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Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity by Jim Palmer



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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Jim Palmer

Thursday, November 18

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace.
—Galatians 5:22


In an exchange Jesus once had with a woman at a well, he said, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

There are a couple things that strike me about Jesus' words. First, the location of this living water. Jesus said it would be "in" her. This water is the flow of divine or eternal life—the life of God coursing through our spiritual veins. God’s presence within us manifests itself in deep feelings of love, joy, peace, and freedom, because that is who God is and what his presence provides. Feelings? Jeremiah said, "The heart is deceitful." So what gives?

The word Jeremiah uses for "heart" conveys our human mind, emotions, and will. There's no question that left to ourselves, we can rationalize and reason ourselves into about anything. On our own, the motive behind most of what we do is "self." When left to ourselves, virtually anything is game.

The truth is, however, we haven't been left to ourselves. Jesus said he would not leave us as orphans, but would come to live within us, and his Spirit would become our new center of being. Paul wrote, "We have the mind of Christ." Becoming like Christ is more than being moral. It means we see as God sees, think as God thinks, feel as God feels, and act as God acts. This becomes the new spiritual reality of our lives. Paul said, "It's no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”

The Spirit within manifests itself in deep feelings of love, joy, peace, and freedom. That's the living water and the flow of eternal life Jesus spoke of. Whenever I am aware of these deep feelings, I recognize them as the Spirit within, and I move in the direction those deep feelings are pointing. I believe this is a part of being "led by the Spirit." On our own, our self-obsessed emotions are running the show. Led by the Spirit, our deepest emotion is the Spirit alive and manifesting himself within us.

Sometimes people get the idea that "experiencing God" is always some sort of monumental, supernatural, intergalactic, visitation from beyond. Then we condemn ourselves because we don't seem to be having these kinds of divine encounters often enough. Maybe God wants to make us aware of his presence within us in simple ways. When we are experiencing deep feelings of love, joy, peace or freedom, we are experiencing God within us.

God, make me aware that you are the source of the love, joy, and peace I feel inside.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.