Religion fools us into thinking we need to do all the right things and put on outward appearances of beauty, when in fact a relationship with Jesus infuses us with life and produces true beauty.

by Mike Vandermause on March 17, 2019

Is your spiritual life like a Christmas tree or a fruit tree?

Pastor Troy Murphy posed that question during his message on Sunday, March 10, as part of the sermon series “Can You Hear Me Now?”

A Christmas tree is dead. We try to adorn it with decorations to make it look good on the outside. A fruit tree, meanwhile, might not be as pretty on the outside but has life flowing through its branches and produces nourishment. 

Religion fools us into thinking we need to do all the right things and put on outward appearances of beauty, when in fact a relationship with Jesus infuses us with life and produces true beauty.

More key points from Troy’s message:

*Fear has no place in our relationship with God. A Christ follower is forgiven and a child of God, and thus does not have to be afraid of God for the things they do or don’t do. Note: When scripture mentions fearing God it’s in the context of awe and reverence.

*God produces fruit in our lives, not us — apart from God we can do nothing (John 15). In order to grow fruit we must remain in the Father through Jesus, who is the vine that brings life.

*A lot of people are doing good things in their life — they are moral people but don’t have a connection to the vine (Jesus). You can be very religious and faithful to good things, but if you have no relationship with Jesus, you don’t have spiritual life.

*Why does God choose to prune your branches, even if you are bearing fruit? In order to produce even more fruit in your life. We tend to think that when things don’t go according to our plan — relationships, finances, kids, family, job, etc - that something is wrong. In fact, God could be using those difficult circumstances to grow and transform you.

*You have to be sore to become more. Just showing up to the gym once a week isn’t enough to get you in shape, in the same way that showing up to church once a week will not get you spiritually fit. In order to see growth, we normallyt will experience the soreness of pruning. If life is always good and you are never sore, most likely God’s presence isn’t there.

*Pruning is the process of maximizing your potential. If we didn’t have pruning we would be egotistical, prideful people. The adversity we face could be God pruning us. When we have incubated our spiritual life and don’t want to change anything, that’s a danger sign, and it means you aren’t connected to the Father or you are in line for pruning.

*We shouldn’t try to do good things for God in order to gain his favor. We should be doing good things because of God. Good works don’t transform but instead are an expression of transformation happening in us because of Jesus.  

*God is speaking to you through the scriptures. In order to hear His voice you must expose yourself on a regular basis to the Bible. As you soak in His word you will begin to align with God’s will, you will see things differently and your heart will align with Him. 

*God is speaking to you by the Holy Spirit, who enters your life when you trust Jesus. God gives us the deposit of the Holy Spirit, who serves as our advocate and teaches us and brings clarity. The Holy Spirit helps you gain the ability to see God in circumstances, creation, music, prayer and his Word.

*God speaks to you using other people. We need fellowship with other believers, who encourage, come alongside and challenge us to grow spiritually. We can’t fully use the fruits of the Spirit until we are with others. We should be watching and learning as we do life with other people. 

*Sin can block our ability to sense the Spirit, Word and people of God (Galatians 5. 19-21). In contrast, Matthew 5.8 says the pure in heart will see God. In the midst of our circumstances he purifies our hearts. God wants to produce abundant fruit that will change you.