Diet No More

Typically, when one thinks about a diet The word “restriction” comes to mind.  You cannot have this.  You cannot have that.  You cannot eat anything!  Well, I am here to tell you there is one diet that is not restrictive, but plentiful!  That diet is of the fruit of the Spirit.  Let’s look a little closer.

In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul writes this about the fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

This fruit is nutritionally dense and will satisfy the soul who eats of it . . . if only it were just a matter of literally eating a piece of fruit.  When looking at the specific  manifestations of the fruit it can be overwhelming to know in reality what it means.  This is spiritual fruit, and it fights our flesh daily if we do not walk in the Spirit, or allow Him control.

If we live by the Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:25a

Love.  Love is a great thing, but in my flesh I do not love like I should.  Peace.  I love having peace, as well.  In my flesh I am not peaceful.   Self-control.  I cannot do this one either on my own.  Again, in my flesh I am the opposite of every element of the spiritual fruit!  Insert Jesus.  Take a deep breath and remember this is why Jesus came for us (the Hallelujah chorus just started playing in my head – search it if you are unfamiliar with the song.  You will enjoy it!

Only being in Christ and through the Holy Spirit’s power, can I daily feed on this fruit and gain more than just nutritional value for my physical body.  This fruit is from the Spirit and far greater than earthly things.

Continuing further in Galatians 5:25,

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Let’s add more to the “things I cannot do” list – – –  conceit, provoking one another, envying!  Are you guilty too?  I am and know I cannot do this on my own.  Have you thought the same thing before?  Have you ever “thrown in the towel” and said I cannot do this?  If so, I have great news for you!  You do not have to do it on your own AND you cannot do it on your own.  It is only God’s work through Jesus on the cross, His resurrection, and sending us a Helper, the Holy Spirit (John 20:21-22).  Glory! Again, insert the Hallelujah chorus!

My friends, we do not have to have it all together.  We do not have to be perfect.  God does not expect that from us.  He loves us so much that He gave us His Son to die for us that we may live with Him, in Him, and through Him in this world (John 3:16; Romans 8:1-17)

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  John 15:15

To bear fruit, we must be in the vine, Jesus.  Apart from that vine, we can do nothing. We cannot love fully, have true joy, peace, patience, or any of the other qualities of the Spirit if we have not accepted Jesus.  All of that comes from Him!  Living in the flesh is death, but the Spirit is life (Romans 8:13).   So, with that, eat all the fruit you want!

I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, or licensed in anyway for dietary advise.  This is not intended to provide real food diet information – – -only as an example to draw us closer to Jesus.

About the Writer:
Jourdan has been a member of FBD for 11 years and sings in the Celebration Choir. She works as a full-time physical therapist and has a heart for medical missions. She loves encouraging others in the Lord and smiling.

The Pride of a Silent Believer

Have you ever wondered why you don’t publicly proclaim and confess God’s promises with faith and confidence more often? I certainly have.  After recently reading Romans 10:10 my eyes were opened to a connection that exists between believing with our hearts and confessing that belief with our mouths.

For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved. Romans 10:10

Why do we so often believe God’s promises behind closed doors in privacy but don’t speak publicly of that belief?

I would like to interject here that this conversation is only with respect to the promises of God.  We cannot go around claiming anything we want.  However, when God gives us a promise we can and should therefore believe it with our hearts and confess it with our mouths, such as the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ as Romans 10:10 illustrates.

THE ROOT OF A MATTER

On the surface I’m sure most of us would respond with “I guess the reason is doubt. I must not have enough faith” Or, maybe you’d say, “Well, it’s just so private, it’s a secret.”  I’ve fallen into both categories at one point or another. However, in either instance, I’d like to challenge those excuses and suggest that they are not ultimately our root problem.

Something I learned that has really helped me evaluate my heart and discover the roots of things is to keep peeling off the layers until there’s nothing left.  An example of this exercise could go something like this:

  • Are you publicly confessing God’s promises for your life?
    • No, I am not.
  • Why not?
    • Because I am not fully confident that what I’d confess will actually happen.
  • Why not?
    • Well I guess I just have doubts; I don’t have enough faith.
  • Why not?
    • I don’t know.
  • Do you believe God is faithful to His word and promises?
    • Yes
  • Do you believe God has given you a promise/promises for your life?
    • Yes
  • When you pray alone do you thank Him for His promises and faithfulness and claim the promise(s) He gave you in prayer?
    • Yes
  • So then why don’t you tell others about it and profess it publicly?
    • Because what if I’m wrong? What if it doesn’t happen? {{read: fear}}
  • What happens if you are wrong?
    • Well, I’d be embarrassed that I so confidently proclaimed something that didn’t happen!
  • Ahh. Now we’re getting somewhere. Fear of “me being wrong.” Fear of other people’s opinions of me. Fear of what others think about me. Fear that I would be making God look bad.  These fears are actually rooted in PRIDE because these fears point back to self.  Me…Me…Me…

Thought to ponder: Could it be that when we refuse to profess the promises of God publicly, the true root issue of the matter is not privacy or even lack of faith, but PRIDE?

 PRIDE VS HUMILITY

Pride (noun) One of the definitions of pride is “consciousness of one’s own dignity” Synonyms: Self-esteem. Dignity. Honor. Self-respect. Ego. Self-worth. Self-image. Self-identity. Self-regard.

Humility (noun) A modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness. Synonyms: Modesty, lack of pride, lack of vanity.  Antonym: pride.

What if we began to humble ourselves before the Lord and in humility with faith began to profess publicly the promises of God by trusting in the Bible’s promises that our hope in the Lord will not put us to shame and that no one who waits on the Lord will be disappointed?

Psalm 25:3 No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame.

See also:  Isaiah 49:23 and Romans 10:11.

MY LIPS ARE NOT SILENT

God didn’t give us a bevy of amazing promises for us to keep them a secret or to hoard and hide them from others. He gave them to us so that from our lips we could proclaim the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord! He intends that our words would be a testimony to others of the Father’s love and truth.

Take notice of all the instances in the verses below about speaking, telling, not hiding, proclaiming, singing and praising.

(Psalm 40:9-17) I will tell about your goodness in the great meeting of your people. Lord, you know my lips are not silent.  I do not hide your goodness in my heart; I speak about your loyalty and salvation. I do not hide your love and truth from the people in the great meeting. Lord, do not hold back your mercy from me; let your love and truth always protect me.

(Psalm 71:15-18) I will tell of your goodness; all day long I will speak of your salvation, though it is more than I can understand. I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will proclaim your goodness, yours alone. You have taught me ever since I was young, and I still tell of your wonderful acts. Now that I am old and my hair is gray, do not abandon me, O God! Be with me while I proclaim your power and might to all generations to come.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 10:1-3

LET US SING

Let us go out therefore, declaring that our God is who He says He is and that He does what He says He’ll do, and who knows how God might use our proclamations to impact others as we praise Him and bring His name glory!

 

About the Writer:

Ashley is a mother to a young daughter and a Tennessee transplant in Dallas. Ashley has been a member of FBD since 2014 and in 2018 the Lord called her to come serve full-time with the church, where she works in the Finance & Accounting office. When Ashley is not at the church you can find her and her daughter out in nature somewhere, hiking or camping, enjoying the beauty and splendor of the Lord’s creation.

 

Lord Help Me Be Merciful

Why is it that some people are so compassionate towards others and forgive easily and others are slow to forgive?  I wish I could say that I am great at being merciful towards others as my husband is.   He forgives and forgets in an instant and I would love to be more that way.  Lord Jesus, please help me to be more merciful.

What does it mean to be merciful?  An online dictionary defines mercy as “compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”  Usually people describe mercy as not getting what we deserve and grace as getting what we do not deserve.   Who is at the center of both?  Jesus, our wonderful Savior and Lord.  Jesus died for our sins so that we could live eternally with Him, something that we could never do on our own.

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,Titus 3:5.  

Our Savior, Jesus, endured the sins of the world on the cross, because He didn’t want us to pay the penalty for our sin which would be eternal separation from Him.   Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, and felt the anguish of our sin, so that we could be clean and spotless through His gift on the cross.  What an amazing gift of mercy!

There’s something truly humbling about realizing that there is nothing you can do to earn salvation.  There’s nothing I can do to attain it; it’s all a gift from Jesus.  I can’t be good enough, or do enough things.  His great mercy made it possible for you and me.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  1 Peter 1:3.

So how can I respond to this amazing gift?  First, I can accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation, knowing it is all a gift from Him.

 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. Psalm 86:5.  

My Savior died for all my sins, past, present, and future.  I can know that when I call to Him, He will be faithful to answer and forgive me.

The second thing I need to do is to show mercy to others.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36

Because we have experienced God’s mercy, through Christ, we can show it to others.

 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners’ love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners’ do that.  Luke 6:32-33. (NIV) 

To show Christ to the world, we can show others His mercy and point them to Jesus.

Lord Jesus, our world desperately needs to see more of You.  Please help me and other believers to remember the great mercy you showed us at the cross.  Please help us to willingly show Your mercy to others so we can point them to You.

About the Writer:
Alana Arias faithfully serves at her church home, First Baptist Dallas, where she enjoys using her talents and gifts to help others grow in Christ.  She taught elementary music in public schools for nineteen years.  She is married to Mike, and they have a cute mini golden doodle puppy named Bentley.

Stars and Stripes, Forever?

Reading history is interesting, isn’t it? Especially when choices are made that seem so obviously wrong to the lofty eye of the reader.

While reading historical accounts, especially from the Bible, I find myself high up on my cracked pedestal thinking, “well that was dumb…I’m glad I’d never do that.” Then in the very next breath something happens to bring me down to my humble reality, such as my phone slipping out of hand and smacking me in the face as I try to look at it while lying down. (By the way, it really hurts when that happens.)

This year, America is turning a whopping 244 years old. And while we’ve had our ups and downs (to say the least), compared to most nations, God has blessed us abundantly. Our history is rich with examples of God’s hand guiding and protecting us from enemies, disasters, and even ourselves. Just look at how America came to be a nation in the first place. Only by God’s sovereign will and miraculous help could a few farmers band together and defeat a well-trained, highly lethal, imperial nation such as England.

Throughout history we can find God’s faithfulness to humanity in spite of our unfaithfulness. Regardless of our failures, He succeeds. Despite our wickedness, He is good. And in the face of our hate, He loves. Over and over and over again.

A quick search on Biblegateway.com revealed 48 separate references in the Bible where “His [God’s] preserving care was exemplified”. Most of these were broad 1st level topics which when selected led to subsequent levels of detailed accounts of God’s unique but steadfast faithfulness towards His people. The total number of individual accounts were far too many to count.

The recent pandemic has knocked our nation on its heels leaving us staggering to get our balance back. Our citizens’ lives and livelihoods have been lost due to Covid 19. But wait! There’s still hope.

The reality of God’s faithfulness has not ceased to be the case for us today. God is still devotedly working in the lives of not only individuals but throughout the global stage as well, including America. If we are still on this earth, then God is not through with us yet. We still have work to do.

Learn from the Past

Consider the book of Nehemiah found in the Old Testament of the Bible. This was written when Israel was in exile in Babylon as a direct consequence of worshipping (or being devoted to) other things besides the Lord and doing the exact opposite of what God commanded them to do. The city of Jerusalem was in ruins and this book recounts the story of brave and determined countrymen returning from exile who decided not to wallow in loss but band together and pick up the pieces of their broken nation. I believe that with God’s help, we can do the same.

But before we get to work, let’s look at the first thing Nehemiah does before picking up a shovel. In Nehemiah 1:6-7 he humbles himself with confession. And notice that he not only confesses the sins of himself and his household, but of his entire nation.

Nehemiah 1:6-7:  let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.

When you read what led up to Israel’s punishment via exile, you might be tempted to think, “Well duh, you bowed down to a statue instead of the Living God. What did you think was going to happen?”

Reading history is interesting, isn’t it? Especially when choices are made that seem so obviously wrong to the lofty eye of the reader… I wonder what choices we’ve made that will seem so obviously wrong in the lofty eye of the future reader?

2 Chronicles 7:13-14: If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (emphasis added)

Fellow Americans, we must humble ourselves. We must realize that there are direct consequences to our actions.

God promises us that if we will turn back to Him, forsaking other things that distract us from our attention to Him (money, power, lust, etc.) He will gather us and heal our land! We will be safely held in His mighty hand.

About the Writer:

Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.