Labor

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28

Prayer week is coming to a close. From this point, we go off into the new year and attempt to bear fruit. We try and take this attitude of prayer and make it a daily part of our life. Everything we’ve discussed this week: the seed, soil, source, climate; everything that goes into growth becomes more than ideas. They become functional parts of our 2019 life. These ideas become work. They become labor.

It’s fitting that the final factor of growth is labor. Without labor, there will be no fruit. Without someone to pull the spiritual weeds and prune the dead branches the vine will die. The work of the laborer belongs to the Father in John 15. He is the gardener. That doesn’t leave us without labor. Instead, it means that we are not alone in our struggle. We have a strength unlike any other that flows through us and bears our burdens.

This year as you try to bear fruit in your life. As you plant the seed of truth in the fertile soil of your heart; as you plant yourself by the source that never runs dry and you become an influencer of your climate, remember that you are not alone. You don’t have to labor by your own strength. You have a God who empowers you. Without whom, we would be barren. But by the power of God, the same power that raised Christ from the grave, we persevere, we grow, and we bear fruit.

Climate

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” – Psalm 1:1-3

I live in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. Here in the midwest, we often brag about how we get to experience all four seasons. Those California folks must suffer every day with their constant sunny, 70-degree weather. 😉 In all seriousness, I really do love experiencing the crisp fall, frigid winter, rainy spring, and hot and humid summer. I embrace that. But that comes with certain expectations. For example, there are trees, plants, fruits, and vegetables that I will never get to see, smell, taste or grow. The reality is the climate of my home makes it impossible for some of those things to grow.

The same is true for our spiritual growth. We can plant the right seeds, in the right soil, and provide all the water and nutrients we can, but if the climate is not right for growth, we will not bear fruit. Our climate is what we surround ourselves with; the mediums that have an impact on our daily life. I’m talking about our friends, family, work, podcasts, music, blogs, television, social media, or movies. Those things influence our thoughts, words, and actions.

Some of those can be changed by merely making a choice not to indulge in them. If the movies/television that you watch cause you to stumble, turn them off. If the music you listen to fills your mind with immoral thoughts, turn it off. If your podcasts or blogs distract you from the place God has you in, choose a different blog that feeds your spirit. If social media causes you to judge others, be envious or your friends, or argue with strangers, do whatever it takes to remove that influence.

This isn’t a commercial for KLove or Christian Movies. If the things you watch, read, or listen to do not influence you negatively then there is no need to change. But before you write it off, take a good hard look, and you might be surprised how much they do impact your life.

Remember, the branch that doesn’t produce fruit gets cut off. There can be no stragglers in the Kingdom. There are no fruitless branches on the vine. So if the climate of your life does not promote growth, change your climate.

Now there are factors that you cannot change. Your friends, family, and workplace are not as easy to cut off. Those are relationships. They are an essential part of being a human. But they can still negatively influence you. So how do we change that climate? Well, we change it by introducing Jesus to that climate. Jesus brings light to the dark places. He takes filth and makes it clean. We become the agent of change. We become the influencer.

During your prayer time today, think about your climate. Does it promote growth? If it doesn’t, maybe 2019 is a year of change.