This past weekend I attended a Women's Retreat with Calvary Houston. We stayed on Galveston Island. The last morning of the retreat I managed to get up for an early walk on the beach before breakfast...needless to say, it was refreshing!
Not only was the weekend a wonderful time for me to rest, reflect, and grow in my walk with God, but it was a true blessing to be among some wonderful ladies I call friends.
Truth be told, my girlfriends are very gentle, but I couldn't resist bragging on Texas Women - we practice tough love down here!
Here's the gals I hang out with this weekend...
Yes, it was a black and white weekend for me (makes it easier to pack, choosing one color for tops means only one pair of shoes to pack, and of course jeans go with everything!) ...ended up matching several of the ladies in our color choices - little did we know that was the color theme for the weekend too! Sorta the way the teaching went too, very black and white when you study scriptures...
The topic of study was based on Galatians 5:22-23, the Fruit of the Spirit. Our study was titled God's Culinary Delights (you can go to the website and request CD's of the weekend's teaching). Have to admit that a 'cooking theme' scared me since I'm not known for my culinary delights...however, I knew it was going to be a good study and very applicable to me when the introduction included this verse:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
Just days before this retreat one of my girlfriends came over to visit while I was working on the pinwheel blocks ...she reminded me that when she first met me as her quilt teacher that I was always saying how our quilting should be freeing and not bondage...how it was my joy...and we commented how my joy seemed to be lacking lately... hum... yep... my first clue that this weekend was going to speak to my heart...I needed to be untangled from the yoke of bondage...
John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Abide means to stay in a relationship, to be comfortable in that relationship, and to be a partner in the relationship. We can lose our joy if we aren't connected as we should be to Christ, we can't produce fruit on our own, we must abide. Did you catch that? We don't have anything to do in the production of the fruit, our only job is to abide. Fruit is the natural outcome of this relationship with Christ.
Chuck Smith makes this comment in the note section of The Word for Today Bible: If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, these are the characteristics that will begin to mark your life. There are not really nine fruits of the Spirit. There is only one fruit of the Spirit, and that is love! But this kind of love is not the Greek "eros", or the Greek "phileo". It is the word "agape" which is used in the New Testament to describe a depth of love beyond man's capacity - a love marked by joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Each of these characteristics of love, what we commonly call the fruits of the Spirit, were topics of teachings at the retreat....I will share a little of my notes...what I refer to as part of my week's journey that truly I want to incorporate in my life's journey...
Love: This is My commandment, that you love one another a I have loved you. John 15:12
Agape love is the only love that thinks of the good of others, there is no "give and take" with this type of love, it only gives. This love is not based on emotion or passion, its a matter of will, a decision - you have to choose to love, it's actions that change feelings. Biblical love knows what is right and wrong, it brings together heart and mind, it's love controlled by the Word of God. The more you love, the more you love to love, you have to exercise love even loving your enemies. This love is loving Him more than loving self, and loving others more than self. Life is measured by what you love the most. This type of love isn't 'on the side' like dressing 'on the side', it's a drenching sort of love (like dressing totally drenching a salad) that permeates your life. If we walk in the Spirit then we won't fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16). He who does not love doesn't know God because God is love (1 John 4:7-8)
Joy: These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full. John 15:11
Joy is contentment that flows from within due to the presence of God in your life. It's confidence built on that relationship, it's responding to what you know to be right and true, now matter the circumstance. Even in the normal experience of every human emotion, including sorrow, there can be rejoicing. Joy is a supernatural byproduct of a Spirit led life for a believer. However, joy does not come automatically, as the Holy Spirit will not by-pass your will, you must choose joy. You can have joy because of who God is, what He has done for you, and what He will do in your life. Even when it seems needs aren't met there's a purpose (so He can draw you closer to depend upon Him) As a result of choosing joy no matter what is happening in your life you can rejoice in knowing God is working all things out toward your good.
There are several things that cripple joy..disobedience for one. Joy can be restored with simple repentance. Unbelief cripples joy - if you have been taught the scriptures and chose not to believe them or have doubt your joy is robbed. Discontentment will kill joy, you will never have enough. False expectations cripple joy - when YOUR plans don't go right this steals your joy. Selfishness, self-pity, self-annalist, any of the "self" words diminish joy as they are all rooted in pride. Emotions, being victimized by feelings, will steal joy. Feelings can be controlled, they can't be allowed to govern your life. Weak people listen to themselves, strong people talk to themselves - "self, this is stupid" - we are to take our thoughts captive and stand on the truth of the Word.
Joy is the result of knowledge of the truth. When joy is chosen it is visible, desirable and a testimony.
Peace: These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. John 16:33a
Our nation is stressed, depressed, and anxious - why? because we lack peace. Three different types of peace:
(1) peace with God Therefore having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ Rom 5:1 An unbeliever is at war with God, they are His enemy. God's wrath is satisfied with the sacrifice of Christ, this gives us peace with God. Peace with God means He's on your side.
(2) personal peace And the peace of God which surpasses all understand will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus Philippians 4:7 Our challenge is to trust Him when we face difficulties. We are to give our requests to God and leave the outcome to Him to handle HIS way. The situation may or may not change but His peace will be with you.
(3) peace with others Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. if it is possible, as much depends on you, live peaceably will all men. Romans 12:17-18. Recognize that the cause of conflict lies partly with you. Take the first step to resolve conflict with others. Unresolved conflict is sin. Don't look for justice, repay evil with good, don't choose conflict, let God deal with the sin. Realize that God allows everything that comes into your life as a way of teaching you something.
Warren Wiersbe: A Christian who walks in love is always experiencing some new joy because the "fruit of the Spirit" is love and joy and when we blend "love" and "joy" we have "peace"
There's more I will share another day...I hope these shared thoughts will challenge you to take a fresh look at the fruit of the Spirit...
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!