For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:17 ESV).
What would happen if you ate all week long but never went to the bathroom? That’s one backed-up person! Yuck! Ok, that is pretty gross but in a weird kind of way, that’s what it’s like when we just keep growing in Jesus without “bearing fruit.” In other words, God wants our faith to be demonstrated, shared, and displayed in our lives by works as referenced in James 2 and Ephesians 2. He created you in advance specially for that. You are his masterpiece. He wants to use you to create, demonstrate, and proclaim his goodness through all things. God wants us to have an impact on the world around us. In Get Rooted, we call this “bearing fruit.” This should be the by-product and an overflow of our spiritual growth, not something we manufacture to impress others or to try to earn God’s love. We can’t earn God’s love or salvation. Again, “bearing fruit” is a natural by-product in every believer’s life, and we DON’T EARN anything by works. Our actions flow out of our love for God and people. They are only possible by his grace and truth working through us by the Holy Spirit.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT).
If people ate your spiritual “fruit” today, what do you think it would taste like? Would it be good? Or would it be bad—with some anger, hate, jealousy, or pride? As followers of Jesus, we want to produce the type of fruit the Bible talks about in Galatians 5:22-23. These are the kinds of characteristics we should let the Holy Spirit develop in our lives. As we grow in the “Source,” these characteristics will carry over to our everyday lives. In Root 4, we want to look at ways these qualities are manifested outwardly from what is taking place inwardly. An apple tree produces apples, and the same is true with any other tree—they produce after their own kind. As Rooted believers, we should produce fruit that is Jesus-like. Let’s talk about some practical ways we can “bear fruit” with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit” (Matthew 7:18 NLT).
“You know that foreign rulers like to order their people around. And their great leaders have full power over everyone they rule. But don’t act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be the slave of the rest. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people” (Matthew 20:25-28 CEV).
As Followers of Jesus, we are called to pattern our whole lives after Jesus, who came to serve. Here we have God himself—who rightfully could have requested and demanded that everyone else serve him—choosing to serve others. Came down from heaven, to be a servant of sinners who would eventually kill him...wow, that is deep. Thank you Jesus!
What are your thoughts when you hear the phrase “serve other people”? Take a moment and write them down.
Right before Jesus was betrayed by Judas and sentenced to die on a cross, he ate one last meal with his disciples and chose to wash his disciples’ feet. He did this as an illustration of his role in forgiving our sins, but he also did it to visually teach his disciples to serve other people. (You can find the account in John 13:1-17).
Would you willingly wash someone’s feet? Take a moment and write down your thoughts.
Modern-day picture: Imagine going over to someone’s house and asking that person if you could clean the toilet with your hands. In Jesus’ day, feet were so nasty because people wore sandals, streets weren’t paved, and homes didn’t have plumbing. Here we have Jesus showing us a model of ultimate service. That is convicting and can inspire us to increase our efforts as servants!
Jesus is not interested in titles; he is interested in servant hood. Jesus was the master of serving and consistently taught his disciples the importance of serving others.
“If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles” (Matthew 5:41 NLT).
Jesus went the extra mile for us when he died on the cross to pay the price for our sins (look back at Root 1 for a refresher), and it is awesome to go the extra mile for him. It’s an honor to be Jesus’ hands and feet. Serving is an opportunity to honor God through our lives. It flows from our love for God, which we can share with others. Serving God is better than winning a Super Bowl or starring in a blockbuster movie or touring the whole world. It’s the best thing in the world to represent Jesus to a world that needs him.
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ (Colossians 3:23-24 NLT).
We are servants of Jesus, and we are called to work for God and bear fruit for him. To bear fruit, we must be tapped into the true vine, which is Jesus!
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 ESV).
“In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16 NLT).
Jesus calls us to lead lives of “servant leadership” where we seek to serve others. Serving others is a way to love others. The Bible teaches us that we should view others higher than ourselves. WOW, that’s a little different than what most TV programs tell people. We live in a world where most media promotes self-indulgence and a lie of make believe that it is all about us and get ours now. Jesus flips that completely. Here is The Golden Rule verse—Matthew 7:12—and some steps to help you “bear fruit” and let your life shine in a way that honors God.
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NLT).
Honor your family by serving at home
God is pleased when we are nice, respectful, and kind to our spouses, children, parents, and families.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:25-33 ESV).
Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4 NLT).
Serve in your local church
TEAM: Together Everyone Accomplishes More. This acronym is powerful because it reminds us that serving people in the local church is a way of honoring and representing God. It’s not about us; it’s about God. Every follower of Jesus has been given skills, talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts that can be used to help other followers of Jesus grow and the local church get stronger. Pursue serving at your church out of your love for God! Connect with your pastor or leader and ask how you can help, and make a commitment to serve at church at least once a month. Whether you like to carry things, hold babies, deliver food, sing, or whatever, there is a place for YOU to engage! Join the DREAM TEAM today!
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness(Romans 12:3-8 ESV).
Serve your community
Look for ways to serve people at work, at the grocery store, at your job, and everywhere else you go. Get creative and pray that God shows you ways to honor him by serving people.
Here are some examples of how you can do this: pick up trash in a parking lot, fix a project at your neighbor’s house, carry someone’s groceries to the car, cook a meal for a needy family, or sit by someone at lunch who’s sitting alone and then spend time talking and listening. God says that every servant who is faithful in small tasks will be rewarded with greater things. Be led by the Holy Spirit, and this will be one of the coolest adventures on the planet: serving people!
What are some ways you can serve at home, in your church, at school, and in your community? Take a moment and write down your thoughts.
Next, let’s focus on sharing the story of how God is working in your life and how God wants a relationship with other people, too.
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14 NLT).
We are God’s modern-day preachers. We have the opportunity to share our personal stories and God’s “big picture” story with others.
Sharing your story
Some people use the word “testimony” to describe this kind of sharing. It’s basically an opportunity for you to tell other people what your life was like before you became a follower of Jesus, how and why you decided to follow Jesus, how your life has changed, and what God is doing in your life now. Even if you’ve been a follower of Jesus since a really young age, you still have a story to share.
“And they have defeated him [the ‘accuser’ or Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die” (Revelation 12:11 NLT).
This is a potent verse because it reminds us of the power of our stories and God’s story. You aren’t trying to beat down anyone with your story. But your testimony can have a spiritually powerful effect on others. God can use your story to draw people to him.
The greatest component of your story is having authentic love for people and caring about their lives. Keep your testimony simple, and practice saying it in less than two minutes. This exercise will help you organize your testimony to share with people.
Write down some answers to the following statements:
Before I met Jesus I…
I follow Jesus because…
Now that I love Jesus, I...
Quick tips on sharing your story
· Practice making it short and precise, but don’t turn it into a memorized speech, be you and organic
· Work on loving people first and asking them about their lives
· Talk about what you’re learning
· Invite people to church
Sharing God’s story
Imagine you just won a million dollars. Would you tell anybody? Would you be excited? Would that be good news? I can only imagine you would be super excited and couldn’t wait to tell somebody.
Who would be the first person you would tell this good news to? Write down the name of that person and how you might share the news.
Do you realize that if you follow Jesus, you have even more than a million dollars—you have experienced the love and forgiveness of Jesus? You’ve experienced the “gospel,” which means good news. Think of this as God’s story. We have good news, yet oftentimes we don’t share it. “News” should be shared and broadcasted. We have the best news of all: Jesus died for our sins, pursued us in love to be made right with God, and by grace through faith we are made brand new!
Common excuses for not sharing God’s story:
· FEAR: God didn’t give the spirit of fear; God gives the spirit of power (see 2 Timothy 1:7).
· INADEQUACY: Just like your story, it doesn’t matter—you talk about the one who is perfect, Jesus.
· UNINFORMED: All we have to do is tell the story of Jesus and trust God.
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile (Romans 1:16 NLT).
God’s story—the good news, the gospel of Jesus—is phenomenal. It is the power of God bringing salvation. That is super duper good news. We can be bold and unashamed to represent Jesus to the world.
List some people that you know who need to hear God’s story.
The good news of Jesus is simple:
· God created us all in his image, and we disobeyed and sinned.
· Sin separates us from God. We are sinners in need of a savior.
· God sent a Savior to pay the price for our sin, Jesus.
· Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, and was raised from the dead. He did this out of love. (Memorize John 3:16.)
· Jesus will accept everyone who, asks for forgiveness, repents, and follows him. He will forgive anyone who turns to him.
· Because Jesus paid the price for us, now we can be tight with God.
· Ask if they would like to receive God’s gift of forgiveness and follow Jesus.
Tips for sharing the Good News:
· Pray for people first
· Be quick to listen to them and care for them
· Be authentic with your love like Jesus loves them
· Ask questions
· Build relationships with people by serving them and spending time with them
Build relationships with people by serving them and spending time with them. Here are 20 questions to initiate spiritual truth in any conversation:
· Do you have what you need spiritually for what you’re going through?
· You seem like a really good person; where do you go to church?
· What are your thoughts on the afterlife?
· Is there such a thing as absolute truth?
· Are you a spiritual person?
· Do you believe in the supernatural?
· Why do you think evil exists in the world?
· What makes a moral person?
· Do you believe in angels?
· Have you ever experienced a miracle?
· Do you believe in a higher power?
· Do you believe you have a destiny?
· Who do you think Jesus is?
· Are you afraid of death?
· How do you think the world will end?
· If you could do anything with your life, what would it be?
· Do you believe social justice is possible?
· Have you ever read the Bible?
· What does real love look like?
What happens if they don’t choose to follow Jesus?
It’s not our job to make people become Followers of Jesus. That is up to God. It’s our job to plant the seed or to water the seed, and let God make it grow. Keep praying to God for the people who hear your story and God’s story.
I [Paul] planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow (1 Corinthians 3:6 NLT).
Finally, let’s focus on being generous through giving—the tithe and our offerings. People think money makes the world go ’round, but it doesn’t. God makes the world go ’round. However, money is a key part of our society and is a tool for accomplishing the things that we do. God isn’t really interested in how much money you make; God is interested in what you do with the money you make.
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10 NLT).
The wrong attitude toward money can be a ROOT for all kinds of evil. That’s scary and should get our attention. Let’s get something straight. Money is not bad in and of itself. Money is simply a resource that we can use to glorify God. The Bible says the problem is when we love money.
Giving is a part of being a rooted follower of Jesus. Giving can have an impact across the world. I get excited just writing this. Why? Because once we understand that money is a resource God allows us to have, it changes our whole view on what we do with it. God can begin to challenge our priorities. God is pleased when we exhibit faith in him and when we worship him, and one way to worship God is with our money.
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24 NLT).
Making someone your “Lord” means to put that person in first place over everything. As followers of Jesus, we are making him the Lord of our lives, so he is worthy to be Lord over our money as well. God wants our whole heart, and money can be a huge distraction. God knows that. The Bible talks about money often so we can get the right understanding of what it is and how it can be used.
“Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Matthew 6:20-21 NLT).
Giving is a blessing, truly a heart condition, and God wants us to be cheerful givers. We are not forced to give; God leaves it up to us. The blessing is that we have the opportunity to give. Think of how much God has given for us. Jesus gave his life. Money follows the things we love most; empowering our local church and the global Church is priceless!
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully” (2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT).
We can be happy about giving when we understand that it is all God’s anyway. It is amazing when we realize how giving can impact the world. Giving and meeting people’s needs can open the door to share our story and God’s story with them. Let’s be missional as Rooted believers in Jesus.
Here are a couple of ways God wants us to give:
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:10 NLT).
The tithe is 10 percent of all that we earn; the Bible teaches to invest in the kingdom and that it is the Lord's. The tithe belongs to God, who entrusts us with the remaining 90 percent. God is looking for our obedience as stewards of money—we are entrusted with it, and we keep watch over it.
“Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies (Malachi 3:11 NLT).
This is giving above and beyond our normal faithful amount. This can be to the local church or a ministry that is sharing God’s Good News with people. We shouldn’t just look at giving as a percentage; we should look at giving as an act done sacrificially and generously out of love. Jesus gave sacrificially because of love for the Father. Let’s take note and follow the same pattern. We find our lives when we lose our lives (Matthew 16:25).
Our money can help:
· Serve our local church for people to grow in Jesus and resource our leaders to equip the people.
· Love the City - Feed and clothe the hungry and homeless in our communities and around the world
· Provide water to people who have no clean drinking water
· Buy Bibles for people to learn about God
· Plant churches and send missionaries across the world
· Spread the Good News
What are some ways you can adjust your spending for the glory of Jesus? Take a moment and write down your ideas.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too (Philippians 2:3-4 NLT).
This verse in Philippians is super powerful and challenging. How should we act when we think of others better than ourselves? Does that mean we should invest over half our time, resources, love, service, and money in others? Ponder on your answers as food for thought.
This is profound when you think about being used by God, and this passage affects the way we approach “bearing fruit.” Keeping this attitude of thinking about others better than yourselves is a pattern we see in Scripture. Jesus led the way living out this truth as he laid down his life for others. What an awesome display for us to model our lives after. This Root allows us to be mission minded as Rooted believers. Jesus was on a mission from the Father, and Jesus has commissioned us to “bear fruit” as well. We serve an AWESOME GOD!
The fruit of the Holy Spirit referenced in Galatians 5 carries over into “bearing fruit” in our lives. We are all called to “bear fruit,” and some practical ways we can do this are by serving, sharing, and giving. It can be as simple as doing homework, taking out trash, and showing up on time for an appointment. It is important we grow spiritually, but we also must understand we represent Jesus everywhere we go, in everything we do, and with everything we say. “Bearing fruit” allows others to see Jesus in our lives. “Bearing fruit” is a by-product of our relationship with God and doesn’t get us into heaven or earn us anything. It is used to bring glory to God, to the one who deserves all glory anyway. God wants us to serve, share, and give.
· We can honor God on earth by “bearing fruit”
· Jesus was the ultimate servant
· We can “bear fruit” by serving, sharing, and giving
· We can serve God at home, in church, and anywhere else
· God wants us to share our testimonies (the story of what he did for us) and the gospel (God’s story)
· God wants to be the Lord of our money
· We have an impact on the world by giving
· We should look to others higher than ourselves
· “Bearing fruit” is a by-product of my love for Jesus
· “Bearing fruit” does not get me into heaven; Jesus alone does
· Serve your family and neighborhood in a creative way.
· Ask your pastor where you can serve, and make a commitment
· Share your story with a few people this week, and then share God’s story. Write your testimony of how God has changed your life, and post it on the social network website of your choice (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram).
· Write down the names of people who don't know Jesus yet, and pray for them.
· Jump in and commit to radical giving today. Remember all Jesus gave for us. Think of things that you can do to make money to give!
· Buy a stranger a meal.
· Text or call someone telling them you love them and share your story or the Good News.
· Write down questions you have about church and bring them up to your Root Group leader next week.
A Prayer for Today
God, help me to be a master-level servant, give me the boldness to share with people, and show me ways I can give more to fund your work on Earth. I thank you for growing me; you are awesome! Amen