buildingbodies4christ

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Archive for the tag “Bearing Fruit”

The Right Mix

Have you ever heard the phrase, “the proof is in the pudding?” Seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? A book I read recently had this phrase in one of its section headings. I can’t seem to recall the point the author was making at this time. However, when I read some Scripture this morning, this phrase came back to mind. The passage that spoke most deeply was from Galatians 5:22-23 concerning the fruit of the Spirit.

As believers, we are told we have received the Holy Spirit from Jesus at the time of our salvation. After we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are told there will be gifts that the Spirit brings with Him as He dwells in us. This fruit begins with love. Jesus’ love is planted in us as the Spirit is planted in us. The love is the seed from which all other attributes grow. The other attributes of this fruit is joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

For those who believe and have received the Holy Spirit, we already have this fruit in us. However, has the fruit been exhibited by our actions? This is where the phrase – the proof is in the pudding – comes to mind. We will be known by this fruit. As Peter wrote in his first letter, we are to crave spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2). As we grow, we become more fluent in the language of love – we exhibit these fruit characteristics more frequently and with greater strength.

Have you noticed recently we are missing these characteristics in the world around us? None of this fruit is exhibited in great detail in the world at large. There are small instances when the goodness and kindness seeps out into the darkness. Self-control seems to be lost in this day and age. Patience? It’s been lost in this fast pace world. We want it now and we demand it now. Instant and convenient has driven patience out of style.

It’s almost like we’re afraid to show these characteristics to others because we might be seen as weak. However, we are told that true strength is to show weakness and vulnerability. The world is craving a greater vulnerability – although they would never admit it. It is said that love trumps hate. However, actions show true identity of the fruit (or lack of) that dwells within. Love is an action.

We can give cards on birthdays and anniversaries declaring our love; but if it’s not followed up by action to prove that love really exists, the paper is thrown into the dustbin of history. Marriages will fall apart – families will fall apart – society falls apart. Love is glue that holds lives together. Without it, we’re hopeless.

The world is craving spiritual milk. The world doesn’t know it, but we as believers do. As believers, we are to grow beyond milk. The writer of Hebrews wrote in the fifth chapter we are to live on the solid food of righteousness and to be able to teach others these things. The writer warns us about falling away from the teachings of righteousness. Paul also had a few things to say to the Corinthians about needing milk instead of solid food. The Corinthians were acting like babies and couldn’t handle the truth Paul was ready to feed them. He wrote he could not address them as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly (1 Corinthians 3:1).

Yes, we still have much to glean from these Scriptures. Much of our time is spent in pursuing worldliness instead of godliness and the pudding has been exhibiting the fruit of our strivings. Paul wrote to the Philippians: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Yes, we, as believers, have much to consider. The pudding has almost set. It’s time to stir the pot and get the right ingredients in the mix before it’s too late. The proof will be in the pudding. Think on these things.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11-14

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Potential Maker

God wants to develop our potential. It’s His plan of developing the potential that we shy away from. I tend to run when adversity comes much like Jonah. I would rather escape on a boat to whatever exotic location far from the adversity. Adversity may be the thing though that God sends to develop our potential. It might be the only thing that will bring our character into full alignment with who we are meant to be in Jesus. James said in his letter that we are to rejoice in our trials (James 1:2). We are not to run from it but to embrace it. In James 1:4 we see we are to “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” There is potential building up in us – complete, lacking nothing. We are supposed to get something out of adversity. We need wisdom to understand the lesson we are learning through our trial. James goes on to write in verse five: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Jesus teaches His disciples about being connected to a vine. John wrote about Jesus’ teaching in his Gospel found in chapter fifteen. It’s a wonderful picture of a gardener who is lovingly taking care of his orchard. For the branches that are in the mud and muck, the Master Gardener takes that branch and lifts it up. I can imagine the gardener tying that branch to something that is stable and where the branch will receive light. It hasn’t produced fruit because it wasn’t in the right environment to cultivate fruit. There is another branch that is fruitful; but in order to produce more fruit, the branch needs pruning. I am sure the pruning hurts the branch in the short-term – there is definitely cutting involved. The branch will have an open wound until a scar is formed and healing can take place.

Adversity may be the thing that prunes us to be better for God’s purpose. It may be a something that moves us into the right environment to start producing fruit. The trouble is: when we are fruitful, there will actually be more pruning involved. There will be more adversity to contend with! Oh boy – something to look forward to! This is a good thing, but we tend to ask God to remove it quickly. We don’t have the stomach to persevere. We want to cut the loss – move on; be done with it. James said “count it as joy” – we are producing fruit and will be producing more fruit because of the adversity.

I was listening to North Point Community Church getting this wisdom from the “Now what?” sermon series. The teacher was saying that every branch gets pruned. The pruned branches cause a dependency on the vine. The pruned branch experiences growth in new areas. And of course, pruning causes the branch to reach greater potential that was once impossible to achieve without the pruning. Interesting points that can be related to our own adversity battles. Like David who faced his own personal giant, David faced Goliath with a dependency on God to defeat his enemy. David reached his potential to become a mighty warrior. And David went on to become a man after God’s own heart.

Adversity is a good thing even in the midst of the battle – dependency on Jesus, increase in wisdom, and eventually a life-bearing significant fruit! Sign me up – for the battles that don’t have much pain involved; that don’t leave ugly scars; that leave me in my comfortable place. Will this develop my own potential? Will this give me an abundant life that Jesus said He came to give me? Will this make me a mighty warrior for Jesus? The new prayer for today: God, use this adversity before you chose to remove it – let your will be done. Mold me into an instrument for your purpose that will give you greater glory! (And send Jesus to bind up my wounds so that it doesn’t hurt so much.) Amen.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-2, 5

North Point Online, Clay Scroggins, March 29, 2015, “Now what – part 3”

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