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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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CHRISTIAN, REJOICE!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4 ESV)

cranky christianHave you ever meet a cranky Christian? Of course you have. These are Christians who have allowed circumstances to rob them of their joy. Paul tells us that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

You should not confuse joy with happiness. Happiness is created by what happens to us. It is a product of circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is the result of our covenant relationship with God. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 ESV) Christian joy is impossible without a loving relationship with God:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. This is why a Christian can have eternal joy. We should not worry about circumstances or what we have or don’t have in this world. Take joy in the eternal pleasure of knowing God and being one of His family. If you have been saved from your sins in order to spend eternity in His household, do you not have sufficient reason to be full of Joy?

The Ministry of Intercession

Andrew MurrayGod grant that we may learn day by day to pray more consistently. We must pray for others and ourselves. We must give ourselves up to the ministry of intercession. We must pray more for God’s people in general, for God’s people around us, for the Spirit of love in ourselves and in them, and for the work of God in which we labor. According to Andrew Murray:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love …” (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

It is only love that can fit us for the work of intercession. I have said that love must fit us for our work. Do you know what the hardest and the most important work is that has to be done for this sinful world? It is the work of intercession, the work of going to God and taking time to lay hold of Him.

A man may be an earnest Christian, an earnest minister, and a man may do good, but alas! how often he has to confess that he knows little of what it is to tarry with God. May God give us the great gift of an intercessory spirit, a spirit of prayer and supplication! Let me ask you in the name of Jesus not to let a day pass without praying for all saints, and for all God’s people.

I find there are Christians who think little of that. I find there are prayer unions where they pray for the members, and not for all believers. I pray you; take time to pray for the Church of Christ. It is right to pray for the heathen, as I have already said. God help us to pray more for them. It is right to pray for missionaries, for evangelistic work, and for the unconverted. But Paul did not tell people to pray for the heathen or the unconverted. Paul told them to pray for believers. Do make this your first prayer every day: “Lord, bless Thy saints everywhere.”

The state of Christ’s Church is indescribably low. Plead for God’s people that He would visit them, plead for each other, and plead for all believers who are trying to work for God. Let love fill your heart. Ask Christ to pour fresh love into you everyday. . . .

Have you a lack of love to confess before God? Then make confession and say before Him, “O Lord, my lack of heart, my lack of love – I confess it.” And then, as you cast that lack at His feet, believe that the blood cleanses you, that Jesus comes in His mighty, cleansing, saving power to deliver you, and that He will give His Holy Spirit. “The Fruit of the Spirit is love.” (“The Fruit of the Spirit is Love”)

Love is a Demonstration of God’s Power

Andrew MurrayIf the love of God filled our hearts, what a difference it would make! This is the power each Christian truly needs to do the work of Christ. According to Andrew Murray:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love …” (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

Why are we taught that “the fruit of the Spirit is love”? Because the Spirit of God has come to make our daily life an exhibition of divine power and a revelation of what God can do for His children.

In the second and the fourth chapters of Acts, we read that the disciples were of one heart and of one soul. During the three years they had walked with Christ, they never had been in that spirit. All Christ’s teaching could not make them of one heart and one soul. But the Holy Spirit came from heaven and shed the love of God in their hearts, and they were of one heart and one soul. The same Holy Spirit that brought the love of heaven into their hearts must fill us, too. Nothing less will do. Even as Christ did, one might preach love for three years with the tongue of an angel, but that would not teach any man to love unless the power of the Holy Spirit should come upon him to bring the love of heaven into his heart. . . .

If we want to pray in power, and if we want to expect the Holy Spirit to come down in power, and if we indeed want God to pour out His Spirit, we must enter into a covenant with God that we will love one another with a heavenly love.

Are you ready for that? Only that is true love that is large enough to take in all God’s children, the most unloving and unlovable and unworthy and unbearable and trying. If my vow – absolute surrender to God – was sincere, then it must mean absolute surrender to the divine love to fill me. I must be a servant of love to love every child of God around me. “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” (“The Fruit of the Spirit is Love”)

Loving Others

Andrew MurrayThe modern church may have many faults, but there is one thing that I think grieves God most, and that is the lack of love. Andrew Murray writes:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love …” (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

It is in our daily life and conduct that the fruit of the Spirit is love. From that comes all the graces and virtues in which love is manifested – joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness – no sharpness or hardness in your tone, no unkindness or selfishness, [but] meekness before God and man. You see that all these are the gentler virtues. I have often thought as I read those words in Colossians, “Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering” (Colossians 3:12), that if we had written this, we should have put in the foreground the strong virtues, such as zeal, courage, and diligence. But we need to see how the gentler, the most tender virtues are especially connected with dependence on the Holy Spirit. These are indeed heavenly graces. They never were found in the heathen world. Christ was needed to come from heaven to teach us. Your blessedness is long-suffering, meekness, kindness; your glory is humility before God.

You know what John says: “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another; God dwelleth in us” (I John 4:12). That is, I cannot see God, but as a compensation. I can see my brother, and if I love him, God dwells in me. Is that really true? That I cannot see God, but I must love my brother, and God will dwell in me? Loving my brother is the way to real fellowship with God. You know what John further says in that most solemn test, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (I John 4:20). There is a brother, a most unlovable man. He worries you every time you meet him. He is of the very opposite disposition to yours. You are a careful businessman, and you have to associate with him in your business. He is most untidy, unbusiness-like. You say:

“I cannot love him.”

Oh, friend, you have not learned the lesson that Christ wanted to teach above everything. Let a man be what he will, you are to love him. Love is to be the fruit of the Spirit all the day and every day. Yes, listen! If you don’t love that unlovable man whom you have seen, how can you love God whom you have not seen? You can deceive yourself with beautiful thoughts about loving God. You must prove your love to God by your love to your brother; that is the one standard by which God will judge your love to Him. If the love of God is in your heart, you will love your brother. The fruit of the Spirit is love. (“The Fruit of the Spirit is Love”)

Temper and the Fruit of the Spirit

Andrew MurrayThe fruit we receive from the Holy Spirit is brought to us from heaven out of the heart of Christ and it is first and foremost – love. Andrew Murray applies this to the human temper:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love …” (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

How often, when we speak about the consecrated life, we have to speak about temper, and people have sometimes said: “You make too much of temper.”

I do not think we can make too much of it. Think for a moment of a clock and of what its hands mean. The hands tell me what is within the clock, and if I see that the hands stand still, or that the hands point wrong, or that the clock is slow or fast, I say that something inside the clock is not working properly. And temper is just like the revelation that the clock gives of what is within. Temper is a proof whether the love of Christ is filling the heart or not. How many there are who find it easier in church, or in prayer meeting, or in work for the Lord – diligent, earnest work – to be holy and happy than in the daily life with wife and children. How many find it easier to be holy and happy outside the home than in it! Where is the love of God? In Christ. God has prepared for us a wonderful redemption in Christ, and He longs to make something supernatural of us. Have we learned to long for it, ask for it, and expect it in its fullness?

Then there is the tongue! We sometimes speak of the tongue when we talk of the better life, and the restful life, but just think what liberty many Christians give to their tongues. They say:

“I have a right to think what I like.”

When they speak about each other, when they speak about their neighbors, when they speak about other Christians, how often there are sharp remarks! God keep me from saying anything that would be unloving. God shut my mouth if I am not to speak in tender love. But what I am saying is a fact. How often sharp criticism, sharp judgment, hasty opinion, unloving words, secret contempt of each other, secret condemnation of each other are found among Christians who are banded together in work! Oh, just as a mother’s love covers her children and delights in them and has the tenderest compassion with their foibles or failures, so there ought to be in the heart of every believer a motherly love toward every brother and sister in Christ. Have you aimed at that? Have you sought it? Have you ever pleaded for it? Jesus Christ said: “As I have loved you that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). And He did not put that among the other commandments, but He said in effect:

“That is a new commandment, the one commandment: Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). (“The Fruit of the Spirit is Love”)

Love is the Sum of all Grace

Love Never FailsJonathan Edwards:

All the fruits of the Spirit which we are to lay weight upon as evidential of grace, are summed up in charity, or Christian love; because this is the sum of all grace. And the only way, therefore, in which any can know their good estate, is by discerning the exercises of this divine charity in their hearts; for without charity, let men have what gifts you please, they are nothing.

The Joyous Christian

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . . (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)

Paul mentions love first in the verse above. Next he mentions joy. I believe joy, as in the case of the first attribute and those that follow it, are characteristics that only a true Christian knows how to experience. I want to discuss “joy” with you today.

There certainly are many people who call themselves Christians who do not seem to be very joyful. They may seem depressed. They are grumpy and hard to get along with. Circumstances have robbed them of their joy. They have a very low and unhealthy view of God, themselves and this world.

Paul tells us, however, that joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy should be one of the primary characteristics of a Christian. But, does a Christian always have to be joyous? Because of sin, joy often seems to evaporate from our lives. We are often subjected to worrying about our jobs or lack thereof. We worry about money and bills. We worry about the members of our family and close friends. We worry about health problems and our marriages and what will happen to our children.

Paul brought good news to the Galatians. He taught about the God of love. He told them about a God who loves you by His merciful grace and welcomes you with open arms. If you believe in Him, acknowledge Him as God, and believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, Paul taught that you can have a personal relationship with God. Paul taught that you should not to be anxious about anything. Despite all earthly circumstances, you are a child of God.

Many religious people equate joy with happiness. These should not be confused because they are two different things. Happiness is the feeling created by what happens to us. Happiness is not something you can feel all the time because circumstances change. You may be happy when you leave home to go to work, but you may not feel happy when you return home after work. True joy has to do with our covenant relationship with God. This joy is like a thermometer of that relationship. Joy does not depend on circumstances. It does not depend on good works or possessions.

The apostle John writes, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 ESV) Jesus is speaking about the relationship of love between God and the Christian. We who once did not belong to the Father now belong to Him. There are still lots of things still wrong with us, but we have joy because of our relationship with God. Jesus Christ understood that there is no true joy without God.

Christians know that no matter the circumstances, nothing can separate us from the love of God. This is why we have eternal joy. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 ESV)

Let us remember that there is even joy in suffering because suffering produces character and steadfastness. When you believe in the Lord Jesus, then no one can take away your joy no matter what happens. Consider 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (ESV)

The Holy Spirit renews us every day. How great is that? Forget what you have or don’t have here on this earth. Don’t look at the things you can see. Look at what the Holy Spirit is giving you and find your joy in the eternal pleasures of knowing God and being one of His family. If God does nothing else for you in your lifetime, other than save you from your sins in order that you may spend eternity in His household, is that not reason enough to praise Him and to be full of Joy?

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