"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful”
~ Jesus Christ in John 15:2
During a recent online conference chat with my international ministry team, I made the observation that the point of Jesus’ words in the verse above is simple and straightforward: results and fruitfulness in life and ministry matter to God. The idea that God will keep us regardless of whether or not we bear fruit is for lazy and mediocre minds. Religious minds like the popular misconception that God’s love is sentimental and unconditional. But that’s a lie that’s been fed to them by the devil to feed their laziness and lack of productivity.
Without fruitfulness, you cannot retain your place in God. Jesus Christ said that ‘He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit…’
Oh yes, if we are not fruitful, He’ll cut us off.
So, it’s time to get off your lazy couch and go to work!
Unfruitfulness equals wickedness
In the parable of the talents, the master called the unproductive servant a WICKED servant.
“His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?‘ Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’” ~ Luke 19:22-24
Mark my emphasis in the above verses. The unproductive servant was referred to by the master as ‘you wicked servant.’ Wicked, yes, that’s how God views the unfruitful.
so unfruitfulness = wickedness.
That’s the way God sees it.
Again notice that the master is interested in INTERESTS too.
I continuously exhort the pastors and leaders in our ministry to be fruitful in life and in ministry. For instance, I admonish them to never forget that the LORD expects us to be fruitful particularly in our home churches.
I’m certain that the most challenging aspect of our work within our ministry is to birth and increase the membership of our home churches. If the home churches are not growing and multiplying daily, we are not being fruitful in this area.
Because of my conviction that God has not called us to just be alone, I am constantly challenging our leaders to continue to develop other leaders. Leadership development is an important area of growth for any church, ministry, or even business enterprise.
I also teach that our personal successes and finances are important areas of growth and fruitfulness. Christians and their leaders must develop wealth creating ventures and vibrant cash flow streams. This involves putting our talents and gifts to work in the marketplace, rather than ‘lazying’ about.
Failure permits no alibi
We need to constantly remind ourselves that there are no excuses for failure. The servant that failed to bear fruit had a beautiful excuse. He had excellent reasons for failing. But in the end, the Master paid no considerations to those excuses. Excuses are fertile grounds for failure and mediocrity. This is why I don’t accept it in my life and that of those I lead.
Establish the truth your heart that "I AM NOT ALLOWED TO BE UNFRUITFUL."
In other words, I have no excuses to fail.
See all excuses as silly, unacceptable, lazy, and wicked. Because that’s the way the Master sees excuses.
Someone told me once that “I think I’m needing to sit back and even find out exactly what my talents and gifts are. Sometimes it feels like I know them, at some other point, I don’t.” My response to her was that “the greatest gift/talent is God’s word.” Mary told the servants, regarding the miracle at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine: "Whatever He tells you to do, do it."
As important as your gifts and talents are, God does not consult them to instruct you. He consults His word for you. If God says you can do it, and tells you to do it, then that’s what matters.
So, the issue is not whether or not you are gifted or talented for it, but rather whether or not you can hear and believe God’s words.
Religious folks are usually very spiritually deaf and blind. They can’t hear a thing that God is saying to them to do. Then those of us who hear have a million stupid excuses why we won’t step out in faith and obey.
So, it’s very important that we listen to God’s instructions in our hearts, then step out in faith and obey.
Fruitfulness is the result of taking radical steps
Unless you step out of your comfort zones and do something radical, there will be no results.
Courage is the mother of achievements!
Timidity is the graveyard of success.!
To step out in faith means that we take every opportunity presented to us, without waiting for perfect conditions. Intentions must become actions. And actions must become results.
Open your eyes and look at the fields
"Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” ~ John 4:35
Honestly, all around me, I see people yearning for God, looking for direction… looking for someone to follow, someone to lead them.
Jesus challenged His disciples to open their eyes and look at the fields. “They are ripe for harvest,” He told them.
It is the same today! The fields are ripe.. if you only open your eyes and look in the right direction.
Fruitfulness requires wisdom and skills
You will need the skills of a HARVESTER and a FISHERMAN in order to be fruitful.
Sowing the seed and spreading the love,is one thing, harvesting and bringing the sheaves home is another.
For instance, as I shared recently with some of the leaders of home churches in our ministry, the thing is not just to help people, but how you communicate the vision of your home church – how it is presented, how it’s packaged, in terms of giving meaning to them, and adding value to their lives. The rest of the world (except you, of course :) ) is only motivated by their own selfish interests. So, the question becomes, “what does the average Joe, and Sissy in your area gain by coming to your home church every week?” I think that’s an important question for every home church leader looking to become even more fruitful in ministry.
Well, maybe I should rephrase that question:
“What does the average Joe/Sissy in your area THINK/FEEL THEY NEED?” We know what they need. At least we love to think so. But what do they THINK THEY NEED?
When I ask this question, I usually get the cliché religious gibberish that what they need is ‘real, genuine truth.’
Yea, the preacher believes I need Jesus Christ!
But recently, someone gave me a more realistic answer. She said, “They think they need status, money and power.” However, she quickly added, “But I KNOW what they really need… Jesus.”
“Well,” I answered, “they don’t think they need Jesus, or eternal life.”
By the way, if you think that what you need is status, money, and power, you are a FOOL.
Anyway, this post is not for you, but for those who Jesus sent to reach you. So, I’ll continue with my message to them.
“Yes…everyone needs God but not everyone is aware of their need for God,” said one of the leaders to me during a meeting. “That is a huge issue in America,” she concluded.
“Well,” I told her, “if Jesus were in America, guess what? He’ll give them status, money, and power!” That’s the only way they’ll pay any attention to Him.
I mean, for goodness sake, soul winners must be pragmatic!
We just can’t continue to shove what WE THINK they need down their throat. Jesus healed the sick. He gave them free lunch. He opened blind eyes. He helped them pay his taxes and make huge profits from their businesses!
Come on now! What has your God got? What can He offer?
Jesus offered health, peace of mind, money, forgiveness, heaven. Of course He also offered death, persecution, and the cross for those who’ll come to be motivated by those higher ideals.
So, pragmatism demands that in order to be fruitful, you and I must function on the basis of relevance. This is a paradigm shift that must occur in our hearts, or else we’ll just give up in frustration.
A good fisherman thinks like a fish! You can’t bait a fish unless you know what the fish likes, and wants. That fish wants A DIRTY WORM. Sure. It’s dirty to you, but it’s MEAT to it! And Jesus said, “I’ll make you FISHERS of men.”
You think you know what they need? Well, think again! I challenge you to package your offering, your vision, and message in terms of what is relevant to them. This is a great success secret of fruitfulness in life and ministry.
Most people will tell you what they are seeking. Yes, but that’s only if we are willing to listen. We tend to be so mentally occupied with what we think people need that we don’t listen to them. When you’re with people, listen to them. Listen to learn. Listen to dig in beneath the surface.
People mask their needs behind smiles and false ‘needs’.. But if we listen, if we care enough to listen beyond the words, we can learn what it is that they really think they want. Then, we can adapt our message to offer that.
Listen to their heart, their fears, their motivations, and their desires; there you have the key to their followership. And that’s key to your own fruitfulness in life and ministry.
We need to develop that so that we can be fruitful in this work the LORD has given us to do for Him.