cover of Producing Fruits of Righteousness
Producing Fruits of Righteousness

Producing Fruits of Righteousness


GTM - Producing Fruits of Righteousness - By Albert Jones - April 28, 2023 And so in, in thinking about our journey to the Kingdom of God and our walk with Christ, we have to understand, just like in the farming community, that farmer relies entirely and totally upon the blessings that come from God. Everything else is on loan. We don't own the land, for it belongs to God. Tonight, I wanted to talk about something dear to my heart and, from a perspective of what I deal with daily, this art of...



The speaker discusses the importance of producing fruit in our lives, comparing it to the work of a farmer. He emphasizes that everything we have comes from God and that we should be grateful for His blessings. The speaker also talks about the need for righteousness and the role we play in supporting and encouraging one another in the body of Christ. He mentions several scriptures that highlight the importance of faith and the power of God's Spirit in our lives. The speaker concludes by emphasizing that God desires us to produce fruit worthy of our calling, and that He provides us with the resources and empowerment to do so. Yes, tonight I wanted to talk about something that is dear to my heart and from a perspective, I guess, that I can say that I deal with on a daily basis, and that is this art of producing through agriculture. My sermon has hints of it, so those of you who are farmers will probably relate to it probably in a way different than those who don't have an agrarian background. I think the scriptures are clear for us to learn some very valuable lessons. So much of what we have as God's people is derived from the earth, if you will, and through some method of production that comes from agriculture or forestry or some use of a natural resource that God has given us. In thinking about our journey to the kingdom of God and our walk with Christ, we have to understand just like in the farming community, that farmer relies completely and totally upon the blessings that come from God. Everything else is on loan. We don't own the land in truth. It belongs to God. He tells us to treat it well and to rest it at its appropriate time. And so truly, we have nothing that we didn't receive. Like farmers, we start with nothing, and everything that we receive is from God. Any increase that we have in our lives is coming from God. So we're thankful to God for his blessings in our lives in that way. So with that being said, let's think about the things that God wants us to produce. And we're going to focus on one specific area here with this message. We could talk about many of the fruits of God's spirit. But today we're going to kind of sum it up in righteousness. We are called to righteousness. We are called to be cultivators of fields, of vineyards, of olive groves, gardens. Indeed, we are like the workers hired by the master. Turn with me to Matthew 20 for our first scripture. Matthew 20. And we'll start in verse 1. The kingdom of heaven shall be compared to a man, a master of a house, who went out early in the morning to hire workmen for his venue. And after agreeing with the workmen on a silver coin for the day's wage, he sent them into his venue. And when he went out about the third hour, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace. And he said to them, go also into the vineyard, and whatever is right, I will give you. And they went again. After going out about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did likewise. And about the 11th hour, he went out and found others standing idle and said to them, why have you been standing here idle all the day? They said to him, because no one has hired us. He said to them, go also into my vineyard, and whatever is right, you shall receive. And when evening came, the lord of the vineyard said to his steward, call the workmen and pay them their hire, beginning from the least to the first. And when those who were hired about the 11th hour came, they each received the silver coin. And when the first one came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also received the silver coin. And after receiving it, they complained against the master of the house, saying, these who came last have worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have carried the burden in the heat of the day. And he answered and said to them, friend, I'm not doing you wrong. Did you not agree with me on the silver coin for the day? Take what is yours and go. For I also desire to give to the least ones exactly as I gave to you. And this, and he says, and this, I'm sorry, and is this, is it not lawful for me to do what I will with that which is my own? Is your eye evil because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first shall be last, for many are called. And this is a key point of this exchange, brethren. Many are called, but few are chosen. We have been called by God to produce. We've been called by God for a special purpose, and he has enlisted us with this charge of growing in knowledge, in grace, in producing fruit. The father calls, and this is the point, the father calls, and it is his will that is being done in this relationship that we have with God. He, that is, God the father, empowers us to do the good work and produce the fruit he seeks. Let's take a look at this idea of workers that God is working with ourselves as workers within God's service. Turn to Colossians 4, Colossians 4, verse 11, Colossians 4, verse 11. Jesus, who is called, Jesus, who is called justice, who are all of these, I'm sorry, let's back up, let's begin here in verse, so we can get it in context, verse 8. I sent him to you for this very reason, that he might know your circumstances and might encourage your hearts, this is Paul speaking, together with Ananias, a faithful and beloved brother who is one of you. They will make known to you all the things that have taken place to you. Aurelius, my fellow prisoner, salutes you and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, concerning whom you receive instructions, if he comes to you, receive him. And Jesus, who is called justice, who are all of the circumcision, they are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God, who have been a consolation to me. Ephraus, a servant of Christ who is from among you, salutes you, he is always striving for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. He goes on to say here, for I bear witness to him that he has much zeal for you, for those of Laodicea and for those in Hercules. Luke, beloved physician, salutes him, and Damias does also. Salute the brethren at Laodicea, and Ephesus, and the church that is in his house. So we're seeing that God was raising up and calling individuals into his fellowship and various churches were being raised up. These are the folks who were principled there with Paul. And in verse 16, after you have read this epistle, see that it is read in the church of Laodicea, and that you also read the one from Laodicea. And Paul goes on to express this close-knitness that they had, you know, as a body. In Romans 16, let's go there for some additional meat on this, Romans 16, and verse 3, again, saluting the brethren and recognizing those who are workers within this work that God has called us to. And not all the workers are ministers. Each and every one of us have a work to do in our individual lives, and we have a work to do, again, in sharing the gifts that God has given us with the body. And this is going to be very closely tied, as we're going to see as we go through, to this idea of growing in righteousness. All of these are righteous works of God. So once again, here in Romans 16, and we'll pick up in verse 3, saluting Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers, and Christ Jesus, who have laid down their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Again, recognizing that this work that God has called us to is a joint work of God. Each and every one of us have a part in it. And a big and major part of what God has called us to is this idea that we are responsible for one another, and that we are to encourage one another, we are to love one another, we are to help and support in every way possible as brothers and sisters within the house and the family of God. Let's go to Philippians 4, and we'll pick it up in verse 3. He talks about here, he says, again, exhorting Udiah and exhorting Scythius, that's verse 2, to be of the same mind in the Lord. And he says in verse 3, and I ask you, my true yoke fellows, those who are pulling together in this work, working together in tandem with one another to assist the women who labor with me in the gospel, and with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the book of life. So we see a work that God is doing, not just through the ministry, but throughout the body of Christ. We all have a responsibility in this calling, not only just to stay in the righteousness of God, not to just stay in the commandments, yes, that is a very important aspect of our calling, to be that example of righteousness, but also to recognize that we happen to preach the gospel, but also happen to support the family of God to come. So all of us have a part there. You've heard me say in the past, you know, from the pinky toe to the top of the head, that we all are very important in this work. We thank God again for allowing us to be a part of it, and giving us his spirit so that we can understand and truly rejoice in it. So yes, the Father calls, and it is his will that is being done, so he empowers us to do the good work that produced the fruits that he is seeking. So Christ is seeking fruit, and let's be very understanding of this point. He's seeking fruit worthy of the calling that we have, you know, good, abundant fruit. He wants us to have an increase. The Bible talks about 30-fold, 20-fold, 10-fold, all being significant from where the individual starts. So it isn't how big of a load, it is about what you were able to produce with God's spirit working within you, and the effort that you put into it. So depending on one's effort, this is what you can have. So let's look at that a moment. Let's look at Matthew 17, Matthew 17, and we'll pick it up in verse 16. Matthew 17, verse 16. He says, and I brought him to your disciples, but they were not able to heal him. This is, let's give some context to that. Here verse 13, then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist. And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to him, kneeling down to him and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is insane and suffers miserably, for he often falls into the fire and often into the war. And I brought him to your disciples, but they were not able to heal him. And Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you in your unbelief? Bring him to me. And Jesus rebuked the demon and it departed from him and the boy was healed from that hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, why were we not able to cast it out? And Jesus said to them, because of your unbelief, for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a tiny mustard seed, a tiny mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, remove from here and it shall remove and nothing shall be impossible to you. So we're understanding this walk that is with God to produce the kind of outcome that God is desiring to have is through faith and an act of faith in terms of what it is. Let's go to Matthew 12 in verse 33, Matthew 12, 33. So God is telling us here, if we'll just pick it up here in verse 31, he says, because of this, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to man, except the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, that shall not be forgiven man. And whoever speaks the word, a word against the son of man, it shall be forgiven him. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in the age to come. So we're starting to recognize that what God has given us through his Holy Spirit is a very precious and a very essential part of God's work in our life. It is from God. It is from his very own self that he shares with us a very small, minute part of himself. Not only the spirit of the father, but the spirit also that we have that comes from Christ. Let's go to Matthew 21, Matthew 21, Matthew 21. So we're seeing that God is very much encouraging us that we produce fruit, that we have something that is tangible for the investment that God has placed within us. That is, all that he has done is for us to be able to grow and to become more like him, more like Christ, putting on those fruits of righteousness that are so essential to who we are. And all the interaction that God has with his church is pointing to us in that growth process. And it is not unlike, again, all the effort that goes into preparing for planting a crop, a vineyard, an orchard, whatever it may be. It does require work, but God indeed is looking for it to produce fruit. Here in verse, let's see, verse 18, now, early in the morning, Matthew 21, verse 18. Now, early in the morning, as he was coming back into the city, he hungered. Yes, got in the flesh, got hungry, and that was not uncommon. One of the things that I admire about the relationship between Christ and his disciples that he was able to break bread with them and in any time that he did, whether it's fishing, you know, honeycomb or just broil fish, he would always enjoy that time. So he said here in verse 19, in seeing a fig tree by the road, he's hungry, he's looking for something. He came up to it, found nothing on it except leaves only. So a very decent, vibrantly growing tree, but with no fruit. And he said to it, let there never again be fruit from you forever. And immediately the tree dried up. What good was it? Its purpose was to produce fruit. It wasn't producing fruit. There's a lesson here. In verse 20, and after seeing it, the disciples were amazed saying how quickly the fig tree has dried up. And Jesus answered and said to them, truly, I say to you, if you have faith, again, recognizing that a walk with God is to believe that he is and to have faith in this work that we're doing, a farmer begins to prepare for seeding time in hope and in faith. Because it isn't in the central aspects of the resources that are going to be needed can't be provided by them. They come from God. I think there is a very important lesson being learned in the Western state at this time who are in the grips of severe drought, that is, that unless that blessing of water and rain comes from God, you won't get it. So trusting and looking to God, everything is the lesson that we learn from this experience. So he says if they had that faith, they could do a great thing as well. So let's take a look, if you will, at, let's take a look at Psalm 11. Let's go there, Psalm 11. The 11th Psalm, let's read that. This is the Psalm of David. He says, in the Lord, I have taken refuge. How then can you say to me, sleep like a bird to your mountain, below the wicked, in their vogue? They make ready their arrow on their string, so that they may secretly shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in his holy temple, and this is at the right hand of the Father in heaven. The Lord's throne is in heaven. His eyes behold, his searching gaze tests the son of children of men. The Lord tries the righteous. And again, brethren, our walk with God is in righteousness, but our walk with God is also on faith. And he says, but his soul hates the wicked, and the one who loves violence. On the wicked he shall rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and a scorching wind shall be the portion of his cup. For the Lord is righteous. He loves righteousness. The upright will behold his face. So we see that this is God's desire for us, to produce fruits of righteousness, and he gives us the resources that we need to be able to do that. To produce anything, brethren, in this life, from an agrarian point of view, and farmers will tell you that this very fact that they need water. To even attempt growing crops without water is futile. Without water, fruit production is dead. It is good, again, if you have a good supply of it. And it is God who provides this critical, needed resource. Let's see what God has to say about that. Let's go to John, the Gospel of John. In chapter 4, and we'll pick it up in verse 4, it says, Now it was necessary for him to pass through Samaria. He came to a city of Samaria called Sakaar, near the land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. And Jacob's fountain was there, Jesus therefore being wearied, again, recognizing he was God in the flesh, every weakness that we have, long journey, he's wearied. From the journey, set there by the fountain, it was about the sixth hour. A woman came out of Samaria to draw water, and Jesus said to the woman, give me some water to drink. For his disciples had gone away into the city so that they might provision. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to him, how is it that you are being, you being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, to give you water to drink? The Jews do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, if you had known the gift of God, getting back to this incredible relationship that we have with God and what he provides, if you had known the gift of God and who it was or who it is that said to you, give me some water to drink, you would have asked him, he would have given you living water. The woman said to him, sir, you have nothing with which to draw water. And the well is deep. How then do you have the living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it and his sons and his cattle? I pause there, brethren, just say, if, if she only knew, if she truly only knew. Jesus answered her in verse 13 and said to her, everyone who drinks of this one thirsts again. It may quench a physical thirst, but you'll be thirsty again. Verse 14, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst. Rather, the water that I will give him shall become a fountain of water within him, springing up unto eternal life. Now that verse carries a lot of weight, stretches into eternity. The water that makes the difference, the water that is essential for all things to grow physically is compared to the water that Christ himself provides us through the spirit. That springs up into eternal life. Again, we have a responsibility and a needing to be yielding to it, desiring it, seeking after it, praying for it, asking God for it. So the woman is starting to catch on. The woman said to him, sir, give me this water so that I will not thirst for me to come here to draw water. Jesus said to her, go call your husband and come back here. The woman answered and said, I do not have a husband. Jesus said to her, you have spoken well saying that you do not have a husband, for you have five husbands, and the one that you now have is not your husband. This you have spoken. But Christ has made clear that, you know, having the water that he provides or the living water that comes from him is an essential part of who we are. Let's skip down to verse 35. Verse 35 now, same chapter, John 4, verse 35. He says, do not say that there are yet five months and then the harvest comes. I say to you, look around, lift up your eyes and see the fields, for they are already white to harvest. So God is pointing to the fact that his work is being done. The resource that he was referring to, to the woman is being given. And we are ourselves partakers of that gift. God has sent his spirit to us. And we enter into baptism and the hope of receiving the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. Let's go on to verse 36. And the one who reaps receives a reward and gathers fruit unto eternal life, so that the one who is sowing and the one who is reaping may both rejoice together. For in this, the saying is true, that one sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap, that in which you have not labored, others have labored, and you have entered into their labor. Now many of the Samaritans from the city believed on him because of the word of the woman who testified, he told me everything that I had done. Verse 40, Therefore, when the Samaritan woman came to him, they asked him to remain with them, and he remained there two days, and many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, We no longer believe because of yours, but we have heard him ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Christ, the Savior of the world. And so very much a lot of benefit occurred from stopping at a well for a drink of water. So this is a beautiful example of how Christ was, you know, allowing his spirit, his presence to have impact even in the community. Let's go to Deuteronomy. Let's go back to Deuteronomy, of course, and look in the Old Testament. We've got another Deuteronomy 11, and see what some instruction here, Deuteronomy 11, in verse, we'll start it here in verse 8. So God tells us here, as it relates to his law and his commandments and understanding this relationship that we have with him, he says, Therefore, you shall keep all the commandments which I command you this day, so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land where you go to possess it. And so that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord swore your fathers to give to them into their seed, a land flowing with milk and honey. For the land into which you go to possess it is not the land of Egypt, for which you came out where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot like a garden of vegetables. But the land which you are entering to possess is a land of hills and valleys that drink water from the rain of heaven. It is a land which the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it from the beginning of the year even to the end of it. And it will be if you will hearken diligently to my commandment, which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, and I will give the reign of your land in its due season. This relationship is an agrarian example, but a spiritual parallel can be easily seen here. By obeying God and walking and doing that work that he has called us to do, the necessary resources to have that righteousness produced is fossil. It comes from God, and it's a relationship, blessings and cursing, right? So here, again, in verse 14, and I will give the reign of your land in its due season. The first one and the latter, brethren, that's very important. You need water at essential periods, and the seasons there in the promised land was attuned to that, and God's relationship with his people were attuned to that. So God goes on and let them know that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil, fields, vineyards, groves, all of that production that's described there is what God is blessing, and he goes a step further in 15, and I will send grass in your fields for your livestock so that you may eat and be full. Again, there's a spiritual parallel that one can draw in terms of partaking of the blessings that God pours out from heaven upon us to have us to be fed with the dew from heaven, which, again, comes from him. Physically, spiritually, this relationship in righteousness produces this kind of thing. Let's go to Ezekiel, in the prophet Ezekiel chapter 34, Ezekiel chapter 34, and the prophet makes something, again, clear here in verse 26, let's pick it up in verse 25. He says, and I will make a covenant of peace with them, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land, and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods, and I will make in the places around my hill a blessing, and I will bring down the shower in its season. There shall be showers of blessing. Verse 27, and the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bonds of their yoke, and have delivered them out of the hand of those who enslaved them. Now, we can project ahead into our time, into the time of Christ, from this prophecy that God is pouring out from heaven, blessings, blessings, and those blessings are enabling us to produce the kind of righteous fruit that God desires from his people, from his church, from his family. Here with me to Psalm 51, Psalm 51, and let's look at what it says there. Psalm 51, and verse 1, David, when Nathan the prophet came to him about the sin that he had committed with Bathsheba, he cried out, have mercy on me, O God, according to your love and kindness, according to the greatness of your compassion, blot out my transgression. He says to God, wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin, for acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me against you. You only have I sinned and done evil in your sight, that you might be justified when you speak, and be in the right if you judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother did conceive me. Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden parts you shall make me to know wisdom. Purge me with thyself, and I shall be clean. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which you have broken may rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Take me not away from you, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. God's Spirit which enables us to produce and to have the kind of mind that God wants us to have. Go to Psalm 58 now, Psalm 58. In Psalm 58, let's pick it up here again in verse 1. He says, Do you indeed speak righteousness, O mighty Lord? Do you judge uprightly, O sons of men? Yea, in your heart you were wickedness. You weigh out the violence from your hands in the earth. The wicked are estranged from the womb. They who speak lies go astray from birth. Their venom is like the venom of a serpent. He stops his ear like the deaf datter, which will not listen to the charmer's voice, though a skillful caster of spells. O God, break their teeth in their mouth, shatter their fangs, the fangs of the young lions, O Lord. Let them melt away like water which run off continually. When he aims his arrows, let it be as though they were cut off. Let them be as a slug which is melting away in a miscarriage of a woman so that they may never see the sun. Before your haunt can seal the throngs, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, whether green or dry. The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance. He shall bathe his footsteps in the blood of the wicked, so that a man shall say, Truly there is a reward for righteousness. Truly there is a God who is judging in the earth. So yes, there is a reward to have those fruits of righteousness in your life. If we are producing fruits of unrighteousness, God will remove his blessings from us. So who is, as it was said in Matthew 24, who is that wise and faithful servant? You see, Christ is our source for an abundant harvest in righteousness. The Holy Spirit is the water needed to grow fruits of righteousness, providing water and nutrients necessary to produce those fruits. What fruits are we looking for? We're looking for fruits of righteousness. In Galatians 5, in Galatians 5, in verse 22, Galatians 5, 22, we talk about fruits of God's righteous, perfect presence, his spirit within us. The fruits of the Spirit is what God is wanting us to grow more and more in. So let's read verse 22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, additional aspects or fruits that come from, if you will, this presence of God through his spirit in our life. Verse 23, meekness, self-control, against such things there is no law, but those who are Christ have crucified the flesh with his passions and lusts. Those are the opposite of this. If we live by the Spirit, we should be walking by the Spirit. So our walk, our work, all that we're producing is through the Spirit of God to produce fruits of righteousness. Verse 26, we should not become vanguards, provoking one another and envying one another. Let's go over to Ephesians 5, Ephesians 5, and let's get a perspective here as well. So God has called us out of this world, out of darkness, out of the evil that is in this world into his perfect light so that we can produce the kind of outcome and fruits that he's looking for. He says, for you are once darkness, but you are light, and the Lord walkest children of light, because the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth for proving what is well speaking to the Lord. And have no fellowship, he says, with the untruthful works of darkness, but rather expose them. And this is where God is telling us to be able to discern between good and evil, light and darkness, not by our own, not leaning to our own understanding, but through the power of God's Spirit working within us, the very mind of Christ being perfected within us. You see this power, this relationship flows from him, that is from Christ. It flows from him unto us. If we are indeed that wise and faithful servant, workers, men and women, God will give us the entry. If we are about our Father's business, doing that, that God has called us to do, being effective, right, applying the necessary practices, if you will, that produce fruit, God will bless us. Farms don't run themselves. Those who are ranchers, farmers, or, you know, husbands, those who care for growing things recognize that they need care every day. A farmer gets up early and goes to bed late. I don't have the words, but if you do get an opportunity to listen to the Paul Harvey Dodge advertisement that he did, I think he paints the image very clearly. This relationship that we have with God is one similar in that we are dedicated, that we are committed, that we're early to rise to do his will, and that we're late to slumber to do his will. And we care for that which is within our care, whether it's our own family, our brothers and sisters in Christ, the relationship that we have with God. All of this is a wonderful example in relationship that I truly admire and love, both in my physical life as well as in my spiritual life. One of my closest friends within the church who passed away some years ago was a retired farm wife, and my wife and I spent some very quality time. She exemplified so many positive aspects of this production of righteousness in her life, in the way that she lived, in the way that she loved the brethren and served the brethren. This is all very much a part of what God has called us to do and to have. Turn with me to Romans 6, and we'll pick up here in verse 18. So again, if we are wise and faithful servants and workers doing God's bidding, God will give us the increase. In Romans 6, in verse 18, verse 18. So in having been delivered from sin, you, we, have become the servants of righteousness. And Paul says, I speak from a human point of view, because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you once yielded your members in bondage to uncleanness and to lawlessness, so now yield your members in bondage to righteousness and to sanctification. In other words, you're setting yourselves apart to do the things that God is calling you to do, to produce the kind of food that God desires from you. You can't produce godly food by practicing ungodly things. You can't produce wheat, a wheat crop as an example, by trying to grow rice, so to speak. God has called us to a specific calling, and God has called us to do those things which produce righteousness. In other words, verse 20, for when you were servants of sin, you were free from righteousness. Therefore the fruit, what fruit did you have in, in the things of which you are now ashamed? There was no fruit in that. Because it does not produce the outcome that God desires, you have to walk in the prescription that God has given. He is the one who is a master at this. For the end result of those things which we were doing before to death, as I said, trying to produce a crop without the essential ingredients that come from God is a dead work. You're not going to be successful. Verse 22, but now that you have been delivered from sin and have become servants, workmen, the ones that God has placed in this relationship to produce, servants of God. You have your fruit, that that you're producing, unto sanctification for that purpose set aside for God's purpose and use, and the end result is eternal life. If we are holding fast and doing that which God has called us to do, yes, the wages of sin is death, verse 22, but the gift of God, brethren, through this relationship that we have with him is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Yes, Paul is telling us that the Father owns the fields, the seed, and all the resources and power to produce the righteous fruit that he desires. As it was in the garden, a tree producing all manner of fruit that was good for food that we might have a life or have life and live forever. So this is what God has called us to. God has called us to this type of a relationship with him. Yes, God can increase your fruit hearts. He gives increase. Let's take a look at 2 Corinthians 9, 2 Corinthians, and let's pick it up in verse 8. For God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that in every way you may always have sufficiency, sufficiency in all things, and may abound unto every good work. This work that he's called us to, those are the good works of God. Verse 9, according as it is written, he has scattered abroad and he has given to the poor. His righteousness remains forever. Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread to eat supply your seed and multiply your sowing, and may he increase the fruits of your righteousness so that you may in every way be enriched unto a bountifulness, unto all bountifulness, which causes thanksgiving to God through us. Yes, our relationship with God is one to grow and to produce the kind of fruits that God is looking for. He responds directly and in a direct way to our positioning ourselves to receive from him and acting on that which he gives, yes, to our acting on faith through work. What is that, brethren? That is believing faith, and believing faith is faith in action. Believing faith is faith in action. Remember what Christ said. Remember Christ said it would not be a cakewalk. The way is narrow and it is difficult. Working is not an easy labor, if you will. Turn to Matthew 7, go to Matthew 7 and pick it up in verse 13. It is the hardest job you would ever love because it has reward to be physical, to actually produce something and see it grow, to see that increase. Something for me is as simple as the first time in my adult life that I had fought laying hens. I grew up with them, of course, but a few years ago I started growing laying hens again. In that first family of young chicks that I grew from infancy, if you will, until adulthood, in the first batch of eggs that we received from our laying hens, I went out and collected them and brought them into the house and showed them to my wife. I placed the basket on the counter and I said, look, look at our increase. All the labor that we put into it produced those eggs, so much so now that God has blessed us to be able to share them with our brethren and we can all enjoy nice free-range eggs, if you will. But this is how God empowers us and gives us the blessing, if you will. So Christ said it wasn't going to be easy. In verse 13, he says, Enter in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter through it. For narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and few are those who find it. So no, it's not an easy road, but it is one filled with joy and love and appreciation because we see God's work in our life and we see God's work in one another's life. Yes, the way of this world and the fields of this world, yes, they are cursed. We have to deal with the thistles and thorns that we encounter. These are things from the Garden of Eden and the choices that were made there. So this world is full of Satan-inspired snares to take us out of God's way, to take us out of that relationship with him, right? So God wants us to be aware of this and he advises us. He wants us to be aware of Satan's devices. So Genesis 3, and let's pick it up in verse 17. This is where we were just talking about here, where he says, and to Adam he said, and this is the condition of the fields of today, why it is a lot of work to produce a crop because we have to contend with the curse of the thorns and the thistles and the weeds and all the different things that we have to manage around in order to get it. So in verse 15 it says, and I will put intimacy between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise your head and you will bruise his heel. The woman, and to the woman he said, I will greatly increase your sorrow and your conception. In sorrow your desire shall be toward your husband, he shall rule over you. And to Adam he said, because you have hearkened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you saying, you shall not eat of it, the ground is cursed for your sake. In sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life. So God is placed before us a difficult way because of the sin of Adam. But that is the state of things. Our work is a part of life and working to achieve the outcomes still has its rewards. So he wants us to seek after righteousness despite the difficulties. So in summary, here is the key to an abundant harvest of righteousness. One needs a supply of water, as we've described. One needs a supply of light, and Christ has brought that light to us. Christ provides that water to us. One needs good seed, and God has provided the good seed. One needs good soil, that seed needs to fall on good soil. And that good soil is developed within our personal lives. That good soil is especially developed within the body of Christ because that's where God brings new seed to grow, within the body of Christ, within the church. And we need labor, and Christ provides the labor, and we need... The Father is the master of it all. In 1 Corinthians 3, let's go to 1 Corinthians 3, in 1 Corinthians 3, in verse 6, Paul says here, I planted an Apollos water, but God gave the increase. Therefore neither is he who plants anything, nor he who waters, for it is God who gives the increase. That increase in our life comes from God. He says in verse 8, now he who plants and he who waters are one. Same purpose, same outcomes, same desires being achieved, but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers, and you are God's husbandry, even God's building. He goes on to give another analogy, but we are indeed God's husbandry in this walk. Christ lays this out for us very clearly in John 15, this will be my final verse here. In John 15, that's really the relationship that I've been discussing here is very well defined here in John 15. Christ tells us that he is the true vine. He says, I'm the true vine, and my father is the husband-monk. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit. So we see the master of this work is the father through Christ. He takes away in me every branch that does not bear fruit, but he cleanses each one that bears fruit in order that it may bear more fruit. His objective is fruit production. In us, verse three, you are already clean through the word that I have spoken to you. He says, dwell in me and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, but only if it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you are dwelling in me. I'm the true vine, you are the branches. The one who is dwelling in me and I in him bears much fruit because apart from me, you can do nothing. And that is a truth that one cannot escape. Everything that we produce in life, everything that is good, everything that is sanctified for God's use, perfect as the Father is perfect, is from above and made possible through this relationship that we have with God. So brethren, I end with this question. Are we producing fruit of righteousness as God wants?

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