Fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL

Hi friends! Today we are wrapping up our Fruit of the Spirit blog series with self-control. I am excited to share this blog post with you and even more excited for what is to come in the future 🙂 alrighty, let’s jump in.

WHAT IS SELF-CONTROL:

There is not a very clear definition for the meaning of self-control in the Bible, but in Proverbs 25:28, we are given a picture of what life looks like without self-control.

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. – Proverbs 25:28

When I think of this verse, I picture this image of people easily coming into a city, offering their opinions of how things should change within the city, and not many people are there to defend it. For us, I think realistically that can look like Satan entering our minds and twisting our emotions for us to act in the way Satan wants us to. Self-control for me is being intentional and mindful about your decisions, your words, and your actions.

GOOD INTENTIONS, BAD DECISIONS:

Growing up, I had this motto (and I still use it), “always do the right thing”. Over the years, I have been able to acknowledge that just because I have good intentions going into a situation does not mean that I am not sinning.

So picture this: I go to school. My friend, Sally Sue, comes up to me. She starts being really mean, calling me a bunch of bad names, and just tears me down. Say this just really upsets me. I go to the bathroom, I’m really emotional, and my friend Alice comes in. She asks what’s going on, is everything okay. In my mind, I’m thinking “okay Claire, tell Alice what’s going on because once you get it off your chest, you’re gonna be able to go back out and love on people and not let this ruin your day”.

So I tell Alice what happened. BUT I talk about the situation with my opinion, my feelings, and my emotions. Technically, this makes me feel better and I can calm down, but by calling Sally Sue rude and mean, I just gossiped about her to a friend. Who then might say what I said to someone else. See where I’m going?

I think in life we can be so focused on what’s in front of us, but forget to check our blind spot. When you’re in a car, if you are only focused on the road in front of you and don’t check your blind spot, you might hit a car when changing lanes. Your intentions were good because you were focusing on the road in front of you, trying to pay attention and not cause a wreck. But you forgot to check the blind spot.

We can have great intentions on making good decisions, but if we don’t check if our decisions are aligning with God’s word, then we can still fall into sin.

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. – Proverbs 16:2-4

The way we see it might look pure to us, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a sin.

LEARN TO USE CONTROL:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. – Titus 2:11-14

I think an important reason to study God’s word is to learn wisdom from Him. He wants us to live a holy and upright life. He wants us to understand what breaks His heart. By studying and memorizing scripture, we are able to be equipped with the word and take it with us in life.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:17

If you go into a battle without a weapon and say “I don’t need it, I’m gonna win the war without it”, you might lose the war because you weren’t prepared and equipped for the battle. God wants us to use His word as our sword for battle. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus fought back with scripture. It’s important to take the time to memorize and understand the power of God’s word.

I want to challenge you today by memorizing one of the verses mentioned in this blog post. Remember, self-control is about controlling our desires, our feelings, and our emotions, which can easily be tempted by Satan. I hope this week you are able to look at your blind spot in situations and use God’s word to help you make your decisions.

With love,

Claire

Fruit of the Spirit: FAITHFULNESS

WHAT IS FAITHFULNESS:

Faithfulness means to be full of faith. It is a way in which we can show God our trust, loyalty, and obedience to Him. In Hebrews chapter 11, the author talks much about what faith is and reminds us of many people in the Bible who walked with faith.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. – Hebrews 11:1-3

We cannot always see how God’s plans are going to come to us or how they will play out. We cannot always see that God is working for us, even when it feels like everything is going wrong. However, by having faith, we can trust and have confidence that God is working all things out for our good. He is trying to teach us, guide us, and fulfill His plans through us.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. – Hebrews 11:6-7

When God told Noah to build an ark because the Lord was going to flood the earth, he did. Even though Noah could not see the future that God had in store, he still trusted and obeyed God. He did exactly what was told of him.

HOW IS GOD FAITHFUL:

I think God is faithful in an abundance of ways to us. A lot of the time, God is faithful to you and others around you in different ways and circumstances. Maybe, you prayed for your purpose to be shown to you, and God fulfilled it and rewarded you with a job. Maybe you dealt with some difficult circumstances in life or got your heartbroken. God might have shown His faithfulness to you by offering you time to heal and giving you friends and family members to help you get through those times.

His faithfulness might be shown to us in different ways, but overall, God is faithful. We all are unified by many faithful actions God has already done as well. A major example is that God was faithful by sending His Son to sacrifice Himself and die so that we may have eternal life with Him.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17

The Lord promised that a Messiah would eventually come to save God’s people long ago. Eventually, Jesus was born and shed His blood for our sins, so that we may live and walk with Him. God wanted you to be apart of His kingdom, so He fulfilled that promise He made long ago and made a way for that to happen.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

WALK BY FAITH:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. – James 1:5-8

I can’t give you one simple and easy answer to the question of how to live by faith. But I can tell you that a life with faith means walking, trusting, obeying, and approaching God with confidence in who He says He is and what He says He will do.

Walking by faith is not just about believing in God though. It says in the book of James that even the demons believed. A life full of faith calls for us to not only believe in God but to live out our lives faithfully, by our actions and our words.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. – James 2:18-26

Set your heart and mind on God’s word, His character, and His love. Remind yourself of the moments in your life where God showed His faithfulness to you. Reflect on how Jesus obeyed and walked by faith in His Father. Learn from those in the Bible, like Noah, Abraham, and Rahab, who have each shown us their faith. Allow this to not only let you see God’s promises become fulfilled but also let your mind and heart be reminded that we can walk by faith as well.

With love,

Claire

Sometimes, you gotta pray BIG!!

As the new decade is coming up so soon, it really makes me want to take some time and revisit the things of this decade that were great and not so great. Maybe rethink about the mistakes I made or the events I really enjoyed. Taking the time to be mindful about the past so I can look forward to a better future.

I was reading this book a little while ago called “Love Life Again” by Tracie Miles. What’s funny is when I bought this book, I went into the bookstore looking for a totally different book. Yet, I left the store with this book, the book God knew I needed at the time.

Honestly, this is one of my favorite books to ever read. The reason I love it so much is because it talks about a very realistic topic: finding joy even when life is hard. And it gives you practical ways on how to do this.

However, something else that I really love is that at the end of each chapter, Tracie puts a short prayer going along with the topic of the chapter. Asking God to move in miraculous ways.

Over the course of reading this book, I wrote down each prayer she put in the book and ordered it to fit me personally:

“Lord, lately I’ve been feeling unseen, unwanted, unneeded, unaccepted, and all alone. But I do believe You can be the best friend I will ever need. Forgive me for not realizing the kind of friend I can have in You. Please help me feel your presence when I feel alone.

You know the shame and regret I feel for the sins in my life, some from my past and some in the present. I humbly ask for Your forgiveness for all my sins. I believe You died on the cross so I could be cleansed, and I accept that gift of cleansing right now. Just as you have forgive and forgotten my sins, help me not focus on and obsess over them. Help me let go and free up my heart to experience more peace and joy. 

Forgive me for doubting that You have a wonderful plan and purpose for me. Let me let go of the worries and fears of the future and stop obsessing over how things may turn out. Help me to always trust that You hold my future in your hands. 

Forgive me for being ungrateful for all You have blessed me with and done for me. Give me the ability to see and hear You more when I feel far away from You. Thank you for providing me with things that bring so much joy and meaning to my life. Thank you for the love ones you have surrounded me with. Help to always have a thankful heart every day. 

Jesus, I have a habit of complaining to others and to You. Help me to be more aware of when I am complaining. Rather than complain, help me talk with You about my problems and challenges in a way that gives You praise and honors the fact that I can trust You with my life. Lord, I want to choose contentment today and embrace this season of my life. Help me to choose to live joyfully because of the life I do have and not the one I want. Help me to see myself the way you see me and let me value myself the way you value me.

Let me live each day with a confidence that comes from You, not from my efforts, appearance, or accomplishments, much less the words, actions, or opinions of others. Help me to stop looking at my flaws, imperfections, and struggles and start seeing myself through the lens of Your Word. Help me forget the words or actions of others that feed critical lies into my mind and to keep Your words about me at the forefront of my thoughts. 

God, please bring those people into my life who can satisfy my craving for real friendship. Push me out of my comfort zone and give me the courage to make a move toward making friends even if it feels awkward or intimidating at first. Help me to remember that I always have you as my closest friend. Help me feel your presence especially during those times I feel most alone. 

Help me to see through your loved-colored glasses so that I may see what you see and my heart will break for what Yours breaks. Grant me with an open heart and open eyes. Open doors of opportunity where You want me to serve. Allow me the blessing of being a blessing to another one of Your children.

Thank you for the gift of laughter. Open my eyes to see all the reasons I have to smile and laugh every day. Thank you for who You are and for all You’ve done for me and blessed me with. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Tracie Miles

Sometimes, you gotta pray big! Don’t get me wrong. Every prayer is powerful, but there are definitely times where you have to take the time and let it all flow out. Let all of your thoughts, emotions, and worries out. Whether that’s writing your prayer down or typing it out, God already knows what is on our hearts, but He wants us to communicate it with Him as well. He wants to hear our voices calling out for Him. He also wants you to realize what you are asking and needing as well.

Or maybe you don’t even know where to start. Use this prayer as a guide. Let it help you figure out all you want to say and get off your chest.

Praying big doesn’t have to do with the length of your prayer or how many smart words you can put into it. No, it’s about the passion and the power in how you pray. It’s about believing that not only can God hear you pray, but believing He can do something with that prayer.

I want to challenge you sometime this week or this month to sit down, go for a walk, or meditate and pray big!!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Be Still

I think a lot of us probably struggle with contentment in some areas of our lives. We always want more than what we already have. We want to have all these things that we think will make us happy: good grades, a fancy car, a fancy house, a perfect partner, etc.

But God has us where we are for a purpose and a plan. He wants us to be content with where we are and just be still.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

See, this verse can sometimes be taken in the context of “oh, I just need to wait on God and not do anything.” But when we aren’t growing closer to God, we are moving farther away. We live in a broken sinful world, and even if we aren’t intentionally thinking about it, the more we stray away from God, the more we are moving closer to sin.

To be still means to make the most of where you are, whether that’s physically where you are located in the world, or just the people you hang around with.

Think about Paul. When he was sitting in prison for two years, he wrote the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. He was stuck in a jail cell, yet he made the most of his time by writing these books that give us so much wisdom of how to live a Christ-like life.

It’s easy for us to fall into issues with contentment. I mean we are human and we’ve lived in this world for so long now, a world that tells us that we need all the new and best things to be happy. However, Solomon would totally disagree with that. King Solomon was a man that had everything he ever wanted, but he still was not completely satisfied by any of it. It still wasn’t enough for him.

So what is enough for us? Does the cycle of wanting more and more ever come to an end?

We have to realize that Christ is our completer, and no one else is. But when it comes to contentment, we normally are wanting things to temporarily feel us up. We are like Solomon, wanting all the things this earth can give us, yet when we have them, we still aren’t full.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. – Colossians 3:2

However, we also have to be mindful of Christ and where he fits on our priority list. As much as I wish that Christ was at the top of my priority list, I prioritize my time with friends and school much more than I do spending time with Christ. However, even spending all that time with friends and trying to do incredible in my classes are just temporary things that will make me feel great. But I’ll always want more.

Jesus completes us. These other things are great and all but they are just temporary things at the end of the day. What matters is how we spend our time on this Earth because our time here is just a tiny dot on a line that goes on forever. It’s important to make the most of it by being intentional with others and having a kingdom mindset in whatever situation you are in. And sharing that wisdom with friends, family, and strangers.

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16

It’s not an overnight ordeal, but I believe we can eventually come to the point where we are so content in our relationship with Christ and His plan for us, that no earthly things will matter to us as much as He does.

I pray whatever you are facing today that God will give you a sense of peace and strength to help you through this season of life. Be still and know that our God is powerful and faithful.

With love,

Claire