1. I Want To Be Fruitful
"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;" (Colossians 1:10)
Just after I finished eating my lunch Thursday, my phone rang and it was Micah. "Hey MeMaw! Do you want to go with us to pick some strawberries?" Well, in my book that is a win, win, so I replied, "Sure, I do!" Picking some fresh strawberries, and spending time with my grandchildren. That was a pleasant surprise to my afternoon. Earlier that day I had picked my first green peas from my garden, and today I picked a few small radishes for my salad. Freshly gathered fruits and vegetables taste so much better than frozen or canned. Many times my devotional themes come from what is going on in my life at the time, and as I thought about the fruitful season we are entering I felt like this would be a good series. I am not sure where these thoughts will take us, but let's try to increase our knowledge of God and be "fruitful in every good work."
2. Mother's Day, Be Kind
Remembering Psalms 128:3 helped my in the decision for these devotions. I have heard it preached often on Mother's Day. "Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table." Young children often have dreams and plans of what they want to be when they grow up, and some follow through and are happy to reach their goals. I always wanted to be a wife and mother, and teach children how to read. God gave us five children and even let me teach them to read. I worked at different jobs from time to time as the Lord gave them to me, but being a mother was the most important thing I ever did.
As we celebrate Mother's Day today, remember to be kind. If you can get in touch with your mother, go see her or call and tell her how much you appreciate her. In asking you to be kind, remember those who have lost their mother and this may be the first Mother's Day without her. Remember the mothers who have lost a child. Not all pregnancies come to full term and I know from experience that it is very difficult to look forward to a certain day, and it all ends much too soon. Pray for the women who didn't get to experience the joy of holding and rocking their own little babies. It is understandable how some women can be very sad on Mother's Day while others are celebrating their motherhood. So today, let's remember to be kind.
3. A Fruitful Beginning
As we begin our fruitful devotions, I thought it would be good to look back to the first fruits. To do that we have to go all the way back to the third day of creation.
"10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day." (Genesis 1:10-13)
God created light on the first day. He created heaven to divide the firmament on the second day. And then on the third day God created the grass, and herbs, and fruit trees upon the earth. Even before the sun, moon, and stars were created, God gave us fruit. In reading these verses, I noticed this little phrase in verse 11 and 12, "whose seed is in itself." God created the fruit trees once, and the seeds have reproduced for thousands of years from the seed of those first plants. Our God is an awesome God. He planned everything out from the beginning of creation, so we can be sure that He can take care of us!
4. Forbidden Fruit
As far back as my memory will allow, I can remember sitting at the kitchen table on Saturday nights while Mom taught my sisters and I the Bible story she was going to teach for Sunday School. She would spread out the colorful flannel graph pictures as she explained the stories. I learned many Bible stories at a young age. When I learned about Adam and Eve, the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden, I thought that the fruit of that tree must have been a powerful fruit, to be able to teach them the difference between good and evil. It wasn't until I was quite a bit older that I realized it wasn't the fruit of the tree, but their disobedience, that opened their eyes. They listened to the lies of the serpent, and sinned against God's Word. The sins we commit may not seem very big in our own eyes. Just like eating a piece of fruit did not seem like much to them. But when we go against what God has told us through His Word, then we have sinned against God, no matter how small the offense may seem to us. We have a tendency to measure sin, and give it different names to make it not sound so offensive. In the eyes of God, sin is sin. And it is such a big deal that He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross so that we could be forgiven of our sin.
"1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden." (Genesis 3:1-8)
5. A Fruitful Tree
Many years ago I was canning apples and I dumped a bucket of peels and seeds in the corner of the yard to see if any of the seeds would grow into trees. Several little trees came up and when we moved, I took some of them with us. All but one of the little trees died, but the one that lived is a great big shade tree now. It used to bear just a few apples, which the deer ate, but I haven't seen any fruit on it in a long time. I recently heard that apple trees need another tree nearby to have fruit. I really don't know anything about fruit trees. But when I look at that tree I think about how great it would be if I could pick apples from it. I want to be a fruitful tree. I don't want to live my life and come to the end with nothing when I meet my Lord. The first Psalm tells us how to be fruitful and prosper. Let's delight in the law of the Lord and be fruitful.
"1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 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.
4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish." (Psalm 1)
6. A Land Of Milk And Honey
God told Moses that He would lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt and into a land that flowed with milk and honey. This is first mentioned in Exodus 3:7-8. "And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey;..." Have you ever wondered about this description of the land? To say the land flowed with milk would indicate that there are green pastures for the flocks and herds and sufficient water to sustain them. And a land that flowed with honey shows that there were flowers and blossoms to keep the bees buzzing as they pollinated the vegetables that grew. When Moses sent the 12 spies to search out the land they learned that the land was indeed a land of milk and honey and they carried back some of the fruit of the land.
"23 And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
24 The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence.
25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.
26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it." (Numbers 13:23-27)
God was true to His Word, but the majority of the people did not believe and they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. When God tells us something, we can trust that His Word never fails and we can go forward and reap a fruitful bounty when we put our faith in Him.
7. The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Love...
I can't talk about being fruitful without looking at the fruit of the Spirit found in 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." I once heard an old preacher say that the fruit of the Spirit is love, and all the rest are flavors, just like ice cream. The Apostle John often referred to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" and his books are filled with the love of God. I want to share some of John's verses on love. They really don't need any explanation.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not." (I John 3:1)
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:34-35)
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13)
"7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." (I John 4:7-11)
8. The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Joy...
Since I became a mom many, many years ago, one of my favorite verses has been III John 1:4, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." Now that I have been blessed with grandchildren, my joy has increased. I was able to spend a lot of time with several of my grands this week and my joy has been full. I find joy in working in my garden and it has been rewarding this week to pick green peas and pull up my beets. I enjoy working around the house and I even enjoy cleaning, making beds, and cooking our meals. After busy weeks like this one, I sometimes wake up tired and don't feel ready to face another day. When that happens I try to remember Psalms 118:24, "This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." All of these things are great for rejoicing, but my greatest joy can be found in Luke 2:10-11. "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." It doesn't have to be close to Christmas for me to rejoice in Christ my Savior. Because He came to die for me and saved me from eternal death of my sin I can rejoice in the life He gives me every single day, and has promised for eternity.
9. The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Peace...
Peace. It's easy when things are going well. When everyone is healthy, when you are making more money than you are spending each month, and when the people around you all seem to be getting along, then peace fills your soul and life is easy. But we can turn to Ecclesiastes 3:8 and read that there is, "A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." What about those times of war when there is no peace? What about the times when you are sitting in a waiting room, wondering what the doctor will say? What about the times when you are riding out the storms of life and you feel like your ship is about to go under? During those times we can trust in the "Prince of Peace". (Isaiah 9:6) Before Jesus left this world He said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27) And again in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." When life gets tough and the seas rage high, remember that you serve the God who walks on the water and can calm the storms. "And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." (Mark 4:39) The world can have peace when life is easy, but God can give you peace that the world can't understand because it passes all understanding. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)
10. The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Longsuffering...
If we were to rank the attributes of God's love in order of importance to us we would have to put longsuffering real close to the top. Without God's merciful longsuffering would any of us be saved? Our Sunday School lessons have been on the book of Jonah for the past three weeks. God was longsuffering with the Ninevites, in that He gave them a chance to turn to Him in repentance. But we also see that God was longsuffering with Jonah in giving him a second chance to go and preach at Nineveh. We find this truth taught in the New Testament in II Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." When we look at the sinfulness in the world today we may wonder why doesn't God do something to change the world. He already has. He gave the best He had to give. He gave His only begotten Son to die to pay for sins of each person who will come to Him in humble repentance. I am thankful for God's longsuffering love, because He is patient with me and forgives me each time I ask. To show God's love to others I need to be longsuffering and show patience when I have to wait a little longer than I expected. I also need to bear with someone who doesn't follow through and keep a promise that was made, or when someone doesn't understand what I am saying. A good example to follow is found in I Corinthians 13, which has often been called the love chapter.
"4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
11. The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Gentleness...
Our scripture references today are found in Isaiah 40. The chapter opens, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God." (Isaiah 40:1) We see the Creator in verse 12, "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?" We serve an amazing, powerful God, yet He is gentle towards His sheep. "Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." (Isaiah 40:10-11) Many years ago we taught our children at church this lovely hymn that was written by Gloria Gaither, "Gentle Shepherd".
Gentle Shepherd come and lead us
For we need you to help us find our way
Gentle Shepherd come and feed us
For we need your strength from day to day
There's no other we can turn to
Who can help us face another day
Gentle Shepherd come and lead us
For we need you to help us find our way
12. The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Goodness...
As I thought about our next fruit of the Spirit, goodness, I remembered this verse, "Psalms 107:8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalm 107:8) The reason I remembered this particular verse is because it is repeated three more times in the same chapter in verses 15, 21, and 31. If the same scripture is written 4 times in a chapter, then the Lord really wants us to hear what He is saying. Let's look at that again. "Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" We serve a good God. We can see His goodness in the creation.
"And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness." (Genesis 1:4)
"And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:10)
"And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:12)
After each act of creation "God saw that it was good." Then we come to Genesis 2:18, "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." In His love for man, God created woman. We learn of God's goodness in the first prayer many of us learned to pray. "God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food." Take time today to remember that God is good! And give Him your love and praise!
13. The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Faith...
There are so many verses which talk about faith. We can begin with the definition found in Hebrews 11:1-3, which also takes us back to the very beginning of time.
"1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."
The 11th chapter of Hebrews is filled with men and women in the Bible who accomplished great things through their faith in God. Verse 6 tells us how important faith is in our lives. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for us to be saved. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (Ephesians 2:8) Our faith can even help others be saved. Do you remember the time when four men let a man down through the roof to see Jesus? "And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee." (Matthew 9:2) Jesus saw their faith, and He healed the sick man. The writer of Hebrews encourages us in our faith. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2) And when we feel our faith is weak, we can pray like the apostles did in Luke 17:5, "And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith." Faith. Believing, trusting faith. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2)
14. The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Meekness...
We live in a time when meekness is mistaken for weakness. Moses was a great leader and stood for the Lord God before Pharaoh and declared the plagues on Egypt. Look at his boldness in Exodus 11:4-6.
"4 And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt:
5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.
6 And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more."
Yet we read in Numbers 12:3, "(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)" We have seen a correlation between some of the fruits of the Spirit and salvation, and we see this again today. "For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation." (Psalm 149:4) Meekness is highly valuable in the sight of God. "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." (I Peter 3:4) Jesus, the Son of God Almighty, calls to us, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matthew 11:29) In several of the New Testament Epistles we are instructed to put on meekness. "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;" (Ephesians 4:2) "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;" (Colossians 3:12) As we go through these different aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, I hope you are encouraged to live in the Spirit and walk in the Spirit and be a Christian example to others.
15. The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Temperance...
As we reap our last fruit of the Spirit today we are looking at self-control. Let's read our verses again. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23) We may not excel in each of these attributes, but when we are filled with the Spirit we will grow in each of these areas of our lives. The Apostle Peter shows how we grow into fruitful Christians through these stepping stones.
"5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
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." (II Peter 1:5-8)
We opened these devotionals with Colossians 1:10. "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;" I hope that these simple thoughts have encouraged you to be "fruitful in every good work" and increase your knowledge of God.