Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday's Devotion: Bearing Fruit

Galations 5: 22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." 

I have two short stories that are connected. Hang in there. There is a point.

(Story 1)Yesterday I had the privilege to teach the youth Sunday School class. I have begun a new series with them following Jesus's parables. We started where Jesus did and talked about the different seeds and what type of plants we are (Matthew 13: 1-23). When we got to discussing the good plant that prospered and produced fruit, I asked them how we could produce fruit. My husband, who is team teaching with me, spoke up saying, "What's really important, first, is to know exactly what the fruit is." (Smart man, I say!) The kids and I then piped up with ways we remember the fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. We talked about the different ways we can show these fruit to those around us, and how to develop the ones we are having a hard time with. 

(Story 2) Starting in August, I have begun another "31 Days of Praying for ______" on my Facebook page. In the past, I have done Praying for: husbands, children, and pastors. Because August is when school starts back up (at least here in SC), and I am a former teacher myself, I felt it necessary to pray for the teachers this month. The first and last 2 weeks of each semester are very stressful times for teachers, and I want to make sure teachers know we are praying for them. Today's scripture and prayer was the Fruits of the spirit. I was praying the teachers develop and share love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

While I was typing and posting today's prayer, I thought about how weird it was that these two events took place so close to each other. When that happens, I believe that is God's way of making sure I get the point. So I took a step back and evaluated my fruit. I think I have some of them pretty down, but God does not request that I pick a fruit and stick with it; He says to bear all of these fruit. And frankly, if you are showing one, you really should be showing all. It takes a good bit of "self-control" to have "patience". If I am sharing "peace" with others, I really should have "joy" and "love" in my heart. God expects that I develop and share each of these, not just one or two. And it's not my place to choose which ones are more important than others. In evaluating which fruit I am showing, I realized that the ones I thought I had a good handle of weren't fully developed. A plant will only survive so long with just water and plant food. It needs sunlight. Without all these important elements working together, the plant will only grow a little (if at all). I need water (fellowship with other believers), plant food (God's Word), and sunlight (daily conversations with God) to produce a good and ripe fruit. And God does not want me to really focus on one or two, but to embrace all the fruit so I can better serve Him. So, I begin this week focusing on practicing these fruit, working on the ones I have so little of (patience, for example), and setting an example for my children so they, too, will develop the Fruits of the Spirit in a way that is good and pleasing to our Lord. 

Lord, You know how much I fail at showing all the fruits of the spirit. Satan has a way putting struggles in my path that diverts me from feeding and developing all the fruit. Just when I think I'm on the right track with showing "love", I realize that I have not been very "patient" with my children or even with You, Lord. Forgive me for neglecting to fully grow in you. Place on my heart a desire to continuously work on showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. May my efforts, and You being the center of my efforts, set a good example for my children and for those around me. Thank You for opening my eyes to verses I know so well, but yet still struggle with. I am not complete without You in the midst of my daily life. In Your name, Amen. 

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