Listen To Most Current
Grace Notes Archive
March 2019 (2)
February 2019 (6)
January 2019 (4)
December 2018 (4)
November 2018 (5)
October 2018 (4)
September 2018 (4)
August 2018 (4)
July 2018 (3)
June 2018 (4)
May 2018 (4)
April 2018 (4)
March 2018 (4)
February 2018 (5)
January 2018 (4)
December 2017 (4)
November 2017 (5)
October 2017 (4)
September 2017 (5)
August 2017 (4)
July 2017 (4)
June 2017 (5)
May 2017 (4)
April 2017 (5)
March 2017 (3)
February 2017 (4)
January 2017 (3)
December 2016 (5)
November 2016 (4)
October 2016 (4)
September 2016 (5)
August 2016 (3)
July 2016 (4)
June 2016 (5)
May 2016 (4)
April 2016 (5)
March 2016 (4)
February 2016 (4)
January 2016 (5)
December 2015 (4)
November 2015 (4)
October 2015 (3)
September 2015 (4)
August 2015 (5)
July 2015 (5)
June 2015 (4)
May 2015 (5)
April 2015 (2)
March 2015 (4)
February 2015 (4)
January 2015 (5)
December 2014 (4)
November 2014 (5)
October 2014 (4)
September 2014 (4)
August 2014 (4)
July 2014 (5)
June 2014 (4)
May 2014 (5)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (4)
February 2014 (4)
January 2014 (5)
December 2013 (4)
November 2013 (5)
October 2013 (4)
September 2013 (4)
August 2013 (5)
July 2013 (4)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (5)
April 2013 (4)
March 2013 (4)
February 2013 (5)
January 2013 (4)
December 2012 (4)
November 2012 (5)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (4)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (4)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (4)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (4)
January 2012 (4)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (4)
October 2011 (4)
September 2011 (5)
August 2011 (4)
July 2011 (4)
June 2011 (5)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (5)
March 2011 (4)
February 2011 (4)
January 2011 (5)
December 2010 (4)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (6)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (4)
March 2010 (5)
February 2010 (4)
January 2010 (5)
December 2009 (5)
November 2009 (3)
October 2009 (6)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (5)
July 2009 (4)
June 2009 (4)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (4)
January 2009 (5)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (5)
October 2008 (4)
September 2008 (5)
August 2008 (4)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (4)
March 2008 (5)
February 2008 (1)
Grace Notes

Current Articles | Categories | Search | Syndication

THE WAY TO A FRUITFUL LIFE
by Philip Owen

            Why are some people seemingly more fruitful in their service for the Lord than others?  (And as I use the term fruitful, I am speaking of quality not quantity.)  Is fruitfulness something wholly out of their hands?  Is it a matter of gift—that one receives a more powerful gift from God than another?  Is it a matter of situation or circumstance—one is born into a successful family in a large city in the United States, another is born into poverty in a rain forest in Argentina?  One verse in the Book of Ezra gives clear insights on this question.  “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (7:10).

            The Imperative.  God is not in the accident business.  No believer finds himself cruising down the highway one day suddenly to be zapped by God and transformed from a casual or careless believer into a dynamic, effective servant of the Lord.  Certainly, God can and does use circumstances to awaken or move sluggardly hearts and minds.  But it is not as though He suddenly sweeps a genuine believer off one path onto another irrespective of his will and without any conscious, deliberate choice on the part of the believer.  Those who enjoy a fruitful life have exercised their will in that direction; they have chosen to serve the Lord.  Ezra shows the way:  he “had set his heart.”  The verb tense indicates an action that occurred in the past, one that is complete, fixed, and unaltered.  Ezra was not an on-again, off-again saint, a dilettante, a dabbler.  If God’s will maintained his interest, he might go on, or if things didn’t become too difficult, he might proceed.  No.  He did not dip his toe into the water to decide whether it would be comfortable to jump in and take a swim.  He plunged in.  His will was fixed; at the core of his being, he determined to follow God and God’s purposes for him.   If we will serve the Lord, it is imperative that we set our hearts on God’s will.  No one else can or will do that for us—including God.

            The Process.  We know that we have truly set our hearts on serving the Lord when the object is both clear and concrete in our minds.  In that regard, Ezra provides us with a useful pattern.  First, he “had set his heart to study the law of the Lord.”  God never rewards willing ignorance.  There will always be things that we do not know or understand about God’s Word, but that is no excuse to shrug our shoulders and ignore the Book.  God “is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).  Fruitfulness lies with those who are in the Word of God, not in some ritualistic or formulaic way, not mechanically, but with a desire understand the doctrines of God and to come to know and love its Author more and more.  We must determine to study God’s Word.  Second, Ezra set his heart “to practice it,” that is, the “law of the Lord.”  Study is essential in order to obtain a knowledge and understanding of God’s Word.  But the purpose of study is not merely to swell our pool of information, nor to increase our knowledge of doctrine, nor even to recognize that in God’s Word we have been given “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (II Pet. 1:3).  Paul explains that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16, 17).  In other words, study and knowledge are not an end in themselves.  We must will to “practice” what the Word teaches.  We must will that the broad pattern of our lives will be in accord, not with some legal code but with the revealed will of God, which is the expression of His character in us.  Our reading and study of His Word is valuable only when bathed in prayer and the determination to heed what we read.  Third, Ezra set his heart “to teach His statutes and ordinances.”  Ezra was called of God to teach in a formal way, as are pastors and teachers today.  However, fruitfulness for any and every believer results from the same determination.  Every aspect of all our lives as believers should mirror the truth of God’s Word.  The words of our mouths, the meditations of our hearts, the actions we take, and the actions we refuse to take all instruct those around us, including our spouses, our children, brethren, coworkers, and acquaintances.  We instruct others with every part of our lives.  But only when we set our hearts to teach God’s Word do we instruct in a way that produces eternal fruit.  Every heart is set on something; in its most basic form, either God or self.  We arrive in this life preset on self, we must yield to the Lord in order to be reset on God.   What is your heart fixed on?  

Actions: E-mail | Permalink

Previous Page | Next Page

Grace Bible Church :-: (217) 372-8692 :-: 3900 N Willow Rd Urbana, P.O. Box 303, IL 61803 :-: pastor (at) gbcurbana.com