Monday, June 9, 2014

Abiding Fruit

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:16 ESV)

You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as [a]presenting all that I Am], He may give it to you. (John 15:16 AMP)

You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you. (John 15:16 MSG)

Fruit. More Fruit. Much Fruit. Abiding Fruit! How the heart of Christ is set upon fruit! And it is not only quantity that He seeks, but quality too; not only much fruit, but fruit that abides, remains, lasts. God has been using this tree analogy with me for many months now.

When trees are not perfectly healthy, or are suffering from drought, they sometimes drop their fruit. The trees may bear much fruit, but are not able to ripen, and so the fruit falls to the ground: the fruit does not abide. Or they may bear fruit that, and once the fruit is ripe it will not keep: it does not abide. It must be used at once, while other trees will keep, and can bear being carried far, or can be stored for use in winter. Or, there are trees that bear fruit only for a few years, and then fail, while others continue fruit-bearing till old age: the fruit abides as long as they live.

If I look back over my own life, I can see how I’ve been each of these types of trees. Looking back has a way of propelling you forward differently, doesn’t it? I desire to no longer begin any season of life well, with lots of zeal for the work God has laid before me and then, somewhere along the way, lose my connection with the source of life and allow my fruit to stop ripening. I want mature fruit. Fruit that has a lasting impression on everyone around me. Fruit that has long-term influence and not just temporary influence. Fruit that abides as long as I live.

Jesus meant that the branch that abides in Him should bear fruit that abides, should have permanent results for time and eternity. When the connection between you (the trunk and the branch) and Jesus (the water of life, source of life) and the Holy Spirit (the root system in which the water flows from the source) is close and the communication is never ceasing, the power flowing through the trunk and branches is to be seen in the fruit produced.

One great secret to having fruit that abides is that we know that Jesus has appointed us to bear fruit, and with our whole heart we accept and take up the appointment. When I think of someone being appointed, I think of a government official or someone highly ranked who has received a special position. He first has to be chosen for the appointment, and then he has to accept the appointment. Then you see him give his whole life, all his time and energy and attention, to fulfilling this role. And throughout his time in that position, his influence and possibility for future promotion depend on his faithfulness to giving everything he has to this position. It is often apparent that people who are appointed into these special roles make everything else in their life subordinate to this role. For this role alone they now live. As little as a tree chooses where to be planted, or a branch chooses the tree it grows on, did I choose Christ. No, remember, He chose me. To allow the Holy Spirit to let this sink into my heart is so important in my knowing that because He chose me, He has a purpose for me. And I know from the Word that He is committed to His purpose, and He will be faithful to complete His purpose in me. I have been planted as a strong, healthy tree for a purpose- to bear much fruit. And I have been planted/appointed, to bear this fruit not because of my own anything, but because Jesus saw fit to choose me to do so. I was planted by the Gardener, and this should give me the desire and confidence to see my root system grow stronger and deeper and closer to the Life Source. But fruit that abides comes from a tree that abides.

Jesus also says “Abide in Me, and I will abide in you.” This means to make Jesus everything in every moment. This looks like taking up my appointment seriously, turning away from everything that makes me busy, or distracts me, or takes my mind off of Christ, and making bearing fruit the first, the last, the only thing I spend my life doing. That’s the purpose of the Holy Spirit, by the way. He has been given to me to make Jesus all to me and in me that He has purposed. He is given to enable me to believe this and to put it into action, to abide. For this very reason, I cry out to God and say “Fill me with the Holy Spirit! Give me more of Him!” More of the Spirit in me will allow me to see that my fruit is from Him, and that He is at work in me making fully-ripened, healthy, tasty, effective, influential, lasting fruit.