THIS WAS A TWO PART SERMON I HAD PREPARED FOR THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES, COLLINGWOOD, ONTARIO, WITH THE CANADIAN CHURCH OF GOD, BUT DID NOT BRING, SO HERE NOW YOU CAN HAVE IT.
FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT - Part One
CERTAINLY ONE WAY, A VERY GOOD WAY INDEED, IS TO TAKE ALL THE WORDS PAUL GIVES IN GALATIANS 5, AND WITH THE HELP OF STRONG’S CONCORDANCE OF THE BIBLE, LOOK UP THE PLACES WHERE THAT WORD IS USED IN THE BIBLE.
NOW THAT WOULD TAKE MANY MANY HOURS, DIVIDED UP OVER THE DAYS OR PARTS OF DAYS, YOU CAN SCHEDULE IN YOUR LIFE. I CAN REMEMBER DOING THAT SORT OF STUDY A LOT WHEN I WAS A SINGLE GUY, AND SO SOMETIMES TAKING A WHOLE DAY TO STUDY THAT WAY; SOMETIMES JUST ONE WORD COULD TAKE A FULL DAY TO STUDY. AND WITH THAT KIND OF STUDY YOU CAN OFTEN FIND DIFFERENT HEBREW OR GREEK WORDS USED, FOR THE SAME ENGLISH WORD. THEN YOU CAN SEE WHAT STRONG’S CONCORDANCE GIVES AS TO THEIR MEANING; SHOWING SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT NUANCES [DIFFERENT SHADES OF MEANING].
THIS TWO PART SERMON WILL NOT BE THAT KIND OF STUDY.
THIS STUDY WILL TAKE THE FORM OF LIVING EXAMPLES TO AMPLIFY THE WORDS, WITH SOME OTHER SCRIPTURES HERE AND THERE AT TIMES.
To "Let Go" Takes Love
To "let go" does not mean to stop caring, it means that I can't do it for someone else.
To "let go" is not to cut myself off, it is the
realization that I can't control another.
To "let go" is not to enable, but to allow
learning from natural consequences.
To "let go" is to admit powerlessness, which
means the outcome is not in my hands.
To "let go" is not to try to change or blame
another, it is to make the most of myself.
To "let go" is not to care for, but to care about.
To "let go" is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To "let go" is not to judge, but to allow another
to be a human being.
To "let go" is not to be in the middle arranging
all the outcomes, but to allow others to effect
their own destinies.
To "let go" is not to be protective, it is to
permit another to face reality.
To "let go" is not to deny, but to accept.
To "let go" is not to nag, scold, or argue, but
instead to search out my own shortcomings and
To "let go" is not to adjust everything to my
desires, but to take each day as it comes, and
cherish myself in it.
To "let go" is not to criticize and regulate
anybody, but to try to become what I dream I
To "let go" is not to regret the past, but to grow
and to live for the future.
To "let go" is to fear less and to love more.
—Margaret J. Rinck, Can Christians Love Too Much?
I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.
I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.
I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can't help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.
I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern But a temple;
Out of the works Of my every day
Not a reproach But a song.
Croft, quoted in Hazel Felleman, The Best Loved Poems of the American People
L—listening when another is speaking,
0—overlooking petty faults and forgiving all
V—valuing other people for who they are;
E—expressing love in a practical way.
—Denis Waitley, Seeds of Greatness
Someone Once Said...
Kindness: Love in Action.
I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow-being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.
He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.
—Saint Basil (A.D)
WHAT WE can do for our Heavenly Father is to be kind to one of his children.
— St. Teresa of Avila
Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.
— Albert Schweitzer
Random Acts of Kindness
If you don't think the world is hungry for kindness, consider this. In 1982, Berkeley writer and activist Anne Herbert coined a simple phrase: Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK). The idea took root, then took off. In 1992, a book by that title was published promoting this thought: "Imagine what would happen if there were an outbreak of kindness in the world, if everybody did one kind thing on a daily basis." The book became an instant bestseller, spawning such things as:
An annual RAOK Week—Participants are encouraged to do things like paying the toll of the person on the road behind them, shovel their neighbor's driveway, offer flowers to a coworker with whom they normally clash. (In 1997, more than 500 communities in five countries celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Week).
RAOK Clubs that hand gifts to strangers on the subway and deliver 'baskets of joy' to nursing homes, hospitals, and rehab centers.
A RAOK World movement, spreading through classrooms, churches, hospitals, businesses, municipalities, web sites, and service clubs.
RAOK emphases in schools. Some principals now give deserving students certificates saying "Caught Ya Being Kind."
OK foundations, magazines, and newsletters.
An endorsement from Princess Diana "Perhaps we're too embarrassed to change or too frightened of the consequences of showing that we actually care. But why not risk it anyway? Begin Today. Carry out a random act of seemingly senseless kindness, with no expectation of reward or punishment, safe in the knowledge that one day, someone somewhere might do the same for you."
Thousands of suggestions for RAOK, such as:
Adopt a stray animal. Smile at the bus driver. Just really listen to someone. Compliment a stranger sincerely. Return shopping carts to the store. Write a thank you note to someone. Buy biscuits for your neighbor's dog. Paint flowers on the envelopes you mail. Treat your local police officer to coffee. Give up your place in line at the grocery store to the person with just one item.
At about age fifty, Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy developed a profound interest in spiritual things and began studying the Gospels in earnest. Unfortunately, he rejected more than he accepted, repudiating belief in miracles, the deity of Christ, the personality of God, and the plan of salvation. Tolstoy reduced Christianity to little more than charity and good works.
Nonetheless he wrote about it beautifully, and nothing sums up his philosophy better than this story which Tolstoy based on one of his favorite passages, Matthew 25:31-40:
One night Martin Avdeitch, a humble shoemaker, dozing over his open Bible, suddenly seemed to hear a voice saying, "Martin! Look thou into the street tomorrow, for I am coming to visit thee." Convinced the Lord Jesus was going to visit him, Martin awoke the next morning with nervous excitement. But no one showed up that day except a succession of penniless and pitiful souls: an aged veteran, a shivering mother and newborn, an old peddler woman and a frightened boy who had filched one of her apples.
With a kind heart, Martin cared for each person, but as evening fell, he was disappointed that Jesus had not visited that day. Putting on his spectacles, he took up his Bible with a sigh, and it opened to Matthew 25. Martin read: "For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in." "Lord, when did we do these things?" Looking on down the page, Martin read: "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."
Then Martin understood that the vision had come true, and that his Savior had in very truth visited him that day, and that he had received Him.
God loves us the way we are, but he loves us too much to leave us that way.
Leighton Ford (Change, Acceptance)
How do I want to be remembered? Not primarily as a Christian scholar but rather as a loving person. This can be the goal of every individual.
Elton Trueblood (Legacy, Goals)
In the prologue to Leadership Jazz, Max DePree writes about his granddaughter, Zoe:
[Zoe] was born prematurely and weighed one pound, seven ounces, so small that my wedding ring could slide up her arm to her shoulder. The neonatologist who first examined her told us that she had a 5 to 10 percent chance of living three days. When Esther and I saw Zoe in her isolette in the neonatal intensive care unit, she had two IVs in her navel, one in her foot, a monitor on each side of her chest, and a respirator tube and a feeding tube in her mouth.
To complicate matters, Zoe s biological father had jumped ship the month before Zoe was born. Realizing this, a wise and caring nurse named Ruth gave me my instructions. "For the next several months, at least, you're the surrogate father. I want you to come to the hospital every day to visit Zoe, and when you come, I want you to rub her body and her legs and arms with the tip of your finger. While you're caressing her, you should tell her over and over how much you love her, because she has to be able to connect your voice to your touch.”
God knew that we also needed both his voice and his touch. So he gave us the Word, his Son, and also his body, the church. God's voice and touch say, "I love you."
—Ed Rotz(Caregiving, Touch)
Rita Price writes in a 1995 issue of the
Katie Fisher, 17, pulled her unruly lamb into the arena of the Madison County Junior Livestock Sale last July. With luck the lamb would fetch some spending money—and she wouldn't collapse as she had during another livestock show the day before. Fisher had been battling Burkitt's lymphoma, a fast-growing malignancy, since February. She had endured many hospitalizations and months of chemotherapy. "Sometimes, in the beginning, it hurt so bad all she could do was pace," said her 12-year-old sister, Jessica. Selling the lamb did raise pin money for Fisher.
"We sort of let folks know that Katie had a situation that wasn't too pleasant," said auctioneer Roger Wilson, who hoped his in-traduction would push the price-per-pound above the average of $2. It did—and then some.
The lamb sold for $11.50 per pound. Then the buyer gave it back. That started a chain reaction. Families bought it and gave it back; businesses bought it and gave it back.
Te first sale is the only one I remember. After that, I was crying too hard," said Katie's mother, Jayne Fisher. "Everyone kept saying, 'Re-sell! Re-sell!'"
"We sold that lamb 36 times," said Wilson. And the last buyer gave back the lamb for good. The effort raised more than $16,000, which went into a fund to help pay Katie's medical expenses. It is blessed both to give and to receive.
“….BECAUSE THE LOVE OF GOD IS SHED ABROAD IN OUR HEARTS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT WHICH IS GIVEN UNTO US” [ROMANS 5:5].
“IF A MAN LOVE ME, HE WILL KEEP MY WORDS: AND MY FATHER WILL LOVER HIM, AND WE WILL COME UNTO HIM, AND MAKE OUR ABODE WITH HIM” [JOHN 14: 23].
“IF YOU KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS, YOU SHALL ABIDE IN MY LOVE, EVEN AS I HAVE KEPT MY FATHER’S COMMANDMENTS AND ABIDE IN HIS LOVE” [JOHN 15: 10].
“THIS IS MY COMMANDMENT, THAT YOU LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AS I HAVE LOVED YOU…..THESE THINGS I COMMAND YOU, THAT YOU LOVE ONE ANOTHER” [JOHN 15: 12, 17].
“IF YOU LOVE ME KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS” [JOHN 14: 15].
“HE THAT HAS MY COMMANDMENTS, AND KEEPS THEM, HE IT IS WHO LOVES ME: AND HE THAT LOVES ME SHALL BE LOVED OF MY FATHER, AND I WILL LOVE HIM, AND WILL MANIFEST MYSELF TO HIM” [JOHN 14: 21].
“ AND THIS IS THE LOVE OF GOD, THAT WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS: AND HIS COMMANDMENTS ARE NOT GRIEVOUS” [1 JOHN 5: 3].
In Discipleship Journal Paul Thigpen writes:
I remember coming home one afternoon to discover that the kitchen I had worked so hard to clean only a few hours before was now a terrible wreck. My young daughter had obviously been busy "cooking," and the ingredients were scattered, along with dirty bowls and utensils, across the counters and floor. I was not happy with the situation. Then, as I looked a little more closely at the mess, I spied a tiny note on the table, clumsily written and smeared with chocolatey fingerprints. The message was short—"I'm makin sumthin 4 you, Dad"—and it was signed, "Your Angel." In the midst of that disarray, and despite my irritation, joy suddenly sprang up in my heart, sweet and pure. My attention had been redirected from the problem to the little girl I loved. As I encountered her in that brief note, I delighted in her. With her simple goodness in focus, I could take pleasure in seeing her hand at work in a situation that seemed otherwise disastrous.
The same is true of my joy in the Lord. Many times life looks rather messy; I can't find much to be happy about in my circumstances. Nevertheless, if I look hard enough, I can usually see the Lord behind it all, or at least working through it all, "makin’ sumthin’” for me.
Many people have heard that JOY means Jesus first, Others next, and Yourself last But in a Christmas sermon in 1998, Pastor Phil Toole of Mountain Valley Community Church of Scottsdale, Arizona, put it different.
"The 'J' stands for Jesus," said Pastor Toole. "The 'Y' stands for you. Do you know what the 'O' stands for? It stands for zero. Just what it says—nothing. What I am saying here is the way to stay close to Jesus and keep joy in your heart is let nothing come between Jesus and you.”
Looking in the Wrong Places
Comedian Lenny Bruce once shared his philosophy of life like this: "Look, you have only sixty-five years to live. Before you're twenty, you can't enjoy anything because you don't know what's going on. After you're fifty, you can't enjoy it either, because you don't have the physical energies. So you only have around twenty-five years, and I'm going to swing."
Joy bursts in on our lives when we go about doing the good at hand and not trying to manipulate things and times to achieve joy.
C. S. Lewis (Manipulation, Ministry)
JOY is the enjoyment of God and the good things that come from the hand of God. If our new freedom in Christ is a piece of angel food cake, joy is the frosting. If the Bible gives us the wonderful words of life, joy supplies the music. If the way to heaven turns out to be an arduous steep climb, joy sets up the chair lift.
—Sherwood Wirt, Jesus, Man of Joy
We are chosen for joy. However hard the Christian way, it is both in the travelling and in the goal, the way of joy. There is always a joy in doing the right thing. When we evade some duty or some task, when at last we set our hand to it, joy comes to us. The Christian is the man of joy. The Christian is the laughing cavalier of Christ. A gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms, and nothing in all religious history has done Christianity more harm than its connection with black clothes and long faces.
—William Barclay, The Gospel of John, Vol.2
“THESE THINGS I HAVE SPOKEN UNTO YOU, THAT MY JOY MIGHT REMAIN IN YOU, AND THAT YOUR JOY MIGHT BE FULL” [JOHN 15: 11].
“….JESUS CHRIST. WHOM HAVING NOT SEEN, YOU LOVE, IN WHOM THOUGH NOW YOU SEE HIM NOT, YET BELIEVING, YOU REJOICE WITH JOY UNSPEAKABLE AND FULL OF GLORY” [1 PETER 1: 8].
“THEREFORE THEY THAT WERE SCATTERED ABROAD, WENT EVERY WHERE PREACHING THE WORD. THEN PHILIP WENT DOWN TO THE CITY OF SAMARIA, AND PREACHED CHRIST UNTO THEM…..AND THERE WAS GREAT JOY IN THAT CITY” [ACTS 8: 4, 8].
Peace is not the absence of trouble. Peace is the presence of God.
Unknown (God's Presence, Difficulty)
God. . . "works always in tranquility." Fuss and feverishness, anxiety, intensity, intolerance, instability, pessimism and wobble, and every kind of hurry and worry—these, even on the highest levels, are signs of the self-made and self-acting soul; the spiritual parvenu. The saints are never like that. They share the quiet and noble qualities of the great family to which they belong.
Evelyn Underhill (Self-reliance, Stress)
When I was a teenager, our family took cross country car trips each summer. To keep the peace, we each took a turn choosing a cassette to play in the car tape deck. No one was allowed to complain or comment about another's choice.
My mother liked to listen to hymns. I chose contemporary Christian music. My younger brother preferred rock. And Dad? He always thought the best thing was a 90-minute tape that was still blank!
Sharon Fleming (Respect, Silence)
In Acceptance Lieth Peace
He said, "I will forget the dying faces;
The empty places,
They shall be filled again.
O voices moaning deep within me, cease.'
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in forgetting lieth peace.
He said, "I will crowd action upon action,
The strife of faction
Shall stir me and sustain;
O tears that drown the fire of manhood cease."
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in endeavor lieth peace.
He said, "I will withdraw me and be quiet,
Why meddle in life's riot?
Shut be my door to pain.
Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease.'
But vain the word; vain, vain:"
Not in aloofness lieth peace.
He said, "I will submit; I am defeated.
God hath depleted My life of its rich gain.
O futile murmurings, why will ye not cease?
But vain the word; vain, vain:"
Not in submission lieth peace.
He said, "I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God to-morrow
Will to His son explain."
Then did the turmoil deep within him cease.
Not vain the word, not vain;
For in Acceptance lieth peace.
—Amy Carmichael, Toward Jerusalem
This was my calculated plan:
I would set aside my usual schedule —
The menial tasks that wedge in routinely.
In the peace and quiet of my living room
I would relax in Your glorious presence.
How joyfully I envisioned the hours —
My personal spiritual retreat!
With Bible and notebook beside me
I would study and meditate —
I would intercede for the needy world.
But how differently it happened, Lord:
Never has the phone rung so persistently.
Sudden emergencies kept pouring in
Like summer cloudbursts.
My husband came home ill.
There were appointments to cancel;
Plans to rearrange.
The mailman brought two disturbing letters,
A cousin whose name I couldn't remember
Stopped by on her way through town.
My morning elation became drooping deflation.
And yet, dear Lord,
You were with me in it all!
I sense Your vital presence—
Your sure and steady guidance.
Not once did you leave me stranded.
Perhaps, in Your great wisdom
You longed to teach me a practical truth:
When You are my Spiritual Retreat
I need not be a spiritual recluse.
—Ruth Harms Calkin, Lord, You Love to Say Yes
Peace is the brief glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading.
—Lloyd Cory, Quote Unquote
Lord, keep me still,
Though stormy waves may blow
And waves my littie bark may overflow,
Or even if in darkness I must go;
Lord, keep me still.
The waves are in Thy hand,
The roughest seas subside at Thy command.
Steer Thou my bark in safety to the land
And keep me still,
Keep me still.
—Author unknown, quoted in Al Bryant, Sourcebook of Poetry
Someone Once Said ...
There was in him an inner calm hard to explain.
—an unnamed officer, describing British General William George Shedden Dobbie.
The peace of God is that eternal calm which lies far too deep in the praying, trusting soul to be reached by any external disturbances.
—A. T. Pierson.
Do you know what it is, when you are tossed on the waves, to go down into the depths of Godhead, there rejoicing that not a wave of trouble ruffles your spirit, but that you are serenely at home with God your own Almighty Father?
—Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
The Age of Anxiety
A wife called the doctor one morning, saying, "Doctor, come quick! It's my husband!"
"What's the matter?" he calmly replied.
"Well, he got up this morning and took his vitamin pill. Then he took his appetite suppressant, his anti-depressant, and his tranquilizer. He also took an antihistamine and some Benzedrine. Then he lit a cigarette, and there was this explosion!"
“PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU, MY PEACE I GIVE UNTO YOU: NOT AS THE WORLD GIVES, GIVE I UNTO YOU….” [JOHN 14:27].
“IF IT BE POSSIBLE, AS MUCH AS LIES IN YOU, LIVE PEACEABLY WITH ALL MEN” [ROMANS 12: 18].