"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jumped on

Sometimes the words just jump off the page and slap you in the face.

I was jumped on by God's word this morning. This is one aspect of the Scriptures that I love, although the words jumping out at you are not always an easy slap. Today's slap hurt a bit.

"Produce fruit in keeping with repentance" were today's jumping words.

I often start my time before God in confession and repentance. After a time of worship and adoration it is good to bring before the Lord my heart and ask for His light to shine. This morning was no different. I was agreeing with the Lord in repentance this morning as His light shone brightly into my pride, my judgemental attitudes, my gluttony and my worry.

Certainly none of these sins are new to me. Unfortunately the list of sins is similar week to week and month to month. Oh, Lord have mercy! My heart cries out and I ask for His faithful love to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. He promises to do this and I can rely on Him as the Rock of my salvation (it is a beautiful thing I don't have to stand on me, or my works for my salvation!).

So, I truly received forgiveness once again for my crimes against Almighty God. What a gift we have in the blood of the Lamb, my brother, my Savior Jesus!

After a time of confession, I turned to my assigned reading and whammo! bam! off the page jumps these words... as God's heart speaks to my heart.

"Produce fruit in keeping with repentance". These words spoken by John the Baptist are directed at the Pharisees in Matthew 3. I am not a Pharisee. I am a child of the living God. I am forgiven and set free. So, what do these have to do with me? Everything.

I believe John was inviting to Pharisees to do something they simply could not do. They couldn't produce fruit!

When I repent from worry, I simply CAN NOT produce the fruit of peace that is "keeping with" my repentance. When I confess the sin of gluttony, I can not produce the fruit of self control that would be "in step" with my repentance. I can't make self-control happen in my life. Certainly there are things I can do to strengthen my faith, to exercise my will, and to work the "muscles" of right choices; but, I can not make myself joyful, peaceful or full of love instead of judgement.

The only One who produces good fruit is the Spirit of the living God. I have to rely on Him!

Abide in Him. Rest in Him. Rely on Him. In Him is Your salvation. Keep in step with the Spirit. Be filled with the Spirit.

From a Spirit-tree comes Spirit fruit... from a flesh tree- comes flesh fruit. I can not produce Spirit fruit. Only He can... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience... and self-control.

John the Baptist mentions this as well in Matthew 3. He explains that the baptism he was offering was only repentance. But, One better was coming that would baptise them in the Spirit of God!

Repentance isn't enough. We repent all the time. We turn from our sins, we turn toward God... and then whoops... we turn back. And on goes the cycle. Have mercy on us, Lord. But, God offers us more than just repentance. He offers us fruit that keeps with our repentance. He offers us life and freedom. It is when I turn from my sins and then walk filled with Him where I find this life and freedom. This is where I find fruit in keeping with repentance.

It certainly doesn't mean try harder, Steph. It doesn't mean squeeze really hard and pop! out of your life fruit might emerge. No! It means surrender. It means keep Your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of Your faith. It means keep in step with the Spirit and rely on Him. Listen to His promptings and rest on His strength. This alone will produce fruit in keeping with your repentance, Steph.

Off the page, they jumped and slapped me in the face. What a gift!

Thank you, Lord for Your Word. Thank you Lord for Your faithful forgiveness. Thank you, Lord for the gift of Your Spirit. It is He that will lead me into all truth and righteousness. It is in Him I will find freedom and rest. Fill me today a fresh with Your Spirit and produce in me, O Holy Spirit of God, the fruit that is in keeping with my repentance. For Your glory alone, Father!

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