Monday, July 15, 2013

Fruit versus Gift

Some years ago I came across a message that provided a good illustration between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is like an apple tree - the apple (fruit) is related to the tree. Only apples can come from apple trees and not other kinds of fruit. Similarly, we who have the Holy Spirit will bear His fruit in us - that of Christlikeness if we abide in Him.
Also the fruit of the apple tree will only come when the tree is matured enough to produce apples. Similarly, the fruit of the Spirit is a sign of our maturity. The more we grow in Christ, the more of His fruit we will see in our lives.

The gifts of the Spirit, on the other hand, is like a Christmas tree ( a pine tree) where we hang our Christmas gifts and decorations on. The gifts bear no resemblance to the tree. Similarly, the gifts of the Spirit are not marks of a Christian's maturity. They do not convey spiritual growth nor personal holiness. They are gifts given by the Spirit for the good of all regardless of the spiritual life of the recipient. All the Spirit requires for the receiver of His gifts is their availability to be His channels.

Hence let us walk in trust and obedience to the Holy Spirit daily, bearing His fruit and sharing His gifts.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Note to all who are beginning...

I wrote this commencement letter some 15 years ago for friends who have graduated and were returning to their respective homes to begin their career and life. I think what was written still applies today.
For some of you it's time to head home as you complete your studies.

The experiences and things you have learnt over here is a stepping stone to greater maturity and growth in Christ.
I have listed 3 things that you need to commit to so that you can continue to grow and mature from glory to glory and from grace to grace.

1) Guard your devotional time with God -
Guard this time well as it is the most crucial point of faith in your life. What you have started here - a time spent with God on a daily basis, feeding on His Word and praying and worshiping Him, needs to be maintain when you are back in your homeland. The 'safety and security' of friends here will no longer be present at home but the security in Christ still remains.

2) Get into fellowship with a church -
If you have your home church, return with a gusto and be involved. If not, pray and seek out a church to worship and participate in. Be a participant and not a pew-sitter! Get involved in church Sunday celebration - worship in a large group. Get involved in church cell group - worship/participation in a small group.
Both are important as the Lord will work through preaching of the word and the fellowship & accountability of a small group. Find a cell group that will genuinely accept you and care enough for you to rebuke you in love if necessary.
A word of caution - do not try to find the current kind of atmosphere for your cell group or even church meeting. You will be frustrated as a home setting will be different from a student-oriented kind of fellowship.

3) Give yourself fully to the Lordship of Christ
This is a very important area as you start your career and gain cash and even pursue courtship.
Surrender your career to the Lord from the beginning that it will not be a hindrance to your faith in Christ but a stepping stone towards all that He has plan for you.
Surrender your cash to Him and regularly tithe - you will find that He is no man's debtor - He will provide all you need.
Surrender your courtship to Him - if you have begun relationship or seeking to begin one, seek the Lord for His choice for you. Two is better than one but they must not be unequally yoked! Pray that your partner-to-be will have a heart for God and the things of God.

Finally understand the times we are in. These are not easy times so walk in much prayer and faith that God will fulfill His purpose which is the ultimate return of Christ and establishment of His kingdom.

My prayers and blessings in Christ to all of you. May the Lord grant you a heart that is settled in Him and a faith and a love that continues to grow in Him and for Him.