Another pleasantly slow week. Aside from the usual emails, nothing much has happened. I haven't been called any names or cursed to hell in days. Its been good. I've been using the slow time to simply rest and spend more time with my family. Sometimes, you just have to walk away from something and go do other things. I thank the Lord that He has given me a time of rest.
There have, however, been a couple things in the works. I am in the process of preparing to send out a physical newsletter. It turns out that a lot of people like to have a physical newsletter that they get in the mail. So, I've compiled a mailing list of more than 3,000 people from those who've contributed to CARM, bought notebooks, books, etc. over the past few years. I'll produce a 8.5 x 14 inch newsletter, both sides, folded, and mailed. It'll be similar to the email newsletter but you will be able to put them into a notebook.
The only other significant thing is the on-going debate I'm having with an atheist on the discussion boards in the debate 1 forum. She is doing well, but has made several logic errors. Other than that, its been restful.
Not that this is any big deal, but I will perform a wedding on Saturday, preach on Sunday, and then next week on Saturday I lead a conference on Apologetics in Palm Springs. So, you might want to remember me in your prayers if you feel so led. And, of course, please pray that the Lord would open the doors for me to go full time into this ministry.
SHORT BIBLE LESSON - FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Gal. 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Now, quick, without looking, how many fruit are there of the Spirit? Take a guess and then count to see if you got it right. Did you get it right? Did you get nine? If you did, you're wrong because there is only ONE fruit of the Spirit, that's right, just one. In Greek the word for "fruit" is "karpos" and it is in the singular. So, to translate this a little loosely, it could read like this. "But the single fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control..." This means that all of these graces listed are one group that go together as a unit.
Now, this little tidbit of information is important. First of all, notice that the fruit of the Spirit is just that, of the Spirit. It is not your fruit, but the fruit of the Spirit of God. This is because God is love (1 John 4:8) and He lives in the believer (John 14:23). This means that it is the work of God the Holy Spirit in you to bear this fruit. Of course, you cooperate with God in bearing this fruit and you absolutely need to seek to develop it, but it is God who is "...at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure," (Phil. 2:13). Of course, we know that it is God's good pleasure that you love and bear the fruit of love.
Second, if it is all one fruit, then all the nine things listed there are already yours in the Spirit of God. In other words, all nine things are really one thing that you have because the Holy Spirit indwells you -- if you are a Christian, that is. You see, if you are loving, then will you not have joy? If you are loving, will you not also have peace? If you are loving, will you not also be patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self controlled? It could easily be said that love is the tree that bears the fruit of joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. If you have love, the love of God in your heart because of your belief and faith in Jesus and His sacrifice, then all the other graces listed there are yours too. You just need to develop them.
But, when you examine yourself you might notice that some of the fruit (speaking of individual aspects of love here) are not all that well developed. You might be kind and good, but need to work on your patience. You might have great joy and peace but need work on self-control and gentleness. None of us are perfect and we all have areas of improvement. But, all Christians have the Spirit of God and therefore, they have the fruit of the Spirit of God in them. It is there, if only in developing form, but it is there.
Now, this is important. Why is it there? I want you to focus on this following point. The fruit of the Spirit of God is in you because, if you are a Christian, you have been bought with a price. You have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, God in flesh (john 1:1,14), who died on the cross for your sins (1 Pet. 2:24). It is only because of what Jesus did that you can ever hope to be good, or gentle, or kind, or patient, or loving, or anything. You cannot truly live these things without the Spirit of God in you.
Finally, it is by faith that you walk before God (Hab. 2:4). It is by faith that you seek the Lord and seek to manifest the love of His Spirit in you. It is important because the unbelievers need to see those graces working in you. They are an evidence of your conversion and a testimony of God's indwelling.
So, ask yourself if you are loving or trying to show love not only to God but also to people. Then, go back and count those fruit again. When you get to "one", stop and ask the Lord to develop that in your heart.
Summer is a slow time and this economy is in a crunch. However, the enemy doesn't let a slow economy stop his work. Can you help CARM out by sparing a $5 monthly deduction from your credit card? If so, please go to http://www.carm.org/goods/donations.htm. CARM needs your support. CARM is a valuable ministry. Please keep it in your prayers.
GOT A SUGGESTION FOR CARM OR THIS NEWSLETTER?
If you have suggestions for what you would like to see in this newsletter or for CARM, please return e-mail me and let me know.
VERSE OF THE WEEK.
"This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth," (NASB).
Matt Slick, your missionary to the Internet.