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The Harvest

30 September, 2018

Fruit (Kids’ Message)

Can you identify these ten fruits:

  • Apple
  • banana
  • strawberry
  • watermelon
  • pineapple
  • pear
  • orange
  • peach
  • mango
  • tomato

How do you know an this [image] is a strawberry? It could be a banana in disguise!

How do you know this [image] is a pear? It looks like an apple. It’s kind of like an apple. How do you know it’s an apple?

Without getting into ph.D level scientific analysis of fruits, it’s pretty easy to identify fruits because we just know what an apple looks and tastes like. We know what a banana looks and tastes like, and so on.

The Bible talks about the fruit of the Spirit, and I think you’ve been studying that in Sunday School, so can you tell me what the fruits of the Spirit are?:

  • Love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

How do we know what love is? Maybe it’s just desire in disguise? How do we know what joy is? Maybe that’s just selfishness in disguise? How can we really identify the fruits of the Spirit? Without getting into a ph.D level analysis of the fruit of the Spirit, it’s pretty easy to identify the fruit of the Spirit because as humans, we just know what love is.

We might be able to fool ourselves or others sometimes for a little while, but usually we can feel when we’re being loved. We know when we feel joy. We know when someone is being kind (or unkind) to us. It’s pretty easy to tell.

Jesus said that we can tell who is godly and who is ungodly by the fruit in their lives. So growing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is really, really important. The more love, joy, peace (and so on) that we have, the more we will enjoy our life and others’, and the more we will enjoy our life with God our Father.

So here’s the big question: how do we grow the fruit of the Spirit in our life? Well, it’s fruit from the Holy Spirit. So we need to get close to the Holy Spirit and spend time with Him. We do this in Bible reading, prayer, meeting with other Christians (like in church), and in sharing with others and caring for them.

Let’s pray for more fruit in our lives.

The Harvest (Mini-sermon 1)

In Luke 8 Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower. In it, a farmer spreads good seed on the ground.

Some of it falls on a path. It never finds soil and is eaten quickly by the birds.

Some of the seed lands in shallow soil where it springs up quickly and looks pretty good for a while but because it has no root, as soon has the harsh elements of nature come, it dies off pretty quickly.

Some of the seed lands in good soil but it grows up amongst weeds. So it grows okay for a season but then it gets choked by the weeds and becomes unfruitful.

The final batch of seed lands in good soil, it’s well tended and grows to produce a massive harvest.

This parable illustrates various degrees of unreceptive attitudes to the gospel and the fruit that grows (or doesn’t grow) from such states of mind.

The first seed that falls on the path represents a closed mind. This is people who refuse to even consider the gospel. And so nothing godly ever even begins to grow in their lives.

The second seed that falls in the shallow soil represents a superficial mind. The superficial mind responds to the gospel at first because the love of God is very appealing. But there’s no commitment. No sense of self-denial or submission. And there’s no assimilation of the truth to be able to stand under pressure.

The third seed that falls amongst the weeds represents a distracted mind. There are so many things in our world to distract us from the truth of the Word, and they’re not all bad. Money, health issues, romance, work commitments, family commitments, church commitments, the entire entertainment industry, the fashion world, the sporting world, world news, and so on. The matter of distraction is always going to come back to priorities, and how greatly we desire to see an abundant harvest of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

One of the things that a distracted mind produces is unbalanced growth. Unbalanced growth is a mark of immaturity. Have you ever seen a Christian who is really kind, but has no patience whatsoever? Or a Christian who is full of joy and is a buzz to be around, but they have really poor self-control in their decision-making or behaviour?

The fourth seed represents a receptive mind. If we want to be that fourth seed that lands in the good soil and grows into a massive harvest, then we need to tend the garden of our lives very carefully. We need to water and feed our souls with the Word of God. We need to prune the excesses from our lives, and introduce and cultivate the good things of God.

That sounds good, but how do we do it? How do we assimilate the truth of God into our lives so that it takes effect and produces a harvest of spiritual fruit?

Do you know what Jesus said at the end of the Parable of the Sower? He said,

“Therefore consider carefully how you listen.”
Luke 8:18

ルカの福音書 8:18

And that’s what we’ll look at in the next mini-sermon.

The Transformation (mini-sermon 2)

If we want to become fruitful Christians producing a spiritual harvest, it all will come down to how well we assimilate the truth of the Bible into our lives, or, more simply, as Jesus put it, it will all come down to “how carefully you listen”.

Paul wrote to the Roman church and said this:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Romans 12:2

ローマ人への手紙 12:2

The influence of the world on our lives is very strong. If we succumb to it, even partially, we start to become like the second and third seeds in the parable of the sower. How do we resist conforming to the world, with its relentless pull? By being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

This happens when we listen carefully to the Bible, the Word of God, and assimilate it into our lives. Don’t be fooled. It’s not enough to just believe what’s written in the Bible. We must fill our minds with it so that that Holy Spirit can transform us with the truth.
心を新たにして自分を変えることは、聖書とそこに書かれている神の言葉をよく聞き、私たちの人生に神の言葉を取り入れた時におこります。しかし、だまされてはいけません。 聖書に書かれていることを信じるだけでは不十分なのです。聖霊が真理を用いて私たちを変えることができるためには、私たちは、私たちの心を聖霊で満たさなければいけないのです。

This rarely happens just by casually reading and believing the Bible.

  1. We need to receive in our hearts what is written. It’s got to be taken in.
  2. We need to regularly and faithfully read the Bible. We can’t watch TV for three hours and then read the Bible for three minutes and expect to grow. We need to be more mature than that.
  3. We need to research the Bible. Study it. Address the challenges you find in it, don’t just gloss over them. Ask the right questions of the text and of yourself as your read.
  4. We need to remember what we’re reading. If God’s Word is important to you, you can remember it. And this is good for resisting temptation, making wise decisions, reducing stress, building confidence, offering good advice and sharing faith.
  5. We need to reflect on what we’re reading. Meditate on it. Think deeply about it. This is probably the greatest way to renew of our minds. More than anything else, it’s meditating on scripture that transforms our minds and makes us more like Jesus.*

(* From The Purpose Driven Life, Day 24)

Before I finish, I want to turn this around and add one more point to this matter of transforming our minds. An important part of the transforming of our minds is how carefully we listen to the Word of God. (We’ve just talked about that.)

A second part of that transformation is how carefully we worship; our love response to what we are hearing from God. Jesus said, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 The truth part involves our assimilation of the Word into our lives. The Spirit part involves what of ourselves we are willing to give to God, the Holy Spirit.

As one illustration, have you ever heard a person say, (or have you ever thought yourself), “I didn’t get much out of today’s praise and worship”? (This is not a reflection of our praise and worship team! It’s just an example.) Worship is not about what we get from God. Worship is about what we give to God.
一例として、「今日の礼拝と賛美からは、あんまり得られるものがなかったな。」と人が言っているのを聞いたことがありますか? 因みに、これは単なる例で、この教会の賛美と礼拝のことを言っているのではありません。礼拝とは、私たちが神から何を得るかということではありません。 礼拝とは、私たちが神に何をささげるかということです。

God the Father wants worshippers who are willing to do more than just follow the routine in worship activities. He wants worshippers who will worship in Spirit and in truth.

When we praise God and worship Him with all our heart in communion with the Holy Spirit, and in accordance to the truth of His Word – this is praise and worship in the church, in the home, in the workplace, in nature – then we will find ourselves with a transformed mind and the massive spiritual harvest of a fourth seed believer.