Pastor Terry Inman
A couple weeks ago in the message “Breath of Fire” we talked about and experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
John the Baptist told the people coming to him in the Jordon for water baptism that Jesus was coming to baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire. When the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees and Sadducees, showed up he compared them to snakes slithering into the water and told them to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” Matt. 3.8 (NIV)
So if we really have the fire of the Holy Spirit we will produce the fruit of the spirit. So the title of my message today is “Juicy Fruit”. I thought this might get our attention or at least give us something to chew on, even though I was taught to never chew gum in church.
Summer is the time for fresh fruit. What’s your favorite summer fruit, apricots, peaches, cherries, or strawberries? Peach ice cream?
It’s not very often that I borrow somebody’s sermon material but earlier this week Mary and I were at a gathering of the Assemblies of God leadership. One of our District officers, Dr. Jay Herndon shared a devotional that fit right in with todays subject.
There is an unusual reference in Jeremiah 40 to Summer Fruit. Dispersed Jewish refugees of the horrendous Babylonian conquest returned to Judah to join a small suffering remnant now living under an appointed governor.
Jeremiah and a few surviving exiles were released from their chains and shown favor. They were told to go back to Judah and live peaceful and productive lives under foreign occupation.
The commanding officer said, “Do not be afraid to serve the Babylonians, settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you. I myself will stay at Mizpah to represent you before the Babylonians who come to us, but you are to harvest the wine, summer fruit and oil, and put them in your storage jars, and live in the towns you have taken over.” Jeremiah 40:9-10 (NIV)
So when the other refuges scattered in the neighboring countries heard about the more compassionate governor they all came back to Judah and the bible says, “they harvested an abundance of summer fruit”.
Now I say this was unusual because what precedes this is noting close to refreshing or fruitful. The previous chapter 39 is a chronicle of one of the most horrific things that ever happened to God people.
The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and his armies marched on Jerusalem and laid siege to it. In 586 BC they broke down the city walls, captured the king of Judah, slaughtered his sons and his nobles, put his eyes out and then bound him with bronze shackles and led him off to exile in Babylon. They burned down the temple, the royal palace, and all the houses in the city then carried off everyone that hadn’t escaped into exile. They did leave a few very poor survivors behind to tend vineyards.
Jeremiah who prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem was shown favor. At a time when it appears nothing could get worse for God’s people he leaves a faithful remnant in the land and tells them to reap Summer Fruit!
The last few years have been very challenging for so many. God people have not been exempted from hardship. So many in this congregation have lost jobs, businesses, houses, health and many other things but God is faithful he promises Summer Fruit! Juicy Fruit!
Fruit is produce. The purpose of the power of the Holy Spirit is to help us produce. Jesus told his disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1.8 (NIV)
If we remain filled with the power of the Holy Spirit we will be fruitful! Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15.8 (NIV)
True disciples are productive. Typically we think of bearing fruit as a harvest a yield or output. So we focus on the to how-tos and who-tos of witnessing or sharing our faith. A legal witness is someone who is experienced enough to give a valid testimony. I believe we need to focus more on being a character witness. Jesus is very attractive to our culture.
The character traits of Jesus are called the fruit of the Spirit. I think people in our culture are more impressed by who we are than what we say. So lets take a look at the “Juicy Fruit” the flavors of the Spirit as a way to be a dynamic witness. How delicious and refreshing are you?
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23, 25 NIV)
I like the way this last verse reads in the message translation. “Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.” Galatians 5.25 (MSG)
So lets break down the flavors of the Spirit’s Fruit so we can have an effective and productive summer harvest.
Love is accurate estimate and adequate supply of another’s need. From the very beginning God created us to be “fruitful and multiply”. He intended procreation to be an expression of love. Spiritual fruitfulness is also the result of our intimacy with God.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15.5 (NIV)
Love is powerful and productive. The bible says the “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” Rom. 5.5 (NIV) If we stay full of the Holy Spirit and we keep pace with the Holy Spirit we will produce the love of Jesus Christ. That’s delicious “Summer Fruit”.
Joy isn’t just happiness. That is based on circumstance. Joy is delight and pleasure in the Lord and our life in him. The bible says, “the kingdom of God is… righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14:17)
Spirit filled people are joyful no matter what. They are positive people. Positive people are attractive people. Positive people are productive!
Peace is reconciliation or harmony in relationships with God and people. The bible says,wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:16-18 NIV)
Everybody likes loving, joyful, peaceful people they are like Juicy Fruit!
Patience is a restrained response to an affliction, trial or injury inflicted by others. It is often translated “longsuffering” forbearance or tolerance. It is to be good-natured and put up with people and problems.
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Prov. 19:11 NIV) We need to be un-offend able! Our Spirit Life can be suffocated by impatience, irritation and hostility. People are watching how we deal with adversity and opposition. Patience can be a very convincing testimony. Patience produces good fruit!
Kindness is acting toward others with unexpected compassion and consideration. Again it’s not natural it is a fruit of the Spirit in our lives. It is the way God treats us.
The bible says God’s kindness leads us toward repentance. (Rom. 2:4 NIV)
When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3:3-5 NIV) Intentional acts of kindness will attract more people to Christ than our words.
Next the fruit of Goodness, is acting right and treating people right with integrity and equality. Again it comes from living in the Spirit, being led by the spirit and keeping in step with the Spirit.
The bible days Barnabas was a “good man full of the Holy Spirit”. His name means encourager. Good people, people of integrity and honesty, people who treat others with dignity and equity are very encouraging!
Faithfulness is to be convinced, consistent and committed to Jesus Christ, His word, His work, His people and His way of life. This is what it really means to be an authentic dedicated follower of Jesus.
Faithfulness is demonstrated in our relationships. This fruit of the Spirit shows up in our marriages, families, church responsibilities and even in the work place.
Paul who was mentoring Timothy said, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. (2Tim. 2:2 NIV)
Faithfulness is believability or authenticity. Our culture needs to see real people who are what they say they are and do what they say they are going to do. Faithful people are also very fruitful people.
Gentleness sometimes translated meekness is humility. It is not passiveness self-deprecation. It is being secure enough to respond with the appropriate attitude in all circumstances. Not everyone responds well to our attempts to share our faith. Our reaction may make a difference.
Paul also told Timothy “Those who oppose you, gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth. (2Tim 2:25 NIV)
We are told to share this fruit of the spirit in our testimony of faith. “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)
The final flavor in this list of Juicy fruit is Self Control. It is really the control of self by the Holy Spirit. It is not will power or self-help. It is spiritual discipline developed in collaboration with the Spirit.
Living in the Spirit is a “mind set”. It is simply a matter of focus. We will be controlled by what ever we allow to govern our thinking. To “keep in step” with the Spirit is to “line up” our lives with the Fruit of the Spirit.
These tough times we are in may be stressful but they not nearly as devastating as the assault God’s people endured at the hands of the ruthless Babylonians.
Right in the middle of these atrocities God gave His people favor. In this place of set back and suffering he told them to enjoy their Summer Fruit!