June / July 2017 - Vol. 92
                                                          - flames of
                                                          fire, artwork
                                                          by Cleveland
.   The Fire and Fruit of the Holy Spirit .

The Scriptures tell us that the Lord Jesus came to "baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11, and Luke 3:16). We see this fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
                                                                  - Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 2, versus 1-4

Baptized with fire and the Spirit
What is the fire of the Holy Spirit and why did tongues of fire appear over the heads of each of the disciples who gathered together in prayer to the Holy Spirit? Cyril of Alexandria
(376-444 AD), one of the early church fathers known for his gift of preaching and explaining the truth of the Gospel, explains the significance of the fire from heaven as the "fire of the Gospel" and the "fire of the Holy Spirit"

"We affirm that the fire that Christ sent out is for humanity's salvation and profit. May God grant that all our hearts be full of this. The fire is the saving message of the Gospel and the power of its commandments. We were cold and dead because of sin and in ignorance of him who by nature is truly God. The gospel ignites all of us on earth to a life of piety and makes us fervent in spirit, according to the expression of blessed Paul (Romans 12:11).

"Besides this, we are also made partakers of the Holy Spirit, who is like fire within us. We have been baptized with fire and the Holy Spirit. We have learned the way from what Christ says to us. Listen to his words: 'Truly I say to you, that except a man be born of water and spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God' (John 3:5). It is the divinely inspired Scripture's custom to give the name of fire sometimes to the divine and sacred words and to the efficacy and power which is by the Holy Spirit by which we are made fervent in spirit."

- from Commentary on Luke, Homily 94

The grace of Pentecost and the fruit of the Spirit
This issue focuses on the grace of Pentecost and the fruit of the Holy Spirit that enable Christians to live and serve together in love and unity, and peace and joy. Don't miss Steve Clark's article on the Holy Spirit as the Water of Life and Derek Prince's article on The Fruit of the Spirit.

Good fruit is cultivated in stages over time. The primary fruit of the Spirit is love that permeates, strengthens, and unifies all the ways in which love manifests itself in joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22-23).

50th Anniversary of Charismatic Renewal
This Pentecost we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal - a movement that has swept through the Catholic Church and many Christian churches and communities around the world. Countless millions of people have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and have experienced the gifts and graces of the Spirit at work in their lives. God intends to pour out his Spirit more and more to unite, strengthen, and empower his people for mission today.

Come and See what God is doing
God is pouring out his Spirit today for a purpose - to equip, strengthen, and unify his people to be bold witnesses and ambassadors for Christ. God expects his people to carry on the great commission that Jesus gave his first disciples and to the whole Christian church. That is why we need the power, gifts, and wisdom of the Holy Spirit who goes before us to open doors, build bridges, and tear down walls that divide and separate. Let us pray confidently for renewed boldness and zeal to "cast our nets" as the Lord leads us and to sow the seed of his Word everywhere we go, and to gather in the harvest he has prepared for his glory.
Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation... And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.
- Mark 16:15, 20
Sincerely in Christ,
Don Schwager

Credit: illustration above, Pentecost - flames of fire, painted by Cleveland Woodward, (c) GoodSalt.com
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