Some Facts About Fruit

Christians speak often about the importance of bearing good fruit, and important it is. Galatians 5 provides a faithful reminder of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
Fruit to be evident in our lives.

There seems to be something, though, not often included in our fruit-bearing training: what happens to the fruit once it is ripened on the tree. Through everyday experience and exposure, our great Teacher has enlightened me to some important truths about fruit.

For starters, it will be inspected. Just as we check for bruises, our lives will be examined. Like we squeeze to make sure the fruit is ripe and juicy, people will critique our attitudes and behavior. They will pay attention to how we respond to the world around us and situations in our lives.

Most of us don’t like that at all. We call it “judging”. Jesus expressed it as acceptable to evaluate one another’s actions when He said, “…for the tree is known by his fruit.” (Matthew 12:33)   Judging as we should not runs deeper, to the root.

Once our fruit has passed inspection the real fun begins. Somebody needs or wants it. We feel good about that, happy to be of service to the kingdom of God – until the reaping begins.

Think about how fruit is removed from a tree. Occasionally, a gentle hand reaches up in appreciation of its find and ever so carefully confiscates the needed nutrition. But that’s not the norm.

Usually It’s twisted, pulled, and plucked. Often the tree is violently shaken until the coveted fruit falls to the ground where it can be easily gathered.  Remaining joyful or gentle is seldom easy. I’m sure you can think of at least one someone who has tried your patience and pushed your self-control to its limit.

Feel like you’ve been pulled on, plucked, and shaken?

And that’s not all.  Think about what you do with your own fruit once you get it home.

It gets chopped, diced, and drained. It is pulverized into smoothies or smashed into juice. As if that’s not bad enough, sometimes it just sits until it rots, after which it becomes food for the sharp blades of a garbage disposal or thrown in the trash.

I used to get angry about the way people treated my fruit once they removed it from this tree. You know you’re feeling this same way when thoughts of being taken advantage of and unappreciated cross your mind.

There may be times when the Holy Spirit will direct you to back away, at least for a while. But make sure the Holy Spirit is the Director. Too often when we feel like our good nature is being abused and misused, we fence it off or stop producing altogether.
We are to yield the fruit, not dictate what happens to it. When it gets tough, God’s grace is sufficient to see us through.

One more thing. The tree doesn’t choose who gets the fruit. It’s usually easy to love those we deem lovable, to be gentle with those we are fond of, and patient with those we care about.

Yet, those to whom it is harder to offer fruit are often those who need it most. The lack of love, joy, and peace in their own lives is frequently manifested by nasty, hostile behavior. Letting them consume your fruit may be the very thing that initiates a change of heart.

After pondering these truths you might wonder if bearing fruit is really worth the effort.
It is.  You see, we have promises of great reward when we bear fruit.

John 15:16 records one such promise spoken by Jesus, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

Wow! Anything we ask in Jesus name can be ours if we maintain a fruitful life. Anything in line with His word, yes, but that includes everything we need and could ever desire – plus some!

And the greatest payment of all for our fruit? It makes us more like Christ.

Till next time –
June

When the Mountain Talks Back

We’ve all stared at a huge mountain wondering what we were going to do about it. As far as we could see the rocky tower had our way blocked, and it reached to the sky.

Maybe there is one standing in front of you now.

Sometimes we create those mountains through sin or unwise choices. Others appear at no fault of our own. Either way, they rise up and stand in our way.

We can’t do a thing about them in our own power, we’ve tried. But there is nothing too hard for God. He assured us, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? …thou shalt become a plain.” (Zechariah 4:6,7).

Jesus explained just how to get the mighty Spirit of God working on our behalf to bring about victory when our problem seems unbeatable.

The disciples were amazed that the fig tree Jesus cursed earlier now stood dead. Matthew 21:21 shares His response, “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”

We convince ourselves that if God spoke to the mountain and Jesus instructed us to speak to ours, that is exactly what we should do.

So we override how foolish it seems to be looking into thin air speaking to inanimate, invisible, foes. You know the kind I’m talking about – depression, addiction, sickness, marital and family problems, oppressive work situations – whatever our mountain may be – and we speak to it.

We may even wait until no one is watching to pick up our check book or point our finger at that stack of unpaid bills and tell poverty and lack to take a hike.

But we do it. We do it because Jesus told us to and He knows best.

By the power and authority given us in Jesus’ name we command that interfering, path-blocking, trouble-making mountain to crumble so we can walk sure footedly on level ground. We stand in confidence knowing our faith is in the all-powerful God, expecting the mountain to disintegrate before our eyes.

Then the unthinkable happens. The mountain opens its ugly mouth and spits back in our face, “And just who’s going to make me move? You? Who are you to be telling me what do to do?”

And instead of things getting better, they get worse. We cover our heads to avoid the blow of the rocks the mountain hurls in our direction.

Satan starts filling our mind with every reason for what appears to be failure on our part. We haven’t fasted enough. We’ve made too many mistakes. We brought this all on ourselves. God isn’t so loving and powerful as we believed him to be.

Lies. All lies.

Instead of running for cover, stand firm. Realize that the mountain (the spirit behind it, that is, which is what we’re really speaking to) is going to test you. Especially if you are new to exercising your God-given authority. Satan turns the heat up a notch and fires back, hoping to scare you off before you destroy his plan to destroy you.

The truth is, if you hadn’t been effective nothing would have changed at all. Things wouldn’t be getting better, but they also likely would not be getting worse. Why would the devil put more energy into a fight he’s already winning?

He is a lot like that child you had to tell not once, not twice, but three times to put their toys away and go to bed. Not until you gave them the “look” and your demand contained more oomph did they realize they pushed you too far. Obey or face the consequences.

Satan will try to intimidate you when in reality he’s the one who is scared. He knows he is defeated. He also knows if you grab ahold of the power of God within you and exercise the authority Jesus gave you, you are going to know it, too.

So he puts on his best poker face and plays all his cards to convince you otherwise.

Stand your ground and speak again. And again and again if necessary. Keep the faith. Every stone that mountain throws at you is one less it has in its stature. Rock by rock it is destroying itself.

The boulders may fall and the ground may shake, but God’s got you. He’ll hold you steady as the mountain crumbles into nothingness. Soon you will walk freely across a grass covered plain.

till next time,

June — jyBInspired.com