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December Illuminate

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Openers

Fruitcakes, Politics and Peace

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Summary: Editor Jeff Finley introduces this month’s issue, the fruit of the Spirit, with a discussion about the dried up fruit we often produce as Christians. He invites the reader to think about this as they continue through all the articles this month.

1. How does the author draw the ideas of fruitcakes and the fruit of the Spirit together?

2. Are there ways that you relate to the people in the illustrations the author uses? In what ways might you not be living out the fruit of the Spirit?

3. Spend some time thinking and praying about “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Are some of these hard for you? Do some of them come naturally? Write out a prayer asking God to encourage you in the hard ones as you continue on through this study.

Further reading: Galatians 5:13-26

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Bishops

Bearing the Fruit of the Spirit

To read the article, click fmchr.ch/bearing-fruit

Summary: Bishop David Kendall walks the reader through two common approaches to the heart and invites Christians to step in to the full freeing power of God’s grace.

1. Bishop Kendall offers some ways that the evil one attempts to discourage or deceive us. How have you seen these lies impact your life?

2. In your own words, what has God promised to do?

3. How can you step into the life God has promised? Spend some time praying through the questions Bishop Kendall asks at the end of the article.

Further reading: Luke 6:43-49,, Ephesians 4:23-5:2

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Discipleship

Try Jesus-Sourced Produce This Christmas

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Summary: In this article, Chadwick Anderson encourages the reader to push past considering the fruits of the Spirit as “desirable character traits” and rather to remember their transformative power in the Kingdom of God.

1. Think about the busyness of the last few months of the year. How are we distracted from relationship with God and a celebration of Him by that busyness?

2. How does our being full of the fruit of the Spirit impact the world around us? What is “the whole point of bringing forth fruit?”

3. What are some ways that you could cultivate the fruit of the Spirit this holiday season, and in doing so, impact the world around you for the kingdom?

Further reading: John 1:1-18, Isaiah 58:9-12

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Feature

Growing the Fruit of the Spirit

To read the article, click fmchr.ch/growing-fruit

Summary: The feature this month is adapted from a chapter in Jamin Bradley’s book “A Taste of Jesus: Growing the Fruit of the Spirit.” In it he addresses the struggle and the journey to growing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, rather than assuming it will just happen.

1. Have there been times when you were frustrated by the lack of the fruits of the Spirit in yourself or others? What was that like? How did you address it?

2. The author says that “God [rarely performs the] miracle of instant virtue on a new believer,” and that “we should expect that the believer will need lots of time to grow.” Is this something you experienced in your own journey or in the journey of those around you? What is this experience like for you?

3. What would it be like to actually consider yourself the tree that the fruit of the Spirit is growing on? How might you care for a tree that is struggling to bear fruit?

4. The author offers the encouragement of freedom from the expectation of instant change. What does the author call us to do in order to grow fruit like Jesus?

5.How might you “begin with love” in your journey towards growing the fruit of the Spirit?

Further reading: John 8:2-11, 1 Peter 2:21-25

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Feature

Pop Theology:

To read the article, click fmchr.ch/Spirit-freedom

Summary: Jill Winslow recounts her own journey to understanding freedom in her walk with Christ. In it is a beautiful call to remember that our freedom is not for ourselves but for the love of others.

1. How has your walk with God called you in to difficult places or situations?

2. Discuss the author’s reflection that “God’s brand of freedom looked a lot different than the freedom I thought I was looking for.” What has that looked like in your life?

3. How might God be calling you to let go of yourself in order to walk in the Spirit and offer love to those around you?

Further reading: Mark 12:28-34,Romans 13:9-10,Galatians 5

To read the article, click here.