Paul talks about this personal fruitfulness in 2 Timothy 2:2 … would someone read this for us. We see here that Paul had a vision not just for reaching people individually for Christ, but for them to be trained to do the same. In fact, Paul speaks of four generations here … himself, Timothy, faithful men, and others. We see through Paul’s ministry and writings that he was committed to discipling men both in a small group context and one-to-one. Which brings me to my new years resolution for 2-0-1-1, to zero in on one-to-one, with Jesus, with a discipler or mentor, and with a disciple.
The one-to-one with Jesus is the most crucial. Let’s look at what the Bible has to say about this, beginning with John 15: 4, 5. You may remember that we talked last week about the fact that the way we glorify God is by bearing much fruit from John 15: 8. Jesus builds up to that statement with this introduction about how we bear fruit. Since I didn’t select these passages until after I had submitted my bulletin insert, I have asked some people to be ready to read them for us … so who has John 15? So here Jesus identifies himself as the vine and us as the branches and declares that we must remain or abide in Him to bear fruit, for apart from Him we can do nothing. What does it mean to abide in Christ? A couple of other scriptures will help us to understand the concept more clearly. Who has Psalm 1: 1-3?
Jeremiah 17: 7,8 draws a similar analogy. Who has that? Both of these passages use the analogy of a tree and talk about the tree bearing fruit, much like we talked about with the apple tree last week. Both also use the imagery of the tree being by a stream. The streams are the source of nourishment for the trees and there are some important lessons to be learned from how the trees use the water supplied by the streams. If it is a dry season and the tree gets just a little water, all of that water goes to keeping the tree alive, just sustaining its life. If it is able to get more water than what is needed to sustain life, then it uses the additional water to grow and develop. When it is able to get water in abundance, it can direct that extra water to producing fruit.
The same is true spiritually. As we abide in Christ and have our roots fed by the waters He provides, we can ultimately bear much fruit. If we get just a little water, we will just be able to maintain spiritually. If we get some extra, then we can grow. If we get even more, then we will bear fruit. What is that water. It involves several things, but the key ingredient is defined most clearly in Psalms 1: 2 … but his delight is in the Law of the Lord and in His Law he meditates day and night. The other key element is prayer. We must spend much time abiding in Christ in the Word and in prayer if we are going to bear much fruit.