Fruit NOT Fruits

We all love fruits, right? Some of us make sure we get our daily servings however we can. I know some of you would say you like some fruits but not all, and that is okay. While some of you are allergic to certain types of fruits. Can we all agree the vegetables’ crew can just have tomatoes? I love tomatoes by the way.

Are you familiar with THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT found in Galatians 5:22-23? I can safely say many of us are.

“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

While I was doing some thinking my mind somehow ended up on fruits and the Fruit of the Spirit. This happens enough for me to know it’s God trying to teach me something. One thing I quickly realized was how often Galatians 5:22-23 is misquoted. Unlike the natural fruits that we love, like, or hate the Fruit of the Spirit is ONE WHOLE FRUIT. We cannot pick and choose which part of it we need the most. While a fruit is growing you need all parts of it. I noticed that a lot of times the 9 distinct parts listed by Paul are often treated or mentioned as 9 different fruits. Verse 22 says “FRUIT” which is singular and implies it is one whole fruit with 9 various parts or layers. Paul was intentional in say fruit instead of fruits.

Fruit: “the developed ovary of a seed plant with its contents and accessory parts”

This definition of a fruit suits Galatians 5:22-23. In verse 22 of chapter 5, Paul said “but the Fruit of The Spirit is…” so the Holy Spirit is that seed plant which develops the Fruit of the Spirit with its content and accessory parts. You can tell a tree by its fruit. Others should be able to tell who we are when we are filled with the Holy Ghost. Growth should be happening in our lives in 9 areas of the Fruit of the Spirit SIMULTANEOUSLY. As they are parts that make up the one fruit. Our fruit can either stem from the Holy Spirit or from the flesh. Anything that is stemmed from the flesh produces sin and death. “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death”, James 1:14-15.

The Fruit of the Spirit deals with our moral character. Only the Spirit of God can develop our moral character to be Christlike. Christlike moral character results from the qualities that the Fruit of the Spirit produces. We must be led by the Spirit and not by our flesh. The Fruit of the Spirit is not a checklist to see which one we have, like, or prefer more than the others. It’s certainly not something we can produce on our own. I am still learning and growing in ALL parts of the Fruit of the Spirit. I don’t believe it’s something we master then pat ourselves in the back for it. I think if we are living they will continue to grow and mature in us. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit! You must first and foremost be filled with the Holy Ghost to produce his fruit.

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Fruit takes time to grow. The Fruit of the Spirit takes time to grow. Not all parts of a fruit are noticeable at a glance. Sometimes we need to cut and peel parts to see what’s underneath and at the core of a fruit. While not all parts of a fruit are edible, all parts serve an important purpose. The Fruit of the Spirit will be evident in how we live and conduct ourselves throughout our day. Paul was purposeful in his usage of a fruit to describe the unity of moral character produced by the Spirit. The different layers are connected to make up the Fruit. It’s also not a coincidence the 9 different layers can be categorized into 3 major categories as they deal with 3 different aspects of moral character.

Love, Joy, Peace

These three are a direct result of a relationship with God. It’s not possible to have them apart from God. Everything follows love. I imagine love to be the layer that covers and protect all the others. It is the foundation for all the others. Joy builds up on love and peace follows.

Long-suffering, Gentleness, Goodness

These three are the manifestation of the first three layers. When we are filled with the love, joy, and peace of God we can demonstrate patient endurance, kindness, and being good to others. They are strengthened through tests and trials. It’s not possible to consistently manifest these things in our flesh. A sincere relationship with God will teach us these things. We will be able to express the love described in 1 Corinthians 13 and Jesus talked about in Matthew 22: 34-40 concerning the first and great commandment.

Faith, Meekness, Temperance

These three layers are seen when we face oppositions, challenges, and must make difficult choices. What we believe to be true determines the course of our actions. Learning to exercise self-control doesn’t happen overnight. We grow in faith and learn to be humble.

All these nine layers are the product of one fruit produced in us by the Holy Spirit. the fruit of the spirit cannot come from anything or anyone else other than the Holy Ghost. Love is the foundation of that fruit. We learn to love God through a relationship with him and through his love we learn to love others. This fulfills the law. Paul explained the fruit of the Spirit as a direct result of a Spirit-led life which fulfills the law and not work against it. the Fruit of the Spirit is made up of qualities that fulfill the law. Paul made it clear that with this Fruit we are not under the law (verse 23). There is no law against the Fruit of the Spirit! The Holy Spirit needs to be the primary influence of our minds and moral conduct.

We need all parts of the fruit of the Spirit. unlike the natural fruits, we eat it is all important and beneficial. We need them all equally not one part more than the other. My most favorite natural fruits are MANGOES! I love LOVE, Luuuuuuvvvvve mangoes. You can take a girl off the Island, but you can’t take the island out of her. I also love avocados, strawberries, green apples, and a few other island fruits. The Lord created bananas for his monkeys, let us let them have bananas. You will not convince me otherwise. While I can pick and choose which fruits I enjoy eating I can’t live without the FRUIT of the Spirit.

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Broken and Poured Out

Many of us, myself included, are ashamed and afraid to be seen by others in our broken stages. Often that is when we can be poured out before God and be used the most by him.

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When I hear the word “broken” it’s usually about something or someone that is damaged, not fit for use, or able to fulfill its designed purpose. Broken means reduced to fragments, not functioning properly or out of working order, weakened in strength or spirit, and having given up all hope or being defeated. That’s basically the opposite of being complete, connected or wholesome. The Bible, however, gave me a different or should I say better perspective of brokenness.

Psalm 34 verse 18 says, “the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit”. This verse is referring to our hearts being broken over our sins. When we are truly sorry for our sins, which is brokenness, the Lord is present according to this verse. How awesome is that? To know that God is present in my brokenness. I believe for this to happen we must spend time getting to know Jesus and building an intimate relationship with him. This kind of response to sin is a result of time spent alone in God’s word and presence.

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“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls”. Matthew 11:29

A broken heart and spirit is an acceptable sacrifice to God. Outside of this biblical or godly context, it’s unacceptable. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise”, Psalm 51 verse 17. God desires a repentant heart. A heart broken with sorrows for sin. Just as King David was in Psalm51 after the prophet Nathan came to him after he sinned with Bathsheba. True worship in spirit and in truth comes from a heart broken over sin and poured out before God.

There’s purpose in being broken and poured out. God will show up to heal us from the wounds of sin, forgive us, comfort us from our sorrow, then bind up our wounds. His presence can then fill us up with truth and righteousness. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds”, Psalm 147 verse 3. Being broken and poured out results in us humbling ourselves before God.

Once we are broken we can empty ourselves and allow the Spirit of God to fill us. We can then pour out in worship and be an effective vessel to demonstrate God’s love, goodness, and mercy. God allows us to be broken to rebuild us for his glory. Our brokenness is supposed to draw us to the presence of God as he is near. Too many times we tend to hind in shame or fear. Pride can easily cause us to miss his presence!

In Psalm 34 verse 18 brokenhearted in its Hebrew origin “nishbar lev”, the one with a broken heart, is referring to our inner life, our affections, mind, and will. We can submit these things to God when we are broken and poured out before him. Our inner life of thoughts and feeling is usually expressed in our actions. When we are inwardly shattered we need God’s divine help and deliverance. Hence why he is near, but we must pour out and allow him to fill us up. We will miss him if we are full of ourselves and everything else contrary to his word. A heart that is humbled at God’s displeasure for sin is tender and willing to bend to God’s will. Then, God “will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit”, Psalm 51 verse 9.

Unfortunately, it does take an actual heartbreak sometimes to get us into the state of brokenness. However we get there, God will be near. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, Matthew 5 verse 3.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1 John 1:9

 

The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. Isaiah 57:15

 

My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word. Isaiah 66:2

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EXPECTING

When I found out in the month of June this year we were pregnant, excited is an understatement to express the joy I felt. I always dreamed one day of having my own child and family. I blogged about the fears and challenges that I dealt with up until that point (“A Journey of Faith: Baby Adams). No amount of prior knowledge, study, or tale could have prepared me enough for the actual experience of pregnancy; expecting my firstborn. It was the beginning of a new season and experience. Whether or not I was ready, it was time to evaluate where I was, change my mindset, and see things from a new perspective. My life didn’t just shift naturally but spiritually as well.

I am thrilled to be expecting! My first pregnancy. My first born. A son. I thanked the Lord. It has been a LEARNING experience, to say the least. It wasn’t long before I realized I had to make a lot of recent changes, while others were going to happen whether I wanted them to or not. After one year of marriage, I was finally adjusting back to having a consistent prayer and study time, as well as consecration. Then first trimester morning sickness crept in on me like a thief in the middle of the night. I’m not sure who invented the terms “morning sickness” but I’d like to sit down and chat with them. My first-trimester experience was just terrible. Morning sickness was more like all day sickness for me. Everything seemed to make me nauseous, from food to the smell of certain things and people. Yes, people. I couldn’t keep anything down, it was difficult getting out of bed, and I became very forgetful. I did not want to be bothered. I remember telling my husband, after this pregnancy, I don’t want to hear anything about babies or being pregnant. I was not ready for the price I had to pay in the process of being pregnant. I kept telling the Lord, I’m grateful but I don’t think I could ever do this again. I clearly wanted my baby, but without the pain and suffering that came along with the process. I did find comfort in knowing that it is a temporary process, soon enough I would give birth and hold my son in my arms. Now, if I had to be pregnant for 2 years like an elephant my sentiments would have been completely different. Sadly, sometimes we’re pregnant for years and longer than God intend for us to be and don’t even realize it. We’re not aware of the things God places within us so we don’t expect anything. After the worse was behind me, it was easier to enjoy the process as the beautiful and miraculous thing that it is. It was time to prepare for what we were expecting. I could see and hear God through the process once I focused on the part of it that was in my control and leave the rest up to him. I am still learning and adjusting to the unexpected changes. I realized I was changing, maturing, and growing in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I gained new wisdom and knowledge about the Lord, life, myself as an individual, my walk with Christ, and the beautiful things that will be birth out of this season and process.

PREPARE TO RECEIVE WHAT YOU’RE EXPECTING.

I needed to start planning and make some changes for the child we’re expecting to birth. Once I accepted that my body would do what a pregnant body does I was able to focus on the things I needed to do to be ready to welcome my son. My husband and I had to change our budget and be even more mindful of our spending, a one-bedroom apartment was no longer big enough, we both needed to prepare our minds to become a family of three and start planning to parent our child, we had to start buying nursery items and other things the baby will need, and prepare to be even more intentional about cultivating our marriage. Most importantly, making sure neither one of us neglect our personal time with The One who is the source of it all, Jesus. The list goes on, as there are many changes in the process of expecting our first-born child. It is a blessing that requires work and preparation.

Being pregnant, I began to spend time meditating on the process of expecting a child and expecting something from God. The apostles in the book of Acts waiting for the comforter that Jesus promised them would come after he departed from them came to mind. According to dictionary to “expect” or “expecting” is defined as “to regard something as likely to happen”, “to regard someone as likely to do or be something”, “to believe that something or someone will arrive soon”, “to look forward to”, and “to anticipate the birth of (one’s child)”. When thinking of expecting one can think of being pregnant, carrying, believe strongly, anticipate, hope or hope for, look ahead to, look for, look forward to, count on, reckon, and see coming. With this in my read what happened in Acts 1 verses 1-14:

 

1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.

13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.

14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

 

ACTIVELY WAIT ON THE LORD!

Jesus commanded them to remain in Jerusalem until they received the gift that was promised to them, The Holy Ghost.  In Acts 2 verses 1-4, the apostles received what they were expecting from God. Sometimes we’re in a hurry to get to the next step, next thing, or season of our lives not realizing we’re right where God wants us to be to receive our promise. Especially when we’re uncomfortable and not in a very pleasant season. It has been a rough process and I have experienced many discomforts on so many levels but I learned to focus on enjoying the process and be thankful for the blessing I’m expecting in due time. No matter how rough it gets my baby will not arrive any sooner or later than he is supposed to. However, I can continue to prepare for his arrival and practice patience in the process. Not only were apostles expecting the gift of the Holy Ghost, they actively waited, they were together and constantly united in prayer. They waited for the power they needed to continue the mission Jesus trusted them with. The Lord chose my husband and I to train up a child in the way he should go. We are flawed but I know his grace will be sufficient where we are weak. We are expecting everything God spoke concerning us and already purposed for the 2018 year.

As the year 2017 come to an end and you welcome the new year hope for that child or children, whether they be naturally or spiritually. Expect God to fulfill his promises to you. Look forward to that ministry you’ve been pregnant with. It’s time to give birth. Look for the Lord like you never have before. Anticipate for that business you’ve been planning and working on to prosper. Believe God strongly to perform his miracles in your life. His Word is true. Let your doubts and fears go. You can count on God no matter what it looks like. Walk by faith. ACTIVELY WAIT on the Lord; continue praying, continue reading his Word, continue to look for what you’re expecting and hoping for. Don’t abort your baby with doubts and fears.

 

EXPECT NOTHING LESS THAN GOD’S PROMISES!