Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit - Study Worksheet 7

Study Worksheet

Read Chapter 7 Goodness in the book The Fruit Of The Spirit along with scriptures given in the questions below:

1. Using various resources (our book, dictionary, Bible dictionary, etc) come up with a 1 sentence definition for the Spiritual Fruit of Goodness.

2. Read the section of the chapter titled "Are people born good?":
a. How does the world view this?

b. With young children in mind, what is the difference between being good & being innocent?  (see Isaiah 7:15-16)

3. Look up information in resources if needed, then describe the differences between Salvation & Sanctification.

4. Read the following passages, and for each record the ways God encourages us in regards to the Scriptures.
a. Deuteronomy 11:18-20

b. Job 22:22

c. Psalm 119:11

d. Proverbs 4:4-6

e. Jeremiah 15:16

f. Hebrews 4:12

5. a. What potential sources of "negative, impure, or wrong information" are you aware of in your life?

b. What can you do to minimize or counter the influence of these sources?

c. Which of these sources do you need to remove or avoid?

6. Find 2-3 verses of scripture regarding choosing what is right.

7. Read Ephesians 6:10-18 (the Armor of God):
a. From verses 11-12, against what forces is this Armor useful?

b. From verse 13, what does the Armor do for the believer?

c. From verses 14-18, share one recent example of how you've used a piece of Spiritual Armor.

8. What warnings do you get from the following passages:
a. 1 Corinthians 10:12

b. 2 Peter 3:17

c. Galatians 6:1

d. 1 Peter 5:8-9

9. Share about a time when you were rejected by someone close because you chose to live for God.

10. a. Find 2-3 verses on being courageous for God.

b. From the verses you found, what did you learn about God?

Fruit of the Spirit - Group Exercise 6

For developing personal study skills - this exercise is an example of studying an Attribute of God.

Group Exercise

For each of the following scriptures, what do you learn about God's Attribute of Kindness?

1. Isaiah 54:8

2. Isaiah 63:7

3. Jeremiah 9:23-24

4. Hosea 11:4

5. Acts 14:17

6. Ephesians 2:7

7. Titus 3:4-5

What about God's Kindness do you appreciate?

How does knowing about God's Kindness change your thinking?

What one thing about God's Kindness would you like to share with someone in need?

Fruit of the Spirit - Lecture Notes for Lesson 6

Opening Prayer: Lord, we have much to learn about Kindness - Your Kindness - help us to look beyond the surface to see the depth of the Fruit of Kindness.  Amen!

INTRODUCTION: I don't know about you, but I was raised to be kind & considerate toward others.  So when I got to Kindness I thought I had this one handled, after all it's a lot easier than Patience any day isn't it?  But hold on a second, there's more to this Kindness than I realized - it's more than simply smiling and being nice to strangers (like the clerk at the grocery store).  True Kindness requires sacrifice, meditating on this has challenged my thinking & caused me to pause & examine my heart.

PRINCIPLE: The Fruit of Kindness is a form of Sacrifice.

Our book mentions two mindsets regarding compassion:
  • What will happen to me if I...?
  • What will happen to them if I don't...?
The second mindset is the mindset of Kindness, it looks compassionately at another & responds, it demonstrates Mercy.  Hosea 6:6 tells us God desires Mercy over the sacrifices of burnt offerings - implying Mercy is the higher form of Sacrifice.

I. Kindness: God Reaching Out

As with all these Spiritual Fruits, we see Kindness expressed by God; also, like God's Patience seemed to be related to God's Grace, God's Kindness seems to be related to God's Mercy.

In Kindness God put in place a plan of redemption, the first we see of it in Scripture is in the Garden just after the Fall.  In Genesis 3:14-15 we find the first prophecy regarding Messiah, that he would be wounded but would deal the fatal blow to the enemy of God.  But God's plan of redemption was in place even before that, before the fall, in fact before He created man He had a plan to redeem man & bring all things in Heaven & Earth to unity under Christ (Ephesians 1:3-10).

How did God accomplish His plan of redemption?  Sacrifice, no small sacrifice, the Perfect Lamb - Jesus Himself - quite frankly this is a sacrifice that goes far beyond our human understanding, a sacrifice made at great cost to God Himself.  Only God was able to pay the redemption price for mankind, and God willingly paid that price - that is Mercy & that is Kindness in it's purest form.

PRINCIPLE: God's Kindness draws people to Repentance

God's demonstrated His Kindness toward us in paying the price to redeem us, if we accept this gift of His Kindness we receive His Mercy & and are pardoned for our sin, escaping the penalty for sin we so dearly deserve.  Romans 5:8 tells us that while we were still sinners Christ died for us - this is the Kindness of God expressed to man.

II. Kindness: Grow In Compassion

Since in God's Kindness He demonstrated His Mercy to me, I ought to respond in appreciation by expressing God's Mercy to others.

Our book spoke about the characteristics of Kindness, and it boiled down to Kindness being expressed by Compassion in Action, and how it is Powerful because goes against the normal "dog-eat-dog" competitiveness of the world.  It went on to say that many in this world consider Kindness to be a form of weakness, as opposed to callousness & insensitivity which are seen as strengths.  I had a hard time with this thinking about the world as a whole, because I know kind people who are not believers - so I think perhaps this needs more thought.  I think that perhaps the Spiritual Fruit of Kindness isn't just compassion in action, but rather compassion even when we don't want to be compassionate (or don't feel compassionate).  Perhaps the Fruit of Kindness is more specifically Kindness at a cost to the one being Kind, and motivated by gratitude toward God.

Who should we demonstrate compassion to?  To family, friends, neighbors, our community, and even the world.  Should we demonstrate compassion to those who don't deserve it?  Yes!!  We didn't deserve God's Kindness & He chose to be kind to us.  We should respond in gratitude toward God, and by the power of His Holy Spirit live lives of Kindness toward others.

PRINCIPLE: The Fruit of Kindness flows from a heart filled with Gratitude toward God.

This goes beyond smiling at the clerk at the grocery store.  This is smiling at the clerk & taking the time to ask how she's doing, looking her in the eye & showing you really care.  And this is doing so after she's delayed you by making mistakes, made you late for an appointment, overcharged you, etc.  In fact it may be taking it so far as specifically choosing that clerk the next time, knowing you may get delayed again (or deal with more mistakes), because you want to go out of your way to reach out to her as God went out of His way to reach out to you.

III. Kindness: Get Over Yourself

Kindness that is sacrificial puts others first, it's loving our Neighbor as ourself (Mark 12:31), it's laying our life down for the sake of another (John 15:13).  What does it mean to be kind by putting others first?
  • Be Kind when it's inconvenient - Jesus demonstrated this when He & His disciples needed rest.  Jesus had compassion on the crowd that followed as they were exhausted & attempted to get away to rest, He saw them as sheep without a shepherd, and He took the time to minister to their needs. (Mark 6:30-34)
  • Be Kind at personal cost - Even if it means being misunderstood (like Peter & John in Acts 4).  Be like King David, make sure your Sacrifice is yours - be ready to pay the full price (1 Chronicles 21:24)
  • Be Kind despite the behavior or attitude of the one receiving Kindness - remember that even the disciples were petty in their attitudes (Luke 9:46 & John 13:3-5), God wants you to be kind even to those who harm you (Romans 12:20).
  • Be Kind irregardless of a person's status or position - whatever we do for the "least of these" is like doing for the Lord (Matthew 25: 34-40) and will be rewarded by God.

But it's more than just being sacrificial, we must get our "self" out of the way, we must guard our hearts & beware of our motivation.  Philippians 2:3 tells us "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves."  Matthew 6:1-4 warns us not to make public our acts of Kindness so that our reward will be from God rather than man.  Finally, Jesus words are even harder for us, He tells us that we must deny ourselves & take up our cross & follow Him (Matthew 16:24) - to be Kind and Selfless as He is.

PRINCIPLE: Kindness toward others is a Love Gift to God.

In Matthew 25:35-40 (mentioned earlier) we also learn that showing kindness (meeting needs) to others is equivalent to showing kindness to the Lord Himself.

CONCLUSION: I've shared with you in the past how I've learned some of these lessons as I'm preparing to teach them, and Kindness was no exception.  So though I risk loosing the reward of Kindness that God worked through me because I'm going to share it with you, I thought that it was a price I'm willing to pay in order to share an example with you - in case it might spur you on toward Kindness.

Last week, on the one day of the week I specifically set aside to work on the lecture portion of this lesson, I thought I would have most of the day to work undisturbed.  My husband had been home sick for a few days, and had spent those days in bed sleeping, so I expected the same on Thursday (a.k.a. Lesson Day).  God has a sense of humor, as I was trying to work on this lesson Jeff announced that he thought he should see a doctor.  Right away I sensed that God was giving me the chance to demonstrate Kindness.  I wanted to be selfish & say "this is my day I dedicate to the Lord's work", but Kindness is the Lord's work... hmmm...  So, I asked if he wanted me to drive him to the Doctor - he wanted that, and he wanted me to go in with him.  Jeff set up the appointment but I knew he hadn't eaten yet that morning & I wanted him to eat before we left, so knowing he had a sore throat & hadn't been wanting to eat much I decided to show Kindness & offered to make him some of my pancakes (a favorite of his) - and of course he said yes... which of course took additional time & made more work for me.  So he ate, we went to the doctor, got diagnosed with a Sinus Infection & the doctor called in a prescription for an Antibiotic to our local pharmacy.  As we were leaving the doctor's office I knew the Kind thing to do & did it - I drove Jeff home & then went to the pharmacy to wait for his prescription to be filled (it took an hour)... At this point I had lost a few hours worth of study time and these lessons take several hours to put together, but I knew I had learned more about Kindness - I didn't do it perfectly, but I did it - I was Kind despite my desire to be at home working on my studies.  Afterward I did ask God to help order my mind to pull together this lesson on Kindness - and in His Kindness God did just that.  I had been willing to be Kind at a cost, but I appreciate that God minimized the cost for me.

We never know what impact our Kindness may have on another, we should be looking for opportunities to be Kind in little ways as well as big, to people near & far, to those we feel love for & those we don't, and in this way build a legacy of God's Love.

Closing Prayer: Lord you have been Kind to us, you have been Merciful, and you've Redeemed us - and we didn't deserve it.  Help us to be Kind in response to your Kindness - even for people we don't feel deserve it - help us to do this out of love & thankfulness to You.  Amen!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit - Study Worksheet 6

Study Worksheet

Read Chapter 6 Kindness in the book The Fruit Of The Spirit along with scriptures given in the questions below:

1. Do you ever hesitate to meet a need due to concern about being manipulated?  
a. Share a specific example.

b. Read Luke 6:35-36, why should fear of manipulation not be a concern?

2. What is the purpose of God's Kindness?
a. To Sinners:

b. To Believers:

3. Share about a time when you demonstrated Kindness to someone who was testing your patience (please don't share names, instead guard their dignity).

4. According to our book, what are the 3 characteristics of Kindness?  Briefly define these in your own words.
1) ___________________ - 

2) ___________________ -

3) ___________________ -

5. What impresses you about Eusebius' words regarding Jesus (page 94 in our book)?

6. Share about a time when you put yourself in harm's way in order to show Kindness.

7. What deliberate personal decision are you making in order to show God's Kindness in our Community or in the World (Dream Big!!)?

8. Describe how Sensitivity is a strength - 

9. a. Why is it kind to be Truthful?

b. In what manner should hard Truths be told?

10. a. Who do you know personally that has a need & could use some act of Kindness today?

b. What actions are you going to take?

11. Think about someone who has hurt / rejected / manipulated you.  What action will you take this week to show kindness to that person?

12. What do the following verses teach you about Kindness?
a. Job 6:14

b. Psalm 141:5

c. Acts 4:8-10

d. Romans 2:4

Fruit of the Spirit - Group Exercise 5

For developing personal study skills - this exercise is for determining more about a particular subject.  For general purposes just about any word found in the Bible can be used, simply us that word instead of "Patience".

Group Exercise

Look at a variety of Bible Dictionaries & other Resources (concordance, interlinear Bible, etc) to learn more about Patience.

1. What new information did you discover?

2. What was particularly interesting or compelling?

3. What other words have related meanings that you might use for additional study?

4. What action might you take or attitude might you change as a result of what you've learned?

5. How has what you've learned helped you to draw closer to God?

Fruit of the Spirit - Lecture Notes for Lesson 5

Opening Prayer:  Lord we thank you for your patience with us, do your work in us through your Word & by the power of your Holy Spirit as we seek to understand Patience as a Fruit of the Spirit. Amen!

INTRODUCTION: Patience - Yikes!  Feels like I'm stepping into a mine field!  I know I'm not very patient, and that's patience how the world sees it - so how does God see it?  What is this supernatural Fruit of Patience?  Our book describes patience as self restraint in the face of provocation, and thinking before we act.  Ok, even the world can understand this kind of patience.  Patience as a fruit of the Spirit is much more, it involves a changed heart and a transformed mind, so that we aren't just patient on the outside (self-restraint) but also patient on the inside (gracious).

PRINCIPLE:  The Fruit of Patience demonstrates God's Grace

As with all of these Fruits they are a response to all that God has done for us, if God has been gracious to us how ought we to respond to others?  We ought to respond with God's Grace:
  • Being patient with our brothers & sisters in Christ as they grow in Maturity/Sanctification.
  • Being patient with the unsaved as we seek to Love them into the Kingdom.
I. God's Patience with People

As I was answering the questions for myself this week the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart about something that has been troubling me lately.  I am always troubled when the unsaved die, especially people I love or people who seem to have been trying to live in a loving manner, and a part of me would love there to be yet another chance for people after death.  Lately I heard someone expounding an idea from a work of fiction that implied that there is a time after death to get your life right with God - and as much as I would like that to be the case I don't see evidence for that in scripture.  I even caught myself thinking perhaps there is something not yet revealed, perhaps part of eternity for the believer is to draw the lost to God - but again, there is no evidence of this in scripture.  So I've been praying about my heart for people, and questioning myself & my own desires... then I read 2 Peter 3:9 which tells us that God has incredible patience with people, so much patience that it seems He is being slow keeping His promises - but His reason for His timing is this: He does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  This was a comfort to me, and I realized that my heart for people isn't in the wrong - instead it seems to be lining up with God's heart for people.

God's patience also extends to His people, those who have given their lives to Him - but still fall & fail Him.  Philippians 1:6 tells us that God is working to sanctify us, that he has started a good work in us and will carry it on to completion.  1 Peter 2:4-6 tells us that we are living stones being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood that offers spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  It goes on to tell use that those who trust in Christ will never be put to shame.  These verses are promises for our assurance in Christ, but also speak of our growth & maturity in faith as being something that God is patiently working on.

I have a personal faith-walk story that is marked by deeply rooted & devastating sin, as well as terrible betrayal at the hands of others - it is the faith-walk I had to take to break the bondage of sin, and to learn about the amazing Grace of God.  I have written it down, but will not share it today - I call it "Graceful Walk", which is the meaning of my name (Annette) & is an apt description of my journey both to God (Salvation) and with God (Sanctification).  I praise God for His Patience and Grace poured out for me!!

PRINCIPLE: God is Patient because of His Great Love for People

God Loves people, He is always fair & gracious, He never drives anyone away that hasn't already clearly pushed Him away many times.  An example of this is given in Exodus - God prophecies that He will harden Pharaoh's heart in Exodus 4:21 & 7:3, and this sounds cruel to us to hear God speak this way; however, when we read the full account (chapters 7-11) of how Pharaoh responded to the display of God's power, how he time & again hardened his own heart in response to God's clear call, we understand why God chose to drive him away.  God is a gentleman, and does not force Himself on those who don't want Him; nevertheless, He is patient & desiring for all to come to Him & return His love.

II. Our Patience with People

Our patience with people ought to come as a response to the patience God has with us, it is a love-gift that we can give to God.  Our lives ought to be poured out as an offering, as a sacrifice to God, in order that others will be drawn to God.

I have been blessed by having several family members, all of them men, who's lives are amazing examples of patience.  My Dad, my Grandpa (my Dad's Dad), my Great-Grandpa (my Dad's Dad's Dad), and my Son - yep, it skipped my generation.  Each of these men are (were) marked with similar characteristics: they rarely got angry, took life in stride daily with a cheerful outlook, had a sense of humor about themselves, and were content.  Each had personal tragedies & struggles, but managed to remain patient in the process.  Some of this was simply their natural temperament, but it also was a reflection of hearts that loved God.

That's not my temperament, so Patience is something I have to work at & that I've seen God work on in me as I'm maturing in Christ.  I've discovered that usually when I'm impatient it's because I'm too focused on me (yuck).  Here are a couple examples of how I'm improving:
  • I grew up & lived in the San Diego area until I was about 34 years old, I've dealt with traffic, bad traffic, and as is the habit of people who deal with bad traffic on a daily basis (my 12 mile commute typically took 30-45 minutes mostly driven in stop & go traffic).  As a result I learned to talk to the cars around me, things like "hey, let me in already" or "are you nuts" or "it's the pedal on the right idiot" or "do you have a death wish".  After moving to Minnesota my talking to cars didn't stop, and I had a couple locals point it out, that got me thinking.  Now instead of talking to the cars I stop and think about the people in the cars (well, I try at least), and frequently I find myself praying for them - especially if I got angry with them.
  • I have a wonderful loving & patient husband, but like all people (myself included) he has his quirks.  Something he used to say a lot, but doesn't say so much anymore is "that's not right".  He might say that about how shirts should be hung (his all face to the left), about odd food combinations (he's gotten used to my experimental cooking), or how books ought to be lined up on a bookshelf - library style.  I used to take it personally, as a judgement against me, when he said "that's not right".  After a while I learned that was Jeff's way of indicating it wasn't how he'd learned to do things, and I learned to laugh when I hear him say this; in the process I've gained more of a sense of humor about myself & learned to be more gracious when it comes to things that aren't eternal in nature.
PRINCIPLE: Our Patience with others ought to be a response to the Love & Patience of God

Who tries your patience?  Why might God have placed that person in your life?  Is God using that person to grow you in some way?  Is God giving you an opportunity to Love that person into His kingdom?

We all have people in our lives I call Grace Builders, people who seem to enjoy causing turmoil, people who like to stir up controversy, or people who purposely pick on us for some reason.  These people I call Grace Builders because that's how God can use them in our lives, to grow us in His Grace.

III. Learning from Biblical Examples of Patience

We can learn patience from the examples of others, and scriptural examples are always good to rely on.  From Moses we can learn patience in waiting for God's redemptive process to work over time.  From Job we can learn patience at a time of loss & affliction.  From Joseph we can learn patience despite difficult circumstances & false accusations.  From Hosea we can learn patience toward those who betray us.  From David we can learn patience in waiting on God's timing to fulfill what He has promised.... and the list goes on.

My favorite is Jesus, especially his constant patience with his disciples, but we know from the example of him driving out the money-changers (John 2:13-17) in the temple that his patience wasn't a result of him being a weak, but rather meek - to be meek means to have strength under control, and this a beautiful example of strength kept under control.  Jesus was angry but in His anger didn't sin.

My Dad was a big strong man, capable of causing great harm if he'd chosen to.  Only one time in my life did my Dad express anger toward me, I told you he was patient!!  The one time it was more than well deserved, I was a teenager & had been particularly nasty toward my Mom (sorry Mom) & finally went too far.  It took a lot to get Dad angry, but once he was angry I knew I was in deep trouble.  Thankfully I was smart enough to realize I'd seriously messed up, and quickly realized I didn't want my Dad mad at me. Luckily I had a Dad who modeled God's Forgiveness as well as Patience, and the situation was resolved relatively quickly - yep, I learned my lesson.  My Dad exercised meekness, strength kept under control, and even when angry was capable of expressing anger in a controlled manner.

PRINCIPLE: When we have God's Fruit of Patience we can be angry & yet not sin.

We will all get angry at times, and there are times when it is appropriate to be angry.  God's Spirit working in and through us can teach us when to be Patient as we wait for God to work through a situation, and that Patience can also teach us how to respond in anger but under control.

CONCLUSION: We live in an impatient world, a world that can try our patience, we must lean on God and trust in His Spirit's power as we walk in this world & seek to be not of the world.

Closing Prayer: Lord as we interact with people help us to love them and be patient with them in response to how you have loved & been patient with us.  Amen!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fruit of the Spirit - Study Worksheet 5

Study Worksheet

Read Chapter 5 Patience in the book The Fruit Of The Spirit along with scriptures given in the questions below:

1. Who do you know that models Patience?  Share how patience was modeled.


2. Think of someone in your life that is short-tempered.  What is it like to interact with them?

3. Read 2 Peter 3:9
a. What do you learn about God?

b. How does God's patience benefit man?

4. Think about your normal weekly activities.
a. What might be eliminated or changed in order to reduce "hurry"?

b. How might you order your life to more consistently provide scheduled periods of rest and reflection?

5. Read Lamentations 3:22-24.  How have you experienced God's patience in your life?

6. Read the section of the chapter titled "Impatience Often Comes Because of Faulty or Inappropriate Goals".  In what ways are you setting faulty goals, resulting in impatience?

7. From the following verses, what benefits might we reap from being patient?
a. Psalm 37:7-9

b. Psalm 40:1-3

c. Proverbs 14:29

d. Proverbs 15:18

e. Proverbs 25:15

f. Revelation 3:10

8. Think about someone who tries your patience, spend a few moments praying for them & then attempt to answer the following:
a. What might be going on in their life?

b. Exactly what is it that irks you? 

c. How does God view this relationship?  How might God want you to respond?

9. Think about your own life, especially as pertains to your Sanctification (growing in Christ-likeness).
a. Where are you impatient with yourself?

b. Find 2-3 verses to encourage you to be patient as you wait for God to work in & through you.

10. Think about these people from the Bible, for each come up with ways they modeled patience:
a. Moses

b. Joseph

c. David

Fruit of the Spirit - Group Exercise 4

For developing personal study skills - this exercise is uses lists to attempt to extract meaning from a passage. This method can be applied to just about any cohesive passage in scripture.

Group Exercise

Read Psalm 37:1-8

1. List repeated words or phrases

2. List repeated ideas

3. List actions to take

4. List attitudes to cultivate

5. List actions of God

6. What other sorts of lists might you be able to generate from this passage?