Faith Produces Fruit

Right now, as I sit here writing I am meditating on the question of how can I become excellent on my level right now?  As I search deep within myself, I find there is an inner calling that is rooted so far into my being that I cannot access it within the power of my own will, it is God’s power and his power alone that has the ability to draw out what only He has placed deep down inside of each of us.  And He will fulfill the purpose that He created each of us for.

In understanding that, we should all come to realize that if we do not possess the power to provide ourselves with the answer to this question.  We must continuously seek the one who can.  That longing for excellence has always kept me dependent on the absolute fact that Jesus Christ is the key to our success in life.  He has been the number one staple in our existence from day one.  Christ is our problem solver, provider, way maker, protector and savior.  He is the life-giving power of redemption!  There has never been, is not and will never be anyone who could possibly resemble the illustrious, astounding, inexplicable love of our Father God, Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit!  I am forever in awe of The Lord and His goodness!  My mind cannot comprehend God but the reverence that I have for Him will never fade.  Despite God’s perfect love, and His perfect will for our lives, we fail.  We fail each day, sometimes with tears in our eyes and sadness in our soul, we fail.  Romans 3:23 says “For all sin and fall short of the glory of God.”  But glory be to God for His grace is sufficient!  2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  It was Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross that gave us the love and the grace that we could never have earned ourselves.  Thanks be to God our father for His mercy and unspeakable kindness!

I look at God and His glorious Holy son Jesus who is our savior and our redeemer, and I wonder why is it so difficult for us to love God the way He loves us?  With all that God does for us every day of our lives, how could we as believers see His goodness and still choose to walk the path of self-righteousness?  Which is honestly a sin that we as believers can commit often but acknowledge so little.  It reminds me of the scripture that Jesus describes in Luke 8, The Parable of the Sower.  Jesus says that “Others are like the seed that fell on rock. That is like the people who hear God’s teaching and gladly accept it. But they do not have deep roots. They believe for a while. But when trouble comes, they turn away from God. “What about the seed that fell among the thorny weeds?”  Jesus replies. “That is like the people who hear God’s teaching, but they let the worries, riches, and pleasures of this life stop them from growing. So, they never produce a crop.” Luke 8:13-14

Some of us have been rocky soil for so long that we do not know how to allow ourselves to be cultivated for growth!  A seed can be planted into any type of soil but for the plant to grow, the soil must be cultivated or prepared for gestation.  Once the seed has been planted in good soil the developmental process can begin and the plant will yield good fruit in due time.  Jesus says in Luke 8:15 “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”

We should all desperately want to become good soil!  We should desire to be men and woman after God’s heart like David was!  We should forever be in pursuit of Jesus’s character so that any seed that is planted can be used for the glory of God and to expand His kingdom.  So many others have done it before us, and we know that we too were created for His purpose as well.  There are times in our lives when that concept can seem so far away.  It can be painful to think about what life could have been if we were always obedient to The Lord.  Especially when our disobedience led to a painful lesson. 

Obedience is the number one key to having a right walk with God.  Learning to obey when everything is going well, when everything is going wrong, no matter what we want, feel, or think we need.  We should have wholeheartedly, unchanging, immovable obedience to God’s every word!  God’s word says in Luke 8:15 “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” God’s seed is His word, we become good soil by storing God’s seed in our hearts, retaining it and through perseverance and patience.  In doing so, we will eventually produce a good crop that will glorify the Father, that He can use to expand His kingdom and build the body of Christ.  So, the question remains, how do we develop deep-seated obedience to The Lord?

Obedience comes from having faith.  Romans 1:5 tells us that “Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.”

When we walk by faith, we receive the Holy Spirit.  The word says in Galatians 3:2-5 “Tell me this one thing: How did you receive the Spirit? Did you receive the Spirit by following the law? No, you received the Spirit because you heard the message about Jesus and believed it.”

 We do not receive the Holy Spirit by our works, we receive the Spirit of God by believing in His word.  Faith itself comes from hearing the word of God.  Romans 10:17 says “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

We know that God’s word is His seed.  When we hear the word and plant it in our hearts, we gain faith.  By walking in that faith, we receive the Holy Spirit.  It is through the Holy Spirit that we gain the power, self-control, and strength that we need to obey the word of God and keep his commands.  Ezekiel 36:26-27 tells us  “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”  We can clearly see that it is God and His Spirit that helps us to walk in faith and obey His commands.

We know that there is no need to feel shameful or guilty when falling short of God’s glory.  We can trust in the fact that when we read and store God’s word in our hearts, receive and rely on the Holy Spirit, that He will fully equip us so that we can fully walk in alignment with the will of The Lord for our lives.  In doing so, we will gain faith, trust, obedience, love, perseverance, and a fruitful harvest. 

How do we produce fruit in excellence?

1. We cannot produce fruit in our own strength or by our own actions.

Isaiah 40:29-31 says “He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”

1 Timothy 1:12 says “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord because he trusted me and gave me this work of serving him. He gives me strength.”

  • It is the Lord who gives us the strength and ability to do all things, including living a fruitful and successful life.

2. To produce fruit, we must step off the path of self-righteousness.

  • It can be easy to assume that we are walking in righteousness when we take notice of the things that those around us are doing.  Especially if those things that others are doing is sinful in some way. 
  • We often look at ourselves and say well I am not sinning in that way, so I am more righteous than they are!  But the truth is we all fail God in some way or another daily.  None of our actions could ever be good enough to earn God’s love, favor, or grace. 

Romans 3:23 says “For all sin and fall short of the glory of God.” 

Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)  “But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousness’s are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.”

  • But glory be to God for His grace is sufficient! 

 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  

  • It was Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross that gave us the love and the grace that we could never have earned ourselves. 
  • Self-righteousness is a sin that we as believers can commit often but acknowledge so little.  It reminds me of the scripture that Jesus describes in Luke 8, The Parable of the Sower. 

Jesus says that “Others are like the seed that fell on rock. That is like the people who hear God’s teaching and gladly accept it. But they do not have deep roots. They believe for a while. But when trouble comes, they turn away from God. “What about the seed that fell among the thorny weeds?”  Jesus replies. “That is like the people who hear God’s teaching, but they let the worries, riches, and pleasures of this life stop them from growing. So, they never produce a crop.”  (Luke 8:13-14 ERV)

  • Self-glorification, chasing after riches, fame and pleasures are all connected to self-righteousness.  And self-righteousness stems from pride. 
  • We know that the Word of God tells us that pride comes right before a fall!

Proverbs 16:18 NKJV Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.”

3.  We must go through the process of cultivation to produce a good crop!

  • A seed can be planted into any type of soil but for the plant to grow, the soil must be cultivated or prepared for gestation.  Once the seed has been planted in good soil the developmental process can begin and the plant will yield good fruit in due time. 

“Jesus says in Luke 8:15. “And what about the seed that fell on the good ground? That is like the people who hear God’s teaching with a good, honest heart. They obey it and patiently produce a good crop.”

The NKJV of Hebrews 6:7 tells us “For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God.”

The ERV of that same passage says:

Some people are like land that gets plenty of rain and produces a good crop for those who farm it. That kind of land has God’s blessing.”

  • That scripture clearly shows us that we are the soil that God cultivates to produce a good crop!  We are the good soil that he bestows his blessings upon.
  • We know that Luke 8 tells us that we are the good soil that produces good fruit by obedience and patience.  So how do we obey?

4.  Faith leads to obedience.

Romans 1:5 tells us “Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.”

  • When we walk by faith, we receive the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the faith that we need to obey the Word of God! 

The word says in Galatians 3:2-5 “Tell me this one thing: How did you receive the Spirit? Did you receive the Spirit by following the law? No, you received the Spirit because you heard the message about Jesus and believed it.”

  • We do not receive the Holy Spirit by works, we receive the Spirit of God by believing in His word.  Faith itself comes from hearing the word of God.  

Romans 10:17 says “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

  • We know that God’s word is His seed.  When we hear the word and plant it in our hearts, we gain faith.  By walking in that faith, we receive the Holy Spirit.  It is through the Holy Spirit that we gain the power, self-control, and strength that we need to obey the word of God and keep his commands. 

Ezekiel 36:26-27 tells us  “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” 

We can clearly see that it is God and His Spirit that helps us to walk in faith and obey His commands. We know that there is no need to feel shameful or guilty when falling short of God’s glory.  We can trust in the fact that when we read and store God’s word in our hearts, receive and rely on the Holy Spirit, that He will fully equip us so that we can fully walk in alignment with the will of The Lord for our lives.  In doing so, we will gain faith, trust, obedience, love, perseverance, and a fruitful harvest.  Then we can honestly know that we are living a life full of excellence because of Jesus Christ who lives inside of us.

10 Ways to Grow in Your Gifts and Talents

I used to sing a lot as a child. It was one of those God given talents that simply came natural to me. I loved it with everything in me and always imagined that I would take my rightful place in the entertainment industry one day! Little did I know that I would eventually veer so far away from my dream that I would actually get to a place where I stopped singing altogether! Honestly, it has been even more heartbreaking than it sounds. There have been times when I have cried watching singing competitions on TV, because I couldn’t bare the guilt of having given up on my gift, and most of all, on my dream!

Despite the pain of experiencing loss because of failing to be a good steward over my singing talent, I still treasure the fact that I have it. One of the coolest things that I really love about life is that God was kind enough to give each one of us unique gifts and talents. Our gifts are a major part of who we are and they were strategically placed inside of us to help us to fulfill the purpose that God has for our lives. The best part about having these gifts is that they are not only there for us to receive the benefit from having them, they are also designed to allow us to use them to help one another!

  1. Use or Lose It!
  • Use it, use it, and use it some more.
  • Steward it well.

When we read Luke 16 we can clearly see that the Lord does not honor those who do not steward well over what He gives to them. Luke 16:10-12 tells us:

10 “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?”

  • We must be intentional in how we handle the things that God has given to us. We are to use our gifts, talents, finances, and blessings to be a blessing to others and to bring in both spiritual and natural provision.
  • God provides the gifts and we are to grow them, if we choose not to use what God has provided, He can easily take them away from us and give them to someone else who is willing to steward them!
  • Think about the servants with the talents in Matthew 25: 14-30.

14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 23 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

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2. Expand your knowledge.

  • Train, train, train.
  • Master what you do.
  • Get a mentor.
  • Continue your education.

We have all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect”, probably more times than we would prefer, lol. But this statement is so true. Whatever you practice consistently will be what you do consistently. Truth is that no matter what it is that you are choosing to do, if you do not learn how to do it properly you will never be as effective as you could be. Training yourself to be great at what you do is how you become an expert at your craft.

The more knowledge you have about your niche and the more you practice doing it, the better you will be at executing it. This is how we can see ourselves grow in our gifting.

Keep in mind that no matter how good you become at what you do, you will always have room for improvement. Also be aware that you will definitely have failures at times, and this is where we learn to get better!

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3. Go through the process of trial and error with the right perspective.

  • Don’t be afraid to fail. (Learn the lesson in the failure.)
  • Keep going until you get it right.
  • Galatians 6:9 tells us:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

  • Philippians 4:13 explains that we are to trust in God because it is His strength that gives us the power to do what seems impossible.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

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4. Glorify God with your gifts and talents.

  • Acknowledge The Lord in what you do and remember that He is the one who gave you the gifts, therefore He deserves all of the glory.
  • Honor the Lord with your gifts.

Proverbs 3:6 says “In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 3:9 “Honor the Lord with your wealth and the first part of your harvest.”

  • Seek approval from Jesus and not from man! Galations 1:10 says:

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

  • Repent if you find your self leaning toward self glorification. Proverbs 27:2 tells us not praise ourselves!

“Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;

A stranger, and not your own lips.”

  • Jeremiah 9:23-24 tells us:

23  Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
24 But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord, exercising loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the Lord.”

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5. Serve others with your gifts!

  • Remember that God didn’t give you your gifts just for you.
  • Humble yourself and be willing to give your gifts and talents freely to others.
  • It didn’t cost YOU anything to be gifted and talented. The Father gave them to you and they are gifts that He lovingly and freely gave to us to share with one another.
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6. Allow your gifts to make a space for you.

  • Your gift will make room for you.
  • You don’t have to chase after achievement. Simply seeking God first in all that you do, including operating in your gifts; will position you exactly where you should be at the right time.

Proverbs 18:16 “A man’s gift makes room for him,

And brings him before great men.”

Proverbs 22:29 says: “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”

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7. Do what you do with purity, ethics, excellence, confidence and passion.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

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8. Get out of the mindset of what you can receive from using your gifts and switch to thinking of what you can give.

  • It will be given to you with the measure that you give!

Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

  • We should have a giving heart, because that is the heart of God.

1 Chronicles 29:17 “My God, I know that you test people, and that you are happy when people do what is right. I gladly give you all these things with a pure, honest heart. I see your people gathered here, and I see that they are happy about giving these things to you.”

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9. Think about how your gift can help to solve an issue or how it can produce healthy results for others.

  • The gifts that God gives to us are there on purpose, they are the key to unlocking the answer to someone else’s problem. When we start viewing what we carry from that perspective, it becomes much easier to shift our focus to how we help each other with what God has given to us. Hebrews 13:16 encourages us:

“But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

  • John 15:12 tells so plainly to love each other as Christ loves us. We know that Christ is the ultimate giver. His sacrifice was the biggest gift that anyone has ever given!

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

  • I absolutely love how 1 Peter 4:10-11 puts it!

10 “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

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10. Trust the Holy Spirit and ask Him to help you grow in your gifts, and to use them the way God wants you to. Let’s take a look at Romans 12:6-8.

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

  • In Timothy 4:14 we are instructed not to neglect our gifts. We are to use them and God tells us to in His word.

“Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.”

  • Colossians 3:23-24 instructs us:

23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

We see that God wants us to remember that it is not ourselves that we are serving with our gifts but Him. Everything that we do is to serve, honor and glorify our father. It is Christ and the Holy Spirit who gives us the strength and power that we need to use our gifts for God’s purpose. All we have to do is steward our gifts and talents in excellence.

As a word of encouragement, if you find yourself like me, having slacked off in a certain area where you are gifted. Do not be discouraged, trust that the Lord still has a plan for your life, and He can still use you! Pick up your gift, talent, skill or dream and run full speed ahead into what God has for you! He still wants to use YOU to do mighty things in the earth! And He will get all of the Glory for it. God bless you.

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