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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Is It Give Or Is It Take?

“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God,

that we may understand what God has freely given us.”

1 Corinthians 2:12 NIV

On any given day I can choose not to go to the garden. If I choose not to enter the sanctuary of refreshment, power, and knowledge, it always becomes my loss. Yesterday I skipped the garden because I was running late. I had too much to do and I was already feeling pretty positive in my spirit. The moment I stepped out of the door, got into my car, and drove off, immediately the soft, squishy rubber of my spirit met the hard road of life. One fine man nearly took my life by cutting me off in traffic. The clerk at the market appeared to be a robot without personality or emotion, and my cell phone kept ringing with more and more possibilities for me to become anxious, angry, irritated, and depressed! How could my wonderful day fly out the window in just a few short hours? I knew exactly what would fix the problem so I grabbed a chocolate candy bar and a bag of chips as I was nearing the end of the check out lane. After all, who has time for lunch! I’ll eat in the car because I was certain that my day would continue to go south.
As a result of yesterday's craziness,  I will approach this day with caution. The thought of spending time in the garden sounds fantastic! So off I go. My coffee is in hand and my Bible tucked securely under my arm. Opening the gate I head for my favorite bench. The red bee balm is tall and joyfully praises God as it gently sways in the morning breeze. The sunny yellow yarrow lifts its face upward for God to kiss with his grace. All of God's creation is free for my enjoyment, As I take in these beautiful flowers I whisper, “thank you God for all of your magnificent gifts that are found in nature. It is good to be in the garden with you."

Now it is time to get down to business. My Bible falls open to, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 NIV Immediately, memories of yesterday begin to flood into my mind. In this moment it seemed to me that yesterday I had failed miserably. I wasn’t sure if I had used any of those godly responses. I also realized that in the stressful moments of yesterday I hadn't felt much joy or peace.  I found myself not only lacking in just one specific spiritual  fruit, but it seemed I was holding an enormous bowl that was empty; there was not a single spoonful of fruit salad to be shared!

I began to talk to Jesus. Lord, give me love, joy and peace. Father, give me patience, kindness, and goodness. Jesus, give me faithfulness, gentleness and self-control! I began to plead and beg for God to give to me the fruits of his Spirit. God I am willing to have these gifts, why don’t you pour out these gifts on me in such a way that I will never again fail you as miserably as I did yesterday? The silence was deafening. I continued to sit in the garden for what seemed like hours in a trance of self-pity, I was a pathetic package of failure tied up with a bow of misery.

Then Jesus spoke. “Paula, when I left this earth didn’t I say that I would send my Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of all believers? God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are three in One. I am with you always, even until the end of this life.” Jesus then reminded me that when I became a believer the Holy Spirit came into my life and he brought with him all the fruit of his spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Jesus said, “Paula, I cannot give you what you already have. Deep within you resides all of my fruits. Your job is to choose to pick up the appropriate fruit you need in your time of need. Paula, you must choose to pick up the specific fruit needed in each and every situation you encounter. Some days you may need to pick up multiple fruits many times! You will use these same fruits over and over again. But one thing for sure, you will never run out. The pantry is full, but you must choose to take the fruit, and share that fruit with others.” Wow! Talk about a light coming on in the closet! A brand new thought, it is useless to pray for what I already have!

I began to wonder why I had not seen this before. One thing for sure, I never forget to pick up my coffee! Maybe I should be this diligent about picking up my fruit and taking stock of my fruit before I stray too far from home or get to busy at home. As I left the garden I became aware of the noise around me and realized that the noise in my life is usually so loud that I am distracted and I do not hear the voice of the Holy Spirit saying to me, “Now would be a good time to go shopping for fruit. Choose my fruit, taste and see my fruit is good!” It was now becoming clear that it was not about God giving to me, but it was about me taking from his pantry of provision what had already been given to me.

Jesus reminded me that it is as simple as paying attention and forming the habit of choosing to pick up the fruit. I was starting to realize that I needed to become more aware of the fact that often I do not choose to set aside my selfish attitudes. I began to understand that I need to form the habit of quickly looking to Jesus and then purposing in my mind and heart to choose to pick up the needed fruit in my heart and ask God to give me the power to use that fruit in my time of need. God’s children need to simply reach out and take the fruit that they need to eat, one simple meal at a time. The pantry is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit in my spirit's pantry may be unused but it will never be empty!

I need to taste and see that the Lord is good. His goodness in me is mine for the taking. Others will be influenced for Jesus when I choose to share my fruit salad! All that is His is already mine! If I never use the Spirit’s fruit it is like having fine china, crystal, and silver and never using it. Why am I at times content to eat off of paper plates, use plastic forks, and drink out of a disposable cup? The truth is, not one of my self-centered responses is lasting but the fruit of the Spirit is of eternal value.

When we look to Jesus, our perfect example, we see what the fruit of the Spirit should look like.  Jesus modeled for us how to respond to others, how to live a selfless life, and how to love unconditionally. So today and every day…

When I am feeling unloved or passed over I need to choose the fruit of love.

When I am depressed or fearful I need to choose the fruit of joy.

When I am angry I need to choose the fruit of peace.

When I am irritated I need to choose the fruit of patience.

When I am judgmental I need the fruit of kindness.

When I am selfish and feeling mean I need to choose the fruit of goodness.

When I am tempted to abandon my faith I need to choose the fruit of faithfulness.

When I am hard on others I need to choose the fruit of gentleness.

When I am out of control I need to choose the fruit of self-control.

You see, we need not ask God for these things over and over again as if they were completely out of our reach and unattainable. The fact is, as Christians, God has already given us all the fruit of the Holy Spirit for our own personal use. When we choose to reach out, pick up, and consume each fruit we will taste and see that the Lord is good. Each fruit is packed with powerful nutrition that will allow the Holy Spirit to empower us to do amazing things that would otherwise be impossible if we relied only on  our own strength. We must stop asking God to give us a specific fruit of the Spirit because that fruit has already been given! What I repeatedly need to do is to hit and the pause button that triggers my behavior. I need to take a moment of time to think, to consider what Jesus would do, and to remember what is already available to me. Then I must pray for the courage to pick up the needed fruit and use it for God’s glory.


1. Do you find yourself praying for a specific fruit of the spirit over and over again?

2. What do you think about the simple truth that God cannot give to believers what they already have?

3. Do you think that keeping God’s fruit buried deep in your spirit gives Satan a stronghold in your life?

4. Do you think that Satan can deceive a believer by making them think that God is withholding his fruit from their life because they are weak and inconsistent?

5. Where does a Christian’s power come from?


Dear God,

Please forgive me when I plow through my day without considering your power that is available to me for my use. I thank you and praise you that I no longer have to ask you for the delicious fruit of your Spirit that is already mine. Forgive me God when I selfishly and stubbornly choose to ignore your fruit and pursue my own selfish behavior. Forgive me when I try to respond to difficult situations in my own strength. Forgive me when I am impetuous. I know that this behavior must grieve the Holy Spirit. Your Word specifically warns us, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30 NIV Holy Spirit, I ask for your help this day and everyday. Help me to slow down and then choose your fruit. Holy Spirit, help me to rely on your power because it is your power that will give me the strength and courage to pick up your fruit and use it to show God’s love to others. I pray that I will not grow weary in harvesting your fruit one circumstance at a time. God I want to know the joy of using your fruit daily to influence others to find and follow your Son, Jesus Christ.

In His name I pray. Amen