Devotions

Category Archives: Family Tree

Self-Control

Blooming • Self-Control
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor

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

What is self-control? If there’s a candy bar on your desk, do you pick it up and eat it without thinking first? (Note: I speak from experience here!) If someone angers you, do you fly off the handle? Self-control, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is having control over your feelings or actions. Wikipedia goes further to explain that self-control is the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior in the face of temptations and impulses.

There are several examples of people exhibiting self-control in the Bible, from Joseph to Job to Jesus, and several examples of people not exhibiting self-control, from Eve to Samson (and on and on!). But how do you obtain self-control? It begins at the time of salvation, and it grows or becomes more apparent, and as you mature in your Christianity. The Holy Spirit, being in the Word, and learning through a Growth Community lesson, will all help you learn right from wrong, good from evil. You will conscientiously begin to make different decisions based on this new found knowledge. You will begin to THINK before you ACT and decide – do I need to eat that candy bar or this apple? Do I need to go into that bar or should I keep driving? Should I yell in anger, or count to 10 and calm down first? You will begin to exercise self-control to avoid temptations. When you know that you can do something that is not good for you, but do not, that is self-control!

The Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 is from the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16-17 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Worldly things tempt us, but we have free will to decide as to what to do when faced with that temptation. Do we give in to our worldly desire, or do we exercise self-control?

The first step is to control our thoughts. By controlling our thoughts, we can then control our actions. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” As soon as a negative or bad thought creeps in, think of something else. Philippians 4:8 gives a nice list, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Another way to gain self-control is to avoid temptations. Luke 22:40 reads, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 adds, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Lastly, we all make mistakes. Forgive yourself and move forward. The prophet Jeremiah, in verse 31:34 says, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” If Jesus forgives your iniquities, should you not also forgive yourself for your loss of self-control? Start again fresh each hour, each day, and let the Holy Spirit guide you in your thoughts and actions.

“What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.” – Aristotle

Gentleness

Blooming • Gentleness
Phil Piasecki | Worship Leader

I once had a Pastor tell me that every morning he prays and asks the Holy Spirit to guide his “thoughts, actions, and reactions.” The idea of praying for my thoughts and actions to be guided by God was something that I had understood and regularly done, but the idea of praying about my reactions was something that had never crossed my mind. When we stop and think about it, so much of our lives are spent reacting to things. This has become even more evident in my life since being married and having a child. Within the family, we are constantly reacting to each other. How we react speaks deeply to the spiritual health of the family. A family that is rooted in Jesus Christ will react in a way that reflects the Fruit of the Spirit.

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

If our family tree is blooming and producing fruit, our reactions will be filled with gentleness. We all can think of examples in our lives when we have to choose how we are going to respond, with gentleness or with wrath. Proverbs 15:1 is such a simple and powerful Scripture. We all know it to be true, when we respond with gentleness it can diffuse a situation, or we can respond with harsh words and stir up anger. Husbands and wives know this better than anyone, in the midst of a fight there is that point where you can decide how to respond. We all know that the harsh response is only going to lead to more anger, yet so many of us still choose it! The next time your spouse, child, or parent gets angry with you, choose to respond in gentleness. I promise that you will see an incredible difference begin in the spiritual health of your family! Fights between family members will be shorter or not even happen in the first place. However, this cannot happen by your power. None of us on our own have the power to respond with gentleness. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to reflect Christ every day. Start your day off as a family in prayer asking Christ to give you the power to respond in gentleness. Pray asking the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts, actions, and reactions. A family that responds in gentleness is a family producing the Fruit of the Spirit and reflecting the character of Christ.

Faithfulness

Blooming • Faithfulness
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

The Jump

“Dad’s beard is sweet.”
“One, Two,… What comes after two?”
“Ball?”
“I am going to jump now!”
“Pool time.”

These are thoughts I imagine running through my son’s head at his swim class. My wife and I felt it would be wise to enroll our son in swim classes before the summer began in hopes to teach him the basics of swimming. On one particular day, the instructor wanted us to work with our children to make sure they understood not to jump in unless a parent was present and wanting them to jump. Several times I set Broly on the ledge and counted to three. More than once Broly could not wait until the end of two before he jumped into the pool. This became frustrating and cute all in one. In hopes my son would understand the importance of making sure it was safe, I started to take steps further away from him. In my mind, I figured Broly would not want to jump in with me being out of arms distance. Yeah, that did not work. He still would jump in the pool, and I would have to take a quick stride to make sure he was safe. While I enjoy my son’s tenacity and fearlessness, this was not one of those times. I kept repeating the same pattern, but he always seemed to jump early. On our way home, it dawned on me, Broly’s fearlessness was not due to the lack of fear, his fearlessness was because he had complete faith that his father would be there to help.

In the short amount of time I have been a father, I feel I have learned so much about God. I sit, and I watch my interactions with my sons, and I seem to find moments in the Bible that coincide. When my sons look at me, I hope, there is never a moment that they are hesitant to trust me. Their faithfulness of believing their father is there for them is truly inspirational. My son would jump into a pool without the slightest degree of fear because he knew his father was too faithful to let him drop and fail. I stopped and scrolled through the Bible today and started thinking about how faithful God has been to us.

-God showed His faithfulness to save Noah and his family from the flood.
-God showed faithfulness to fulfill His promises to Abraham and created a great nation.
-God’s faithfulness was still evident to the children of Israel while they were in Egypt and wandering in the wilderness.
– God’s faithfulness made a shepherd boy into a great king.
-God’s faithfulness is even demonstrated in the failures of the Israelites when they are taken into exile and brought them back to the land He promised long ago.
-God’s faithfulness even sent His son to die on a cross for our sins.
-God’s faithfulness has Him present even in our worst failures. He is there to redeem, restore and re-strengthen us.

There was never a moment of doubt in my son’s mind when it came to putting his faith in me to catch him at the pool. He walked up to the edge and just jumped in. There was no “what if he is not there” or “what if my face gets wet.” There was complete trust and faith in his father. Imagine if our walk with God was like that. Imagine if we trusted God so much we were willing to step to the edge and just jump completely into His arms. What could happen if we gave God our 100%? We can trust Him to the point that we would live how He intended. Imagine if we all tried to reproduce this faithfulness in our families. Imagine if children had so much faith in their parents, they never had to question if their parents were proud of them. Imagine if a wife never had to doubt that she was still the one person her husband cherished above every other person. Imagine if a husband had the faith to lead his family where God wanted his family and that his family would follow. Sometimes in life, we just have to jump knowing God will catch us.

Goodness

Blooming • Goodness
Kyle Wendel | Children and Student’s Director

I do not know about you guys, but I cannot think about the Fruit of the Spirit without thinking of the children’s song about them. Maybe that is because I am one of the Children’s Directors, who knows. To this day it is honestly how I remember the fruit. If you have not heard the song yet, you need to go to YouTube “Fruit of the Spirit song.” You will not regret it.

“Ohhhhhh the fruit of the Spirit’s not a coconut
The Fruit of the Spirit’s not a coconut
If you want to be a coconut
You might as well hear it:
You can’t be a fruit of the Spirit.

Cause the fruit is
Love, joy, peace, patience,
Kindness, goodness, faithfulness
Gentleness and self-control.”

Today we are going to talking about the Fruit of the Spirit called goodness. Goodness means working for the benefit of others, not oneself. If we take a look at Galatians 6:10 it also mentions what goodness should look like in us.

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

As followers of Christ, we should always be looking to have the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives. The Bible tells us that a good tree bears fruit. As Christians, we should be able to see the fruit in our lives. We should see this fruit growing over time in our lives. If this fruit is not evident in our lives, there needs to be some serious reflection. A tree that is not bearing fruit is a dead tree. Dead trees get cut down. We do not want to be walking around like a dead tree without fruit. Instead, a fruit we need to have is goodness.

The Bible says that every opportunity we have to do good we should do it. Man, we have a lot of opportunities! The verse also goes on to say especially do good to those of the faith. We need to constantly be looking for opportunities in our lives to do good to others. One, because it can show the Gospel to the unbeliever and two because it is a way to worship our Lord. We know the good that He has done to us. We should just be so grateful that we should always be looking for ways to do good to others. Let that fruit start to blossom in your life! Let us stop looking at what we can do to benefit ourselves and look how we can benefit others.

Kindness

Blooming • Kindness
Max Sinclair | Children’s Director

Whenever I read Galatians, and I get to the portion where Paul lists off the Fruit of the Spirit, I always read through and think of the individual attributes of the fruit. One of them that I honestly have a hard time grasping is kindness. I was raised in a good home and full of love and the love of Christ, but one thing that my mother would always say is that we need to be kind. Of all the traits, she focused on kindness. It must be important. However, to this date, I struggle with the idea of what kindness truly is.

As I read in the Bible, for instances of kindness, it drips off the pages. One example in the Old Testament is the story of Mephibosheth. He was Saul’s grandson. Saul, who was trying to kill David, died. Instead of taking revenge, David receives Mephibosheth at his table. He shows amazing kindness. Obviously, the greatest example of kindness was shown when Jesus died on the cross for our sin.

Instead of elaborating on a story and trying to gain knowledge from it, or read a large passage of Scripture to try to aid me in this topic, I will just give you the words of Christ from Luke chapter 6:34-36, “And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

This Scripture is quite poignant in the fact that Jesus tells us that we are to be kind to all, from sinners to our enemies. So now the question is, how does this apply to the family? Too often, we are kind all day and stop when we get home. We should be kind to strangers, but the fact remains, we need to be kind to our families. I am not a parent, so the only thing I can say about parenting is from a child’s point of view, but kindness should not be absent from it. When dealing with a problem remember to be kind, but at the same time, one needs to maintain integrity and firmness. Kindness is very important; it shows the love not only we have for our children, but the love that Christ showed to us.



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