Charles Stanley – The Signature of the Spirit

Charles Stanley

Walking in the Spirit involves moment-by-moment sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. But is there an objective standard by which we can measure the vitality of our relationship with Him?

Yes, there is. Fruit is the telling sign. It is not simply one mark of a Spirit-filled life; it is the preeminent mark—the public testimony to a believer’s sensitivity to and dependency on the Holy Spirit.

Those who walk in the Spirit possess the following nine virtues: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). I believe there’s a reason Paul simply listed these virtues and moved on. They aren’t goals to pursue. Why? The fruit of the Spirit was never intended to be a demonstration of our dedication and resolve. Instead, it’s the evidence of our dependency on and sensitivity to the promptings of the Spirit.

How else can we characterize believers who walk in the Spirit? The closer you get to them, the better they look. They radiate integrity and trustworthiness. They don’t rely on personality, intimidation, or trumped-up enthusiasm to win you over. They accept themselves as they are and accept you as well. They’re the people you want to be like because of the depth of their character.

We’re not talking about perfection. They still have the flesh to contend with. They can be as unkind and insensitive as anybody else. But when they realize their sin, they are quick to apologize. They are aware that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they can rise above their sinful desires. Tuning in to His presence results in spiritual fruit that remains even during difficult times.

Unconditional love in a marriage or friendship shines brightest in the midst of our differences; in a similar way, the fruit of the Spirit demonstrates its divine source when circumstances and relationships take a turn for the worse. Then it becomes most apparent that the source of the Christian’s abiding character is something that lies deep within. When all the crutches and props are kicked away, and the believer is still standing, no one can argue that his uniqueness was simply a by-product of his environment.

Spirit-filled believers don’t win every battle. Doubt, temptation, hurt, and disappointment trip them up from time to time. But they don’t dwell on their missteps. They refocus their attention on the big picture, acknowledging the truth that their peace is from the Lord. Then they move on. They know “the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).

The fruit of the Spirit is just that: fruit produced by God. When we abide in Christ and allow Him to live His life through us, the result is character that endures despite the chaos of life.

The fruit of the Spirit includes:

Love—for those who do not love in return.

Joy—in the midst of painful circumstances.

Peace—when something you were counting on doesn’t come through.

Patience—when things aren’t going fast enough for you.

Kindness—toward those who treat you unkindly.

Goodness—toward those who have been intentionally insensitive to you.

Faithfulness—when friends have proven unfaithful.

Gentleness—toward those who have handled you roughly.

Self-control—in the midst of intense temptation.

It is not uncommon for the Spirit’s fruit to take us by surprise. I have seen this happen many times, especially in the lives of new believers. When we shift our focus from self to the Holy Spirit, He can work freely in our lives. The results are uncharacteristic character, true change, and fruit that remains (John 15:16).

That is the nature of fruit. We don’t produce it; we discover it. As you begin walking in the Spirit, you will finish a debate with your kids and realize you didn’t raise your voice. You will walk away from a heated conversation and think, Wow, I didn’t lose my temper. You will be asked to go somewhere you have no business going, and you will hear yourself saying, “No, thank you.”

Eventually you will overhear someone make a comment to the effect of, “I don’t know what’s gotten into him, but he’s really different.” And you will realize that person is right, though not because you set out to change. Transformation will happen only when you surrender to the promptings of the Spirit. Remember, fruit is not something you work to attain. It’s something that can take you by surprise as the Holy Spirit produces it in your life.

Adapted from “The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life” (1992).

 

Related Resources

Related Video

Walking in the Holy Spirit

Do you want to live with real peace, contentment and joy in life? Do you want to have the power to overcome temptation or persevere through adversity? (Watch Walking in the Holy Spirit.)

 

Our Daily Bread — Hands Off!

Our Daily Bread

Psalm 46

Be still, and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10

I remember bobbing for apples when I was a child, a game that required me to have my hands tied behind my back. Trying to grab a floating apple with my teeth without the use of my hands was a frustrating experience. It reminded me of the vital importance of our hands—we eat with them, greet with them, and use them to do just about anything that is vital to our existence.

When I read Psalm 46:10, I find it interesting that God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The Hebrew word for “still” means to “cease striving,” or, literally, “to put our hands at our side.” At first glance this seems to be a rather risky piece of advice, since our first instinct in trouble is to keep our hands on the situation and control it to our advantage. God in essence is saying, “Hands off! Let Me deal with your problem, and rest assured that the outcome is in My hands.”

But knowing when to take our hands off and let God work can make us feel vulnerable. Unless, that is, we believe that God is indeed “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (v.1) and that “the LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (v.7). In the midst of trouble, we can rest in God’s care. —Joe Stowell

Lord, forgive me for always wanting

to manage my own affairs.

Teach me to trust in Your wise and timely intervention

in my life and to keep my hands out of Your way.

When we put our problems in God’s hands, He puts His peace in our hearts.

Bible in a year: Jeremiah 27-29; Titus 3

Insight

We often think of this passage in times of busyness and stress, and we emphasize that the stillness means “to cease striving.” But the imagery in verses 2-4 and 8-9 (the destruction of the earth and the weapons of war) suggests that even when self-preservation is the aim, our hands should be at our sides and our trust should be in God.

Alistair Begg – Inward Trembling

Alistair Begg

Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.    Psalm 119:53

My soul, do you feel this holy trembling at the sins of others? For if you do not, you lack inward holiness. David’s cheeks were wet with rivers of waters because of prevailing unholiness. Jeremiah desired eyes like fountains that he might lament the iniquities of Israel, and Lot was deeply troubled by the conduct of the men of Sodom. Those upon whom the mark was set in Ezekiel’s vision were those who sighed and cried for the sins of Jerusalem. Gracious souls cannot help but be grieved to see what pains men take to go to hell. They know the evil of sin experimentally [experientially], and they are alarmed to see others flying like moths into its blaze.

Sin makes the righteous shudder because it violates a holy law that it is in every man’s highest interest to keep; it pulls down the pillars of the nation. Sin in others horrifies a believer because it makes him think of the baseness of his own heart: When he sees a transgressor he is reminded of his own frailty and vulnerability: “He fell today, and I may fall tomorrow.” Sin to a believer is horrible because it crucified the Savior; he sees in every iniquity the nails and spear. How troubling it should be when the Christian learns to tolerate rather than shrink from it in disgust.

Each of us must examine his heart. It is an awful thing to insult God to His face. The good God deserves better treatment; the great God claims it; the just God will have it or repay His adversary to his face. An awakened heart trembles at the audacity of sin and stands alarmed at the contemplation of its punishment. How monstrous a thing is rebellion! How dreadful a doom is prepared for the ungodly! My soul, never laugh at sin’s fooleries, lest you begin to smile at sin itself. It is your enemy, and your Lord’s enemy: Learn to detest it and to distance yourself from it, for only then can you give evidence of the possession of holiness, without which no one can see the Lord.

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The family reading plan for November 2, 2014 * Hosea 8 * Psalm 123, 124, 125

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Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Charles Spurgeon – The exaltation of Christ

CharlesSpurgeon

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Suggested Further Reading: John 17:1-5

Look at him! Can your imagination picture him? Behold his transcendent glory! The majesty of kings is swallowed up; the pomp of empires dissolves like the white mist of the morning before the sun; the brightness of assembled armies is eclipsed. He in himself is brighter than the sun, more terrible than armies with banners. See him! See him! Oh! Hide your heads, you monarchs; put away your gaudy pageantry, you lords of this poor narrow earth! His kingdom knows no bounds; without a limit his vast empire stretches out itself. Above him all is his; beneath him many a step are angels, and they are his; and they cast their crowns before his feet. With them stand his elect and ransomed, and their crowns too are his. And here upon this lower earth stand his saints, and they are his, and they adore him; and under the earth, among the infernals, where devils growl their malice, even there is trembling and adoration; and where lost spirits, with wailing and gnashing of teeth for ever lament their being, even there, there is the acknowledgement of his Godhead, even though the confession helps to make the fire of their torments. In heaven, in earth, in hell, all knees bend before him, and every tongue confesses that he is God. If not now, yet in the time that is to come this shall be carried out, that every creature of God’s making shall acknowledge his Son to be “God over all, blessed for ever. Amen.” Oh! My soul anticipates that blessed day, when this whole earth shall bend its knee before its God willingly! I do believe there is a happy era coming, when there shall not be one knee unbent before my Lord and Master.

For meditation: For meditation: Those who refuse to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ in this life (2 John 7) will be forced to acknowledge him in the next—but it will be too late to do them any good. Those who trust in him now will enjoy praising him for ever.

Sermon no. 101

2 November (1856)

John MacArthur – The Hope That Assures

John MacArthur

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1).

Faith is the solid ground on which we stand as we await the fulfillment of God’s promises.

An elderly man who, on his seventy-fifth birthday, received an invitation to fly over the little West Virginia town in which he had spent his entire life. Although he had never before flown, the man accepted the gracious offer.

After circling the town for about twenty minutes, the pilot safely returned his passenger to the ground. The man’s grandson greeted him excitedly, asking, “Were you scared, Grandpa?” “No,” he replied sheepishly, “but I never did put my full weight down.”

Unlike that hesitant grandfather, true faith trusts fully in its object. For the Christian, that means resting in God and His promises. That’s the primary characteristic of each faithful individual listed in Hebrews 11. They all believed God and responded accordingly.

People often confuse faith with a wistful longing that something, however unlikely, will come to pass in the future. But “assurance” in Hebrews 11:1 speaks of essence and reality— the real thing, as opposed to mere appearance. Faith, then, involves absolute certainty.

For example, the Old Testament saints had the promise of a coming Messiah who would take away sin. They believed God, even though their understanding of Messiah was incomplete and somewhat vague. They knew their hopes would be fulfilled, and that assurance dominated their lives.

It’s the same for New Testament believers. Peter said, “Though you have not seen [Christ], you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:8-9).

Man’s natural tendency is to trust only in the things he can see, hear, touch, or taste. But our physical senses may lie, whereas God cannot (Titus 1:2). Far better to believe God and trust in His promises.

Suggestions for Prayer; Which promises of God are especially meaningful to you today? Thank Him for them and reaffirm your commitment to living on the basis of His Word.

For Further Study; Skim Hebrews 11 and note all the divine promises you find there. To gain a fuller understanding of each one, find other Scripture references that mention the same promises.

Joyce Meyer – It’s Unconditional

Joyce meyer

But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. —Romans 5:8

According to God’s Word, He loved us before the world was formed, before we loved Him or believed in Him. God does not require us to earn His love, and we must not require others to earn ours. We should realize that love is something we are to become; it is not something we do and then don’t do. We cannot turn it on and off, depending on whom we want to give it to and how they are treating us.

As believers in Jesus Christ, the love we are to manifest to the world is the unconditional love of God flowing through us to them. Our love has conditions and limits; His does not.

Loving people unconditionally is a very big challenge. I would be tempted to say it is impossible, but God tells us to do it, and He never commands us to do something and then leaves us to perform it on our own. His grace (His power, ability, and favor) is sufficient for us, which means He enables us to do what He has called us to do.

God actually sends some people into our lives to function as “sand¬paper” to help smooth our rough edges. Learning to walk in love with unlovely people is one of the most important tools God uses to develop our spiritual maturity.

Love Others Today: “Lord, give me grace to love everyone in my life, even the difficult ones.”

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Judging the World

dr_bright

“For He has set a day for justly judging the world by the man He has appointed, and has pointed Him out by bringing Him back to life again” (Acts 17:31).

Why does God command men and women to repent? And why does He expect you and me to relay His message to them?

The answer is simple: because “He has set a day for justly judging the world.” And if people refuse to be penitent and thus become pardoned, they must be condemned.

“Justly,” of course, can be interpreted: “according to the rules of strict justice.” And who will do the judging? The man God has appointed – His only Son, Jesus Christ; the one He has pointed out to us clearly by bringing Him back to life again.

Jesus, you will remember, declared that He would judge the nations (John 5:25,26 and Matthew 25). God confirmed the truth of those declarations by raising Him from the dead – giving His sanction to what the Lord Jesus has said, for surely God would not work a miracle on behalf of an imposter.

What comfort and help can you and I receive from these truths today? Surely, this is a reminder that God is still on the throne; He is in control; nothing is going on in the world without His knowledge and consent.

Further, we are reminded of God’s justice, which assures us that He will always do right in behalf of His children. That falls right in line with Romans 8:28, of course, which concerns all things working together for our good.

Bible Reading: Psalm 9:7-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: World turmoil will not upset me, for I know the God who sits on the throne – and who rules over all

Presidential Prayer Team; CP – Stepping Up

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On September 11, 2001, Ronald C. Fazio held the door open on the ninety-ninth floor of the World Trade Center South Tower and directed people to safety, saving their lives while sacrificing his. In his honor, his son, Robert J. Fazio Ph.D., founded Hold the Door for Others, a nonprofit organization to “empower people to grow through loss and adversity.” Fazio said, “My dad was not a ‘leader’ as most of us would describe a leader. He was a quiet, humble man.”

He took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people.

Mark 8:6

During Christ’s ministry, thousands of people who came to hear Him and receive healing had no food. Jesus stepped up and provided for them through a miracle and by directing His disciples to help. What if Jesus didn’t take responsibility? Had He sent them off with no food, Christ said they would have fainted along the way (Mark 8:3).

Large crowds can be helpless without effective leadership. Is God asking you to step up? Thank God for this country’s leaders. Pray for His will to be done in the decisions they make. Then ask Him to show you ways you can humbly lead.

Recommended Reading: Mark 9:33-41