Friday, September 23, 2011

Tending Our Gardens: Got Fruit?

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

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!" Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not dout in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11: 20-24

Last year, I planted pumpkin seeds in my little backyard garden. Instead of big orange pumpkins during harvest time, all I had were big pretty flowers. This year my cucumber plants produced an abundance of little yellow flowers. Every day, I would go out and look for the signs of a cucumber growing. But just like last year with my expected pumpkin harvest, this year my cucumber plants produced no fruit, just flowers.

Jesus is also looking for fruit in the lives of those who call on his name.

“So, my brother, 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)”

But are we producing fruit or just flowers?

In our lives and in our churches is Jesus finding the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) or the acts of the sinful nature: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21)?

What is fruit?

Fruit is the product of growth. Fruit is the part of the plant we can eat. Fruit carries the seed. Fruit is the consequence of an action or operation. Fruit is synonymous with results.

Why do we need it?

Nourishment—We need fruit to survive. Fruits provide nourishment. What we need to live and grow is in the fruit. Fruit provides life.

Reproduction—the seed is in the fruit. If we don’t have seed, we cease to exist. If we don’t have seed we cannot make more fruit.

Seed represents hope, future growth, inheritance, offspring, life.

In the parable of the four soils, Jesus said the seed is the word of God. Seed represents life. God’s word brings life. God’s word brings nourishment.

What happens when we don't have fruit?

When Jesus came upon the fig tree that had no signs of fruit, he cursed it. When Jesus and the disciples returned, the tree had withered and died. There is a judgment for unfruitfulness.

As John the Baptist told the Pharisees and Sadducees, “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 3:10

Jesus also told a parable about an unproductive fig tree (Luke 13:6-9). In that parable the owner of the vineyard said to cut the tree down so it wouldn't take up valuable space. But the gardener asked for more time to "dig around it and fertilize it."

If we respond to the Master Gardener's care and prepare and fertilize the soil, we can bear fruit--godly lives that nourish others and reproduce for the kingdom. There is a cure for unfruitfulness and it starts with prayer and repentance.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)”

Our land needs healing. And the only way the land can be healed and good fruit can be produced is if the people who are called by his name humble ourselves, pray, repent and produce fruit.

We need fruit. We need a harvest. And if we want to produce fruit, we’re going to have to fast, pray and repent. That gets the land ready. Then we’re going to have to get busy tending our gardens so that we can have a harvest.

Next week: Fruit production: How to have a harvest

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