Tag Archives: Jesus

Parents; it is your job to teach your kids about God.

I heard something on the radio today that disturbed me greatly.  What was it?  A preacher trying to tell parents the way to tell their kids about God, Jesus, and salvation.  Ugh.  No.  He was tossing words out there like “justification.”  Yeah, say that word to your three year old, and see if they understand.  The preacher was making a point in saying that you just keep telling the child the same thing over and over, and eventually, mysteriously, they’ll get it.

Any developmentalist will tell you that you don’t talk to a three year old the way you talk to a nine year old, it’s useless.  The preacher seemed to think that a child has to jump through a series of hoops in order to be well and truly saved, and that the kid needs to know everything an adult would know, and that the child needs to make sure to be old enough, etc… Well, yeah, children need to have an understanding of who Jesus is, and what He did.  But, Jesus didn’t ask how old the children were who wanted to come to Him.

Anyone, regardless of age is allowed to go to Jesus, in fact, it is encouraged.  The child isn’t going to be able to set down and write out a dissertation on sin and redemption, but that’s fine.  A child’s faith is held up as what we adults are to aim for.  A parent needs to evaluate each child and not compare them to one another.  Some will “get it” sooner than others, and that’s fine.  It is indeed your responsibility to always check along the way, for example, when your child wants to take communion, you need to make sure they do understand what it means.

Further, parents, it is your job to teach you children, not a preacher.  You need to know your own faith, and why you have it, good enough to explain that to your children.  Know faith and grace, know scripture, know Jesus.  Remember your kids are watching you and you need to make sure you realize you are their number one model.  Also, realize your child does not know what you know, you are not your child.  You may know that baptism isn’t required for salvation, and why, but your kids don’t, unless you TEACH them.

Some parents think that they can just give their children books, or have them watch cartoons, or listen to a certain preacher and that will be fine.  No, it won’t.  You are to raise your children up with the instruction that they need from you personally.  Ask questions, and then really listen to their answers.  Listen to sermons together, watch those cartoons together. Read the Bible together, and don’t water it down.

As a final thought; as you walk this road with your child, I would bet they’ll teach you a lot about God too, so be willing to learn.

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Jesus was not a hippie.

I can’t believe I actually have to type that.  I also have to apparently type; Jesus was not a Democrat, Jesus was not a Liberal, Jesus was not a Republican, Jesus was not a Conservative, and on and on and on.  Jesus was God made flesh, the Messiah, the Lion and the Lamb, the only perfect human who was also 100% God.

I’ve heard that phrase, “Jesus was a hippie” from several sources, and it always makes me wonder if the person saying that knows what a hippie was.  It is easy to romanticize political or societal fads and movements, but to associate Jesus with a romanticized version of a historical movement is dangerous in the extreme.  Some people do it to try to sound funny, some do it rhetorically to try to make a point as to how they would like Jesus to be.

Hippies.  What did they stand for?  One of the obvious things was “free love.”  What does that mean?  The idea of free love included an attack against monogamous marriage.  There is also a more generalized idea that a sexual relationship contains no obligation.  Sleep with who you want, whenever and wherever you want.  Does that sound like Jesus to you?

Another aspect of the hippie culture was their advocacy and use of drugs.  One of the focuses was on mind altering substances, such as LSD.  God desires us to have temperance and a sound mind.  We are never to imbibe a substance that completely alters our brain chemistry.  Even something like marijuana, despite its growing positive reputation, can trigger a psychotic episode that can in turn trigger lifelong schizophrenia.  The effects of these drugs on fallen human bodies and natures is negative in the extreme; for the individual, their families, and society.  Do you think Jesus advocates that?

How about peace?  The peace the hippies chanted about is not the peace Jesus preached to us and offers us.  We could have all the peace on this earth we desire and still lack peace in eternity.  Make love, not war.  Sure, that works in this fallen world.  The hippies could flourish here in the US where other people were putting their lives on the line to insure freedom of expression and freedom of speech.  The peace Jesus offers is grace unearned so that we can have a relationship with the creator of all.

How about nature and flowers and rainbows? Jesus is the Word of God, it was by Him and through Him that all was made.  Hippies made the age old mistake of worshiping the creation instead of the creator.  Rainbows should remind us of fallen man, and God’s promises.  Nature and flowers? Part of creation, so are we.  We were fashioned from the ground by God Himself.

As I mentioned before, most who try to paint Jesus this way want Him to fit an agenda that they personally believe in.  It doesn’t work that way.  To portray Jesus in any way other than Biblically is presenting a false Christ.

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“10Things You Can’t Do” Response…

Recently an acquaintance of mine posted this link on Facebook (it’s not her article, just a share), clearly in support of what it says; 10 Things You Can’t Do While Following Jesus.  Please do read it. I do tend to like lists like this, as they make it easy to breakdown and talk about point by point.  First things first; why did I feel the need to review and respond to this particular blog post?  Because one of my main pet peeves is anyone who paints Jesus like a milksop weakling, and quite frankly I’m offended when someone calls God Himself a hippie (I think I have my next article right there).

Alright, lets move on to the 10 points;

10) Exclude people because they practice another religion.  That depends on the context that we are talking about.  We can surely mingle with people of other faiths, help people of other faiths, study other faiths, and respect people of other faiths, and have them as friends.  On the flip side, Jesus made it clear that faith in anything or anyone other than Himself will have a negative eternal effect.  Jesus is the only way to The Father, and no one can have a relationship with God except through Him.  So, He also called us to make sure that people of other faiths know the requirement of eternal life; faith in Jesus Christ.

9) Exclude people for what they look like, how they were born or things beyond their control.  I’m in complete agreement with the first part of this statement.  But, “how they were born” or “things beyond their control” is a bit vague.  What does that mean?  Lets assume that this is a statement on something like homosexual acts.  Well, I was born with a seemingly inborn tendency to lie.  I confess it, and I’m a wonderful liar… but that’s a no-no, in other words being a liar is not what God wants from me.  So, I turn to Him to help me not lie.  Guess what? It works 90% of the time, and I’m working on the 10%.  It has nothing to do with my salvation, but has a lot to do with my sanctification.   In short, it is true that Jesus didn’t run from sinners, but to them.  Also, look at the woman caught in adultery and who was brought to Jesus, that dialogue ended with “go and sin no more.”  No exclusion, I agree.  No calling good evil and evil good either.

As a side note, a lot of the “ism’s” of our culture are truly reprehensible, those are the things that every Christians should fight against, including sexism, ageism, and racism.  Also the churches out there harming others instead of helping them should be ashamed.  For example, if someone is a diagnosed Kleptomaniac, they are indeed a thief, but kicking them out of the church isn’t going to be doing them any good as they can’t currently control their actions.  Community, therapy, monitoring, etc… can help the person curb that behavior, even if they have to fight it the rest of their lives.

8) Withhold healthcare from people. I had to read that twice to make sure that is what the author actually wrote.  It was.  He argues that Jesus was a fan of healthcare for all because He healed people.  Um… there is a world of difference between healthcare and miraculous healing.  Jesus was clear that He was healing people to show that He was indeed the Messiah, and He healed supernaturally. He used healing to show that He had the power to forgive sins. Healthcare from the government was never meant to be a “right” or something that was granted to us without us doing our jobs.  I guess Obama really is the second coming with his “wonderful” program Obamacare.   It is the church’s job to help those who can’t help themselves, esp. widows and orphans.  Physical health in this life is not my right, and Jesus never promised me that, and it certainly isn’t the government’s job to “heal” me.

7) Exclude people.  Let me quote this on in full, “Last time. Promise. Jesus was constantly including people. It’s a little concept called love. He was pretty big on it.”  Ugh.  He includes all people as sinners, and that all are invited to learn of Him, and faithe on Him.  Yes, indeed all are welcome to the church, and the church’s job is to tell someone about Jesus and how to be saved.  You are saved by turning to God, and faithing on Jesus.  If you are faithing on man, Buddha, Krishna, the Islamic God Allah, the earth mother, etc… you are not going to be included in Heaven.  On earth we should and can mingle with everyone, as long as we are clear that there are indeed two categories of humans; the saved and the unsaved, our job is to make sure the unsaved know how to be included in the saved category, that’s love.  Jesus said He did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

6) Let people go hungry. Jesus let people go hungry, after He made the point with the loaves and the fishes.  He fed ‘em, then they started following simply to get another handout of food.  He then explained that He is real food, the bread from Heaven.  Crowds wanted their bellies filled again, and He said they were shortsighted, that faithing on Him was what would fill us, not physical food.  Don’t get me wrong, if someone is in need, it is our duty to help them as they can; IF they are in need.  If they are lazy and not working, I’m actually damaging them if I let them continue to take from others what they did not earn.

Side note; the author says that world hunger could be solved, “There is not a food shortage in the world — there is enough for everyone. There is not a problem with having a distribution system capable of handling it; I can eat lobster from Maine while looking over the Pacific ocean. The problem is that we aren’t very good at sharing.”  That is not a true statement.  We are actually very good at sharing it, but there are leaders intent on stealing it in foreign countries.  They are starving their own people on purpose.

5) Make money more important than God (and the children of God). I agree with this simple statement, but not his following points.  The love of money is indeed the root of all evil, but going to shop somewhere like WalMart isn’t a sin.  When we serve money instead of it serving us (and by extension, God) that is when things sour.  Further, it is not the Government’s job to do the job of the church.  I don’t mind paying taxes for things that are the proper realm of the government, things like the roads and the military.  I do mind paying taxes for things that are not biblical, and no business of the government.

4) Judge others. Yes and no.  The context is never to judge another when it comes to salvation, and we are not allowed to make up sins to pick on.  We are also no longer allowed, religiously, to judge another person as being righteous or unrighteous.  We are to judge whether someone could harm us, or cause a brother or sister to stumble.  If we do judge someone else as a stumblingblock, that isn’t a judgment on salvation.  If you have a sheep biting and harming the other sheep, and that little flock is under your care as an under-shepherd, you don’t allow that sheep to hurt the rest.  It’s still a sheep, but you provide some distance between him and the rest of the flock.

3)Be physically aggressive or violent. Again, yes and no.  The author rightly tries to catch himself; Jesus did indeed become aggressive in a righteous way.  That shows it is indeed possible.  Jesus didn’t just drive the money changers out, He made the whip He used.  Let me repeat; He made the whip.  Also, it is true that later, He told Peter to put up his sword, but why?  Because Jesus was allowing history to unfold as it had to.  It wasn’t time for the apostles to fight, it was time for Jesus to be arrested.

Physical aggression and violence, for a Christian, should be extraordinarily limited.  Self defense, or defense of the innocent.  That can take the form of a just war if need be.  Attacking Nazi soldiers to free the Jews, for example, was a righteous use of force.

2) Use the church to hurt people. The church is “merely” those people that are “out-called ones.”  We are a group of people faithing on Jesus.  Of course the church shouldn’t be hurting people, quite the opposite.  We are taught to love God, each other, and even our enemies.  But, this is where the author calls Jesus a hippie.  Sorry, no.  He is lamb and lion.  To ignore that aspect of Jesus that we clearly see in Revelation is to preach a false Christ.  The church is to spread the good news and to be a community of like-minded believers.

1)  Hate. Not so fast.  Hating another human is a no-no; however, hate in and of itself is not a sin.  God hates.  We are to hate what God hates.  Do you love sin?  Do you love the fallen world?  Not if you are in tune with God.

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Leadership; Nonbelievers just don’t understand…

Every now and again I’m reminded of one of the reasons why true believers are so loyal and fixed on Jesus.  Have you ever noticed that there are some people that are so honorable, smart, charismatic, and loyal that others go into orbit around them.  They function as true north, and everyone else is a compass needle.  There are real life examples of this, George Washington was once such human.

There are also fictional characters that function the same way, the most recent example I can think of is Gibbs on NCIS.  Characters like him are so popular because we humans seem to be made to follow courage, justice, caring, etc… People who display these characteristics tend to attract followers who are willing to follow them anywhere.

This can also be a bad thing when people follow charisma simply because they cannot seem to determine their own lives.  They want someone to tell them specifically what to do and when to do it, as well as what to believe.  That is what happens when a cult springs up.  Following a good person is beneficial, following a bad person is detrimental.

What does this have to do with Christianity?  We are so drawn to Jesus because in Him is all goodness and none of the imperfection that brings detriment.  In Jesus we have a human, that because He is also God, is totally righteous, just, loving, merciful, brilliant, honest, loyal, etc… In Him we have a leader that we can totally trust 100% of the time because He has proven Himself in ways that everyone alive can still check out.

We follow Him and love Him because He is Truth itself, He is the Way, the only proper Way, of having a correct worldview.  He loved us so much that He did and does not lead from behind; instead, He paved the way for us giving His life, health, and very self for us, to fix our mess and to forgive our sin.  Why do we love Him and defend Him?  Amongst many reasons, it is because we are grateful to have a leader such as Him.  And, unlike false leaders, He gives us absolute and total freedom.

He teaches us what is best for humans; to forgive, to love, to serve, to hope, to be courageous and strong, to stand up for those that cannot stand up for themselves.  While He is our leader, He teaches us self-responsibility, how to think for ourselves, and how to care for our enemies.  Nonbelievers cannot grasp this idea, they are intent on either following themselves, or other flawed humans.  That is the problem with any other form of idolatry; you are not following the correct leader.  Do you worship money, fame, self, nature, other gods, philosophies?  Then you are not following truth, and it will be to your detriment.

One of the great paradoxes of Christianity is the idea of becoming a slave to Jesus, and that makes you completely free.  A true leader does not try to exert forced control, or tell followers to shut off their brains.  Jesus asks us to freely choose, and enables our choice.  If we do freely choose Him, He then sets us totally free from both sin and the confines of the law, and in effect, He allows us to make all of our own choices in life, while at the same time promising to guide us and guard us if we will heed His voice.  We are painted as sheep; however, it is sheep with no fences but rather a loving and powerful shepherd that tends to His flock.

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Contract law (or, the efficacy of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection)

The Truth of the gospel is so simple a child can understand it.  However, there is also the meat of the gospel.  The details and teachings that are more complex and also extremely fascinating.  This article is going to discuss the idea of contracts (also known as covenants) and why they are so important.  I felt this was an appropriate topic, since this Sunday is known as Resurrection Sunday.

Contracts are pretty straightforward.  They are agreements between parties that lines out what is expected of each person participating in the contract.  God is a God that uses contracts/covenants to interact with and to guide mankind.  God drafts the contract and then man participates.

The Mosaic Law was a covenant between God and man, or actually a group of men, the Jewish people.  God said if man would flawlessly keep his side of the contract, then the person would inherit eternal life, would have his sins covered.  Mankind, in our fallen state, could not keep that contract perfectly. So, why did God make that covenant if He already knew we’d not be able to keep it?  The answer is simple; to show us that we couldn’t keep it.

What that shows is that we cannot gain eternal life and forgiveness on our own, we cannot fulfill our side of the contract and we are not righteous creatures, but the problem is, God is a completely righteous and just God and can’t just shred the contract, it must be fulfilled in order for there to be room for a new contract.   An example may help: You need to rent a house, so you sign a contract with the landlord to pay $500 per month for a year.  You are legally bound by the statues laid out in that agreement.  The ways you can fulfill your side of the agreement are clearly spelled out.

God set up the contract with man so that it could indeed be fulfilled under certain conditions.  A specific type of sacrifice must be made, and it must be a blood sacrifice.  What is sacrificed must be kin to whatever that sacrifice is going to cover.  The sacrifice must be perfect according to God’s law, therefore the sacrifice had to come from the chosen people with whom God made the covenant.  None of this was designed by accident.  Mankind caused it’s own fall, but God had a plan to redeem us.

The Son of God, Jesus Christ, was that perfect sacrifice.  He was perfect according to the law, and He was human, so He was kin to us, and He was Jewish, from the tribe of Judah.  He shed His blood by spilling it on the Cross.  This is why Jesus proclaimed it finished upon His death.  All debt was paid, all was covered, the contract was fulfilled.  The old covenant was nailed to the cross making way for a new agreement; anyone that trusts on Jesus’ person, life, death, and resurrection to cover all sin will inherit eternal life.

The new covenant, or contract, now hinges on faith.  By responding to God in faith, we sign on the dotted line and become covered by Jesus’ blood, our sin washed away, and we are no longer under the law of the old agreement.  God Himself seals us, and we become indwelt by the Spirit.  This is the only way to Heaven, and a correct relationship with God.  Faith in the Son.

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Jehovah-Rohi; The Lord is my Shepherd…

This look at one of the names of God is going to focus on one of His more popular names or roles; that of our Shepherd.  This name is commonly known because of Psalm 23 and its “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”  The fact that it is “Jehovah-Rohi” shows us that being a shepherd is a part of Who God is, meaning it is His character to be our shepherd.

We know from scripture that there are good shepherds and bad shepherds.  One of the differences was to see if the shepherd would be willing to give his life for his sheep.  In God we have the ultimate shepherd, He sees to us, cares for us lives alongside of us… and did indeed die for us.  If one of us goes astray, He comes for us, not to condemn us but to get us out of whatever trouble we’ve found and bring us home.

The other aspect of a shepherd that many people tend to forget is that they do desire the sheep to follow them.  A sheep knows the shepherd’s voice and was expected to follow along, staying close to the shepherd.  I always like to imagine the Holy Spirit as the Shepherd’s sheep dog.  Not in any negative sense of course, but in the sense that the Holy Spirit is what helps guide us, and helps us tune into the shepherd’s commands.  All we have to do is listen for the Shepherd’s voice and respond when He calls; we have to trust Him, in other words, faithe on Him.

One aspect of all of this that should give us comfort, is that God is so far above us, that we are compared to the sheep, while He’s the shepherd.  Sheep aren’t the smartest animals on earth, but have their place, and their uses.   But note; the Shepherd is in charge, and it is His duty to see to the sheep.  If a threat approaches the sheep, it is the Shepherd who deals with it.  How wonderful to be a sheep protected and loved by God Himself!

How wonderful to be able to say, as David did, the LORD is my Shepherd, it is He Who leads, guides, loves, and protects me.  If I stray, He comes to get me.  Another awesome aspect?  That Shepherd, God Himself, became a Lamb that gave its life for me, and you, and to rid of us of sin and the penalty of the law.  This Lamb is so perfect, He meets every criteria of a perfect sacrifice.  Hold on to the fact that God, the Creator of all things, is your Shepherd the second you heed His call.  When times get tough, remember Who your Protector is, call out to Him, He will hear you.

For my other articles on the names of God see; Jehovah-rapha, Jehovah-Shammah, Jehovah-Tsidkenu, and Jehovah-nissi

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If any would not work, neither should he eat.

The people that try to paint Jesus or God as a socialist have obviously not read scripture.  As always there is a danger when people go to the extreme on any teaching, and it is the same with giving others money, food, help, etc… What we are taught constantly in scripture is that we should not be lazy, gluttonous, or envious of what others have.  Now, I’m no legalist, as any of my regular readers will know, but I do believe we are given guidelines of what will truly make us content and given the direction that will make us the most efficient and “best” human possible while on this earth.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

It’s pretty clear; you don’t work you shouldn’t eat.  If you are idle, if you are not seeing to your own provision, you should not eat.  In our society food is usually bought with money, so that means you should be gainfully employed.  It can also include working the land for your own food.  I am dismayed as I look around this great country, the U.S., and find people not willing to see to their own provision.

Now, the scripture is also clear that if someone has need through no fault of their own, we should see to them.  Our welfare and disability system here in the U.S. makes a mockery out of this idea.  As one great teacher I know once said, “if you can talk on the phone, you can work.”  Yes, times are tough and jobs can be hard to find, though I question whether it is jobs that are hard to find, or people willing to work, to do anything gainful to make some money, including working in the fields, or washing dishes.  The ability to work with and through computers and the internet have almost guaranteed that a vast majority of people can indeed work.

I cannot tell you, dear reader, how much I respect the waitresses, the garbage men, the presidents and CEO’s of companies, the teachers, the accountants, the custodial staffs, anyone that sees to their own provision through work.  Money in this world is for taking care of oneself, one’s family, and others that truly cannot earn a living of their own; children, the elderly, those completely mentally incapacitated, etc…  However, that is the job of the church, not the job of the government.  Further, it is not my job to manage your money, it’s your job.

In that same chapter, Thessalonians also gives another reason to work; if you don’t, you tend to turn into a busybody.  A busybody is someone who sticks their noses into other people’s business, other people’s sins, other people’s lives.  If you are gainfully employed you are seeing to yourself and those to whom you are responsible.

In short, if there is anything you can do to be gainfully employed, you should be.  There should be no unnecessary mooching off of the government, the brethren, or taxpayers.  For the truly needy, the church should be a help.  Laziness, idleness, OR a lack of legitimate, earned income is not a virtue.  It is indeed scripturally on the males to be the major breadwinners and to take care of their families.  Women too can, and should play a role in work and support; neither gender should be lazy, but there is something especially fulfilling for a man to be gainfully employed, and something especially annoying or painful about a man that will not work, nor seek work of any kind.

We, as believers, should be unbelievably generous, loving, helpful, and kind.  We should also be industrious in some form, be good stewards, occupying until the Lord returns, or we go to meet him in death.  While we work in the occupation God leads us to, there is also time for rest, and fun, and relaxation.  If we find ourselves in dire straits, or unable to work, there is no shame in asking our church family for help and to accept help when and where it is given.

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The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 9; Temperance

The last fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22 is “temperance.”  The Greek word used here is egkrateia, it means self-control, or a hallmark of one who masters their passions.  There should be nothing that has control over us, that stems from our human nature.  So, we have a struggle between human nature and divine nature.  It is more clearly laid out for us in 2 Peter:

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

Notice all those things that are linked together and it all goes back to faith.  We are saved by grace through faith, so that is the starting point.  Trusting Jesus and God is faithing.  That faith and salvation leads to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and that Spirit yields fruit, including temperance.

It is also interesting to me to see the last bit added on; if you don’t have temperance, if we don’t have self-control, it is because we have forgotten that we are cleansed from past sin.  Forgiveness leads to healing, that is forgiveness of ourselves and the realization that God does not hold our past sins over our heads.  If we do not realize that forgiveness it actually leads us to fall prey to our old nature.  Isn’t that interesting?  Legalism will never set us free, it is the fact of our freedom that enables our virtue of things like self-control.  Also notice that Temperance is also then connected on to patience, godliness, kindness, and charity.  Patience, godliness, kindness, and charity flow from self-control.

We struggle with many things that require self-control; drug use, lust, greed, anger, etc… We are promised that if we faithe on God, if we remember and realize that we are set free from all past sin, that we WILL have temperance/self-control, because it is a fruit of the Spirit.  Grab onto that fact, faithe, and remember. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed!  That is the path to controlling our human desires and passions, and giving over to the divine nature.

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The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 7; Faith…

One of my favorite subjects to write on is faith.  Faith also happens to be an aspect to the fruit of the Spirit.  As in other occurrences of the word faith in scripture, it is “pistis” in the Greek.  The just (the righteous, who are in Christ) live by faith, according to Paul.  We are not left alone struggling to live by faith, but rather we are aided by the Spirit.

Pistis is trusting with great confidence.  When we are talking about living by faith, we are talking about living our lives relying and trusting God.  Trust has a target, and different people place their trust in different things; for some it is money, for some it is another human being, for some it is military might, etc… For a believer, the only proper target of faith is God.

Another implication of this aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is fidelity.  Staying true to the Truth in other words. This aspect also flows from the Spirit, because it is an aspect of God as well. We are told that Jesus, God the Son, also had faith, and exercised this in His faith toward the Father, and His fidelity to the plan of salvation.  Not only do we have a model of faith in Christ, but also the driving force and power of the Spirit enabling us to have the same kind of faith.

In our day and age, faith is a valuable commodity.  There is so much happening in the world and even in the US, economically speaking.  People are being beset with illness, disease, natural disasters, economic woes, etc… but the Truth holds firm.  We are to have faith in the operation of God and all that implies; not worrying unduly, resting in Him and trusting that He will keep His promises toward us.

Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Our evidence for the “rightness” of our faith is Jesus’ resurrection.  As Paul has said, if Christ be not raised, our faith is in vain.  God draws attention to the resurrection of His Son to show us His fidelity, and in turn, that inspires ours.  With the evidence before us of the empty tomb, and the Spirit working on us from the inside, we can indeed be sure that faith will see us through.

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The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 4; Longsuffering…

After love, joy and peace, comes longsuffering, sometimes translated “patience.”  In the Greek, this one is makrothumia.  I honestly feel that this is one of the things most lacking in our current culture.  In an age of fast food, instant communication, self checkout lanes, rapid transit, etc… patience is becoming more and more scarce.  Commuters lack patience, children lack patience, parents lack patience… and I can vouch that people in line at Wal-Mart lack patience, especially during the holidays.

One of the ideas communicated with the Greek, and even in the English, is a slowness to avenge wrongs.  When I’m typing up these articles, I’m always preaching to myself too, and doing the research for this one has left me realizing I may need to be praying for a bit more patience.  Of course, that means God will set up circumstances in which to be patient, and He even does the work of nudging me toward a longsuffering attitude… it will be my “job” to yield to that prompting, which is easier said than done.  Having said that, it is again, a fruit of the Spirit, so it is entirely possible with Him.

I see patience and love as being intimately connected.  If we love others, we won’t respond in anger so harshly so quickly.  And, further, we are told that we have the perfect model of longsuffing in the Saviour Himself;

1 Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

Think about Jesus’ response to all of the questioning, doubting, mocking, etc… He was ever patient.  He did not merely take anything thrown at Him, but was calm and capable in His responses.  Here’s an interesting proposition; try patience and see what happens.  Next time you are in line, and someone is hurrying trying not to be a bother, or the cashier is rushing and apologizing, smile, say some encouraging words.  Try it in public, every now and again I get looked at like I’m an alien, which in a way I guess I am, as are all believers.

One thing I hope you, my dear readers, are picking up on by now, is that the fruit of the Spirit as we have discussed thus far; love, joy, peace, and longsuffering are also descriptors of God’s character or traits He possessed especially exemplified in Jesus, which makes logical sense.  This is one of the great blessings of being a believer; we get God working on us to conform us to the image of His Son.  I want to underscore, this is His work in us, not our own, that is the way fruit works…

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