Friday, October 12, 2012



Last Sunday we wrapped up our series on the Fruit of the Spirit with a discussion about self-control. Throughout this series we have discussed the importance of understanding that these are the fruits of the Spirit living inside of you — not YOUR fruit.  We talked about how we have 3 votes for each decision we make…the Spirit, which is in line with God’s word, the flesh, which always votes against God’s word, and our soul, the deciding vote.   So it’s our soul we need to train to choose the things of God and let His Spirit flow through us to move us toward the Spirit in our decisions.  Titus 2:11 is one verse we have been focusing on in regard to this.   God’s grace erases our mistakes and at the same time teaches us to say no to ungodliness so we can experience all the blessings God wants us to have in our lives.


The Greek word for self-control (or temperance) throughout the New Testament is engkrateia — which means "virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites. In essence, what it means is that we allow the Spirit to have it's desires instead of the desires of our flesh.


When you break down the word engkrateia, you also find it is made of of two Greek words. The first is en, which means "in" and second is kratos, which means "power or strength."  Kratos is also the world used for democracy.  So, from a human standpoint, self-control is inner strength. But we know that God sees it as more than just will power. Your will can't withstand all temptations, but the Spirit can! To be successful your self-control cannot simply be self controlling self. It needs to be Spirit controlling self.


Acts 1:8 Jesus tells us that there is a power coming, in the Holy Spirit, when we are born-again. In Acts 2:38 we are told it is a gift that comes as part of salvation. You were unable to overcome certain dangerous temptations in your life before you were born again. But, because you now have the Spirit in you, you DO have the power to overcome ANY temptation.  You may not be tempted by sexual immorality or the love of money. But you may be tempted by the desires of your stomach. Whatever the temptation is, there is power inside of you to say "no" to it (Titus 2:11-13).   Self-control is basically about letting the soul decide to submit to the Spirit’s leading.  The power and all the self-control we need is inside us, but we have to pull on and receive God’s grace to access it.


We discussed the three steps to operating in self-control. 


1) Take responsibility for your own life, thoughts and actions. Stop blaming everyone else! The devil didn't make you do it. He can't make you do anything. He can make suggestions, but you choose. Exercise self-control and resist his suggestions. God chooses not to make you do anything either. He directs you to His truth, and you must choose to submit to it.  We also don’t want to exalt ourselves and think that because we avoid “big sins,” we have a lot of self-control.  If you don’t have a desire in an area, you are not exhibiting self-control.  Instead, we need to seek to submit more and more to the Spirit each day.


2) Permit the Spirit in us to do His work.


3) We must do all we CAN do to resist, and let the Spirit do what we can't. 1 Corinthians 10:13-14 (one of the most frequently misquoted scriptures in the Bible) says that God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can withstand. It does not say God will not put more on you that you can handle as is often stated. James 1:13-14 tells us God is NOT the tempter. He is promising us that there is no temptation that will come your way that, if you allow the Spirit in you to work, you can't resist.


The other part we should do is FLEE from sinful situations. Don't set yourself up for failure by going where you know you will be tempted, reading or looking at what you know will tempt you, or being around people who will lead you toward temptation. If you are trying to take better care of your body for God's glory, stop going to McDonald's for lunch. Flee those things. Give yourself a fighting chance!

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media. To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit


To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media. To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Goodness and Faithfulness

Last Sunday we talked about the "fruits" of goodness and faithfulness. Remember that these are the fruit of the Spirit. By all means, we should exhibit goodness and faithfulness to the best of our ability. But we also know that there is none good but God. What we talked about helped explain why that is the case.

We started at Psalm 23 where it says “Surely goodness and love (mercy) shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord all my life.”  Goodness and mercy have to follow us to clean up our messes and pick us up when we fall.  In the Old Testament, there are two Hebrew words generally that have been translated as goodness. The first is towb and the second is tuwb. In English, the only difference appears to be one letter. In fact, they are both very similar in defining goodness. The biggest difference is that towb defines the good things of this world while tuwb defines the same things, but in relation to God — or God's goodness. Towb can come and go, but tuwb is unchangeable.  In both cases, though, good means good.

In Romans 2: 4 and following, we see the results of goodness in our lives. God does not have a different definition of good than we do. Pain, loss and suffering are not good by God's standards. Something good may come in the end, but that is simply God redeeming the situation when we give it to Him.  This is towb, earthly goodness.  Sometimes it is consistent, but other times strange things happen. We looked at Joshua 23:14, where we find Joshua near the end of his life. Looking back, he is reminded and is reminding the people that God has ALWAYS been faithful and ALWAYS kept ALL His promises. God's faithfulness is what makes Him good.  This is the essence of tuwb.

No man is good because none of us has been 100% faithful. We have all said things that were not true or failed to do what we have promised. But God is always faithful to His Word. Faithfulness is not faithfulness if it is randomly applied. If God was not always faithful to His Word, He would not be faithful at all.  Sometimes we think that some people seem to have hit the lottery of God's goodness that we never seem to hit. But God's promises are not a randomly applied thing. Trust in Him and live by His principles and the promises will come to pass. There are a lot of things in us that keep us from fully trusting in His Word and many areas where we do not live by His principles. God’s grace should be continually teaching us to say no to ungodliness and YES to the His principles, more and more each day.  But He is always faithful and He is always good.

We also looked at the story in the book of Ruth. There are so many amazing pictures in this story that help us understand our relationship with God, through Christ. But what we focused on was that God was faithful to Naomi despite any mistakes her family had made. Her family left Bethlehem and traveled EAST to Moab during a famine (see previous messages for significance). Eventually, what was left of the family returned and found tremendous blessing.  Obedience to God does not guarantee you will not experience times of famine in your life. Disobedience also does not bring famine as a punishment from God. Famine is part of life in this world. What our level of obedience does is determine how hard the road through the famine will be (or IF and when and HOW we get through it).

While man is, himself, not good, we have the Spirit inside of us who is. If we pull on what is inside of us and allow Him to work through us, we can do truly good things. In our own strength we can do what seems good, but in the end can do more harm than good. The Spirit will always lead us to do what is truly good.

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media. To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit


To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media. To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit