You produce what you grow! – Matthew 7:15-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 9, 2019
We have a garden that I plant every spring. We usually grow tomatoes and green beans. We keep it pretty simple. One year I planted a variety of tomato that we really liked but a different one grew instead. I went back to the place where I had bought the plant and the clerk said that we were not the first to complain but what evidently had happened was kids had switched the tags on the young plants thinking that it was funny. Needless to say, that although the tomatoes were okay, they were not what we expected.
People during Jesus’ day were dependent upon what they planted and there were a lot of factors that could be beneficial or detrimental to their future harvest. Weather, water, animals, and other things could influence the harvest. Jesus now uses familiar language about planting so that his listeners would fully understand what he meant about their spiritual growth as well. Let’s discover what Jesus taught concerning you produce what you grow…
READ: Matthew 7:15-20
God is in the business of growing things from plants to people. For people he grows us in him. Jesus related that in life you produce what you grow and in doing so…
I. Believers need to be aware of false prophets! (Vv. 15-16)
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?
1. I have found it interesting but as soon as God began to interact with his people there were those who immediately tried to horn in so-to-speak. A biblical prophet was God’s messenger and spokesperson, a representative of God before his people. The prophet delivered and interpreted God’s messages and on occasion, also interceded with God on behalf of the people. False prophets living in the surrounding nations performed similar roles, although with non-existent gods. The Israelites were warned time and time again not to intermingle with pagan nations and thus imitate or participate in their religious rituals. We also find numerous accounts in Scripture of false prophets originating from among God’s chosen people. Jesus knew therefore that after he had resurrected and gone back to heaven this would occur and so later on he tells his disciples, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5 NIV)” In fact Jesus knew that there would be many false prophets who would come claiming to be the Messiah, but none of them were or are! So here we find Jesus telling the crowd, “Watch out for false prophets.” He knew there were those like the Pharisees, Sadducees and Teachers of the Law who were already trying to incite others into thinking that Jesus was false. So he goes on to tell them, “They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Jesus was purposely relating to the fact that he had already publicly been called “The Lamb of God” by John the Baptist and many in the crowd would have known that. He confronted the false teaching that those who claimed to be the Messiah were not and those who claimed he was a false prophet were wrong! They could discover the truth for themselves because “By their fruit you will recognize them.” False prophets proclaim themselves as such in order to aggrandize themselves! The focus is not on the Lord but them! Anyone who would be willing to look closely at who Jesus was and what he did and why he did it would immediately recognize his authenticity! Jesus asks, “Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” And the answer is: “Of course not!” Therefore believers need to be aware of false prophets and not be fooled by those who claim to be the Messiah!
EXAMPLE: False prophets or false beliefs always try to deceive their adherents into thinking they made a mistake to trust Jesus alone. I often call them the “yeah but” religions. They usually teach something like: “Yeah Jesus was a good man but he also taught….” It is faith alone in Jesus alone or it is meaningless! Jesus taught that he was God and if you followed him you followed God: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him. (John 3:36 NIV)” Believers need to be aware of false prophets!
In growing good things whether people or plants you have to have good stock. And Jesus continued to teach his listeners that you produce what you grow and so…
II. Believers need to know good fruit from bad! (Vv. 17-20)
Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
1. I have a nice apple tree in my backyard that looks beautiful when it blooms but produces some of the worst worm-filled apples ever. This year I’m trying something different to see if I can get some good apples from it. If I owned an apple orchard I would not waste my time on it and would have cut it down a long time ago. Jesus knew that just like fruit trees there are those who claim one thing about being God’s spokesmen but only produced poor results. So he goes to say, “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” If their spiritual leaders continually produced poor results aren’t they poor spiritual leaders? The same could be said for many of our politicians today! They make all kinds of promises but few deliver and when one comes along and finally does do what he promised today’s media and those who want to remain in power vilify him just like the Pharisees did with Jesus! People who try to fool others are soon discovered for what they truly are but sadly far too often those they have influenced either become disillusioned or remain deceived! What’s the answer? Jesus teaches that just like a good farmer who sees that his tree is bearing bad fruit there might be only one answer: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” God will not remain being mocked by people’s false lies and teaching. There will come a day of recompense. And next week we will discuss this even further. John would write, “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (1 John 3:21-24 NIV)” False teachers and false prophets are rotten fly-infested fruit that live only to please themselves and fool the unsuspecting! Jesus taught that you produce what you grow and that believers need to know good fruit from bad!
EXAMPLE: While we do not know who is saved or not we can however be fruit inspectors of those who claim to know Jesus. Recently I had someone who claimed to be a Christian say he believed there were “many ways to God”. I asked him if he truly believed what he just said because it was completely contradictory to what Jesus taught about being the only way, the only truth, and the only life and no one comes to God but by Jesus alone. He looked kind of confused so I patently explained to him that many are deceived into thinking that they are being “nice” about God by thinking that he allows many ways to him but he does not. Christians need to know good fruit from bad!
Believers need to be aware of false prophets! Believers need to know good fruit from bad!
This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.
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You produce what you grow! – Matthew 7:15-20
The righteous person! – Psalm 1
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 18, 2017
Many base their entire lives on their feelings. Emotionalism will get one into trouble if it isn’t tempered by rationality. The one thing my Dad taught me was to rationally think things through, whether it was fixing something, doing a job, or my school work. Sadly, much of the church today is influenced irrationality. Colleges, the media, and politicians have all sold their souls on the altar of selfish emotionalism. Morality is often dictated by how it makes someone feel so personal sin is regarded in the same way. The Psalmist teaches us that the righteous person does not live their life this way.
The Christian is to live their life by their faith in Jesus and his teachings not their feelings or how we think he might have felt. Feeling good or bad about something does not make it righteous. Believers are to live holy lives. Our foundation is not in people, feelings, or what makes us happy for the moment. Holiness is found in walking with God; let’s discover what the Psalmist teaches about the righteous person…
Society’s attitude about contentment has changed a lot in the past several thousand years or so since this Psalm was written, however, the basic have not changed much. We still want food and water, shelter and safety. Yet there is more to life and the believer is taught that…
I. The righteous person finds satisfaction in God! (Vv. 1-2)
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
1. Right away the writer of this Psalm establishes how the righteous person is to live their lives: “Blessed” or happy “is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” Notice the progression. First we find our happiness not in people, places, or things; the believer finds all they need in God alone! So much so they will “not walk in the counsel of the wicked”. In other words they would never give any credence to ungodly notions that are counter to the Word of God. The wicked world’s advice has nothing of value the righteous person should consider. The righteous person also will not “stand in the way of sinners”. The meaning does not mean that they would block a sinner’s way but rather it means the righteous person will not stand with those who like to sin or who live in sin! In fact ungodliness would be abhorrent to them. And finally the righteous person does not “sit in the seat of mockers”. Jude says that these kinds of scoffers or scorners “are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 1:4 NIV) Each expression becomes more intense and signifies a progression from a casual influence of ungodly people to complete collusion with them in their scorn against God and his righteous people! Rather the righteous person’s “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night”! Instead of joining in or trying to be liked by the ungodly world the righteous person finds their inner and outer joy in God’s ways and in fact thinks about and meditates on it as he walks with his Lord moment by moment! Jesus taught that “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21 NIV) The righteous person finds satisfaction in God!
EXAMPLE: When we are younger we wanted to please those who were in charge of us like parents, coaches, or teachers. We found satisfaction in achieving goals and gaining the approval of those I mentioned. One of the harshest things for young people to hear is if those they hold in high esteem are disappointed in them. I still remember when my father told me he was disappointed in me after I had promised to work in the yard for my mom but went and played instead. The Psalmist wrote that the righteous person finds satisfaction in God!
In order to live a life that is full and truly free one must have a good foundation in which to base their life on. Like a strong tree that can weather any storm…
II. The righteous person has deep roots of faith! (Vv. 3-4)
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
1. Paul wrote that the believer’s “faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:5 NIV); that “everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23 NIV); and the writer of Hebrews reminds us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV) Why is this truth important to understand? Simply because we have either forgotten what faith is or we do not practice it as we should! Faith is not some kind of wishful thinking or hoping. Faith is based on a certainty, biblical truth and spiritual foundation. The writer of this Psalm understood this and wrote that the person with faith “is like a tree planted by streams of water”. The idea conveyed is one of being firmly rooted in a place whereby the person receives their spiritual sustenance from the living flow of God alone! The Hebrews rightly knew that a flowing stream was healthier to drink from in that day than stagnant pools of standing water. In fact the writer noted that a deeply rooted fruit tree would yield “its fruit in season”. This was also important to them because a tree that produced good healthy fruit was important for daily survival; one could dry its fruit for future use as well. I am reminded of when Jesus went to a certain fig tree wanting to find fruit and found that it had none so he cursed it and it never bore fruit again! (Matthew 21:19) The well watered tree “whose leaf never withers” is blessed and produces in season what it is supposed to just as those who remain in the living stream of God. In fact “Whatever he does prospers.” Yet, we learn: “Not so the wicked!” Those who are easily influenced by the ungodly world wither in their faith and blow away at the latest politically correct notion. “They are like chaff that the wind blows away.” They soon leave their church, their Christian friends, and blow away like dried up spiritually worthless husks! However, the righteous person has deep roots of faith!
EXAMPLE: We live in a society that seeks to find deep happiness in the moment. This is impossible no matter how many Hallmark made for TV movies we watch. Life is more than pithy sayings found on greeting cards or Facebook re-postings. Interestingly recent statistics show that more and more couples are opting for marriage rather than living together. Many have discovered that a lasting relationship begins with trust which begins when you are willing to say “I do” without reservation and mean it. Even though my father was critically ill we kids knew he loved my mother more than anything. The righteous person has deep roots of faith!
Some go through life as if it were some kind of personal game not thinking or caring there are consequences for their actions. There is an outcome in life in making either good choices or bad ones and the Psalmist finishes his thoughts by relating that…
III. The righteous person is sheltered by the Lord! (Vv. 5-6)
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
1. The prophet Job would ask, “Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? How often does calamity come upon them, the fate God allots in his anger? How often are they like straw before the wind, like chaff swept away by a gale?” (Job 21:17-18 NIV) The answer to Job’s question was every time unless they repent of their sin and walk with God. John the Baptist warned that the Messiah (Jesus) would baptize believers “with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12 NIV) Jesus also explained that the kingdom of heaven was like a net full of fish where the good ones were separated from the bad and that “This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:49-50 NIV) Jesus taught over and over there were serious consequences for rejecting him as the Messiah. In fact Jesus would declare, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:18 NIV) The Psalmist wrote, “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.” The righteous person will be rewarded. Jesus taught that one day the Lord will stand in front of all mankind and only some will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness… For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” (Matthew 25:23, 29 NIV) Jesus knew the reciprocity, the relationship, between God and mankind. “For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” The righteous person is sheltered by the Lord!
EXAMPLE: The other day it poured rain and as I looked out our living room window I noticed that three squirrels and quite few different birds found refuge during the downpour. The maple tree in our front yard works as a great natural canopy protecting whatever is under it from the hot sun or spring rains. My father’s arms felt the same way when I was little. When things got bad he would put his hand on my shoulder or wrap his arms around me and I would feel safe. The Psalmist describes for us that the righteous person is sheltered by the Lord!
The righteous person finds satisfaction in God! The righteous person has deep roots of faith! The righteous person is sheltered by the Lord!
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.