Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Beauty of God's Orchards

The beauty of God’s orchards—the fruits of His Spirit and how He crafts each fruit in us, means that we can leave our bruised fruit behind. This last chapter is dedicated to redefining the fruits of the Spirit away from a CoDeMo perspective and allowing God’s Word to define what they are.

Jesus said that the truth sets you free. So, if we have these fruits in our lives, guided only by the Word and not defined by our or anyone else’s brokenness, we will have freedom. Jesus said so!

I will give you a few scriptures to reconsider your broken definition with God’s definition.

Love of the Spirit 
1 John 4:7-21 is the best operating definition of love:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (ESV)

Wow. How do we apply these beautiful words to us? We are loved by God so much He sent His Son to die for us and to live in us. We can’t earn God’s love—it is freely given. We are His and He is ours. He came to us in our greatest point of need: to be saved from sin and death and to live an abundant life in Jesus.  If our love is fearful, needy, seeking approval from others and never feeling “good enough,” we need to grab a hold of this fruit and live like our life depends on it. Because it does.

Joy of the Spirit
Here we go:

Then I will rejoice in the Lord.
I will be glad because he rescues me. (Psalm 35:9 NLT)

There I will go to the altar of God,
to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp,
O God, my God! (Psalm 43:4 NLT)

The Lord is my strength and shield.
I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. (Psalm 28:7 NLT)

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding
or a bride with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10 NLT)

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:11 NLT)

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 NLT)

Joy in found in God alone. Serving others comes from having joy in God. If we derive joy from anyone or anything other than God, our joy will flee. Joy isn’t just an emotion; it is knowing how much He cares for us and how much He desires to walk with us.

Peace of the Spirit
May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace. (Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. (Jude 24-25 NLT)

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27 NLT)

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 KJV)

God’s peace is one that the world cannot take away, try as it may. It is a bedrock, that while the storms rage, we know our house will not fall. It is because it is a peace found only in Him. That is why the world cannot experience true peace; without Jesus Christ, true peace is impossible. Equally true, we cannot give someone that kind of peace, no matter how hard we try. The person must call on Jesus for it. Peace comes from knowing how God is carrying us through our life. Then, at the end of our life, He will bring us into His “glorious presence” without any fault. How is that so? Because we are robed in Jesus’ righteousness. God sees is His Son in us.  Don’t allow others to steal this precious fruit out of your life’s basket.

Think of the word, “patience” when you consider this fruit.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 KJV)

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; (Eph. 4:2 KJV)

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Rom. 2:4 KJV)

But as it is written, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV)

God is ever so patient with us. He waits for us to come to Him, to accept His offer of salvation in His Son and to walk in His power. But we must wait, too. Many people we love and want better for may take a very long time to around.  Longsuffering or patience doesn’t mean indulgence; it means waiting on God and waiting for God to do what He plans to do.

Gentleness of the Spirit
Being gentle to those who are error is important, for anger and arguments will not bring anyone to Christ. But being gentle is not being a doormat. Jesus was very gentle to those He encountered who were in sin, but He did not allow anyone to walk over Him.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (Phil. 4:5 NIV)

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Col. 4:5-6 NIV)

Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:17-18 NIV)

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:10 NIV)

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:11 NIV)

We can express Jesus’ love and gentleness with how we respond to others, especially those who would use us and abuse us. But remember: Jesus allowed the rich young ruler to walk away from Him (Mark 10:13-31). Jesus did not talk to Herod (who was curious but insincere about who Jesus was) but He talked to Pilate (who wanted to know about Jesus but didn’t want the whole truth).  The Holy Spirit must guide what we say and who we say it to. He must also guide us when to fall silent and when we need to walk away.

Goodness of the Spirit
Goodness comes only as we step more and more out of the way, and allow the Holy Spirit to work His will in the world through us.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Eph. 4:32 NIV)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:21)

The Lord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him. (Nahum 1:7 NIV)

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. (2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV)

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8 NIV) 

Our goodness must come from God dwelling is us. Otherwise, we will operate from our own definition, which may hurt us or someone else. I love how Peter takes Christian qualities and blends them with other equally important qualities.  Faith blended with goodness means we take what God is doing on the inside and carry to those on the outside. But goodness needs knowledge, so we don’t end up giving our pearls to those who would trample them in the mud.

Faith of the Spirit
Faith itself is a gift. All that we do, including the power to even believe, is a gift from God.

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love. (Eph. 3:16-17 KJV)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV)

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:13 KJV)

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Heb. 11:6 KJV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:8-9 NIV)

Faith is not some kind of magical substance that we conjure up enough of to make God work. It is not about our faith and how much we have. It is about Jesus and our faith in His resurrection power that lives in us. Thus, we are able to go out in the world with His words and His ways.

Meekness of the Spirit
Meekness is not weakness. Jesus was meek, but He was never weak.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt. 11:29 ESV)

He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way. (Psalm 25:9 ESV)

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13 ESV)

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 ESV)

The greatest among you shall be your servant. (Matt. 23:11 ESV)

Vine’s Dictionary puts this fruit of the Spirit beautifully:  “It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting… In Galatians 5:23 it is associated with… ‘self-control…’ describes a condition of mind and heart, and as ‘gentleness’ is appropriate… to actions…It must be clearly understood, therefore, that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power. The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself; but the Lord was ‘meek’ because He had the infinite resources of God at His command…it is not occupied with self at all.” (401)

Isn’t that powerful? We have God’s resources when we ask Him in faith to receive them. We don’t have to focus on what we can or cannot do; He has what we need. We need to ask. We then go out, believing that He will empower His servants for the task ahead.

Temperance of the Spirit
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world… (Titus 2:12 KJV) 

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour… (1 Peter 5:8 KJV)

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 KJV)

The word that is translated today for “temperance” is “self-control.” (Vine’s 620)  I find that interesting, because it isn’t enough to know God and His love or have this fruit. We must ask Him to grow the fruits in us and then give us this fruit to exercise them. Both come from Him: the fruits and the power to put this fruit into operation.  We still inhabit our fleshly bodies, so self-control applies to not allowing the sins of the flesh to take over as well. It’s a matter of asking yourself, “Do I want the Holy Spirit’s fruits in me, or do I hold back some area of my life, allowing me to be in control?”

It’s an important question. What we do and how we grow is our choice. What we allow and what we resist is also our choice. The Holy Spirit wants us to be in God’s beautiful orchards, living life abundantly and going about the Father’s business.

But if we choose otherwise, and let our brokenness define us, then our orchards will yield only bruised fruit.

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