Monday, May 9, 2016

The beginning of fruit


My grape vine is only a few months old, but it has already begun to produce fruit. Of course, those tiny beginning-grapes are far from the plump, juicy fruit it will bear later, but it's a start. 

What surprised me most about the fruit is that the vine is so young. I expected to wait a year or more before I saw any grapes. My young vine is not wasting any time. 

When I saw the vine yesterday, I was reminded of our relationship with Christ. He is the vine. We are the branches. His Father is the vinedresser. Our job is to bear fruit. John 15:1, 5)

As branches, we are connected to the vine, through which all our nutrients flow. Jesus said, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing." He was right. A branch, apart from the vine, is nothing but a stick.

We have a few options in this branch-ness of ours. We can separate from the vine, wither, and dry up. We can accept the nutrients from the branch and grow long and strong, with lots of luxurious leaves. We can be beautiful, but, if we don't grow fruit, we've wasted all the growth.

The purpose of the branch is not to grow leaves. The purpose of the branch is fruit.

Scripture speaks of more than one kind of fruit. There is, of course, the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. As disciples of Christ, these fruit should steadily increase in our lives, but they are not the only fruit we should bear.

Paul, in Romans 1:13 spoke of his desire to go to Rome so that he might have "fruit" there. He was referring to the conversion of souls to Christ. To sharing the gospel with those who do not know Christ and strengthening those who do.

Colossians 1:10 speaks of "bearing fruit in every good work." 

It is not enough to simply develop good character traits. We must allow the Spirit to manifest those traits through us by our actions. Faithfulness should lead us to faithfully share a witness wherever we are. Kindness should prompt us to do kind deeds for others.

Jesus' announced His mission statement, from Isaiah 61. He came to "bring good news to the afflicted... bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners... to comfort those who mourn." Isaiah 61:1-2 nasb 

Jesus involved Himself in the lives (and the needs) of hurting people. If we are to be like Him, we will, too.

Jesus did not die so that we might bear beautiful leaves. He died so that we could be set free from the power of sin in our lives and be restored to right relationship with God. That restoration should lead to fruit, both in our hearts and through our lives. We need to both BE and DO.

Let's do a little fruit inspection today. Are the fruits of the Spirit present in our lives? Are they increasing? Are those fruit-traits manifesting in action? Are we involved in the lives of hurting people? Are we doing good works? 

If not, why not?

In the early church, believers were remarkable for their love - both for each other and for those in need. We should be the same. 

Today, ask yourself, "Who does Christ want to love through me today?" Don't be content with asking the question, though. Keep being, but also start loving. Start doing.

Be the hands and feet of Jesus in a world that is perishing.
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If you're participating in the Hosea study, the second lesson is posted on the website. and the link is below. It's a lot of work, but it'll be worth it in the end. God bless your efforts.

Here's the link to Chapter 2 of the Hosea Bible study  (http://lessonsindiscipleship.blogspot.com/2016/05/hosea-chapter-2-entire-chapter.html)

#MondayMeditation #bearmuchfruit #vineandbranches