Friday, November 25, 2011

Christian Splotches or Christian Nature?

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 (RSV)

During Sunday dinner at a restaurant, my husband stared at my new jacket. Sporting splotches of fall's bright red, orange, yellow and brown colors, it reminded me of harvest time.

"Did I spill something?" I asked.

"Who can tell?" was the reply.

Returning home, I put the jacket away and wondered how often Christian life intersects with that question. "Who can tell?" Are we so busy that one spiritual fruit dropped into the mix just disappears? Hopefully, anyone who comes near sees a whole person living a life dedicated to Christ, not somebody wearing a jacket with superficial splashes of Christianity plopped down here and there.

Following his list, Paul concentrates on the first spiritual fruit, love. It's the one which dominates as he talks about the Lord's teaching, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Gal 5:14b). Then he ends by stating that those belonging to Christ have crucified their passions and desires of the flesh. He also encourages his readers to walk by the Lord's teachings.

Paul's explanation shows that the fruit of the Spirit is internal, not external. The spiritual fruits serve to identify Christians because they are embedded for eternity. Anyone led by the Spirit will, by nature, exhibit the fruit which arises, like the colors of autumn, from the heart of our Creator.

Lord, may our hearts allow you to lead us to be identified as Christians. Amen

© 2011 V. Colclasure

Friday, November 18, 2011

Memories of Laughter

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.
I Thessalonians 5:16, 17a (NIV)

As a child, I looked forward to Thanksgiving because I knew we would spend it at Grandma and Grandpa’s cozy home in Topeka, Kansas. My grandma’s cooking tasted so good to me. She made her own noodles. They were still moist when she cooked them. We loved her chewy noodles.

My uncles loved to play tricks on their wives and sisters. As the women prepared dinner, one of the uncles would quietly tie their apron strings together. Everyone told jokes and shared stories about the silliest things their children had done.

Up to a certain age, the children ate in the kitchen. When we were old enough, we would be allowed to eat at the table in the dining room. I felt special when I was able to share the piano bench with my older cousin at the “grown up” table.

Before the meal, Grandma always made sure we said grace thanking God for the food. Once again, my uncles teased about everything. If someone was too slow passing a dish, they joked about the meal being over before the food got around the table. One uncle told funny stories about working at a mortuary. I remember the fun we had being together laughing, talking and eating.

God blesses us with happy times enjoyed with our families. My grandma and grandpa are no longer here, nor is the cousin who sat on the piano bench with me. I am thankful that I shared those days with the people who loved and cared for me.

Dear Father, I thank you for the precious memories I have of laughter and fun with the family you gave me. In Jesus name, Amen.

© 2011 Diane E. Hussey

Friday, November 11, 2011

Keep in Step

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:25-26 (ESV)

The light turned green, and the car in front of me did not move. After waiting what seemed to be minutes, I beeped the car horn. The car did not move. What is wrong with that lady? I’ll bet she is on her cell phone.

I waited for what seemed like several more minutes and with a huff, honked the horn again. Her car moved and then stopped quickly. A blue pickup truck blew through the intersection running a red light.

I sat stunned. If the lady had moved on my second provoking, she would have been broadsided by the truck. If she had proceeded on my first horn toot, I would have followed her through the green light and I would have been broadsided.

What came to mind was that God protected us. I being pushy and indignant accused the lady of not paying attention to her driving. How many times do I bulldoze through life? Galatians 5 also states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV).

Was the driver of the first car obeying the Holy Spirit? I do not know, but I do know that our lives were spared that day. God taught me a lesson about patience, kindness, and self-control. I was not exhibiting the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and He revealed to me why I should listen to Him.

Dear Lord, You use all things to teach us. May we be more obedient, listening when You direct.

© 2011 Mary Burkey

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fierce Love

This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. Luke 2:34b-35a (NIV)

I recently watched a sobering documentary about exotic pets. Cute and cuddly when little (as all babies are), exotic animals grow into unpredictable, dangerous adults. Many owners are injured or killed by “pets” that have been removed from natural habitats to live among their quarry. Allowing a beast of prey to wander one’s property is not the brightest of ideas.

How easy it is to treat our Savior the same way, viewing Him only as the “little Lord Jesus,” or as the peaceful figure portrayed in stained-glass windows. Dorothy Sayers said it well. “We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him ‘meek and mild,’ and recommended him as a fitting household pet.”

Jesus, however, will not be tamed. He lived on the edge—His most dangerous act, revealing the hearts of men. He did the unexpected. The Lion of Judah left His realm of glory to dwell as a lamb among self-righteous, wicked, and wounded men. His light tore through the darkness and exposed sin. No wonder they found it necessary to kill Him.

But they could not keep Him down. Our Lion lives! He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The world calls us unlovely. The devil accuses. We even tell ourselves that we are unworthy. But His voice roars above the din that we are loved, that we are forgiven, and that we are accepted in the Beloved. How fierce is His love!

Lord, help us live courageously, as bold as lions, faithfully proclaiming Your love to the world.

© 2011 Katherine A. Fuller