Anoher Part of the Fruit Appears

As love for Jesus blossoms, another part of this unique fruit impacts our hearts. In our “fallen” world, there is plenty of sorrow, grief, pain, worry, fear, discouragement, depression, etc. These can be, and often are, overwhelming! However, for those who have discovered the wonder of His great love and have come to love and trust Him, they can know real joy even in the midst of trials. I don’t mean joy for trials; I mean joy in trials. The trials may be severe, even fatal. We are not alone in our trials! Jesus went through the “trial” of  all trials; consider what that accomplished! Our right response to trials will strengthen our faith, calm our hearts, give us a strong sense of His comfort and grace, and will bring rich rewards here and/ or hereafter. Paul’s many trials only intensified His love for Jesus. Paul experienced joy in his severe trials and in Romans 8:18, he testified: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time (are) not worthy (to be compared) with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” In the hymn, “He Keeps Me Singing,” Luther B. Bridgers offers us a joyous perspective: “There’s within my heart a melody; Jesus whispers sweet and low, “Fear not, I am with you, peace, be still,” in all of life’s ebb and flow. Feasting on the riches of His grace, resting ‘neath His sheltering wing, always looking on His smiling face, that is why I shout and sing. Though sometimes He leads through waters deep, trials fall across the way; though sometimes the path seems rough and steep, see His footprints all the way. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know, fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go.” This is joy “in all of life’s ebb and flow.” Selah! Nothing can touch those who belong to Him unless He allows or permits it. If it touches us, He has a purpose and He will walk us through it, each step of the way, and bring us through in triumph. Keep ahold of His hand and draw on His joy!.    Ron

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The Blossom Starts to Open

Starting today, we want to examine each part of this miraculous fruit. Today, let’s look at “love.” At the moment of Spiritual rebirth, a marvelous seed is planted in our hearts. I John 4:19 explains: “We love Him, because He first loved us.” Responding to Jesus’ love, the seed of love is implanted in our hearts (minds, emotions and wills). As that seed is watered by the Word, it begins to grow, to intensify. I’m not thinking of nice, warm, “feelings.” (There may be or not be some of that). I have in mind a heart of gratitude, fascination, and admiration; a bonding of love because of what He has done for us and Who He is and what He’s like. This is the beginning of the nine-fold fruit of God, the Holy Spirit! We, who have come to see Him in all His wonderful glory, can identify with Frederick Whitfield’s song, “O How I Love Jesus!” We can sing with him, from our full hearts: “There is a Name I love to hear, I love to sing its worth; it sounds like music in my ear, the sweetest Name on earth. O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus, because He first loved me!” As this love for Him blossoms, wonderful petals begin to unfold. We might liken the first petal to “joy.” We hope to see the beauty of that part of God’s special fruit, tomorrow. Selah! To only know “about” Jesus may prompt appreciation; to know Him personally and bask in His Presence inspires ever deepening love.  Ron

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Solid Evidence of the Spirit’s Filling

Ephesians 5:18 gives us a command: “….be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” The question is this: “How can I know if I am filled?” Various ideas are advanced in an attempt to determine if one is truly filled with the Holy Spirit. One idea is that if we have power to preach or witness, that’s evidence. Another idea is that if we have been given a certain gift, that’s the evidence. The problem is that a gift can be counterfeited. However, there is solid evidence: it is the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit! All nine fruit (not fruits) would be impossible to counterfeit and/or maintain. Only the Holy Spirit’s filling (His ever increasing Presence within our soul [Re. “soul”-see yesterday’s article]) could consistently produce such fruit. The more of us that He controls, the more fruit is produced. That prompts another question: “How does He gain control?” Initially, His control begins with our yielding the control of our lives to Jesus as our Savior and Lord. For the Holy Spirit’s control to increase, there must be a daily intake of God’s Word. This intake cannot be limited to information and knowledge; it must be digested and lived out with the Holy Spirit’s help. If you just “tasted” good food, you might enjoy the taste, but it won’t help you until it is digested and becomes a part of you. God’s Word must become the very “fiber” of our souls. Until that Word holds sway, there will be little, if any, filling. When God’s Word dominates our minds, emotions and wills, the evidence will be clearly seen. Two stanzas from Palmer Hartsough’s hymn, “Filled with the Spirit Sent from the Father,” speak especially well to today’s article: “Filled with the Spirit, fitted for service, all that I am to Jesus I give; filled with the Spirit, doing His bidding, only for Jesus now would I live. Filled with the Spirit, we shall have vict’ry over the world and Satan and sin; filled with the Spirit, we shall find wisdom, souls for the Master joyful to win.” Selah! Starting tomorrow, we hope, God willing, to examine each part of  this miraculous fruit. Do “hop on board” tomorrow. We’ll watch for you.   Ron

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Purifying A Soul!

Recently, we explained that the “soul” is the seat of the “mind,” “emotions” and “will.” If you were taking a bath or shower, would you be content to swipe a few places on yourself with a washcloth, or would you likely give yourself a good cleansing? For most of us (except in extenuating circumstances), we want a thorough cleansing. Why, then, do we assume that we can be Spiritually cleansed with a few “dabs” of Scripture? With the attempts to blind our minds, play on our emotions and manipulate our wills, the potential for defilement in our hearts is huge. We need a means of cleansing our hearts from this daily and determined corruption that comes from “the enemy of souls.” And God has given us just that means in His Holy Word. “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” (From Ephesians 5:25-26). We need a daily scrubbing with the application of a generous amount of Scripture. There is an important phrase in Acts 15:9: “purifying their hearts by faith.” Biblical faith (trust) purifies the heart! Where does this “faith” come from?” Romans 10:17 gives the answer: “So then faith (cometh) by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” What does it mean to hear? It means to really dig deeply, come to understand and then act on what we learn. As God’s Word informs our minds, generates Godly emotions and strengthens (disciplines) our wills to choose what the Bible says is right, our souls (hearts) are purified. The hymn, “How Blest are They Who Always Keep,” offers great insights for proper and effective heart-cleansing: “How bless’d are they who always keep the pure and perfect way; who never from the sacred paths of God’s commandments stray! How bless’d, who to His righteous laws have still obedient been; and have with fervent, humble zeal His favour sought to win! Such men their utmost caution use to shun each wicked deed; but in the path which He directs with constant care proceed. Thou strictly hast enjoin’d us, Lord, to learn Thy sacred will; and all our diligence employ Thy statutes to fulfil. O then that Thy most holy will might o’er my ways preside; and I the course of all my life by Thy direction guide!” Selah! ” “I will meditate in Thy precepts, and have respect unto Thy ways. I will delight myself in Thy statutes: I will not forget Thy Word.” Walking in His ways produces “showers” of blessing!   Ron

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“The World to Come” with God

We think of Heaven as a place where all our “wrongs” will be “righted” and all of our troubles and problems will be over. While we can safely look forward to this, Heaven is much more! We might add to the foregoing: infinite beauty, perfect health, indescribable music, etc. Nevertheless, we can still miss the greatest wonder of all. Consider Paul’s inspired reminder in I Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.” In the hymn, “Face to Face,” it is clear that Carrie Ellis Breck had the right focus: “Face to face with Christ my Savior, face to face–what will it be when with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ who died for me? Only faintly now I see Him with the darkened veil between, but a blessed day is coming when His glory shall be seen. What rejoicing in His presence, when are banished grief and pain; when the crooked ways are straightened and the dark things shall be plain. Face to face–oh, blissful moment! Face to face–to see and know; face to face with my Redeemer, Jesus Christ who loved me so. Face to face I shall behold Him, far beyond the starry sky; face to face in all His glory, I shall see Him by and by!” To be with the One Who loved us so much that He bore the horror of Calvary so we can be with Him forever, never again to be separated; Oh! The wonder of it all!  Selah! Don’t get bogged down in this brief speck of eternity that constitutes our time on earth. Know Him, love Him, learn about Him, learn from Him, and be ready to meet Him!   Ron

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The Walk with God!

If you had to travel a long, dangerous and difficult road, having someone who knew the way and who had successfully gone this way before, you would be very thankful for such a guide. It would be even more wonderful, if the guide was a close friend. It would be especially comforting, if you knew this guide would put your safety first, at the expense of his own life. Even above all of this, your guide is your dearest friend and you have a heart full of love for such a friend. Well, if you know Jesus as Savior and Lord, you have a Friend infinitely dearer than the greatest earthly friend ever could be. He stands ready to guide you all the way to Heaven and enable you to arrive safely to your glorious destination. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). “Jesus will walk with me down thru the valley,  Jesus will walk with me over the plain; when in the shadow or when in the sunshine, if He goes with me I shall not complain. Jesus will walk with me when I am tempted, giving me strength as my need may demand; when in affliction His Presence is near me,  I am upheld by His almighty hand. Jesus will walk with me, guarding me ever, giving me victory thru storm and thru strife;  He is my Comforter, Counselor, Leader, over the uneven journey of life. Jesus will walk with me in life’s fair morning, and when the shadows of evening must come; living or dying, He will not forsake me.  Jesus will walk with me all the way home. Jesus will walk with me,  He will talk with me;  He will walk with me; in joy or in sorrow, today and tomorrow,  I know He will walk with me.” (“Jesus Will Walk with Me“-By Haldor Lillenas). Selah! It is glory just to walk with Him!    Ron

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The Work of God

God has done many works. It’s enlightening to go to “work,” “works,” “worketh,” “working,” etc. in a concordance. I suggest that there is one “work” at the center of all other work. Let’s back up to before creation. Just why did God create this world and our atmospheric heaven(s)? Two passages provide important clues: Revelation 13:8 reveals that Jesus was: “….the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Ephesians 1:4 informs us that: “….He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Love seeks an object. God could have made us a robot without a free will. We would be programmed to serve Him. No emotion, no desire, no choice, we would be made to do His will. By allowing us a free will, we are able to choose to love Him, yield to Him, worship Him, serve Him, honor Him, thank Him and enjoy a magnificent relationship with Him. God knew that man would fall and that Jesus would have to die to atone for our sin(s). He created us, knowing that!  Why? He loved us! Those who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior gratefully respond to His love and love Him, more and more. In John 6:29, Jesus said: “….This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent.” All who have responded in real trust can identify with James G. Small’s hymn, “I’ve Found a Friend.” His testimony was: “I’ve found a friend, O such a friend! Christ loved me ere I knew Him. He drew me with the cords of love, and thus He bound me to Him; and round my heart still closely twine those ties which naught can sever, for I am His, and Christ is mine, forever and forever. I’ve found a friend, O such a friend!  He bled, He died to save me; and not alone the gift of life, but His own self He gave me; naught that I have my own I call, I hold it for the Giver; my heart, my strength, my life, my all are His, and His forever. I’ve found a friend, O such a friend! All pow’r to Him is given, to guard me on my onward course, and bring me safe to heaven: th’ eternal glories gleam afar to nerve my faint endeavor; so now to watch, to work, to war, and then to rest forever. I’ve found a friend, O such a friend! So kind and true and tender, so wise a counselor and guide, so mighty a defender!  From Him who loves me now so well what pow’r my soul can sever? Shall life or death or earth or hell? No, I am his forever!” Selah! “We love Him, because He first loved us” (I John 4:19)! No one has ever cared for us like Jesus did and does!   Ron

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