Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bearing Fruit

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:1-2

This was the beginning of our Gospel reading for church on Sunday and the basis for our preacher's sermon. Jeff used a quote that was the cry of 16th century church reformers: "We are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone." during his sermon. In other words, yes, it is true that by believing in and knowing Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we are saved and can live eternally in Heaven. However, even though that is all we have to do to be saved, as Christians we are called to be fruitful -- to work to advance the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. That sermon has really stuck with me, and ever since I have been continually wondering to myself "am I being fruitful as I am called to do?"

And the answer is, I really don't know.

I will tell you what I do know. I know that I am way short of being perfect. I yell at my kids at the drop of a hat for things that really don't deserve yelling. I get too caught up in material things and things of this world. I love clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry, makeup -- all of the things that represent vanity and all things that I should not be putting all of my money toward. I spend too little on God and his people. I love to know the "scoop" on people. Although I read Bible passages daily, I don't spend nearly enough time getting to know God personally the way that I should. I would say that I am pretty good at "prompted prayers" - praying for something/someone as I see a need (i.e., if we see a wreck, praying for the people who were involved, etc), but I am terrible at setting aside a time to dedicate to prayer. I usually fall asleep in the middle of my prayers. I could go on and on...there are countless ways that I fall short of perfection daily. That is what I know for sure.

However, I am trying to be fruitful with my children. The Farmer and I send them to a Christian preschool (although Miss Priss is now too old, she went there when she was younger). We take them to church every Sunday. We read the Bible with them every night, and we pray with them daily.

One thing that the kids and I say during our prayers on the way to school every morning is "Lord, please help us to show others our love for Jesus by the way that we act." I hope that it instills in the kids -- and in me, too -- that people are always watching, and that we can have the opportunity to minister to others through our actions. If we can act the way Christians should act -- in a loving and forgiving manner -- then others will see Christianity not as something to be judged, but as something to be desired.

I am hoping that by teaching my children about God that they will form their own personal relationships with Him. I cannot force them to form such relationships, but I can lay the groundwork so that, hopefully, it will come naturally to them. I want to bear them as fruit for the Gardener so that he may prune me so that I may bear more fruit for Him.

After all, I don't believe that there are many ways to Heaven, or even two ways to Heaven. I don't believe that "what is right for me may not be right for you, and that is okay." I am sick of living in a politically correct world where we all have to be so accepting of what everyone believes so as to not hurt anyone else's feelings. After all, it was Jesus Himself who said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6. I totally believe Him, and I hope that you do, too.

Honestly, it is much easier for me to type all of this out and quickly push "Publish" than it would be for me to ever say any of this out loud to you were you sitting beside me. I don't like being the center of attention, and I certainly don't like public speaking, so I can't really see that ever changing. But, as I said, the question of being fruitful as been at the forefront of my mind lately, and I hope that my questions will lead to some questions for you. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? And, if so, are you bearing fruit in His name? I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want to be cut off like old, dead leaves...

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