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Posts Tagged ‘Galatians 5:22-23’

 

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Oh, boy. Here she comes again. ‘Seems like she seeks me out every week. Lord, help me.

As Mrs. T. approached me after church, I braced myself for a lengthy, one-sided conversation. Mrs. T. loved to talk, usually about herself, her pains and struggles. As annoyance and frustration would build within me, all I could think about was how to get away without offending.

Now I realize there is a remedy for such situations.

I could have had V-8!

No, not the fortified tomato juice—the VICTORY x 8!

 

field of spring grass and sunset

 

I can win over annoyance and frustration—when faced with situations I cannot change—even those circumstances much bigger than aggravating people.

The “times eight” refers to eight ways the battle can be fought. By implementing the following actions, victory can be mine:

  1. Confession and repentance provide the best place to begin. Lord, my attitude toward Mrs. T is negative and unloving; bitterness and self-pity have taken root. Help me to abandon those roots so they shrivel up and die.
  1. Forgiveness.  You, oh God, have forgiven me of so much; how dare I withhold forgiveness from Mrs. T? Help me to remember that forgiveness is not a feeling; it’s a commitment to lay aside the offense—as many times as necessary.
  1. Prayer for the person(s). Father, my first inclination is to pray you reveal to Mrs. T. how annoying her self-centered chatter can be! But your wisdom dictates I pray blessing upon her (Luke 6:28). Ease the distresses and frustrations in her.  Show me how I can help, beyond providing a listening ear.

 

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  1. Thought Control. Those resentful, self-pitying thoughts in my mind want front-and-center attention, Lord. Turn my focus instead to gratitude. Thank you for the privilege of being your ears and perhaps your voice for Mrs. T.  
  1. Attitude Adjustment. Oh God, help me keep a proper perspective. On a “Scale of Measurement for Difficulties in Life”, Mrs. T rates only a 1 or 2. Forgive me for allowing such a small annoyance to steal my joy.
  1. Affirmation of God’s sovereignty and attributes. It is well within your power to redeem this situation, Lord. Help me to embrace the fact you may have a different plan– that redemptive change take place within me rather than in the situation. May I avail myself of your strength, determination, and wisdom for that change.
  1. Expectation. As Mrs. T. approaches, Father, remind me that you are working for my good and hers. My good undoubtedly includes growing the fruit of the Spirit. But it’s also possible you have planned an additional positive outcome that will surprise and delight—at the proper time.

 

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  1. Perseverance.  Thank you for that glorious promise in James 1:4–that perseverance in faith principles produces maturity and sound character. Thank you for the joy and peace that results—so much more satisfying that allowing frustration to fester!

 

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Since those days of listening to Mrs. T, have I always applied V-8 to difficult situations? No. Annoyance, bitterness, and a host of other negative emotions can still crop up as challenges arise. This post was much more for me than anyone else.

When the next problem occurs and I feel weak to handle it, I’m serving up some V-8!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.quotes.gram.com; http://www.faithmessenger.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.indulgy.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

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“Who has known the mind of the Lord?” Paul asked (1 Corinthians 2:16).

That’s an easy question to answer: Nobody! His intellect and wisdom are far beyond our human ability to comprehend.

After all…

God has worked out the complexities of every living cell–with perfect precision.

 

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(X-ray microscopy combine to picture interior of living cell)

 

He has engineered a staggering number of specialized plants and creatures, carefully interrelated in a web of reliance upon one another.

 

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He has created the unfathomable reaches of the universe filled with countless heavenly bodies of immeasurable proportions.

 

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(Spiral Galaxy M74)

 

Such intellect and wisdom to accomplish these feats is incredible.

Yet, at the end of that same verse above, Paul makes a statement even more astounding. In fact, at first glance it seems ludicrous.

 

Unknown

 “We have the mind of Christ.”

 

What? How is that possible? His knowledge and wisdom are infinite; ours is markedly limited.

But Paul makes clear:  we have the mind of Christ because he lives within us (Galatians 2:20).

 

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Not that we can know everything and respond with pure wisdom in all situations. Our perfection is a process that won’t be completed until Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6).

But my heart beats a little bit faster to realize that, each day and for all my tomorrows, I might think more like Jesus, understand more like Jesus, and react more like Jesus.

One particular action will encourage progress: spending time with him, especially in his Word.

 

Young woman reading bible

 

Here’s an analogy, though far from perfect. Steve and I have been married a very long time—forty-four years.  At this point, we can finish each other’s sentences, supply missing information or words in a conversation, and sometimes even know what the other is thinking.

It’s as if we’ve acquired a bit of the other person’s mind. And it’s happened bit by bit, over time.

So I repeat: We will have the mind of Christ as we spend time with him day by day– especially in his Word.

And how will we know that his way of thinking is becoming our way of thinking? After all, there’s no measuring stick for spiritual growth.

 

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Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, posed an excellent question that can help us determine our progress:

“Are other people beginning to see God in my life more and more (p. 78)?” Because a person with the mind of Christ will demonstrate Christ-like behavior.

Perhaps we could take an occasional inventory, based on the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The attributes listed in these two verses characterize a person with the mind of Christ–someone who is loving, joyful, peace-filled, patient, kind, good, and so on.  We could ask ourselves, how have I demonstrated these attributes this week?

And what will be the result of cultivating the mind of Christ? “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

 

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Life that is characterized by vitality and purpose.

Peace that includes inner-contentment, freedom from guilt, and security for eternity.

That sounds awfully good to me.

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Heavenly Father, we praise you for taking us into the high places of blessing in Jesus. That includes this gift: the mind of Christ. And day by day you are transforming us into his likeness, with ever-increasing glory. May I seize this day and its opportunities to think like you, understand like you, and react like you.  

(Ephesians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 3:18)

 

Art and photo credits:  www.lbl.gov; http://www.chesapeakebay.net; http://www.hubblesite.org; http://www.crosspointenwa.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.changingthefaceof christianity.com; http://www.footsoldier4christ.com; http://www.motivationalquotes.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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DSC_7445-X3 (My mom & dad with their great-granddaughter, Sophie, 2011)

 

“What we leave behind

is not what is engraved in stone monuments,

but what is woven into the lives of others.”

— Pericles (495-429, B.C.  Greek statesman, orator, and general of Athens)

I love that word, woven. It speaks eloquently of the way my mother, Geraldine Claire  (November 5, 1928-October 9, 2014), influenced my life. Woven into the fabric of my being are memories of Mom’s words and example that still have impact to this day.

Many of those memories involve Mom and Dad because they were such an inseparable team. They even wallpapered together.

Now marriage experts will tell you that completing home improvement projects with your spouse can be detrimental to your relationship. But that was not the case for Mom and Dad. Amidst the measuring, pasting, and hanging, my brother, John, and I saw cooperation and patience in action.

Once the wallpaper was hung in the three homes of our growing-up years, Mom was ready to entertain. Hospitality was definitely one of her gifts. In fact, the last dining room table Mother and Dad purchased could seat fourteen people.

Mom became adept at organizing large gatherings by writing lists, doing everything she could ahead of time, even labeling the serving ware so each item on the menu would have an appropriate bowl or plate. Little did I know then how often I’d be following her routine and recipes, as Steve and I began to entertain.

Mom’s legacy included wise advice. One time I was heartsick over a low report card grade in math—my most challenging subject. She quickly gave me perspective for the tragedy, saying, “Just remember: this grade will not matter in ten years.”  And, of course, she was right.

Countless times over the years as disappointments and difficulties have occurred, I’ve heard Mother’s voice reminding me to consider events with a ten-year perspective.

But that doesn’t mean she accepted excuses. Instead, Mom fostered independence and personal responsibility .

I’m remembering the Sunday School Christmas program from second grade. My part was to recite six verses from Luke, chapter two, about the angel visitation to the shepherds. “This is too much to memorize,” I complained.

Mother replied calmly, “Well, just tell Mr. Faircloth that you can’t manage it, and he’ll ask someone else.”

Mom did not take control of the situation; she left it up to me to decide what course of action to take. Wise mother, indeed.

But perhaps the most astounding aspect of her legacy is the way she exhibited all features of the fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5:22-23.

For example:

LOVE — Mom lavished love on family, friends, and stranger alike. She could strike up a conversation with anyone, and was always ready with a warm hug.

JOY — Mother was a woman of gladness. She laughed easily and often.

PEACE — Mom and Dad created a peaceful, secure home for John and me.

PATIENCE — She exercised great patience, especially when dealing with my fluctuating moods of early adolescence.

KINDNESS — Mother demonstrated kindness in many ways.  I remember one house where the old wallpaper was in process of removal when Mom and Dad took in a missionary who needed a place to stay.  We have home movies of  that missionary, Miss Hunt, standing in front of  the glue-encrusted plaster.  Another time when a different missionary family stayed with us, Mom did all their laundry while they attended to other affairs.

GOODNESS — Mother’s goodness was also expressed in numerous ways.  In my mind’s eye, I can still see Mom at her desk at Scripture Press, where she was executive secretary to the Vice President of Editorial.  (The visualization is easy to conjure; I sat directly across from Mom, most of my seven summers as an editorial assistant.)  Frequently people stopped by her desk to share a need and ask for advice.  We used to tease her about being the psychologist of Scripture Press!   

FAITHFULNESS — Mother’s faithfulnesss to God never wavered for the seventy-five earthly years she knew Jesus as her Savior and Lord.

GENTLENESS — While John and I were growing up, Mom could be plenty firm with us.  Yet, when we were sick, hurt or experiencing trouble, she readily soothed us with comfort and hugs.

SELF-CONTROL — I have to admit:  I provided Mom and Dad with plenty of parenting challenges.  And though Mom did become angry sometimes, she never lost her temper with me.

For these reasons and so many more, John and I “arise and call her blessed” (Proverbs 31:28).  Mother did indeed weave godly integrity, wisdom, and faith into our lives.

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With quick steps I entered T.J. Maxx.  Mustn’t waste a minute in December.  Too much to do, right?

First order of business:  get a cart.  The first one I grabbed was stuck to another.  Couldn’t get them apart.

Just as I reached for one in the second row, a cheery woman with sparkling eyes approached from the side, ready to return her cart.   “Here,”  she said. “Take mine.”

“Thank you very much!”  I replied.  As she turned the cart to face me, I couldn’t help but notice how smoothly it made the circle.  “Wow!  No wobbly wheels or squeaks!”

I tested the cart myself, turning it one way and then another.  This was the Cadillac of carts.  Very fluid and responsive.   Quiet.

Mrs. Lovely Lady chuckled a bit at my excitement.  “Yes, it’s a great cart.  I really hate to leave it,” she added wistfully.

Now I was chuckling.  “You are very kind to pass it on to me.”

“Well, pay it forward,” she called and headed to the exit.

That little episode got me to thinking.  Mrs. Lovely Lady had paid forward to me much more than a kind deed.  She also gave:

  • the gift of good cheer and laughter
  • A friendly moment of camaraderie, in spite of the fact we were strangers to one another
  • A large serving of the fruit of the Spirit – his love, joy, kindness, and goodness

As a result, I felt incredibly refreshed and invigorated.  Just that brief encounter made a huge difference in the condition of my spirit.

And I pray that kind woman who passed on her cart experienced the same uplift.

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Lord, help me to pay forward many kindnesses during this Christmas season, and beyond into 2014.  May I reflect you – your love, joy, kindness, and goodness—with plenty of good humor!  And one more thing, Father.  I don’t know who that woman was in T. J. Maxx, but you do.  (Such a fantastic truth—your omniscience!!)  Would you bestow a special blessing upon that lovely lady, for her delightful demeanor and thoughtfulness?  Thank you, Father!

(photo credits:  www.marketplace.org; http://www.unfadingelegance.blogspot.com.)

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