The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

*NOTE: Hey Mountain Goats! This is one part of a whole series about the Fruits of the Spirit. If you haven’t read the introduction post yet, you can do so here!

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

Proverbs 3:3-4

“Love” is a word thrown around a lot these days. We hear it in our songs. We hear it from our friends and family. We even use the word “love” to describe our morning coffee or favorite late-night dessert. 

It seems, with how much “love” we throw around, the world should be a very lovely place to live.

But it’s not. Not really.

Wars are being waged, crimes are being committed, even within the Christian community hate is continually being spewed and spread, infecting minds and slandering God’s good name.

It’s almost as if we have forgotten what “love” really means… or did we even understand it’s meaning to begin with?

Love is a Four Letter Word

What comes to mind when asked to define what “love” means to you?

Do you define it by items or acts? By feelings or sacrifices? Can “love” even be truly defined by modern words, as some would say “I love you more than words could ever express!”

The Oxford dictionary defines it as “an intense feeling of deep affection; A great interest or pleasure in something; A feeling of deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone/thing.”

These definitions are a perfect example of where society has strayed from the true and honest meaning of the word.

The true definition of “love” is defined for us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

A truer definition of love has never been written or spoken, at least not one I’ve ever seen. Love isn’t just an intense feeling. It isn’t just something we say when we like something, or feel passionate toward a person. 

Love is about sacrificing selfish wants and desires for the salvation of others. It’s about understanding others, wanting to guide them towards good, and teaching them how to choose right over wrong.

It isn’t forceful. It doesn’t push or prod. It’s simply there when called upon, always ready to lend a helping hand.

There are many believers who don’t fully understand this concept, or confuse it to be reserved only for specific groups of like-minded individuals.

Do NOT fall for these false truths taught around the world within the Christian faith. God has commanded us to love eternally, extending that love to each and every soul that walks the earth.

“Let all that you do be done in love.”

1 Corinthians 16:14

We are called to be perfect, as God is perfect (Matt. 5:48), to love unconditionally, and serve others so that we may all enjoy in Christ forever.

To act in love is not our only calling, however. We must also recognize its meaning when used as a noun.

God as Love

Love the noun is, in essence, another name for God. God is love. And through Love, we can do all things.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

1 John 4:16

The biblical definition of “Love” still stands here. If we replace the word “Love” with “God,” we are given a beautiful look into the character of God and what it truly means to love:

GOD is patient and kind; GOD does not envy or boast; HE is not arrogant or rude. HE does not insist on its own way; HE is not irritable or resentful; HE does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. GOD bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Through His word, guidance, and numerous examples, we can strive to love and be perfect like Christ.

Love in Practice

The Bible has many examples exemplifying God’s love for us and all of creation. The greatest and most widely known example of this is represented in John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

This sacrifice of life and body itself displays just how deep God’s love is for us. We should all strive to have a love that strong. This can be achieved by applying 1 Corinthians 13 to our everyday life.

  • We must be patient with our brothers and sisters, believing that no matter where they are in their journey, the Holy Spirit will guide them forward when the time is right (Philippians 4:6).
  • We must show kindness to everyone, even those who would look to do us harm (Matthew 5:43-48).
  • We must be happy for the advancements in others lives, and not become jealous. On the opposite end of that, we should not flaunt our own successes in the faces of others. While it’s okay to feel good about and celebrate the good things that God graces in our lives, it in no way makes us better than any other person in the eyes of God (Jeremiah 9:23).
  • We should always be humble, never insisting on our own way. The only way we should ever insist on is God’s way. Only His way is truly pure and good (Psalm 28:7).
  • We should never praise a bad deed. No matter what perceived good has come from it. Even something as small as a lie should be seen as a sin to be corrected (Matthew 7:17-18).
  • We are meant to stick behind God through all of life’s pain, hardships, and woes. We are never meant to stop loving our brothers and sisters, no matter how many times they betray us, hurt us, or ignore us, just as God has never left us when we’ve committed these exact sins against Him.

So long as we keep our trust in Him and our minds focused upon His will, His love will come naturally. 

Love Intentionally

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

John 15:12

Love is a constant that will never diminish so long as it is true. As Christians, it is our sole duty to love constantly, consistently, and thoroughly with as much intensity as we possibly can. Only through love can we ever hope to save our fallen world.

With Love on our side, there is nothing we can’t do. 

A Prayer for All Us Mountain Goats

Lydia here! My prayer for you all, for myself as well, is that we could truly realize the impact of God’s love. I pray that we can realize the sacrifice that made God’s love so much more evident, and realize how undeserving we are, and how beautifully merciful God is. I pray that God’s love fills us so full that we overflow with love for Him and for others around us. Most of all, I pray that you know how much God loves you.

D. T. Yates

Christian, Content Editor

The Fruit of the Spirit: An Introduction into the Conduct of a Believer

*NOTE: Hey Mountain Goats! This is the introduction to a brand new blog series I’ll be posting about the Fruits of the Spirit. There will be a total of NINE posts following this one that will delve into each of these fruits more specifically. Be sure to check them out as we continue to grow and journey together!

“For the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true”

Ephesians 5:9

How long has it been since you’ve considered your own conduct as a believer? What kind of witness are you reflecting in the way you treat others and the way you respond to trials?

I think it is important to consider, occasionally, how we are perceived by the world. If someone were to meet me today, would they know I was a believer based solely on my behavior? I hope so.

Christ left an example for us when He walked on earth, and gave us a Helper to stay with us when He ascended. Together they teach us to understand the message of the gospel, and show us how to more accurately reflect the glory of the Father in everything we say and do. 

I want to learn what is good and right and true, and share it with everyone around me. I want to reflect God’s glory in my actions, in my conduct, and be such an obvious Christian that people don’t have to wonder. 

So what is it? How can we go about finding what is good, right, and true? And how would I go about sharing it with the world?

The answer is found in Galatians 5:22-23: “For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

The Spirit

“But the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 14:26

The Spirit, I believe, is not nearly as understood as Christ or even as God. We learn about Jesus our whole lives, but tend to take for granted the immense gift of the Holy Spirit, God within us. 

The Spirit, or, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Godhead who works continually within our hearts to sanctify us. His part in our sanctification is to be here with us to help us understand more clearly the words of scripture, to live more fully the message of the gospel, and to grow internally to be more like Christ. 

The fruit of the Spirit, then is the Spirit’s character within us, filling us with Christ-like attitude. He is given to us by the Father as a Helper, a guide, so that we will not be left alone. 

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Romans 8:13-17

The Fruit

“Fruit” is a biblical analogy for the conduct of a believer. In other words, how a Christian ought to behave. There are several passages exploring the idea of fruit in the New Testament, particularly as it relates to good fruit and bad fruit. They are summarized as such:

Good fruit is that which reflects the glory and character of Christ; beautiful and tasteful, delicate but healthy. 

Bad fruit is the opposite, it reflects the world and the things of the world. It is negative and often repulsive, something you wouldn’t keep around if you had the choice. 

“Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.”

Romans 7:4

We, as belonging to Christ, have been freed from sin. If we set our minds on things of the flesh, we cannot please God. It is impossible to “serve two masters,” flesh and God. Thus, we must set our minds on the things of God, the fruit that comes from God. 

In Philippians 4:8, Paul gives us a list of adjectives to consider and set our minds upon. We are to think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. If we fill our minds with all of this, we won’t have the time or energy to think about the negativity and repulsiveness of the rotten fruit of the world. 

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”

Matthew 3:8

Repentance is not only an outward conformity to a new commitment, but an inward dedication to righteousness. So in bearing “fruit in keeping with repentance,” we are letting the work of sanctification fertilize our hearts so that we can bear good, healthy fruit that will continue to ripen and grow. 

In Matthew 15:10-11, Jesus explains to His disciples that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth. He explains further that whatever goes into the mouth passes through the stomach and is expelled, but that whatever comes out of the mouth, this comes from the heart, and this is what defiles a person. 

The heart and mind of the Christian cannot be pure, the actions of a Christian cannot be pure, if we do not first inwardly reflect on and consider the fruits of the Spirit, the works of the Spirit, and the kingdom of God. 

Good Fruit vs Bad Fruit: Knowing the Difference

As I mentioned before, good fruit can be defined as that which reflects the glory and character of Christ. It is the distinctive set of qualities in a believer’s conduct that sets them apart from everyone else in the world.

These fruits are (Galatians 5:22-23):

  • Love
  • Joy 
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

Christ uses the fruit analogy in the gospels to explain that good fruit can only come from a good tree (foundation, center, inward growth), and that bad fruit comes from a bad tree. This is just as straightforward as it sounds, and is probably one of the clearest analogies in scripture. 

If you nurture the roots of a fruit tree, watering and caring for the leafy sprigs when they pop through the soil, and continue to nurture its trunk, branches,and leaves, and maybe even prop the tree up with some sort of support so it can stand straight and tall, then you can almost guarantee that it will eventually bear good, healthy fruit. 

On the other hand, if you plant a seed for a fruit tree and only occasionally tend to it, barely check on it, and offer no support system as it grows, then it will grow weak, crooked, and could possibly die. The fruit it bears (if any) will be contaminated, will rot, and won’t be able to be consumed.

Fruit, as mentioned above, refers to the conduct of a believer. 

  • Good fruit = good conduct
  • Bad fruit = bad conduct.  

In Galatians 5:16-23, Paul contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the conduct of the world and with the works of flesh (sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, etc). 

These characteristics hang our place in the kingdom of heaven in the balance according to Paul in Galatians 5, the conduct that separates God’s children from the rest of the world. He says “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).

That’s heavy, the entire idea of our conduct being so important in the end. I know it’s impossible to be perfect. It is impossible to be perfectly pure in our conduct and our intentions. 

But don’t be discouraged! 

That’s why Christ came, to be the perfect branch, the perfect lamb. He set for us an example, one which we can strive to imitate.

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.” 

Matthew 12:33

When Paul talks about those who practice such immoral qualities as the ones listed above, he is talking about those who are actively sinning with no desire to repent or try to live more like Christ. One sin, or even a hundred sins, is not the definitive end of your eternity. 

I do want to emphasize that everything in scripture is intentional. Everything in scripture is there because it was “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). So we should take it seriously. It is important for us as children of God to actively work on each of these good fruits as they apply to us and our daily lives. 

Conducting Ourselves

As heirs of the kingdom, we are given the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us to live our lives as repentant believers, exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit as they grow within us.

One of the most beneficial practices of our faith, is prayer. Prayer helps us build our relationship with the Father and to grow stronger in our faith. It can provide us endurance and understanding as we take this journey through the fruits of the Spirit and learn about how to effectively apply them to our lives. The Spirit will work in us to make these behaviors reality, all we have to do is ask. 

“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”

1 Peter 1:15

Over the next few months, we’ll explore each of the fruits individually, starting with Love and ending with Self-Control. I am so excited to journey through this study together, and to truly understand and apply these ideas to our daily lives! 

A Prayer for all Us Mountain Goats

My prayer for us is that we be constantly aware of the Spirit’s presence within us, working towards bearing “fruit in keeping with repentance,” and desiring an inward change. One that leads to outward growth. I pray that God may encourage us through the people around us, use them to keep us accountable to be loving, joyful, patient, and kind. I pray that we encourage one another as well, that we would be so filled with purpose and direction to serve HIS purpose, and glorify Him forever.

Supporting Verses

Proverbs 20:11
Luke 12:11-12
Romans 5:3-5
1 Timothy 4:12
James 3:13
1 Peter 2:12

Lydia Cannon

Christian, Writer, Coffee Addict

Don’t forget to check out the Recommendations page for links to other Christian organizations and Bible study tools!

Practices in Faith: A Glimpse of Prayer

“Rejoice in Hope, Be Patient in Tribulation, Be Constant in Prayer”

Romans 12:12

“Prayer” is one of the most frequently used words in the Christian vernacular. It is used 132 times in scripture, and (probably) ten times that in Christian literature and commentaries since then. But what is prayer, really? What is its purpose and why is it so crucial to a life of faith?

The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines prayer as “an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of His mercies.” 

Donald S. Whitney states in his book Praying the Bible laments, “since prayer is talking with God, why don’t people pray more? Why don’t the people of God enjoy praying more?”

I think part of the reason we struggle so much to pray is that we don’t fully understand what prayer is. We grow up hearing so many different kinds of prayer that there are often no discernible patterns to follow and it can get confusing. This leads to us becoming timid in our prayer and afraid to speak out to God, especially in front of other Christians who we may assume know how to pray better than we do.

But that’s okay! Even the apostles had to ask God how to pray (Luke 11:1). He answered by giving them an example, what we now call the Lord’s Prayer. Following Christ’s example, we can discover the answers to all our questions regarding prayer, and become more confident and intentional in our approach to God.

The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer given to us by Jesus is a perfect example of how we should pray. It provides us with a structure that is as everlasting as the Father Himself. This prayer can be split up into five primary areas of focus:

  1. God’s everlasting glory (hallowed be your name)
  2. His eternal will (your kingdom come)
  3. His provision (give us this day our daily bread)
  4. His forgiveness (forgive us our debts, as we forgive others)
  5. His deliverance (lead us not into temptation)

Each of these elements of the Lord’s Prayer can be attributed to our personal prayers. To save time, I won’t go too in depth into this prayer, but might write a post in the future that focuses on this entirely. For now, here is how we can use this prayer to benefit our own prayer life.

First, we must recognize God’s glory. Who is He? Acknowledge His attributes, His name, His holiness, etc. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil 3:8)

Second, we must recognize God’s eternal will. He has a plan that expands far beyond our human ability to see or understand. We have to acknowledge His omnipotence (all-powerful) and know that He knows what He is doing, even when it doesn’t make sense to us. “The Lord of hosts has sworn: ‘as I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.” (Isaiah 14:23)

Third is God’s provision. God will always provide everything we need (as it correlates to His will). “Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no lack! The young lions suffer, want, and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Ps 34:9-10)

Fourth is God’s forgiveness. He is a just God but He is also merciful, and through that mercy we receive forgiveness for our sins. In our prayers we confess, repent, and turn away from those sins which separate us further from God. And we leave them behind, knowing that God is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Fifth, and final, is God’s deliverance. How miraculous is this! It is remarkable that we are not constantly on our knees thanking God for the miracle of deliverance. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14)

Approaching the Throne

After fully recognizing who God is, in His eternal power, knowledge, and mercy, it is necessary to understand how to approach the throne of grace and justice. God is our King, after all, and even earthly kings inherit a tone of respect and submission when we enter their throne room. How much more should we give to our God?

First, we want to approach God with sincerity. Insincerity is an insult to our King, empty words mean nothing to us, much less to God! So when you go to say the words or think your prayer, really mean what you say. “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22)

While there is nothing inherently wrong with the “God is great, God is good” kind of prayer, it can become insincere in repetition. These groups of children chanting it at school lunches most likely don’t know what they mean, they just know they have to say it before they eat.

God doesn’t want us to approach Him out of obligation, but out of a place of intention and desire. We can’t do this if we only pray when we have to (obligation), insincerity and lack of intention are monotone ways to approach God.

We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.”

C. S. Lewis

Next, we want to approach God with reverence. Remember Who it is you are speaking to. Don’t treat God with familiarity, as a “buddy” or “pal”. He is a friend that is closer than a brother, but He is also God. Recognize His complete majesty, and that He is King! “The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed; He has put on strength as His belt.” (Ps 93:1)

After reverence, we should approach God with humility. We are invited into His presence, but we are still sinful and in need of His mercy and grace. Even Jesus humbled Himself, kneeling on the ground to pray before the Father. (Luke 22:41-42)

Lastly, we need to be earnest and fervent in our request. How often do we get bored during our prayers? The mind is a fickle thing and doesn’t always do what we ask of it. It gets distracted and begins to wander onto other topics, or it forgets entirely the fact that we’re even praying and sets us on with our day. 

Fervent is such a beautiful descriptive word here. To be fervent is to display passionate intensity. Like the Holy Spirit praying with “groanings too deep for words” or David in practically every Psalm he wrote, our prayers are communications of passion to God. 

But How do I Pray?

Often, core practices of faith (such as prayer) are assumed as naturally easy for most Christians. But that’s not always the case, not for me and, I’m sure, not for many of you. I don’t want to take for granted that any of us simply know how to pray just because we’re Christian. It isn’t that easy, it isn’t like talking to your friends or family, because you can’t physically see God. You can’t audibly hear His voice. And often, it’s hard to even feel His presence. 

So, how do you pray when it’s hard to? 

Well, there isn’t one set way to pray. While there are many examples laid out for us in the Bible, like the Lord’s Prayer, there is no reason to believe that prayer has to follow a set guideline each and every time. What works for one Christian might not work the same for another.

I personally find it easiest when I’m alone. At night, when it’s quiet and everyone’s in bed, I can focus on praying. This is good for those who may feel shy praying in public, are easily distracted praying in groups, or simply favor more of a one-on-one conversation with God. However, I will admit that sometimes (yes, I do it too) it’s easy to accidentally fall asleep when you do that! 

Another method of prayer is illustrated by Donald S. Whitney in Praying the Bible that guides you through learning how to pray through scripture, particularly the Psalms. Essentially, you take it verse by verse and pray for understanding, or take every verse and thank God for what it says. Whitney uses Psalm 23 as an example. He says “You read the first verse—’The Lord is my Shepherd’—and you pray something like this: 

“Lord I thank you that you are my shepherd. You have shepherded me all my life. And, please shepherd my family today: guard them from the ways of the world’ guide them into the ways of God. Lead them not into temptation; deliver them from evil.”

He goes on to take his readers through the next few lines of the verse, praying through each one. I found this book monumentally enlightening as I hadn’t ever prayed while reading scripture before, and never thought about using the Bible in such a practical way.

Then there’s the ACTS method of prayer. ACTS is an acronym, of which the letters stand for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

  • Adoration: Giving God the glory, repeating His words back to Him, recognizing His ultimate power and will and control over everything. 
  • Confession: Recognizing our place, our position. Humbling ourselves before a great King. Remembering our faults (even our secret faults) and bringing them before God in honest repentance, genuine regret, and a zealous desire to get back on track with our life of fatih.
  • Thanksgiving: Thanking God for His provision, His answers to prayer, and His promises. This is a great opportunity to remember the promises of God and repeat them back to Him, remembering that since He never lies, He always keeps His promises.
  • Supplication: Praying for ourselves and others. God cares for us and hears our prayers. “And whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matt 21:22)

While this method is helpful for keeping your mind on track, I must guide against using it for every prayer. It can cause your words to become mechanical, like something you have to get through rather than a sincere communication with God.

As we journey in our faith, many methods of prayer will be presented to us as the “correct way” to pray. Prayer, however, isn’t so limited. Whatever method or combination of methods you may choose is entirely up to you. Prayer is so much more than a recitation of phrases that sound good or sound “holy.” As long as you’re recognizing God, and communicating with Him in your prayers, that’s all that truly matters.

Why Pray?

Prayer is a monumentally crucial aspect of our Christian life. As it is our primary method of communication with God, it is the foundation for building a strong relationship with Him. It increases our faith and our understanding of God, of Christ, and our predecessors of faith. 

As I’ve stated in a previous article, Paul is one of my favorite biblical writers. In every single letter he wrote, he mentions that he’s praying for the church. In many of them, he asks for prayer in return. 

Praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ is not only helpful for them (since God does answer our prayers) but fulfilling for ourselves. There is nothing more powerful than our God, and the prayers of believers are extraordinarily powerful! (James 5:16)

Our relationship with God is strengthened through prayer, too. I’ve mentioned before how crucial communication is to any relationship, both earthly and spiritually. Daily communication with our Father, regularly coming before Him with our thoughts and words, builds a foundation of trust and openness that frees us to speak with our King. 

In Philippians 4:5b-6, he says” The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.”

Through prayer, we are granted forgiveness of our sins and redemption from our enemies. When we turn to God and repent of our shortcomings, the places in our life where we have fallen away from glorifying our King, God promises to forgive us. 

In Ephesians he writes out both his prayer of thanksgiving for them and their spiritual strength, and his prayer for their spiritual strength, as well as his own. Both are beautifully written and helpful guides for our own prayers!

Jesus calls us in Luke 18:1 to “always pray and not lose heart” and in Matthew 5:44 to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” and in Luke 6:28 to “pray for those who abuse you.”

In two different passages we have recorded Christ teaching His disciples how to pray, and in multiple places it is recorded that Jesus was praying. 

1 Peter 2:21 says “ For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you might follow in his steps.” 

We are called to follow after Christ, to walk in His footsteps and do as He did. Prayer is just one part of that. It is of monumental benefit to our lives, both spiritual and otherwise. It relieves us of our anxieties, and allows us to place our cares in the hands of an almighty Father Who loves us and Who promises not to let a single one of us fall away. 


Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” 

Romans 8:26

God promises that we do not have to face the challenges of this world on our own. The Holy Spirit is on our side, praying for us “with groanings too deep for words.” The encouragement of scripture is so beautifully complete. Since the Spirit is God, He intercedes on our behalf “according to the will of God.” Personally, I can think of no better prayer warrior, than God Himself.

Many times in scripture we are compared to sheep, and He the shepherd who calls us by name, searches for us when we are lost, pulls us up from the pit when we fall in, and tends to us as His flock.

God is our foundation, our security, our Father. He finds us when we are lost and takes care of us when we wander. All we need to do is call out to Him.

A Prayer for All Us Mountain Goats

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you…” 

1 Samuel 12:23a

I pray that we would be encouraged by the words of scripture, that we would have hope for our future, our place with Christ in the kingdom, because the Spirit is on our side and praying for us. I pray that all of us would dedicate time to intentional prayer and communion with our God. Also, I pray that we would see the blessing and beauty in this aspect of our relationship with God, and how unique and powerful it truly is. 

Lydia Cannon

Christian, Writer, Coffee Addict

Don’t forget to check out the Recommendations page for links to other Christian organizations and Bible study tools!

Practices in Faith: Meditation and the Bible

“…but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Psalms 1:2

If you’re anything like me, when you hear the word “meditate,” one of the first images that comes to your mind is of candles, “oms”, and a search for inner peace.

Of course, none of these are inherently bad, but they portray a false impression of biblical meditation.

While traditional Eastern meditation is focused on clearing your mind and finding an inward sense of peace, biblical meditation focuses on the Law of God.

“This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do what is written in it…” 

Joshua 1:8

The “Law” in this passage (and in others) refers not just to the ten commandments or the Mosaic law, but to scripture as a whole; the promises, commands, and records of God’s activity. 

“The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.”

Psalms 19:7-9

These descriptions of the Law of God completely encompass everything we deem desirable. What more could we ask? They endure forever, are righteous, and rejoice the heart. We literally find joy by meditating on the Law. It makes wise the simple and enlightens the eyes.

“Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.”

1 Samuel 12:24

There are several passages within scripture that give us a reason why we should meditate. In Deuteronomy 10:21-22, Moses reminds us that the Israelites went to Egypt as seventy people, and left “as numerous as the stars”. Philippians 2:8 states:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

What greater act could God have done for us, than to give us His only Son, and through Him, save us from our own sin. These reasons alone stand out to me as reason enough to meditate; to stop and consider the great love with which Christ died for us. 

Reasons aren’t enough, though. Even if you’ve decided to meditate, it will mean nothing if you don’t know how to meditate. If you don’t teach yourself how to do something, and do it wrong, it won’t benefit you the way it should—or at least, not nearly as well as it has the potential to. 

Discovering how to meditate can be a challenge in and of itself. To help you get started, here are five general steps to a healthy meditation routine.

Examine Scripture Often

Reading the Bible is a rather crucial aspect of biblical meditation. It’s important to have a recent familiarity with the passages you are attempting to meditate on. This will remind you of the presence of God, the “now-ness” of God, and help you understand as you read.

My favorite example of meditation is referenced by Paul in Acts 17.

“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

Acts 17:11

“Examining” is a strong word to use, and it is used quite intentionally. We aren’t meant to simply read a passage and think fleetingly on its surface meaning, but instead to deeply study the words taught in the Bible. 

“All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

2 Timothy 3:16 

These God-breathed words are meant to be examined “with all eagerness.” 

A post by David Mathis on Desiring God states, “God wants our sitting down with His book each day to be more like coming to dinner than going to the grocery store. Don’t try to save up truth for tomorrow, come to enjoy Him today.” 

Meditation is an enjoyable experience, a gathering with our heavenly Father for communion and fellowship. But it does require a certain amount of focus and intention.

Observe and Understand the Context

No verse in scripture stands on its own. I can’t stress enough how important it is to read the surrounding verses in order to fully understand the one verse that catches your attention. 

Look at the verses before and after the paragraph, the chapter, and even the book of the Bible that your verse is in. Who wrote the book? Who did they write it to? What was their purpose for writing it? Was it being well received and why? What is the overall theme of the section? 

Taking the section as a whole will give you a fuller understanding of the passage itself, I promise. It may not be a complete understanding, but it will definitely help shed light on whatever the verse’s intention may be.

Use What You Learn

The Bible was not written exclusively to the early church. If it were, it would not have survived as wholly as it has through the last two thousand years (since the birth of Christ). There have historically been tens, even hundreds of attempts to eradicate scripture. Obviously, and thankfully, they all failed.

That being said, there must be some reason God has preserved this ancient text. 

I remember when I was about seven years old, my dad’s jeep caught on fire. The whole interior was destroyed, as well as pretty much anything that was inside. We found, though, a Bible—one we didn’t even know was in there—that completely survived the fire. Besides some black around the outsides of the pages, the Bible was completely whole.

Mark 13:31 states, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” In His own words, God claimed the Bible will not perish, but last so others can read and believe in its teachings. Leaders such as Diocletian and Antiochus Epiphanes ordered the destruction of the New Testament, yet it survives. 

So take a look at the passage before you and see how it applies to you and your current situation. Maybe it is simply intended to give you a better perspective on faith, on Christ, or on the purpose of the writer. Whatever you may learn from it, the Bible is our guide for life, our connection to our Father, and the most secure place to seek comfort and understanding.  

Pray and Connect

The Bible is God’s words to us and is His communication with us. While “the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the works of His hands” (Ps 19:1), we have the privilege of hearing from our God directly through scripture. “All scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim 3:16) and we shouldn’t take for granted the fact that it’s there. 

We have a mediator through Christ, who intercedes for us to the Father. Connecting with Him through prayer is a gift and is our way of communicating with our God what we have learned about Him and where we seek more understanding. 

Don’t Leave It Behind!

So often, we become filled with purpose and inspiration from a Bible study or a church service, leave motivated to reach the whole world with the gospel or change everything about our habits and relationships, only to turn around and get crushed by the duties of daily life. That inspiration we found becomes forgotten, and we become distracted by the responsibilities before us. 

This scenario is detrimental to our spiritual journey in faith. If we don’t hold these teachings fast in our minds everyday and neglect building a strong personal relationship with God, we will fall further and further away from His grace. 

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love… for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”

2 Peter 1:5-10

God is for us. With Him we cannot fail, but we may “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Only through Christ and meditating on God’s word can we truly clear our hearts and minds of all evil and achieve a real, lasting sense of inner peace.

A Prayer for All Us Mountain Goats

I pray that as Christians, we all gain a personal hunger to meditate on scripture, and that we truly build a desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I pray the Spirit communicates clearly with us, so that we may understand what we read, so we may apply it to our daily lives. And lastly, I pray that we appreciate the gift of communion with our Father, and thank God for opening up a path of communication and thanks, and His enlightenment through Scripture.

Lydia Cannon

Christian, Writer, Coffee Addict

Supporting Verses

Philippians 4:8
Job 22:21-26
Philippians 3:1
Philippians 4:4
Matthew 6:33
Psalms 37:4
Job 37:14
Psalms 119:97
Psalms 104
Psalms 19:14
Psalms 19:2
Numbers 4:10

Don’t forget to check out the Recommendations page for links to other Christian organizations and Bible study tools!

How To Build a Relationship with God

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ…I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” 

Philippians 3:7-8a

How beautiful is the relationship between Paul and Christ? He counts everything as loss for the sake of Christ our King, and even refers to everything as “rubbish” or “dung” in comparison to His splendor. 

It is even more beautiful when you realize that Paul never met Christ on earth. He literally went from murdering Christians to becoming one in the matter of a week (really, a day), and went on to write most of the new testament and spread the gospel further than any of the apostles before him.

I want a relationship with God like Paul’s with Christ; one which is all consuming and fills me with bountiful, eternal joy. I want to be so filled with a passion for God that I can’t stop talking about Him, writing about Him, and sharing His truth with everyone around me, like Paul did.

So what’s stopping me? In fact, what’s preventing any of us who want to build a stronger relationship with God from doing so?

There are many facets of today’s daily life that crave our attention and time. From work and school, to friends, family, pets, and social media, our minds are constantly being pulled in every direction, horizontally.

These distractions cause us to make conscious decisions everyday that strain our relationship with God, decisions even I choose to make. And that’s not okay. 

Why is that? Why do we, who are so passionate for and constantly craving God’s presence, choose these distractions over our Creator?

Simply put, it’s easy. 

It’s easy to sleep an extra thirty minutes instead of getting up for communion with God. It’s easy to watch the next episode of a show instead of reading His Word. It’s easy to set aside time for friends or family, but never even devote five minutes to building a strong spiritual relationship with our Father.

Pushing God away is part of the fall, making it natural for us to choose against Him. What isn’t natural is setting aside time for someone we don’t know, someone we can’t physically see or hear, and it’s hard to consciously make those kinds of decisions.

Yet that’s exactly what we are called to do.

The Internal Struggle Between Right and Wrong

Building a relationship with God is a difficult endeavor. J.I. Packer, in His book Knowing God, claims “…Christian minds have been conformed to the modern spirit: the spirit, that is, that spawns great thoughts of man and leaves room for only small thoughts of God.”

Packer has recognized our passion for greatness and our lack of zeal for a God who, by nature, is Great. The contradiction of our own desires creates a burning sense of confusion among those who can’t see the magnificence of the character of God — and don’t try to.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or His ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

Isaiah 59:1-2

Our sin nature is the crux of what separates us from a desire to know God, to really desire Him, His presence, and His will. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The “natural” is our sin, our nature

That sin nature, however, can’t actually keep us from knowing God if we actively choose to seek Him. Staying active in our faith gives us access to the most extraordinary relationship in eternity (literally). It builds within us a will for something greater. God promises in Psalm 37:4 to give us the desires of our hearts if we delight ourselves in the Lord. If we choose God, our desire will be God. 

There is an internal battle between right and wrong within us, governing each decision we make. Choosing God is one thing, but overcoming sin is a whole other story.

Overcoming Sin

The first step to building a relationship with God is getting to know Him.

Just like at the start of any personal relationship, you want to know who you are going to be spending your time with, talking to, talking about, and eventually, trusting.

You also don’t want to just simply know about God. For example, I know a lot about J.R.R. Tolkien, but I don’t know him personally. It’s a personal connection you’re after, not just information.

The best way you can go about getting to know anyone is simple, you communicate.

Communion with God

Communication with our God is a privilege, one in which we are invited and called to indulge. 

 “…far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.” 

1 Samuel 12:23a-24

Many strong biblical characters have their prayers recorded within scripture: 

These Christians, as well as countless others in scripture alone, are great examples of what a healthy relationship with the Father looks like. However, the most perfect example of this is the one established for us by Christ.

Jesus kept a constant communication with God. He prayed during His 40 days of temptation in the desert (Matt. 4:1-11), before every meal (Matt. 14:19), and for hours before he was brought before Pilate for his trial and crucifixion (John 17).

In Matthew 6:5-15, Jesus teaches us the benefits of communicating with God, and provides a model for prayer that many churches still follow today.

Prayer alone isn’t enough, though. We must continuously be listening for God’s response. Relationships are not one-way. God does hear us, and God does reply:

  • God’s voice is everywhere (Ps. 29:3)
  • God’s voice is powerful and full of majesty (Ps. 29:4)
  • God’s voice flashes forth flames of fire (Ps. 29:7)
  • God’s voice thunders wondrously (Job 37:5)
  • God’s voice can, however, appear through a whisper (1 Kings 19:9-12)

God is our Shepherd. If we know Him, we will know His voice (John 10:14-16).

Characteristics of a Healthy Spiritual Relationship

God has not left us alone. There is a whole community of believers around the world who are studying God’s word, building their own relationships, and sharing their knowledge with us just like Paul did with the churches of the New Testament.

One of these believers is, in fact, J. I. Packer. In Knowing God, he breaks down some of the visible signs that one has built a healthy relationship with God. These characteristics encompass active efforts of faith that grow as we get closer to Him.

Those Who Know God Have Great Energy for God

Our actions are reactions to a culture that is notably opposed to the Christian worldview and to God as a whole. When people disrespect God’s name, we should be spurred into action. 

“People who know their God are people who pray, and the first point where their zeal and energy comes to expression is through prayer.”

Packer, 1973, p. 28

Having Great Thoughts of God

This contrasts the small thoughts of God mentioned earlier. We have to set aside room in our minds for great thoughts of God, which are evident in the examples set by Daniel: 

“Praise be to the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes times and seasons, He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom. He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells within Him.”
Daniel 2:20-21

“O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with all who love Him and obey His commandments…The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving…the Lord our God is righteous in everything that He does.”
Daniel 9:4-14

Daniel recognized God in a way that was outwardly expressive and gave Him glory. He risked his life (many times, actually) to glorify and praise God.

Showing Great Boldness for God 

To use the example of Daniel once again, he was quite literally thrown to the lions because he wouldn’t compromise his faith. He was imprisoned, threatened, and persecuted, yet he never stopped praising God.

In Daniel 6, King Darius goes to see if Daniel is still alive in the lions’ den. The first thing Daniel does is exclaim God’s hand in his life/survival, then pleas for redemption from the king’s punishment. Because of this, Darius writes a decree addressing God as a living God, and Daniel prospered. 

God is with Us

If we exhibit these three characteristics, then seeking God our Father, our Savior, our King, will become more natural. We will long for communion with Him and desire that everlasting relationship we as Christians have been promised as a result of the resurrection of Christ.

“Let the Bible be the place where God meets you…let the Bible be the place where you speak back to Him.”

John Piper

We serve an active and living God who has invited us to be adopted into His kingdom. Our walk of faith is a response to the grace of our Creator, our Redeemer, our King.

We are His children and He is with us every step of the journey.

A Prayer for All of Us Mountain Goats

I could go on for pages about the love of God and the examples of that love in scripture. It is so great, that we can’t fully understand it. When I consider the overwhelming presence of His love, I am flooded with joy and I know that God is here, actively communicating with me even as I write this. 

My prayer for you—and one I pray for my own friends, family, and also myself—is that you will be filled with a deep hunger and passion to experience God’s love firsthand. I pray this passion inspires you to learn about God, grow within His Spirit, and entirely praise His majesty.

Lydia Cannon

Christian, Writer, Coffee Addict

Supporting Verses

Proverbs 3:12
Isaiah 9:6
Matthew 19:5
John 20:21
Ephesians 2:18
1 John 3:1
John 10:29
Psalm 68:5
Luke 10:27
John 3:16
Romans 5:8
Philippians 4:19
Ephesians 5:23
Colossians 1:18

Don’t forget to check out the Recommendations page for links to other Christian organizations and Bible study tools!

A Perspective on Modern Christianity

“Be sober-minded; be watchful…resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world…”

1 Peter 5:8-10

A Christian life, no matter what generation you’re part of, is a wonderful thing. It is beautiful to learn the path God has planned and to follow in His footsteps. However, it is also full of many obstacles.

I, like many other young Christians, struggle with issues like procrastination, time management, and a lack of motivation. These are a few of several struggles that take our attention so far away from the kingdom of God that we lose sight of its glory. Our focus is elsewhere, specifically on the new temptations of the current generation.

Unlike previous generations, the modern Christian has a new, and particularly difficult obstacle to overcome: the advancement of technology.

While not inherently evil, and very often used to expand God’s kingdom, technology is often a source of distraction and deceit. The Bible teaches us to “Abstain from every appearance of evil.” (1 Thes. 5:22), but that’s hard to do when evil is finding new, appealing ways to deceive our hearts and minds. One of the devil’s greatest tools is temptation.

Through the use of social media and day-time television, the devil provokes our insecurities, self-indulgences, and our desire to look more like the world. He “…prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8) planting sins like vanity and pride into our minds.

Technology has given the world free reign to the sanctity of our homes, which leaves the minds of young Christians more vulnerable to, and less guarded from attack as scripture urges.

One of our biggest strengths in this online-era is that we’ve become more aware and accepting of social issues and mental illnesses. Racial equality, anxiety, and depression, are a few examples of the hot-topic issues that we have begun to address and gradually conquer in this generation, and that’s beautiful.

As a whole, we are radically empathetic. An example my mom likes to point out is that this generation is all about joining a cause. We are passionate about topics such as ending oppression, protecting animals, and saving the environment. We seem to be even more passionate about our international relationships and political views.

Our passion is strong and our desire to join causes is beautiful… but our passion is lacking in one of the most fundamental aspects of being a Christian: our faith.

Through all of our schooling we’ve been taught not to give in to peer pressure; not to worry about the opinions of others and to just be ourselves, to be an individual, to stand out. Through popular social media sites, like Twitter and Instagram, we promote this ideology by posting with #beautiful, #unique, #different, as we sip our Starbucks, dye our hair blonde, and complain about the WiFi connection on our brand new iPhones.

None of this is inherently bad, of course; none of this is a sin, but I ask you to consider: would you be able to tell the Christians from the atheists if you looked at a college campus today? Could you walk into a math classroom and tell who has a deep relationship with Christ, and who doesn’t even know His name?

Sadie Robertson is one of the strongest voices for modern Christians and a good example of standing out against the norm. She’s also one of the youngest. At just 21 years old, Sadie is using the influence of social media to spread her passion for Christ.

In a video on her Youtube Channel, she addresses one of the biggest fears held by Christian college students today:

“[College students] are scared that they are going to sacrifice their beliefs because the odds are against them and they want to possess values, but life has always been very convenient for them with little need to sacrifice for what is right.”

Sadie points out that what modern Christians are scared of is sacrificing their relationship with God to save an earthly reputation.

“I challenge you…you beg people to take the truth. But when you beg, you’d better know the truth. Because they’re watching you and they’re saying ‘do you believe it enough to take it on to the next person?’ ‘Do you believe it enough to act it out?’ ‘Do you believe it enough to give your life for it? To know how Jesus felt?’”

Her passion for Christ stems from a real and deep, personal relationship with her God. All of us should be as excited and passionate about our faith and relationship with Christ as she is, and proud enough to bring it up in regular conversation… but we’re not.

One of my favorite modern poets, Taylor Mali, says this in his poem “Totally like, whatever, ya know?”:

“I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
I challenge you: To speak with conviction.

To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply question authority.
You have to speak with it, too.”

Our conviction, our confidence, these are what’s missing in modern Christianity. While we may post about the newest movement or tweet about the next great cause, we don’t spread the word of Christ and die to self to live like Him.

We are scared of the social repercussions of speaking out in confidence because of the negative assumptions that come with being a Christian. We are very good at believing, at feeling, and at loving and accepting, but are weak in our convictions when it comes to Christ. This causes us to turn away from situations and arguments that make us question our faith, and choose to live out a life of convenience, rather than one that invites conflict.

Christianity, however, isn’t supposed to be convenient.

Philippians 1:29-30 states:

“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him, but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”

This message is echoed in 1 Peter 4:12-13 (and others I’ll link to below):

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

The phrase “to suffer” embodies what it truly means to stand up against unpopular opinion. It is hard to stand out, it is hard to be different, and it is hard to do what is right, but it’s what God has called us to do.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:2

Technology makes it easy to conform, easy to look like everyone else. God is calling us to be transformed and to look like Christ. We are instructed to think about “whatever is honorable, whatever is pure” and to act in a way that is good, acceptable, and even perfect.

Romans 6:10-13 summarizes this call to action perfectly:

For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

God’s call to action is clear, so how do we apply this to our faith?

The first step is to study His Word. Scripture says to “…receive(d) the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily…” (Acts 17:12). This allows us to find for ourselves that the things written within the Bible are true and real, and gives us the tools necessary to strengthen our convictions and confidence in Christ.

The next step (and a personal plea to myself as well as to you) is to share the truth of the gospel at every opportunity. Sadie uses technology to her advantage in this situation and so can we. It gives us an advantage like no other development in history and allows us to reach millions of people across the world.

It’s easy to hide behind a screen, to scroll through comments we disagree with or see something wrong and stay silent. The real challenge is standing out even when you aren’t seen, and to be Christ-like even when you’re anonymous.

This gives us an opportunity to share the beauty of God’s holiness and justification, to acknowledge the beauty of His creation publicly, and to minister to the hurting and struggling people around us.

Using social media, we can speak up when something isn’t true, say “no” to fellow students who want us to compromise our standards, and help others stand back up again when the world has beat them down. We can promote unity and community by creating posts with #faith, #growing, and #throughHim while fighting for a noble cause.

It’s a difficult world to be in when you’re scared of being mocked for your beliefs. Believing in something is vulnerable, and standing up for it can make you feel exposed; but with God’s strength, anything is possible.

“…And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

1 Peter 5:8-10

We are His children, and that is unique.

That is special.

That is awe-inducing.

Lydia Cannon

Christian, Writer, Coffee Addict

Supporting Verses

Hebrews 12:28-29
Mark 11:22-23
James 2:1

Don’t forget to check out the Recommendations page for links to other Christian organizations and Bible study tools!