“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
To bear fruit, you first need a seed. That seed then needs to be planted in fertile soil. However, that alone will not bring you a harvest. Without water, plants do not grow. Without a source of life, trees and vines cannot bear fruit. The same is true for us believers. We need a source that will continue to feed us until we bear fruit. Jeremiah says that source is the Lord.
Trees draw water up from their roots and use some of the water, combined with sunlight and carbon dioxide to create plant food and oxygen. That’s called photosynthesis. The rest of the water is used in a process called transpiration. Essentially this means the water flows through the tree, ignoring pesky things like gravity, and hydrates its branches and leaves. Finally, the remaining water is released as moisture back into the atmosphere, where it becomes rain and restarts the cycle. Why am I giving you a science lesson? Because it can help us understand what happens when we draw from our source, God.
The “water” that we draw from God is faith. Jeremiah said the one who trusts in the Lord is like a tree who spreads out its roots to the stream. When we pull that faith from the stream of living water multiple things happen at once.
- Faith begins to rise in our life despite circumstance that should keep it down — the same way the water defies the laws of gravity during transpiration.
- That faith is a refreshment to our soul that brings us peace and confidence during the drought. The same way trees use that water to hydrate their leaves and branches.
- Photosynthesis takes two essential elements of life (sunlight + water) and poisonous gas (carbon dioxide) and turns it into food for the plant and oxygen which is used by all life around it. In the same way, when the water of our faith and the light of God’s grace mix with the toxic circumstances of this life, there is a hope that is created that feeds our soul and breathes life into a world that is gasping for air.
Without water there is no photosynthesis, there is no transpiration. Without those things, there will be no fruit. We need living water. That only comes from one source. Where are you drawing your faith from today? Is it in the world, yourself, or the Everlasting Stream?
This past spring my wife really wanted sunflowers in our backyard. So I set out to make her vision a reality. I went to the garden center and bought some seeds. I mapped out the garden and determined the best place to put them. There was a spot in my yard where they would get ample sunlight and would have an opportunity to thrive. So I dug up some holes and planted the seeds. I watered and waited; nothing happened. Not one of the seeds turned into a sunflower. What did I do wrong? Well, the one thing that I didn’t take into account was the soil. I planted my seeds in an area of my yard that was too close to a big tree. It was also too close to a patch of ground covering ivy. My seeds never stood a chance. From the beginning, they were in a constant struggle for water and resources. It was a battle they, unfortunately, couldn’t win.
This happens in our lives too. In order to grow, the seeds that Jesus is planting in our lives need to be planted in good soil. Jesus talked about this in Luke 8 in the Parable of the Sower. He talks about three different types of soil. The first is rocky soil. Jesus says that these are people who hear the word and receive it with joy but fall away when the time of testing comes because they have no root. The second is among the thorns. These are the people who hear the word but are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they never mature. Last is the good soil. These are the people who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
We obviously all want to be the good soil. Our goal is to abide in Jesus, stay attached to the vine, persevere and bear fruit. But unfortunately, not all of us have good healthy soil. If we remain the same, the seed that Jesus is planting will either dry up or be choked out. The good news is that we don’t have to remain the same. God desires for all to come to a knowledge of Him. That means that we all can have good soil, with a little work. God wants to work with you to clean up your soil this year. 2019 will be the year that we stop getting distracted by worries and things of this world. Our focus will be on God, our all in all. What are the distractions in your life that are keeping you from producing fruit? If you don’t know then take some time today and ask God to reveal to you what your soil looks like. He will be faithful to respond.
At the center of every fruit is a seed. Go ahead, bust open that apple, banana, or orange you brought for lunch. At its center, there will be a seed. As believers, it’s our job to bear fruit; similar to real fruit, it starts with a seed. You won’t exactly find these seeds in an aisle of your local garden center, so what do we do? Well, Jesus tells us the answer in John 15:3.
“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” – John 15:3
The seed at the center of our fruit is the word of God. Our lives will be barren without the word of God. A couple of quick things to note:
- First, Jesus is the one who plants the seed. This takes a lot of weight off of our shoulders. To bear fruit worthy of a holy God, we need a seed that is holy. By our own merit, we could never plant that seed. Thankfully, Jesus takes that responsibility for us. He plants a word of life, that can produce fruit that is pleasing to God. His blood is speaking a “better word” in our lives, that purifies us and makes us clean.
- Second, Jesus has already planted the seed. Which means we’ve already been given what is necessary to produce fruit. We cannot earn it or work for it. Jesus has freely spoken that word in our lives, that we would be made clean.
There are a couple of ways we can apply this as we pursue fruitful lives in 2019. (1) If we want to be actively producing fruit, we must be actively seeking out the word of God. Let’s dig deeper (pardon the pun) in the word this year. Let’s seek Him while he may be found and watch as we reap a harvest in our life that is one hundred fold. (2) In our life, we are meant to bear fruit but we aren’t meant to do it alone. That means that we must help each other. The only way we can do that is by keeping the word of God at the center. The word of God must be at the center of teachings, encouragement, rebukes, and corrections. If we can do that, we will establish ourselves as a church that bears fruit. Then we will experience an outpouring of God’s spirit like never before.
Our theme for 2019 is Bear Fruit. It is a commonly used phrase in both the secular world and the church. It comes from a passage in John 15:1-8, in which Jesus gives us an illustration of the relational roles that belong to us believers, Jesus, and the Father. Jesus says, “I am the vine, my Father is the gardener….you are the branches.” (v. 1; v.5 NIV). His illustration creates an incredible picture of a vineyard. Have you ever visited a farm or property where everything, as far as you can see, belongs to the farmer? You look out and see fields of corn, or beans, that stretch across what seems like thousands of acres. This is what I picture in my mind. A vineyard that is never-ending, and in that vineyard there is one vine from which all things grow. One vine that connects every branch; one vine, intertwined with the foundations designed by the farmer.
In Jesus’ illustration, Jesus is the vine whose job is to grow. The Father is the gardener, his job is to prune and maintain the vineyard. We are the branches, our job is to bear fruit. Both the Farmer and the Vine will do their jobs. They will never fail. However, the branches can fail. Not every branch on the vine will bear fruit, which leaves the branches with two possible outcomes. (1) Bear fruit and be pruned back for more growth or (2) fail to bear fruit and be cut down from the vine. If we are the branches, that leaves us with two possible results for our lives. We can bear fruit and stay within the fold of God or fail to bear fruit and be separated from the presence of God for eternity. The reason our theme for 2019 is Bear Fruit, is because nothing could be of greater importance. Our goal,as believers and as a church, is to stay connected to the vine. To do that we must do one thing and one thing alone: Bear Fruit.
During this Week of Prayer, our focus is on the factors that contribute to fruit bearing. In order for a tree or plant to bear fruit, all of the conditions must be right. Anybody with a garden will tell you that. If one element is off, it could result in a barren tree. Our devotional this week will highlight a couple of key factors for a fruit-bearing life. During your prayer time this week, take an inward look at your life and determine if you are, indeed, bearing fruit. Then, follow along with us as we study the essentials of a fruitful life.