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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Christian Patience: a fruit of the Spirit

Sermon by:Robert Austell
June 24, 2012
Some Music Used
Prelude: "Variations on 'Come Thou Fount'" (Albert Travis)
Hymn of Praise: "Come Thou Fount/We'll Feast" (arr. and chorus, Austell)
Song of Praise: "From Your Throne, O Lord" (Christopher Cartwright)
 The Word in Music (Children's Ensemble): "Ready to Forgive" (Jody Lindh)
Offering of Music (Susan Slade, flute): "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" (Mark Albrecht)
Hymn of Sending: "Great is Thy Faithfulness" (FAITHFULNESS)
Postlude: "O God, Our Faithful God" (Sigfrid Karg-Elert)

"Christian Patience: a fruit of the Spirit"
(Left-click to play; or right-click to save)
Text: Luke 19:41-44; John 14:26-27; Philippians 4:6-7 

**Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes - search for "Good Shepherd Sermons or Robert Austell"**

This is our fourth week in a summer series on the fruit of the Spirit.  That term comes from the verses you heard at the beginning of the service from Galatians 5:22-23, describing characteristics that grow and develop in people who trust in Jesus Christ and have God’s Spirit at home in their lives.  We have looked at the fruits of love, joy, and peace; today we look at the spiritual fruit of PATIENCE.

There are some other series notes to remind you of.  To explain and illustrate these spiritual qualities or characteristics, I am turning to the life and teaching of Jesus, to see how he lived out or taught about these specific terms.  And I will remind you from the first chapter of Acts that these fruits are the result of God’s Spirit living in you and are given ultimately for the purpose of bearing witness to God in the world.  So, we always want to end with “Why show Christian love? Why know Christian joy or peace?”  Our love, joy, peace, and other fruit are not first for ourselves, but for the sake of the world God loves.

How Many Times? (v. 21)

Jesus had just been teaching (Matthew 18:15-20) on confronting a fellow believer’s sin privately before doing so more publicly.  That teaching goes on for about six verses, and I can just imagine Peter’s thought process.  He must have gotten stuck on the first line in v. 15, “If your brother sins…,” because he comes to Jesus and asks this question: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?” 

Jesus didn’t begin with “If your brother sins against you,” but just “If your brother sins.”  But Peter wants to know about forgiving sin against him and Jesus’ teaching must have triggered the question.  Notice, too, that there was a bit more to his question.  He tacks on, “Up to seven times?”  Peter wants to know the limits of forgiveness.  How many times does he have to show forgiveness when someone sins against him. 

It’s a good question and one you’ve probably pondered.  We know that it’s nice to forgive someone who has done something wrong, especially if they say they are sorry.  And it might be expected that a Christian would have more incentive than niceness to show a little forgiveness.  But we do have limits, right? 

Those limits may involve the intentionality of the offense: I can forgive the kid who broke the garage window with an overthrown baseball but not the one who threw the rock AT the garage window.

Those limits may involve the scope of the offense: I can forgive the baseball through the window but not the BB gun.

Those limits may involve restitution: I can forgive the kid AFTER he pays for a new window.

And those limits may involve repeat offenders: I forgave the first time and warned the kids to be more careful, but now it’s broken for the 3rd time and I’m hopping mad.

There are probably other considerations; we have a whole internalized grid of what is forgivable or not.  And Peter asked a reasonable question: “How many times do I have to forgive?”

And what does this have to do with patience?  You’ll see… it comes out in the story Jesus tells.

It’s Like This… (vv. 23-35)

So Peter asked how many times, even suggesting a possible answer: “Up to seven times?”  Peter probably thought he was being generous and smart.  Seven times would be a lot and it was a holy number from the scriptures, the number of completion.  (Everyone in ancient Hebrew Sunday school knew to answer ‘7’, ‘12’ or ‘40’ whenever a number question was asked!)

This is one of Jesus’ most interesting answers to a question.  Usually, he would ask a question in return, or launch into a parable.  In this case he actually gives a numerical answer, but it’s a head-scratcher.  And then he tells a parable.  “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”  Peter is probably still doing the math when Jesus starts the parable, which seems to start out on another topic altogether: “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves…”

“490!” shouts Peter.

Not really, but I bet one of the disciples did the multiplication while Jesus was continuing.  For now, let me just say this about Jesus’ initial answer of seventy times seven.  I think it’s basically him answering Peter by saying, “It’s a lot more than you think.”

Let’s see what the story teaches us.

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to…” (v. 23a)

Jesus is answering the question about how many times we should forgive an offense against us by describing the kingdom of heaven.  Interesting. 

“…compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.” (v. 23b)

A king has the right to settle accounts at any time, and in this story, there was someone who owed the king a great debt of 10,000 talents.  Lacking the talents, the king commanded that he and his family and all they had be sold to pay the debt.  At this point, I think about the baseball through the window and forgiving after the window is paid for.  It’s transactional, eye for an eye, or as close to it as we can get.  Once the debt is paid, the account is settled.

“…the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’” (v. 26)

Interestingly, the word translated as “prostrated” is one of the key worship words of scripture.  It includes humility, respect, and submission to another.  In that posture, the slave pleads not for forgiveness, but for patience.  And he promises to repay the debt in full.  Did you catch that?  He doesn’t plead for forgiveness, but for patience.  That is going to be the central characteristic of this story and why I chose it to illustrate the spiritual fruit of patience.  So, having heard that, listen for how patience is and is not shown, and how that connects to forgiveness.

“And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.” (v. 27)

The king did not give the slave what he requested, but went beyond it.  His patience was closely related to compassion and a resulting forgiveness.  Each is a different quality, but patience was a prerequisite for compassion.  Had the king lost all patience, he would not have heard or responded to the request.  But, out of patience, the king felt compassion, which then manifested as forgiveness.

This exchange also reminds me of the story of the prodigal son.  There, too, the son who could not repay a debt returned to plead to be received as a slave.  But the patient father had compassion on his lost son and restored him fully.  Patience is related to compassion, which is the precursor to true forgiveness, all of which we might bundle up into the term grace.  Patience and compassion, resulting in forgiveness and blessing, is grace.

It’s Not Like This (vv. 28ff)

That’s not the end of the story, though.  The forgiven slave goes out to collect his own debt.  In the most generous reading, we might think he is trying to collect on debts in order to make good on his own promise to pay the king.  But, if so, he has not truly heard or received the king’s forgiveness.  Additionally, he has not learned anything from the patience, compassion, and forgiveness shown to him by the king.  And he also has no chance of paying off the debt.  He can only collect 100 when he once owed 10,000.  So any way you try to interpret his actions, he has missed the mark and not learned from his experience.

He goes to collect from another slave, who likewise pleads for patience.  But he was “unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.” (v. 30) 

Consequently, his fellow slaves were “deeply grieved” – that’s the watching world! – and the king summoned him back before him.  And the king found him wicked for his lack of patience and mercy.  And the king handed him over to the torturers (presumably in jail) until he could repay.

And Jesus ends with the ominous statement, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (v. 35)

Talk about a twist at the end!  I thought this was going to be about forgiving seventy times seven times!  And somehow we ended up with a torturer in jail!  Yikes!

If nothing else, we have a clear picture of what forgiveness is not.  It is not impatience toward others and a lack of compassion, especially when we have experienced such extravagant patience, forgiveness, and grace from our Lord and Father.  Let’s consider what forgiveness really is, then.

Forgiveness, Patience, and Compassion

Peter started all this with a question about the limits of forgiveness.  How many times before I have to stop?

Jesus responded first with a number so outlandish that it demanded a deeper look.  Do you really keep track up to 490 and then you can stop?  No, the answer must instead have to do with the nature and quality of forgiveness, rather than the limits of it.

And the story Jesus told underscored that first impression.  Indeed, the question is not even the right question.  It shouldn’t be “how many times shall I forgive my brother?” but simply “How shall I forgive?” … “In what way shall I forgive?”

And Jesus’ story-answer is that we should forgive as we’ve been forgiven, from a debt we could not pay, out of the oceanic wells of patience, compassion, and grace of a God whom we have yielded to (worshiped) in humility and love.  And from that (think Great Commandment – “love God; love others”), we learn how to forgive others: with patience, compassion, and grace.  That is our living act of worship in response to God’s love.

Does this story mean that we only get once chance to get it right with God?  No, that’s counting again, like Peter was trying to do.  In the story, the king gave the slave his entire life back out of compassion and grace.  And the slave rejected it by not receiving and extending it to others. 

In Christ, God has given you your life back, not to live for yourself, but to bear witness to God’s goodness and grace as you forgive and extend that grace to others.  Remember Acts 1?  That’s the purpose of the spiritual gifts, to bear witness to God’s goodness in the world God loves. 

Patience – it’s God’s character, known most keenly in our lives through God’s grace and forgiveness toward us.  Along with compassion – a heart stirred on behalf of others’ need – it is the stuff of which forgiveness and grace are made.  Amen!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Peace in the Midst of a World that Yearns for Chaos

Sermon by: the Rev. Billy Flippin
June 17, 2012
Some Music Used
Prelude: "Like a River Glorious" (Marilynn Ham)
Hymn of Praise: "In Christ Alone" (Getty/Townend)
 The Word in Music (Women's Ensemble): "Peace I Give to You" (Taylor Scott Davis)
Offering of Music (Catie Jackson, violin): "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" (Rebecca Bonam)
Hymn of Sending: "It is Well with My Soul" (VILLE DU HAVRE)
Postlude: "It is Well with My SOul" (Craig Philips)

Peace in the Midst of a World that Yearns for Chaos
Text: Luke 19:41-44; John 14:26-27; Philippians 4:6-7 

(download) **Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes - search for "Good Shepherd Sermons or Robert Austell"**

Today the sermon is by the Rev. Billy Flippin, who is filling the pulpit while Pastor Robert is out of town.  There is audio only.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Christian Joy: a fruit of the Spirit (Matthew 13.44, Luke 15.8-10)

Sermon by: Robert Austell
June 10, 2012
Some Music Used
Prelude: "Ode to Joy" (Beethoven/arr. Paul Manz)
Hymn of Praise: "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" (ODE TO JOY)
Song of Praise: "Trading My Sorrows" (Evans)
 Response to the Word: "When I Think About the Lord" [youth worship team] (Shane Barnard)

Offering of Music: "God Has Smiled on Me" (arr. White, Ingram)
Song of Sending: "Joy to the World" (ANTIOCH, arr. Austell)

Postlude: "Joy to the World!" (Anna Laura Page)

Christian Joy: a fruit of the Spirit
Text: Matthew 13:44; Luke 15:8-10

(download) **Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes - search for "Good Shepherd Sermons or Robert Austell"**

Last week we began our summer series on the “fruit of the Spirit” – qualities or characteristics God grows in those who love and trust Him.  The image is that God’s Spirit abides with us, nourishing us like water to a plant or tree, and out of that nourishment we bear fruit.  Each week we will consider one of these spiritual traits and look to see how Jesus explained or demonstrated them in his own life.  I will also remind you each week that the purpose of God’s Spirit abiding with us and nourishing us to bear fruit is that we might serve as witnesses in the world to God’s character and purpose. (Acts 1:8)

The first list we are looking at comes from Galatians 5:22-23, which you heard in the call to worship.  We began last week with love, seeing that Christian love is a choice to love God with all we are and all we’ve got; it also is lived out horizontally in loving our neighbor and even in loving our enemy. 

This week we turn to joy and we’ll look at two short teachings by Jesus to try to understand what joy is and where it comes from. 

Secret Treasure (Matthew 13:44)

So this first teaching is on the Kingdom of Heaven, which is one of the subjects Jesus taught on most frequently.  Jesus offered many, many metaphors to help his hearers understand the Kingdom of Heaven – what it is like, when it is coming, and more.

In this verse Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.  It is something not apparent or obvious to everyone, but something that someone can discover.  This is one of the common themes in Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom – for now it is hidden; one day it will be clearly known and seen.

Well in this teaching, the man does not own the field; he does not have what is necessary to access the treasure that is the Kingdom.  So he goes and sells all that he has in order to buy the field and gain the treasure.  There is an interesting overlap between real-life and the metaphor here, because one of the things Jesus also taught about frequently was the difficulty of being wealthy and following him.  There were times when he literally told people to sell all they had and follow him.  So, this teaching is not just pointing to the relative value of the Kingdom of Heaven compared to our earthly wealth; it is also indicating what kind of sacrifice and commitment is necessary in real life to gain the Kingdom.  In fact, releasing the hold of money and wealth over us may be one practical application.

But all that is simply context for what I want to focus on today.  Did you hear the word ‘joy’ in that verse?  It’s what motivates this radical act of faith to sell everything to gain the Kingdom.  Listen again: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from JOY over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  It’s not greed or trickery that motivates the action, it is joy!

What could make someone forsake all else and run to Jesus Christ?  Joy… not the answer any of us might have thought of first.

So ponder that for a bit.  What is joy that it might lead someone to make the kind of sacrifice and commitment described in this teaching of Jesus? 

Lost and Found (Luke 15:8-10)

In the parable in Luke, Jesus is teaching about God’s interest in lost people.  Like the shepherd with one lost sheep, the woman with one lost coin, and the father with one prodigal/lost son, God does not just focus on the found ones, but seeks, welcomes, and rejoices over the lost being found.

In this middle of those three lost/found parables, a woman has lost one of her ten silver coins.  Jesus is making the point that she doesn’t just give up on such a precious thing, but lights a lamp, sweeps the whole house, and searches carefully until she finds it.  What a great and encouraging picture of God who does not abandon us to our disobedience and folly, but comes after us with loving intent! 

I remember preaching through the three lost/found parables a number of years ago.  In addition to what would have been a startling picture of a God who seeks the lost, each one ended with an even more surprising teaching on joy.  Each time the lost were found, there was an outburst of joy.

Look at verse nine: “When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ That’s the punch line of that parable – that God isn’t just a hoarder who must set everything in place; God is a relational, loving Father who grieves our lostness and celebrates our redemption. 

Jesus connects the parable to reality in verse ten: “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

And here’s the connection to Pentecost and our Holy Spirit witness to the watching world.  In the parable, the woman calls together friends and neighbors to celebrate.  God’s character, intentional seeking, and celebrative joy are not just internal, but part of God’s public character and our witness to Him.  When we join in reaching out to those who struggle with the darkness, when we celebrate God’s love and redemption in Christ, we are joining in the public party of God’s goodness.  That is our being a witness.

So again, ponder that for a bit.  What is joy that it is focused on someone lost to God being found?  What does that have to do with me? 

Christian Joy

I think most people’s quick-off-the-cuff definition of joy is roughly equivalent to being “happy.”  So if a Christian is supposed to be characterized by joy then they must be happy all the time.  I just don’t see that anywhere in Scripture.

Rather, joy is used in the Bible to describe people who are celebrating what God is doing.  That may be in their own lives, but likely involves the lives of others.  Many times, joy is in the context of suffering.  How can that be?  Well, what we heard today is that joy is tied to sacrifice and commitment in following Jesus Christ.  We heard that joy is focused on the lost being found and redeemed in love.  That does make it entirely possible that one could know joy in the midst of struggle or suffering. 

And as we remember that the spiritual fruits are intended to serve as a witness to God at work in the world, what could speak more clearly than someone, particularly in the midst of struggle or suffering, celebrating what God is doing… celebrating God’s salvation, pursuing love, and intentional grace.  Joy in that context doesn’t have to be summoned out of our own happiness, but out of God’s faithfulness.  And that fruit bears a sweet, sweet taste in a dry and dusty land.

What is the starting place for Christian joy?  Like love, joy is rooted first in God, then in neighbor.  If we focus on ourselves and feeling happy, we’ll miss the point entirely.  It is not what kind of day you are having or which side of the bed you woke up on.  It begins entirely in the character and work of God.  And God’s redeeming love is something that can lift our eyes and spirits in any circumstance as we ponder what God has done and is doing around us.  Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say, “Rejoice!”  Amen.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Christian Love: a fruit of the Spirit (Matthew 22.35-40; Matthew 5.43-47)

Sermon by: Robert Austell
June 3, 2012
Some Music Used
Prelude: "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" (Emma Lou Diemer)
Hymn of Praise: "The Love of God" (LOVE OF GOD)
Song of Praise: "Love the Lord Your God" (Lincoln Brewster)
 The Word in Music: "The Gift of Love" (Bluegrass Players) (English folk melody)

Offering of Music: "By the Mark" (Bluegrass Players) (Gillian Welch)

Hymn of Sending: "As You Go" (Altrogge)
Postlude: "O Love that Will Not Let Me Go" (Peace/arr. Courtney)

Christian Love: a fruit of the Spirit
Text: Matthew 22:35-40; 5:43-47

(download) **Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes - search for "Good Shepherd Sermons or Robert Austell"**

This week the spoken sermon is fairly different from the draft manuscript below.

Last week we celebrated Pentecost, the sending of the Holy Spirit that we might be witnesses to what God has said and done through Jesus Christ out of love for the world.  (Did you catch all that? No wonder this is celebrated as Trinity Sunday!)

I ended up that sermon by saying that we would spend the summer looking at the fruit of the Spirit.  Those are specific traits that are manifested when the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives.  They include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and others.  Each week we will look at one spiritual fruit and a passage where Jesus teaches about or demonstrates that fruit.  I will keep reminding you of the scope and purpose of those gifts – that they are given by God that we might be witnesses of His great love in Christ toward the whole world.

The most well-known list of spiritual fruit is in Galatians 5, which you heard as the call to worship today.  And the first fruit we will consider is love.  What I hope to do each week is look at a teaching or action of Jesus that illustrates or explains each of the spiritual fruit, so today we will look at two passages out of the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus teaches on love.

What Jesus does is draw upon the Jewish scriptures, the Law, to show that his teaching on love is nothing new, but is God’s Word from ancient times.  But he also demonstrates in the second passage we’ll look at that the traditional teaching on love has not gone deep enough and he presses the application further than his hearers or we might imagine.

Let’s look first at Matthew 22, where he responds to a question. 

Love God (Mt 22:37-38)

The question came about as a test.  One religious group (the Sadducees) challenged Jesus regarding his teaching on resurrection.  After he silenced them with his response, one of another religious group (the Pharisees), who was an expert on the Jewish Law asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment.  Now there were over 600 commandments and the Pharisees specialized in the interpretation of the Mosaic Law, adding interpretation upon interpretation to it.  In response Jesus quoted back to them the famous Shema which called upon Israel to love God with heart, soul, and might.

The ancient Jews understood the heart to be the seat of the will, where one makes decisions.  They understood ‘soul’ to be the essence of one’s self.  And they understood ‘might’ to be a kind of double-exclamation point, emphasizing or strengthening everything to which it applied.  Translated into the Greek-dominated world of Jesus’ day, this commandment turned into “heart, soul, and mind.”  Despite the wording changes, the idea was the same, just translated into more of the Greek understanding of how we feel and act.  For the Greeks, the heart was the seat of emotion, the soul the essence, and the mind the decision-making part.  In either case, the idea is best conveyed to us as something like “choose (heart) to love God with all that you are (soul) and all you’ve got (might).”

When we think about the spiritual fruit of love, particularly as relates to our love for God, this is what is in view – choosing to love God with all that we are and all we’ve got.  It includes our decisions, our emotions, our deepest selves, and our deepest commitment.

So when God sent his Holy Spirit to dwell in us to bear fruit that we might be witnesses in the world He loves, this is one way the Spirit is manifest, in our all-out love for God.  People will indeed take note of that, not because it makes us weird or off-putting, but because we are driven by and committed to something far greater than ourselves and it affects our choices, feelings, and priorities.  That spiritual fruit is the love of God. 

Love Your Neighbor (Mt 22:39)

As you may know, Jesus didn’t stop there in describing the greatest commandment.  He continued on, quoting from the Law in Leviticus (19:18), saying that there is a second great commandment like the first, to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  In the context in Leviticus, this comes in contrast to taking vengeance or bearing a grudge.  Rather, this love of neighbor is an embodiment of grace and forgiveness, rooted in love of God. Jesus indicates that these two commandments – love of God and love of neighbor – are interwoven and inextricably linked.

To that, Jesus adds, “…on these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”  The Law was the five books of Moses: Genesis through Deuteronomy of our Old Testament.  “The Prophets” included another third of our Old Testament, all those through whom God spoke His word to his people.  In other words, Jesus pretty well summed up all of the Old Testament teaching in these two commandments.  Only missing in his summary were the “writings” or the wisdom literature like Psalms, Proverbs, and so forth, but those only testify in poetry to the same kinds of truths found throughout the Hebrew scriptures. 

In other words, this is a big deal: loving God and loving neighbor and the love of which Jesus speaks are the same trait described as a fruit of the Holy Spirit that God plants inside of each believer for the sake of bearing witness to the world.  I want to keep coming back to that purpose of the spiritual fruit because it helps remind us that what God is doing isn’t just about us and our personal faith and salvation.  Yes, God sent His son to save us from our sin, but the greater purpose of that tilling the soil of our lives is to bear fruit that will bless the world God loves.  As I said last week, you and I are blessed to be a blessing, we are saved to be sent, and we are we are gifted to be witnesses of God’s great love for the world. 

Love Your Enemy (Mt 5:43-47)

You’d think that would be enough, to love God with all we are and have, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  But earlier in the Gospel of Matthew, in what is called the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus taught something even more challenging and radical.  He was walking through a number of the Laws of the Hebrew scriptures in his sermon and taking each one deeper, more to the heart and internal level.  He would begin by saying, “You have heard it said,” and then he’d press in, much further than the contemporary interpretations of that Law.  For example, he said, “You have heard it said not to commit adultery, but I say to you not to even lust in your heart.” (Mt. 5:27ff.)  Or, “You have heard it said not to commit murder, but I say to you not to carry anger against your brother.” (Mt. 5:21ff.)

And towards the end of that portion of his sermon, he said, “You have heard it said that you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”  There he was also quoting the same Leviticus passage we’ve already mentioned (19:18).  But the teaching he draws from that is not to love neighbors (Jews) and hate enemies (non-Jews), but to love one’s enemies, even praying for those who persecute you.  Can you believe that?  Pray for those who bully or oppress you?

He has taken love to a new level, and pressed it toward its covenant and Holy Spirit purpose – the blessing of the watching world.  It’s one kind of witness if someone sees or knows that you love God or your own friends and neighbors.  But to love and pray for one’s enemies… that is bearing witness to God’s Holy Spirit at work in you and in the world.

Three Challenges to Grow the Fruit of Love

So, let’s think about this in terms of your own Christian faith.  God says that if you have trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, that not only are your sins forgiven and you given a new start, but God has placed His Holy Spirit in you to bear spiritual fruit as a witness.

One of these fruit is love, and Jesus taught us at least three ways this love is manifest in a Christian’s life.  It is shown through our all-out love of God, seen in our choices, commitments, priorities, and affections.  It is shown in our love of family, friends and neighbors, as we extend our love for God into their lives.  And, perhaps hardest of all, it is shown in the way we treat our enemies – those who are not our friends, who are strangers or worse, people we don’t like or who have stood against us. 

Can you think of three tangible ways you can exhibit Christian love this week – toward God, toward a ‘neighbor,’ even toward an enemy?  I’d encourage you to write them down in your Bible or on your to do app on your phone, or wherever you will be reminded throughout the week.  Like any plant or growing thing, spiritual fruit can be cultivated with attention.  The seed, soil, and growth come from God, but we can surely encourage or inhibit that growth.  It starts with love of God – a love that holds nothing back, that says “what you will is what I want.”  And from there, I think, you will see the fruit of love grow.  Amen.