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Monday, September 24, 2018

The Fruit of the Spirit - Goodness


Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ has the Holy Spirit of God living inside them. 
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul said the Holy Spirit produces Christian virtues within everyone who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and follows him day by day.  These fruits don’t appear overnight.  But like a garden—when tended and nurtured—they grow within us over time until we reap a bountiful harvest.

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I hope you will memorize these 9 fruits of the Spirit.  Better yet, I pray you will cooperate with the Holy Spirit that He may grow them more abundantly in your life.

Goodness
Today, I will discuss goodness.  We need more goodness in our world.  Galatians 6:9 says, "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up."  Don't wear yourself out with all the volunteering, giving, and serving you do.  There is always more good to be done.  If you try to do good from your own limited supply of goodness, even the best will soon be exhausted.  However, God's goodness never runs dry.  We need to share goodness with others from the unlimited source of God's goodness.

Goodness is a fruit of the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit wants to grow more goodness in our lives.  And if we cooperate, the Spirit will.  Since you and I are in the world (though not of it), we can be and instrument of God to bring more goodness into our world.  Will you cooperate with the Spirit in this noble task?  Will you fertilize your spiritual garden with the Word of God and listen to the Holy Spirit so you will know how to be good and then do the right thing at the right time in the right way?

The great shepherd, king, and psalm writer—David—wrote that famous 23rd Psalm that has brought comfort and hope to so many throughout the ages.  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters…”  And he ends his beautiful passage with this promise of hope.  “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”  There’s one thing my faith has always helped me to believe:  God is good!   My faith helps me to believe that God is good even when things go badly.  I believe that God is on my side.  

God is good and He wants goodness for you and me.  A lot of people get Christianity all mixed up.  They think it's all about rules.  They say, "If you're a Christian, you can't do this and you can't do that and you have to do this."  That's not it at all.  There are rules, but the rules are there for our benefit because God is good and He wants good for us.  He knows that we can avoid so much trouble and suffering and that's why He gives us some rules to steer us in the best direction.

Our Good God Created a Good World
Genesis 1:31 says, "Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!"  Created a good world.  Unfortunately, the world we see has a lot of sin and suffering and darkness.  A lot in this world is not good.  So what happened?  

It's not God's fault that the world is broken.  He didn't break it.  We did.  In the beginning, the world was perfect and people were perfect and our relationship with God was perfect.  In order to make love possible, God gave the first humans--Adam and Eve--a simple test of faithfulness.  He told them you can eat anything you want from the garden, but don't eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Unfortunately, they chose to disobey God. Their sin violated love and broke their perfect relationship with their Creator.  The results were catastrophic.  Paradise fell apart and the world became a place were darkness and suffering and death are as much a part of our experience as goodness and love and light.  

The miracle is that God still didn't abandon us.  He has been working to clean up our mess since the very day humanity messed it all up.  We don't deserve it, but God has always been good to our world.  In the story, when Adam and Eve sinned, they realized they were naked and ashamed and afraid and vulnerable.  What did God do?  He could have abandoned them, but He didn't.  He protected them by making clothes for them--even though they didn't deserve it.  And throughout the ages since, God has been working out our salvation by:
  • Saving Noah and the animals on the ark through the flood
  • Calling Father Abraham to leave his homeland and go start a new people in the Promised land
  • Paving a way to redemption through Moses, King David, and the prophets
  • And He fulfilled His plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus
I don't just know God is good because of stories I've read in the Bible.  I know because God has been so good to me, personally.  He saved me at the age of 8; when I had no father in my home, God adopted me as His own son and He became my perfect Father.  He changed the course of my life from a very bad path to a path of light and love and eternal life.  He has been good to me by leading me down a path of life-long spiritual growth.  Thankfully, I am not the same immature Christian I was when I was 8 (or 16 or 25 or 35).  God was good to me by giving me a wonderful wife.  I don't know why Kelly agreed to marry me.  All I can say is it was the goodness of God that encouraged her to agree.  And God has given me three awesome children.  Each one is special in their own way.  And I cannot take credit for how good they are--I can only praise God for His goodness in the matter.  And God was so good to me to give me a gift for speaking and a love for serving in the church and the ability to make a living for myself and my family as a pastor.  I am blessed beyond all measure, because God has been good to me.  Has He been good to you?


God has Been Good to Us.  Let’s be Good to Him.  But How?
Micah 6:7-8 tells us how.  It says, "Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?  Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins?  No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you:  to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

So here we have in verse 8 a simple explanation of the good we are to do.   

First, It Says Do What is Right
The Word of God and the Holy Spirit work in concert to show you the right thing to do, at the right time, and in the right way.  It is not good to just following the shifting trends of a fickle society.  For in one decade they say one thing is bad and in the next they say, "Oh, that's okay now," and some other behavior becomes the unpardonable sin that will ruin  your career and make you an oucast from society.  Neither is it good to take the Bible out of context and use it as a tool to prove you are right (as many southerners did in the 1800s to prove that their slave trade was justifiable in the eyes of God).  The Bible is not a tool we use to justify our misbehavior.  The Bible is the Word of God the Holy Spirit uses to challenge us to be more like Christ.  Goodness is humbling yourself before God, listening obediently to His Word in Scripture, and relying on the Holy Spirit to lead you to do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way.

Second, It Says Love Mercy
God has been so merciful to you and to me. We also, ought to show mercy. Be merciful. No, that’s not enough! It say, love mercy. That's much stronger, isn't it? Look for ways to be merciful. Let your first thought not be how to punish or get back at soemone, but be: "How can I apply mercy in this circumstance?" Ere on the side of mercy. Now, I must say, mercy is not pretending there isn’t a fault. It means, there is a fault but you will forgive the fault anyway. In order for the to be real forgiveness and mercy, you must recognize that an offence has occurred--sometimes a very devastating and despicable sin--but you are going to show mercy and forgive anyway. So, do what is right, love mercy, and...

Walk Humbly with God
Remember who’s in charge. This life is not about you. You were created to worship God, not the other way around.  Society tells us in so many ways that this life is about us and our wants and our happiness.  But where did God ever say that in His Holy Bible?  Life is not about you.  We were made to worship God.  Also, if you are going to walk humbly with God, you need to stay close to Him. It says walk humbly with God. That means He isn’t standing still. He’s moving and you should be too. If you’re in the same spot spiritually you were five years ago, you might not be walking with God. Maybe you were five years ago, but He’s moved since then. Have you moved with Him? Maybe it’s time to catch up. The Good News is, the Holy Spirit can show you the way!  Devote yourself to prayer, which is rubbing up against God, and you will find you are walking humbly with Him day by day.

Sara Brooker’s Letter
I want to share a good word from a lady I know who is filled with incredible goodness.  She is a matriarch of my church and her godly reputation has spread throughout our community and far beyond by the many people who have come to know and love her.  At the age of 92, her health has declined until she is not able to attend church regularly anymore.  However, she is still a joy to visit and she blesses everyone she meets.  This letter is an open letter she wrote to her grandchildren (and she has more than I can list) to give them a good word of wisdom to bless their lives.  May these words she wrote to her grandchildren inspire you to goodness as well.
09/05/2018
Sara Brooker
My Dear Grandchildren 
As I reflect over the 92 plus years of my life, I vividly see God's hand shaping and guiding my life to the present day. All of you are gifts created by God and deeply loved by me. You are a constant in my prayers as you grow and assume responsibility for the decisions in your lives. My most fervent prayer is each will chose a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the most important and wisest choice you can and will ever make in your lifetime. 
l Timothy- 1:19 
Cling tightly to your faith in Christ and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences, as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. 
A live and growing faith is the legacy I wish to leave you. A faith that grows through life, daily trials and struggles, with the knowledge that our God will never forsake us. His love is steadfast and everlasting. 
It is not only a Grandmother's love that I leave to you, but foremost the love of Jesus Christ. 
My prayer is each one of my beloved accepts "His" love personally and fully. That you live and grow in that love. For even before I knew or loved you, God did. 
Loving you always, 
Mammaw Sara