f.o.t.s. // goodness

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

I hope you had a good week. I’m sure you’re ready for the weekend.

Saturday is Day 6 – GOODNESS

The first thing I thought of when I wrote the word “goodness” was something that many of your parents or teachers might have told you when you were growing up.

“Bad is bad and good is good.”

Regardless of whether anyone has told you this before, I’m sure it makes sense. And following this cliché affords us the blessing of experiencing closeness with God instead of feeling as if we are separated or at a distance from our Creator (remember though, this distance is only our perception, since God is always with us, we just don’t always experience things that way).

Day 6 probably seems like a confusing fruit for some of you to live out. We know God is good (all the time), and that all the time (God is good)…but what does it mean to live out goodness? And why should we do it?

Here’s a short exercise for you using Scripture to help answer the questions “What does it mean to live out goodness?” and “Why should we live out the fruit of goodness?”

Let’s start by using God as our example and ask the question, is God good?

In Psalm 31 we read this about God,

Your goodness is so great! You have stored up great blessings for those who honor you. You have done so much for those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.  (Psalm 31:19)

So apparently God is full of goodness, but what does that have to do with us?

In the first book of the Bible, we read about how God created each of us,

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  (Genesis 1:27)

So we know God’s goodness is great (Psalm 31), and we just learned that God created us in his own image (Genesis 1), so then how should we answer this question in Psalm 116?

How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me?  (Psalm 116:12)

I think you all know the answer to that question. God is not only good, but God is a constant source of goodness, and since we were created by God – in the image of God – we should be filled with goodness for all people.

But you don’t have to take my word for it; Psalm 23 says it for me,

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.   (Psalm 23:6)

I’m really glad that so many of you are taking this so seriously and doing your best to live out the Fruit of the Spirit. Please continue to pray for each other because this is not easy, and remember that your struggles are normal. I’m hopeful that you’re experiencing a greater closeness with God because you’re living the way we have always been called to live, but until now we always thought of excuses not to try.

Dear God, help us live beyond our excuses by giving us the courage to faithfully continue becoming the men and women you created us to be. Amen.

Day 7 – Faithfulness

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f.o.t.s. // kindness

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.  (Galatians 5: 22-23)

How did it go being patient all day? I know the weather and traffic are out of our control, but I’m guessing the cold commute has been trying many people’s patience lately, but perhaps for a day you were able to handle it a bit better? Even if “patient day” didn’t go so well, have you noticed a difference in yourself since you’ve been living out the fruit of the spirit all week? I hope so.

Friday is Day 5 – KINDNESS

The idea of being kind (showing kindness to others) is hopefully not a new concept to anyone. But have you ever stopped to think about how much it means to other people when you show them kindness? What does it mean to you when someone is kind to you? It feels good, right?

Paul, from the New Testament, went through all sorts of crazy times during his life. He was often treated unfairly because of his faith (he was beaten and put in prison, among other terrible things), and as a result he greatly appreciated it when people showed him kindness. There’s a story in the book of Acts about when he was on a boat as a prisoner and they were shipwrecked. When they washed up on shore they were treated with unexpected kindness.

Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.  (Acts 28: 1-3)

How can you be an example of unexpected kindness to people around you today? Be thinking of ways you can be kind to someone else in ways that are simple, subtle or perhaps even unexpected.

Here’s a verse of encouragement for you.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  (Colossians 3: 12-13)

Dear God, thank you for your eternal and everlasting kindness. Help us show kindness to others in not only expected ways, but also through unexpected and surprising expressions of your loving kindness. Amen.

Day 6 – Goodness

f.o.t.s. // patience

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

Hello everyone. I hope you had a good day filled with peace.

Thursday is Day 4 – PATIENCE

This is probably going to be a tough one for many of you. Being patient with people is very difficult. It takes a lot of effort and practice to be/become a patient person. But just think of how great it feels when someone is patient with you instead of being on your case, whether it’s about getting things done or how you do things.

King Solomon from the Bible — a guy who is often considered the wisest man ever — talked about patience by saying, “a man’s wisdom gives him patience” (Proverbs 19:11).

We need wisdom to be patient. Wisdom is different than being smart. Many people say you need to be older (an “adult”) to have wisdom, but I’m not sure that’s entirely true. But it will definitely take some practice and requires not just thinking, but also being aware of what is going on around you.

So what is going on around you? How can you help others by being patient?

We need to be aware of people’s expectations of us as well as the expectations we have on other people. Although we can’t change what other people expect from us, we can work to be fair about what we think other people should be doing for us. We need to give others the benefit of the doubt, rather than assuming unfair things about them. We need to relax and quit worrying so much about what other people should be doing for us, think instead about what we can do for them, and then be patient when waiting for help from others.

God wants us to have a wonderful life that is full of joy. Learning to be patient will help us develop wisdom that will lead to a more joyful life. It will help us become a person we can feel better about being. Come to think of it, it will also make life a lot better for the people who are forced to spend time with us as well…so I guess everyone wins!

O God and Heavenly Father, Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; the courage to change that which can be changed, and the wisdom to know the one from the other, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. (Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr)

Day 5 – Kindness

f.o.t.s. // peace

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

How did it feel to be joyful all day? I hope you are responding well to the challenge of living out the Fruit of the Spirit. Remember, it’s not a competition, and no one is perfect. This should not be easy for anyone, but it should definitely be rewarding (“fruitful”). Hang in there and know that there are a lot of people praying for you.

Wednesday is Day 3 – PEACE

This doesn’t mean you should walk around all day acting like a hippy; wearing tie-died shirts and waving peace signs to everyone, and no one expects you to set up an anti-war booth, but think of realistic ways that you can be an example of the peace that only God can give, and then try to help someone else feel that same peace. There’s an inner peace that some people feel as a result of knowing that they have a Savior in Jesus Christ who died on a cross for you, so that no matter how hard things get for you on earth, you will one day leave this earth and go to a place more perfect than you can even imagine – heaven. A place where peace is a reality…not just a dream.

May the peace of Christ, which passes all understanding, be with you today and always. Amen.

Day 4 – Patience

f.o.t.s. // joy

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

How did the first day go? I have a feeling you were a great example of God’s love at school, home, work, and everywhere else you spent time on Monday. As you were thinking of ways to show love to others, perhaps you already thought of this, but something obvious that I should have suggested is to tell the people who are most important to you how much you love them. Even if you’re reading this on Tuesday, perhaps you still want to make a point to do that?

Tuesday is Day 2 – JOY

In case you forgot, that means from the time you wake up on Tuesday morning until you go to bed Tuesday night, you are going to be an example of joy.

To be filled with joy or be “joyful” means to be happy, excited, and filled with a positive spirit. A joyful person is fun to hang out with and it’s hard not to stop their happiness from rubbing off on you.

Joy is also something that often fills us up when we worship God.

Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!  (Psalm 66:1-2)

Jesus talked about the joy he felt in his life because of his closeness with God, and he wanted to share that joy with us.

Jesus said, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  (John 15:10-11)

The apostle Paul wrote a lot about joy in his letters to Christians in cities where he helped start churches. The book of Romans is an example of one of these letters. Here’s are a few verses from Romans about joy…

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  (Romans 12:12-13)

Here’s a verse from Romans that works well as a blessing blessing as we begin Day 2:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13)

Have a joyful and joy-filled day. Here’s a quick prayer to go with you…

Dear God, fill us with the joy that comes from you, and help us share some of it with others. Amen.

Day 3 – Peace

f.o.t.s. // love

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.   (Galatians 5:22-23)

Monday is Day 1 – LOVE

From the time you wake up on Monday until you go to bed on Monday night, concentrate on being an example of God’s love in everything you do. That’s right…EVERYTHING!

Did you know that the Bible uses the word “love” almost 700 times? Now I know it’s a big book, but 700 times, but if the Bible uses the word that many times then it must be important that we be loving people, don’t you think?

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Everyone has the ability to love, not just Christians. But Christianity is the only religion that has seen what God’s love looks like.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  (John 3:16)

We saw God’s love when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but Jesus’ entire life was an example of God’s love. Just look at some of his teachings.

Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  (John 15:12-13)

Who does the Bible say is our source of love?

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  (1 John 4:7-12)

What does the Bible say love looks like?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.  (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

Here’s a simple prayer to send us out into the first day…

Dear God, help us be examples of your love in all we do today. Amen.

Day 2 – Joy

f.o.t.s. // fruit of the spirit

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no law.   (Galatians 5:22-23)

Tonight at Journey we talked about some of the opposing/competing forces in our world. The series we have been in the last two weeks is called Geek Squad, and keeping with that theme, we’ve been discussing the digital/computer world that is at the center of most of our realities. Recognizing that we’re at a historical crossroads in terms of electronic competence, we considered the differences between generations…pointing out that people either get it (digital natives) or have no idea (digital immigrants). Among both categories of today’s digital inhabitants, we looked at the aggressive marketing between the two most common platforms of computers: macs & pcs.

Shifting from tech-talk to faith-talk, we picked up where we left off the week before (Ephesians 5). We spent a lot of the time in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 5 in particular, which is where Paul writes about two opposing forces at work in all our lives: sinful nature & the spirit (of the Holy Spirit variety). Discussing our lives as people who are “free” (to do what we want, including the freedom to sin), Paul lists things like hatred, jealousy and selfishness, among others, as attitudes/behaviors that we have the ability and freedom to live out…quickly pointing out that they will all keep us from experiencing the life God intends for us.

It’s the end of Galatians 5 that deserves our focus. This is where Paul introduces his famous list of virtues known as the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23, see above). If you’re up for the challenge, these “fruit” will be our guide for the next week and a half, as we do our best to live them out (one at a time) over the next 9 days…starting with “Love” tomorrow (Monday).

Many of you already signed up to receive the daily devotional/guides for this experience by email, but if not, it’s really easy:

  1. Near the top-right of this page (just below the calendar), click “[+] Subscribe to emails.” (To avoid being taken away from this page, right-click the link and select “Open Link in New Tab.”)
  2. Enter your email address in the new window that opens.
  3. Check your email to activate your subscription. (That’s it. Now you’ll receive the daily emails.)

I will post the devotional/guides each night and they will always be for the next day. If you signed up for the emails, it’s set up to send them each night (I’m not sure what time), so the plan is that you will either read the guides at night (for the next day) or first thing in the morning (for that day).

Make sense? Sorry there was so much explanation, but I wanted to make sure everyone starts at the same point.

Anyone can read the entries on anewdoxology.com, and can start the f.o.t.s. challenge/experience whenever they want, but to receive the emails that accompany this you will need to subscribe in the next few days (note: I am posting this on January 11, 2009). If you know others who might want to be part of this, please send them the info they need.

For those of you who were not at Journey tonight, you can listen to the message (“PC vs. Mac”) below.

Just imagine what the world would be like if people were not only living “purpose-driven” lives, but were also living Spirit-Led Lives.

Here we go…are you ready to live by the spirit? (Click the link below)

Day 1 – Love