The Work of the Holy Spirit
If we are called by God to holiness of life, and if holiness is beyond our natural power to achieve (which it certainly is) 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. If we do not become saints it is because we do not avail ourselves of his gift. – Thomas Merton
The gift of God for our holiness of life is the Holy Spirit who equips and encourages us to live according to God’s call.
During the months of September through December, the topic of our Sunday Sermon Series, supported by our Bible Reading Plan and Daily Devotions, is The Work of the Holy Spirit. Together we will explore how the Spirit does his work, both individually through the fruit he grows in us, and corporately as he unites and gifts us as a congregation for ministry.
However, to live lives of holiness takes more than simply reading God’s Word and hearing a pastor speak in church. Transformation of life, from living primarily for ourselves to living primarily for God, is a long and often daunting process.
The Japanese children’s story teller, Daisaku Ikeda, wrote The Cherry Tree. This story, set in post-war Japan, tells of two children who one day stumble upon an old man who is attempting to nurse back to life a barren, aged and war-damaged cherry tree. At first the children are puzzled by the man’s devotion to such a tree. When they inquire about this, the old man explains: “It’s true she hasn’t blossomed since before the war. But one day, with a little kindness and patience, she may again.”
The children, inspired by the old man’s devotion and hope, agree to join him in his efforts to nurse the tree back to life. They work hard, but much of their time is spent waiting and hoping. And then one day a single pink petal appears, followed in due time by a beautiful display of fruit-producing blossoms.
We may wonder whether our lives will ever produce the kind of spiritual fruit of which the Bible speaks. This simple story reminds us that we are called to devote our lives to nurturing the “tree” of our spiritual life, even when the tree seems not to be actively producing fruit. We must not give up hope that God will do what God has promised to do. As Jesus said: “If you remain in me and I remain in you, you will produce much fruit” (John 15:5).
Yours in Christ,