Sunday, March 28, 2010

Getting Back To Basics -- Part 2

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

(This week we continue our series on “The Fruit of the Spirit” with a discussion on “peace.”)

The late John Lennon is known for his song entitled “Imagine,” which urges us to visualize a world where peace is the norm. Let me share a few words with you: “Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one.”

Peace … the Webster dictionary defines the word peace as, “calm; quiet; tranquility,” while Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines the word as, “A condition or sense of harmony, well-being, and prosperity.”

Just as love and joy are fruit that enrich our lives, peace is a commodity that most people yearn for, but many never find.

Aren’t we all just looking for a little peace? We look for peace …

• In our relationships

• In our finances

• From our aches and pains

• From violence and war

• From injustice and hate

Most of all, don’t we just want a little peace of mind?

Know that it is possible to find peace, but first we need to understand the three keys to obtaining that peace. They are:

• Having peace with God

• Having peace of God

• And, having peace with others

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Getting Back To Basics

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

There is a disturbing trend seen in many churches today. It is the obvious apathy, or indifference, of many Christians.

They may attend services, but it appears that they are only "going through the motions." Their singing …their praying … their Bible study … even their zeal, seems listless or spiritless. To rephrase the words of Henry David Thoreau: "The mass of [Christians] lead lives of quiet desperation."

I believe the problem is one similar to an athlete or a sports team that is going through "a slump." Such a person or team "goes through the motions," but they are not performing up to their true potential.

The usual solution in sports is to return to working on "the fundamentals." The same is true with Christians. When we find ourselves "in a slump" we too need to stress the fundamentals and get "Back to Basics!"

Today I would like to stress some of the fundamentals or basics that we need to get back to whenever our lives are in a spiritual slump. You may have heard these basics called by another name … “The Fruit of the Spirit.” There are a total of nine fruit. They are: love … joy … peace … patience … kindness … goodness … faithfulness … gentleness … and self-control.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Holy Spirit: Who He Is and What He Does

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”
(John 14:16-17)

Speaking to a large audience, Evangelist D. L. Moody held up a glass and asked, “How can I get the air out of this glass? One man shouted, “Suck it out with a pump!” Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass.” After numerous other suggestions Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then went on to explain that victory in the Christian life is not accomplished by “sucking out a sin here and there,” but by being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Who is the Holy Spirit? The Bible does not assign Him a formal name, such as we have for the Lord Jesus Christ. However, we know him by many descriptive titles, such as the Spirit of God, the Eternal Spirit, the Spirit of Life, the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Holiness, and the Spirit of the Lord.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word ruwach (pronounced roo’-akh) was used when talking about the Spirit. This word literally means “wind” … the type of wind associated with a breathe. In the New Testament the Greek word pheuma (pronounced pnyoo’-mah) was used, which means the “breathe” or a “breeze.” We can literally think of the Holy Spirit as the “Breathe of God.”

Today we will examine who the Holy Spirit is and what He does.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
(John 15:11)

Did you know that God wants us to be happy?

The Bible is full of Scriptures which confirm that God wants us to be full of joy and happiness.

• Psalm 40:16 reads, “But may all who seek you [God] rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, The LORD be exalted!"

• Psalm 105:3 reads, “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.”

• And, don’t forget Matthew 25:21, “His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!’”

There can be no doubt that God wants us to be happy and is pleased when we are happy. Christians are to be a joyful people.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.”

When I think of how blessed we are to live in this land and all of the abundant freedoms we enjoy, it is difficult to understand why so many people are unhappy. The majority of Americans, and among them some Christians, cannot truly say, “I am happy!” In fact, according to the book, Are You Happy?, by Dennis Wholey, only 20 percent of Americans are happy.

So how is it that the majority of citizens in one of the most blessed nations on earth are unhappy? How can it be that some of the most religious and spiritually blessed people in the world are professing their own unhappiness? What possible explanations can be found for all this unhappiness, especially when the Bible is full of Scriptures that speak of God’s desire for our happiness and which provide guidelines that will lead us to real happiness?

Abraham Lincoln observed that, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be,” and centuries before Lincoln, the Roman Emperor Marcus Antonius said, “No man is happy who does not think himself so.”

When it comes down to it, the unhappiness of Americans and Christians in particular, is a result of not having a proper attitude toward the people, things, and circumstances which we encounter every day. The Scriptures indicate that this happiness which we all seek is found only by properly ordering our lives in relation to God and His will.

Let’s develop this idea more by considering four specific principles that govern happiness.

• Happiness cannot be found in having everything you desire.

• Happiness cannot be found by trying to be someone different than we are.

• Happiness cannot be found on the other side of the fence.

• Happiness cannot be found by disobeying God.