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Daily devotional

September 25 – The fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness

But the fruit of the Spirit is…faithfulness. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Lamentations 3:22-23; Hebrews 6:13-20 We live in a world of broken promises. But thanks be to God we belong to a promise-keeping God Who is always faithful to His covenant promises to us in Christ (Hebrews 6:13-20). And if you trust in Christ, God has promised you that He is your God and that He will never leave you nor forsake you, but will pardon all of your sins forever, protect you from all of your enemies, and provide richly for you in Christ in this life and the life to come. He is unswervingly You will see this with your own eyes when Christ returns. But now, we walk by faith in God’s Word. His Word is absolutely honest and utterly dependable. How should we live in light of God’s faithfulness to us in Christ? In gratitude for God’s steadfast love and faithfulness we walk by the Spirit in faithfulness. Faithfulness includes being loyal, honest and dependable. It means, following through on your commitments, letting your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No” be “No.” Where have you been flaky? In what relationships have you been a fair-weather friend? Where have you been dishonest? What commitments is God calling on you to follow through? Where you have failed, confess your sins and walk in faithfulness. God is faithful to forgive and to sanctify you by His Spirit (1 John 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Suggestions for prayer Sing and meditate on the words of the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” or “How Firm a Foundation.” Pray that God would produce the fruit of Christ-like faithfulness in you by the Spirit. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 24 – The fruit of the Spirit is kindness and goodness

But the fruit of the Spirit is…kindness, goodness. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:4-8 Kindness and goodness are often used interchangeably in the Bible. We’ll consider them together. Kindness and goodness flow out of patience. Kindness and goodness are the positive manifestations of patience. In the words of Gordon Fee, “The Spirit not only empowers us to endure the hostility or unkindness of others; He also enables us to show kindness to them, actively to pursue their good. If longsuffering means not to “chew someone’s head off” (see Gal. 5:15), kindness means to find ways of binding up their wounds.” This is motivated by the fact that God not only withholds wrath from us, but also shows eternal kindness and goodness towards us in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-7). Jerry Bridges describes kindness as, “a sincere desire for the happiness of others; goodness is the activity calculated to advance that happiness.” How can you show kindness and goodness to those in your home? At church? At work? In your neighborhood? To your enemies? “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). If you are weary of doing good, remember God’s kindness and goodness to you in Christ. In Christ, God’s kindness and goodness toward you are saving, merciful, life-transforming, generous and eternal (Titus 3:4-7). If God has been so kind and good to us in Christ, let us walk by the Spirit in Christ-like kindness and goodness toward others. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit would make you sensitive to the opportunities in your family, church and society to show kindness and goodness. Pray for the Spirit to enable you to walk in those good works, “which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.  ...

Daily devotional

September 23 – The fruit of the Spirit is patience: long-tempered

Love is patient…it is not irritable… – 1 Corinthians 13:4,7 But the fruit of the Spirit is…patience. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Exodus 34:5-7; James 1:19-21 Here we might describe patience as being long-tempered. We have the word short-tempered in our dictionary, but interestingly you won’t find the word long-tempered. And that’s probably because being long-tempered is so rare. We are all too easily provoked. We are all too easily quick to anger. We tend to be irritable. We need to be long-tempered by the Spirit. Jerry Bridges put it this way, “This kind of patience does not ignore provocations of others; it simply seeks to respond to them in a godly manner. It enables us to control our tempers when we are provoked and to seek to deal with the person and his provocation in a way that tends to heal relationships rather than aggravate problems. It seeks the ultimate good of the other individual rather than the immediate satisfaction of our own aroused emotions.” The opposite of these things is to be short-tempered, quick to anger, to blow up or clam up. How do we begin to walk in patience? We begin by asking, “What am I defending in my anger? Is it something good or is it my own selfish agenda or ego?” If I’m defending something good, I then ask, “Where and how am I directing my anger? Am I attacking the person to tear down or the problem in a mercifully constructive way?” If love is patient then we could say, “Beloved, if God , we also ought to ” (1 John 4:11). Suggestions for prayer Who is God asking you to be more patient with this week? In what circumstances are you irritable? Pray that the Spirit would remind you of God’s patience in Christ towards you and produce the fruit of patience in your life. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 22 – The fruit of the Spirit is patience: long-suffering

Love is patient… Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things… – 1 Corinthians 13:4,7 But the fruit of the Spirit is…patience. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:13-25 One form of patience is to be long-suffering. Jerry Bridges says long-suffering is: “the ability to suffer a long time under the mistreatment of others without growing resentful or bitter. The occasions for exercising this quality are numerous; they vary from seemingly innocent practical jokes all the way to malicious wrongs. They include ridicule, scorn, insults, and undeserved rebukes, as well as outright persecution. The Christian who is the victim of office politics or organizational power plays must react with long-suffering. The believing husband or wife who is rejected or mistreated by an unbelieving spouse needs this kind of patience.” This doesn’t come easy. Again, we find both the pattern and the power to be a long-suffering people as we behold the long-suffering of Christ in the Gospel (1 Peter 2:21-25). The person who is patient under mistreatment by others is the person who is thankful for the long-suffering of Christ in our salvation and who, by the Spirit, is being conformed into His image. As we look to Christ in the Gospel, the Spirit produces Christ-like confidence in the wisdom, power, justice and steadfast love and faithfulness of God so that we are able to entrust our circumstances into His hands. Whatever sufferings we go through, we trust that God has a good purpose behind it (Romans 8:28-30). Whatever injustice we suffer, we know that one day God will right every wrong and wipe away all tears from our eyes (Romans 12:19; Revelation 21:4). Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will give you the immeasurable power of the Spirit to be long-suffering under mistreatment by others. Pray for God’s mercy and strength for the persecuted church. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 21 – The fruit of the Spirit is peace: peace with others

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God…Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Matthew 5:9 Scripture reading: Isaiah 9:6-7; Ephesians 4:1-7; 4:25-5:2 Don’t you long for world peace? The good news is that we have this hope in Christ, Who will come again to usher in an eternal age of peace (Isaiah 9:6-7; John 16:33). But to experience that everlasting peace you must first know peace with God, as we saw Saturday. As we grow in our assurance of the peace we have with God, we grow in peace within. From that gospel foundation in Christ, we are empowered by the Spirit to be peacemakers in this world, a central call of discipleship in Christ (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:17-21; Ephesians 4:1-7; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 3:10-11; James 3:17-18; 2 Corinthians 13:11, and more!). Being a peacemaker is not easy. As Ken Sande has put it, we tend to be peace-breakers or peace-fakers. How can we grow as peacemakers? In order to grow in peacemaking, we must grow in patience with others, in love and humility towards others, gentleness in speech, confessing our sins to others, forgiving others and more. The pattern and power for these things are found in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Remember how great your sins are, how you deserve God’s wrath, but you have peace with God through the precious blood of Christ. Rest in perfect peace with God in Christ. In gratitude, walk by the Spirit in patience, love, humility and gentleness, confessing your sins and forgiving others, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-5:2). Suggestions for prayer Confess your sins against others to God. Pray for the strength to seek forgiveness from them. Pray for the strength to forgive others who have sinned against you and to strive for reconciliation. Look forward to the day of perfect peace when Christ returns. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 20 – Let us hold fast our hope

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:23 Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:19-25 We live in a world of suffering and pain. We sometimes want to throw in the towel and quit. We cry out, “How long, O LORD?” We say with the preacher of Ecclesiastes, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Life is like a breath. Sometimes the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. There is a bentness and brokenness to this life under the sun. But the preacher of Hebrews exhorts us, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.” Why? “For he who promised is faithful.” It is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). God promises us unfading glory in a new creation where we will see Christ face to face and be like Him (1 Peter 1:3-9; 1 John 1:9). He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death will be no more, neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore. Nothing will be accursed (Revelation 21:1-4; 22:3). Righteousness dwells there (2 Peter 3:13). We will know perfect peace, eternal joy and consummate love for God and each other forever. The sufferings of this age aren’t even worth comparing with the glory that awaits us (Romans 8:18). These promises have been sealed with the precious blood of Christ! (Romans 8:32). And so, as we draw near to God in worship today, let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit would sustain and strengthen the hope of God’s people in Christ as they gather for worship today and hear God’s Word proclaimed. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 19 – The fruit of the Spirit is peace: peace with God and peace within

Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… – Romans 5:1 But the fruit of the Spirit is…peace. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Romans 5:1-11; Philippians 4:4-9 Peace within and peace with others flows out of our peace with God. Apart from Christ, our biggest problem is that we are under God’s just condemnation and almighty wrath (John 3:16-18, 36). God is at enmity with you and me (e.g. Psalm 5:4-6; 7:12-13). That’s the bad news. But the good news is that if you repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God forgives you and declares peace to you in Christ (Galatians 1:3-5). For those who believe, Christ bore the wrath of God on the cross in our place, fully satisfying God’s justice. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins…” (1 John 1:9). If we have faith in Christ we have peace and reconciliation with God (Romans 5:1, 9-11). We need not fear His wrath, for as John Newton once put it, “justice smiles and asks no more.” This glorious declaration of peace with God in Christ is the ground of our peace within. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Through the promises of God’s peace in Christ and through prayer, the Spirit produces the fruit of inner peace. “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5-7; see also John 14:26-27). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit would assure you of the promise of peace with God in Christ and grant you inner peace because of it. Sing the great hymn of the faith, “It Is Well with My Soul/When Peace Like a River.” Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 18 - The fruit of the Spirit is joy: the joy of glorification

But the fruit of the Spirit is…joy. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: John 16:20-24; 1 Peter 1:3-9 As we saw yesterday, Christian joy is rooted in the forgiveness of sins in Christ. Christ was, “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Even more, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 4:25-5:2). Christian joy is also rooted in the glories of the age to come which cannot perish, be defiled, or fade away (1 Peter 1:3-9). There is nothing wrong with rejoicing in blessings such as a wedding, the birth of a child, a new job, a Mozart symphony, etc. But ultimately our joy is in the glory that awaits us. Jesus said, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). The joy of the age to come will far outweigh the sufferings of this present evil age (2 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 8:18). We are able to endure the sufferings of this age because the Spirit dwells within us and gives us a foretaste of the joy of the new heavens and earth, promised in God’s Word (Revelation 19:6-8; 21:1-4). The sufferings of this age are like the pains of a woman in labor. At times the pain is intense. But as a woman endures for the joy that awaits when the baby is born, so too we press on for the joy that awaits us when Christ returns (John 16:20-22). Suggestions for prayer Pray Ephesians 1:3-14 and rejoice that you have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Rejoice that it’s a gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 17 – The fruit of the Spirit is joy: the joy of justification

But the fruit of the Spirit is…joy. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Psalm 32; Philippians 4:4 Sadly, too often, Christians lack joy in their life. But the Apostle Paul exhorts us, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). As Christians, joy ought to be a characteristic of our life. Others should know of our joy in the Lord. Jesus said that one of the reasons that He came is so that His joy may be in us and so that our joy may be full (John 15:11). But what is Christian joy? Joy is not so much happiness or elation that is rooted in temporary pleasures or present circumstances in this world. Rather, Christian joy is rooted in the good news of the Gospel. Paul doesn’t simply say, “Rejoice!” or “Rejoice in your circumstances!” Rather, he says, “Rejoice IN THE LORD.” The Spirit produces the fruit of joy in our lives when we prayerfully meditate on the joy of the complete forgiveness of all of our sins in Christ. “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered…Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity…Be glad IN THE LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:1-2, 11). Our justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone is the ground of our joy in the Lord. Even more, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2). Tomorrow, we’ll consider how the Spirit gives us joy in the hope of glory. Suggestions for prayer Rejoice that you are forgiven of all your sins in Christ and are clothed in His righteousness through faith alone as a gift of grace! Sing Psalm 32 if you have a Psalter. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 16 – The fruit of the Spirit is love: the test of love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:15-20; 3:14-21 Sometimes we have a counterfeit love. This is where we love others not for their intrinsic dignity and worth, but for how they make us feel or what we can get from them. As we saw yesterday, love is sacrificial and selfless, patterned after the cross of Christ. But love doesn’t come easy to us because bearing a cross isn’t easy and our sinful nature wants to turn us in on ourselves. Some people are also difficult to love. But when love doesn’t come easy, it tests our love. Do we really love as Christ loved us? Do we love this person, even when it’s difficult, or do we only love them when they make us feel good or we get something from them? There are times where relationships can be so extremely harmful that we need to remove ourselves from them. But in most relationships our tendency is to bail too soon, right when the opportunity to truly love arises. Martin Luther put it this way: "Whenever you are angry with your brother for any cause, repress your violent emotions through the Spirit. Bear with his weakness and love him. He does not cease to be your neighbour or brother because he offended you. On the contrary, he now more than ever before requires your loving attention." Where do we find the strength to love when it’s difficult? As we saw yesterday, it’s a fruit of the Spirit produced in us through prayer and meditation on the cross. Suggestions for prayer Sing and meditate on the words of the great hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Pray for the Spirit’s immeasurable strength to love others, even when it’s difficult (Ephesians 1:15-20; 3:14-21). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 15 – The fruit of the Spirit is love: the pattern and power of love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: 1 John 3:16-18; 4:9-11, 19 What is love? God is the source of love (1 John 4:7-8). If we want to know what love is, we must look to God as He has revealed His love in His Word, supremely in the Word made flesh. Jesus is love incarnate. When we look to Jesus, we discover that love is not simply an emotion, a warm fuzzy feeling that you have for another person. Rather, love is sacrificial and selfless. It gives to another (John 3:16), even to one’s enemies (Romans 5:6-8). We see this supremely displayed in the cross: “By this we know love, that he laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” Here we see that the cross gives us both the pattern and power to love. Love is defined by the cross (“by this we know love”).  The Spirit uses the preaching of the cross to empower us to love (“and we ought to lay down our lives”; also 1 John 4:9-11, 19). No doubt love involves our emotions. But at the center of love is sacrifice and selflessness. In the words of John Stott, “Christian love is not the victim of our emotions but the servant of our will.” Loving others isn’t always easy (Galatians 5:17). We need the Spirit to produce the fruit of love in us. He does it as we behold the love of Christ proclaimed in the Word and sacraments and pray for the fruit of love. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will empower you by the Spirit to love others as Christ first loved you and gave Himself for you. Pray for the Spirit’s strength to love others not for what you get from them, but rather, self-sacrificially. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 14 – The fruit of the Spirit is love: love for one another

But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: 1 John 4:7-11; 5:1-3 We’ve begun to see that love for God and love for each other are intimately connected. To say you love God, while you hate your brother/sister in Christ or your neighbour, is a contradiction. Love for God is obeying His commands. And He has commanded you to love your neighbour. Therefore, to hate your neighbour is also to hate God, in whose image he/she was created, and Who commands you to love him/her. In the words of Jerry Bridges: “We cannot love God without loving one another. To recognize that there is someone I do not love is to say to God, ‘I do not love you enough to love that person.’ This is not to deny the reality of spiritual struggle in loving a particular person, because it often exists. I am referring to the attitude of not even wanting to love the person, of being content to allow a lack of love for someone who resides in my heart unchecked and unchallenged.” Thankfully, the Holy Spirit has been given to us to challenge our loveless hearts. Those who truly have faith in Christ have been born of God and have the Holy Spirit reproducing the character of Christ from within so that they more and more love others from the heart in word and deed. As we’ve seen previously, this was promised long ago, that God would give us His Spirit to cause us to walk in His ways and be careful to obey His commands (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Suggestions for prayer Is there someone you struggle to love? Pray for the Spirit’s strength to love that person. Remember the sacrificial love of Christ for you, while you were a sinner and deserved God’s wrath (1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:6-8). There is no greater love! Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 13 – Let us draw near in full assurance of faith

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. – Hebrews 10:22 Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:19-25 Based on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His continued work as our Great High Priest, we are exhorted to draw near to God. How should we draw near to God in Christ? “Let us draw near with a true heart.” We are to approach God in worship with sincerity and with right affections for God. Let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t feel like going to church. But let us nevertheless draw near to God with a true heart, even admitting to God that our hearts aren’t where they should be, and asking Him to help us worship Him with a true heart. Often if we are faithful to attend, even when we don’t feel like it, God changes our heart in the process. And “Let us draw near…in full assurance of faith.” Some of you may struggle with the assurance of God’s promises which prevents you from going to worship or from joy and confidence in worship. Let me assure you as a Minister of God’s Word, that if you trust in Christ alone for your salvation, then God forgives you, loves you, and welcomes you in His presence in worship. And so, worship God in the full assurance of faith because of Christ’s once for all sacrifice on the cross and because He ever lives to make intercession for you at God’s right hand. In Christ, we draw near to God, “with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit would assure you and other worshippers of the promises of God in Christ so that all would draw near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 12 – The fruit of the Spirit is love: the necessity of love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love… – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Matthew 22:34-40; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Love is central to the Christian life. Without it, we are a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal. Without it our gifts add up to nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Jesus summarized our entire duty to God and neighbour in the law, as love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus says that love for one another is evidence that one is His disciple (John 15:8-12). After listing several virtues, Paul says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). Indeed, it’s probably not a coincidence that Paul mentions love first in the list of the fruit of the Spirit. John writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” He goes on to say, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:7-8; 5:1-3). Today we see the necessity of love and that love for God and neighbour are intimately connected. Beloved in Christ, let us love one another by the Spirit! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Spirit’s strength to love God more by keeping His commandments in gratitude for God’s grace (1 John 4:19; 5:3). Pray that God will help you by His Spirit to love others, especially brothers and sisters in Christ, and even your enemies. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 11 – The fruit of the Spirit: general observations

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…patience, kindness…1 Corinthians 13:4, 6 Love is patient and kind…rejoices. – Galatians 5:22 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Before we look at each aspect of the fruit that Paul mentions, it’s worth noting a few general observations. First, it is important to note that it is all one fruit. Paul doesn’t refer to his list as the fruits of the Spirit (plural), as if they are distinct from one another and you can have one without the other. Rather, Paul speaks in the singular and refers to it all as the one “fruit of the Spirit.” As we move on to joy and peace and patience, we are in one sense still talking about love and vice versa. We can see the close connection of the fruit in 1 Corinthians 13 when Paul says that love IS patient (a fruit of the Spirit). Love IS kind (a fruit of the spirit). Love rejoices (joy is a fruit of the Spirit). We are talking about the one fruit of the Spirit when we talk about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are like different facets of one diamond that we behold from different angles. Second, like the list of the works of the flesh (see September 6), this is not an exhaustive list. There are more aspects to the fruit of the Spirit than the nine virtues that Paul mentions in Galatians 5. We certainly could add humility, compassion, forgiveness and other virtues that the Spirit produces in us. All these virtues grow together in us as the one fruit of the Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would produce more of the fruit of the Spirit in your life, conforming you to the image of Christ. Thank God that, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 10 – The fruit of the Spirit: produced in us

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5 Scripture reading: John 15:1-17 Yesterday we heard about Christ’s fruitfulness for us. Today we learn about Christ’s fruitfulness in us. We deserve to be judged for our unfruitfulness (the works of the flesh, Galatians 5:19-21). But thanks be to God that Christ bore the judgment in our place! (Galatians 3:13). When we repent and believe in Christ, God forgives all our sins and credits the fruitfulness of Christ to our account. Even more, we receive the promised Spirit from the moment we first believe (Galatians 3:14). And now, that same Spirit Who bore good fruit for the Father, in the ministry of Christ for us, bears His fruit in our lives as we abide in Christ through faith (John 15:1-5). You see the secret of bearing fruit in the Christian life is not a self-help manual. Nor is it looking to the law for the power to obey. The law cannot give you the power to obey. It can only give you guidance on how to truly love God in gratitude. Only the Spirit can produce His fruit in your life. You need an inward heart renewal, which is a blessing promised in the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). If you want more of the Spirit’s fruit in your life, you must be nourished by God’s Word and the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper). The Word and sacraments point you to Christ, and the Spirit uses these means to transform you into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Suggestions for prayer Meditate on Christ’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as revealed in the Word and sacraments. Pray that the Spirit will conform you more into His image and produce Christ-likeness in your life. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 9 – The fruit of the Spirit: Christ’s fruitfulness

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him… – Isaiah 11:1-2 Scripture reading: Isaiah 11:1-5; 27:6; 32:14-17 Yesterday we saw Israel’s unfruitfulness. Today we learn more about how Christ is True Israel, Who bears fruit pleasing to the Heavenly Father. In Isaiah 11, we find that One will arise from within Israel, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit” (v. 1). And He is fruitful because He is anointed with the Holy Spirit (vv. 2-5). The justice and righteousness that Israel failed to produce in Isaiah 5 would be produced in THIS faithful Servant. And not only righteousness, but also the fruit of faithfulness, peace, and joy (Isaiah 11:5; 32:17; 51:3; Galatians 5:22). And this True Israel would be so fruitful that one day the whole world would be filled with good fruit (Isaiah 27:6). This is because He will pour out His Spirit on His people (Isaiah 32:14-17; 44:2-4; 45:8). This is the work of Christ for us. He is fruitful so that we might be fruitful unto God. He was anointed with the Spirit at His baptism and God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” He bore fruit for God that was perfect, that yielded good wine, wine that has no blemish, no sour or bitter notes and has a perfect finish. And yet, He became like wild rotten grapes for us. Our unfruitfulness was imputed to Him. He was judged in our place, forsaken, so that we would never be forsaken by God. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the fruitfulness of Christ on your behalf. Rest and rejoice in the good news that God will never leave you nor forsake you because of Christ. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 8 – The fruit of the Spirit: Israel’s unfruitfulness

My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill…and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes…Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is… – Isaiah 5:1-2 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:22-23; Isaiah 5:1-7 Most Christians today are familiar with this passage on the fruit of the Spirit. But few are aware of the significance of this passage in light of the Old Testament. Just as there is an Old Testament background to what it means to “walk by the Spirit,” so too there is an Old Testament background to Paul’s language of “fruit of the Spirit.” In Isaiah 5:1-7 we see that God redeemed Israel as His beloved bride from slavery in Egypt. He mercifully rescued and married her when no one wanted her. He provided for her and protected her.  He gave Israel His law for how she was to live as His people in gratitude for her deliverance from Egypt. But when God looked at His vineyard, what did He see? Instead of good grapes they produced wild grapes that are of no use for wine, but only for producing vinegar. God was looking for the fruit of justice and righteousness, but instead, they produced bloodshed and an outcry. They were unfruitful. Thus, they came under God’s judgment. Israel is a microcosm of all of fallen humanity. Apart from Christ, none of us are any better. The works of the flesh taint our record. But the good news is that True Israel would one day come in the person and work of Christ and bear the fruit of the Spirit perfectly on behalf of His chosen bride, the church, made up of Jews and Gentiles who have faith in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that Jesus is the True Vine (John 15:1). Rest in His completed work on the cross for you. Abide in Him by faith and pray for the Spirit to unite you with Christ and His life-giving benefits more and more. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 7 – The works of the flesh

Now the works of the flesh are evident…I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19, 21 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:19-21 We’ll spend most of our time focusing on the fruit of the Spirit. But today we consider the works of the flesh. Paul says that “the works of the flesh are evident.” They are those actions that flow out of our “flesh” (sin nature) and its desires. Apart from God’s grace in Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we all gravitate towards these things. The sins Paul mentions don’t need much explanation. But it’s worth mentioning that this is not an exhaustive list, as Paul adds, “and things like these,” at the end of the list (v. 21). Other works of the flesh are mentioned elsewhere (e.g. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:3-6; Colossians 3:5-9). Paul mentions the sins that the particular church to which he is writing tends to struggle with the most. He also always warns them, “that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” It’s important to note that this does not mean that Christians never commit these sins and achieve sinless perfection in this life (Galatians 5:17). Rather, it means that Christians don’t walk in these sins habitually as a committed lifestyle. They also repent of these sins with genuine sorrow and hatred and turn from them more and more. Furthermore, they grow in a heartfelt desire to walk in righteousness and the Spirit produces in them His righteous fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). Suggestions for prayer Confess your sins to God, rest in the complete forgiveness of all your sins in Christ and ask for the Spirit to enable you to turn more and more from the works of the flesh and to walk in Christ-like love for God and neighbor. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 6 – Confidence to enter the holy places

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus…and since we have a great priest over the house of God… – Hebrews 10:19-21 Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:19-25 Today, as you worship God, remember that you have “confidence to enter the holy places.” Adam and Eve were expelled from God’s holy place in the Garden of Eden because of sin. God placed the cherubim with a flaming sword to bar anything unholy from entering. The only way back into God’s holy presence would be through judgment. This was impressed upon God’s people in the Old Testament in the tabernacle and temple, where cherubim were embroidered on the inner curtain that marked off God’s presence in the “most holy place.” No one could enter that most holy place except for the high priest, once a year on the Day of Atonement, where he offered a sacrifice for his sins and the sins of the people. How can we have confidence in worship if we have all sinned? Because Christ is our Great High Priest, He is true God and true man, Who always kept God’s law and offered up Himself as a once for all sacrifice for all our sins. He bore the judgment in our place on the cross and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. He rose again, ascended to heaven and now lives to make intercession for us at the Father’s right hand in the true temple. Through His precious blood, we have permanent open access to God’s holy presence (Hebrews 10:19-21). Therefore, worship God through faith in Christ, with confidence, and be thankful for Christ’s priestly work on your behalf. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and His continued priestly work on your behalf. Pray that you and other worshippers would “make a joyful noise to the LORD” and “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise!” (Psalm 100). Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 4 – Walk by the Spirit: a daily fight

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 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:16-18 We’ve seen that walking by the Spirit is an echo of Israel’s exodus and includes the following ideas: freedom in Christ from the curse of the law, strength by the Spirit to turn from sin and to walk in obedience to God, and being led by the Spirit according to God’s Word. At this point, the Christian life may sound easy. Indeed, we have heard much good news so far to strengthen us for the journey! But the journey is not without its struggles. Here we are reminded that if we are led by the Spirit there will be a daily fight within, between our sinful nature (“desires of the flesh”) and the Holy Spirit Who dwells within us. Do you ever feel like there are two of you? Do you ever do something sinful and think, “Why did I just do that? I hate that! I never want to do that again!” only to do it again. Know that you are not alone. This is the ordinary Christian life. It’s a fight, but it’s a good fight. It’s the good fight of the faith. As Christians, we have peace with God because we have been justified through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). But the peace we have with God in justification marks the beginning of the war on sin in our sanctification. Thanks be to God that the Spirit Who raised Christ from the dead dwells within us and will give us ultimate victory! (Romans 8:11; Philippians 1:6). Suggestions for prayer Confess your sins to God and be assured that He forgives you and accepts you in Christ (1 John 1:9; 2:1-2). Pray that the Spirit would govern you more and more in your thoughts, words and deeds for the glory of God and the good of others. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 3 – Walk by the Spirit: led by God’s word

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:22-2:3; 2 Timothy 3:14-17 So far we’ve seen that to walk by the Spirit means that we are free in Christ from the curse of the law and free in Christ to obey God’s law in the Spirit’s strength. To walk by the Spirit is to be led by the Spirit (v. 18), walking in His strength and following His guidance. But where does this strength and guidance come from? Does it just happen to us? No. Both the strength and guidance come by the Spirit through the means of grace, the Word and sacraments, and through prayer. We must pray for the Spirit’s strength to obey God’s law, revealed in the Spirit-inspired Word. We must pray for the Spirit to use God’s Word to expose the lies of the world, the flesh and the devil. And we must pray that the Spirit would conform us more into the image of Christ as we behold Him by faith in the Word and sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper). The Spirit ordinarily works through these means. To be led by the Spirit is to be led by God’s Word. To walk by the Spirit is to walk by God’s Word. The Spirit and the Word go hand in hand. Therefore, if we want to walk by the Spirit we must be a people of prayerful meditation on God’s Word. God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). Let us walk by the Spirit according to God’s Word! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His Spirit-inspired Word. Pray that the Spirit would draw you into God’s Word daily and especially in corporate worship on the Lord’s Day. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September 2 - Walk by the Spirit: led by the Spirit

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16 Scripture reading: Isaiah 63:11-14; Nehemiah 9:19-20 Yesterday we began to see how Paul has in mind the exodus of Israel when he exhorts us to “walk by the Spirit.” Israel’s freedom from Egypt foreshadowed our greater freedom in Christ from the curse of the law, the power of sin and the tyranny of the devil. Indeed, freedom in Christ is a key theme of Galatians (e.g. 2:4; 3:13; 4:5; 5:1, 13). This is why it is often referred to as “The Magna Carta of Christian Liberty.” But there is more to the story with Israel and with us. God didn’t just free the Israelites from bondage to Egypt only to leave them to themselves to roam wherever they wanted. Rather, once He liberated them He then led them by His Spirit (Isaiah 63:11-14; Nehemiah 9:19-20). So too, God liberates us in Christ and leads us by His Spirit as pilgrims in this world. In other words, we are not left to ourselves to fight against sin and the devil in our own strength. Rather, we have been given the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit Who enables us to walk in God’s ways (Ezekiel 36:25-27). This is what it means to walk by the Spirit. It means we are not only free in Christ from the curse of the law but we are also free in Christ to obey God’s law in the Spirit’s strength. Therefore, let us walk by the Spirit! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Pray for the Spirit’s strength to turn from the desires of the flesh more and more and to obey God’s law in gratitude for Christ. Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

September introduction: the Vine, and the fruits of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is not a coconut, as one children’s Sunday school song puts it. I’m sure you all know that! But it’s a fun song for memorizing the list of nine virtues that Paul mentions. You are probably also familiar with the topic of the fruit of the Spirit to some extent. But this month we’ll meditate more deeply on Galatians 5:16-25. We look forward to exploring some of the lesser-known Old Testament background on the fruit of the Spirit as well as the background to Paul’s exhortation to “walk by the Spirit.” We’ll also see how it connects with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Who is the True Vine and the Last Adam, Who has been raised from the dead and gives the promised Spirit of life to His people (John 15:1; 1 Corinthians 15:45). My prayer is that through this study we will come to better understand the Bible’s teaching on the fruit of the Spirit and marvel at the unity of the whole Bible on this topic. Even more, it is my prayer that we will actually grow in the fruit of the Spirit during this study; that we will be equipped to grow in maturity in Christ throughout the Christian life for the glory of God and the good of others. As Jesus put it, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Also, on Sundays throughout this month we’ll be meditating on Hebrews 10:19-25 and how it calls us to worship God. September 1 – Walk by the Spirit: freedom in Christ But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16   Scripture reading: Galatians 3:13-14; 4:4-7; 5:16-18 Why does Paul say walk by the Spirit? Why not, “live by the Spirit” or “seek the Spirit”? It’s because Paul pictures the great redemptive event of the Old Testament, namely the exodus. Remember that Israel was in bondage to Egypt and the Pharaoh. That bondage was a picture of our bondage to the curse of the law, the power of sin and the tyranny of the devil. As Paul says earlier in Galatians, “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed…Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods” (Galatians 3:23; 4:8). You see, Christ set us free from those things by being born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might no longer be slaves but sons (Galatians 4:4-7). Paul’s point is that when we look to Christ by faith, we are freed from the bondage of the curse of the law, justified in God’s sight and are adopted as God’s own dear children. And so, we have the greatest freedom of all in Christ that the exodus of Israel foreshadowed. What does this have to do with the exhortation to “walk by the Spirit”? We’ll answer that in tomorrow’s devotional. For now, rest and rejoice in the remarkable freedom that you have in Christ by grace alone through faith alone. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the freedom you have in Christ from the curse of the law, the power of sin, and the tyranny of the devil. You’ve gone from slavery to sonship, from wrath to riches! Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....