Daily Devotional: Ever Fruitful And Productive

Daily Devotional: Ever Fruitful And Productive

Ever Fruitful And Productive

 

I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit (John 15:1-2 AMPC).

 

I saiah 32:15 says, “Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.” The Spirit has been poured upon us from on high. Now, He lives in us. You don’t need to struggle to be successful, fruitful or productive. Your life, your ministry or your home may look like a desert; your finances may be below zero; what you need is a new mindset. Start thinking success. Think increase. Think growth, expansion, fruitfulness and productivity, because it’s God’s will for you. You might even say, “But my life is already so fruitful; no dryness, everything is working out fine”; there’s a greater glory: Your fruitful field can become a forest! You can be more productive spiritually, materially, financially, academically, etc. You can reach and win more people with the Gospel. That’s the life God wants you to live, where you’re constantly increasing in relevance, fruitful and productive in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10). Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8). Our fruitful and productive lives glorify God. It’s one of the evidences of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

He brings in that grace that affects your life and causes things to grow, increase, and expand.

Ever Fruitful And Productive

Diplomatic Service
Diplomatic Service

PRAYER

 Dear Father, I rejoice for the presence of your Spirit in my life, and the grace which causes the wilderness to be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field to become a forest. I’m persistently productive in every area of my life: in my job, in my finances, in my academics, and in the Gospel. I walk worthy of you always, pleasing you in all things, producing fruits and works of righteousness, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

FURTHER STUDY: Luke 13:6-9; John 15:16; John 15:4-5

 

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Jesus Reveals Grace And Truth To Us

John 1:14-17 – Jesus Reveals Grace And Truth To Us

John 1:14-17 HCSB The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (15) (John testified concerning Him and exclaimed, “This was the One of whom I said, ‘The One coming after me has surpassed me, because He existed before me.'”) (16) Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness, (17) for although the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 1:14-17 – Jesus Reveals Grace And Truth To Us

John
Jesus Reveals Grace And Truth To Us

The eternal and pre-existent Word took on flesh and dwelt among us, and when He did He was revealed to be full of grace and truth.

 

When God walked among men He did not swagger. Nor did He come like some outer-space alien full of wizardry, fire and strange weaponry. God came among us as one full of grace and truth. The Word did not come to dominate – but to serve.

 

The Word is not so “gracious” – sentimental and forgiving that it lets go of the truth; nor is the Word so “truthful” and blunt that it is unaccompanied by grace. The Word speaks to both the sinner and the sin.

John the Baptist declared: “The One coming after me has surpassed me, because He existed before me.” – this conundrum is solved by his younger cousin Jesus, who started ministry after John, being the incarnation of the eternal and pre-existent Word of God. When we touch Jesus, we touch eternity.

 

This eternal, pre-existent and glorious creative Word clothed Himself with lungs and arms and flesh and blood. This body was not some “appearance of flesh” like a mystical hologram, rather it was real flesh that was hungered and thirsted and was scourged and crucified and which bled blood and water when pierced.

 

Jesus reveals what a man looks like when He is fully the Word and what God looks like when He is fully a man.

Jesus Reveals Grace And Truth To Us

 

In our quest for holiness and sanctification we must return to Jesus and to His character and to being “full of grace and truth”. We can easily equate holiness with things other than Christ, grace and truth; even with things such as knowledge, power, eloquence, a winning personality, or time served. One of the less subtle traps in the Christian life is to equate sanctification with moving up a church or mission hierarchy. Instead Jesus teaches us that servanthood is holiness and the greatest in the Kingdom is the person who is full of grace and truth and is the servant of all.

 

A focus on grace and truth will cause each of us to ask questions such as: Am I increasing in graciousness, kindness and love? Am I increasing in the Truth? Am I honest and above reproach? Do my words come from the Word?

 

The Law by contrast is not from grace and truth; it simply brings the knowledge of sin and can do no more. The Law cannot help you. The Law is like a man high on a cliff shouting swimming instructions to drowning men and women. On the other hand Jesus is the lifeguard plunging into the surf and dragging them out. What the Law says is true – but everyone dies. What Jesus does in gracious – and is a far deeper Truth.

 

Plunging into lost and broken humanity is very frightening. It is easy to be scared by the poor, the homeless, the diseased, the demonized, the wicked, and the violent. It is easy to be repelled by the leper, to flee the prostitute, and to condemn the heretical Samaritan.

 

Jesus took on flesh and dwelt among us, and He did not run away from a single needy sinner. We need to ask for the courage and boldness and grace to engage in incarnational ministry in love.

 

“We have all received grace after grace from His fullness.” – We do not just receive grace once, leading to conversion, rather we receive grace after grace every step of the way to glory.

 

Grace is the power behind all spiritual growth, and grace proceeds from God through Jesus Christ and is received by faith. Grace comes to those who want it enough to believe in it.

 

Grace is both God’s kind and forgiving disposition toward us, and the tangible effects of that disposition – miracles, healing, changed lives, deliverance from demons, breaking of curses, blessings abundant. Grace creates the conditions so that peace can prosper – the very shalom of God.

 

Grace descends to the needy, the humble, and the contrite. The poor in spirit receive great grace, while the proud in spirit receive nothing.

 

All spiritual growth depends on our ability to receive grace by faith and to put it to work in our lives through faithful obedience. There is no shortage of grace and truth, that is never the problem, Jesus is inexhaustibly full of grace, it is up to us to humble ourselves, to believe, to receive and to obey.

Jesus The Creative Word

John 1:9-13 – Receiving Jesus

John 1:9-13 – Receiving Jesus

John 1:9-13 – Receiving Jesus

John
John 1:9-13 – Receiving Jesus

John 1:9-13 HCSB The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (10) He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him. (11) He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. (12) But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, (13) who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.

The fallen world order does not acknowledge or receive Christ and the New Testament, and particularly Paul gives us a variety of reasons such as: own fleshly inclinations, wrong teaching, our fallen nature, the Devil’s blinding of the heart, Jewish legalism, cultural and spiritual strongholds, and human ignorance, pride and folly. I have listed some verses on this topic below:

WHY PEOPLE REFUSE TO RECEIVE CHRIST

 

Romans 8:7 HCSB For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so.

 

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 HCSB (18) For to those who are perishing the message of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is God’s power.

1 Corinthians 2:14 HCSB (14) But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually.

 

2 Corinthians 3:14 HCSB (14) But their minds were closed. For to this day, at the reading of the old covenant, the same veil remains; it is not lifted, because it is set-aside only in Christ.

 

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 HCSB (3) But if, in fact, our gospel is veiled; it is veiled to those who are perishing. (4) Regarding them: the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 HCSB (4) since the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments (5) and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

 

Ephesians 2:1-3 HCSB And you were dead in your trespasses and sins (2) in which you previously walked according to this worldly age, according to the ruler of the atmospheric domain, the spirit now working in the disobedient. (3) We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and by nature we were children under wrath, as the others were also.

 

Ephesians 4:17-18 HCSB Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. (18) They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts.

 

Colossians 1:21 HCSB And you were once alienated and hostile in mind because of your evil actions.

This is a convincing enough lists of verses – some folks are perishing in stubborn unbelief and spiritual blindness. Such people need a lot of patient prayer and witnessing if they ever are to believe. I was an anti-Christian atheist prior to being saved and many thought I could not be saved – but nevertheless God “got me”.

Yet we need to put an end to Pollyanna views such as: “If we just preach the gospel everyone will believe.” If Jesus Himself could not get everyone to believe, even with all the miracles He performed and His wisdom, love and grace – then we need to accept that this is “something fundamental” in humanity. In fact there are almost two types of people “those who are perishing” and “those who are being saved” and it is seems that it is with difficulty that many of those who are perishing find Christ.

One reason that the world does not acknowledge Christ because the “ruler of this world” is the Devil (1 John 5:18,19) and he has absolutely zero intention of letting this world be released into the freedom of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19-25)

Therefore intercession and spiritual warfare must precede evangelism if the Devil’s grip on fallen humanity is to be broken. Much prevailing prayer has preceded every great revival – (see Dr. Stewart Robinson’s excellent review article Praying the Price of Revival http://aibi.gospelcom.net/prayer/payprice.htm) and here is a link on Prayer Evangelism: http://aibi.gospelcom.net/articles/prayer_evangelism.htm

The natural human mind is not a level playing field. It does not naturally think the thoughts that accompany salvation. It rushes into folly and gossip and pornography and tabloid rubbish and totally ignores, ridicules and dismisses the deep things of God.

Humanism, which almost deifies the natural human intellect, is without a good explanation for the lust, cruelty, evil, folly, and madness of humanity. Humanism can never properly explain Auschwitz or Rwanda or the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The world did not acknowledge Jesus, His own received Him not, yet some did believe and He gave them the power to become sons of God. That is the power to be eternal beings of great glory and authority.

The basis of this sonship is being “born of God”, that is a spiritual birth that comes from God, not a literal or physical birth from mankind or the human will (see John 3:1-18). In the new birth we are born as eternal spiritual beings, who are citizens of Heaven (Ephesians 2:19, Philippians 3:20), and are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6, 1:20).

The world can give us all sorts of other powers – the power to earn money or the power to be famous or the power to rule nations, but only Jesus Christ can give us the eternal and holy power that will last forever, the power to become a son of God.

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John

John 1:6-8 – John The Baptist

John 1:6-8 – John The Baptist
John
John the Baptist

John 1:6-8 – John The Baptist

John 1:6-8 HCSB There was a man named John who was sent from God. (7) He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. (8) He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light.

 

If you have been watching the news about Iraq recently you may have heard about the persecution of the Mandeans – modern-day followers of John the Baptist. In fact in the first century John the Baptist got such a large following among Jews and other folk in the Middle East that quite a bit of the New Testament is spent explaining the connection between the two cousins – John and Jesus. In Acts 19 Paul has to explain the gospel more fully to a group of John’s disciples in Ephesus as the changeover from following John to following Jesus was not as automatic as we may think.

In Matthew 11:11-13 Jesus says that His cousin John was the culmination of the Law and the Prophets and the “greatest of those born of women”. Yet John, despite his greatness “was not the light”, but rather, like all the prophets of old, John ‘bore witness to the Light”. John “prepared the way of the Lord” by helping Jews take the necessary steps of faith so they could be ready to hear the message of Jesus.

“There was a man named John who was sent from God.” Those “sent by God” are apostles (that is what the word apostle means). Apostles are not sent from a nation as an ambassador, or from a company as a representative but directly from God so as to speak on His behalf.

 

Those sent from God are sent with a particular message to a particular people – just as Jonah was sent to Nineveh with the commission to warn them of impending judgment. Thus John the Baptist was sent to the desert of Judea with the message “repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand” and a purpose “to be the voice crying in the wilderness prepare ye the way of the Lord.”

John thus prepared the way for Jesus by calling the Jewish people to repentance, so Jesus could call them to faith in Him. The New Testament makes clear that we cannot have biblical faith apart from moral regeneration. The faith of the positive thinkers is not enough. New Testament faith has a direction and that direction is into God, and into His nature.

We cannot remain in sin and truly believe in Jesus, because if we truly believe what Jesus said we will believe what He said about sin and righteousness and repentance.

Believing in Jesus is not just believing that He exists, or that He is loving and nice, or even that He is God, it is also believing what He said and thus obeying His commandments. If Jesus says “do not lay up treasure on earth’ (Matthew 6:19) and we do so then we are not believing what He said.

 

Believing in Jesus requires stern moral commitment. It is more than a warmed heart; it is a morally changed life. John came as a preacher of righteousness and moral regeneration so that people could be convicted of their sin and turn to God for mercy and a new life in Christ.

The modern debate on grace is often misconstrued. Grace is not God excusing you from all sorts of abhorrent moral behavior, nor is it a free pass into heaven for the unrepentant. Grace is given to make us holy. Grace calls us from wickedness to repentance, grace reveals the way from repentance to faith in Christ, grace grows us from initial faith to deeper sanctification and grace frees and transforms us along the path from sanctification to ultimate glorification.

Grace gives people the chance to become like Jesus. Grace makes the highway of holiness one that is free from condemnation so that we have the courage to travel along it. Grace is not the same as freedom from condemnation, which is only part of the story. We don’t sit down in the road saying: “Wow, I am free from condemnation.” The idea is to keep moving toward Christ-likeness.

It is much easier to tell a convicted and repentant sinner about Jesus, than a complacent and self-satisfied person who is uncaring of the state of his or her soul. So John came to stir people up so that they would care about their souls and seek God.

 

John came “so that all might believe through him.” He was a prophet who had as his objective – that others would believe in Jesus. Our ministries should be the same – pointing always to the Savior.

“He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light.” No matter how great our intelligence or insight or calling we are not the Light. Only Jesus is the light. Sometimes we make a preacher or teacher or founder of an organization or denomination another “light”. That is wrong, they may give witness to the light, but they are not the light. You can disagree with me and still be wonderfully saved, but you cannot disagree with Jesus and be saved. Jesus is the Truth and I and all other ministers of the gospel merely point to Him.

The Mandeans need Jesus. They need the Light. No man born of woman can guide us. Only Jesus is the Light of our lives.

 

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