For today’s final meditation on our Fruit of the Spirit series, my husband, Tyler, is going to share with us what he’s learned about self-control. I’ve transcribed a portion of his sermon below, or if you prefer, you can listen to his sermon here.
We are going to define self-control as: the ability to recognize and choose the important thing over the urgent thing.
What would your life look like if you had that mastered?
Self-control is a virtue that I value, that I have been studying and striving for on a personal level. It is something that I regularly feel deficient in and it is something that I ask God to grant me every day. So hopefully I can share with you a few things that He has taught me recently.
So as it turns out, I am not the only one who feels self-control is a weakness. In fact, among the two dozen “character strengths” surveyed by researchers to over 1 million people around the world, self-control was ranked dead last as the one people were least likely to recognize in themselves. Conversely, when people were asked about their failings, a lack of self-control was at the top of the list.
Okay, so we know that self-control is a problem, but WHY is such an acute problem?
I have a hard time believing God loves me. Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe He loves YOU. But it’s much harder for me to trust and accept that He loves me. If you’re like me and have a hard time coming to terms with how much God loves you, Ephesians 1 is a good place to start.
This incredible chapter is basically an outpouring of God’s compelling love. It’s so jam-packed with beautiful phrasings about God’s love that it can be a little overwhelming. It’s like walking into a Bath & Body Works – you’re completely surrounded by a zillion scents that your nose goes on sensory overload and stops working. So that’s why I thought we could stop and take each verse one at a time and enjoy the aroma of God’s intense love.
As we conclude our Fruit of the Spirit series, I thought it would be helpful to go over some of these questions about the Holy Spirit. Instead of trying to tackle this difficult topic by myself, I decided to reach out to Jeff Chacon, who ministers at Anchor Point Church in Tampa (he also happens to be my father-in-law and next-door neighbor!). His answers to these questions were deep, Bible-filled and clarifying. I hope they are helpful as you search for a deeper understanding of the Holy Spirit.
Yesterday, we all (hopefully) felt loved and appreciated. Our roles as moms and caregivers were honored and glorified. It made motherhood seem more enjoyable, more majestic. More important. It made me wonder: what if every day were Mother’s Day?
Today, we’re back to the same ole grind. Changing diapers without any praise. Feeding whining children, with no one around to pay us on the back. We wash clothes, clean dirty floors, wipe away tears, tend to our kids’ souls. With no one watching or cheering us on.
Except, what if I told you that you’re not alone…There is someone watching. There is someone cheering you on. Someone’s patting you on the back, giving you the credit you deserve and filling in the gaps when you need it.
Your Heavenly Father sees you, mama.
He sees you every day. All throughout the daily grind He’s cheering you on, applauding you when you succeed and mourning with you in moments of frustration. You are not alone.
I’m a planner. Literally. My undergraduate degree was in Recreation, Parks & Tourism with a concentration in Event Planning. I enjoy planning things. In fact, one of my “hobbies” is planning vacations that I’ll (probably) never go on.
The older I get, the more I bump up against this problem with planning: oftentimes, my plans don’t coincide with God’s plan. And it’s frustrating, and, at times, painful.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
When God Had Different Plans for Me
At the beginning of 2013, I started to have debilitating pain in my joints. At the time, I was a riding instructor at a local horse farm. I would get home from teaching lessons at the end of the day and literally crawl up the stairs to our apartment because I was in so much pain. I started to see an orthopedic doctor and then a sports medicine doctor, and when neither helped, I went to a rheumatologist, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a physical therapist… the list goes on. I got a knee brace, shoe insoles, a plethora of medications and side effects, and a myriad of injections in my joints. Instead of getting better, the pain only got worse.
With every new doctor, I would hope that this would be THE ONE. This would be the doctor who would know what was wrong with me. This would be the therapy to finally “fix” me. This medication would make it all go away. But it didn’t. I found the truth in this verse: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).
Three years into my journey with pain, I was consistently walking with a cane and taking several medications daily just to function. The pain kept me up at night—I spent a lot of nights crying on the bathroom floor, praying to God, feeling so alone and defeated. I was unable to work, barely able to go to church. There were days when I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without help from my husband. This obviously wasn’t part of my plans.
We all know that prayer is important – it’s how we petition the Almighty God with our requests. And the sheer fact that He hears us, and wants to hear from us, is incredible.
If we really knew and understood just how incredible this is, we would be praying all of the time. Which is probably why Paul tells us to pray…all of the time.
So here are some of my favorite prayer Bible verses and quotes to get us inspired to pray! At the bottom of this post, you’ll find printable four memory verse cards on prayer. If you want to read a devotional on prayer, click here.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
This week’s topic for our Fruit of the Spirit series is gentleness. “Gentle parenting” is a hot topic right now – but have you ever thought about who the originator of gentleness is? God is the ultimate parent and the founder of true gentleness. Today we’re going to look at an incredible story about how God parents the prophet Elijah with love and compassion during a difficult time in his life.
I have the hardest time being gentle when things don’t go the way I want them to. I mean, when everything’s going my way, I’m the nicest, humblest, gentlest person EVER! Ha…
But when people let me down, when they’re overly dramatic or annoying, it’s hard to be gentle. When I’m annoyed or frustrated, I’m dismissive, ignore people and am downright rude. Especially to my husband, and even to my children.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The Greek term for faithfulness used in our key verse is “pistis” which conveys faith, belief, trust and confidence. This is the same word used when Jesus says things like, “Your faith (pistis) has healed you,” (Mark 5:34, 10:52) and in Mark 4:40, “Why are so afraid? Do you still have no faith (pistis)?” It is the same term used all throughout the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11.
With everything going on in our world right now, it’s hard to be faithful. It’s easy to doubt what God is doing with this pandemic or in the various hardships he’s sending our way. Despite these storms, it is possible to have full faith in God – and not just blind, oblivious belief.
This week, for our Fruit of the Spirit series, we’re focusing on kindness and goodness. These terms strike me as nice, fluffy Christian words that depict a demure, smiling woman who writes a check for her local charity and doesn’t honk when someone cuts her off. But kindness and goodness are so much more than that – and, I believe there is an alarming shortage of true kindness in the world right now.
Before this pandemic, on Sunday evenings, I would meal plan for the week and put together my grocery order for the following day. With all of the craziness going on, meal planning and grocery shopping have been a nightmare. Who knew eggs, chicken thighs and toilet paper would be such a necessity in a pandemic?! We’ve been scouring every single grocery store within a 30-mile radius for these items. As soon as we find out that boneless skinless chicken thighs are available at the Costco across town, we’re in there like Delta Force trying to get what we need. (Because Heaven forbid we have to cook with chicken breasts instead!)
My reaction to this minor inconvenience made me consider what’s really important right now. What shortages does God care about? What deficits would get His attention?
I think God is looking down at our world and it hurts His heart that we have such a shortage of true kindness. Our goodness is apparently so rare that whenever someone does something exceptionally kind, it goes viral!
The good news is that as Christians, we can do something about that. Especially during such a turbulent time in our world, we can stand out and reflect these traits of God to the world on a daily basis.