Wolves and Fruit

Matthew 7: 15-16

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.

Galatians 5: 22- 23

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Jesus gave us a warning in chapter 7 of Matthew. He told us that in these days there would be people who would represent themselves to us a part of the flock of Jesus but in reality, they are ravenous wolves who would devour us if we let them. Fear not though. There is a way we can tell real followers of Christ from those who pretend to be sincere believers. You will know them by their fruit Jesus said. “What fruit,” you ask. The fruit of their character.

Do not attempt discernment by listening to what they say. Anyone can say anything. That is what Jesus was pointing out when he said they would be dressed as sheep. They will say the right things and will sound convincing but ask yourself about their fruit. They can even quote scripture and sound all holy but Satan quotes scripture too. That is what he did in the temptation of Christ (Matthew 4: 6) Being able to quote scripture does not make you holy or a Christian.

Also do not let their works persuade you. These false people will do many of the things that the children of light do in order to appear as sheep rather than as their true selves. But our salvation and our redemption are not in works. They are in faith in Jesus Christ, our redeemer. As a matter of fact, these people may even be leaders in the church. They may be on every church committee. They may participate in charitable works. But these things don’t make you a Christian any more than swimming makes you a fish.

Jesus explained that the way we can know about people is to check the fruit that is on their tree. Galatians 5: 22 tells you what fruit to look for. While none of us is perfect, if Christ is really inside of you then, you should increasingly bear the fruit that is of Him. You cannot give yourself to Christ without His light showing through you. As you walk through life don’t be mislead by people who purport to be Christ centered. If they truly are, they will not have to tell you. You will see that their lives are characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.


Jeremiah 31: 16

Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears; for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord.

Have you ever labored in vain, or at least what seemed in vain? Are you spending time and energy right now that doesn’t seem to be bearing fruit for you? Well, God has a good word for you today. Your labor is not in vain. Your work will be rewarded.

I have to believe that God’s word is true and that as you sow, you shall reap. If you are sowing seeds with your effort, then God will produce a harvest. Right now, it may look like all hope is lost, that none appreciate the hard work you have been putting in. Maybe you have been working for a while now without the fruit of you labor showing. God is not a man that He should lie. Your seed must bear fruit. It is the way the universe was created. Maybe you don’t think your boss appreciates you or that anyone even notices how hard you have been working. Maybe not even your spouse knows about the sleepless nights you have had because of thinking about a project and how you can improve it. There is one, however, who sees all you have done, all you are doing. God is a witness to your hard work and dreams.

When God gives us a dream and a vision, we are propelled into a state which almost feels like a parallel dimension. We see so clearly what could be and throw the full force of our dreams and our energy into following God’s plan. We must pray and stay on His track. We must partner with Him, letting Him guide us. Then, no matter what happens, keep your faith in your vision and your God. Don’t be sidetracked by what mere men do. This is between you and Yahweh. Leave the results to him. Just focus your eyes on him and do all that is in your heart to do. Let the Lord, your God be your rewarder. He promises, “Your work will be rewarded.”

Fruit Tree

Matthew 13: 23

And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

We often talk about the thirty, sixty, and hundredfold return. One most commonly hears it in relationship to sowing seed into the Kingdom of God and in anticipation of the kind of harvest one can expect. God is in the multiplication business so everything we do with Him or for Him does get multiplied. Therefore, I have no problem with the use of this multiplier effect in relationship to seed money.

It is important, though, to realize that the context in which Jesus introduced this concept is in measuring the quantity of fruit you and I would produce. He has sown into our lives. What have we done with that seed? Is it producing a crop? How large a return is he reaping?

All week we have looked at the verses which lead up to this one. Jesus has shown us a variety of reactions people have to his Word seed. Finally, the seed has found good soil and produces a crop. There are two parts of today’s verse I would like to discuss; the good soil and the understanding. Let’s begin with good soil.

Most of us are generations from an agrarian past and therefore don’t know very much about farming and crops, but good soil doesn’t just happen. The Bible even taught about crop rotation and letting the ground lie fallow so that it could be restored. The nutrients in the soil are expended in growing crops. Therefore, it must be nurtured and restored. The same holds true of the soil of our heart. Living in this toxic environment uses up the nutrients in our heart so they must be replenished. How do you prepare your heart to receive Jesus’s Word seed? There are a number of things you can do. The two keys ones are Bible time and prayer. Those are essential nutrients. Let me add some others you might want to till into your soil. Meditation – I actually think of this as going with both Bible time and prayer. Meditatively read your Bible, pray in a meditative state but also take time to think about what you have read in your Bible. Roll around in your mind thoughts about what heaven is like or what Jesus’ life on earth looked like. Simply engage your wondering curiosity in imagining and considering ideas about the Bible, your Father, big-brother and the Holy Spirit.

Another way to prepare your soil is musing, pondering, day-dreaming. This is closely allied with meditation but go even further down the spectrum to just looking out the window and day-dreaming. Just let your mind relax and be at peace. God can use that time, and He does. Consider, also, the effect music has on your heart and play some uplifting, Christian tunes. Even recreation that involves Father can help restore balance to your heart. For example, I love to go bike riding but even more, I like to ride with my Father and Jesus. I talk with them, sing and just generally enjoy their presence. No matter how tired my body is afterwards, my spirit and heart are re-energized.

The second topic is understanding. Jesus said that the person with the good soil understands and therefore, produces a crop. It does not say, however, that he magically understands. In other words, sometimes understanding comes at a cost. Sometimes it involves effort. It is wonderful when revelation lights upon our mind and even a complex matter becomes plain and obvious. This, however, is not always the case. Mostly, this is not the case. The person who is producing thirty, sixty and hundred fold fruit is the one who is working that seed down deep into the soil. The precious seed is not being allowed to lie on the surface where birds and squirrels can pick it off. Then they water the seed. How do you do that? With prayer, study and meditation. Those who understand and thus bear fruit are those who spend time with what they have heard. Perhaps they took notes at church or at a conference and then look up all the scriptures when they get home. Maybe they buy the recording and listen to it again, and again. They might put those scriptures on index cards or maybe they look at the footnotes and look up all the other scriptures related to these. So, of course these people have gained understanding. Of course they bear fruit. They have worked for their revelation and it produces fruit in their lives and for the glory of God.

We’ve been told since we were children that everything of value requires work. Why do we think that now that we’ve met the maker that everything is simply going to rain out of the sky? It doesn’t work that way but . . . He is here to help us with everything and there is nothing He likes better than revealing Himself and His Word to us. So, if you are not daily finding some time to hang out with Him, do it. Don’t worry about it only being a short time, just make time. Take your Bible to class with you. What I mean by that is spend some time with the book. Put it on your phone and you can even read it while waiting for your doctor’s appointment or haircut.

Speaking of “cuts” there is no shortcut in becoming a fruit yielding Christian. You have to put in some time, but hanging out with the creator of heaven and earth isn’t such a bad way to work. And, His Word gives you revelation for a successful life. Prepare the soil of your heart so that you are ready to receive what God has to offer you and then water and nourish that precious seed. Then you will be that fruit tree which is firmly planted by fresh streams which produces thirty, sixty or hundred-fold.

The Righteous person

Psalm 1: 3

And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does he prospers.

An idea came to me today that I believe we will enjoy. Let’s take a trip, you and me, a journey of songs, as it were. Beginning today let us sojourn through the Psalms. Each day I will send you a verse out of a psalm beginning with Psalm One and continuing until Yahweh says, “Halt.” There are 150 Psalms. I do not intend that we do them all but perhaps we will do a couple of weeks’ worth. We’ll see but through this little adventure, I think we will get a better flavor of the Psalms. Sometimes you need to not bounce around so much in reading the Bible because you get a truer sense when you hang out in a book for a while. So, let’s jump in and see how we like this. Send me your comments. It might even be fun for you to anticipate which verse I will send the following day and who knows, if you send me your favorite verse in advance, well, maybe that will be the pick for the next day. So, tomorrow we will look at a verse from Psalm two. Which verse do you like?

Today’s verse is such a fun one. The psalms begin by characterizing the difference between a righteous person’s experience and a “wicked” person’s life. The righteous person is firmly planted. You can stop right there and shout. What image do these words paint in your mind? Being firmly planted means that the storms of life do not cause you to topple. You are not that tree that gets blown down in the storm. You have the ability to bend and flow with the wind all the while your roots, which run deep, firmly grasp the earth. They don’t strain to hold onto life in the tempest because you are simply rooted. You are so grounded that the winds of change or even turmoil do not disturb you.

You are firmly rooted near streams of water. That means that no matter how dry the season, or how infrequent the rain, you are planted at the stream where your roots do not have to search for water. You always have an ample supply because you are constantly resupplied by the flow of water past your roots. Go deeper in your celebration that you are planted by the stream because the stream represents the Holy Spirit of God. Meditate on that a little while.

You always produce fruit when you are supposed to. You are steady and reliable. Everyone knows they can look to you for fruit. You shall not wither and die. Your leaf remains young and supple. You provide shade and nourishment for all who come under your boughs.

Lastly, the piece de resistance, everything you do prospers. Write that one on a 3 X 5 card. Heck, make a poster of it. That is some good news, at least to all who believe it.

Kingdom Fruit

Matthew 21: 43

Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

This discussion on bearing fruit is an important one. It is quite easy for us to slide into complacency as regarding our faith. With the weight and urgency of so many things pressing upon us, focusing on our spiritual growth may not always get the attention it requires. From there it is an easy slip into carnality. I think so often, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” It is so easy to slip just a bit, and then more and we have all experienced it. The next thing you know, the fruit on your tree is beginning to wither. People see it on us. You can tell just being around me if I am having enough time with my Father or not. It just shows.

This lack of production of good fruit is a problem for Jesus, well, not so much for him as for us because he has already revealed how the problem is handled from his end. He will give the Kingdom of God to those who are producing the fruit of it. Does his statement cause a little trepidation in your heart? It does mine. So, what is the test? Do you remember from last week? The best test I know for checking our fruit is to ask how we are treating people around us.

Does the checkout clerk at the grocery store feel the negative emanations coming off of you? Or, conversely, do you try to cover it up with platitudes and she senses how fake and superficial you are? I know I have been guilty on both accounts. Or do you see folks with Jesus bumper stickers on their cars cutting off other people in traffic? Don’t you sometimes wish they would remove the stickers? What message is conveyed about our faith when our actions are self-oriented and inconsiderate?

And here is the big test. If you could be completely honest with yourself, what do you honestly think your family members would say about the things you do and the way you speak to them? Do your words edify or demean them? How are people going to believe in our Christianity if we do not bear good fruit?

Jesus said the Kingdom of God has been reserved for those who will produce its fruit. Actually, what he said is worse than that because he said he would take the Kingdom away from us and give it to those who will produce the fruit of the Kingdom. I think we should ask ourselves, and our Lord, what the fruit of his kingdom is. Secondly, we need to learn to walk by the Spirit daily so that he can lead us in the way.

Let’s take this fruit inspection seriously. If we evaluate our own fruit, of course with the Lord’s help, then we will not be disappointed. He will lead us in the path that will bless us and others.

Fruit Check

2 Samuel 10: 2 – 3

But when David’s servants came to the land of the Ammonites, the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think that David is honoring your father because he has sent consolers to you? Has David not sent his servants to you in order to search the city, to spy it out and overthrow it?”

So, we were talking about fruit yesterday. This is an interesting example from the Bible and certainly a circumstance that everyone has encountered. We’ll see how to evaluate it and how to deal with it.
Let’s begin with some background. The king of the Ammonites died and his son, Hanun, took his place. David sent his condolences to the son, “Then David said, ‘I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.’ So David sent some of his servants to console him concerning his father,” (v. 2). Now look back at today’s verse. Some of the king’s entourage cast a negative pall over David’s act of kindness.

Have you ever noticed there always seems to be someone like this in the group? They turn everything into a negative, always have the negative spin. This, my beloved friends, is not the fruit of the Spirit. You can spot, immediately, that these people are not speaking from the Spirit of God. Whatsmore, their advice, almost always, leads to a bad result. In this case, it led to a war with the most powerful army and warrior in the region. They badly mistreated David’s envoys, so David sent his army. Hey, if you don’t like the messenger who brings the glad tidings, perhaps you will like those who carry the sword better.

People who always bring out the negative, are not speaking from a heart of love. We have to be wise, we need to use the discernment from the Holy Spirit, but we need not speak from fear or suspicion. Just confront the issues and deal with them openly and honestly. God cannot get a blessing to a person who sees negativity in everything. In this case they didn’t receive David so they were never going to benefit from his blessing either. Sometimes God is trying to get a blessing to us, but we act suspicious and turn it away. You can have faith and wisdom. We are meant to. If you have concerns, take them to your Father and let Him speak to the situation. It is a much better course of action.

Show Me

Matthew 12: 33             Voice Translation

Good trees produce good fruits; bad trees produce bad fruits. You can always tell a tree by its fruits.

This is not a farming tip today, though I guess it is a good thing to know. Actually, Jesus spoke this verse in teaching that our words reveal our character. We can no more hide the health of our hearts than a bad tree can camouflage its bad fruit.

This goes to the heart of our evangelical message because it is hard to convince people about the good fruit of Christianity when they perceive rotten fruit on our trees. However, there is another group we should bear in mind because not all evangelism is to strangers. Let’s think about our families, friends, neighbors and co-workers as well. What are our actions and words saying to these people about Christianity?

In the United States, the state of Missouri is known as the “Show me state.” So, if we were all from Missouri we might say, “Show me your Christianity!” You see, if our words are not in keeping with our fruit they will have no weight. The fruit on our trees speaks much more loudly than our words. Our Christianity can best be measured in how we treat other people. People see how we treat each other and they judge all of Christianity by that simple measure, and perhaps rightfully so.

If Christianity is about anything, it is about loving others. This love, is an action verb. It’s not about having a feeling. It is about demonstrating and expressing kindness, gentleness and all the other character traits of our dear Father. Without the outward expression of selflessness and consideration for others, our Christian message fails.

Think about the children we are raising. They hear a lot of messages out there and we are trying to compete with our message of Christian love but are we modeling it? What does it do to an impressionable heart when you claim you are a Christian but do not produce fruit? I tell you it confuses our young people. Even more, it alienates them from the Christian message. And what is the Christian message if not love. But this is not a message which can be conveyed in words alone. It is in our actions, and, as I’ve said, most notably in the way we treat others. These children are saying very loudly to us, “Don’t tell me about your Christianity. Show me.”

I believe they have a right to expect Christianity to be demonstrated to them. They ought to see Christianity in action. Believe me, they will not follow someone who is not authentic and sincere. It is okay to make mistakes. We all do, but there is so much persuasion in admitting fault to your children, even in apologizing to them when we err.

I hope you will give this some thought and let it sink into your heart. We must produce good fruit if we want our Christian message to have any credence at all. The fruit is most noticeably demonstrated, and weighed, in how we treat others, including our children, friends, and associates. We evangelize every day with our actions. The question is, what message are we sending?