Fruit of the Spirit: Love (Part 3)

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

The First Fruit: Love (Continued...)

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7)

Change your mind and change your heart. If you cannot think loving thoughts toward another, or toward yourself, you will not be able to experience the change of heart that allows you to experience the kind of agape love that is a fruit of the spirit.

So how do we change our mind and what do we think on when we see others?

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)

When we encounter a gruff person, someone who is less than easy to love, our usual reaction is to protect ourselves from the harshness of the other person. We'll close up and look out for our own interests instead of looking at the other person's. Chances are the harder that person is to love, the more they need it. Chances are that their own gruffness is caused primarily because that person is closing up and using those spikes to protect their own, fragile heart. When someone is angry or hard to get along with, always try to find the reason way.

In order to do that, we have to stop looking out for our own interests and look out for the interest of the other person. Look beyond their outward appearance and find out what they need. Love then becomes an action as we consider prayerfully how to fulfill it.

What if, while we are trying to fulfill that gruff person's need, they abuse us or mistreat us?

If we are grafted in Jesus the way that we are supposed to be, then we find our joy and our comfort in Him. He fulfills our needs to the point of overflowing. And that overflow is supposed to splash on those around us. If our lives are full of Jesus, then we do not need to be filled by anyone else. So what this person does to us or their response to our attempts at filling their needs should not be a total surprise.

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:6)

In order to be wise and cunning, we should pray from the start that the reaction of the person is revealed to us so that there aren't any surprises. And if we expect no love in return, we will not be disappointed, either. It's hard to give and get nothing in return, but remember that we are working toward Heaven, and find the source of our strength in Him.

So to change our mind about someone, we need to look past their faults and see their needs. And then when we fulfill their needs, we need to look for no reward, and no thanks. Through these changes of mind, we can begin to see what it's like to love someone who we previously thought was unloveable. And our love might be just what an unloveable person needs in order to change their mind, as well--though that shouldn't be our goal. Today, I pray that we make our goal to change ourselves and to change our minds so that we can feel the love of God toward others, and let the overflow splash upon them.

Weigh-in Wednesday 4/15

It's now been a little over a month since I started wearing a Fitbit, and here's what I've accomplished:

1. My resting heart rate is now a full 20 bpm lower than it was when I first started - this is huge. I was on the verge of needing to go to the hospital before, and now my body is working more efficiently because of my weight loss and fitness level.

2. I have walked 2 half-marathons. Over 13.2 miles in one day TWICE over the past month. I have logged in over 10 miles/day on average. And every step adds up to calories burned.

3. I can now run a full mile (and a half) without stopping to walk.

4. And I've lost a total of 14 lbs so far.

When I exercise, I keep my focus on the source of my strength, Jesus, by listening to praise music. It helps keep me motivated to just push a little further and go a little longer. And I thank Him for helping me stay on this journey and for picking me up when I fall down.

Fool for Books Giveaway Hop

Easter is just a few days away, and I'm catching up on some of my reading as well as my writing. I hope to have something new for you to check out soon as well as updating this blog with more about the fruit of the spirit. In the mean time, I'm giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card! Just follow the rafflecopter to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway And don't forget to check out the rest of the blogs in the hop!

Weigh in Wednesday - Week 1 with #FitBit

~It has officially been one week since I got a new Fitbit ~

So what's happened?

#1 - I'm more of an overachiever than I thought I was. If my Fitbit sets goals that are too easily reached for me, I raise them higher - and then I proceed to work harder to crush my new goals. 10,000 steps/day was too easy for me, so I raised it to 15,000 which I actually had to work a little to make sure I accomplished. My average daily step count? 19,000.

#2 - I lost 6 pounds. In one week.

#3 - My resting heart rate went down by 8 bpm. My Fitbit Charge HR has a heart rate monitor. I don't use it much, but the Fitbit app has this neat feature where it keeps track of my HR during workouts and my resting heart rate. I thought it was interesting that my resting heart rate went steadily down. So I researched it and found that sedentary people have a much higher heart rate than athletes, and it's one of the signs that your heart is working harder than it should. I had no idea. And now that I can measure that resting heart rate, I can really truly see the results of my workout in terms of overall heart health.

I'm sticking with this Fitbit so far, and really having fun meeting new people who use Fitbit on Instagram. I think the social atmosphere and competitive aspect of this device is going to keep me focused on making small changes and seeing the results over time. I'm excited about it and the fact that God has led me to this new way to overcome my addiction to food and the sedentary lifestyle. 

So what is working for you? How is your fitness journey going?

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

On this blog, we're all about Fitness and Faith ~
If that's what you're into, check out one of our recent posts on the Fruit of the Spirit.
And consider subscribing to this blog!

To celebrate this holiday, we're giving away this green Bible Cover:
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And Visit the rest of the hop:

Fruit of the Spirit: Love (Part 2)

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

The First Fruit: Love (Continued...)

 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

We are all imperfect. We all make mistakes, and nearly everyone you love will wrong you in some way, even if it's minor. So unless we are willing to forgive, we cannot truly love. If God wants us to LOVE like He does, He also wants us to FORGIVE like He does.

How does the Lord forgive?

...For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. (Jeremiah 31:34)

He forgets what's been done. He doesn't bury the hatchet with the handle sticking out. He doesn't keep counting wrongs. But most of all, He doesn't live in denial, either. It's not like He buries the memory deep inside so it can be brought up again next time, like an old wound. No, He forgets it completely as though it had never happened. This is how we can wrong God over and over - and yet He still forgives us.

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22)

His forgiveness is limitless. No matter how many times we do Him wrong, He not only forgives it, but He's not keeping count. And He expects the same from us. 

If God is all-knowing, how can He forget? 

He chooses to. And with his power, we can choose to forgive and forget as well. We can choose to hold a grudge instead, but it will eat away at us while the person we hold a grudge against goes on with their lives as if nothing happened. It makes no difference whether they know we forgive them or not. Or even if they've asked for forgiveness.

 This is about us. How will we live? Do we want to live a life of bitterness and anger, holding on to grudges? Or do we want to live a life of love and peace, letting grudges go and forgetting them?

“It is finished!” (John 19:30)

When Jesus had finished paying our debts on the cross, He gave us a clean slate. Our sins were paid in full and our wrongs against Him completely forgotten. He was free to love us completely. In order to pay for our sins, He gave His life. 

What are we willing to give up to be free to love the way God loves? 

Can we give up our hurts, our bitterness, our anger at being wronged, and perhaps even our pride? According to Jesus, we cannot even love God the way we want to love Him if we have bitterness in our hearts or know that someone has bitterness against us:

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

So if our hearts are preoccupied with making sure no one ever does us wrong again, we're too busy protecting ourselves to produce the kind of love that is a fruit of the Spirit. Only by forgiving the way that He forgives us can we produce this fruit. And that is my prayer for us today. With God's help, let us learn to truly forgive and forget.

Fruit of the Spirit: Love (Part 1)

Today is the start of a new series that I've been lead to explore: the Fruit of the Spirit and what it means to the modern Christian. I'm not sure how many parts will be involved with each fruit, but we'll go through them in order as described in Galatians:

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

The First Fruit: Love

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13)

Love is a multifaceted diamond. It has many faces. We talk about love so flippantly it's confusing. I love the color blue. I love my son. I love sunsets and walks on the beach. Of course I don't love all of these the same, right? In the English language, we have only one word for love, but in New Testament Greek, there are four words for love.

storge - family affection
eros - attraction
philia - friendship
agape - sacrificial, committed love

The kind of love that is referred to in 1 Corinthians 13:13 is agape. It's the kind of love that God gives us - unconditional and self-sacrificing - the kind of love that gives while expecting nothing in return. Ever wonder why God loves the unlovable? Certainly not because they deserve it.

We are to love in the same way that God loves - that is the fruit of the Spirit. So how do we do this? Fake it until we make it?

Not quite. You can't duct tape fruit filled branches onto a shrub and call it an apple tree.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

Unless you are grafted into the true vine, you can't bare this fruit on your own. Loving the unlovable? Giving without anything gained in return? Putting no limits or conditions on your love? Sounds impossible...but isn't there someplace deep inside that not only wants this for yourself, but wants to give it, too?

Grafted in His Love

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Do you really understand how wide and long and high and deep Christ's love is? After all, it surpasses all knowledge, right? 

In order to produce this Fruit of the Spirit, we must experience His love for us:
  • Do you understand that you don't deserve His love?
  • Do you know that you can't earn it?
  • Did you know that God puts no limits on how much He loves you?
  • How many hoops do you have to jump through to gain His love? That's right - none.
  • What can you do for God that He can't already do for Himself? Yet He still loves you.

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Unless we feel this unfathomable love that He has for us, we cannot then produce it. We can't fake it until we make it, because we'll never make it unless we are grafted in His love. So today, that is my prayer for myself and for you. That we will come to know and really grasp the love of Christ so that we can produce this fruit.

The End of Christianity in the Middle East

Last night on the news, an anchor who professes to be Christian asked, "Will this be the end of Christianity in the Middle East?" And this has become the headline for some secular articles as well.

That bugged me all day, and was the first thought I had when I woke this morning.

Americans have become so comfortable in their just being American...that we've forgotten what a conviction is. The history of our belief has been full of persecution and martyrdom. In nearly every other country in the world, Christians still die for their faith. Tertillian wrote in his Apologeticum that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church. Because this is God, the one true God that we worship, faith does not shrink in the face of persecution--it grows.

So I challenge Christians everywhere to pray for the martyrs who are losing their lives in the Middle East, for the families who are losing loved ones, and for those who fear for their lives every day. Let's not forget them. Also to strengthen the love in our hearts and increase our understanding for them, here's some further reading:

And consider a donation to one of the ministries that were created specifically to help the persecuted church:

Open Doors USA or The Voice of the Martyrs