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"Bearing Fruit - Part 4"

Date published: 01/18/2016
Matthew 11:19b “But wisdom is proved right by her actions." (NIV)  

   As Jesus walked the earth, He challenged many people to be fruitful, shared parables of fruitfulness, and taught how to be fruitful. Fruitfulness is one of God’s greatest tools for knowing and experiencing Him. Here are the first six reasons for being fruitful:

1. Fruitfulness acts as a barometer to your relationship with God.
2.    Fruitfulness will accelerate your growth by experiencing more of the living God.
3.    Fruitfulness will help protect you from sin, satan, and the world.
4.    Fruitfulness follows God’s purposes in your life.
5.    Fruitfulness pleases God by living a life worthy of Him.
6.    Fruitfulness produces boldness and peace. 

   Here are the final three reasons God desires you to be fruitful:

7.    God desires you to be fruitful so that you can experience the blessings He has for you. Proverbs 8:32-35 shows how obedience leads to wisdom, wisdom leads to fruitfulness, and fruitfulness  leads to God’s blessings, "Now then, My sons, listen to Me; blessed are those who keep My ways. Listen to My instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to Me, watching daily at My doors, waiting at My doorway. For whoever finds Me finds life and receives favor from the LORD.” (NIV)
8.    God desires fruitfulness in a follower of Christ because He dislikes a lack of fruitfulness. Jesus demonstrated this In Matthew 21:19 when He cursed the fig tree for having no fruit, “Seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then He said to it, ‘May you never bear fruit again!’ Immediately the tree withered.” (NIV) The reason for God’s dislike for unfruitfulness is revealed in Isaiah 29:13, “The Lord says:‘These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is made up only of rules taught by men.’ (NIV) God looks at our hearts. The Bible teaches repeatedly that what is in our hearts is revealed by our actions.
9.    The last and most important reason that God desires fruitfulness is that He wants all of us to come to salvation. 2 Peter 3:9 reveals the heart’s desire of God, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (NIV)  God uses all fruitfulness to bring people closer to Him. 

   What is your call to action when you consider how God is bearing fruit in your life? Matthew 7:20 says this is how you will be known as a Christian, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (NIV) Being fruitful gives God the opportunity to make you a star that shines in a dark and lost world that needs Christ. Daniel 12:3 confirms this, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” (NIV) How are you being fruitful? 

Matthew 13:23 "And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the Word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." (NASB) 

Do you know someone who needs this message on being used by God? If so, forward this devotion to them as a blessing for their growth in Christ. 

Here are some Bible studies from Growing in Christ to help your transformative experience: “God’s Purpose For You” and “Knowing God’s Will.” 

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 For your convenience I have printed the three previous devotions for being fruitful: 

Part 1 of “Bearing Fruit”

Matthew 11:19b But wisdom is proved right by her actions." (NIV)  

   Last week’s devotion gave five important truths in becoming more effective for Christ. For the next four weeks we will explore the reasons for God wanting us to be effective for Him in fruitfulness. It is not enough to say you are a Christian and that you love God, because ultimately the sincerity of your heart is revealed by the fruit that God is able to bear in your life. John said in 1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (NIV) Jesus defined what a disciple was three times:  

·          In John 13:34-35 as one who loves, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV)

·          In John 8:31b-32 as one who obeys, "If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."(NIV)

·          In John 15:8 as one who bears much fruit, “This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (NIV)

    All three descriptions of a disciple depend upon the intimacy of your relationship with Christ. In John 15:4 Jesus taught that fruit can only be born out of a deepening relationship with Him, “Remain in Me, and I will 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.” (NIV) Out of the intimacy of your relationship with Christ you begin to take on the single characteristic that represents Christ most – love. As the depth of your relationship with Christ deepens, love becomes a consuming force that overwhelmingly dominates your motivations. Out of this ever-expanding love you take on the second trait of a disciple to obey. Love will constantly put you in situations and opportunities that require involvement, action, response, follow-through, or some type of action. This is best typified in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:27-35) where he could not walk by the man in need, but was moved by love to act by taking care of him. It was not enough for the first two who passed him by to say they loved him, would pray for him, and would ask special prayers for him when they got to church. Intimacy with Christ bears love and love (John 13:34-35) produces obedience (John 8:31b-32) and the result of obedience is fruitfulness (John 15:8). Next week we will discover three of the nine reasons God desires for Christians to be fruitful. 

Psalm 92:13-14 “Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.” (NIV) 

Part 2 of “Bearing Fruit”

Matthew 11:19b But wisdom is proved right by her actions." (NIV)  

   Last week’s devotion set up God’s desire for fruitfulness in each Christian’s life. Fruitfulness not only begins and ends with having an intimate relationship with Christ, but it is encapsulated in love and obedience. Wisdom is knowledge in action - “is proved right by her actions.” Fruit results when you respond to God in obedience. There are nine reasons God desires fruitfulness in a Christian’s life. We will cover the first three in today’s devotion and the six in the next two weeks. 

1.    1. God desires fruitfulness in order to constantly point you back to Him. Fruitfulness acts as a barometer to the depth of your relationship with Christ. Everything in your Christian life will flow out of the intimacy of your relationship with Christ. In Hebrews 6:7 you see an agrarian analogy that shows how the constant watering of crops produces a fruitful crop, “Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.”(NIV) Jesus wants relationship with you more than anything else. Go deep and wide in your relationship with Christ, while responding to God’s promptings, and fruitfulness will take care of itself.

2.    God wants you to grow as a follower of Christ, so you can know Him better. Ephesians 1:17-18 shows how increasing measures of wisdom and revelation take you to greater levels of obedience and relationship, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” (NIV)
3.    God desires fruitfulness for your protection. You have heard the saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground,” but a lack of fruitfulness is also the devil’s playground. Matthew 12:43-45 illustrates this, "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” (NIV) Being fruitful in Christ is powerful because it allows you to experience the living Christ. If Christ is knowledge, ritual, and duties, you not only miss the powerful experience of God, but you also become fertile ground for sin. Dwell with God, hear God, and respond to God.     
  Next week we will cover three more reasons God desires you to be fruitful.

Colossians 1:6-7 All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.” (NIV) 

Part 3 of “Bearing Fruit”

Matthew 11:19b But wisdom is proved right by her actions." (NIV)  

   This four part devotion on fruitfulness demonstrates God’s desire for every follower of Christ to not only be fully devoted to Him, but to also be fully used by Him. Desiring fruitfulness does not create works, but allows God to express His life in you. The deeper you go into God the more you will know Him. The more you know Him the more your life will reflect Him. A life that reflects Jesus cannot help, but be fruitful. In review the first three reasons were:

1.    1. Fruitfulness acts as a barometer to your relationship with God.

2.    2. Fruitfulness will accelerate your growth by experiencing more of the living Christ.

3. Fruitfulness will help protect you from sin, satan, and the world. 

Today’s three reasons God desires fruitfulness in your life are:

4.    4. Every follower of Christ has a purpose. God’s desire is for you to bear fruit in every area God desires for you. In Colossians 1:9-10 Paul passionately prays this for the church, “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every waybearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”  (NIV) Look what happens when you live fruitfully for God – you “please Him in every way.” Don’t you want to please God in every way!

5.  Bearing fruit for God leads to perfection or in other verses it is called completion. There is a direct link to bearing fruit and becoming like Christ in sanctification. Once again, bearing fruit is not works, but the active engagement of God bringing to completion His life and work in you. Colossians 1:28 shows how the Christian walk is not about going your own way, but coming into full union with Christ, “We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” (NIV) Notice that wisdom is once again tied to fruitfulness. Knowledge leads to action that produces wisdom resulting in you becoming more like Christ!

6.    6.  Bearing fruit leads to boldness and faith. Recently I read an article on the 21 Egyptian Christians who were executed by ISIS for their faith and refusal to renounce Christ. As I looked at the picture I was humbled by their boldness, confidence, and peace of who they were in Christ.   I kept asking myself, if I could do this? Jeremiah 17:7-8 gives a wonderful picture feeding on Jesus, growing, branching out, and living without fear, "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." (NIV) Bearing fruit prepares you the times of great effort, endurance, temptation, and persecution. 

   Know your purpose; run the race God has for you with boldness and passion to please God. 

Psalm 1:3 “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (NIV)