Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Road Back to Eden. . .

My favorite way of studying the Bible, is to sit in my easy chair, with my Bible, a notebook, a concordance and look up all the Scripture references for a particular word. I love letting Scripture define words with spiritual contexts. When I find relevant verses, I hand write them in my notebook.

I surely could do this faster on my computer with E-Sword Bible software, but reading and studying the Bible isn’t about seeing how fast and efficient you can be, but to me, it is more importantly about allowing the Word of God to sink as deeply as possible into your soul.

I greatly like the hand writing of the verses. . .often times, I will copy 5 or more verses to provide the proper context of the passage. As I letter each word of Scripture my mind is intently focused upon what I am writing. . .lol. . .savoring each jot and tittle as it were of God’s Word.

I recently did a study on the word ‘fruit.’ This study generated some 30 pages of Scripture verses and notes. I greatly enjoyed this study. I did use my computer to create a list of verses where the phrase “fruit of” was found. Here is the result of that computer search:

The Bible speaks of almost 30 kinds of fruit:

1. The fruit of a (all) (manner of) (the) tree(s) Gen 1:29, Gen 3:2, Gen 3:3, Exo 10:15, Lev 27:30, Neh 10:35, Neh 10:37, Eze 36:30
2. The fruit of the (their) ground: Gen 4:3, Deu 28:4, Psa 105:35, Jeremiah 7:20
3. The (beloved) fruit of the (thy) womb: Gen 30:2, Deu 7:13, Psa 127:3, Isa 13:18, Hos 9:16, Luk 1:42
4. The fruit of the (thy) land: Lev 23:39, Num 13:20, Num 13:26, Deu 1:25, Deu 7:13, Deu 28:18, Deu 28:33, Deu 28:42, Deu 28:51, Deu 30:9, Jos 5:12,
5. The fruit of it (itself): Num 13:27, Joh 15:4
6. The fruit of thy seed: Deu 22:9
7. The fruit of the earth: Deu 26:2, Isa 4:2, Jam 5:7
8. The fruit of thy (thine own) (my) body: Deu 28:4, Deu 28:11, Deu 28:11, Deu 28:18, Deu 28:53, Deu 30:9, Psa 132:11, Mic 6:7
9. The fruit of thy cattle: Deu 28:4, Deu 28:51, Deu 30:9
10. The fruit of thy works: Psa 104:13
11. The fruit of their own way: Pro 1:31
12. The fruit of the wicked: Pro 10:16
13. The fruit of the righteous: Pro 11:30
14. The fruit of his mouth: Pro 12:14, Pro 13:2, Pro 18:20,
15. The fruit of her hands: Pro 31:16, Pro 31:31
16. The fruit of their (his) (your) doings: Isa 3:10, Jer 17:10, Jer 21:14, Jer 32:19, Mic 7:13
17. The fruit of the stout heart: Isa 10:12
18. The fruit of the (our) lips: Isa 57:19, Heb 13:15
19. The fruit of them: Isa 65:21, Amo 9:14
20. The fruit of their thoughts: Jer 6:19, Jer 29:5, Jer 29:28
21. The fruit of lies: Hos 10:13
22. The fruit of righteousness: Amo 6:12, Heb 12:11, Jam 3:18
23. This fruit of the vine (vineyard): Mat 26:29, Mar 12:2, Mar 14:25, Luk 20:10, Luk 22:18
24. Fruit of herself: Mar 4:28
25. Fruit of thee: Mar 11:14
26: The fruit of his loins: Act 2:30
27: The fruit of the Spirit: Gal 5:22, Eph 5:9
28: The fruit of my labour: Phi 1:22

In creating and studying the verses containing the word ‘fruit’ and the phrase ‘fruit of’, it became apparent to me that you could replace the phrase ‘fruit of’ with ‘consequence of’ or ‘result of’. Literal Fruit is not just a noun standing all by itself, but it is the end result of a chain of events. . .it is a consequence of planting, cultivation, fertilization and harvest. Likewise spiritual fruit must also be a consequence.

Imagine that you have in your hands 2 apples. In your right hand, you have a very large beautifully red and juicy apple, and in your left hand you have a stunted, deformed, scabby skinned and wormy apple.

For every acre of exceptionally large juicy apples grown, there are probably 10 acres of average sized apples harvested, and again for every acre of big juicy apples taken, there may well be 100 or a 1000 acres of apple tree which nothing was done to improve. No effort was put into these apples.

Surely everyone in this room has come across an apple tree left to itself. When I lived in Mishawaka, I had a large yard about 1¼ acres in size. On this lot I remember having 6 apple trees. I never sprayed them, never fertilized them or watered them. I did nothing to them.

In the fall these untended trees had an abundance of apples on them, but you could scarcely find any fruit worth eating. They were wormy, misshapen, discolored apples with scabby tough skin. I did not care about apples and my fruit showed it. It takes no effort to grow wormy scabby misshapen fruit.

All fruit is the result of consequences. Each fruit that you might see for sale at the grocer’s, is the result of uncountable decisions and circumstances and actions coming together into one result.

Someone decided to plant a seed, or more probably made a cutting and grafted the cutting to a piece of root stock to propagate a new apple tree. They selected a site on which to grow the tree. They tended the young tender tree for a number of years until it was mature enough to bear apples. They shaped it, kept the weeds away, watched over it for signs of insect damage, or wild animal injury, damage from storms. . .until finally one spring the tree put forth blossoms. A bee visited a flower and pollinated the flower. The tree set fruit. The husbandman fertilized, and cultivated the ground around the tree. He sprayed the tree to keep the apples from being wormy or scaly. The rain came. The sun shown down upon the tree. The fruit grew. Wind and storms, and hail did not strip the fruit from the tree before its maturity and one day the farmer chose to begin his harvesting of his trees. The apples were picked, graded, washed, shipped and bagged to our local store. Where they were made available for our purchase.

A large perfectly beautiful and juicy apple, is the consequence of many many people, many decisions, many acts of God. To be able to harvest a large and juicy apple. Uncountable things must come together in just the right amounts. Fruit is all about consequences of actions.

Again, it bears repeating. . .no effort is required to grow wormy apples. Fruit is the result of choice and consequence.

Jesus said that a tree is known by its fruit:

Matthew 12:33
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.

Luke 6:44
For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.

I cannot think of a fruit tree, which is not called after the fruit that it bears. Apple tree, pear, cherry, orange, fig, mulberry trees. . .all are called after the fruit that they bear. Likewise, many of us are known by our fruit. . .The fruit of our hands. Roger King is known as a builder. Jeff Faulkner is known as one who works at the Humane Society. I am known as an engineer, and a beekeeper. Many are known as homemakers. Sister Ruby is surely known by the fruit of her signing hands.

At the jail, we minister to men and women who are incarcerated due to the fruit of their hands. . .wife beaters, rapists, molesters, thieves, murderers. . .all known for the ill fruit of their hands.

Another fruit that the Bible mentions is the fruit of our lips. Are we known as gossips? or persons who stretch the truth and lie? or are we know as ones who have kind words, words of wisdom, words of faith, hope, encouragement???

We are known by the fruit of our loins. . .again Jeff and Linda Faulkner. . .What pride they must feel when someone says, ”Oh, you’re Adam Faulkner’s parents. The wonderful man of God preaching in Madison, Indiana.”

How often have we seen, some poor mother with a microphone cruelly thrust in her face. . .asked to account for the terribly violent crime her son has been charged with. . .Now and forever more she will be known as the mother of a son who committed a horrid atrocity. . .Known by the fruit of her loins. . .

You are as a tree. You are designed to bear fruit. . .again Jesus taught and said again and again that a tree which bears no fruit will be cursed. He acted upon this principle:

Matthew 21:19
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

He taught this in parables. He demonstrated it by His actions. We must bear good fruit. It is the great purpose of our existence.

One fruit spoken of in the Bible is unique. It is a uniquely New Testament fruit spoken of by Paul in 2 consecutive letters to New Testament churches:

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Ephesians 5:8-10
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (9) (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) (10) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

The fruit of the Spirit. . .the consequence of the Spirit of God entering into and uniting with the spirit of man. I am struck as a beekeeper how this similar this process is to the pollination of a flower by a honey bee. We repent and come before God. We open ourselves to Him. His Spirit enters us. We are permanently changed. We begin to now mature and bear fruit as a consequence of the Spirit of God filling us. . .

The bee visits the flower, but if the petals of the flower are closed the bee moves on. The bee is very busy. A pint jar of honey contains the nectar from approximately 3 million flowers, but that is not why the bee goes on. The bee surely has the ability to fight its way through the closed petals, but the bee has the knowledge from past experience or possibly instinct that if the petals are closed, if the flower is not fully opened to the bee, then the flower is not yet ready for pollination. Something within the flower is lacking and it would be pointless for the bee to force its way into the flower.

Likewise a person not fully open to God, will not receive the Spirit of God. God will not invade you with His Spirit. You must open yourself fully to Him for His Spirit to merge with yours and to fill you to overflowing.

The result of the Spirit of God merging with your spirit and filling you. . .the consequence of that act of fertilization is fruit. The attributes of this fruit are: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. . .these are not 9 different fruits, but characteristics. . .consequences of the 1 resultant fruit arising from the Spirit of God fertilizing your soul and transforming your life.

Is your fruit small or misshapen? Are you consistently lacking in joy or faith or meekness? Does your fruit have tough spots on it? To bear continual crops of fruit, the flower of our soul must remain ever open to God. Opening to God is not a one time occurrence when a person first comes to God. We must continue to be pollinated and fertilized by God for our entire lives. It is a foolish Christian who thinks that their initially being filled with the Spirit of God is the end of their opening themselves to God. We are to bear fruit all our Christian lives. If a flower opens not at all, no fruit will be born. A flower only partially open will result in an imperfectly pollinated. . .and will result in a misshapen and imperfect fruit.

Anything which acts as a barrier between you and God will damage the fruit which you can bear and lessen your harvest. While Adam and Eve were living in the Garden of Eden, in close proximity to God. . .with no barriers between them and God, their lives were filled with fruit. On every side of them, the trees of the garden dripped with succulent fruit in abundance. All around them grew luscious juicy things to eat:

Genesis 2:8-9
And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. (9) And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

And then Adam and Eve sinned. God removed them from His garden and He cursed mankind. . .

Genesis 3:17-19
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (18) Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; (19) In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

As a direct consequence of their sinning, Adam and Eve lost their access to the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:23-24
Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. (24) So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Notice that the barrier to the garden of Eden was not a wall between man and God. In the very next chapter of the Bible, God spoke with Cain. God was not present in the same way, with the same familiarity as with Adam and Eve before their sinning, but still He was present and speaking into men’s lives.

The barrier kept the way of the tree of life. . .and indeed kept the way of all the fruit found in the garden of Eden. A barrier guarded by Cherubims. . . the same Cherubims that were depicted as keeping watch over the mercy seat:

Exodus 25:18
And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.

Again two cherubims, it is the same Hebrew word. . .a flaming sword, an instrument of death. . .coupled with the fire that purifies:

Numbers 31:23
Every thing that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water.

There was a road back to Eden. . .There was a road back into the garden of the fruit of God. . .It was a road passing by way of the guardians of the mercy seat. . .through the way of the purifying of fire and by way of the sword, symbolic of dying to your sins and being resurrected as newly innocent creature, now able to walk in the cool of the day with God. The road back to Eden is a shadow of the very picture of the door to salvation opened for us by Jesus thousands of years after our being put out of the garden of Eden. . .

I weep. . .we are so so so lucky today. From the day of mankinds being cursed by God for our sins. . .until the day of Pentecost. . . all of humanity lived fruitless lives. Scores of generations of lives void of heavenly created fruit. In isolated instances, the Bible records that the Spirit of God would come upon a man for a specific purpose, for a limited season, but it is not recorded that any bore fruit of the Spirit that we are given today, from that temporary union with God.

Men today of all stripes, who know little or nothing of spiritual things, almost universally morn the fall of mankind from innocence and our subsequent loss of our abode in the garden of Eden. . .but!. . .But!!. . .BUT!!!. . .Today we again partake of heavenly fruit created from God’s Spirit. . .love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. . . all these well up within us. . .evidence. . .consequences. . .results of the Spirit of God filling us. . .merging with our spirit and fertilizing our lives.

Fruit is a result. . .fruit is a consequence, but fruit is not an end. Fruit is a result. . .fruit is a consequence, but most importantly fruit is also a beginning.

The apple tree does not put forth all the taxing expenditure of energy and effort, merely to produce apples for you to eat. If apple trees could speak, apples are not the apple trees purpose and goal.

The purpose of bearing fruit is reproduction. The seeds contained within the fruit, are the purpose of the tree and the reason for the fruit.

The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. . .are wonderful consequences of being filled with God’s Spirit, but it is the seeds of reproduction contained within that fruit which is the purpose of the fruit of the Spirit.

The farmer who harvests his crop and hoards it in a barn, for only his own use is a fool. The wise farmer casts seed of his fruit far and wide, thereby ensuring that another generation of fruit trees will arise in their turn. . . in their season. . . thereby giving an even greater harvest to come. . . .

Though we are surely blessed by it, the reason for the fruit of the Spirit, is not for our own comfort and pleasure. . .The purpose of that heavenly fruit coming down every day upon us, is that by that fruit we might create hunger in others, and ultimately plant seeds in others, which might grow into a might crop of souls ready for harvest for the kingdom of God.

Open yourself to God once, and continually, repeatedly open yourself completely to Him for the rest of your life. . .Allow His Spirit full access to your soul. Use the fruit of this fertilization, to reproduce, to build the Kingdom. . .let your increase be 30, 60, or 100 fold. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

Let my life be fruit full, that I might glorify you. . .

I thank you my God. . .
I thank you my Lord. . .

Dave Stokely

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