Please pray with me; Come Lord Jesus. Fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your spirit. Send forth your spirit and we shall be created, and you will renew the face of the earth thru us. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Lord I ask that you fill me with the words you would have me speak and let those words flame the fire for you in those who hear it. Amen.
As I was preparing for this talk, I reread the passage from Galatians that talks about the fruit of the spirit. “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Since this letter was written to the Galatians there have been many sermons, studies and words written about this passage. Many that I have heard or studied have talked about the relationship with God and how we need to work to remove any sin that separates us from God to achieve the fruits. But I think God did not intend the fruits to be something that we have to work for, rather they are a gift of the grace that He gives because we are his children.
Daniel began this sermon series reminding us that the fruits are given. Not something we can get. Last week he discussed how joy comes “nevertheless” any circumstances and then he shared a couple of ways we can get joy…by monitoring our spiritual intake and by prayer. Garbage in Garbage out applies to the fruits.
How do we find peace in world that seems to be running amok? Have you found yourself dealing with a broken relationship? Perhaps your health has been keeping you from doing the things you used to do? Did you lose income during the pandemic and now just making ends meet is next to impossible? In the world, hate crimes and hate language are prevalent. Behaviors such as murder, assault, looting, the list goes on. At the clinic, we are seeing a rise in mental health issues. Suicide attempts are on the rise. Alcoholism and drug use seem to be the answer to the isolation and not knowing of the pandemic.
How then can we keep in step with the spirit, when we are living in a time that is full of events that make us question and fearful? Sometimes, we need to just stop and listen. This is Jesus promise. John 14: 27 “Peace I leave you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”
Jesus offered us this encouragement in John 14:1 “Let not our heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” So, when we ask, God: “Where do I find peace in all of this?” he answers: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” I refer to this as spirit steps, things we can do to be in step with God. This then is how we find that peace that no one can explain.
I would like to share just a few Spirit Steps to keep us centered. (I am sure that you will think of or already are doing others.)
Spirit Step 1: We do not have to do it—God will!
Charles Stanley wrote …”but God did not create us to handle the troubles of the world on our own, which is why he tells us to cast our burdens on Him and allow Him to care for us.”
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Spirit Step 1: We don’t have to do it…God Will.
Spirit Step 2: Spend time with God. The more that we know him the more we see that we have the gifts. He sent Jesus to show us the way and then Jesus left and sent the Holy Spirit. Max Lucado in his book Cure for the Common Lifesays, “God’s desire for us is so simple that it becomes complicated for us humans. Only because we complicate it.”
What God wants from each of is our hearts and a relationship with him. Jesus spent all his time here on earth trying to help us to see how to do that.
Take time every day to sit and rest in God. Soak up what he wants to show you and then praise him for all things. God’s desire is that we are fully His. That we give our hearts to Him. That we are willing to give up self to live for him. Eugene Peterson says this MSG John: “Because a loveless world,” said Jesus, “is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him—we’ll move right into the neighborhood!“ Spirit Step 2: Spend time with your neighbor, God.
Spirit Step 3: Study the Bible. It is a how to book that when we read it and truly try to apply what it is saying to us about our relationship with God, we reap the benefits of God’s all surpassing peace.
I read the Bible using the REAP approach for Study. R E A P
R-Read Read a passage asking the Holy Spirit to be a part of discerning what is being said.
E-Examine Examine what is going on in the passage-what went on just before and what goes on right behind.
A-Apply Ask God to show you how this applies today, in your life and in your situation
P-Pray. Seek God’s will for all that you are and do
Spirit Step 3: Study God’s word.
Spirit Step 4: Journal prayer. Start by writing what God has revealed to you in the reading. Asking that he show you what he would like you to know or learn from the passage. Pray. Praise God and remember who He is and what you know to be true about his character. Admit your shortcomings, defects of character or just thoughts that you believe may be keeping you from being closer to God. At times, I can’t see my shortcomings, at those times I ask God to reveal them to me. Thank him for all that he does and will do. Then lift in prayer all your concerns and requests for people.
It is in this daily practice that you will discover who God is and that he can handle whatever is going on in this world. Spirit Step 4: Prayer.
Just four simple spirit steps. Things that bring us into God’s peace.
A few years ago, the doctors found a tumor in my kidney. How they found it is for another time when I would share about God’s miracles. For today, I want to share how it turned my world turned upside down. I felt like I was spiraling into that vortex that is a black hole. At the time, I was a part of a women’s group. Those Godly women gathered around and prayed with me and for me, reminding me that I am God’s and that he would stand beside me always. During that time, and thru the surgery to the diagnosis, I found peace. The peace that has no understanding.
I would like to share a few of my favorite verses that I have been holding onto during this current time of unknowing and fear.
When feeling anxious and fearful:
"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all." Psalm 34:17-19
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6
When remembering the Lord loves and cares for you:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
It is in the relationship with God that the Spirit can help us keep in step with him and then we experience the fruits.
No matter what goes on in our world, no matter the personal turmoil of living, life does not get to take us off our center, in God, it is well with my soul.
Join me in prayer.
God, I ask that you fill us with your love, mercy, wisdom, and justice that we might glorify you in all that we say and do. In all these things Lord, I pray that your will be done. Amen.