Hope Lives

The byproduct of “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…”  Galatians 5: 22

There is an acid soil in which a sweet fruit grows. Observe, in the text word “fruit” (karpos) is single and the object plural. This is because at the time of the translation into English the time of harvest was called the time of “fruiting.” A more accurate translation in light of today’s language is, “The harvest of the Spirit is ….” You are not to claim only one or two of the fruit, but all of them are to be manifest in the life of a believer. However, consider makrothymia, the one which is properly variously translated longsuffering, patience, forbearance, temperance, the fourth Greek virtue, means self-control. For clarity consider the fourth to be self-control.

We all have appetites, interests, and experiences. Run through an inventory of them starting with an appetite for good food. Controlling them is our responsibility. 

The principle of the two natures can be a bit confusing. As believers we are no longer in the flesh, but we still have the flesh. The old sin nature was not eradicated at the moment of salvation, but by the Spirit it can be incarcerated and with that comes the potential fruit of the Spirit. Oh, joy. There is victory in Jesus. The struggle will never end. Neither will the all sufficient enabling grace of God.

Self-control consists of two words. Consider the last first: control. It is needed in all areas of life. An object out of control can’t perform the reason for its existence. The missile fired by a gun that is out of control can’t hit the intended target. Likewise, a person out of control can’t hit the intended target. In life it means a person out of control can’t achieve their best at anything. Remember this the next time you are about to lose control of yourself. 

When you lose control another force takes control. Actually when you lose control you, not the Spirit, is in control. That is not good.

Now the first word in self-control. God never asks us to do anything He does not give us the ability to do. The ability to self-control is given by the Spirit within you. That means you already have within you the Holy Spirit to empower you to achieve self-control. As He controls you, you exercise your capacity for control.

Don’t expect the Spirit to do it for you, but He will enable you to do it of your own free will. “Will?” That means if you will do it He will enable you to do it. The more you will for Him to control you the more instinctive it becomes for you and the Spirit to act as one. Start now and don’t give up even if you fail occasionally.


Dr. Paul Tournier, a celebrated Swiss physician and psychiatrist, noted, “Most illnesses do not, as is generally thought, come like a bolt out of the blue. The ground is prepared for years, through faulty diet, intemperance, overwork, and moral conflicts, slowly eroding the subject’s vitality. Man does not die, he kills himself . . . . Every act of physical, psychological and moral disobedience of God’s purpose is an act of wrong living and has inevitable consequences.” “Inevitable,” means you can’t cheat the results of such conduct.

God’s word proposes antidotes to these health eroding factors. By taking His spiritual correctives, taking medicine can often be avoided. Tournier’s statement, “Man does not die, he kills himself,” should be taken seriously. It has been said no one has ever died from old age.

Consider just one emotional bandit, depression. If you have it you are not alone. It is estimated eight million Americans a year suffer from depression so deep they miss work or have to see a doctor. Have you ever felt like Abraham Lincoln who wrote, “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would be not one cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell. I awfully (regretfully) forebode (foretell) I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better, it appears to me.”

Hippocrates, the ancient Greek philosopher and physician, was the first person known to write about depression, calling it melancholy. There are various kinds of depression. The central nervous system along with the endocrine glands produce most of the chemicals needed for normal body functions. At times there is an imbalance which is one cause of depression. In this instance a doctor should be seen.

Spiritual depression generally refers to a loss of spiritual vitality and joy. In this instance Scriptural principles should be used. Our Lord appeals to us:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Pause, meditate, memorize, and resolve to apply that several times a day.

God has promised, “‘For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:10)

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13)

Again pause, meditate, memorize, and resolve to apply these daily. A medicine is no good unless taken. These truths are of no value unless applied.

Adages for Aging

This promise made to Isaiah is relevant to you regardless of your age:


Write that on the wall of your cranium. Read it often. It is a wonderful promise. As the candles get more crowded on our birthday cake these promises become more precious.

We do well to pray : “… teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

In Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, we are advised “Not merely to count them, how many they are, in an arithmetical way . . . but the sense is, that God would teach us seriously to meditate on . . . the shortness of our days . . . and to observe how unprofitably we have spent them; which may encourage us to be redeeming the time.”

Some believe youth is the happiest time of life. Not so! The happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts. Thus you can grow happier as you grow older. Deposit godly thoughts in your memory bank so you can enjoy the dividends as they pay interest.

Unfortunately some are robbed of the joy of age by a mental disorder or other ailments. However, keep your mind young as long as you are able. A creative way of doing so is to study to show yourself a workman approved unto God. Motivate yourself to memorize passages of scripture. Start now regardless of your age. The mind is like a muscle that must be exercised to be strong.

This is a prayer for a person of any age. “Dear God, please give me strength when I am weak, love when I feel forsaken, courage when I am afraid, wisdom when I feel foolish, comfort when I am alone, hope when I feel rejected, and peace when I am in turmoil.”

We have been reminded: “You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”

It matters not how long you live, but how you live.

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God….” ( Ps. 71: 18) When prone to pray that text reflect on the passage from Isaiah with which this Post opened.

Carry Your Share of the Load

As a 12 year old I considered my grandad to be superman. He had such a zest for life I enjoyed working with him. One summer workday involved building a fence. My goat and his cows found too many ways through the old one. We worked all morning digging fence post holes, and taming them in tightly. By min-morning we had worked our way down to the corner and stopped to take a breather. The entire time under a big shade tree I had thought about the extra large corner post and how we could set it. Thinking about such a challenge caused me to sweat more than the work.

Finally, grandpaw said, “Come on, boy, let’s set the corner post. You pick up your end and I will be behind you picking up my end.”

Knowing the limitations of my 12 year old muscles and the size of that post I hesitated, but grandpaw said let’s do it so I struggled with my end and to my amazement we did it, we set the corner post. The rest of the day I marveled over my might. There was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and a surge of youthful ego. In the early afternoon it dawned one me. When I picked up my end grandpaw picked up his “end” in the middle.

That is the way it is with the Lord. When there is a task, or burden He wants us to bear, if you will pick up your end you can be assured He will pick up His end in the middle. It is He who works in you both to will and to DO.

When compelled there is a task God wills for you to do, you can be confident and rely on Him to do His part, always has, and always will.

You can be confident and “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41: 10)

God works in us in order that He might work through us.

Consider what you think God wants you to do. Focus on it, the challenge and outcome. Now, contemplate what you think He wants you to do as your part to achieve the best result. What part do you think He will do to enable you to achieve the right end?

Then “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16: 3)

Then you can say with the Psalmist: “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” (Psalm 18:32)

Often our self-confidence fails us. Have confidence in the Lord for He never fails us. Depend on His strength. It will strengthen you. Go ahead, pick up your end. Guess who is on the other end having picked up His “end” in the middle?

A Blessing in a Bag

There is no way of knowing what beautiful blossom is hidden in the heart of the most unlikely of seeds. Cultivate the seed to enjoy the blossom. Destroy the seed and with it the blossom. The same is true of human life. There is no way of knowing what greatness resides in the most unlikely of infant lives.

Quantrill’s Raiders were the best-known of the guerilla bands that emerged after the Civil War. These groups were known as bushwhackers. One of the most notorious in the west was led by William Quantrill. At one time Jessie and Frank James were members. They raided ranches and kidnaped slaves to resell.

They raided the farm of Moses and Susan Carver near Diamond Grove, Missouri, in 1864 and carried off Mary, one of their most beloved slaves, and her infant child. Mr. Carver resolved to find her and redeem her. After an extensive effort, he arranged a rendezvous with the raiders to negotiate their release. Mary was never seen again. As they were parting, Quantrill threw a sack to Carver saying, “Here take this.” Later opening the sack he saw a tiny baby inside, it was Mary’s little son.. He held the infant to his chest all the way home to keep it warm.

The Carvers cared for the child resolving to see to it that he was educated. 

The Carvers’ foster child proved to be an excellent student and did well in school eventually graduating from what is now Iowa State University. Because of his knowledge of plants, he was appointed to the faculty after graduation. Today, that infant in the sack is known as George Washington Carver, yes, “the George Washington Carver.” What a loss to society it would have been if that child had not survived. Every person considering an abortion should give thought to “who” they are aborting and what contribution the child might make to society.

George Washington Carver was a blessing in a bag.

He became an inventor, chemist, botanist, and in general a scientist. As a man of faith, he said he prayed, “God, show me the mysteries of the universe.” God replied, “How about the mysteries of the peanut? That’s more your size.” He is reputed to have discovered 300 uses of the peanut and hundreds more for soybeans and pecans, and one hundred uses of the sweet potato. Among the peanut products were peanut butter and healing oils for tuberculosis.

George Washington Carver became an American agricultural scientist and inventor who promoted alternative crops to cotton and methods to prevent soil depletion. He was the most prominent black scientist of the early 20th century.

In 1897, he was invited by Booker T. Washington to be the director of agriculture at Tuskegee Institute where he made most of his discoveries and lived out his productive life. He is buried near his friend and fellow transformer, Booker T. Washington.

He became the first African-American to have a memorial built in his honor; it stands on the farm where he was born.

That little sack of seed produced a formidable crop worth recognizing during Black History Month. Enjoy the blossom.