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Pastor’s Corner Pastor Mark Keefer, pastor, Chapel Methodist Church Gladbrook, Iowa

May 9, 2019
Northern-Sun Print
In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, the author speaks of seven gifts of the Spirit. In the ever-hopeful desire for a Messiah, Isaiah is identifying the qualities that Messiah will have – wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord. These gifts are the attributes found in Jesus Christ. While they are the attributes of Christ, there is no reason they cannot be qualities each of us can work to develop in ourselves. This is not to imply that we become Christ, but that we become Christ-like. Wisdom and understanding, while separate, do compliment each other. Wisdom is of the mind and understanding of the heart. They work in partnership to lead to counsel, which is making decisions in tough situations. Making tough decision requires fortitude, or perhaps better said – endurance. In the midst of challenges, we need to stand up for what is right even if it means rejection or abuse. We do not endure merely for our own purposes, but for the purpose and the will of God, which requires knowledge of God. We accomplish that through piety, which is often misinterpreted as a holier-than-thou attitude. The true essence of piety is reverence, recognizes our reliance on God with humility, trust, and love. In a speech on the gifts of the Spirit, Pope Francis spoke of piety as, “…not mere outward religiosity; it is that genuine religious spirit which makes us turn to the Father as his children and to grow in our love for others, seeing them as our brothers and sisters.” Finally, ‘fear of the Lord’ does not imply fright. It means honor and respect, or perhaps more succinctly – awe. To better regard ‘fear of the Lord,’ it is to understand what is mentioned in Proverbs – “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.” And we are back at the beginning of the list of spiritual gifts. Isaiah, as he spoke of the gifts of the Spirit, indicated that these gifts would produce fruit. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote of the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Isaiah mentioned seven gifts while Paul lists nine fruits. For some, that might indicate an inconsistency. In consideration though, doesn’t it make sense that if we apply those gifts, a greater abundance should result? Paul wrote further (and I embellish with two implanted words), “Since we live by the Spirit [gifts], let us keep in step with the Spirit [fruits].” It is springtime and many gardens and fields are being planted. It is the hope of every farmer/gardener that for each seed they plant, a multi-fold harvest will result. It is my hope and prayer that for each gift of the Spirit that is planted and nurtured in each of us, a multi-fold harvest of fruits of the Spirit will result. Jesus spoke to His disciples in Matthew 10, that “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Those who place their trust in the Lord will receive the gifts of the Spirit, and exhibit the fruits of the Spirit. We can each be a worker for the Lord. Sometimes the weeds get in the way and our hands get dirty and sore. Endure. The rewards and the harvest are worth it. Need support and guidance? Find it in worship with other workers. See you there. Pastor Mark


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