I Love Simple!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The key thought in this week’s SS lesson reads, “Whatever the important proper training, we must first be grounded in our relationship with Jesus before we can be “properly equipped” to effectively witness for our faith.”

I love simple. Everything I own fits in the back of a small U-Hal truck with plenty of space left over. Still, about twice a year, I go through my apartment just looking for things to throw away to keep life simple and clutter free.  When I was a kid I loved Taco Bell. Back then they had 7 items on the menu board, and that was all I needed. I would choose the bean burrito. Today I walk into a Taco Bell and their menu board is all cluttered, and confusing with so many new fangled items to offer. I still choose the bean burrito. I love simple. I recently switched my homepage to Google. It is simple and not too busy like the other search engines. I love simple. Having a complicated life is not a status symbol to me and does not allure me.

Understanding how simple I am, you will understand how delighted I was when I discovered a concept I read in John 15:5. In the NIV I read, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit…” . Actually what delighted me is what I did not discover.  Jesus was not telling me that I needed a complicated, long planned out program and agenda in order to bear much fruit. It was really quite simple actually. I just need to live with Jesus and I will automatically bear fruit. Wow. What a concept. It reminded me of when I came home from College in the Spring of 1985. One Friday evening a friend from church called, and told me a couple of other friends were meeting at one of their homes to study the Sabbath School lesson, and asked me to join them. One of them brought their sister, who was not a baptized Adventist.  There was no agenda or schedule set in stone for our small study group. It was not even an “official” small study group. We just hung out together and studied the lesson, socialized, and even started hanging out on Saturday nights with a pizza, and or movie or bowling. A few months later my friend’s sister was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist church. It wasn’t complicated. All we needed was to be living in Christ, in His word, and we bore fruit.

We don’t need a lot of complicated man made programs when: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”  {Ellen White, Gospel Workers, Page 363}  How simple! Simple does not mean there is no plan or method. It simply means the plan and method is simple.

“There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen. The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit.” {Ellen White, Gospel Workers, Page 363} Here I would like to add another word to Simple. Practical. Jesus’ method was simple and practical. When I go to Taco Bell, I don’t need a mumbo jumbo burrito with a million toppings on it. It just isn’t practical. A simple bean burrito is practical for me. Jesus spent most His time, simply meeting the needs of the people. Most of His ministry was spent in simple one on one impromptu encounters like the woman at the well or the woman taken adultery. Whenever He did preach a sermon it was not a deep theological dissertation. It was simple and practical, and may I also add brief.

I love the simplicity of Jesus in John 15:5, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.” One morning when I awoke, I picked up my Bible to read and spend time with Jesus. As soon as I started reading, I began to think to myself, “How can you just sit here and read when you need to see that church member in the hospital, and follow up on these leads for Bible studies, and plan that seminar that is coming up.” I could barely relax and read my Bible, thinking of all the things I needed to do, but I knew it was important to spend time with Jesus so I made myself do it. I wanted to abide in Him. Later when I got to the hospital, I prayed with the lady I had come to see, and as I left, the lady in the next bed, asked me to pray with her too. I prayed with her, and shared a verse and some comforting words God gave me to share with her. I gave her my number if she needed anything else and invited her to my church when she got out. Impromptu, simple, and yet fruitful. I love simple!

Thoughts on Fruit of the Spirit, Lesson 1

Guess Where I am writing from today? You guessed it! The beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  John 15:4-5

This week’s Sabbath School lesson speaks of abiding in Christ and bearing fruit. So what exactly is the fruit we bear?  “What is the fruit that we are to bear? “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law”. {2 Selected Messages p. 236} So Christ is more interested in the quality of fruit and not just the quantity. After all wouldn’t you rather have six really good apples rather than 60 rotten apples? So would Christ! “Ministers who labor in towns and cities to present the truth should not feel content, nor that their work is ended, until those who have accepted the theory of the truth realize indeed the effect of its sanctifying power, and are truly converted to God. God would be better pleased to have six truly converted to the truth as the result of their labors, than to have sixty make a nominal profession, and yet not be thoroughly converted. These ministers should devote less time to preaching sermons, and reserve a portion of their strength to visit and pray with those who are interested, giving them godly instruction, to the end that they may “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”  {Evangelism p. 320.1}

When you look at a piece of fruit you should be able to tell what tree it came from. So people should be able to tell that we abide in Christ by looking at us. Problem is too many professed Christians have what is called a golf cart relationship with Christ instead of an abiding relationship. A golf cart charges its battery overnight and then runs all day on its own power. The golf cart does not have an abiding relationship with the battery charger. It’s an on and off relationship. That may work for golf carts but not for us. We need a continual abiding relationship with Christ like the relationship a trolley car has with the cable. It stays connected to the cable all day or it does not move a single inch. We must continually abide in Christ or as Christ says, we “can do nothing”. This year let’s remember we are trolley cars and not golf carts. We must continually abide in Christ and not think we can survive with an on again off again relationship similar to a golf cart and battery charger.

Let’s remember as well that as a branch receives nourishment from the vine so we must receive our nourishment from Christ. The branches do not receive nourishment from the other branches. They abide in the vine. Likewise we must not look to the pastor or elder, or grandma for our spiritual nourishment. Remember that is how the dark ages began. People stopped reading the Scriptures and let the church do all their thinking for them. This is not what Christ designed. In Psalms 23:1 David acknowledges the Lord as his Shepherd or pastor. Christ Himself wants to be our Pastor, our True Vine that we may abide in and produce quality fruit which will also influence many others to do the same!

Please also visit my website InLightOfThe Cross.com for more studies and devotionals.