Fruitful In Every Good Work
The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Peace...
Peace. It's easy when things are going well. When everyone is healthy, when you are making more money than you are spending each month, and when the people around you all seem to be getting along, then peace fills your soul and life is easy. But we can turn to Ecclesiastes 3:8 and read that there is, "A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." What about those times of war when there is no peace? What about the times when you are sitting in a waiting room, wondering what the doctor will say? What about the times when you are riding out the storms of life and you feel like your ship is about to go under? During those times we can trust in the "Prince of Peace". (Isaiah 9:6) Before Jesus left this world He said, "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, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27) And again in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." When life gets tough and the seas rage high, remember that you serve the God who walks on the water and can calm the storms. "And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." (Mark 4:39) The world can have peace when life is easy, but God can give you peace that the world can't understand because it passes all understanding. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)
The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Longsuffering...
If we were to rank the attributes of God's love in order of importance to us we would have to put longsuffering real close to the top. Without God's merciful longsuffering would any of us be saved? Our Sunday School lessons have been on the book of Jonah for the past three weeks. God was longsuffering with the Ninevites, in that He gave them a chance to turn to Him in repentance. But we also see that God was longsuffering with Jonah in giving him a second chance to go and preach at Nineveh. We find this truth taught in the New Testament in II Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." When we look at the sinfulness in the world today we may wonder why doesn't God do something to change the world. He already has. He gave the best He had to give. He gave His only begotten Son to die to pay for sins of each person who will come to Him in humble repentance. I am thankful for God's longsuffering love, because He is patient with me and forgives me each time I ask. To show God's love to others I need to be longsuffering and show patience when I have to wait a little longer than I expected. I also need to bear with someone who doesn't follow through and keep a promise that was made, or when someone doesn't understand what I am saying. A good example to follow is found in I Corinthians 13, which has often been called the love chapter.
"4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Gentleness...
Our scripture references today are found in Isaiah 40. The chapter opens, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God." (Isaiah 40:1) We see the Creator in verse 12, "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?" We serve an amazing, powerful God, yet He is gentle towards His sheep. "Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." (Isaiah 40:10-11) Many years ago we taught our children at church this lovely hymn that was written by Gloria Gaither, "Gentle Shepherd".
Gentle Shepherd come and lead us
For we need you to help us find our way
Gentle Shepherd come and feed us
For we need your strength from day to day
There's no other we can turn to
Who can help us face another day
Gentle Shepherd come and lead us
For we need you to help us find our way
A Fruitful Tree
Many years ago I was canning apples and I dumped a bucket of peels and seeds in the corner of the yard to see if any of the seeds would grow into trees. Several little trees came up and when we moved, I took some of them with us. All but one of the little trees died, but the one that lived is a great big shade tree now. It used to bear just a few apples, which the deer ate, but I haven't seen any fruit on it in a long time. I recently heard that apple trees need another tree nearby to have fruit. I really don't know anything about fruit trees. But when I look at that tree I think about how great it would be if I could pick apples from it. I want to be a fruitful tree. I don't want to live my life and come to the end with nothing when I meet my Lord. The first Psalm tells us how to be fruitful and prosper. Let's delight in the law of the Lord and be fruitful.
"1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish." (Psalm 1)
A Land Of Milk And Honey
God told Moses that He would lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt and into a land that flowed with milk and honey. This is first mentioned in Exodus 3:7-8. "And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey;..." Have you ever wondered about this description of the land? To say the land flowed with milk would indicate that there are green pastures for the flocks and herds and sufficient water to sustain them. And a land that flowed with honey shows that there were flowers and blossoms to keep the bees buzzing as they pollinated the vegetables that grew. When Moses sent the 12 spies to search out the land they learned that the land was indeed a land of milk and honey and they carried back some of the fruit of the land.
"23 And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
24 The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence.
25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.
26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it." (Numbers 13:23-27)
God was true to His Word, but the majority of the people did not believe and they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. When God tells us something, we can trust that His Word never fails and we can go forward and reap a fruitful bounty when we put our faith in Him.
The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Love...
I can't talk about being fruitful without looking at the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." I once heard an old preacher say that the fruit of the Spirit is love, and all the rest are flavors, just like ice cream. The Apostle John often referred to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" and his books are filled with the love of God. I want to share some of John's verses on love. They really don't need any explanation.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not." (I John 3:1)
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:34-35)
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13)
"7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." (I John 4:7-11)
The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Joy...
Since I became a mom many, many years ago, one of my favorite verses has been III John 1:4, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." Now that I have been blessed with grandchildren, my joy has increased. I was able to spend a lot of time with several of my grands this week and my joy has been full. I find joy in working in my garden and it has been rewarding this week to pick green peas and pull up my beets. I enjoy working around the house and I even enjoy cleaning, making beds, and cooking our meals. After busy weeks like this one, I sometimes wake up tired and don't feel ready to face another day. When that happens I try to remember Psalms 118:24, "This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." All of these things are great for rejoicing, but my greatest joy can be found in Luke 2:10-11. "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." It doesn't have to be close to Christmas for me to rejoice in Christ my Savior. Because He came to die for me and saved me from eternal death of my sin I can rejoice in the life He gives me every single day, and has promised for eternity.