OK, here's the plan (if God is willing):

1) Every day will be a new devotional. I have enough devotionals for every day for three years

2) Also as I can, I'll be posting on my new political blog (see bottom of page).

Some other housecleaning:

A) If you'd like to just get new postings sent to your email, just submit your address in the box on the left just below. There's just one possible downside, though. Occasionally I'll add a music video at the end that's relevant to the devotional, and you won't get them in the email sent to you. If I add a video though, I'll make sure to mention in the posting, so you'll know to come to the site to see it if you'd like.

B) I actually finished writing new blog posting for the TAWG at the end of 2016. So what I'm doing now is at the beginning of every month, I'll move the earliest month from 3 years ago ahead so that a "new" posting appears every day. That's why you won't find any postings for January 2014, for example.

C) When I started this Blog, I was using the 1984 edition of the NIV, and that’s what I linked to on the Biblegateway site. However, in 2011 Zondervan updated its edition and thus reworded a lot of the NIV translation. Therefore, all the links which went to the 1984 edition now redirect to the 2011 edition, which often has slightly different wording. Thus, part of my editing process has been to update my Scripture quotes in my postings. But I might have missed some, in which case you might see my quote in the posting as a little different from what comes up when you click on my citation link, since that redirects to the 2011 edition on the Biblegateway site. It's a good thing that we realize that the work of translation never ends, but it can be a kind of a pain on a site like this. If you see any difference in verbiage between my quote and what shows up as a link on the Biblegateway site, or if you hover over a link and it has "NIV1984" at the end of it, please notify me and I'll correct it.

D) I can't believe I have to say this, but here goes. At the end of every posting is a suggested short prayer that has to do with what we discussed. This is actually what I've prayed when I finished writing it. In no way am I asking you to pray the exact verbiage of my suggested prayer. It's just a springboard for your own prayer, nothing more. Quite frankly, I've never been a fan of praying rote prayers written by someone else. As with everything else I do here, to the degree it helps, great; to the degree it doesn't, chunk it.

As always, thank you so much for reading, even if it's to read one post. God bless.

[Dec 05]--Fruit Of The Spirit

Gal. 5:22-23

OK, now we’ve got a little bit under four weeks until the end of the year. I planned after we were done with Acts to start on some of the Epistles, but it didn’t turn out that way. I felt it was necessary to clarify some things about relations between the Church and the Jews, since that came up often in Acts. So really I didn’t think we could give the Epistles any kind of justice. So as of now, here’s our plan: We’re going to go through the prophets starting early next year, and then round it out with an overview of the Epistles.

So what about the rest of this month? Well, it’s times like these where I wish I was a whole lot better at titles. I thought about calling it “Keith’s Book of Virtues,” a takeoff from Bill Bennett’s Book of Virtues which he authored several years ago. But then I realized just how pretentious that sounded, so I nixed the title. Basically what I’d like to do for the rest of the year is to focus each day on a Christian virtue, a characteristic which we’re supposed to cultivate in our lives as believers. So we’re going to start with a little talk today about the Fruit of the Spirit, and then cover them individually.

Before we talk about it, I need to give a very brief summary of the point of the book of Galatians, since it’s extremely relevant. Early in his ministry, Paul had to repeatedly face down legalists who were infecting the churches. These legalists were spreading the teaching that Gentiles need to follow the Law of Moses in order to be true Christians; particularly they needed to be circumcised and keep the dietary laws in order to please God. Paul reacted to this heresy in the strongest of terms: We have freedom in Christ, and we’re no longer bound to the Law in order to please God.

But at the same time Paul didn’t want anyone to fall into the opposite error: Antinomianism. Remember that word? It means “No law,” and it’s the teaching that since we’re saved by grace through faith in Christ, we no longer need to be concerned about our lifestyle. I’m going to heaven no matter what I do, so why not live as I please?

Again, Paul hated this heresy as much as he hated the opposite one. His response? “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

That’s why we need to understand the balance Paul calls for in order to grasp what the Fruit of the Spirit really is. We're not to follow either legalism or antinomianism, but instead we need to walk by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit.

In other words, we need to develop our personal relationship with Christ. You know the old saying that people who are married start acting like each other after a while, picking up each others’ quirks and habits? It’s the same here. As we spend time with Christ, he'll change us from the inside-out.

This is absolutely vital to understand as we start this study on the Christian virtues. Paul calls these nine things the “fruit” of the Spirit, right? Look at a fruit tree. Does it produce fruit by straining and pushing and putting a lot of effort into it? Of course not. The procedure is: 1) You plant the tree, 2) Water it, 3) Make sure it gets the proper nutrients and enough sunshine, 4) Keep predators away from it, and Voila! At the right time you’ll see fruit coming out of the stems.

Yes, there are some hard decisions you need to make. This is not an issue of God working and you just sitting there. In order to produce the proper fruit, you have to cultivate your relationship with him. Primarily that means you read his word, pray (singly and with others), fellowship with other believers, and tell others about him. This takes effort! But the focus is always on developing that relationship, not on the fruit itself. As C.S. Lewis put it, "If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire. If you want joy, peace, eternal life, you must get close to what has them."

So why does Paul even talk about the fruit? Because that’s a sign that the tree is alive and flourishing. When the Bible is talking about "fruit," it's using it as a metaphor for visible results of an inward process. There's no such thing as invisible fruit. If an apple tree's not producing apples, something’s wrong. If you claim to be a follower of Jesus and are not producing these qualities, something’s wrong.

You need to examine yourself, actually let the Spirit examine you, and ask yourself some hard questions: Am I showing these qualities? Can people see that Christ is changing me? If not, why not?

Father, is your Spirit producing fruit in me that way he should? Am I growing? Am I letting you change me?

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