Types of Spiritual Fruit
Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work.
What kind of fruit brings glory to God? Philippians 1:11 says, “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Righteousness, which is doing right, is the fruit God desires in our lives. When we do right, we glorify God; when we do wrong, we dishonor Him. Fruit is synonymous with righteousness.
There are two kinds of spiritual fruit: action fruit—which consists of giving, leading others to Christ, and expressing thanks to God—and attitude fruit. Galatians 5:22–23 describes attitude fruit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self–control.”
How do you get the right attitudes? Verse 25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” As you yield control of your life to the Holy Spirit, He will permeate your life and produce the proper fruit.
|February 20||The Measure of Grace|
“Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”
God will lavish grace upon sinners who are truly repentant.
Did you ever sin so terribly that you felt, I really blew it this time. There’s no way God would want to forgive me now? It’s easy sometimes to let our past sins be a constant burden to us, even after we’ve confessed and repented. Paul has comfort for those who feel this way, and that comfort is founded on the power and measure of God’s grace to us.
Before his conversion, Paul (then known as Saul) persecuted the church mercilessly (see Acts 8:3 and 9:1–2). He was “a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor” (1 Tim. 1:13; see also Gal. 1:13). If anyone could be beyond grace, it was Paul.
But God intervened and saved him (Acts 9:3–19). Why? “For this reason,” Paul says, “I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost [sinner], Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life” (1 Tim. 1:16). If God would forgive Paul, He will forgive anyone who will confess their sins and repent. If He would show abundant grace to a violent unbeliever, He will also shower grace upon His penitent children.
God is not stingy with grace. Paul celebrates God’s saving “grace, which He freely bestowed on us” (Eph 1:6), and “the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us” (vv. 7–8). Speaking of sustaining grace, Paul says, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Cor. 9:8). Notice the words Paul uses: “all grace,” “abound,” “all sufficiency,” “everything,” “abundance,” “every good deed.” God’s grace is inexhaustible and is given so freely that words cannot express it fully.
Great sins require great grace, but God will give super–abundant grace to those who seek forgiveness, for “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20). Don’t let your past sins weigh you down; learn to rest upon God’s super–abundant grace.
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to teach you to understand His grace more fully and help you forget “what lies behind” (Phil. 3:13).
For Further Study: Read Romans 6. What is Paul’s argument here? ✧ How are we to live now that we have received God’s grace?
Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
It is hardly a matter of wonder that the country that gave the world instant tea and instant coffee should be the one to give it instant Christianity…. And it cannot be denied that it was American Fundamentalism that brought instant Christianity to the gospel churches….
Instant Christianity tends to make the faith act terminal and so smothers the desire for spiritual advance. It fails to understand the true nature of the Christian life, which is not static but dynamic and expanding. It overlooks the fact that a new Christian is a living organism as certainly as a new baby is, and must have nourishment and exercise to assure normal growth. It does not consider that the act of faith in Christ sets up a personal relationship between two intelligent moral beings, God and the reconciled man, and no single encounter between God and a creature made in His image could ever be sufficient to establish an intimate friendship between them….
Instant Christianity is twentieth-century orthodoxy. I wonder whether the man who wrote Philippians 3:7-16 would recognize it as the faith for which he finally died. I am afraid he would not. TIC023-025
Lord, keep me from falling into the patterns of instant Christianity. I want to participate in an ever-changing, ever-expanding relationship with You. Amen. 
Hindrances to True Mourning: Presumption and Procrastination
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.—Matt. 5:4
We talked yesterday about two specific sins that hinder biblical mourning. Let’s consider two others today. The sin of presumption is actually a form of pride. Presumption is satisfied with cheap grace and expects God to forgive just a little bit because it sees so little to be forgiven. It leads us to think our sins are not really bad enough for us to confess them, repent of them, and forsake them. But Isaiah exhorts sinners as follows: “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:7). The kind of gospel (so popular today) that omits any need for repentance and mourning is a false, unscriptural gospel—or as Paul calls it, “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6).
Procrastination, as the term suggests, hinders true mourning simply by putting it off. We tend to think when things are better and the time is more convenient, we will ask God to cleanse and forgive our sins. But that is foolish and risky because “you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). If we do not deal with sin sooner rather than later, we can’t be sure God’s comfort will ever come.
The best and surest way to eliminate hindrances to mourning is to look, through prayer and the Word, to the holiness of God and Christ’s great atoning sacrifice for sins.
|Unlike some of our sins, these tend to be more subtle and soft-pedaled. But sins of all kinds are capable of blinding us to our utter dependence on God and His forgiveness. Ask Him to reveal to you any hidden sins, wanting to bring to the surface everything that dishonors Him.|
EVERY HINDRANCE REMOVED
Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
There are many legal and governmental reasons why lost men and women should not go to heaven!
It should not be difficult for us to acknowledge that a holy and righteous God must run His universe according to holy laws—and we do not belong there because we have broken every one of those holy laws in some way!
Therefore, there must be an effective redemption, a justification of some kind if we are to have God and He is to have us!
Thank God, it has been done!
The New Testament language is as plain as can be—in Christ through His death and resurrection, every legal hindrance has been met and satisfied: taken away! There is nothing that can keep us from assurance except our own selves.
Let us quit trying to think our way in, to reason our way in. The only way to get in is to believe Him with our hearts forevermore!
Yes, Lord, thank You so much for providing an “effective redemption” so that we may have unbroken fellowship with You—both now and for all eternity. Praise Your holy and righteous name!
|February 20||Pursuing Excellence|
“… so that you may approve the things that are excellent” (Phil. 1:10).
In a world of mediocrity and confusion, God calls you to excellence and discernment.
There’s the story of a pilot who came on the loudspeaker midflight and said, “I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is, we’ve lost all our instrumentation and don’t know where we are. The good news is, we have a strong tailwind and are making great time.” That’s an accurate picture of how many people live: they have no direction in life, but they’re getting there fast!
We as Christians are to be different because we have divine guidance and eternal goals. Our lives are to be marked by a confident trust in God and a pursuit of spiritual excellence.
“Excellent” in Philippians 1:10 speaks of things that are worthwhile and vital. “Approv[ing]” what is “excellent” refers to testing things as one would test a precious metal to determine its purity and value. It goes beyond knowing good from evil. It distinguishes between better and best. It involves thinking Biblically and focusing your time and energy on what really counts. It involves cultivating spiritual discipline and not being controlled by your emotions, whims, moods, or circumstances.
Many organizations and businesses have rightly adopted the motto “Commitment to Excellence” to convey their desire to provide the finest product or service possible. If secular-minded people strive for that level of achievement, how much more should Christians pursue excellence for the glory of God!
Look at your life. Is it filled with godly love, discernment, and the pursuit of excellence—or has worldly trivia crowded out those virtues?
Suggestions for Prayer: Read Isaiah 12:1–6 as a psalm of praise to the God of excellence. ✧ Ask God to give you a heart constantly set on pursuing excellence for His glory.
For Further Study: Daniel was a man who pursued excellence. Read Daniel 1:1–2:23. ✧ What was Daniel’s decision regarding the king’s food and wine, and how did he handle the situation? ✧ How did Daniel and his three friends compare in wisdom and understanding to the magicians and conjurers? ✧ What principles do you see in those two chapters that apply to your life?
STRICTER DISCIPLINE FOR GOD’S WILLING CHILDREN
No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness….
HEBREWS 12:1 1
If God has singled you out to be a special object of His grace you may expect Him to honor you with stricter discipline and greater suffering than less favored ones are called upon to endure.
If God sets out to make you an unusual Christian He is not likely to be as gentle as He is usually pictured by the popular teachers. A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the rude, unshapely marble to a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer and the chisel are cruel tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful.
To do His supreme work of grace within you He will take from your heart everything you love most. Every thing you trust in will go from you. Piles of ashes will lie where your most precious treasures used to be.
Thus you will learn what faith is; you will find out the hard way, but the only way open to you, that true faith lies in the will, that the joy unspeakable of which the apostle speaks is not itself faith but a slow-ripening fruit of faith. You will learn, too, that present spiritual joys may come and go as they will without altering your spiritual status or in any way affecting your position as a true child of the heavenly Father.
Then you will also learn, probably to your astonishment, that it is possible to live in all good conscience before God and men and still feel nothing of the “peace and joy” you hear talked about so much by immature Christians!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 63). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 59). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
 Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 63). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.