Bearing fruit is always the byproduct of an intimate union with Jesus Christ. Consider John 15:1-4:
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.2He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.3You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
J. Oswald Sanders as written:
“When once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely, we never need sympathy, we can pour out all the time without being pathetic. The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but only the impression that Jesus is having His unhindered way, because the last abyss of his nature has been satisfied by Jesus. The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that Our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.”
The true fruit we bear, when we are God-filled and empowered, is truly devoid of the flesh. It honors Him and overlooks us. That fruit may be compassion for the hurting, help for the weary, the gospel for the lost, love for the unlovely, or giving to the needy.
Stay connected to the vine, your life-source. Intimacy is key to bearing fruit for the Lord. God bless you in that…
One of my favorite stories in scripture is that of the young and righteous Jonathan, son of King Saul. With the enemy Philistines on every side, King Saul sits pompously under his pomegranate tree awaiting the Lord’s direction from the priest and his religious icon. Meanwhile, Jonathan sneeks away with his servant because he’s sick of just sitting around. Here’s what Jonathan states to his faithful armor bearer:
“Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.” 1Samuel 14:6
Don’t you love that? “Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf!” This is a risk-taker, a true warrior, a renegade, someone who’s ready and willing to give his life for a cause he believes in. In essence, Jonathan is convinced that sitting around doing nothing, but acting spiritual, is worse than taking a big risk that may even cost your life. And he’s doing it all for God’s glory!
Don’t get me wrong–there is definitely a time for seeking God’s direction. We also use that as an excuse for non-action way too often…and that’s exactly what King Saul was doing in this situation.
As the scripture relays the account, we see one of the most amazing God-honoring victories take place on this day because one wild and crazy man was willing to totally depend upon God.
He loves to use wild and crazy people for great Kingdom causes…
Talked to a woman today that tells me she’s really bad…the black sheep of the family. She was raised in Thailand, where all of her family still lives.
“How did you end up here?” I queried.
She went on to tell me that the man who is now her husband was on vacation in Thailand. They met, got married just a few days later, amidst much disapproval of her father, and moved to the United States.
My response? “You ARE bad!”
But I’ve also noticed that the wild and crazy risk-takers, those who are living zestfully–even if for the wrong reasons, are often the people God chooses to use for great Kingdom things. Consider Moses the murderer and Paul the persecuter as a couple of brief examples. When I see renegades, those who have courage and action woven into the fabric of their character, I also see a person of great Kingdom potential.
I’m excited to see what God will do with this crazy and wild couple. He loves to work miracles…
Sort of like the shepherds and the magi, we too are invited to meet with God. No—it’s not quite as unique, mind-boggling and gripping as that first Christmas, but it is just as real. The invitation is open to every one of us every day at every moment. God wants us to have these God-encounters that change us forever. This is not simply a nice-sounding theoretical dream based on wishful thinking. God longs to intersect his righteousness with our reality. He awaits our arrival of readiness in order to receive His fullness of blessing. He wants to pour His presence into our souls and then…send us out.
Because we come in order to go.
Sundays are generally the times when Christians gather together. But Saturdays or any other day of the week is perfectly acceptable too. The important thing is that we come. And that we come to give our worship. That we come with a realness to our arrival rather than a routine to wrap-up. The New Testament declares the value of our togetherness:
“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25
The admonition? Get together on a regular basis as fellow believers. And we could say, “To meet God!” After all, if we don’t meet God when we offer our worship together, we have missed the Object of it all.
Why get together? To encourage one another to go out and do “love and good deeds.” We are to be the presence of Jesus in our world. Incarnate Christ. Bring the presence of God.
Because we come in order to go.
Here’s the truth of the matter: If we don’t meet God, we don’t have much to give. If we meet God, we cannot keep it for ourselves.
Don’t fall back into some carnal rut of “worshiping” just for yourself. Don’t return to the cursed place of self-infatuation…simply getting what you want for your own benefit. Don’t “do church” because you’re looking for whatever it is you want out of it. This is completely sinful. We are never invited to come only to get. We’re invited to come and get so we can go and give.
Are you ready to turn around and go back into your place of influence? Are you ready to infect others with the reality of God? Do you really understand that you come in order to go?
There are many very happy people in the world who do not know Jesus Christ. That’s where the following verse comes in…
“I came not to send peace, but a sword,” Matthew 10:34.
Of this, Oswald Chambers writes:
“Thousands of people are happy without God in this world. If I was
happy and moral before Jesus came, why did He come? Because that kind
of happiness and peace is on a wrong level; Jesus Christ came to send
a sword through every peace that is not based on a personal
relationship to Himself.”
And here’s the challenge we face in a society where abundance can mask need — people must realize that they were made for something more than themselves. They were made for God!Life is not all about happiness and contentment (peace), but instead a purpose and high calling (a sword).
When we get that, we’re not only happy…we’re passionate!
A strange thing is happening in the church these days. There are two primary “camps” of Christians among evangelicals. One group is convinced that most stuff of the world is evil and must be avoided. The other wants to adapt to the world so that the world will be influenced. The first emphasizes separation while the second espouses infiltration. Allow me to share a few thoughts with you on this huge issue which no-one will be able to ignore for long…
Salt only has its affect when it gets out of the salt-shaker and makes contact with something. It’s the same way with Christ-followers. We must make contact with the world before we have any influence at all.
Light is only needed where there is darkness. Christ-followers are meant to infiltrate their world and bring light where darkness prevails. Scary stuff.
Traditionally, Christians have been awful at building bridges — excellent at erecting walls. It has not served the Kingdom well.
The “conservative” view often appears more spiritual initially, but Jesus never called His followers to be conservative, but rather risk-takers. We are supposed to get our hands dirty doing His work.
Remember what the world-changer Paul stated in scripture, “I have become all things to all men that I might by all means win some.” Hurray for Paul! Hurray for every Christ-follower that truly follows Jesus!