Song Sheets & Sermon

Who You Say I Am

 

Verse 1

  Who am I that the highest King would welcome me

  I was lost but He brought me in

  Oh His love for me Oh His love for me

  

  Chorus 1

  Who the Son sets free Oh is free indeed

  I'm a child of God Yes I am

  

  Verse 2

  Free at last He has ransomed me His grace runs deep

  While I was a slave to sin Jesus died for me

  Yes He died for me

  

  Chorus 1

  Who the Son sets free Oh is free indeed

  I'm a child of God Yes I am

  In my Father's house there's a place for me

  I'm a child of God yes I am

  

  Bridge

  I am chosen not forsaken

  I am who You say I am

  You are for me not against me

  I am who You say I am

  

  Bridge

  I am chosen not forsaken

  I am who You say I am

  You are for me not against me

  I am who You say I am

  I am who You say I am

  

  Chorus 1

  Who the Son sets free Oh is free indeed

  I'm a child of God yes I am

  

  Chorus 2

  In my Father's house there's a place for me

  I'm a child of God yes I am

  In my Father's house there's a place for me

  I'm a child of God yes I am

 

What Love my God

 

Verse 1

  What love my God would bring You down to earth

  What king would take a low and lonely birth

  Yet to this dark and broken place You came

  To sleep beneath the stars that You had made

  

  Verse 2

  What love my God would send the Way of Life

  To walk the road rejected and despised

  That You might know the weakness I possess

  And be my rock of strength and righteousness

  

  Chorus

  O Your love my God like a flood

  As heaven opened up pouring out on us

  O praise the King who came to the world

  In His love like a mighty flood

  

  Verse 3

  What love my God could hold You to the tree

  To bear that overwhelming debt for me

  The Son of heaven leaves the Father's side

  The Healer bleeds the Life was made to die

  

  Chorus

  O Your love my God like a flood

  As heaven opened up pouring out on us

  O praise the King who came to the world

  In His love like a mighty flood

  

  Verse 4

  What love my God so gracious and extreme

  Was strong enough to come and fight for me

  To go through hell and down into the grave

  And raise me up to see You face to face

  You raise me up to see You face to face

  

  Chorus

  O Your love my God like a flood

  As heaven opened up pouring out on us

  O praise the King who came to the world

  In His love like a mighty flood

  

Beautiful Saviour

 

Verse 1

  Beautiful Savior! King of creation! 

  Son of God and Son of Man! 

  Truly I'd love thee, truly I'd serve thee, 

  Light of my soul, my joy, my crown. 

  

  Verse 3

  Fair is the sunshine, fair is the moonlight, 

  bright the sparkling stars on high; 

  Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer than all the angels in the sky. 

  

  Verse 4

  Beautiful Savior!  Lord of the nations! 

  Son of God and Son of Man! 

  Glory and honor, praise, adoration, now and forevermore be thine! 

 

 “He’s Got the Whole World”

 

Verse 1

  He's got the whole world in his hands.

  He's got the whole world in his hands.  

  He's got the whole world in his hands.  

  He's got the whole world in his hands. 

  

  Verse 2

  He's got the wind and the rain in his hands. (3x's) 

    He's got the whole world in his hands. 

  

  Verse 3

  He's got little baby Malachi in his hands (3x's)

    He's got the whole world in his hands. 

  

  Verse 5

  He's got everybody here in his hands (3x's)

    He's got the whole world in his hands. 

  

 “Now Blessed be the Lord our God”

Verse 1

  Now blessed be the Lord our God,  the God of Israel, 

  for he alone does wondrous works

  his glorious deeds excel

  for he alone does wondrous works: his glorious deeds excel. 

  Verse 2

  And blessed be his glorious name through all eternity

  the whole earth let his glory fill "Amen! so shall it be"

  the whole earth let his glory fill: "Amen! so shall it be" 

 


CCLI licence number 486616

Adam Veenstra

Ebenezer CRC
May 26, 2024

 

 

SCRIPTURE READING

In the first week of our series, we read through John 15, which lays out how God is the gardener who plants us in him and helps us to grow. We took a closer look at that passage again last week.

Today, we’re going to pick up on one aspect of it as we come to this next and final stage of growth. This morning we’re going to talk about how we measure our growth by the fruit of the spirit, and how that is what we are meant to harvest for the world around us. 

So we’re going to begin by reading again from John 15, which you can find on page 1676, and then turn over to Galatians 5 on page 1816.

 

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a person remains in me and I in them, they will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

 

And then over to page 1816, where we hear what fruit we’re meant to bear, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.

 

 

MESSAGE

         Part One - Context

This fruit of the spirit is what the Holy Spirit is working to grow in us. This is what we are meant to measure at the end of a growing season, and what each of us is meant to harvest in our lives as followers of Jesus.

 

This explanation is part of a larger section in Galatians on freedom.

And Paul, is specific about the kind of freedom God promises his people: this is a freedom to grow, so that we can bear fruit.

 

In Galatians 5 this fruit is preceded by a list of what he calls “obvious sins”, and the things that we don’t want growing in our lives. Things like greed and jealousy and hatred. Things that we all get trapped by.

So our freedom is a freedom from those things and their effect on our lives.

Instead of greed and jealous and hatred, we get to grow in love and joy and peace for ourselves, for one another, and for our God.

This fruit that we produce governs our relationships and our conduct in those relationships.

 

Later in Galatians 5 we’re called to “keep in step” with the Spirit at work in us.

As followers of Jesus we are called to become more and more like him, each and every day. If that is what we do, then this is the harvest that our lives should yield and how we should measure our growth.

We can’t measure it by our intellect and how much biblical and theological knowledge we have. We can’t measure it by how much money we donate, by our good behaviour, our sound doctrine, our skills or talent, but by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

 

These things cannot be grown without the work of the Holy Spirit.

Without God growing us.

Without the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

And without the Spirit working through community, like the one that we have recommitted to being in our celebration of baptism this morning: a family of faith that supports one another at every age.

 

This fruit is a byproduct of our walk with God as we grow in him.

 

Last week we shared how in the Reformed tradition we believe in the sovereignty of God over all things. And all things have been touched by sin, including each one of us.

Without God’s help we’re more inclined to the first set of sins than the fruit of the Spirit.

But we are assured over and over again that we have his help.

 

American monk Thomas Merton explains that “If we are called by God to holiness of life, and if holiness is beyond our natural power to achieve…then it follows that God himself must give us the light, the strength, and the courage to fulfill the task he requires of us. He will certainly give us the grace we need.”

 

It is by the grace and promise of God that our fruit will grow.

It is only by the grace and promise of God that our fruit will grow.

That’s why Paul writes this letter, so that people can know the freedom that God gives them through that grace and promise. 

 

It’s been said that our love for Jesus is the wellspring of our obedience to him.

So that if we love him and are striving to become more like him, over time the it will become a more natural part of who we are: the fruit of the spirit will become more and more evident and more and more abundant in our lives.

The fruit is the result of Christ’s love and our response to that love.

 

It may not be simple, but it is that straightforward: if we love Jesus and try to be like him, we will produce some measure of the fruit of the spirit. It will happen.

 

No true follower of Jesus, no matter how young or new or inexperienced or imperfect, won’t yield some kind of harvest. No matter how differently it looks for each of us.

 

In a church family like ours, with so many different people with different jobs and interests and pasttimes and opinions, harvesting the fruit of the spirit will happen in countless different ways.

The fruit that Malachi will harvest in these next few years will look differently than the fruit that Hil TenWolde, Bert Pennings, and Ina DenOuden harvested in the last few years.

Their lives overlapped in this church family by just a few months, and couldn’t have looked more differently.

But we are assured that Holy Spirit still at work in each of them. It will grow this fruit in us and then, whether we like it or not, it will give us opportunities to harvest that fruit for God’s mission in the world around us.

No matter who we are, no matter how old or young we are.

 

We will never need to worry about doing enough, being enough, or producing enough, because what we do produce the Holy Spirit will use. And he will be growing us, and keeping us connected to God and each other.

And as we grow, we’ll be producing that fruit without even realizing it. It will be a natural part of following Jesus, and following him together.

 

It could be really easy to feel the pressure of producing this list.

It could feel like a Heavenly Father’s expectations for his children, which holds a lot more weight than Gerald’s expectations could for Malachi.

 

But it’s not about being perfect. It’s about daily relying on the Holy Spirit to try and become more like Jesus.

 

Part Two – Mission/Application

Scot McKnight is biblical and theology professor, and the author of a bestselling commentary on Galatians. And his study of the fruit of the spirit made him lament the state of society and of the church, which to him seemed to be so lacking in that fruit. The harvest seemed pretty poor.

He wrote that in 1995; I’d be curious to know his thoughts on that almost 30 years later.

 

You could argue that yes, we have seen an increasingly lack of fruit on a larger, global scale, and that we’ve seen that filter down to our individual conduct and relationships.

 

I was recently at a city council meeting where members of the public yelled things at city councillors that council would put me under discipline for repeating here; that my elementary school teachers would discipline me for repeating in public.

 

It sometimes feels like the world is lacking the fruit of the spirit in our conduct and relationships.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.

 

But I think what that does is point to how precious and necessary the growth of this fruit is. In our lives and then ultimately in our world.

Anywhere that we that we can see any of that fruit growing and being harvested for one another is a reminder that the Spirit is with us, and is always working.

Even if we sometimes fall short.

 

I’m sure that every parent has hopes and dreams for their kid

And hopefully dreaming about how good they’ll be at soccer or hockey or the piano or finances ultimately won’t matter as much as how loving or joyful they are, how much peace they work for, how patient, kind, good, faithful, and gentle they are, how much self-control they exercise.

By baptizing Malachi today, and Liam and Anna and Nikita these past few weeks, we have vowed to help their parents remember that that’s what’s most important.

That no matter what they’re personalities and talents and strengths and weaknesses are, this is what the Holy Spirit is growing in them.

 

That is how we measure growth. As individuals, and as a church family.

 

What if as a church, Ebenezer never grew in numbers? What if our membership list grew stagnant, or even shrank? There would be a lot of leadership and church growth experts who would have a lot of advice for us. There would be countless books and podcasts and Youtube shorts and influencers who I know would be right there to make sure that we’re growing in the way they think we should.

But what if at the same time, that membership list was becoming more loving, more joyful, cultivating peace, becoming more patient, kind, good, faithful, and gentle, and exercising more self-control.

Even if the numbers stay the same, that is real growth that God calls us to, and that he plans to harvest in our lives.

No matter what size a church is. No matter what our personalities and talents and strengths and weaknesses are.

 

Conclusion

Daisaku Ikeda is the author of a story called The Cherry Tree.

It’s about kids helping an elderly man bring a cherry tree back to life after the landscape has been ravaged by World War II. They’re impatient for the fruit to grow, but he explains that a tree grows slowly.

First, they’ll see petals grow. Then the blossoms. And then, eventually, the fruit.

The tree requires time and tending before the fruit can be harvested.

 

Sometimes we want to apply old metrics to new growth, and make the fruit of the spirit the new guidepost. We still try to measure it in the old way:

When are we going be more faithful?

When are we going to be more patient?

Shouldn’t we have more self-control by now?

How much fruit can we harvest, and when can we do it?

But we are called to trust that God is and will be at work in our growing season. He has planted us as his children, and called us to plant seeds in others with hope. And we know that he is tending us by his spirit, so that we can eventually harvest the fruit of the spirit for the world around us.

First, we’ll see petals grow. Then the blossoms. And then, eventually, the fruit.

 

 

 

CLOSING BLESSING

So we are going to close today with Proverbs 3:5-6, the verses that Jamie chose to sign in the family Bible for her profession of faith a few weeks ago, and that Gerald and Hannah chose to sign for Malachi’s baptism today.

It’s an encouragement and reminder for all of us that God is the gardener who is making things grow.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”