Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Seed With A Powerful Purpose

I will start the year by posting something I am passionate about. Bearing fruit for God. Listen to this, "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples." These words were spoken by Jesus in John 15:8. According to Jesus bearing fruit brings glory to God. Bearing fruit is the undeniable proof to others that we are true followers of Jesus. When you and I bear fruit, no one can question if we are genuine or not. The fruit is the proof!

My favorite passage in the Bible is about planting seeds and ultimately bearing fruit. I encourage you to read and study Mark 4: 3-20. As the farmer is sowing seeds some fall beside the road. Others are sown into rocky soil. Some are sown into soil that contains thorns. And some are sown into good soil. The seeds sown by the road are immediately eaten by the birds. The seeds sown in the rocky soil immediately spring up, but since the rocks prevent them from taking root, they quickly wither and die in the heat of the sun. The seeds sown among the thorns actually begin to sprout and grow. But so do the thorns, which eventually choke the good plant in such a way that it never bears fruit. The seed which is sown into the good soil becomes well-rooted, grows up, and produces a healthy plant which in turn produces fruit.
Why is it so important to Jesus that we bear fruit? Because it brings God glory. Again, Jesus said in bearing fruit His Father is glorified. When a follower of Christ bears fruit...God is glorified. And listen to this...when God is glorified, His kingdom is extended and established here on the earth. That is when impact becomes a reality. Serving God simply out of tradition appears "religious". But tradition and religion have no impact whatsoever. Why? Because they do not bring glory to God. That's why bearing fruit is important to Jesus, and should be important to you and me.
The issue in Mark Chapter 4 concerning the 4 types of soils is not about who is saved or not saved. It's simply about planting seeds (God's Word) with the goal of bearing fruit, which in turn brings glory to God. These four conditions can apply to the saved and the unsaved. Even an unsaved heart can produce the fruit of salvation, if prepared to receive the seed of the Word of God. The issue in this passage is also very much about preparing the soil to receive the seed and be cultivated to sustain the seed.
The first scenario, the roadside, is completely unprepared to receive the seed. It is impossible for the seed to ever grow because of the hardness of the ground. So the birds come and steal away the seed. This is the hard heart. Jesus said this person hears the Word of God, but because the heart is so hard, the enemy comes and steals the seed of the Word. Stolen seed will never bear fruit and bring God glory. As a matter of fact, the enemy is horrified at any seed that would ultimately bring glory to God by coming to full fruition! So he diligently strives to work against you and me bearing fruit to God's glory.
The second scenario, the rocky soil, is somewhat prepared to receive the seed, but cannot support the growth of the seed. The key here is that even though the seed sprouts, it doesn't take root because of the hard rocks in the soil. Because it cannot draw moisture and nourishment from the soil, It quickly withers and dies from the heat of the sun. Jesus said this person receives the seed of the Word immediately and with joy, but when persecution comes, because of the Word, they quickly fall away. The seed is not rooted. In the hard heart, the seed must be cultivated by continually removing the rocks of offense allowing the seed of the Word to take root. As this takes place the seed continues to grow. However, with no dies, and no fruit is born.
The third scenario, the soil with thorns, is even more prepared to receive the seed but like the rocky soil, it must be cultivated in order for the seed to come to full fruition. This soil appears to be prepared for planting. There are no rocks and all the weeds have been removed (so it appears). But when the seed begins to sprout and grow, so do the thorns. If you know anything about gardening, weeding must be done on a regular basis to allow the good plants to grow, mature, and bear fruit. Otherwise the weeds will steal the nutrients from the good plants and eventually choke them from bearing fruit. This heart has received the seed of the Word, but the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the seed of the Word. These weeds enter in through a lack of trust and total surrender to Jesus. Whatever we desire more than Jesus becomes the very thorns that choke the Word in us. This person does not bring glory to God, even though they attempt to by the words of their mouth. The seed grows into a plant, but never bears fruit because its potential is choked.
Remember, the issue is not saved or unsaved. It is about seed bearing fruit.

The fourth and final scenario is the good soil. This soil is prepared to receive the seeds. It is fertile and nutritious not only for the seed, but for the plant. The good soil eventually produces a multiplied amount of fruit. So what is the key factor in this soil being conducive to seeds bearing fruit? Thanks for asking! Not only was the soil prepared to receive the seed, but the continued process of cultivation of this soil allowed the seeds to stay healthy, growing into healthy plants producing fruit. This heart is not perfect. It is not flawless. But this heart is continually being cultivated through prayer, worship, and repentance. This heart is continuing to receive the seed of God's Word as the blue-print for living life. This person is ever-changing, because they are ever bearing fruit. God is glorified in and by this person!

How do you feel about that? I want to glorify God with my life and service to Him. I know I'm not perfect. I know many of my weaknesses and shortcomings. But I also know God and His infinite grace! When I fall, I get back up. Bearing fruit is not about being flawless. It is however about being sinless before Him. That cannot be attained to by my own efforts. But I have attained to it through the sacrifice of Jesus, my Savior. Jesus bore my sin as He hung on the cross in my place. What a deal!

Make sure you're not only receiving the seed of God's Word. Make sure you also are cultivating the soil of your heart. Make sure that through prayer, praise, worship, repentance, and a steady diet of God's Word you are preparing/cultivating your heart to enhance the growth of the seed. This also means a focused effort to shun the things you have thus far allowed into your life that are choking the see of the Word. The result, fruit! Fruit that brings glory to God. When God is glorified, people see and are changed!
715902: Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results
By Lovett H. Weems, Jr. & Tom Berlin

What's the most important goal of ministry? To transform people's lives! Contrasting "fruitfulness" with "success," Weems and Berlin guide you in developing and implementing a vision that will bring about genuine change in the lives of others. Their practical insights will help your ministry bear fruit in your congregation, community, and the world.

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