The War Zone

by Jerry Lewis

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 5:17

The Spirit is God’s agent of prevention.  Without the Spirit, no one knows what you might have done by now.  The Spirit “keeps you from doing the things you want to do.”  Someone has already irritated you this morning.  You want to tell them about it.  The Spirit says “no.”

Why is He qualified to speak to such matters?  He knows their heart–you don’t.  He knows what kind of morning they had–you don’t.  He knows them and He knows you.

This is why the war within shouldn’t catch us by surprise.  As a matter of fact, if you can continue in sin without the war, you’re in trouble.  The ability to sin uninhibited points to the absence of the Spirit in your life.  If the Holy Spirit isn’t preventing you from sinning, He will not also prevent you from spending eternity in Hell.  The Spirit who drew you to Jesus is the same Spirit who will prevent you from sinning.

What a great gift we have in the Spirit.

Father, thank you for the gift of the Spirit. Holy Spirit, thank you that you reside in me, that since I’ve been born again, I’ve never again been alone. Thank you that I walk with a traveling companion, with someone by my side (thank you Jesus!) and someone inside (thank you Holy Spirit!). Help me to listen today, to trust, to obey, to do what you’re calling me to do. In Jesus’ strong name. Amen.

What Happened to Gentleness?

by Shane Holland

One thing that seems to be missing from human interactions in the world today is gentleness. I can understand unbelievers not showing gentleness since it is a fruit of the Spirit given to us from God, but it seems like many Christians too struggle to exhibit this fruit. Paul’s letter to Titus gives believers a reminder of how gentleness should be an integral part of our interaction with others.

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy to all people.” 

Titus 3:1-2

There are so many good nuggets of wisdom in these two verses, but we will focus on the last three points.

If you are like me, I enjoy a good debate; however, I have to be careful because I tend to push hard to win.  My desire to win an argument is my pride flaring up and me not wanting to be proven wrong. As I have matured in my faith, I have learned it is impossible to win someone over if I approach them with anger and not gentleness. As I have grown older, I now see anger as a lack of confidence instead of the passion I thought it showed in my youth.  As Christians, how can we hope to show someone the gift we have been given if we show them in a quarreling way instead of a gentle way?  The act of being gentle can diffuse a situation and show unbelievers our confidence in the relationship we have with our Lord. 

To “show perfect courtesy to all people” is a must for Christians. We are tasked with showing God’s love to all people, but not affirming life choices that go against God’s plan. This can be difficult at times, but we must remember as believers all that we have been forgiven. Christ has and continues to show us grace when we fall short and His example reminds us to extend grace and show “perfect courtesy” to others. 

Additionally, we must follow the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:29-30.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 


 If we continue to try and carry all our own burdens, our hearts are too heavy for us to show a spirit of gentleness. Only by turning our burdens over to Christ are we able to be gentle in heart so that others see Christ in us. 

Father God, thank you for showing us, by your example, how to be gentle with unbelievers and believers. Thank you for allowing us to turn our burdens over to you so that we can be gentle and not overburdened in our hearts. Forgive us for trying to carry our burdens on our own and deal with people in our own prideful ways. Father, helps us to continue to turn our burdens over and allow us to share your good news with gentleness and confidence. 

Tune My Heart

by Jerry Lewis

Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace. Streams of mercy never ceasing, pour forth songs of loudest praise.

Robert robinson

Robert Robinson wrote this hymn in this 1600s, and it is still sung today in all kinds of worship venues. The story of the hymn mirrors the story of Robinson’s life, and ours too. His conversion was both instantaneous and ongoing. After a drunken bout with some friends, God convicted him of his sin and he found himself listening to the great George Whitefield preach on “the wrath to come.” Here are his words about that night…and a couple of years that followed.

Robert, son of Michael and Marise Robinson. Born in Swaffham, Norfolk, on Saturday, Sept. 27, 1735. Reborn on Saturday, May 24, 1752, through the powerful preaching of George Whitefield. And having tasted the pains of renewal for two and seven years, I found full and free absolution, through the precious blood of Jesus Christ (Tuesday, December 10, 1755), to whom be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

The reality is that God saved Robinson on May 24, 1752 and he came to a fuller awareness of what it meant to walk by grace in the next few years. Our salvation is called a new birth for a reason: you don’t know everything when you’re born…you’re born and you grow and know. So it is with living the Christian life. If you ever stop growing physically, you’re dead. If you ever stop growing spiritually, you’re dead.

Are you growing? Are you seeing fruit?

A prayer to the God who saved you and also sanctifies you. And, no, these aren’t my words. Listen and pray this song:

A Monday Prayer for Patience

by Kevin Burleson

“Gracious Heavenly Father, I am reminded that today I am going to come into contact with some difficult people along the way. Help me to be….Patient.”

I know when I ask for that part of the fruit of the Spirit I could well be asking for a hard ride.  I hesitate even to ask God for patience sometimes because my experience leads me to believe an inevitable trial or test will be attached to my need to be more patient. (Somebody I have been avoiding will cross my path, or I will get behind the slowest person in McDowell County when I’m late). But to be patient is as much a fruit of the Spirit as love or kindness.

Patience “…is the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate. It is the ability to hold one’s feeling in restraint or bear up under the oversights and wrongs afflicted by others without retaliating. It is manifest by the quality of forbearance under provocation.”


It is part of the defining evidence of the character of Christ being formed in us. So we need to ask God to help us bear His fruit of patience. And He helps us by demonstrating how incredibly patient He is with us. We read in scripture that He suffers a long time with our faulty failing flesh just as He continues to exercise patience with the difficult people we will meet along the way who desperately need Jesus (Romans 9:22). We read in the Old Testament how patiently God worked with Israel even as they kept turning away from Him. We see how Jesus patiently taught and led His disciples who too frequently didn’t seem to get His plan. So we, following the example of our Lord, should seek to be patient with people. We are to persistently endure harshness with a view toward bearing other fruit like kindness, gentleness, and love. 

Gracious Heavenly Father, thank you for the many times you have patiently put up with my faults, my impatience, and my stubbornness. Thank you that you give me the opportunity, by the power of your Holy Spirit in me, to share your gracious fruit of patience with people today. Help me to not avoid difficult people but suffer long with them knowing you have done the same toward me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I Was Glad When They Said to Me

by Jerry Lewis

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Psalm 122:1

These lines are the first of a psalm sung as God’s people traveled the Jericho road to Jerusalem to worship. They didn’t go often, only once a year, and they joined thousands of others, throngs of worshipers, who came to the temple to worship. They wore white, traveled with their family, slept in the cold at night and battled the heat of the day.

Psalm 122 is one of the Songs of Ascent, a song sung while ascending the hill to Jerusalem. Their physical ascent symbolized their spiritual ascent. Not only did their bodies have to be ready for a trip like this, so did their hearts. These Psalms lifted their hearts to Jerusalem, and ultimately to heaven.

Today we will worship. As you drive in (none of us walk to worship…how blessed we are), prepare your hearts to encounter and be encountered by the almighty God who is also your Father, who sent his Son to be your Savior, and the Holy Spirit to be your traveling companion.

I can’t wait to worship with you!

The Greatest of These

by Tina Laughridge

Love – the greatest fruit of the Spirit.  We say it so frequently but do we mean what we are saying?  In John 15:12, Jesus told His disciples…

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”.   


But how do we love?  It’s easy to say these three little words but sometimes it’s hard to show it when we’ve been wronged by someone or if we know the person is considered by society to be a bad person.

I have to confess that I have shunned one particular young man that I know simply because of his life choices.  I wanted nothing to do with this young man knowing all along that I was not being the Christ-like person God called me to be.  This young man was treated like a leper by his friends, family and worst of all me.  

Then God spoke to my heart.  

I realized this man needs help – not the help I can give but the help that God can give through me.  

This is where I can show him God’s kind of love – Agape love.  Will you join me in praying that this young man will be receptive of God’s love–and that it will shine through me. And will you think of people just like him in your life too. And ask God to show His love through you to them?

Remembering my Dad’s Gentleness

by Janis Bolick

As we are spending time seeking to know more about the fruit of the Spirit, it is good to remember the gentleness of our heavenly Father. After all, we deserve His wrath, yet by His sacrifice, we can be assured of His love. (Romans 5:8) We continuously reject Him but He gently carries us in His arms! (Isaiah 40:11)

I don’t know about you, but for me sometimes gentleness is hard. We tend to live in our flesh and when someone is frustrating me….well I might just lose my gentleness. Yet Jesus calls us to be like Him. The Spirit of Jesus who lives inside us teaches us how to be gentle, yet the irritation of our flesh can completely distract us from hearing the Spirit’s teaching.

The ministry of Jesus overflowed with such a spirit of caring and gentleness for the very people who would eventually torture and crucify Him. Still we often struggle to simply be kind to someone who irritates us in some way.

On Monday, February 27th, my father suddenly passed away. Daddy was such a gentle man and I have so many fond memories of him guiding me through decisions and heartaches with wisdom and gentleness. One of his favorite passages comes from John 14 verses 1-3.

“Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.”

John 14:1-3, CSB

There is such gentleness in what Jesus says. Right now my heart is heavy and I am sad because I miss my dad. But because of Jesus, I know that Daddy is not sad and that I will see him in eternity. Until that day comes, I pray that I will allow the Holy Spirit to teach me His gentleness and that my life will reflect the gentleness of both my earthly father and my heavenly Father. I pray that for you as well!

Abba, Father, Thank You for the unbelievable gift of Your Spirit that we have received through Jesus. Thank you for treating us gently when we so often ignore and mistreat You and each other. Jesus, thank you for showing us how to be gentle and for being our perfect example. Spirit, teach us how to show gentleness to others and help us to grow to be more and more like Jesus. Amen

Gracious Self-Control

by Jerry Lewis

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:9-11

Your body is dead—that old thing that caused you the sin problem is dead! Why are you serving a dead body? Why are you enslaved to a lifeless existence? Romans 8:5-8 is a description of your life before Christ. Look at it!

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8 ESV)

Did you know that Jesus did not even raise Himself from the grave! The Holy Spirit raised Christ from the grave! If Jesus depended on the Holy Spirit to raise Him from the grave, then you and I must depend on the Holy Spirit to raise us up to live an entirely new life!

We have been sold a bill of goods. The enemy has made us as a body, so conscious of sin that we are inoperative as a body of believers righteous before God, ready and equipped to move on.

chuck swindoll

We focus way too much on our lives before Christ–rather than focusing on the fact that we have been raised with Him. We need to live under the awesome power of God! The  result of that kind of living: So then brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh to live according to the flesh. We have an obligation, not to the flesh, but to the Spirit. We choose moment by moment whether or not we will respond to the Spirit or to the flesh.

Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

(Romans 6:13 ESV)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

(Colossians 3:5 ESV)

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

(Galatians 5:24 ESV)

Your response to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is to put to death the sinful deeds of the body. It is a relationship of incredible balance—where the Holy Spirit constantly works to rid us of sin in our lives. Through His work, we are empowered to say “No” when sin presents itself. Notice also the outcome. You will either live or die. You cannot ride the fence, here. You will either live according to your old desires before you came to Christ–and die. Or you will live by the power of the Spirit who indwells you–and live.

Father, thank you that your Spirit lives in me, and where he lives there is victory. Over sin. Over my sinful nature. Over temptation. Truly, greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world! I will live with that in mind today. You are not a guest, my heart is your home. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Above All Else, Love

by Lisa Ellis

Scripture tells us the greatest commandment of all is to love.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

matthew 22:36-40

You can never go wrong spreading love. When you show love towards the people in your life, it’s an expression of the same love God has shown to you. Love God, love your neighbor, and love yourself. That’s what the Lord commands for us all.

The ultimate gift was the love Jesus showed us by giving up his life to take our sins.  We were so underserving of that love but He did it anyway.  Through Jesus, God’s love brought us salvation and what an amazing gift of love that was!  

Love is expressed in so many different forms and in many ways.  You can love your children, your spouse, your parents, and your friends but God expects us to also love our enemies.  Now that can be a hard one. There are two reasons we should love our enemies. One is simply because God said to, but the other is because God loved us first.

“We love because God first loved us.”

1 John 4:19

Every day in my prayers I try to end with “show me today Lord where I have the opportunity to love and encourage others.”  Everyone has a cross to bear, sometimes many crosses in their life, and a simple hug, smile or encouraging word can make such a difference in someone’s day.  Be intentional about spreading the love to others that our Lord has given us. Here’s a prayer to get us started.

Dear Lord, we come to you today with open hearts.  Thank you for being such a loving, gracious God.  Thank you for loving us enough to send your son to die for us.  That was the ultimate gift of love.  It is perfect, it never fails, and nothing can separate us from that love. We pray you gift us with the overflowing power of your love to make a difference in this world and to bring honor to you in everything we do.  Help us to love others as you love us.  Help us to see our enemies through your eyes Lord.  Thank you for equipping us to face each day with your love, your forgiveness and your grace. We love you Lord. In Jesus’ loving name, Amen.

Let Him Who Is Without Sin

by Noah Siak

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

proverbs 15:1

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is Jesus’ kindness toward the adulterous woman in John 8. When the Pharisees bring a woman into the temple who had just committed adultery, Jesus has a simple response: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone.” The Pharisees, stumped by this, all file out one by one. Jesus, being the only one remaining says “neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more.” 

What Jesus shows us here is an immeasurable amount of gentleness and grace toward the adulterous woman. Because he was the perfect Son of God, he alone could condemn this woman – but instead, He was gentle with His words and told her to no longer sin. 

Jesus sets an amazing example of what it means to be gentle towards others. As He was gentle toward the adulterous woman, we are to be gentle toward the people around us. As you start your day, I encourage you to pray this with me:

Jesus, I am so thankful for the gentleness you have shown me time and time again. Whether that be through calling me out of sin through your Spirit, or by encouraging me through your word – I can’t thank you enough. As I go on with my day, I want to grow in the fruit of gentleness. Would you be with me as I walk with You? Would You help me to show gentleness to those I may come across? Would you give me the courage to speak truth in love and to encourage my friends, family, and coworkers? And specifically, would you help me be gentle toward ___________? (Who is someone you struggle to be gentle toward?) Thank you for using me. I’m not worthy – but You are. Amen