APC Sunday 14th June 2020 “The Fruit of the Holy Spirit”
Welcome and Introduction
Good morning everyone and welcome to our Sunday morning Service. Today we continue on with our series on the Holy Spirit. This morning we will be thinking about cultivating the fruit of God’s spirit in our lives. But before we do that let’s take a moment to talk to God, let’s pray…
Almighty and loving God, we thank you for all the ways you have sown the seed of your word in our lives – through the living relationship we share with Christ, through the movement of the Holy Spirit within our hearts, through the preaching and the reading of scriptures, through the fellowship of the church, through the daily experience of your love in the world around us.
Forgive us for all those ties when your word has failed to take root. Forgive us for the shallowness at times of our faith and our unwillingness to dig deeper. Forgive our failure to prepare ourselves for worship, our carelessness in making tome for you, our laziness in discipleship, our preoccupation with everything that distracts us from our true calling.
Loving God, forgive us that our lives have been barren when they should have borne lasting fruit. Sow afresh your word in our hearts and nurture it within us, so that we may grow in grace and yield a rich harvest of your spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil,
For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever, AMEN.
Bible Reading Galatians 5 v16-26 (NIV)
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Reflection “The Fruit of the Holy Spirit”
One day Paddy and Seamus were discussing the wonders of the universe as they usually did, every Friday lunchtime. Seamus turned to Paddy and asked, “What’s the world’s greatest invention?” Paddy thought for a moment and then responded wistfully, “Ah, the world’s greatest invention must be the thermos flask.” “Why’s that?” enquired Seamus. “Well, it keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, but how does it know?”
While God’s Spirit is personal He is also invisible. In some ways God’s Spirit is a bit like the wind or a vacuum in a thermos flask. We can’t see the wind or the vacuum, but we know they are there when we see how it blows the trees or the washing on the line or how it keeps things at a constant temperature. In the same way we can’t see God’s Spirit but we can see his effects in people’s lives.
It is common for all of us to doubt at times whether we really are Christians. It often happens when we feel guilty about something we’ve said or done wrong. Or when we pass through a particularly difficult life experience when God seems distant. Our natural reaction at these times is to want to feel something inside or to experience a miraculous or special answer to our prayers in order to feel close to God or to be reassured that we are actually connected to Him.
Thankfully there are times when these experiences can be a reality. We may feel goose bumps when we sing a particular song or feel especially close to God during a special time of prayer. God may answer our prayers in ways that can never be attributed to coincidence. But if we are always looking for reassurance in these areas we will be disappointed and may even become disillusioned. That’s because our feelings are so changeable. They can be affected by all sorts of things including our own hormones, medications and even whether we had a good night’s sleep or not. It’s also because, God has not promised to always answer our prayers miraculously or even to always answer with a ‘Yes’. So where can we find a solid foundation that will reassure us that we really are Christians and that God is with us? And what is the best way to show other people that God is real and that he can make a positive difference in our lives?
The answer is to look for the visible signs of the changes that the Holy Spirit brings about in our lives. We call these changes or these characteristics the ‘fruit’ of the Holy Spirit. If we can see these right attitudes and actions ripening and blossoming in our lives then we can be certain that the Holy Spirit lives within us. If other people can see and experience these characteristics in us they will be attracted to the God whom we worship.
But what does the fruit of the Holy Spirit look like? Well, thankfully, St Paul tells us in a letter he wrote to a group of Christians living in Galatia which is part of modern day Turkey. In Galatians 5: 22-23 Paul writes, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.”
I think it’s important to stress that this is one Fruit with 9 segments. It’s not 9 different fruit. That means that all of these characteristics should be developing within our lives at the same time, although for all of us, at any given time, there may be certain segments that need a little watering.
It would be great at some point in the future to do an in-depth study on each of these segments, but for today, let me give you a brief taster so that you know what to look for in your own life for reassurance and also so you know what characteristics to ask God to create within you.
The first segment is love. The word used by Paul describes a very special type of love. It is a love that always wants the best for other people even if they are not nice to us. It is a tough love that is willing to sacrifice for God and others. It is a love that seems almost impossible to achieve, but the miracle is that the Holy Spirit will help us to be people who really love others in this sacrificial way.
The second segment is joy. The joy that the Holy Spirit will give
us is a special type of happiness that only God can give us. It describes a deep sense of contentment that we know God loves us and is on our side even when life is difficult or painful.
The third segment is peace. The Holy Spirit will give us a special trust that we are God’s friends even though we still aren’t perfect. He will also help us to trust that no matter what happens God is in control and has a good plan to make us more like Jesus.
The fourth segment is patience. The Holy Spirit will help us to become people who don’t get cross easily, who don’t always go mad when things don’t go the way we want and who are quick to forgive people when they have annoyed us. He will help us to be people who don’t seek revenge even when we have been wronged.
The fifth segment is kindness. The Holy Spirit will help us to be kind. The word the bible uses describes people who have a goodness that is gentle. So the Holy Spirit will help us to be courteous and polite. He will help us to overlook people’s faults and not be sharp or bitter in our attitudes.
The sixth segment is goodness. The Holy Spirit will help us to be good. As well as doing what is right and what pleases God it also means that He will cause us to love other people and want to help people who are in need.
The seventh segment is gentleness. The Holy Spirit will help us to be gentle. The word used in the bible describes an animal that has been brought under control by its owner. It describes an attitude that is submissive to whatever God wants. It describes an attitude that is teachable and considerate of others. It describes someone who is slow to put themselves or their own ideas forward.
The eighth segment is faithfulness. The Holy Spirit will help us to be people who are reliable- People who live by good principles. The Holy Spirit will help us to be people who will do what we have promised- People whom others can trust.
The final segment is self-control. The Holy Spirit will help us to be able to control our emotions, our actions and our attitudes. He will enable us to say no to ourselves so that we can help the needs of others. He will help us to be in such control of ourselves that we are fit to serve other people.
The last question we need to ask is, “How will the Holy Spirit
make these changes in us?”
Well the simple answer is He will do it as we do 3 things.
He will do it as we read the bible and as we memorise these different characteristics so that we know what we are aiming for.
He will do it as we pray and ask Him to help us to change. This is
something we need to do every day.
We need to pray things like, “Please Lord, help me to be kind to this person. Please help me to be more patient in this situation. Please help me to remember to do such and such so that others can rely on me etc.”
Lastly, He can only do these things in our lives if we are willing to
play our part. We need to be willing to respond to a situation of
need by being generous. We need to be willing to calm down and
not blow our temper when something goes wrong or when
someone does something that annoys us. We need to be willing
to keep our promises so that people can trust us. We need to be
willing to forgive people who have hurt us. We need to be willing
to trust God even when life is difficult or painful.
In the same way that farming is a joint venture between people
and God so too growing the fruit of the Spirit is a joint venture
between us and God. The farmer must plough and sow and
spray knowing that only God can send the sun and rain to make
the crops grow.
So too, only the Holy Spirit can make His fruit grow in our lives.
But we must read our bibles, we must pray and we must be willing to do all that we can to obey how we know He wants us to behave.
If we are to live like Christ and live lives that we can be proud of then we need the help of God’s Holy Spirit.
When we are willing to turn from all we know to be wrong and when we trust that Jesus died for our sins and ask Him to forgive us a miracle happens. God sends His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus to live inside us. We can’t see Him. Sometimes we may feel His presence. But over time we will be able to see the changes that He will make in our lives, making us into better people.
These changes that He will create in us are called the fruit of the Holy Spirit. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
These changes will happen as we read our bibles, as we pray and as we are willing to do all that we can to obey how we know God wants us to behave.
As we begin to see these changes growing in our lives it gives us reassurance that we really are Christians. As other people see these changes in us they will be attracted to the God whom we worship.
Father God, we thank you that we are able to meet online today. We pray that everyone who logs on to this or any other service of worship today will be encouraged, blessed and helped through this activity.
Father, we thank you for giving us this day and for your example of taking time to rest. Help us to make the most of our Sundays and to take time in our busy weeks to rest and to worship so that we might be regularly renewed in body, mind and spirit.
Lord, give us your strength, patience and resilience to continue on the path set before us by the unexpected and unchosen circumstances of pandemic and lockdown and in your mercy may this virus soon be eradicated so that we might be able to return to the type of living that we all enjoy.
Holy Spirit, we pray that you will continue to grow your beautiful characteristics in our lives. May our lives attract the people we live and work with to you. When they ask us about you, please give us the courage to tell them how much you mean to us and what a difference you have made in our lives.
We pray for leaders in the business and retail sectors as they navigate a path towards reopening, Lord, give them a necessary mix of restraint and resourcefulness in guiding return to trading.
We pray for shop owners, managers and staff as they think through practical and financial implications for reopening. Lord enable them to arrive at arrangements for safe trading and feasible models for profitability.
Lord, we pray for ministers, elders and members involved in delivering pastoral care from a distance. Lord continue to help us to show your love in prayerful, sensitive and practical ways. We ask that you will give great wisdom to all church leaders thinking through how they may reopen church in a way that maintains safe social distancing.
We continue to pray for those who are suffering through illness, anxiety, bereavement or loss of employment and in particular we remember families who are unable to visit their loved ones in hospital and the distress this causes. Loving father, bring strength, peace, comfort and the reassurance of your presence and provision to all who need it most.
Take a moment to include your own prayers…
It’s been a joy and privilege to share with you again today. Thanks again for logging on. I hope you’ve been encouraged because you recognise that God’s Spirit is producing fruit in your life and you know He will continue to help you to grow even more. Given the government announcement last Thursday that churches may now reopen from the 29th June we are currently hoping we can begin church services on Sunday 6th July. This will be subject to confirmation from our denomination. There will be more details to follow. Please do pray for our church leadership as we pray and plan for holing our services in a socially distanced way.
I hope you can tune in again on Sunday morning as we reflect more deeply on the role the Holy Spirit plays in producing spiritual fruit in our lives. I also want to say a big thank you for all your support and prayers for my mum and family at this difficult time. To close let me share the benediction, after which I invite you to say the grace together…
May God, who began a good work in you,
continue to be at work in your life,
guiding, teaching and equipping you
until Jesus Christ returns.
May your love and compassion continue to grow-
a love that is full of knowledge and wise insight,
so that you will be able to recognize what really matters,
and live a pure and blameless life.
May you live a life centred in the Holy Spirit,
a life that bears rich fruit –
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
generosity, faithfulness, tolerance and self-control –
all the good things that come from following the Spirit,
for living this way will bring much glory and praise to God.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and for evermore, Amen.”
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