Matthew 12:33 (NIV)
Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.
Our house has been eating a whole lot of fruit lately on the Daniel Fast, the girls are living on it as they are not huge vegetable or nut fans other than peanut butter. While I was preparing dinner the other night, our youngest was helping me by cutting some fresh strawberries. As she lay each one on the cutting board, we chatted about day until she let out a shriek of pure despair. A tiny bug came crawling out of one of the berries. She hates bugs and was totally grossed out. I tried to explain to her that the berry was not produced in a factory but grew freely in a field so it is completely natural to find an occasional critter inside. I have found a worm in an apple before and other tiny stowaways along the way. She shuddered in pure repulsion at the thought. I was pretty sure that she was done eating them which would have been horrible since she is currently surviving on them through the fast. As we sat down for dinner, she took each strawberry and carefully inspected it before finally eating it from that point on.
What if we inspected the fruit of our life? What if we took each quality that is to be produced by the Holy Spirit in us and evaluated it as closely as my child now analyzes fruit? What might we find? Many years ago when I finally gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ for good, I joined the Church of God which is full gospel. My grandmother who prayed for me, carried me to church and is the reason that my heart belongs to the Lord was concerned. She was Southern Baptist, who at that time, ignored the book of Acts. Focusing more on Hebrews and Revelation, the idea of the Living Breathing Holy Spirit was not discussed and the Gifts of the Spirit were not in full operation. She expressed much concern over my choice to join my new husband’s church. What she didn’t know or could not understand despite my explanation was that I had been filled with the Holy Spirit. A change that would make all the difference in making my faith a reality in my life. After much prayer for wisdom, I finally told my sweet Gram to decide by my fruit. Watch me. Evaluate me. See what kind of fruit is produced in my new life with Christ. She did. Before she went to be with Jesus, she recalled our conversation all those years ago. She told me, “I see your fruit.”
Fruit takes time. It is part of a process. We all must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It is more than one trip to an altar or a prayer with a pastor. It is changing the product of our life into something worthwhile and fruitful. God has a plan for us that includes a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Those who seek Him wholeheartedly will find it. (Jeremiah 29:13) Make a tree good and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad. A tree is recognized by its fruit. So I ask you again, what does the fruit of your life look like today? It makes a difference.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
We have the living, breathing, moving, changing, producing Spirit of God within us who has a purpose. To take our life surrendered to the process of salvation through repentance, submission and obedience to cultivate these fruits – love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are things that we should strive for in life. Jesus tells us that people will know we belong to Him by this kind of fruit produced in our life. (John 13:35) Doctrines are a dime a dozen. Churches are on just about every street corner in the South. How can one determine what is right or wrong? The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God working into wisdom and action in our life. Before I was filled with the Holy Spirit, I knew the Word of God but struggled to activate it in my life. I believed in Jesus Christ and that He died for my sins. I asked Him to be my Savior and for years, tried to make Him my Lord. When I partnered my life with His Spirit, it all came together. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things and remind us of everything He said to us.
John 15:1-4 (NIV)
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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.” This is important. We need to hear this today. In a world filled with false prophets (Matthew 7:15-20) who speak the Word of God but bear bad fruit or no fruit at all, to the preachers for profit (2 Corinthians 2:16-17) who peddle the Word of God for personal gain, we must know what we believe and do it regardless of what anyone else says, does or tells us to do. We have been giving everything we need to produce a garden filled with fruit even out of the most barren and broken life. It is up to us to evaluate what is being sown in our life. The Word of God is not based on public opinion. It is from the Mouth of God. Jesus is the Word of God who came in flesh. (John 1:14) The Word of God is the Bread of Life that is the sustenance of the Spirit in our life. (Matthew 4:4) It is alive and cuts the truth from a lie. (Hebrews 4:12) Public opinion is not necessary. Social acceptance is far too overrated. A big church does not mean a healthy vineyard. God’s Grace gives us time to work out our salvation and prepare for His Return. It is time for the church and everyone in the Body of Christ to step back and inspect the fruit of their own life. Comparing it to the Word of God, praying in the Spirit and removing every not of God’s Word, Will and Way. The Lord warned the Pharisees that just being called Sons of Abraham is not enough. God could produce children from stones. (Luke 3:8) Until they produced the fruit of repentance, they were still in danger of death. The Kingdom of God will be taken from those who do not produce fruit. (Matthew 21:43)
Mark 11:12-14 (NIV)
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
Mark 11:20-25 (NIV)
In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. We must believe in Father, Son and Spirit. We must believe that the Word of God is infallible truth for our life and live according to what it says. Faith is a personal journey not a corporate endeavor. We will individually stand before God one day, not with the other members of our congregation. It is safe to say after attending many, many churches over the years that there may be some things that we do not entirely agree on but we do our best to fellowship together living in harmony, sharing the Gospel and ministering to one another as we live out love. All of that being said, at the end of the day, when we venture to our prayer closet, all that matters is what we believe. Those who believe the Word of God is true, our God is real, Jesus Christ is Lord will live a productive life in the Spirit striving to bear fruit. These are the people to connect with.
In a world filled with fancy sanctuaries, flourishing culture groups, perfect productions, and the show of church, it is the condition of each heart that matters more than any performance that a human could ever give. God is not asking to be entertained but glorified. He is glorified by the fruit of our life. (John 15:7-8) An empty life means we have no substance. When Jesus went to the fig tree looking for fruit, he found none. Though it was full of leaves, it had nothing to give. A fruitful life produces fruit that gives off seed. (John 12:24-25) When that seed makes its way to a fertile heart, a new life is born that produces more fruit offering more seeds. “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:22-25) Revival will come when the church begins to produce fruit rather than doctrine. When men and women of God no matter what position they hold, humble and pray with repentant hearts and willing spirits offering their life as a place for godly growth and productivity. The tree has gone bad and the fruit is telling on it. We must be like a tree. The one called an oak of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:3) The one found by living water. (Psalm 1:3) Our roots so rooted and grounded in the Love of God and His Word that nothing can change our mind or direction and will not become unstable. (James 1:5-9) If the church today and Body of Christ could just make up their mind about what kind of fruit they will produce rather than just being some kind of packaging plant, it would make a difference. Those who produce fruit will always have life and life everlasting.
Philippians 1:21-24 (NIV)
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
What is being cultivated in your life today? The Fruit of His Spirit. Confidence in the hope that you have. Faith that can move mountains. We have been given everything needed to prosper in this life soul, mind and body. If we are not, it is not a God problem, church error, or anyone else’s fault. We have everything needed to inspect the productivity of our life and supernatural power to change it into something fruitful and good that glorifies our Father. Don’t get mixed up in doctrine. Church only supplements what we believe. You have to know what you believe first. The Word of God is all truth. The Holy Spirit is a great instructor. Jesus is our Savior and our Lord. If our live is unproductive, one of these three things is not working in our life which always points back to a heart problem – the human heart. For me to live is Christ because nothing good lives in me but Jesus. To die is gain, if I am a product of my salvation not just a person who calls their self a Christian. To live what I believe produces fruit for the world to see. If I live for Christ alone, my fruit will always be good.
2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?