come and see

John 1:46 “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanael asked.“Come and see,” answered Philip.


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Fruit of the Spirit (3) – Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control

And so we reach the conclusion of our Trilogy on the Fruit of the Spirit.

Now, we wanted the youngsters to understand how the Fruit could be applied in their everyday life, so we played a version of the “Good Fruit, Bad Fruit” game. You will see from the picture that we drew a good and a bad apple on a whiteboard, then taped clearfiles at the bottom to hold pieces of paper. On the paper were a variety of actions which had to be classified as “Good Fruit” or “Bad Fruit” – some of the examples we used were: “hitting your brother or sister”; “taking turns when playing games”; “sharing your toys”; “getting angry when things don’t go your way”. We helped the younger ones with the reading, and they then chose which “apple” to put each one with. I am pleased to say that they got them all right!!

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FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS AND SELF-CONTROL – FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT 3
7 July 2013

This is the last instalment of our trilogy on the Fruit of the Spirit. So here’s a quick recap on the two previous ones:

Love: 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love as perfect love drives out fear. The place to get love is from God, for God is love. We need to fill that moment of fear, anger, hate or frustration with the love of God.

Joy: Happiness is not the same as joy. Happiness depends on our circumstances and is momentary. Joy is deep-rooted and constant and comes from the Holy Spirit.

Peace: 2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of Peace himself grant you His peace at all times, and in all ways whatever comes. Peace is with and of God. We can’t have the peace of God until we have a piece of God,  and that comes from having a personal relationship with God.

Patience: True patience is quiet, peaceful, unwavering and strong. Patience reveals our faith in God’s timing, almighty power and love. Patience does not develop overnight . James 1:3-4 encourages us to know that trials are His way of perfecting our patience.

Kindness: Kindness is a verb, a doing word. You need to act to be kind, you need to do or even in some cases not do –  to be kind. No small act of kindness is ever wasted.

Goodness: Feeling good and being good are not the same thing. There are things that make us feel good that are not good for us. Goodness is not a quality we can manufacture on our own. James 1:17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.”

And so finally we reach the last three: faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

FAITHFULNESS
When I started this I wondered what the actual definition of faith is.

According to Webster’s Dictionary faith is “an unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.” Or  from the Bible in Hebrews 11: 1 “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” You know, I like the Bible’s version better  … Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

A few verses later it says “whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists”. So at the very very beginning of any of us knowing God, that first step in having a personal relationship with Him, is that first moment of faith that it takes to acknowledge Him, and  believe He exists.

Indeed faith is essential as Christians:

We are saved by faith (Eph 2:8-9)

We live by faith (Rom 1:7)

We become right with God by faith (Rom 4:13)

We walk by faith not by sight (2 Cor 5:7)

We receive the promise of the Spirit by faith (Gal 3:14)

We wait for the return of Christ by faith (Gal 5:5) and

We stand firm in our belief by faith (2 Cor 1:24).

Standing firm in our belief by faith is what brings me from faith to faithfulness. It is the constancy of faith through time, through good times and bad times. God never said that it would be ALL smooth sailing when we became Christians, what he did say was “I will be there with you in the midst of the storm”.  Faithfulness  in the times of joy and plenty, when life is easy,  it is all going your way,  green lights on your journey of life. Faithfulness  in the times of doubt, despair and disaster, when life is hard, it‘s all going against you, when it’s red lights and roadblocks on your journey of life.

I think it is harder to have faith in times of good when you can start to think you need no-one, rather in the times when we cry out for help. Whatever season or time each one of us are in, the only way we can have a constant faithfulness is by the Holy Spirit’s influence.

GENTLENESS
Gentleness, translated in some Bibles as “meekness,” does not mean weakness. Rather, it is polite, restrained behaviour toward others.

Everyone is powerful . Every one of us has power.  We can say things and act in ways that hurt others. Sometimes it is what we say and do that hurts others. Sometimes it is what we don’t  say and what we don’t do that hurts others.

Gentleness is knowing we have the power to hurt, but choosing to do what is right, choosing to do what Jesus would do. It is mind-blowingly hard to be gentle when we get aggravated, frustrated or angry, when we want to react in a very natural human way. When our very essence aches to retaliate, it can take all our strength not to show our strength.

Gentleness is placing our strength under God’s guidance and the Spirit is the one who guides us. The Spirit is the one who gives us the wisdom to see how and when we can be gentle. And the Spirit is the one who gives us the strength to be gentle, because sometimes it is hard to bite our tongue or keep our arms by our sides.

SELF-CONTROL
When Gail and I decided  to follow on from Pentecost with the Fruit of the Spirit, I laughed  when I learnt what they all were: (sorry I now do this in song form): Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Why did I laugh – it was that last one. The one we are up to now: self-control. I could say I have nothing to say because I have none. Honestly I struggle to have just one chocolate biscuit, when shopping I struggle to leave what I think I need, when really it is only something I want and honestly, sometimes I just like being naughty.

Self-control is, of course, the ability to control oneself. It involves constraint, and the ability to say “no” to our desires.  You never need self-control for something we don’t like, don’t  want and don’t desire. Seriously who needs self-control when eating  brussel sprouts – I can easily leave one on the plate and not even raise a sweat! Now a hokey pokey squiggle top chocolate biscuit – that is a whole different story.

So how is self-control a fruit of the Spirit? Who else can make us aware that we are on automatic pilot and over-indulging; who else can give us the strength to say no or to walk away?

So the fruit of the Spirit is

LOVE including difficult people

JOY in trying times

PEACE in all circumstances

PATIENCE when busy

KINDNESS to all around you

GOODNESS by helping others

FAITHFULNESS is constant

GENTLENESS and not harsh

SELF CONTROL in daily choices

So finally we want these qualities now – 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 as it matures. It’s a process. When we appreciate and wonder at the marvel of God’s love for us by the gift of his son Jesus so that we can all have our very own relationship with Him,  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.

Once again I tell us it’s a process – as we are tested we grow.

(Vanessa)

You may may also want to check out this video presentation on the Fruit of the Spirit, available on the Godtube website:


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Fruit of the Spirit (2) – Patience, Kindness, Goodness

Continuing on the subject of the Fruit of the Spirit, this week we looked at Patience, Kindness and Goodness.

We started with a Fruit of the Spirit game – “Fruit in the Bowl”.IMG_0318
You will need:
Mandarins
Marker Pen
Fruit bowls (not the best glass or china one – something sturdy and reasonably unbreakable!)

Using the marker pen write the name of one of the nine Fruit of the Spirit on each of the mandarins (strangely enough the letter sizes got smaller as we got further down the list!). You will need one complete set of “Mandarins of the Spirit” for each team.
Set one fruit bowl for each team either on the floor or a chair a few feet away from the players and get them to take turns throwing the mandarins into the bowls, then see who has received the most Fruit of the Spirit! And later on you can use the fruit for your morning tea!
(A variation would be to get someone to hold each bowl and move it around whilst the mandarins are being thrown.)

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The girls team play the “Fruit in a Bowl” game

Read Vanessa’s message below, and at the end of this entry there is a link to the “Fruit of the Spirit” song on YouTube – quite a tongue twister due to its speed, but a good way to remember the nine Fruit

PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS – FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT 2
16 June 2013

PATIENCE
Means the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting frustrated, fearful, angry or upset, or in the words of Elmo from Sesame Street it is waiting calmly.

It is so easy to be patient when the going is good. When the delay, trouble and suffering we are facing is bearable – we can cope OK.  When it gets tough, it is only God who can give us the patience to accept what we are going through. White knuckling it, holding on tight to keep calm, is not patience. The image of a swimming duck comes to mind– what people see is composure, when in reality there is a lot of action going on under the water, out of view, to give us that image of calm patience.

I want to share  James 5:10-11 from two translations/versions: (readings)

(Good News) My friends, remember the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Take them as examples of patient endurance under suffering. You have heard of Job’s patience, and you know how the Lord provided for him in the end. For the Lord is full of mercy and compassion.

(Amplified) Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honouring God. You’ve heard of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

And so this is God-given patience. In one version: patient endurance: in the other: it is to put up with anything, went through everything, never once quit, all the time honouring God. Job’s patience is explained as Job’s staying power. Even as I am trying to write this, my patience is being tested by constant interruptions.

True patience is quiet, peaceful, unwavering and strong. Patience reveals our faith in God’s timing, almighty power and love. Patience does not develop overnight. Colossians 1:11 tells us that we are strengthened by Him to “great endurance and patience,” while James 1:3-4 encourages us to know that trials are His way of perfecting our patience. It‘s a process as the fruit of patience develops from a flower, into a fruit that grows and ripens into maturity.

I think there is only one thing about patience and the lack of it – how much faith and trust we (you and me) have in God’s plans for us. Romans 8:28  tells us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The “all things” include the things that try our patience. Sometimes God puts us in difficult situations so that we can be a witness to others. Other times, He might allow a trial for strengthening our character. Whatever the reason, God is the one who knows why and He wants us to have an abundant life, made possible through us accepting Jesus as our saviour and having a personal one-on-one relationship with him

KINDNESS
If you want to find out about kindness go to the source of kindness for examples. Kindness is God giving us green pastures, quiet waters, and restoring our souls when we’re weary (Psalm 23:2-3). Kindness is God’s tender care when He gathers us under His wings, to protect us and keep us close to Him (Psalm 17:8; 36:7; 61:4; Matthew 23:37). Kindness is Jesus stopping what He was doing to help others in need (Mark 6:34; Mark 7:29; Mark 10:46-52). Kindness is the Good Shepherd rescuing us when we stray (Luke 15:3-7). And the ultimate kindness is the God given gift of salvation.

We were once foolish, disobedient, and wrong. We were slaves to passions and pleasures of all types.  But when God, our kind and loving Saviour God, stepped in, He saved us from all that. It was all His doing; we had nothing to do with it. It was not because of any good things that we had done, but because of His  own mercy that He saved us, through the Holy Spirit, who gives us new birth and new life. God poured out the Holy Spirit generously on us through Jesus Christ our Saviour so that by His grace our relationship with him is restored. (Titus 3:3-7)

Kindness is a verb, a doing word. You need to act to be kind, you need to do – or even in some cases not do –  to be kind.

How do I see kindness in the humdrum of our busy lives. It is the little things – the very many little things in a day. If you can’t think of anything that you can do to be kind to someone else or yourself (you count too), here’s a tip. Pray, ask God to give you eyes to see, ears to hear what you can do to be kind. Then – and this is important – be quiet and listen and He will answer. Sometimes when we pray we do too much talking, and not enough listening. Maybe we might be afraid of what God might say to us. But, as I said in the beginning about kindness, our God is a kind God who loves us so much, so very very much. And once God has shown, maybe right then you get an idea, maybe later, as it is all in God’s timing, it is then your choice to be kind….. or not. And the test of being kind when you are tired, when you are busy, or to someone you don’t like, is one of the hardest things of all and that is why it is a fruit of the Spirit. Because to do it at these times, we need the strength of Holy Spirit

GOODNESS
This one is the one I have really struggled with. And here are my thoughts: Feeling good and being good are not the same thing. There are things that make us feel good that are not good for us: one chocolate too many, saying something we shouldn’t, and to be honest sometimes I enjoy being naughty.

As I said feeling good is not the same as being good. And we have all fallen short, and continue to fall short of being good enough for God. Nothing we can ever do will be good enough because it is only by the grace of God and the death of Jesus for our wrongs that we then become more than good enough, we become perfect to be in God’s presence. Likewise there is nothing bad enough to keep us apart for God’s love.

Goodness is not a quality we can manufacture on our own. James 1:17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.”

As I said I struggled with this so I ask all of you what do think goodness is?

The seed of the spirit is meant to produce a harvest. So stop comparing, stop searching for self-improvement by doing it in your own strength, and stop trying to impress. Instead START developing what is already in your heart, because the seeds for the fruit were planted there as soon as you became a Christian and accepted Jesus into your heart.

(Vanessa)

Fruit of the Spirit song: