Tag Archives: Fruit of the Spirit

Out of the Desert…

I have had my dry times–spiritually speaking–where it seems as though I am crawling  through molasses. Have you ever experienced that? Everything is just as it always is and I then begin to sense the growing barrenness in my life. That old feeling of walking alone and out of sync with the flow. Everyone else seems to be alive and excited to be serving God but for some reason, I feel blah spiritually!Those times have been too often and frankly I do not like being there. It is a pathway that is weighty and bordering on sorrow and dare I say depression? 

I have never been in a sand dessert but for a time I did live in the northern part of New Mexico. It is not quite the same but there are some similarities with the hot dry, summers. In a sand desert, there is some life but not a bustling flurry of activity as in a thriving forest. It is simply too hot and dry.This ugly cactus plant of mine is rather similar to the plants that grow in the desert. It tends to thrive on very little water and it is so ugly that I almost wish it would die so I could get rid of it. I think it is about 45 years old and as you can see it doesn’t get huge. What grows (very slowly I might add) are these ugly long fronds or whatever you call them with their prickly little edges (although not like the usual cacti with its thorns.) It sits rather lopsided in my pot and obstructs my husbands view of the television if I don’t turn it around the other way. 

My dry times can be just like that old cactus, dry, barren, lonely and fruitless. It really is a terrible place to be. I am not even nice to be around because I have no joy, motivation or energy. I just want to hang it up. Interestingly, it even causes those that I am around to get cranky, like my husband. My hard places don’t just effect me, they also have an impact on those around me. My co-workers know when Kimberly Dawn is going through rough times because I am usually a pretty joy-filled person. (Praise God!) But not with the weight of the world on my shoulders, pressing me down! Or a mind preoccupied with relationships gone awry. 

However, it is in these valleys where my sorrow is caused by my own poor choices. If you are a relational person like me, you know how important people are in your life, you need them to interact with and fellowship with and just to enjoy life with. Thank you Lord for creating fellowship with one another. But then a quirky communication takes place and an offense comes along and suddenly the joy has been robbed. I have reacted by making provision for the flesh, and harbor bitterness or jealousy in my heart and wham, down I go and it is time to linger in the desert for a few rounds about the mountain. My thoughts are possessed with wrong thinking. My reactions are very “me” centered around all my thoughts and hurt feelings. Woe is me, they don’t understand, what about my feelings on the issue and don’t I have a “right” to feel the way I do? Just look how they have hurt me! It is amazing what we will try to justify! 

When I go to bed at night, I want sweet thoughts and pleasurable memories of my day or week. I want to reflect on the goodness of the Lord and to be able to see His hand in motion throughout my day. If I am in the midst of a desert experience I can’t see any of that, just poor, miserable me. If I dwell too long in that place I become dryer, harder and more and more lifeless and bitter in my own defense. What an icky place to be! 

How in the world do I come to an end of my desert journey? Thanks be to God for the power of the Holy Spirit in spite of quenching His Spirit with my “me-nessmentality. Something jogs my heart and I begin to see that I am the problem not the other party. I’m the one who is holding on to the bitterness, unforgiveness, anger and resentment because all I can see is how mistreated I have been. God’s Word has sooo…much to say about the above list of excuses we use to stay in our desert-land: 

This Scripture from Matthew 5:23,24 really sheds a spotlight on relational issues out of sync:

So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

I am believing that my offering to God is not going to amount to anything with resentment at the root of my heart. And I have worshiped and wondered why I couldn’t sense His presence and wondered why He seemed so distant from me. 

From Romans 13:14 Paul tells,

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

And this includes along with all sorts of immoralities, strife and envy.  And once again from Mark 12:25

But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.

You have to admit that forgiveness is a huge issue in God’s eyes. I guess that means that I better make it a priority also. God says 7 times 70 and that if I cannot forgive then I too will not be forgiven. God forbid I don’t get a grasp on this one! So, what is my excuse now? Can I really justify my situation any longer? I don’t think so! Okay Holy Spirit, show me how to get myself to the watering hole ’cause I am so parched and desperately longing for Your presence once again. 

You see, with enough sunlight and just the right amount of water, that ugly old cactus does an amazing thing every once in a while. It unpredictably blooms. Sometimes only one or two but these huge gorgeous blooms come out of the most unlikely places. And like that blooming cactus, I too need adequate time in the “Son” so that I can produce fruit that will please my Father and bless others.  

How’s your heart today? Are you filled with bitterness and anger? Unforgiveness and resentments? The Lord would have us walking in the fruit of the Spirit which is right where I need to be so I want will exhibit those attributes toward others. It is through a victorious life that this fruit grows and is used to show others the love of Christ.

 Galatians 5:22,23

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.

Father, will You show me my unpleasantness and its root? I don’t want to be there anymore. I want the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in my life so that when others look at my life they see You. Help me to root out all the negative things like anger, resentment, bitterness, envy and strife those things that keep me in bondage. Set me free and even if I need to go to someone for forgiveness will You give me the grace to humble myself and approach that one so that we might be restored to fellowship with one another and with You? I trust that You will work out all the details of this in my life and that You will receive all the glory, honor and praise due Your Name. I will lean on Your promises and trust this to be resolved in Your perfect timing. Restore me Lord to Your presence and fill me with Your sweet Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ Name, Amen


It’s the Right Thing to Do!

I recently received a revelation dealing with relationships. More specifically in dealing with relationships between believers. I am pretty certain that we all have been in the situation where we have either had an injustice done to us by a brother or sister-in-the Lord or we see these things being done to another. I don’t know about you but my first reaction is “how could they, and they call themselves Christians.” Honestly, like it or not we have all been on either side of the situation.

Before I continue, I want to put in a disclaimer. As I was laying in bed last night the Lord prompted me to do so because some of you are going to react negatively to this…I am not referencing people who have issues with being abusive, neglectful, or controlling. I do address the issue of confronting one caught in sin later. I am saying that all of us at some time or another have either mistreated or observed one who has mistreated or taken advantage of a brother or sister-in-the-Lord. If you want to discuss this further with me please feel free to email me personally. I do understand!

It really takes a person that is mature in their walk to respond correctly–in love and with grace–to a situation like this. Most of the time we begin to rally the troops, spread the scenario around like jam so it gets good and sticky and makes the offender out to be a horrible person. Even though they really aren’t horrible but have treated another horribly.

You have to love when the Holy Spirit does a number on you as you enter into the battle zone and suddenly you are heavily impressed upon to see the error of the way you are thinking and responding toward an offender. (I will call the person an offender simply because they mistreated another brother or sister-in-the-Lord.)  In a particular situation, my first reaction was to stir the pot of gossip…do you know what so-and-so just did…I can’t believe they treated _______ like that!

Don’t we typically think that Christians wouldn’t treat each other that way? Come on, that es a wrong assumption. Let’s face it, we all walk in the flesh from time to time but the bottom line is we shouldn’t. Here is a passage of Scripture that hits this on the mark:

Galatians 5:13-16

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

And the fruit of the Spirit is, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…It is so easy to ignore some of the fruit, “longsuffering”, “kindness” and especially (for me that is) “self-control”. If we believe our instruction manual, it rather looks as though we have an obligation to one another, don’t you think?

Let’s go to an interesting story in the Old Testament where we see Noah enjoying the fruit of his labor, from his vineyard.

Genesis 9:20-24

Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. And he drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.

At this point Noah has done something foolish and been found out by his youngest son Ham. Ham then goes and make issue of it with his brothers Shem and Japheth. But they, instead of embarrassing their father, chose to cover his nakedness. As a cross reference to verse 21 we read in Proverbs 20:1 that “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.” The two brothers were looking out for their father’s reputation and they wouldn’t even look upon him in his embarrassing state.

Let me ask you, have you done foolishly as a believer? There are many scenarios in my mind that I can replay that I sure wish weren’t there. Times where I opened my mouth and inserted my foot and wished I could take back what was said. You see, if we love God and love others then we need to take this new command and live it out, first with our brothers and sisters. In our own eyes we might look better, we might be a better “Christian” or maybe we are the somebody that really needs to set that person straight! This from Proverbs really speaks loudly to me

Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV) “There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers”.

Now I can hear someone say wait a minute. Are you saying that we don’t expose their sin? There is a mandate on how to handle that. In Matthew 18 it talks directly of confronting one caught in sin. But before I go there I better be sure that the log is out of my eye and my motives are only out of love and for the betterment of my brother or sister.

I wonder what happens when a non-believer witnesses the correct response to the outrageous behaviour of another beleiver? I would like to think they see one who loves God and loves others. Not bringing shame to the offender and not being antagonistic or a false witness. Although, I confess that this is still not easy stuff to appropriate! For the worldly way and our natural tendency is self-motivated but the Christlike way is selfless. The world says to expose, embarrass and sling the insults because it makes us appear better and they the fool. Christ’s way is just the opposite, we do not damage the reputation of our brother or sister.

So I’m certain I won’t pass every test that comes along in this area. But, when I do act correctly and look out for the well-being of a brother or sister-in-the Lord, as obnoxious as they can be, I have peace with myself and God.  And interestingly enough even with that offensive person.

Father God, these aren’t easy lessons to learn but this is a battle I want to win for Christ’s sake. I ask for wisdom and discernment to quicken immediately within me so I can see when I am headed in the wrong direction with my thinking. When I feel like I have every right to be angry at someone for whatever reason, let me hear Your still small voice speak “not I, but Christ..” We are not in this to win battles but to win others to Christ and to exhibit Christ’s love in all kinds of situations in life. How else will they know we are different? Like the old song says, “they will know we are Christians by our love…” Thank you for teaching me these hard lessons and giving me the heart’s desire to love You and love others. I surrender once again my right for Your will. In the powerful, life-changing name of Jesus!

You Are Ready for Spring Aren’t You?

Well friends, winter dealt another blow. It was April 25th and another spring snow storm promising to deliver 6″ – 15″ so say the meteorologists.  Argh…I had crocuses already blooming and they were going to be covered with a blanket of snow the next morning. On top of that, we ended up postponing a trip to Bemidji to see the grandsons. How discouraging it is when our plans don’t work out.

I have this Scripture taped in main control at work that says:

“The Mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)

It seems that there a couple of ways to look at that verse with one

having a negative slant and the other quite a positive directive. The application for me is in understanding that my default is to always run ahead of God and make all my plans without consulting my Father. Well, you know how frustrating that can be when the plans don’t work out the way you thought they should have. I think of those poor little crocuses that have 

opened their pretty little heads to show some of the first colors of spring to us and then wham, they get hit with six inches of snow. Somehow I’m guessing, this probably inhibits their growth and reproduction.  And when I tie that in with going ahead of God like I do so often, I wonder just how much am I set back from my growth by not praying and seeking the Father’s will before I lunge ahead and move out? 

How do you like this verse in Proverbs:

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord, it will stand” Proverbs 19:21 (NASB)

The counsel of the Lord will stand. Hmmm…counsel of the Lord, Etsah in Hebrew, meaning advice; consultation; purpose, project, plan, design; wisdom, deliberation. Wow, do I consult with my Father as I make my plans? Almost always, not. Do I seek out His purpose before I run out the door, make the phone call or plan the trip? Of course not, especially if it is just everyday living type of stuff. But this is my challenge and this is what God is trying to teach this girl. How much better to seek God in the morning as I begin to plan my day or whatever it is that I have going on than to do things at random and on a whim.  Now I just looked up the meaning of whim in Websters Dictionary and the meaning is a bit odd and not nearly as fun as I always though of it being as when we us it in its adjective form, whimsical. So the first meaning of this noun is: a freakish pattern of ideas and their associated emotions as a motive of action. I am thinking that this is not the best laid plan for myself or anyone who desires to live a Spirit-filled and controlled life. Why do I want to act on emotions based on freakish ideas? In essence that is what I’m doing by missing out on God’s best for my daily living when I forsake my time with Him as I plan my ‘whatever.’

By the way, on Saturday morning, April 26, 2008, the snow had (thus far) produced slick roads with a dump of about 6+ inches on top. Good thing my husband didn’t put that snow blower away for the spring! There are all these tiny, little spring birds flitting around trying to find fall’s leftovers that are now covered in several inches of snow. And the worse part is that the snow was expected to continue for several more hours and the temperature was only 23 degrees with a wind chill making it feel like only 10! What’s up with that at the end of April? And just to let you know that this was the third snowstorm in northern Minnesota in the month of April! The other two deposited anywhere from a couple to 30+ inches of wet sloppy snow in some areas of the northland on the first and second weekends of the month. I’ll bet you are glad you don’t live here. But if you do, we just say, “Well, that’s northern Minnesota! You never know what you are going to get.”

The bottom line for me is that I need to quit running ahead of God, and slide into His plans for my days.  So much easier said than done especially if that is the way you’ve done it thus far. Those old habits are so hard to break but God has amazing things to say about the man who indeed walks in God’s ways like this: 

“The steps of a mans are established by the Lord; and He delights in his way.
When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong; because the Lord i the One who holds his hand.”
Psalm 37:23, 24

The crocuses managed to endure unscathed for the most part!

You have to love that! God delights in my ways when I walk in His will. A dear friend told me not to be too hard on myself for we are all in a process and indeed we are. But I truly want to be a woman who is bent on walking in God’s plans for my life. And the best part is that when I am led by the Spirit then I walk in love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit produced by being Spirit-led. I will share on that another time.

“Father, I sure frustrate myself time and time again when my best laid plans go awry! How frustrating because I am so convinced that I have laid them perfectly yet without Your approval and consultation, I miss the cracks and weaknesses that can literally trip me up. I am humbly asking, Father, for You to help me come to You the first thing with my days and events, allowing You to shape and mold them as You do when I ask. Even more importantly though is to help me to wait and listen for Your reply when I do ask for Your direction. I am tired of being in a hurry, rushing out the door without Your approval and then asking why when things get weird. I pay dearly every time I do that. Thank You that You are so concerned with my little life that You will show me the way when I ask. You truly are an amazing Abba God, Amen”