Mission Devotional - November 11, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to abide in you this day. Help me to live in you, deeply connected to you in a way that brings about good fruit in my life. For apart from you nothing good can grow in me. Amen.

Scripture: Luke 6:43-45

Journal: What fruit, good and bad, do you see growing on the branches of your life? What does that tell you about the state of your soul? How will you make space for God to grow his good fruit in you?

Reflection: I must be spiritually bipolar or something. While I do see the good fruit of God's Spirit growing in my life, I also see things that are not so good growing on the very same branches. How is that even possible? How can love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control grow right alongside impatience, frustration, anxiety, insecurity, and fear? It is an ever present tension in the life of faith; one that Jesus is obviously addressing in these very verses. And the thing he is trying to get the Pharisees to see is that there is a disconnect between their hearts and their behavior, between their fruit and their roots. A tree's fruit will always give you an idea about its roots. It all has to do with staying connected to the Source of life. If bad fruit is growing on our branches, it is because somewhere, deep down in our hearts and souls, we have disconnected from God and connected to some source other than God that cannot possibly produce the fruit in us that he desires. The fruit is only a symptom of a much larger issue.

The life of faith is all about connection. It is about staying connected to God. It is about cultivating a life that is growing from the True Source. It is about eliminating the bad fruit by cutting it off at its roots and, instead, allowing God to grow his good fruit in us. It is an ongoing process. Eugene Peterson puts it this way: "You don't get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It's who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds." Therefore, my fruit should tell me something significant about my roots. If I have wormy apples, what does it tell me about my spiritual life and health? And how do I connect (or abide) with the True Vine in order that only good fruit populates the space on my branches?

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Carlos and Sandy Rios are planting Rivers of Grace Bible Church in the San Andres area of Guadalajara, Mexico. The church is growing and many new families have begun attending. Pray today that the Lord will send new people who can be trained as leaders from a socioeconomic group which doesn't naturally seek leadership positions. Pray today for a time of refreshing and renewal for Carlos and Sandy while they are in the U.S. on home assignment until the middle of November.

Knoxville Christian Arts Ministries (KnoxCAM) is an outreach ministry directed by Dr. Jill Lagerberg. It uses the talents of singers, instrumentalists, dancers and handbell ringers. They minister primarily to prisons and the inner city. They perform up to 10 concerts each year, telling stories of God's unfailing mercy and providence through fully integrated music dramas. Pray today for the 2016-17 season which began in August. Contact Jill Lagerberg at jilllagerberg@cspc.net to learn more.

Closing Prayer: Lord God, source of life and truth, grow your good fruit in my heart and soul and life today. Amen.