Note: Here is a short video overview of Chronicles — https://youtu.be/HR7xaHv3Ias
Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 18 June 19:
Galatians 5:22-26 — “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
The fruit of the Spirit is the product of supernatural power, unattainable through natural or human power alone. When you are crucified with Christ and raised with Him to new life in the Spirit, you ever-increasingly will be controlled by love where the law and willpower were powerless in your life. More and more, you will obey from a true desire or passion rather than through intense inner struggle –
– 1 John 3:5 — For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
– Hosea 6:6 — For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Still, as we continue to grow and mature in Christ, the struggle against the flesh, our sinful nature, continues –
– Romans 7:15-23 — For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
– 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 — Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Yet, as we strive, struggle and persevere, we must learn to simply “abide” in Jesus (John 15), to remain fully connected to Him, to trust in Him, to rest in Him, to enjoy Him, and receive Him fully that through Him and in Him, we can bear fruit naturally and abundantly.
– Romans 7:24, 25 – “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
– 2 Corinthians 9:8 — And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9 — But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
– Matthew 11:28-30 — Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Concerning bearing fruit, Jesus had the following to say in John 15:
– “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away [or “lifts up”], and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
Again, what does a branch do to “abide” in the vine? It remains connected, receives and responds to the intent the vine has for the branch as it was designed from its conception to do. It bears fruit naturally, and it prepares to give itself up to produce seeds for future growth in others.
Resting in Jesus while we abide in Him is a continuously active rest. Much like our brains never stop processing, and our hearts never stop pumping even when we sleep, our spirits never stop seeking, loving and obeying —
– 1 Chronicles 16: 10-11 — Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 — Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
– Ephesians 6:18 — Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication….
– Colossians 4:2 — Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
– Romans 8:26 — Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
If you want fruit from a tree, you don’t focus on trying to make a piece of fruit. You focus on growing a healthy tree. You think about what is required to make a tree healthy – quality soil, sunlight, water, etc. Also, you appreciate that fruit doesn’t grow in a day, rather over time. As I consider the list of attributes in Galatians 5:22-26, I realize that if I step out today saying, “Today I resolve to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled,” I will surely be disappointed. Not that I shouldn’t make the effort, and I certainly will, but the quality of these attributes is the natural product of the condition of my heart. My focus must be on my heart (Proverbs 4:23), and the condition of my heart depends on the quality of my relationship with Jesus Christ. As someone once said, I must be a “root inspector” rather than a “fruit inspector.” If I am rooted in Christ, my fruit will reveal it. If I am “out of step” with the Spirit, my fruit will likewise reveal it, primarily in my relationships with others – “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:25-26) Focus on loving Jesus and obeying Him in love, and the rest will come naturally.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 June 19: Abide in Christ today and every day.