FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: THE JOY OF J.O.Y.

At a recent party, a friend shared something her father practiced. What she said reminded me of the words inscribed on a plaque in my childhood home: Jesus, Others, and You

A long time ago (in a place far, far away!), a date took me horseback riding on a trail around a beautiful lake. I didn’t tell him, but this was my first time on a horse. Everything went as smooth as glass until my horse got spooked, bucked up, and down I fell. Guess my date wasn’t all that experienced either, because the same thing happened to him. Only problem was that when he fell, he landed on my stomach and knocked the wind out of me.

I can honestly say that wasn’t a joyful experience! My lungs didn’t reinflate until several sharp blows on my back. As you might guess, the date went downhill from there.  🙂

The Bible gives us fair warning that we’ll have trouble in this fallen world. Adversity might come in the form of bruises, maybe even a sucker-punch. We can be riddled by friendly fire—blasts from those closest to us. There are times when we’ll be rattled or even shaken to the core. We might even lose everything … except what’s at the core.

Then, how do we count it all joy as these things happen and even rejoice like James and Peter?

When we allow the Holy Spirit to work within us, we become more like Jesus. His love and joy and peace dwell inside. Outward circumstances – financial, relational, physical, or spiritual – cannot touch or disturb what’s at work, what God’s cultivating in us. His joy.

So, what does this have to do with Jesus, Others, and You? Jesus first in our lives helps us see Others as He does. We don’t have to fret about how to escape life’s troubles or worry about ourselves. If we’ll but trust Him, He’ll care for us like the flowers of the field. He stands beside us in the fire and on the mountaintop.

If we’re honest, we all need a little more J.O.Y. I’ll take two helpings, please.  🙂

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain You; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22, NIV)

By eMarie

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FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: OUR FATHER’S GENTLENESS

Today’s post, another in series on Fruit of the Spirit, talks about Gentleness:

Clipart of Colorful Sketched Gentleness Word Art - Royalty Free Vector Illustration by Prawny ...

Psalm 103:13:
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

Confession. I more often think of God as a strict father. But I long for a gentle daddy.

I praise God for the elaborate wealth and grace of his word.

In Philippians 4:5, right between Paul’s exhortation to rejoice always and never be anxious, he says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” The Lord of gentleness.

Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Thank you, Jesus, for this precious comfort and reminder of your gentleness.

Isaiah 41:13:
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”

Psalm 68:19:
Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms.

Thank you, Father, for holding my hand when I am afraid. Thank you for carrying me in your arms.

Even when God had to teach Elijah with intensity where he was wrong, He offered a gentle whisper.

1 Kings 19:12:
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

Lord, teach me how to offer your gentleness to others.

1 Peter 3:4:
Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Ephesians 4:1-2:
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Galatians 6:1-2:
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

1 Peter 3: 15-16:
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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Proverbs 15:1:
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Ephesians 4:2
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

James 3:17-18:
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

By Author Kathy McKinsey

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THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: A CUP OF KINDNESS

Check out this phrase from the 1700s poem Auld Lang Syne: “take a cup of kindness yet.” The verses talk about old friends who met together over drinks and revive tales of younger days — much as several of my friends did this Christmas…

Gathered around a cozy coffee table, we shared stories old and new. The warmth that exuded, the smiles that exemplified kindness – infectious and unquenchable.

Though not the original author’s intent, the phrase from the poem reminded me of a wonderful Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness. Because the Bible is replete with illustrations of Jesus’ kindness, here’s one to think about.

Loving friends of a deaf and mostly-mute man brought him to Jesus (Mark 7:31-37). Maybe these friends had tried other sure-to-work modalities. Either way, they were not above begging Jesus to heal their beloved friend.

As usual, a crowd surrounded Jesus. In His humility, compassion, and kindness, Jesus took the man aside and healed him. But there’s more to the story.

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17, NKJV). For this man to be healed for all eternity, he needed to hear Jesus’ words.

Then, Jesus loosed the man’s tongue by applying spit and praying. Now, I’m not sure about you but if my doctor spit into his hand and told me to open wide, I’d be out of that exam room as fast as my legs could carry me. But this is Jesus we’re talking about! He never fails!

The amazed crowd praised Him saying, “He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” So, why their surprise? After all, this wasn’t the first time Jesus demonstrated His healing power and kindness. Maybe because, like us, it’s easy to disregard or ignore or feel uncomfortable around those with disabilities or those we don’t understand.

Perhaps it’s time to return to What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)? This phrase that originated with a sermon series in the 1890s, became a 1990s craze. And still stands true. There’s no doubt Jesus showed kindness in His thoughts, words, and actions.

In a world obsessed with “me,” supermodel waistlines and inflated egos and a blind eye toward those who are hurting, alone, and in need, let’s be different. Let’s open our hearts and offer a cup of kindness, just as Jesus would do.

The Bible says “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34, NKJ).

By eMarie

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TWAS THE WEEK AFTER CHRISTMAS (2021)…

Twas the week after Christmas, and all through the house,
Our spirits were lifted, our steps had a bounce.

Not the usual Christmas, our gathering small,
But the joy in our glad hearts could fill up a mall.

As we packed decorations, we had a bright thought,
We’d follow the Christ of Christmas and the words that He taught.

We’ll ring in the new year, grateful indeed,
And serve the dear Savior in both thought and deed.

Because Christmas is more than a date on a page,
It’s more than the parties or plays on a stage.

Christmas reminds us of the birth of our Savior,
His sacrifice treasured more than gifts and a manger.

Throughout this new year, we’ll share His love,
And worship the Messiah, God’s redemptive plan from above.

 

The simple message of John 3:16 still rings clear and true. God’s abundant love compelled Him to give His one and only Son so that when we believe we’ll have life everlasting! Free!! To all who will believe:

By faith
Eternal
Life
Is
Easily
aVailable to
Everyone

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6:23, NIV.

God bless you and Happy 2022!!

By eMarie

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THE CHRISTMAS GIFT OF … ONE MAGICAL MOMENT

A 1990s internet story about a little boy and his mama touched the heart of DC Chymes, a St. Louis radio personality. Thinking it would make a wonderful song, Chymes took the info to the musical group, NewSong.

After setting the lyrics to music, the composition received minimal interest. So the group sat on the piece for several years. One day, a group member shared the song’s story with his friend Donna VanLiere, whose book about the boy who wanted to buy shoes for his mama became a best-seller and then a movie. People were so enamored with The Christmas Shoes song, book, and movie that Hallmark capitalized on its fame, turning another of Donna’s books into a Christmas movie.

Now, accounts vary as to the way the above events happened. But what about the little boy in the song who wanted to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mama? Did he truly exist?

Not according to Helga Schmidt. No, sir. There wasn’t a boy. But she did stand in a long line with a brother and sister who argued about which one would put the shoes on the counter beside the register. And it wasn’t until she added $3.00 to complete the transaction that she grasped their dire need.

The children thanked her, then shared what they’d learned in Sunday School. They wanted their dying mama’s shoes to match Heaven’s gold-paved streets.

So moved by her encounter with these children, Schmidt wrote the 1970s story as a continuing education piece, which somehow found its way into a newspaper, a church bulletin, and eventually a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” publication.

Can you see the profound impact this story had on each of the people involved? NewSong, VanLiere, and Hallmark’s fame skyrocketed.

No doubt the help the siblings received, the gift they gave their mother and the motherless years that followed, changed and shaped them.

Because of her generosity, Helga Schmidt received a gift greater than any $3.00 investment. The story she shared affected the world.

A one-of-a-kind moment.

Now, for all of us who know the story behind The Christmas Shoes, what was the brightest moment? The moment that truly changed lives. Certainly, it wasn’t what came in a wrapped shoebox or the images that flashed across a silver screen.

Hallmark would’ve never produced the movie from VanLiere’s story. The song that moved us to tears wouldn’t have been written. Schmidt’s money would’ve stayed in her pocket. And the siblings who argued on the store line that day may not have desired to buy shoes for their dying mama – had they not received the hope of Heaven while in Sunday School.

The moment they chose to believe that Heaven is real. One brilliant, magical  moment changed everything.

For them. For us.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)

Merry Christmas!!  🙂

Written by eMarie

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THE CHRISTMAS GIFT OF … LIFE

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[ Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23, NIV)

Do you remember opening Christmas gifts as a child?

Memories linger of tearing through the paper as though made of thin air, squealing in acknowledgment of the unwrapped gift, then rushing to find another present to open. That giddy wonder and breathless excitement now lights my grandchildren’s faces. And even though I know what’s beneath the wrapping paper, their excitement almost matches mine!

When our visit with our children and grandchildren ended, we returned home to find a huge box sitting on our doorstep. Inside the box, we were stunned by 10 beautiful boxes filled with assorted fruits, cheeses, chocolates, cookies, and popcorn. You can imagine our disappointment when we discovered that some of the fruit had already spoiled.

The incident reminded me of a question that came up during a women’s Bible study meeting. If salvation is a gift from God, why can’t we choose to leave it unopened?

Of course, we can choose not to open God’s gift of salvation. Sadly, many do!

God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, doesn’t force His salvation on us. There are no strings attached to His gift. When we accept Him into our hearts, we receive all His benefits: His love here on Earth and throughout eternity. And because the Gift Giver sacrificed the best He had, paid the highest price, and dearly loves us, God longs for us to open and enjoy His gift.

Our lives are composed of a finite number of days. So, just as with the boxes of fruit, God’s gift comes with an expiration date.

We can refuse His gracious, life-giving salvation. But why miss out on the best gift ever?

Merry Christmas!  🙂

Written by eMarie

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THE CHRISTMAS GIFT OF … GRATITUDE

Ever have one of “those” days? You know what I mean. The kind where you are just plain out of sorts. I had one of those yesterday. No, strike that. Yesterday was a rough day on steroids. Can I get a do-over?

It started out as most challenging days do, on the wrong side of the metaphorical bed. My husband gave me a cheery “good morning.” I did my best not to respond because I was feeling exhausted and knew better than to say anything. Unfortunately, he didn’t catch my vibe. Why, oh why, does it so often end up that way? We try to hide when we know we’re not good company, but company insists on being there, anyway.

Of course, that meant he doubled down on his greeting. “Aren’t you speaking this morning? Good morning.” Once he’s awake, he’s one of the most chipper people I know in the morning. You know what happened next. That’s right. I snapped at him. Now I don’t even know what I said, but it wasn’t nice. Afterward, I dragged my sorry self into the shower to begin the waking process.

The day tumbled downhill from there.

Now that I’m facing a brand-new day, I don’t feel as overwhelmed. Partly because a lot of the lines on my to-do list got checked off, partly because I got some sleep, and partly because I realize how blessed I am.

The holidays are a rough time for many of us. Life can be hard to keep up with, even when we don’t have extra items added to our daily chores. The holidays pile those to-do’s on with gusto. Cards to write, gifts to buy, parties to attend, family to visit, and company coming over, which means the house needs to shine.

I’m a Christian and yet sometimes I forget my roots. When all the daily push and pull overwhelms me, I know what I need to do—pause, take some deep breaths, and reflect. The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17, NIV) If I take the time to count the many blessings that I have, life gets easier.

I have received so many wonderful gifts. The greatest of which is the true Christmas gift of God’s presence with us. A child born, experiencing the difficulties of life as he grew. Fully man and fully God. He gave the most precious gift of all… His life.

For me today, this gift allows access to One who calms, One who loves without conditions, One who drowns me in blessings every day. I have much to be grateful for. Sitting and counting those blessings reminds me of what is important and what is not. Dogs fed, but the dining room still needs to be dusted. The best part, though, is that I’m happy once more because I know to whom I belong. Imagine how much better my day would have gone if I’d started it by unwrapping the Christmas gift of gratitude before I crawled out of bed. I think I’ll try that out the next time I feel out of sorts. Maybe you can too.

By Angela Shelton

www.chainlinkstory.com

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THE CHRISTMAS GIFT OF … ROOM

“A man’s gift makes room for him.” (Prov. 18:16, NIV)

The Bible gives proof positive that the Lord will equip us to do as He asks. Noah shines as a wonderful example of this truth. Though he never saw a boat, or rain for that matter, he built an ark and called animals in two by two.

David also shows how the Lord equips us when we answer the call. Remember the boy who tended his father’s sheep? He went on to slay a giant and eventually become King of Israel.

And look at the disciples. Most were fishermen by trade. But they turned the world upside down for Jesus!

Maybe that’s what King Solomon spoke of when he penned the words in this proverb. We have gifts just waiting to be used. God says go, we obey, then He ensures those gifts flourish for His glory.

Some commentaries think this verse speaks of a man’s influence. This might be equivalent to giving a large tip to get a better table in a restaurant. A donation to a certain organization, political party, or politician to sway opinions or votes. Or perhaps gifts can offer privilege, cause a man to rub elbows with those above his status or class. Every inn has room for this man of renown.

Context helps clarify the meaning of this proverb. Solomon’s words, balanced between verses that speak of good and greed, show his wisdom – God’s gift to help him rule over His people.

Now think of this. The most gifted man ever born didn’t exert His influence to gain a soft bed, plenty of food, stylish clothes, or prestigious, up-and-coming friends. Jesus set aside His deity, chose a life that began in an outside pen designated for a spotless, sacrificial lamb, and continued to a wooden cross.

His gift made room for us all.

Written by eMarie

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THANKFULNESS IS…(PT.4)

What is it about Thanksgiving that stirs feelings of nostalgia, the need to be close to family and friends, that longing to be home? The snapshots our minds take as we glance around the table at the faces of loved ones — right before the chaos, the simultaneous conversations, and the laughter that rocks us off our chairs!

The sacred solemn moment where we bow our heads, acknowledge the One from whom all blessings flow and whose love never changes, never fails, never ends.

The aromas in the kitchen, the feeling our skinny jeans will never fit the same, the football game that morphs into center stage… These freeze-frame moments that become part of our Thanksgiving memories.

But Thanksgiving is more than the left-overs, the number we wish the scale didn’t show, and the Black Friday ads that can bring an end to the day.

Maybe this year has been difficult physically, financially, emotionally, and even spiritually. Doom and gloom obliterate the horizon. Reasons for hope are few. Chairs around the table remain empty and a frozen dinner for one is on the menu. Not at all a typical Thanksgiving. Not heart-warming or one to remember…

So, why celebrate Thanksgiving?

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Is. 55:1, NIV)

That’s Thanksgiving!! It isn’t the turkey on a Lenox platter, full tummies, designer clothes, or the latest electronics.

Thanksgiving is … our Savior, who freely came and gave His life away, who paid the debt we could never pay. He is worthy of all praise. Worthy of all our thanksgiving!


Happy 400th Thanksgiving, from our hearts and homes to yours – God bless you!!

Written by eMarie

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THANKFULNESS IS… (PT.3)

Prior to this verse in Colossians, Paul lists traits necessary for believers, we who are dearly loved by our Savior Jesus Christ, to shun. These sins stunt our growth and will ultimately cause death.

Paul goes on to say, because we want our lives to bring Glory to God, we’re motivated by a higher purpose–Heavenly pursuits–rather than those of this world.

Did Paul say to keep your eye on the works and deeds checklist … if you don’t score high enough, it’s curtains for you? Nope. Nor does the Bible say “it’s all about the boxes. Leave no box unchecked.”

There isn’t a list of works. But the privilege of serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords motivates and fills us with thanksgiving. Because all those ugly traits Paul mentioned were removed and redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. And everything ahead of us, the all-inclusive “whatever,” is our joyful gift to Him.

Ready to serve the Lord with thanksgiving today? Good, because He rejoices over you (Zeph. 3:17)!

Written by eMarie

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