Thursday Tips: Cultivate

It feels as if I’m constantly moving from one awaited event in life to the next. I wait for vacations, visitors, treats, appointments… and most of the time I’m somwhere between irritated and excitedly anxious. But I so want to enjoy the present without living in impatience all of the time!

So how do you and I bridge the gap from impatience to patience?

Grow

1. Ask for it! 

God loves to give good gifts to His children. Asking Him to grow the Fruit of the Spirit in you is request He is thrilled to answer.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with an entire list. “God… I want love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness… oh, and goodness, faithfulness, answers, help, health… Wait, just give me a 9 for 1 deal.  I want the whole fruit basket.” I’ve begun lifting up one quality per week.  You could try this per day, per month, or even year.  But know that answer won’tjust come in an extra dollop of patience.  I’m not saying He can’t or won’t work a miracle, but more than likely… it’s going to take some work.

Remember strength training from yesterday? Ever seen someone bench pressing heavy weights at a gym?  Once you reach a certain weight you need a spotter.  Ask that God would be your spotter as you cultivate good fruit in your life.  “God, I want patience, but I cannot do it without you.  Help me!”

His promise is that He won’t give us more than we can handle… but just enough to make us utterly dependent upon Him!  (“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13, MSG)

2. Root yourself in good soil.

I can’t say it enough: eat the Word!  When we are struggling to exhibit certain fruit we should check our nourishment level and source.  Look, if I’m starting to notice jealousy and envy creeping into my life it’s usually an indication that I haven’t been filling up on good stuff.  I’m going to be really honest with you.  I stopped reading popular fashion and celebrity magazines years ago because I just can’t handle it.  I begin to want different clothes, a different body, and sometimes even a different life.  I had to do a lot of damage control by retraining my thought patterns to dwell on good things… aka memorizing!

Struggling with impatience?  Try memorizing some of these verses:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

That’s just a start, but you’d be surprise how having just one ammo verse can help shoot down the start of an impatience rant.  (Anyone else familiar with the screaming that goes on inside of your head, much less what gets verbalized?  Yeesh!)

3. Soak up the accountability.

Obviously your main dependence should always be on the Lord, but thankfully He didn’t put us here all by ourselves!  Be willing to share this desire or struggle with someone and ask for prayer.  If you are really brave, ask them to point out your blind spots.  If patience is what you desire, ask a select friend or mentor to (gently) remind you of instances when this hasn’t been your strong suit.  (Sometimes this calls for a not so gentle kick in the pants.)  Hopefully they will be the kind of friend who will also encourage the good fruit they see in your life!

Remember: growing good fruit isn’t instantaneous. You will have good days and bad days, but thankfully we have One who will never leave us.  Philippians 1:6 says, “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Amen!

Happy Thursday!
Ginger

Grace for the World

Have you ever eaten a bad piece of fruit… a rotten or mealy apple? It’s disgusting and sometimes one bad grape is enough to keep me from eating any more from that clump. Fuzz on blackberries makes me want to gag. Can also I just stop and say that canned fruits and veggies aren’t overly appetizing? Anyone agree? Who knew peas could actually be spring green rather than puke green? I’m getting off track. Apologies.

I spent my summers during college working at Pine Cove Christian Camps. After 6 days of exhausting and fulfilling work I would stay with my grandparents for less than 24 hours before starting it all back up again. 12 weeks straight. My grandmother had a fridge full of food – but I was usually only ever tempted by one thing – the fresh fruit. I would practically eat a meal of the chilled fruit before finishing it off with a small glass of freshly frozen peaches. When fruit is good you can’t keep me away from it.

Jesus loved to teach in metaphor and parables. A consistent theme throughout the New Testament is the use of fruit to represent our labor and love.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing… When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father…You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:5, 8, 16-17 (NLT)

You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. (Matthew 7:16-17, NLT)

Followers of Jesus and fruit (LOVE) are to be synonymous. Jesus said we are identified by our fruit… and that fruit is our love… and yet… Christians today are known more for what they dislike rather than what they love.

How you and I respond to culture is eternally significant.

So what does good fruit look like in our lives? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23,NIV)

Good fruit is attractive. It’s not hateful or hurtful. Good fruit is full of grace.

So as we enter into the final weeks of the election season, let’s pray that our conversations, posts, and e-mails would be full of grace. May our fruit be evident to all.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (1Corinthians 13:13, NLT)

Following,
Ginger

A GRACEFUL GIVEAWAY! Two copies of “Graceful” the book by Emily Freeman are up for grabs this week. Follow this link for details and entry form!

“And so we have some important choices to make. Every day, a direction. Every minute, a decision about what we will believe. Are you going to keep trying hard to be good on your own? Or will you dare to believe that you are graceful in Christ, marked forever by his divine favor?” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful)