the human level. "When my wife and I were first married, for example, we believed that our "true love" enabled us to read one another's minds. Based on this youthful fantasy, we spent great amounts of time and energy choosing the wrong birthday presents for one another, each pretending we loved gifts we didn't. As we grew older and our love matured, we gradually realized that even great love only rarely penetrates another's soul. Indeed, I suspect, real loving stands reverent precisely in the mystery of another's unknowable, unfathomable self. And so, as an act of love, we reached a mutual, unspoken decision: We began to drop not-so-subtle hints about what we really wanted. This not only made shopping easier ("This is exactly what she wants!") But receiving presents became much more fun ("Why this is exactly what I wanted!") If you really love someone, don't make them guess what to give you." Love grows by communication. God did not just let His people guess how to love Him. He gave them clear instructions. The Tabernacle and Temple where they were to show their love in worship, sacrifice, and praise were revealed in most minute detail-nothing was left to guess. God gave His Word and Jesus gave His teaching so we could know exactly how to love Him by obedience. For the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of love in us, we need to be listening to the Word and applying its truth to our daily lives. Listening, learning, worshiping, praising, living a life pleasing to God, these are all part of the atmosphere we provide for the Holy Spirit to work in to produce love. When love is produced in us, like other fruit it has seeds, and will reproduce itself in others. Chuck Swindoll gives us an illustration in his book, Simple Faith. "Among the many plays and musical performances I have attended, none has ever gripped me like Les Miserables.  When these playwrights and composers decided to put Victor Hugo's classic novel on the stage in the form of a dramatic musical, a masterpiece was created for the public to enjoy. When my family and I saw the performance, we were moved to tears...literally. To this day, its scenes and songs often return to mind, bringing fresh delight." He goes on to tell the gist of the play. Jean Valjean is released after 19 years in the chain gang, and is treated kindly by a saintly Bishop. But his prison experience has scarred him and hardened him, and he repays the Bishop by stealing some of his silver. Caught and brought back by the police, Valjean is shocked when the Bishop tells them he gave him the silver. This act of love that kept him a free man had an impact on him like nothing before, and he vowed to never be the man he was. The policeman, Javert, however, hated him and was determined to put him back in prison. Javert treats him with contempt, but Valjean will not retaliate. He turns the other cheek, and he loves his neighbor, and he lives a life of love. In the end he overpowers his enemy, and overcomes evil with good. The last line in the theatre production captures the essences of it all-"To love another person is to see the face of God." I think it says even more clearly-"To love another person is to let them see the face of God." The love of the Bishop helped Valjean see the face of God, and he was changed forever, and his love then helped others see the face of God. God is love, and so wherever love is seen you are getting some glimpse of God. That is the beauty of this first fruit of the Spirit. It makes us attract others to see God and desire to taste of the fruits He can produce in lives. Love is the best witness there is, for nothing is more attractive and enticing than love.  All the works of the flesh that Paul lists in Gal.5:19-21 are the efforts of man to get love without God. All sexual immorality is a hunger for love. All the hate, jealousy, and envy of others is a hunger for love. We get angry and create problems because we want love. Studies show that almost all, if not all, anti-social behavior is a cry for love. Man in his flesh seeks the food of life-love, but what he gets is garbage instead. Only love can meet his deepest needs. The Christian is to reveal to the world an example of true love in contrast to the devil's fakes. What is true love? It is feeling and doing what Jesus would feel and do in the same situation.  Jesus was Spirit filled and thus always loving. If you can honestly say I am feeling and doing what Jesus would feel and do, you are being as loving as you can be. When you love you are as near to God as you can get, for God is love. It is the number one characteristic of God's nature, and to be a channel of that nature in the world is to fulfill the ultimate purpose of being a person made in the image of God. This is also the ultimate pleasure. Remember, fruit means enjoyment. It is from the Latin fructus, which means enjoyment. Where love is joy is right behind. The greatest pleasure in life is love. You cannot find a greater pleasure, for it is a taste of God's greatest pleasure. We are forced, however, to look at the paradox of love. If it is the ultimate in enjoyment and pleasure, why did it become so costly to God to love man? It cost infinite pain and thus we are stuck with the paradox of love being both pleasurable and painful. In a perfect world love is only pleasure, but in a fallen world love hurts, for love desires the best for its objects no matter what the cost, and this means pain. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, and Jesus so loved lost men that He gave His life on the cross for them to be restored to the favor of God. It was painful, but also the highest pleasure. Jesus endured the cross with joy, for He looked to the eternal result for Himself and the redeemed. Love's goal is always the highest peak of pleasure, but to get there it often has to go through painful valleys of suffering. This is true, not only for God's love, but for the love of parents and mates. Love often hurts in a fallen world, but love is willing to hurt, for that is the price for ultimate pleasure. One who will not suffer for another does not love the other in any meaningful way. All God-like love is willing to bear pain for the sake of another's well- being. The Good Samaritan was good, and was used by Jesus to illustrate love, because he was willing to pay the price of interrupting his own plans for the sake of another who needed help. The Priest and the Levite may have had better theology than the Samaritan, but they were not willing to suffer any pain for the sake of the injured man. They may have had gifts, but they were of no value to the kingdom of God without the fruit of love. The Good Samaritan was despised and rejected by the leaders of God's people, but Jesus made him a hero. Why? Because he had what really matters to God. He had the first fruit of the Spirit, which is love. He had the kind of love that is willing to suffer for the pleasure of God and the pleasure of man, and this is the fulfillment of the whole law. Loving God with your whole being and your neighbor as yourself means to be willing to suffer pain for their pleasure. The goal is always pleasure, but the means to it may be painful. Love will pay the price of pain to gain this pleasure. What this means is, love is a chosen self-limitation for the sake of another. God and Jesus both made choices that limited their sovereign freedom to do as they pleased by creating man, and then redeeming him. If God was unloving and self-centered He would have ended the plan with Adam and Eve, or at lease by the time of the flood. He would have taken Noah and his family also, and called it quits. To pursue the plan of salvation all the way to the cross was love beyond our comprehension. We cannot match the love of God, but we can grow this same fruit, and be willing to limit self for the sake of others. This is what parenthood is, and what marriage is, and what ministry is. All forms of love are choices to limit yourself for the sake of others. It sounds like sacrifice, and it is, but it is also the way to the greatest pleasure for the self. Those who want only self-pleasure, and will not limit their pleasure for the sake of others, will end up with very little pleasure. Those who limit their pleasure for the sake of others will end up with the greatest pleasure. This is the way of love and love always ends up with the greatest pleasure.  Ibsen in his poetic drama Peer Gynt, has a hero who is a reckless and irresponsible dreamer whose motto is, "To thyself be enough." He visits a lunatic asylum where he believes people are not themselves, but the director says it is here that people are most themselves, themselves and nothing but themselves. They are all totally self-centered with no tears for others woes, or cares for any other needs. He realizes he has been a failure by being self-centered. He finds healing in the love of the heroine, solveig. It is a message, on the human level, that without love life is barren of all fruit that will last. Even the secular world knows the truth about love that is why most secular songs, plays, and movies are about love. The problem is, the highest love man knows without God is sexual love, and when this becomes ones highest value, it becomes an idol, and leads to all sorts of perversions. It is not that human love is bad, for it is God-given and one of life's greatest gifts, but when it is seen as the ultimate it becomes an idol, and leads to depravity. Some wise men have seen that all human love is to be a means to a greater love. Plato said, "All loves should be simply stepping stones to the love of God." If men would just realize this, and keep on stepping up the stairs of love to the love of God they would find that love that never fails. We sing that Jesus never fails, and Paul in I Cor.13:8 says that love never fails.  Love that reaches the God-like, and Christ- like level, because it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit is the love that never fails, and is always the right thing to do. It does not succeed in the sense that it always wins its object. Jesus failed to win many that He loved, and He wept because they would not accept Him. The point is, Jesus never made the wrong choice. His love never failed to keep Him in the center of God's will. He could love His enemies, and though He could not always win His enemies, He never failed by being unloving to them. Because Jesus never failed to love, He never failed to be a true representative of God the Father. This is to be the goal of everyone who wants to live a life pleasing to God, for this is a life filled with pleasure for the self as well. Love never fails, does not mean the loving Christian succeeds in all he or she attempts to accomplish. It means they always please God without fail. God never says, "I am not pleased with your loving spirit toward your brother or your enemy." God is always pleased with love, and, therefore, love never fails to achieve life's highest goal, which is to please God. That is why Oswald Chambers said, "Love is the beginning, love is the middle, love is the end." God made us in His image, and thus, we are made to love, and when we do we fulfill our very purpose for being. It is life's highest success.
 
What is the purpose of life?  It is to become what God made us to be-images of Him. This is achieved by bearing the fruit of the Spirit, for these nine fruits are love displayed in all of its aspects.
Someone has described them like this-
 
 Joy is love's cheerfulness.
Peace is love's confidence
Patience is love's composure
Kindness is love's consideration
Goodness is love's character
Faithfulness is love's constancy
Gentleness is love's comliness
Self-control is love's conquest.
 
The point is, the more these nine fruits characterize your life, the more you fulfill your purpose for being, for you are a reflection of His love, which is to say, you are Christ like. Some years ago New York city had a murder mystery that was finally solved by the arrest of several notorious criminals. One was Jack Rose, who after he was convicted and imprisoned said, "I always believed that there must be a God somewhere. But when I gave Him thought, I felt He was so far away, and so occupied with great things, that He knew nothing about me. I am sure I never would have become a criminal if the thought had ever entered my mind that God cared anything about me." The world is filled with people who do not know that God loves them because there is no Christian who is communicating that love to them. The poet says-
Do you know the world is dying For a little bit of love? 
 Everywhere we hear them sighing,
  "For a little bit of love."
 
When we make choices to communicate the love of God to the lost, then we know we have gone beyond natural love to bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Every Christian needs to be praying the prayer of Dr. Will Houghton, former president of Moody Bible Institute.
 
Love this world through me, Lord
This world of broken men,
Thou didst love through death, Lord
Oh, love in me again!
Souls are in despair, Lord.
Oh, make me know and care;
When my life they see,
May they behold Thee,
Oh, love the world through me.
 
Even the desire to pray this prayer is a sign that you are growing in the garden of your life the fruit of love. 
 When Jesus or the apostles talk about love they generally use a special Greek word called agape, which in older versions is translated "charity", according to Thayer's Lexicon agape means "brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence". Agape involves doing good to another and having their highest welfare in mind. It is love without a lot of self-interest involved. There were over thirty Greek words for love, unfortunately most of these words were entirely unsuitable for Christian use since many had strong sexual connotations, or involved frenzied psychological states. So the Bible authors selected a little used word for the highest form of love known to man -agape and filled this word with rich meaning.
 Extra: Love
I choose Love. . . No occasion justified hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
 Read Galatians 5:22-25
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."(KJV)
 Scripture Reading
I John 3:16-18
I John 4:7-12
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
 
Reflection Questions: Love
  • Do you find yourself putting others' interests above your own more often?
  • Do you enjoy serving and delighting in the success of others more than your own?
  • Do you see yourself as chronically unappreciated, forgotten, and hence, bitter towards others?
  • Is your life revolving essentially around you, or are you also pursuing the needs and goals of others around you?
 Personal Prayer:
Father God, thank You for giving me another study, and the time to study Your Word.  Bless us to apply this study to our lives daily.  Your love has kept me, and I trust Your love will grow in me and all the prayer warriors today.  Your Word says, You loved the world so much that You gave your only Son to die for us, so that we would not have to perish. That love is what we need today in our lives.  Father, I ask You to fill us with a deep love for You (Romans 5:5). Grant that our love for You be passionate and not lukewarm.  Please fill us with Your powerful love for things that further Your Kingdom. Endue us with a love for souls and a passion to grow our church. Fill us with a burning love for serving You.  Baptize us with a selfless, compassionate love for our families and for that we meet each day.  God, by the power of Your Spirit, please fill our hearts with Your powerful love. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
 
Ending Scripture: Isaiah 55:11
"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
 
 

BIBLE STUDY INTRODUCTION PART 2 (2/18/14)

Bible Study "The Fruit of the Spirit"
[By Glenn Pease]
Date (2/18 /14)
Introduction
PART 2
 
 
We have nine weeks of study on the "Fruit of the Spirit;" below are the table of content for this study.
 
1.       The Fruit of Love
2.       The Fruit of Joy
3.       The Fruit of Peace
4.       The Fruit of Longsuffering
5.       The Fruit of Gentleness
6.       The Fruit of Goodness
7.       The Fruit of Faith
8.       The Fruit of Meekness
9.       The Fruit of Temperance (self-control)
 
 
Starting in chapter (1) we will have reflection questions and personal prayers at the end of each study. We will post Isaiah 55:11 at the end of each study, because God's Word is powerful, and He is faithful, and it will accomplish what we need in this study.   AMEN!
 
 
I couldn't find the book for this study to share with you, sorry.  Below is a link to the PDF
 
 
I will be reading "Fruit of the Spirit" by Lara Velez founder of Moms of Faith.
 
Lara Velez's Introduction:
 
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. - Galatians 5:22-23
 
Unfortunately, many in the church today have no clue what the Fruit of the Spirit is or how significant it is. It is not only important to learn about it and walk in the spirit, it is equally important to search for it in others. The Word clearly tells us that we will know them (other Believers) by their fruit. When we give our lives to Christ and allow Him to be Lord of our lives. We begin our Christian walk. As we grow in the Lord we also grow "fruit" (or spiritual qualities). The closer we get in our relationship with God the more we recognize sin in our lives, and the more uncomfortable we become with it. If we are growing we will bare good fruit and the manifestation will be the character qualities found in Galatians 5. We will also become more aware of our fleshly tendencies and desire to turn from them.
 
On the flip side, if we decide to "go our own way," and not allow God to work in our lives, we will gradually become desensitized and not even recognize what is sin and what is not. That is what is happening to the Church today. The Church is becoming "liberal." Meaning, it is picking and choosing what is and should be called "sin" for our "times." We have forgotten the God and His Word are the same yesterday, today, and FOREVER! God does not "change" for man or "times."
 
If you want to bear good fruit, submit and obey God and HIS Word, NOT the world's interpretation of what it "should" be to fit its sinful nature and desires.
 
You can also know if someone is truly God's by what comes out of them. Does it line up with the Word? Do they bear good fruit? Or, do they try to adapt the Word with the "times" we live in? Be VERY careful of those wolves. They are everywhere, even in the Church…
 
Beware of false prophets, who come to you dressed as sheep, but inside they are devouring wolves. You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy (sound) tree bears good fruit, but the sickly (decaying, worthless) tree bears bad (worthless) fruit. A good (healthy) tree cannot bear bad (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear excellent fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. Therefore, you will fully know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]. - Matthew 7:15-23
 
Sadly, I have encountered many "Christians" who are really wolves and bear no good fruit. Sure, they play a good game and have the appearance or illusion of godliness. However, they are really suffering from a rotten core and their trees only appear to be full of beautiful fruit. The sad reality is that on the inside they are decaying, ugly, and devour everything good in their path.
 
Be diligent and aware of these people and the condition of your own heart as well… lest you become one of these with rotten cores.
 
We battle not with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities. We have a very real battle with our flesh and spirit. In this Bible study, we will dig deeper into the Fruit of the Spirit and how to walk fully in the spirit.
 
"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm." - Ephesians 6:12-13
 
Part of our armor and ability to battle our flesh is to learn how to walk in the spirit.
 
Prayer:
Lord, thank You for Your Word. Help us to remember all that we learn in this study, and remind us when we need a refresher course. We love You so very much. We want our life to be a living example of Your Grace, Love, and Mercy.  We want others to see Your Light shining brightly through us. We want to walk in the Spirit and cut out our fleshly and sinful nature.  Teach us, Lord.  We are the clay and YOU are the Potter.  Mold us into the beautiful, fruit bearing tree, that You created us to be.  Thank You for Your Word and Your unfailing Love.  In Jesus' Mighty Name, Amen.