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Patience

Patience Through Silence

“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

James 1:4

Do you get a charge of adrenaline through arguing?

When someone criticizes you, are you defending yourself for days on end, even if only in your own mind?  Do you spend inordinate amounts of energy attempting to prove critics wrong, saying, “I’ll show THEM!”

These thoughts and responses tend to consume a lot of mental, physical and spiritual energy.

It requires abundant patience fruit to step back from an argument or defending ourselves.  And sometimes we are left without a choice-certain issues and attacks can and should be met with a measured yet strong response.  However, as you are thinking about defending yourself or fighting back, make sure that you are not responding out of impatience-wanting to speed a matter to resolution or conclusion.

In other words, don’t be a hothead!

Showing your impatience or frustration weakens you in your relationship with the other person.  Impatience tends to build a wall between you and other people, whereas patience builds a bridge.

Think of the example of Christ before His accusers, which is foreshadowed for us in Isaiah 53:7

“He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.”

If you are cultivating the fruit of patience, evaluate whether saying nothing is better than responding out of anger or frustration.  If you can have this demeanor when someone else is upset, you have the power to diffuse an otherwise explosive encounter.  Pray for wisdom to choose the response that demonstrates the most patience for the weakness, turmoil or confusion of another.

A great lady I know has a “go to” response when someone is saying something disagreeable, difficult or critical.  She smiles and says softly, “I understand.”  There is an element of humor in this response because you are not telling the other person exactly what you understand (i.e….they are horribly misguided).  But this response allows you to verbalize that you have heard and processed what they have said.

If you find impatience welling up when dealing with another person or difficult situation, take a moment to pause, pray and reflect and seek to return to patience.

“Return into thy rest, O my soul: for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.”

Psalm 116:7

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Peace Fruit

Patience With Promises

 

“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

James 1:4

Maybe over the last few days, you have been concentrating on cultivating the fruit of “patience” in your spirit.   (I hope that you have!)

You’ve prayed, read scripture and been more conscious of your thoughts and responses.

But you are probably not at a point where you feel “perfect and entire” and want for “nothing.” 

Will you continue to cultivate patience even if you can’t detect a difference in your feelings or thoughts? 

You may be like me and experience impatience many times a day.  The cause of your impatience may be something as simple as an interruption during a workday or a traffic light that turns red too soon. 

You have made spiritual progress if you have recognized your impatience, said a quick prayer asking for God’s help and then consciously decided to NOT verbalize your impatience to those around you.

The adage that “misery loves company” is true.  If we complain about having to wait, we most certainly will find people who will validate our complaints and commiserate with us. This doesn’t mean that Christians should accept poor-quality customer service or abuse of their time, but it does mean that we think carefully about our actions when we feel impatience welling up.  This is especially important when the source of our impatience is a loved-one or someone we must work with often.

How many times have you needed a lesson repeated until you “got it?”  How did it impact your learning process if the teacher snapped at you or made you feel dumb? 

How patient has God been with you as He’s taught you?  So many times I have disappointed Him and knowingly done the opposite of what I knew He wanted.  Yet I was not struck down or banished from His presence or told to never come back.  He patiently repeats our lessons.

His teaching methods may intensify if we make the same mistakes over and over, but He never gives up on our ability to do better the next time or withholds the resources necessary for improvement.

Seek to demonstrate to others the patience which God has shown with you!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace Fruit

From Peace to Patience

“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

James 1:4

As we move out of our focus on the peace fruit of the spirit and onto the patience fruit, perhaps you can see that if we have the spirit’s peace, we should naturally be inclined towards more patience.

But do you struggle with impatience?

Do you want patience NOW?

It’s not a delivery pizza or a tweet away.

Patience is practiced and requires an ability to see God’s best at the end of a long and bumpy road.

Patience requires sleepless nights with a sick and restless child.

Patience requires forgiving someone one more time.

Patience requires teaching a lesson that you taught the day before, the week before or a year before until the student grasps it.

Patience involves not giving up on ourselves or God when we fail or fall.

The short verse in James which will anchor our thoughts during this first week or so of focusing on patience is so rich.

As a woman, I love that patience is pictured as a female-her perfect work.

I visualize patience as a gentle mother overseeing her child’s first steps-embracing, guiding and supporting.

I also love that there is such a rich promise attached to patience…that if we give ourselves to learning the lessons of patience, we will be perfected and entire and want for nothing.

I am always attentive when the bible gives us something concrete to do in our lives with a promise attached to it that relates to our present life on earth.  Something that says “if you do this, HERE is what you’ll get.”  And it’s not as crass as expecting material benefit or creature comfort if we are patient, it’s expecting that by being patient we will see that in every moment we already have all we need through GOD and relax into our circumstances as they unfold.

So dig into the fruit of patience for the next 40 days, and if you are presented with a dilemma, crisis or question to answer during this time, ask yourself (and God) if the answer has something to do with patience!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Peace Fruit

Peace Through Dry Morsels

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

Continuing our journey through peace cultivation, we have reflected on how important it is to ask God for the holy spirit’s guidance through our lives.  If we are looking at HIS roadmap, we are less likely to be diverted by external circumstances.

One thing that divert our attention is attaining “stuff.”  We desire bigger homes, nicer cars, stylish clothes and physical comfort.  Or, maybe your needs at this point are more urgent-you need a job, food, housing or health insurance.

No matter what we are striving towards, it’s important not to fall into the trap of “if-then” statements. An example of such a statement would be, “If I get this job, I will have peace.”  At that point you are equating something here in this world to provide you what only God can and this is when we can lose focus.  While it’s likely that, in our example, getting the job will yield temporary peace, because now you have an identified source of income, you will have the parallel stress of pleasing a new boss, adjusting to a new schedule and meeting new people.

Likewise, if you finally get to take the vacation you wanted, you may feel peace once you arrive at your location, but what if your problems at home just follow you on your trip?  This can lead to feeling let down and shortchanged.

Trying to live your life with deliberate simplicity can heighten our spiritual peace.  If you can afford “more” try to see if you can remain content with what you’ve already got until you are sure that you aren’t looking to the “thing” to feel more peace in your soul.

Though I have not gathered much evidence to back it up, I think it’s a true statement that people who live simply have more peace.

“Better is a dry morsel and quietness therewith than an house full of sacrifices with strife.”

Proverbs 17:1

Peace Through A Risen Savior

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:4-5

Song. (This will take you to a sung version on Isaiah 53:4-6 which may aid you in memorization).

Have you ever known someone who was a masterful mediator and could bring even the most contentious disputes to resolution?  A parent who could get siblings to get along? A family counselor that could work out amazing compromises?

Well, such was Christ a mediator between sinners (us) and His Holy father God.

We could not stand in front of God tarnished with sin.  And there were not enough sacrificial lambs with enough blood to cover the sin in the world.

So the solution was Christ.  And not simply Christ being born, growing up and ministering to and healing many. Imagine the sad state of the world if that was all He had done-if He had rejected the work and the power of the Cross!  What immeasurable sorrow and loss we would have instead of the unspeakable peace with God that we now experience when we have Christ as our perfect mediator.

God no longer sees our sin, but sees us through the filter of His son’s own blood and we therefore appear sinless and perfect.

A peace now that is unwavering, abiding and true.

Can you step into that peace today and make it your own?

Will you thank God for it?

Will you walk in that peace tomorrow?

Be mindful of the source of peace, and that is our risen savior.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Peace Fruit

Peace Through False Accusations

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:4-5

Song. (This will take you to a sung version on Isaiah 53:4-6 which may aid you in memorization).

Have you ever been blamed for someone else’s mistake?

How did you respond to it?

Did you relentlessly try to “clear your name”  or did you stay silent? Or some response in between those two?

The effort you exert to rectify the mistaken blame is probably somewhat proportional to both the consequences that attach to the conduct you’ve been blamed for and the affection you have for the real perpetrator.

Imagine that you were being blamed for the sins of the entire world, although you yourself were completely without sin.  And imagine that you were being sentenced to die as the consequence.  Further imagine that the poeple you were dying for didn’t even know or appreciate what you were doing.  In fact, they were jeering at you, ridiculing you and brutalizing you.

Certainly you would be protesting or trying to defend yourself in some way.

But we see Christ submitting and surrendering out of love for people that hated and rejected Him.

And it was all to purchase our peace with God.

His side pierced.

His bones crushed.

For our peace.

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Peace Fruit

Joy in Prosperity OK

In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider that God has made the one side by side with the other, so that man may not find out anything that shall be after him.

Ecc 7:14

There seems to be a great deal of conflict about money among many people today, but especially in the Christian community.  Should we really try and avoid money for fear that it will corrupt our souls?  Or is our lack of money something that makes us bitter and resentful of others?

We’ve seen the downfall of many churches and people of God once money comes into the picture.

As I look at this scripture from Eccelsiastes, I think that Solomon had the right perspective.  We know he was a wise man and was extraordinarily wealthy.  But we also know he saw it as empty and transitory in terms of giving his life and his eternity meaning.

Does it seem to you that Solomon is saying that God will always keep us on our toes so that we don’t get too comfortable in our lives?

Do you feel like you are in some kind of danger if you get too comfortable?

This does not only apply to financial comfort.  It can mean spiritual comfort, physical comfort, career comfort or relational comfort.  At any point the wind can get knocked out of us.

The question is, how will we respond?

Will we acknowledge that God is the source of everything and pray for spiritual joy no matter what?  Will we mine through our experiences to find the lessons that bring joy, insight and perspective?

Will we share what we learn with others!

Don’t be afraid to enjoy your life and your blessings, just know that your spiritual joy does not depend on them!

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Patience

Joy Through Seeking Wisdom

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

James 1:2-8

We have been camped here on these verses for several days now, looking at what it takes to be able to consider a trial to be pure joy.

How far along this path are you?

Do you feel like you’re unable to make progress?

We know that to be able to view trials as joys we need to be grounded and mature in our faith.  We also recognize that to have this mindset we need wisdom.  Wisdom generally comes to us as a result of experience with God and with answered prayer.  It’s not something that can be learned-it’s knowledge that’s been internalized such that it flows through our lives, thoughts and actions.  Wisdom about the things of God comes as a result of sticking close to God.

In James 2:5 we’re told that if we’re lacking wisdom we should “ask God  who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

There is beauty there in God responding to us when we realize we don’t know what to do and bring dilemmas and problems to Him.  God seems to honor us when we come before Him in weakness and confusion and ask Him to point the way.

He likes being asked for directions!

And He’s not going to judge you for being lost!  He’s going to generously give you the wisdom you seek.

You’ll receive His wisdom through reading His word and by listening to Him when He speaks to you.

Perceptions do not generally change overnight, nor is it possible to immediately re-frame our thinking to view trials as sources of joy.  But we can start by saying, “God, I want to see this situation through your eyes and I want your wisdom to deal with it.  Help me to gain spiritual joy as I see you work in this situation.”  Then pray over the situation and trust God to lead you on the path you need to go.  Ask Him to show you what you need to know.  And be willing to act on what God teaches you.

This active engagement with God on our perception of trials will lead to more spiritual joy as God leads us through the peaks and valleys of our lives.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

peace

Trial-size Joy

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

James 1:2-8

Yesterday, we took a look at what a “trial” is.  It can be a legal proceeding or something that we must suffer, endure or get through.  And at the end, there waits a promised reward, because as we walk through the trial trusting God, the end result can be increased spiritual joy.

Sometime we are given a choice about going through a trial,  You may be presented at times with several options to evaluate on how you’ll move forward in your life.  Some options may seem pretty easy and direct, without a lot of obvious complications.  An example would be a job you are offered that pays a liveable wage, but that does not utilize your strongest skill or allow you to advance a cause you feel passionately about.  You might opt to take that job, because the alternative is too uncertain.  You may hear God calling you to take a particular path in speaking to a friend or neighbor about Christ, but it is comfortable right there in your home with your feet up and a hot cup of coffee.

Making the “easy” choice does not mean you are sinning, but it may mean that you are missing out on an opportunity God is giving you to grow, stretch your faith and thereby experience deep and lasting joy when you are able to see how He worked out all the details.  To “test” your faith by going out of your comfort zone gives you an ability to see God actively work in your life as you eagerly follow his directions.

If you’ve been hesitant about doing something that you think God wants you to do, why not step forward today and see if God meets you?  This is where pure joy comes from.

These first steps bring you through to take more steps.  You’ll then be filled each day by the Holy Spirit with the strength you need to keep going.

In the consumer world, trial size means you just want to buy a little and try out the product.  In the spiritual world, trial-size joy is actually the ENORMOUS bulk package size.  When you’ve completed the work or endured the trial you will be full-to-overflowing with trial size joy!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Fruit of the Spirit

Transformative Joy Today

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy

1 Peter 1:8

Inertia Robs Us of Joy

Have you ever felt stuck in life?  This is a feeling that is less than joyful.

Time Management Can Produce Joy

Take a moment at the end of each day (even if it’s just five minutes) to thank God for all you accomplished (even if it is less than you’d planned).  Then ask God to show you what you need to do the next day and ask Him to bless and facilitate those activities, but to also keep you flexible if something unanticipated happens.

Advance planning is something vital to success in life.  Knowing where we want to go is the first step in getting there.  Ordered and step-wise progress makes long journeys more manageable.

However, for me, a source of anxiety can arise when I think too far down the road, especially if I am uncertain how I will accomplish certain things.  Likewise, if I spend too much time dealing with the past, I might become discouraged and lose momentum.  Being too preoccupied with either the past or future can immobilize us.

We have less spiritual joy when we are immobilized.

So orienting ourselves to day-by-day living yields more joy because we take time to be thankful for little accomplishments and blessing that we would have otherwise missed.

Tomorrow is an uncertain commodity and the past is over and done. Extract the lessons you need from it and ask God to help you gain proper perspective from it.

Focus on God’s direction in your life today, in this moment and you’ll be nourishing your joy fruit!

All the Best in 2013,

Julie