Coleta United Methodist Church

Catching on Fire:What Are the Fruits of the Spirit?

22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

When I was in Nepal, I spent a couple of days with Nepalese seminarians who want to be pastors. One morning, one of the pastors came to me and asked something. So the interpreter said, “He is asking you did you feel the earthquake last night.” Earthquake? What earthquake? “Yes, there was an earthquake last night. That was 6 or 7 magnitude earthquake that shook Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal where we were, and I had to tell them that I didn’t feel it at all because the earthquake happened at 9 PM and I fell sound asleep at 9 o’clock. I didn’t wake up for that earthquake. I missed the whole thing! This was kind of disappointing. It would’ve been cool for me in an earthquake. I don’t want the destructive one, but you know like a little shake. Then I can say, “I was in an earthquake once in a far far away land. Yes, I was in a foreign land and it was a real hard earthquake. The earth started shaking. I vividly remember it. I was alive and I saved some people.” But none of that happened. I slept through it. I slept through the earthquake. That’s horrible.

We are in the series that is designed to wake us up to help us understand some of the earth-shaking promises of God. We learned who the Holy Spirit is; Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity, Holy mystery that we don’t understand. My friend told me when she was a kid learning that there are Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost in the Trinity, she didn’t want to deal with the Holy Ghost. And yet we’ve been learning that the Holy Spirit is the person who is our teacher, our counselor who gives wind for us to live this Christian life and we don’t have to white-knuckle it all the time. In fact, Dwight Moody, the greatest America Evangelist in the 18th century was teaching one day and he was gathered with a class. He was trying to teach them about the Spirit and he said as he held up a glass, “How do you think I can get the air out of this glass?” He paused this question and people began to offer some responses. One student said, “The best idea is to pump the air out of the glass. That could remove all of the air.” Moody said, “No, no, no that could actually shatter the glass. We can’t do that.” And then Mr. Moody took a pitcher of water and he poured into the glass. “See? All the air is out.” He used this as a teaching opportunity to say this. “If you want to get rid of sin, if you want to have your life transformed, the key is being filled with the Holy Spirit.” Amen? That drives it all out. And many of us have been living our life without the Holy Spirit so we’ve been trying to pull the sin out of our lives. We’ve been trying to live in the presence of God, we’ve been trying to be joyful. We’ve been trying really hard to be loving today. And it doesn’t work. People come to say, “Something is missing in my Christian life!” And I want to say, “It’s not something or someone! It’s the Holy Spirit who wants to come inside of you and fill you with God’s very own breath. God’s very presence in your life. And we’ve talked about how many followers of Jesus, even in the Bible, they do not experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit. So we talked about who the Holy Spirit is and how we can be filled with the Spirit. And today, we’re going to answer this question, (slide) “What is the fruit of the Spirit?” The fruit of the Spirit is not bananas or coconuts. You know what the Holy Spirit wants? The Holy Spirit wants to have the fruits in our lives.

Look with me at Galatians 5:22-23. This is where all the fruits that we can bear in the Holy Spirit are written. After Paul teaches about sexual immorality, idolatry, rage, and selfish ambitions, these are those things that come from flesh, he teaches about fruit of the Spirit. Because there is a kind of tug-of-war going on inside of our soul, isn’t there? Which nature are going to live into? And Paul says we need to live in the Holy Spirit. Let’s read this together. (slide) 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT))) Now, you might want to take a moment and maybe you want to write a number on each of these. One to ten. How are you doing? Ten being you just knock it out of the park. You are pretty much like Jesus. So, you can do that. Fill this out. How are you doing when it comes to this list? I need some work. I need some help. I need to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that I can have fruit of the Spirit. So, what is the fruit of the Spirit? We see the list there, but what really is it? Here is what I come up with. Let’s read it out loud. (slide) “The fruit of the Spirit is the character of Jesus reflected in Christ’ follower who walks in the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit.” See, here’s the good news. For every ‘ought-to’ in the Scriptures, there is power to live it out. See, God doesn’t just give us a list of ought-to list. God doesn’t say you ought to be more loving. God says, “Let me give you the power to be more loving.” That’s what the Holy Spirit brings into our lives and we reflect the very character of Jesus. This is something that we all need. I need to be more loving and there’s no one more than Jesus. Can you imagine what it would’ve been like to be Jesus hung up on a cross, praying “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” That is love, isn’t it? How about joy? Jesus was a man filled with joy. He was teaching his disciples. He said, “I’m telling you this stuff, guys, so that my joy can be complete in you.” Yes, so much joy. He wants to give us that joy. And he was filled with peace. So much so that he was called the prince of peace. We were listening all those titles that were given to our Savior, to our God. And one of the best is ‘prince of peace.’ “Don’t be worry. Don’t be anxious or troubled. Instead, my peace I give to you,” Jesus says. I want that peace. Do you? I need that peace. I need that love, that joy, that peace that patience that Jesus had. Do you know how many years Jesus waited to start his public ministry? He waited 30 years to start. Now if I were Jesus’ next door neighbor and I got to knew he was Messiah, I would’ve been over at his house all the time knocking on the door, and I would say something that goes like this. Kind of prophetic message to Jesus. I would say, “Hurry up! Start, please! You’ve been here for 30 years” Jesus was all patient. And it drives it crazy! And yet I know I need it. And you know you do, too. So we pray, “God , hurry up we need patience right now!” We need gentleness. There’s no one more gentle than Jesus. We need kindness. There’s no one more kind than Jesus. We need self-control, don’t we? Yes, he had self-control. So much self-control that the Bible says. He lived his whole life without sinning. Do you want this? I do. For those ‘ought-to’ list, there is power to live it out. The Holy Spirit wants to fill us. Yes, fill us so that we can bear fruit.

Now I certainly know agricultural expert. In fact, I am pretty dangerous when it comes to plants. Alexa call me “plant serial killer.” If you are a plant, I will tell you to run because I have murdered a lot of plants in my life. I have several plants that I had received from several church members as a gift, and this week I found that I killed them all! I googled the names of the plants that I have and all of them were on the list of the plants that you can’t kill. The list says the plants are so easy to raise. Nothing to worry about them! And I killed them all! It’s really sad I can’t do much for them even though only about watering, those kinds of things. But you know what? My mom had a green thumb. Watching her grow plants I always see how she spent her days. She spent hours and hours on her garden positioning crops and soils in such a way to yield a great harvest. It’s a great analogy for Christian life. That we are positioning our lives in such a way we can bear much fruit. What’s the fruit that Jesus talking about? We just read this morning together.

This morning we want to talk about three agricultural realities that are also spiritual realities. I believe they are going to help us how to live our lives so that we can position our life in the good soil and in such a way that we will bear much fruit. Look with me number 1. (slide) “1. Healthy fruit grows on vigorous plants.” I know this. Me, the plant serial killer, even I figure this one out. It takes healthy fruit, they need to grow on a vigorous plant. Sick trees and plants don’t bear any fruits. When Jesus looked at the Pharisees, he saw that they were trying really hard. They were following all these laws. They were good on the outside. But inside, they were diseased. Inside, they were sick. Look with me at Matthew 7:17 as Jesus uses this agricultural reality to teach this spiritual truth. (slide) ““A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.” A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. That seems simple enough, right? Jesus is telling us that we are here designed by God to produce certain types of fruit, and they just come naturally as we are connected to God, as we abide in God. See church, if we are not bearing fruit, if there are not love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in our lives, what is the problem? Maybe we are not connected. Because we bear this type of fruit, the natural fruit that comes from abiding in Christ. I have once heard a preacher who gave a true account of his own childhood. This preacher said he and his brother would time to time be sent to their room for timeout. Have you ever been in timeout? I have, too. Well, they decided to use the timeout so they used the time to be literally time out of the house. So they went upstairs when they were sent to their room, and there was a huge tree next to their window. So they would open the window while their parents sat downstairs. They climbed out on the branch, climbed down the tree, ran up over the hill, crossed the fence, then they would go play with their friends and had a big time. And they would come back, cross the fence, climb up the tree, climb to the branch, back into the house, then the parents come in and say, “You learned your lesson yet?” “Oh yes we learned.” And then one day they heard their dad said to their mom, “This tree that the boys used for escape hasn’t born fruits for years. So tomorrow morning, I am going to cut it down. These boys were horrified at the thought of losing their freedom, so they came up with a plan. That night they went to bed early. And they gathered together all of their money and they went out the window, down the tree, went into the town where they bought all the apples that they could find. And also bought a bunch of black threads. Returning home, they stayed up all night to tie the apples on every branch of that tree that they could possibly reach. Then they went to bed and they waited for their dad to get up in the morning. The father got up and they heard him go outside. He came running back into the house calling his wife, “Honey, it’s an incredible thing I’ve ever seen! This tree hasn’t born fruits for years, then this morning, it’s covered in apples! We’ve got to see it! It is a miracle! I can’t believe it! A pear tree bears apples like that! It’s a miracle! And the boys lost their tree. We all know the type of fruit reveals the type of tree. This is the outgrowth of our inner nature all the stuff we are talking about. It comes as we are connected to Christ. The Holy Spirit helps us to bear fruit. If we are not bearing fruit, the first thing we need to ask to do is to get connected to Jesus. Abide in him, the Bible says.

Look with me number 2. (slide) “2. Abundant fruit comes from cultivated plants.” This is another agricultural as well as spiritual reality. And Jesus was a wise teacher. He used all of the common things of his day to be able to illustrate the timeless truth of the Scripture. And in those days, vines were all over in the first century in Palestine. Vineyards were common in Jesus’ day and corns and trucks are common in our day. So listen to his teaching in John 15:1-7. Here’s what I want you to do. Every time you see “in me” or “in you”, I want you to circle. Ready? (slide) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. (slide) 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. (slide) 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. (slide) 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! All right. Now, what’s going on here? Jesus is comparing our life with God to a vineyard being cared for by the gardener. Now, who are the characters in this illustration? God is the gardener. Jesus is the vine. Now, what does that make us? Who are we? We are the branches. What we want to focus on this morning in verse 2 and 3 where Jesus talks about cutting off in pruning branches. I’ve got to tell you this is like one of the least favorite Scripture passages I have. I haven’t understood it a lot of my years but fearing it. Somehow I thought if I am not fruitful, God would just cut me off. Have you ever felt that way? Maybe worse. Thrown into the fire. But the problem was I have read these two little words in the second sentence. It says, “Of mine.” Or in another translation, “in me.” So those of us who are in Christ, we belong to Jesus. Then how can we be cutting off or thrown into the fire? What’s going on here? In the book, “Secrets of the vine,” Bruce Wilkins reveals the word translated to “cut off” in verse 2 is really a Greek word, “aero”, which means to lift up. The translation means “To lift up out of the dirt.” This means the gentle vinedresser leans over low lined branches and lifts them up. Why? So that he can clean them up. This is the discipline that God provides those who follow God. Now new vine branches have a tendency on the ground. They grow close to the ground, so they get in the mud. And if they are in the mud, they can’t bear any fruit. They still get connected, but they can’t bear fruit. So vinedresser comes along with a bucket of water and picks up the branch, cleans it off, and then actually ties it up a little higher so it’s off the ground out of the mud! This is what is meant by this pruning, this cutting-off. That means “lift up.” God wants to lift us up. So that we can be healthy. This is actually how disciplines happens from God. God disciplines us. God won’t let us live in the mud. God wants to lift us up out of the mud.

예시 God wanted to lift me up out of the mud. I was in the mud and God lifted me up. It was hard. It was difficult, but God was doing it for my good so that I can bear fruit. God might be wanting to do that today. It’s discipline. I know it’s difficult. We don’t like to think about it or talk about it. But it’s not okay for Christ’ followers to not love one another. It’s not okay for us to be hateful. It’s not okay for us to be impatient. It’s not okay for us to not be kind. We are not designed for that. What is the Holy Spirit telling you today? The Holy Spirit is saying, “Let me clean you. Let me lift you up out of the mud! We are designed to bear fruit!

Look with me number 3. (slide) 3. A bountiful fruit is attractive. When we see apples in the tree in fall, aren’t they attractive? They are something to behold, aren’t they? And yet, the apples don’t get any credit themselves. I know apples can’t talk, but let’s suppose that they could. They wouldn’t say “All glory, praise, and honor goes to me!”, right? No, of course not. So all of this is not for our credit. Oh, wow, look how loving they are. What a great God they must have. What a great Savior must be in their lives. It’s to the glory of God. It’s to the credit of God. Let’s read it with me. Jesus puts it the best. John 15:8. (slide) “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” It’s not for us. What great Christians they are. No, no, no, no. What a great Savior they have! And God is looking for people. God is looking for you in your life, in your everyday life to reflect this character, to bear much fruit. God is looking for you to be loving. God is looking for us to bring peace. God gets all the credit when we do well, not us. God gets all the applause when we love one another. We don’t take credit for. We can’t! What does God need today is people who reflect the character of Jesus. The world is desperate for this.

There was a man who was accused of doing wrong and he was brought before a judge. And the judge asked a man if he had an attorney. And the man said, “No, I can’t afford an attorney.” The judge replied, “Well, don’t worry about that. I am going to point a lawyer to represent you and I am going to choose a really good one for you.” And the judge continued, “But if you really want to help me today, what I need most is not a real good lawyer, but several good witnesses to help me out.” Today, God is looking for few good witnesses. A few people who would be bearing much fruit and give all of the credit and all of the glory to God. When I was in Nepal, and the most earth-shaking part of the whole deal was obviously the earthquake. I slept through that. What the most earth-shaking experience was meeting with the 30-40 Nepalese pastors that I met one day. They were incredible. Their commitment is just astounding. Many of them don’t have beyond 6th-grade education. Most of them don’t. One of the pastors didn’t even make it out of 1st grade. So, he’s there learning theology, but also he’s trying to read. But all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. They literally prayed all night asking God to send them to nations and villages and all the areas where there is no Christ. They literally prayed all night crying to God. “We want to go, Lord. Send us!” I was stunned. I was so touched by their passion and love. Of course on mission trips, there is always a comparison deal. I’ve always come away thinking this, “Why don’t I feel that way? Why don’t I experience that God that they experience?” Here’s the difference between them and me. They don’t have a whole lot, but they know how to abide in Christ. When we abide in Christ, Jesus says we will bear much fruit, we don’t have to work at it. We just will bear fruit. Because Jesus says apart from me, you can’t do anything. So here’s the invitation. Will you come today? Come to this altar and say, “I want to unite myself with you. I want to connect with you. I want to be connected to the giver of life.” Holy Spirit, fill us. Can we pray this prayer together? “Come, Holy Spirit, come?”