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Fruit is not Optional

Fruit is not Optional

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, Jesus gives the crowd a parable.

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'”

Luke 13:6-9 NIV

I believe that the direct application of this is that Jesus was giving Israel a time-limit to accept Him as the Messiah. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and temporarily lost their place in the Holy Land.

There is, however, a more important application to the lives of God’s people. Beyond any question, God is looking for fruit in the lives of believers.

When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, He begins to transform us into Christ’s image. He wants us to live like Jesus did. This means that we bear spiritual fruit.

This fruit does not simply mean that we’re being nice people. You can be nice without the Holy Spirit’s help. The fruit that God is looking for is on a whole different level. The list of these characteristics is given in Galatians 5:22-23.

Back in 2017, I did a detailed series on each of these fruits. To read that series of posts, click here.

It should be clear from an understanding of the Fruit of the Spirit, that we need the power of God to fulfill them. The fruit are an outgrowth of a deepening walk with the Lord. The more time we spend with Him, the more we become like Him.

Unfortunately, there are those who read about this fruit, and feel that it would be nice to live like that, but I can’t work on that right now. We need to understand that bearing fruit is not optional. As a matter of fact, they’re not even something we can do by trial and error.

They’re called the fruit OF THE SPIRIT for a reason. They don’t come to us by disciplining our flesh. It’s not even a result of making up our mind to accomplish them. They can only spring from our spirit being led by the Holy Spirit.

You may think that Jesus is being judgmental with Israel in the above passage. You might feel that the Lord will look the other way as you do your own thing. What does the New Testament teach about this?

The writer of the book of Hebrews was speaking to a people who were under persecution. They were thinking about going back to Judaism. Listen to what he tells them.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

Hebrews 6:7-8 NIV

You may think this sounds hash. But, in reality, by rejecting the Fruit of the Spirit, you’re actually rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit in you. In that case, you’re in danger of losing the blessings of God in your life.

Jesus said that if we remain in Him, we will bear much fruit (John 15:1-8). He said that He was the vine, and we are the branches. If that’s the case, then you could say that the Holy Spirit is the life-giving sap running through every part.

If we block the work of the sap, then our branch will begin to wither. There will be no fruit, and it will be worthless as a part of the vineyard. No one want to be in that position.

Spend quality time in your relationship with the Spirit of God. Allow Him to continue His work in you. Then watch as your life produces the fruit that speaks to the glory of God.

Question: How fruitful is your life right now?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2022 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Thinking Like a Farmer

Thinking Like a Farmer

Over the past few posts, we’ve been in Luke’s Gospel, looking at the parable of the seed planted in different soils. The message Christ was focusing on should be clear. In order to prepare my heart for a great harvest, I must come to the realization that the Word of God must be the single crop in my heart.

This is what Scripture means by being single-hearted. When you have a single crop of the Word planted in your life, you’ve set yourself up for a plentiful harvest.

We have a spiritual epidemic across our nation. There’s an abundance of the Word of God, with very little fruit being produced. It’s time to weed out these distractions from the good, rich soil of our hearts. What we need is the mindset of a farmer when it comes to the Word of God.

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

Luke 8:15

It’s clear from this verse that in order to see the harvest, I must hear the Word with understanding – seeing that it applies to my life. I have to go beyond the person who lives too close to the road.

Mark records this in a little more detail.

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop — thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”

Mark 4:20

When Jesus tells us to retain it, He literally means that I must hold it down fast; keep it secure in my heart. It has to take root deeply in my life. I must go beyond those who have rocky soil.

According to Mark’s Gospel, we have to accept the Word. This means to associate with, delight in. If you delight in a crop, you’re going to keep it free of weeds. You don’t want anything choking it out.

The bottom line is that you must persevere. In actuality it’s never easy to keep a farm or a garden. It always requires tending.

I must come to the point where I acknowledge that the Word of God is everything to me. It’s the same principle as in the physical world.

In the past I’ve had a garden. The fresh tomatoes, peppers, and squash were a welcome sight throughout the summer and fall. I could proudly say, “This eggplant came from my garden.” Here’s the difference – I wasn’t a farmer. I enjoyed the fresh vegetables grown in my garden, but I didn’t need them in order to survive.

A true farmer, on the other hand, lives by what he grows. His livelihood is tied to the crops that he produces. His new car is a result of the crops he harvested. The renovations to his home are a result of the harvest. Everything he has is tied up in his ability to produce a bountiful crop.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Matthew 4:4

We must pick up this same mindset in regards to the Word of God. We live by the Word. Everything we need for life and godliness is all tied up in the Word. How I relate to the Word determines my destiny.

Hopefully, you can see by Christ’s teaching that it’s not just a matter of getting the seed into the ground. You can be planting huge amounts of seed and never see a single piece of fruit if you’re not following the basic principles of spiritual farming.

It’s all about getting the right seed into the right ground, then persevering to make sure that the seed can grow and produce fruit unhindered.

Question: How do you cultivate a “farmer’s mindset”?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Fruitfulness

Fruitfulness

As we go through the Gospel of Luke, we’re continuing in the Sermon on the Mount. Having talked about our walk with God and spiritual leadership, Jesus now gets to the heart of the matter.

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.”

Luke 6:43-44

In the natural, the concepts Jesus talks about here are so obvious that they could be considered funny.

“How do I know this is an apple tree?” “Because it’s full of apples!”

“I’m disappointed. I was checking in the weeds behind my house, but I couldn’t find any grapes.”

In the world, these things are self-evident. You know what kind of tree it is by the fruit growing on it. You only look for fruit on a fruit tree.

But, when it comes to spiritual matters, we get foolish. We forget that only good trees produce fruit. We seem to forget what the fruit is that we’re looking for.

There was a young teen in a Christian school, who over and over again made it clear that he didn’t want to follow Christ. One day he completed a writing assignment. It was a term paper about missionaries. It made his teachers cry. One of his teachers said through the tears,”See. I knew he was good. Look at this fruit.”

I’m sorry. I love that young man and hope he follows Christ. But, the art of paper writing is not spiritual fruit.

I’ve heard ungodly, atheistic performers, sing How Great Thou Art or Amazing Grace, and bring the crowd to tears. But, emotional singing is not spiritual fruit.

The Bible is clear on what we look for in a person’s life.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-24

These are the evidences of a life yielded to the Holy Spirit. This is what we look for in deciding if a life is producing fruit. Just because a plant has pretty flowers doesn’t make it any less poisonous.

The Lord continues with His explanation.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45

It all comes down to what you’re putting into your heart. Are you filling it with the Word of God? Or, do you pick up the attitudes and desires of the world? That makes all the difference.

There’s a term we learned in the early days of computing. GIGO – Garbage in, garbage out. It really applies here to our spiritual life.

The fact is that I can pretend to be “good” for the short term. I can act loving, or patient, or kind for a little while. However, producing the fruit of the spirit consistently, over the long term, requires a relationship with the Holy Spirit.

By the power of the spirit, our lives will naturally produce good fruit. I don’t have to force it any more than an orange tree has to force out the oranges. They grow simply because that’s the kind of tree it is.

Don’t waste your time trying to produce spiritual fruit by your own will power. It only comes by time spent with the Lord and His Word. Get that down into your heart. Then, watch as the fruitfulness of your life begins to increase.

Question: How much of the fruit of the spirit is evident in your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2022 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Squatters in God’s Kingdom

Squatters in God’s Kingdom

Over the next couple of weeks or so I’ll be on vacation. While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important. Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already. If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

What’s your purpose for being a part of God’s kingdom? Are you fulfilling that purpose? Jesus gives some parables to explain God’s priorities.

Today I’ll be looking at the Parable of the Vineyard as recorded in Mark chapter 12, verses 1 through 12. You may want to read it in Scripture before continuing with this post.

In this parable, Jesus tells of a man who owned a vineyard and rented it out to some farmers. According to the terms of the lease, the owner was to get a share of the harvest as payment. This was a normal agreement for property owners in those days.

It’s interesting to see that the owner did all the work to set up the vineyard. All the farmers needed to do was move in and start harvesting.

How does this relate to the kingdom of God? Simply put, the Lord is looking for fruit. It’s not about our church attendance, Bible reading, or even our tithing. He’s looking for the fruit of our relationship with the Holy Spirit that He placed within us.

During His ministry with the disciples, Jesus made this abundantly clear to them.

“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.”
John 15:5

What we have to understand is that this is not our kingdom, but God’s. Everything we have is owned by someone else. Even our very lives belong to the Lord.

Because of this, God is well within His rights to demand anything He wants from us. We know right from the outset that He’s looking for the fruit of the Spirit.

Please understand that the fruit of our relationship with Christ is for the benefit and refreshing of those around us. The fruit of the Spirit are not merely for my personal gain.

The tenants in the parable didn’t understand this. They wanted to keep everything for themselves.

We live in a society where we’ve been taught that in most places – restaurants, stores, etc. – it’s all about what I want or need. Somehow we’ve transferred this mindset into our spiritual life. When it comes to being a part of a local church; I base it on what I can get from it.

What services do you offer me and my family? Do I like the type of music and the length of the worship service? Do I enjoy the way the Pastor delivers his sermons?

Wait a minute!!! Why does God have me in His kingdom? Is it purely for my comfort and enjoyment? No! I serve at the Lord’s good pleasure.

The tenants in this parable made a great mistake. They figured that if they could get rid of the owner’s son, then they could take over the vineyard. After all, squatters have rights.

Too often, I’ve seen this attitude in God’s people. The Bible refers to it as godlessness. Yes, there are many godless Christians.

To be godless simply means that God and His will don’t figure into any of your decisions. You’re living as if there’s no God. These are the squatters in God’s kingdom. They’re living on God’s property as if it belongs to them.

If you’ve been guilty of this attitude, then it’s time to repent. Get back to the purpose you were saved for. We need to be producing the fruit of the kingdom.

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:8

Question: What are the fruits of the spirit that you have produced most recently?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2021 in Anointing, Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Law is not Your Friend

The Law is not Your Friend

We’re continuing our study through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. We’re looking at the example of a marriage in talking about our being set free from the law, sin, and death.

We are told, from this Scripture, that in Christ we died to these things and can now bear fruit to God.

For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.

Romans 7:5

This verse takes us back to when we were in the flesh. Paul now introduces this new concept. He uses the phrase, in the flesh, translated controlled by the sinful nature. He first used this term in Romans 6:19. But now he’s giving us some added details..

Remember that the flesh is the nature and will of the body. Paul told us, in chapter 6, that our major weakness is in our flesh. This is important for us to understand.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

In this verse, Paul literally says that I am crucified in Christ, yet I live in the flesh. This may sound like a paradox.

By faith, our flesh is crucified in Christ. This is the key point. Even though my flesh is crucified, I run into problems when I try to crucify only a part of it.

The devil wants you to concentrate on a small piece of the flesh. God wants the whole thing – that’s where your victory comes from so that you can live by faith in Him.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

2 Corinthians 10:3

The original text of this verse reads that we walk in the flesh. It tells us that though we walk in the flesh, we don’t strategize according to flesh. That’s because the flesh doesn’t want what God wants.

Looking back to Romans 7:5, we see how this works. The phrase translated, the sinful passions aroused by the law, literally means that the influence of sin was energized or empowered by the law.

The law gave sin all of its power along with the accompanying emotions, pleasure, and guilt. Of course it also included all of the conflict that we experienced.

At that time, the law and sin was our husband, spiritually speaking. This sin planted a seed in us. It was then activated by the law, and produced the fruit of death. (A list of this fruit is found in Galatians 5:19-21)

These are all the things that we look back and say, “How could I have done that?” It’s all rooted in being married to sin and the law. The law said, “Don’t do that.” The flesh responded, “Why not?”

Whenever you say, “I shouldn’t do that,” you’re planting a seed of death in your heart. The key is to stop trying not to do sinful things. Instead, start living by faith in Christ crucified.

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Romans 7:6

Here Christ is telling us that the only way out of prison is to die in Him. So, we died in Christ and now we’re raised in the Spirit. We’ve been resurrected into a new life apart from, freed from the law.

Now we can voluntarily choose to serve a new way, in the spirit. We no longer have to serve in the old, antiquated way of following a set of rules.

Question: Why does following a set of rules make it impossible to serve God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2021 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Producing Fruit

Producing Fruit

In my last post, we started looking at Paul’s example of the marriage. He was using it to explain how Christ set us free from the law, sin, and the world.

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.

Romans 7:4

This is the verse that we ended with. However, we hadn’t talked about the second half of the verse.

Paul makes it clear that we’ve been set free for a purpose. Now we can be fruitful toward God. Remember, this is in the context of using marriage as the example.

When we’re speaking about marriage, being fruitful is equivalent to having children. Gently put, it’s the seed of the man delivered into the life of the woman. This is another common illustration of Scripture.

Think about what Christ taught in His parable of the sower and the seed.

But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Matthew 13:23

Jesus was talking about a person who is receiving the seed of God’s Word. In terms of our discussion, I would say that the good soil is a life that’s lost connection with sin, the law, and the world.

This is in agreement with other verses we’ve been given.

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.

Colossians 1:6b

The Good News is the Word of God. Does it immediately bear fruit when you receive it? No, you must receive it and understand God’s grace working through it.

Think about it. Sometimes a group of believers are all attending the same church. They all hear same good news – the Word of God. Yet, in spite of this, only some bear fruit. That’s because they’re missing the grace ingredient.

That brings us to an obvious question; what’s the fruit? Jesus talked about it with His disciples.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

John 15:7-8

For every fruit in the natural, there’s a supernatural expression. Jesus had the ability to either provide money from His purse or the mouth of a fish. He made it clear that He could either buy a meal for 5000 people or break fish and bread to feed them all.

The fact is, as long as we’re content to serve in the natural, we have no need of intimacy with Christ. If we want to see the supernatural work of God through us, that will require the Word of God and His grace in us producing fruit.

That’s the real question. Do I want the glory; or do I want God to receive glory through my life? For God to be praised, I must allow His Word to work through me. I must develop intimacy with the Lord through His Holy Spirit.

Question: What does it take to allow God’s Word to produce fruit in us?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Divisions – Good and Bad

I’m continuing my series through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  At this point, the apostle begins a new subject.  He starts instructing them about their public meetings.

He opens this section with a statement that’s sure to get their attention.

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.
1 Corinthians 11:17-18

What a thing to say to a church.  You’re worse off when you meet together.  It sounds like he’s saying that if they continue this way, it would be better for them if they don’t meet.  What would cause Paul to say such a thing?

Over the next three and a half chapters, the apostle will explain it all to them…and us.  Let’s start at the beginning.

In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.  No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.
1 Corinthians 11:18-19

You might think that there were specific things that they were doing wrong.  There might also be some things that they should have been doing as a church but weren’t.  While these issues were definitely a part of it, the big problem was below the surface.

Paul uses an oxymoron to describe the situation.  What do I mean by that?  He said that when they come together…there are divisions.

On the surface, they’re all together.  They’re one church meeting in one place.  But under the surface they’re divided.  There are different groups and factions that happen to all be present at the same place.

They may seem like they’re acting together.  They pray, sing, and worship the same.  But within each grouping is a different perception and each has its own agenda.

Of course, Paul also makes it clear that not all differences are bad.  The phrase, differences among you, actually refers to differing choices.  Our character is manifest through the choices we make.

Jesus taught his disciples that they could discern people by their fruit.  The choices we make are the fruit that can be inspected.

It’s in this fruit that you can see the difference between someone who has God’s approval, versus those without it.  Unfortunately, God’s approval is something we don’t hear about very often these days.

God loves each of us unconditionally, but His approval is on a higher level.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

The way we show God’s approval is how we handle the Word that God has entrusted to us.  Have we applied it to our lives?  Or is it just a good suggestion?

There are differences between those who walk in God’s approval and those who don’t.  We need to take what we’ve heard, and use it to make the choices that bring glory to God.  That’s the fruit of a life that’s submitted to Christ.

Boldness is a characteristic of an approved believer.  Strive to hear the Word and put it into practice.  That’s the group you want to be a part of.

Question: What are some choices that you’ve made to apply God’s Word in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Christ – The Foundation

In my last post, I talked about the way that the Lord rewards us for fulfilling our callings.  They’re based on what Christ has planned for us.  Paul then explains how his ministry relates to the church.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:9

Paul understands that as a part of the 5-fold ministry, he can’t complete his calling by himself.  It will require supernatural assistance.  He sees himself as a co-worker with God.

But what’s the work which he and God are busy at?  He talks about two parts of church ministry.  The church is God’s field – that’s the production of fruit for the kingdom.  But the church is also God’s building.  I believe that’s talking about the growth of its structure.

We must have both if we’re going to be the witness the Lord wants us to be.  We must have both spiritual and numerical increase.

However, there’s one thing that Paul is very clear about.  It’s the basis of every function of the church.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:10-11

We’ve turned our lives over to the Lordship of Christ.  We’re in His hands.  He’s our foundation.  Without that groundwork, nothing we build will succeed.  It has to be based upon the work of Christ in us.

But how many Christians are actually building?  And what exactly is it that we’re supposed to build?

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8

Wow!  That sounds like a daunting task.  But remember, we’re building.  It doesn’t come together in an instant.  It’s worked on over time.

I’ve seen many impressive buildings in some of the cities that I’ve visited.  Some of them took years of planning and construction to complete their structures.  Don’t get upset that you aren’t perfect yet.

The Greek word, add, in the above Scripture means to choreograph over.  I think that’s a pretty interesting way to put it.  How do we build?  By choreographing or lives in deeper and deeper patterns.

It’s like a dancer learning all the moves needed for their recital.  Faith – goodness – knowledge – self-control – perseverance – godliness – brotherly kindness – love.

We have to transform our lifestyle into a more intricate choreography.  This takes the wisdom and the strength of God, especially when it involves many people working together.  That’s why we need the proper foundation.

The work of this building process is beyond our limited capabilities.  We need to yield to the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit within us.  That’s how we can begin building by faith.

In my next post, I’ll continue by talking about the final test of this spiritual building process.  If you haven’t yet done so, I encourage you to subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss any of the articles.

Question: How far along in the building process are you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Squatters in God’s Kingdom

What’s your purpose for being a part of God’s kingdom?  Are you fulfilling that purpose?  Jesus gives some parables to explain God’s priorities.

Today I’ll be looking at the Parable of the Vineyard as recorded in Mark chapter 12, verses 1 through 12.  You may want to read it in Scripture before continuing with this post.

In this parable, Jesus tells of a man who owned a vineyard and rented it out to some farmers.  According to the terms of the lease, the owner was to get a share of the harvest as payment.  This was a normal agreement for property owners in those days.

It’s interesting to see that the owner did all the work to set up the vineyard.  All the farmers needed to do was move in and start harvesting.

How does this relate to the kingdom of God?  Simply put, the Lord is looking for fruit.  It’s not about our Church attendance, Bible reading, or even our tithing.  He’s looking for the fruit of our relationship with the Holy Spirit that He placed within us.

During His ministry with the disciples, Jesus made this abundantly clear to them.

“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.”
John 15:5

What we have to understand is that this is not our kingdom, but God’s.  Everything we have is owned by someone else.  Even our very lives belong to the Lord.

Because of this, God is well within His rights to demand anything from us.  We know right from the outset that He’s looking for the fruit of the Spirit.

Please understand that the fruit of our relationship with Christ is for the benefit and refreshing of those around us.  The fruit of the Spirit are not merely for my personal gain.

The tenants in the parable didn’t understand this.  They wanted to keep everything for themselves.

We live in a society where we’ve been taught that in most places – restaurants, stores, etc. – it’s all about what I want or need.  Somehow we’ve transferred this mindset into our spiritual life.  When it comes to being a part of a local church; I base it on what I can get from it.

What services do you offer me and my family?  Do I like the type of music and the length of the worship service?  Do I enjoy the way the Pastor delivers his sermons?

Wait a minute!!!  Why does God have me in His kingdom?  Is it purely for my comfort and enjoyment?  No!  I serve at the Lord’s good pleasure.

The tenants in this parable made a great mistake.  They figured that if they could get rid of the owner’s son, then they could take over the vineyard.  After all, squatters have rights.

Too often, I’ve seen this attitude in God’s people.  The Bible refers to it as godlessness.  Yes, there are many godless Christians.

To be godless simply means that God and His will don’t figure into any of your decisions.  You’re living as if there is no God.  These are the squatters in God’s kingdom.  They’re living on God’s property as if it belongs to them.

If you’ve been guilty of this attitude, then it’s time to repent.  Get back to the purpose you were saved for.  We need to be producing the fruit of the kingdom.

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:8

Question: What are the fruits of the spirit that you have produced most recently?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2018 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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What’s Your Season?

We are now looking at the week before Christ’s death on the cross as recorded by Mark.  Jesus is in the area of Jerusalem and a lot is going on.  He spends the evenings in Bethany where some friends live.

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple.  He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Mark 11:11

Right after His triumphal entry into the city, the Lord goes to the Temple area and looks around.  I don’t think it was just a casual observing.  He was listening to the Father’s voice instructing Him what He was to do next.

Jesus must have been grieved by what He saw going on in the Temple.  As the feast of Passover was approaching, Jerusalem was the center of all the activity in Israel.  People were coming in from all over the world to worship here.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.  Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit.  When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.  Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”  And his disciples heard him say it.
Mark 11:12-14

This is one of those events in the life of Christ that many people ask about.  They don’t understand what’s happening or why Jesus cursed the tree.

Let’s work our way through it.  Jesus was in Jerusalem, watching the outward, lifeless trappings of religious people.  They were going through the motions, not because they were worshipping God, but because they were following the rules.

Jesus probably spent the next morning in prayer, as was His custom.  He heard the Father’s heart, breaking over the condition of His people.

As He and His disciple start heading back to the city, they’re hungry and ready for some breakfast.  Seeing a fig tree off in the distance, they’re checking to see if it has any fruit.  After all, it has plenty of leaves.

There’s one slight problem.  The Bible tells us that it’s not the season for figs.  Why would Jesus be upset at the tree if that’s the case?

This whole incident was a life-lesson for the disciples.  In many places in Scripture, Israel is likened to a fig tree.  Messiah had arrived on the scene.  It was the time for them to be producing fruit for the kingdom of God.

Instead, all Jesus saw was empty religion.  Everything was just for show.  A lot of leaves, but no fruit.

Many in Israel were starving, spiritually.  Yet those who were in leadership did nothing to fill the longing of their souls.  The priests of Israel were mostly just feeding their own egos.

What about us?  How do we apply this to our lives?  We need to hear the exhortation the Paul gave to Timothy.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.
2 Timothy 4:2

It doesn’t matter what season you’re in.  The time to produce fruit is when there’s a need.  That’s why we must always prepare.

Prayer, meditation on the Word, and intimate times with the Lord make us ready to produce kingdom fruit.  Don’t follow empty religion – all leaves and no fruit.  Time in the Lord’s presence prepares us for blessing others, whether we feel like it or not.

Question: When was a time that you produced fruit “out of season”?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2018 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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