How are the Fruits of the Spirit Present?



Speaker 1:
Our scripture reading for today comes some Romans five, one through eight. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand and we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only, but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance, character and character. Hope and hope does not put us to shame. God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. You see at just the right time when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die, but God demonstrates his own love for us in this. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. This is the word of the Lord.


Speaker 2:


Speaker 3:

Well, happy Father's Day, I couldn't think of a more fitting verse for Father's Day than that one. That's not a bad verse to remember or recite and learn. Remember some of it committed to memory. Happy Father's Day, to all of you who are dads or are fatherly figures in some shape or form or fashion, we know that in a gathering like this, there are lots of different experiences that we all have when it comes to Father's Day and celebrating our fathers. For some of us, we have great examples of fathers. We have loving and kind and generous fathers to look to. For some of us, we might have tumultuous relationships or tense relationships with our fathers, and so we know that there are a variety of different experiences and a range of different emotions associated with days like this. But one of the things that I always like to focus on is that regardless of what our relationship is with our earthly father, we have a heavenly Father who loves us.
But also I think for all of us, we have people in our lives who have poured into us, who have spoken into our lives, who have given us an example to follow. And whether that person is your biological father or a fatherly figure or a mother figure, we celebrate today the people who invest in our lives. And we just want to say thank you for that. And so we also have some special treats today that you want to make sure that you don't leave without. We tried to pick the dad. One of the best times to be a dad is when you're going on a road trip and you're getting in the car, you got everything packed up and you're headed out of town that you're destined for a time of complaining and griping and then constantly asking why. When will we get there? Regardless of how far it is that you're going or how short the time has passed since they asked that question the last time.
But one of the things that makes the road trip a highlight of every dad's life is stopping at the gas station and getting all of the goodies. So when we were talking about getting goodies for fathers, we decided that we would get our favorite treats for road trips when we are on the way. So there's some dad's root beer, of course, some popcorn, and you're very welcome. We got moon pies for everybody. So yeah, doesn't get any more dad than a good moon pie. So enjoy that please. Also, I was thinking, I don't know that this was intentional, but we sang some songs I think that are probably many dad's favorite songs that we sang this morning. So thank you guys for doing that, leading us in that way. So as we celebrate fathers, we recognize the contribution that dads have to the world and their impact and influence on us specifically as a father.
Now for 12 years, I realize and feel the importance of being a dad that leads my kids in the way of Jesus and seeks to help them just simply be kind and generous and loving people. The only dad advice that I'm going to give today is two pieces of advice that have been passed along to me. Number one is that you as a father, as a parent want to raise children that other adults want to invest in, right? I heard that somewhere along the way. I don't even remember who told me that, but that was great advice. I want more people other than myself to invest in my kids. And so to raise children that other adults want to invest in that they see the potential in that they come alongside and love on top of our parental guidance for them. So that one, and then the second one, it maybe is one that I think about more often is this, and this applies really to any relationship that we're in, but as a father, you don't want to teach your kids things.
They're going to have to spend the rest of their life unlearning, right? That's a good one. You don't want to teach them things. They're going to have to spend the rest of their life unlearning. And also when we experience the sort of weight of those pieces of advice, we have to remember as we say every Sunday when we gather that perfection is a myth that's easy for us to beat ourselves up when we fall short or when we struggle or when we do teach our children something that we don't really want them to learn and we've got to come back and sort of rework that with them and encourage them to do better than we have done. We know that God's grace is sufficient for us and that God's grace is sufficient for our children as well. So we don't have to be perfect dads, we don't have to be perfect fathers. We just have to be present fathers there. That was the third piece of advice that I have for you today. Just be present.
So today as we celebrate Father's Day, I wanted to tell you one of the things that they don't teach you when you become a dad, and it is to prepare for all of the things that you are going to have to carry, right? You have no idea before you are a dad. Of all the things that you are going to have to carry, you're going to have to carry all of the kids' stuff. Sometimes you're going to have to carry your wife or your partner's stuff. You're going to have to carry your children. One of my favorite memories, I will never forget this because I thought that's the kind of dad that I want to be. Kelly and I were expecting our first child and we were living in Ohio. We were at this outdoor shopping center and we saw a friend of ours, his name was Don, and it was raining outside, just pouring a storm, just came up out of the middle of nowhere and just pouring down rain, and we look out the window, we're sheltered inside one of the stores staying dry.
We look out the window and I noticed Don coming from across the parking lot and Don had a human feet. That is incredible in my mind, still to this day, he's carrying an umbrella. He has a backpack on, he has a shoulder bag full of diapers on his shoulder and two children, and he is walking them across the parking lot, avoiding the puddles, and he came to the same place that we were at and I jumped out of the store and I said, Hey, Don, how are you? And everybody was completely dry. It was amazing that he was able to do that. And I thought, that's the kind of dad that I want to be one that can carry all of those things. And then I became that kind of dad having to carry all those things, and I was like, yeah, I don't want to be this kind of dad anymore.
It's way too much to carry. But this has been a problem for dads or an experience for dads since the very beginning. And Deuteronomy chapter one, we read about God being compared to a father that has to carry everything. It says this There you saw how the Lord God carried you as a father carries his son as an example that we have of being a father, and it's been the plight of a dad since the beginning. So all of that is just free for you today. Now we're getting into the good stuff. So we're going to read from Matthew chapter nine and in tandem with what we read in Romans chapter five earlier, and I'm going to invite you again to stand for the reading of the word if you are able. Here is how Matthew chapter nine, verse 35 reads. It says, Jesus went through all the towns and the villages teaching in, what's the word?
Their synagogue. That's an important word to remember, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field. You may be seated. So being a father is kind of like having a little apprentice that shadows you everywhere that you go, for better or for worse, kids look to their parents and they learn behavior from them, whether it is Father's Day or not. Apprenticeship is something that we talk about a lot here at Journey because collectively we are aspiring to seek to be apprentices in the way of Jesus. Now, in our day and age, to be a follower of Jesus can mean a lot of different things.
It can almost mean as many different things as you can find people to ask what it means. But as living, trying to live in accordance the best way with what Jesus taught to understand our relationship with Jesus as an apprenticeship is I think what Jesus as Jesus inspired his first followers to live like apprentices in his way. As a kid, my hero was my grandpa. We lived the majority of our lives with my mom and stepdad, but we spent a lot of time with our grandparents. We would spend holidays with our grandparents. We would spend two or three weeks with our grandparents in the summer. And as a little kid, I thought that my grandpa was the coolest. I always looked up to him. My grandpa was an early riser. And so little kids have this sense that when their parents wake up, they wake up or when they hear wrestling around, they get up and at least when they're little, then when they get to be a little older, they sleep in and you got to go wake 'em up.
But when they're little, and I would do that with my grandpa, I would always get up with him and I would watch him as he made his cup of coffee in the morning and he would always eat frosted mini wheats, and I would watch him do that. And to this day, my favorite cereal is Frosted Mini Wheats, even though I don't eat it very much, but I love Frosted mini wheats because of that. And I would watch him prepare for his day and he would spend time reading his, reading the scriptures and spend time in prayer. And I would try to emulate that and I would watch him as he got ready for his day. My grandpa was a pastor for many years. Still to this day, even though he is retired, he preaches every week on Facebook and he doesn't just turn on the camera and start talking.
He spends probably 10 or 15 hours before that preparing for his sermon just like he did when he was a pastor of a physical church. And I have watched him over the years and I have emulated him, but I remember watching him get dressed in the mornings. I would watch him brush his hair and I would wash him, put on his clothes. And so when I developed patterns as a young adult becoming a man for myself, I went back to all of those same habits that I observed my grandpa doing, and I would just think this is how a person gets dressed. And so I remember when Kelly and I were first married and she was watching me get dressed, it apparently was not the right order. And so she said to me, why do you do it that way? Why do you get dressed that way?
And I thought about it for a few minutes and I said, well, I get dressed this way because this is the way my grandpa got dressed, and that is just the way that makes sense to me. Now, this is the same approach that we should consider when following Jesus, that we as we've been talking about, are seeking to spend time with Jesus. One of the most treasured moments for a dad is just simply spending time with their kids to just be there and listen to 'em. Do you know strange things or make up stories or whatever it is. You just spend time with them. You are sitting with them and getting to know them. We have to do the same to get to know Jesus. And as we spend time with Jesus, we are formed into Jesus' image. And as we are formed into Jesus's image, we learn to do what Jesus did.
And when people ask, why do you do that? Why do you believe that? Why do you live your life this way? Why do you construct your life in this way? Why do you treat others this way? The response that we offer is because if it was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me. We are apprentices in the way of Jesus. This was the call that Jesus made in fact, to his first followers that are called the disciples in the Bible, to leave all that you wants new and to learn to live in and from the kingdom of heaven. This is what Jesus called to Nicodemus who was a religious leader of his day. In John chapter three, if you've never read this story, you need to read it. It's such a fascinating story. But shortly, he shows up at Jesus' door and he says, what must I do to inherit eternal life?
And Jesus says to him, you must be born again. Now, what Jesus was saying was not saying to Nicodemus, you need to just pray this simple prayer and everything's going to be okay. He was saying to Nicodemus, you have learned all of these things in this way and they are preventing you from living today in the kingdom of heaven. So you have to go back to the beginning and be born again. You have to unlearn all of these things that you have learned that have put you in a place where there are barriers between you and God. And then you have to relearn or learn again the way of the kingdom. But as any of us know, if we are trying to kick old habits, the saying goes, old habits what? They die hard. It is difficult to change in life. In fact, some of us might think it's impossible to change certain things, and maybe on our own that is the case.
But what we know and what Jesus told Nicodemus, which didn't necessarily make sense to him in the moment, but eventually became clear as things progressed that the Spirit is with us and that the Spirit does the work of changing in us. Paul, later on, after this encounter of Jesus, and Nicodemus would go on to talk about the patterns of the world, right? Our lives are shaped not only by the Father figures and the parental figures in our lives, but also by the patterns of the world. And these patterns of the world run deep. Sometimes we don't even know the difference between what's the patterns of the world and what is we have been taught in a proper understanding or from the kingdom of heaven. And so when we are serious about following the way of Jesus, we have to evaluate everything that we know and do and understand through the teaching of Jesus.
And when we come across something that doesn't make sense or it doesn't fit between our experience and the teachings of Jesus, an apprentice of Jesus chooses to trust in the way of Jesus above everything else. Jesus proclaimed that a person cannot serve to masters. You can't have two masters. We cannot trust in the patterns of the world and the kingdom of God. And what's interesting is that the way of Jesus, when we understand it and when we live it, well, it always leads to healing and wholeness. Those are the outcomes of the way of Jesus. Now, we need to be honest in the same breath and admit and come to terms with the fact that there have been misguided and wrongly informed people who claim the name of Jesus and still inflict their brokenness upon others in the name of Jesus. But regardless of if they know it or not, when they are inflicting their brokenness upon others, if they claim the name of Jesus or not, they are not living in sync with the way of Jesus in that moment.
And so if you have experienced a person who is a Christian who is a follower of Jesus and they have treated you wrongly, or if you know someone who has been treated wrongly and is on the outside of the church because of that, one of the things that I encourage people when I hear as they have been hurt and it's something that has deeply affected them, I encourage to ex for them to examine that if they can trust that the person or the people who hurt them, that if they could trust that they were actually living out of sync with the way of Jesus in those moments of hurt. Because what we need to understand and remember and remind others of is that the way of Jesus always leads to peace and healing and wholeness. And if we can trust that, then that can remove some of the barriers that keep us from living in sync with the way of Jesus ourselves.
And whenever we have this conversation, I think that probably many of us either have personal stories or stories that we know of people who have been hurt by people in the church, but even with all of the blemishes that are there, just like we say, perfection is a myth. The church is not perfect. We cannot, cannot claim that we are imperfect, but say that the church should be perfect because the church is people, right? And people are always going to fall short. That is just the way that it is. But by the work of the Holy Spirit within us, we can bear more and more fruit of the kingdom of God, that even with all of those blemishes, those infractions that people of faith had have made, when they're out of sync with the way of Jesus, the patterns of the world have a much more egregious track record of brokenness and destruction.
But oftentimes it seems like we don't examine those or critique those as much as we do critique the ways of the kingdom of God. James Ka Smith is a philosopher and theologian, he wrote This, I think, is helpful for us this morning. The question isn't whether you're going to believe, but who? It's not merely about what to believe, but who to entrust yourself to. Two, do we really think that humanity is our best bet? Do we really think that we are the answer to our problems? We who've generated all of them? Now, that's a pretty serious critique, but it's one for us to consider. And here's what Paul said, something similar in Galatians five. Of course we know this well here at Journey because this is one of the tools that we use to try to examine our lives in the way of Jesus. It's where the fruit of the spirit comes from.
But Galatians chapter five, verse 22 says this, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance or patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control against such things. There is no law. Now, listen to what Paul says here. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have what they've crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us what keep in step with the spirit, we have to keep in sync or keep in step with the spirit. Our minds and bodies are easily co-opted by the patterns of the world. We are easily deceived and influenced by the ways of the world. And because of that, we often are tempted or actually do choose ways that are dehumanizing or that take instead of give, and that lead us down destructive paths, all the while taking for granted the ways of Jesus. This, by the way, is a common problem not just for people outside of the church, but also for those of us who are here every Sunday when we look around and we see a Christian flag being raised in an act of violent sedition and Christian leaders supporting that something has gone horribly wrong.
And we must ask, how are the fruits of the spirit present in that moment when Christians unite over disdain for certain people or people groups that they have fear for of and they scapegoat? How are the fruits of the spirit present in that moment when we allow secular philosophies that reduce God to a social construct and promote survival of the fittest and propagation of the species by domination? And we just go along with those teachings. How are the fruits of the spirit present in that moment when we live in the most affluent and wealthy civilization in history? And there is such a large gap between those who have plenty and those who have to fight and struggle for basic human needs. We have to ask, how are the fruits of the spirit present in that moment when we live in a world that is obsessed with violence, where it is an everyday occurrence for someone filled to the brim with philosophies of hate and fear to lash out, and then the best our collective society can offer is arguing about keeping or getting rid of rights? How are the fruits of the spirit present in that moment?
But if we could just get this person elected, or if we could just go back to this thing the way that it used to be, the thing that was taken away from us, or if we could make this illegal or if we could take from this group and give to that group, if we could just see how easy it is for us to look to ourselves to solve the problems that we have created. See how quickly we turn to the philosophies of the world to solve the problems created by our trust in these same ways and what they have produced. Robert Moholland wrote these words throughout our lives, we have been consciously and unconsciously shaped by the habits of the old order of being, or what Paul called the patterns of the world, which has held us in dehumanizing bondage, our attitudes, our perspectives, our ways of relating to others, our methods of responding to the circumstances of the world around us, our self-image, even our understanding of God, have all been shaped by the destructive values and dehumanizing structures of the world's brokenness. And we have to learn to critique those ways. Jesus went through all the towns and villages
Teaching in fair synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Now, we have to be careful here because the people that Jesus is talking about for them, there was no shortage of leaders. Jesus didn't say next that there's a shortage of leaders, right? They had the Pharisees,
The religious leaders of the time. They had the Roman occupiers proclaiming that Caesar was Lord. There was no shortage of people making promises to them of how great things could be if they would just trust in their ways. There was no shortage of people who would dictate the terms of their lives and the way in which they should live. But those leaders who were leading them left them harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Have you ever felt that way? The Pharisees required perfection, but as Paul taught us what the law requires, it cannot produce, which is the same as the culture that we live in. We require perfection, but we can't have no way of achieving that Rome required unquestioned allegiance the same way that our culture does. But there's no method of discipleship in that.
So where then as citizens of the kingdom of heaven do we find our hope? Well, first of all, we find hope. As sad as it is, is to say that this is not a new problem. It's one that has been going on since the beginning. If there is ever power to be wielded, there is somebody who wants it and will do anything to get it. And once they get it, they will do anything to keep it no matter what they say. Everyone, of course, except for Jesus, Jesus, the scriptures tell us did not consider equality with God, something to be used for his own advantage, but he humbled himself to the position of a servant, and he gave him himself for us. That is the thing that distinguishes Jesus from all others, is that when he had actual real, pure tangible power that he could wield over everyone, he humbled him himself and died the death of a criminal for us. So that is where we find our hope. We find our hope that Jesus is here, and we find our hope and trusting in the kingdom of heaven over the patterns of the world. And when we do that and we do it well, and we live in step with the kingdom of God, both individually and collectively as the church, we become nourishment. The fruit of our lives becomes nourishment. For a nourished world, that is where we put our hope.