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: GENTLENESS

Over the past few weeks, we have learned about what it means to live a holy and pleasing life for the Lord. We have talked about living a life full of faith, being kind to others, and seeking joy during difficult circumstances. Today, I want to continue this series with gentleness.

WHAT IS GENTLENESS:

When the Bible mentions gentleness, most of the time, it is speaking about how we should act gently with one another.

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” – 1 Peter 3:14-15

What I find so interesting and wonderful about the different attributes of the fruit of the Spirit, is that they are all somewhat connected to each other. For example, gentleness is related much to kindness and love. But just by living in a manner that is holy to God, we are embracing all the attributes of the Spirit in a united way.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-2

WHAT DOES THE LORD TEACH US ABOUT GENTLENESS:

When I think of the word gentleness, I think of my words. The words that I chose to use when speaking with others and the meaning behind those words. Many things flow from our heart, but one that is deadly to ourselves and those around us are the words we speak.

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” – Matthew 15:18-19

Think about it, when we are connecting and interacting with each other, the majority of the time, we are speaking words to others. But the question is “Are we using a gentle heart when speaking to those around us?”

Here’s where I don’t want to confuse you though. Having a gentle heart does not mean you are a pushover. It doesn’t mean things don’t bother you or you can’t stand up for yourself. You totally can. But it is in the way you do it that is the kicker. The attitude you use, the way you speak your words, and the meaning behind it.

I have been reading a book called “Speak Love” by Annie Downs. I recently found it at Barnes and Noble, and I truly just thought “You know, I need to take the time to get better at learning to be more mindful of the words I speak and acknowledge when my words can hurt.” But one point Annie brings up is that we learn how to act in a holy manner by learning about God.

“God is our example. How God uses His words is how we can learn to use ours.” – Annie Downs

We see God using His words to create life at the beginning of Genesis. We also see God using His words through the life of Jesus. When Jesus was ministering or fellowshipping with His disciples, Jesus would stand up for Himself and His Father even when people tried to attack Him. However, He did it gently.

I truly think the reason Jesus was able to speak in such a way (other than being God Himself) was that He loved everyone around Him. His heart was good, gentle, kind, and true and it allowed Him to speak gently and lovingly to those around Him.

LIVING WITH A GENTLE HEART:

I don’t have a perfect answer for living with a gentle heart, but I can tell you the things I try to do.

Learn from God’s words. Reading scripture and meditating on how God speaks to those, such as Abraham, Moses, and Noah gives me a way of how I should handle my interactions with those around me. And learning about how Jesus speaks to those around Him, gives me hope that I can speak truth in the life of others because of the power of the Holy Spirit.

“for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” – Luke 12:12

Set your mind on things above. I was reminded this past week that in a lot of situations when I get frustrated, overwhelmed, or confused in life, things really aren’t as bad as they seem. And things could always be worse. We will suffer in this life. But remember that this is our temporary home and a heavenly kingdom is in store for us in the future.

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.” – Hebrews 11:16

Be mindful and take your time. It is very important to allow yourself time to think before you speak. I think we live in such a busy and rushed world that we are used to immediately putting our words on paper or out into the world. But, it is perfectly okay to take time with your words.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” – James 1:19

I hope that this week, you can not only see how God is speaking to you in different ways around you, but you can learn more about how God sees you and loves you. Be gentle with those around you and with yourself. Take things day by day and focus on the present place God has you in.

With love,

Claire

Fruit of the Spirit: PEACE

WE ARE TALKING ABOUT PEACE THIS WEEK! I think we could all use a little peace in our lives right about now, don’t you think?

We live in such a chaotic and uncertain world. Because of this, it leads to us spending a lot of our time and energy on worrying and staying busy. But because of Jesus, we can have peace with us at all times, even when life feels shaky.

WHAT IS PEACE:

To be honest, I think we all have a different meaning of peace. Some might think peace is a sense of being calm or being content. Others might say it is silence, tranquility, or security.

I think when we hear the word “peace”, we also each picture something in our minds. Something that brings us peace, makes us feel calm and provides a sense of comfort. For you, it might be an object or a place. Maybe a memory where you felt at peace.

When I hear the word “peace”, I immediately think of the ocean. The sound of the waves and the view of the water always seems to calm me and gives me comfort. I think the reason I have always pictured the ocean as my “image of peace” is because I tend to reflect on when Jesus was able to calm the storm that appeared to Him and His disciples.

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” – Mark 4:35-41

See, the disciples were not expecting a great storm to come and disrupt them. They were not prepared for the storm. They did not know what to do and they also did not know what was going to happen next. Would the storm sink their boat or would Jesus help them?

Fear and uncertainty can cause us to lose our peace quickly if we are not prepared for those things. It’s like when you get a test for a class and nothing you studied for is even on it. I don’t know about you but that can cause me to freak out real quick.

HOW DO WE FIND PEACE:

I think “finding peace” is something everyone wants to find. But I think we have to understand that peace is not something the world can give us. Not long-lasting peace.

The world can give us temporary happiness and temporary comfort, but the kind of peace you truly desire to find is only found in God alone.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13

Because of Christ, Jesus has given us peace. When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives inside of you. The Spirit has great power, and because of that power, we can have peace with us at all times. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1

However, I think in the world we live in, many things can cause us to lose peace in moments of our lives. Worry, fear, doubt, and frustration can come to the surface, and peace seems very far away in those moments.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

If we continue to keep our minds on who God is and what He wants for us, we can come back to that peace. Sometimes, you might have to ask God for peace. Other times, peace might seem very near to you. Either way, peace is a lot like the other fruits. It can be challenging to have it, but once you do, the Spirit can do incredible things, not only inside of you but also around you.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. – Romans 8:6

LIVING WITH PEACE:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:18

Peace can restore relationships and bring loved ones together. Jesus calls us to live peacefully with one another. Sometimes, this can be difficult, but if we focus on how Jesus lived with the people around Him, it gives you a better sense of how to do so. Jesus also lived with His mindset on the Spirit. Because of that, He was able to not only have peace but become peace.

Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. – 1 Peter 3:11

By turning away from evil and focusing our attention back on God, we can continue to live a life full of peace. Maybe a realistic way to do this is by doing a self-reflection of your life at this very moment. What are the things or who are the people that are helping you grow more in your faith and become more at peace? What are the things or people who are affecting you negatively or turning you away from God and towards sin? Sometimes, those reflections can be painful and require work to change your lifestyle, but they are beneficial. Those self-reflections allow us to be more mindful of our relationship with the Lord and where we want that relationship to be.

This week, I am praying God will bring comfort and peace into whatever situations you might be facing. I pray that you can celebrate the good blessings that God has given you and remember His faithfulness during this season in your life. 

Stay safe,

Claire

Treat Your Friends Like Jesus Treats You (Even When They Mess Up)

Have you ever been in a position with one of your really great friends, and you’re just like “Did they really just do that?” or “Did they really just say that?” 

Sometimes, people’s actions, words, feelings, etc. just shock us so hard and sometimes, it can really upset us. You think that this person was a close friend, someone you trusted so much, but then they go and hurt you. This leaves you so tempted to stay high-key salty with them or get revenge.

But just because it’s what you want to do, doesn’t mean it’s what you should do.

Let’s look at Peter. Peter was best friends with Jesus. He looked up to Jesus, loved Him, and trusted Him so much. He wanted to follow Him for the rest of his life. But Peter messed up, and he denied who Jesus was, aka his best friend. He straight up told people that he didn’t know who Jesus was.

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept. – Mark 14:71-72

Ouch. How would you feel if your best friend denied knowing you in a public place? I would be pretty hurt. Jesus was hurt, but He still died for Peter. Just like how He died for us even after we sin so many times. Jesus is hurt that we sin, but Jesus KNOWS us, and He understands that we are humans. He understands that we aren’t perfect. We are going to mess up, and we are going to make mistakes.

So yes, when your friend betrays you, it’s hard not to want to yell at them. It’s hard not to want to slap them across the face and get upset at them. But treat them like Jesus treats us. Know that they aren’t perfect. They mess up just like you do. Love them when they mess up. Comfort them. Forgive them.

Love always,

Claire

#treatyourselfcauseitsalmosthalloween