Category Archives: Bearing Fruit

Christ the Center – John 15: 5

John 15: 5 – “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.”

Jesus used the picture of a vine (or tree trunk) and connected branches to illustrate His relationship to each believer, promising that each one who remains (abides or lives) in him would bear much fruit. This picture provides a couple of points to consider in our relationship with Christ.

  • The branch does not bear fruit by straining and trying to bear fruit, but by staying connected to the vine and receiving daily nourishment from the vine. Our focus must remain not on what we do for Christ, but on allowing Him to work through us as we abide in Him.
  • The branch does not need to be moved far away from the vine to wither up and die … the distance of the width of the thinnest blade that slices between the vine and the branch is enough to kill. We must never forget that apart from Christ, we can do nothing!

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Leaders Put Good Intentions into Action

A blog that I follow and that often inspires me is one that is about leadership in general, but the writer often writes from an obvious Christian perspective. While his blog post today, Leaders Put Good Intentions into Action, isn’t written with that obvious perspective, it does have obvious application to Christians. It is a good challenge to us all.

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2011: Year of Fruitfulness – Message Audio 2

Click on Second Message Audio to download the message.

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2011: Year of Fruitfulness – Part 9

Having a one-to-one relationship with a discipler or spiritual mentor is probably one of the most missed blessings in the Christian life. The problem is two-fold … the lack of growing Christians with a heart and vision to be that for a younger believer and, at least here in the United States, a rather cavalier attitude that prevents many from seeking or even accepting spiritual guidance. Our culture has developed in us an unhealthy attitude of rugged individualism that drives us to try to go it alone. We might be fairly ready to get involved in a small group and learn some things there, but resist getting personal time with someone and really allowing them to see into our lives and ask tough questions about how we’re applying what we’re learning.

How about you? Are you willing to accept some personal help and spiritual guidance? Are you willing to take it a step further and seek help? If so, I’m going to ask you to indicate that on your offering envelope … just write ‘I want to be discipled’ and we will seek to identify someone to meet with you. I’ve already done that. I recognized when I made this resolution that I have been operating for several years now with having a relationship with someone committed to discipling and mentoring me. So I took the initiative and, after praying about the possibilities, asked Pastor Chuck if he would be willing to do that. He is willing and we have begun meeting.

Considering having a one-to-one relationship with someone to disciple them or to just seek an opportunity to share the gospel with them can be a very daunting prospect. Many considering this possibility would rightly say, “But I don’t know how. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do … where to start”. Sadly, most will do nothing about it and will remain comfortable in their ignorance. Let me challenge you to join that first group seeking a discipler so that you can learn how so that you too can join the ranks of those who can, and do, respond to Paul’s admonition to ‘entrust these things to faithful men’. If you do believe you have what it takes and want to join me in this part of my new years resolution, then let me ask you to indicate that also on the offering envelope … just write ‘I want to disciple someone’ and we’ll see if we can’t help you get connected with someone that wants to be discipled.

I started off this message last week talking about the situation that we are in currently at Crossroads, being without a senior pastor. I challenged you with the thought that this is a season to thrive as a church and not merely survive. This is the way that we can do it … by committing ourselves to zeroing in on one-to-one with Jesus, with a discipler, and with a disciple. It will absolutely revolutionize us, both personally and as a church. Failure to do so will doom us to the huddles of the ‘also-rans’.

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2011: Year of Fruitfulness – Part 8

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.

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2011: Year of Fruitfulness – Part 7

A group that we often think of when we talk about investing in the souls of men are evangelists. Here are some pictures of some evangelists, in fact this group of evangelists have something interesting in common. Does anyone recognize any of these men.

The two men on the left are Dwight L. Moody and Billy Sunday. They both are estimated to have won about 1 million people to Christ. The two men on the right are Wilbur Chapman and Mordecai Ham. They are estimated to have won about a half million people to Christ each. All of them of course did this through large evangelistic crusades. The interesting story and connection is that Wilbur Chapman attended a Moody Crusade and received personal counseling from Moody that gave him assurance of his salvation and set the stage for him to become an evangelist. Billy Sunday was a professional baseball player who began assisting at the Chapman crusades. He heard Chapman’s sermons so often that he had them memorized and asked to fill in for Chapman once when he was sick. His sermon was so effective, that the crusade was extended and people started asking him to hold crusades.

One of those who went to his crusades was Mordecai Ham. Mr. Ham was already a Christian, but he was struggling with assurance of his salvation. He was able to meet with Billy Sunday and received personal counseling from him after the crusade meeting, resulting in him gaining that assurance and going on to become an evangelist himself, winning a half million to Christ in his crusades.

One evening in 1934 when Mordecai Ham was holding a crusade in Charlotte, NC, two young men, recently graduated from high school came forward to accept Christ … Grady Wilson and Billy Graham. They teamed up together in response to God’s call to hold evangelistic crusades and ultimately led over 5 million people to Christ. So together these 5 evangelists have led over 8 million people to Christ. So what am I telling you? Am I telling you that God wants each of us to become evangelists holding crusades around the world? No, I’m not … let me tell you, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.

Dwight L. Moody did not come to Christ through a crusade. He had moved to Boston as a teen where he lived with his uncle and worked for him in his shoe store. He started attending a local church and became part of a Sunday school class there. How many people here are Sunday school teachers or lead a small group? This Sunday school’s teacher was named Edward Kimball. Mr Kimball made it a practice to get to know each of his pupils personally and to visit them to be able to share the gospel with them personally. He visited Moody one Saturday in the shoe store and Moody responded to his invitation to accept Christ. Over 8 million souls who have come to Christ because one Sunday school teacher obeyed the call of God to share the gospel.

I believe that this is what God is calling each of us to … to be ready and willing to share the gospel with those around you. I’m not talking about being obnoxious and feeling like you have to pounce on everyone you meet. I’m simply talking about being prepared, knowing how to share the gospel, and looking for opportunities to share, recognizing where God is working and there are open doors. And not only that, but investing in other Christ-followers by helping them to learn how to replicate the process.

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2011: Year of Fruitfulness – Part 6

Let’s turn now to the ministry of investing in the souls of men, beginning again with how some people here in Crossroads are involved in that. Several people here are involved in ministering to orphans in Russia, either by supporting the orphans financially and writing and praying for them and others are doing so by actually traveling to Russia to visit orphanages. This ministry is called Orphan’s Hope. They are not only helping those orphanages financially and physically by helping to build or refurbish facilities, but they are making personal connections with the kids, breathing life into their hearts by showing them much-needed love and speaking truth into their spirits as they tell them about and show them the love of Jesus. The orphans’ lives are brightened, many are responding to the gospel of Christ, and some are even committing themselves to continue to work with this ministry in their home country when they are no longer occupants of the orphanages.

In two weeks, on Jan 30th, Orphan’s Hope is hosting a fundraising luncheon here at Crossroads right after worship service, so come on out to support and learn more about this vital ministry.

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2011: Year of Fruitfulness – Part 5

This is the beginning of my second message …

How many people have thought 2-0-1-1 this week? How many people have tried to figure out what that means and how it relates to my new years resolution? Anyone want to to take a guess? I will tell you a little later what it means, but let’s talk about a few other things first. Again I want to make this interactive, so when I ask a question, I want answers … I want the truth … I can handle the truth! Can you handle the truth?

Last week we talked about the call to fruitfulness as individual Christ-followers. We finished up in 1 Corinthians 3: 10-15 and talked about investing our lives in gold, silver, and costly jewels. What did we say were represented by these elements, the things that will last for eternity (Word of God and the Souls of Men).

Today we will look at how to do that and we’re going to start with looking at some examples of how it is currently happening in the context of Crossroads. A friend of mine used to say that “Example is not a means of teaching … it’s the only means of teaching”. Paul believed in the value of being an example as we see in 1 Corinthians 11:1 … would someone read that for us. I’m going to start with examples of investing in the Word of God, but will focus primarily on investing in the Souls of Men, but you will see that they are actually tied together very closely.

When the elders asked me to speak, they mentioned that maybe I could share more about our ministry in Ireland and that ministry is part of how we are investing in Word. The ministry is part of Community Bible Study International, which we commonly refer to as CBSI. The goal and motto of CBSI is Everyone in the World in the Word. CBSI and its parent organization, CBS, recognize that the Word of God is life-changing and is the source of spiritual life and growth for believers. They have developed a study methodology and produce study guides designed to be used in a community context and available to everyone.

Our role as representatives of CBSI in Ireland is to plant new Bible study groups using CBSI studies, train Bible study leaders and mentor them as they lead, develop a National Servants Team to lead the ministry into the future. The approach that CBSI uses is to send people into their target country several times a year to do these things rather than having them live there for several years. It would be neat to recruit people to go and minister with us in Ireland, but its just not the kind of ministry that can be effectively done without a commitment to going several times a year. What you can do is pray and give … just see me or Patti anytime to get more information about doing that.

Another example that is actually a recent development that is getting underway was initiated by Mary Ellen McCoy, so I’m going to invite Mary Ellen to come up now to share with you the vision that God has placed on her heart. Mary Ellen …

(Mary Ellen shared about a project she is launching to collect Bibles to send to an organization that collects and sends used Bibles to people in other countries who have no Bible.)

Thank you Mary Ellen. So those are a couple of examples of people in Crossroads working to invest in the Word of God by getting people into the Word. Others in Crossroads are involved in small groups studying the Bible together.

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2011: Year of Fruitfulness – Message Audio 1

Click on First Message Audio to download the message.


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2011: Year of Fruitfulness – Part 4

Part 3

Let’s look at what Paul taught about this principle and expectation of fruitfulness in 1 Cor 3: 10-15. First, what year is it again? (2011)  Would someone read that for us.

We see in this passage that Paul identifies 6 specific building materials that might be used in building on the foundation of Christ in a believer’s life. These 6 building materials can be sorted into two groups. What would be a natural way to divide them into groups … which materials go together? What is distinctive about each group? What is going to happen when the wood, hay, and straw are placed on that fire that Paul writes about? (goes up in smoke) What is going to happen with the gold, silver, and costly stones? (purified … results in a reward) Think about this … how are YOU going to feel when you stand before God and together you watch that fire and you watch EVERYTHING that you have given your life to go up in smoke? Like the verse says, you will still be saved … even though only as one escaping through the flames.

For me, that would be pretty devastating, especially knowing that God expects more from us and that I could have invested my life in things that would last for eternity instead of spending it on things destined to burn. What about you? Are you spending your life on trivialities or investing it in things of eternal value? What are those things that will last for eternity … the gold, silver, and costly stones? The Bible identifies 2 things that will last forever. The first is the Word of God and the other is the souls of men. You will hear more about these next week as I share my new years resolution for 2 0 1 1 about how we can be fruitful as individual Christ-followers in very practical ways.

As the worship team sings, consider whether you are willing to become, if not so already, a fruitful follower of Christ by investing in the life of another, either by helping someone discover the wonderful plan of salvation of by helping another Christ-follower to be fruitful and what steps to can take to get started in 2 0 1 1.

End of First Message


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