Friday, September 12, 2014

September 12 – Figs from thistles

You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.  (Matthew 7:16-20   NET)

An orange farmer in Florida expects every tree in his orchard to produce a certain number of oranges of a particular quality.  His business depends on it.  If any trees under produce, or produce no fruit at all, he would cut them down and replace them with trees that would produce like all the rest.  We wouldn’t call him cruel for doing that because he has every right to expect fruit from his trees.  He wouldn’t expect oranges from the palm tree in his front yard, or from his rose bushes.  But his orange trees have to produce oranges.

Jesus’ argument is just as obvious as the one about oranges; it’s a very simple truth that no one would argue with.  Even a child would understand these concepts.  And yet, when we apply these ideas to salvation and faith, to knowing God, to doubt and fear, and demons, people get very confused.  For some reason, people are not as logical when it comes to their behavior and habits, to the question of whether or not they are saved.  Some people claim to know God and to be absolutely sure of their salvation while they are involved in terrible sins and have habits that no child of God would ever allow.

Fruit is the yardstick of our walk with God.  It reveals whether or not we are free from demons, and when we are baptized with the Holy Spirit.  Like the farmer, we should expect to see fruit when we surrender our lives to God, when we use our faith, when we seek God’s presence. It’s not enough to attend church, pray, sing songs, smile at our friends, and pretend to be good Christians.  If God is truly living inside us we will see fruit like we have never seen before, fruit that cannot be faked or manufactured by our flesh.  When Jesus said that figs are not gathered from thistles He was referring to a plant that no only cannot produce figs, but cannot produce any kind of fruit.  God’s peace and joy has never been felt by people living for their flesh, by people who put themselves first and push God to the side.  That fruit is reserved for people who have gone all the way with God.  It is exclusive to that class of people.  Anyone else is completely incapable of experiencing those emotions.

This is not complicated, but we frequently make it so.  Be honest with yourself… brutally honest.  Only the truth will set you free.  If you discover that your relationship with God is weak or non-existent after an honest evaluation, you have just done yourself an enormous favor, and if you go one step further and humble yourself before God and decide to change, God’s power will flow into your life and help you to change.  This is the most important decision of our lives; please don’t neglect it.

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