(Kingdom Diligence)

You will know them by their fruits.... so every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit.                                                            Matt 7:16-17

Salvation comes to us from God as a sheer gift.  All we have to do is receive it. The moment we receive the life of Jesus, the angels sing, the Heavens open and the Son of God comes in and occupies the throne of our hearts. The life of the world to come begins to empower our walk.

"No one will say, 'Look here it is or there it is', because the Kingdom of God is within you."                                                                               Matt 13:21

Beautiful! but listen to what else Jesus says about the Kingdom.  He tells us that God expects us to bear its fruits!

"And so I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a people who will produce the proper fruits."                               Matt 21:43

True, when you meet Jesus and He saves you from that old life, the door to the Kingdom opens to you. But the story  does not end there. The cross is not the end of the road; it is the end of that old life you had and the beginning of a new life in Christ. This new life is going to be lived, not in some distant paradise; it's going to be lived right here on earth, beginning now… So Paul says,

"Live a life that measures up to the standard God set when He called you."  Eph 4:1

This standard that God sets for us is Jesus --- a new life indwelt by Jesus. We live this new life in obedience to God. No one is going to live this new life for us; we have to work it out by ourselves. This life must then be like the life Jesus lived on earth. For his life alone is a life that pleases the Father.

"You are my own dear Son and I am well pleased with you."

In myself, I am not pleasing to God. In yourself you are not pleasing to God. Jesus in us is pleasing to God. The life that God gives us in Christ Jesus is pleasing to God.

An essential part of living this life in Christ is to bear fruit, good fruit that will show the glory of God. God gives us the power to do this; we don't do it on our own. God gives us this power through the life of Jesus that He pours into us.

This life of Jesus has many qualities that we should strive for, but our focus right now is diligence --- an untiring effort to complete whatever task God give us. Just as God is diligent, Jesus is diligent, and we need to be diligent. How can we be anything else when we are living the life of eternity in the Kingdom of God?

We're not talking about "diligence" on the surface; we're not talking about diligence in the pursuit of personal goals. We're talking about diligence that comes from an inward change in a believer's heart because of their devotion to God.

Now, God is not a slave driver who wants to see us in motion every minute, but He does want our hearts to be resting in Him at all times. God will give us what we need to accomplish His work. The task never changes, nor does the purpose, nor the equipment needed. The thing that must change is our attitude.

A master has two servants. He gives them two identical vineyards to work. One man is diligently working, tilling the soil, pruning the vines and irrigating. Even when he can't go out, he finds something to do. He keeps his tools in good working order.

But  the other man seems to have his hands full just getting out of bed in the morning. Tomorrow is always time enough to take care of everything. Tomorrow never comes, but the harvest time does and his vineyard has long since dried up and been choked out by the weeds.

One day, the master comes along --- ''What happened to my vineyards? Didn't these two men have the same soil, the same tools, and the same vines to tend?'' The difference was in the men themselves. One man worked diligently, while his neighbor was satisfied with good intentions.

A diligent servant of God doesn't stand around thinking about what he is going to do tomorrow or next week. His time is now! If our eyes are open and our hearts set on the Master, all we have to do is look up and we will see the work God has for us to do.

"You have a saying, 'four months and then the harvest'. I tell you take a good look at the fields. The crops are ripe now and ready to be harvested."

This awesome Kingdom diligence began on Pentecost. The believers had been waiting in Jerusalem for the gift Jesus had promised. And then the Spirit came, bearing witness to the Son.  Peter rose to the occasion.   His response was immediate.  In obedience to the Spirit Peter rose up and proclaimed Jesus to the gathered crowd.  "This Jesus, whom you crucified, is not only alive from the dead, he is Lord of all. There is no other name under heaven by which you can be saved…." And thousands repented and entered into life.

The Holy Spirit is not given to us to stay bottled up within us. He is given so that we may glorify Jesus and bear fruit in His name. Don't grieve the Spirit, take the power that he gives you now and use it. This whole world is seeking for a way back to the Garden and Jesus is the only way to get there. The diligent servant of God knows that the gate may soon clang shut, and wastes no time in showing all those he can the way into the Garden.

If we are to be diligent workers, we have to be stable in our service. We can't turn ourselves on and off when we feel like. What would happen to us if we called into work sick whenever we didn't feel like going to work? We'd all be out there pounding the pavement with the unemployed. Yet so many times we call in sick to God when we're not in the mood to serve.

Of course you can serve God on your good days, but what about your bad days? Bad days are part of life. Just keep following Jesus and He will sustain you through the bad days. We are called to serve God day-in-and-day-out on His terms, not ours.

Focus your heart on Jesus, and God will sustain you. If we lay down on the job when our zeal lags, the Spirit of God will leave us to our sulking, and we will stagnate until we get our hearts clearly focused on the Lord once more.

We not only serve God on our good and bad days, we also take the good and bad jobs, and keep praising God in our hearts.  It's a test of our diligence when we are given a job we don't like.

There are two types of tasks we may not like:

The first is the kind that takes us out of the limelight. The little day-to-day chores that we all have to do may not seem important, but all things done in God's service are important. Taking out the trash, shoveling snow, cleaning the toilet are as spiritual as preaching to thousands.

Then there are those acts of service to others that inconvenience us. The Lord Jesus Christ took on the task of being nailed to a cross for us, yet we worry about inconveniences?

"Father, if you will, take this cup away from me, not my will however, your will be done."

"Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven."

If I try to satisfy myself, I'll never be satisfied.  If I seek to satisfy the Father, I will have something far better than my own satisfaction:  God's Sabbath Rest.  What could be better than enjoying the Sabbath Rest of God in my heart as I work in his Vineyard?  What could be better than abiding in the Vine, and letting his Spirit produce fruit as I walk in his will?

I am the real vine, and my Father is the Gardener. He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit and prunes every branch that does bear fruit.

A diligent worker finishes what he starts. She sees her work through to its completion.  And from beginning to end the diligent worker in God's Vineyard enjoys God's Sabbath Rest.

When Jesus, dying on his cross, took the wine and said, "It is finished'', He completed what He started out to do --- to offer his life as a ransom for us all.  He did His part and made all things ready for us. Now we need to do our part: we work out the salvation God has worked into us—with diligence.  By the power of his Spirit, we do the Father's will.

And all along the way, the Lord Jesus, who walks by our side under the yoke of heaven, sustains us with his Sabbath Rest, our foretaste of the coming glory.