More than you think
When I was a child, I went to church pretty regularly on Sunday.  I was baptized at a very young age and I went to the alter almost weekly to get saved.  I read my Bible, although I didn't understand it very well. I prayed, I listened to gospel music and did every sort of religious thing that people commonly do, and I did this for many years. 

But my religion made no impact on me personally.  I wasn't any different as a person.  And, no matter how many trips I made to the alter, nothing actually changed in my personality or my life. Where was the fruit of a changed life?  All my religious efforts did nothing to change me in a permanent way.

When I was 15, something happened that impacted my life in a huge way.  Of course, I was a Bible toter and one of my friends at school said, "You should talk to Mr. K. (my history teacher) He knows a lot about the Bible.  And I found out that he really did. He explained to me that people claim to know God, but if God bluntly tells them to do something, they say "He didn't really mean that, He meant something else." 

For example he said, "Look at the Sabbath, which is the fourth commandment.  God tells us to rest on the seventh day of the week and to keep the Sabbath, but people say, "He didn't mean that, He really meant the first day of the week."  He said, "God wants us to do exactly what he tells us to do in the Bible."

I understood what he was saying and I  knew he was right.  So that weekend, I tried to keep the Sabbath, but it wasn't convenient.  Saturday was my moms regular day to clean the house.  I couldn't face my mom so I caved in and worked that Saturday.  I said I'll do it next week, but next week, I still didn't have the guts to face her.  And my conscience began to bother me.  I finally told Mr. K that I wasn't going to be able to keep the Sabbath after all.  He told me something profound that day that has stuck with me all these years. 

He said, "God has opened your mind to understand that you should keep His law.  If you truly understand that and you refuse, He will not give you anymore understanding."  He said, "When you obey God, he gives you more and more truth, but if you knowingly disobey Him, He will even take away what He has already given you."  That thought frightened me. 

It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I knew that I wanted a relationship with God and that I wanted to understand the truth.  I didn't want to lose the truth I had already understood.  So I made the tough commitment and I told my mom that I would not be working on Saturday anymore.  I started keeping the Sabbath, in spite of my moms disapproval.  I also upset my band director, and several other people, but I made the commitment to put God first in my life and to start obeying the Ten Commandments.  The Sabbath was the test commandment for me as it is for everyone.  


When you keep God's law, it changes you.  You become a better person than you were before.  People strive to get the "Spirit of God," through various and sundry religious acts but God plainly says that He gives His Holy Spirit to those who obey Him.  Acts 5:32 says,

And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him."

I never could really understand the Bible until I started to keep the Sabbath.   After that, it was like a light bulb came on in my head every time I opened it up.  I saw things that I had never caught before.  I began to understand more and more and more.  It was exciting to learn amazing new things.  Once we become connected to God by obedience, the spirit of Christ opens our mind so that we can understand the truth. 

Romans 8:9 says,

"But if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His."

This Spirit of God is the connection that we must have with the true God, and we only get it by obedience.  Without obedience, we are none of His.  And it is that obedience to His word that produces good fruit in a person.  What is that fruit?

Galatians 5:22-23 states 
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control". 

God wants us to become a better person than our genetic code dictates.  He wants us to be fully completed human beings.  This is not possible through useless religious performance.  It is only possible through a connection with the real Jesus Christ.


THE CONNECTION FACTOR...You must be connected to Christ.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; (it is essential that we bear fruit) and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me."  He continues, "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. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."

So we see that without a connection to the true vine Jesus Christ, all religious efforts are worthless and produce no true fruit.  John 15 1-8

Everyone will fall into one of these categories.

Matthew 13:18-23 says,

"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:  When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 

The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.  (Had I let my mother discourage me, here is where I would have lost it.)

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 

But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it.  He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

The man who bares fruit has a relationship with Christ.  He hears the word of God, and understands it. Christ has opened his mind.
He  keeps God's word to the best of his ability. 

God doesn't want us to be like the old gospel song that says "Just as I am."  He wants us to grow and to change for the good and to improve our character.  So that we can finally be counted as God's fruit, when we become a perfectly completed child of God ready for the Kingdom of God and for God's purpose for all human beings.


Understanding Prophecy (part two)



The Spiritual Priesthood of Melchizedek



Good and Evil

The Few, the Proud, the Condemned