First, it’s a awesome to have you join me for EPISODE #1 of the GoodlifeNews! Podcast!
I’m so glad you are here! I am excited about where this little project might lead—because I really believe we can build a meaningful community growing together in understanding and experiencing the life God designs for us.
I read a remark somewhere that it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from—it’s where you are going that counts! And that’s true! Regardless of your background—good or bad—God has a plan and purpose for you! Moving forward in faith to follow His lead you can’t go wrong. He will get you to where you have always wanted to be in your heart of hearts
Our theme for this episode is “God’s Amazing Grace.”
In my personal spiritual journey the last few years I have sensed a constant deepening amazement at God’s amazing grace “that saved a wretch like me.”
About a year ago, I was struck by an expression used by the Apostle Paul in one of his early letters found in the New Testament.
Here it is:
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Seriously, I have preached on this text dozens of times. I have written about it and quoted it more times than I can remember.
But, then while reading it again, this thought popped up in my head:
The primary purpose for the fruit is to reveal the truth about God through our connections and relationships.
That is to say, the gift of these fruits is not just to make us better people and get us ready for heaven!
The gift is not just about the transformation of our character.
Instead, the fruits are to equip us for truthful, faithful witness about God’s love and grace, enabling us to be loving and gracious as we discourse with others.
“‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen'” (Isaiah 43:10)
What do our daily lives reveal about God’s amazing grace? Just a question to think about and meditate on.
Here’s another: How do we get to the spiritual place where those “fruits” become part and parcel of who we are?
Let me offer a couple of ideas for your consideration:
The “fruit” of the Holy Spirit will not—CAN not—be manifested in a person’s life unless—and until—the Holy Spirit is actually present in the heart!
The Holy Spirt comes into the heart ONLY by invitation.
In the vision of Revelation Jesus tells John, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelation 3:30 NLT).
Obviously, Jesus is speaking here of the door to the spiritual heart. And how does Jesus come into our heart?
Well, here’s his answer in the Gospel of John:
Jesus told his disciples, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. . . . I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:23-26 NLT).
A few verses earlier in that same chapter Jesus said this: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you” (John 14:16-17).
Okay, so let’s review what we just covered:
1. God has a purpose for your life
2. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit produces spiritual “fruit” to empower your witness about God’s amazing grace
3. The Holy Spirit is sent to us from God the Father as the representative of Jesus
4. The Holy Spirit enters our heart by only our invitation
In the next segment I’ve got a very special guest to introduce to you. Together we’ll focus on ways to open our heart’s door to invite Jesus to come in.
This segment is the live interview with my wife Ruth Fenton. It was not scripted.
Thank you so much Ruth! Sharing your thoughts and experience will be a great blessing to many people, I’m sure!
I want to pivot now to share an experience I had several years ago while I was pastoring in Oregon.
Every year in the week following Thanksgiving, for 5 days the Oregon Conference sponsored a pastors’ prayer conference at Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast. These were always times of incredible camaraderie, relaxation, fellowship, and just awesome inspiration. The Oregon coast is always spectacular, and the stretch near Cannon Beach is no exception. A hike on the beach at low tide could almost be classed as an act of worship! It truly is a beautiful place.
One of the features of this retreat agenda was a full day without programming! No meetings after breakfast, then no group gathering until supper time. The entire day was intentionally set-aside for each of us to spend “A Day Alone With God.” At the end of the day we came together to share communion and an “agape feast.” Together we would sing, share testimonies of our experience, and pray both together as a group and as individuals praying for each other for personal needs.
Let me tell you, every year this “day alone with God” was the highlight of our retreat experience! It was absolutely wonderful!
At breakfast, we were handed an outline of suggested activities for the day. Of course, we were truly on our own to do or not to do whatever we decided. But, the organizers knew that some simple instructions could be helpful.
If you would like to see the outline visually, I’d encourage you to visit the website list of blog posts and look for the entry “A Day Alone With God.
To finish up today, I decided to share a couple of original psalms I wrote on one of those very special days from years ago. These were originally dated Wednesday, November 30, 2005. I have made some slight revisions to share with you today.
Here’s the first:
A Psalm of Praise
O Lord of Heaven, Earth, and Sea
The beauty of your Creation is beyond expression.
Beasts of the forest roam the hillsides with untold majesty. Towering trees lift their branches in testimony of your power, sheltering tiny birds within their leaves
The restless ocean waves break ceaselessly onto sandy beaches, but must ever recede at your command, “Thus far and no farther.”
So, for this I praise you, O Lord, that when the relentless tide of evil threatens to overwhelm and destroy my faith, you declare its bounds, and force it back by your command, “Thus far and no farther!”
The second psalm is simply titled,
A Psalm of Supplication
I have long walked with you, O Lord. For threescore years my heart has been captive to your love.
Many have been the times of refreshing. Many have been the seasons of joy!
But to my shame, Lord, I know I wandered from your side. I chased pretty rainbows And found only dust and broken dreams.
Still, I rejoice in your restoration power!Your grace showers me with renewal and hope.
Lord, I long for the thrill of your touch. I hunger for that fire I felt in early years.
I am waiting, Lord.