August 30, 2021

Fruit of the Spirit - Part 11

While I'm taking my annual summer break from writing new devotions, I'm sharing this series on the fruit of the Spirit, which was originally published in 2016.


Devotion for the Week...

It's time for the final installment of our fruit of the Spirit devotion series! If you missed the previous devotions, click to read the introduction, about love, about joy, about peace, about patience, about kindness, about goodness, about faithfulness, about gentleness and about self-control.

Once again, here is our verse for this series: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22,23).

A few years ago Aiden was fascinated by stupid laws and his favourite by far was from Alberta. The law stated that when a prisoner was released from prison, he had to be given a gun, bullets and a horse!! Presumably this was to help said prisoner get out of town and therefore out of the hair of the local authorities, but doesn't it sound rather self-defeating for the authorities to arm someone they already know is a criminal?
  
Though some laws may be questionable, civilizations generally make laws with the intention to protect their citizens and maintain public order. Laws are written to declare which actions are so unacceptable that they will be punished by the authorities. From the major crimes (murder) to the minor ones (littering) societies outlaw all the things that they consider to be wrong. That's pretty basic, right?

And then there are God's laws. God gave His law to Moses to teach the Isrealites how to live properly, how to avoid sin and to serve Him with their whole hearts. God's law is meant to keep people safe from sin.

I find it interesting that the Bible tells us that there are no laws against any of the fruit of the Spirit. There is no law against the kind of all-encompassing love the Spirit can cause us to show. There is no law against patience in the face of trouble or against self-control when tempted to do wrong. There are no laws against these things because goodness is no threat to public order. Joy is no threat to a city's safety, and patience, well, that could do wonders if displayed a little more often.

 I think Paul pointed out that there are no laws against these things as a point of comparison. In Galatians 5, in the paragraph before we see the fruit of the Spirit, Paul writes a list of "the acts of the flesh" (v. 19), which are "sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like" (vv. 19-21), many of which are against the law. Though they may not all be against society's laws, they are all outside of God's will for us and therefore against His law. All of these actions stem from a person's desire to live entirely for themselves, without regard for God or other people.

In contrast to those self-serving actions, there are no laws against displaying the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, it is just the opposite. There is reason to encourage people to grow in their ability to show every one of these traits. Can you imagine the shift that would take place in our world if everyone lived with the fruit of the Spirit as their standard? If people actually lived out love, joy, peace and the others? All of them at once, not just specializing in one or two, but growing in all 9 (which are actually 9 sides of one fruit, remember). Wouldn't that be amazing?
There is no law against the fruit of the Spirit | DevotedQuilter.com
Our world desperately needs more of the fruit of the Spirit. The first step towards that goal would be for each of us to become more aware of the Spirit in our own lives and to seek to listen better to the warnings and reminders He gives us. 

Maybe, though, there is another step we could be taking. Maybe we should also be seeking opportunities to encourage others when they display the traits we've been studying. After all, the more the fruit of the Spirit grows in the world, the better the world will be.

August 23, 2021

Fruit of the Spirit - Part 10

While I'm taking my annual summer break from writing new devotions, I'm sharing this series on the fruit of the Spirit, which was originally published in 2016.


Devotion for the Week...

It's time for the tenth installment of our fruit of the Spirit devotion series! If you missed the previous devotions, click to read the introduction, about love, about joy, about peace, about patience, about kindness, about goodness, about faithfulness and gentleness. Today we're moving on to self-control.

Once again, here is our verse for this series: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22,23).

Teaching kids self-control has to start pretty early. We have to teach kids not to grab toys from other kids and how to wait for their turn instead. We have to teach them not to take fistfuls of candy from the bowl, but to just take a couple instead. We have to teach them not to hit or bite or kick when they're angry and how to use their words instead. And we have to teach them to follow the rules, even when they don't like the rules. Molding civilized beings out of naturally selfish, impulsive toddlers is a long process!

We want our kids to be self-controlled so there will be peace in our homes and, ultimately, in our towns and cities. God wants all of us to be self-controlled so we can resist the temptation to sin. The more we are able to control our impulses to do what we want immediately, without thinking things through, the more we are able to live as God wants us to live.

Thankfully, just as toddlers are not left to figure it out all on their own, so we are not left to our own devices. We have two teachers who can show us the way to self-control, which we then have to implement for ourselves (hence the self portion!).
 
The first teacher we have is Jesus. In Matthew 4 we read about how Satan tempted Jesus after Jesus had been in the desert for 40 days. Jesus had been fasting that whole time, so He was hungry, the Bible tells us in verse 2 (understatement, maybe?). So, while Jesus is 40-days-with-no-food hungry, "The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread" (v. 3). Can you just imagine for a moment that you're in the desert, you haven't eaten for 40 days, you're hungry (!) and you're surrounded by stones. Wouldn't the thought of turning them all into bread make your mouth water? But Jesus doesn't. Instead, He quotes Scripture back at Satan. "Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’" (v. 4). 

A little aside...Would it have been such a big deal to make the stones become bread? Making bread isn't sinful, after all. I did a little research and it seems there's some debate over why this is wrong, but my take on it is simple...Satan was tempting Jesus with something good and necessary (food when He was hungry) for a purpose that was outside God's will (proving His identity when it was not yet time), which made it wrong, which is why Jesus wouldn't do it.

From Jesus we learn that knowing Scripture will help us when we are tempted. If we read our Bible, then we know what God wants for us. We learn how He wants us to live and what sort of people He wants us to be and we can use that knowledge to say no when tempted to do something outside of what He wants.

Which brings us to our second teacher...the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us, "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26). Have you ever seen a show where someone has a devil sitting on one shoulder urging them on to something wrong, and an angel on the other shoulder urging them to do right? Well, the Holy Spirit is something like that angel, except He is actually God and He has taken up residence in all believers. When we are tempted to do wrong, it is His voice we hear giving a word of caution or a reminder of the right we should do instead. It is Him who calls relevant Bible verses to our minds in those moments and helps us to resist the temptation.

Then the matter comes down to us. After all, this is self-control we are talking about. The Spirit can remind us of what we know. He can give us the tools we need to resist temptation. But will we use them? Will we control ourselves?
The Holy Spirit gives us the tools for self-contol. Will we use them? | DevotedQuilter.com
As I have said before, these character traits will grow in us only if we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us. If we choose to ignore His warnings, His reminders and His help, then we will continue as we are. But if we choose instead to heed His warnings and make use of His reminders and His help, then we will learn self-control and all of the other traits we've been studying.

Which will we choose?

August 16, 2021

Fruit of the Spirit - Part 9

While I'm taking my annual summer break from writing new devotions, I'm sharing this series on the fruit of the Spirit, which was originally published in 2016.


Devotion for the Week...

It's time for the sixth installment of our fruit of the Spirit devotion series! If you missed the previous devotions, click to read the introduction, about love, about joy, about peace, about patience, about kindness, about goodness and about faithfulness. Today we're moving on to gentleness.

Once again, here is our verse for this series: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22,23).

In thinking about gentleness, I thought about how we teach children to be gentle when they're touching a baby or an animal. We hold their hand and touch gently, all the while saying, "gentle, gentle." Interestingly though, the Greek word prautēs, which is here translated as gentleness, doesn't really refer to how we treat other people (or animals). According to W.E. Vine in his book Reflections on Words of the New Testament, "it refers to a grace of the soul and its expression towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, without disputing or resisting." The word is sometimes translated as meekness, but Vine says that translation is also problematic because "meekness suggests weakness to some extent, while prautēs suggests nothing of the kind."

So a working definition of prautēs would be something like "an acceptance of God's plans and dealings with us as good and right, stemming from a spirit of confidence rather than from weakness."

Unlike the character traits we've been looking at up to this point, God the Father never exhibits this type of gentleness, since He never has to accept His dealings with Himself. Jesus, however, did exhibit it while He lived on earth, giving us a perfect example of how prautēs should look in the life of a believer.

Picture Jesus, knelt down in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. He knew that Judas had betrayed Him. He knew He would suffer terribly very soon and He wanted to avoid that pain. He prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me" (Matthew 26:39). Can you blame Him? Wouldn't you want to find some other way to accomplish the goal?

But then Jesus accepted that there wasn't any other way. "Yet not as I will, but as you will" (v. 39). You can read my thoughts on the time between those two sentences. A little later He again prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." (v. 42). 

That is prautēs. That is accepting that God's way is good and right, even when it is also hard. I don't think it was easy for Jesus to accept the plan. I don't think it was easy for Him to move forward in that moment and agree to go ahead through the pain. I think He was only able to do it because of His full trust in God.

And remember that Jesus didn't move forward in weakness. Jesus moved forward in confident power because He knows the Father. He trusted Him completely and was willing to put Himself exactly where God needed Him to be to accomplish the plan.

Sometimes it's not easy for us to accept God's plans either. There are times when we are only able to move forward if we believe that, though we may not understand, we can still trust anyway. His plan is always good and always for our good. Though it may be painful in the moment, we can move forward in confidence in our God.
With the Holy Spirit working in us, we can live in gentleness | DevotedQuilter.com
With Jesus as our example and the Holy Spirit working within us, we can live in gentleness too.

August 12, 2021

Scrappy Playground in the 2022 Quilter's Planner

Well, there it is...my first reference to 2022. I think that's earlier than normal, lol, but today is an exciting day because I get to share a quilt I made back in the spring 😊 Scrappy Playground is one of the quilts in the 2022 Quilter's Planner, along with several other beautiful projects. Pre-sales of the Planner open on August 16th and Planners will start shipping on September 1st. I can't wait to get my hands on mine! Go here to order your 2022 Quilter's Planner!*
Scrappy Playground quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
Photo by Kitty Wilkin (@nightquilter) for Quilter' Planner 2022
On a good day, I try to cut my scraps into useable pieces as I go. I say on a good day, because a lot of times I can't be bothered and I just shove them into the appropriate scrap box and call it done. However, even though I'm not consistent at it, I still have a fair pile of squares cut in various sizes so every now and then I challenge myself to design something that will use a bunch of those squares. Scrappy Playground came from one of those self-challenges and I love it so much!

I named it Scrappy Playground because the square 'rings' of scrappy squares reminded me of playground equipment for some reason. It's also an appropriate name because scraps can be a quilter's playground, where we get to play with our beloved bits from previous projects.

I set myself very few rules when it came to which fabrics I would use for the scrappy squares. Since the background is solid grey, I didn't use any greys that might blend in with that. There are a few grey squares, but they're either much lighter or much darker and they have prints on them. When stitching the squares together, I didn't repeat fabrics in any one section and I tried to choose fabrics that looked nice next to each other, without getting too worried about that. Other than that, my motto was, anything goes!
Scrappy Playground quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
Photo by Kitty Wilkin (@nightquilter) for Quilter' Planner 2022
There are fabrics from projects made in the last couple of months and fabrics from when I first started quilting over 20 years ago. There are batiks, animal skin prints, solids, florals, geometric prints, novelty prints, holiday prints and prints with metallic highlights...You name it, it's probably in there somewhere. When paired with the solid grey background, they all play together very nicely.

The deadline to have the quilt finished to send to Kitty for the photography for the Planner was a tight turnaround, but the quilt top came together quickly since I already had all of the squares cut. Well, almost all. I did cut a few in colours I felt were underrepresented and I added a few recent favourite fabrics while I was at it. If you're not trying to meet a deadline, though, this would make a great leaders/enders project, allowing you to grow your Scrappy Playground quilt while you're working on other projects.

I thought a lot about how to quilt this one while I pieced the top. I kept coming back to the idea of double loops, which made me think of kids running around a playground. Though I doubt anyone else will ever get the connection between the design, the name and the quilting, I quite like how it all fits together in my own head. I also like how the loopy quilting adds movement and curves to the straight lines of the piecing.
Scrappy Playground quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
Of course, with all those scrappy bits, the binding had to be scrappy, too! In my haste to get the quilt in the mail to Kitty, I hardly took any pictures, but you can see the scrappy binding in Kitty's gorgeous pictures up above. I love a good, scrappy binding!

Pre-sales for the Planner open on Monday, the 16th, and you can customize your Planner so it's perfect for the way you want to use it. I would be lost if I didn't use a planner and I love how beautiful and functional the Quilter's Planner is 😊 Click here to order your Quilter's Planner.*


* Links marked with an asterisk are affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission, which does not affect the price you pay.

August 09, 2021

Fruit of the Spirit - Part 8

 While I'm taking my annual summer break from writing new devotions, I'm sharing this series on the fruit of the Spirit, which was originally published in 2016.


Devotion for the Week...

It's time for the sixth installment of our fruit of the Spirit devotion series! If you missed the previous devotions, click to read the introduction, about love, about joy, about peace, about patience, about kindness and about goodness

Once again, here is our verse for this series: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22,23).

When I think about faithfulness, I think of the faithfulness between a husband and wife who have taken a vow to remain together for better and for worse and to never turn away from each other. There will be good times and not-so-good times, but those who are faithful do not abandon each other or decide to seek out a relationship with someone else to replace their spouse.

God calls His relationship with us a 'covenant', which indicates a vow or promise. He has chosen this relationship with us and Jesus promised us "surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Nothing will cause God to abandon us or to decide to choose someone to replace us. Paul wrote, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38,39). Nothing in all of creation can cause God to renounce His relationship with us!

Of course, faithfulness doesn't only come into play in a marriage. Faithfulness is really a matter of commitment. Commitment to doing what we said we would do, or being where we said we would be even if, in the moment, we don't feel like doing those things or going to those places. Faithfulness means our word means something.

Unfortunately, faithfulness can be hard. Sometimes we just don't want to follow through on our commitments. We don't want to do the work we said we would do. Relationships (any relationship, not just marriage) can be hard and it can be tempting to seek out something new. Sometimes we just want to be selfish and ignore the promises we made.
Keep your  commitments again  and again and you become  faithful, as  God is faithful | DevotedQuilter.com
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit nudges us in those moments. I know I have felt it and you probably have, too. It's that feeling that we are not doing the right thing, that we need to follow through on what we said we would do, whatever that may be at the moment. If we will obey those nudges, those reminders that God's faithfulness should be evident in His people, then gradually faithfulness will become our norm. Give in to the temptation to blow off a commitment once and it becomes easier to do it the next time. But keep your commitments again and again and the voice of temptation will have less of a hold on you. You will become faithful, as God is faithful.

August 03, 2021

Divided Pattern Release

Today's the day I get to re-release my Divided pattern out into the wild! 
Divided quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Divided has been expanded to include baby quilt instructions, along with the throw size shown here. It has also been updated to match the format of my other patterns and gone through technical editing to be sure all the math is right and the instructions make sense to quilters other than me 😏 

The update also means that I can now offer Divided as a printed pattern for those of you who prefer that format. The printed pattern is a PREORDER right now and will ship out as soon as it arrives from the printer.
Divided quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Divided looks great in any colour combination, as evidenced by the two very different versions I've made (so far - there's fabric on the way for another one!). This muted grey and black combination completely changes the feel of the design and gives the quilt a more masculine look, doesn't it? My father-in-law has threatened to steal this particular quilt!
Divided quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
There's no curved piecing involved in making Divided. It's all raw edge machine applique, which makes for a quilt that is quick to stitch 😊 That means you can try out all the fabric combinations your quilty heart can dream up! Ocean themed? Rainbow? Pastels? Christmas? Halloween? Yes to all of them! 
Divided quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Head on over to my Etsy shop to get your PDF copy of Divided or to PREORDER the printed pattern.
Divided quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com

August 02, 2021

Fruit of the Spirit - Part 7

While I'm taking my annual summer break from writing new devotions, I'm sharing this series on the fruit of the Spirit, which was originally published in 2016.


Devotion for the Week...

It's time for the sixth installment of our fruit of the Spirit devotion series! If you missed the previous devotions, click to read the introduction, about love, about joy, about peace, about patience and about kindness. This week we're moving on to goodness. 

Once again, here is our verse for this series: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22,23).

The original word that Paul used for goodness, agathōsynē, means "uprightness of heart and life, goodness, kindness." In planning for this devotion, I immediately thought of this verse, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2).


It feels like there is a decided lack of goodness these days. We have all, much too frequently, felt sorrow and disbelief when we heard about the tragedies around the world. There is no denying that 'the pattern of this world' is far removed from the 'good, pleasing and perfect will' of God.

Thankfully, the vast majority of people will never intentionally harm another person, but even still, we all know that it's hard to be truly good. Just spend time with any toddler and you'll quickly learn just how natural it is for us humans to be selfish and mean and demanding. Between raising my own boys and babysitting toddlers belonging to others, I have witnessed many, many tantrums, pokes, pushes, grabs, etc. Toddlers want what they want, right now, and they're not concerned with how that might affect others. That is, in a nutshell, the natural human state, which is why parents have to teach their child to behave like a 'civilized person'. Goodness doesn't come naturally. It has to be learned and it takes effort.

That is why Paul tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. 'Renewing' here carries the idea of a renovation, of changing something for the better. So, the Spirit of God will change our minds for the better, allowing us to be no longer bound to the pattern of the world, but instead to think and act according to the will of God.
The renewing of  our minds is an  ongoing process, bringing us ever  closer to being  like Jesus | DevotedQuilter.com
This renewing of our minds is an ongoing process as the Spirit changes our attitudes and behavior in different ways, bringing us ever closer to being like Jesus. Gradually, the more we walk with the Spirit and allow Him to work in our lives, the more we will grow in goodness.

And this world can certainly use more goodness.