In this lesson titled “The People of God Must Produce Fruit” we have already explored several very important take-away points:
- People are consistently compared to plants and trees all throughout scripture.
- We are expected to produce fruit for the kingdom.
- Your ability to produce fruit should not be hindered by the evil or the problems that surround you.
- Always be ready because God will look for fruit coming from your life at an unexpected time.
- Produce fruit, or you will be judged, just like Israel was.
- Fear the Lord. If He did not spare His own people of Israel when they were fruitless, He will not spare you either.
If you missed any of these points then I would highly encourage you to go and read the first two lessons in this series where they are covered in greater depth. (For Lesson 1 click here, for Lesson 2 click here).
Now it’s time to dive into the climax, and probably the most anticipated, practical section of this lesson series. It should now be very clear that we are made by God to produce kingdom fruit, but how do we do it? What does it mean to produce fruit for the kingdom?
To discover this, I’d like to continue on with our journey following the incident with the fig tree, after Jesus turns over the tables in the temple and finishes with a heated confrontation with the Pharisees. Ultimately the two groups, Jesus with His disciples and the Pharisees, depart from one another for a short time, but the Pharisees now do everything they can to find a way to trap Jesus in His words. The Pharisees decide to send a small group of their own disciples to go and question Jesus about various things, the most significant topic of this discussion being the difficult subject of paying taxes to Caesar.
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way. –Matthew 22:15-22 (also see: Mark 12:13-17 and Luke 20:20-26)
The way that Jesus chooses to respond to the Pharisees in this moment is absolutely astounding when fully understood. You see, the Pharisees asked about taxes in order to attempt to trap Jesus in His words, but not only did Jesus perceive their wickedness and address their direct question about taxes, but more deeply He unpacked the essence of what it means to have an identity in God all in one brilliant answer. The way Jesus spoke truly astounded the people of the day for a very good reason, and what was said about Him, even by those who opposed him, was true: “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46).
The obvious answer to the immediate question was Jesus clearly telling the people to pay their taxes. But on a deeper level Jesus conveys a message that usually goes unnoticed by people. He has the Pharisees give him a denarius (a Roman coin of the day) and says, “Whose image and inscription is this?” Why would Jesus use the fact that there is a picture of Caesar and Caesar’s inscription to convey this message of paying taxes to Caesar? He uses this illustration because of the deeper point He was making in His answer. He told the people to render what belongs to Caesar back to Caesar (money in the form of taxes), and to render what belongs to God back to God. Now we know that Caesar received his money back because his image and inscription were displayed on the money, but what about God? Where are His image and inscription displayed?
Whose image are you created in?
“‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” –Genesis 1:26a, 27
And whose inscription is written within you?
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law in their minds, and inscribe it on their hearts.” –Jeremiah 31:33
Therefore, given what God’s word says about the identity of man, what was Jesus really talking about when He answered a deliberately sinister question regarding paying taxes?
He was instead answering about the nature of mankind and where our devotion and attention truly belong. It is not a matter of choosing Caesar or no Caesar, nor is it a matter of fairness regarding taxes in general. The central point of His answer is far deeper than that. It is about rendering [or restoring] the things that belong to God back to God, which are those made in His image and bearing His inscription – humanity! We are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God and He has inscribed His law on our hearts, therefore Jesus really wasn’t addressing the subject of earthly taxes, but the devotion we need to have towards our Creator!
Amazingly, Jesus took the question that was deliberately designed to ensnare Him in His words and He shoved it right back in the faces of the Pharisees! These were the very people (the leaders of the Jews) who did not dedicate themselves to God as they were supposed to, and thus they failed to render to God what was God’s and they failed the ultimate test. This is exactly the same point that Jesus was making in regards to the cursed fig tree. It was symbolic of the Jewish leadership and their failure to produce fruit for the kingdom! No wonder they marveled at Jesus’s response! What an answer!!
Render to God and Kingdom Fruit
This passage has the capability of revealing even more than this to us because it points right back to fruitfulness and the kingdom of God, which is the central subject of this lesson. The word “render” in the Greek is apodidōmi and it can be translated as: “to deliver,” “to pay off what is due,” “to give back,” or “to restore.” And so when Jesus says to the Pharisees (who were guilty of unfruitfulness to God, as I explained in detail in Lesson 2) to render to God the things that are God’s He is specifically talking about those things which bear God’s image and inscription on them. Therefore, to unpack the meaning of how to be fruitful towards God looks like this: we are expected to deliver, give back, restore, or pay off what is due to God, which is our very lives. Just as Caesar expected to receive that which bore his image and inscription, God, our King of Kings, expects to receive that which bears His image and inscription as well. Essentially, if we give our lives back to God then we will be transformed into new trees and immediately begin producing fruit for the kingdom of heaven! These are the basic principles of repentance and being born again, and amazingly, it is truly that simple!
You might be asking, “Okay, well what exactly does it look like to produce fruit by giving our lives back to God?” And if we search we find that the Bible gives us clear answers everywhere…
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.'” –Jeremiah 17:5-8
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. –Psalms 1
“Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart].” –Matthew 3:8 [AMPC]
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” –Galatians 5:22-23
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” –Luke 6:43-45
“The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like a palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible]. Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment]. [They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” –Psalms 92:12-15 [AMPC]
Are you beginning to see how simple it is to produce kingdom fruit? Turn to the Lord and diligently seek Him and His transformation in your life so that you may reveal the image and inscription of God that you were always meant to display! When you truly turn to God and love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength then the only natural result from your life will be kingdom fruit being produced. There will be no striving to create this fruit, but it will naturally produce itself as the evidence of a transformed life. Turn to Jesus, pursue the Lord, and your transformed life in Christ will cause kingdom fruit to appear!
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” –Matthew 6:33
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” –John 15:4-5
What Does Kingdom Fruit Look Like?
What does kingdom fruit look like? How do I know that I am producing kingdom fruit? What does it feel like or what will other people see?
Have you ever stopped to consider questions like these before? I hope so. These are very important questions because it is essential to regularly reflect on your life. When we ponder questions such as these it greatly helps us to “re-calibrate our spiritual gauge” so to speak. We need to be sure that we are aligned with God’s gauge of our lives and as we reflect on our own fruitfulness God loves to speak to us and causes our thinking to re-align with what He sees.
Pause from reading for a few minutes and ask God this question right now: “Does my life produce good fruit for you Lord?” Seriously, please take like 3-4 minutes and just listen to Him right now. What did He say? Did you feel a greater sense of confidence regarding your walk with the Lord? Or perhaps you felt some conviction…?
Too often our natural tendency is to presume that all is as it should be in our spiritual life while we casually continue our day-to-day routines, but this really only results in our fruitfulness to dwindle over time. It is these “presumptions” that get us into spiritual trouble.
What is kingdom fruit supposed to look like? What is the spiritual fruit that our transformed lives in Christ should be revealing? It is the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23.
- The fruit you will bear is love.
- The fruit you will bear is joy.
- The fruit you will bear is peace.
- The fruit you will bear is patience.
- The fruit you will bear is kindness.
- The fruit you will bear is goodness.
- The fruit you will bear is faithfulness.
- The fruit you will bear is gentleness.
- The fruit you will bear is self-control.
Kingdom fruit is your Christ-like character directly produced by your new nature. Kingdom fruit is the result when we diligently seek God and walk in the Spirit, and therefore…
Kingdom fruit is the natural evidence of a transformed life in Christ.
The Key Ingredient to Fruitfulness
Now that we understand what fruitfulness towards God looks like, we must be sure to learn how to consistently produce this godly fruit because, as we have already learned, it is incredibly important that we continue to be fruitful for the kingdom. It turns out that there is one key ingredient to being fruitful that cannot be forgotten or ignored. To forget this key ingredient has both short-term and long-term consequences, but most of us don’t realize that we are missing the key ingredient when things start to go downhill. This is what it looks like when we forget or ignore the key ingredient for a short amount of time: we find ourselves treating others poorly by acting impatient, angry, or unkind; or we treat ourselves poorly by becoming anxious, carrying stress, or feeling depressed. To ignore this ingredient for a long amount of time makes things much worse. Not only can it ingrain these negative feelings in our souls, but it also causes sin to knock at the door of our lives! We can easily become an open door for demonic oppression and be at risk of falling into much more detrimental conditions such as outbursts of wrath, living in fear, deep contentions and hatred towards others, adultery or fornication, addictive behavior, acting jealous or envious, hopelessness, or abandoning God completely. Oftentimes physical ailments/illnesses and even being financially impoverished can be directly attributed to a lack of this key ingredient as well.
I believe that this is the most important part of this entire lesson series because I am certain there are so many people who are deceived, forgetful, or who ignore this area. So please pay close attention to this section without skimming it or skipping it over.
Producing good, kingdom fruit is absolutely a natural byproduct of a transformed life, but my prayer is that you never miss the key ingredient of the transformation and the fruit production. The key ingredient is Jesus. You are probably thinking, “Yeah I know it is Jesus, it is always Jesus, and I have faith, so I’m good,” but if you conclude with that attitude I promise you will fall into the exact same trap as the Pharisees did! The Pharisees presumed they were “sons of Abraham” and that they “had God with them,” but they couldn’t have been further from the truth! Please don’t mistakenly presume the same thing about your faith in Jesus!
Our grave mistake in the church has sprouted from a pervasive teaching that if someone “prays a quick prayer” they’ll go to heaven. Essentially, not too long ago, the church began pushing forward an unbiblical idea that all you need to do to go to heaven is pray a short prayer to Jesus, ask Him to forgive you of your sins, and you’re in! Supposedly at that point you have instantly and irrevocably landed your golden ticket to heaven and there’s no need to worry about the issue ever again. Even though this idea largely ignores the extremely relevant subject of repentance it is still widely preached today and has unfortunately watered-down the Gospel message and has resulted in a lukewarm church. Having faith in Jesus is mistakenly considered to be a one-time event; which means it is something that you either have or you don’t have. Not only is this a totally incorrect understanding of faith, but it cheapens God’s grace down to a 30 second prayer! Wrong, wrong, wrong…
So what is faith then?
FAITH IS NOT THE FINISH LINE. IT IS THE JOURNEY.
FAITH IS NOT SOMETHING YOU JUST “HAVE,” FAITH IS SOMETHING YOU CONSTANTLY “EXERCISE.”
Please don’t get confused about the journey/exercising your faith, because I am not talking about going to church on Sunday, volunteering sometimes, reading a chapter in your Bible every once in awhile, blessing your food before dinner, or tithing. These things are NOT examples of “exercising your faith.” I will repeat myself again for your benefit: REGULARLY ATTENDING A CHURCH SERVICE ON SUNDAY IS NOT EXERCISING FAITH IN GOD!
Whoa…. did he just say that?
Oh yes… I just said that.
Do you want to know what real, genuine, authentic faith looks like to God?
- Faith looks like a military commander declaring to be totally unworthy to even be in the presence of Jesus Christ while acknowledging that Jesus is the Supreme Commander over all things, and that at His command all things must obey and bow down to Him. Therefore he sent his friends to Jesus who conveyed the message to Jesus, saying, “Simply say the word Lord, and our Master’s servant shall be healed.”
- Think about this event real quick… A Roman military commander came seeking a Jew for healing and acknowledged Him as the true Supreme Commander over all things?? This was certainly unheard of back in that time when the Roman soldiers virtually despised the Jews! No wonder Jesus marveled at this man’s faith. (Luke 7:1-10)
- Faith looks like a woman whose daughter is completely overcome by demonic torment and possession and she hears that Jesus is nearby and cries out to Him – very loudly. Not only is she willing to draw the attention of an entire crowd and look like a fool in front of everyone, but then she gets called a dog by the very Man who she is asking to save her daughter! In her faith this woman kept seeking, kept pursuing, and kept believing despite this incredible insult, and even agreed with the Man to receive what she needed by saying, “Even the little dogs eat crumbs that fall off the Master’s table.” (Matthew 15:21-28) Wow! That is great faith!
- Faith looks like men who disrupt a meeting by tearing apart a rooftop in order to lower their paralyzed friend in front of Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus saw their faith here, meaning their faith wasn’t hidden, or timid, or kind of quiet out of respect for the meeting that was happening. It was BOLD, it was LOUD, and it was DISRESPECTFUL toward other people in the house because these men needed to reach the Lord for their friend that badly! I mean, they tore someone’s roof apart for crying out loud! How much more disrespectful can you get? (Luke 5:17-26)
- Faith looks like lepers (Luke 17:11-19) and blind men (Mark 10:46-52) who desperately cry out in the middle of the crowd (loudly) so that Jesus will be forced to stop and heal them.
- Faith looks like an unclean woman, breaking the synagogue rules and shoving her way through a crowd just so that she may touch the hem of Jesus’s garment and be healed of her terrible infirmity. This kind of faith HAD to be deliberately pointed out by Jesus for the benefit of everybody else. (Matthew 9:20-22)
- Faith looks like another woman, guilty of all manner of sin, who completely interrupts a formal dinner meeting with Jewish leaders so that she may wipe the feet of Jesus with her hair and with her tears. (Luke 7:36-50)
Are you seeing the common trend with these peoples’ faith? These stories describe people who were extremely desperate for Jesus because they knew that Jesus was their only hope. They were willing to risk looking like complete fools in front of others, they interrupted meetings, tore apart roofs, and they shouted in the middle of crowds, drawing everyone’s attention to them. They were even willing to be publicly insulted or publicly sacrifice their pride in their high up government position in order to express their faith in Him.
Does the idea of revealing true faith in Jesus make you nervous or afraid? What does showing your faith look like in your life? Will there be a sacrifice for you to show your faith in some way? Perhaps your family or your friends will change their opinions of you, or maybe you could be humiliated somehow? Yikes. As you think about whether you can or can’t do that, I hope you deeply consider this question: who do you fear more, God or man?
Truly this is exercising faith. These public moments were the kind when miracles would break out from heaven, and Jesus would look at the person and lovingly say, “Your faith has made you well.”
Faith is never something we can figuratively put on the shelf by claiming that we “have it” already. That is NOT how faith works! See in James 2:14-26 how the Holy Spirit gave James the foresight and understanding to deliberately address this exact deception that people would inevitably fall into. Let’s read the entire passage:
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
(It is useless to say to someone who lacks food and clothing, “be warmed and filled,” without doing something because those are just inactive, meaningless words… Likewise faith cannot just be “claimed” without putting action to our beliefs. A similar example would be someone who owns a large library of books but hasn’t read any of them while claiming to be an intelligent, well-read individual just because they “have” the library. Sorry, but you cannot claim it without doing it!)
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.‘ And he was called friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
(Abraham desperately needed God, even more than his need for his own son. And proved/showed his faith by willingly offering Isaac on the altar. Without doing the “work” of placing his son on the alter, there would have been no faith revealed.)
“Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
(Likewise Rahab proved her faith by rescuing and aiding the Israelite spies. If she had simply “claimed” that she feared the Lord and feared Israel then Rahab would have died like everyone else in Jericho did! All the people feared God – and trembled! But faith without works is dead!)
Faith is the evident manifestation of a desperate pursuit of God.
or in other words…
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” (Heb 11:1)
So what do these moments of faith have to do with fruitfulness? Everything! The lesson here is that desperation and pursuing God will bring us closer to God because the desperate pursuit of Him is the true expression of faith. Closeness to God is everything that we want and need, because it causes us to be filled with confidence, fearlessness, and all of the fruit of the Spirit! To be fruitful in God is your entire purpose for existence and nothing feels better! Fruitfulness only comes by abiding in Him, and only those who abide with Jesus produce fruit.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” –John 15:4-5
Without a strong, regular, connection with the Vine (i.e. Jesus Christ) you cannot bear fruit, it is impossible. You must abide in Him or you will find your life will be fruitless and unworthy for the kingdom of heaven. No one can bear fruit without a close connection to Christ, and this connection with the Vine is not established by a brief one-time (or short season) event; it is a completely new way of going that is meant to be traveled upon continually and never departed from. It is the new path of your life. Abiding in Christ is what it means to be a Christian.
Do you regularly feel a lack of peace or joy in your life? Do you find that you often react to your family or friends out of impatience, that you tend to treat people unkindly, or that sometimes you find yourself doing things that are plain unloving? Are you constantly overwhelmed with your circumstances, stressed out, afraid, or anxious? Do you honestly think this is God’s will for you? Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe these feelings are symptoms because you are not walking the path that God intends you to be walking on?
- If you want peace and joy in your life there is only one Way: abide in Him.
- If you want to be loving, patient, and kind with others all the time: abide in Him.
- If you are tired of mistreating people, being angry all the time, and you want to become a gentle person who is full of self-control: abide in Him.
- If you no longer want to feel depressed, or stressed out, or anxious, or afraid and you want to be free from it all: abide in Him.
- If you are finished being sick: abide in Him.
- If you will no longer accept living in poverty: abide in Him.
There is no fruitfulness apart from Christ. You must get re-connected to the Vine because He is the answer to all of your needs and all of your problems. It is not worth delaying or waiting or putting it off until later. Connecting with God is EVERYTHING and it is worth whatever the cost – even public humiliation! These people we read about it in the Bible risked embarrassment in front of their entire community for the chance to connect with Jesus, but are you willing to sacrifice a TV show or your video game time in the evenings to read your Bible? Would you sacrifice your precious football game to connect with God in prayer instead? How desperate are you for Him and what will you choose on a daily basis??
Here are some examples of what exercising your faith might look like for someone who wishes to fully abide in Christ and become fruitful for the kingdom of heaven:
- Take serious time to be in prayer. I’m not talking five or ten minutes. Get serious, get desperate for God, and spend some real time with Him! When is the last time that you got alone with God in prayer for three, four, or five hours in one sitting? Does that sound like too much? Well, have you ever taken even one full day in your entire life to spend it with God? Or do you only do what you want on your day off instead?
- Fast. Do you know why people in the church tend to avoid the topic of fasting? Because for the most part the church is not desperate enough for God to skip a meal! Are you really unable to skip a few meals in order to draw nearer to God? Or maybe you just choose not to believe that God is big enough or powerful enough to keep your blood sugar levels stable during a fast?
- Chasing God requires commitment. Have you ever experienced the commitment and dedication it takes to lose weight or get into physical shape? Why do we dedicate so much time towards the maintenance of our fleshly bodies, but so little effort towards maintaining a close relationship with the God of the entire universe? Maybe we aren’t taught scriptures such as 1 Timothy 4:7-8 which says, “Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits little (the word “little” meaning: short, small, or virtually no advantage), but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
- Sacrifice sleep to draw nearer to God. What is more precious to you: an extra 2-3 hours of sleep, or the opportunity to connect with the Lord in the quiet moments of the day when no one else is awake to interrupt you? I dare you to pray this prayer if you really desire closeness with God. Say this: “God, please wake me up in the middle of the night so that I can spend more quiet time with you. I believe that you’ll provide me with all the energy and strength I will need for the next day, but I desire You more than I desire sleep.”
- Spend plenty of time in the word. God’s word is something to be taken very seriously. A handful of verses or even a chapter a day is barely enough to really learn and grow in His word. You must study it. You must meditate on it. Ask God to open your understanding while you read it and strive for understanding! If you feel like you don’t have time to read your Bible then cut things out of your life that steal your time from you! Which leads me to my next recommendation…
- Sacrifice keeping up with all the endless little things and seek the One Thing that really matters. We live in a world where it is nearly impossible to keep up with it all. You have to decide what is more important to you: keeping up with all of the things of the world or sacrificing some of these things to chase God. Please keep in mind the lesson taught in Luke 10:38-42 when Mary and Martha are near Jesus. Martha is trying to keep up with the household and serving while Mary sits at Jesus’s feet and hears Him. Mary is commended by Jesus, but Martha is rebuked because she is anxious and stressed about all of the little things.
- Remove the things from your life that you know cause you to sin or cause you to be distracted from God. Quit making excuses to hold onto things that you know only hold you back from Him. If you are unsure how to identify some of these things then ask the Holy Spirit and a mature follower of Christ to help you.
- Go to a healthy, growing church and/or small group with the right attitude. I said above that attending a church is not exercising faith toward God, but I wish to clarify what I meant. Attending a church or small group is not a bad thing, but it can easily become an unprofitable venture if we don’t have the right frame of mind or if the church is out of alignment with God. Do you attend church to be entertained for an hour or two or to fulfill your spiritual quota each week? Has your church become repetitive, monotonous, or spiritually dry? Church was never intended to turn into a short concert, flashy lights, entertaining videos, and a brief message before lunch. Church is meant to be the corporate gathering of the body of Christ to experience the fullness and presence of the Holy Spirit and to connect with God deeper altogether than anyone can alone. The gathering of the body was meant to be a Spirit-led, fantastic, joy-filled, close encounter with the living God on a regular basis, and trust me, there are churches that experience meetings like this all over the world! I once regularly attended a small group that would normally meet for six straight hours in the middle of the work week, would pack out a small conference room to the point of overflowing into the hallway, and by the end of the meeting everyone would be sad to leave and would want to stay longer! I promise you that these experiences and places exist and that they are worth finding.
- Get on your knees before the King. Humble yourself and worship Him. Did you know that the word worship means “to make yourself low”? Do you think it is strange that some people in church fall to their knees during worship? Are you too nervous or ashamed to even lift your hands in praise of God? Perhaps the people who do these things aren’t as weird as you think they are, but they are just desperate for God and put Him before the opinions of others. Did you know that God loves hearing people cry out for Him, even loudly, in the middle of a worship service?
- On that note, if you find it difficult to experience a heartfelt connection with God during worship then find a mature believer who can lead you into the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Being baptized in the Spirit will change the experience of worship for you forever and you’ll desire God like never before! Ask Jesus to help you speak in tongues, which is another fantastic way to set your heart on fire and draw closer to God.
These examples that I suggested might feel like pressure to anyone who has not experienced the true depth that God has for them. You’ll never hear from anyone who pursues God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength say that it was a waste of time because God is the source of all life. Therefore to experience closeness with God is to be filled with life like never before! This life is the opposite of burdensome – it is the most free and lightest weight anyone can ever imagine! The question is this: do you believe that all of this is true? Are you willing to deliberately, diligently, exercise your faith, abide in Christ, and experience the fruitfulness of God like you were designed to do?
This is the kingdom fruit you were created to produce. Kingdom fruit is God’s reasonable expectation for those who are His, and likewise producing kingdom fruit is how you repay God for His graciousness in giving you life in the first place. You render to Him everything you have: your heart, your soul, your mind, your strength, and yes, even your own life. You were made in the image of God, His inscription is written on your heart, and you are expected to produce the fruit that is worthy of Him. Be transformed by abiding in Him always, produce the fruit you were created to produce, and do not fail Him! The abundance you experience in your life here and now AND your eternity depend on it!
To continue to the next lesson in this series, entitled “Deeper Insights” click here (coming soon).
If you enjoy these lessons, then please consider supporting Anthony by purchasing his book: Are Christians Sinners? which is filled with revelation from the Holy Spirit!