With our last service being the Challenge of Pentecost, we thought it would be logical to move on to the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-23). But how could we hope to teach about all of the fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – in one 40 minute slot, and still have time for games, songs and craft? Easy – break it into 3 parts. So last Sunday we started with Love, Joy & Peace.
We loved the Paper Bag Fall Tree from Pikadilly Charm’s blog, so adapted it to illustrate the Fruit of the Spirit, printing sticky labels (use a lot of those!) with each of the virtues from the reading and using those instead of leaves to decorate our trees. With the addition of a Holy Spirit in the form of a dove/flame, our children will have a quirky reminder of the gifts of the Spirit.
Who remembers The Generation Game? Or am I showing my age and Englishness? For those that don’t remember, at the end of the show the winner was shown a conveyor belt full of goodies; those items that the contestant could remember afterwards were the ones that they got to take home. There was ALWAYS at least one cuddly toy! As a fun way to get everyone to remember the nine Fruit of the Spirit, we did our own version of the game on Power Point, and got everyone calling out the various items that had appeared on the “conveyor belt”. Check it out here: 5+ a day memory test
And, as usual, Vanessa’s message was right on the mark:
LOVE, JOY, PEACE – FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
(2 June 2013)
Well Gail and I have followed Hollywood and are doing our first trilogy. Yes you are in store for a three part series on the fruit of the spirit.
So the first three: love, joy and peace are what I am talking about today.
I love God, I love chocolate, I love gardening,, I love my ukulele, I love lots of things and I am sure you love lots of things too – anyone want to tell me what you love? So we all have love – that was easy.
Hang on – I don’t have love all the time. I don’t love idiot drivers, I don’t love long checkout queues, I don’t love boiled mushy brussel sprouts and I do not love being afraid. I have very real fears. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of not being enough.
Gail gave me a bible verse the other day: 1 John 4:18. There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out all fear. In 1967 The Beetles knew it – all we need is love. And the ONLY place to get it is from God, for God IS love. We need to fill that moment of fear, anger, hate or frustration (which does not come from God) with the love of God , we are drawn back to Him.
There were only TWO commandments that Jesus gave us – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all strength and with all your mind, and love everyone else as you love yourself. (Luke 10:27). I had someone who I struggled with – just grated me the wrong way and it wasn’t someone I could just take out of my phone, delete from my contacts and then not deal with – that would have been easy. I had to see them and talk to them often and it was hard. Sometimes I would get nervous and my tummy would get in knots, sometimes I got frustrated and I couldn’t say what I wanted. I prayed that they would change – well that didn’t work. I prayed that I would change, change the way I felt about them, accept them and yes love them and that worked. So I thought that’s great I got this love thing sorted, I know what to do there now.
But no – next for me was dealing with my fears and the answer God gave me was love. This bit is a work in progress but the thing is it’s better than it was. That’s the thing I find with being a Christian as we face things with God, He teaches us and if we listen and learn, it makes us wiser. There will never be a time on this earth when any of us reach perfection – the only one who was perfect was Jesus. It’s a process of growth as our fruit of the Spirit develops, as we transform into who God has planned us to be – each one of us unique, special – one of a kind.
Moving on to JOY:
Ready …. If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands – clap, clap. Anyone else what to join in who’s feeling happy. If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands – clap, clap. Great – that was easy we are all happy.
Hang on, sometimes I feel sad and we have all been sad at some time, and happiness is not joy. Happiness depends on our circumstances, our mood, and is momentary. A sunny day can make us happy, good news can make us happy, a funny joke or photo can make us happy. But Joy is deep rooted and constant. It is inside us, not outside of us. It comes from the Holy Spirit. Jesus said this in John 15:11 “I have told you these things, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.” That’s the thing with God and his blessings, He never says “and may you have not enough” and keep you wanting; He never says “may you have just enough to satisfy”. He says “and may it be of full measure and complete and overflowing.” Do you get it – more than you need. That’s our God.
One thing that blocks our joy is talking and thinking about our problems. Unhappy people make others unhappy. Joyce Meyer says an unhappy Christian is an oxymoron – it just shouldn’t be, they are two opposites – unhappy and Christian. In the Bible it tell us: We have eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus (John 3:16), We have a God that wants us to give him all our burdens and worries and He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28-30). We have a God that will not test us beyond what we can cope with (I Corinthian 10:13). We have a God that loves us with a love that we can never be separated from (Romans 8:39) WE have a God that wants to give us an overflowing blessed life. (John 10:10) So why are we unhappy and unsatisfied – Simply, we are human. Once again I say, it’s a process – as we are tested we grow. In James 1:2-3 it says Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And finally peace. We are living in peacetime – NZ is not at war with anyone. So technically we are at peace – that was easy.
You’ve probably guessed it – it’s not that easy at all.
Here’s a slogan I saw years ago: No God, No Peace; Know God, Know Peace.
Clever and true. And I believe there are three kinds of peace: Peace WITH God (upward peace), Peace OF God (inward peace) and Peace WITH each other (outward peace).
We can’t have THE peace of God until we have A piece of God. The only way you have A piece of God is having a personal relationship with Him – it is up to you, not Him. It is the daily decisions you make, not Him. No one else in this world can have your relationship with God. It’s personal- one to one. God is there always, waiting for you to say hi. Read the Bible, talk to him in prayer and listen to what He says to you – it is full of love, it will give you peace, it will challenge you, it will make you laugh – and it’s just between you and Him.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself grant you His peace at all times and in all ways, under all circumstances and conditions, whatever comes.
We need to make peace with who we are, where we are and what surrounds us. Worry is the war against peace. Peace comes from trusting God – not by asking “why?”
So, finally, we want these qualities now: love, joy and peace –but it is fruit we are talking about. Some things we pray for come instantly, but fruit doesn’t. A seed needs to be planted in the right soil, shoots appear, it blossoms and then fruit forms and ripens. It’s a process. When we appreciate and wonder at the marvel of God’s grace to us, then we are motivated to respond in ways that please Him, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to walk in ways we previously thought impossible. We shall stumble and fall at times, of course, but remember we are on a journey of spiritual growth.