April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God's Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring's (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com and Women's Ministry Tools. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com
Excerpt from Free to Flourish Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit
My husband and I recently bought our first home. It’s tucked way out in the hills and we couldn’t be happier with our little country home. We’ve always wanted to grow some of our own food, but renting affords little more than herbs and a few tomatoes. So we have been excited to get our first real garden started! The tricky part is that our property is mostly on a fairly steep slope. We’ve been reading and researching whether we should build terraced garden boxes, pay to have some land graded, make dry stacked terraces, etc. With each option, it changes the pluses and minuses for our future garden, and thus changes the requirements for care. Good gardening has certain ingredients to make it fruitful and our heart “garden” does as well. So what are the ingredients of a fruitful life?
Consider the following verses and the ingredients of fruitfulness each one highlights:
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit....Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:1-2, 4-5 NASB
Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and sound of a melody. Isaiah 51:3 NASB
To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3 NASB
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord And whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 NASB
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. Psalms 1:1-3 NASB
In all these passages I see that God is the source of the fruitfulness and it brings Him glory; it’s never about us looking good or “feeling” good (though I believe God cares about our feelings, they aren’t center stage). I also see that there is a beautiful exchange that happens: places of dryness and waste become beautiful, joy resides in place of despair, praise in place of hopelessness. I also see that certain qualities shut out others, like anxiety has no place in the fruitful heart. Additionally, there isn’t room in a fruitful heart to be entertained by things that are not of the Lord. Lastly, the heart that bears fruit is one that is completely wrapped up in the Word and Ways of God. It is the highest delight of soul and constant meditation. These are heart choices we make that influence the grow-ability of the spiritual fruit Christ has for us.
These are just a few of the ingredients the Lord laid out for our hearts to cultivate so that we might live in His calling. As you consider the quality of your life and how you are living your calling, take note of what ingredients your “heart garden” might need refreshed and replenished. Ask the Lord for wisdom to access the fullness He came to give you.
Join me in the following weeks as we dig through the Scriptures that point us to the Words of Life for our hearts and emotions.You can also purchase the study here.