Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pass the fruitcake..

Have you ever heard Christians talk about being fruitful?

Fruitful. Bearing fruit. FRUIT. What the crap? Are they all gay? Health nuts? What then?

"Fruit" in the Bible is symbolic. Just like an apple tree produces apples, healthy Christian produce fruit. Track with me and lets explore this..

What exactly is the fruit that the Bible talks about? Here are a few specific examples:

Turning from sin and leading a holy life (Rom. 6:22)
Good works (Col. 1:10)
Leading people to Christ (Rom. 1:13)
Praising God (Heb. 13:15)
Giving tithes and offerings (Rom. 15:28)

And these are all summed up in the ultimate fruit
LOVE! (Gal 5:22)

Soooo.. you may be saying, "Bill, that's great but I really don't care!"

Do you realize that God doesn't exist for you? YOU exist for God. (Col. 1:16) You and I were created for HIS pleasure and glory. I cannot find satisfaction in life if I'm not bearing fruit!!! It's true. I've tried it and so have zillions of other people but to no avail. I must bear fruit to find contentment, satisfaction, and to bring pleasure to God. After all, the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Check it..

On his deathbed, Jacob referred to his favorite son Joseph:
"Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a well;
His branches run over the wall." Gen 49:22

Joseph was fruitful in every one of the ways I mentioned earlier. So, what's the secret of Joseph being fruitful? Simple: he was by a well. See, throughout the Word of God, the Bible is symbolized by water (Eph. 5:26). Joseph planted his roots in the waters of the scriptures. He grounded himself in God's truths and precepts. "He [the person that delights and meditates in the Word of God] shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in it season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper." Ps. 1:3
That's the key, Gang! The fruit naturally starts popping out as we're meditating on the Word of God. Joseph's roots were sunk deeply in the waters and it kept him from shriveling up and drying out.

Here's the key to this whole concept..

Jesus said in John 15

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away [or lifts up] and every branch that bears fruit He prunes [or washes], that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoke to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

The word for "takes away" is "airo" in the Greek. It means to lift up. In a vineyard, the vinedressers lift up any branch that is down in the mud and prop them up on a stick or something so that they can start bearing fruit. The ones that are already bearing fruit are pruned (or washed) so that they'll bear even more fruit. This is what God is doing with you and me. How? The very next sentence says "You are already clean because of the WORD..." That's it! As we ABIDE in Christ and let the waters of the Word wash through us, we'll produce fruit. Fruit cannot be faked (well, not for long). It just naturally starts popping out as we're attached to the Vine and receiving the waters of the Word.

The last part of Gen 49:22 mentions that Joseph's branches ran over the wall. The idea is that his fruitfulness affected people around him. (Actually, a whole nation was saved from famine because of Joseph, but that's for another day.) As you and I bear fruit, our families, coworkers, friends, and neighbors will get blessed and refreshed by that fruit.

We're never supposed to try, force, or strain to be fruitful. Just hang in there, Homie. Be a branch, hang in there, and abide in the Vine. Let His truths and scriptures permeate your life. Without even trying, you'll find yourself loving people and producing much fruit. God will be glorified. You'll be satisfied. People around you will be blessed and refreshed. Woot, woot.

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