Here is my second sermon. I received an A on this one. Feel free to comment, make suggestions or ask questions. Thank you!
REGENT UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF DIVINITY
SUBMITTED TO DR. ANTIPAS HARRIS IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF PMIN 524 PREPARATION OF BIBLICAL MESSAGES
CRYSALY A. AVILES
MARCH 20, 2010
The Spirit of the Lord is concerned with the Body of Christ being fruitful.
The text for today will be primarily taken from Psalm 92:14 and Psalm 125:24. Psalm 92:14 states: They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. Psalm 125:24 states : The LORD made his people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes.
The United States is a goal oriented and driven country. In spite of race, color or creed, most strive towards the “American Dream” of attaining a greater life compared to what “our parents or ancestors had.” This drive to improve can include “climbing a corporate ladder,” achieving academic success or confronting an addiction or fear. Many if not all Americans with the resources to do so have engaged or know someone who has strived towards self-improvement. Protestant, Catholic and Christian are not exempt from participating in this type of endeavor. Accomplishments such as these are meant to bring personal enlightenment or a type of “self-fulfilling prophecy” where goals are set and achieved according to what the person believes they are capable of achieving. This type of goal orientation does not have anything to do with God or His purpose.
Being aware and resourceful with talents is much more common in a country where resources abound. In other words, the level of ambition in this country is consistent with ample opportunities. In contrast, a third world country would probably not be as preoccupied with achieving “full potential” where talents are concerned and would be much more focused on acquiring basic living necessities. Everybody has an ability to excel, however, success is more readily attainable by those who are exposed to the resources needed to help them succeed. For example, in America we have countless seminaries to choose from if pastoring is an end goal. Whereas, in a foreign country, someone pursuing a similar career path might not have the option of a formal education or of openly practicing their faith. Everybody has a talent. However, if we pursue success on our own without the power of God, bringing a talent to full fruition becomes challenging and sometimes an impossible endeavor (like openly practicing faith in a country that does not allow it.)
In Scripture, believers and unbelievers alike prosper. The difference between the two is that believers succeed in a manner that is everlasting and unbelievers’ efforts eventually dwindle away. Prosperity is equally pursued by those who believe in God and those who do not. God is concerned with those that will bring a greater purpose and glory to His name. God sends provision to those who are His. In contrast, those who are without God inevitably find failure in their efforts to flourish. In our selected scripture, God helps His people remain vibrant over time and He makes them productive and successful against their enemies. Consistently, in Luke 13:9, the tree that does not bear fruit is cut down: “If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'" In other words, God is concerned with those who are interested in producing fruit. Anything to the contrary does not belong in the kingdom of God.
What does it mean to be fruitful? What kind of fruit is God looking for? How do I know if I am being fruitful for God? Does everybody have the capacity to be fruitful?
In the Book of Galatians the fruit of the Spirit is identified as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). This type of spiritual fruit is what believers ought pursue as an end goal when seeking progress. An unbeliever might not concern themselves with this type of discipline and only focus on superficial increase. It is here where everybody has an opportunity to be productive, but the type of fruition pursued determines whether the end goal is for the glory of God or for personal gain. Believers and unbelievers strive to succeed during many similar stages in life. The clear difference between the two is that a believer will maintain focus on a greater purpose as revealed by God and a non believer will be focused on a personal agenda. One approach is not necessarily better than the other, but there is a clear distinction between those who want to serve God and those who don’t have an interest in doing the same.
The Holy Spirit is clearly interested in those individuals who are fruitful. In the greater scheme of things, those who are fruitful help bring the kingdom of God to others through their giftings or God ordained talents. The Spirit of God wants the Body of Christ to be active in faith as referenced in James 2:17: “love without works is dead.” If we are to achieve a level of Christ-likeness, it is important that we use our gifts to strengthen the Body of Christ that will benefit everybody around us. It is only through active fruitfulness that we will plant seeds and grow more fruit. Scripture also says that “good fruit can only come from good fruit” (Luke 6:3). In other words, all we need to concern ourselves with is producing more fruit, because the bible says that it will be ‘good’ indeed!
God is able to open doors and create opportunities for His own. Psalm 92:14 states: “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.” In other words, God will continue to provide until we die. He will maintain our sense of purpose every day of our lives. Most Americans retire after a certain age, but God’s people will likely maintain their fruitfulness until the very end! Psalm 125:24 states: “The LORD made his people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes.” God made us to be fruitful. He did not set up a trust account that we can make monetary withdrawals from. God fully expects His own to work, grow and succeed. The fact that, “God made us fruitful” means that we really don’t have an excuse to not produce, because we are made to be that way. God even made us successful against our enemies which can include temptation, distraction or even unmotivation. We are destined to succeed, but to do that we have to take that first step and believe that God has something for us to do. There is something purposeful and meaningful within the Body of Christ assigned to our specific skill-set, talent and/or gifting.
Finallly, our relevant questions are addressed:
- What does it mean to be fruitful? I think that being fruitful is any effort to improve and grow within the Body of Christ, consistent with the word of God and toward a godly end.
- What kind of fruit is God looking for? God is looking for the type of fruit that helps another to change or grow. More than likely fruit will be shared and planted through the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ as referenced above in Gal. 5:22-23.
- How do I know if I am being fruitful for God? God is readily visible in the midst of His own. God’s fruit does not die. It is everlasting. It is pruned and it grows continually and consistently.
- Does everybody have the capacity to be fruitful? I believe that we all have the capacity to be fruitful. However, there are some who will be fruitful for Christ and others who will undoubtedly succeed on their own. However, as scripture has stated, our success outside of God is “short lived “ because we “cannot take it with us when we die”; whereas, success in Christ will benefit humanity long after we’re no longer on Earth.