Fruit of Life – Self Control || Marissa Dodgen

This morning I was sitting on my swing & I wrote something about how a “miraculous” event wasn’t actually miraculous, but more God providing me with self-control. Something clicked when I wrote that.

You see, I have been looking at the Greek meanings & roots of self control & looking up all the Bible verses associated with it & again I found myself at an intellectual dead end. I found no more clarity from that study than I had previously. Just more words to add that weren’t helpful. So I closed my books & walked away. Walking away is exhibiting self control. It is a God-given ability to fly (as in fight or flight). That is something God gave us, instilled in us & it doesn’t just apply to person-to-person conflict. Can’t it also apply to internal conflict? You either fight through it or walk away.

There is beauty in walking away. There is clarity in walking away. Walking away can quiet the noise and in that quiet we can hear Jesus.

What I heard this morning was a whisper to my mind: self control isn’t an intellectual thing. It isn’t something we “understand.” It is something we do, like I did when I walked away. Love, joy, peace, goodness, & faithfulness are all areas we need to understand before we can be them or act on them. Patience, gentleness, kindness, & self control are the virtues that seem to be more action than understanding. You learn patience through practice; the ability to be patient is developed through action. Once you see a lack of gentleness, it is easier to put it into practice in your own life. You don’t have to understand self control. You just have to practice it. The practice of it develops it.

So what does the Bible say about it? Because really that is where it matters. I can give you my findings all day, but the importance is in what the Bible says – not what I say. 2 Peter 1:5-8 says:

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Do you see how important self control is? It is one of the bases of what keeps us developing fruit or virtue in our lives – virtues like the ones we have talked about for the last month. Without self control, can we be patient? What about gentle or kind?

Titus 2:11-13 tells us:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

What other qualities are listed with self control?

____________ & __________ lives.

Really quickly look up Galatians 5 in Strongs Concordance. What word is used in place of self control?

When you boil down the Greek of temperance you get to vigor. Looking up vigor in the dictionary, one of the definitions is mental strength or forceIf you have been a believer for any length of time you probably know how much of a mental game it can be. Satan loves to attack us mentally, because sometimes what is logical isn’t always Biblical. Jesus wasn’t “logical.” I mean, how many people would say coming back from the dead is a logical thing? Have you ever had anyone touch your coat & miraculously be healed? Not logical, but totally Jesus.

It takes some serious mental fortitude to be a believer. All the virtues are part of that mental fortitude. They all work together and they feed off of one another, just like Paul told us they did.

So as we wrap up our study together, I challenge you to go back over the fruit of the spirit & pick one or two areas to commit to prayer & developing through the summer. Maybe now that you have two studies with us under your belt (1 & 2) maybe you could attempt to study on your own! (But fear not! We are just an email or message away if you need a bit of guidance.)

So you did it! You made it through another study with us. Thank you for committing your time & energy to this. Thank you for going through with us. If you do life with us over on social media (IG & FB) you have seen our summers are much different than the rest of the year. All of us at HFL are work from home mommas & all of us have multiple areas of work on our plate, so throw kids into the mix & well…… I think you get the rest. So in an effort to refresh, rest, & just enjoy time with our kids, we are taking June off from blogging. But we will still be over on social media doing micro-blogging (long posts, but short blogs) over there. We invite you to come & see us & do life with us. Social media is an awesome tool of connection & we really want to get to know you! (Just click the links below on your media of choice.)

In addition to that for the whole summer (June-August) we will be doing a Psalms of Summer series. We will simply be blogging life guided by Psalms. Regardless of the season of life you are in, Psalms has something to say about it. Encouragement to carry you through or continued encouragement when things are good. So please come along side us this summer as we venture through Psalms. Maybe if you feel lead, even share some of your “ah-ha” moments with us! We will be back here on Wednesdays in July & August, then in September you can expect our regular Monday/Wednesday blogging schedule to resume. So farewell for now, but we’ll see you soon over on social media!

 

          

Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this post69,109,97,105,108,32,77,101eM liamEPin It!follow me on Instagram

Fruit of Life – Faithfulness || Keisha Hill

As we’ve already seen, these nine attributes are just pieces of the whole – the whole person God desires us to be. Today we’re looking at “faith” or “faithfulness”, depending on your translation.

This is the Greek word pistis, and it is used throughout the New Testament. Take a moment and look up the dictionary and Bible dictionary definitions of faith. Check out “faithfulness,” too, while you’re there.

I love the definitions found in the Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: loyalty; fidelity to one’s promises; sincerity of intentions; loyal; constant; steadfast; resolute; a steady and unwavering course in love, allegiance, or conviction.

Shooo! That’s a serious word!

Can’t you just see God’s character all over that definition? As we think back over the scriptures we’ve read just during this study it is easy to see that God is all of these things. He is completely faithful and unwavering in His love for us. We can totally trust in that love.

Take a peek at this verses to see how God is faithful to take care of our every need.

Micah 7:18-20

1 Corinthians 10:13

Romans 3:3

As Paul shows, we are to exhibit this same faith in our lives. A steadfast faith in God is a gift from the Holy Spirit that, when accompanied by the other fruit of the Spirit, brings a confidence like nothing else.

This feels easier said than done some days, doesn’t it? But faithfulness, just like joy, is not an emotion. It’s a quality. It’s a choice and an action. We are faithful to our husbands because we choose to be trustworthy and keep the vows we have made.

Read Ephesians 6:10-17. How is faith described?

I find the wording here intriguing:

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”

If we are to “take up” faith, it also makes sense that we have the ability to lay it down again. Maybe this is why we sometimes feel our faith is wavering. Maybe it’s because we have a loose grip on our shield and a few of those arrows are getting through our defenses. These are the times when remembering is good for us.

The Bible is full of remembrances and memorials to God’s faithfulness. Names of places and children point directly to God’s work, as well as altars, wells, and more. It’s full of stories of God’s power and deliverance. The cool part is that if we’ve walked with God for very long at all, our lives are full of stories, too.

Take a few moments and think of a time that faith showed itself fully in your life. Remember that feeling of fully trusting (and knowing!) that God has not forgotten you and the peace that washed over you at that moment? Remember the deep-soul joy that came when you least expected it? Remember how the patience necessary to wait for His timing was there because your questions were at rest? Remember how nothing about that difficult circumstance could make your faith waiver because you just KNEW?

Now write that down, as best you’re able. Be descriptive, and just let your mind fill up with the memory. We need to remember these times when we clearly see God’s hand in our lives to help us in the moments that make us unsure.

Telling our “God stories” to one another builds this faith as well. So much of the Bible is stories of God’s faithfulness to His people. As we read them and hear the testimonies from others, our own faith is strengthened. Amazing, isn’t it?

Please hear that I’m not saying our own experiences have the same weight of or take the place of the Bible. Not at all! But let’s not forget that the Bible itself says to tell the stories. Deuteronomy 6 tells the people of Israel to love the Lord, store the words and stories up in their hearts and teach them to the children in all circumstances. Verse 20 tells the people that when the son asks the meaning of it all then the parents are to tell him how God rescued them out of Egypt and how they were to continue to follow the Lord. I have NO doubt, whatsoever, that personal stories were a part of this, not just the words we find in scripture. Real people were in these stories. Real mothers gathered manna. Real fathers and brothers marched around Jericho and saw the walls fall firsthand. Children who crossed the sea on dry land and wore sandals that never wore out told these stories to their own children. They were real. They were personal. And they were faith-building.

Today, remember to pick up your shield of faith, and allow the Holy Spirit to build this within you. Lean on God’s faithfulness and feel strengthened in your own. Share your stories with others, and if you feel your grip weakening, look to the stories of others.

To dig in a little deeper, check out one or more of these Biblical stories of God’s faithfulness to those who believe in Him.

Daniel 3

Daniel 6

Ruth

Esther

Acts 3:1-10

Hebrews 11

          

Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this post69,109,97,105,108,32,77,101eM liamEPin It!follow me on Instagram

Fruit of Life – Gentleness || Marissa Dodgen

As I sat down to research for today’s topic, I realized that somehow we got it on our schedule to post out of order [face palm]. But oh, well. Gentleness is still gentleness even if it is coming after goodness instead of faithfulness. It is what it is, right?

Gentleness is another topic that seems really cut & dry, but there isn’t a lot about what it means or its characteristics. There are a lot of scriptures that point back to gentleness, but not neccesarily the meaning of it. There isn’t even a lot in the Greek that is super helpful to really understanding the meaning. Many of the scriptures swing back around to the same verses. Commentaries don’t seem to have too much to say about it, either. But the most impactful, non-Bible source – to me – was what the Bible Knowledge Commentary had to say:

Gentleness makes a person submissive to God’s word & is considerate of others when disciple is needed.

That is also probably the closest to our definition of gentleness as well. But to be gentle is often thought to be weak, isn’t it? Matthew Henry calls gentleness a “sweetness of temper”. And those line up with our views on gentleness. But why is it a fruit of the spirit? What if you’re not the “gentle type”? I can say with absolute certainty that not one person would list gentle as an adjective that discribes me! So where does that leave us?

I am a firm believer in lists & charts & diagrams when you are trying to figure something out or understand better. So grab a piece of paper, on one side write gentleness, on the other write opposite of gentleness. So it would kind of look like this:

Gentleness                                                                                 Opposite of gentleness

Ephesians 4:2-3 is the first scritprue that begins shining some light on gentleness. Go ahead & grab your Bible & look it up. Gentleness is accompanied by 3 other characteristics or actions. Write those 3 things under the appropriate headline on your list.

1 Corinthians 4:21 gives us a really interesting dynamic of the beauty in gentleness. Write it down on your paper as well. Which would be your preference?

Personally a whip or a rod (depending on your translation) does not sound all that fun to me. I choose gentleness.

Galatians 6:1 tells us a situation in which to use gentleness. What is it?

How does 1 Peter 3:15-16 tell us to answer those who ask us about our faith? Write down the other characteristic on your list.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 gives interesting insight into how we should act as servants of the Lord.

Write down those virtues or actions on the appropriate list.

Next, write down what 1 Timothy 3:3 gives in contrast to gentleness or what it says gentleness accompanies (this varies depending on your translation).

Titus 3:1-2 gives a laundry list of qualities that accompany gentleness. Write those on your list.

For the last verse of today, look up what the ESV says for James 3:17This verse is specifically talking about the character of wisdom, but that includes gentleness as well. Write the characteristics of wisdom on your list.

Now, if you look over your list you can see multiple characteristics that accompany gentleness. It is easy to say what gentleness is: humble, patient, bearing in love, respectful, kind, obedient, doing what is good, peaceable, considerate, pure, open to reason, merciful, impartial, sincere.

While those may not be actual definitions of gentleness, we can agree that those things accompany gentleness & are part of being gentle in spirit.

To close, I issue you a challenge. Looking through your list, highlight the top 3 words you feel like you could work on to strenthen your gentle spirit. Share it below or share it with us on the Instagram or Facebook post.

          

Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this post69,109,97,105,108,32,77,101eM liamEPin It!follow me on Instagram

Fruit of Life – Goodness || Marissa Dodgen

Look up goodness in Easton’s Bible Dictionary. What did you find?

Goodness & good are clearly not the same thing. Just for kicks & giggles, Google “-ness”. What did you find?

“Good” defines & describes something, in both the way God used it in Genesis and even the way we tend to use it today. That is not what Paul’s letter to the Galatians is talking about. In Galatians, Paul uses a noun form of the word. It is a thing, not a description. When you couple that form of “good” with “-ness,” you get “goodness,” turning its meaning into a state, condition, or quality of good according to dictionary.com. Ok…so enough englishese. Lets move ahead…

Read Romans 15:14 (hang onto this verse because we are coming back to it).

Read 2 Peter 1:5-9.

We can clearly see that goodness is not an end all, be all. Peter tells us that more is to accompany the goodness. So far, have you found any other words in your translation or a commentary that may otherwise define goodness?

According to 2 Peter, what precedes goodness? What follows the developing of goodness?

In all my studying of goodness, I kept getting swung back around to Romans 15:14. For each verse that I studied, it continued to reference the verse 14. Other than using the actual word, I didn’t see how this explained goodness any further. But I took one more look at it today & a few things jumped out at me.

  1. Paul brings to light 3 attributes of the Roman Christians in this verse. What are they?
  2. Thinking a bit more abstractly, could you be full of right knowledge without also being full of goodness? Explain your thoughts.
  3. Can you instruct someone in the right decisions if you don’t have the goodness, or the moral reasoning, to make right decisions yourself? (Basically, can you teach someone to tie a shoe if you don’t know how to tie a shoe?)

So in order to be full of knowledge, we have to be full of goodness. And in order to be full of goodness, we must be full of faith. We can’t make right decisions without goodness & without that goodness, we have no knowledge. Hmm…… So goodness is about more that just making good decisions or being a “good” person, right? But what does it mean to be a “good” person or be full of goodness?

Read Ephesians 5:8-17.

When we see light used in the Bible it can refer to a physical light that illuminates an area, but what else might it refer to?

According to Ephesians, what place does light have with fruit (vs. 11)?

Looking at verse 9, what accompanies the developing of goodness?

Can fruit grow without light? (No, really. Literally speaking, if it were always dark, would you be able to grown a lemon tree?)

Bad things, decisions, or deeds tend to happen under certain circumstances – either at night when it is dark, or in secret when no one is around. According to these verses, what does light do to these things, decisions, or deeds (vs. 13)?

Light is the exposure. There is a reason the cliche “bring it to light” exists. Light illuminates darkness, confusion, and evil. Fruit cannot grow without the presence of light…or Light. Fruit cannot grow in the exclusivity of darkness. Fruit must have light, so in order for us as believers to produce fruit, we must be in the presence of light.

Do you see how all of this is coming together? How goodness, which seems to be very simple, is much more important than we probably thought? Those moral reasonings – which we call goodness – are imperative to knowledge & truth & the ability to teach others. If we cannot be good & our soul isn’t full of goodness, how in the world can we direct others to knowledge or truth? We are called to be a light in this world…and what have we seen grows in the presence of light?

Fruit.

[Why isn’t there a “mind blown” emoji?]

          

 

Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this post69,109,97,105,108,32,77,101eM liamEPin It!follow me on Instagram

Fruit of Life – Kindness || Jessica Bolyard

Are you starting to notice, as we walk through what it means to exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us, that they’re all interconnected? One leads to another which can’t be cultivated without still another. When you begin to dig deeper into what it all means, you should begin to understand why Paul referred to the fruit collectively (like the segments of an orange, as Marissa explained) rather than an assortment of different fruits (like in a fruit salad).

Today we’re looking at kindness, which is another of those vague words we use a lot but that we are hard-pressed to define. I ask my daughter if her words were kind (usually because they were not), and I’m aware when someone is unkind to me; explaining what kindness actually is, though, is harder. In defining it, I – at least – talk in circles and sometimes make it seem even more vague.

“Kindness? Oh….that’s….you know….being kind. Being, well, nice. You know.”

But what did Paul mean? Did he mean that the Spirit just makes us nicer people? Grab your concordance (or use this one, if yours isn’t handy) and see what “kindness” means as Paul wrote it in Galatians 5:22.

If your concordance is like mine, that wasn’t very helpful. The word Paul used was chrēstotēs, and we’re back in the same place again: “kindness is…well…you know…just…being kind.” A dictionary (or Bible dictionary) is more helpful. Look up both “kindness” and “kind” to see what we can find out.

  • Kindness : “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate; having a tender heart and nurturing spirit; a character trait of building others up rather than tearing them down.”
  • Kind : “of a sympathetic and helpful nature; avoiding harshness in word or action; thinking outside one’s own needs to tend to those of another.”

Theeeere we go. Now we’re getting somewhere! A kind person isn’t simply “nice.” She is selfless. Considerate. Aware of other people and what they need, and willing to step outside of herself to care for them.

With that definition and understanding, it becomes clearer than ever that we can’t be truly kind people without the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself in our lives. We are not naturally any of those things.

The Holy Spirit cultivates the growth of kindness within us, but when is the seed planted? When is the soil of our hearts upturned and tilled and the seed of kindness dropped in? That’s worth looking into.

Read Ephesians 2:1-8. Verse 7 indicates that God’s grace is expressed in His kindness, which is expressed in His giving of Christ. How does the work of Christ on the cross personally show you God’s kindness? (Try not to answer too generically here. Think about how you experience God being sympathetic, tender, and considerate of your needs in the way that He saved you.)

What words does Paul use to describe our condition before we were saved? (Verses 1 through 3 paint a pretty vivid picture!)

Look at verse 5. Before Christ, we were _________. After Christ, we were made _________.

What words does Paul use to describe what God has done for us in Jesus? (Hint: it’s in verse 8.)

Have you ever been surprised by a gift? Perhaps a birthday present from someone unexpected, or a gift given for no apparent reason? How did that make you feel? Did you maybe feel the need to reciprocate?

The more I have studied the word “kindness” in Scripture, it seems that while we have done nothing to earn the kindness of God and can in no way repay Him, there are two ways He would like to see us respond to that kindness.

Read Romans 2:4, giving special attention to the end of the verse. According to Paul, the kindness of God leads us to do something. What is it?

God does not demand a response from us. However, an awareness of the extent of His kindness will naturally lead us to turn from the “cravings of our sinful nature” Paul described in Ephesians. True repentance is one of God’s goals in us, and it is through His kindness that He accomplishes it.

Read Colossians 3:12. What do you think might be the significance of Paul’s using the imagery of clothing to describe how we should act? If you need help, check your commentary. There may be some ideas there!

In our culture, clothing is significant in that it is one of the first things we notice about someone, and is a large part of how we identify ourselves and others. In that way, we as believers ought to be recognized and identified by kindness (among other traits).

According to Zondervan’s NIV Bible commentary, Paul intends for believers to take off the old clothing of the sinful life and put on “a robe of character with a texture of compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience.” (Note again how the fruit of the Spirit is intertwined!) In addition, it’s worth noting that throughout the Bible, robes are important. In ancient culture, not every member of society would wear a robe because they were expensive, extravagant, and often symbolized stately rank or even a royal status.

Why would we – in Paul’s eyes – be eligible for such a status symbol?

If we are instructed to be distinguished by a “robe” of kindness, what might be the second response God desires because of His extravagant kindness to us?

How have you seen the Spirit make you a more kind person? What might holy kindness look like in your life today?

But again, we cannot conjure an attitude of kindness from within ourselves on our own. It is through the work of the Spirit – drawing us ever deeper into a relationship with God and an awareness of His kindness to us – that we are able to display kindness toward others.

The more I learn about what the Spirit wants to accomplish in me, the more aware I am of my desperate need for His presence in my life. Praise God that He doesn’t expect me to make it happen on my own!

          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this post69,109,97,105,108,32,77,101eM liamEPin It!follow me on Instagram