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Sunday, December 23, 2018 Twenty-third Day of Advent: The Gifts of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23 King James Version)

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 Amplified Bible)

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control; and here there is no conflict with Jewish laws. (Galatians 5:22-23 Living Bible)

 Today, when I opened my gift, there was more than one gift, there were nine gifts!

If you read many of my blogs, you know that I love to compare different translations, as above. Today, I would like to take these translations and mix them until the two verses are completely clear.

But when [we allow] the Holy Spirit to control our lives, He will produce in us love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness [to everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, Jew, Gentile], goodness, faithfulness [to God, to our families and friends, to our church, to our employers}, gentleness, and self-control [self-control of emotions, actions, thoughts]. Against such things there is no law. (Emphasis mine.)

I’m sure you’ve hear people say, “I’m just a work in progress.” That is certainly true of me, especially regarding some of these fruits – patience, gentleness, self-control, frankly, all of the fruits. But as we’ve already discovered during this Advent season, God is a God of mercy and grace. When my self-control slips, my behavior is not what it should been when I’m waiting, when my love is subjective, God’s grace and mercy offers me another chance when I repent.  He will do the same for you.

Father God, You are the God of second chances. Of as many chances as we need to exhibit, no, to live, the fruits of the Spirit. Help us to be ever aware of these fruits in our lives, to live every day demonstrating these fruits to all with whom we come in contact. It is in the matchless name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

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From Mundane to Magnificent

Day in–Day out.  Constant . . . relentless . . . regular . . . endless . . . day in–day out.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a stay-at-home (read: work-at-home) mom, a young single woman just starting your career, a single mom trying to make ends meet, or a mom who works outside the home—only to arrive back late in the day to take care of your family and your household responsibilities, it’s all the same. Our circumstances and lives may be different, but most of us are in that same relentless, mundane cycle we call living.

And yet, this is not really living. Surviving, perhaps, or getting by, but not living. We know, or at least we hope, there’s more to life than this. Because if this is all there is, why do we bother?

This mundane life is definitely not how God created us to live. God designed us to want more—more of Him. And in Him, we experience life abundantly and fully.

In Hebrews 13:15 the author writes, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that gives thanks to His name.” What is the ‘sacrifice of praise?’ Is it just that we struggle out of bed on Sunday to get to church on time so we can sing during the worship service? Of course not. In this verse, ‘sacrifice of praise’ indicates a living sacrifice—a constant expression of worship. Everything we do, everything we say or think should be an act of worship. Even the most mundane things in our life should be an act of worship—ALL to the glory of GOD!

How do we move from our mundane existence to living in the magnificent presence of God 24/7?

1)   We start our day submitting ourselves and our day to God.

2)   Everything we do, say and think, must be as “unto the Lord” and for His glory alone.

3)   We “practice His presence” all the time. If you’ve not read Brother Lawrence’s book “The Practice of the Presence of God,” I highly recommend it.

4)   We end our day, giving thanks and praise to God.

The Bible tells us in I Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “Rejoice evermore.

Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (KJV)

Rejoice evermore: Another word for “evermore” is “eternally.” But we don’t need to wait until we are standing before God to praise Him. We can do that here, all the time. I listen to praise and worship music all day – in my office at work, in my car and in my home office. I surround myself with praises and when no one is listening, I sing along. (I am a shower/car soloist. I sing beautifully in the shower and in the car.  J )

Pray without ceasing: This dovetails into practicing the presence. When we are constantly in an attitude of prayer, we are completely aware of the presence of God around us.

In everything give thanks: James tells us in Chapter 1:2 that we are to “count it all joy.” When trials, temptations, and troubles hit us so hard that we are devastated—even in those times—we are to count it all joy. God may not have caused those trials, temptations, and troubles, but if we allow Him to walk through those times with us, He will teach us and grow us spiritually. And at the end of those situations, we will be victorious.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take magnificent over mundane every day!