February 15, 2016
Happy Monday Princesses,
This week marks the end of session two, Living Beyond Yourself, Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit. Where did the time go? The last several weeks have been a journey of trust, faith and letting Jesus take the wheel. We ended session one with a discussion about the Holy Spirit and began this session with learning how to stay lock and step with the Holy Spirit. In fact, when we started our conversation about what it meant to live beyond, many of us had questions about the characteristics of the fruit of the spirit (i.e., Is it fruits or fruit? How can one experience a spirit-filled life?) I think it is pretty safe to state that each week the answer to our questions were slowly revealed with each new characteristic of the Fruit of the Spirit.
"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
This week, we are continuing to look at the characteristic of Self-Control. Specifically, we will fine tune into the ninth characteristic, discuss the symbolism and look at how self control links to Proverbs 25:28 (remember the word "walls").
Let's open with a short prayer:
Proverbs 25:28 -"THOSE WALLS"
To recap from last week, take a look at the following question and equation:
Egkrateia or Akrasia?
Where do you sit on the scale of self-control? Are you "egkrateia" or "akrasia" or a little of both at times? Did you take some time last week to review the areas of your life and to rate yourself using the "egkrateia" or "akrasia" scale? Thought I wouldn't remember to ask. What bubbled to the top?
In case you forgot the meaning of the two above Greek terms related to self control, "egkrateia" meams "continence, temperance, restraining passions and appetites". The opposite of "egkrateia" is "akrasia" which means "excess or self-indulgence".
Self-Control = Protection
Proverbs 25:28 describes the lack of self-control in this way,"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lack self-control". History reveals that walls served as a fortification used to protect a city, town or other settlement from potential aggressors. Beyond their defensive utility, many walls also had important symbolic functions – representing the status of the communities they embraced.
With this backdrop, let's move into:
Self- Control: Our Fortress Of Defense and Symbolism
Just a few paragraphs earlier I noted the history of walls (protection and symbolism – representing the status of the communities they embraced). Using the historical context of walls (both protection and status) in relation to the biblical context consider the following:
God has always had a dwelling place in the midst of His people. At first it was the Garden, then it was the Tabernacle, and later in the Old Testament period it was in the Temple. In the gospels, God dwelt (literally “tabernacled”) among His people in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14)
Now, in the age of the church, God dwells in the Church. As Christians, we are the Church. God’s presence dwells in us through the Holy Spirit. Paul said that we are “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). He said that we are joined together as the church and we grow “into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21). In Jesus we are “being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (v. 22).
Because the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we are a temple. Similar to the temple, God desires that we have walls of protection to guard against aggressors, but the walls also signify the value of who and what we are, children of God.
Our symbolic wall of protection is Self-Control. It fortifies us, invites and enhances the Holy Spirit and secures our freedom to live beyond ourselves through the Fruit of the Spirit. Walking within the boundaries of victory is self-control; a decision we must make daily. (We will discuss this more next week- see below.)
Do you have any areas of your life (big or small) that seem out of control? If so, inspect your walls. The enemy prowls consistently looking for a breach in the wall to play havoc on your life and hold you captive. Be aggressive about protecting your wall, fierce around your boundaries. After all, we are God's temple, important and valued. Remember, anything of value has to be protected!
Here are some lessons from Nehemiah 2:12- 20 in the area of protecting our walls. In this passage Nehemiah received permission to travel to Jerusalem. While there, God placed on his heart to rebuild the city walls.
See the areas in red for the steps and blue for additional commentary:
12 I set out during the night with a few others (enlist a few accountability partners). I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.
13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal[a] Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls (conduct a self-examination; are there any areas that are out of control in your life?) of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire.14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace (after your examination, go to God in prayer with your areas of self-indulgence).” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding (practice gentleness, don't put it off and be diligent about rebuilding).” So they began this good work.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”
20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding (give it God and continue to go to Him with your areas of indulgence. Remember, God knows our needs and vulnerabilities- he will remain faithful to us), but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”
Whew, the steps outlined in Nehemiah provide a symbolic fortitude for our ninth characteristic. In fact, there's still more as self control is also about:
Can you relate? So many more areas to discuss. Wow! Who knew that this little two-lettered word could have so many nooks and crannies. I wish I had more character space to continue, but we will pull off the road for now as there is much to mediate upon.
Next week we will put all of the characteristics together and outline the steps for walking in victory utilizing the Fruit of the Spirit for a full re-cap. Are you feeling excited?
Princesses, one final thought and prayer about Self-control. Replace the word "you/your" with "I am/my" or your name "___ is /her".
Thank you Lord for your gift of self-control. Thank you for your love and faithfulness.
Know that through the Holy Spirit you can:
• do things you couldn't;
• feel things you didn't; and
• know things you wouldn't.
For your praise and worship:
All I Need - (B. Wilson)
Lose Myself - (T. Mac)
Jesus Be A Fence Around Me - (F. Hammond and RFC)
Please bring the following: The Shape of Things, The Best Test and A Gentle Giant. We will review these items at the beginning of our meeting.Our last meeting for Session 2 will be Tuesday, February 16, 2016- Stark County Library, 2nd FloorMeeting Room (Main Campus). Look for Session 3 in March/April 2016.Remember to keep practicing our memory verse in sign language. Galatians 5:22-23- Fruit of the Spirit (verse withsign language) (est. 6:22) Spread the word and invite someone to Session 3 (coming March/April 2016) as we continue our conversation and study about life in the Holy Spirit.
Remember, each day is an opportunity for us to...
Lead, Serve, GO!
Each day we have an opportunity to be the light and salt God has called us to be to others. Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)