Spirit Fruit – Love

fruit oranges new“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13, NIV).

The word “love” gets thrown around a lot these days. We love all kinds of things: from types of food to our favorite sports teams, from movies and shows on T.V. to clothes and hobbies. Yes, we have a love affair with just about everything and we’re not afraid to say it.

The Bible speaks of three types of love. Eros is the word used to describe romantic love and physical attraction. This kind of love can be quite beautiful in the right context and can get us into trouble when left unchecked. The second type of love, philos can best be described as a friendship between two people. Eros and philos can both be positive expressions of love, but each is ultimately determined by what can be gained by the person expressing it. Agape is the third type of love mentioned in the Bible, and it is often used to describe God’s love for us. This is unconditional love, love that knows no bounds, love that is not self-seeking, but that seeks only to fulfill the needs of another.

Agape is the kind of love spoken of in passages like John 3:16, “ ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ ” (NIV), and in John 15:13 as listed above. Jesus is the greatest expression of agape love as he literally laid down his life on a cross for humankind. Agape love is the love that we too, as Christians, are to immitate, and it’s gifted to us by the Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit fruit of love.

Spirit Fruit – Joy

fruit grapes new“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3, NIV).

Today’s post is all about joy, one of the fruits of the Spirit as listed in the Bible book of Galatians. Although it’s often confused with happiness, joy runs much deeper. Joy is spiritual, while happiness tends to be worldly. Joy is lasting. Happiness is fleeting.

Perhaps most importantly, joy is independent of circumstance. A cancer patient can be joyful despite his dire diagnosis. A financially-strapped individual can be joy-filled even upon losing a job. While individuals like these may find happiness difficult in such challenging circumstances, they can still experience joy. This is because joy comes from God. It is a fruit of the Spirit, which grows wildly even in the thorniest of situations.

My challenge for us today is that we would redirect our focus from the things that make us temporarily happy to the God who brings us everlasting joy. That’s my prayer for us as well. Next time we’ll talk about the Spirit fruit of love. Until then, walk in joy!

Armor of God – The Sword of the Spirit

armor side view“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13, 17, NIV).

In this series of writings, we have looked at what Paul refers to as the “…armor of God…” (Ephesians 6:13, NIV). We’ve discussed “…the belt of truth… (v. 14)”, “…the breastplate of righteousness…” (v. 14), “…feet fitted with the gospel…”(v. 15), “…the shield of faith…” (v. 16), and “…the helmet of salvation (v. 17). The Christian stands equipped and opposed to the Enemy with each of these powerful pieces of equipment.

Today’s piece of armor is “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17). We are not meant to be only on the defensive side of things. Filled with the very Spirit of God and armed with God’s holy Word, we not only stand against the Devil, but we attack him. We cut to the heart of injustice. We strike where there is poverty and need. We stand tall with the weak and marginalized people in our society. We seek to destroy all that is evil.

God’s Spirit, who lives in us, is alive and potent. Paul once shared that “…the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power…’ (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV). Further, God gives us his Word which will constantly keep Satan reeling. We have the truth on our side which includes the Gospel message of God’s love for us. We are declared righteous and are saved because of what Christ has done for us. Our faith makes us strong. We stand already victorious in the face of Satan and evil. So, battle on, protected by and armed with the armor of our God.

Armor of God – The Helmet of Salvation

armor side view“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Take the helmet of salvation…” (Ephesians 6:13, 17, NIV).

In Ephesians Chapter Six, the Apostle Paul reminds us that the Christian life is one of continual warfare against our enemy, the Devil. Paul stresses the need to equip ourselves with several strategic pieces of spiritual armor. These include “…the belt of truth… (v. 14)”, “…the breastplate of righteousness…” (v. 14), our “…feet fitted with the gospel…”(v. 15), and “…the shield of faith…” (v. 16). Each of these is meant to protect us from the relentless attacks of Satan.

In today’s passage of Scripture, Paul continues his inventory of spiritual armor with what he calls “…the helmet of salvation…” (Ephesians 6:17, NIV). The very thoughts of our mind must be guarded against the harassing accusations of the Devil, for Satan would love to convince us that he stands a fighting chance in the on-going battle between good and evil. The fact, however, is that Jesus has already won this age-old conflict, and we are the beneficiaries of the salvation Christ gained for us on the cross. We stand victorious through the shed blood of Jesus, while Satan is crushed in defeat.

The helmet of salvation, then, is not merely a piece of battle equipment, but our constant reminder of victory. Satan, I’m certain, hates the look of the Christian in his spiritual attire. So, let’s buckle up, cover up, lace up, take up our shield, and stand up in the knowledge of our salvation. The Devil doesn’t have a chance!

Armor of God – The Shield of Faith

armor side view“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand…take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:13, 16, NIV).

So far in this “Armor of God” series, we’ve looked at what Paul refers to as “the belt of truth”, “the breastplate of righteousness”, and “feet fitted with the readiness” of the gospel (Ephesians 6:14-15, NIV). Today we are discussing another piece of battle equipment, namely “the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16, NIV).

As Christians, we are under the continual assault of Satan. He is relentless in his barrage of attacks. Without faith in Christ, we stand no chance against this ancient marksman as he fires the arrows of temptation and deception with deadly accuracy.

Still, God does not leave us defenseless. We stand equipped for this spiritual onslaught, protected by “the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:15, NIV). Ultimately, Jesus has already won the battle against the Devil, and Satan’s attempts to destroy us are futile. Through faith in what Jesus has already done for us at the cross, we are ready for the enemy’s advance.

So, lift-up your shield, and believe that you hold the victory. Evil is no match when faith and God are on your side!

Armor of God – Feet Fitted With the Gospel

armor side view“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:13-15, NIV).

In Ephesians Chapter Six, the Apostle Paul continues his discussion of the armor of God by making special mention of the footwear worn by the Christian. It would be foolish for anyone to march into battle without protection for his feet. And Satan would like nothing more than to trip us up with his lies and deceit.

So, Paul reminds us to have our “…feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15, NIV). “Feet fitted” implies that someone else is getting us dressed for battle. Indeed, God equips us with all that we need to stand our ground against evil. Further, “readiness” suggests preparation and intentionality on our part. We must approach our spiritual battle with a divine plan for victory. Finally, we stride into combat with the good news gospel message of God’s love and mercy through Christ. Our greatest weapon against Satan is the message that Jesus has already won the battle, evidenced in a barren cross and an empty tomb.

I’d like to close today with Paul’s words to the Church at Rome: “..‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ ” (Romans 10:13-15, NIV).

As bearers of the gospel, we have the most beautiful feet on the planet. Let’s protect them, fitted properly and ready to move!

Armor of God – The Breastplate of Righteousness

armor side view“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…with the breastplate of righteousness in place… (Ephesians 6:13-14, NIV).

In my last post, I discussed what might be considered the first line of defense in the Christian’s stand against Satan and his attacks: “…the belt of truth…” (Ephesians 6:14, NIV). By and through the truth of God’s Word, we can stand in victory against Satan, a.k.a. “…the father of lies…” (John 8:44, NIV).

Today, we’re looking at what Paul refers to as “…the breastplate of righteousness…” (Ephesians 6:14, NIV). When Satan attacks, he strikes at the very heart of the Christian. Therefore, we must remain guarded if we are to continue to stand. Fortunately, we are covered in Christ’s righteousness. The Prophet Isaiah states it this way: “… (God has) arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…” (Isaiah 61:10, NIV). The Apostle Paul adapts Isaiah’s language of “a robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10, NIV) to “the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14, NIV). Paul knew that we would be fighting nothing short of a spiritual war.

So, just what is righteousness? Paul puts it this way: “God made (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV). In other words, God made an exchange at the cross, taking our sin and trading it for Christ’s “right-ness” before him. Because of this one act on the part of Jesus, we are declared forgiven and free. We now stand against Satan protected by “the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14, NIV), the victory already won!