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The Fruit Of The Spirit: Peace

Well.

To start out with, this is one Fruit Of The Spirit that I don’t think I’ve ever studied.

There’s three songs that come to mind when I hear the word “Peace.”

  1. Tremble – Mosaic MSC (Glory & Wonder)
  2. Peace – Josh Baldwin (The War Is Over)
  3. Peace – Sovereign Grace Music (To Be Like Jesus)

Check out some of the lyrics:

Tremble: “Peace, bring it all to peace. The storm surrounding me. Let it break, at Your name. Still, call the sea to still. The rage in me to still. Every wave, at Your name. Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble. Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear. Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble. Jesus, Jesus.”

Peace (Josh Baldwin): “When I breathe in, I don’t understand but I can feel it. Every waking moment in Your presence. This peace won’t let me go. There is freedom, in laying all my worries at Your feet again. Even in my struggle I’m surrendering. Your peace won’t let me go.”

Peace (Sovereign Grace Music): “Peace, You give me peace. When the storms come and I’m afraid. Peace, You give me peace. When I trust in the words You say. You give me peace. If You can calm the sea, then You can comfort me. If the winds obey Your voice, why should I fear their noise? And though my eyes can’t see, I know You’re with me.”

Websters Dictionary defines peace as, “A state of tranquility or quiet. Freedom from civil disturbance. Freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. Harmony in personal relations. To be, become, or keep silent or quiet.”

The Biblical definition I found is, “To be complete or to be sound. To be whole, to live well. God alone is the source of peace. One of His names is Yahweh Shalom and means The Lord Is Peace (see Judges 6:24.)”

While I’m sitting here writing this out, I’m trying to think of a time in my life recently where I felt God’s peace. And I can’t think of one.

Most of the time I’m running around like a crazy person. Working, doing things at home, listening to podcasts, meeting friends, drinking excessive amounts of coffee and basically just always doing something. If I’m not running around like a crazy person, I’m sitting in my room reading and occasionally watching a show on Hulu or Netflix (I say occasionally because I gave up TV for Lent and it changed my life. But I’ll write on that another time.)

So peace seems to be absent from my life. God’s peace anyways.

I’m not constantly living in anxiety, freaking out or anything like that. But I can definitely see now, after looking at what peace means, that I don’t really have it in my life. I’m apparently too busy for peace.

Sidenote: I don’t think I ever explained why I started doing these blog posts on The Fruits Of The Spirit. Nathan (my fiancé) and I recently took over leading our churches Youth Group, and this is what we decided to teach on. I had been studying them before we were ever asked to lead, which I talked about in the “Joy” post. It’s cool to see how God was already preparing these thoughts for us to teach.

It’s interesting to me that I can look at other people, see how crazy their life might be, and say that they have no peace in their life. But I didn’t even notice that I didn’t have godly peace in my own life until I started looking into this to teach on it. That’s usually how it goes though, isn’t it? You think you’re doing great, until you start looking into things (especially Biblical things.) Then you realize that maybe you’re not as amazing and together as you thought. Newsflash Amy: You’re not.

I’m not very good at keeping silent, which is part of the definition of peace. I’ve gotten better. I think. But it takes a LOT of self-control (which we haven’t studied yet. That’ll be fun. *sarcasm*) for me to keep my mouth shut. I’m more of a fixer than a listener. So if someone wants to sit down with me and share what they’re experiencing in life, my first thought is, “Let me give you all the wisdom to make things better.” Newsflash Amy: That person probably just wanted someone to talk to and share their thoughts with. Not for you to dive into fixing their whole life. Silence yourself.

Anyways.

The Bible says a lot about peace. Old and New Testament.

It’s used as a blessing in Numbers 6:22-26. It’s part of sleep and safety in Psalm 4:8. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6-7. Keeping our minds focused on the Lord brings everlasting strength and perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3-4.) The Holy Spirit and peace were left to us from Jesus in John 14:25-27. Peace that Jesus gives us is different from any other peace you might feel (John 16:33.) In Philippians 4:6-7 and Colossians 3:15, anxiety can be affected by peace, or lack thereof.

Anxious in Webster’s Dictionary is defined as, “Characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency. Worried.”

Anxious as defined by a Biblical definition is, “Uneasy feeling of uncertainty, agitation, dread or fear. In the Bible, anxiety is frequently depicted as the common human reaction to stressful circumstances. It can be caused by not trusting in God, lack of control, failure to see the big picture or guilt.”

I would add to the definition my own thoughts that it can also be caused by a chemical imbalance in your body, which has no other explanation other than we live in an imperfect world.

A lot of people will say that anxiety and losing your peace comes from sin in your life.

I agree.

Sometimes.

If you’re living in sin, you definitely will not have peace as God’s child. The Holy Spirit will be poking you constantly, trying to draw you back to God and out of sin.

I have experienced that.

I struggled with a pornography addiction for 8 years. They for sure were not peace filled years.

So yes, anxiety can stem from sin in your life.

There’s also times when you can’t explain anxiety in your life.

I’ve been standing in Target before or laying in bed, and all of a sudden I’ll start to hyperventilate, cry and feel like I’m going to collapse if I’m standing.

Nothing really seemed to bring it on.

I’ve been able to pinpoint some things that do. But in general, it happens for no reason. I have a lot of friends that can identify with this kind of anxiety.

I think it’s just a result of being stuck in these imperfect bodies here on planet earth. I look forward to Heaven and being in God’s presence, no longer feeling those random times of anxiety.

Anyways. Back to the verses.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Trusting in God doesn’t mean you’ll be free from anxiety, but it does give you something to place your hope in during times of anxiety.

Praying and reading God’s word may not stop an anxiety attack, but it can bring you comfort during that time.

God is still with you whether you may feel like He is or not. He promised to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6.)

Supplication according to Websters Dictionary means, “To make a humble entreaty. To pray to God. To ask for earnestly and humbly.”

Peace is something in these verses that Paul says will guard our hearts and minds.

I don’t know about you, but I’d love for God’s peace to be guarding my heart and mind always.

Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

A key word in these verses is, “let.”

You have to, “…let the peace of God rule in your hearts…” Which means it’s a choice and you can choose to ignore God’s peace at times.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you…” This is a reason I believe it’s important to memorize scripture. In times of anxiety, it’s easy to lose your focus on God. If you have scriptures memorized, the Holy Spirit can remind you of them and help you remember that you have God’s peace in you. Even when everything around you feels the opposite of peaceful.

Dwell according to Webster’s Dictionary means, “To live as a resident. Exist. To keep the attention directed on or upon. Abide. Remain. Stay.

And a Biblical definition is, “To sit down. Abide. Inhabit. Remain. To settle down.”

I don’t know how good I am at dwelling.

So I think my conclusion with this study on peace is, I need to study it more. I don’t have much of God’s peace in my life. I’m not very good at “dwelling” or letting God’s word dwell in me and bring me peace.

How can I work on this? Surrendering to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Praying. Memorizing scripture. Trusting God. Practicing it. Talking about it.

One more thing that’s interesting to me is how singing is involved once again with a Fruit Of The Spirit. Singing praise is talked about a LOT with joy, and it’s brought up again with peace.

Even if you don’t think you sing well, there is something powerful about singing songs to glorify God in moments of anxiety or whatever you might be going through.

I mean, if the Israelites won battles by sending the choir out first, I think maybe we can take a second to sing some praises to God (you can read about that in 2 Chronicles 20. It’s cool.) The book of Psalms is full of songs to sing. Make up your own tune, check out albums by Shane and Shane, or search for other artists who have put the Psalms to music. It’s something worth trying.

Peace out,

Amy Kate

Sources:
https://www.merriam-webster.com
https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/peace/
https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/anxiety.html
https://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/dwell.html
New King James Bible

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The Fruit Of The Spirit: Joy

After finishing a book study in Galatians, I decided to do some more focused study on The Fruits Of The Spirit.

(Sidenote: I wrote this post on Joy before writing the post on Love.)

It started with just looking up the definitions of each of the Fruits, and talking about them in my ladies Bible study. Out of that we got the idea to pray, “God, fill me (or another person) with Your Holy Spirit and with Your love.” We began with love in those prayers since it’s the first Fruit.

I’d pray it while I worked. I’d pray it for customers, co-workers, and anyone else who came to mind. And I couldn’t seem to get past love. I mean, it’s the first one, and they really all stem from love, so you can’t really go wrong by praying that way.

A few weeks, and a few studies later, the subject of The Fruits of The Spirit came back up in our ladies group. We decided to look at the second fruit, Joy, more in depth.

My original plan was for each of us to find verses on Joy, look up the definition of Joy, and think of a person who lives out this Fruit.

We had a whole week to do this research before we’d meet again and talk about it. So we ended study that night with prayer and went to bed.

I had a terrible night.

I woke up, wide awake at 3:30am. This had been a pattern for about a week now (and has been continuing off and on for over a month now).

Thankfully it was Saturday, so I didn’t have anything going on that I needed to be super alive for.

I eventually fell back asleep, but it was really bad sleep. I stayed in bed most of the morning, just feeling as opposite of Joy as you can get. I don’t know if it was a depressive episode, if it was the weather, if it was a spiritual attack, or just lack of sleep. Possibly some of each. All I knew was the day before I had been SUPER excited to study Joy and teach it with the ladies, and when I woke up the next day I was not the least bit Joyful.

I eventually got out of bed and did a few things, but for the most part, I spent the day curled up in my room, listening to podcasts, trying to read, or being half asleep.

Nathan ended up coming over that evening and after an emotional breakdown from me, he took me out for fries and ice cream (because he knows me well and knew that would cheer me up.)

Here’s the thing about me, I’m usually a pretty ok person. I don’t get super down, I don’t typically let things get to me. I talk about everything to everyone, so things don’t really build up in me and then explode out in some way. So this whole crying and being sad thing isn’t the norm for me, and I hate it.

I didn’t know what was upsetting me, causing me to feel like the world was on my shoulders, or that a big cloud was over my head.

I got some sleepy time tea and melatonin to help with the sleep problem I was having. Thankfully it made a difference that night and I felt much more myself the next morning.

And so a new week begins. I had great intentions of having a full study done on Joy before our next Bible study, which would have been Friday evening.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday all passed and I still hadn’t done any of it. My sleep was whacked out again, and I was working a little more than usual. Those are bad excuses for not doing this study though.

One of the ladies texted our Bible study group that week and said how she wouldn’t be able to meet Friday, and so we decided to postpone until the following week.

So you’d think that I’d jump on getting that study done.

Nope.

The rest of the week went by and then it was Saturday again.

My sleep was still messed up, but thankfully I hadn’t had anymore crying sessions.

I got up Saturday and headed to The White Rabbit Cafe and Patisserie. It’s where I do all my best studying, plus it’s great coffee and I just really enjoy the atmosphere and the people who work there.

Before I left my house, I had gotten a text from a friend, asking for prayer. She was experiencing really similar things that I had the week before. Feeling down, and not knowing why. I said a quick prayer for her and continued to think about it while I drove.

When I parked, I saw I had a series of Snapchats from another friend. I listened to those and it was along the same lines as my other friend from that morning. Asking for prayer for feeling down and not knowing what was causing it. So I prayed for her then as well.

I headed into The White Rabbit, ordered my coffee (and a sticky bun which was DELICIOUS), sat down and after enjoying my coffee and food I FINALLY decided, “Oh! I can do my Joy study now!”

Duh. Since, you know, that’s coming up soon. And you’ve done diddly squat with it.

(Sidenote: As I started doing the study, the second friend texted saying “I don’t know when you started praying, but I just literally in the past 15 minutes had a total change of heart and attitude. I feel better. Completely.” God answers prayers guys.)

I started my study with the Webster’s Dictionary definition of Joy, which is, “The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. Delight. The expression or exhibition of such emotion. A state of happiness or felicity. A source or cause of delight.”

I felt like that wasn’t good enough. So I googled “Biblical definition of Joy.”

Google is great man. A site came up with everything I could have asked for. I summarized it for our study.

  1. Happiness over an unanticipated or present good. (Sex, marriage, birth, harvest, military victory, drinking wine, etc.) See: 1 Samuel 18:6, 1 Kings 1:40, Isaiah 9:3, John 16:21
  2. Spiritually – the extreme happiness with which a believer contemplates salvation and the bliss of the afterlife. See: Psalm 5:11, Psalm 51:12, Habakkuk 3:18, Romans 15:13, 1 Peter 1:6-9
  3. Psalms express Joy as a believer encounters God. See: Psalm 27:6, Psalm 43:4
  4. Joy is a response to God’s Word and His reward to believers, and it is their strength. See: 1 Chronicles 29:17, Isaiah 51:11, John 16:24, 1 Peter 1:6-9, Jude 1:24-25
  5. Joy is to be part of your worship life. See: 1 Chronicles 15:16, Psalm 43:4, 1 Peter 1:6-9
  6. Christ’s return is a Joy we look forward to. See: 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
  7. Christ’s birth is a Joy we reflect on and remember. See: Matthew 2:10
  8. Angels express Joy over conversion. See: Luke 15:7
  9. God expresses Joy over conversion. See: Luke 15:7
  10. Suffering brings Joy as believers are united with Christ in His suffering, and to each other through suffering. See: Psalm 51:8, James 1:2, 1 Peter 1:6-9, 1 Peter 4:12-13, Jude 1:24-25
  11. Joy and thanksgiving go hand in hand. See: Colossians 1:9-12, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Philemon 1:7, Philemon 1:20
  12. Fellowship with Jesus brings Joy. See: Job 33:26, Psalm 16:11, John 15:11, Acts 2:28, Acts 13:52, Jude 1:24-25
  13. Christ’s resurrection is a Joy we reflect on and remember. See: Matthew 28:8

Ok. So here’s one BIG thing I want you to remember. This list, is my list. It’s my opinion. It’s what I saw the day I did all this looking. It’s what God showed to me personally for this study. It’s not the only list. It’s not the best list. It’s not perfect. It’s simply a list I made. Can you use it and benefit from it and teach it? Absolutely. But don’t hold it up as the one true list among lists of things on Joy. I do have biblical backing for it, so I would say it’s scripturally sound. But again, my opinion and interpretation, so don’t go exalting it to the same level as God’s Word.

Many of these verses, when you read through them, talk about singing. I don’t think that’s something we take into consideration when choosing our music for the day. Will the songs you’re listening to bring you Joy? Will they focus your thoughts on the Lord? I’m not saying you must ONLY listen to Christian music or hymns (but I’ll also say it’s not a bad idea to do that.) I listen to a variety of music, but I can say that I have done stretches of time where I only did listen to music designed to give God praise, and it made a huge difference in my Joy. It’s a good challenge for yourself if you want to see if it makes a difference in your Joy. I’ll say again that I don’t think you have to exclusively listen to “Christian” music, but if you’re struggling in your Joy, scripturally it seems to me that music is a good place to start in restoring that Joy.

Love,
~Amy Kate

Sources:
https://www.merriam-webster.com
https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/joy/

The Fruit Of The Spirit: Patience

“Don’t pray for God to give you patience! You’ll just get thrown into a bunch of trials to test your patience!”

Uh. Please, teach me any other way to learn patience! I’ve never learned an ounce of patience any other way than by having my patience tried.

I used to babysit for my job. I loved it. I loved each of the families I worked for and I loved the kids I got to spend time with. They taught me a lot of things, and probably the lesson I learned most, every. single. day. was patience. And I don’t regret that! I’m really thankful for it. Sometimes I miss babysitting as a job, but now I get to instead hangout with my nieces and nephew in my free time and that’s a lot better I think. They teach me a lot of patience too. So it’s an ongoing lesson in my life right now. Probably because even though I feel like I have this fruit nailed down, as soon as I stop experiencing situations that test my patience, I’ll probably lose all my patience and forget everything I’ve learned about it because that’s what happens 100% of the time when we stop practicing things.

The definition of patient (according to Webster) is, “Bearing pains or trials calmly and without complaint.”

I asked my ladies bible study to think of people in their lives who show patience. I have two people who jump to my mind when I think of that word. I won’t name specific names because I didn’t ask them if I could, but it’s two young women I know, who both have spent most of their lives in extreme pain due to a pre-existing condition, or for reasons doctors haven’t uncovered yet. They are also the first people I think of if you mention joy and love. Despite the pain they’re in (daily) they always seem joyful, loving and patient with the people around them who are often not so joyful, loving and patient towards them.

The first lady has young kids and the patience she shows toward them and people around her is amazing. She doesn’t hide the fact that she struggles, but she also doesn’t focus on that. And she’s almost always smiling. If I didn’t know of her pre-existing condition, I’d NEVER guess she was in any amount of pain. She is an amazing picture of someone trusting in Jesus. I admire her so much.

The second lady has such an amazing heart for her family and younger siblings. I haven’t known her quite as long as the first lady, and I also only found out about her pain more recently and she’s still waiting on answers for why she’s in pain. Again, I never would have guessed the pain she’s in because I’ve never seen her get upset with people or walk around with a sour look on her face.

This of course doesn’t mean these two ladies are perfect and just walk with the Holy Spirit filling them at every moment, but I do believe they’re great examples in my life of people trying to live focused on Christ and not their circumstances. And also being patient and loving toward people who may not understand their situations.

Honestly, I’m so convicted by them. They’re in pain 24/7 basically, and still live lives that glorify God in everything they do. Neither of them hide their struggles if you ask them how they’re doing, but they also aren’t people who share their struggles to get pity from people or to make you feel bad for them. They’re not interested in that. They look to give God glory and live joyfully despite their struggles

And then there’s me. If someone asks me to do something that wasn’t exactly in my plans for the day, my patience goes away. I might not show it, and I might be able to recover it quickly, but there’s going to be a moment where my brain goes, “Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” And then goes, “Ok, stop it. This is an opportunity to serve and you can do it so shut up and do it. And find joy in it.” OR it goes “Yeah, no, I’m not gonna do that. I don’t care if they need it. I don’t care if I am available. I’ll find some way out of it. Goodbye. The end.”

There are times when I am in a good place with patience and I can just roll with things as they come, but more often than not it’s that first “Ugh” response, followed by option 1 or 2.

Teaching tries my patience sometimes. I love to teach. It’s something I’m passionate about and I love to study and prepare and then present it. Either in my small group bible studies, or to the Youth Group. And then there are times I want to bash my head against the wall because someone is testing my patience. I have yet to do that though.

Ok so how do you get patience? I kind of mentioned it at the beginning. You typically learn patience (and most, if not all of the Fruits Of The Spirit) by being thrown into situations where you HAVE to demonstrate them. Some times are easier than others, but typically it’s through something hard. And we need reminded over and over and over and over that we CAN show these fruits because the Holy Spirit in us gives us the ability to do just that.

One of many good verses on patience is found in James 1:1-7. It says, “James a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

Testing of faith produces patience which leads to perfection (perfection here means to be spiritually mature) before God.

As I said at the beginning, we often hear people say, “Don’t pray for patience, because you’re going to go through so many hard things then!” And my reply is, “What other way is there for us to learn to rely on God?” I don’t think there is any other way for us to learn to truly trust in and rely on God. It also says in these verses “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials…” and “…the testing of your faith produces patience.” (emphasis mine). We learn what it means to truly love others, when they do things that hurt us. We learn to have true joy during times of sorrow and hardship. We learn how to have true peace after experiencing anxiety and uncertainty. And we learn true patience during times of waiting or when we want to quickly do something.

I’ll end this with a Pinterest quote: “Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without being angry, frustrated, or anxious. We can develop patience by seeking to do God’s will and accept His timing, trusting that He will fulfill all of His promises to us. As we learn to be patient in small things, we prepare ourselves to face larger trials with patience.”

Love,

Amy Kate

https://www.pinterest.com

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictionary

New King James Bible

The Fruit Of The Spirit: Love

Love. A word we say a lot. We love our family. We love God. We love puppies. We love tacos. We love our friends. We love our clothes. We love sunshine. We love coffee. Love.

So what is love supposed to be? What is love supposed to mean? How did God intend it to be used?

If you search on Google for the Biblical definition of love, one of the first things to come up is, “God is love. God demonstrates love in everything that He does.” So love is God. Not just a feeling.

Were I to ask you what your definition of love is, you would probably start with something like, “The feeling I get when I see the person I like.” So according to that, love is simply a feeling or emotion. I would say that’s partly true. But it doesn’t just end there. If you’ve been raised in the church, I’m sure you could give me a more “Christian” definition and say something like, “Love is putting others before yourself. I show love by doing things for others.” My question would then be, do you really practice love that way? Even to people who don’t show you love?

The most used word for love in the New Testament is the Greek, Agápē. Agape love is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love. It is not used in the New Testament to refer to romantic love, close friendship or brotherly love. Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is used to describe the love that is of and from God. God doesn’t just love, He IS love. Agape is used to describe our love for God. It is always shown by what it does and is not based on a feeling. It is a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own. God’s agape love is displayed most clearly at the cross. Agape love does not come naturally to us. We are unable to produce this kind of love in ourselves because of our fallen sin nature. It has to come from an outside source. That source of love is God, and is born into us when we are born again, and the Holy Spirit is dwelling within us (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22). Because we have the Holy Spirit in us, we can then show love, true agape love, to others.

1 John 4:7-11 (NKJV) says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

I want to take some time to understand these verses.

First, when the writer uses “Beloved” that means he is talking to brothers and sisters in Christ. We can see then that this is written to Christians during that time, and we can learn from these verses today as well. His first command is to “love one another.” We already talked about how we cannot truly love without the Holy Spirit in us, so again, this is confirmation that this is being written to believers. He says that “love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” This makes me stop and think about my own life. I am a believer in Jesus. But I so often don’t show love to people. Whether it is family, friends or strangers, my actions are very unloving at times. And I have no excuse. I have the Holy Spirit dwelling within me, so I have the power to love. As I study this, I am realizing that I don’t live a life fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s leading. If I did, I would be thinking twice before I speak or act. The way we show that we are born of God is by the love we show to those around us. God showed us how much He loves us by sending His Son into the world to live, die and rise again for our sins. It was the only way to be reunited with God and to receive His love, and then for us to show that love to others. He loved us first, that we might then be His love to other people. The writer also says, “He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Propitiation means, “To gain or regain the favor or goodwill of: appease.” Another definition is, “Something that propitiates. Specifically: an atoning sacrifice.” That helps me understand this part a little more. Jesus was sent to regain the favor of God for us, to appease God’s wrath toward our sin, and to be the atoning sacrifice we needed to be made holy before God. The last part of the verse then says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Are you living that part out? It’s not as easy as you might think. Not if we aren’t living surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

I’ll give an example from my own life.

I love my family. They’re amazing. I have godly parents who have always provided for me and raised me to know God. I have 5 siblings who are willing to do anything for each other in a moments notice. And yet, we have wanted to rip each other’s hair out or punch each other in the face because we got upset at something we did to one another. That might sound extreme, but it’s true. And despite those feelings, we’ve always been able to forgive and continue to love each other because of God’s love in us. If we didn’t have that love, it would be really easy to give in and punch each other or rip each others hair out every time, and to live in un-forgivness and hatred toward each other. And even if we did say, “I forgive you” or “I’m sorry” we would still have those incidents in the back of our minds and secretly hold it against each other, if not for the love of God in us.

If we are to become more like Christ, then we are to become more loving toward everyone in our lives. Not just the people who love us back, or the barista who makes your coffee.

Everyone.

Which includes the person who cuts you off in traffic, the customer who screams cuss words to your face, the family member who always seems to bring up any past offense of yours or just really knows how to make you angry, and the baby screaming on the plane for a 5 hour flight.

Everyone.

We, the church, are called a family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. So why don’t we treat each other with the same love and forgiveness that we normally extend to our blood family?

More often than not we say things like, “I just don’t feel like I connect with anyone in that congregation.” “I was hurt by that church, so I left.” “That church didn’t do enough to make me feel welcome.” “There wasn’t anyone around my age or stage of life that I could relate to.”

These are things we say are the problem, when if you really look at your heart in the matter, the real question is, did you show love when you came into that congregation? We’re always waiting for people to reach out to us, when we’re perfectly capable of being the ones to reach out.

Yes, I would say that when you come into a church, the people there should reach out to you in love. But sometimes people fall short, don’t notice you, or are having a bad day.

If the problem is that you don’t feel like you’re connecting with anyone, try saying hi to the person sitting behind you. Join one of the studies. Show love rather than waiting for someone to show you love first.

If you have been hurt by someone, go to them and share how you feel. They may not even be aware they hurt you. Reconciliation should always be our goal.

If age is an issue, read scripture and see the examples given of the older generations teaching the younger (you’re older than someone, therefore able to teach a younger generation). Look for groups outside the church to connect with if you want people your age to be around. Start one yourself with friends and family.

There are always solutions if you’re willing to try.

True love is being willing to put others needs above your own. True love is looking at people through the eyes of Jesus. True love is willing to make sacrifices. True love is not focused on being right all of the time. True love is shown through humility. True love is shown in 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 (NKJV) which says, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

A good exercise to see whether you’re showing love or not, is to insert your name into that passage in place of the word love. “Amy suffers long and is kind…” Is that true of me? Not often, if I’m being honest.

So now you have a goal. There’s the commands in those verses. You have the Holy Spirit in you to give you the ability to be this type of love to people, if you’re a believer. So what’s your excuse for not doing it? If you weren’t aware of these commands, you can’t use that excuse anymore. Whatever your excuse might be, remember that our end goal is to become more like Christ. To live as He commanded us, with the help of His Holy Spirit. Whatever excuse you might have is no longer valid. Live in love, through the Holy Spirit.

Love,
~Amy Kate

Sources: https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/love/
https://www.gotquestions.org/agape-love.html
https://www.merriam-webster.com

P.S. Full disclosure. After I wrote this, I drove home from The White Rabbit Coffee Shop and Patisserie, and screamed at someone in traffic. Then I realized that wasn’t loving, so I repented and tried to drive in a loving way. So please don’t ever fool yourself by thinking I’ve got this stuff down. The reason I write it is because I DON’T have it down, but by writing it out, it helps me remember. Sometimes.

I just ate some bad celery.

Hello! My name is Amy Kate. I sat down to write this intro post, and literally ate some bad celery, hence the title. I’m also terrible at naming posts, so that’s why it’s called what it’s called. So, why am I writing things on the internet? Good question. It’s really just for myself. I have a lot of thoughts, and I get them out best by writing. Some people can just talk and really say things beautifully. That’s not me. If I start, I’ll just ramble on and on and then usually say, “Does that make sense?” And usually it doesn’t because I’m not very good at saying what I want to say. It all sounds good and put together in my head, and then comes out in really weird ways. Writing is safer for me. That being said, I’ve tried the blog route before. It’s never stuck. So here we are again, for maybe the fourth time in my life, giving this a shot. I have no goal here for how many posts a week or month or whatever time frame you would normally have for a blog. I think that’s usually why I end up giving up. I put too much pressure on myself to be consistent with posting. So I’m just going to approach this as casually as I can to not put pressure on myself and eventually give up. Here’s to new days, and second (or technically fourth) chances. I hope that maybe something I write speaks to you or just causes you to think more for yourself.

Love,
~Amy Kate