Posts Tagged ‘fruit of the Spirit’

Go After Joy

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalm 16:11)

“Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.” (Psalm 32:11)

“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows.” (Psalm 45:7)

We speak of the joy of the Lord quite often as a strength in trouble or a fruit of the Spirit… but I truly believe it is a great weapon for spiritual breakthrough and freedom.

God is completely faithful, He is generous as our Provider and sensitive as our Healer. When we are in need, He wants us to recognize His love and allow joy to lead us to our breakthrough. The psalms remind us that God’s loving kindness is new every morning (Ps. 30:5). His mercies are like the rains that fall upon the fertile soil of the heart to bring forth the seeds of spiritual strength (Lam. 3:22-24). No question, God is the instigator of our breakthroughs; yet we are all called to walk in step with Him for the achieving of spiritual victory.

We are co-laborers in the Kingdom of Heaven for our breaking forth.

As Kingdom Agents, we can and must see the joy of the Lord as a spiritually anointed tool that releases us from the chains of oppression. Joy is a great weapon against fear and depression.

I still remember…

In Sunday School years ago, we used to sing about the power joy had to bring great freedom in the Spirit. We would sing “if you want joy you must laugh for it” and off we’d go with, “ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha”. Pretty soon we would all experience laughter that would cause us to see differently the rest of the day. Those little songs were a point of release, setting the atmosphere of joy that influenced our dispositions and changed our heart attitudes. In one sense we were taking our thoughts captive without even realizing we were having moments of breakthrough.

I truly believe that the supernatural life of the Spirit is more natural than we think… try it – laugh a little and see if it doesn’t lighten the load. The Joy of the Lord can be your strength for breakthrough! (Neh 8:10)

No Open Doors

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.” (Eph. 5:8-21)

The Apostle Paul says, “… give no place to the devil” (Eph. 4:27)

As believers in Christ, we must leave no open doors for Satan to have access to our lives! In essence the Apostle Paul is saying, “Don’t give an inch, or the devil will take it all!” We must learn to hold our ground and leave no room for evil. When a person is being harassed by the devil, I believe there is always a reason… its a dominion issue!

Give No “Place”:

Here is an insight I find helpful: the Greek word for ‘place’ – means a legal foothold; an opportunity; a legal right to enter and occupy. Demonic influence comes to occupy unguarded places in our heart and mind. By using spiritual “gateways”, or giving “place” to the devil; we are allowing darkness to have influence in our lives. When we allow darkness to have a voice, we are foolishly beginning to embrace twisted perceptions of reality. The devil’s strategy is simple… he wants to steal, kill and destroy (Jn. 10:9). Evil spirits look for ‘gateways’ to enter and begin to control parts of our life (Jn. 13:27). No matter how the access comes, the goal is to convince the person to walk in spiritual darkness, shame and isolation. The devil’s strategy is for the oppression or “works” to lead us into bondage and corruption. That is why Jesus was manifest on the Earth… to expose and destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8). God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power, to restore the sick and troubled people within His reach; by breaking the oppression of the devil (Acts 10:38).

3 Powerful Ways to Shut Open Doors:

1st) Walk as Children of Light!

Recognize whose you are (1 Cor. 3:16)… and walk daily with an awareness of the Holy Spirit’s closeness and the Father’s love covering you. The atmosphere of God’s Presence is permeated with goodness, righteousness and truth. His desire for you is that you live in the Light, walking as Children that have an increasing revelation of God’s hand upon them.

2nd) Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness!

Break the covenant of agreement with unrighteousness. Darkness is a “kingdom” with governing principles, requirements and evil intentions. Its not who you are any longer (Col. 1:13-14)… so begin the New Life (2 Cor. 5:17). Find out what pleases God and enjoy the experience of knowing the Creator of the Universe. This relationship has the potential of satisfying every need of your life and offering you purpose beyond all imagination (Eph. 3:20). The works of darkness offer nothing… they are unfruitful, dead and corrupt.

3rd) Stay filled with the Holy Spirit!

Have some encounters with God. Live under the influence of the Holy Spirit at all times… singing, speaking and submitting to one another in the fear of God. The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). So live like a believing – Believer… keep the songs of the Lord and the worship of Jesus in your heart and mouth. People will recognize your passion… and better yet – you will become a threat to the kingdom of darkness.

The Reality of War

Christians need to recognize the reality of spiritual conflict and warfare. We are born into conflict — against the world, against our carnal desires, and against the devil. If you do not know the nature of your enemy; if you do not know who your foes are, you cannot fight… much less walk in victory. It’s only when you realize what you’re up against that you can be victorious.

Christian Soldiers are Called to War:

The Bible says we must stand against our spiritual enemies as Christian soldiers (2 Tim. 2:4). When God calls you to Kingdom responsibility, you become part of the army of God. You can truthfully sing, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war”, because you are at war and you have a target on your back. You need to remember that if you’re living for Jesus Christ, the powers of darkness are aligned against you. You are on Satan’s hit list!

Get Equipped:

Becoming equipped is more than gaining knowledge or taking a stance. It requires a transformed mind and a well developed character. You must become a person of faith and valor… a person who is equipped in the realities of war! Jesus, Himself said that the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force (Mt. 11:12). I want to offer four principles to help you be victorious in spiritual warfare as a Christian Soldier.

1st) Learn to Endure Hardship.

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Tim. 2:3)

If you want to be a soldier, you need to get in shape. You can’t go out and fight hand-to-hand combat when you are little more than a fat little baby in Christ. While you’re sitting around in your diapers, the enemy is going to have you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You need to strengthen your spiritual muscles and gear up for spiritual realities. You need to be able to respond. If you can’t respond in physical combat, you die. It’s as simple as that. Likewise, you must learn to respond in spiritual ways, or you will become spiritually wounded.

A key to strengthening spiritual muscles and enduring hardship is finding strength in the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). Never forget this: ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of the Lord Jesus Christ. And ignorance of Christ is ignorance of your own defenses. You can’t defend yourself unless you are walking in the Light of God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.

2nd) Be Self-Controlled and Alert.

You must learn to “be self-controlled and alert” for “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).

He is looking for you! There’s no such thing as a sleepy, successful soldier. Sleepy soldiers — soldiers who are not alert — have one thing in common. They’re all dead! God says if you want to succeed in spiritual war, you must be self-controlled and alert. Being self-controlled is a fruit of the Spirit and it offers you the means to know what to do and the strength to do it. Only then will you be able to spiritually discern and resist the enemy’s subtle attacks.

3rd) Build Your Faith in Christ.

“For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 Jn. 5:4-5).

Faith is your victory! Its absolutely critical in spiritual conflict that you walk by faith, because it is an unseen war. Our faith is in the Ultimate Conqueror – Jesus Christ – who admonishes His followers: “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). Christ imparts the capacity to conquer every single day and all we have to do is believe in Him. You need to get up in the morning and say, “Lord Jesus, I believe You have conquered the world! Conquer today through me! I believe in you! Give me the capacity to see as You see. I am a person of faith and valor… remove my doubts and fill me with the boldness of faith that is necessary for victory today.”

4th) Put On Spiritual Armor.

“Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11)

Are you catching this? You can stand against Satan’s schemes and attacks. You can be victorious! Ephesians 6:10-20 speaks of the various pieces of spiritual armor God has provided. Nobody goes out to war in their pajamas; no, you go out with 30 or 40 pounds of equipment. Yet, I see so many immature Christians running around in their spiritual underwear, trying to do warfare against a powerful enemy. And they don’t understand why the flaming arrows of the wicked one are sticking out of their spiritual derrieres.

You must put on the whole armor of God… the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the readiness to preach the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And Pray… with all kinds of prayers! These are God’s tools for taking spiritual dominion and reigning in all that He has promised.

Note that every piece of armor in Ephesians 6 is for the front of the body. There isn’t a single piece for your backside. Do you know why? Because soldiers do not turn around in the middle of combat, they move forward. The reason many believers are weak and ineffective is that in the midst of battle, they fail to rely upon the armor God has made available in Christ. Fearing the enemy’s threats; they back away from their convictions, because they lack the faith and valor of Spiritual Soldiers.

Take this to heart, my friend… Jesus Christ is the Exalted One! Its His Name that is above every name and His authority that is established as supreme over all. He is Our King… listen to Him, listen to the Holy Spirit and walk in the love of the Father. You will be strong and do great exploits by His power at work in you! (Dan. 11:32)

Training Leaders

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Tim. 2:2)

Scripture provides numerous examples of discipleship, because every generation thinks and responds differently to the information handed to them. Yet the key is to entrust God’s truth to reliable men and women who will show themselves to be faithful. Just think for a moment about the process involved in teaching some of God’s most notable leaders how to walk in wisdom and integrity.

  • Adam and Eve walking with God in the Garden of Eden, 
  • Abraham and Lot recovering from Sodom and Gamorah,
  • Jethro and  Moses administrating in the wilderness,
  • Samuel and David processing a leadership shift, 
  • Peter and James receiving the outpouring of the Holy Spirit,
  • Paul and Timothy planting churches across a new frontier.

We find ourselves in good company, pulled in by our convictions about God and our call to the Great Commission. The Bible; however, does not direct us to any certain program of how leaders are to be developed. The reason for this is that the Holy Spirit is more concerned about the process than the structure of our training - as long as it does not violate Scripture. Ministries have the freedom to design a training program that is “most effective” for its leaders. The structure may be different, but training takes place when hearts are united with God’s vision for spiritual growth.

4 Key Leadership Components:

  1. character …who a leader is. 
  2. knowledge …what a leader knows.
  3. skill …what a leader does.
  4. emotion …how a leader responds.

While good leaders are strong in these four areas, all leaders need to grow and develop. The mark of good leadership is a teachable heart, but the challenge is always our ability to measure maturity. If we can break down our experience by these 4 components, we will begin to see where our hearts really are developing and where we are stuck in leadership ruts.

  • 1st Character:

Christ-likeness and integrity of heart best describe what we mean by character. It reflects the heart and soul of the leader and answers the question we all have asked: “Who must leaders be?” In order to lead effectively, God expects us to reflect His heart and mind in all that is done and taught. We need to expose poor character and build quality into our leaders so they reflect the excellence expected from men and women of God. 

I often tell leaders; that although their gifts will make room for them and offer them the opportunity to lead, it is their character that will maintain their platform and give them a people who follow their leadership. I have watched many gifted people come and go, leaving their ministries in frustration over the process of character development. Its important for leaders to face the facts… it is the process that shapes our character – No Pain, No Gain! Here are some good Scripture guidelines that offer general character requirements for leadership.

  1. The Elder - equivalent to today’s 5-fold ministry leaders (Eph. 4:11);(1 Tim. 3:1-7), (Titus 1:6-9), (1 Pet. 5:2).
  2. The Deacon – those who serve tables; (1 Tim. 3:8-13)(Acts 6:1-6).
  3. The Apostle Paul offers the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). 
  4.  The Apostle Peter lists qualities for all Christians (2 Pet. 1:3-9).
  5. Other necessary character qualities are competence, trustworthiness, and teachability (2 Tim. 2:2).
  • 2nd Knowledge:

Leaders know something that not everyone understands. Leaders have “secrets” that open doors and create opportunity for others, as well as themselves. What they know sets them apart as uniquely qualified to instruct and teach. Leaders offer us the ability to see things through new lenses and enjoy the adventure of accomplishing something.

  • 3rd Skill:

Obviously, a leaders’ skills depend a little bit upon the ministry he or she is engaged in, but there are some common realities that help all leaders stay sharp and effective. Vision, decision making, communication and problem solving, are just four of the many common qualities of a leader that every team must see growing in the person they follow. A leader needs to inspire and motivate others so they believe they can achieve their goals.  Support may be as simple as words of encouragement or a specific tool needed to perform a task. Strong listening skills provide a leader with key information that can help break barriers and give appropriate spiritual counsel.

  • 4th Emotion:

Problems come in all shapes and sizes, from those related to the people in your care, to those of a more strategic nature.  A good leader will not be afraid of problems and will carry the emotional stability that earns the trust and respect of their followers. We must not be afraid to discuss problems or potential problems. My father used to always say, “Son, with a positive attitude, problems can become opportunities for promotion”. As with anything in life, things do not always go according to plan and leadership is no exception. The direction a leader takes in order to realize God’s vision is likely to change. Strong leaders embrace change and can adapt quickly and efficiently to new situations since they learn to balance opportunity and risk while being aware of their strengths and weaknesses… as well as that of the team they lead.

Better Caught than Taught!

My final word is simple… the best leaders are those who have served under great leaders, because they have been watching and catching more that they were ever taught through books. Jesus enlisted twelve disciples to walk along side of Him for 3 years - Modeling Ministry and Imparting Leadership!

Power of Hope

Through Jesus “…we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:2)

Standing in grace means a flow of supernatural favor. God’s arm is not short that He cannot reach us. In fact, every day there is evidence of the finger of God moving in our lives. This is our hope, reliable to the end and established upon Promises that have in so many ways proven true through the ages. Our Christian hope produces the confidence and character it takes to endure in the face of trials, tiredness and temptation.  Hope establishes, energizes, and encourages us to keep pressing forward when the heat is turned up or the storms begin to rage. God is faithful! God is purposeful and nothing is beyond the scope of His authority. Yet, we must take hold of the horns of the altar and place our hope firmly in Christ and His Promises!

  • Take a good look at some of these Scriptures that speak to the wonderful fruit that is released when hope is activated in our lives: (Rom. 4:18)(1 Thess. 1:3)(2 Thess. 2:16-17)(Heb. 3:6; 6:7-12; 18-20 & 10:23).

Life Gets Rough, Hope Gets Activated:

Why do trials, tiredness or temptations affect us so deeply? It is because they reveal our frailty. Perhaps the greatest blessing hope offers is access to the Glory of God. When we begin to trust in God’s favor and future blessings, our hope comes alive and motivates us to run the race with joy and fight the good fight of faith. Our strength of character depends on a powerful living hope that bubbles up in the midst of struggle. Having a hopeful view of the future affects the way we respond to the present, a weakened hope will weaken our dedication and perseverance in the Christian life.

Remember: Hope is a confident assurance of good outcomes based upon the promises of God’s Word.

7 Vital Truths about Hope:

  1. Hope is the platform for faith in God: (Heb. 11:1; 6)
  2. Hope is a pathway into the Glory of God: (Heb. 6:19-20)
  3. Hope is essential to the Christian identity: (Eph. 1:17-20)
  4. Hope ignites the fruit of the Spirit: (Rom. 15:13)
  5. Hope enables us to rejoice in the midst of trials:  (Jam. 1:2)
  6. Hope provides boldness in our witness:  (2 Cor. 3:12)
  7. Hope is our helmet in the armor of God: (1 Thes. 5:8)

All contributions are welcome and deeply appreciated.

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