Walking in the Spirit - 28 June 2016

Louise Gevers

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

Galatians 5: 16-17

Christianity is not for the faint-hearted. Christians are called to “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,”(Romans 12:2) This is a great challenge, as Christians have to actively choose to walk by the Spirit to live humble, submissive, loving lives which are full of mercy and justice and eradicate sinful ways, if truly in fellowship with God through forgiveness in Christ. We do this because “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship in him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7)

We live a world that is full of hatred, sadness, war, impatience, cruelty, evil, betrayal, harshness and self-indulgence – all things diametrically opposed to and in conflict with the qualities and the fruit of the Spirit. As Christians, we live in constant conflict with our sinful nature as we try to live with the love of Jesus in our hearts, guided by the Spirit, and ready to obey God’s Word. Even Paul felt this tension within him, which we see in his words: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18-19)

Does anyone not relate to this?  We discover the joy of walking with the Spirit in our lives as He enables us to honestly acknowledge our situation and grow through it. The victory of walking in the Spirit is the dynamic relationship He enables us to have with God the Father, through Jesus the Son; not because we are perfect, but because we are forgiven and submitted to Him.

Through His working in us, we begin to see transformation in our natural selves. From the moment we acknowledge our weakness and our need of the Holy Spirit in prayer, we welcome His presence in our lives. He inspires us to spend time with God which helps to build our spiritual lives; God’s approval in our plans becomes important to us; we change and become willing to allow Him to transform our desires. As we clearly see answers to our prayers, we discover the joy of praying according to His will.

Most importantly, this strengthens our bond with Him and makes us want to stay close to Him; we recognise those wrong things that tempt us, or have a hold on us. The Spirit empowers us to choose right over wrong, love over hatred, grace over judgment and rewards us with the experience of the abundant life which Jesus died to bring all those who follow Him.

Prayer: Father, Help me to walk with the Spirit so that I can to be obedient to You and, with love, choose to do the good that brings glory to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit - 27 June 2016

Louise Gevers

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Fruit is a desirable object. If you have the blessing of a fruit tree in the garden, you will know the delight gained from watching the fruit grow from small, green beginnings into abundant, vivid produce, as well as the contentment of eating its juicy ripeness. Its allure has often inspired artists to paint pictures of it, while others just appreciate eating it after waiting many days for it to ripen!

But what of the fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit? For the Christian, perhaps this is an appropriate analogy of something even more alluring and more satisfying. The fruit of the Spirit is produced only in those who know Jesus as LORD and Saviour, because the Spirit is working within them. Anyone can get natural fruit by picking it from the tree or by going to the shop to buy it, but we are incapable of producing the fruit of the Spirit in ourselves.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are the character traits found in Jesus Himself and it is these that He produces in us.  Jesus told His disciples: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men know will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 This is unutterably precious, as we want to be recognised as belonging to Jesus, because He took away our sin and clothed us in His righteousness, but not easy. James challenges us with, “My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”( James 3:12)

We are very encouraged, however, when we, and others, are able to see the good qualities growing in us, but just as natural fruit takes time to grow, so the fruit of the Holy Spirit is not an overnight development, and we should not become discouraged by the apparent slowness of its appearance in us.

Jesus said, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognised by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33) This teaches us that, as true followers of Christ, our fruit should resemble Him and if we see ourselves beginning to more resemble the devil, we need to re-evaluate our position; because sometimes we can become complacent and not realise that we have slipped; or we may have taken God’s glory for ourselves and Pride has slipped into the driver’s seat. Although we have been freed from sin’s power, we still have the capacity to sin and need to confess it to the LORD as soon as we are aware that we have fallen, so that we may once again submit to God through Jesus and be led by the Spirit.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Prayer: Holy Spirit, may Your fruit grow abundantly in me. Amen

Wandel in die Gees - 28 Junie 2016

Louise Gevers

Wat ek bedoel, is dít: Laat julle lewe steeds deur die Gees van God beheers word, dan sal julle nooit swig voor begeertes van julle sondige natuur nie. Wat ons sondige natuur begeer, is in stryd met wat die Gees wil, en wat die Gees wil, is in stryd met wat ons sondige natuur begeer. Hierdie twee staan lynreg teenoor mekaar, en daarom kan julle nie doen wat julle graag wil nie.  Galasiers5:16-17

Christenskap is nie vir sissies nie. Christene word opgeroep om nie "aan hierdie sondige wêreld gelyk [te] word nie, maar laat God julle verander deur julle denke te vernuwe." (Romeine 12:2) Dit is 'n groot uitdaging en Christene moet daadwerklik kies om in die Gees te wandel, om nederig, onderdanig, en liefdevol te leef, vol genade en geregtigheid en om die sonde uit te roei as hulle werklik deur Christus vergewe is en in 'n verhouding met God is. Ons doen dit want "God is lig, en daar is geen duisternis in Hom nie. As ons beweer dat ons aan Hom deel het, en ons lewe in die duisternis, lieg ons en handel ons nie volgens die waarheid nie. Maar as ons in die lig lewe soos Hy in die lig is, het ons met mekaar deel aan dieselfde gemeenskap en reinig die bloed van Jesus, sy Seun, ons van elke sonde." (1 Johannes 1:5-7)

Ons leef in 'n wêreld vol haat, hartseer, oorloë, ongeduld, wreedheid, boosheid, verraad, ongevoeligheid en selfverheerliking – alles dinge wat reëlreg staan teenoor en in konflik is met die karaktereienskappe en die vrug van die Gees. Ons as Christene is in 'n konstante stryd met ons sondige natuur terwyl ons probeer om die liefde van Jesus in ons harte onder leiding van die Heilige Gees uit te leef en die Woord van God te gehoorsaam. Selfs Paulus het hierdie spanning in homself aangevoel soos blyk uit sy woorde: "Ek weet immers dat die goeie nie in my woon nie, nie in my sondige aard nie. Daar is by my wel die wil om die goeie te doen, maar ek doen dit nie. Die goeie wat ek wil doen, doen ek nie, maar die slegte wat ek nie wil doen nie, dit doen ek." (Romeine 7:18-19)

Kan jy jou hiermee vereenselwig? Ons ontdek die vreugde van die Gees in ons lewens wanneer Hy ons in staat stel om eerlik na ons situasie te kyk en daardeur in ons geestelike lewe te groei. Die oorwinning van om deur die Gees beheers te word lê daarin dat Hy ons in staat stel om 'n dinamiese verhouding met God die Vader deur Jesus Christus die Seun te hê; nie omdat ons volmaak is nie, maar omdat ons vergewe is en ons aan Hom onderwerp.

Deur sy werking in ons begin ons verandering in ons natuurlike self sien. Van die oomblik dat ons ons swakheid en ons behoefte aan die Heilige Gees in gebed erken, verwelkom ons die teenwoordigheid van die Gees in ons lewens. Hy inspireer ons om tyd met God deur te bring wat ons help om in ons geestelike lewe te groei. Dit word vir ons belangrik dat God ons planne goedkeur; ons raak meer gewillig om Hom toe te laat om ons begeertes te verander. Soos Hy ons gebede beantwoord, ervaar ons die blydskap om volgens sy wil te bid.

Die belangrikste is egter dat dit ons verhouding met Hom versterk en dit veroorsaak dat ons naby Hom wil bly; ons erken daardie verkeerde dinge wat ons in versoeking lei of 'n houvas op ons het. Die Gees gee ons die krag om reg bo verkeerd te kies, liefde eerder as haat, genade eerder as om te veroordeel en Hy beloon ons met die oorvloedige lewe waarvoor Jesus gesterf het.

Gebed: Vader, help my om in u Gees te wandel sodat ek gehoorsaam aan U kan wees en in liefde sal kies om die goeie tot u eer te doen. In Jesus se Naam bid ek dit, Amen

Die vrug van die Heilige Gees - 27 Junie 2016

Louise Gevers

Die vrug van die Gees, daarteenoor, is liefde, vreugde, vrede, geduld, vriendelikheid, goedhartigheid, getrouheid, nederigheid en selfbeheersing. Teen sulke dinge het die wet niks nie.  Galasiërs 5:22-23

Vrugte is begeerlik. Indien jy geseënd genoeg is om 'n vrugteboom in jou tuin te hê, sal jy weet hoe lekker dit is om die klein groen vruggies dop te hou en te sien hoe hulle oor 'n tydperk tot vol ryp vrugte groei en om van die lekker om daardie ryp, sappige vrugte te eet, nie eers te praat nie. Soms inspireer sulke bekoorlike vrugte kunstenaars om dit te skilder, terwyl sommige van ons dit net waardeer om dit te eet nadat ons dae lank moes wag vir die vrugte om ryp te word!

Maar wat van die vrugte van die Heilige Gees? Vir die Christen is die vrug van die Gees selfs meer aanloklik en bevredigend as die vrugte waarna ons in die vorige paragraaf verwys. Die vrug van die Gees groei slegs in diegene wat Jesus as Here en Verlosser ken want die Gees werk in hulle. Enigeen kan vrugte van 'n boom pluk of dit in 'n winkel koop, maar ons kan nie self die vrugte van die Gees kweek nie.

Liefde, vreugde, vrede, geduld, vriendelikheid, goedhartigheid, getrouheid, nederigheid en selfbeheersing is almal karaktereienskappe van Jesus en Hy bring dit ook in ons te voorskyn. Jesus het vir sy dissipels gesê: "Ek gee julle 'n nuwe gebod: julle moet mekaar liefhê. Soos Ek julle liefhet, moet julle mekaar ook liefhê. As julle mekaar liefhet, sal almal weet dat julle dissipels van My is.” (Johannes 13:34-35) Dit is onbeskryflik kosbaar, want ons wil graag herken word as Jesus se volgelinge, want Hy het ons sondes weggeneem en ons met sy geregtigheid geklee. Dit is egter nie maklik nie. Jakobus daag ons uit met die woorde:  "'n Vyeboom, my broers, kan tog nie olywe dra nie, of 'n druiwestok vye nie. 'n Brak fontein kan mos nie vars water gee nie!"(Jakobus 3:12)

Dit is bemoedigend wanneer ons, en ander, kan sien hoe die goeie kwaliteite in ons groei, maar net soos natuurlike vrugte tyd neem om te groei, is die vrug van die Heilige Gees nie iets wat oornag verskyn nie. Ons moet nie mismoedig word as dit aanvanklik tyd neem om in ons te verskyn nie.

Jesus sê: “As julle sê 'n boom is goed, moet julle ook sê sy vrugte is goed; en as julle sê hy is sleg, moet julle ook sê sy vrugte is sleg. 'n Boom word tog aan sy vrugte geken. (Matteus 12:33) Hieruit leer ons dat, as ware volgelinge van Christus, die vrugte wat ons dra Hom moet weerspieël, en as ons begin om al hoe meer die duiwel te reflekteer, is dit tyd om onsself te herevalueer. Dit is moontlik om oorgerus en selfvoldaan te raak en nie te besef dat ons besig is om in ons geloof te val nie, of ons neem die eer wat God toekom vir onsself en valse trots neem beheer. Alhoewel ons van die krag van sonde bevry is, beskik ons steeds oor die vermoë om te sondig en moet ons dit voor God bely sodra ons besef dat ons geval het sodat ons weer deur Jesus in 'n verhouding met God kan wees en die Gees ons kan lei.

"Maar as ons ons sondes bely – Hy is getrou en regverdig, Hy vergewe ons ons sondes en reinig ons van alle ongeregtigheid." (1 Johannes 1:9)

Gebed:  Here, gee dat die vrug van die Heilige Gees oorvloedig in my sal groei. Amen

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