shamrock-wallpaper-for-pc_1152x864_7735331But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23.

I’ll never forget the early days of my Christian walk when the friends I connected with at church were very big into street ministries. This meant going into some very rough areas on a Friday or Saturday night with handfuls of Christian tracts. We would go outside of bars and nightclubs, heavy metal concerts, and adult bookstores to witness to people. The guy that headed this up had a real passion and drive to bring people to Christ and never wanted to miss an opportunity to talk to people about Jesus. Anyone who knows me, knows that approaching strangers and engaging in conversations isn’t one of my biggest strengths, so this was a real stretch out of my comfort zone. I just wasn’t a talkative person, although I’ve grown a lot in this area. I think back to a time when God tried to break me of this, on my first summer missions project with Teen Challenge in New York City. At the initial meeting where we were given our instructions, I was so relieved when I found out we would be going out in groups of three. Everyone else was so extroverted and out-going, I figured I’d be the one to pray quietly in intercession, while the other two did all the talking. The funny thing is, by the time the leader got to assigning me to a group, there was just one other person left, and he was even quieter than I was! Uh, Oh! How did that happen? That’s when I discovered the sense of humor of God. So I was in a position where I had to be bold and approach people, and I can’t tell you enough how mightily God used that trip to influence my life for him.

So right from the start, I learned that it was our mission to tell people the good news about Jesus Christ. I would do my part and always try to maneuver every conversation with anyone who didn’t attend church on a regular basis to the plan of salvation. After awhile, the guy who led our group at home went off to college and everyone else’s life went into different directions and so we stopped going out. I would occasionally find groups from other churches going out and would connect with them sometimes. Most people were open to us coming out and talking for the most part, but there were others not so cool with it. One time, we came up to some young people acting silly and playing around. Before we even said hello to them, one of them came up and threw a bucket of water on us. He immediately felt bad and apologized and spent a few minutes talking with us afterward, but after that incident, I did less street evangelism and began to focus more on witnessing in my everyday life.

As I was finishing up with college, I did my best to always bring faith into the conversation, but by that time, the world had begun to change. It was during the 500 year anniversary of Christopher Columbus discovering America. My University had a conference depicting him as an evil person who brought ruin and destruction to the Americas. I had to attend because it was part of my grade as a Spanish major, even though I saw things from a different perspective. It was then, however, that there seemed to be a shift in the opposition toward Christianity. Long-time friends from college began to press me for answers on controversial subjects and then suddenly cut off their friendships as I answered with what the Bible said. It began to get very difficult. It didn’t help that I was also facing many other difficulties in other areas of my life. Businesses, including the one my dad worked for, began to close and move south after the North American Free Trade Agreement passed. My dad was blessed in that he just barely got his 30 years in, and received his pension and retirement package. Others he worked with were not and lost everything after 29 years of dedicated hard labor. It made for some tense times and it was harder and harder to keep talking about the plan of Salvation when emotions were so raw and ran so high. I began to grow very anxious about even opening my mouth at all since it meant certain ridicule and disdain, but I thought I could please God by continuing, so I did. Then one day, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and it made all the difference in the world for me. In fact, had He not spoken this to me, I probably would have burned out as a believer a long time ago.

It took place in an ESL classroom for third and fourth grade students, where I was called in as a substitute teacher from time to time. This particular lesson was a science lesson on fruit. I was going over a worksheet with the class that the teacher had left. As I pointed out to the students how the seeds were in the fruit, the Holy Spirit suddenly spoke to my heart at that moment and showed me that it worked the same way in the Spiritual realm as well. The seeds that we as Christians plant in the hearts of other people comes from the fruit of the Spirit that grows in us as we abide in Him. Jesus said in John 15:4-5 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” So much clicked for me at that moment. If we truly want to plant seeds in the hearts of people, we need to have our fruit developed which only happens when we abide in Him. It is in our developed fruit that yields the seeds that are to be planted. God has made it so that His Word is spread through us. The Word of God is powerful enough alone, as it is alive and does not return void, but when we deliver the Word, along with the words of our personal testimony of what God has done in and for us, demonstrated by the fruit of the Spirit that we bear, there is no denial of the power of God and that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

This is further demonstrated by what the Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Love is a fruit of the Spirit, and without that love behind our words and motivating us, we will not be effective for the cause of Christ.    We only bear fruit from a true relationship with Him, through time spent daily in His presence and yielding our will to His.  It is knowing Him personally that we are compelled and want to share, no matter what, the wonderful, satisfying, strengthening, enriching love relationship that keeps us going day after day after day.   It’s the love, joy, peace, patience,  kindness, goodness,  faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that people see and are moved by.  It’s what sets us apart from non-believers and will draw those seeking for something more to us.  The more I grow in Christ, and understand how He gave His all for me, the more I want to give my all for Him.

If you have never invited Jesus Christ into your heart to make him, please pray this prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I confess that I’m a sinner. I repent of my sins and ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You sent Your Son, Jesus to die on the cross in my place to pay for my sins, and that He rose again from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. I invite You, Jesus, into my heart and ask that You would wash me and cleanse me in Your blood. I thank You for Your love and mercy. I make You my Lord and Savior. Amen.

You are loved!  Be blessed, everyone!

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