Friday, January 30, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit - Study Worksheet 3

Study Worksheet

Read Chapter 3 Joy in the book The Fruit Of The Spirit along with scriptures given in the questions below:

1. What sorts of things do people seek after in order to experience Happiness? 

2. Read John 15:9-11.  What would Jesus have us do in order to experience Complete Joy?

3. In your own words describe the difference between the Spiritual Gift of Joy & Happiness:

4. From the section of the chapter titled "Common Joy", for each subsection shown below, tell why you think this kind of Joy doesn't satisfy the heart:
a. Times of Celebration

b. Times of Achievement

c. Relationships

d. Unexpected Joy

5. What is it about our Salvation that should give us Joy?

6. Think about being an "instrument in God's hands" that helps lead someone to Christ.
    a. If you have experienced this, share your experience:

    b. Pick someone you know that needs to know God's Salvation, what will you do to reach
        out to them in order to share the Gospel?

7.  What benefits can you gain from enduring difficult circumstances while trusting in God?

8. Read the John Ortberg excerpt on page 54, what did you find especially interesting or 
eye-opening?   Share your thoughts on this.

9. In the past week, what one thing in your life most brought God glory & joy to you?

10. Read Ephesians 5:15-20.  How might we get filled with the Holy Spirit?

11. From the following passages, what were the results of being filled with the Holy Spirit?
    a. Exodus 35:31-33

    b. Deuteronomy 34:9

    c. Luke 1:67

    d. Acts 4:31

12. What makes Christian Joy unique?

Read John 16:19-24: answer the following from the passage. 

13. What would cause the disciples grief?

14. What would turn their grief to Joy?

15. What would make their Joy complete?

Fruit of the Spirit - Lecture Notes for Lesson 2

Opening Prayer: Oh Lord, we need to know how to Love, we need your help to Love, and we so easily miss opportunities to demonstrate Love.  Help us!  We are a broken & imperfect people but you've called us to Love.  Teach us what you mean by Love, teach us the importance of Love, and help us to live out lives that demonstrate Your Love.  Amen!

INTRODUCTION:  How do you feel when you're indoors & and your smoke detector goes off?  It's an ear-piercing noise, and most times is a false alarm, so it's annoying.  That's the sort of idea that Paul was trying to get across in the passage from 1 Corinthians 13 that you read this week as part of your lesson.  If we are out "doing good" but with the wrong motivation (without love) it's like that false alarm from the smoke detector, it's just noise, it doesn't do any good.
      Doing "Good" - Love = Doing No Good
There's another combination that matters as well, one you read in 1 John 3:17.  It says that if we see a need but don't have compassion we don't have God's love in us.  I think another passages says it even more clearly - read James 2:15-16.
      Say we Love + Don't Act = Doing No Good
In fact, if we had read on for another verse (James 2:17) we'd have learned that such inaction indicates faith that is dead.

[Clarifications below were added due to questions asked during class - Thank You Gloria for challenging me to clarify, I hope this helps.]

The word for Love here is Agape - this is a perfect love, a love that only comes from God and through man by virtue of the Holy Spirit.  This love does God's will no matter the cost, it is a self-sacrificing love - sacrificing for God's will, and doesn't necessarily have feelings of affection tied to it.

When I say "Good" in quotes I mean good as viewed by humans - good that is kind & charitable & self-sacrificing.  When out of quotes, Good, I mean something that is good as viewed by God - good that is doing God's will, good that lasts for eternity (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).  Mark 10:18 tells us no  one is Good but God alone, and Revelation 5:1-5 clarifies further the unworthiness of all but Christ, this is a higher standard than what we broken humans see as "Good".  So how do we, as humans, do Good?  Only by the power of the Holy Spirit from God working through us, and not by our own effort/strength.

For each of the Fruits of the Spirit there can be confusion if we see these Fruits as the world sees them, and not as God sees them.  Each of these things - Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, etc. - can be experienced in a "Common" way, just as God sends rain & sunshine for all people (Matthew 5:45).  The struggle we face as we study these fruits is to see them as Spiritual Fruits, Fruits made by virtue of God's Holy Spirit at work in the lives of believers, and not simply as "Common" Fruits.

We all know people that we think of as "Good" people, and acts that we think of as "Good" acts, and we want to think those things matter.  But as followers of Christ we know that without God we are nothing, and we can do no good apart from the power of Christ at work in us - John15:5.

PRINCIPLE: The Spiritual Fruit of Love requires Action

The word for Love that is in the list of Spiritual Fruits in Galatians 5:22 is the Greek word Agape.  In Greek there were 4 words for Love, but I'm not going into that today, what you should know is that the word used here denotes Perfect Love, the kind of Love that God has toward man, the kind of Love Jesus lived out.  As we read in 1 Corinthians 13, Agape Love takes action & Agape Love never fails.

I. God is Love

The love of God underlies all that He has done, is doing, and will do.  Even if we can't reconcile something in this broken world with the love of God, that is due to our limited understanding.  Read 1 John 4:7-10, God loved us & sent Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for us - without us first seeking or loving Him.  This is a Big Love, this is a love that we grasp at but is not possible for us to completely fathom.  This is the kind of love that we can only begin to understand by the power of the Holy Spirit, and a love that may take eternity to explore.  This is a Love that holds on to believers & won't allow anything to separate us from God.  Passages like Romans 8:35-39 & 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (words of Paul) & John 17:12 (words of Jesus) tell us this, people sealed by the Holy Spirit cannot be separated from God's Love.

PRINCIPLE: Love is God's defining attribute.

Love defines God, Love is how God operates toward man.  How ought we to respond, those who have been sealed by the Holy Spirit?  We also ought to Love others in an unconditional manner.  Ephesians 4:30 tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit who has sealed us for the day of redemption, I wonder how often we do just that by failing to demonstrate love.

I failed at demonstrating God's Agape Love this week, I had an opportunity to show love in a real & tangible way, in a way that would have demonstrated selflessness, and I hesitated.  I wanted to find a way to help a person in need, but I wanted to do it in a manner that didn't make me as uncomfortable - in other words, to lesson the cost.  I should have been more like King David 1 Chronicles 21:24 who insisted on paying the full price & refused to give a sacrifice that cost him nothing.  I helped, but lost the opportunity to really demonstrate Love.

II. Who would Jesus Love? (WWJL)

I was thinking about this while listening to Pastor Shaun's sermon on being Courageous Risk Takers, so I wrote down "Who Would Jesus Love?", and decided to search the New Testament for ideas.  This is what I found:
            Then                                                               Now
Woman Caught in Adultery (John 8:3-10)        LGBT & those caught in sexual sin
Zacchaeus & Company (Luke 19:1-10)            Cheats & Criminals & Addicts & such
Paul (Acts 8:3, then called Saul)                      Those who violently oppose the Gospel
Lepers (Luke 17:11-19)                                  Homeless & Helpless & Outcasts
Peter & James & John (tough guys)                  Those who are coarse

I stopped at this point, because I realized I could have gone on & on... All People are people Jesus would Love!!  Jesus Love is Inclusive.

PRINCIPLE: Our Love for the unlovely/unlovable must follow Jesus example.

It's not easy to love like this, let's face it that we've all dealt with those who are unlovable or unlovely.  I have a personal story that I'm not sharing in the online version of this lesson, it involves 2 people who hurt & betrayed me in terrible ways.  One eventually repented, accepted forgiveness, and there has been restoration of Christian brotherhood.  The other is an unknown, there is no contact for the sake of my safety.

Believe it or not I can Love both of these people, not in any affectionate or romantic kind of way (that would be Phileo or Eros in the Greek),  but I can still Love as God has called us to.  Part of that Love was forgiving, and in both cases that was difficult, and in one case that forgiveness was eventually appreciated & accepted.  For the other Love has been simply to pray when something brings them to mind, not to dwell on past wrongs but instead to ask God to work in their heart & mind.  I prayed not knowing if either of these two would ever benefit, but through those prayers God was able to work in my heart & my mind to do His work of Sanctification & restoration in me.

We are all broken, we all need God's Love, and sometimes the unloveable or unlovely need it the most.

III.  The Standard of Agape Love

Agape Love, as spoken of in Luke 6:27-36, says to Love our enemies & do good to those who hate us & pray for those who mistreat us.  We are to accept insult, injury, and humiliation without retaliation.  We are to give (lend) to our enemies when they ask of us & not expect anything in return.  What?  Why?  Because (see vs.35-36) we are to do like God does, we are to be kind to the ungrateful & wicked, we are to be merciful because God is merciful.

Wow, that takes things up a notch, I don't think I can meet that standard.  Not to worry, we're in good company because Peter felt the same way.  After Jesus resurrection, Jesus took a bit of time with Mr. foot-in-mouth-himself Peter to set him back on track - mind you this is before Pentecost, so before Peter had been in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Read John 21:15-17, in the first two of these cases Jesus is asking Peter if he Agape-Loves Him, and Peter responds with telling Jesus he Phileo-Loves Him - that he has great affection for Jesus but knows that he doesn't love Jesus at the standard of Agape.  The third time Jesus asks Peter if he Phileo-Loves Him, and Jesus asking this way grieves Peter, Jesus is asking Peter to meet him at the standard of Phileo. It would be terrible if that's where the passage ended, but Jesus knew that by the power of the Holy Spirit Peter was going to do great things & express Agape Love.  Read John 21:18-19, Jesus tells Peter just what lengths Agape Love is going to push him to - and from church history we know that Peter was crucified, but crucified upside-down because he felt unworthy of dying in the same manner as Jesus.

PRINCIPLE: Only God can work out perfect Love through imperfect people.

Last week, when I spoke of the Fruits I mentioned that we can't do them of our own strength.  I think this is most obvious with Love, and I think Love is the foundational fruit upon which God works in and through us.  When God was going to work through Zerubbabel (Zechariah 4:6) He told him "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit".  That is how God works, God works through His Spirit, not by the might or effort of man.  Only God can work out His perfect Love through us.

CONCLUSION:  How do we grow the fruit of Love in our lives?  We choose to do what God has asked, we submit to Him, we trust in His power... we certainly can't do it on our own.

Closing Prayer:  Thank You God for your great Love for us.  Help us to work out that Love through the power of your Spirit.  Amen!

Fruit of the Spirit - Study Worksheet 2

Study Worksheet

Read Chapter 2 Love in the book The Fruit Of The Spirit along with scriptures given in the questions below:

1. a. In your own words define Love:

    b. Look in a dictionary, how does it define Love & what part of speech is it?

2. Read Leviticus 19:18 and Mark 12:31 -
    a. Who are we to Love (who is our "neighbor")?

    b. To what extent are we to love them?

    c. What practical everyday things can we do to show love?

3. How does John instruct us, in 1 John 3:16-18, to love our "brothers and sisters" (i.e. fellow believers)?

4. (Personal) Think about a person who is difficult for you to love:
    a. Why are they difficult in this case?

    b. How might God want you to love that particular person?

5. What might happen if you were to act in loving ways even when you don't feel like being loving?

6. How do words impact others? (Challenge: give Bible references)
    a. positively

    b. negatively

7. How can we keep the world from polluting our hearts & minds?

8. What are the results of carrying a grudge?

9. What are the advantages of forgiving?

10. a. What are some "inappropriate ways" people try to receive love? 

    b. What might be causing them to act this way?

    c. How should we respond?

11. a. Find 2-3 Bible references on Forgiveness.

    b. How are Love & Forgiveness linked?

12. What might result from loving someone unlovable?
    a. for them:

    b. for you:

Read 1 Corinthians 13: answer the following from the passage. 

13.  From verses 1-3: What are the results of not loving?

14. From verses 4-7: What are the attributes of Love?

Fruit of the Spirit - Lecture Notes for Lesson 1

Acts 17:11 - check out things for yourself, don't just take me at my word... I'm not attempting to teach the "Gospel according to Annette", but rather to share some thoughts & get you to think for yourself.

Opening Prayer: Lord lead my words, let them be words that build up & encourage others to seek to know you and love you more & more.  Amen!

  Have you ever taken a Road Trip?  I'm in the process of planning out a Road Trip with my Mom - with the key destination being to visit a very close family friend who recently became a widow.  My Mom lives in Vista CA, a bit north of San Diego, and we're going to visit Mary who lives in Sumner WA, in the greater Seattle area.  We could choose to fly, but we chose a Road Trip instead because we thought it would be more fun & time is not an issue for us.  Taking a Road Trip has several advantages - time to visit along the way & enjoy each other's company, seeing the scenery along the road, stopping at some favorite places along the way (perhaps Solvang or Carmel), and visiting friends & family that are along our route.  Think of all we would miss if we decided to fly!
  We can think of our Spiritual Life as a "Road Trip" of sorts, a journey as we walk in faith.  Sometimes I get impatient with my Spiritual Road Trip, I want all my problems solved, I want to be mature, I don't want to keep fighting the inner battles, I want to be free from the things that trip me up.  It's at times like these I need to be reminded that this is a Journey, a process that we call Sanctification.  The key destination for this Spiritual Road Trip won't be reached until I pass from this life into the presence of God, and I need to stop trying to take a "direct flight" and enjoy the journey.  God has much for me to learn & experience along the way, He has work He has appointed for me, He has Fruit He wants me to bear for His Glory, and He is traveling with me along the way.

PRINCIPLE: God takes us on a Spiritual Journey for our benefit & for His Glory

Jesus said, in John 15:16: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last - and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you."

The Spiritual Fruit that we're studying doesn't just benefit us, it benefits others as well - and it brings Glory to God.  Jesus words from John 15:16 were directed at His disciples, these words still apply to us if we are His disciples - His followers: we are appointed to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last.

I. Pruning

Please open your Bible to John chapter 15 - Read John 15:1-8

  Pruning sounds painful doesn't it?  When the Bible speaks of pruning it can & should cause concern.  In the Biblical analogy there are branches that are cut off & cast-off & burned up - representing lives lost to eternity.  However, for the believer, one sealed by the Holy Spirit, this is not the purpose of pruning - it is not about loosing one's eternal life, but rather about being transformed for God's purposes.  

Let's take a closer look at the passage I'm referring to:
  Verse 2 speaks of two different actions by the gardener - cutting off & pruning.  Cutting off is for branches that bear no fruit, but pruning is for branches that do bear fruit.  Ok, this is interesting.

This is an analogy I see at 3 different levels:
  1) For the church in the world, perhaps the "branches" of the church (little "c") that are fruitless are cast off, while those "branches" of the church (little "c") that are fruitful get pruned in order to become more fruitful.  In other words, there may be churches/denominations in which God no longer attempts to work because there is no fruit there - His Spirit is not in that place.  But for the churches/denominations in which there is fruit He will continue to prune in order to produce more fruit.
  2) For individual people, the cast-off branches would be those who are not sealed by God's Holy Spirit; while the pruned are those who are sealed by the Holy Spirit - those in & through whom God works to produce His fruit in the world.
  3) Within the believer, the cast-off branches could be bad choices / habits / influences that God is removing from the life of that believer.  While those branches which are pruned have had some fruit, but God is pruning in order to produce more fruit.

  However you see the analogy we see that God is doing a work of transformation, removing that which is dead or harmful (cutting off), and tending to that which is fruitful (pruning).

  Might God prune off something that has previously been fruitful?  Yes!  Again we can see this at all 3 levels mentioned before, God may remove one thing in order to cause something better to grow in its place.

  In my life I have experienced pruning in areas that were fruitful, and it left me a bit puzzled - and at times it hurt.  Why would God remove me from circumstances in which I was being fruitful for His kingdom?  There's something bigger at work here, bigger than "me", and frequently God has to remind me about that.  It's not about "me", and though it is about God's will in my life it's about so much more than that - it's about God's will for all times / places / people.  I'll admit, I'm self-centered and if I'm not careful I miss that it's about God's bigger purposes.

PRINCIPLE: It's our job to love & obey God.

  We must choose God's will, His bigger purpose, over our own.  We must choose to believe in Jesus and place our lives in God's hands, we must choose to commit our lives to His purposes, we must choose to submit to His pruning.  Romans 12:2 tells us that if we are transformed by God we will be able to test and approve what God's will is.  In being pruned by God we are more able to know His will & be fruitful for Him.

II. Producing Fruit

 Ok, so our job is to love & obey God - but what about growing Spiritual Fruit?  Believe it or not, that's not our job!  In fact, if we try to do the job ourselves we'll fail.  This is hard for us, we live in a culture that promotes the value of independence and self-reliance - but its only dependence on God and reliance on Him alone which produces Spiritual Fruit.

  I admit I can fall into the trap of perfectionism, trying to get everything "just right", and I wear myself out doing it.  I had an instructor once (my jewelry instructor) that told me to focus on excellence rather than perfection.  Applied to our spiritual lives this is good advice - we should strive for an excellent relationship with Christ, to have that strong vital connection to Him, that is when He can work beautiful things through us.  If we strive, by our own strength, to achieve some idealistic state we're just wasting our time and energy because it's our own human striving rather than God at work in us.

  The Godhead plays a variety of roles in this process, and I'll admit I don't clearly understand these, but those roles appear to be as follows:

  Father - Gardener - cutting off of what is dead/useless as well as the pruning to produce more fruit.
  Son - Vine - the one we must remain in and through whom we receive Spiritual nourishment.
  Holy Spirit - the nourishment itself, the source that produces Spiritual Fruit.

PRINCIPLE: God's job to produce Spiritual Fruit.

  It is by virtue of God doing His work producing Spiritual Fruit that we're able to do the good works He has planned for our lives.  1 Corinthians 3:10-15 speaks to this, (read passage). If what we do is based on our own will rather than on God's then it does no good - its a waste.  

III.  The Harvest

  So what is the point of growing all this Spiritual Fruit anyway??  What purposes does it serve??

  I remember when I first met my husband Jeff's family, they had been seeing changes in him - good changes, and didn't understand what was changing him.  When they met me I suddenly, in their minds, must have been the reason for all these wonderful changes they were seeing in Jeff.  That was about 12 years ago, Jeff was a relatively new believer at the time, and what they were seeing wasn't evidence of me in Jeff's life but God in Jeff's life.  We tried to tell them, but they believed what they wanted.  Fast forward to a few months ago, and Jeff's step-mother brought up the subject again - and finally, after about 12 years, she is starting to see that it's Jeff's faith that has changed him.  What is the purpose of Spiritual Fruit?  One purpose is to draw people to God - the Spiritual Fruit evidenced in Jeff's life are causing his family to take notice.

  Spiritual Fruit doesn't just work to draw unbelievers, it also works within the fellowship of believers - it demonstrates God's love and care to each of us as we struggle through this life in a broken world.  

  In  both cases, as God's people demonstrate God's Spiritual Fruit they are bringing God Glory.

PRINCIPLE: Spiritual Fruit draws people to God and brings Him Glory.

CONCLUSION:  While working on this lesson I wrote a poem that I'd like to share:

  We live in a broken world:
    a world filled with pain & illness
    a world permeated with anger, hostility, terrorism, & war
    a world that is hopeless & discouraging
  But God...
  God, through believers & by the power of the Holy Spirit brings light into this world
    light to bring comfort to the hurting
    light to bring peace in the midst of turmoil
    light to bring joy to the downtrodden

Closing Prayer:  Lord God help us please to submit our lives to you, submit our wills to yours, and be fruitful for your kingdom.  Prune us, grow your Spiritual Fruit in us.  Amen!

Fruit of the Spirit - Study Worksheet 1

Study Worksheet

Read Galatians 5:13-26:
1. In your own words define "Fruit of the Spirit".

2. List the fruit given in the passage.

3. What other fruit of the Holy Spirit might we experience that aren't listed in this passage?

4. From this passage, what are the benefits of walking in the Spirit?

Read the Forward in the book The Fruit Of The Spirit:
5. According to Bill Bright, what "could literally change the world"?

Read Chapter 1 Introduction in the book The Fruit Of The Spirit:
6. What is the purpose of God's pruning in our lives?  What sorts of things might God prune away?

7. What does the Branch receive from the Vine?  What does it owe to the Vine?

8. Who is the Gardener and why can we trust the Gardener's pruning?

9. What are the dangers of having a "comfortable" faith?  Give verses to support your thinking (example: 1 Corinthians 10:12).

10. The book tells us that the "secret to Jesus fruitful life was his contact with the Father".  What methods were given for us to "remain in" Jesus?  Can you think of any other methods?

11. What are the purposes of Spiritual Fruit?

12. What roles do the Father / Son / Holy Spirit play in producing Spiritual Fruit?

13.  Describe in your own words how our obedience relates to our fruitfulness in Christ.

14. Ponder the list of questions under the subheading "The Fruit of the Spirit".  Which question challenged you the most?  Why?

15. Find 2-3 Bible verses (not from this week's readings) which describe the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.

Fruit Coming Soon!!

I am in the midst of teaching a study on the Fruit of the Spirit, I am in the process of restarting this blog in order to provide materials online for my class...  I've already added a tab, and I'm getting ready to place several new posts on this blog... If interested in the details see the tab: