VIDEO Known by Their Fruits

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

The Bible has contributed more expressions, idioms, and metaphors to world literature than any other source. One of the most well-known is the phrase “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Wrongly attributed to Aesop, the ancient Greek collector of stories and fables, “wolf in sheep’s clothing” comes from the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

How does one distinguish wolves from sheep? Jesus’ answer: “Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). The true nature of people will ultimately reveal itself by their words and deeds. Paul said as much when comparing those who live by the Spirit of God and those who live according to their carnal nature. The outward manifestation of both separates the two. Specifically, those who live by the Spirit reveal the life of Christ—what Paul calls “the fruit of the Spirit.”

The fruit of the Spirit doesn’t mean perfection. But over time, Christ in us should be evident to others.

A machine can do work; only life can bear fruit. Andrew Murray


The Battle For Self-control – Dr. Charles Stanley

Rainy Days

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25

When small businesses in Tennessee were abruptly shuttered in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, shop owners worried about how to care for their employees, how to pay their rent, and how to simply survive the crisis. In response to their concerns, the pastor of a church near Nashville started an initiative to supply cash to struggling business owners.

“We don’t feel like we can sit on a rainy-day fund when somebody else is going through a rainy day,” the pastor explained, as he encouraged other churches in the area to join the effort.

A rainy-day fund is money that’s put aside in case normal income is decreased for a time while regular operations need to continue. While it’s natural for us to look out for ourselves first, Scripture encourages us to always look beyond our own needs, to find ways to serve others, and to practice generosity. Proverbs 11 reminds us, “One person gives freely, yet gains even more,” “a generous person will prosper,” and “whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (vv. 24–25).

Is the sun shining extra bright in your life today? Look around to see if there’s torrential rain in someone else’s world. The blessings God has graciously given you are multiplied when you freely share them with others. Being generous and open-handed is a wonderful way to give hope to others and to remind hurting people that God loves them.

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

When has someone been open-handed with their time or resources with you? How could you do the same for someone in need today?

Gracious God, help me to be tenderhearted toward the needs of others and show me how I can share Your love and generosity with them.

Trusting God’s Promises

Since God always keeps His word, misunderstanding is the only explanation for a divine promise that seemed to fail.

2 Peter 1:2-4

Have you ever become discouraged because the Lord didn’t keep a promise the way you expected? If so, the problem was not God’s faithfulness to His Word but your understanding of Scripture. 

First, not all promises in the Bible apply to us. Some of them are limited to a certain situation, person, or time. For instance, when God told Abraham and Sarah they would have a son (Gen. 17:15-16), this was His commitment specifically to them, not to anyone else. 

Second, it’s important to realize some promises are conditional. Consider the Bible verse that says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). This isn’t an open-ended guarantee that God will give you whatever you want. There’s a qualification: delighting in the Lord and desiring what He wants.

Even though some of God’s promises have restrictions, there are many in the New Testament that apply to all believers: God promises to work all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28), to be with us forever (Heb. 13:5), and to give us an eternal inheritance in heaven (1 Pet. 1:3-5). We can claim these with full assurance because Scripture explicitly tells us they’re God’s will.

Stand Fast

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. (Philippians 4:1)

Several adjectives precede the command contained in this text. Not only does Paul twice use “dearly beloved” to describe his relationship with the Philippians, but he also insists that he longs for them and anticipates joy at the recognition of the “crown” he will receive in heaven.

These are intense words. Agapetos is the descriptive Greek term translated “dearly beloved.” The heavenly Father uses agapetos to express His love for His “beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17). Most of the New Testament letters freely use agapetos to describe various personal relationships with their brothers and sisters in Christ. That unique and deeply spiritual love is what demonstrates our difference to the unsaved (John 13:34-35).

Since Paul is separated from the Philippian church (probably writing the letter from Rome), his love for them caused him to “long after [them] all in the bowels of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:8). That passionate ache is mitigated by the joy coming from the certain knowledge that his work will result in a “victor’s crown” (Greek stephanos, today’s verse) when God rewards our service. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19).

So, “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). Stand fast in the liberty that salvation provides. Don’t become tangled up in the bondage of legalistic burdens (Galatians 5:1). “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 3:8). HMM III

Futility Of Work Apart From God

Unless the Lord builds a house, it’s builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain. In vain you get up early and stay up late, eating food earned by hard work; certainly He gives sleep to the one He loves (Psalm 127 vv. 1-2).

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived and one of the greatest kings of Israel, teaches us that it is useless to attempt anything without God’s approval and blessing whether we are building a house, making a home, guarding a city, earning a living, or even trying go get a decent night’s sleep!

There is a simple interdependence in all of life—a basic theme that underlies the complex movements of our daily existence. That theme is the sovereignty of God—the fact that as Number One in the universe, he has everything under his control.

A building contractor can erect a house; but, whether he acknowledges it, he’s dependent on the Lord for the right weather conditions, raw materials for building supplies, and the strength to build. A couple can get married and start a family; but unless they practice faith in the Lord, there is less than a 50 percent chance that their marriage will survive. An army can be mustered to defend cities and countries, but true peace comes only from God. Inspiration for worthwhile artistic achievement is God’s gift. The ability to earn a living—both talent and drive as well as health and stamina—are his gifts. And even relief from one’s labors—refreshing sleep—comes from the hand of a loving Father.

Diligence without divine blessing is an exercise in futility. For me to attempt anything without God’s help is like trying to get my sailboat to tack by blowing into the sail. I have to wait for the breath of God!

Personal Prayer

Lord, I confess my utter dependence on you. Teach me to wait on inspiration from you in all my endeavors.

A Footnote on Solomon

Solomon’s name in Hebrew is shalmoh, “peaceable.” He was the third and last king of a united Israel. He built the kingdom to it’s greatest strength in terms of material prosperity, geographic extension, and military might. Though very wise and intelligent, Solomon in his later years lost his spiritual discernment. His life style became political, amoral, voluptuous, and apostate. This formerly wise king brought the nation to the brink of dissolution.

Don’t Miss the Point

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.—Psalm 119:105

There are some who claim that having our “feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace” means that we should always be ready to carry the gospel to others. That interpretation certainly fits in with Romans 10:15: “How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!” but this is not, in my opinion, what Paul had in mind when he wrote the words of Ephesians 6:15.

In Ephesians 6 the apostle is dealing with one thing only—the Christian’s engagement with the Devil. He said: “Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against … the spiritual forces of evil” (v. 12). His purpose is to show us how to stand against the “tactics” of the Devil. Although Paul was an evangelist with a strong evangelistic spirit, he was not thinking here of evangelizing, vital though it is. He was rather picturing a Christian who is under attack by Satan, warning us that unless our feet are firmly shod, we can easily be knocked down and disabled.

Those who claim that the phrase the “readiness for the gospel of peace” relates to evangelism miss the point of his exposition. No one would deny the importance of always being ready to share Christ with others, but the readiness to which Paul is referring here is the readiness to stand firm on the truths of the gospel. In other words, he is saying: don’t get into a fight with the Devil in your bare feet. Make sure you are well shod, for if you are not, he will most certainly get the better of you.

Prayer

O Father, I am so grateful that You breathed into Your servant Paul to write these illuminating words. They are inspired, for they inspire me. Continue to teach me, dear Lord. I am hungry for more and more of Your truth. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 119:97-105; Isa 40:8; 1Pt 1:23-25; 2Tm 2:15

How did the psalmist view God’s Word?

Why is God’s Word a sure foundation?

Things Possess Me

Matthew 6:19-21

Lord, I’ve made a disappointing discovery.

Things possess me;

I’ve always tried to believe that I was the ascetic type;

not the real ascetic, of course,

facts were against that,

but with tendencies in that direction.

Now I find that what is mine is very important to me,

even if it is not of any great worth.

I don’t want to be bound by things, Lord;

to use, yes;

to enjoy, yes;

to lend, sometimes;

but to hoard,

simply to gloat over their possession, no!

Your Book tells us a few home-truths, Master.

It reminds us that even as we brought nothing into this world,

so we depart, empty-handed,

It makes one think.

There must be some secret formula to follow,

to hold in trust,

to use wisely,

to treasure unpossessively

and be ready to surrender.

I have a lot to learn, Lord;

please teach me how to hold lightly to this world’s goods.

Flora Larsson, Just A Moment, Lord