A Short Devotional About Discipleship.
I wrote this little devotional below, a few months ago; at the beginning of this COVID business that we are all still dealing with at the date I am writing this. I think that it is timely, thus I am sharing it here. Remember, God is in control of all of this and He is currently, and will continue to use it for His glory and to the good of those of us who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
I was walking through the woods this morning and my pants kept getting slightly snagged on thorny bushes. These bushes were raspberry bushes. There are of course no raspberries on these bushes in late March, here in South Eastern Michigan, nonetheless we still identify and name this plant on the basis of the fruit that it bears in its due season. We do the same with an apple tree, a cherry tree, a walnut tree, a blueberry bush, and so on. I would also suggest that the title for those of us who have believed the Gospel and trusted in the finished work of Christ, that title (or name) of course being “Christian,” works the same way, or at least it should. The fruit that we should be bearing is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), which only comes from the Spirit, who we receive and whom we are sealed with when we believe the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4, Eph. 1:13) and the seed of Christ is planted within us (1 John 3:9). When we walk in the Spirit and do not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16), we are imitating Christ. Thus the fruit we are to be bearing should look like Christ. Our title of “Christian” is thus in accordance with the Christian’s potential fruit, much like the raspberry bush, apple tree, etc.
The raspberry bushes that were getting caught on my pants this morning had no raspberries on them, this of course because they are not in season. When in season, these raspberry bushes produce and bear a fruit that is pleasant to look at, that tastes good, that is attractive, and is quite nutritious; feeding those who would partake of it. That fruit also contains seeds to multiply its kind, as well as a means to spread them through many of those who would partake of it. However right now; being out of season, the bush is nothing more than an irritant or distraction to those who would come in contact with it, because of its thorns. If we Christians are not bearing the fruit of the Spirit; the fruit that imitates Christ, I fear that we become much like those thorns on the raspberry bushes when they are out of season, having no semblance of the fruit that they will be bearing in their season; being an irritant; something that people seek to avoid, or at least something that they are not attracted to.
The Apostle Paul tells us Christians, in his second letter to Timothy, to be bearing fruit in and out of season. We as Christians have the living water welling up within us (John 4:14), therefore we are not limited to any season for fruit bearing. In fact, we are commanded not to be limited by any season for fruit bearing.
If we are not walking in the Spirit, we are fulfilling the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16, 19-21), thus not bearing fruit; the fruit of the Spirit. We wind up bearing nothing but the thorns (distractions) of this life (Matt. 13:7); the lust of the flesh. We are then not only allowing for our own growth to be stunted, but we are also not bearing the fruit that would lead the edification of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are not bearing the fruit that would also ultimately lead to others putting their trust in the finished work of Christ and receiving the free gift of salvation/everlasting life (John 6:47, Acts 16:31, etc.) as opposed to receiving condemnation (John 3:18). This is of course exactly how Satan would desire all Christians to live their lives.
We are living in times where a lot of people may be hungry for the fruit that we bear when we are walking in the Spirit. You may not feel in season, but by the grace and power of God, you can walk in the Spirit and bear this desperately needed fruit regardless. Remember what Jesus says to us in Matthew 17:20
…for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
Also remember what He told the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
We may be dealing with infirmities of many shapes and sizes right now, but we have the power within us and resting upon us that is much bigger than Satan or any virus; a power that infinitely more than sufficient to overcome them. That power can and will make good of these infirmities (Rom 8:28). By the grace of God, let us bear the desperately needed fruit, not the thorns. I humbly suggest that we all stop and allow God to give us each a blessing according to the instruction and the promise found in Philippians 4:6-7 today.
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