The Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

In the passage above, Paul talked about the fruit of the Spirit. He listed several characteristics that would be included in this category. Those traits are what the fruit of the Spirit looks like.

He described this as fruit for a reason. Fruit is what grows on a tree or plant of some sort. It does not grow independently; instead, it is a natural product of the life of the plant. In the same way, these characteristics do not spring up independently in our lives; they are the natural product of the Spirit’s influence on our lives. This influence will affect our conduct as we “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16) and will impact our decisions as we are “led by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:18).Continue Reading

Studying the History of Fallible Religious Leaders

Restoration Movement Leaders

Besides studying the Bible, the topic I enjoy learning about the most is religious history – particularly the history of the Restoration Movement (sometimes called the Stone-Campbell Movement). This was a period in the 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States in which many were troubled by the divisions they saw in the religious world and endeavored to correct this by striving to simply go back to the Bible and follow it alone as their only rule of faith and practice.

Some of the more influential figures in this movement were Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, and Walter Scott. Usually when people think of this history today, these are the men who come to mind. As we begin to study this history, we learn of others who played a significant role in the direction of this movement – men like Moses Lard, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Sommer, and David Lipscomb. Going deeper into the study of this history, we can learn about the contributions of others like David Purviance, Pardee Butler, Samuel Robert Cassius, and more – men who may have been largely forgotten, but can provide us with some valuable lessons.*Continue Reading

New Every Morning

Sunrise

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him’” (Lamentations 3:21-23).

We sometimes hear it said that each day is a gift. This is certainly true, yet we need to know why this is true. It is about more than the simple fact that we are still alive. Each day is a gift because of God and what He provides for us each day.

In the passage above, Jeremiah reflected upon the goodness of God even as he and the nation were going through severe suffering (hence the name of the book Lamentations). There was still evidence of God’s care for them and a reason to have hope if they would focus on Him more than their present troubles.Continue Reading

Stand Your Ground

Man standing on mountain

Now after him was Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered into a troop where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the people fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the Lord brought about a great victory” (2 Samuel 23:11-12).

The passage above describes the valiant efforts of Shammah, one of King David’s “mighty men” (2 Samuel 23:8).* The notable event recorded about him was his defense of a piece of farmland. He “took his stand” and refused to back down, even though he had to fight alone. Of course, he was not truly alone even though “the people fled.” The text makes it clear that “the Lord brought about a great victory” on that day, but he had to be willing to stand his ground and fight.

What is interesting about this passage is that there is no indication given as to the location of this plot of ground. There is no mention of who owned it, what city was nearby, or the region in which it was located. The only information that is given about this land, besides what was grown there, was the fact that the Philistines had gathered in that place to fight. Because the enemy was there, that was the place where Shammah took his stand to fight.Continue Reading

The Result of Following Your Heart

Walking shoes

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

A popular idea in our modern culture is that we should “follow our heart.” While this is popular, it is not wise. Our heart, on its own, will not direct us in the way we need to go. Jeremiah said, “I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). In the passage quoted at the beginning of this article, the Lord said that man’s heart is “deceitful” and “desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). The rest of that chapter elaborates on this idea.

In this article, we are going to examine that chapter (Jeremiah 17) and see what happens when we follow our heart. However, we first need to understand the context. Jeremiah had been warning the people of Judah about destruction that was coming. They had rejected God, embraced idolatry, and refused to repent of their sin; so God was going to punish them through the Babylonian army that was coming against them. Though we live in a different time and under different circumstances, the basic points are the same. We will experience the same pitfalls as they did if we also “follow our heart.”

What happens when we follow our heart? This chapter describes six consequences that will come from this.Continue Reading

Lessons from the Farmer

Farmer

We are living in anticipation of the Lord’s return. Jesus promised His apostles, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). We are looking forward to that same hope. All the faithful – living and dead – will “meet the Lord in the air” when He returns and then “we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). This is a comforting thought for the Christian (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Peter spoke of the certainty of this event, but explained that the timing of it was unknown: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). We can be assured that this day is coming, but we do not know when it will be.

Since this is the reality of our existence here on the earth, James encouraged us to be patient. In doing so, he cited the example of a farmer to make his point:

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near” (James 4:7-8).

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God’s Plan for Worship

Family in Church

‘Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth’” (John 4:20-24).

In this chapter, Jesus spoke with a Samaritan woman by a well. The discussion covered several topics, one of which was the issue of worship. After she “perceived” Jesus to be “a prophet” (John 4:19), she brought up a question about worship. In Jesus’ answer, He explained to her some basic principles about worship. These instructions are helpful for us as well.

In this article, we are going to look at what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman and what He teaches about God’s plan for worship. There are four basic points we can take from His instruction on this occasion.Continue Reading