STAY TUNED…

I wanted to take a moment to explain why I have been absent from my LIVE! blog posts.

I came up to the next Fruit of the Spirit, patienceand I had nothing to write! The page was blank. As I asked the Lord what was happening, and why the flow had stopped, He revealed to me that I was in a time of learning to LIVE out patience before I would be able to write about it.

This has most definitely been the case! I have been in a process with the Lord where my greatest cry has been, lead me by your Spirit and not my flesh! I do not simply want to produce words on a page, but I want them to be Holy Spirit inspired.

So, I wait on the Lord for the word He would want to release about patience, and know that in His timing I will be back to share my heart & experience with you!

STAY TUNED…

This is the story He wrote! stay tuned blog

LIVE-PEACE!

But the fruit of the Spirit is…peace,” (Galatians 5:22)

Mentioned 95 times in the New Testament-

εἰρήνη (eirēnē) n. fem. peace. The state of well-being and concord.
In the Septuagint, eirēnē is the usual translation of שָׁלוֺם (šālôm, “soundness, peace”). In the NT, eirēnē also carries some of the meaning of well-being expressed by šālôm. Thus, the phrase “go in peace” can function as a farewell phrase that simply means “be well.”

“…grounded in the Hebrew concept of shalom rather than in the Greek and particularly in the Stoic idea of serenity, a quiet mind, or the absence of activity and especially the absence of pain and other disturbances. The Jewish concept by contrast has to do with personal wholeness, with healthy relationships, in other words with positive relational concepts rather than the absence of opposition or pain or trouble…placed in right relationship with God who is a God of peace…which then affects the way Christians relate to each other and to outsiders…,” (Witherington, 1998).

Going back to day one of our LIVE study, we remember that Paul prefaces the fruit of the Spirit teaching by saying in Galatians 5:1; 13

“1 For freedom Christ has set us free…13 for you were called to freedom brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” 

In context peace relates then to the use of “Christ-Freedom”, to our wholeness, and the way in which we are intentional about the relationships in which we are in & those we are building. In turn, the only way this can truly be accomplished is through the oneness we have with God…

“To have peace with God…is to be reconciled to him, and it is those who have been reconciled through Christ that have greatest cause to rejoice in God,” (Bruce, 1982).

This oneness with God produced through the reconciliation Christ brings, coupled with the movement of His Spirit within, bearing the fruit of peace, comes as a result of being rooted & grounded- by living the Psalms 1:3 life-

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” 

Our “planted” life is thus rooted in the desire to see others benefit from the Life-Giver, Jesus Christ, releasing His life through us!

“…the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” (Galatians 2:20b).

Therefore, the fruit of the Spirit, peace, produced through our reconciled & rooted life, has the ability to bring strength into relationship. It has the power to silence division. That even in the midst of pain and trouble a better way is revealed, a way that says be well, be whole, be at peace.

In turn our freedom, our deliverance from bondage, our life, is the very ground in which the seeds of the Spirit are planted, and have the power to yield a harvest of plentiful life-giving fruit for the Kingdom.

Consider this passage today…

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” (Ephesians 2:10).

As you ponder this today, the question remains how will LIVE-PEACE? In what way is God desiring to use your fruit-bearing life to bring His Kingdom come to the ones who surround you? What good works are to be accomplished through you today? Peace

Selah…סֶלָה, be silent, pause, and consider…

This is The Story He wrote…

 

 

 

 

 

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References:

F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1982), 252.

Ben Witherington III, Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 409.

Major Contributors and Editors, “Selah,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

 

LIVE-JOY

“But the fruit of the Spirit is…joy,” (Galatians 5:22)

WAIT A MINUTE! Melissa, you want to talk about JOY right NOW?!?!?! Absolutely! Don’t you understand what is going on right now? I do, and I could not think of a better time to talk about JOY- I’ll tell you why! Keep reading…

As I sit here, writing about joy, I am aware that our Nation & the Nations of this world are facing one of the most incredibly challenging times ever. This Global pandemic has severely disrupted life, death tolls are devastating, and it feels next to impossible to see how we will move forward! So, you still want to talk about JOY Melissa- yes! 

I guarantee that not one of us ever anticipated 2020 looking the way it does right now! Perhaps when the clock struck 12 am January 1st you were believing & hoping for BIG-EXCITING things to unfold. Seniors getting ready to graduate, wedding plans finalized, entertainment tours were booked, flights booked for travel, time with family, the list is endless…

YET, within 3 short months into the 2020 year, everything changed. Graduation ceremonies canceled/changed, wedding plans halted, booked tours canceled, flights/vacations canceled, families needing to adjust, people laid off, and the death toll increases; just to name a few. 

And still our passage reads…

“But the fruit of the Spirit is…joy,” (Galatians 5:22)

four toddler forms circle photo

Photo by Archie Binamira on Pexels.com

In Greek that word JOY is χαρά (chara). n. joy. The experience of gladness.

It is pointed out that, “when a person lives in the sphere of love, then he experiences joy—that inward peace and sufficiency that is not affected by outward circumstances. (A case in point is Paul’s experience recorded in Phil. 4:10–20.) This ‘holy optimism’ keeps him going in spite of difficulties” (Wiersbe, 1996).

As one artist writes, “I have found a joy that jumps over sadness,” (Kim Walker-Smith “I Have Found”). She continues by stating that the reason her JOY can jump over sadness is because, “I have found, I’ve found You.” You see what she is proclaiming is that through EVERY storm, every bit of sadness and dark situation,  JOY is not a feeling but rather it is who Jesus is- His JOY is my strength- it is a JOY the world cannot give & one the world cannot take away! Through JESUS I can jump over EVERY bit of sadness & I can bear the fruit of the Spirit- JOY- greater still…I can offer life giving nourishment to those around me- especially in this season! WOW! (Selah- stop, pause, consider…).

I find peace in this truth, “Joy…is not something produced by circumstances, nor ephemeral pleasures, but rather is generated by the indwelling Spirit and so can be manifested often in spite of one’s circumstances or health,” (Witherington, 1998).

One author states,

“it is anxiety that robs us of our joy. And what is anxiety but fear? Fear is the enemy of joy. It is hard to be joyful when we are afraid…We shed our anxieties, and the fruit of the Spirit ripens in us again. If we understand who Christ is and what He has done for us, we have a new dimension of joy,” (Sproul, 2012).

JOY– the experience of gladness, an inward peace not affected by outward circumstances, the very nature of Jesus, a fruit that can bring nourishment for others, and is generated by the indwelling of Holy Spirit. WOW!

When I consider all the world faces right now, I am convinced more now then ever that this is the season for JOY, true joy, to be the fruit we bear! What an incredible gift we have been given through the indwelling of Holy Spirit, and what a beautiful display of Christ in us to produce JOY-fruit through our lives for each person we connect with.

The hope is this, even in the midst of trial, disappointment, grief, and loss we are not slaves to our emotions. God has given us every emotion we experience, and our hearts are so precious to him. As we walk through all of the emotions being stirred up in this season, we can know JOY is available; available to all those connected to you! So in the middle of what appears to be new-normal’s, and our 2020 plans shifting, we don’t have to be swallowed up by our emotions. We can have JOY that jumps over sadness, and is on display for all to see!

The question remains, how will we LIVE-JOY today? Who needs to see the evidence of this fruit in your life today? Take a moment, quiet your heart & ask Holy Spirit to show you how to live this joy out loud. Maybe you need JOY’S fruit to ripen. All of this is so beautiful to the Father! You have permission to engage your heart with Him.

Before I go, I want to share a song with you, a song that came to me during a time when my circumstances were trying to tell me a story opposite the truths I shared today. As you listen, I encourage you to do so with fresh perspective!

Side note…you may want to turn up the volume & get ready to dance! 

Thank you for joining me today! Would you take a moment to share this post, and to comment below on how you will LIVE-JOY! I believe that strength will come through our testimony.

I’ll see you next Tuesday when we talk about how to LIVE-PEACE.

This is the story He wrote! 

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References:

R. C. Sproul, Can I Have Joy in My Life?, First edition., vol. 12, The Crucial Questions Series (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2012), 5–6.

Ben Witherington III, Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 409.

Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 720.

LIVE-LOVE!

Welcome to my LIVE series! Over the next three weeks I am going to be sharing insight on the 9 fruits of the Spirit, and ways that we can practically LIVE a life that produces these fruits (…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).

Before we go to much further, I wanted to talk briefly about the verses surrounding Galatians 5:22-23.

The chapter opens by reminding us of the freedom we have because of the sacrifice Christ Jesus made on our behalf. We are being called in verse 1 to hold onto our freedom in Christ, and not give it up & get all tangled up again in a life of sin and slavery.

Further down in the chapter (vs 13), Paul is reminding us that this freedom given us is not simply for our benefit, but as a tool to serve those around us. He then continues by pointing out that not only are we called to live a life of freedom, freedom from love that serves others, but as Sons and Daughters of God who have been given the Holy Spirit empowering us to live fully this life of freedom.

Paul is very clear when he points out that our life of freedom is one that is meant to serve others, but this true service to others cannot be accomplished if we are choosing a self-sufficient, flesh-led life. The life that produces anything of true value is lived from the Spirit of God within us.

He reveals the evidence of the flesh-led life; sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these! INTENSE…A flesh-led life disconnects us from the inheritance of a FULL LIFE given us through the sacrifice made by our Savior, Jesus Christ & breaks us from life-giving connection with others; the very thing that Christ came to redeem.

The GOOD NEWS however is that the Spirit-led life produces lasting fruit, fruit produced from the tree of our life- a life that is rooted & grounded by streams of living water! (…I encourage you to stop for a moment & go read Psalms 1). This fruit is nourishment for those around us- good fruit- fruit that lasts & points people to the Kingdom of God. How beautiful to realize that our life of freedom, a life led by the Spirit of God within us, can produce good fruit for others to eat from & live! What incredible purpose we have!

SO-today I want to talk about how we can LIVE-LOVE!

In our passage (Galatians 5:22) the definition for love is this…

 
Agape
                                                  

(GREEK) ἀγάπη (agapē). n. fem. love. This term means “love” but can also denote ideas such as benevolence or goodwill. The noun ἀγάπη (agapē) carries the sense of affectionate regard or benevolence toward someone. 

Agape- is mentioned over 250 times in the Bible! I’m thinking God is revealing something about our call as Holy Spirit fruit-bearing believers.

One author describes agape in this way…

“Love is that outgoing, self-giving kind of action, not necessarily emotion, that characterized God himself when he loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,”  (Wesley L. Gerig, “Fruit of the Spirit). 

Here we see love not as a self-serving act, or even emotion, but as an action taken for the benefit of another. In this case a love so self-less, its very act produces eternal fruit for ALL of humanity, and we are called to bear this fruit as well!

It is said that “the characteristics that God wants in our lives are seen in the ninefold fruit of the Spirit. Paul begins with love because all of the other fruit is really an outgrowth of love, (Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, 1996).

If all of the other 8 fruits are an outgrowth of love, agapē, then what does that mean for the weight we are to place on the way in which we LIVE-LOVE?

I believe this agapē love, this fruit of the Spirit, is produced in & from our lives when we decide that those who surround our lives whether in our families, workplace, university, schools, churches, etc.. becomes the focus of our actions. When we recognize that as believers we have been gifted a life of freedom in Christ Jesus, a life that is fully supplied, rooted and grounded by streams of living water, that bears fruit in every season- we come to understand that our agapē poured out for others is nourishing fruit that is a source of life directly from the Giver of Life Jesus Christ!

So, how is God calling you to LIVE-LOVE today? What action will you take to LIVE-LOVE? Who will be the recipient of this agapē today?

Let’s pause, and for the next few moments pray- Matthew 7:7 calls us to ask, seek & knock. When you have your answer, write it down & decide to be intentional about how you will LIVE-LOVE today!

This is The story He wrote! 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Giving Room

I don’t know about you, but recent changes have proven challenging in many regards. As I listened to a message entitled, “Relentless” from Pastor Jim of Zion’s River, I became increasingly aware of the unique time we are in. Although recent changes, particularly the Stay At Home order, has shut down the familiar rhythms of life, there is a sense that God is inviting us to  give room  to His Gospel, presence, and voice.

Pastor Jim called us to 4 specific ways in which we could Connect to the Relentlessness of God, and it was the first that stirred deep within- Give Room for the Fruits of the Spirit to Manifest. He stated, “the fruits of the Spirit are always the will of God…they will always lead us into the place where the word of God is manifesting.”

Galatians 5:22-23 speak of these nine fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The journey my heart has been on with the Lord over the past month has called me to cry out: God, make me more and more like you! When I come out on the other side of this season- I want to be more like you! God, I want to be one led by the Spirit not my flesh- I want to walk as a true Daughter! 

As Pastor Jim spoke it was so clear to me, this is a season to  give room for Holy Spirit to do a work that only He can do- to  give room for my life to produce GOOD FRUIT from this season & for His glory!

SO, I am making it my goal over the next 28 days to give room to Holy Spirit to move through a study of the fruits of the Spirit. Beginning tomorrow I will be releasing a study & application of the 9 fruits of the Spirit, and will do so on Tuesday’s & Thursday’s.

I believe that God will breath life through His Word, and we will become those who  give room  in our lives for Holy Spirit to bring forth GOOD FRUIT for the sake of God’s Kingdom! I believe that when we are on the other side we will be able to say that we are Son’s and Daughters led by the Spirit!

Join me tomorrow as we delve in the first fruit of the Spirit… LOVE! 

May  the story He wrote come alive in us!

 

2020- His Agenda is the World!

Yesterday, my Pastor asked- “Who believes they are a writer, and should be writing? Raise your hand.” He then called those of us who raised our hands to step out in faith and start a blog! He stated, “Jesus’s assignment will exceed your perceived capacity. His agenda is the world! How can we take what we have and give it away?”

I have decided that I am going to grab ahold of this word by faith, and I am going to make myself available to God, so that He can reach out to those around me in the world that He longs to speak to! I began this blog in 2016, and believe NOW is the time to begin again telling about The Story He Wrote! 

I believe that 2020 is going to be a year unlike any other. Will you join in faith with me by taking whatever it is that you have in your hands, and making it available to God so that He can reach the World through you in 2020?

Want to know more about what God is doing through Zion’s River Tacoma? Visit our website, and make plans to join us this Sunday as Pastor Jim continues his series, “The Plan”.

https://zionsriver.com/

 

An Eternal Hope

“The only way to not live life like the rest of the world is to have the hope of eternity”              (Pastor Jim Sheen)

I recently completed my graduate degree, and what a journey it was! Many hours were spent reading, comprehending, and attempting to form sentences (…MANY sentences) that reflected what I had learned. Yet, when I got to the end I realized those months of learning were simply an introduction into what was to come.

Two weeks prior to the completion of my degree, I began to sense God stirring my heart; He was calling me to lay down my perceptions of what I believed was next, and to open my heart to what He had written for me. During these two weeks, (…and a few after) a level of anxiety began to rise. Questions began to run through my mind; questions that nearly every graduate on this planet seems to wrestle with- the greatest being “How will I pay this school bill!” Many more questions came that began to evoke anxiety, and caused me to come to terms with the fact that I needed to enter into reality! […side note, you cannot be a student forever!]

It was during this time of questioning that led to anxiety that my faith began to be attacked- my faith that just weeks ago was soaring, and was leading me into new places! With these questions swimming around in my already FULL graduate brain, I finally stopped long enough to understand that God was not stirring my heart toward an earthly strategy or answer, but rather an eternal hope! Hear this truth Beloved…

“Demons cannot mess with a faith that is rooted in eternity, but they can certainly mess with your faith when it is rooted in this life, and this life only. When your life is rooted in this life only its rooted in an expectation of what God should, and should not do. YET, if your life is rooted in eternity then you know that everything you are going through here is being worked out in a place that you cannot see right now” (Pastor Jim Sheen)

As I sat listening on Sunday to this PERSPECTIVE CHANGING truth hope rose, and answers to the stirring that weeks ago sent me into a tailspin, sent me soaring once again! You see, ALL of the preparation, the hours of studying and writing, the years of walking through the life that I have, the desires of my heart seemingly unfulfilled- it ALL had meaning, purpose, and an eternal hope now connected to it! I cannot explain what is to come in eternity, but I can say with FULL assurance that EVERYTHING has purpose!

Beloved, perhaps you like me have come to a place once again, or maybe for the first time, where you are asking, “What does this all lead to, what is next for me in this life?” Understand me when I say that those are not incorrect questions to ask YET, I implore you to also look further, and believe that what you have faced, are facing, and will face as a Child of God is intricately woven into the tapestry of eternity.

As my Pastor stated on Sunday:

“Everything here is ONLY an introductory chapter to everything there (eternity)”                      (Pastor Jim Sheen)

fix-your-eyes

Beloved, set your vision higher! Hear the words of this beloved song:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full into His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

As my Pastor encouraged us at the close of our service, I too share this with you…

“We are here to run a race that the world is not running…ask God to put a fresh vision in your heart for your current situation…” Ask God to give you an eternal hope…because, this is the story He wrote!

[Read and Meditate on these passages]:

John 14:1-3; 2 Peter 3:10-12; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Acts 1:6-11