Tag Archives: fruits of the Spirit

The Parable of the Sower

A message summary of June 21, 2015 from Asst. Pastor Travis Jackson:

Crystal (my wife) and I attended a church that was not far from where we live.  It was a relatively large congregation.  I was curious as to the type of church it was that I was attending, so I leaned over and asked Pastor Gus what type of fruits were present at the church we were visiting, and he responded “good music and entertainment.”

It made me wonder exactly what Fruits of the Spirit were being presented at this church service.

We will discuss today the Parable of the Sower.  If another group of titles could be chosen for this parable, we could easily phrase the title the Parable of the Seed, the Parable of the Fruit or even the Parable of the Patient Heart.

Luke 8:4-15 NIV

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”  When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,

“‘though seeing, they may not see;
    though hearing, they may not understand.

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.  Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

 

We will examine the parable with emphasis to our different selected titles to analyze the sowers, the seed, the thorns and the patient hearts.  From here, we can determine if the fruits being presented are of value in edifying Jesus Christ.

 

I. Sowers

Jesus was speaking to His disciples, whom He projected as the sowers of the Word—the ones who would be proclaiming His gospel to the nations.

Today’s sowers are any pastors, teachers and evangelists.  They are Christians.  They are also the parents, who are charged with passing on the Good News to their children.

The sower is crucial as to the type of seed that he sows to others.  Not all pastors, for example, exercise the appropriate leadership if they are not sowing the proper seeds.

Since today is Father’s Day, there is a challenge for men, who are fathers, to be sowers of the seeds that influence their boys to become excellent young men.

What are you sowing into your children?  Are you offering guidance and correction when it is necessary?

Provide for your children godly truths in order that they can learn more about developing their relationship with God.

As a church community, we are to share the gospel to others in the community.  I know that we are living in a modern day age, and this is far from first, second and third century Christendom, but are you prepared to live and die for the gospel of Jesus Christ?

That is what the sower of The Word is to do and be willing to do.

 

II. Seed

The seed is the Word of God.

Hebrews 4:12 NIV

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

 

The understanding of God’s Word requires the help of the Holy Spirit to enlighten the hearer.  God’s grace must open the eyes and ears.  Without God’s grace, there would not be any faith.

Matthew 13:14 NIV

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

 

The seed that fell on the rock could not develop because it had no moisture.  A commentary I read said that short-lived faith is not really faith at all.  Faith is not exercised by mimicking others who appear to be offering praise to God.

 

III. Thorns

The thorns in the parable represent a choking off of one’s faith.  It is a reflection of one’s true priorities.  Is it obedience to God and following His will, or is it embracing the world and its priorities?  Your priority should always be that of Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:15-17 NIV

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

 

There are not quick, easy steps. It takes time to improve upon this practice to produce the godly fruits that God would have you to show to others.

Psalm 1:1-3 NIV

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither

whatever they do prospers.

 

What are the fruits of The Spirit that Christ produces from within you?

Galatians 5:22-24 NIV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

 

2 Peter 1:3-11 NIV

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

IV. Patient Hearts

Matthew 13:14-17 NIV

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people
’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

 

All of these things, the sower, the seed, the fruit and the patient hearts require time and effort.  The pastors and teachers within the church have to continue to cultivate the hearts of the people.  It is a slow process.  It will require patience.  Within your own heart, you may see something different than what I might see; either way, we must have patient hearts.

The Lord knows the heart of every believer, and He will judge us according to our hearts.

People can preach the Word over and over, but it is the hearts of the people who are receptive that will recognize Jesus as Lord.  Those that do not will reject Him.

If you hear the Holy Spirit speaking to you, I implore you not to harden your hearts.

Matthew 13:8 NIV

Still other seed fell on good soul, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

 

Just as crop production requires patience for results, the cultivation of God’s Word will produce many to accept the gospel of Christ.  The evidence is in the fruits that you produce.

What is being cultivated in your life?  What are you praying for as a believer?  Are you praying for Jesus Christ to cultivate your heart and the hearts of those who do not know Him?

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The Fruits of The Spirit – Self-Control

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

Self-control is the measure of keeping one to remain focused on following Jesus Christ. It is an area that is controlled by the Holy Spirit. A lack of self control comes from being controlled by the flesh. Fleshly control is an opening to demonic influence. The Holy Spirit is present to allow for self control but a person must yield to the Spirit in order to maintain self control.

In Galatians 5, it is noted that the law is present because of sin, but it is the fruits of The Spirit that are beyond the law because you are acting in self control under God’s presence.

Self-control helps to capture all of our emotions. It is the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites.

Paul witnesses to Felix:

Acts 24:24-25

24 After some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and listened to him on the subject of faith in Christ Jesus. 25 Now as he spoke about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became afraid and replied, “Leave for now, but when I find time I’ll call for you.”

 

Felix is being addressed because he is in desperate need of exhibiting self-control. He has been through three marriages. He needed to hear from Paul about:

1. Faith in Christ

2. Righteousness

3. Self-control

4. Judgment to come

 

Paul is in control.

Matthew 10:19-20

19 But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you should speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, 20 because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.

 

You may feel you have a right to take action against a person for their mistreatment of you.

1 Samuel 24:4-6

4 so they said to him, “Look, this is the day the Lord told you about: ‘I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire.’” Then David got up and secretly cut off the corner of Saul’s robe.

5 Afterward, David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the corner of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “I swear before the Lord: I would never do such a thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed. I will never lift my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.”

 

1 Samuel 26:7-10

7 That night, David and Abishai came to the troops, and Saul was lying there asleep in the inner circle of the camp with his spear stuck in the ground by his head. Abner and the troops were lying around him. 8 Then Abishai said to David, “Today God has handed your enemy over to you. Let me thrust the spear through him into the ground just once. I won’t have to strike him twice!” 

9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him, for who can lift a hand against the Lord’s anointed and be blameless?” 10 David added, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will certainly strike him down: either his day will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish.

 

Self-control is a quality for anyone in leadership.

Titus 1:8

…but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled.

 

Titus 2:2

Older men are to be level headed, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance.

 

1 Timothy 3:2

An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher.

 

1 Corinthians 9:25

Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away.

 

Having knowledge of God’s Word helps to build us up in self-control. Training under God’s Word requires it, and it will teach you how to rely more and more on the presence of God in your life to rely upon Him in maintaining self-control.

The value of self-control is perseverance (patience).

 

2 Peter 1:6

…knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness.

 

Self-control can bring you respect (honor). It teaches how to avoid strife.

Proverbs 20:3

It is honorable for a man to resolve a dispute,

but any fool can get himself into a quarrel.

 

Self-control (calmness) brings rest. It provides the ability to work things out.

Ecclesiastes 10:4

If the ruler’s anger rises against you, don’t leave your place,

for calmness puts great offenses to rest.

 

Without self-control, you can only display the flesh at its worst and all of its foolishness.

Proverbs 14:29

A patient person shows great understanding,

but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.

 

2 Timothy 3:3

…unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good.

 

You are being evaluated by others in your words, actions and behaviors to see if you really are who you claim to be–a Christian. The Christian is expected to have self-control. Living a life of carnality will show only a lack of control.

God wants you to be able to have the joy of the presence of the Holy Spirit by operating in self-control. When the characteristics of the fruits of The Spirit are manifested before others, the very presence of God and His power can be experienced by others as you remain faithful to Him.


1 John 3:11-24: Love in Action

John always spoke to those who were followers of Jesus as “little children,” and related to them his command from God…”love one another.” John was bringing us to a place where he was teaching the followers of Christ how to live out their salvation. Life is more than just saying “I’m saved through Jesus Christ.” John taught that there is a unique difference in living a life for Christ.

One of the most difficult things in life is to truly love another. Loving God and life itself is much easier when there is no one else around! But we know better than that. “For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another” (1 John 3:11). Note the following, far from conclusive, references to loving others:

Matthew 5:44 Love your enemies.
Matthew 5:46 Love has a reward.
Luke 6:35 Do good, even to your enemies.
John 13:34 Love as I have loved you.
John 13:35 All men will know you are My disciple if you love one another.
Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere.
Romans 12:10 Honor one another above yourself.
Romans 13:8 The continuing debt of love fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:10 Love does not harm a neighbor.
1 Corinthians 8:1 Love builds up.
1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient.
1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails.
Ephesians 4:15 Speak the truth in love.
1 Peter 1:22 Love one another deeply.
1 Peter 4:8 Love covers a multitude of sins.

If you think about it, love and serving one another is not easy! The acts of loving others must begin with our attitudes about loving God and understanding what that truly means. Loving Him means getting to know Him through His Word, trusting in Him, and being obedient to His commands. Loving God is not a selfish love…it is a self-sacrificing love.

Note, according to Scripture, the attitude that Cain possessed (Genesis 4:1-8). Cain’s flesh revealed how hatred can bring out hostility towards his brother, Abel, and to God Himself. It revealed selfishness, and it also reflects the unbeliever’s attitude towards those who follow God (1 John 3:12-15). The end result of hatred is murder. Hatred belittles and destroys life, while love, in it’s faith and obedience to God, cherishes and nurtures life. “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By this he was approved as a righteous man, because God approved his gifts, and even though he is dead, he still speaks through this” (Hebrews 11:4). When we speak here of unbelievers, we are not just speaking of those who are not followers of Christ, for even believers can behave as unbelievers in their actions when they are acting in selfishness and disobedience, and when operating outside of God’s will. Human nature is what it is. We still operate in the flesh and declare “I want things my way.” When we give way to our own selfish desires, it is only then when God can do His will in our life. It is how we can best love one another. We must crucify this flesh daily (James 4:1-3; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Samuel 11:14-16). We are still growing in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We are still learning from Him, and He is still teaching us as we are still learning to trust and have faith in Him. We must overcome our own desires and remind ourselves that we are saved by grace, and in our relationship with Christ we are to continually reminded of God’s love for us–in that love we are to love our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:14; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

The example of true love is Jesus Christ (1 John 3:16-20). It is in how He lived His life and gave of Himself. He continually lived to meet the needs of others. “‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life–a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).'” True love is giving of yourself to others (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:8, 14). Service comes out of love for people. We were created to do His will and good works for not just believers, but for everyone! God, in your growing relationship with Him (namely, trusting in Him) will prepare you in your service to others.

When our heart is at rest in God, we have confidence in Him. His Word reveals to us where we can best use our talents and abilities and inspires us through the power of the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:21-24). We know we are in the truth because we believe in Him and He is operating within us! “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). God wants us to be people of action! We’re here to minister to the needs of others, in love. When you truly see God’s heart for people, you can’t help but give your life in service for Him. Remember how Jesus came and met us where we were for our own spiritual and physical needs. That work must continue through us in showing the love of Christ in service for others.

To be in Christ is knowing where we are by the Holy Spirit that He gave to us, through His influence in our lives as we have faith and trust in Him (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5). If the work is of God, He will meet every need! “‘He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you'” (John 16:14-15).


Dreams and Seeking God’s Will

Dreams are often referenced in Scripture as a method of communication by God. It was a way to describe future events, such as what Joseph conveyed to his father and his brothers (Genesis 37:5, 9; 42:6, 9; 43:26; 44:14; 46:29). Daniel was an interpreter of dreams (Daniel 1:37), and God spoke to him through visions about the future conflict (Daniel 7-12). God also used a dream to warn of impending danger to Joseph, Mary and Jesus (Matthew 2:13). He even used a dream to terrify Pontias Pilate’s wife to admonish her husband to “have nothing to do with that righteous man, for today I’ve suffered terribly in a dream because of Him!” (Matthew 27:19)

With these examples, we see that God, indeed, has used dreams and visions to communicate with us. God speaks to us in many different ways, but dreams are also a way of capturing God’s vision of the future, just as Joseph was mindful of God’s dreams for his own future in the midst of extreme hardship. What gave Paul the desire to press on for the sake of his own faith and for the brethren? It was his vision of one day being with the living Christ, even though he was imprisoned and suffering persecution for his faith. We, too, are to cope with our own difficulties by focusing on Jesus Christ and living a Christlike existence. “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise–dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

Dreams are a sequence of sensations, thoughts, and images that communicate information to us, most often during sleep. Dreams can also occur as we visualize in our minds the product of our imagination, a wish, or our desire to see important changes in our life and the lives of others. With this, we see that God gives us the ability to dream and also use dreams to visualize what we may see in the future. If used properly, we can see how dreams can inspire us to live a life of promise and can help us to realize our own hopes, thoughts and ideas. Dreams can help to challenge us to see something in the future when we truly trust in the Lord and remain obedient to Him and His Word. Our strength comes from believing that God provides us with the ability to persevere and succeed in Christ. “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Our goals and visions of the future are reassured by God’s ongoing faithfulness. His faithfulness comforts us as He demonstrates over and over that He has everything under His control. “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). We can see God working, yet we are challenged to trust completely in Him on a daily basis.

While God wants us to see His will for us and to remain in Him, what matters to God most is how you, as an overseer of His kingdom, bear fruit before others. “You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give you. This is what I command you: love one another” (John 15:16-17). Living for Christ will give you the ability to bear fruit, and that our trust in Him will be manifested in the results. “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples” (John 15:7-8). We are fruitful as we abide in Christ and in seeking His will. His desires become our desires (Psalm 37:4). Our dreams, viewed by others as difficult to achieve or as impossible, can become a reality as we trust in Him.

Why does one stop dreaming? It is because dreams seem impossible to see through all of the obstacles that appear to be before them. Dreams, honestly, require hard work in their execution. Satan would like nothing better than for our dreams and desires of our lives for Christ to be put aside and rendered as unachievable or unreachable. Martin Luther King’s dream was well beyond the laws and rules that existed in his lifetime, and yet his dream was the desire of many. In the midst of the perception of what does not appear to be possible, will you dream anyway? While acknowledging the hardships of life, anything can be accomplished or realized as God goes before us, gives us the strength and ability to believe while we press ahead towards the prize (Matthew 19:26; Mark 9:24)

The realization of your dreams require your faith in Jesus Christ. “I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). If it is according to God’s will, it will definitely be accomplished. Dreams are not just about ourselves, but they also may involve others. When God speaks to us, He helps us see how we can see outside of ourselves when we dream. We can know if our dreams are not just our own when we acknowledge that God is with us. “Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:15). God will truly accomplish what He desires, and His fellowship with us makes it easier for us to see His vision and recognize that the Lord’s presence guides us to see through our dreams and desires to reality. Even with this, God is also looking for our proper and reverent response to Him. God is the One who helps us to achieve our dreams in our work, and it is our responsibility to see that we claim none of the glory in our accomplishments. Without Him, we can do nothing; therefore, He deserves the glory for the realization of our hopes and dreams.


Ushers: Ordained by God for Service

There are many roles of service for persons within the body of Christ. Today, we are focusing on our ushers. Ushers play an important role in our church. As we take the time to thank the Lord for their service, it is our desire that you will see that their work is truly for the Lord, Jesus Christ and His church. As the recipients of the service provided by ushers, we will explore what they do for us and see the value of their service from a biblical perspective.

  • 1 Corinthians 3:11-14, 9:25 – They do it for crowns that will last forever. The Lord will give them their reward.
  • Hebrews 10:23-24 – Our role is to encourage them to continue on with their work.
  • So the Lord repaid me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His sight” (Psalm 18:24). God rewards us for our service when we live faithfully in our service for Him.

The word usher is referred to in the Bible as a gatekeeper, doorkeeper or simply a keeper. The word is derived from ush, meaning “to enter into.”

The usher had many duties:
1. Keeper of the city gates
2. Announcer of dignitaries
3. They went before high-ranking people to clear their way
4. They directed individuals to their proper place
5. They were in charge of who to admit or permit into the building
6. They were the ones who made it possible for the speaker to be heard (not allowing disruptions in the room)

Ushers originated from the Levites (2 Chronicles 8:14, 23:18-19). They were the overseers that David had assigned for service at the gates in the Lord’s temple. They made sure that the proper reverence was used in worship of the Lord when entering the temple. There should be, for us, a value when we approach the Lord. When we grow in our relationship to the Lord, we also should have some reverence to our view of God and in our worship of Him. They also assisted the priests in the temple and they also were overseers of the collection of the funds (2 Kings 12:9, 23:4; 2 Chronicles 34:9). The Levites were already highly regarded as priests in their own right. They were entrusted to supervise the work on behalf of the Lord and in His temple. They were operating as overseers and gatekeepers operating within the body in their service (Nehemiah 7:1, 3, 45; 1 Chronicles 23:3-5). David and Nehemiah relied on the Levites as gatekeepers to serve the Lord in their various capacities, but even with all of this, “everything must be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40).

Dwight L. Moody presented the importance of ushers during the revival period (Third Great Awakening, mid to late 1800s) of the church. He personally interviewed and selected 500 ushers to handle and direct the large crowds. He did it for two reasons: to show that we, who serve for the Lord and the church, are ambassadors for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) and that they have a quality about them that showed them as welcoming and hospitable (Romans 12:13).

In the embodiment of ushering, the usher has to reflect the gifts of the Spirit in his or her demeanor and actions. The joy of the Lord must be present, and there needs to be a love and reassurance that comes forth in sincerity and care. The usher must also use the proper discernment and wisdom to keep the peace and have the proper response to know what to do in emergency situations. Ushers need to be sensitive to the needs of the people and dedicated to the tasks at hand with a positive attitude and to be a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Better a day in Your courts than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather be at the door of the house of my God than to live in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord gives grace and glory; He does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity” (Psalm 84:10-11). The joy of being at the gate as a gatekeeper has more value in God’s sight than to be out of fellowship with Him. An usher is not “just an usher” in his or her service for the Lord. It is a position ordained by God and it is a role of importance in our church that deserves our thanks and appreciation for their service.