Category: Bearing Fruit

Seven – The Gifts of The Spirit, p. 228

1 HS & Gifts

August 28

The Myths concerning the Gifts

Myth 4) Greater gifts reflect greater spirituality.

At times, Christians can have the perception that those who possess the “greater” gifts also possess a greater spiritual walk with God. This perception is just not true. As we have seen, God alone determines which gifts are given, and He does this according to how He sees fit – in harmony with His purpose and plan for each individual (and for the good of the entire Body of believers). The gifts are purposeful in nature – not a “reward” for spirituality, or a “badge of honor” reflecting a greater personal status with God.

The Scriptural principle we must understand is that the “greater” gifts come with greater responsibility. Jesus told us as much:

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The greater gifts come with a greater accountability, in proportion to the call that rests on those individuals’ lives. As the parable of the talents (Matthew 25) teaches us, each individual believer will be called into account for how they put their gift(s) into practice.

parable of the talents

Those who receive “greater” gifts must show fruitfulness in accord with the magnitude of their gift. The issue with God is always faithfulness with what you have been given… and not the possession of the gift itself.

The gifts of the Spirit are meant to afford us all the opportunity to reflect God’s character and nature in a particular way, in accord with His calling upon our lives. They are never meant as a reflection of our status in Him.

Six – Understanding the Holy Spirit, p. 209

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August 2

The obstacle to fruitfulness

We must ask ourselves the pertinent question: what really prevents us from bearing the “fruit of the Spirit?” Scripture indicates that it is our willingness, at times, to “gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (see Galatians 5:16) We sincerely want to please God with our choices and actions – but we also want to leave the door open to please ourselves, and to pursue our own interests, passions, and pleasures. This double-minded lifestyle leaves us disappointed, guilty, and most often “fruitless.”

The apostle’s inspired solution to our problem is simple:

crucified the sin nature

The wonderful news of the Gospel is that Jesus’ death has fully enabled each of us to fully commit everything we are to God. It is entirely possible to “crucify” our sin nature (once and for all) – rendering it powerless to effect and control us. This is the full measure of God’s grace afforded us through Jesus. He not only forgave us, through His redeeming work, but also empowered us to live, just as He desires us to live – fully surrendered to Him in body, soul, and spirit. This is the essence of the true Christian, and of a true disciple of Jesus.

Our failures to be fruitful, or to bear the fruit of the Spirit, can all be traced back to the abiding presence of our own will, purposes, and nature at work in, and through, our lives. Fruit, in Scripture, is always God at work. It is the produce of Who God is – produced through those who are wholly connected and devoted to Him.

fruit-of-the-spirit

Six – Understanding the Holy Spirit, p. 203

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July 25

The Aspects of the Fruit of The Spirit

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (from Galatians 5:22-23)

  Patience– is the ability to wait with eager expectation – even in the midst of difficulty, trial, or suffering. Older versions translate this word accurately as “longsuffering.” It is often not an easy or carefree wait – there is an arduous, yet hopeful, aspect to our endurance. Again, we see this in the heart of God, as Peter was inspired to remind us: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise (to return for His people), as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance… bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation…” (2 Peter 3:9, 15)

The New Testament Scriptures often point to Old Testament “saints” for examples to inspire Abraham closeus. In Hebrew 6:12-15, Abraham is given as a model of Scriptural patience. He received God’s promise (that He would be blessed, and that his descendants would be innumerable – even though he was childless at the time!). Scripture declares that Abraham believed God, but had to persevere in that belief for 25 years before the promise was fulfilled. Abraham patiently endured, waiting with eager expectation for God to fulfill His promise. Abraham inspires us to trust in God, expectantly – and Scripture reminds us of the spiritual principle that: those who patiently endure, obtain the promise (see Hebrews 6:15)

Jesus demonstrated this patience in working with His disciples. As we read of their interactions with Jesus, we see that the disciples really struggled to understand Who Jesus was, and what He was about. They didn’t really understand His teachings, and would often have to inquire as to what He meant. Even as Jesus was about to ascend to the Father, the disciples didn’t understand His purpose and were asking all the wrong questions (see Acts 1:6).

Though this must have been difficult, Jesus addressed His disciples with great and enduring patience – confident in The Father’s plan to bring them to an understanding of His purpose… and theirs. God’s character is patient, and longsuffering, in dealing with humanity.

prodigal son

God’s love for us is so often expressed to us through His enduring patience with us.

Six – Understanding the Holy Spirit, p. 199

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July 21

The “fruit of the Spirit” in the apostle Paul’s inspired letter to the Galatians, is a study of the conflict and contrasts between the acts or “fruit” produced by the sinful human nature and the acts or “fruit” the Holy Spirit produces. The key to the Spirit’s “fruit production” is a believer’s lifestyle of surrender to God’s purpose and direction (as is always the foundation of true discipleship!).

Essential to God’s calling upon our lives is the need to “live by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16), to be “led by the Spirit” (5:18), and to “keep in step with the Spirit (5:25).” The Holy Spirit is the means by which we live the Godly life, He is our Leader to guide us into all that we need to know, do, and say – and when The Spirit moves, we are to move in step with Him. This forms the basis of living the true Christian life.

live by the spirit

In the botanical world, fruit reflects the plant’s merits, benefits, or virtues. Fruit is also most often how the plant is personally experienced. People plant tomato plants to reap the harvest of the tomato’s fruits. They eat the fruit of the tomato plant, and personally experience the fruit’s merits or benefits. When people speak of enjoying tomatoes, they are not referring to the plant, but the fruit the plant produces.

tomato plants

But the fruits do not just happen! They must come from the plant (fruit does not grow directly from the seed!). So the fruit is the reflection of the characteristics of the plant, from which the fruit comes (tomatoes from tomato plants, strawberries from strawberry plants, etc.). The fruit provides the means to personally experience the plant’s characteristics, benefits and virtues.

God also desires to be personally experienced for His characteristics, benefits, and virtues. The command to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” (Psalm 34:8) carries a new and wonderful application.

Taste-and-See

God’s design, in the New Covenant, is to bear fruit through His people – to produce His characteristics, benefits, and virtues so that other human beings might personally experience them. This aspect of “fruit-bearing” is the work of the Holy Spirit. Those devoted to Jesus, and who are submitted to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, will produce the fruit of the Spirit.

The “fruit of the Spirit” is what make God real and recognizable in this world – and what allows those who need Him, to personally experience His goodness. The fruit of the Spirit is relational in nature, and is meant to bring people into personal contact with God, person to Person.

Six – Understanding the Holy Spirit, p. 198

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July 20

Observations about “fruit”

First, in the Scriptural text, “fruit” is singular. It is one fruit that has several different nuances, appleaspects, or flavors, if you will. Just as we might describe the taste of some earthly fruit by naming it’s various characteristics. An apple, for example, may be described as: sweet, tangy, crunchy, juicy, etc.). Scripture describes the various aspects of the singular fruit of the Spirit of God.

This tells us that all these individual aspects flow from a singular Source – and work together in one synergized unity. They are all together present at every moment bringing a certain emphasis to the character of God as may be needed. Sometimes the “flavor” of the fruit is kindness, as the situation might dictate. Sometimes it is peace as a different set of circumstances might require. Sometimes it is patience or gentleness, and so forth.

There is one fruit that sufficiently covers the whole spectrum of God’s character and this fruit is adequate for the individual circumstances of our daily lives. One fruit, with all its various “flavors,” communicates God’s Person sufficiently for the relationships and situations that may be encountered on this earth.

fruit-of-spirit

Second, the fruit is not produced by human effort or intention. It is the fruit of the Spirit of God. God alone can produce this fruit, and produce it perfectly. The abiding presence of God’s Spirit is responsible for producing the fruit of God’s Person.

The Holy Spirit (God within us) is eager to produce this fruit and make it apparent to those around us. Devoted disciples are the “branches” (John 15) through which the Spirit produces the “fruit” of God’s Character. Our task is to “live by” (be “led by”) The Spirit; and “keep in step” with the Spirit (which is also defined as “remaining” in Jesus) – to yield to His direction and influence in our lives so that He might do what He desires to do through us.

Gal 5 25

Third, though the Spirit produces the fruit through us, this fruit is meant to work within us and upon us – transforming our own character into the “flavor” of God’s character. The intent is that our own spirits would accurately reflect the Spirit of God – we would clearly represent God’s character by the God-transformation within us.

This is the meaning behind the apostle’s inspired words to Titus: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior…” (Titus 3:5b-6)

Holy Spirit Renewal

This “renewal by the Holy Spirit” realigns us with our original design and intent – to be the accurate image and likeness of the God Who made us. The Holy Spirit is not just working through us – He is working in us as well, to renew us into what God desires.

Six – Understanding the Holy Spirit, p. 197

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July 19

The Benefit of the Fruit of God’s Character

As God’s people, we all have the privilege and responsibility of representing God to this world.

There are certainly aspects of representing Him that reflect God’s power and miraculous abilities in people’s lives. But there is also another aspect of God that needs to be represented. People not only need to be impacted by God’s power, but also need to have a real experience with God’s Person. Power alone cannot fully communicate God’s character. Power needs the context of the characteristics of God’s Person, allowing people to be drawn to, and love, the One Who can exert that power.

This world’s people certainly need to experience the power of God. But they also need to experience the wonder of His Person. God is both powerful and personal. For an accurate portrayal, both aspects must be openly displayed. The Holy Spirit eagerly desires to produce both of these aspects and experiences in, and through, us.

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When God’s personal characteristics are produced, Scripture calls this “the fruit of the Spirit.” They are the “fruit” of God’s Own character – the aspects of His Own Person.

fruit-of-the-spirit

We observe that each of these qualities were vividly displayed through the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus. He is the living Model of the fruit of God’s character and personality. What we see in the life and ministry of Jesus is what we should see flowing from His people. The “fruit of the Spirit” is produced by the Holy Spirit, dwelling within the one through whom the fruit is produced. What Jesus displayed is available for each and every believer who lives in connection and interaction with God’s Holy Spirit – just as Jesus demonstrated for us.

Three – Understanding Salvation – pg. 104

April 15

Christians often tend to think and believe, that God is changing us (ever so slowly) from one manner of thing to another. Our perception is that we are like branches of poison ivy (offensive, irritating, bearing no useful fruit) and God is trying to change us into grape branches (He seems to really like grapes! [see John 15]).

poison_ivy  grape branch

We see ourselves as what we are (poison ivy), as opposed to what He wants us to be (grape branches), and conclude that this transformation is no brief, or quick, procedure. Molecules and DNA must be reformed, irritants must be removed, leaves must be reshaped, and the nature and capacity to even bear grapes must be put within us – all before the changed vine can even be useful (bear fruit) for the Master Gardener.

But God uses a different picture. He speaks of wild branches being grafted into the Vine (our Lord Jesus) and these grafted branches, immediately, do what grape branches are created and designed to do. But now, they have a new Source – and this new Source is coursing through them to bear fruit that is of the quality and the quantity of that Source.

grape-vine

These grafted branches immediately have a new identity and a new purpose, and they live to carry out that purpose from day one. There is a process involved – it is a growth process, in all that the Vine provides for the branches (health, vitality, strength…). The end result of this growth is fruit-bearing – and the fruit that comes from these new branches is fruit that reflects the very quality and character of The Vine. The process is found in growing in what has been done by the Master Gardener (grafting in) and in what is provided by the Vine – the ability and means by which the Gardener’s desired fruit is produced… to the glory and praise of the Master Gardener.

grapes

If we are always waiting for God to “change us” or “fix us” we cannot, in that state of waiting, be what God desires us to be. If we are always becoming, we can never be!

The extremely good news of the gospel is that God has done everything needed to cause us to be what He desires us to be, immediately. He calls us to see ourselves as He Himself sees us… when we come to Him to receive what He offers us within His provision of salvation.

The message of salvation teaches us that we are not becoming whole, we are whole – and every day of our lives, we are discovering, learning, and growing in what our Savior has accomplished for us through this complete provision of salvation.

2corinthians5_17timbotts

Two – Understanding Jesus – pg. 76

March 18

Yet still more key thoughts from John 14…

Five) The Source for Jesus’ ministry, was the Father indwelling Him. Not only did Jesus come to reveal God, as He really is, but He also came to reveal how true ministry would occur. Jesus’ Source for all that He did and said was “The Father.” Jesus took great pains to make this point obvious: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does… By Myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and My judgment is just, for I seek not to please Myself but Him who sent Me… Do not believe Me unless I do what My Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe Me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 5:19, 30; 10:37, 38)

healing-hands

What we see is that a direct connection with The Father is required to accomplish God’s purposes. Human hearts need God’s Personal direction. We also need God’s Personal empowering. Human beings are not capable of doing divine things. Only God can do divine things. This is the essential point Jesus made concerning all He accomplished in His earthly ministry. It was His connection with God, The Father, which made everything possible. It was “The Father” indwelling Jesus that produced all that the Father desired that His Son accomplish.

Jesus-miracles

God not only desires to be seen as He really is, but He also desires to bring His divine power into direct interaction within, and through, our lives. Human beings need to see the divine character, but we also need to see divine power at work in, and through, us. Everywhere Jesus went, the character of God was truly seen, and the power of God was truly felt. But Jesus did not take the credit for this – He continually pointed the focus back to the Source of all that He was, did, and said. The Source was the focus – revealing, inspiring, motivating, directing, and empowering.

We discover that this becomes the very model by which all disciples of The Christ will operate. Jesus modeled this for us… and then established the model for us: “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. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)

All true and Godly ministry flows from divine connection with the One True God. Jesus lived His earthly life this way, and all true disciples must also live this way as well. This is so essential that Jesus made an astounding promise to His disciples – a promise that still amazes to this day:

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One – Understanding Discipleship – pg. 27

January 28

how-to-glorify-god

What did Jesus mean when He speaks of “fruit” being to “My Father’s glory?” Or, more simply, what did Jesus mean when He spoke of glorifying God? The simplest answer is found in the fact that God is “glorified” when He is seen for Who He really is. When God does something that only He can do, the result is that those who witness His actions catch a glimpse of His goodness and His character in all their magnificence.

This is why only God’s actions can accomplish this purpose. Human effort, no matter how well intended, can only magnify (or glorify) humanity. Our “good” works, through human will and effort, can only achieve the recognition of human “goodness.” Jesus’ stance on our human efforts at doing good works is very clear: they are not “to My Father’s glory.” What does glorify the Father is when human beings become grafted into the One True Vine and God produces an abundance of fruit through these branches? This is at the very heart of the Great Gardener’s purpose. Human beings connected to God, through the Eternal Son, and becoming fruit-bearing dynamos – allowing God to be clearly seen as magnificent and glorious through each of them.

True Christianity is never about simply believing in Jesus. It is about abiding in Jesus, dwelling and remaining in Jesus, and constantly drawing our very life from His eternal Source of supply. True disciples are like branches that draw their life from The Vine. This Vine lives to supply everything that the branches will ever need so that every connected branch might bear an abundance of God-glorifying fruit.

grape vine 2

Clearly, the commitment to abide, dwell, and remain in Jesus is the choice at the forefront of every person who would seek to experience the fullness of God’s glorious salvation. Jesus places this responsibility at the center of every human heart… “If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit…” Remaining in Jesus, naturally allows for fruit to be produced. Removed from Jesus, there is no possible way for true fruit to be produced – and, as John 15: 2 and 6 remind us, the lack of fruit production carries some ominous consequences for the barren branch!

This is why it is so essential that we understand what it is to become, and be, true disciples of Jesus. According to Jesus, only true disciples are able to produce “fruit that glorifies the Father” and this fruit is the third aspect of the proof that they are truly His disciples.

glorify

One – Understanding Discipleship – pg. 26

January 27

The Proofs of Discipleship

3) Bearing fruit. “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.” (John 15:8) According to Jesus, the objective of being His disciple is to “bear fruit.” Jesus speaks of bearing “much fruit to My Father’s glory.” So what does Jesus mean when He speaks of “bearing fruit” and glorifying the Father?

To answer this question we begin by looking more closely at John’s account of Jesus’ words in chapter 15: 

John 15

In simplest terms, “fruit” in the Scriptures is God’s activity, or work, producing the result that He desires. Fruit is produced when God does what only God can do. Fruit is literally God at work producing things of His Own quality and nature. By design, fruit is merely the essence of God’s goodness for all to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)

It is essential that we realize that, by God’s design, “fruit” must come through the branches. The branches are the human vessels through which God does what He desires to do. Scripturally speaking, fruit is never the result of human will, intention or effort. Fruit is not the “good” that human beings might seek to do. Fruit is only the good that God does. Fruit is produced when God wills and works through human workers who are in connection and relationship with Him. God’s fruit is borne through those who abide in Him. This is exactly what the apostle Paul was inspired to tell us in his letter to the Philippians: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” (Phil. 2:12b-13)

A wonderful principle emerges: God does His work in us so that He can do His work through us! His work of salvation is to prepare the vessel (or in this case, the branch) for the work that He desires to do. The real purpose of salvation is one of preparation so that human beings can be useful in the plans and purposes of Almighty God! When God works through human beings, to do what only He can do, fruit is the result. This is why Jesus is so adamant about the importance of bearing fruit. Without fruit (which is the real purpose of a plant in the first place) there is no real, observable evidence of the Presence or the working of God. The real proof that God has done His work in us is the fact that God is doing His work through us!

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