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Sunday night I watched the Super Bowl. I yelled at the quarterbacks, told the refs when they blew a call, and generally commented on a game … that I have never played. Hilarious, right? An older man who is not an athlete thinking he knows something about professional football.  It’s a harmless diversion and there is no real downside to my supposed ‘coaching’ from my living room.  I hope that my devotion to Christ is much, much different than my enthusiasm for football.  My discipleship must change the way I act, calling me to a genuine love for God and His will. He wants more from me than a profession of belief that has no real consequence in the real world.

Jesus tells us that some people will enter eternity sure of their rich reward because they said all the right words and even made something of a positive impact BUT they will be turned away because they really did not seek to know and love Him!  Our Savior says that what really matters is the fruit, the visible evidence of the Spirit’s life.  Read these words that He spoke on a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee, words that lead to life.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:13-23, NIV)

Spiritual fruit is not self-produced. It never can be. We can write rules, try harder, beat ourselves up over failures … ad infinitum … and never really display the fruit of the Spirit’s life. A little fact from a guy who has spent his entire life around ‘churched’ people. They can be some of the most miserably mean, joyless, dour individuals in the world, full of judgment, ready with a quick opinion about the awful ways of those among who they are forced to live.  Jesus isn’t telling us to do ‘church’ better. He is inviting us, in the Sermon on the Mount, into the Kingdom of God, allowing Him to make us whole, hopeful, faithful people. We do not have to get ourselves tied into knots wondering, “Did I do enough? Am I good enough?”

There are choices to be made. “Enter through the narrow gate,” He says. HE is the gate. When we come to Him, abandoning our prideful attempts at self-improvements, our excuses for our sins, we find ourselves born into a new way of life, forgiven, and empowered. For what? To make pronouncements about the world going to Hell? No, empowered to be preserving, light-bearing, loving people who are full of the Spirit. His Presence in us will be announced by the beautiful evidence: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)

If you walk through an orchard this Spring, will you hear the trees straining at making apples? Will they work and sweat and stress out about bearing fruit? Ridiculous, isn’t it?  When the sun’s warm rays bathe those trees, the sap will flow, the buds will blossom, and the fruit will be produced simply because those trees are alive.  When we are alive to the Spirit, true worshippers, bathed by the love of Jesus, bearing the evidence of His life in us is inevitable. Oh yes, there is pruning and care that improves the quality of that fruit, but the fruit itself, is there when the Spirit’s life is in us.

Have you entered through the Gate, accepting Christ Jesus, as Savior and Lord, by faith?
Are you alive in the Spirit?  Are you fruitful?

Here is a word from the Word. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me.” (John 15:1-4, NLT)

__________

Spirit Of God Descend Upon My Heart (Morecambe)

Spirit of God descend upon my heart
Wean it from earth thro’ all its pulses move
Stoop to my weakness mighty as Thou art
And make me love Thee as I ought to love

Hast Thou not bid us love Thee God and King
All Thine own soul heart and strength and mind
I see Thy cross there teach my heart to cling
O let me seek Thee and O let me find

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love
One holy passion filling all my frame
The baptism of the heav’n descended dove
My heart an altar and Thy love the flame

Frederick Cook Atkinson | George Croly © Words: Public Domain

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