Question for the week: Am I effective or just a waste of space?
Verses of the week: Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it but was always disappointed. Finally he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It is just taking up space in the garden.’ The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down” (Luke 13:6-9).
Application for your week: Do you remember that old hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace?” It’s an oldie but a goody. As I sit and think about singing that song repetitiously as a child, it challenges me as an adult. Am I turning away from my earthly possessions and turning toward Jesus? Is all that “stuff” growing dim [unimportant] when I think of my Jesus and how He loves me; How He paused for me when He saved me?
Just sit and think of God for a minute. He created the heavens, the earth, our milky-way galaxy and millions of other galaxies in our solar system. Not only did he create them, but He created them in 6 days! How does our home, our car or even our family even compare to that? When I think of those things, it reminds me of how big He is and how small and insignificant I really am. We place way too much significance on ourselves. As a society, we “worship” the creation instead of the creator.
Letting the “things of earth” alter our mind and cloud our judgment is a recipe for a barren tree or a tree without any fruit. The more we allow what the world is offering into our lives, the further we will move from the living water and the less we will be fertilized or spiritually fed. Jesus will no longer play the starring role in our lives, he will disappear behind the scenes. The more of the world I breathe in the less of Jesus I am breathing out. At that point my actions are not reflective of Jesus. Have you ever felt that way?
Just like a pear tree produces pears; an avocado tree produces avocados; or a peach tree produces peaches, God called each of us to produce a specific type of fruit. We all offer something special and unique to Jesus who can then turn us into an effective instrument He can use. Just like the frustrated man who planted the fig tree, don’t you think Jesus also becomes frustrated when He sees us sitting comfortably and casually in the shade just taking up space? We probably take on the appearance of a measly ole non-effective shrub that has no sense of urgency about producing any fruit at all. I am sure Jesus gets fed up every time he sees this useless, lifeless, stick-like tree that practically breaks every time the wind picks up.
The Bible is very clear about those people who are ineffective and barren. “Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3:9).
How do we make sure we are producing spiritual fruit? How do we make sure we are effective? God doesn’t want us to be insecure about this (see 1 John 5:13). He gives us the ingredients in 2 Peter 1:5-10, for a fruitful life. We are to make every effort to supplement our faith with “moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, godliness and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” The more you grow like this “the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus knows we will mess up, fall apart and not come through for Him sometimes. That is why we must diligently seek His guidance and pursue hard after Him daily. Jesus cannot be an afterthought. He cannot be an infrequent visitor in our lives. We cannot afford to just know about Him, we need to truly know Him personally and intimately, for this is eternal life.
Challenge for your week: Make the choice this week to make every effort to be the woman God called you to be. Do not be casual about it. Be intentional about producing these qualities. Maybe make a personal journal and jot down evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in your life right now. The Holy Spirit’s activity in us makes us a slave to righteousness. He gives us the desire to pursue a life of godliness. This is the only way to produce and grow fruit that is tasteful and vibrant.
If you already see these qualities in your life, are they increasing? We should see moral excellence (purity in actions and thoughts), knowledge of the Word (what kind of effort are we making in pursuing knowledge of God), self-control (everything in moderation in things we desire), steadfast or patience (we don’t persevere until there is pressure on us) and tender affection for one another increasing daily. The more we adopt these qualities as a part of our daily lives the more effective we will become. The Bible says that those who fail to develop these qualities are blind “forgetting that they had been cleansed of their old sins” (1 Peter 1:9). We can never forget what Jesus did on the cross for us.
Looking ahead in your week: Do you believe that God’s divine nature has given you everything you need for life and godliness (see 1 Peter 1:3)? Ask yourself the following questions, “Am I effective or just taking up space in the garden?” “Am I allowing the Spirit to overtake me?” “Am I seeking the kingdom first or am I seeking me first?” Dare to ask God this week to interrupt your comfortable life, turn up the pressure and put you to the test.
Memorization Verse for the Week: 1 Peter 1:8 “You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious inexpressible joy.”