Illustration results for bearing fruit
One of the most powerful prayers in the midst of suffering I have read was uncovered from the horrors of Ravensbruck concentration camp. Ravensbruck was a concentration camp built in 1939 for women. Over 90,000 women and children perished in Ravensbruck, murdered by the Nazis. Corrie Ten Boom, who wrote The Hiding Place, was imprisoned there too. The prayer, found in the clothing of a dead child, says:
O Lord, remember not only the men and woman of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us: Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering, our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.
SOWING THE SEED: A COMPARISON
In the 13th Century, Nicolo Polo (father of Marco Polo) was visiting the court of the grandson of Ghengis Khan - Kublai Khan.
Kublai Khan was the Emperor of China and he had never met Europeans before. He was delighted to meet this visitor from Venice AND he was strongly impressed by the religious faith of this man; therefore, he sent a letter back to Europe urging that some educated men be dispatched to instruct his people in the teachings of Christianity.
But, because of political upheaval and infighting that was taking place in Europe, there was a long delay in anybody coming. In the end, only 2 representatives of Christianity were sent and even they lost heart soon and turned back.
Because of the failure of the church of that day, Kublai Khan turned instead to Buddhism and that has been the predominant religion in the area from that day to this.
By contrast, just last Sunday, we baptized a father and son into Christ – Bill & Isaac. Bill was not the most promising of candidates for salvation. Most people pictured him more as the stony or weedy soil. He’s lived a hard life and had held God at bay for a number of years. His wife had faithfully planted seeds in his life, as have others in this congregation. But until last Sunday it seemed fruitless. But now he’s surrendered to Christ, and tonight he’s bearing fruit.
In Bill’s neighborhood, there have been a number of boys that Bill had created a “paintball” club for. But once Bill gave himself to Christ, he wanted to give Christ to these young boys he’d been working with. Three of them are being baptized tonight, and more may be turning to Christ in the near future.
SOURCE: Jeff Strite in "You Can’t Reap them All" on www.sermoncentral.com
SPIRITUAL GROWTH TAKES TIME
There was once a farmer who went to town to purchase seeds for his farm. As he was returning home one of the squash seeds he had purchased fell from his pocket onto the ground. It happened that within a few feet was another seed of a different type. The place where the two seeds lay was rather fertile, and miraculously they took root.
After about a week the squash seed showed signs of growth. The second seed showed none. After two weeks the squash began to sprout leaves. The second seed showed none. After seven weeks the squash began to show fruit. The second seed still showed no progress. Four more weeks came and gone.
The squash plant reached the end of its life bearing much fruit in that time, but the other seed finally began to slowly grow. Many years later, the squash was all but forgotten, but the other tiny seed, an acorn, had grown into a mighty oak tree.
So many people want their faith to be like the squash. They want to experience it all right now... Spiritual training -- like Epaphras understood, requires hard work and patience -- as anything worthwhile does.
(From a sermon by Steve Smith, "Pursuing Godly Living" 2/15/2009)
"Nothing grows under a banyan tree." This South Indian proverb speaks of leadership styles. The banyan is a great tree. It spreads its branches, drops air-roots, develops secondary trunks and covers the land. A full grown banyan may cover more than an acre of land. Birds, animals, and humans find shelter under its shade. But nothing grows under its dense foliage, and when it dies, the ground beneath lies barren and scorched.
The banana tree is the opposite. Six months after it sprouts, small shoots appear around it. At twelve months a second circle of shoots appear beside the first ones, now six months old. At eighteen months the main trunk bears bananas which nourish birds, animals, and humans, and then it dies. But the first offspring are now full grown, and in six months they too bear fruit and die. The cycles continue unbroken as new sprouts emerge every six months, grow, give birth to more sprouts, bear fruit, and die.
In Hampton Court near London, there is a grapevine under glass; it is about 1,000 years old and has but one root which is at least two feet thick. Some of the branches are 200 feet long. Because of skillful cutting and pruning, the vine produces several tons of grapes each year. Even though some of the smaller branches are 200 feet from the main stem, they bear much fruit because they are joined to the vine and allow the life of the vine to flow through them.
The same is true of the true vine –Jesus Christ
Donald Grey Barnhouse
John Williams III
"While visiting in Leningrad, a woman heard the story of 900,000 people who perished in the long siege of Leningrad during World War II. At one point they were trying to save the children from both the nazis and starvation---so they placed them on trucks to cross a frozen lake to safer locations. Many of the mothers, sure that they would never see their children again, yelled to them as they got on the trucks, "Remember your name. Remember your name." By our baptism, we commit ourselves to faithfully remember who we are". (Herb Miller. Actions Speak Louder Than Verbs. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989, p. 103). We remember our baptismal commitment of who we are by living our lives in such a way that we bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8).
OLDEST LIVING VINE
In Hampton Court, there is a grapevine that is reported to be the oldest living vine. It is over 230 years old. This grapevine has one root which is 3.6 metres (12 foot) round, and some of the branches are over 36.5 metres (120 foot) long. Despite its age the vine still produces 500 to 700 bunches (weighing 220 – 320 kg / 485 - 705 lb) of grapes each year. Although some of the branches are 120 feet from the main root, they still bear the sweet and delicious fruit because they are connected to the vine. Each branch is connected directly to the stem and draws nourishment from it.
There was once a farmer who went to town to purchase seeds for his farm. As he was returning home one of the squash seeds he had purchased fell from his pocket onto the ground. It happened that within a few feet was another seed of a different type. The place where the two seeds lay was rather fertile, and miraculously they took root. After about a week the squash seed showed signs of growth. The second seed showed none. After two weeks the squash began to sprout leaves. The second seed showed none. After seven weeks the squash began to show fruit. The second seed still showed no progress. Four more weeks came and gone. The squash plant reached the end of its life bearing much fruit in that time, but the other seed fina...
THE ROOT BEARS THE FRUIT
A farmer one planted two fruit trees on opposite sides of his property. The one he planted to provide a hedge hide the unsightly view of an old landfill; the other to provide shade to rest under near a cool mountain stream which ran down beside his fields. As the two trees grew, both produced began to flower and bear fruit. One day the farmer decided to gather the fruit from the tree nearest his house " the one used to provide a hedge from the landfill. As he brought the fruit inside the house, he noticed that it was a little deformed " the symmetry of the fruit was not very good, but still the fruit looked edible. Later that evening, while sitting on his porch the farmer took one of the pieces of fruit for a snack. Biting into the fruit, he found it to be extremely bitter, and completely inedible. Casting the fruit aside he looked across the field to the other tree over by the mountain stream. After walking across the field, the farmer took a piece of the fruit from the other tree and bit into it. Find the fruit to be sweet and delicious he gathered several more pieces of fruit and took them to the house.
The fruit was greatly affected by the nutrition of the root. Just as the tree grew by the landfill to be bitter, and the tree by the stream produced sweet fruit, so the Christian has a choice. He can either put down his roots into the soil of the landfill of fleshly pursuits, or into the cool refreshing stream of the person of Jesus Christ. We must understand that the root bears the fruit. The fruit of the Christian is the outward evidence of the inward motivation.
April 21, 2005 “Give Me A Shrub With Character!” Proverbs 12:3 Key verse(s) 3:“A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted.”
There are some plants that you can’t kill! I have long been fascinated by the differences exhibited in hardiness among the many plants––vegetables, bushes, weeds, et. al.––that share our little valley. Some are tender and fragile. If you bruise a root during transplanting or cultivating, you could send them into a state of dormant growth; or, worse yet, wilt and death. Last fall I transplanted a shrub that had spent nearly a decade growing next to our well. It had become very large and had begun to crowd out everything around it. So, spade in hand, I carefully dug a wide trench around the root ball and then gently pried the mass loose. The bush came out rather easily and I was pleased with the amount of smaller sucker roots that came out with it. I transported it but a few yards away to a newly dug and enriched flower bed in the middle of the driveway turn-around. The soil had been deeply cultivated and manure and nitrogen thrown into the mix. I was sure the new bed would be far healthier than the old one. The carefully dug hole, filled with water and nutrients waited to receive the root ball. The shrub was gently laid into the hole, root mass covered and watered again in anticipation of spring and new growth.
Yesterday as I bent down to examine what I hoped would be new buds bursting on my transplanted shrub, I plucked a brown bud only to find it dry and lifeless. As I pressed the bud between my fingers the branch it crowned snapped revealing a dry and lifeless core. The bush had died over the winter. Despite the fact that it had been carefully transplanted, fed, and covered for the winter, the shock of transplantation had been too much. The root ball had shut down and the shrub had died. As I pulled the lifeless mass from the ground I chanced to look across the expanse of our front yard at another bush, much larger and just beginning to burst into spring bloom. It had also been transplanted months ago before the winter snows had hit. Since it was already fairly mature and over six feet high, I had been unable to dig around the root ball. And, since I had wished to leave part of the bush where it was, just removing part of the root ball, it was hard separating the bush into two shrubs. So, with chain in hand, I pulled a tow chain around the base of the portion of the bush to be moved, hooked the other end to my John Deere and literally pulled it out of the ground. It came out missing a good portion of its root mass and there was little if any cradling dirt that came with it. As it lay on its side in the yard, a few gangly roots protruding, I dragged it across the yard to its new home atop a nearby mound. I didn’t have a lot of hope for it, but it went into the ground nevertheless.
Now, as stared across the yard at the blooming bush, I just couldn’t believe why that one had survived but the one I had babied, now lay dead in my hand. Had I been too careful? Perhaps that drag across the backyard behind the tractor had somehow invigorated the one? Who knows! It seems that there are just some plants you can’t kill while there are others that are easily damaged or killed. Till up a garden fill of raspberry bushes and no matter how many times you course through the layers of dirt with those tiller tines, the following spring there will be sucker roots reaching out to another part of the garden. Yet, till to closely to the asparagus tubers and you can forget about those luscious spears in early summer. They won’t be there.
Plants that can handle a bruising and come up in spades, those are the kind of plants that I like. You can count on them season in and out. In a drought they shut down and conserve. In a drenching rainstorm they stand firm because they always have root mass to spare. They brace against winter with hidden stores and are always very forgiving no matter what the weather or the gardener. Clip a root with a tiller or break a branch with a mower and they simply heal themselves and come back for more. Plants, especially shrubs like that have, well, character. They stand out from the rest because they try harder and possess a great deal of endurance. Ah, give me a shrub with character!
Christians are like that; those that have their hearts firmly planted in the love of God, who put their roots down deep, clenching the fertile promise of what God’s Word has to offer, are the kind of folk that you just can’t uproot. When the unrighteous flourish but are suddenly confronted with a crisis that pulls them from the comforts of this world, they quickly wither and die. But the righteous, those clinging to Christ, are stubborn. They will not die. But, like that shrub dragged and injured, simply take root again when hard times are past. Give me a Christian with character any time!
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us spiritual roots that endure no matter what the world may throw our way. We know that hard times will come; but they can’t kill us. You have planted us here to grow and bear fruit. There no man, devil or world that can ever destroy our faith. We will flourish planted in You. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!