Archives for February 2017

THE FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Part 2) February 26, 2017

THE FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT  (Part 2)         Galatians 5:22-23             HOL-29

Introduction

1.  Our goal in this second segment [message] on the nine fruits of the Spirit is to explore three, beyond the first four examined in Part 1 of this series of the  nine as listed in Galatians 5:22-23.  In the final presentation we plan to work with the last two mentioned.

2.  Remember that we have approached them using the New American Standard Bible (NASB) as our primary text because it is simpler and uses clear modern English.

3.  The chart you received, in part one,  which I list in the printed page as “Appendix A”, shows virtually the same words to describe each fruit in nearly all  of the four most dependable modern translations.  For clarity’s sake, let me list them again: New American Standard Bible (NASB), New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV) and New Kings James Version (NKJV).

4. My basic commitment as a preacher is to tie all my preaching to the King James Version, though it was translated four-hundred years ago.  Here is why:

    (1)  The KJV is trusted and loved, yet today, by millions of believers.

    (2)  Many of the tools [study guides, lexicons, concordances, and commentaries]      

          key on the KJV.

    (3)  Much of what is memorized by believers, even younger ones, is from KJV.

    (4)  When my ministry began in 1959, none of the four favorites today existed.

5.  The word “fruit”- “karpos,” is used 66 times in the Scriptures.  It is a primary word, easily understood- “the product of plant life,” but here likened to the believer’s life.

As we learned last time it does not describe anything we do.  It is a metaphor for  what God produces in the life of the believer as the Apostle Paul uses it in our text in Galatians chap. 5.

Only God can produce fruit in anything, that includes the human heart.

We now turn our attention to  three of the final  five “kindness, goodness, and  faithfulness.”

E. Kindness – “chrestotes”

1. “Chrestotes” is used just 10 times in the Greek New Testament. 

2. Of the Lord Jesus’ coming into the world and reaching down to save us- listen to Titus 3 beginning at verse 2, where Paul is counseling the young preacher, Titus.

Paul said:

“to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3  For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4  But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5  He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

Notice:  “when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared…”

3.  When Jesus Christ comes into a life, He makes an eternal  difference!

4.  Had you been an invisible presence, sitting around our family’s kitchen table when I was growing up, you would never have expected that we would become a family of many believers.

Oh, we were religious.  We “said the blessing” before we ate.  We went to church every Sunday.

We were law-abiding citizens.  The only alcohol consumed in our house was from the occasional flask of whiskey an uncle might bring in and sneak in a few “nips”

while he was there.  But the profane speech of the adults, especially the men, and the billows of cigarette smoke poisoned the air, always.

We criticized innocent people.  Our speech was full of racial slurs.  We passed unfounded rumors and chose up sides against people we really hardly knew, except that we had something against them from our prejudiced hearts.

As soon as I knew I was a real  believer, and that God was at work in my sinner-man heart,  I wondered how I could reach our family that was so far from God.

5.  One member of our family, who lived in our house- actually we lived in her house-

was my grandmother  Sasser, my maternal grandmother. In many ways she was different from the rest of us.

6.  Grandma never swore.  I don’t remember a critical spirit coming out in her speech.  Oh, she got aggravated with my brother and sister sometimes.  They played childish pranks and did other “dumb stuff.”  I never did of course!  (Right!)

7.   But the quality I remember best, with 13 childhood years with her as my second mother under my belt, is a little thing called “kindness.”

8.  In spite of the lost condition of most in our family, our back door was always open for everyone to flock to “Grandma’s house.”  The pantry was full of delicious fruit pies, baked at her hand–always there.  She kept close track on those traveling and would announce if someone was late getting in: “I was worried sick about you.”

9.  It shouldn’t surprise you that Grandma was the only one in the family I ever saw with a Bible.  She had to quit school in the 4th grade because her mother died and she had to take over as “the lady of the house” at the tender age of ten!

10.  Her last two days upon earth were spent on the living room couch- too difficult for her to climb the stairs where the bedrooms were.  The day she slipped away, on the mantle at the foot of the couch, was Salmon’s  “Head of Christ” portrayal.  She had asked my mother to place the famous portrayal of Christ there as she was dying.

11.  Have you given any thought as to how your faith will carry you at the last?  Any of us may be there before we know it.  Do the things around you, in your home speak of Christ? 

12.  Grandma’s kindness was legendary and on unending display all the years I knew her.  I doubt if she ever realized it!  We enjoyed the fruit of kindness in her life, long before we ever knew it’s  author!

13.  The final Christmas she lived, I came home on leave from my Navy Station.  Her gift to me was a Bible [this one I hold up before you].

14.  The Holy Spirit fruit of kindness, how sorely the whole world needs it in large doses.l

F. Goodness – “agathosune”

1.   Agathosune, standing for “goodness”  is used just four time in the  Greek New Testament, all at the hand of the Apostle Paul.

2.   The Thayer Greek Lexicon says agathosune “represents the kindlier element in the ideal character.” 

It is placed in contradistinction  to the word “dikaiosuna,” a big Bible word– translated as “righteousness” no less than 94 times.

In other words, we have on the one hand God’s righteous demands, again and again and again and again, in Scripture:

II Tm. 3:16: 16  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;  17  that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

God’s perfection demands righteousness.  Problem is, we are born sinners and practicing sinners.  It is so for every mere  human ever born on the planet.

3. Take for example how this story from our Lord’s earthly ministry demonstrates the difference between “God’s righteous demands” and His mercy in the form of “goodness.”  It is recorded in John chapter 8, verse 1.

4.  It is morning in Jerusalem near Herod’s Temple, called such because this vain ruler  spent lavishly to enhance this structure erected by the returned remnant from Babylon four hundred years earlier.  The Jews loved the Temple but they hated this Gentile intruder, King Herod.

But gathered this early hour was a cadre of Pharisees who came to interrupt the Lord Jesus who was teaching there in a part of the Temple.  We can be sure their early rising was motivated by their hatred of Him and they had a plan . Here is what they said: 

“Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.”  Their cry of outrage fell upon the scene.  One can almost see the smirks and sublimated smiles on the faces of these religious hypocrites.

Now our Saviour is on the “defensive,” so thought these religionists, whose prejudice had blinded them to Christ’s ministry. The truth is,  they reminded the Lord Jesus of just half of a verse of Scripture.

They  were referring to Leviticus 20:10″

If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Question is: Where was the man?

And, the Mosaic Law called for witnesses.  How could there have been witnesses to an act that would have demanded the utmost  privacy?

The pompous religious sharks must have their pound of flesh: “Now, in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do you say?”

But the Scriptures say here in John 8, verse 6: This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.  But Jesus stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground as though he heard them not” (John 8:6, KJV).

Note: There has been much speculation as to what our Lord  wrote, that day.  Did He write the name of man who had trapped the sinner woman?  Did He write of the sins of the accusers?  Was He merely showing intentional  distraction and making meaningless marks in the dirt?  This is the only place in Scripture that refers to Christ as writing anything.  What did He write?  No ones knows.  If what He wrote was important for us to know the Holy Spirit would have had John record it.

These vultures were not about to abandon their trickery.  When they continued asking Him, our Saviour stood up, looked at them and gave the classic response we probably all know:  “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (verse 7).

The words dropped on the consciences of the woman’s accusers like paving blocks. They were stunned.  In shame and silence her tormenters glanced at each other and then silently began to follow the eldest among them out and away, taken aback in disgrace at the pungent words of the Lord Jesus who had again stooped down to write.

As our Saviour arose and looked around, seeing the men gone, He could have launched into a stern lecture on morality to this fallen lady.  He could have blistered her with an announcement of God’s righteousness, citing many Scriptures of which He was the Heavenly author. He knew she was a fallen woman. But history paints a truth every one of us needs to remember when we are tempted to pass judgment upon one who has failed!

“And straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” [John 8:10]

And her grateful soft voice, barely above a whisper replies: “Oudeis kurie!” [No one Lord]

And then these words from the sinless Son of God:  “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more” (v. 10b).

4.  If you return to verse 4 of our illustration in John chapter eight, you will note that the Pharisees interrupted our Lord’s teaching that early morning and addressed Him thusly: “Teacher.”  But, this dear woman sees in our Lord His true identity. He is “kurie” – “Lord.”

Elsewhere in Scripture (I Corinthians 12:3) significant light is thrown upon her use of “kurie”: ”and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

Oh, the goodness of God! What a remarkable example.  I have no doubt this sinful lady came to saving faith in the Lord Jesus that bittersweet day in her life, so long ago.

5.  Friend, you may be deeply ashamed of something in your past.  I know I am.  But the goodness of Christ can reach down and forgive you just as it did that day Christ taught at the Temple.  Don’t wait to come to Him.

6.  Romans 2:4, using “chrestotes” (our word for “kindness”) says, in our KJV:
“…the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.”  How very good God is!

Note: Some of this fruit of the blessed Holy Spirit, seems to overlap in its meaning. For example, “goodness” seems to have the same characteristics as “kindness.”  We don’t need to examine them with a microscope. We just need to learn to live in such a way that God produces them in our lives.  In a way, their names are immaterial!

G.  Faithfulness “pistis” 

1.  And now the seventh of this wonderful menu of Holy Spirit appointed fruits,

“pistis”

2.  Of all we have worked on in this powerful passage, “pistis” is the biggest word of them all.  It is used no less than 242 times in the Greek New Testament.  Mostly it is translated “faith.”  But four times, including  here in Galatians 5:22, it is translated “faithfulness.”

3.  Romans 3:3 shows the wisdom in referring to “pistis” in some cases, rather than simply “faith”  but rather as  “faithfulness.” 3  “What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify  the faithfulness of God, will it?” 

4.  We get some help as to “faithfulness” from Webster: a synonym of “faithfulness” is listed as “stedfast- a steady unwavering course in love and allegiance.”

5.  The year was 1971. It was Christmas time.  Larry and Vickie were the daughter and son-in-law of my friend in ministry, Rev. Carl Stephenson.  He had preceded me in a ministry near Bellefontaine, Ohio, a place called Logansville.

Now he was pastor of County Line Baptist Church in Dayton.  Vickie, the Stephenson’s daughter, had married Larry while Carl, her dad,  pastored at Logansville. 

We were developing a new church a few miles north of Logansville in Lakeview.  Our new building was complete.  It was time for our service of dedication.  Everyone was in high spirits. 

I stopped at the mobile home where Larry and Vickie lived with their infant daughter.  “Hey, you guys. Vickie, your dad is going to be our dedication speaker. Now that you have moved to Lakeview, can you come and be with us at our new church?”   We talked for a bit and they assured me they would be coming.  Of course, our fond hope was to get them to begin attending and to stay with us.  They were busy young people, Christians, but had not identified with any church as yet.   I left, confident they would be with us and happy to be working with this dear young family.

The following week, the day before Christmas Eve, Larry and Vickie had been with her folks in Dayton and had done Christmas shopping on the way home.  Nestled among the gifts they had purchased and her folks knew about, there in the back of their car was their tiny little baby girl, stowed away.

The two-hour drive back toward Logansville and then on to Lakeview required a late Friday night drive.  Their Olds Cutlass hard top purred along following State route 47 that snakes its way northeast, away from the Dayton area,  through Logansville and then on to Bellefontaine.  There they would pick up U.S. 33 and run  the final few miles to Lakeview and home.

It was just after midnight this dark December night that these happy young people reached the intersection with the county route  that intersects Ohio 47 just a few miles west of Logansville.  They had driven it numerous times.  The pavement was dry and no winter snow was anywhere to be seen.

Larry at the wheel and his young wife at his side could not have known that there was a drunken young man, driving a full-size Chevrolet, careening along,  without headlights, it is believed,  roaring at breakneck  speed, following that county route south, only a mile or so away.

One moment these dear young people were warm and safe and happy.  When the young man, our across-the-street neighbor it turns out, reached that corner it is thought he was driving about 70 miles per hour.  There were no skid marks on the pavement to indicate the driver had even taken his foot off the accelerator!

In a flash the Chevrolet hit the Olds Cutlass on Larry’s side.  The impact collapsed the Olds to half its size in the center.  Larry and Vickie were mangled to death in an instant.

The young Chevy driver was not badly hurt, somehow.  And the first passersby stopped at this grisly scene.  When emergency workers arrived on the scene they realized those passersby had left shortly before with valuables and gifts Larry and Vickie had with them.  Their sweet daughter was found crying, still on the back seat, but very much alive!

Two days later, I visited the home of the driver whose drunken driving had killed these precious young people.  He was terse and unresponsive to my witness of Christ.

Later that week, the funeral wake was held at the funeral home in Bellefontaine.  Jane and I made our way there  to meet with her folks, along with loved ones in our church, all with heavy hearts.  We were shattered at this terrible turn of events.

I rummaged my mind as we entered, wondering what I might say or do to comfort the Stevensons.  The depth of human suffering was theirs, that evening,  as we all knew, beyond words.

There standing on adjacent biers were the caskets of Larry and Vickie.  Before them, greeting those who had come were Carl and his precious wife, Vickie’s mother.

To my amazement and everlasting thanks, I beheld this godly pastor and his wife in a state of serenity like none I have ever seen, before or since!  I cried and they comforted me!

After some moments of tears and warm fellowship,  they reminded us that they were now the parents of their tiny granddaughter. 

It was about three years later that our son, Kevin, along with several other young people and adults accompanied us one Sunday afternoon to County Line Baptist Church in Dayton.  Carl had graciously permitted us to use their baptistry to see our class of new believers follow the Lord in baptism. 

Those of lesser faith might easily have quit the ministry, might even have walked away from their faith at the horrendous tragedy that had earlier befallen them.  Not the Stevensons. 

I must say that this lesson in stedfastness under the greatest of pain is probably the finest such  lesson I have ever beheld.  It is a thing called “faithfulness.”

Do you possess a faithfulness to God no matter what may happen in your family?

Clearly Carl and his wife believed their children were saved and with the Lord.  Oh, you say, too bad  they had not come to be part of your church before their accident.  Yes, and there is never a week in this church I do not think how different things would be if only more of our people were truly faithful to the Lord!

Sweet Jesus, help me to develop a faithfulness to You that  no one could or would gainsay.  But, just as important, may my life bring forth the fruit of faithfulness that will attract others to You.  May your Holy Spirit use me to live in such a way that faithfulness to You is my second nature.

Conclusion

1. We have tried to cast some light, again this morning on three of the fruit of the Holy Spirit God wants so much to cultivate in every Christian life. Next time we will look closely at the remaining two listed in Galatians 5:22-23.

2. If you have ever had an apple tree in your yard, you know the fruitbearing is not always the same.  When I was a boy we had an apple tree in our back yard.  It produced what was called “Transparents.”  Trouble is, it bore fruit only biannually.

3. One thing I never saw any of the adults doing was to lean a ladder up into the tree  on an off-year,  and then, with string and ripe apples, begin to tie mature apples on the tree.

4. I can almost hear you say, “Well, of course not.  Apples have to grow naturally.

They are produced from their own kind.”

5. Have you ever wondered what the basic problems of our world really are?

6.  In July, 2009, Decision Magazine printed an article by Rev. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  It was called “The Culture of Offendedness.

The article cataloged instance after instance in which people were offended by the most minor of incidents.  In a way, if you believe something or do something, it seems these days that immediately someone pops up, claiming to be offended.

“Hit the streets.  Start a protest.  Get revenge– I am offended!”

7. Believers, committed to following Christ and making Him known will always be offensive to some.  Galatians 5:11 speaks of offense:   And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

8. Paul is speaking of standing up for the truths of the gospel- the Cross of Christ here.  If we avoid the truth, we will not offend them with Christ’s claim upon them and the salvation He alone can provide.  Perish the thought.  The offense of the cross will come because it will offend some, though winning them is our goal.

9. Let us be sure that is  all  that offends those to whom we witness.  Not my personal offense, whatever that might be.  That is where bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit comes in.  It is another way of looking for and reminding God often that  sincerely “I want to be like Jesus.”

10. Thomas Obadiah Chisholm wrote these words to a compelling old hymn:

  

“I have one deep, supreme desire, That I may be like Jesus.

   To this I fervently aspire. That I may be like Jesus.

I want my heart His throne to be, So that a watching world may see

   His likeness shining forth in me.  I want to be like Jesus.

Oh, perfect life of Christ, my Lord!  I want to be like Jesus.

   My recompense and my reward, That I may be like Jesus.

His Spirit fill my hungering soul, His power all my life control;

  My deepest prayer, my highest goal.  That I may be like Jesus.

(Music by: David Livingstone Ives, #400 The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration)

THE FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Part 1) Sunday, February 19, 2017

THE FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Part 1)             Galatians 5:22-23          HOL-29

Introduction

1. The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit is a critically important teaching of which every believer should have a solid working knowledge.

2. To be factual and appreciative of these nine blessed truths, they should be presented in concert with what comes before in the Scriptures; Galatians chapter 5.

3. Let us direct our attention, first, to some   bad news  Paul here presents to us as a backdrop to the wonderful news of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

I. THE WORKS OF THE FLESH

1. No less than fifteen terrible “works of the flesh” are presented by the Apostle Paul in verses 19-21.  All of these are the antithesis, the very opposite of Holy Spirit fruit.

They are the makings of the world’s problems as I speak.

2. But, more than that, the fifteen “works of the flesh” tell the story as to whether or not one is a believer, or someone still in the lost condition.

3.. Listen carefully as I relate this “litany of the lost” from the New American Standard Translation, the most literal of all the modern translations:

Galatians 5:19-21, NASB

19  Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,20  idolatry, sorcery, enmities [hatreds], strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions [unbridled quarrels], factions [being a party in a group working against what is right],21  envying, drunkenness, carousing [drinking alcohol deeply or freely], and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

4.  On the authority of God’s Word, if there is anyone here for whom one or more of the above-mentioned “works of the flesh,” are common practice over which you are not troubled, you have the answer as to whether you are a Christian.

5.  Hear again the word of God from the pen of the Apostle Paul: “those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

6.  Listen to Ephesians chapter two where Paul begins this way:

Ephesians 2:1-3, NASB:

2:1  And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2  in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

7.  So, I draw a very simple but terribly appropriate conclusion: if the description  of the “works of the flesh,” as God’s Word has just described them, fits you, the rest of the message does not apply to you because it is for believers and you are still in the lost condition.

II.  CHARTING THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

1.  You have below,  a simple chart of the Fruit of the Spirit as the Scriptures give them.  A glance at it will help you identify clearly each from both the 400- hundred-year-old King James Bible and the agreement of the best of the modern language English versions.  To the left I have begun with the Greek words transliterated into English, then the King James Version (KJV), finally the combined New American Standard Bible (NASB), the New International Version (NIV) and the English Standard Version (ESV).

Greek word                            KJV                   NASB / NIV/ ESV  (All the same)*

1) agapa                                love                    love

2) chara                                 joy                      joy

3) eirene                                peace                  peace

           

4) makrothymia                      longsuffering        patience

5) chrestotes                          gentleness            kindness

6) agathosune                        goodness              goodness

7) pistis                                  faith                    faithfulness

8) prautes                               meekness            gentleness

9) egkrateia                             temperance          self-control

*New King James translation-identical to all these except  it refers to “patience” as “longsuffering”

III.  THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IN LIFE

A. Love – “agapa”

1. There are three Greek words for love:  “eros.”  This is erotic love.  The word that stands singularly for sexual desire.  One of the he Greek idolatrous gods was given the name Eros.  It is never used in the Word of God.

The Bible is clear that romantic love in the proper setting of the married state is a beautiful thing.  But, it is  always a part of holiness and respectful conduct.

2. The word “philos”, is the love of friendship, used 29 times as such in the New Testament.  Often referred to as “brotherly love.” 

The Lord Jesus referred to Himself in Mt. 11:19 as thought of as a “friend to tax-collectors and sinners.”  “Friend” translates from “philos” here.

3. The all-important Greek word the New Testament has for love is “agapa.

It is translated over 115 times in the KJV Bible as “love,” but 29 times as “charity.”

It is the primary word for love, in its highest form, “divine love,” if you will. It includes the love between married people in its purest form.

4.  When the Holy Spirit is present in a man, woman or child, He will produce a likeness to God in that person as the Christian yields to God and learns and obeys His Word.  This we call the “fruit of the Spirit.”

5. “Enmities,” as we learned earlier or “hatreds” are works of the old nature, the spirit of the lost man.  Love, divine love, is the opposite.

6.  If every Christian were to memorize the 13th chapter of I Corinthians it would revolutionize our thinking as we put it into practice.  The force of the passage is lost to some degree in the KJV because it uses “charity” instead of love.  Charity,  in our culture,  takes us away from the gut-level love of God we all need and need to put into practice. I recommend it be memorized from the NIV. Beautiful!

7. Example: The greatest example of  God’s form of love, that I am aware of in the world today, as a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the lives of Christians,  is the field hospital in Iraq that believers are operating just a few miles from the awful fighting going on in the city of Mosul.

Mosul was under control of ISIS, the radical Moslem slayers of Christians and everyone else not dedicated to taking over the world by force.  They held it and enslaved the population for over two years.

As western fighters, led by American special forces,  take back Mosul, many become casualties in the fighting.  Hundreds of lives have been saved by the medical personnel manning the tent-hospital.

The medical staff lives under harsh conditions. Even worse, they are in grave danger.  To the south are ISIS fighters performing terrorist attacks in Baghdad every day that slaughter many people.  To the north, just a few miles, pitched battles take place to regain Mosul. 

If military positions are overrun, as they were a few years ago, ISIS terrorists will overwhelm these precious believers and their tent hospital.  Yet they minister in Jesus’ name and with great bravery.

There is a special unit in their hospital that tends the wounds of captured ISIS fighters.  They are closely guarded.  One of them was overheard to remark to another, “Why are we fighting these people? They are very kind.”

Satan’s lies and devices are the stock in trade of the ISIS.  Holy Spirit love is the portion of the Samaritan’s Purse Christian doctors and nurses and technicians.

Is Holy Spirit love at work in your life?  That unselfishness that drives you to show care and concern and sacrifice and respect for everyone around you, is it yours?

B.  Joy- “chara,” – “delight”

1.  From another message I developed years ago, I quote regarding “joy.”

“We may be mistakenly led to believe joy and happiness are synonyms- not so.

  There is a Greek word for happiness: makairos, used about 50 times meaning happy or ‘blessed.’  But the biblical word is not what we in our western culture usually term happiness.  Western ‘happiness’ is more akin to ‘the American dream,’ which means, I think, settling down, owning a home, raising your children, getting them orthodontic fixtures and a ticket to college so they can do the same for their children.  To me this is a selfish view.”

2.  There was a beautiful seventeen-year-old young woman who, in the prime of her life years ago, was on a family outing.  The young people were swimming.  Nearby was a high bluff overlooking a large body of water that seemed it awaited a party of excited young people.

The young woman stepped to the edge of the bluff.  She set herself and made a clean and straight dive into the blue water.  Her family and friends looked on in approval.

In a few moments she would come up and swim in triumph to the bank, ready to follow others in who were waiting her return.  Problem was, she did not surface.  Seconds ticked away, and anxious eyes plied to water to watch her break the surface.  She did not.

Swimmers quickly ran down the bank and swam to the point of her entry into the water.  There at the bottom lay her prostrate body.  Strong arms pulled her to the surface and then to the shore. 

You see, she had no way of knowing the shallowness of the water at the point of her dive.  This precious young girl was a healthy teen, in the midst of others, also in the prime of life, when she made her dive.  No one knew at that moment that she would never walk or flail her arms again.

Joni Erickson was now a seventeen-year-old, helpless, quadriplegic.

Two days ago I heard her on Christian radio.  Her heart and life are full of joy.  That truth cannot be bought with money.  It cannot be trained into a sick or even a well person.  Only God’s Holy Spirit has given her victory in the face of a tragedy of unimaginable proportions. Her heartbreaking loss, God has turned in her life to a ministry to many, many thousands.  Her accident was many years ago.  Today she is a much-listened to and powerful witness for Christ.

3.  When money and health and friends and property and comfort go, and happiness even, there can still be joy.

Two men languished in a filthy, stinking jail cell.  They had been badly mistreated by their captors.  Their hands and feet were immobilized in heavy wooden stocks.  Curious insects traversed their lacerated backs.  The two men looked at each other and began singing!   Did you say “cursing?”  No, that is what the world does.  That is all the old nature is capable of. They sang and prayed to their God.

That singing and praying these two believers did won a whole family to Christ that very night.  All because two men named Paul and Silas prayed and sang in the face of dreary confinement in Philippi, the first European city in the history of the world to receive a Christian witness.

4. Make no mistake about it, dear ones, we can be joyful in Christ when the circumstances point to even terrible uncertainty as they did that night.  As we walk with the Lord every day, there will be many occasions when joy in our hearts will come to the surface.  Many of them will be as a direct answer to prayer.  Thank you, mighty Lord Jesus Christ.

C. Peace – “eirana”                  

1.  Eirana is translated 82 times as “peace” in our English Bibles.

2. The Lord Jesus said: John 14:27, KJV

27  “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto  you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.”

3.  That isn’t the way the world is.  Take a look at any matter from politics to health to medicine to law and all the rest.  Someone is sure to be in the streets in protest.

Somewhere in America a fight is breaking out.  A person is shot. An innocent person is set upon by a mob of unruly malcontents.  Murder is an every day occurrence in our major cities- many murders!

Law firms promise major dollars to anyone with the possibility of succeeding in a law suit.  “We will fight for you!  Everyone is afraid of us!  You deserve to win!”

4. The Bible describes this melting pot of the disturbed, the angry and the revenge-laden.

Isaiah 57:20-21:  But the wicked are like the troubled  sea, when it cannot rest , whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 21  “There is no peace,” saith my God, “to the wicked.”

5.  A man, well into years, sat one afternoon in the doorway of his hog barn.  He had bought the 110 acre farm as a man in his fifties.  He worked in a factory as a machinist.  The farm work was hard.  He loved it but he had a major problem.

Something was wrong with the hogs.  In case after case, they caught some disease and died.  The farmer tried and tried, treated them and still they died.  He was discouraged.  He was a Christian and was pastor of a country church.  He carried quite a load.  “What is wrong, Lord?  Why all these problems?”

As he sat in the doorway of the old hog barn, his feet rested near the soft soil just outside.   He wondered what to do. 

Suddenly, he heard a hard “thump” from the side of his old wooden barn.  Curious, he got up, slipping down to the earth and turned to his right, walking in the direction of the unusual noise.

After a few steps he looked down at the ground  under the  closed window in the middle of the barn,  that matched one just like it on the other side.  There, one wing still extended, was the body of a small English sparrow.  The little bird had mistaken the transparency the matching windows provided, for a clear flying space. 

The farmer thoughtfully stroked his chin for a few moments.    Then, he looked up to heaven and softly muttered a few words, “Thank you, Lord.”   He turned and made his way up the lane to the house.  He would tell his wife what happened. She would remember Matthew 10:29, and the sparrows,  the same as he had.  Things would be all right, he thought.  And they were.

God has the same peace for you in your time of trial if you watch Him provide it.  He did that for my dad.  He’ll do it for you too!  He might not knock down a sparrow to remind you, but He is with you just the same. Peace is alive in the hearts of the righteous.

6.  Song writer, Shirley Caesar’s testimony of Holy Spirit peace is so appropriate:

     “There is peace in the midst of my storm-tossed life.  I’ve an anchor, I’ve a rock to cast my faith upon.  Jesus Christ is  my vessel, so I’ll fear not alarm.  He gives me peace in the midst of my storm.”   Is that true of you my friend.  Do you have Holy Spirit -authored peace in your life?

Note: Before we leave Ms. Caesar’s work, listen again to a tiny but significant phrase she wrote: “…Jesus Christ is my vessel…”  You see, that is good theology for to be filled with and used by God’s Spirit we must be “in Christ,”  saved by Him and living in firm identity with Him.

If the name of Christ, in public, is embarrassing to you, one thing sure, you are in no position to see the fruit of peace growing in your life!

D. Patience –  “makrothymia”                             

1. “Makrothymia is translated all 14 times it appears in the New Testament as “patience.”  The King James Bible has “long-suffering.”  The New King James also uses “longsuffering.”

2.   But, patience is a virtue hard to come by.  Romans 5:3 says, “…tribulation works patience.”  Usually something unexpected and unwelcome comes to tutor the recipient in the gift of patience!  Ugh!

3.  A young seminary student, in his first year (referred to as “Juniors” in graduate school language), was enrolled in a Greek grammar course.  One day, he raised his hand and boldly spoke up concerning a procedure the teacher was using to teach.  It called into question the professor’s method of instruction.

At this outburst, what could have been the professor’s options?  Well, he could have given a sarcastic belittling remark in response. He could have, as we say, “put him in his place.” He could have held the student over for a tongue-lashing after class.  He could have reported the incident to the Dean of the Seminary.  Any of these were deserved.  So, what happened?

The professor was an elderly man with a doctorate, much respected for his wisdom and godly life.  At the rebuke he looked up and smiled slightly and then returned to his lecture.  Looking back on the incident there were at least three important points the student had overlooked.

First and foremost, the student had broken the Scriptures which clearly forbid “rebuking an elder.” (I Timothy 5:1 Rebuke not an elder but treat him as a father…”). 

Second, the professor was a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, where the famed Kenneth Wuest had taught.  Dr. Quincer, the professor had probably studied under him.

Third, the seminary boy was not an “A” student by any means and certainly had nothing by which to teach the professor.

So, where does patience come into play in this illustration?  Just this.  Four years passed and this seminary student was now a graduate up for ordination at his home church in Grand Rapids.  Dr. Quincer, the Greek professor, was one who came to the ordination service the night of August 12, 1964 and laid hands, along with others, on the upstart student who had embarrassed him in front of his class four years before.

I can still make out Dr. Sheldon Quincer’s signature of approval and encouragement  on my Ordination Certificate. Truly patience is a great virtue, a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit in a believer who is walking with the Lord.

Conclusion

1. Thus far we have worked our way through four of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.  The remaining five await attention another day.

2. Suffice it to say this:  Holy Spirit fruit is produced not by working hard or paying money or being religious or showing piety or impressing people or joining a group or improving one’s skills, or taking a class, or even joining a church.  It does not come automatically with salvation or baptism or deep study. 

3. There is one way and one way only for any and every Christian to realize the fruit of the Spirit in your life.  It must grow there.  It is an outcome.  It is a result.  It is a gift from God.  It is a product of God.  It is to be a major part of the testimony of every believer who wants God’s best.

4. It is safe to say that anyone “claiming” the fruit of the Spirit, any of the nine here in Galatians 5:22-23 (and there are more just as the verse itself admits : “…against such things, there is no law.” ) yes, anyone claiming to possess them probably does not have them in his and her life.  But, clearly these nine fruits are recognizable and ought to be cultivated in every believer’s life.  There must be many more for the blessed Holy Spirit is God.  And God is infinite. 

5. These fruits must appear in my life and yours if we are to be what God wants us to be as individuals and in our church collectively.  They are a major part of the filling of the Spirit.  And we are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). They are part and parcel of our testimony.  They are the real thing of the Christian life!

Prayer:  You can pray this prayer: Oh, Holy Spirit make me a clean vessel to receive your Holy Spirit’s gifts, His life, His power and His blessing.  I surrender to You today, blessed Holy Spirit of God.  Cleanse me and use me!

                    

If I harbor any sin in my life, sweet Spirit I know You will not fill me with Yourself. I turn away, I confess every wrong thing, every sin.  I turn to You for blessing and power.  Amen.

  Pastor K. F. Pierpont (kfpierpont@nullgmail.com)