Tag Archives: fruit

Have We Forgotten Part of Christmas?

We celebrate God’s great gift at Christmas, but have we misunderstood it?

Inspired by his love, God has given his Son Jesus to be our Savior. The value of this gift is beyond calculation. Is there nothing that we can or should do in response?

Jesus and his sacrifice at Calvary are the essence of God’s amazing grace. Given 10,000 lifetimes we could never do enough good deeds to earn such an astounding act of mercy and its eternal blessings. And if we could earn it, God’s grace would no longer be a gift, right?

In Jesus’ own teaching we find an important aspect of his God-given mission that we dare not miss. During a conflict with the Jewish religious leaders just days before his crucifixion, our Lord told a parable that reveals something vital about a healthy relationship with the God of grace.

In Jesus’ parable a landowner entrusts his vineyard to tenant farmers. The farmers refuse to turn over the fruit of the vineyard when the landowner sends his servants to collect. They even kill the landowner’s son when he comes for the harvest.

The landowner represents God, the farmers are the religious leaders, and the son is Jesus. God sent Jesus looking for spiritual fruit from the Jewish religious leaders, but they rejected him, even plotting against him and having him crucified.

Jesus warns these religious leaders that God’s kingdom will be taken away from them and given to a people who will produce its fruit. The new people who take up responsibility for God’s kingdom is the Christian church. As followers of Jesus, we are now the farmers in God’s vineyard, blessed with the opportunity and honor of producing fruit for God.

God’s desire for spiritual fruit from his people is a common theme in Jesus’ teaching. A tree is known by its fruit. Only a good tree can bear good fruit. A tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

But what does the fruit represent? First, a holy life. God is holy and his people are to live holy lives. When God’s people live holy and righteous lives in an unholy and unrighteous world, they bear testimony to God’s goodness, shining like light in a dark place.

In addition to a holy life, God expects his people to be faithful witnesses. God entrusts his word to his people. His word is not meant to be hidden away like a lamp under a bowl. It is meant to be scattered like seed, finding receptive hearts and bearing fruit for eternal life.

God gives us his kingdom, an astounding expression of his marvelous grace. We did nothing to earn the honor of working in his kingdom. But fruitful labor in God’s vineyard is the proper response to God’s grace. God’s grace is not meant to lie fallow in our lives, idle and useless.

Jesus said, “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.” We need not fear failure. With Christ as our source we will share in a great harvest, an eternal victory.

As we rejoice over God’s great gift this Christmas let’s also remember and celebrate the fact that God has blessed us with fruitful labor in his eternal kingdom. The proper response to the gift of Jesus is to give ourselves to God in service.

May God’s Spirit enable us to bear much fruit for his kingdom,

Brother Richard

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Why Be Optimistic About the Future of the Gospel?

Our culture’s attitude toward Bible-believing Christians seems to be increasingly intolerant. The ancient beliefs handed down for generations of God’s people are being met with disapproval from the society in which we live.

The Bible still asserts, the Holy Spirit still affirms, and we still avow that faith in Jesus is the only way to peace with God and eternal life, that apart from Christ we are condemned to eternal hell, that God’s design for marriage and family is one man and one woman fully and freely committed to one another for life, raising their kids together and enjoying their grandkids, that life is precious and should not be taken from babies still in their mothers’ wombs, and that God made us in his image: male and female.

I could give additional examples but this is more than enough to start a good fight nowadays. At times it seems as if the whole world is rejecting Christianity. Why be optimistic about the future of the gospel in such a negative environment?

Jesus’ disciples probably asked a similar question. They watched as Jesus faced stiff opposition from the leaders of their culture. They must have wondered about the future of his mission and message. Jesus addressed their concerns with a parable.

A man sowed seed, some on hard ground and birds snatched it up, some in rocky soil and it sprang up but dried out, some among thorns where it was choked, and some on good soil. Only the good soil bore fruit.

Jesus’ disciples asked him what this parable means. Jesus said that the seed represents God’s word and the soils are people’s hearts. Some people have hard hearts. When they hear God’s word Satan comes and snatches away the message that is ‘sown’ in their hearts.

Some people are shallow. They give up on God’s kingdom message when things get tough. Still others are distracted. They are pulled away by wealth or worries.

But some people have hearts that are ready to receive God’s kingdom message. Like the good soil that receives the seed and bears fruit, these people receive God’s word and bear spiritual fruit for God’s kingdom.

What is Jesus telling us? First of all, he is letting us know that many people, perhaps most people, will reject God’s message of salvation. For those who must always be in the mainstream of popular culture, this is a problem. Jesus’ followers are typically a minority.

Jesus never promises us majority status in this age. Quite the contrary, when talking about his Second Coming, Jesus even asks if he will find faith on the earth when he returns.

Jesus seems to paint a rather bleak picture! Why follow him and endure so much rejection? Why promote a message that Jesus himself predicts will be so unpopular?

Jesus’ parable gives the answer. Some hearts will receive the ‘seed’ of God’s kingdom message and bear fruit. God always has his remnant. Our efforts for the gospel will bear fruit despite the resistance.

In addition, bearing fruit points to the harvest. In the Bible harvest is a symbol for that great day of celebration at the end of this age. It is a day when we will see God face to face. Like farmers enjoying the crops for which they labored so hard, we will share in the joy of God’s kingdom victory.

Jesus is optimistic about the future of the gospel. We can and should be, too.

May God give us hearts that bear fruit for his kingdom,

Brother Richard

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