Fruitful Living

Spirit Life

Pastor Deone Drake - July 2, 2017

Fruit is the evidence that you are connected to the Source of Life.


More From This Series

Forget Me Not

Pastor Jerry GillisPart 1 - Jun 11, 2017

A Father's Gifts

Pastor Deone Drake, Pastor Jonathan DrakePart 2 - Jun 18, 2017

Finding the Frequency

Pastor Jerry GillisPart 3 - Jun 25, 2017
Watching Now

Fruitful Living

Pastor Deone DrakePart 4 - Jul 2, 2017

Fountain and Fire of God

Pastor Jerry GillisPart 5 - Jul 9, 2017

Fulfilling the Mission

Pastor Jonathan DrakePart 6 - Jul 16, 2017

Review Questions

  • What is the difference between “managing” the flesh and walking in the Spirit?
  • Fruit is the evidence that you are connected to the Source of Life. What evidence is there in your life that you are connected to Jesus?
  • What does it look like for you to abide in Jesus? What action steps can you take to make this a daily, ongoing habit in your life?

Daily Readings


Transcript

I hope you know me well enough by now to know that I would never start off a message trying to get into an argument with anyone. But when it comes to computers, I'm a Mac guy. I always have been a Mac guy. Always will be a Mac guy. I just think it's superior operating system. I do. I went straight from a Sears electric typewriter to an Apple IIE. Apple IIEe was this big giant box with a monitor about the size of some of your smart phones. So I've used it ever since. And I cannot understand why anybody would use anything different.

That would be now, but that was even more true back in the late 80s. I was teaching full time at Christian Central Academy, and they wanted me to work on this big project. And it required me to learn how to operate an IBM, a non-Mac. That was bad enough, but back in the 80s, I had to learn not only how to use an IBM, but also had the use DOS. Thank you. Now I realize when I use that analogy because I tried it on some of people who are much younger than me, and then realized how old I was, some of the people that I was talking to didn't have any idea at all what DOS is. Maybe this picture will bring back some bad memories for some of you. A DOS, disk operating system, is learning how to type out commands so that your computer will listen to you. Why? When you have a Mac. Why? And I didn't understand it then, and I don't understand it now why anyone would choose to use, I'm sorry a vastly inferior operating system.

I still don't understand that in our spiritual life. Because there are two operating systems that you and I can live out our Christian life. One of those operating systems is called the flesh. To put us all on the same page and maybe to make this simple for us to wrap our our minds around, the flesh is the residue in us from who we used to be before we came to Christ. And it is that part of us that causes us to still incline or drift toward sin and away from God.

Using another analogy, you know that your car needs a front-end alignment when you let go of the steering wheel and it begins to drift off to the right or left. There is something in each one of us that causes us to drift off course. But I do not want you to misunderstand me. I'm not saying we don't have a responsibility in that. Because too often we place ourselves in an environment where it becomes very easy for us to listen to the voice of the flesh. We're responsible. And that's one operating system that we can live by.

The other operating system is the Spirit. The Spirit of God. We believe that when we embrace Jesus, that means to place the full weight of our confidence on what Jesus did in his death, burial and resurrection, we receive newness of life. Christ, through his Spirit, begins to dwell in us. He lives in us. We have received his very life.

Paul makes it clear in Romans 8:11. And if the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his spirit who lives in you. We believe that the Spirit of God living in you is going to make a difference. In fact, the testimony of the New Testament is that if the Spirit of Christ is living in you, how could that not make a difference? That's his intent.

Do you remember how Pastor Jerry started this series off with this big idea. It helps us get there. The Spirit is the active presence of God in the world that calls attention to Jesus. Well, God's Spirit, because of the new birth, now dwells in you. And God wants to use you to call attention to Jesus through your life, through my life. And that is a superior operating system because the Spirit calling attention to Jesus is vastly superior to anything that the flesh is going to call attention to.

And Paul wants us to see that clearly. And so what he does in Galatians 5 is he places right next to each other, lays them side-by-side, this is what the operating system of the flesh looks like, and this is the operating system of the Spirit. And he makes us look at both of them, so that you and I will draw the conclusion as children of God that this, walking in the Spirit is a superior operating system than walking in the flesh. It's a long passage of Scripture, but it's an important one. Galatians 5. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh, they're obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, and orgies and the like. And I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

As I said, that's a long passage of Scripture, but if there's one thing that I want you to understand that was very clear at the beginning of that passage, as the operating system of the flesh cannot coexist with the operating system of the Spirit, and and vice versa. They cannot coexist. They are not compatible operating systems.

Back to the computer analogy. There are programs and apps so that my Mac can communicate with your PC. In fact, there are programs and apps whereby my Mac can act like your PC. But when it comes to our spiritual life, there are no programs and there are no apps whereby the flesh can communicate with the Spirit and the Spirit can communicate with the flesh. So I need to make a choice. Which operating system am I going to live by? Because there are no ways for  both of those to exist together.

That's why the only way, as Paul said at the end of that verse, that you can live by the Spirit is to continually put the flesh to death. Now why do I say continually? Because as we all know the flesh, it's like Michael in those Halloween movies. You think he's dead. You think when you're done with Halloween one that he's dead. But he's not. There's Halloween two and three and four, and a Halloween the Resurrection. There's eight different movies. This guy just won't die. And as much as I want this flesh within me that causes me to veer off course, to die, it just won't die, and I need to keep putting it to death.

So I want to walk through some things this morning. It's not an intellectual exercise, but by the time we're done I want you to know and to decide that I am going to walk in the operating system of the Spirit. Here's the first. Letting the flesh have its way is a destructive dead end. Letting the flesh have its way, letting the flesh run wild is a destructive dead end.

Let's go back to verse 19 again in Galatians 5. The acts of the flesh are obvious: (when you see the flesh operating, it is obvious) sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. And I warn you, as I did before, that those who live this way will not inherit the kingdom of God.

It's quite a list. It's a nasty list. But all of us know people who have given their lives completely over to living like this. Sexual conquest, like the NBA basketball star who died maybe 10, 15 years ago who claimed in his lifetime that he had been in bed with 20,000 women. Or like the lady who's on this Jerry Springer type of show who was parading five men on that show, claiming that one of those five is the father of her child. And after the paternity test is done, not one of those five is the father, which means that she was with at least six men at the time this precious child was conceived.

Or he talks about idolatry. We know people who are completely given over to chasing after things, thinking that those things will satisfy. But they won't. He talks about these emotions, like anger and fits of rage and dissensions and divisions and jealousy. And we know people who are completely given over to the poison in their souls that seem to destroy every relationship they're in.

Drunkenness and orgies. We know people who are completely given over to this kind of life. They wear the label and almost proudly that they are party animals. And at some point, we pray they would grow up. That they would wake up. Or that they would get tired of living that way. Tired of chasing after things that don't satisfy. Tired of walking around with all this poison in their souls. Tired of waking up and not knowing what they did the night before or who they did it with. Tired of all the past sexual regrets.

Andy Stanley says it's so well. Nothing has stolen more dreams, dashed more hopes, broken up more families, and messed up more people psychologically than our propensity to disregard God's commands regarding sexual purity. It's a dead end. Living this way is a dead end. For some, it may very well be the impetus that brought you to Christ, and we're glad. But for those of us who know Jesus Christ right now, the Scripture wants to make it very clear to us that this is not the way we are to live our lives any longer.

Paul says it this way in Ephesians 4. So I tell you this and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life that you have learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

So this first point, living by the flesh is a destructive dead end. The Scripture makes it clear this is not how you and I are to live. But realizing that won't make it go away. It's still there. We realize that it cannot run our world. But how we defeat it is another matter. And I think, before I get to where we want to resolve this thing, there's a middle step that some choose to live their lives recognizing that this flesh will not go away, but not really understanding what it means to live by the Spirit. And so many believers choose this option.

Here's the second point. Trying to manage the flesh is just as much a dead end. Trying to manage the flesh is just as much a dead end.

Let's be honest. There's a whole lot of junk that can reside in our hearts that we would never want anyone to know about. We just wouldn't. But rather than coming to Christ and having that cleansed, we try to manage it. We try to suppress it. We try to beat it down. Because part of the flesh's strategy, even for believers, is to keep things respectable. And do you see that we can come into a place like this, all the while having this stuff reside in our hearts? But in here, we can look respectable, even though we've never done anything really to defeat the flesh? We can live respectable lives, and we can do that by managing the flesh, so that it does not come out at the wrong time and hurt our reputation. That's not the way God wants us to live.

But we do this in two different ways. Here's the first. Through sheer willpower. We try to manage the flesh through sheer willpower. I'm going to work harder. I'm going to try harder. Yeah I know I lost my temper last week but I'm just going to try harder. I can beat this thing. I can defeat this thing. I can do this by myself. But it doesn't work that way.

Using another analogy, our flesh is like that carnival game whack-a-mole. You got the hammer in your hand, and you got this little rodent popping up. And so you try to beat it down.  And it pops up there. And you try to beat it down, and it pops up here. And you never win the game because that stupid rodent won't go away. And that's what the flesh is. You keep on trying to beat it down. I'll live a respectable life. I'll defeat this on my own. I'll try harder next time. I promise I'll try harder. And you keep on trying to beat the flesh down and beat the flesh down, but it just doesn't work that way. And I don't know if you've ever played that game, but the similarity between trying to manage the flesh is so so accurate, because after playing that stupid game, I'm frustrated and I'm exhausted. I'm absolutely exhausted.

And I'm going to be honest with you. I think I've just described many lives in this place. That if you were to really allow people to know what's going on inside of you in regards to your spiritual life, you would say this. I'm just exhausted. I know what God expects of me. I know the way I'm supposed to live. But I'm exhausted trying to live that way. Why? Because you're trying to manage the flesh, and it cannot be managed.

I don't know, and theologians have debated ever since Paul wrote these words in Romans 7. I don't know under what circumstances he wrote these, but I'm telling you that every single one of us can identify with this. "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Has he just described your week or what? We're all like this. Every single one of us who try to manage the flesh end up saying this: Why do I keep on doing the very things that I hate to do? It just doesn't work, to try to manage the flesh through sheer willpower.

And so some will also use this second method: through legalism. I know where the line is. I know what God expects of me. And I'm going to try to manage the flesh by creating a bunch of rules so they stay far enough away from what the flesh can do to harm me. First of all, it's based on a wrong premise that you think the problem's outside of you rather than in your heart.

But legalism is creating all of these rules and putting enough space between myself and the things that my heart might be drawn to, with the intent that I won't have to worry about my heart running rampant. But it's a mistake. Legalism doesn't work. And it's one of those things that if it wasn't so tragic, it would be hilarious trying to live this way.

This situation actually happened to me. The line that I use in this event, I borrowed from someone else, but this actually happened to me. When I finally got my first real job, I was 19 years old, and I was still attending the small church that I went to. But I started working at a supermarket. Now, because and you all understand this, when you're low in in seniority, you get the crummy hours. And so I had to work on Sundays. Now I grew up in a church that might be a little legalistic. (Sarcasm.) It was very legalistic. And one of those things was protecting what they thought the Sabbath ought to be.

But I had to work on a Sunday afternoon. And I don't know what I was doing. I think I was stacking potatoes on the rack. And a guy from the church that I grew up in came down the aisle. And he just stopped and he stared at me. He just kept on staring. And I go, hi. And he just kept on staring. And I said, is there something wrong? He says, there sure is. I said, well what's wrong? He says, I can't believe a young man from our church is working on Sunday. I said, do you think it's a sin for me to be working here on Sunday? He says, I sure do. I said, well if it's a sin for me to be working here on Sunday, then it's a sin for you to be shopping here on Sunday. And to prove I'm smarter than you, I get paid for sinning and you sin for nothing.

As I said, if it weren't so tragic, it would be hilarious. This kind of mindset of legalism and all these rules, you can't live by that, because they're contradictory to what the Spirit of God intends. And it is just as exhausting and just as frustrating. If you want to hear Jesus frustrated, listen to him talk to Pharisees. And he wants to know, why is it that you will do everything you can to lift a donkey out of a ditch on the Sabbath, but you won't let me heal a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath?

And there are people within the sound of my voice who have grown up or spent significant part of their church life in a church that is legalistic, and you know exactly what I'm talking about when I say, it is plain exhausting. Because you're wondering, have I done something today to make God not like me? Is this the boundary? Is this the line? And it's no way to live.

Besides, there's a wrong premise. Here it is. You cannot you cannot defeat an internal problem with an external weapon. You cannot defeat the flesh with something on the outside. It's only the Spirit of God dwelling in you that can make this different.

And that leads to the third point. Walking in the spirit is what produces fruitful living. Walking in the Spirit produces fruitful living. So Paul gives this nasty list, the acts of the flesh. They're obvious. And then he changes gears with this one word - but. But the fruit of the Spirit. And you just do your own survey, and look at the acts of the flesh and compare them to the words love, joy, peace, forbearance, gentleness, goodness. Where in the world would you want your spiritual life to reside but in those things? Satan will try to get you to manage your life. That produces respectability, but respectability is not fruit. And life in the Spirit produces fruit.

I don't want this complicated. I would dread it if you would walk out of this room and not know what fruit is. So let me just give it to you as simple as I can. Fruit is the evidence that you are connected to the source of life. Fruit is the evidence that you are connected to the source of life.

My wife and I live in a home in a development that has woods in the back. The woods are on property that do not belong to us. And we've had to call the owners of that property several times in the seven years that we've lived there, because there are dead trees. And we don't want them falling on our house. We're funny that way. And so they've come and cut them down. But I need you to understand something very important. We did not know they were dead in the winter. Because there was nothing on those trees, but there wasn't anything on the other trees as well. And there was no way to compare and recognize this is alive, and this is dead, because they all looked dead. So we knew that they were dead in the summer when there are leaves all over the place in all the other trees, but there's nothing on this tree because it's dead.

Fruit is evidence that you are connected to a source of life. And what people will see when you are connected to the source of life is love, joy, peace, longsuffering.

And it's here where I think we make a fatal error. I think we make a fatal error when we see the fruit of the Spirit as a checklist. And it sounds like this. I'm really working on patience right now. I'm really working on love right now. I'm really working on self-control right now. But it's not a checklist. And I want you to see how utterly absurd that is.

Many of you probably like in the fall to go apple picking. And so, you go to this place, your favorite place, to get some apples. And you come up to a tree and you see it loaded with apples. And they're ripe for the picking, except for one branch. It has absolutely nothing on it. You do not say to that one branch, you really need to work harder next year to bear apples. You say to that branch, you're dead. You are disconnected from the source of life. That's why there's no apples on there.

And it's the same with our spiritual life. What he calls fruit is not a checklist. It is for me to see it as a signal when this is absent. When people do not see love, joy, peace, it's a signal that I am not properly connected to the source of life. Because the absence of fruit gives you away. It says there's something wrong with your connection to the source of life, who is the Spirit.

So I want to talk about what what the fruit of the Spirit is, and then how it happens. Here's what it is. The fruit of the Spirit is evidence that you are responding to the stimulus of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is evidence that you are responding to the stimulus of the Spirit.

Do you remember when you were in sociology class, may be a bad memory for you. And you learned about Pavlov's dog. And Pavlov's dog had a stimulus. It was a bell ringing. And when the bell rang, the meat would drop and the dog would begin to salivate. So much so, that he was conditioned that when he heard the bell rang, he began to salivate, even if he didn't see the meat drop.

And you might say to me, are you really serious? And you're really going to compare me to Pavlov's dog? Then you tell me why you react the very same way every single time someone cuts you off on the road? Why? That's the way the flesh operates. So there are some things that happen in our lives that are not pleasant. Someone cuts you off on the road. Someone screams at you. Something happens that you don't like at work. Something miserable happens to you at home. And you are in position to react.

Let me tell you something. The flesh screams for attention. The flesh will say, this situation right here, doesn't make you look good. You need to do something so that you look good. This right here doesn't make you feel good, does it? You need to do something right away to make yourself feel good. The flesh will say right now, you know what? This doesn't make you number one. You need to do something to make you number one. And if you respond to the flesh, you will bring  destruction in some way upon your life, even if the destruction is that people do not get a glimpse of Jesus.

But the Spirit of God also calls for attention. And when you listen to his voice, and you respond the way he desires, what people will see is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness. And that draws attention to Jesus. Do you see another reason why last week's message was so vital to your spiritual health and mine? Learning to listen to his voice and responding to the way he talks to you through Jesus in his word? And if you haven't watched that and you weren't here, you need to go back and you need to watch that. You need to listen to it, because we need to learn how to recognize his voice. Because let me tell you something. The flesh screams for attention. The Holy Spirit sometimes in that still small voice. But he wants your attention, and he wants you to listen, so that you know exactly what to do in that situation, because you've listened to his voice. And when you obey Him, when you respond the way he wants you to, people will see the fruit of the Spirit.

My spiritual formation depends on that. Because I know what comes out quickly. In fact, there are times when I am absolutely shocked by how quickly the flesh comes out. And so what I need to do, and I hope this is helpful, is what I need to do is I need to put space between that thing that happens to me and my response. I need to put space in between the event and response, so that I listen to the Spirit, and I know exactly what he wants me to do.

Now we don't, the world doesn't value people like that. We value people who are quick on their feet and able to make sharp and quick decisions right away. God doesn't. God values us putting space between the event, because God knows the flesh comes out. God wants us to put space between that event and our response, so that we've listened to him.

Here's proof. Psalm 4. Tremble and do not sin. Paul quotes this in Ephesians 4. So we could say when you are angry, do not sin. It's the same verse. When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. And then offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord. What's he saying? When you're angry, when you're ticked off, when you want to retaliate, when you want to do this. If you respond right away, I guarantee the flesh is going to come out, and it's going to cause a whole lot of damage. And you know it is, because it does! He says put enough space in it, put enough space in it, so that you have time to listen to the Spirit and then offer the sacrifices of righteousness.

How does that happen? Here's the second thing. The fruit of the Spirit is evidence you are abiding in Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is evidence you are abiding in Christ. This fruit that we're talking about, the fruit of the Spirit, bearing fruit, that's something that Jesus speaks into. In fact, in John 15, he says I want you to bear fruit. In fact, I want you to bear more fruit. In fact, I want to bear much fruit. In fact, I want you to bear fruit that lasts.

And then he tells us how that happens in John 15. See if you can see a word that pops out several times. I'm the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up. thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Did you hear the word about eight times? It is: remain. Abiding in Christ is the way that we bear fruit. It's not some rocket scientist. Jesus uses this term because the principle is true. The only way a branch can bear fruit is to stay connected to the vine. Abiding is learning to enjoy a barrier-free relationship with the presence of Jesus. And you and I ought to want that. Enjoying a barrier-free relationship in the presence of Jesus. And we pursue this, because we believe the presence of Jesus makes a difference.

Let me tell you first of all how that does not happen. What it does not look like. This that we're talking about right here, it's not throwing God a bone. And I use that because, it might be the propensity for some men to realize, you know what, I'm not really treating my wife very well or my family very well. I'm not really spending much time, and so once in a while I'll throw them a bone. Fancy dinner or a vacation. Just throwing them a bone. And some people can come into this place and say, that's exactly what I'm doing. I've really not spent any time at all this week with God. But today I'm throwing him a bone. That's not what this is. That is not what this is.

Or it might be that you might think, I'm coming to church to get my batteries recharged. I use that because we hear that. I'm coming to church to get my batteries... really? Is that what this has come to? Your spiritual life that you're using this place to get your batteries recharged? Now don't misunderstand me. When we come together, this ought to be an incredible hour where we spend time in the presence of God and the presence of his community. But the only way this can really be effective is when what we are doing collectively is exactly what we've been doing privately. That's what this is. Enjoying the presence of Jesus.

Let me show you what this looks like. Let me show you this picture. This is my wife. Last week, like I do every year, I go down to Liberty University. And I'm in the library the whole week long. And I'm just... it's a spiritual retreat for me. And my wife comes along. Now she's got her Bible open. She's got her journal. She's got a commentary alongside of her. And there she is. This is, when I come out of my study every single morning of my life, ever single morning, this is what I see in our morning room. My wife with her Bible open, a commentary, her journal, and she's spending time with God. You say well, if that's what she does in the morning, why didn't she take a picture of that instead of the library picture? Why didn't I take a picture of her in her pajamas without her makeup on? Simple reason. I want to be alive tomorrow. That's why I did that. Right?

But I need you to understand something very important. This is not a checklist for my wife. This is the air she breathes. This is how she enters into the presence of Jesus and how she stays in his presence the whole day. That's what this is.

Henry Scougal, a Puritan writer in the late 1600s, says this. The worth and excellence of a soul is to be measured by the object of His love. The true way to improve and ennoble our souls is by fixing our love on the divine perfections, that we may have them always before us, and derive our impression of them on ourselves.

You see, the different way between the flesh and the Spirit. If you say, you know what, right now I just don't feel really good about myself. The world would hand you some self esteem stuff. God's Spirit would say this. Fix your eyes and your love on Jesus. That's what God teaches us. To come into his presence.

Let me close this way. I think I'm speaking for almost everybody, if not everybody, when I say that I want my life to count. I want to make a difference in my life. But there really has been, and I believe this to be God's Spirit working in my heart, there really has been a difference in how I am going after this.

And a lot of this changed for me on the days following August 18, 2014. That was the day my granddaughter was born. And I began to look at legacy a whole lot different. And as I said, I really want my life to count, to make a difference. And the reason I talk about a change is because the way I have always saw that predominantly, that is I will make a difference in what I do, including what I'm doing now.

And I began to realize that legacy is very similar to the same wish that God has for me. And Jesus said it clearly in John 15. I want you to bear fruit that lasts. And here's the paradigm shift for me, and maybe for you, is this. Legacy - fruit that lasts - comes from being, not doing. The doing will take care of itself. But the fruit that lasts, it comes from being. Being in his presence.

So if the grand scheme of things is that you want your life to count, and you want to make a difference with your life, that has to start this week. That has to start today. I want my life to count today. I want my life to count this week. And if you're thinking the very precious people that are in your life, your wife, your husband, your family, your extended family, the people you work with, the people that you call friends. You want to make a difference in their lives. Here it is. Here it is, as simple as practical as I can make it. Be in his presence. Be in his presence.

And what's incredible about that is that he actually wants you there. He invites you into his presence, because he knows that that's what your soul needs. He knows that's what my soul needs. To be in his presence, where my whole life can be reoriented to the things of God, because I'm in his presence. And when I'm in his presence, and because I'm in his presence, you know what people are going to see? Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, self-control. Because I do not have the ability to make a difference in anyone's life. It is only when my life is completely surrendered to bringing attention to Jesus. And the only way I can do that is to be in his presence. So he's inviting you. Don't decline the invitation this week. Be in his presence, and watch to see what he does next. He'll change your life.

Let's pray. God, the invitation is clear. We know exactly where you want us. The flesh is going to come up with a whole lot of reasons why we don't need to be there. I can handle this on my own. I'm strong enough. I'm big enough. I can handle this. The flesh will come up with all sorts of reasons. Help us to push those aside and realize just how desperate we need to be in your presence. You've invited us.

Lord, we certainly can do something as practical as get up a half hour earlier. We can give up that one TV program. We can give up that one habit. We can give up that one thing that we think that we have to do, just to be in the presence of Jesus. Because quite honestly, the whole world, they need Jesus. They need our lives to draw attention to Jesus. And the only way that can happen is for us to be in your presence. I pray Lord, that through your Spirit, you would speak to us. And you would as you promise, draw us who believe in you, us to Jesus, by being in his presence. This we pray in Christ's name. Amen.

God bless you. You have a great day. Thank you.