Friday, October 12, 2012

Fruitful Fridays: An Introduction

God is a master teacher, isn't he? So many analogies, examples, and images fill the pages of scripture for our comfort and learning. For the awakened spirit, it's all there for the taking, waiting to transform us. 

Dear Lord, may our spirits be as eager as baby birds, our hearts always wide open for the next morsel.

My favorite biblical analogy has to do with fruit, a favorite food of mine. And incidentally, botanically speaking, chocolate is a fruit derivative. Anything that comes from a flower is technically considered a fruit. Chocolate is made from the seed (bean) of a football-sized fruit that grows on the trunks and leaves of cocoa trees. 

Yes, many wonderful things come from fruit, and honestly, what would we do without its sweetness?

Fridays here on the blog will be spent learning about the nine fruits of the Spirit. Perhaps not every Friday, but as many as I can manage. True, few people read blogs on Fridays, but hopefully sometime between Friday and Monday these fruit posts will be read. 

During the school year I won't be posting much more than Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, because I'm formally teaching Mary, my kindergartner, as well as the boys this year. 

Now let's jump into our introduction. 

The Galatians passage on the fruit of the spirit (printed below) is meant to be a contrast between life without salvation, and life with salvation. No longer slaves to the flesh or bound by Jewish law, we have freedom in Christ, living by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. As such we are called to love one another, for the whole law is summed up by the single commandment: "You must love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:13-14

But how do we do this, when as Paul said in Romans, we so often find ourselves doing what we don't want to do...that is, sinning? 

The answer comes in the fruit analogy. Think of a piece of fruit that falls to the ground; shortly, it rots. While still attached to the stem, through which nutrients flow, the fruit flourishes. God continues to complete his work in us until the day he comes to bring us home, so in a sense our fruit is always getting sweeter, riper, more capable of nourishing others, as God nourishes us. 

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

But as with everything that comes from our union with the Father, fruit is not automatic. We don't get saved and suddenly produce fruit. We have free will always...a bittersweet gift to be sure. We must continually choose to remain attached to the Father. We must pursue Him, which is accomplished through Bible reading and Bible study, through prayer, and through worship (songs, psalms, praises). 

Remember the Tozer quote from my first post on joy
“What I am anxious to see in Christian believers is a beautiful paradox. I want to see in them the joy of finding God while at the same time they are blessedly pursuing Him. I want to see in them the great joy of having God yet always wanting Him.” ~ A. W. Tozer
While still on this earth we are as a branch, producing fruit for the Tree...only spiritually healthy when we remain attached to our source of life. God the Father.

John 15:5  "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. 

There are nine fruits of the spirit, which can be divided into three categories. The first three, love, joy and peace, pertain to the health of our soul. The second three, patience, kindness and goodness, pertain to our relations with others. And the last three, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, are part of principles for godly living

The first fruit in each group gives rise to the other two. For example, if we love God, we have joy and peace. If we have patience (long-suffering), we are kind and good to others. If we are faithful to the Father, we can be gentle and self-controlled.

Our main text for Fruitful Fridays will be Galatians 5:13-26:

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited,provoking and envying each other.

I'd be honored to have you join us here on Fridays. I thank the Lord for you, friends.

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