RECAP–PRODUCE FRUIT…based on Matthew 3:7-12 and 7:15-23
There is nothing more frustrating than going to McDonald’s in Bridgewater and not getting what I ordered! I order my quarter pounder WITHOUT cheese and onions, just to see the clamshell with the “special order” label attached, open it up, and behold, a sandwich with cheese and onions! Or to order a Dr. Pepper only to get the awful taste of unsweet tea in my mouth! You can look right on the outside, but it is what is in the inside that counts.
The Pharisees and Sadducees looked good on the outside; all of Israel wanted to be like them. But when they came to the Jordan, they were called a brood of vipers. Later, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said the harrowing words, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…and I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me you evildoers!'” (Matt 7:21, 23). Too often we look good on the outside, but on the inside we are not right with God. The warnings from these texts taken together are very clear–saying we know who God is or having a form of religion will not save us. We cannot earn salvation by our good deeds. After all, WHAT GOOD IS IT TO GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD, YET LOSE OUR SOUL?
How then do we really know if we are living for God? We know by our fruit. What is the fruit of our life? There are four areas that we can bear fruit according to John and Jesus:
1) The fruit of repentance. To repent is to turn, to go in a different direction than you were going before. It does not mean getting washed and then going right back to where we were before! But it means that if we are living for Jesus, there has to be a change. We purposefully turn away from the old ways that hold us back or lead us into sin. We leave the failures of the past and choose to follow Jesus with our whole selves. A good tree bears good fruit. There is clear evidence of the work of God in our lives in that we bear fruit!
2) The fruit of a life of the Spirit. When we accept Jesus into our lives, we become the temple of the Holy Spirit. In other words, part of God dwells in us! As we grow in our faith, we nurture that Spirit, and it becomes a part of who we are. We begin to become more like Jesus, taking on his very characteristics and heart. We see the fruit of the Spirit in operation in our lives and the spiritual gifts as well. And because we want to see the Spirit grow in us, we fill ourselves with good things and turn away from things that could destroy us.
3) The fruit of character and integrity. Jesus warned us against false prophets, who are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. These prophets either misrepresent the words of God or lead in a direction away from God. How do you recognize them? By their fruit and character. Bill Hybels defined character as “who you are when no one is looking.” Who we really are will come to the surface, especially under pressure, fire, or temptation. We can look good on the outside and put on our Sunday best, but who we really are will show the remaining six days a week or when we think no one else is watching. When the rubber meets the road, what comes out of us? Is it a life that reflects God? If God called your life to account right now, would there be evidence of fruit?
4) The fruit of a relationship with Jesus. Even though people did miracles, prophesied, and cast out demons in the name of God, they did not know God and were removed from his presence. For it is one thing to know God intellectually; it is another thing altogether to have a relationship with God. The word “know” in Greek is the same word used to describe how a husband and wife know each other. Do we know the heart of God? Do we spend time with him? Have we come to a place in our lives that God’s opinion matters more than anyone else?
Lent is a season that draws us inward, to inspect our living. Are we actively seeking to bear the fruit of repentance, of life in the Spirit, of character/integrity, and of relationship with Jesus? Or do we just simply strive to look good on the outside, but not be right on the inside? May we never hear the words from Jesus, “Depart from me,” like I would discard a wrong sandwich or drink.
Questions for reflection
1) How can you demonstrate you have the fruit of repentance?
2) In what ways do you demonstrate the fruit of life in the Spirit? Where can you show growth?
3) What is your true character?
4) If Jesus were to return at this very moment, would he know who you are?
We continue the season of Lent with the sermon titled, “…In Keeping…”, based upon Matthew 8:18-22 and Romans 12:1-2. How do we show we are serious about following Jesus? What is the cost? Come or tune in Sunday to find out!
Daily Bible Readings for February 23 – March 1
February 23: John 18:12-14, 19-24 What is a fruit of being a follower of Jesus?
February 24: John 18:15-18, 25-27 What is a fruit of repentance?
February 25: John 18:28-40 What is a fruit of repentance and following Jesus?
February 26: John 19:1-16 What is the fruit of sin?
February 27: John 19:17-24 What did Jesus do to set us free from the fruit of sin?
February 28: John 19:25-37 How did Jesus’ death remain faithful to the Word?
March 1: John 19:38-42 How did Joseph & Nicodemus show they were following Jesus?
This Week’s Events:
Thursday, February 25–Leadership Team Meeting @ 7 pm
Sunday, March 28–Bread & Cup Communion
Sunday, April 4–Sunrise Service & Easter
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
As we look at the ability to reopen in the coming weeks, we are in need of both worship leaders and children’s story. We are looking for one person each week, rather than a month at a time. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
Call to Prayer
Let us continue to pray for our nation in the following ways:
1) National return to God
2) Repentance of personal sin
3) Repentance of corporate sin
4) Healing for the brokenness of relationships
5) Our leaders
6) Restoration of the national church
After Easter, we will embark on a new series of our favorite hymns. We will spend 10 Sundays looking at our top ten favorite hymns. But we want your input! Please either put your hymns on a piece of paper and place it in the brown box in the narthex, call it in to the office, or send Pastor Ryan an email/text with your favorite hymns. SO FAR, I have only received 15 submissions. I really would love for everyone to make their submission by March 7th!
Misti Wheelbarger is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour for next year. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to her and let her know.
Four Ways to Give! With the extended closure, this is greatly necessary.
1) Mail your tithe into the church office **PLEASE NOTE: We have had several days of no mail, and also some reports of mail being stolen on our street.
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Drop off in the offering plate at the main entrance as you enter for church
Continue to Keep in Prayer:
Those in our community being negatively impacted by COVID and economic impacts. Several have seen layoffs in recent weeks.
Mary Batterman (health)
John Bennington (health)
Sam Carr (health)
Elijah Dean (health)
Janet Good (health)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Shannon Hollen (health)
Heath Kimmell (health)
Reba & Garry Kline (health)
Lent family (work)
Alda Miller (health)
Mary Miller (health)
Shirley Miller (health)
Mark Milstead (health)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Evy Kaye Sandin (health)
Chris Shirk (health)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Stanley Suter (health)
Carolyn Wine (health)
Charles Wright (health)
Owen Wright (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek COB