Attitude Adjustment

The attitude on an aircraft is the orientation of the plane with respect to the earth’s horizon.  The plane can be banking left or right, and its nose up or down.  The attitude of the plane can be adjusted by the pilot regardless of the circumstances.  In other words, the attitude of the aircraft is dependent upon the action of the pilot rather than any storm or turbulence it may pass through.

Similarly, we control our attitude in life.  No matter what is happening or what we’re going through, we have the ability to choose our attitude.  Just like people have an IQ (their level of intelligence), an EQ (their dimension of emotional intelligence), an SQ (their level of revelation of spiritual things particularly the Word of God), they have an AQ, which is their ability to be aware of, take ownership of, and adjust their attitude.  We can be intelligent, be in touch with our emotions and the emotions of others, be growing spiritually, and yet be defeated because we refuse to tend to our negative attitude.

Paul told the Ephesians to “be made new in the attitude of your minds” (Ephesians 4:23, NIV), he challenged the Philippians to have the same selfless, humble, and obedient attitude of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5, NLT), and he questioned what happened to the positive attitude of the Galatians (Galatians 4:14, ISV). Paul understood that the attitude is a self-directed pattern or mental position that affects our expectation, energy, and outlook in life.   Attitude is not a reflection of what happens to us, but a reflection of what happens in us.  It is the greatest predictor of our success and failure in life.

The return of the twelve spies after being dispatched by Moses to scope out the promised land illustrates perfectly the impact of a negative attitude in life.  The spies, excluding Caleb and Joshua who had a right attitude, focused on the obstacles, talked the problem, spread negativity, and became self-fulfilling prophets of their own perspective.  The Bible says, “A man’s spirit (attitude) sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit (attitude) who can bear (Proverbs 18:14).  There’s nothing more powerful than a positive attitude, and nothing more devastating than a negative one. 

As a spiritual leader I’ve found that people, including Christians typically function in one of four attitude types.  First, some believers walk in a sweet spirit or an attitude that is tender peaceable, agreeable, pleasant, and edifying to be around.  Others are empowered and encouraged when they get around a sweet spirit.  Second, some believers have a salty spirit or an attitude that is opinionated, passive-aggressive, sarcastic, and critical.  Third, other believers have a spicy spirit or an attitude that is easily hot and bothered, reactionary, and frequently angered and offended.  Finally, some believers have a sour spirit or attitude that is prickly, bitter, downcast, and discouraged.

The good thing about attitude is we can, just like the pilot, adjust our attitude.  This requires first that we are aware of our attitude (sweet, salty, spicy, or sour), and that we monitor our attitude day-to-day because the attitude is not fixed or static.  Second, we need to analyze and honestly evaluate our attitude in light of the Word of God through self-accountability.  If you are having trouble with this, simply ask your spouse or good friend.  They can probably fill you in.  Third, we need to expose ourselves to spiritual disciplines and activities that foster an ongoing sweet attitude like time in God’s presence, His Word, public and private worship.  The Holy Spirit has a way of jerking us out of a lousy attitude when we spend time in the things of God.  Fourth, we need to give our attention daily to making a quality decision (one from which there is no retreat) that we are going to be positive and sweet and not salty, spicy or sour no matter what happens in life.

A Party in Your Heart

Joy PicOne doesn’t have to be on this earth very long to discover that most people live a life based almost entirely on their emotions. The supreme goal in life is happiness and each decision, small and large, is based primarily on the idea that personal happiness is the optimal objective, the greatest pursuit, and the ultimate accomplishment in life. Our rights as citizens in this nation include the tenet of “the pursuit of happiness,” but for the true born again believer in Jesus Christ and citizen of the Kingdom of God, is this still an inferior and earthly goal? The answer, from the biblical, perspective is yes. The revelation of the Word of God teaches us that happiness is no substitute for the joy of the Lord.

Unlike happiness, joy is not an emotion but a force of the born again spirit. The joy of the Lord, said to be the source of our strength as believers (Nehemiah 8:10), is actually a deeply seated sense of calm delight that springs forth from the realization that we have peace with God through Jesus Christ and that we are in right standing with God by faith and that through grace. In other words, joy, unlike happiness is tied to an eternal spiritual truth and a spiritual reality that can only be understood by those that have experienced it. Happiness, on the other hand, is directly tied to our circumstances in life at any given moment or snapshot in time. If things are going well with our marriage, family, kids, work, finances, and health, then we will be happy (in theory). The problem, however, is that when things go south, so does our sense of well-being and happiness. Additionally, there are countless people who seemingly have it all together – great wife or husband, kids, meaningful career or other pursuit, a sound financial situation, and yet they are miserable. Why? Because the only thing that can give us true joy and peace – things that transcend mere happiness and that last despite changing circumstances – is a deep, abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.

I’ve often defined joy as a non-stop party in your heart with Jesus as the life of the party. In other words, there is nothing external to our heats and lives that we need to experience a fulfilling, significant, and joy-filled life. The devil, who comes to steal, kill, and destroy, is working overtime in the minds of people (including God’s people) to convince them that there is something outside of Jesus in our hearts that will bring us fulfillment and joy in life. This lie has led to countless believers veering off the path of God for their lives. This horrible deception has been responsible for the destruction of countless marriages because one or both individuals in the marriage bought the lie that the key to genuine happiness would be found outside of the spiritual soundness of their own hearts. Unfortunately, too many do not realize they’ve been duped until they have left God’s best path for their lives and settled for mediocrity or until that marriage is destroyed and the new relationship has left them feeling hollow.

There are basically two big reasons people in the body of Christ lose their joy. First, a loss of joy for the Christian is directly tied to a diminishing of their personal relationship with God. Rather than seeing a loss of joy as a sign we should withdraw from the Lord, His Church, and His plan for our lives, we should see this for what it truly is – we are lukewarm or cold with the Lord and when the fire returns the joy will come with it. See your joy level as an indication of the health of your relationship with Jesus Christ. Second, no matter who we are or what we do in the body of Christ, from preacher to greeter at the church, if we begin to turn our eyes from the Word of God and focus on the problems and circumstances, we will be defeated and lose our joy. When the adversity or setback strikes, we must discipline ourselves to keep the Word going into our eyes, going into our ears, and coming out of mouths in consistent confession. When the circumstances in our lives turn sour, we must choose to think on the Word of God rather than the problems we are facing because our lives will go in the direction of our most dominant thoughts.

When I think about the shepherds in the Christmas narrative who received the glad tidings of joy from the angels, I find in their reaction an example of how to maintain our joy as believers. First, joy comes in hearing the good news. They received the good news and it brought joy to them as it does to all who truly hear and lay hold of it. The principle could not be any clearer. We cannot maintain joy unless we continue to hear the Word of God. We need to continue to listen to the Word, read the Word, and speak the Word. Second, joy comes in experiencing the good news. It’s not enough just to hear and hear and hear the Word of God. The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. The gospel, including all of its redemptive benefit, is something to be experienced. The Word we hear is to be made manifest in our lives. We are not just to hear about salvation – we are to experience it. We are not just to hear about the power of God – we are to experience it. Third, joy comes in spreading the good news. Many Christians today that are hearing the Word and experiencing the Word still seem to walk in less joy than they should. Why? It’s because we are failing to keep the third and perhaps the greatest aspect of the example of the shepherds – they heard, experienced, and then SPREAD the good news to others. Believers who are constantly receiving but never sharing what they have received from the Lord will typically lose their joy. Many are surprised to discover that if they will hear the good news, experienced the good news, AND spread the good news, their joy level will remain constant. 

So, how is the party in your heart these days? If you feel like the party has died out don’t look to some radical life change that will cause you to veer off your path, a new relationship, or a material purchase to fill the void. Realize that your joy level is tied to the health of your walk with Jesus and your focus in life. Before you make a catastrophic decision in the pointless pursuit of happiness, stop and first consider where you stand with the Lord and also turn your eyes away from your circumstances and back onto the Word of God. You will find your joy level rising and discover that the pursuit of happiness is no substitute for the authentic joy of the Lord.

The Fruit of Self-Control

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, NIV).

“You should also know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control…” (2 Timothy 3:1-3, NLT)

To have self-control is to be in control of oneself. It is restraint exercised and control over one’s emotions, actions, and desires. A person with self-control possesses a dominion, might, power, and strength that only comes from self-discipline.

Without the fruit of self-control in our lives we are vulnerable and unprotected, destined to strike out in a foolish manner, disqualified for the blessing, defeated, anemic in prayer, and sowing toward a harvest we really do not want: “A man’s harvest in life depends entirely upon the seeds he has sown” (Galatians 6:7, PT). In fact, every failure to apply self-discipline is a seed that will produce adverse circumstances later in life.

We can consistently walk in a greater measure of self-control by increasing our personal knowledge of God, by taking charge over our feelings, by studying and applying the Proverbs daily (I recommend reading one Proverb every day), by resisting the urge to control everybody else, and by letting the Holy Spirit direct and guide our lives. The Bible very clearly teaches that if we will walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Romans 8:1, 9).

The Fruit of Gentleness

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, NIV).

“It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from within you-the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that will never be destroyed and is very precious to God” (1 Peter 3:3-4, NCV).

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The teaching that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NCV).

There is a direct correlation between walking in the fruit of gentleness and finding real rest. The more you develop gentleness the more rest and inner peace you will enjoy. Don’t bother trying to manufacture peace without first developing gentleness in your inner man.

Gentleness is to be even tempered, tranquil, balanced in spirit, humble in spirit. It means to, like Moses, possess power and strength with control. This individual will have passions that are under control. It is not weakness, but force handled responsibly. The gentle person knows when to react and how to react. The Greek indicates that it’s like a wild animal that has been tamed or a racehorse that has been disciplined to do exactly what the rider commands.

The development of gentleness in your life will prevent strife (Proverbs 15:11), increase your peace (Psalm 37:11), help you access God’s guidance (Psalm 25:9), increase your joy (Isaiah 29:19), stir revival in your heart (Isaiah 57:15), and mark you for favor and promotion (1 Peter 5:5-6).

One of the hardest things to do as a believer is to remain gentle when someone is always trying to push your buttons. When that person comes around I want to encourage you to: (1) Keep your mouth shut and do not react. Button pushers often criticize and attack out of their own insecurity and jealousy. Gentleness will enable you to remain quiet and not get in the way of God’s solution; (2) Let the Lord defend you to the button pusher. We don’t always realize it but every time you are unfairly attacked, God is aware of it and as a covenant keeping God will help if you will keep your big mouth out of it. I love that Scripture that says, “When a man’s ways are pleasing to God are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him (Proverbs 16:7); and (3) Pray for the welfare of the person. Only a truly meek and gentle person would pray for restoration for that person (instead of for vindication). Remember the promise of Scripture for the truly gentle believer: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”

The Fruit of Faithfulness

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, NIV).”

“Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel! The Lord has filed a lawsuit against you, saying: There is no faithfulness, no kindness, knowledge of God in your land” (Hosea 4:1, NLT).

Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit produced in the life of a yielded believer by the Holy Spirit. Faithfulness can be described as fidelity, loyalty, reliability, and dependability. Those that are faithful are dependable and can be trusted to be there in a pinch. They are like the North Star burning bright, burning constant, but unlike a shooting star that burns brightly for a while and then burns out. The faithful person obeys the word of God and Holy Spirit closely. They maintain a firm and unswerving loyalty to anyone united to them by promise or commitment.

In a day of broken covenants and promises throughout the world and even in the church, it is vital that true believers learn once again to develop the powerful force of faithfulness in their lives. The believer can be ever increasing in the revelation and practice of faithfulness by coming to three realizations about faithfulness.

First, we must realize how faithful God has been to us. God is the standard, the model, and the example of faithfulness for all of us. The Scripture says that “the unfailing love of the Lord never ends…great is his faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23, NLT). Psalm 33:4 declares, “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” God is boldly revealed in Scripture again and again as faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; Psalm 25:10). The question is not whether God is going to be faithful and true to his word and character. The question is whether his people are going to follow his example. Fact #1 about faithfulness: God expects me to be faithful too!

Second, we must realize how rare faithfulness is these days and strive to be different-apply ourselves to being what is sorely lacking in the world and church today-constant, diligent, faithful. Proverbs 20:6 says, “Many a man claims to unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?” The word of God describes what it is like to depend on an unfaithful person: “Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble” (Proverbs 25:19, NIV). Faithfulness is a primary indication of spiritual maturity and lack of it indicates that a person is not growing up in the faith. We are to be faithful in prayer, dying to self, giving, serving, obeying God-we are to be faithful to our families, to our churches, and to God. Luke 8:18 sums up the heart of God on the dearth of faithfulness in this world: “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Fact #2 about faithfulness: Others depend on me to be faithful!

Finally, we need to realize how much God values and honors faithfulness: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you” (Proverbs 3:3, NIV). The Parable of the Talents teaches us that faithfulness is one of the keys to promotion in the kingdom of God. Paul admonished the Corinthians, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2, NIV). Proverbs 28:20 declares, “The faithful man will abound with blessings” (KJV). In fact, God promises his favor, empowerment, blessing, protection, revelation, and promotion to the faithful person-and since God is faithful to his promises, if we are faithful, we will be blessed. Fact #3 about faithfulness – We will be rewarded for our faithfulness!

The Fruit of Goodness

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, NIV).”

Goodness is the quality in a person who is ruled by and aims at what is good. It is the propensity both to will and to do what is good. Goodness speaks of goodness in character and actions. Good is basically the absence of defect or flaw and presence of complete wholeness.

Our example and model of goodness is of course the Lord. Jesus was once called “good teacher” (Mark 10:17-18) to which he replied “no one is good except God alone.” But God has made a way through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to develop the goodness in his people. In this week’s article I want to share some key principles that foster the development of the fruit of goodness.

First, we need to learn the difference between good and evil. Isaiah 5:20, NCV says, “How terrible it will be for people who call good things bad and bad things good, who think darkness is light and light is darkness, who think sour is sweet and sweet is sour.” We are living in a cultural environment in this country where evil is accepted and good is lampooned. The believer must be careful not to buy into this distortion of reality.

Second, we need to realize that no one is good without God: “all have turned from God; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not even one!” (Psalm 14:3, NLT). The truth is, we are all natural born sinners. Any good in our lives is the result of the grace of God. To become good in any measure, we must have a fundamental change in our nature. This is only accomplished through faith in Jesus Christ and the life changing power in his shed blood.

Third, we need to fill our heart with good things. Everyday we have a choice what to put in our hearts through our eye gate, mouth gate, and ear gate. Psalm 119:9-11, NCV gives great insight into living pure and good lives in a dirty world: “How can a young man person live a pure life: By obeying your word.” If we allow evil in, it should be no surprise when evil comes out. “The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his evil storehouse flings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35, AMP). Let the words of D.L. Moody encourage you to fill your heart with what is wholesome: “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”

Fourth, we need to imitate the example of our heavenly Father. God is good and what he does is good (Psalm 119:68, NIV). Psalm 34:8, KJV declares the fundamental goodness of God: “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” God’s nature, behavior, decisions, actions, and motives are good all the time. God does not and will not do anything that he has revealed to man is morally wrong. Paul declared, “Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1, NIV).

Finally, we should develop the habit of doing what is good daily. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God has ordained, appointed, and anointed his people to do what is good. He planned for us to do good all the days of our lives-that is to be consistently good. Remember that God’s grace is available to help us develop the habit of doing good: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8, KJV).

The Fruit of Kindness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, NIV).”

“Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight” (Jeremiah 9:24-25, NIV).

The concept of Bible kindness comes from Hebrew words such as hesed which means to bow the neck in courtesy as to an equal; to be gracious; to be sweet in disposition; to be loyal to covenant obligations; to be merciful and good. Without question, our God can be described as kind: “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NIV). Psalm 30:5 says, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime” (NIV). God shows his covenant loyalty to us consistently and regularly.

It is important to note, however, that God expects this same type of covenant loyalty to be displayed to others. For example, God expects us to show kindness to the poor and the needy (Proverbs 14:31; 19:17). We should also show kindness to our brothers and sisters in the Lord (Ephesians 4:32). Believe it or not we are to show this same kindness even to our enemies (Luke 6:35; Proverbs 25:22). Finally, in a sweeping statement, Paul told Timothy to be kind to everyone: “The Lord’s servant must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone” (1 Timothy 2:24).

The story of the Good Samaritan really sheds light on what kindness means to God. There are three keys I want to share with you from this touching story about a man mugged on his way to the city of Jericho that will help us become a consistently kind person.

First, we must overcome the fear of involvement. The priest and the Levite in this story no doubt were concerned about the pronounced danger on the notorious road to Jericho known as the “bloody way.” They chose to close their heart to the need. They might have also been concerned about becoming “unclean” by interacting with the victim they saw there. Perhaps they were afraid of getting in over their heads. Regardless of the reason, we need to overcome the fear that keeps us from reaching out to the hurting and the lonely in this world with covenant kindness.

Second, we need to see through the eyes of compassion. Some people see hurting people as objects, impediments, or detours. Other people can see the need like Jesus. They are not detached, distant, or indifferent to the pain around them. A kind person cares about people. I urge you to never repress that urge to be kind. It did not come from you, but was the prompting of divine love by the Holy Spirit. Look through the eyes of compassion and you will want to take the time to be kind to hurting people when you become aware of the needs.

Finally, we need to take action and pay the price. The least likely to stop and help of the three that past along the way near the hurting man, the Samaritan, was willing to pay the price of inconvenience, time, effort, property, and money to make a difference. He shows a very different attitude than the previous two religious individuals. They reasoned: “what will happen if we help him?” The Samaritan reasoned wisely: “what will happen to the man if I don’t help him?” Let’s be willing to pay the price to show covenant kindness to others. After all, Jesus was willing to pay the ultimate price to show the covenant kindness of our heavenly Father!

The Fruit of Patience

patience-pic1“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, NIV).” “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. The Scriptures give us patience and encouragement so that we can have hope. Patience and encouragement come from God” (Romans 15:4-5, NCV).

Patience is a spiritual force and consequently is of a spiritual origin. We will never be able to muster up enough patience in the natural to deal with life’s challenges and opportunities. Patience, like the other fruit of the Spirit is developed through the word of God and through living contact with God through prayer. God is the both the source and example of patience.

Patience literally means “long-tempered.” The patient person does not become easily angered. When the patient person does become angry, it is always a controlled anger. Patience is not merely a passivity and resignation to the inevitable, but a source of power to maintain a word based confidence and cheerful endurance while waiting for a breakthrough or a turnaround. Since patience is a spiritual force and not just something we use to “grin and bear it” when times are hard, it accomplishes much in the life of the believer.

First, we can obtain Christian maturity and character through patience. James 1:3-4 teaches that patience produces perfection or maturity in the life of the believer. As we allow patience to under gird our faith, we begin to experience growth in the vital area of character formation.

Second, we can obtain a life of peace with other people through patience. The Bible teaches that we are to “be humble, gentle and patient…” (Ephesians 4:1-2). The believer is commanded in Scripture to stay out of strife with other people (2 Timothy 2:24). Believers that stay in strife also stay in defeat. It is impossible for our faith to produce results when we are violating the rule of love. The force of patience gives us the strength to stay in love even under direct provocation.

Third, we can obtain divine assistance when we are in trouble. The Psalmist said, “I waited patiently” and “the Lord heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1-3). Divine assistance such as deliverance, stability, and joy are made available to us when we maintain the fruit of patience in our lives.

Fourth, we can obtain the promises of God through patience. Hebrews 6:12 reminds us it is through faith and patience we inherit what has been promised. Many apparent “faith failures” are in actuality “patience failures.” Faith was never designed as a stand-alone spiritual force. Without the support of patience, many times people just simply give up on the promise ever coming to pass. They believe, but they have no patience to stabilize their faith for the long haul. We have the assurance that if we stand we will “receive all that he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36).

Finally, with patience we can obtain our life dreams. The prophet Habakkuk declares, “But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed” (2:3, NLT). Godly dreams require godly pathways-and one of those pathways is patience. Patience will keep us steady, firm, and confident while we are waiting and working for our dreams to come true.

The Fruit of Peace

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, NIV).”

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (Philippians 4:6-7, MES).

The word “worry” comes from the German word wergen, which means, “to choke.” Many people in our nation are literally choking under the pressure and weight of anxiety and worry. Anxiety disorders are said to be the current #1 health problem for women and #2 health problem for men in America. Nearly thirty million Americans claim to be stressed out and eighteen million are currently using antidepressants like Prozak.

The Bible promise of peace stands in stark contrast to the emotional and mental turmoil so many live with daily. Peace is a general, abiding sense of well being in our lives. It is tranquility, serenity, and rest of spirit, soul, and body based on the consciousness of a right relationship with God. Peace, then, comes from the inside out and overflows out of the heart to impact the rest of our lives. Peace is more than just the absence of strife, war, or turmoil. The spiritual fruit of peace is real spiritual power to produce genuine whole-ness in one’s life-nothing missing, nothing broken-soundness in every area of life.

The development of the fruit of peace in our lives will lead to great Bible promises such as victory (John 16:33); stability (Philippians 4:7); direction (Colossians 3:15); health (Proverbs 14:30); and prosperity (Job 22:21). We all know what it is like to live life without the peace of God. We can develop of farm this powerful and precious fruit of the Spirit by making to profound changes in our lives:

First, we need to change what we have been living for. Isaiah 9:6 describes Jesus as the “Prince of Peace.” The Lord himself is the giver of peace. He said in John 14:27, LB, “I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  There is no way to tap into Bible peace without making Jesus the focus of our lives-the one we live for daily. Many people call themselves Christians while actually living for themselves, some carnal goal, or for some other person. The only way to walk in this great peace is to walk with the key to true peace-Jesus!

Second, we need to change what we have been thinking about. Our lives tend to go in the direction of our most dominant thoughts and meditations. Colossians 3:1-2 exhorts, “Let haven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth.” The Bible promises perfect peace for people that keep their minds focused on God (Isaiah 26:3) and great peace for people that love the word of God (Psalm 119:165). Our peace (or lack of it) is directly affected by the quality and content of our thought lives. Real Bible peace comes when I learn to habitually think the thoughts of God.

The Fruit of Joy

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”       (Galatians 5:22, NIV).”

Isaiah 51:11 declares that those set free by the Lord will be overtaken with joy and that sorrow would flee! Psalm 30:11 says that our mourning will be turned to dancing. Romans 14:17 declares: “The kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking, but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The nature of joy is very different from the nature of happiness. Unlike joy, which is a spiritual force, happiness is simply an emotional reaction to present life circumstances. Joy resides in the spirit, the inner man, of the believer and is deposited there through our relationship with the Lord and our habit of maintaining living contact with Him. Joy can be described as cheerful, calm delight. Christians with joy have learned to habitually rejoice, brighten up, or twirl about – all meanings of the biblical word for joy. Our cheerful, calm delight spills out of our hearts in the form of rejoicing even if nothing is going right or if nothing seems to be changing for the better.

The force of joy is powerful and produces much in the life of the believer. First, joy brings strength. In fact, “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). This verse means that the joy of the Lord is our fortified place, a fort, and a defense. As long as our joy is strong our lives are well defended. When the joy drops, so does our protection.

Second, joy brings restoration. Like many of you, I tend to rejoice after something has been fixed or restored. James 1:2-5 tells us to “count it all joy” when we are facing various challenges. Jeremiah 33:10-11 instructs us that joy has a voice. In other words, it is quite impossible to hide joy because it is expressed verbally as well as sensed internally. We cannot wait until something is fixed or restored to rejoice in the Lord. In fact, Scripture indicates that rejoicing precedes or facilitates restoration (Joel 2:23-24).

There are many biblical blessings available to the believer for the consistent production of joy: (1) God’s grace – the fact that our sin is not counted against us. Celebrate the grace of God and joy will come; (2) God’s word – the entrance of the word into our hearts on any matter brings great joy. Pick up the Bible today and read it; (3) God’s lifestyle – the pure live a life of joy rather than torment and regret. Live your life without compromise; (4) God’s agenda – seeking and saving the lost brings us great joy. Bring someone to Jesus this week; (5) God’s presence – the presence of the Holy Spirit is a wellspring of joy for the believer. Camp out in the presence of God; and (6) God’s answer to prayer – our joy is made complete, mature, and full when we realize our God is a God that answers prayer. Keep on believing and receiving from God through prayer.

Don’t let anything get your joy. It is too valuable and too powerful a spiritual force to live without. The moment you sense your joy level dropping, take some of the above steps immediately and watch God restore your joy and all the benefits associated with joy!

The Fruit of Love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, NIV).


Jesus said, “I chose you to go produce fruit that will last” (John 15:16, NLT). The Apostle Paul told the Colossian believers: “You will produce fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10, NCV). It is the Lord’s will that every believer bear fruit in four important categories: (1) the fruit of a fully devoted follower of Christ; (2) the fruit of the work of the anointing; (3) the fruit of the blessing of God; and (4) the fruit of the character forces of God (the fruit of the Spirit). For the next nine weeks in this column I will be discussing how to develop or “farm” the last category in the believer’s life—the fruit of the Spirit.


The first and most important character force of God or fruit of the Spirit is love. Paul admonishes the believer: “May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love” (Ephesians 3:17-18, NLT). God wants us to be thoroughly rooted and grounded in the force of love—that is to grow up and mature in the love of God.


The fruit of love, like the other fruit of the Spirit, is actually a spiritual force that when applied to the life of the believer accomplishes much. First, love gives the world a glimpse of God. Second, love frees the believer from fear. It is impossible to walk in perfected love and continue to dwell in fear. Third, love activates one’s faith. In fact, our faith is energized and empowered by love and limited and stunted when love is not employed. Fourth, love covers all wrongs. Love is forgiving, gracious, and kind when people fail. Finally, love marks you as a genuine Christian. Jesus said the test of our true discipleship is whether we have love one toward another (John 13:35).


There are three major keys for walking in love. First, decide to obey the command to love God and others. Love is not an option for us—we are told to love God, one another, our enemies, our neighbors, and our spouses unconditionally. It is no surprise that the greatest command is to keep the “greatest of these” called love. Love is a choice!


The second key for walking in the love of God is to develop the characteristics of the love walk: “So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always ‘me first,’ doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end” (1 Corinthians 13:3-7, MES). Love conducts itself in very specific ways. There are parameters and behaviors of love. In other words, love is not just a state of mind or a theological truth, or feeling. Love is a lifestyle (and full time job)!


The third key for walking in the love of God is to declare your love for God and for others. People need to hear that we love them. While individuals clearly have “love languages” (ways they like love communicated to them such as words of affirmation, meaningful touch, acts of service, receiving of gifts, and quality time), everyone from time to time needs to hear our love verbally declared to them. Words are very powerful. They are like containers that hold and transport things. Verbally expressing love to someone releases spiritual power in the life of the one that receives it. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Love is a word. Learn to speak it!

The Fruit Tree

Christians are expected to do more than just live their lives and one day enter the glory and splendor of heaven. While on earth, we are expected to bear much fruit, and fruit that will stand the test of time (John 15:16). God desires that we live a life that honors and pleases him, producing fruit in every good work (Colossians 1:9-10).

There are several types of fruit flowing out of the life of a genuine believer such as the fruit of full devotion to the Lord, the fruit of the work of the anointing, the fruit of the blessing of God, and the fruit of the character forces of God, commonly known as the fruit of the Spirit. All of these areas of fruitfulness are important, but no fruit impacts the daily influence of the believer more than the development of the fruit of the Spirit. People and circumstances are forever changed when the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – is released in our lives. There are three insights I want to share to help you develop the fruit of the Spirit in your daily life.

First, stay away from tree poison. It is impossible to bear much fruit when we allow ourselves to be influenced by the wicked, the sinners, or the scoffers. Avoid poisonous beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and people (Psalm 1:1). Keep this principle from Proverbs in mind daily: “The godly are like trees that bear life-giving fruit, and those who save lives are wise”(11:30).

Second, stay rooted and grounded in the word of God. No tree can survive and bear fruit unless it is well grounded. We are to delight ourselves in the word – to stay in it diligently and apply it to our own lives daily (Palm 1:2). Our spiritual roots are to go down deep in the Lord and his word so that our lives can be built on him (Colossians
2:6-7). The tree is enriched by the nutrients picked up in the soil by its root system. The tree is also made strong and stable by the network of roots below the surface of the ground. Like a tree, the believer is also nourished, strengthened, and stabilized by its root system.

Third, stay near the river. Psalm 1:3 teach that the blessed person is planted like a tree by streams of water. This well placed tree bears fruit in season, does not wither away, and prospers perpetually. Like natural trees, believers will bear much fruit and prosper if they stay near the living water of the Holy Spirit through daily fellowship in the presence of God.

God has appointed us to bear fruit and fruit that will remain. Make up your mind today to be a fruitful tree by staying away from tree poison, by staying rooted and grounded in the word of God, and by staying near the river of God’s presence daily. As you apply these principles you will steadily become a prosperous fruit tree. So don’t be surprised when the lonely and hurting begin stopping by to pick some of your fruit!