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Good Fruit Takes Times

September 6, 2015 | Chris Zeigler

Guest speaker Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of the college club Brothers and Sister in Christ (B.A.S.I.C.). In this message, Chris talks about patience and how growing fruit in our lives takes time. He encourages the church to allow God to keep working in our lives and growing our character.

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Sermon Notes

Have you ever been called impatient? My parents called me impatient all the time as a child. Getting married and having kids has really helped change that. It had to!

Gardens are not for impatient people. Cheryl and I did garden work together…and I hated it. Want to do a social experiment? Take a person with ADD and give them a garden to tend. I hated doing it. Every day you pull weeds and make sure to water, but it feels like nothing is happening.

We live in a ‘now’ culture. It started with the invention of the microwave and now we can do almost everything in the blink of an eye. We expect it. I can pull up any movie or TV show on Netflix and start watching instantly. With Apple Pay you can pay for your food at a McDonald’s or buy your groceries in less than 5 seconds. If a website doesn’t load in 2 seconds or less something is wrong with my internet connection.

But some things never change.

John 15:1-8 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Jesus has been talking with the disciples and He has just told them about how He will be leaving them and that He will send them the Holy Spirit. He’s telling them He’s leaving, but He wants to make sure that they don’t forget Him and the importance of staying connected with Him when He’s back up in heaven.

John 15:1-2  “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

PRUNING LEADS TO BLOOMING

We are quick to look for fruit, something that we can see to show us that we’re doing the right thing and that we’re where God wants us to be. Have you ever had a time in your life where it doesn’t seem like things are going the way God would want them to go (because they’re certainly not going the way you want them to) but when you take time to listen to God He tells you to just keep trusting Him?

Joseph is the perfect example of this. Joseph is someone who God gave big dreams and visions to, but his character wasn’t quite established yet. In Genesis we read that Joseph, when he dreamed that his older siblings were bowing down to him, used no discretion in telling them so (Genesis 37:5). He displayed “enthusiasm and eagerness,” to tell his brothers about this. I almost picture Joseph like that annoying little kid who’s always bragging about how much better his dad is than all the other kid’s dads. It would take many years and many pruning events — being sold into slavery (Genesis 37:28), thrown into prison (Genesis 39:20), and appointed to huge administrative responsibilities (Genesis 41:40) — to cut back his pride and to shape his character. Yet at the end of his life, Joseph bore the fruit of such pruning: Wisdom, humility, kindness, forgiveness and deep love of his family. Eventually, he did rule over his older brothers, a wise, benevolent and prudent leader. “Joseph was a fruitful vine” (Genesis 49:22), his father pronounced in his dying blessing. We want fruit in our lives and we want to see it right away, but in order to bear fruit this says we must be pruned.

Remember: good fruit takes time and Joseph learned that pruning leads to blooming.

No one likes pruning, but it’s not as terrible as you might think (even though it might feel terrible at the time).

John 15:2  but any branch that doesn’t bear fruit He takes away

This is actually the Greek word airo which means lifts up. The idea is that the Father lifts up unproductive vines off of the ground (as is common in vinedressing), that they may get more sun and bear fruit better. If you’re tending a grapevine you actually have to train the vines to go the way you want them to. That’s why vineyards look the way they do with the vines in neat rows and up off the ground. They have used stakes and wire to train the vines. God is so patient and gentle with us. He knows that good fruit takes time.

I’m so thankful that God is more patient with me than I was with my garden, He’s more patient with me than I am with myself most of the time. We see pruning as negative, but God sees it as an improvement

PRUNING LEADS TO BLOOMING

We (and the world) judge ourselves based on fruit, but in order to have fruit we must first establish roots by abiding in Him

John 15:3-5  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you UNLESS you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears MUCH fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Sometimes we think so much about what we are to do (fruit) that we neglect thinking about who we are to be (roots). God cares more about developing our character than He does about doing the right thing – good character leads to right actions. Someone with a habitual sin tends to focus on the action, but doesn’t deal with the heart. If you think about the other Biblical passage famous for talking about fruit it’s the fruits of the Spirit. All of these are inward things that develop our character and then produce good fruit outwardly.

Galatians 5:22-23  but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Do you ever feel like God isn’t moving fast enough? Like you could accomplish so much more if He would just let you? Apart from Him we can do nothing – when we try to accomplish things on our own it never goes as well as we think it will – we end up failing and sometimes we hurt ourselves/others

THERE’S NO STRIVING WHEN YOU’RE ABIDING – good fruit takes time

Why is it that this happens? Because we have not first laid down deep roots as a result of abiding in God – we haven’t developed our character and learned to trust Him

Giant bamboo plants see very little growth in the first few years. The first year you plant it nothing comes up, the second year you get a tiny stem, the third year you begin to see more growth (it might get to 1 foot), and about the same or maybe a little higher in fourth year. But the fifth year it begins to grow incredibly fast, because it has developed this incredible underground root system, it can grow over 2 feet per day. Within 3 or 4 months it hits over 100 feet!

If we want to see success, we must trust that God is developing roots in us when it seems like nothing is happening. Scholars believe Jesus’ ministry on earth was 3-4 years, meaning the disciples were being developed and growing their roots for 3-4 years before really stepping into their calling, and that’s coming from guys who were walking with Jesus in person daily!

Even though it may seem like nothing is happening in your life, God is working in the background. It may seem distant, sometimes too distant to know it’s happening, but it’s there.

How do we become who we are to be? By abiding in Him

THERE’S NO STRIVING WHEN YOU’RE ABIDING

Fruit bearing is impossible without abiding; but it is inevitable with abiding.

John 15:6-8  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

STAY THE COURSE AND YOU’LL REAP THE REWARDS

Don’t compare yourself to others around you. Don’t try to be the same person or do the same things they are or get frustrated thinking that God isn’t putting them through the same thing as you. He may not be challenging them in the same area as you, but He’s working on something in them too. Investment now will pay rewards in the future; don’t sacrifice your future for your present.

Financial writer Ben Carlson wrote about his awful (or perhaps unlucky) investor “Bob.” Bob made his first investment in the beginning of 1973, right before a 48 percent crash for the S&P 500. Bob then held onto stocks after the drop, saving a total of $46,000, and not getting up the gumption to commit more savings until September 1987—right before a 34 percent crash. Bob then continued to hold tight, making only two more investments before retirement, which came right before the 2000 crash and then the 2007 crash! So how did “Bob” do after these 42 years of epic market misfortune? Actually, he made money. As the market successively made record highs, Bob turned the $184,000 he invested over the years ($6,000 in 1973, $46,000 in 1987, $68,000 in 2000 and $64,000 in 2007) into $1.16 million—for a total profit of $980,000.

There was a job position I really wanted and I thought I would be really great at it. After I was turned down, I decided to get feedback on why I wasn’t given the position and then turn my attention to those areas. I met with leaders who could mentor me, got some coaching, and did a lot of self-evaluation. I decided to stay the course and trust that I would reap the rewards.

GOOD FRUIT TAKES TIME

PRUNING LEADS TO BLOOMING

THERE’S NO STRIVING WHEN YOU’RE ABIDING

STAY THE COURSE AND YOU’LL REAP THE REWARDS

Do you ever feel like you’re in a car waiting on the on ramp to a busy highway? The cars just keep coming and there’s no space for you to get in. You can jump the gun and pull out, maybe wiggle into a small space that really wasn’t the best way to get in. Hopefully, you’ll get in there but you’ll frustrate everyone around you (trust me) because it will take you time to get up to speed or worse, you’ll cause an accident and crash. Or you can be patient and wait for the right opening. Wait till God makes a space just for you and tells you to go.

Have you ever asked yourself – Why haven’t I found the one? Why aren’t I seeing more favor at work? Why do I lash out at my children or my wife? Why don’t I have more money?

Here are some practical steps:

  • abide and trust
  • ask others around you for help (coaching)
  • let Him work on your character (self-evaluation)

Philippians 1:6 “I am confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Whether you realize it or not, God is in the business of cultivating us.