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The Fruit Of The Spirit–Goodness

The Fruit Of The Spirit–Goodness

Today’s Scripture: “He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith.”—Acts 11:24.

GOODNESS IS the radiance or out-shining of a pure and happy Christian soul. It is quick to see and magnify whatever is good in others, as Barnabas was: It is incapable of jealousy or envy, else he would never have gone to Tarsus to seek Saul. The goodness of this man was evinced in his generous donation of the proceeds of his patrimony, and in the ministry of consolation which he exercised among the disciples.

Such goodness is not natural to us. It is the fruit of our union with the true Vine, whose sap may be compared to the Holy Spirit. Before we can be the good man, for whom some would even dare to die, we must become grafted into Christ, that His goodness may make its way through our sour dispositions.

The most difficult thing of all is to continue to manifest this goodness when our lives are united, as Abigail’s was, to that of a churl (1Saamuel 25:3). She was a beautiful woman, of good understanding, and full of tact. Her speech, which arrested David when about to avenge himself on Nabal, is a model of good sense. He heartily thanked her for it, as having saved him from a hasty deed, which would have filled his after-life with regret. Nabal was a churl, evil in his doings, and as his servants said, “‘such a son of Belial, that none could speak to him”–a man who did not know what it was to be merry. Nabal was his name and his nature! What a constant pain it must have been to this noble woman to be united to such a churl! That is a test of real goodness; it is a triumph of God’s grace.

Guard against stinginess and niggardliness. Give liberally and generously to every good cause. Be very careful of going back on your first intentions, which in the matter of giving are probably more trustworthy than the proverbial after-thoughts. Be always careful to dwell on and extol whatever you find admirable and noble in the character of others.

It was said of Charles Kingsley: “No fatigue was too great to make him forget the courtesy of less wearied moments, no business too engrossing to deprive him of his readiness to show kindness and sympathy. To school himself to this code of unfaltering high and noble living was truly one of the great works of his life.”

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The Fruit Of The Spirit–Gentleness

The Fruit Of The Spirit–Gentleness

Today’s Scripture: “The Lord’s servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all… forbearing.”– 2Timothy 2:24.

IT IS not easy to cultivate this fruit of the Spirit because it has many counterfeits. Some people are naturally easy-going, devoid of energy and ambition, at heart cowardly, or in spirit mean. Many of us are characterized by a moral weakness and decrepitude that make it easy for us to yield rather than contest in the physical or intellectual arena.

But in gentleness there must be the consciousness of a considerable reserve of force. The gentleness of God is combined with omnipotence. The movements of creation, in which there is neither voice nor language, prove the infinite forces which are at work. When a boy is trying to lift or carry a heavy beam, as likely as not there will be a great crash when he reaches the end of his task, and puts it on the ground. His strength is so nearly exhausted that he is only too glad to get rid of his burden, anyhow, and at any cost. But if a strong man shoulders the same burden, and carries it for the same distance, he puts it down gently, because he has not taxed his strength and has plenty left.

It is the prerogative of great strength to be gentle. Always remember that you are linked with the Infinite God, and that all things are possible to you. There must also be infinite pity. We must be tolerant and pitiful to those who abuse us, or have been embittered by disappointment, or have been ill-used. It must be our aim to make allowances for such, and always to be sweetly reasonable towards any brusqueness, rudeness and bad manners of their behavior. Let us be willing to admit that much is due to congenital moroseness. Therefore, we bear gently with the erring, and with those who are out of the way, because we also are encompassed with infirmity.

It is necessary also that there should be a deep humility. Thomas a Kempis says: “If thou wilt be borne with, bear also with another. Endeavour to be patient in bearing with the defects and infirmities of others, what sort soever they be: for that thyself also hast many failings which must be borne by others.” Our resentment against others should be always tempered by our remembrance of our own sins. So shall we be God’s own gentlefolk.

 

 

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The Fruit Of The Spirit–Longsuffering

The Fruit Of The Spirit–Longsuffering

Today’s Scripture: “If a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name. Insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, Rejoice!”– 1Peter 4:13-16.

THE LONG-SUFFERING silence of our Lord was the marvel of His foes.

“As a lamb that is led to the slaughter and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb,” He opened not His mouth. Before the high priests, He held His peace. To Pilate He gave no answer. Amid the challenge and reproach of the Cross, He answered nothing, save in benediction and prayer. “When He was reviled He did not answer with reviling; when He suffered, He uttered no threats, but left His wrongs in the hands of the righteous Judge.”

Surely this has been His habit through the centuries. In every child suffering through drunken parents, in every martyr burnt at the stake, in every innocent sufferer before high-handed oppression, He has been led as a lamb to the slaughter, but how silent He is! Man may murder His servants and blaspheme His name, but He says never a word! This is the purport of one of those strange announcements which make the Book of Revelation so remarkable. “When He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half-an-hour.” The songs of heaven are hushed; the multitude which cannot be numbered listens to the groans and appeals of their unhelped brethren; the angels stay their anthems, and seem intent on the tragedies about to be described (Revelation 8:1). But there does not appear to be any help.

But remember that silence does not imply indifference. At the very time that our Lord was silent before His judges, He was bearing the sin of the world. When the silence is proclaimed in Heaven, we find that the prayers of the saints are being presented on the throne—prayers of intercession, mingled with much incense of Christ’s merit.

It is in this spirit that we are to suffer. We are to conceal our anguish as stoics. No suffering rightly borne is in vain, but in some little way, which you may not understand, you are helping Christ in His redemptive work. Be calm, and quiet, and glad! Pray for those who despitefully use you, and ask that your sufferings, rightly borne, may lead to their conversion, as Stephen’s did in the case of Saul.

 

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The Fruit Of The Spirit – Peace

The Fruit Of The Spirit – Peace

Today’s Scripture: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.”—John  14:27.

BEING JUSTIFIED by faith in His blood we have peace! what peace can there be so long as our guilty conscience dreads each footstep, lest it be for its arrest. Though some rich evil-doer is surrounded by the trappings of wealth and state, what is their value, when at any moment he fears that the story of his crime may get out. The first condition of peace is to see your sin borne by Christ in His own Body-on the Cross.

The second condition is to keep His words, His commandments. See in every pressing duty your Master’s call. Do everything in His name and for His glory. This is the way that Jesus lived. He came down, not to do His own will, but the Father’s; and in every incident, as it offered, He felt that God’s bell was ringing to some new opportunity of service. Sometimes you must just bear His will, at others you must fulfil it. Say to Him each day: “I delight to do Thy will, O my God.” The rule of duty is changed into the service of love, that counts no sacrifice too great, no alabaster box too costly.

Peace for the troubled heart! Jesus is not unmindful of your human affections and anxieties. Does He expect you to be absorbed with His interests, and will He not look after yours? He knows where your loved ones are, their names, their needs, their sorrows. He will do exceeding abundantly for them. Did not David have the lame Mephibosheth to his table, because he was Jonathan’s son; did not the Lord heal Peter’s wife’s mother out of love for Peter? Hand over to Christ all that makes you anxious, both for yourself and others. Transmit and commit! Hand over, and then hands off! Let the peace of Christ keep heart and mind as a sentry, and rule within as the sole judge and arbiter of thought and action. If any thought would intrude which would break in upon our peace, let it be arrested on the threshold; if any passion would arise that threatens the harmony of our inner household, let the solution be the Peace of Christ. “My peace,” He said, i.e., the peace that kept and ruled Him. He calls us to share it, not hereafter only, but here and now. It is His legacy guaranteed to us, by His blood, and by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

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The Fruit Of The Spirit–Joy

The Fruit Of The Spirit–Joy

Today’s Scripture: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be fulfilled.”—John 15:11.

JOY IS a spontaneous thing. The joy of a little child, like the carol of the lark, arises naturally and easily when certain conditions are fulfilled, so if we would experience the joy of Christ we must realize the conditions He lays down. If we are grafted into the true Vine, there is nothing to check the inflow of His love to us, if we do as He tells us, and forbear doing what He forbids–then Joy will come to us as a flood.

“‘Abide in Me”–it is inferred, of course, that we are in Christ. It was not always so. Once we were outside, separate from Christ, “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” We were shoots in the wild vine, partaking of its nature, involved in its curse, threatened by the axe which lay at its roots. But all this is altered now. The Father, who is the Husbandman, of His abundant grace and mercy, has taken us out of the wild vine, and grafted us into the true, and we have become one with Christ. When, therefore, we are told to abide or remain, it is only necessary that we should stay where He placed us. You are in a lift until you step out of it; you are on a certain road until you take a turning to the right or left, although you may be too engrossed in converse with a friend to think of the road; so amid the pressure of duties and care, you remain in Christ unless you consciously, by sin or unbelief, thrust yourself away from the light of His face into the darkness. When, therefore, the temptation arises to leave the words of Christ for the maxims of the world, resist it and you will still remain in Him. Whenever you are tempted to leave the narrow way of His commandments to follow the desires of your own heart, reckon yourself dead to them, and you will remain; whenever you are tempted to forsake Christ’s love for jealousy, envy, hatred, resist these impulses and say, “I elect to remain in the love of God.”

Thus abiding in Him you will learn to know His mind, and will naturally ask those things which His love is only too willing to grant. “Ye shall ask what ye will.” We must remove any hindrances from the indwelling of Christ, then His love will break out into song, and we shall share in His joy. It will remain in us, and our capacity for joy will be fulfilled.

 

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The Fruit Of The Spirit–Love!

The Fruit Of The Spirit–Love!

Today’s Scripture: “But now abideth Faith, Hope, Love, these three, and the greatest of these is Love.”– 1Corinthians  13:13.

LET US lay the emphasis on the word fruit, as contrasted with the works of the law. In work there is effort, strain, the sweat of the brow, and straining of the muscles; but fruit comes easily and naturally by the overflow of the sap rising from the root to bough and bud. So our Christian life should be the exuberance of the heart in which Christ dwells. The Apostle Paul prayed that Christ might dwell in the heart of his converts, that they might be rooted and grounded in love. It is only when the Holy Spirit fills us to the overflow that we shall abound in love to all men.

We must distinguish between love and the emotion of love. The former is always possible, though not always and immediately the latter. Our Lord repeating the ancient words of the Pentateuch, taught us that we may love God with our mind and strength, as well as with our hearts. We all know that the mind and strength are governed not by our emotions, but by our wills. We can love, therefore, by determining to put our thought and energies at the service of another for the sake of God; and we shall find our emotions kindle into a sacred glow of conscious affection.

In the chapter from which our text is taken, St. Paul distinguishes between the Gifts of the Church and Love. After passing them in review he comes to the conclusion that all of them, without Love as their heart and inspiration, are worth nothing.

The greatest word in the world is the unfathomable phrase, “God is Love.” You can no more define the essence of love than you can define the essence of God, but you can describe its effects and fruits. I give Dr. Weymouth’s translation: “Love is patient and kind, knows neither envy nor jealousy; is not forward and self-assertive, nor boastful and conceited. She does not behave unbecomingly, nor seek to aggrandize herself, nor blaze out in passionate anger, nor brood over wrongs. She finds no pleasure in injustice done to others, but joyfully sides with the truth. She knows how to be silent; she is full of trust, full of hope, full of patient endurance.”

We ought to take each of these clauses, and ponder whether our lives are realizing these high ideals. God send us a baptism of such love!

 

 

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Seven Sayings from The Cross, Conclusion

Seven Sayings from the Cross, Conclusion

Today’s Scripture: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”: and having said thus, he gave up the ghostLuke 23:46

The seventh and last lesson that we learn from Jesus on the cross is this: commend yourself to the loving hands of your Father. We can apply this lesson to ourselves in at least two ways.

First, right here and now we can recognize and trust that, for his own good purposes, he is either bringing or allowing every event into our lives—“for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things” (Romans 11:36). Therefore we can glory even in tribulation, knowing that tribulation works patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, so that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us (Romans 5:3-5).

Second, we can commend ourselves to our loving Father’s hands for the future, to carry us from this world to the next. There is no door in our lives so mysterious, troubling, or sorrowful as the door of Death. And yet, as believers, we can rest in our Father’s certain and unwavering promise that death is—as it was for his Son Jesus—but the door that leads us to his lap.

Do you have worries, fears, sorrows, pains, or discouragements? Commend yourself to the loving hands of your Father and know that he will never let you go.

 

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Seven Sayings from The Cross, Con’t

Seven Sayings From the Cross Con’t

Today’s Scripture: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost”John 19:30

Here is lesson number six from Jesus on the cross: the most important thing in your life is God’s will for your life; you are not finished until you can say, like Jesus, “it is finished.”

Jesus “gave up the ghost,” or died, according to his own time and pleasure. Unlike us, Jesus’ life was in his own hands. Yet, he refused to depart this world until he had accomplished the purpose for which God had sent him. He endured the cross and cruel mocking until his business here was finished.

The apostle Paul wanted to die. He even said “to die is gain.” But in the end he concluded that “to abide in the flesh [keep on living] is more needful” (Philippians 1:24). Why? Because God was not through with him yet. Paul knew that as long as God had him here at all, then he was here for a purpose.

The perspective changes in Paul’s last letter, as he faces his approaching martyrdom under Nero. Paul confesses, “I am read to be offered” (2 Timothy 4:6). Why? Because, Paul says, “I have finished my course” (7). Not until he had finished all that God had for him was he ready to die.

Whether young or old, rich or poor, happy or sad, the most important thing in your life is God’s will for your life; you are not finished until you can say, like Jesus, “it is finished.”

 

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Seven Sayings from The Cross, Con’t

Seven Sayings from the Cross Con’t

Today’s Scripture:  “Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst”– John 19:28

We come to the fifth of Christ’s seven sayings from the cross, and the lesson we now learn from him, even in the midst of unspeakable suffering, is this: “submit yourself to the word of God.”

Perhaps the human who suffered most in the Bible, besides (and of course not even approaching) Jesus, was the man Job. Yet Job, after losing his wealth, family, and health, testifies: “My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined…I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:11-12).

This, clearly, was supremely and perfectly the concern of Jesus, even as he prayed in the garden, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Again, the gospel of John records this rhetorical question, which Jesus framed for his disciples, “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11).

Is that your spirit? Are you willing to take the cup of God’s Word and drink it completely? Do you trust God’s will enough to utterly surrender yourself to it, or do you pass his commands through a mental cupbearer, testing its contents by the standard of your own reason or understanding?

Jesus, even on the cross, was concerned that the Scripture be fulfilled—perfectly and consciously—in his life. Is that the great concern of your heart?

 

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Seven Sayings from The Cross, Con’t

Seven Sayings From the Cross Con’t

Today’s Scripture: “About the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”Matthew 27:46

The fourth lesson we learn from Christ on the cross is this: Believer, God will never forsake you. You may be thinking, “How does Jesus teach us that, when he himself is being forsaken by God in his darkest hour?”

In every prayer of Jesus that is recorded in Scripture, he addresses God as his Father — except one. Here at the cross, as he is punished for our sins, he cries out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus called God his Father with one exception, so that we could call God our Father without any exceptions!

You see, Jesus was forsaken by his Father on the cross, so that you and I would never be forsaken. He became sin for us, and so we now have free access to the Father by him. No sin, no person, no obstacle can keep us now from the love and forgiveness and blessing of our Father.

It is because of his own sure work on the cross that Jesus gives us such sure promises of his continued presence and grace with us.

       “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” Matthew 28:20.

“Be content…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” Hebrews 13:5.