How to be a fruit bearer

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Support among brothers

Faith

Love

2nd Peter 3: 5 … make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 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. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

 

We often wonder what we should do as Christians to advance in our faith and spread the kingdom. I know that I have often looked at my life and wondered, where’s my fruit? What is it that God is doing through me that he considers fruitful? 2Peter 5:9 gives us a short list of things to accomplish as Christians to become fruitful so I’ve broken it down to make it easier to understand.

 

The Criteria:

 

–          Faith

–          Knowledge

–          Self-control

–          Perseverance

–          Godliness

–          Mutual Affection

–          Love

 

So you start with Faith. Every believer has nothing if they have no faith in the Lord.

 

Faith = the branch

 

But faith is not enough to be fruitful. It’s good and we must build our foundation upon it so that we cannot be shaken. The Lord is God, Jesus did reclaim us, Holy Spirit has come, and We are his. Faith.

 

Next you must add knowledge upon your faith.

 

Faith + Knowledge = the node where buds form

 

Without knowledge of the Holy, how can you understand what you have faith in? We should seek to always increase our knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven because we do not have enough. With knowledge of God comes understanding and more faith is gained.

 

Faith + Knowledge + Self-control = budding flowers

 

After knowledge is Self-control. Now that Faith and Knowledge are secured, they must lead to action. Controlling oneself comes after knowledge simply because you didn’t know what was expected before. Self-control is exercising faith in the Father based upon the knowledge you have received. Self-control is also more than keeping yourself from doing what is wrong; it is also doing that which is right. Paul once said that he “beat his body” so that he could run the race and run it well. Runners prepare for races not only by avoiding things that will hinder them but also by doing things that will make them stronger, even if it hurts or is uncomfortable.

 

Faith + Knowledge + Self-control + Perseverance = Full grown flowers

 

To continue with the running metaphor, runners not only do things that are uncomfortable (training), they also do it a lot. The conditioning of one’s body is a long process and in order to achieve success, you must persevere. You must continue training all the way until a race in order for your training to be effective and to have the greatest ability strength when the time comes to run. So, Christian, continue seeking the knowledge of God and becoming a master over your mind and body. By doing this you will be transformed into a champion, sure of God, understanding Him, and pleasing to His eye. But there is still yet more to becoming fruitful.

 

Faith + Knowledge + Self-control + Perseverance + Godliness = Pollination

 

Now that the body has been mastered and the faith is unshakable, the life is transformed and the mind begins to understand the creator. After all that, you must seek to add Godliness. Our example of Godliness is easily found in Jesus, and then followed by Paul, John, Peter and the rest of the apostles and disciples. These men fed the hungry, healed the sick, mended the broken, taught the good news of Christ, and altogether lived godly lives. They acted in a way that was no longer only inward growth but had also become outward growth. They showed people what it was like to be a follower of the Living God. They pursued the Lord and persevered in it. They lived through the trials and pain and reaped the first harvest for the Lord.

 

Faith + Knowledge + Self-control + Perseverance + Godliness + Mutual Affection = Growing Fruit

 

Now we reach probably one of the most rewarding parts of this whole process. Perhaps one of the greatest things we seek is to be loved by others. In all my years, I have never experienced anything better than knowing that I was wanted, that others cared weather I showed up, or that I was feeling well. I have never experienced a time better than when I could live and laugh and love with others. The best part is that this becomes even better when everyone is adding unto themselves all of the previously mentioned attributes. Soon they begin to have one heart after the Lord, seeking his face, knowing his love, and expressing it amongst themselves. Indeed, Mutual Affection is essential in the Kingdom. One of the hardest times in my life was when I lived in Charlotte, my community was in Clemson, and I could commit to neither. This kept me from loving others effectively as well as receiving love from them.

 

Now at this point, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep each of the criteria separate and we must add the final ingredient to bearing true fruit for the kingdom.

 

Faith + Knowledge +Self-control + Perseverance + Godliness+ Mutual Affection + Love = Full Grown, Ripe Fruit

 

Now that all has been done and everything achieved we add love. This gives us the ability to do and share life with fellow Christians and to share life with those who have not yet believed. When we add love, we cannot help but to bear fruit. With love all that was previously turned within can be poured out so that we can then raise up those who come after us. Paul said that if we have not love, we have nothing. Indeed we are but clanging cymbals. Love is the standard by which we can measure our motives and we love because he first loved us.

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The Faithfulness of God

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Have you ever wondered, why can’t I feel God? or Where was God when…?

He was there. Quite often we forget his complete otherness, his holiness, and assume that he’s going to do what we want him to do. But quite often he tells us that this is not the case. One of the main things that he says about himself is that he is who HE is. No matter what we think he should be he remains who he really is. How wonderful! So often we look at ourselves or our friends and wish that they would just be who they are. How wonderful it is that God, despite a multitude of pressures from us, is exactly who he is! This causes God to be the one we call The Rock. Because he will always be who he will always be, we can then go to him for help or security and always he will be exactly who he is. For this reason David called God his fortress. And yet, we continue to say “why did God do ____?” or “When will God help me?”

Surely he will do the things he promises. Surely if he says, “I will give you wisdom if you ask.” He will give you wisdom! Surely if he says, “Seek me and you will find me.” He will be there when you look for him. For it is not the distance of God from us but the blindness to him that causes us to feel like we are far from him. So often we close our eyes to God and imagine that he’s not there but, faithful, he remains. Rejoice in that!

It was by his faithfulness that God rescued us from us. He never left us even though he said we would surely die for our sins. Instead he made it possible for him to take on flesh and die for us so that we wouldn’t have to. Before he sent Christ into the world he was silent for 400 years, but he was never far from us and when the time was right he showed up in such a way that none could have predicted. He chose the lowest of births to bring about the greatest of rebirths. What faithfulness! He suffered the most horrible death humans have ever managed to produce just so we wouldn’t have to suffer any death. He didn’t do this because he liked to suffer. He did it because he couldn’t bear for us to suffer. Finally, one way to look at it, he was so faithful to his relationship with us and to giving life that he returned from death just to be with us. He did these things because we could not. That is truly good news.

Now when we feel that he is far away it is often that we have turned from him rather than he from us. Trust that he is who he says he is and you will never be far from him. Trust that his promises are going to be fulfilled and you will have nothing to doubt. Remain faithful to him during hardship and he will lift you out of the mire. For our God is a faithful god and truly he is good.

Psalm 63

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A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.

9 Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
and become food for jackals.

11 But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God will glory in him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
———

I’ve been reading through the psalms lately for the first time just to see what can be seen and hear what praises were lifted to God in the old days. Psalm 63 has blessed me because David did not simply sit at home and wait for God to come to him. He went out into the desert, the wilderness, and waited upon the Lord there where nothing could fulfill him but the Lord. I long to take a similar trip into the wilderness to seek the Lord. Soon I will spend a short period of time in the wilderness here which is abundant with water and meat but also with dangerous beasts, poisonous plants, and potentially undrinkable water.

My desire is to meet with God and to think about him day and night. May this be my prayer and my action.