Posts Tagged ‘Fruit’

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Psalm 1:1-3 – THE GARDENER AND THE SEED

This post is dedicated to my amazing son …

Psalm 1:3 (NLT) says “They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”  

Seed: What is it You see in me? Why am I so important to You, Gardener. I am only a seed.

Gardener: I have chosen you to clean the air of pollution so that others breathe easy, cool passers-by under the shade of your branches, invite wildlife to gather and make joyful music and prevent the erosion of your community. You are not just a seed but a tree planted along the riverbank. I am positioning you for My purposes and I have already taken into consideration the physical, social, spiritual, political and economic climates of your environment, the fruits that your life will produce and the right atmosphere in which you will thrive personally and be a blessing to others.

Seed: (thinks) “I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.” (Psalms 52:8 NLT)

BELONGING

Seed: Where do I belong, Gardener?

Gardener: I have considered the topography (mountains and valleys), the springs (rivers of water), and taken into account erosion (your life will not be worn down by the influences around you), a place where you will have the most impact and where you will thrive on land that you can call your own.

You are planted in a wisely chosen place where you have the most potential to live a fruitful life, intentionally planted where I, the Gardener, want you to be. Perhaps your circumstances will change, but My purposes do not.

You will have room to grow alongside others and together you will find support and nourishment.

GROWTH

Seed: But Gardener, what if I don’t grow?

Gardener: You have been touched by My Hand and I have chosen you to be one of the “trees of righteousness, one of the … great oaks that I, the Lord, has planted for My own glory” (Isaiah 61:3 KJV, NLT). I am your Gardener, Your God, and only “… God makes the seed grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 NLT).

STORMS

Seed: Gardener, will there be difficult times ahead?

Gardener: Yes. But despite the extremes of climate in your community that may come and go, I want you to survive and thrive where I have placed you. Your roots will take hold, anchored in the place where you will not get swept away by the next storm. You are created to be committed, standing strong and firm in Christ.

Listen to My words in Isaiah 58:11 (NLT) “The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength …” 

PRUNING

Seed: What will I look like? What if I grow deformed and diseased?

Gardener: My Son is a gardener also and I will send Him to prune you of broken, dead and diseased limbs, and remove them completely from your life. Your past sins are no longer an issue for your life and your present sins will also be pruned. You will be beautiful in my sight “… He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed…” (John 15:2-4 NLT).

SEASONS

Seed: So I am a fruit tree?

Gardener: Yes. I want you to produce good fruit but there will be seasons where there is none. You will have fruit in the right seasons. You will not always see fruit and at those times you must not be discouraged.

VALUE

Seed: But Gardener, I am afraid I will not bear fruit at all. I have heard the story of your Son, in Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) “… He was hungry, and He noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then He said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.”

Gardener: You are planted to add value and produce good fruit. You are not a fig tree to be cursed or a noxious weed causing damage to neighboring gardens. You are chosen to be a blessing.

I have planted you for such a time as this; at just the right time, giving you every opportunity to grow and survive.

POTENTIAL

Seed: I have to admit that at present I feel so small and insignificant and of no use.

Gardener: Listen to the words of My Son. Jesus says “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32 NLT)

Seed: You speak as if I have already grown to be a great tree of righteousness.

Gardener: See yourself as I see you many years from now. I have prepared you to flourish with lush foliage, bearing good fruit. I marked the spot in eternity past. I placed you gently into the soil, not too deep, not too shallow, so the roots are buried and not exposed.

You are planted by the water of the Word of God. I know the nurture of moisture, soil, winds, and other conditions that affect how you survive. You will always be sustained and find deep-seated joy in Christ.

Listen to My words in Psalms 128:1-3 (NLT) “How joyful are those who fear the Lord— all who follow His ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be!…”

CHOSEN

Seed: Will I really enjoy my life? Will my fruit taste good to others?

Gardener: Joyful delight in My Word makes you able to produce that for which you are created. In Matthew 7:17-19 (NLT) Jesus says, “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.” 

My Son, Jesus, says in John 15:16 (NLT) “You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name.” 

My servant Paul says in Colossians 1:10 (NLT) “Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.”

FRUIT

Seed: What kind of fruit will I produce, Gardener?

Gardener: You produce fruit that helps others respond to the gospel. In Romans 1:13-17 (NLT) Paul says “I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit … For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith …”

You grow in holiness (Romans 6:22), in generosity (Romans 15:28, Philippians 4:17), in an understanding of who I am (Hebrews 13:15) and in character. Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) says “… the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

THIRST

Seed: “O God, You are my God; I earnestly search for You. My soul thirsts for You;…” (Psalms 63:1 NLT). “I thirst for You as parched land thirsts for rain” (Psalms 143:6 NLT).

Gardener: “Jesus, My Son, once stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When He said “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into His glory)” (John 7:37-39 NLT).

My word in Revelation 22:17 (NLT) says “Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.”

This is not a stagnant pool but a flowing, nourishing river of water, even though you have been placed in a world where springs are few and far between.

UPRIGHTNESS

Seed: How big will I become in the world?

Gardener: I am not concerned with how big You become in the sight of others. You are designed and planted as one who is upright, no matter how big or small you are to those around you. You are making a difference in each season of your life. You are an evergreen. You prosper away from the invasive trees whose wicked intrusive influence leads nowhere in terms of bearing fruit and prosperity.

Standing tall is not always desirable. Standing upright always is. Standing tall among Sinners would be like a fruit tree planted in a desert, and left to die. The Wicked and the Mockers are not evergreen. They are here and gone. They despise what is fruitful and prosperous. They wither and die, whereas you are a fruit tree, standing upright, along the riverbank doing what you are designed to do; bearing fruit. Bringing prosperity to others. Blessing those around you. Bringing joyful delight.

AGE

Seed: What will happen when I am old and I am ready to die?

Gardener: “… The godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green” (Psalms 92:12-14 NLT).

One day I will transplant you for advantage in an even better location at just the right time. But you will always belong where I have planted you.

GRAFTED

Seed: Gardener, all this sounds too good to be true. I am afraid that I will not be able to achieve all that You aspire for my life.

Gardener: And you are right. You can’t. Not by yourself. By yourself, you will not flourish or bear good fruit. Only one tree planted along the riverbank has the characteristics that I have been speaking about for you. Jesus is that tree. Jesus bears fruit in His season, with leaves that will not wither, adding value to the environment, providing shelter and shade and a resting area for those around Him, a meeting place in His branches. Refreshment, nourishment, music and ideas will find their place in Him and fly to other places from His branches.

I am the gardener and I am willing to graft you into the tree of life. Jesus is the tree. You are the branches. Listen to My words from Romans 11:16-24 (NLT) “For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too … You …, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. … You are just a branch, not the root … and you are there because you do believe (in Christ) …” In Christ, you will achieve your destiny.

1 Corinthians 1:30 (NLT) says that as you believe, “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin.”

Galatians 2:20 (NLT) says “… It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” 

The invitation is to be united with Christ by entrusting your life to Him, so that you, like My Son, will be like a tree planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Your leaves will never wither, and you will prosper in all you do, not because there are no storms but because you are grounded in Christ.  

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 7:15-20 – CHARACTER VS REPUTATION – A Parable

“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow” (Lincoln).

When the light peeked over the mountain and shone down upon the forest glade, there in the faint mist of early morning stood a beautiful fruit tree and its shadow. The shadow would dance gracefully in the mist and as the mist cleared it stretched out upon the earth, full length. It boasted to the tree of how extensive it was but by midday and on rainy days it was humbled again. The tree pointed out to the shadow. “You are only a shadow. You have a distorted view of yourself. Without the light I would not grow and without me you would not grow and recede each day. Don’t think more highly or lowly of yourself than you should. Remember that you represent me but you are not me.”

The shadow did not understand and was insulted by what the tree was trying to say. It was not content to merely “represent” the tree. It wanted more. In the morning when the shadow stretched full length it said, “I am more important to you than you may think. Without me your influence would not be extended to the far corners of the glade. Without me many would not know that you exist! I make you known and give you credibility.”

The tree was concerned about the shadow’s sense of self-importance. It replied “You can certainly stretch the truth about me to others, but you cater to the textures of the personality of all that you are with. Tainted and painted by what you are projected upon, you will always depend on others to shape you, taking on their preconceived ideas. In the end your influence is immaterial when describing my character. Your influence has no substance.”

The shadow began to pout. It found some of the lowest, darkest and most secret of corners and began gossiping and whispering unkind tales about the tree. There was no substance to what the shadow said but others gave the far-fetched tales substance. It was cold and lonely in the shadow of the tree for a time and during the winter months the shadows edges were more and more faded, blurred and indistinct.

As winter became spring the light around the tree defined the shape of the shadow in more truthful terms, but the shadow still did not shed any light at all upon the real character of the tree. Those who spent time on the dark side of the tree were intimidated. “Why are you so arrogant, so black and white in your attitudes” they said to the tree.

“You will never discover anything about me when you listen to stories of those who lack light and who walk in darkness” said the tree. “Walk in the light and look up into my branches and you will have a much more accurate assessment of who I really am. Your views at present are shaded, dappled, two-dimensional silhouettes, mere projections, and only an inadequate outline of what I offer.”

One day in the early stirrings of spring, the glade was suddenly washed in light as God looked down upon the tree. He had recently painted the tree with autumn colours, golden ochers, burnt umbers and raw siennas, a spectrum of brilliance, and with the gentle breath of His Spirit it’s leaves were scattered in the breeze, only to be replaced in the Spring with luscious buds. Unseen in the heart of the tree, far beneath the textured surface of the bark, He fashioned and formed another growth ring. He spoke gently to the tree “Some will pass by and walk within your shadow and see only a dark outline of who you are but I have looked upon your heart. I see that when the winter seasons have left you bare and barren, that deep inside of you there is the dream of Springtime fruit.”

And with these words, soon the tree was heavy with sweet, tender fruit, brilliant in ripe colours, flaring in the light in contrast to the thick deep greenery of its newly formed leaves. And God said “Yes, just as you can identify the character of a tree by its fruit, so you can identify the character of people by their actions. Walk in the light as I am in the light” (See Matthew 7:20 and 1 John 1:7)

Pastor Ross

Matthew 7:15-20 – FERAL OR FRUITFUL?

Feral or Fruitful?

A few days ago, I saw various bikie club members, police detectives, prosecutors, and victims of bikie gang crime interviewed on a TV programme called “INSIGHT”. Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis, NSW Gangs Squad spoke about the FALSE FRONT of outlaw motorcycle gangs. He said “Look it’s a nice marketing ploy … as if they are a bunch of social club motor cycle riders who get together on weekends, ride around and contribute to charity. My experience as the head of the gang squad shows – that’s NOT the case.” He spoke of organised crime, arrests for serious assaults (and murder), thousands of charges laid, hundreds of firearms and a whole host of drugs from heroin to anabolic steroids seized recently.

Can a Church operate like a gang of thugs on the fringe of society? Are there Church business meetings that bring out the vicious and selfish nature of it’s members, the loudest autocratic voices being raised against eachother in disharmony, a pack mentality towards other Churches and sometimes their Pastor, members hoarding money and property as if it belonged to them individually, displays of unforgiveness, fault-finding, gossiping and negative attitudes? Not to mention condoning twisted sexual practises, pride and arrogance. Do leaders boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage? Do they divide others rather than unite? Jesus warns against false prophets in Matthew 7:16 NLT. He says “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from THORNBUSHES, or figs from THISTLES?”

INTRODUCED PESTS like CANE TOADS in Australia kill native animals with their deadly toxins. Recently scientists found that CANE TOAD tadpoles are attracted to venom collected from adult cane toads. They think it is a foodsource. They are destroyed by the very poison that they would have grown to produce. Jude 1:10-19 (NIV) says that FALSE TEACHERS “… speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals – these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them! …”

Foxes, rabbits, camels, brumbys, feral goats, cats, pigs, donkeys, and water buffalo. Plague proportions, running wild, feral animals that cause tremendous damage and generally cost the Australian nation millions of dollars every year in eradication programmes that don’t work. Recently in NSW the Premier granted licenses to hunt feral animals in the National Parks. The only way to deal with feral animals is trap them, bait them, shoot them, and place bounties on them. 2 Peter 2:12 (NLT) describes false teachers as feral animals. “These false teachers are LIKE UNTHINKING ANIMALS, CREATURES OF INSTINCT, BORN TO BE CAUGHT AND DESTROYED.” These words are severe. He is saying they are LIKE animals, FERAL BUT NOT FRUITFUL, destructive to others and to themselves.

How do I recognise a false teacher? Luke 6:43-45 (NLT) “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree CAN’T PRODUCE GOOD FRUIT. A tree is IDENTIFIED BY ITS FRUIT. Figs never grow on THORNBUSHES, nor grapes on BRAMBLE BUSHES. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the TREASURY OF AN EVIL HEART. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” Matthew 3:8 (NLT) says “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” That’s how I will know.

We were not created to be like FERAL ANIMALS, but like a FRUITFUL VINE. In John 15:4-5 (NLT) Jesus says “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.”

The invitation Christ gives to me today is to come under His authority and rulership over my life. He died for my sins and will enable my life to line up with God’s Word, to bear good fruit from the treasury of good heart, to love God and love others, to know Christ and make Him known, to make a difference for Him in my actions, words and fruitfulness. FERAL OR FRUITFUL?

Pastor Ross


Matthew 13:1-23 – Part 7 – A RETURN ON THE INVESTMENT

Investment Return

Vehicles being thrown around like toys in the rushing waters and heartbreaking stories of lives lost have filled the news reports. The damage to bumper harvests was also devastating, probably in the billions of dollars, as the states of Queensland, NSW and Victoria in Australia have been inundated with floods. As I speak a new cyclone is threatening to devastate Queensland even further.

In the midst of this devastation a harvest of another kind is ripening and producing an incredible return. Christian Churches right around Australia open the doors of their buildings as evacuation centres, feed the hungry, send volunteer teams to help clean houses, and give millions of dollars in aid. Scores of Christians giving not only practical help in a coordinated way, but emotional and spiritual help.

Jesus speaks of that kind of harvest in Matthew 13:23 (NLT). He says “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”  

HARVEST is important. What comes to mind when you think of being GOOD SOIL? Some kind of SICKLY SAINT who whines about the evil in world and tries to impress God with good works to gain points, right? That’s not it! Surely? Please Lord, not that.

It is interesting to me that even when Jesus speaks about the good soil (Matthew 13:23), that some produce a harvest of only 30% AND 60%. Is He saying that even though I have responded the message of His Kingdom authority in my life that I can still live BELOW MY POTENTIAL and fail to produce a harvest of 100% RETURN? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not beating myself up over this when I fail, but apparently God has designed my life to be 100% PRODUCTIVE, not dormant, limited or underlived. It’s as if God is trying to say “Don’t give Me excuses! Give me a RETURN! Go! Make a difference in the world for Me with what I have already INVESTED in your life. You can do it!”

But what is this FRUIT OF THE CROP that every genuine Christian produces? The parable doesn’t say! I guess it speaks of all kinds of things.

When Colossians 1:10 (NLT) speaks about producing fruit. It says, “…your lives will produce EVERY KIND of good fruit. ….”

Whenever someone responds to the message of Christ then that is a potential harvest. The harvest does refer to my influence in helping people come to Christ. The harvest is plentiful and the labourers are few (Matthew 9:38), but it is much MORE than that!

The context of this Colossians 1 indicates that fruit is a CHANGED LIFE after receiving the message of Christ (Colossians 1:6). This in turn produces an active LOVE for others (Colossians 1:8), a KNOWLEDGE of God’s will, spiritual WISDOM and UNDERSTANDING (Colossians 1:9), GROWING and LEARNING to know God more (Colossians 1:10), ENDURANCE, PATIENCE AND JOY (Colossians 1:11), and finally SHARING the message of the gospel with others (Colossians 1:12). A harvest of thoughts, words and actions that HONOUR and PLEASE the Lord.

Galatians also speaks of personal fruit that is evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in a person’s life. “… the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT). The very CHARACTER AND INFLUENCE OF GOD produced in my life. Imagine the kind of return in the world there would be if leaders and nations took hold of the message of Christ!

In the gospel of John Jesus says producing this kind of return is dependent upon my relationship with Him. “…you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. …apart from Me you can do nothing. …When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father.” (John 15:1-8 NLT)

So the invitation Jesus gives us is to bear fruit. I am to make a difference in the world because Jesus has made a difference in me. I am to PRODUCE something worthwhile in my life because of what God has INVESTED in me.

God bless you as the fruit that is developed on the inside of a changed life becomes obvious to others. Through the fruit of your thoughts, words and actions others will also have an opportunity to respond to Christ.

Pastor Ross

Part 11 – Matthew 12:22-37 – THE MUSIC OF MY SOUL

“Where’s my…” “On the kitchen bench” “…keys”. “What happened to my…” “It’s in the washing machine. You wore it yesterday.” My wife knows my thoughts before I ask. It’s uncanny. “Do you know where my…” “On your desk” “…phone is”. She is intimately acquainted with my habits, thoughts and absent mindedness.

Matthew 12:25 (NLT) says that “Jesus knew their THOUGHTS…” because God is intimately acquainted with the ways, thoughts and WORDS of the human race. He’s even better than my wife at this and that is saying something.

The Pharisees reject Jesus but then they proceed to SLANDER His name before the people. They say in Matthew 12:24 (NLT) “No wonder He can cast out demons. He gets His power from Satan, the prince of demons.” They obviously didn’t say this directly to Jesus, but Jesus knows what they are thinking. Jesus replies powerfully, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.” (Matthew 12:25 NLT)

How did Jesus know what the Pharisees were thinking? Did He just anticipate what they were thinking? Was this a WORD OF KNOWLEDGE? (1 Corinthians 12:8). I am aware of this when I pray – that I can’t keep even my thoughts from Jesus. So often in His presence, He asks me His probing questions and provides correction to the twisted pathways of my thinking and to my sinful attitudes. He aligns my thinking with His so that I am not double-minded and at odds with Him. He gets me thinking in terms of victory, not defeat. No compromise. And my life starts to SING.

Jesus goes on to say in Matthew12:33 (NLT) “A tree is identified by its FRUIT. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.” Great analogy! Jesus produces good fruit in the WORDS He speaks. He is speaking in the power of the Spirit. And that doesn’t mean He had to watch His words or that that His words were so WATER-WEAK, warm and affectionate to everybody that they had no impact. He is SCATHING in His words to the Pharisees in Matthew 12:34-35. He says “You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you SPEAK what is good and right? For whatever is in your HEART determines what you SAY. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.” It takes courage to say this to powerful men.

But Jesus, of course, is right. Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT) says “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” so how can I SPEAK from the treasury of a good heart? I am doomed if it all stops here? It gets worse in Matthew 12:36-37 “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you SPEAK. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”  

If my heart writes the music of my life then my WORDS are the LYRICS OF THE SOUL. I can tell from the lyrics what is in your heart. Open your mouth and I can hear what kind of song is in your heart.

David’s prayer in Psalms 51:10 (NLT) gives me HOPE. He cries out to God, “Create in me a CLEAN HEART, O God…” In Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT), as if in answer, God says “…I will give you a NEW HEART, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” As He writes the MUSIC OF MY SOUL a clean heart sings the most amazing harmonies. And all of a sudden my words are translated into worship. My confession becomes a song of destiny.

Romans 10:9-13 (NLT) says the words I speak will determine my destiny. “If you CONFESS with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and BELIEVE in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.” …. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

God bless you Church as your words are translated into worship today.

Pastor Ross