Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bearing Fruit

"to bring forth branches, and bear fruit"
Ezekiel 17:8

The Bible talks a lot about fruit.  There's the fruit in the Garden, in Genesis.  And there are some fruit trees mentioned in Leviticus.  There's that great passage in Numbers where Moses sends some men (including Joshua and Caleb) to spy on the land they are going to inherit.  And he specifically asks them to bring back some of the fruit of the land.  I think that was so wise of him; he was clearly giving some good thought to finding out what it will be like to live in the land.  But I also get a kick out of the way it's phrased in the Bible.

Starting in Numbers 13, verse 17, Moses gives the spies their marching orders ~ now, I want you to read this with imagination, with expression.  Picture the spies, bags in hand, ready to leave on their mission.  It's dangerous, it's important, and it's for God.  Moses is authoritative, and the the spies are taking his words to heart.  Are you picturing this very solemn scene?  He said:  "Go up ... and see what the land is like:  whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds, whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not."

And then He gives them one last ~ seemingly ~ instruction.  "Be of good courage."

Now, in my mind, that's the last word.  That's the last instruction you want to give someone when they're about to do something dangerous and daunting, right?  Be of good courage.  And I picture the spies turning to leave, feeling the full weight of their mission.

And then Moses adds that last bit:  "And bring some of the fruit of the land." 

Love it.  It's like me, when the Apple of my Eye heads out to get milk or dog food, and as he's pulling out of the driveway, and I'm waving after him, I shout, "oh, and get some fruit!" 

Scripture also mentions fruit when it talks about fig trees and apple trees.  I wonder, though, when the Bible talks about fruit, if it's including tomatoes?  Or are they a vegetable?  Hmmm....

But the Bible also talks about fruit from the spiritual standpoint.  That which we're producing in our lives.  Galatians 5:22-23 talks about the fruit of the Spirit, which are manifest in us when we walk in Him.  James 3:18 says "the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."  If you do a search for the word fruit in the Bible, you'll get a lot of hits.  To bear fruit is to accomplish something.  It is to live a life for Him, and get results ~ the kind of results that bring Him glory.

Now, bearing fruit is a challenge for us.  By that, I don't mean that it's difficult, I simply mean that we can't do it without some work on our part.  Prayer, serving, living your life with eye to His will.  That will produce fruit.  But it is a challenge.

And yet, here's the secret.  You ready?

John 15:4

"Abide in Me, and I in you."

I know.  It's so simple sounding.  But it comes with a promise.

"Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine.  Neither can you, unless you abide in Me."

The branch cannot bear fruit of itself.

So don't try.

 ~ "Herein is my Father glorified, 
that ye bear much fruit" ~
John 15:8

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