Yesterday I wrote about the battle that goes on around us: the battle between the believer and the world… the battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. I gave thanks for the indwelling Holy Spirit Who guides us around the minefields that seek to destroy us.
This past Sunday Pastor Steve spoke about this battle that wages within us: the battle between flesh and Spirit. “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other” (Gal. 5:17). The desire that wins depends largely upon which desire you feed. Pastor Steve challenged us to nurture a desire for one specific “fruit of the Spirit” – to each ask oneself, “What fruit of the Spirit am I hoping to acquire or strengthen in my life?”
It’s good to get serious about growing in godliness. ”Add to your faith…godliness…,” says Peter (See 2 Pet. 1:3-8). But be forewarned: God often grants this request by giving us something quite different… things that may quite puzzle us at first. In fact, we may even begin to wonder if He really loves us at all!
A poem written by an unknown Confederate soldier illustrates this well…
The Blessing of Unanswered Prayers
I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.
Remember how good fruit is made great fruit: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1,2)
Stretch wide your branches and surrender to the surgery of the Master Gardener. He has your greatest fruitfulness in mind — even when it looks like He may be destroying you.
Listen to Pastor Steve’s complete message on ‘Producing the Fruit of the Spirit’ online at the Lincoln Baptist Church website! Look under ‘Media’ for the April 14 message.