Being Fruitful as Christians (John 15:16) – Pr James Foo

16 Jan 2014 by Jason Law CM –

 

On the 12th of January, Pr James of Grace Convention Center shared an encouraging message for Christians in difficult times. Many Christians are facing great challenges in these last days. In many parts of the world, Christians are persecuted due to irrational fear, suspicion, and hatred. Adding to that, like other groups of people, many Christians struggle daily with emotional and spiritual issues. Sometimes, it would seem that the Christian life is so much more challenging than the lives led by others in the world. It is the reason why Jesus said if we choose to live as followers of Christ, we have to take up our cross (Matthew 16:24).

 

Matthew 16:24

New International Version (NIV)

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

 

Matthew 16:24 does not mean that a Christian should actively seek out persecution and suffering, or that there is something wrong with your faith if you’re not suffering. It does mean, however, that no matter what the world throws at us, that we should endure, and stay firm in our faith. The central principle revolves around the question of who Christ means to us.

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Pr James Foo

 

But in another passage of the Bible, we are also called to be fruitful and multiply. This can be meant in an evangelical sense of sharing the freedom and love of God with the world, but it can also mean that the Christian life shouldn’t be defined by defeat. The single verse of John 15:16 instructs us on how to be fruitful Christians by encapsulating three reminders of our relationship with Christ.

 

John 15:16

New International Version (NIV)

16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

 

harvest

 

Before sharing his message, Pr James shared the verse of Jeremiah 29:11 as an encouragement to the church. He shared that the Christian life should be one of hope, and this takes place in multiple dimensions; in our continuous fellowship with God and Jesus, in our daily lives, in our relationships, and in our career. Without the Holy Spirit we can do nothing, but through Him, all the promises of God are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ (2 Corinthians 1:20)

 

Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

2 Corinthians 1:20

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.

 

1. Grace

In the first part of John 15:16, God states that ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you’. What this means in simple terms is that our privilege and identity in Christ was never anything to do with any of our own merits but rather, through God’s Grace. When we were still sinners, and struggling with weaknesses, it was God that reached down and chose us. Pr James shared that we need to understand what this means.  It means that everything we have is not through our own merits; it was because of a vast, seemingly illogical and unreasonable love of God.

 

Creature and Creator

 

Our strength to do the right things, to walk with God, and to do the ministry and works of God has nothing to do with our greatness or goodness; it is due to the gift from God. This is something that every Christian should remember with gratitude lest we should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). It also means, however, that everyone who has been chosen by Christ is qualified to carry out His ministry. We must put our trust in God, not on our own righteousness, being mindful all the while about the danger of pride. 

 

Ephesians 2:8-9

New International Version (NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

 

Understanding and appreciating the grace of God, we’ll continue to run the race until the finish line. People may look down on us but it is how God sees us that matter. 

Take home point: Grace. It was not us that chose God; it was God that chose us. Rise up in Christ’s authority and do His work.

 

2. Authority

 

Appointed-Times-of-the-Lord-daily

 

The next part states that ‘I chose you and appointed you’. This indicates a position of authority, not in the physical realm but in the spiritual one, given by no less than the Son of God and the King of kings Himself. Pr James shared that it is a huge appointment, and we need to respect and be secure in our calling so that no hardship or challenges will stop us. As Christians, we were created to worship and exist to minister. Don’t be secret Christians; live our lives with authority in God and multiply for God’s Kingdom.

 

1john3_1-716x471

 

As natural humans, bounded by natural laws, Christians sometimes struggle by looking at our weaknesses rather than God’s strength. We need to do the opposite; apart from Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, we have nothing, but if we are in Christ, we have a new identity as Children of Christ (1 John 3:1). From sinners, we are now called the Child of God, a position which indicates massive authority. Power comes through the Holy Spirit and fellowship with the Spirit, not through our own strength.

 

1 John 3:1

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

 

Take home point: Authority. Power and authority comes through God. Are we confident/believing/knowing enough of our identity in Christ? The devil will kick us around if we don’t know our identity, but by knowing it, we will be able to exercise our authority with boldness.

 

3. Obedience

 

trees-path-hd-wallpapers-forest-wallpaper-wallpapersrunescape-tree-locations-hole-patch-palm-christmas-runescape-fruit-repair

 

John 15:16 also commands us to ‘go and bear fruit—fruit that will last’. Everyone of us has been appointed to do something for God. Whatever God gave us, honor it. Don’t look down or underestimate our ministry. Pr James shared that simple and humble ministries often produce great results.

For example, if you’re a teacher, it makes a lot of difference whether you treat it as just a job or a calling. The seed you plant in a child, boosting up their self-confidence, teaching them Godly values, guiding them to see issues through the lens of God’s design for mankind, will yield tremendous results years in the future.

 

billygraham-praying

 

Even Billy Graham had to start from somewhere, and through the sowing of someone. If we sow hatred and violence, the world will become a hateful and violent place of chaos. If you sow love, kindness and decency, you will get a world of respect and love among its inhabitants, a world where people build each other up rather than tear each other down, and one that moves closer towards the original design God had for this world. Be secure in our appointment. Our role is to abide in Christ. It is Christ that does the work.

Take home point: Obedience. Do not look down on our calling. Our response determines what kind of legacy we leave behind.

 

vinebranchgrapes-1

 

Pr James’ exhortation is that if we are currently living lives of defeat as Christians, it is time to reconnect back with Christ. John 15:4-5 states that He is the vine while we are the branches. We cannot survive apart from Him. God does not lose anything by us delaying our reconciliation with Him, but His heart is that we put things right with God today, not because He needs it, but rather, because we do.  The best time to bear fruit is now. We need to restore our identity as Christians, through our relationship with Him today.

 

John 15:4-5

English Standard Version (ESV)

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

 

Share the Good News

 

References for pictures

http://i1.sndcdn.com/artworks-000046910796-7bwq14-original.jpg?8063923

http://homeandschoolclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/harvest.jpg

http://www.inspiredbooks.com/gz-00akIiOyEzilATJBWgwkKP9epInsO0190.jpg

http://www.fggam.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Appointed-Times-of-the-Lord-daily.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-plzrpUYJZuw/TVyQKN8-b3I/AAAAAAAAD9k/c0YLdhsogkU/s1600/1john3_1-716×471.jpg

http://www.walldoze.com/images/full/2014/01/01/trees-path-hd-wallpapers-forest-wallpaper-wallpapersrunescape-tree-locations-hole-patch-palm-christmas-runescape-fruit-repair.jpg

http://patdollard.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/billygraham-praying.jpg

http://catholicteenapologetics.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/vinebranchgrapes-1.jpg

 

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