THE NINE-FLAVORED FRUIT DEVOTIONAL SERIES
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)
Many of us have walked down the Mall in Washington DC on a hot summer day, and climbed the steps to enter into the National Gallery of Art. The refreshing air conditioning revives the body, while the art inside revives the soul! Here are just a few of the masterpieces. If they aren’t familiar, I urge you to plan a trip there either virtually or in person.
But how many of us would mistake this painting by the famous Pablo Picasso as real fruit? This fruit, while a very famous still-life painting, is not a realistic substitute for, nor even a representation of fruit. You could not, nor would you want to, pluck an apple from it and expect it to refresh or satisfy. So it is with the Christian life. The satisfaction of it does not come from mimicking the spiritual fruit that the Apostle Paul describes in Galatians 5. You see, the nine characteristics, or ‘flavors,’ are the spiritual product in our lives that God Himself produces. That is, if we walk in the power and presence of the indwelling Spirit of God. The nine characteristics of this fruit include the ‘flavor’ Peace. To measure our understanding of, commitment to and whether Spirit-produced Peace is present in our lives, let’s look at it in “3-D”!
1st “DIMENSION” - PEACE WITH GOD
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1
Before we can experience and enjoy the peace of God, we must first be at peace with God. Man once walked with God in perfect fellowship and friendship. But because of sin, man entered into an enemy relationship with God. There is a wall called “sin” between God and man. Man must be reconciled to God, not God to man. Man must be brought back to God as it was man who moved, not God! Because of the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross where He paid the required payment for sin, man can now be reconciled and justified freely! It is when I was justified by faith (God now looks at me ‘just-(as)if-I’d’ never sinned!) that I can renew a friendship-type relationship with God who, because of my rebellion, had become my enemy. Are you the enemy of God, or the friend of God?!
2nd “DIMENSION” - PEACE OF GOD
“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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Once we have made peace with God, it is then that He can give us the very peace of God! The feelings of anxiety plague our hearts and minds. However, we are unable to change how we feel. Has anyone, even a well-intended friend, or Bobby McFerrin himself, ever told you, “Don’t worry, be happy!” or, “Cheer up, Charlie!”? The train of Life, the engine of Fact, and the coal car of Faith will pull the caboose of Feelings. Trying to drive a train with the powerless caboose of Feelings will, quite literally, get you nowhere!! No one can change how they feel by an act of the will. What we can do, according to Philippians 4:8-9, is to think rightly and do rightly, and our feelings of Peace will follow.
3rd “DIMENSION” - PEACE WITH ONE ANOTHER
“Live in peace with one another.” 1 Thessalonians 5:13b
Yes, we are told to live in peace with other people, but what about that parent who just doesn’t understand your circumstances?! What about that ‘bff?’ Who is testing the ‘b’ part, or the ‘f’ part, or the other ‘f’ part?! We must love one another, but if someone is not likeable, that is not our part! While we are to “Pursue peace with all men” Hebrews 12:14a, we are also told in Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” God is able to be at peace with you, give you His peace, and be your friend. Don’t you think He might empower you to do the same with others who are hard to live with...just like you?!
Father, thank you for befriending me, when my heart was so far from you. Thank you for giving me peace that no one else could give, because only you understand. And father, thank you for __(name of someone I should be a friend to)__ in my life, because, by grace, you have accepted someone like me. In the name of the Prince of Peace, Amen.”
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