Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fruitful Living - PATIENCE

Review fruit of the Spirit
Tonight.. we are going to investigate another characteristic of the fruit -  Patience.

What would it be like if you didn’t allow the behavior of others to ruin your day?  Patience is inspired by mercy, absent of condemnation and evidence of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. When we are bearing the fruit of patience, people and circumstances do not have the power to ruin our day or rob us of our peace.

There are 2 forms of patience.  One is driven by mercy (makrothumia). Because God has mercy on us, He shows us incredible patience. Because we are becoming more like Him, we reflect His patience to others. Makrothumia is the Greek word used in Galatians 5:22 but we cannot separate this from the other form of patience which is hupomone which possesses the meaning we most often associate with the word patience. This word means ‘to persevere, remain under, bearing up under and refers to that quality of character that does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or give in under trial’. For example: in Heb 10:35-36 we see the use of this definition  “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
A main ingredient to perseverance/to patience is hope! The Greek word for hope means ‘the desire of some good with expectation of obtaining it”. It is definitely more than just a ‘positive thought’ or wish toward something.. the Biblical hope we have is a positive outlook toward an expected end. It is not focused on what ‘might’ happen but what ‘must’ happen – love it! We can keep in mind that hope inspires perseverance – inspires patience – endurance.

Let’s consider a Biblical example of the kind of patience we are talking about here.  How about Job? What were a few of the ‘situations or circumstances’ through which Job persevered? 
(sickness, betrayal of friends, judgment, death, financial ruin)
How could he be patient and persevere? Hope!  Ro 8:28 is true and the refining process that happens through the ‘things’ in life that are rarely comfortable creates a hope for our future and part of that hope can be found in Ro 8:29 “29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

How are we being transformed into the likeness of Christ?  2 Cor 3:188 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Job drew from 2 hopes… hope in the face of pain and tragedy that God was at work - that God had not misplaced or forgotten about him and… Job trusted that God would transform him. What was the second hope?  Job 19:25-27  25 I know that my redeemer[a] lives,
   and that in the end he will stand on the earth.[b]
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
   yet[c] in[d] my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
   with my own eyes—I, and not another.
   How my heart yearns within me!

In what was Job placing his hope?  Seeing God’s glory.. being in His presence. Job’s heart yearned for that day.

Let’s look at a few other examples and find what appears to be the ‘hope’ inspiring the perseverance/ patience:
Heb 10:35-36 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Heb 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

2 Tim 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

“Without hope, no patience, without patience, no maturity, without maturity, no reflection, and without reflection, no glory.”   Col 1:27 – tells us – Christ in us, the hope of glory.

We have been talking mostly about the Greek word hupomone/ patience.. now let’s discuss makrothumia which means long suffering; self-restraint before proceeding to action. It is the quality of a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so. It is patience in respect to persons and hupomone is endurance – putting up with things or circumstances.  That is the difference. Both are crucial to living God’s way but both describe different qualities. Let’s look at 2 Peter 3:9…The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.    here we find God’s mercy… in fact, everywhere we see this word used in Scripture, we find God’s mercy.
So… hupomone is inspired by hope. Makrothumia the fruit mentioned in Galatians is inspired by mercy.

The Greek word for mercy means compassion, active pity, with the sense of goodness in general, especially piety – Scripture uses this word to describe God. So… even though the first form of patience is good… wouldn’t you agree that having patience in circumstances is not nearly as important as having patience with people? And.. unfortunately, it is also harder.. therefore, we need the Holy Spirit to accomplish this kind of patience. No wonder it is listed as a fruit of the Spirit. We cannot practice this kind of patience apart from God.

What are some Biblical examples of God practicing patience toward people?  Could be a people group or a particular person..  ideas?

Let’s consider together.. the story of the flood.. What was going on in Genesis 6?
5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—        and yet.. He showed mercy toward Noah.. the word says Noah was a righteous man. How could this be amidst all the depravity around him? Noah’s life teaches us that there is no excuse for our unrighteous behavior.. just because everyone else is doing it.. that cannot be an excuse for our failure to do things right.
The interesting thing about this is God gave the people 120 years to repent.  The word says that Noah preached and lived out righteousness in an attempt to get people to repent as he built the ark.
So.. God is patient toward us  and we are saved because mercy prompted God’s patience. God’s patience means salvation.. to us and to everyone who every believes. 
2 peter 3:9  9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
And.. God calls us to be patient toward others through His empowerment. Ro 14:13
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
The opposite of patience toward others then would be ‘judgment’.   The Greek word in the above passage is defined as ‘to condemn, take vengeance on, it means to try someone as if they stand accused before you in a court of law..  so.. the word for patience here is the delaying of judgment.
We will get into more detail in a couple of weeks about judgment  - what it really is in detail and a list of reasons why we should not judge.
Let’s end our time talking more about the mercy needed to practice God’s kind of patience.
Col 3:12-13 says Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Patience is void of judgment and it is full of mercy and forgiveness. So.. to practice God’s kind of patience that comes from the Holy Spirit allows us to be people who forgive. We have discussed forgiveness many times in LifeCare. Do any of you remember what forgiveness is NOT?  What is it?

To wrap up – what do we see in our lives when we are bearing the fruit of patience?
-        Perseverance
-        Mercy
-        Non-judgmental
-        Forgiving
-        Self-restraint
-        Hope


1.    After hearing tonight’s lesson – do you consider yourself a patient person?  Do you find the first type easier than the second as discussed? Share a time you had to practice the first form.  Then.. the second.
2.    How do you see God’s patience being practiced toward you? – in the past or present
3.    As we consider the evidence of a life full of patience, what attributes do you need to ask God to help you with and why?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011



Galatians 2:20  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Even though every believer has been ‘crucified with Christ’ in the ultimate sense of victory over sin and the grave, we must make certain choices to be crucified with Christ for victory in our daily battle with sin.  What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? What does it mean to take up our cross daily?  What does it mean to truly identify with Christ in His death?  It is all about death to self… 
Let’s look at
10 Characteristics of the Crucified life…(the following is an edited version taken from Beth Moore’s Living Beyond Yourself study)

1.   Few will understand – face the fact that there will be those around you – especially those closest to you that will question, maybe even challenge what you do with your life as God leads.  Have you been there? Have anyone challenge you about how you spend to much time at church? Why you spend your money on missions or serve the poor when you could be buying a new house, boat, car or spending your time watching sports or enjoying some other form of leisure activity every week? This is not to discount the need for leisure but many live their lives for pleasure and leisure rather than using it to replenish their soul. If we are going to live the crucified life – a life in Christ – people will not understand us! – even other believers (those that are not surrendered fully to the Lordship of Christ)
2.   You must abandon your own will and your own agenda – as long as we cling to our own agendas we will never live out the will of God.  What is God’s will and purpose for our lives?  How do we find out what it is? (audio)  How can we find comfort in the death of our own will and desires? 1 Cor 2:9-10.. However, as it is written:
   “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”[a]—  the things God has prepared for those who love him—
 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
   The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  
 Heb 12:2  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3.   Your intimate spiritual companions will be few – we might as well face it, there are very few in the church of Jesus Christ that choose the narrow road – there are few that will take the same road of the crucified life.  God is an ‘add on’ in their life rather than ‘their life’.  Be thankful for those you have in your life that are and pray for those who are not.
4.   Intense, alone times with God are required – the best preparation any of us can do for our most agonizing trials or growth spurts is when we are the only one with the teacher. .we are the only one receiving the attention and comfort and strength from the only One who has the power to give it. 
5.   You will constantly be on the witness stand – we will always be under a microscope.  Matt 26:57-67: Jesus before the Sanhedrin   There will never be a time when we are not subject to the observation of others. We will be held under the scrutiny of non-believers and believers being called to the witness stand. In Heb 13:12-14 we find that Jesus took on our shame and disgrace – we must be willing to do the same. He suffered outside/ away from his home base – we must be willing to leave some of our comforts. He was unashamed of us – we should be unashamed of Him! 1Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
6.   You must go ‘outside the camp’ – God will continually force us outside our comfort zone if we are living the crucified life. (call to Africa – audio) When was the last time you were required by God to leave your comfort zone? If there hasn’t been – we have to ask ourselves why not?
7.   There will be times when your dignity is forfeited – think about Jesus hanging on that cross, He could have come down from there and saved Himself and His dignity. How difficult is it going to be for us to surrender our dignity when God calls us to? The promise, however, it receiving God’s covering.. Ps 91:1 1 “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
   will rest in the shadow of the Almighty”  
We will be safe within the shadow of the almighty!
8.   There will be times you must forego your rights – We may have the right to be angry, the right to be bitter, the right to be happy, the right to give up on that wayward/ prodigal son or daughter.  We have many rights but is God calling you to surrender them to Him.. surrender them to His Lordship – let Him lead the way, be your vindicator, be your peace, be your strength, be your hope – He will replace our rights with His supernatural work of the Spirit.
9.   You must accept that death is painful – Death hurts. We have to face the fact that at times, choosing the will of God over our own is going to be excruciating. We love our flesh and the pleasure of sin so it is going to hurt to have its desires crucified! What makes it worth it? (share ideas)
10.Because He was forsaken, you never will be – Because Jesus agreed to have the sins of the world heaped upon Him and experience separation from the Father, we will never be forsaken. Jesus took on the full force of rejection and separation – separation of humanity, His creation and separation from the Father. Because He was forsaken, we never will be. 
1.     Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
2.     Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
3.     Joshua 1:5
No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
4.     Hebrews 13:5
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Our salvation.. our relationship with God is secure! 

Even though every believer has been ‘crucified with Christ’ in the ultimate sense of victory over sin and the grave, we must make certain choices to be crucified with Christ for victory in our daily battle with sin. If we are to bear the fruit of the Spirit, we must die daily – live the crucified life.


Galatians 2:20  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

1.    Of the 10 Characteristics, which gives you the most concern in your current walk with the Lord? Which spoke most personally to you?
2.    How does God want you to respond to what you have learned this evening?
3.    As you consider your current struggles, is there something you are not dying to that could literally transform you and/ or the situation?
4.    What prevents us from letting go / dying to the things we know God is calling us to give to Him and do His will instead?
5.    Discuss the final passages shared about God never leaving or forsaking us. Do you REALLY believe this? If not, why not?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Will you join us? Outreach Opportunity

Hello Friends:

We are so excited to share an opportunity with you where you can invest in something that will make a difference in years to come in the lives of  leaders as well as communities in Africa.  I (Lillian) have been serving on the Board of Directors for Jasmund Outreach for a couple of years now and Mike and I were recently invited to come to join in the life-changing impact they are making.  How?  We are taking LifeCare to Africa! After a recent meeting, we have firmed up our ministry opportunities when we, Lord-willing, go to join the Jasmunds in late January for ten days.

You can be a part by investing in this trip where we will be teaching/ training area pastors as well as pastoral students in
Dome (pronounced domay) outside of Accra in the South, and Bolgatanga in the North bordering Burkina Faso. We were thrilled to hear these students and pastors are open to learning about genuine discipleship that takes in the 'whole person'.  For those who have been with us on this LifeCare journey thus far, you have learned that spiritual maturity cannot be found apart from dealing with the whole person and the matters of the heart - we must address the emotional, mental, physical and relational needs of the individual as well as the spiritual which intersects them all. This trip, which we are prayerful will be the first of many for future LifeCare teams will also allow us opportunities to meet with these leaders for counseling and inner healing work.  We are also planning to minister inner healing to the women and men separately. The women in particular have endured a lot of sexual trauma - they need to be set free and we feel the call to begin something that will continue after we leave.  The cost is expensive if it were left to one individual or family but with everyone contributing, we will be able to make this trip happen.  Obviously, the end of January is not far off and we are trusting that God will provide through people like you that believe in the LifeCare mission - a Care Center reaching out to the world to make a difference - being Christ's ambassadors of healing and training others to minister well.

Your donations are tax deductible. Simply send a check with 'missions' indicated in the memo line or contribute via pay pal on our web site at www.lifecarechristiancenter.org.  We have less than two months to raise at least $5,000.  Will you join us in this amazing venture whether financial and/ or in your prayers? And please share this with others you know who can be praying with us.  Thank you so much.

In His Amazing Service, 

          Lillian & Mike


Lillian M. Easterly-Smith, BCPC
Board Certified Pastoral Counselor, AACC
Sr. Chaplain, I.F.O.C
Executive Director, LifeCare Christian Center
33300 Warren, Suite 17, Westland, MI  48185
Sr. Chaplain, I.F.O.C.

Monday, November 14, 2011

FRUITFUL LIVING - LOVE - Part 2 - Eros & Phleo

**Be sure to listen to the audio – valuable illustrations, discussions, comments are not in the written notes.

Review the fruit of the Spirit….  Also for review…What is the fruit of the Spirit? – definition:  1. the supernatural outcome of being filled with the Spirit. 2. the living proof that the Spirit of God dwells in us.  By the way.. it’s fruit not fruits…  J  speaks of one kind of fruit with 9 different qualities.

Last week we started learning about the first fruit – Love – we learned there are 3 types of love: Eros, Phileo & Agape… We focused on agape and went through 1 Corinthians 13. Tonight we will be investigating eros and phileo together…

Eros is the Greek word for romantic love – The word actually means: longing and desire. Eros is a selfish love, it asks ‘what can I get for myself?’. This is why it has been associated with sexual love. Unless sexual love is redeemed by the presence of God, it becomes possessive. It seeks to conquer and control. Human sexuality can be a destructive force, but such was never God’s intention. For further study read Song of Solomon or… attend our seminar in January on Healthy Sexuality (2nd Sat of the month). 

Healthy marriages do not exist absent of physical affection.  Eros is an integral part of marriage. If yours is missing this element – take heart – God can change it!  Begin to pray – God can change your heart and give you healthy desires toward your mate. Sometimes agape comes before eros or phileo comes before eros…

        Our Story…(Mike & I - listen to audio).
The next type of love is ‘phileo’.. “the love one has toward a friend or companion”. 1 Peter 3:8 says “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

When one has phileo love for another, they place that person in a high personal position. We hold them in high esteem.  This love is also characterized by shared experience or shared interests that bring you both joy. Let’s discuss the different levels or types of friendships we may have…  There is the outer circle (acquaintances) , middle (common interests/ some sharing/ Body of Christ – like extended family members) and inner circle (deep, intimate) – very few people of these inner circle relationships these days and if they do, there are less than a hand full in that inner circle.  These are the friends that know your likes and dislikes, your idiosyncrasies, attitudes about certain things, your basic nature, your strengths and weaknesses, there is open sharing that is 2-way, there is intimacy on many levels – emotional, intellectual and spiritual oftentimes.
These relationships (middle & inner circle) are like family – God calls us “to love like a sister/ brother”. 1 Peter 3:8  “ 8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

As we consider loving well.. we have to deal with the uncomfortable topic of ‘risk’.  When we love – eros, phileo, agape – we risk being hurt – we risk betrayal. These fears should never keep us from cultivating these relationships but oftentimes they do.
Getting beyond betrayal & rejection
1. weigh out the risks (positives & negatives)  brainstorm examples: neg: emotional pain, embarrassed, disappointment, shame, feel stupid   positive: dispel loneliness, rewarding, fulfilling, happiness, joy, act of obedience, healing
2.  forgiveness
3.  consider the source
4.  look to God first – let Him guide you to relationships rather than you ‘choosing’
5.  Seek His Divine healing & Strength
   Ps 27:10 
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
   the LORD will receive me.

Rom 11:15  For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?  1Peter 2:4-10 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
   “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him
   will never be put to shame.”[b] 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,   “The stone the builders rejected
   has become the cornerstone,”[c]
 8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble
   and a rock that makes them fall.”[d]
   They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 

1.       What does the role of ‘chemistry’ play in romantic love?
2.       Discuss the differences in the ‘circles’ of relationship. What are some characteristics you look for or see in the friendships you have in the inner circle?
3.       The times you experienced rejection or betrayal, what were ways you dealt with it – positive & negative?
4.       Are you still practicing self-protection?  What have you heard tonight that will help you put those walls down and begin to pursue relationship?

Monday, November 7, 2011


Be sure to listen to the audio – valuable illustrations, discussions, comments are not in the written notes.

1 Corinthians 13 – Love!   1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

We talk about it – sing about it – praise it – seek it – long for it – LOVE~!  God’s kind of love is really foreign to us. How can we have the ability to love the unlovely – not endure them – but to love them? How can we genuinely desire the best, not just for ourselves & our friends but for our enemies? Love challenges us doesn’t it? It also frightens us. Ultimately only love – the love that comes from God – love that IS God (God is love) - can change us so that we become people who love. 
There are 3 types of love:  Eros, Phileo / philos & Agape… tonight we are going to talk about the facets of Agape which is the Greek word used in Galatians 5:22.  Next week, we will discuss the other types of love. Agape – divine love, stands in a class all its own. Agape is not a feeling, it is a response, it’s not something based on common interests or connection. Agape flows from what is right and best. God is commanding us to agape – not to a feeling. He is commanding us to surrender to an act of His Spirit which is obedience – emotion may accompany agape but they are not the same nor is it necessary.
Back to 1 Cor 13 – keep in mind that ‘love’ in these verses is ‘agape’. Do you feel challenged? Overwhelmed? Feel it is unattainable? Or.. are you confident? It is evident by these words that agape is truly divine and must be supernaturally obtained.
What are the characteristics of agape?
1.    Patient – the proper definition of this Greek word is “a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so”
2.    Kind – “to show oneself useful”: willing to help, assist.
3.    Does not Envy – left to reap, envy always ends in some form of action. Listen to the news.. you’ll find out exactly what actions envy and jealousy lead to: competition, fighting, theft, idolatry of all kinds, and even murder (Examples)
4.    Does not Boast – This Greek word comes from the root word that means ‘braggart’. What is the only grounds for boasting?  1Cor 1:31  1 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[a]
5.    Not Proud – Where does pride lead us? Discuss… Proverbs 13:10    Where there is strife, there is pride,
   but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
If we are loving with agape love – what can be said about our relational interactions? Remember – quarreling and loving confrontation are 2 different things. Quarreling oftentimes has more to do with us than anything else – are we fearful of what people will think – if it’s a spouse or a child that is not acting in accord with your will.
6.    Not Rude – “to behave in an ugly, indecent, unseemly or unbecoming manner” this includes things that are obscene – that is ‘unbecoming’.. If we participate in the indecent or obscene, we cripple our ability to exercise agape. Phil 4:8 provides guidelines for us so it is not quenched.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
7.    Not Self-Seeking – Self-seeking is the polar opposite of agape.
8.    Not Easily Angered – This one goes with #7 – Much of what angers us is a result of how we perceive we are personally affected by a situation.  Let’s look at Psalm 145:8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.   The assumption we can find from this passage is that we cannot be rich in love without being slow to anger.  Do you agree?
9.    Keeps no Record of Wrongs – Somehow most human beings revel in recording the failures of others – perhaps it’s because then we can feel better about ourselves.
10.                     Does not Delight in Evil but Rejoices with the Truth – Is it easy always rejoice in the truth?  When is it not easy?
11.                     Always Protects – “to cover over in silence” A good picture of this would be covering an individual with a cloak of love that their faults cannot be seen.  If I am quick to notice fault and it is easy for me to expose that fault, then I am not exercising agape.
12.                     Always Trusts – “having faith in someone” – believing in them
13.                     Always Hopes – “to expect with desire” – expect the best from them
14.                     Always Perseveres – “to remain under” “to hang in there” – this is necessary if we are ever going to enjoy long term relationships
15.                     Never Fails – “to be without effect, to be in vain”

If we allow God to exercise agape through us no matter what happens, it will never be in vain! Agape is the love of God expressed through us to others. It begins as a response and ends with a feeling.

Agape in Action – John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Additional characteristics of agape: 
Agape Sacrifices.  Agape is Demonstrative! Agape shows. Agape cannot help but be expressed because that is its essence.  Of course the greatest demonstration was the cross….
In John 17 we find at least 8 ways Christ demonstrated his love for us.
1.   He reveals His father to us
2.   ..gives us the Father’s word
3.   ..prays for us
4.   ..protects us
5.   ..gives us His glory
6.   .. places us in Him
7.   ..makes the Father known to us
8.   ..desires for us to be with Him and to see His glory
Zephaniah 3:17 CEV
The Lord your God wins victory after victory
and is always with you.
He celebrates and sings
because of you,
and he will refresh your life
with his love.”

1.    Think about several people you ‘agape love’ the most – Do they know without a doubt you love them?  How?
2.    Is there someone God is calling you to ‘agape’ that you are resisting?  Why the resistance? Is your heart the problem? 
1 John 3:20  “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”
3.    How does God want you to respond to this lesson tonight?
4.    Share the impact as you consider God ‘agape’ loves you.  What do you feel and think as you consider 1 Cor 13 toward you from God?

Note: much of the lessons presented in Fruitful Living come from a study by Beth Moore: “Living Beyond Yourself”

Monday, October 31, 2011

FRUITFUL LIVING - PEACE: by Robbie Sedgeman


Peace is Possible
  • As we continue our study in the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23) – this week we will focus on peace.  Peace is a frequent topic in Sarah Young’s devotional entitled ‘Jesus Calling.’  Here is the October 13th devotional (it is written as if Jesus is speaking directly to you):
Take time to be still in My Presence.  The more hassled you feel, the more you need this sacred space of communion with Me.  Breathe slowly and deeply.  Relax in My holy Presence while My Face shines upon you.  This is how you receive My Peace, which I always offer to you.

Imagine the pain I feel when My children tie themselves up in anxious knots, ignoring My gift of Peace.  I died a criminal’s death to secure this blessing for you.  Receive it gratefully; hide it in your heart.  My Peace is an inner treasure, growing within you as you trust in Me.  Therefore, circumstances cannot touch it.  Be still, enjoying Peace in My Presence.
  • Doesn’t that sound wonderful?  And the Bible tells us that it is possible!  One of the titles given to Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 is Prince of Peace.  Where ever he is, there is peace.  So, if we follow him, peace is available to us!

Peace Defined
  • The Greek word for peace means ‘peace of mind, tranquility.’  It is more than a lack of strife or anxiety or fear; it is being filled with the contentment and tranquility of God.
  • Some people have simply numbed their emotions in order to avoid the painfulness of fear or worry.  But that is not peace - it is not feeling.  God created our emotions for our benefit and for us to feel them to their fullest.  Beth Moore says it this way, “Peace means the absence of fear and turmoil, but not the absence of pain and grief.  We can be filled with sadness and still possess a wonderful sense of God’s peace.  God is not a proponent of emotional annihilation.”

Signs that you are Lacking Peace
  • Since we are designed by God to live peaceful lives, whenever we are experiencing turmoil or chaos in some area of our life, peace is missing.  In Job 3:26, Job said, ‘I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.’
  • Beth Moore says it this way, “Without doubt, God’s peace is paramount to spiritual, mental and emotional wholeness.”  I would add physical wellness to that statement.  Proverbs 14:30 says, ‘A heart at peace gives life to the body.’
  • A lack of peace can emerge in a multitude of ways and it is important for each of us to identify how our thoughts, emotions and bodies react when there is turmoil within us.  Here are a few ways turmoil exhibits itself:
    • Sleepless nights filled with tossing and turning
    • Fear
    • Worry & anxiety
    • Tasks seems difficult, burdensome – no motivation or being overwhelmed
    • Mind and/or body in perpetual motion – you don’t want to stop and simply be still
    • Memories that imprison you and that you can’t stop thinking about
    • Life circumstances that have never-ending strife and chaos
    • Hopelessness
    • Sense of being out of control
    • Physical ailments such as headaches and digestive issues

The Source of Peace
  • An important component in understanding and embracing peace is knowing whose it is.  Most of us believe it is ours – that it is something we can attain of our own accord.  We strive to create peace in our lives.  We try to manipulate and control the circumstances of our lives and the behavior of others in an effort to make our lives go in a predictable, steady order.  Then, we believe, turmoil will be gone and peace will enter our hearts.  Or we may try to control our minds and emotions directly through meditation and peaceful music or by telling ourselves over and over again, ‘Let it go.’ Some of us use distraction techniques, such as focusing on food, shopping, work or ministry to block out the turmoil.
  • We may be quite adept at some of these techniques and even have a measure of success.  But ultimately we will run into a brick wall.  A circumstance will be beyond our manipulation or a person will not go along with our agenda or we find anxiety creeping into the middle of our meditation.
  • That is when we are in the best position to realize that peace is not ours to acquire – it is God’s to give to us.  God owns peace and he is the only one with the ability to impart it to us.  The good news is that he has already said that it is available to us!  In John 14:27, Jesus said, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.'  Ephesians 2:14a says, ‘For he himself is our peace.’
  • It can be a challenge for those who are followers of Christ to stay in his peace, but how impossible it is for those who do not have Jesus as their Lord to maintain any measure of true peace.  Isaiah said, ‘the way of peace they do not know’ (Isaiah 59:8).  How grateful I am to have God in my life!

Abiding in Peace
  • We play an active role in our peace.  It is a gift we have already been given, but it’s up to us to unwrap it.  As Beth Moore states, ‘The key to being filled with the Holy Spirit, so that God’s peace may be released within, is a mind focused on him.’  Romans 8:6 says, ‘The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.’
  • We naturally focus on the circumstances of our everyday lives.  We are busy and things need to get done.  And God does call us to be productive and active in our lives.  In the process, we often make the tasks of our day our primary focus.  All the while, God is longing to be our main focus.  Matthew 6:33 says, ‘Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.’
    • I realized recently how often I am not ‘in the present moment.’  Preparing for this study, I found myself in a state of turmoil at one point because I felt I should be further along than I was.  I was calculating the time I had left to prepare the study compared to how much more I had to do and it took my peace completely away.  It seemed ironic, and very frustrating, that my peace would vanish while preparing a talk on peace.  But with the help of Godly counsel, I realized that it is exactly like God to use this opportunity to teach me more about my peace journey.  I was not seeking him first above all – I was seeking to ‘get it done.’   But above all, he wants an active ongoing relationship with us.  He doesn’t need me to do this study; he is giving me the opportunity to create this study with him.  In all we do, he wants to do it with us.  He is not as concerned about what we do as much as he has a desire to do it with us!
  • Isaiah 16:3, Isaiah says, ‘You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.’  Trust is vital to keeping our minds focused on God and filled with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus says, ‘Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.’  (Matthew 6:27, 34).  He calls us to focus on and live in each day, embracing whatever joys or sorrows it brings, letting the next day work itself out.
    • This is equally applicable to our worries about our own lives as it is our worries about the lives of those we love.  In describing how Jesus feed 5,000 with a few fish and some small loaves of bread, Beth Moore said, “Jesus was perfectly at peace with the needs of his followers because he had perfect confidence in his Father’s provision.”  We can leave our needs and the needs of others at his feet, because God is capable.
  • Philippines 4:6-7 has always been one of my favorite verses:  ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’  But I was struck recently with something I had missed all these years – the peace which transcends understanding comes to us simply by talking to God!  It does not say, ‘present your requests, be thankful and then God will resolve your troubles and then you will have peace.’  It says, ‘present your requests to God and the peace of God’ will come upon you.  It is so simple – Jesus is the Prince of Peace, so we cannot help but be in a measure of his peace when we are talking with him!

The Glorious Outcome of Peace
  • One glorious outcome of God’s peace is that it is reveals his power and ability.  Philippines 4:7 says that God’s peace is beyond understanding.  In Matthew 11:30, Jesus says, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ You can be in the midst of the most difficult circumstances, yet have contentment as you walk through the dark valley.  That unnatural response to difficult circumstances shines a light in your life that proves to both you and others that God is capable of doing things that no one else can do.
  • Another glorious outcome of God’s peace is that it will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippines 4:7).  My study bible says that guarding your hearts and minds is “a military concept depicting a sentry standing guard.  God’s ‘protective custody’ of those who are in Christ Jesus extends to the core of their beings and to their deepest intentions.”  1 Peter 1:5a says we are those ‘who through faith are shielded by God’s power.’

In her study on the fruits of the Spirit, Beth Moore states, “Jesus has greeted us with the most liberating words known to spiritual humanity:  ‘Peace be with you!’  Praise his holy name.  My heart pounds within me, ‘Lord, I want your peace!’  I want peace in aloneness, peace in provision, peace in the storm, peace in the wait, peace in the tears, peace in your plan – and even peace in my death.”

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)


1.   How do you define peace?  Have you ever mistaken numbness for peace?
2.   Review the signs indicating a lack of peace.  Are you experiencing any of those signs?
3.   How are you doing at keeping your focus on God and his kingdom?  Can you identify a circumstance when the task at hand became the all-important focus and communion with God became secondary?  What was your level of peace during that circumstance?
4.   Are you being challenged to trust God in a particular area of your life?  Explain.
5.   Share a time when you or someone you know experienced one of the glorious outcomes of God’s peace:  peace beyond understanding which displayed his glory and power or protection of your heart and mind.