Monday, February 14, 2005
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Y'vorech'cha Adonai v'yishm'recha,
Yair Adonai panav elecha v'chumecha,
Yisa Adonai panav elecha v'ysam l'cha shalom.
"The LORD bless thee, and keep you: The LORD make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you. The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace"~Numbers 25: 24-26
I am trying to write prayers and devotions based on the Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22 for Lent. Today's Fruit: JOY
What exactly is Joy? and how can we nurture it as one of the fruit of the Spirit that we want to have as part of our character?
It must not be merely a feeling or emotion if God considers it something that a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, Christ-like life produces, right?
I would say that hppiness and contentedness are moods, but Joy is something different. For one thing, Joy is what puts a sparkle in your eye- it's being glad to see and be with someone you love. See my Advent Devotion on Joy When the Aronic blessing in Numbers says "May the Lord's countenence fall upon you, may His face shine upon you, may He look upon you with His favor..." I think it's saying "May God be glad to see you and enjoy being with you."
But the older I get, the more I think that it's even something more as well. Joy is celebration! Maybe that opinion is influenced by the birth of my third daughter this past week. We're not just glad that she's here, we want to share our exciting news and want people to share our happiness.
One of my favorite scenes in any book was in a Frank Peretti novel. I think it was 'Piercing the Darkness,' when one of the human characters gets down on their knees in prayer and invited God into their life, the finally accept Jesus and ask for His help. The demons scurry away and the angels EXPLODE with celebration, praise, thanksgiving and energy. I wish I could do Peretti's prose justice, but my point is- that there is more celebration in Heaven for any one lost sheep than we can possibly imagine. And I can imagine a lot of excitement, I just experienced it when I wittnessed my baby being born.
No wonder "the Joy of the Lord is my strength." I for one wish that I wasn't at the mercy of the emotional roller coster of life, moods, anxiety, depression, stress, hormones & chemistry etc. I think that the only way to escape or transend those things might be to live a life of celebration.
Look, geese flying North, what a blessing! Look, a new baby, what a miracle! Look, deer leaping a fence, how majestic- thank God it's a quarter mile away and not right in front of my vehicle!
It is easier to say than to do, but here's a way to try, focus on what Paul encourages us to focus on in Philippians 4:4-8:
Help me to stop looking down
Help me to stop focusing on the negative
Help me stop being critical and judgemental
Holy Spirit, produce the fruit of Joy in me
in my heart and in my life
Help me to live a life of celebration
Help me to "practice Your presence"
and enjoy every minute with you
Help me to focus on what is true;
on what is noble;
on what is just;
what is pure;
what is lovely;
what is of good report;
on anything of any virtue;
on what is worthy of praise,
Help me to especially focus on You.
In Jesus' name,
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
I thought that I'd like to write devotions during Lent, the same way that I did in Advent. I don't know that I'll be able to write every weekday for the whole 6 weeks, but, we'll see. I'd like to start with the Fruit of the Spirit. Let's start with Love.
In 1 Cor 13, Paul describes the first Fruit of the Spirit. According to verses 3-8, love:
does not envy;
does not parade itself;
does not get 'puffed up';
does not behave rudely;
is not provoked;
does not think evilly, nor rejoice in sin;
rejoices in the truth;
bears all things;
believes all things;
hopes all things;
endures all things.
When you think about it, Jesus set the perfect example for us. I John says that "God is Love." Jesus said Himself that there was no greater love than to give up your life for a friend. That's exactly what He did for us on the cross.
Try it this way,
Jesus suffers long;
Jesus is kind;
Jesus does not envy... you get the idea.
Want the Holy Spirit to really convict you of your own sin?, then Try it this way,
(Your name here) suffers long;
(Your name here) is kind;
(Your name here) does not envy... you get the idea. I'd bet you anything that you'll feel guilty or embarassed because it just won't sound true when you say it about yourself.
So, let's try it as a prayer- first Adoring/Praising God, then Confessing your own sin, then Thanking Him, and asking Him to produce this fruit in your life:
You are patient;
You are kind;
You're not envious;
You don't brag;
You're not rude;
You're not easily provoked;
You're not evil, nor rejoice in sin;
You rejoice in the truth;
You bear all things;
I'm none of these.
Please make me more like Jesus.
Holy Spirit, this Lenten season,
produce the fruit of love in me and in my life
Make me an instrument of Your love, oh Lord
Help me to practice love toward others.
In Jesus name,
Fruit Of The Spirit: "The most famous passage about the 'fruit of the Spirit' is in Galatians 5:22, where Paul gives us a list of fruit. The list is meant as a contrast to the list of the deeds of the flesh' found in 5:19-20. The fruit list is clearly not intended as an exhaustive description of the fruit, but was given to highlight the fruit that Paul wants the Galatian church to keep in mind. He lists the following fruit:
When Paul follows the list of the fruit of the Spirit by saying that 'against such things there is no law', he was talking about the fact that the societal authorities find it pretty hard to object to behavior that shows these characteristics. Even a staunch enemy of the church will likely find these qualities appealing. They are known to be positive characteristics by the general public, in most eras, in most lands."