June 15, Wednesday

Editor’s Note:  The AMI QT Devotionals from June 13-19 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who serves at Symphony Church in Boston.  Shan, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Jenny, who recently gave birth to their first baby Tyler.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

15On occasion I enjoy trying out a new recipe.  For some reason, it’s fun for me to experiment with a dish that I’ve never made before.  So I’ll pull up a recipe on my iPad, go into the kitchen and start mixing, chopping and mincing things.  I’ll go step by step through the recipe, following all of the instructions, but unfortunately, one problem that I have (as my wife can attest to) is that I’m not always the most thorough person. So at least 10 times in my life, I’ll get to step 7 of 10 of a recipe and realize… I AM MISSING AN INGREDIENT.  This, of course, is not good for cooking.  I, somehow, have to stop sautéing, simmering, or baking, go outside, run to my car and buy the missing ingredient—or else my great dish will be incomplete.

Many people often look at this list of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians and think of them as ingredients that are part of a great recipe for Christian life.  And similar to my many mistakes in cooking, when they don’t seem to have one of these fruits of the Spirit, they might think that there is something incomplete with their faith.  We have a tendency to think that we have to try to produce these good qualities of the Spirit in our lives in order to be righteous.

Yet it’s important to recognize that these qualities are not requirements for salvation.  Paul’s purpose in his letter to the Galatians was to combat the false teaching that good works were required for salvation.  Instead, these nine qualities are fruits of the Spirit—meaning that a life lived walking with the Holy Spirit will produce these fruits.  As we experience more of the Spirit in our lives, we produce greater fruit.

As you look through these fruits of the Spirit, are some of these qualities lacking in your life?  We all lack in some of these fruits of the Spirit, and we should still strive in some part with our own effort to be more loving or more joyful or more patient or have more self-control.  But as we desire to be more fruitful, the solution isn’t trying with our works or effort, but it is through living and experiencing more of the Holy Spirit within us.

Bible Reading for Today: Psalm 75

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Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 15:10-20: And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What did the Pharisees believe about what defiles a person?
  2. According to Jesus, what defiles a person?
  3. How can a defiled person be redeemed?

Notes

  1. The Pharisees thought that it was what people ate or touched that defiled a person. That’s why they focused on handwashing and dietary restrictions.  They believed that it was merely bad works that made person sinful, and on the flip side of that, they believed that it was good works that cleansed a person.
  2. Jesus tells us that it’s not the bad works or external sins that defiled a person, but instead, it is the heart and what comes out of the heart. All of the bad things that a person does are the fruit of a bad heart.  It is not the external things, like eating with unwashed hands.
  3. The only way a defiled person can be redeemed is with a new heart. We cannot be redeemed through human effort or good works, but only if our bad hearts are made good.  The only way our hearts can be redeemed and be made righteous is through the work of Jesus within us.  In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

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Evening Reflection

Did you feel “fruitful” today?  Whether you did or did not, take some time now to spend with God.  Pray that you will walk with the Holy Spirit and that in doing so, pray that the fruits of the Spirit will become more evident in your life.

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