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For the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love… - Galatians 5:22 (NLT)
"Joe" came to the Prayer Room recently at Southland’s Lexington Campus on Richmond Road seeking some assistance from our Helping Through Him ministry. In his seasoned and distinguished voice, he talked about coming through the area a year ago when a series of events left him homeless. After living for a year at the Hope Center, he was finally able to get an apartment.
As we were taking his information, he said someone at the shelter had told him that if he ever visited Southland, make sure and meet Max Love. I knew exactly who he was talking about. "Joe" didn’t get Max’s name exactly right, but really, he did. Max Appel retired from Southland’s staff earlier this year and he’s one of the most loving people I know. He’s known throughout the community for his kindness and care. I’ve learned more than I could ever imagine about how to love, especially the marginalized, from Max Appel. Max Love is actually a perfect name for Max Appel.
We just wrapped up the “Abolition” teaching series along with our journey through Paul’s letter to the Galatian church. We’re going to spend some time this week with Paul’s reminder to us about the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. How do we know the Spirit is alive and active within us? We know by the fruit we bear.
For the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: ...joy, peace... - Galatians 5:22 (NLT)
Most polls indicate that only about 30% of Americans are happy. That doesn’t seem entirely surprising when you consider that we are living in what appears to be such a divisive and contentious time. John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll, the organization which has conducted a happiness survey for about 10 years, suggests that part of the reason is how distracted we are. In a Time Magazine interview he said, “To me, it feels like a cultural lack of presence. We are so caught up in our texting, multitasking, jobs and commutes that we seem to have less and less free time.” Most of us can relate.
Even trying to define happiness can be a challenge. Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz offered this bleak perspective: "Happiness is an imaginary condition, formerly attributed by the living to the dead, now usually attributed by adults to children and by children to adults." That’s sad.
With some powerfully encouraging words to the early followers of Jesus in Galatia, Paul reminded us that the presence of God’s Spirit within us would result in something far better than circumstantial happiness. Paying attention to the Spirit’s promptings and leadings will always take us to a place of peace - even joy - especially when things around us seem out of control. As a pastor, I’ve walked alongside people in some devastating situations. When people are able to reflect peace in the midst of destruction, the only explanation is the presence of the Holy Spirit.
For the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: ... patience... - Galatians 5:22 (NLT)
We’re increasingly impatient. Websites must load in seconds or we move on. Online orders taking more than 2 days to arrive seem unreasonable. A minute without wifi seems like an eternity. A friend of mine recently reminded me about the days when a song would play on the radio and you just had to have it. You’d plan a trip to a music store as soon as possible just hoping they would have it in stock. My friend had just downloaded a song he had to have before it had even finished playing on the radio. No need for patience there.
An unknown author wrote, “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can. Found seldom in a woman, never in a man.” I can’t speak for the entirety of that thought but I know for sure that I’m very impatient. I think most of us struggle to tolerate any sort of delay. Lack of patience can truly hold us hostage. For me, a lot of it has to do with control. I want to control the timing with which things play out.
We’ve been learning this week from Paul’s message to the early followers of Jesus in Galatia. Paul is passionately reminding them (and us) that we no longer have to strive our way into meaningful, balanced lives. By simply yielding to the Spirit living within us, we have the power to resist captivity and live freely. And how do we know the Spirit is present? One way is by how patient we are. I’m trying to learn that patience isn’t so much about waiting as it is having a good attitude while I’m waiting.
2 Peter 3:8–9 says, “God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.” (MSG) The Father shows us how to wait for the right reasons and with the right mindset. Think about that the next time you have a few minutes to wait.Share Tweet
For the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: ...faithfulness... - Galatians 5:22 (NLT)
On May 13, 1924, Zelmyra and Herbert Fisher were married. Eighty-four years later, they would break the Guinness World Record for the longest marriage. When Herbert passed away at the age of 105, they had made it to 87 years. Before they passed, the couple was asked to talk about how they stayed married for so many years. The advice they gave out of their own experience was simple and sweet.
The Fishers make it sound easy. But most of us know that faithfulness is difficult in a world where there’s always another option, always another way out.
We’ve been paying attention this week to what the Apostle Paul said would be the evidence of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Included in that lofty list of attributes is faithfulness. Paul knew enough about human nature, and his own struggles, to know that only the power of God’s Spirit within us could help us stay true and committed. It’s easy for us to drift and stray. We grow easily tired and bored. If we don’t like the way it is, we’ll just try to change it. Thankfully, that’s not God’s example of faithfulness at all. We should all thank Him daily for never swaying from His character and nature as a loving God. Our faithfulness and love can be conditional. His never is. Yes, we need the Spirit to help us remain faithful.
For the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: ...self-control... - Galatians 5:22 (NLT)
Daniel Akst wrote: "Life in modern Western cultures is like living at a giant all-you-can-eat buffet offering more calories, credit, sex, intoxicants, and just about anything else one could take to excess than our forebears might ever have imagined. With more possibilities for pleasure and fewer rules and constraints than ever before, the happy few will be those able to exercise self-control."
We’ve spent this week being reminded that we have access to a powerful, guiding presence in our lives. Like us, the early Christian believers in Galatia needed a refresher on how to live freely with the help of the Holy Spirit. We have everything we need as followers of Jesus to resist our sinful nature.
Self-control doesn’t initially sound like an exciting devotional thought to meditate on. It ranks up there with discipline. But the more time I’ve spent thinking about this Fruit of the Spirit, the more grateful I’ve become for how the Holy Spirit helps me with self-control. Each day we’re faced with thousands of images and opportunities. How much thought do we give to the countless decisions we’re having to make real-time? We’re constantly having to say yes to some things and no to others. It occurred to me that there are decisions I make that I didn’t give much thought to. But when I’m surrendered to the Holy Spirit, He’s helping me with those decisions, whether I realize it or not.