Fruit Bearing Season

In the church, we are told that we are to abound in love (Matthew 12:9-14). What does that mean? Well, it means that we are to do good. Love is the fruit to which all other spiritual fruit hangs, and love always reveals itself in mercy and compassion, not legalism. Love and compassion are behind every one of God’s commands. God wants three things to be true in our lives. He wants us to be holy, joyful, and healthy. Anything that makes one of those things true in our lives, without violating one of the other two, is ok. Watch as Jesus enters the synagogue. Matthew 12:9-10~He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. (ESV) 

Now the New Testament does not require us to observe the Sabbath, which is Friday night to Saturday night. Instead, after His resurrection, Jesus’ followers worshipped on Sunday, the first day of the week. Paul tells the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 16:2~On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. (NIV) Sunday is the first day of the week, the day most Christians gather to worship because that is when Jesus was resurrected (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2). Jesus understands. I bet most of us have had ulterior motives in asking questions to God. But listen, we will never trap or trip up the Lord. So Jesus says in Matthew 12:12-13~…it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath…And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. (ESV) Jesus Christ brings wholeness.

If only the Pharisees had been unbiased in their study of God’s Word, they would have known what God requires of them. Micah writes about this in 6:8~He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV) The Lord doesn’t want to consume our stuff, what He wants is a personal relationship. He wants to walk with you just like He did with Adam. Think about how the God of Creation wants to spend time with you. He wants you to live in an atmosphere of holiness, abounding in love. That means our fruit stands are stocked in abundance. Our lives are teeming with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Where we are walking daily before the Lord. 

Today, take time to look at, consider and even work on your fruit stand of life. As a discerning connoisseur who inspects the fruit of others, how does your fruit look? Spend some time asking God to help you and prepare you for those who will be coming across your path of life. I bet the Lord is waiting for you just to ask.

Prologue, And God…Finding Favor Genesis 6:1-22

In Genesis_____ we traced the ungodly line of Cain, then in Genesis 5 the godly line of______. This shares that there are only two paths for humanity, one_______ Way in Jesus Christ, the other path is______ leading to destruction. We either serve the Lord or live in rebellion. Now, most have had some___________ to seek a mate outside of the faith. To this Paul writes, 2 Corinthians 6:14~What_____________ can a believer have with an unbeliever? What_________ ground can idols hold with the temple of God? For we, remember, are ourselves living temples of the living God, as God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people’. (JBP) Genesis 6:3~Then the Lord said, My______ shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years. (ESV) God is watching_____________ spread across the earth like a cancer. So, what do we do when something is growing out of control? We get negative, we get rid of it. Genesis 6:7~So the Lord said, I will blot out man whom I have created…for I am sorry that I have made them. (ESV) One man, Noah, is God’s choice for starting over. His life reveals three requirements for Finding Favor: Different, ________________, Devoted.

1) Be Different (6:8-12) Genesis 6:8~But Noah found _______ in the eyes of the Lord. (ESV) Notice the word but. This word reveals a contrast between Noah and his contemporaries. Noah is________, he is a righteous man meaning he is a man of integrity. Genesis 6:9~…Noah walked with God. (ESV) God chooses Noah simply because he is different. Walking with God makes all the__________ in our lives. 

2) Be Dependable (6:13-21) Genesis 6:13~And God said to Noah, I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (ESV) Understand the gravity, this is not just a boat. As Noah builds the Ark, with every________ of the hammer he is putting a nail in the coffin of humanity. Genesis 6:16~ Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. (ESV) This__________ would be used is for ventilation, removing, light, it is not just a design element. Genesis 6:17~For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth…(ESV) Imagine that you were Noah, taking all the Lord said in. Where would you have gotten hung up?____________________ Genesis 6:18~But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. (ESV) It stands as a binding covenant of salvation. Noah, I AM is going to save you!

3) Be________ (6:22) Noah’s life is a demonstration on faithfulness. Genesis 6:22~Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. (ESV) Noah is on a ______ year clock, counting down to the flood. His task is to build an ark and preach righteousness. For twelve decades, Noah proclaimed the Lord without_____ single convert. 
Take-A-Step: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Grace at Work

In the Ten Commandments, no work is prohibited on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11). The purpose of the command is to rest and worship. God said to take the day to pray and play. Therefore, the priests could not perform their priestly duties on the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9-10: 1 Chronicles 9:32). That’s why Jesus asks in Matthew 12:5~Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? (ESV) Then, Jesus tells them do you know who you are talking to? Matthew 12:6~I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. (ESV) They were furious. Why? They didn’t understand because they weren’t in a relationship with God, they just lived by rules. 

The Pharisees are so caught up in Jewish regulations and rituals they miss the whole point of the temple. Many people miss the whole point of going to church. Being in church is not something to check off a list or to ease our conscience, rather, the church is about the community preparing itself for the Messiah. Jesus is greater than the temple because the temple was just a symbol of what He would do on the cross. Paying our ransom by dying in our stead. Hosea 6:6~For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. (NIV) Jesus was saying these fellows are hungry, and they are out here trying to win people to the Lord. I wish you knew what mercy was, understood mercy. Mercy is kindness or goodwill towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them. It is having active compassion. Want to kill passion? Get legalistic. Want to curb enthusiasm? Get legalistic. Want to kill churches? Get legalistic. Ephesians 2:4~But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy (ἔλεος eleos), (NIV) What people need today, is not our legalistic expectations, rather what is needed is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the power that brings salvation. (Romans 1:16) That’s All the Change we Need, Jesus Christ at work in us. 

Today, where in your life is the Lord working on you? If you’re not sure then take a few moments to ask, survey your life for the tender areas and take note of what the Lord is saying about these places. Then ask the Lord to help you change what needs to be changed so you can look more and more Christlike. As believers and faith practitioners, we must never forget the catchy words of the Hemphills—He’s still working on me, To make me what I need to be, It took him just a week to make the moon and stars, The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars, How loving and patient He must be, ’Cause He’s still workin’ on me. As you give yourself each day to the Lord. May you look more and more like Him who saved your soul.