~Matthew 13:24-30 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

How many times have we heard messages on this topic? But have you ever stopped to really think about where you stand on this passage? Do you consider yourself a wheat or a tare? If you are truly born-again, you are considered wheat. But does your life, and more importantly your heart, reflect that of a born-again Christian? Today’s devotional is not written to cause you to doubt your salvation but to confirm your salvation! Why? Because there are many out there who claim they are saved but their hearts speak another matter.

I thought today’s photo was a beautiful depiction of what I’m trying to write about. We were out in the country and this tree had been overwhelmed by weeds. The weeds are so intertwined with the tree, one can hardly distinguish between the two. But notice the beautiful flower growing on the weed’s vine. I likened it to the unsaved person who is trying to live the life of a Christian. It’s part of the tree just as a professing Christian is part of a church. It even has a pretty flower just as a professing Christian would “do and sound” like a real Christian. But, alas, it is merely a weed – an unsaved person merely professing to be saved.

A good example of what I’m trying to convey comes from my very own church, long before I ever joined it. The first Pastor to ever pastor my church was married and served with his wife for many years. During a revival, after almost 20 years of serving, she walked the aisle for salvation! She could no longer live her life as someone who was “supposed” to be saved! The fear of dying and going to Hell was great and she heeded the Holy Spirit’s call! \o/ She could no longer live the lie of deception. I believe this is what Paul referred to in the following Scripture:

~Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Many call the name of Jesus but never come to a saving knowledge of Him. No where in Scripture do we see someone praying a little prayer to “be saved” – it just cannot be found. However, you see salvation in action because of repentance! People’s lives changed and their actions proved what happened in their hearts.

~Acts 19:18-20 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all [men]: and they counted the price of them, and found [it] fifty thousand [pieces] of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Verse 20 totally depicts the results of this repentance. The change was so great that God’s Word grew and prevailed. That’s what brought about the great revivals in our history. There was a true Holy Ghost change in people’s lives and that testimony changed other lives. Today, however, we see the product of the “professing Christian” and what this produces:

~Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Some of my Christian friends and even my own family members are offended when I bring up this topic. I’ve often wondered why they would be so offended when I was encouraging them to search this matter out and make certain that they didn’t just blab a prayer with no repentance to back up that prayer. God’s grace cannot be separated from repentance. The verses above are very clear in this matter. I totally the churches of today’s spiritual condition in those verses. They do things in the name of Jesus but their hearts are far from Him.

What would have happened had that Pastor’s wife not heeded the convicting power of the Holy Spirit in her life? She would have died and gone to Hell – even after a wonderful life as a Pastor’s wife, serving in her church! Christian, this is serious business. I am not asking you to doubt your salvation but to make sure you are saved. Did you pray a prayer and then your life is one of trying to live like a Christian? Or did you pray that prayer and intentionally live your life repenting of known sin and leaving them behind? Is your Christian walk and spiritual fruit greater today than when you were first saved? If not, then it is time to do as Paul exhorted us to do and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” There is nothing wrong with doing moral inventory as that is how the fruit of the Holy Spirit can grow in our lives.

Don’t be like this Pastor’s wife who lived a lie for almost 20 years! Think of all that she could have done for the Lord had she heeded the Holy Spirit from the beginning! Instead, listen to the Scriptures and submit yourself to the Lord for in them you will find peace! 🙂

~2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

When we buy our fruit in the grocery store, we don’t stop to think about where the fruit came from or the work it took the fruit farmer to get that fruit to us. A tree can only produce plenty of fruit – good fruit – when it is properly cared for and has all the right “ingredients.” It needs the right amount of sunshine, rain, fertilizer and pruning. A healthy tree produces a good crop of fruit.

It is the same with our Christian lives. Without the Son-shine in our lives, we cannot bear fruit. One must be born again to produce spiritual fruit. Without Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we cannot possibly be fruitful nor can we make it without Him. Without getting to know Him better through the word of God, we cannot grow.

~John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

At times we need pruning so we can be more fruitful. Pruning comes in various ways – through trials, through the Scriptures, and through the preaching. God uses multiple things in our lives to get our attention if we are being disobedient to His word. A tree doesn’t have much choice but to be pruned. But we do! We don’t have to be pruned by the Lord. We can resist the devil (James 4:7) and the temptations by removing ourselves from the situation that is tempting us.  God provides us with a way to escape temptation so we do not fall.  (1 Corinthians 10:13) However, when we don’t, we can be sure we will not grow properly. This is why we won’t produce the fruit we could produce.

~Psalm 1:2-3, But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Notice that verse 3 says that his leaf shall not wither. If I water my plants regularly, they stay looking nice. If I miss a week or two, however, the leaves start to droop and they “scream” for water. So should Christians scream for the living water of the Word. Daily reading, studying and submitting to God’s word is what will produce good fruit.

~John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 

Don’t allow yourself to go one day without gleaning from the Scriptures.  This is our spiritual food which will produce good fruit.  One cannot walk away from the Scriptures without being changed.  The word of God is the fertilizer that every Christian needs to be fruitful!

Ephesians 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

When one comes to a saving knowledge of Christ, His love begins a work in the heart. Now that work is nurtured is dependent on the individual Christian. Some Christians grow by leaps and bounds while others stay in spiritual diapers. It does not make them any less saved. However, it does give them a disadvantage when it comes to being able to put into action the wonderful gifts that the Holy Spirit has given to us.

Philippians 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Each of our gifts display the character of Jesus Christ in our lives. Unsaved people see the gift in action and they wonder what makes us so different from them. If you don’t know what gift the Lord has given to you, start serving where you are. Ask your Pastor where he needs help. Every Pastor needs help.

As you grow in Christ and allow His love to grow in you, you begin to experience God’s wonderful love and forgiveness. All those things you desperately hung on to (pet sins, habits, etc.) begin to fall away. As I witness the beautiful Fall season, I can’t help but meditate on those falling leaves. A falling leaf falls because the bud from the new leaf is pushing through and pushing that old leaf off. Isn’t that a wonderful depiction of our salvation? As we allow God’s love and forgiveness to take a hold of our lives, we start seeing the old things that we clung to start falling away – some we hardly even notice their passing! It’s not painful – it’s a delicate and simple process. However, the Christian must be willing to give the old nature up. It can’t be done over night but it can be done.

Colossians 1:9-11 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

As a Christian, I must allow myself to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. God’s will is found throughout the Scriptures. It is evident in most every page exactly what He desires for us. As we fill ourselves with the word of God, we gain wisdom and understanding which help us to walk worthy of Him! Our Christian walk becomes fruitful and we are strengthened in order to help others.

If you have stopped growing in the Lord and feel as though you have reached a plateau in your spiritual life, think about the leaf that falls from the tree because a bud of new life is pushing through. What areas in your life need pushing out? You know what they are, friend. God won’t take you  further in your walk if you cannot voluntarily release those dead leaves from your life. Think about it for a while and start shaking your spiritual tree of all the old dead leaves 🙂

~Galatians 5:16-17 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

~Galatians 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Yesterday’s devotional briefly covered the fruit of the Holy Spirit displayed as we walk this spiritual journey. As I read today’s verses, I saw the remedy for nurturing and growing my spiritual fruit. As we practice these verses, we are training ourselves to walk in the Spirit of God. These are His qualities and characteristics. As we mimic Him, we work toward producing good fruit, not spotted with the world’s rottenness.

I love today’s photograph.  I took this at Sweet Creek Falls in Mapleton, Oregon.  Notice how the water is capturing a small amount of the sunlight through the trees.  I felt that it depicted the spiritual struggle between the flesh and the Spirit that Paul was trying to explain.  Paul tells us that our flesh (our old sin nature) is constantly battling against the Holy Spirit. But notice how Paul continues to tell us that The Spirit also battles against our flesh. When we are doing wrong, the Spirit lets us know it. We are not “comfortable” in our shoes. We are constantly battling – good against evil. Paul says that these two natures are contrary to each other and that we don’t want to do the things that we shouldn’t do (in the flesh). Do we fail? Absolutely! But the key is not continue to stay in this sin. If we are not bothered by the sin and continue in it, we should check ourselves – we should question why. The one who is not born again doesn’t even care that he is sinning. But to the born again believer, this is not so.

Paul exhorts the Corinthian church to examine themselves to see if they are living the sanctified life of a born-again believer.  He affirmed rather than questioned their salvation in 1 Corinthians as well ( 1 Cor. 1:2; 3:1; 6:11,19-20). In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 and 6:19-20 Paul referred to their carnality and yet called them “babes in Christ” and those whose “body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.”

He encouraged them to prove their sanctification to themselves.  Nowhere do the Scriptures call believers to look to their works for assurance of salvation.  Our salvation is through the Lord’s righteousness and His alone (Jer. 23:6b).  We are called to look to Christ and find our assurance in Him. However, repeatedly in the Scriptures believers are called to look to their works to find out how they are doing in their walk with Christ. Yes, as believers we are to examine ourselves regularly. The purpose is to ensure that we are doing our best in our service for Christ.   Christ provides salvation, the Holy Spirit provides sanctification – a separation between the worldly lusts and the fruit of the faith.

~2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

So, Christian, let’s do a Godly inventory of our spiritual fruit. Are we walking in the Spirit or aren’t we?  Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us, to grow us, to sanctify us to the work of the Master?

Granted we are a work in progress and the Lord isn’t finished with us. However, we should be steadily moving forward in our walk. Paul repeated this thought process when he was writing to Timothy:

~2Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

We should not be standing still for when we stand still we give the devil an opportunity to tempt us. The longer we stay still, the more likely we will be walking after the flesh and, therefore, be walking backwards!

~Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

If I were to neatly arrange my spiritual fruit in a showcase, would I be displaying many trophies of good fruit?

The Apostle Paul explains to us that we have evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives by the fruit that we bear. Just reading about the fruit of the Spirit brings peace to my heart. Every believer has some trophies to display in his spiritual showcase. Some more than others. We each grow at our own pace but each of us has some.

As I was looking over these wonderful fruit, I found myself lacking. I even found some of my fruit was spotted. I had to ask myself, “Have I been as longsuffering as I should have? How am I doing with my temperance (self control)? How’s my faith during times of testing?”

Thank God that He isn’t finished with me yet! As we see a spotted fruit messing up our trophy case, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and work toward producing beautiful fruit for the Lord!