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As some of you may know, my husband is a Chaplain for First Responders. He works with local Police, Sheriff, Fire, EMS and Dispatchers. He visits these various stations and offers emotional and spiritual support and a helping hand when needed. The call he gets most often is to give a death notification. Which means he has the job of telling someone that their close family member has died, usually because of a tragic unexpected accident.
Very rarely does a week go by that he isn’t called out to give a death notification. As you might imagine, I hear about most calls he goes on, including the death notifications, as well as the follow-ups.
Death is something we all must face at a time unknown. When asked why we must die, the response is usually “because we can’t live forever”. As a believer in Jesus, I think we (Christians), those who believe in God and have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, can and will live forever. Not forever here on this earth, but eternally in heaven and someday the new earth with Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of God.
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Romans 8:34
Recently, I heard that a dear friend, who had been fighting her second battle with cancer, had weeks, possibly days, to live. My heart was overwhelmed with sorrow. I thought about her being a light in the community and to anyone she came in contact with. She has a true servants heart with a desire to build the Kingdom of God and share the love of Christ.
I immediately began lifting my sweet friend in prayer, asking God Almighty for a miracle. I believed that He had cured her the first time around, so I asked Him to do it again. A day or two later, I heard things were not looking good, so I added to my prayer. I asked that if He were calling her, His child, home that He would allow her to slip away from us into His loving arms filled with His peace, feeling calm and with no pain.
The next evening, the world lost an amazing woman, a true light.
For all those who are affected by this devastating loss, I am overwhelmed with sorrow. I pray God will reveal Himself to them in ways that fill them with peace and comfort as they process their grief and adjust to the loss of the relationship they had with her.
For my sister in Christ, I am filled with joyous praise. Why?
- She has reached her eternal home in heaven with Jesus.
- I will get to see her again, when God calls me, to my eternal home.
- Her sorrow, tears and pain have come to an end.
- God blessed me, and many others, by knowing her
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4
My heart breaks for everyone across the world who does not know God, chooses to hold Him at arms length or who simply reject Him. I cannot imagine living eternally without experiencing God’s love, grace and mercy, which we all receive at some level as we walk through this life here on earth.
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the gift of eternal life with You, through the life Your Son Jesus gave for us. I pray you would soften the heart of those who do not know you so they would see You through the love, compassion and help they receive from others, Amen.
The Fruit of the Spirit this week is Love. I’ve chosen a strawberry since it’s often used to represent love due to its shape that’s similar to a heart.
When you love someone, their happiness is important to you. You behave in a kind and caring way toward them and wish to protect and support them, in a selfless manner.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.1 Corinthians 13:1-3
The above scripture tells us that it’s pointless to say, know or do anything without love. Love is the key to making an impact for the Kingdom of God. What are ways you can demonstrate love in the way you speak, through what you know or how you react?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
These verses tell us, as discussed in an earlier post (Godly Love), what love, in the eyes of God, look like. I use this scripture as a checklist to see where I’m struggling (usually in multiple areas). It helps me know what I should be praying for. I find myself having a hard time not keeping a record of people’s wrongs, which then causes me to have a hard time trusting. What aspect of love are you struggling with right now?
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13
This piece of scripture opens with the statement ‘love never fails’ and ends by telling us that the three gifts from the Holy Spirit to remain are faith, hope and love, with love being the most important to have. The speculations, words and knowledge of man will fade away, but our faith, hope and love in God will never fail us. This makes me want to focus my attention more on the Word of God, than of man, because the Bible is the key to our hope and faith, which will lead us to a love that never fails.
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for Your Word, and the guidance it gives with the help of the Holy Spirit. I pray we would love You and others, even those we see as enemies, the way You love us, Amen.
The Fruit of the Spirit this week is Joy. I’ve chosen a watermelon because it’s a fruit I usually eat in the summer months, which means the weather is most likely hot, and experiencing the heat (90+) brings me great joy.
Joy is a feeling of great happiness. It’s when you are pleased or happy. Joy is when you experience an emotion of great delight caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.
Rejoice always ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16
When you encounter joy you can’t help but rejoice. You show or express outwardly, the joy you feel. When I’m experiencing a joyous moment, my go to reaction is usually to cry or weep. For example, I recently sent my son off, on his 13th birthday, to camp with a group from our church. I was extremely happy for him and excited to hear, when he returned, how he encountered God while there. This brought me great joy, so of course I had many moments, while saying our goodbyes, of secretly sobbing behind my sunglasses. How do you usually react when overcome with joy?
Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. ~Psalm 47:1
Praising God during worship on Sunday mornings fills me with joy and I often find myself unable to sing (not that I could). I become overcome with joy thinking of what God has done for me through His Son, Jesus. I use to try desperately to hold back the tears, afraid it would make someone uncomfortable or I would be seen as an over emotional weirdo. I can handle the later, because in reality, I am. What brings you great joy?
Do not be full of joy when the one who hates you falls. Do not let your heart be glad when he trips. The Lord will see it and will not be pleased, and He will turn away His anger from him. ~Proverbs 24:17-18
There are times, as explained in Proverbs 24, when it is not a proper time to feel joy. When we do let ourselves express joy, outwardly or even within our hearts or minds, we can lose a blessing from God.
True joy is a gift given to us through the Holy Spirit. When our hearts and minds are focused on the goodness of God we can experience joy, regardless of our circumstances.
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to see the joy you offer us rather than the joys within the world. I pray we would keep the worldly things behind us as we focus on Jesus and what He has done for us, Amen.
The Fruit of the Spirit this week is Peace. I’ve chosen grapes because they grow together in a group, a community. We grow best, when together with a community, rather than alone. A community does better as a whole when its members feel at peace and not restless.
Peace has many different definitions and is described in assorted ways by various people. How would you explain peace?
Those who experience peace are not easily disturbed and feel calm and not worried about life in general. People who encounter peace live and work well together with others in a friendly way.
When you are at peace, you feel secure, your mind is free from annoyance, distraction, anxiety and obsession. You are untroubled, tranquil and content. Are you at peace within your circumstances today?
Experiencing peace has nothing to do with having an easy life or your circumstances. How you react in different situations in your life can show others if you are at peace or in turmoil. Would other describe you at a person at peace or in turmoil?
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9
I find this passage in Philippians is comforting as well as encouraging. It reminds me to bring every situation, with a thankful heart, to God, because God alone can offer us peace as we walk through the trials and tribulations of life. As we pray, talk with God, seek to have a relationship with Him, He will be with us. God doesn’t wish for us to be anxious about anything. He calls us to bring all our troubles to him, so we can experience the peace He desires us to have. How have you experienced God’s peace?
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the peace you offer us, regardless of our sinful nature. I pray we would turn our troubles over to you before they can cause havoc in our heart and mind. My we seek Your peace and not the peace offered from the world, Amen.
The Fruit of the Spirit this week is Patience. I’ve chosen a pomegranate because it’s a fruit that takes time and effort to eat. You cannot simply grab it and take a bite. You must work at it. First open it, and then get through the maze of its inner pieces to get to the scrumptious juicy morsels inside. This my friend takes patience.
Patience is being able to stay calm and not get annoyed under any circumstance. A patient person can also bear provocation, misfortune or pain without complaining, losing their temper or becoming irritated. A patient person is quiet, works with steady perseverance and is even-tempered.
Patience is the one thing I often hear we should not pray for, because God will answer by giving us a situation in which patience is needed. I don’t know about you, but I think patience is the most difficult Fruit of the Spirit to master. When have you seen someone demonstrate patience? How did it affect your mood or behavior?
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14
As it says in Colossians, we as believers in Christ Jesus, have the ability to call upon His power, which will strengthen us, equipping us with the patience needed within our circumstances. When we lose our temper or become irritated, it’s because we have taken our focus off our heavenly Father and looked to our own selfish desires or needs. You see, only God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit can enable us to demonstrate true patience in all situations.
I lack patience with my family more often than I should. I lose my temper when they don’t treat me the way I think they should and then I fail greatly at being quiet. I can even get irritated when they don’t take my advice and do what I think they should. Imagine that! When have you lost your patience? Without a doubt, I always seem to lose mine when I don’t take that second to call upon Jesus in the difficult times.
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank You for Your patience with us. You shower us with love, grace and mercy every day, offering guidance. I pray we would call upon the power of Jesus and the help of the Holy Spirit, so we too may serve with patience in all areas of our lives, Amen.
The Fruit of the Spirit this week is Kindness. I’ve chosen an apple to represent kindness because students often give teachers an apple as a way of saying thank you, or at least they use to. When a student gives a teacher an apple, it’s an act of kindness.
Kindness is a state of being. It’s when you choose to be friendly, generous or considerate of others. I think kindness is contagious. When we act this way toward others, it inspires them to respond kindly to those they encounter, which causes a ripple affect.
You are acting with kindness when you behave in a gentle, caring and helpful way toward others. When you make an effort to help clean up a mess, even when you didn’t take part in making it. Kindness is shown when we check in on someone that we know is going through a difficult time. Who in your life is God calling you to check in on?
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
Kindness is not causing disruption or preventing something from happening, as it should. I have a hard time with this one. I tend to argue with God and His plan and timing of things. I get excited, then impatient, and try to make things happen in my way when I think it should happen.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
We are not being an example of kindness when we behave in a mean, harsh or cruel manner, showing ill will or hostility toward someone or something. This means that when you don’t get what you wanted (when eating out or going to a movie) having a bad attitude is not an acceptable behavior. It’s seen as being rude and unappreciative. I know I’m guilty of being one of the first to point out when someone else has a bad attitude but am usually blind to my own bad behavior.
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9
As it says in 1 Peter, we are to be a blessing, show kindness, even when kindness is not being shown to you. Who in your life can use a dose of kindness?
My prayer to us today ~ Father God, You lavish us with your kindness daily, even when we do not deserve it. I pray the Holy Spirit would open our eyes and heart to see how we may lavish others with kindness, Amen.
The Fruit of the Spirit this week is goodness. I’ve chosen a banana to represent goodness because a banana is a good addition to many things, such as pancakes or oatmeal. People have the choice, multiple times a day, to be a good addition or not so good addition to circumstances throughout their day.
Goodness is the quality of being kind, helpful and honest. When our actions portray these qualities, we are choosing to bring goodness into our situation or circumstance. Other characteristics of goodness are when we strive for moral excellence, act generously or think and do what is right.
Too often, people act in a way that is not good because they let their feelings over ride their common sense. This could cause us to act in an unfriendly way, create white lies or intentionally hinder another in their efforts.
We constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 2 Thessalonians 1:11
Isn’t that verse in 2 Thessalonians encouraging? We can ask God to fill others with His goodness. When we feel someone is not being good in a situation, we can pray for God to give them the desire to do the right thing as well as help us see the goodness in this person or situation.
Better yet, we can ask others to pray for us to be filled with His Goodness. We don’t naturally have the desire to be good. Naturally, we want to do what we feel is good for us, which is usually not good for us or anyone else around us. By God’s power, and His power alone, we can be filled with the desire to do what is good, in God’s eyes, in all situations. We still have to act on this desire, but having the desire is half the battle.
I often have a hard time knowing the difference between what is good for me or a situation or circumstance. Others easily sway me, especially when they speak passionately about something. That’s why I lean heavily on the counsel of the Holy Spirit to discern between what I feel is good and how God desires me to portray His goodness. When have you made an effort to show goodness when you felt like acting badly? How do you think that situation would have turned out if you let your feelings run the show?
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, You are good to all, regardless of our circumstances. I pray You would teach us to be good to one another, regardless of how we are feeling, Amen.
The Fruit of the Spirit this week is faithfulness. I’ve chosen a lemon to represent faithfulness because a little lemon goes a long way. If we add a little to avocado it keeps it from turning ugly and brown. Adding a little to water gives it a sweet refreshing taste. If we add just a little faith in Jesus to our daily life, He can quench our thirst in the areas of our lives that are dry and parched.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. ~Hebrews 11:1
Someone who is faithful will remain firm in their belief and support of something and/or someone, regardless of what the world around them says.
Faithfulness is having the ability to give an accurate account of things without speaking falsely.
Remaining faithful means not neglecting something and/or someone because it’s easier or more convenient. When have you avoided something because you felt the task was just to big or difficult?
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~1 Corinthians 10:13
This verse in 1 Corinthians is one of my favorites. It a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness to people. God not only knows about every temptation I’m faced with and what I need to defeat it, but He offers me His help to defeat it while filling me with His peace. That’s pretty amazing don’t you think?
So what does it look like for us to be faithful to God in our daily lives? For starters, I think it’s spending time in God’s Word every day, along with quiet time with Him so He can reveal His truths to us. I think being faithful to God also includes being faithful to those He puts in our lives, whether it is for a brief season or a lifetime.
Someone who is faithful to others is known as reliable, loyal and trusted. They are true to their word, meaning their actions match what they say they will or will not do. Do others describe you this way?
My struggle with faithfulness is my expectation of others being faithful. I take it too personal when they fail to be true to their word or when they neglect me or something I need/want. I often put my happiness or contentment in the hands of others. I must remember my true happiness, joy and peace can only come from God. When someone falls short of being faithful to me, it’s because of their struggles and temptations. It usually has nothing to do with me. These are times I can be faithful to God, by offering my grace to those who disappoint or hurt me, just as Jesus offers His grace to me each and every day.
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, You are faithful and true and sent Your Son, Jesus to be our perfect example of faithfulness. Lord, I pray for your compassion so we may be faithful to others, Amen.
The Fruit of the Spirit this week is gentleness. I’ve chosen a peach to represent gentleness because they are easily bruised, so we need to handle them with care. Similar to the people in our lives. We must treat every relationship delicately, because people are easily bruised.
Having gentleness is behaving in a kind, calm manner, being polite and soothing regardless of the people or environment around you.
The dictionary says gentleness is a person with a mild temperament or someone who isn’t harsh or rough. It also says it’s someone who isn’t affected by criticism.
Gentleness is an attribute of God I struggle with daily. I find myself being more abrasive than mild when seeking things to fulfill my to-do list. I often show up to the church mid week with a list of things I need to take care of or check on and feel like I’m always on a time crunch. I know it should always be about the people I work with, not the job or task I do with them, but I struggle it. I think I more often than not, run in, blast a list of needs and run back out leaving everyone’s heads spinning. It takes every ounce of effort I have to interact in a gentle manner and not like a crazy person who’s had too much caffeine.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. Philippians 4:5
Gentleness is asking someone how their day is going before asking for help. It’s gently encouraging someone to make a change without judging their actions. It’s a willingness to accept a decision or suggestion gracefully from another. It’s being friendly and social in an uncomfortable or awkward situation. Do people find you easily to approachable?
Gentleness is not yelling when someone accidently breaks a tile on the kitchen counter. It’s not reacting harshly when a flying dart hits you in the face. It’s choosing not to tell someone how much they annoy you when they’ve decided to let you know how stupid they think you are. It’s politely explaining yourself even when it’s the 20th time. It’s completing a task for someone, without being asked, and expecting nothing in return. When was the last time you stepped in to help someone without being asked?
“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29
Jesus is our one true example of someone who is gentle. He offers us the gentleness we need to experience in our life as well as teach us, through the Holy Spirit, how to be the example of gentleness to others.
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, You gently call us to You, through Your word and those You place in our lives. I pray we would be a reflection of Your gentleness, Amen.
The Fruit of the Spirit this week is self-control. I’ve chosen a lime to represent self-control because when we don’t have self-control in front of others it can leave them with a sour taste.
Having self-control is the ability not to show your feelings or not do things that your feelings make you want to do.
The dictionary states self-control is to refrain or avoid or be stable, calm or harmonious. It also says having self-control means not to agitate, excite, indulge or upset. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a very tall order. I find myself challenged with all of the above almost hourly, especially when with my family.
Self-control is not cursing loudly when you step in a pile of cat vomit as it squishes between your toes. It’s not reacting rudely when someone interrupts you. It’s not screaming at someone when they accidently ram their scooter into your leg.
Self-control is asking politely with a smile, even when it feels like it’s the 100th time you’ve asked. It’s being careful with others things, even if they have not been careful with yours. It’s smiling and calmly listening when someone’s yelling at you because they’re upset. It’s resisting a third cupcake even though you know it would taste oh so good.
Self-control is not letting your circumstances dictate your thoughts, words or actions. Having self-control is putting the feelings of someone else above your own and acting or speaking in a way to be helpful, not harmful.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ Titus 2:11-13
As hard as I try to be an example of a wife, mom, daughter, friend or Christian who has self-control, I fail miserably every day. Whenever I do appear to have self-control, it’s not by my own doing. It’s only by the grace of God, the help of the Holy Spirit, that I am able to resist reacting in a hysterical awful ridiculous manner throughout my day. Praise be to God for His goodness!
What does self-control look like to you? When have you witnessed it? How have you been an example of self-control? When do you find it difficult to have self-control?
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, You gave us Your Son, Jesus, who was the perfect example of self-control. I pray for strength to choose what is right, even though it may not be easy, Amen.