The fruit of the Holy Spirit is a biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a person or community living in accord with the Holy Spirit according to the letter to the
Galatians. “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.”
You can imagine being in a garden or orchard when listening to this verse. Can you imagine anyone trying to set a law against these things? Personally I think that outside a relationship with the Holy Spirit it is difficult if near impossible to display this kind of “fruit” in our lives. I certainly know that the love the scriptures speak of is not natural for me. I know I can be emotionally explosive and being a person of words, the verbiage in such a state is not very kind. So I suppose I would struggle at times with love and self-control. Kinda falls in with part of a sermon I listened to today. A study in 1 Peter. It spoke of the trials in our lives and how God uses what the enemy can throw at us to help us grow. I realized too that other cultures and religions have something of that idea in their way of thinking as well. That we are here to learn. I don’t know about outside the realm of Christ, but I can agree in the sense that as a Christian, I am constantly being allowed trials in my life to help me grow up in Christ and to become more like Christ.
The title of the meditation the other day was called Picking Fruit. At the end of it you can journal your thoughts. It will prompt you with a question. I was asked “What is the most beautiful plant or flower you can imagine. When have you see it most recently? Reflect on it as God’s produce in your life.
I had to think back on my wedding and my choice of flower being hydrangeas. My whole wedding was full of symbols and meaning. Looking up the meaning of hydrangea, it means heartfelt emotions and understanding. On the other side of that lies the meaning of being heartless. Like in most things there are two sides, good and bad. Heartfelt to heartlessness. And as the hydrangeas colors are indicative of the soil beneath it, spiritually our lives (our walk) can be indicative of the type of soil that is in our own life or garden. Also like flowers, we have days where our edges can wear thin. As an aside, someone once noted that many women’s names are after a flower in some way. I was once told that my own name, among other meanings was rose. Roses are quite beautiful but they also have thorns. Again, two sides all the time.
What is the most beautiful plant or flower you can imagine and why?
So very often we have heard someone offer to pray for us for one reason or another. Many times the offer is genuinely appreciated, especially among believers. I do not know off hand what the Webster dictionary would define prayer as, but, I see it as spiritual communication between man and God.
Many times we might ask for prayer from others because we don’t know what to ask of God ourselves or maybe it is a sense of unworthiness that we should go before the Lord ourselves even though in fact the scriptures say that in Christ, we have that right and it is expected we would come to the Father through the Son. (Hebrews 4:14-16). “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. “
Unfortunately there are those who treat the idea of being prayed for as something suspect or maybe even worse, as a kind of witchcraft. In my own experience, simply praying for my own safety and the safety of others out on the roads has been treated with derision at times. Truly, I think people can feel threatened by it. I had an old boyfriend who sensed when I was praying and hated it.
Truly, we are not to ask of God things that are not a part of who God is. The cursing psalms, as they are called, I think, as someone once pointed out to me, allowed in the canon of scriptures as it shows the depth of pain we go through in our humanness, it’s raw reality. God’s Word shows humans in our full capacity, in our full reality. Pain goes beyond the physical and it’s okay to express our honest feelings to God. In fact, He hears us even if we cannot find the words.
Prayer is a multi-faceted language. “So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. (Romans 8:26).” Our own tears is as a prayer in times of our distress.
Whether praying for others or for ourselves, sometimes we just do not know what the answers are we are seeking. Or what is best. So indeed, ‘the Holy Spirit pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance.’
Answers to our prayers can come in different ways. I went through a study once called “Experiencing God” and would encourage anyone to go through it if you ever get the opportunity. There is a basic list which shows the different ways that God is working and communicating in our world and in our lives. But for me, in my own experience, as an example…..during a time of personal turmoil, the Lord came to me in a dream more than once. It was a comforting dream. I am presently reading through a couple different books, one of them “Hearing the Voice of God,” by Praying Medic. One of the most exciting things about the prayer life I am realizing is what that means as a relationship to God through Christ. It means getting to hear what the Lord is saying to me on a regular basis. I can say without a doubt that God cares for me and every aspect of my life because I have realized that He hears and has answered my prayers in numerous ways. It is a joy!! According to Praying Medic (Hearing the Voice of God), God is always speaking to us. We must learn to listen. Also, the Lord will often communicate with us through those things we hold most dear. For me that is my art because I see it as a spiritual gift as well as a talent.
In essence, prayer is a two way street. We speak and God does hear us. But we also need to listen. I learned this concept years ago as well through that Experiencing God study I went through.
Basically, there are seven realities of experiencing God…..Those are:
1. God is always at work around you.
2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal. (Mark 12:30; John 3:16).
3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church (other believers) to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways. (For instance, when you hear God speak to you through a verse of Scripture, its always best to verify what you’ve heard through prayer, other believers and your circumstances. If you hear God saying the same thing through all three sources, you can proceed confidently.)
5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action. (God wants a watching world to come to know who He truly is. The assignment He has for you will require your trust in Him.)
6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing. This may be in your thinking, circumstances, relationships, commitments, actions and beliefs.
I remember a time when I was in a relationship that was really going nowhere and for good reasons needed to end, but it I was emotionally bound up in it. Try as I might, I could not escape fellow believers or other means by which God was speaking to me and it was something I had to adjust in my life to join God in what He was doing. There are definitely some things I would have done differently if I hadn’t been so blind or obstinate at the time and could have saved myself some pain.
7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you. (I do believe the Christian walk of faith is also a journey in which we are hopefully growing up spiritually.)
As I said before, prayer is also a relational thing as it is between you and God. It is communication between you and the Creator who is very personal indeed.
So to sum it up, in the language of prayer (and I certainly have not covered all the different aspects, save one) it can be said that Intercessory prayer is both when we pray for others and even when we pray for ourselves as the Spirit intercedes for us with the Father.
We read in Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find. Knock and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he that seeks, finds; and to him that knocks, it shall be opened.”
I know of a few sayings that may have stemmed from this verse. When one door closes, another door (of opportunity) opens. But how do you know where and when that door is due to open. I think it takes a step of faith. Scripture says faith without works is dead. In other words, faith takes action. Faith is not a feeling. It is an act. Whether it is putting your faith in a chair’s ability to keep you from falling to the floor or choosing to believe someone’s words.
Ask, Seek, Knock. We don’t always get to know every detail of the journey which God leads us forward on. We can ask for or about something and God will give us an answer. It might not be what we were hoping for, but God is about giving us what is best. Seek. We must keep our eyes open. Be as the Berean’s who were known for searching the Word of God daily and asking questions and in turn, finding answers. Keep knocking. Keep praying. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. His is the still, small voice for the believer. Everyone has a conscience. God gave that to us. Unless it has been seared, the Lord can definitely speak to us through it.
Finally, Christ Jesus referred to Himself as the door according to John 10:7. In calling himself “the door”, not “a door”, it is made evident that He is the only way, truth, and life….the only true door which leads to salvation. Do you hear the still, small voice calling to you? Also, in the terminology of caring for sheep, as Christ also referred to himself as the Good Shepherd, the terminology of the door may also refer to the way shepherds (in particularly the countryside) would be the door between the guarded sheep and the outside.
Are you seeking Him? Where are you on your journey?
These are just some things to ponder on this weekend coming up to Easter or as some call it Resurrection Sunday.
So how does the world look at the artist? In what way does the artist fit into God’s design within the church family? The book of Deuteronomy does speak of certain individuals possessing the gift of craftsmanship. Oddly it is not mentioned in the New Testament or included in what is considered nine of the “spiritual gifts” spoken of there.
It is taught that while some believers may have more than one spiritual gift, believers have at least one. It can even be an enhancement of what would have been a natural born talent. This was an eye-opener for me. For so many years as I grew up, I found myself jealous of others having found their gift, their path. I had assumed that my spiritual gift would be something I would use within the four walls of an actual church organization. But I had an interesting conversation with a priest one day pointing out that my calling was probably more out in the world, rather than serving within a church organization per se’. I was struggling at the time as a church secretary at the time of this conversation.
In 2010 I started a blog in relation to my scrapbooking website I had at the time. With the blog I experimented with creating scrapbook pages around various scripture verses and life topics and would blog about the piece and my own issues behind it. I wasn’t thinking at the time about the whole spiritual gift idea, but had just decided to use what abilities I had to honor God. It would be quite a few years later before I realized the significance of what I was able to do and consider myself an artist. It was actually the input of others that helped me see it. One of those was a minister who in his own way testified to the effect that these abilities may be a gift.
In my journey to discover and better understand this “spiritual calling” of mine, I came across a book by Matt Tommey called Creativity According to the Kingdom. I enjoyed how he explained the spiritual side of art and I appreciate his insight into what I see as why the church today can be “funny” about the whole topic and even why the world as a whole struggles with it as well.
I would encourage you to read Creativity According to the Kingdom. Tommey says that many scholars believe that it was Lucifer’s position in Heaven’s throne room to literally reflect the Light of God as it came forth. He says that our design as a creative worshiper, artist, business executive or homemaker is the same as Lucifer’s original design, which is to live in the presence of God, reflecting His light and sounding forth His sound in the earth through the unique way the Father has created you. Lucifer’s sin was in wanting to take the glory for himself. That is our challenge as artists today.
I suppose that Satan has a special hatred for Creatives as these abilities were his as an archangel originally. Tommey refers to them as “perfect storms” designed to take out the artist. (p.33 Creativity according to the Kingdom). I think, whether Christian or not, this is why not only the church but also the majority of the world’s people have mixed feelings about art and artists.
In spite of these issues I choose to follow the creative path I have been given. It is part of my journey to learn to get out of my own way and follow God’s way, however long that takes. I have never taken a professional art course and the whole process of being an artist entreprenuer (who has a full time day job) is daunting to me. But I will keep at it and if you are an artist, I hope you realize both the gift and its purpose.