(1) O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. (2) But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. (3) O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. — Psalm 131
Have you ever felt as ‘helpless as a baby’? Is your life completely under your control? Or, have you found that this world will throw all kinds of trials, trouble, and tribulations at you, sometimes all at once! And yet, as Christians, we are called to weather the troubles and consider them all joy. How is this? How are we supposed to attain this perspective of peace in the midst of the hardships of this life?
Any fruit lovers out there? I am a fruit lover. I eat all kinds of fruit all the time. Whenever I eat fruit, there is something that rises up in me and says, “God. is. awesome.” Pineapple is my favorite. In the Saltzmann house, we have chopping pineapple down to an art. But typically we eat the thing as fast as we chop it. Then there are blueberries. Then apples. Then mangos. What about kiwi? I’ll eat just about any fruit you send my way.
The Lord is very much interested in fruit as well. It’s a metaphor used all through the Bible for the productivity of God’s people. In the New Testament, we read that the Lord is concerned to produce the fruit of Christlikeness in our lives. He knows we cannot produce it on our own. So it comes by the power of the Holy Spirit.
According to Galatians 5, as we keep in step with the Holy Spirit, He will help us overcome sin. Then He will produce His fruit in our lives. This fruit will come in the form of nine attractive, healthy, life-giving character qualities.
I’d like to provide a reminder of these 9 different qualities spoken of as the fruit of the Spirit. I’ll give a few works of explanation for each one. Along the way, be asking yourself if this fruit is evident in your life. I pray you’ll have a longing for it and the Spirit will bring it!
“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak.” Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-16a
I recently heard a story about “bummer lambs.” These lambs are those who, for a variety of reasons, are rejected by their mothers. It can be due to the mother being old or ill. Sometimes she has twins and is unable to feed all of her babies. In any case, these lambs will die without care from their shepherd. The shepherd takes the lamb into his home and bottle feeds and cares for it until it’s strong enough to return to the flock. Once it returns, whenever the shepherd calls the sheep, the bummer lambs run first to their shepherd. The story that was shared talked about how we are all “bummer lambs” and that Jesus, our Good Shepherd, saves, feeds and cares for us just like a shepherd does with his sheep.
“…they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Is. 40:31)
We live in a day and age when our greatest desires are only a click away. You can even order toilet paper online and receive it with free shipping only a day or two later! “Why wait when you can have it now,” seems to be the motto of the hour (or minute). Our lack of patience is even catered to in the grocery store where if there are three people in a line a bell is rung or a call put out and suddenly another teller is taking guests. Why wait for that house, that job, that marriage? Is there good reason to learn patience when there seems to be little need for it anymore?
In the world around us patience may be a lost art, but to the Christian it remains a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Why does the Lord put such emphasis on the ability to wait without becoming irritable and out of sorts? What does waiting do for us? Continue reading
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
When Christ came into the world, it was not his aim to “strike the right balance” between grace and truth.
Maybe we think it’s necessary to aim for 50% grace and 50% truth. There should be an equal portion of both. But some people tend to lean to one side or the other. Some of us have lots of grace. We are 70% grace and 30% truth so we end up cutting people too much slack. We’re too nice for their own good, growth or accountability. Some of us stress truth. We are 20% grace and 80% truth and end running people over with our words.
That way of looking at the grace/truth paradox is cast out the window when it comes to Jesus and those who desire to follow Jesus.
Gandalf: I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.
Bilbo: I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them …
Gandalf: You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back.
Bilbo: You can promise that I’ll come back?”
Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same.
Like Bilbo’s adventure in The Hobbit, parenting is an adventure that no one can fully explain to you with good reason. Every adventure is different and if someone could possibly explain what you were facing then you may not even want to start a family. Being a parent has grown me, both as a believer and as a human being. There are things that God has taught me about Himself, my husband, and myself through this adventure called parenting.
Death. Disease. Despondency. Everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike experiences, or eventually will experience, these things. One cannot live a day without hearing of mass violence around the globe due to ongoing wars, gang violence and natural disasters.
What is the common factor here? Humanity. Scripture tells us that sin entered the human race through the fall of one man, Adam, and that disease and death are the result. Everyone is by nature in sin. We desire to sin. This is evidenced from toddlers on up to adults.
We also know that sin leads to death, as we read in Romans, “For the wages of sin is death.” Death – separation from our body and separation from the God who created us.