From The Word!

The Fruits of The Spirit and Staying Connected to The Vine!

20130103-112449.jpgToday I am going to talk a little bit about The Fruits of the Spirit and how those things are related to being a man or woman of God. What does this mean though? Is it when we are doing everything right? Like going to church every week or doing what people expect of us, or basically being a good person? No, not necessarily.

Quite a while ago I was having a quiet time with God and I was thinking about the Fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 which says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” As I was reading this scripture I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me and say, “Are these fruits evident in your life Shelley?”

So, I got to thinking about it and I started to go through the list reading them off one by one and examining them in my own life. Did I have love for everyone? Was I patient all of the time? No, definitely not. Was I faithful in my life? Well…I tried to be…but sometimes it was just so hard to get that devotional time in, not to talk about other commitments. So, after I got through the list I realized that my life totally didn’t line up with any of the Fruits of the Spirit and I knew at that moment God was showing me and convicting me of these things so I could make a choice.

So, I asked myself a question. “What are people seeing in my life that shows them that I am a child of God?” If I can’t recognize the Fruits in my own life how will others see them?

In Matthew 7:16-20 The Bible says, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

Wow! That seems pretty harsh! If I am not bearing good fruit, the Bible says, I will be cut down and thrown into the fire. That reminds be of the verse in Revelation 3:15-16 that says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot or cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

What if we have just some of the Fruits of the Spirit evident in our lives, but not all of them? Does that mean we are a good tree or a bad tree? Does that mean we are being lukewarm or not? Let’s look at the Fruits themselves. If you don’t hae one evident in your life, then there has to be something replacing it. Everything has an opposite. A few examples of this are:

Love – the opposite is hate. Galatians 5:14 says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We are supposed to love the way Jesus loves.

Joy – the opposite is sorrow or unhappiness. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 states, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Peace – the opposite is anxiousness, worry. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

If we have some of the Fruits of the Spirit in our lives and not others, there has to be an opposite filling that void where the good fruit should be. But remember we read in Matthew 7:18 that a good tree can’t bear bad fruit and a bad tree can’t bear good fruit.

If this is the case, then what are we…a tree in the middle? A lukewarm tree? Yes….And that is the danger zone…where we need to get out of! If not, we are in jeopardy of being cut off and thrown into the fire or being spit out of Jesus’ mouth!

How do we make sure that we are living the way that God wants us to live? Can we make ourselves have the Fruits of the Spirit on our own? Or try to get rid of those bad attitudes on our own? I know I have tried and I have also failed every time I have tried to do something by myself. So how do we live and stay living the way God wants us to?

John 15:4 says, “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 can look back on different points in my life and realize that those times in my life where my attitude was good, I wasn’t down all of the time, or struggling with patience and self-control was when I was staying connected to Jesus and having my own personal, daily time with Him. We need to have a deep-rooted faith, remaining constantly connected to our source of life. If we disconnect, even if it is for a couple of days, our fruit is going to start dying. God notices, then we will start noticing, and then everyone else around us will notice too. If we are remaining in Jesus, the Fruits of the Spirit will naturally occur in our lives as Christians. The 9 characteristics of the Fruits of the Spirit define the very character of Christ. John 15:16 says, “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Holy Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” When we notice that some of our fruit is starting to go bad, we need to pitch it out and get rid of it! It is kind of like this morning my husband gave our daughter the job of sorting through the bag of grapes that had been in the fridge for a while. Had we not had her go through and throw out the ones with bad, squishy and moldy spots eventually it would have ruined the entire batch of fruit! We need to get rid of that bad fruit when we become aware it. The Holy Spirit will reveal the characters of Christ in our lives as we daily allow ourselves to spend time with Him.

Let’s be planted in good soil! Let our roots run deep…growing deeper and deeper into Jesus. If we just have surface level roots, we may be able to produce some fruit but it may be small, not juicy, not the kind of fruit that really matters. This kind of fruit withers away and it won’t be the best that it can be. But, if our faith is deep-rooted, planted in good soil, we will have juicy fruit. The quality of fruit can been seen by it’s juiciness! As we allow our roots to run deep in Christ, we will also produce a larger yield.

Matthew 13:23 says, “But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.”

So it is when we have faithful and committed times of worship, reading our Word, prayer and fasting that we stay connected to our Vine. It is when we have a committed devotional or quiet time with Jesus. This is when we will be living by the Spirit and producing His Fruit.

Galatians 5:25 says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” This means that we keep moving in the direction that the Holy Spirit leads, not going our own way.

This is how we will remain in our source and how He will remain is us and be faithful to keep on letting us be bearers of fruit. Remain in Jesus. He is our source of life, the One who supplies, the One who gives the Fruit, the One who makes us men and women of God.

This is the challenge for all of us as follower of Christ: Be faithful to God, spending time with Him – really spending time! Don’t let it be just another thing added to your list that you have to do. Let Him move in you, search your heart, and change you where He sees fit.

There is so much that God wants to do in and through us but we just have to be available. Making ourselves available for “big” things is much easier when we make ourselves available to Him in the everyday things like reading the Bible or praying. This may sound elementary but I assure you, is so essential! Let us make ourselves available, be committed, obedient and Let the Holy Spirit search our hearts. Because He will – and He will make my fruit and your fruit the juiciest around!

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