Service at Home for 13th June 2021
for Bolton Road Methodist Church, Christ Church Ramsbottom and Edenfield Methodist Church
YouTube playlist: Service at Home 13-06-2021
As usual, the entire service can be followed on this YouTube playlist without the need to look at these sheets. However, you may want to use these sheets if you prefer to read the words.
Welcome and introduction
Watch: Welcome and introduction
Welcome to our service at home. This week we look at what’s meant by the Fruit of the Spirit and why it’s really important that each one of us bears that fruit.
Watch: Opening prayers
Dear Lord, it is indeed my heart’s desire to worship you. My soul longs after you as you are my strength and my one true hope. I do indeed love you more than anyone or anything else, as only you give me the peace and joy that I long for. I love you because you save us from ourselves and offer us a full and eternal life in your Kingdom.
Lord, when I think about what you do for me, I’m ashamed that I sometimes disobey you and I’m sometimes selfish. Lord, in a moment of quiet I think about the things I’ve done wrong, and the things that I haven’t done that I should have done, and I confess these things to you now in the silence…….
Lord, I’m truly sorry. Lord, forgive me.
I thank you that through the sacrifice that Jesus made for me, I know that I have been completely forgiven and that nothing can separate me from you.
Lord, help me to remember that you are with me. Help me to feel your presence with me now. Open my mind to what you want to say to me, and open my heart to your love. Amen.
And now say the prayer that Jesus taught us:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name;
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayers of intercession and Gospel reading
Prayers of Intercession by Susan from Christ Church
Heavenly Father, we come to you knowing that you know about all our worries and concerns, before we even ask. But you call us to ask, and we will receive, so we come in prayer and share some our thoughts and concerns with you now.
We lift before you all the countries who are involved in the G7 discussions and pray that their hearts may be guided by you to show compassion and willingness to help each other and the world. To help eradicate poverty and to share our resources to those most in need. May they work to make the commitments made a reality and even go beyond, as they look to care for each other and the restoration of your creation.
As we think of our world and all its needs, we bring just a few of those to you now.
We pray for all nations and governments,
- As they battle with the Covid pandemic and tackle the aftermath of mental health, racism. Long Covid, grief, and the strain on the medical profession
- As they deal with the effect that reduced or no education has had on our children, young people and their teachers
- As they help people get back to work and learn to cope with a new normal or skill.
- As they continue to tackle existing problems, like political unrest, wars, famines, persecution, refugees and climate change.
- And also for our own government as they review the data on the latest Covid statistics in the coming week and determine when and if to go to the next step in their plans.
Loving and compassionate God, unite us all in love to help, support and encourage one another as we look for new and innovated ways to proceed. May they seek your guidance, know your peace and love, and receive wisdom and strength when making decisions.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We pray for our community
- As businesses reopen and try to recover from the struggle to make ends meet
- As people learn to reconnect with one another and once again learn to gather in groups and recreational activities.
- As new ventures are started and old ones abandoned
- As new friendships and acquaintances are made
- As teachers, NHS and all essential service workers continue to provide for us all, even though they are so tired and in need of rest.
- As local authorities seek how to best help and support our community through the coming months.
Loving and compassionate God, strengthen your people, giving them a renewed and passionate heart to be your light in the community, that more people will seek and find your love.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Lord we pray for ourselves, as we struggle with the way ahead and for our church and leaders. May we encourage one another, love one another and be mindful that we are all different, at different situations and will have different priorities as lockdown eases. Help us abide in your love and share it in all the different situations we encounter and use it to help and encourage others.
We remember all those we know, who are ill or struggling at this time, and ask you surround them with your healing hands, that they may know your peace and comfort, reassuring them that they are loved.
Walk with us, helping us to shine your light in all that we do. We ask this In and through the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Gospel reading: John 3:1-8 (Jesus teaches Nicodemus)
Epistle Reading, Sermon and prayer
Watch: Epistle Reading and Sermon
Epistle reading: Galatians 5:13-26 (Life by the Spirit)
The ‘Fruit of the Spirit’. It’s a phrase that we hear quite often in church, but what does it really mean? What is it and where does it come from? And, even more importantly, why does it matter to us and to the work of our church?
So let’s start by looking at what the fruit of the Spirit is. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, in verse 22, that
“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”.
This isn’t meant as a comprehensive list, but actually, I think that it encompasses exactly what can be regarded as “good” aspects of a person’s character. It’s what I’m sure we all want to be like. There are a couple of things that might appear to be missing from Paul’s list. One is being forgiving but I think that’s covered by “forbearance”; another is generosity, but that’s covered by kindness and goodness.
It’s significant that Paul describes it as “fruit”. Elsewhere in the Bible we hear about “bearing fruit”, such as, in Matthew 7, “every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit”. So it’s clear that Paul meant that the fruit of the Spirit is what comes from the Spirit. Or in other words, that we bear the fruit of the Spirit when the Spirit lives in us, and we become like that good tree that bears good fruit.
Notice that Paul describes it as “fruit”, in the singular. This means that all those characteristics are just one fruit and not different fruits. So that list that Paul gave us isn’t meant as a tick list for us to go through and say, I’ve done that one and that one but need to do that one tomorrow. When we bear the fruit of the Spirit, then we have every single one of those characteristics. Not one will be missing. If just one is missing, then we’re not bearing the fruit of the Spirit. You do hear people talking about the fruits of the Spirit, in the plural, referring to the different characteristics. Someone usually then embarrasses them by pointing out their mistake, ironically exhibiting a lack of patience and kindness. But it really doesn’t matter if you refer to fruit in the plural. God doesn’t mind, which is all that ever matters!
It’s easy to confuse the fruit of the Spirit with the gifts of the Spirit. In a way they’re very similar because of course they both come from the Holy Spirit living in us. But in fact, they’re very different. That’s because God gives us the gifts of the Spirit one at a time as and when we need them, whereas we have all the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit all of the time. And God doesn’t actually give us the fruit of the Spirit, because the fruit is a change that happens to us when God gives us His Spirit.
Now that we’ve looked at what the Fruit of the Spirit is, let’s look at why it’s important. First, the Fruit of the Spirit is important for our own well-being. Love, joy, peace, patience and self-control – isn’t this all that we ever truly desire in life?! And we have this when God’s Spirit lives in us.
As a bit of an aside, self-control is often overlooked as fruit of the Spirit, but is important because it can help someone to turn their life around. Think of the number of people whose lives are damaged by addictions, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography or sex. And addiction to eating too much or smoking can lead to misery through poor health and shame. Even an addiction to shopping can get people into debt. The Holy Spirit gives people self-control so that they break free from addictions. When Jackie Pullinger was working with drug addicts in the slums of Hong Kong, she found that the only thing that enabled people to stop taking drugs and then stay off them was for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit. And when I was at The Message Trust, I met people who’d broken long term addictions to drugs and alcohol when they turned to Jesus and invited the Spirit into their lives.
The second reason that the Fruit of the Spirit is important is because it’s evidence that God’s Spirit is living in us. And why is it important that God’s Spirit lives in us? It tells us in the passage from John’s gospel chapter 3 that we heard just now. In John 3 verse 5, Jesus told Nicodemus:
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit”.
This means that we cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless we’re baptised not just with water but with the Holy Spirit. As Jesus promised his disciples in Acts chapter 1:
“John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.”
Therefore, it’s important that we use the fruit of the Spirit to test whether we’ve been born again in the Spirit.
That still leaves the question, how do we know that we bear the fruit of the Spirit? In my experience, we notice a change in our nature when we invite God’s Spirit to live in us. It might be quite gradual, as the Spirit works on us, but we notice the change when we look back. After I was filled with the Spirit, I noticed that I had compassion for people who before I’d just labelled as losers. And I was no longer driven by an ambition for success in my career and greed for material things, which in turn gave me a sense of peace I’d never known before.
Another way to judge whether we bear the fruit of the Spirit is to check that we’re not doing the things that Paul describes as the “acts of the flesh”. Verses 19 to 21 tell us:
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God”.
Notice that last sentence - Paul warns that if we do these things then we’ll “not inherit the kingdom of God”. This echoes what Jesus tells us in John 3 verse 5, as we heard just now. Doing these things won’t in itself prevent us from entering the Kingdom of God, but doing them shows that you’re not filled with the Spirit, and that’s what stops you entering the kingdom of God. You might be thinking that you’re in the clear because you don’t go to orgies or get involved in idolatry or witchcraft. But when you look at that list there are some things that seem quite innocuous, such as envy, selfish ambition and discord. Let’s face it, there can be discord in church meetings sometimes! We must be on our guard and when we notice ourselves doing any of these things we must stop it, with God’s help through His Spirit living in us.
The third reason that the Fruit of the Spirit is important is so that others can see that we’re different. When we bear the Fruit of the Spirit, other people notice that we’re kind and patient, and they’ll want to know why. People will notice that we have a joy and peace in our lives that they wish they had, and they’ll want to know why. And because they want to know why, they’ll ask us. And we can then explain and lead them to Jesus. I find it very frustrating that people often think of Christians as being judgemental and angry about things, who are miserable and intent on making everybody else miserable too. It’s up to us to show people what Jesus’ disciples are really like. We need to show everyone that we’re loving, kind and patient, and full of joy and peace. Then, and only then, we’ll be able to make new disciples.
Finally, let’s look at how we can bear the Fruit of the Spirit. It’s very simple, we bear the Fruit of the Spirit when the Holy Spirit lives in us. And as we looked at on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit will always come to live in us when we invite him to. But let’s also look at this in the context of what we heard in John chapter 3. John 3 verses 6 and 7 tells us:
“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”
This reminds us that when the Spirit comes to live in us, then we’re born again into God’s family. As we heard a couple of weeks ago, on Trinity Sunday, Romans chapter 8, verses 14 and 16 tell us:
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God”; and
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children”.
Why is this relevant to the Fruit of the Spirit? It’s relevant because when we’re born into God’s family then, as His children, we inherit His nature. For example, my granddaughter behaves just like her mother, my daughter, did at the same age, but it’s not a coincidence as it’s quite normal for someone to resemble their parent. It’s the same for us when we’re born again in the Spirit and become a child of God. Because the Spirit makes us become more like Jesus, in that our character becomes like his. And these character traits are, of course, the Fruit of the Spirt.
Just think about how amazing this is! When we allow the Spirit to live in us and guide us, then we become like Jesus, who is of course our perfect role model. And it’s not something we have to work hard at, it just happens naturally, without us having to try.
I’m going to finish now with this challenge: can people tell that you’re a Christian by your character – your love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, self-control, etc.? Do people see the nature of Jesus in you? If not, then you know what you need to do about it! You must invite God’s Spirit to live in you, so that you’re born again as a child of God and become more like Jesus.
Dear Lord, I really do want to bear the Fruit of the Spirit and become more like Jesus. I really do want to enjoy the love, joy and peace that only comes through being born again into your family. I really do want others to see You in me so that I can lead them to you.
So I pray that the Holy Spirit will fill me and change me. Come Holy Spirit, fill me now to and make me more like Jesus………..
Thank you Lord that I’m your child, born into your family. Amen.
Watch: Breathe on me breath of God