Sunday 13 July 2014 (July Fast)
Worship, Drama, Word at City Gate Sanctuary Lagos
Speaker: Pastor Austen Ukachi
“Now Jabez was more honourable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “O that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10).
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
God is fruitful in His nature, in His deeds and in His ways. We can say that fruitfulness is in God’s DNA, and that His actions at creation attest to his love for fruitfulness. Whether a man or nation bears fruit or not is indeed crucial to God, because He is a fruit-conscious God.
At Creation God said, “Let us make man in our own image.” This means that man was made after the DNA of God. God made Man with the potential for fruitfulness: productively man was created with sperm while the woman has the ovary which produces the eggs. The sperm fertilises the seeds from the ovary and determines the sex of the baby that is ultimately born.
Another act which demonstrates the fruit loving nature of God is seen at the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were created. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28). There is progression implied here- from being fruitful, to multiplying, to filling the earth, to subduing it and to exercising dominion. God’s blessing on Adam, and the eventual command to be fruitful, and to multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it represents one of the most authoritative words spoken to humanity till date.
Another thing God did when He created man, was that he deliberately put him in an environment where he is to produce fruit. Adam was told to tend and keep the garden of Eden as a means of producing fruit and living by the fruit he produces.
The nation of Israel which was born out of a covenant relationship with Abraham, was equally created to be fruitful. In many places in the Bible, God evaluated Israel based on her ability to be fruitful. For instance, see Isaiah 5:1-7;
“Now let me sing to my Well-beloved
A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard:
My Well-beloved has a vineyard
On a very fruitful hill.
2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst,
And also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes.
3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard.
4 What more could have been done to My vineyard
That I have not done in it?
Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes,
Did it bring forth wild grapes?
5 And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard:
I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned;
And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
6 I will lay it waste;
It shall not be pruned or dug,
But there shall come up briers and thorns.
I will also command the clouds
That they rain no rain on it.”
7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,
And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant.
He looked for justice, but behold, oppression;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.”
To further highlight the importance of fruitfulness, Jesus during His earthly ministry taught several parables and made various illustrations that were related to fruit bearing. Examples of these parables include the following:
The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:18-23)
The Parable of the Wheat and Tares (Matthew 13:24-30)
The Parable of the Mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32)
The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers (Mark 13:1-12)
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-8)
The Parable of the Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29)
Also the lesson Jesus, by implication, taught his disciples when He cursed the Fig Tree was another example of the importance of fruit bearing. Mark 11:12-14;
“12 Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”
Jesus further underscored the importance of fruitfulness in John 15:5 when He said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
The Parable of the Talents also narrated by Jesus is all about the utilisation of our talents for multiplication and increase (Matthew 25:14-30).
All these examples confirm our statement that God is fruit-conscious, He has a fruit loving personality and has fruitfulness in His DNA. He wants those who are created in his image to equally bear fruit. Now, the fruit we bear is supposed to be Arithmetical or Geometric in proportion. God’s command to Adam was, be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion over it. The implication of this command is that our fruitfulness could be in arithmetical and in geometric proportions.
SATAN AND SIN HINDERS OUR FRUITFULNESS
How come that despite God’s creation of man with fruit-bearing DNA, some of us can hardly bear fruit in our lives? How come the nation of Israel that was made to be fruitful lived short of God’s expectations and plans? The answer lies in these two words: Satan and Sin. Satan hinders any thing that is good for us. He instigates us to sin. Satan makes us live in disobedience thereby robbing us of the blessings of bearing fruits.
Examples from the scriptures teach us that Fruitfulness come in the following ways:
- It comes through Divine blessing (Psalms 107:38; Genesis 12:2; Genesis 17:16-20).
- Obedience to God and his word leads to fruitfulness (Leviticus 26: 3-9; Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Hosea 14:4-8).
- Those who walk in the principle of sowing eventually reap large quantum of seeds (Proverbs 11:24-25; Luke 6:38; Ecclesiastes 11:3-6).
- Prayers that seek to break barriers and limitations to fruitfulness results in fruitfulness (Isaiah 42:22).
- Hardwork leads to fruitfulness (Proverbs 14:23).
- Where there is good strategy and organisation in an institution it will lead to fruitfulness and multiplication.
- Where there is divine restoration it leads to fruitfulness (Joel 2:25; Isaiah 42:22).
Satan attacks all our efforts in these legitimate ways and means of fruitfulness so that we end up frustrated, sad, and rebellious to God. For instance, he makes all our work and labour to end up in futility, frustration and lack of results. When this happens we end up in anger against God. Consider the example of Joseph in Genesis 49:22-26, in which we see how Satan can instigate crises in ones life and hinder one from bearing fruit;
“Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a well;
His branches run over the wall.
23 The archers have bitterly grieved him,
Shot at him and hated him.
24 But his bow remained in strength,
And the arms of his hands were made strong
By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob
(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 By the God of your father who will help you,
And by the Almighty who will bless you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 The blessings of your father
Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors,
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.
They shall be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers“
FRUITFULNESS IN WHAT AREAS?
It may seem an anomaly to pray for fruitfulness when God has created us to be fruitful. But we still have to pray for God’s blessing to be fruitful. The examples of Sarah, Hannah, Rachel, Elizabeth, and Jebez teaches us that some intervening forces may hinder us from being fruitful the way we are ordained to be. The prayer of Jabez was a cry unto God for fruitfulness. Interestingly, we are told that God answered his prayers.
We must be specific in our request for the blessing of fruitfulness before God. Below are some of the areas we can ask God for the blessing of growth and fruitfulness.
- For Church growth, God is interested in the harvest.
- We need fruitfulness in our respective families.
- We need increase and multiplication in our Finances
- We need to ask for plentiful Harvest
- We need to pray for blessings in our Business
- God’s promise is to bless the works of your hands.
- We need fruitfulness in our relationships
- We need to pray to be fruitful in our ideas
- We need to be Fruitful in your prayers
- We need to pray to be Fruitful in our talents and ministry
In summary, God can make anyone to be fruitful. If He made Jabez, Rachel, Leah, Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth to be fruitful, then no matter what handicap and limitations we have we can bear fruit.