Nobody Is Better Than Anybody Else

In Matthew 17, Peter, James and John were invited to an exclusive experience of the kingdom of God when they witnessed the transfiguration of Christ. Moses and Elijah were there as well, Moses representing those who will die before seeing the kingdom, and Elijah represented those who will be alive when Christ returns and will never experience death. Both Elijah and Moses were there to encourage Jesus in His humanity. As wonderful as it must have been to be translated without ever seeing death, who do you think was the greater comfort to Jesus? Since Jesus was facing actual death, do you think it is possible that Moses may have been able to comfort Jesus, considering that Moses actually died? On the other hand, Elijah knew what it was like to feel alone, thinking everyone was out to get him. Do you think Elijah’s experience also helped him help Jesus in a unique way?

When they returned to the bottom of the mountain after the transfiguration, they found the rest of the disciples unable to heal a boy with an evil spirit. Jesus healed the boy, but when the disciples asked why they couldn’t do it, Jesus told them,

“You don’t have enough faith”  Matthew 17:20 NLT 

You may or may not agree, but I don’t think they lacked faith in God’s healing power. They had seen plenty of that. I believe, knowing the disciples, they were feeling left out of the transfiguration experience and were doubting God’s love. They thought Jesus loved Peter, James, and John more than them. Because of their lack of faith in God’s love they were unprepared to participate in a remarkable miracle delivering a boy from demons! They did not esteem their role as being just as important as what Peter, James and John had been called to. Their lack of faith in God’s love prohibited them from accomplishing their calling.

While the prodigal son in Luke 15 was starving in a far away country, he very well may have compared himself to his “perfect” older brother who did all the right things. He may have wished he could have been more like him. However at the end of the story we see the older brother outside of the father’s home exactly like the prodigal had been, struggling with his own issues of selfishness. So as it turned out, the prodigal’s brother was no better than he was.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the gifts of the Spirit. We all have different gifts, but that does not mean one is better than the other. Young or old, rich or poor,  Paul says,


 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT

While Moses and Elijah had different experiences they were both vital in befriending Jesus. None was better than the other. While Peter, James and John were called to the Mount of Transfiguration, the other disciples had an important calling too. None was better than the other. While the Prodigal perceived the older brother to be “all that,” it turned out that neither was better than the other.

Each has his place in the eternal plan of heaven. Each is to work in co-operation with Christ for the salvation of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God.-Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, Pages 326-327 

We all have different callings in life, but young or old, rich or poor, none of us are any better than anyone else.

Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant! 2 Corinthians 10:12 NLT

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Don’t Pray Often, Pray Always

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray….Luke 18:1 NLT


As Sunday’s lesson talks about abiding in Christ, I have found for myself that praying often is not the answer. I must pray always.

I used to have a golf cart relationships with Jesus. Golf carts charge their batteries early in the morning and then disconnect from their source of power and run all over the golf course on their own power the rest of the day. So I would get up early, pray and read several chapters in the Bible and then (I don’t want to say that I actually disconnected from God), run off to meet the day in the power I had “charged up.”

In later years I realized I am not a golf cart. I am a trolley car. Trolley cars have to stay connected to the cable the entire day. The moment they separate from the cable they can no longer move an inch. That’s me today. I have gone from dedicating my life to Jesus, to dedicating hour by hour to Jesus. For years right before I would preach, I would meet with the elders in a special room to pray and surrender myself to the power of the Holy Spirit for the time I would be preaching. However, I realize I need to surrender myself to the Holy Spirit for the other 167 hours in the week, and do so just as intentionally as I do for the worship hour.

I used to pray before reading my Bible. Now I also pray before reading any book. After all there may be some object lessons in there. If I feel “funny” praying about reading a certain book, then I ask myself if I should be reading it at all. To not pray before reading or doing something because praying during that activity makes me feel uncomfortable, I must ask myself why? If I choose to go ahead and do the activity without praying, then I have just intentionally disconnected myself from Christ! I can’t afford to do that. I am a trolley car and not a golf cart. I have no power on my own. I have learned by experience the truth in the old Hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour.” After all, I was created to be home for the Holy Spirit. I was created for communion with my Creator. We can talk to God throughout the day. As we lie in bed, dress for work, go about our daily tasks, we can continue our prayer throughout the day. We don’t need to say “amen” as the prayer never has to end.

Although there may be a tainted, corrupted atmosphere around us, we need not breathe its miasma, but may live in the pure air of heaven. We may close every door to impure imaginings and unholy thoughts by lifting the soul into the presence of God through sincere prayer. Those whose hearts are open to receive the support and blessing of God will walk in a holier atmosphere than that of earth and will have constant communion with heaven. -Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 99

They key to victory is not to pray often, but to pray always.

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Is Bearing Fruit That Simple?

Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. John 15:5 NLT

Bible Study Group

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Is it that simple? Can I be fruitful by just remaining and abiding in Christ?

I was reading John 15 the other morning, when this phrase jumped out at me. If I just live in Jesus I can be fruitful. Now living in Christ does not mean being idle. Yet the passage seemed so simple. I don’t need to hype up my evangelistic series. I don’t need a cutting edge technology-filled worship service to compete with all the other really cool livestream services.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s wonderful that my 91-year-old aunt can livestream her church worship service when she can’t make it to church. But let’s be careful. Vacations lose their meaning when they become all about the photo opps for Facebook, instead of the actual vacation. Do we get so wrapped up in making sure our livestream worship service is as smooth and hip as that “really cool mega church” that we forget our worship service is just that – a worship service?

Several years ago I had a Bible study group made up of non-churched youth. One week my church was having an evangelistic series with all the hip modern music, so I decided, why not take the kids and their parents to see this instead of our regular Bible study? Let’s show them we do more than just study. Let’s show them how “with it” we are. So all the kids and a few of their parents came. The music was wild, and while it was not my taste, I was happy, thinking the kids would be impressed. After the service I asked a 13-year-old in my study group, how it went over.  With shrugged shoulders he said, “I wish we would have had the Bible study instead.”

That was several years ago and I have since learned what Google has known all along. People like simple. Google doesn’t busy their home page with ads and articles like so many other search engines. They wisely keep it simple.

In Tampa I have a Thursday afternoon teen Bible study with mostly non-churched teens. Recently the kids and I were separated because of the public school holiday break. When we came back together, a high school Junior shared some questions she had come up with while studying the Bible on her own. She told me she thought Elijah’s story was similar to end-time events, and why. I agreed. Her family was not studying with her. She had no study guides. Just a young girl and her Bible alone with the Holy Spirit making amazing discoveries! So simple.

In Plant City, I have been assisting our pastor with a Wednesday night youth Bible study group. We started off playing games, serving refreshments and having a short Bible study at the end. Over time the game time has become shorter and shorter, and the Bible study time is becoming longer and longer. Not by the pastor or my design, but because over time the youth wanted to study more and play less! This tells me people today are not hungry for fancy programs. They are hungry for the simple Word of God. At Plant City we sometimes have hymns, we sometimes have the latest praise songs and teams, but every Sabbath young and old show up for the Word of God.

Come to find out, people are not hungry for particular worship styles and fancy programs. They are hungry for God. Jesus tells us if we simply abide in Him and His Word, we can bear fruit to feed a starving world.

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What’s the Point of Being Holy?

Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! Luke 15:1-2 NLT

Jesus was frequently seen publicly eating with sinners, infuriating the Pharisees, who

Breaking Bread With a Friend

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

prided themselves from staying away from sinners. Problem is, their pride also kept them away from Jesus! Jesus knew the only way sinners could ever become holy is if they hung out with Him all the time.

Now, what if I told you, that if you are friends with Jesus so that you can be holy that you are missing the whole point? What if I told you Jesus does not want perfection as much as He wants a close personal relationship? Jesus does not befriend sinners so He can make them Holy. He makes them Holy so the friendship can become more personal.

If we step back in time to the sanctuary service, we find that while holiness is in the sanctuary message the goal is a personal relationship. God said:

“Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them.” Exodus 25:8

God doesn’t live among us so He can make us perfect. He perfects our love to make our relationship more personal.

Looking forward to our Adventist belief in the second coming, we find the same goal.

I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:3

God wants a close personal relationship with us, and that is what He means when He says He wants us to be Holy.

For I, the Lord, am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. Therefore, you must be holy because I am holy. Leviticus 11:45 NLT

What does it mean to be holy? Does it mean living in the attic of a monastery at the top of a mountain? Does it mean only having baptized SDA members as contacts in my Google contacts? Does it mean eating Worthington Veggie Links instead of Hebrew National hot dogs?  Does it mean I only listen to the Heritage Singers and never set my radio dial to a secular station?

The English word “holy” dates back to at least the 11th century with the Old English word hālig, an adjective derived from hāl meaning “whole” and used to mean “uninjured, sound, healthy, entire, complete”. –Wikipedia  Essentially “holy” and “whole” have the same origin. If you Google “What does holy mean” you will find answers like “dedicated” and “set apart.”

God is looking for a close personal relationship, not outward perfection. He is totally dedicated to us, to a close personal relationship with you, and wants you to be “wholly” dedicated to a personal relationship with Him.

Why was Jesus was eating with Sinners? He wanted to be their friends or companions. “Companion” comes from two Latin words; com (with) and pan (bread), so by sharing a meal you are indicating your companionship. By being friends with us He is sharing with us, so that we can trust Him and be partakers with Him. Holiness is his sharing with us that leads us to trust and obey Him.

When I was younger I wished I could be righteous like Enoch so I could walk close to God. Then I realized Enoch did not walk close to God because he was righteous. He sensed his weakness and this made him stick close to God. The tax collectors and notorious sinners knew how weak they were when they ate with Jesus and made themselves companions and friends with Jesus. Jesus wants to make you holy His, just like He is Holy yours. He wants to be your friend and companion.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20 NLT

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Tuesday: The Purpose of the Spiritual Gifts

Read Romans 12:3-8 and Ephesians 4:8-12. What is the purpose of the spiritual gifts that God gives us?

The spiritual gifts were clearly given for service, not for our sanctification. They are not miraculous tricks that satisfy our curiosity, nor are they given as an antidote to boredom. Often we think about the gifts of the Holy Spirit in terms of filling our spiritual needs, or as empowering us in our walk with God.

Holy Spirit and the Word

Copyright by Lars Justinen Goodsalt.com

The result is a view of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that is more Christian-centered than Christ-centered. It is more focused on us than on God. When we try to recover a God-centered perspective of the spiritual gifts, we realize that the gifts God gives fulfill multiple divine purposes: they are given to further the unity of the church and for building up the church (Eph. 4:12-16). They are given to carry on the divinely commissioned ministry of the church (Eph. 4:11-12). And ultimately they are given to glorify God (1 Pet. 4:10-11).

This is the reason why the gifts are never given to please us. They are to edify others (1 Pet. 4:10; 1 Cor. 14:12, 1 Cor. 14:26). They are given to bring spiritual profit and edification to the whole church. It is a tragedy when God’s gifts, which are supposed to foster unity in the church, are misused so that only certain individuals are elevated. When this happens, individuals receive undue prominence. This in turn fosters disunity and gives room to divisiveness.

Too often we think about spiritual gifts only in terms of ability and talents that we receive. While talents are involved in spiritual gifts, we should keep in mind that in bestowing a spiritual gift the Holy Spirit also always gives a specific task or ministry that goes along with it (1 Pet. 4:10). Thus, we might say that spiritual gifts are certain capacities given supernaturally by God through the Holy Spirit. These gifts fit the person for a special type of service that will build up the church. To reach that goal, diverse gifts are needed.

Why do you think a primary purpose of the gifts is church unity? How can believers with different gifts aim at unity in the church? What needs to take place so that different gifts in the church become a blessing rather than a source of division?
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Monday: God, the Sovereign Giver of Spiritual Gifts

It is not we who decide what gifts to have. The Greek word for the gifts of the Spirit is charismata-they are gifts of grace, distributed and given by God Himself. We do not earn them by our status, our position, our honor, our education, or our spiritual performance.

Baptism Unites Us

Copyright by Phil McKay Goodsalt.com

They are gifts, freely given out of love so that we can fulfill the task God has assigned us to do.

Read Ephesians 4:7. We often think that the Holy Spirit is the One who bestows spiritual gifts. The apostle Paul also connects Jesus Christ with the giving of the gifts. How is Jesus involved in the giving of the gifts?

Paul says that the grace of Christ secured the right to give us gifts. But it is the Holy Spirit who distributes them to the members of the church. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and believe in Him will be equipped by the Holy Spirit with spiritual gifts “as He wills” (1 Cor. 12:11, NASB). The bestowal of the gifts is God’s sovereign decision.

Innate ability as such is not a spiritual gift. Spiritual gifts are not the same as natural talents that a person might have developed through intense education. Many non-Christians are blessed with such providential talents. While every good thing and perfect gift is ultimately from God (James 1:17), God has decided to equip His believers with special gifts in order to bless the lives of other Christians and to build up His church. God can also use a natural talent for that purpose when the person acknowledges that even such a talent ultimately comes from God and then prayerfully and submissively dedicates that talent to the Lord’s work.

What does Paul tell his readers in 1 Corinthians 12:14-31 about the distribution of the gifts? Why is this perspective so important for understanding how spiritual gifts function in the church?

The Holy Spirit is the one who distributes the gifts according to His wisdom and will. Since He loves us and knows best how we can serve Him most efficiently, we do not need to be envious of others and their gifts. To envy other gifts is a sign of ingratitude toward God and of doubting His wisdom in distributing His gifts.

What gifts has God granted to members of your church? What message can you take away from the fact that different people have different gifts?
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Sunday: The Fruits of the Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit have the same Author. Yet, they are not the same. No one is required to manifest a gift of the Spirit, but everyone should manifest the fruit of the Spirit.

Christ and the Holy Spirit

Copyright by Linda Lovett Goodsalt.com

Spiritual gifts do not necessarily testify to spirituality, but the fruit of the Spirit does. While there is only one fruit, there are many gifts, and some are greater than others.

Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 1 Corinthians 12:11. What is the essence of what Paul is teaching here?

While all aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are designed by God to be visible in the lives of His followers, not every believer has the same gift or gifts. There is no command that all should have one particular gift, such as speaking in tongues. Instead, God sovereignly equips His believers with different gifts as He sees fit. The gifts of the Spirit are given so that we can serve others and build up the body of Christ, His church. These gifts are not given for our own pleasure and glory. They are bestowed to further the cause of God.

Therefore, spiritual gifts are worthless without the fruit of the Spirit. It is interesting that within the context of the spiritual gifts, love is often alluded to. Immediately after 1 Corinthians 12 comes the supreme description of love, in chapter 13. Ephesians 4:11-13 is followed in verses 15 and 16 with reference to love. The next verses after Romans 12:3-8, where the gifts of the Spirit are mentioned, speak about love (see Rom. 12:9-10).

The gifts are, after all, gifts of grace; that is, they are gifts of love. They are given out of love and serve the love of God in reaching other people. By loving others, we are revealing the love of God to them. A loving and omniscient God provides the means to accomplish what He has commissioned His people to do. Perhaps that is why love is the greatest gift of all (1 Cor. 13:13).

Why is love so central to all that we do as Christians? How does love, in a sense, “empower” our witness?
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Sabbath: The Holy Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit

Read for This Week’s Study: 1 Cor. 12:4-7, 1 Cor 12:11; Eph. 4:7; 1 Cor. 12:14-31; Rom. 12:3-8; 1 John 4:1-3.

Memory Text: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, NKJV).

Church and Holy spirit as Dove

Image © Lars Justinen Goodsalt.com

Going away on a long business trip, a man left his son in charge of the household, with a specific task to do. But the son soon realized that his father had not provided him with the necessary means and tools to accomplish that task. Frustrated, the son had to leave it undone.

Likewise, when Jesus left His disciples and went to be with His Father in heaven, He gave them a specific task: preach the good news of the gospel to the world. But Jesus did not leave His disciples unequipped. What He commanded them to do He enabled them to do, but in His name and through the power and help of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 1:4-7, Paul gives thanks “for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him . . . so that you are not lacking in any gift” (NASB). Spiritual gifts are given through the Holy Spirit in Christ to build His church.

This week we will study the Holy Spirit as the Sovereign Giver of God’s remarkable gifts and look at the difference between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, February 25.
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Friday: Further Thought – The Holy Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit

“In modern language the passage in Galatians 5:22-23 could read something like this: ‘The Fruit of the Spirit is an affectionate, lovable disposition, a radiant spirit and a cheerful temper, a tranquil mind and a quiet manner, a forbearing patience in provoking circumstances and with trying people, a sympathetic insight and tactful helpfulness, generous judgment and a big-souled charity, loyalty and reliableness under all circumstances, humility that forgets self in the joy of others, in all things self-mastered and self-controlled, which is the final mark of perfecting.

Image © Stan Myers from GoodSalt.com

This is the kind of character that is the Fruit of the Spirit. Everything is in the word Fruit. It is not by striving, but by abiding; not by worrying, but by trusting; not of works, but of faith.’ “-S. Chadwick, in Arthur Walkington Pink, The Holy Spirit (Bellingham, Wash.: Logos Bible Software, n.d.), chapter 30.

“If the love of the truth is in your heart, you will talk of the truth. You will talk of the blessed hope that you have in Jesus. If you have love in your heart, you will seek to establish and build up your brother in the most holy faith. If a word is dropped that is detrimental to the character of your friend or brother, do not encourage this evil-speaking. It is the work of the enemy. Kindly remind the speaker that the Word of God forbids that kind of conversation.” – Ellen G. White, Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 76.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In class, talk about the final question at the end of Thursday’s study regarding the need for self-control. Why, if we are saved by grace, is victory over sin so important? After all, isn’t the gospel about forgiveness of sin? At the same time, think of the character of Judas and what the sin of covetousness did to him. What can we learn from his example about the answer to the question about the need for victory? Also, how does what Ellen G. White says here help shed light on the question of the need for victory? “One wrong trait of character, one sinful desire cherished, will eventually neutralize all the power of the gospel.” – Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 53.
  2. Why is the fruit of the Spirit more important than any gifts of the Spirit?
  3. Read aloud 1 Corinthians 13 in class and talk about what it means. Why does Paul put such a big emphasis on the need for love? How can we learn to love the way that Paul talks about showing love here? Why is death to self and abiding in Christ so crucial, especially in loving those whom we truly dislike?
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The Fruit of the Spirit – Teaching Plan
Michael Fracker

Key Thought: The fruit of the Spirit is evidence that we have a deeply rooted relationship with Christ. Christ develops this fruit in us as we abide in Him.

Lessonn 7, February 18, 2017

1. Have a volunteer read Galatians 5:22.

Holy Spirit represented as a dove

Image © Lars Justinen Goodsalt.com

a. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
b. Why is love the first and foremost aspect of the fruit of the Spirit? How does love affect all the aspects of this fruit?
c. Personal Application : Where does your life lack the quality of love? How can we show others the love of God? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : One of your relatives states: “I love people most of the time, but when someone is rude or irritating, or does something or says something against me or my family, then they’re gonna get something other than love from me.” How would you respond to your relatives?

2. Have a volunteer read I Corinthians 13:4.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
b. Why does genuine kindness have such positive appeal to other people?
c. Personal Application : How do you feel when you do not exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in tense circumstances? What feelings do you have when you are unloving, impatient, or unkind? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : One of your friends states, “Is the fruit of the Spirit something we develop, or is it a gift given to us automatically from God?” How would you respond to your friend?

3. Have a volunteer read Galatians 5:23, Matthew 5:5.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. Why is gentleness and self-control so important for Christian leadership?
c. Personal Application: What misery comes when we do not exercise self-control?
Have you ever lost self-control? What were the results? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : One of your neighbors states, “What’s the difference between being filled with the Spirit and living a religious life? Does one lead to the other? Should one connect with the other?” How would you respond to your neighbor?

4. Have a volunteer read John 14:27.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. What is peace to you? How is peace related to the work of the Holy Spirit?
c. Personal Application : How much peace, joy, and patience do you experience in your life? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

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Thursday: Gentleness and Self-Control

Read Galatians 5:23 and Matthew 5:5. Why is meekness or gentleness so important for Christlike leadership?

Gentleness or meekness does not mean weakness. It is not cowardice or lack of leadership.

Fruit of the Spirit

Copyright Gilbert and Arlisle Beers @ Goodsalt.com

On the contrary, Moses was called the meekest man on earth (Num. 12:3); yet, he was a powerful leader of God’s people. Meek people are not boisterous, quarrelsome, or selfishly aggressive. Instead they serve in a gentle spirit. Meekness can be the outward expression of an inward faith and confidence, not in oneself of course but in the power of God, which works within us. Oftentimes, those who are loud, boisterous, and assertive are covering up insecurities and fears.

Read Galatians 5:23 and Proverbs 16:32. What misery comes when we do not exercise self-control? What blessings do we gain if we are self-controlled and temperate in our lives?

The last aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is temperance or self-control. Here is where we all need to be careful, for who doesn’t struggle, in one area or another, with self-mastery? Before one can rule a city, a community, or a church, one has to be able to control his or her own spirit. True temperance is control not only over food and drink, but over every phase of life.

All the above-mentioned aspects are part of the one fruit of the Spirit. When the Bible describes God’s work in our lives, the ethical aspects of holiness have priority over the charismatic gifts. Christlikeness in all its facets is what really matters in the life of the believer. Because the fruit of the Spirit is the common distinguishing mark of all believers everywhere, it produces a visible unity in His church.

Think about areas of your life in which you should be more self-controlled. Perhaps you are in one area but not so much in another? Why is it important to have, through the power of God, control over all areas? Bring your answer to class on Sabbath.
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HopeSS: The Holy Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit

You can view an in-depth discussion of “The Holy Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit” in the Hope Sabbath School class led by Pastor Derek Morris. (Adobe Flash Player version.) A Youtube version of this week’s lesson at Hope Sabbath School is below.

Hope Sabbath School

Hope Sabbath School

You can download the video, the MP3 audio, and the lesson outline from the HopeTV Sabbath School Site. You might also want to bookmark the HopeSS YouTube Channel.
Click Here to Watch.

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Wednesday: Kindness, Goodness and Faithfulness

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4. Why does genuine kindness have such positive appeal to other people? Where do you see God’s kindness in His dealings with humanity?

Image © Bjorn Thorkelson from GoodSalt.com

“Kindness” is the word frequently used in describing God’s dealings with His people. Kindness also describes our dealings with others in their failures. God could be quite harsh in dealing with our faults. Yet, He treats us as a loving father would treat a learning child (Hos. 11:1-4). Perhaps nothing discredits our Christian testimony and ministry more frequently than unkindness. It does not cost money to be kind, but it can open the door to the heart of a person. No matter how firm we must be in reproof, we need not become unkind in our dealings with others, whatever their faults and issues. To reprove in kindness is perhaps the greatest sign of nobility of character.

Read Ephesians 5:9. What accompanies goodness in this passage?

Goodness is love in action. The goodness that grows as the fruit of the Spirit also includes works and acts of goodness. It is goodness shown to others in practical works of love. When the Holy Spirit lives in us, there will be a positive outflow of goodness to the people with whom we come in contact.

Read Galatians 5:22. Why is it important to be trustworthy and faithful in our Christian walk with God?

What is in view here is the faithfulness of character and conduct brought forth through the Holy Spirit. Faithfulness means trustworthiness or being reliable. Those who are faithful do what they promise to do. Faithfulness is also a characteristic of Jesus Christ, who is called “the faithful witness” (Rev. 1:5, NASB), and of God the Father, who keeps His promises and is faithful in what He does (1 Cor. 1:9, 1 Corinthians 10:13, 1 Thess. 5:24, 2 Thess. 3:3). In our faithfulness, we reflect the image of God in our lives. “It is not the great results we attain, but the motives from which we act, that weigh with God. He prizes goodness and faithfulness more than the greatness of the work accomplished.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 510, 511.

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7. The Holy Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit – Discussion Starters
Joyce Griffith

1. The fruit of the spirit. Are you often encouraged in your Christian life by the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Which of the gifts bring to mind most vividly the blessings of being deeply involved with God as a Christian? What about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? What would your life be like if you possessed an abundance of all of these blessings?
2. The condition of fruitfulness. How do we abide in Jesus so that we can receive Christian fruit? There is a typo in the lesson guide that says “Jesus tells us tell us…” How can that typo help us understand the importance of listening to Jesus as we seek the fruit of the spirit? We often pray to live our lives in Jesus. Should we also pray for Jesus to live out His life within us? Why? What does God give us that enables us to bear fruit for Him? Is it possible to live an apparently perfect life and yet be lacking in the grace and power of the Holy Spirit? How can we be sure, very sure, that we are one in Him and blessed by the Holy Spirit?
3. The fruit of love. Is love truly the greatest virtue of all? How does a Christian who wants to be fully surrendered to God obtain the love he or she needs for living as God’s servant in this world? What are some of the traits that Christian love has in the consecrated life? What chapter in the Bible is the capstone in describing Christian love? Have you ever memorized this chapter? A secret to memorizing passages of Scripture is to read the passage forty times. Try it! Do you live or work with people who are hard to love? What is the best way to deal with these people? Have you developed with the support of God a personality and character that reveals to others a deep and powerful relationship of love? How can this take place?
4. Joy, peace, patience. What does the apostle Paul have to say in Romans 14:17 about how love and joy are related? Then there is peace. What is the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the peace we have in our hearts? Then there’s patience. Are you naturally a patient person? How often do you feel the marvelous blessings of joy, peace, and patience? How often does your heart throb with the blessing of joy, peace, or patience? What can you do so that these blessings come into your heart even more often than at present for you to share with others? How does peace with God reflect deep and lasting joy in our hearts?
5. Kindness, goodness, faithfulness. What happens deep in your heart when you see a child perform an act of kindness to another child, an older person, or a pet? Does it seem to you that children readily connect with opportunities to be kind? Share an example of kindness you’ve observed this week. Then there’s goodness. Can you really hope to be totally good? How can you obtain the gift of goodness? What about faithfulness? Are you known to be a faithful person in your work? In what ways did Jesus reflect His faithfulness while on this earth? Can the Holy Spirit gift us with faithfulness? How?
6. Gentleness and self-control. Some people seem determined never to show gentleness. They want to come across as tough and hard-hitting. What about you? Do you admire the qualities of gentleness in others? Share an example of how you have been blessed by the gentle acts of someone else–or how you have been able to display gentleness to another person. Are you totally satisfied with yourself when it comes to self-control? Or are there habits or ways of doing things that you know are wrong for you? Self-control can involve not only diet but also every other aspect of living. Can the Holy Spirit guide us in a way that will build walls of self-control for our protection and spiritual development?
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Tuesday: Joy, Peace and Patience

Romans 14:17 reads: “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (NASB). That is, joy is love’s reaction to the blessings of God and His great mercy and forgiveness.

Truthfulness of Scripture

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Now, human joy often is focused upon earthly things and is affected by the conditions that surround us. The joy that is rooted in the fruit of the Spirit, however, focuses on God and what He has done for us. It is not motivated by surrounding conditions. As God’s people, we are to be joyful. This does not mean that we have to smile all the time, even though a friendly smile expresses much. But our trust in God will give us abundant reasons to rejoice with unspeakable joy over what He has done for us and in us. Spiritual joy is the result of active faith.

Read John 14:27 along with Romans 14:17. How is peace related to the work of the Holy Spirit?

Peace is more lasting than joy. Peace comes as a result of being justified by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). When we are at peace with God, the Holy Spirit will lead us to be peaceful and patient toward others. Because the God of peace will be with us (Phil. 4:9) through the Holy Spirit, we will not be quarrelsome and vengeful toward others. Instead we will seek to live as peaceably as possible with everyone (Rom. 12:18).

Read 2 Peter 3:9. How does patience reflect the character of God?

Patience is not a prevalent characteristic of human beings. It means putting up with others or with circumstances, even when things do not run smoothly. Yet even in trials, we are not alone. God sustains us through His Holy Spirit and builds patience, which is a characteristic mark of the believers in the end time (Rev. 14:12). Only those who aim at a worthy goal can be patient.

Joy, peace, and patience. How much of this fruit do you experience in your life? In which of these areas do you need more work done in you?
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Monday: The Fruit of Love

Read Galatians 5:22 and 1 Corinthians 13. Why is love the first and foremost aspect of the fruit of the Spirit? How does love affect all the following aspects of this fruit?

Love appropriately leads and crowns the various characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit and permeates the whole fruit. In a sense all other qualities listed can be seen as aspects of love. Because God is love (1 John 4:8), the greatest Christian virtue is love (1 Cor. 13:13).

Fruit of the Spirit

Copyright Kevin Carden @ Goodsalt.com

God’s love is the foundation and source of every other goodness. God’s love is poured out to us within our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). Love is the evidence that we are God’s children.

This love is far more than mere human affection. It cannot be produced by human effort. It comes as a result of abiding in Christ. Such love is generous and unmerited. It alone has the power to transform. In its tender yet strong nature, divine love leads the sinner to repentance and awakens the desire for something better. Love has the power to unite-even those who formerly were enemies (Luke 6:27-28; Rom. 5:8). Thus, by our love for one another the world will know that Christians are indeed followers of Jesus Christ (John 13:35). This fruit of love will also lead Christians to manifest understanding and sensitivity toward others.

It is interesting that the master description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 comes right between chapters 12 and 14. Those two chapters deal with the gifts of the Spirit. Chapter 13, however, deals with love: the fruit of the Spirit. Even the superior gifts are nothing without love. The gifts of the Spirit without the fruit of the Spirit are powerless and do not produce the blessing that God intends. Love, however, is the glue that binds all other virtues of the fruit of the Spirit into a united whole and gives authenticity to everything we do.

Where does your life lack the quality of love? Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with love toward those people with whom you are dealing on a daily basis. Remember that God also loves us through other people. How can you show others love? How does love affect those other virtues mentioned in the fruit of the Spirit?
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