come and see

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


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Truth and a Tube of toothpaste

Words of thanksgiving and cursing pour out from the same mouth. My friends, this should not happen! (James 3:10)

This talk focuses on words  – how we use them and what we say.

Part Onetube-toothpaste
Have some toothbrushes, and invite several children to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush, ready to use. They have to think very careful about how they do it, but it is important in cleaning our teeth.
In the same way, how we use words is important. What we say is important. We have to be careful about what we say. What do we like people to say to us – and what do other people like us to say to them?
“A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up.” (Proverbs 15:1)
“When wise people speak they make knowledge attractive but stupid people spout nonsense.” (Proverbs 15:2)
“Kind words bring life, but cruel words crush the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4)

Part two
1. Get someone to give a squeeze with the cap on – toothpaste does not does not come out.
2. Get someone to give a bit of a squeeze when the cap is off – what is inside the tube comes out.

We need to know when to talk and when not to talk. When we get ‘bumped’ or ‘squeezed’, what is inside, what is in our hearts, will come out, so it is important that our hearts be right.
Jesus said: “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good person brings good things out of his treasure of good things.” (Matthew 12: 34b, 35a)

Part three
Put some paper on a tray, and then take a big tube of paste and squeeze it all out onto the tray. Then ask someone to put it all back into the tube!
What we say gets spread around.  We cannot take it back again, even when we apologise, it is remembered.
Three questions: Is it true? Is it kind? And is it necessary?
“Do not let kindness or truth leave you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3)
“By speaking the truth in a spirit of love we must grow up in every way into Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)

From an idea seen at Somervell Presbyterian

 

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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:


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5+ a day – the Fruit of the Spirit

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.

IMG_0291We 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.

LOVE:

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.

PEACE:

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.

Vanessa