It is time! What an amazing God we serve, and we cannot thank Him enough for His constant provision to meet our needs. The past several years have been an interesting journey, to say the least, but the exciting thing is that it was only a beginning of this new adventure we are now on. As I look back on many lessons God has been continually teaching me, and as I look ahead to the work the Lord has prepared for us here in Florida and around the world, one word has stood out to me: Multiply. There are a few reasons this has stood out to me, but I will try to focus on what God has specifically been laying on my heart as we arrive and begin our work here in Florida.
|Sam and Eli loved helping their grandparents in the
garden this summer, especially tomatoes!
The idea of multiplying has had a very visual role for us this summer as we spent time at Oma and Opa’s house and also at Grandma Karen and Grandpa John’s house in Greeley. In both grandparents backyard there is a portion dedicated to a vegetable and fruit garden. Sam and Eli have just loved having these gardens in their backyards because they love to go out, see what new fruit or veggies have arrived, and pick them… and then eat them right there! Now how does this relate to multiply you may ask, great question! I am sure most of you can see the correlation of a garden to the idea of multiplication… starting with just a seed, a plant can grow until it bears the fruit (or veggies) it was intended to, and from those fruit (or veggies) can be planted more plants that bear more fruit… and this process can go on and on as God wills it. Something that happened every time though, was that each plant would only give off the fruit that the plant was intended to give: a tomato plant (which was the boys favorite this summer) does not give off apples, nor does an apple tree give off tomato’s, but each grows and drops the exact thing they were intended to. And when they would bear the fruit they were designed to give, they would multiply to no end. It really makes me stop and think, “WOW, what an amazingly creative God we serve!”
This idea of trees bearing fruit is used often throughout the Bible, but some specific things have stood out to me as we look to multiply among the interns here at Disney. For one, I find it very interesting in Paul’s letter to the Galatians when speaking of the Holy Spirit Paul writes: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” There are many things I find interesting here: one, that Paul uses the word “fruit” of the Spirit, as in a singular fruit… not fruits (which would seem to make more sense since he goes on to list 9 separate traits), but all of these traits he states are the Fruit of the Spirit. I have never seen a tree that bears more than one kind of fruit, so this tells me that each of these traits must go together as A fruit of the Spirit, you cannot have one without the other. Secondly, I find it interesting that Paul uses the word fruit, an item that God designed in nature to be a major example of multiplication, when describing traits of the Holy Spirit. This is describing to us the fruit that the Spirit will bear, the Spirit that dwells in us if we are followers of Christ as Romans 8:9-11 talks about. So, if we are following Jesus, and the Spirit is living in us, then it would make sense that we should be bearing the fruit of the One that is in us, the fruit of the Spirit. A better explanation of this can come from Matthew 7:15-20 where Jesus says: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
So what does this mean for us in the ministry God has brought us to? We believe we are here to multiply, to make disciples of all Nations through the power of the Holy Spirit. But in order to do this, it would be fruitless unless we ground ourselves in the One that will make it possible. So my prayer as we have begun this ministry, a ministry God planned and has orchestrated for us to play a role in, is that we would never be relying on ourselves and in turn become a bad tree, but instead that we would constantly, every day, every moment, be doing exactly what Jesus asked us to do if we want to follow Him: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'” (Matthew 16:24) Because only then will we be a branch that is a part of the true Vine as Jesus says in John 15:1-8: “‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he cleans so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” This isn’t only my prayer for me, but for each and every one of you who choose to follow Jesus Christ.