Producing the Fruit of the Holy Spirit in Your Life!

BELIEVE: Faith that Transforms Our Lives 

Producing the Fruit of the Holy Spirit In Your Life! 

KINDNESS and GOODNESS = A GENEROUS LIFE 

One of the big subjects we focus on in the church is being People Builders.  We want to do everything we can to be Jesus’ partners to help people get the most out of the life God has given them.

A big key to success or failure in life – is knowing the difference between fruit and weeds.  On Monday, lesson at Jail — very powerful.  God created us to do good things with our lives.  But God doesn’t do those things for us.  God gives us the tools we need and then God requires that each of us chooses what we are going to do with the tools we’ve been given.  Are we going to follow the desires of our sinful nature?  Or – will we trust and follow God and to produce the Fruit that God wants for our lives?

Pastor Rick Warren – Purpose Driven Life.  Focus on ministry – serving others.  Choice to make.  Accomplish good things with our lives.  Or come to the end of our lives and realize – I wasted my life.

I’ll ask you the same question I asked the men in Jail on Monday – Do you want to waste your life?  What kind of decisions do you have to make?  How often do you have to make those decisions – Once?  Or, Every Day!

Read with me:    Galatians 5:19-23 (TLB)    When you follow the desires of your sinful nature – your lives produce evil results.  …But when you choose to live God’s way and let the Holy Spirit lead your life – the Holy Spirit will produce this kind of fruit in you: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control!

This Morning – we are going to zero in on what we believe about cultivating two of the fruits of the Holy Spirit – Kindness and Goodness.  We’re going to combine them together into one key character quality: Generosity.  When you choose to be a Kind and Good woman or man of God – you will be a Generous person.

I asked in Jail and I want to ask you this morning – How long does it take to see if someone is following the path of sinful desires or if they are serious about following God’s plan?  How long does it take to see if someone is a selfish person or a generous person?

Sometimes we are afraid of being generous – because we are afraid that people are going to take advantage of us.  We have the proverb in the back of our minds – good guys finish last.

But I want to ask you – is that true?  Do good women or good men finish last?

I think we have a very powerful example right here in our own backyard.  Wegmans grocery store – impresses me and many others with their positive, generous spirit.  Wegmans has made a huge decision that they are going to be a generous grocery store – they are going to give people the very best service and the very best selection they possibly can.  I think we would all agree – that their commitment to growing the Fruit of Generosity – has had a huge impact.

The same principle is true for our church.  When we make the decision that we are going to do everything we can to grow the Fruit of Generosity in our church – it has a huge impact.  Think about some of the powerful examples of Generosity in Church:  Greeters – First minute you come in, you are welcome here, we love you and we are committed to building you up to reach abundant and eternal life as a disciple of Jesus.  Spiritual Pathways – we are committed to being generous with people who have gone through tough times and want to rebuild their lives.  Congregational Care – we want to be generous in giving support and encouragement.  CCIA – we want to be generous in helping to feed people who are hungry, provide medical care.

So – this morning as you think about what you want in your life the Weeds of Sinful Desires or the Fruit of the Holy Spirit – I want to encourage you to ask yourself Do good women and men finish last?  And to ask yourself the same question from another perspective – Does being generous Make me Weak?  Or, More Effective!

 Does Being Generous — Make You Weak? or More Effective? 

Jesus is a great teacher – because He makes life lessons really simple.  One of Jesus’ simplest, and most profound lessons, The Golden Rule.  Jesus boils tons of theology and ethics down to one very simple principle.  If you want to have a happy and healthy life – it’s within reach of anyone.  It doesn’t depend on how smart you are or how much money you have.  Anyone can have a happy and healthy life – if they make the one simple choice over and over again – to treat other people the way I would like for them to treat me.

Luke 6:31-35 (NLT)    Jesus said, Treat other people the way that you would like for them to treat you.  …Be kind and compassionate to others, just as your Heavenly Father is kind and compassionate to you.  …Give your best to others, and you will receive God’s best.  Your gift will return to you in full… The amount you choose to give to others will determine the amount you get back. 

So let me ask you – is Jesus the smartest or the dumbest teacher who ever lived?  If you live by the Golden Rule – is it going to make you a weak person?  Or will it make you more effective.

One of the most powerful examples of a person consistently choosing to live by the Golden Rule – is former UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden.

John Wooden set a record in NCAA basketball that has never been matched.  Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood,” he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, including a record seven in a row.

John Wooden was an amazing coach in many ways.  Perhaps what was most amazing of all was that he was a committed Christian who consistently lived out his faith by living out the Golden Rule.  John Wooden never screamed, was always patient, and always gave his best to his players.  John Wooden’s decision to live out the Golden Rule had a profound impact – even on players he had to cut from the team.  Whenever John Wooden had to cut a player – he didn’t send them a memo or a Tweet.  He always asked them to come to his office, where he politely told them why they didn’t have the skills the team needed, how much he appreciated all they had contributed to the team while they were there, and how he wished them well for their future.

Even when he was facing a major confrontation, Coach Wooden remained polite and positive.  One year, Bill Walton was his star Center.  Bill Walton thought he was indispensable and that he could get away with disobeying one of Coach Wooden’s directives.  Coach Wooden did not allow players to grow facial hair.  It was the height of the Viet Nam controversy – and Bill Walton decided he was going to grow a beard as his personal protest.  Coach Wooden called him into his office and said, “Bill, I think you know that our team policy is that we don’t allow players to grow facial hair.”  Yes coach, but this is important to me to express my disapproval of the Viet Nam war.

Coach Wooden said, “You know Bill, I really admire people who have convictions and they are willing to pay the price for their convictions.  So if you decide that it is important for you to keep your beard – I want you to know that I admire your convictions and I also want you to know that we are going to miss you being on our team.”  Bill Walton chose to shave his beard and come to practice the next day.

John Wooden shows us that you don’t have to be argumentative or rude to succeed in life.  The key to success for you and others – is to make the commitment to live the generous life God wants for you by following Jesus in living out the Golden Rule and by making the choice to be a GO-GIVER!

The Power of Being a Go-Giver!

     How Does Generosity Grow In Our Lives?

In life – we are always challenged to think about am I focused on what I can get?  Or am I focused on what I can give?

I was listening to a podcast that was very helpful to me.  The speaker was a guy named Bob Burg.  About 30 years ago, Bob was starting his career as a salesman.  His company taught him high pressure sales techniques.  “What will it take to get you to purchase our product?  Are you ready to sign the contract today?”

Bob Burg said it was really frustrating – because the high pressure approach turned him off and it turned his customers off.  Focusing on being a Go-Getter wasn’t working for him.  So he started looking for an approach that would work.  Instead of focusing on “What’s in it for me?  How can I get them to sign the contract – right now?  He changed his approach – to “How can I give them what they need?”

Changing his focus from trying to be a Go-Getter to becoming a Go-Giver changed his life.  When people saw that he genuinely cared about them and was dedicated to finding win-win solutions – Bob became a very effective salesman.  Later, he wrote a book The Go-Giver and he was named by the Amer­ican Management Association as one of the Top 30 Most Influential Thought Leaders in Business.

God is asking the same question of all of us this morning – what do I want to be?  Do I want to be a Go-Getter, focused on what I can get from other people?  Or, Do I want to be a Go-Giver, focused on what I can give to other people?

A powerful example of a great Go-Giver in the Bible is Ruth.  You might remember that Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, had lost everything.  Naomi’s husband had died.  Naomi’s 2 sons had died.  Naomi was at the end of her rope.  She didn’t see any hope for her future.  She told her 2 daughter-in-law’s Orpah and Ruth to leave her because she had no hope for her future.

Orpah said, OK, and walked away.  Ruth made the decision to be a Go-Giver.  Even though Naomi had nothing to give her – Ruth was committed to being a Go-Giver and giving Naomi her support and love.  We see the commitment Ruth made in Ruth 1.

Ruth 1:16-17 (NLT)    Ruth told Naomi, “Don’t make me leave you, for I want to go wherever you go and to live wherever you live; your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God.   …May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”

Ruth turned out to be an amazing Go-Giver.  Ruth was willing to give up her home to protect Naomi.  When they got back to Naomi’s home town of Bethlehem – Ruth went right to work gleaning the fields and getting food so they could survive.  Ruth’s amazing Go-Giver attitude got the attention of one of the richest men in town, Boaz.

Boaz saw Ruth’s generous spirit in action – and he said She is definitely the girl for me!  Boaz and Ruth were married.  They had a son named Obed – who became the grandfather of King David.  Ruth’s determination to be a Go-Giver even got her listed in Jesus’ family tree.

God is eager to help you grow the fruit of Generosity in Your Life.  God wants to help you to stay focused on the sweetness of the fruits of the Holy Spirit compared to the bitterness of the weeds of evil and sinful desires.  God wants to help you to see that Generosity makes you more Effective, that being a Go-Giver is the best way to live and to grow in your vision of what the  

What Does a Generous World – Look Like? 

Started this sermon by asking – Do you want to make the most of the abilities and opportunities God has given you?  Or are you willing for your life to end up wasted?  God definitely does not want anyone’s life to end up wasted.  Over and over again – God seeks to inspire us from the beginning to the end of the Bible to see the power of Generosity.

God gets things started through His generous gift of Creation and Life.  Then God encourages us to follow His example – to grow in generosity and share the gifts we have been given.

Psalm 112:1-9 (NCV/MSG)    Praise the LORD!  How happy are people who respect the LORD, and delight in obeying His commands.  …Good comes to people who are generous and conduct their business fairly.  …They give generously to people who are in need.  They have positive influence and build beautiful lives!

When a church is generous and committed to living out the Good News of Jesus – people see it.  Everybody knows the difference between a church that is only interested in me for my money and what they can get out of me – compared to a church that is focused on giving their best to me and helping me to grow to my full potential.

The most powerful lesson of all – is seeing God’s power in action.

 2 Corinthians 9:10-13 (NLT/LB)    God is the One Who provides seeds for the farmer which produces bread to eat.  In the same way, God will provide and increase your resources – which can then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.  Two good things happen as a result of your generosity—those in need are helped, and they will then overflow with thanks to God.  Those you help will be glad not only because of your generous gifts, but they will praise God for this proof that your generosity demonstrates that your faith is real. 

If you choose to live in fear – and hoard all of your seeds – you are guaranteed to have zero harvest.  But if you grow in trusting God and being generous in sharing God’s gifts – God can and will multiply His blessings in your life.

As a church family – we have seen it in many ways.  When our church is focused on being generous – Taking Jesus’ love to the Jail, Offering follow up Life Building classes in Spiritual Pathways, Inviting friends and neighbors to join us for Wednesday Night Live, Offering concerts and free dinners on the front lawn, Building friendships with Iglesia Emmanuel, Supporting Free Community Dinners – God has blessed our church.  At our Staff Meetings and Church Council meetings – constantly asking How is it possible that our finances are doing so well?  I respond – God has shown us – that when we cultivate the Fruit of Generosity – He can and will bless us!

My prayer is that God will help you to keep cultivating the great Fruit of Generosity!

 

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