True Christians Bear Fruit

Fruit

Israel was God’s chosen people. They were chosen by God to represent Him to the nation. As God’s chosen people they directly interacted with God, His prophets, and His chosen leaders. If anyone should know God’s will and what He expected of them, it should have been the Israelites.

But even though they knew God’s will and they looked promising, they didn’t live according to His commandments. They didn’t bear fruit. Sure, they were religious. They went to the Temple to worship. They said their prayers. They made sacrifices. They kept the religious festivals, but even in all that they weren’t obedient to God. They didn’t live according to His will because their heart wasn’t given to God.

Since Israel was unfruitful they faced God’s judgment just like the fig tree faced Jesus’ judgment when He found it didn’t bear any fruit in Matthew 21.

What Does Israel’s Actions Teach Us?

Israel’s actions teach 21st Century Christians it is not enough to be Religious. It is not enough to look the part. God doesn’t just want us to use spiritual language or do spiritual things. No, God wants more.

What God Wants

God wants us to give Him our hearts. He wants us to live for Him. He wants us to be a true follower of Jesus. He wants us to be someone who takes what He says and applies it to our lives. He wants us to bear fruit and bring glory to Him.

What Happens If We Don’t Bear Fruit?

If we don’t bear fruit and just live a life of religiosity, we are no better than the Israelites. And we will face the same fate they did – we will face God’s judgment.

A Plea

Don’t be like the Israelites. Don’t be like the fig tree. Truly bear fruit. Truly follow Jesus, that’s what it means to be a Christian. Being a Christian doesn’t just involve saying a prayer or being dunked in a baptistry. Being a Christian means giving your whole life to Jesus. When you give your life to Jesus and follow Him, you will bear fruit.

What Do You Do?

Have you given your life to Jesus? Do you live according to God’s will? Do you follow Jesus? Or do you just come to church on Sunday and do some religious activities because you think you have to in order to appease God, your spouse, or your family? Which one are you?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you the true follower of Jesus who bears fruit?
  2. Or are you the religious person who bears no fruit?

Resources

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Post adapted from my most recent sermon: The Unexpected Enacted Parable of Jesus

Why Don’t We Pray?

Prayer

Prayer is something we as the church don’t do often enough.

In his book, Dynamics of Spiritual Life Richard Lovelace provides several elements needed for renewal and revival. One of these elements is Dependent Prayer. In his section on dependent prayer, he writes this:

If all regenerate church members in Western Christendom were to intercede daily simply for the most obvious spiritual concerns visible in their homes, their workplaces, their local churches and denominations, their nations, and the world and the total mission of the body of Christ within it, the transformation which would result would be incalculable.

Not only would God certainly change those situations in response to prayer – we have Christ’s word that if we ask in his name he will do more than we ask or think – but the church’s comprehension of its task would attain an unprecedented sharpness of focus.

Perhaps much of our prayer now should simply be for God to pour out such a spirit of prayer and supplication in the hearts of his people.

I believe Lovelace hits the nail on the head. Prayer is powerful. Prayer changes things. Even though we know that, we don’t focus on prayer.

Why Don’t We Pray?

(1) We don’t realize our special position as God’s children

Those of us who are Christians have been adopted as God’s children. Paul says in Galatians 4:

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:4-6)

Christians are God’s children. As God’s children, we have a personal intimate relationship with God. A relationship that gives us direct access to God.

Since we are God’s children, we shouldn’t hesitate to draw near to our King in prayer. But many do. Many hesitate to come to God in prayer. I think it is because they don’t recognize what they have. They don’t recognize the special position and ability they possess as God’s children to come boldly into His throne room.

(2) Our fallen nature constantly pulls us away from prayer

Sinners don’t want anything to do with God. They want to be as far from God as possible.

Even after we are redeemed by Jesus, we still have a sinful nature with which to contend. A sinful nature that would rather us not go to the Lord in prayer.

(3) Our culture pulls us away from prayer

Since the Enlightenment in the 1800’s, things have been lumped into two categories – Feelings and Facts. Prayer, and spiritual things in general, was put into the feelings categories – something we might believe to be true, but aren’t able to prove scientifically.

The feelings category is subjective. When things are made to be subjective, they don’t feel real. Instead they feel phony, which is exactly what elites and influencers of culture say about prayer. It’s phony. It’s something only fanatics do. Us educated types don’t need prayer.

Our culture propagates that idea. Open any influential newspaper – New York Times, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal – and you will see what I mean.

So another reason we don’t prayer is because our culture is constantly pulling us away from it.

(4) We are dependent on ourselves

We believe we can do life without God, that we can handle things on our own. Our results are because of our expertise, talents, and hard work, not God.

When we think in this way, praying seems nice but unnecessary. After all money can do the same thing prayer does, but in less time. So instead praying, we work extra hard to insure success. In this way, we show we depend on ourselves and not God.

(5) We believe we don’t have the time

Culture, especially Western Culture, has taught us time is money. Time idle is time wasted. It is time money could be made. Since prayer is often seen as idle time, it is put on the back burner.

Prayer, however, isn’t idle time. Time spent on our knees is invaluable. Our God is the sovereign Creator and Ruler of all things. So time praying isn’t wasted time. It isn’t idle time. It is instead something we can’t afford not to do.

Conclusion

So as we see there are a number of reasons we don’t pray. Those reasons run the gamut from us not understanding our position before God, to sin pulling us away, to culture’s influence, to self-dependence, or to thinking it is not worth our time. I am sure there are many more, so share your thoughts in the comments.

Question for Reflection

  1. What others reasons would you provide for our lack of prayer?

Resource

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Dynamics of Spiritual Life by Richard Lovelace

On Christmas

On this side of eternity, Christmas is still a promise. Yes, the Savior has come, and with him peace on earth, but the story is not finished. Yes, there is peace in our hearts, but we long for peace in our world.

Every Christmas is still a “turning of the page” until Jesus returns. Every December 25th marks another year that draws us closer to the fulfillment of the ages, that draws us closer to…home.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you long for peace in the world this Christmas?
  2. Do you long for home?

Resources

Joni Eareckson Tada, A Christmas Longing, 137 via Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus edited by Nancy Guthrie

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