Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Fruitful Life: Peace

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-24)

The Handbook of the United States Peace Corps says what a Peace Corp volunteer has to do if he is attacked by an anaconda snake. The anaconda is the largest snake in the world. You might think it was the boa constrictor. The anaconda is in the family with the boa constrictor, but it is larger than that. The anaconda snake grows to be 35 feet long and can weigh about 400 pounds. For the volunteers that are assigned to the Amazon Jungle, there is a section in the Peace Corp Handbook on what to do if you are attacked by an anaconda snake. There are 10 steps here that you are supposed to follow:

1. If you are attacked by an anaconda, do not run. The snake is faster than you are.
2. Lie flat on the ground. Put your arms tight against your sides, your legs tight together.
3. Tuck in your chin.
4. The snake will come and begin to nudge and begin to climb over your body.
5. Do not panic.
6. After the snake has examined you, it will begin to swallow you from the feet in, always from the feet in. Permit the snake to swallow your feet and ankles. Do not panic.
7. The snake will now begin to suck your legs into its body. You must lie perfectly still. This will take a long time.
8. When the snake reaches your knees, slowly and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take out your knife, & very gently slide it between the edge of the snakes mouth and your leg. Then suddenly rip upwards severing the snake’s head.
9. Be sure to have your knife with you.
10. Be sure your knife is sharp.

I don’t know if the person who shared this with me was stretching the truth a bit because I can’t really see something like this in the Peace Corps Handbook. But it does tell about the importance of a calm interior in the face of a stormy exterior. Let me remind you of our study yesterday:

Peace – A quiet interior that leads to a calm exterior. Peace is a verb that has to do with binding together and reflects the expression “having it all together.” Peace means everything is in place as it ought to be.

Someone said, "My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already."

I. Peace is the benefit of salvation. (Rom 5: 1)

II. Peace is given to us by Jesus. (John 14:27)

III. Peace has no relationship to circumstances. (Rom 8:28)

IV. Peace means there is no reason to be anxious or afraid. (Phil. 4:6-7)

V. Peace is always present when our focus is on the giver of peace, not the trait of peace itself. I love this quote by Charles Spurgeon: “I looked at Christ and the dove of peace flew into my heart. I looked at the dove of peace and it flew away.”

So, keep your eyes on Jesus. Set your constant gaze on Him. Never forget: Jesus died on the cross to give you peace. Then you can experience inner calmness when walking through a storm.

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”(Galatians 5:22-24)

Love is the highest virtue of the fruitful life. Paul said, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.” (Rom. 5:5) Jesus reminded us of the imperative of love: By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) Love, agape love, always puts the needs of others before self. Agape love sees what people can be rather than what they are. Agape love is the proof of your Christianity.

Joy is the evidence of God’s presence in your life. Christian joy is a feeling of wholeness based on spiritual realities, a deep-down sense of well being that abides in the heart of a person who knows “God and I” are alright. Christian joy is the deep, settled peace that comes to live within your heart when you make Jesus Lord of your life. Joy is God’s gift to believers!

Joy comes when you let Christ live his life through you. Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11) Joy is different from happiness. Bible mentions "joy" or "rejoicing" 330 times. But it only mentions "happiness" 26 times. Happiness depends upon what happens to you. So if all the circumstances are right, then you can be happy. But joy comes from inside. Happiness depends upon outward circumstances. Joy comes from inward circumstances. So, our joy is not dependent on outward circumstances, but an inward presence!

Real love and joy can be your mission this week if you are willing to do three things:

1. You Must Put Jesus First! Love and joy are the by-products of being intimately involved with the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. You Must Put Others Second! A perfect example is John 15:5-11. It’s the night before the crucifixion of Jesus. He is in the upper room with His apostles. Soon He will be going to Gethsemane. Soon He will be arrested, tried, and convicted of crimes He did not commit. Soon they will be laughing at Him. Soon they will put a crown of thorns on His head, and mockingly call Him "the king of the Jews." Soon they will slap Him, spit upon Him, and whip Him. Soon His body will be nailed to a cross, and He will die. And He knows that all of this is going to happen. It’s not a very joyful time, is it?

But listen to what He says in John 15:8-11, "
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." On the last night of

His life, facing the cross, Jesus talks about love and joy. And the next day

He goes to the cross and dies for us. That’s putting others second!

3. You Must Put Yourself Last!

Phil. 2: 5 says, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” What kind of attitude was in Christ Jesus? Hebrews 12: 2 says, “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus emptied himself of the glories of heaven, became a man, made that man a servant, and took that body to the cross and willingly died. You see, the joy that was set before Jesus was doing the will of God.

We must be like John who said, “I must decrease and he must increase.” (John 3: 30). How do you put yourself last? Try visiting the nursing home, or mowing someone’s lawn who is not physically able, or serve in our preschool and children’s ministry. These are just a few examples of what it means to put the needs of others above our own.

Until Next Week,


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Fruitful Life

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”(Galatians 5:22-24)

The fruitful life is the only life to live. When you repented of sin and placed personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ the third part of the Trinity took up permanent residence in your life (Eph. 1:13). So, the Holy Spirit is a gift from God to you. The Holy Spirit is living in you. You have a divine guest living within you whether you realize He is there or not. So, there is a vast difference between a person who has the HS and the person who does not? At least there should be!

A few years ago Julie and I bought an older house and it was not very attractive. It was pale green, covered on the inside with nicotine, and the bathroom countertops were black. So we painted and cleaned and replaced all we could afford to update. The house, physically speaking, was much the same. But once we moved in we saw it from a different point of view. Becoming a Christian is very similar. Even though our earthly house remains pretty much the same, a new tenant moves in, the Holy Spirit, and we begin to see life from a different point of view!

So, as you begin a new week, ponder these questions:

·Do you desire the fruitful life? (v. 16) Remember that “walk” is a present tense verb denoting a continuous, regular, habitual way of life). What we have here is not an option. We have a command: walk by the Spirit. Let His power guide you and go where he leads. Don't ever cut yourself off from the Holy Spirit.

·Have you denounced sin in your life? (v.17-21) Let me remind you of what the martyred Nazi war prisoner said: "When Christ calls a man, He bids him, 'Come and die'. To follow Christ no matter what the cost, that is the way of the cross."

·Have you died to your own ambitions? (v. 24) Have you willingly nailed your sinful nature to the cross? If not, why not lay aside your corruptible flesh and declare total allegiance to the fruitful life today?


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Slaves of Christ

Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:1)

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a slave of Christ.” (Galatians 1: 10)

James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (James 1:1)

Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ…” (Jude 1)

Over the Christmas holidays I read “Slave: The Hidden truth About Your Identity In Christ” by John MacArthur. A must read for every Christian who really wants to understand their true identity. He reminds us that the designate “Christian” appears only three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26: 28; I Peter 4:16) while a whole host of other terms are used to portray the followers of Jesus (children of God, citizens of heaven, lights of the world, etc.). However, one word is used more frequently than any of these: SLAVE.

MacArthur reminds us that time and time again throughout Scripture believers are referred to as “slaves of God” and slaves of Christ.” He states, “Whereas the outside world called the earliest believers Christians, these first believers repeatedly referred to themselves in the New Testament as the Lord’s slaves.” Read the following texts as examples:

Rom. 1:1; I Cor. 7:22; Gal. 1:10; Eph. 6: 6; Phil. 1:1; Col. 4:12; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; I Peter 2:16; 2 Pet. 1:1; Jude 1; and Rev. 1:1.

Listen to MacArthur’s analysis of what it truly means to be a Christian:

We don’t hear about this concept in churches today. Slavery is a distasteful concept to modern sensibilities. So we hear that God loves people unconditionally and wants them to be all they want to be. Personal ambition, personal fulfillment, personal gratification – these have all become part of the lexicon of evangelical Christianity – and the essence of what it means to have a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Truth be known, the gospel is not simply an invitation to become Christ’s friend, associate in the battle, or companion on the journey. The Bible includes an unmistakable mandate to become His slave. That is what it means to be a Christian.

So, MacArthur’s teaching on the subject of our true identity in Christ is a Biblical portrait of anyone who would truly follow hard after Christ. It may not resonate in much of today’s seeker-sensitive “me” driven society. But it sure took up root in my life. It will take root in my preaching as well. He reminds us, “True Christianity is not about adding Jesus to my life. To be a Christian is to be Christ’s slave.”

I hope that brief synopsis whet’s your appetite enough to get to your local bookstore and purchase the book. Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ may revolutionize your life as a devoted follower of Christ.

Dr. Derek