VIDEO Apples and Oranges

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

In the world of agriculture, God created everything for its own season. Grapefruits, lemons, and oranges hit their peak in the winter. Strawberries, pineapples, and artichokes hit the shelves in the spring. Summer brings us blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and tomatoes. And we can hardly wait for the apples, grapes, and pumpkins of the fall season. How wonderfully God created an agricultural calendar to give us ongoing nourishment. 

There’s one fruit, however, that’s constantly in season—the fruit of the Spirit. These nine qualities (like grapes on one cluster) should be growing and continually bearing in our life. When we are rooted and grounded in Christ, the “sap” of the Holy Spirit takes the nourishment of the Word and transports it from the Vine (who is Jesus) to us, the “branches.” 

Ask yourself: Am I more loving now than I was last year? More joyful? Do I have more peace? Am I more patient? Kinder? These qualities don’t suddenly appear. They must be grown. They should be constantly maturing in our lives.

No one can get joy by merely asking for it. It is one of the ripest fruits of the Christian life, and, like all fruits, must be grown. Henry Drummond


Galatians 5:22 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies

Mercy and Grace

[Josiah] began to seek the God of his father David. 2 Chronicles 34:3

A stately sunflower stood on its own in the center of a lonely stretch of national highway, just a few feet from the fast lane. As I drove past, I wondered how it had grown there with no other sunflowers visible for miles. Only God could create a plant so hardy it could thrive so close to the roadway in the gray gravel lining the median. There it was, thriving, swaying gently in the breeze and cheerfully greeting travelers as they hurried by.

The Old Testament tells the story of a faithful king of Judah who also showed up unexpectedly. His father and grandfather had enthusiastically served other gods; but after Josiah had been in power for eight years, “while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David” (2 Chronicles 34:3). He sent workmen to “repair the temple of the Lord” (v. 8), and as they did they discovered the Book of the Law (the first five books of the Old Testament; v. 14). God then inspired Josiah to lead the entire nation of Judah to return to the faith of their ancestors, and they served the Lord “as long as [Josiah] lived” (v. 33).

Our God is the master of unanticipated mercies. He’s able to cause great good to spring up unexpectedly out of the hard gravel of life’s most unfavorable circumstances. Watch Him closely. He may do it again today.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What mercies have you seen from God that you never anticipated? How does the thought that He’s able to bring about unexpected good give you hope today?

Heavenly Father, I praise You for never changing. Your mercies are “new every morning!” (Lamentations 3:23). Help me to look forward to what You have for me today.

Dead Men Walking

Ephesians 2:1-5

Zombie movies are science fiction, but did you know that, spiritually speaking, there actually are dead men and women walking around on earth? They look like everyone else, but deep down inside, their spirit is dead. Truth be known, everyone begins life as a spiritual “zombie.”

Human beings are composed of a body by which they interact with the world around them, a soul with which they relate to themselves and others, and a spirit through which they can commune with God. If the spirit is dead in “trespasses and sins,” the person may still lead a successful earthly life, but he won’t be able to connect with God or make himself acceptable in the Lord’s sight. In that way, the dead can do nothing.

It’s easy to imagine how this is true of someone who has given himself fully to debasing sin. But sadly, there are many moral church-going folks who are spiritually dead even though they are externally religious. However, the good news is that no one has to stay dead. Whenever anyone turns from sin and trusts in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation, God in His mercy makes that person alive with Christ.

And the change is permanent. In John 5:24, Jesus Himself says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

Showing the Way of Salvation

“The same [a demon-possessed servant girl] followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” (Acts 16:17)

Paul and Luke first witnessed to European unbelievers in Philippi and saw them wonderfully converted (v. 14), but a young “soothsayer” continually interrupted them, mocking and interfering. Paul cast out the controlling spirit of divination (v. 18), denying her owners their source of income. In retribution, they convinced the city leaders to have them brutally flogged and thrown into the innermost prison (v. 24).

But God had other plans. A mighty earthquake seemingly freed them, causing the jailer to prefer suicide rather than face capital charges for his “offense.” Paul intervened, and the jailer desperately pled, “What must I do to be saved?” (v. 30).

What would cause a Roman official in a decidedly pagan culture, who had heard little (if anything) of the truth, to abruptly turn to God for salvation? Certainly the earthquake had captured his attention, as had Paul’s behavior through his trail and abuse, but what made him think the truth was with Paul? Why did he ask for salvation from an incarcerated prisoner?

Perhaps during the trial he had heard of the slave girl’s testimony. In our text she had exclaimed, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” Was this ringing testimony, given in derision but heard nonetheless, involved in his decision?

We can’t know for sure, but we do know that this was the introduction of the gospel to Europe. Surely God’s ultimate plan can be seen in the events at Philippi that day. Even the unknowing truth from a demonic soothsayer contained lasting truth. Christians should never hesitate to declare gospel truth, for God will not allow it to go unheeded (Isaiah 55:11). JDM

His Greatness – Psalm 105

Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works! Honor His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works He has done, His wonders, and the judgments He has pronounced, O offspring of Abraham His servant, O descendants of Jacob—His chosen ones. He is the Lord our God; His judgments govern the whole earth (vv. 1—7).

Throughout the entire history of Israel, God has revealed his greatness through his loyal, covenant love. The psalmist inspires his audience to call on the name of the Lord and to give thanks. He urges them to proclaim to the nations the Lord’s mighty miracles in history.

I need this kind of spiritual motivation. I need a stirring preacher to remind me that the Lord has worked miraculously on my behalf. Why? Because I tend to take for granted his continual intervention in my life and to get so wrapped up in myself that I forget how great he is!

Personal Prayer

Dear Lord, prod my memory when I forget your miracles! Write them on my heart and stir me to sing about your goodness!

A Glorious Gospel Song

How Great Thou Art

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee:

How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder

Consider all the world Thy hands have made,

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,

Thy power throughout the universe displayed!

And when I think that God His Son not sparing,

Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in—

That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,

He bled and died to take away my sin!

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation

And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!

Then I shall bow in humble adoration

And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

Words by Carl Boberg. Music—Swedish Folk Melody.

(Arr. and trans, by Stuart K. Hine.) © 1953, 1955 by Manna Music, Inc.

Sustained and Secure

All of them wait for You to give them their food at the right time.—Psalm 104:27

No creature has the power to preserve itself. “Does papyrus grow where there is no marsh?” asked Job (Jb 8:11). Both man and beast would perish if there were no food, and there would be no food if the earth were not refreshed with fruitful showers. As one preacher put it: “We came from God’s hand, and we remain in His hand.”

Think of the marvel of life in the womb. How an infant can live for so many months in such a cramped environment—and without breathing—is unaccountable except for the power of God in preservation. It was divine preservation Daniel was thinking of when he said to the godless Belshazzar: “But you have not glorified the God who holds your life-breath in His hand and who controls the whole course of your life” (Dn 5:23). Everywhere in the Scriptures God is presented not only as the Creator of the world but as its Sustainer and Preserver also. God has not wound up the universe like a clock and then separated Himself from it; rather, He is active in sustaining it, and were He to remove Himself from it, it would cease to exist.

The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that “He sustains all things by His powerful word” (1:3). If the maker of some artifact were to die, his death would make no difference to it. It would continue to exist just as it did before. Not so with God and His world, however. If God were to die, the universe would fall to pieces. But don’t worry—God cannot die. The universe is quite secure.

Prayer

O God, when I consider how You are my Sustainer and my Preserver, my heart is humbled before You. You cannot die, and because I am linked to You, I cannot die. I know my body will die, but my soul is Yours forever. Thank You, dear Father. Amen.

Further Study

Isa 46:1-13; Ps 18:35; 147:6

What did the Lord underline to the children of Israel?

What did the psalmist testify?

While the Spirit Passes By

Acts 1:8

There are wants my heart is telling

While the Spirit passes by,

And with hope my soul is swelling

While the Spirit passes by.

O what prospects now I see,

What a life my life must be,

If Thy seal is placed on me,

While the Spirit passes by.

There are sins my lips confessing

While the Spirit passes by,

Treasures long my heart possessing,

While the Spirit passes by.

All the world’s delight and cheer,

All the things I held so dear,

Ah, how worthless they appear

While the Spirit passes by.

Here I stand, myself disdaining,

While the Spirit passes by;

Stand in faith, Thy mercy claiming,

While the Spirit passes by;

Let Thy power my soul refine,

Let Thy grace my will incline,

Take my all and make it Thine,

While the Spirit passes by.

Herbert Booth, The Salvation Army Song Book