15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. — 1 Peter 3:15, 16 NIV
In the Old and New Testament, the word “heart” refers not to the physical organ, but to the center of all of our life processes. The “heart” is the seat of our minds, emotions, and wills. Therefore, it refers to our thought patterns, our attitudes and our desires. Our thoughts become actions which become habits which become our lifestyle. The things and/or people that we spend the most time thinking about, in reality, are the things that control our lives. This is characterized by the following verse:
45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. — Luke 6:45 NIV
Revere can be defined as “honor, look up to, or put on a pedestal”. A throne is a pedestal and our “hearts” are the center of our lives. So, if we revere God, we honor Him by putting Him on the throne of our hearts and make Him the center of our lives. Our decisions and thus, our lifestyles, will be examples of the Person we love and admire the most. We will want others to follow our Leader. In light of all this, we need to spend the majority of our time thinking about our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. If we do this, we will “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” We need to do this with love, gentleness and respect. Just as our checkbooks show the patterns of our physical lifestyles, so our conversations show the patterns of our thought life and our spiritual lives. It is a law unto itself:
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. — Romans 8:5 NIV
So, let us, along with the Psalmist, ask God to create a clean heart in each of us. We need clean hearts if we are going to fulfill the sole purpose for which we were created and that is to glorify God.
31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. — 1 Cor. 10:31 NKJV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. — Romans 8:5 NLT
How can we know if we are being led by God’s Spirit or by our flesh? If we are giving in to the flesh, we will be prideful, we will harbor hate, anger, resentment and bitterness. The acts that our flesh produces are illicit sex, perversion, promiscuity, idolatry, drug use, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, conflict, factions, envy, drunkenness, wild partying, and similar things. If we are Spirit led, we will show others love and respect. God’s Spirit produces (in us) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We should all take a few moments alone with God and examine our actions for the last few days. What voice are listening to? Who are we following? Flesh? or Spirit?
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
5 But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. — 1 John 2:5 NLT
Since God loved us so much that He gave Himself on the cross for our redemption, we should live our lives for His glory. Living that lifestyle and showing love for each other is how the world can see that we belong to Jesus Christ. If His word abides in us and we abide in Him, that relationship will be reflected in how we respond to situations in our daily lives. Bitter and sweet water can not come from the same stream. A lifestyle that reflects glory to God will be one that is characterized by the fruits of God’s Spirit. Grace, kindness, love, patience, joy, gentleness should be the fruit that we produce. Before we react to a stressful situation, we need to whisper a silent prayer. Counting to ten might keep you from saying something hurtful, but prayer will give you the words that are life-giving and beneficial to you and the other people involved in the situation. Don’t be deceived into thinking that we should just go with the flow. God has put you where you are to make a difference in the lives of the people around you. Sometimes that requires us to step out of our comfort zone and show love to people who are seemingly unlovable. We are the light that God has placed in this world to dispel the darkness. God is just as concerned about what you say to those in the workplace as He is about your Pastor’s sermon on Sunday morning. There are words of life that need to be spoken, but they must be spoken in love.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.—Gal. 5:22-26 (NIV)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
Once Jesus had finished the work on the Cross and was resurrected, He was given all authority in heaven and earth. Because we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we have access to that the same power and authority as Jesus.
32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?–Romans 8:32 (NIV)
So, we should all exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in our lifestyles. (Note: fruit is singular, we don’t just get a little at a time, we get access to all of it immediately) A living God, a resurrected Jesus and an indwelling Holy Spirit is what separates Christianity from all the religions in the world. But, for the world to know that, we have to let them know that we have access to all the fruit of the Spirit. If we don’t have peace in the middle of the storm, show love even when we are misunderstand and have joy in our hearts at all times, are people going to believe that what we have is any different than what they have? We must crucify the flesh if we are going to stay in step with the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit does not give us a haughty, holier-than-thou attitude, so we must speak and walk in humbleness.
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.—Eph. 4:1-3 (NIV)
11 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. 13 And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 15 For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords.—1 Timothy 6:11-15 (NLT)
God is waiting to show you the way.
We are to “reject every kind of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). In Matt 5:6, we are reminded “to hunger and thirst after righteousness and we will be filled”. Every day, there is spiritual warfare being waged around us. We must fight the good fight and stay committed to obeying Jesus Christ and His commands to us. We must continue this fight until we are called home to be with Jesus or until He returns to take us home with Him. If we remain steadfast in the faith, Jesus has a home waiting for us that is so magnificent and wonderful that the human mind cannot even imagine what it will be like. No matter how hard the struggle here on earth, heaven will, indeed, be more than worth it all.
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.–1 Cor. 3:10-15 (NASB)
God is waiting to show you the way.
Continuing our thoughts on building God’s Temple, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the foundation is laid, because He is the foundation. If we try to build on any other foundation, the storms and stresses of life will bring the house down. We must be careful in selecting the material we use to build on the foundation. If we build with world philosophies and religions, they will not stand and the work will be destroyed. But if we allow God’s Spirit to show us the materials and how to use them, then our work will stand. The gold, silver, and precious stones of our building will be faith, hope, and love. These three will abide forever. Anything less will not stand the test of time. If we build with these materials, the Temple will be decorated with the fruits of the Spirit:
22 But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their own sinful selves. They have given up their old selfish feelings and the evil things they wanted to do. 25 We get our new life from the Spirit, so we should follow the Spirit. 26 We must not be proud or make trouble with each other or be jealous of each other.–Galatians 5:22-26 (NCV)
If we build with wood, hay, and straw, these would be such things as pride, greed, and hate, they will not stand the test of fire. The soul will be saved but it will be as if were snatched from the very jaws of death, barely escaping the fires of hell. Let us choose to live and walk after God’s Spirit and the example set by Jesus Christ.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.–Galatians 5:22-26 (NLT)
God is waiting to show you the way.
If we are obedient to the leading of God’s Spirit in our lives, people will know that we are different from the world. They should be able to see that our focus and our desires are not on pleasing ourselves, but on pleasing God. If they can see that in our daily lifestyle, then they will be attracted to Christ because they, too, are looking for love, joy, and peace. If our lifestyles are not producing these fruits, then perhaps, we need to spend more time with the Keeper of the vineyard. He alone can produce this kind of fruit. But He won’t force us to produce it, even though He could. We must be willing to allow Him to work in us pruning the dead limbs and giving new life to the rest. Pruning is not pleasant to the plant, yet, it is necessary for growth. I once owned an arbor of Golden Muscadines. Each year, the vines produced smaller and less fruit. I pruned the vines back to about 18 inches high and fertilized them. It took 2 years but when the vines came back, they were full of life and produced much larger fruit. The fruit was so abundant that I gave muscadines to the whole neighborhood. The fruit was also much sweeter. Allow God’s Holy Spirit to do the work inside you and you will love the end result.