Sunday, March 23, 2008

JUICY FRUITY FREEDOM IN THE SPIRIT - Juicy Fruit of the Spirit - Part 12 - March 22, 2008

“Gotta have sweet, gotta have Juicy Fruit.
You want, you need, you gotta have more sweet.”

It’s Wednesday morning, 6:05 a.m., to be exact. I’m scrunched up in the corner of the sofa, Hope, our golden retriever, curled up next to me. Panda, our goldendor, claims the remainder of the sofa, curled up like a donut (not to be confused with a cookie). It’s raining cats and rabbits and the thumping of the rain on the roof almost blocks out the wind inspired melody wafting from the chimes suspended from the deck railing. “Gotta have sweet,” it chimes; “you gotta have more sweet,” it reminds. Yes on Sunday, I’ll be free to enjoy sweets again.

God is playing serendipity with me again. I log on to to look up Galatians 5—the home of the Fruit of the Spirit—and there on the website home page, the “verse of the day,” flashes in neon lights:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

How odd that I’ve not noticed this “verse of the day” feature before…

Back on January 5, I posed the question, “Gum and grace—is there a connection?” Have I convinced you that practicing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and even self-control will sweeten your life?

I also shared a scripture with you in that first column of the series on the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:1-22 are the verses preceding the passage listing the nine fruit:

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you…

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom…

“My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day…

“What happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard…” (Galatians 5:1, 13-14, 16-17, 22 The Message)

Tomorrow is Easter and this passage reflects the truth of Easter: “Christ has set us free…” Paul counsels us to, “Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit.” He then asks, “What happens when we live God's way?” and goes on to answer his own question: “He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard…” How does our garden of freedom grow?—by using our freedom “to serve one another in love.” Loving others is an act of true freedom.”

So what are the spiritual sweets in your Easter basket this Easter? Indulge freely on the sweet fruity treats of the Spirit. Love freely. Be joyful. Pursue peace in your relationships. Practice patience. Sow seeds of kindness. Be God’s goodness in the lives around you and look for the goodness in our troubled world. Handle yourself and others with a gentle spirit. Find the freedom in faithfulness. And when it comes to self-control, remember, “against such things there is no law.”

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood…
to him be glory and power for ever and ever!
Revelation 1:6

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