The Spirit-Filled Life
1 John 2:3-6
There was a time when I was so disheartened that it made me wonder whether I should remain in the ministry. How could I tell people that Jesus would give them peace and joy when I felt discouraged by my own failure to be godly? I understood what "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22-23) meant but was never sure which of those qualities, if any, would be apparent in me from day to day.
God let me stew in my anxiety until I was fully committed to finding out if His Word was true or not. I encountered my answer in a biography of Hudson Taylor, the founder of China Inland Missions. For a long time he, too, felt that his efforts fell short of the Lord's expectations. Then Taylor discovered that God wanted believers to take His promises literally. So when Jesus said to abide in Him, He meant that His followers were to stop striving and struggling. Instead they were to trust Him to subdue their flesh.
As a child, I was taught that a person got saved and then went to work for God. You did the best you could to act godly, think right, and speak wisely. When your best wasn't good enough, well, you tried harder. Such an impossible expectation was wearing me out. This idea of letting Jesus Christ work through me sounded both biblical and liberating.
A grape branch doesn't bear fruit because of its determined efforts to get sunshine; rather, it simply abides in the vine, and fruit appears. The vine does all the work. In the same way, believers are to be in union with their Savior so that spiritual fruit can grow in their life.
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Some days it seems as if a spirit of anger is permeating the entire world. News stories of violence, road rage, and international discord fill the airwaves. If that were not enough, our families are also being torn apart by unresolved conflicts. Where do we turn for peace in this angry world?
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