Tag Archives: jesus

Fruit on a naked branch

Fruit? Or Roots?

A three-minute read

Fruit is a big topic in Christian circles.

John the Baptist may have dined on locusts and wild honey, but he also knew a bit about fruit. He encouraged the religious leaders of his day to ‘bear fruit worthy of repentance,’ warning them that ‘every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’ 1

Jesus also used fruit metaphors. False prophets? You will know them by their fruit. Every good tree bears good fruit. But a corrupt tree bears evil fruit. Like John the Baptist, he warned that ‘every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruit you will know them.’ 2

The Apostle Paul outlines the nature of this good fruit, produced by Holy Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control.3

But these fruits don’t prosper on their own.

Jesus likened Himself to a vine, and his disciples to branches. ‘He who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit’, He said. ‘For without Me you can do nothing.’ 4

So, now I know what the fruit is, and the ways in which it manifests in my life, through my relationship with the Holy Spirit. And since, without Jesus, I can do nothing, by myself I bear no fruit. I have nothing to do with it. Or do I?

I think I do. When I think about how I represent Jesus to others it’s easy to focus on the fruit, and neglect the roots. That’s the key to my part in the story.

A fruit tree only produces fruit if it has the right conditions. It needs to be planted in solid ground so the roots can hold it firmly in place. The soil needs to be good, so the nutrients are there.5 It also needs water to give it life. It needs light for photosynthesis so it can feed itself, and grow and flourish.

It also needs time. Only after these conditions have been in place consistently for some time will a tree produce fruit for others to enjoy.

Just like the tree, I’ll produce authentic ‘fruit’ only if my ‘roots’ are in the right place. I need to plant myself in God’s word – good soil. I need Holy Spirit to pour His living water into my own spirit as I listen to him each day. I need to surrender in obedience to Jesus, the light of the world, who guides me day by day with his easy yoke.

To produce fruit, I don’t need to focus on the fruit, but on the One who produces the fruit, after my roots are set in place.

I also don’t need to count the fruit, I trust that it will be there. And I have learned that it’s there to nourish others.

How are your roots? What kind of soil are they planted in?

From a teaching by Melanie Searle

1. Matthew 3:8, 10
2. Matthew 3:7:16-19
3. Galatians 5:22
4. John 15:5
5. Mark 4:20

Reverse Direction

A Special Bulletin

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program for a special bulletin.
You have no need to fear.

Yes, there’s a pestilence loose in the world right now.
But you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in your health.

The stock markets are crashing and the economy seems to be dissolving.
But you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in money.

Someone you love dearly may be ill, or may even have died.
I am with you in your grief, but you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in people.

You doubt the government knows what it is doing.
But you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in government.

The media keeps harping on how bad it all is.
But you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in the media.

The medical system may seem to be failing you.
But you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in medicine.

Your church gives no answers about why this is happening.
But you have no need to fear,
Unless you put your faith in your church leaders.

It’s time to put your faith in the place where there’s never a doubt or failure.
Put your faith in God,
Jesus Christ says you have no need to fear.

“Don’t be afraid,” He said. “Take courage. I am here!” *
Yes, even in your self-isolation.

*Matthew 14:27 (NLT)

This piece originally posted 19 March, 2020. To read a true story about how faith in God overcame fear of death and disease, read The Lie Called Cancer, now available through Amazon.

[Photo: Frisky 007 via Wikimedia Commons]

Alan from behind looking into the distance

Absence Makes the Heart Grow

This is based on material written for my recent memoir, The Lie Called Cancer but left out of the book.

(A three-minute read)

When the UK restricted everyone in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I was considered a vulnerable person because of receiving cancer treatment in 2019. I was told to stay a home for twelve weeks and not go out, under any circumstances.

After a week of it, I was still saying Humph! Humph! about the idea of being medically vulnerable, but I’d get over it. It turned out it wasn’t a problem, it was an opportunity to build my faith. It was not only an opportunity for me, but also for the church.

Now, in October, 2020, we are back into another round of restrictions. For many of us it continues to be hard, especially for those who have lost loved ones, are separated from family and friends, feel financial stress, or in a myriad of other ways have had their lives disrupted. At the very least, it’s continually annoying.

When everything in life is going bonkers, when what we count on crumbles, when it’s unclear what the next steps are, we can always count on the one unmoveable: Jesus Christ. I have faith that the long-term effects of these lock-downs will be good.

Lukewarm Christians, in it for religion not relationship, will either be winnowed out or lit on fire. Those of us already on fire will see our flames rise higher. The gospel will be preached. Christ’s kingdom will advance.

By being physically apart from one another, we’ll come to know deeply how much we need one another. Ironically, through separation, we’ll grow in intimacy. The church that emerges from this will be on fire for evangelism; we’ll have a fresh desire for prayer and intercession.

We’ll be eager to share the message of Jesus.

People will ask us, ‘What happened?’ and we will simply answer, ‘God was faithful.’

I’m in the book of Jeremiah in my annual cycle of reading. It’s such an excellent pairing – better than the right wine with a gourmet meal. It’s made for this lock-down season.

‘The Lord says, “Now I will show them my power; now I will show them my might. At last they will know and understand that I am the Lord.’ *

Let me be quick to say that I’m not suggesting that God is responsible for the outbreak of a new virus against which people apparently have no natural immunity. All such things are the work of the devil.

However, I believe God may permit these things to provide an opportunity for growth. He certainly steps into the middle of all such situations to continue His work.

As the aftermath of this crisis falls out, if we look at it through the lens of opportunity, instead of relegating it to problem status, His glory will be revealed. There will be events through this season that will demonstrate His power. At least for those who have eyes to see it.

Finally, let’s not think of it as ‘lock-down.’ Think of it as exile, like Israel’s exile in Babylon. Because good things always come out of exile.

* Jeremiah 16:21 (NLT)

Photo: Rachel Richards