Category Archives: Resources

Loving Others Day 4-Recognizing We Are In It Together

Scripture:  Matthew 22: 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’“This is the great and foremost commandment.“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving Others Through Unity of Purpose

The idea of loving our neighbor as ourselves may seem simple enough if we can relate to our neighbor.  But do we feel a common bond with people who look different than we do, or do not share our life experiences?

Loving Others: “Haves” and “Have Nots”

If we come from a family who struggled financially, do we resent the person who seemingly had advantages and status “handed” to them and do we seek to grab what they’ve got?  Likewise, if we have some material success, do we resist sharing resources with others?  Be mindful that either attitude is destructive.  A desire to cling to our “stuff” demonstrates a lack of recognition that God is the universal source of all resources.  Similarly, seeking to force others to give demonstrates our lack of Faith in God as provider. None of it is “ours” -instead it is all His.

This is the principle that we see demonstrated in the biblical practice of tithing.  We give a percentage of our income back to the “source” and by so doing demonstrate our recognition of God’s provision to us.  From personal experience, I know that this practice does immeasurable good not only to the Church and it’s work, but to our own personal finances.

We all are probably conscious of the deep divide that exists in the United States and elsewhere between “rich” and “poor.”  There have been prominent debates about what makes a person “rich” or “poor.”  We see illustrated in the life of Job a man who experiences both great wealth, status and abundance and utter desperation   In this way, we see that

“The rich and the poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.”  Proverbs 22:2.

We are all therefore rich-in that God loves us all and calls us to an abundant life- and we are all poor-without God we are nothing.

Loving Others By Being Unconcerned With Our “Stuff”

If we hold loosely to what we have and use our resources to care for ourselves and our families and also give abundantly to the Church and those around us, we demonstrate Christ’s love to others!

These principles are completely separate from our tax code and system of government.  Whatever your individual beliefs about tax reform and entitlements, drop them at the door of the Church.  Because within the Church we have our own tax code-God’s word and many “entitlements”-God’s promises.  As we let elected officials argue about the role of the government and participate in that process as we are individually led, know that within the Church giving to the poor-“our neighbors” is never optional.  It’s a mandate.  Let’s do it with gratiude and love for each other! (And, for now, it’s tax deductible!)

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

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Framework for the Fruit-Intro Day 3

Framework For the Fruit

So I’ve introduced the topic of the fruit of the Spirit and explained my view on who gets the fruit.  Today, I plan to outline the framework for how I have worked on my own fruit cultivation in past years and how I will tweak it here and moving forward.

As I shared before, it works out that you can have 40 days of concentration on each of the nine fruits and be left with 5 days.  I have now used 3 of the spare days for explanation.  Tomorrow we will start on the first fruit-love.

Forty Days of Focus on Individual Fruit of the Spirit

I typically take the 40 days of concentration on the fruit and divide the time into 5 eight day segments.  During each of the five segments, I select a focus verse on the particular fruit to meditate on, keep in front of my eyes and hopefully memorize during the 8 days.  I find that as I have gotten older, memorization is harder for me, so often I find the verse being read aloud on an audio and repeat it as I am working, driving or resting.  I copy the verse out longhand on several 3×5 cards and leave them in different places-on my desk, on my dashboard (where they are often needed since I tend to fail in my efforts to love other drivers).  Imagine if you memorize a verse every 8 days for 360 days, you will know 45 scriptures at the end!  Nothing is more profitable to your mind than having it packed with scripture.  

I will try and include for each verse a corresponding hymn to help reinforce the concept.  I will also try and post a daily meditation or devotion to aid us as well as an action item and reflective questions for you to think about in the silence of your soul.

Resources to Help You Cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit

I’d also like to call your attention to some resources that may help you along the way.

For scripture memorization, you cannot beat Fighter Verses. There is a great application you can download to your phone and memorize scripture while you wait at the doctor’s office, have coffee or have a spare minute anywhere.  One thing I really appreciate about the resource is that most verses have a musical version attached to them. They have some CD’s of sung scripture that I have gotten and played in the car with my almost 5 year-old and she loves it.  (Her favorite scripture is Acts 5:29 “We must Obey God, rather than men.”  Go figure!)  Some songs have more musical quality than others, but the tunes are all catchy enough that you remember them.  And they are better for your sanity than Barney the Dinosaur songs.

There are many online bibles out on the web, but this one is the best in my estimation.  You can read scripture in numerous versions and it’s easy to navigate and search.  For purposes of this exercise I’ll be quoting from the NIV (New International Version) because it is easier to understand and memorize.  In my personal study, I like the King James because I happen to enjoy the “thees” and “thous.”

For hymns, the cyber hymnal has been around since 1996 and I don’t think the site has changed much since then.  They still use midi files, but they have a vast database and in-depth information about the hymns and their wirters.

Get Ready For the Fruit of the Spirit to Ripen in Your Life

Here are some scriptures to think about as you prepare to start the journey:

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.-Psalm 1:3

You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.Psalms 128:2

My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. Proverbs 8:19

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.Luke 6:44

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

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name. Hebrew 13:15

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

The Fruit of the Spirit Will Manifest in Your Life if You Are Faithful

I want to remind everyone that if you are in Christ you already have the fruit of the spirit in you!  But like anything else, what is planted must be watered, nourished and exposed to light in order to flourish.  If you are from another faith, please be welcomed and feel free to comment and ask questions as long as they are respectful.

Let this be a place of refuge as we work together this year.

All the best in 2013,

Julie