Foliage or Fruits?


“The remnant who have escaped... shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward” (Isa 37:31).


This was Isaiah’s prophecy. God brought Israel from Egypt to the land of Canaan where they flourished. But when they picked up the idolatrous practices of the neighbouring nations, God in His vexation drove them out of the land. It was at this time that Isaiah prophesied thus. All hope was lost; only a minority remained. Will they also be wiped off was the question that haunted the prophets. But true to the prophecy, Israel once again was gathered as a nation. They budded and blossomed.

History repeats itself. We, the believers of the living God are the remnant today. The majority has been swept away by the world’s tidal waves. We see many pillars of salt on the way in our spiritual journey. Only a minority keeps striving to be true to God, to take root below and bear fruit above. Isaiah’s prophecy must find fulfillment through this kernel to bear fruit and fill the earth.

The one who introduces fruit bearing in the beginning chapters of Matthew with his austere message is John the Baptist. People were streaming from Jerusalem and all Judea to him. They confessed their sins and were baptized. But when he saw the Pharisees and Sadducees showing up for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, he said, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance... The axe is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (3:5-10). This crisp statement was a sharp warning to those who thought they could get by with confession of their sins and baptism. It was a truth they didn’t want to hear.
Repentance is a good thing; baptism excellent. But things do not end there. The good beginning should proceed to a life of fruitbearing, not just foliage but fruits. Is your life green, blossoming and loaded with fruits? The judgment is not on the basis of repentance and baptism but fruit bearing, as John puts it.

Luke adds more information to this incident. The crowd that was listening to this asked, “What should we do then?” They wanted to know how they could give fruit. Listen to John’s reply: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” He also admonished them to be honest in their work spots and be happy with whatever they had. John made them to understand that fruitbearing is compassionate, clean and simple living (3:7-15). Or as Paul puts it “bear fruit in every good work” (Col 1:10). Most Christians are full of rich foliage. They involve in every religious activity and appear green. But fruits are conspicuously absent.

This is what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt 5:16). People must be able to see a glaring difference in us, something out of the ordinary, something that they don’t normally see in the world around them, and praise God. You should do more than others (Mt 5:47). What touched me in the passage was this: “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ” (Lk 3:15). A man mistaken for God! Let our lives be so godly.

In a busy airport, a team was rushing to catch their flight. In their dash, they toppled a table full of apples. Apples rolled all around. The boy selling those apples was in tears. Suddenly one man from the team came running back. He picked up the apples, arranged the table, handed a hundred dollar note to the boy and asked, “Is this enough?” The boy beamed and asked, “Mister, are you Jesus?” That is fruit bearing.

Let’s see the importance of fruit bearing from a passage in the book of Judges 9:8-15. “One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and men are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’ Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’ But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’ Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king. “But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and men, to hold sway over the trees?’”

None of them were willing to give up their fruitbearing that honored God with their sweetness and cheered God and men, to be promoted as king. Finally the thorn bush accepted the offer.

Many have left their calling of fruitbearing for more lucrative positions. They are not cheering the heart of God and man. God comes looking for fruits in His hunger. But He is often disappointed because they had gone to do the thorn bush’s job. Men look for sweet fruits in a Christian so that they can receive some cheer. But the fruitbearing trees have gone to become kings to rule. God’s calling for you is to bear fruit. Satan offered Jesus “all” authority and kingship. Jesus said ‘No’. People wanted to catch Him and make Him king. But He slipped away. He wanted to do the will of God, to give fruit.

I have a wicked desire in my heart, to enter politics and make radical changes. I may think, that way I can glorify God and bring joy to people. But no way. God will not be pleased with that because that is not His calling for me. Let thorn bushes do the job. I must stick to my calling. Jesus once visited a garden where He saw a barren tree and ordered it to be cut down. Obviously it was lush with foliage. God is unhappy with trees that do not bear fruit. Let us follow the example of Jesus and run away from what is not our calling. Let the limelight posts be given to those who crave for it. Let me be lighting my little corner.

Psalm one is a song on fruit bearing. In a nutshell, the Psalmist tells us not to be whiling away our time with people who have no godly desires. If you lie down with dogs you get fleas. All three, the wicked, the sinners and the mockers fill TV and other media outlets. They will eat away your time. Instead delight in God’s Word which is the root of fruit bearing.

We cannot be meditating the Word day and night. So what does it mean? It means the whole day we remember to live by the Word. Morning you get up and when you feel like shouting at your spouse and children, discipline yourself to speak kind words. Where do we have control over our lives? It is in the little things. You go to the office and a colleague wants to flirt with you. You remember what you read about faithfulness and move out of the place. Your subordinate forgets an important issue. Instead of unleashing a litany of expletives, call him aside and calmly counsel him. After a harrowing day in the office, you come home and find your child had left the lunch box in school. You feel like slapping the child. But you give a hug and gently remind the child to be more careful and the punishment if she forgets. This kind of self-discipline is declining precipitously. Do the right thing at every instance. Trouble is, most of us know the difference between right and wrong. We just don’t want to admit it. Quite often we change jobs, friends and spouses instead of ourselves.

So the whole day, at every instance you meditate the Word and the whole day you bear fruit. If you don’t meditate the Word seriously, if you don’t spend sufficient time with your Bible, if you don’t write down your meditation, if you don’t prepare your heart as a good soil to produce much fruit, then you are not going to give fruit. “How can you serve the Lord with your lips if you don’t serve Him with your lives? How can you preach His gospel with your tongues, when with hands, feet and heart you are preaching the devil’s gospel and setting up an antichrist by your practical unholiness?” asks Charles Spurgeon.

The remnant is always a minority. Those who love the Word, who delight in it and put it to practice are not even a handful. For example, Jesus exhorted us to love our enemies. We read it, meditate it but do not put it to practice. We must join the minority. For that, we need practice and perseverance.

Jesus told us a parable in Mark 4:27- 29, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces the grain - first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Note, it is the soil that produces the grain. The circumstances we are in, throws us in all kinds of situations that try our character. We fail and we get up. We fail seven times and we get up seven times. This is how we become the stalk, then the head, then the full grain. Then it ripens. So we need practice and perseverance. “Next time I will be better, next time I will not fail”, should be our chorus as we push on. I received an email from a girl who gets angry at the drop of a hat. I replied her. She was so happy to know that controlling anger is a lifetime process and was relieved. She had expected a miracle. No miracle happens. We bud and blossom and bear fruit. Unknown to us, it grows. We may not feel the change happening in us every day, but it is happening, alright.
In John 15:1-2, Jesus talks about the vine and the branches. Our Father, the Gardener cuts off every branch that bears no fruit, while every branch that bears fruit, He prunes (v2). Both receive cuts, both go through suffering. But barren branches die in the agony and the fruitful branches flourish in the pain. Mango tree produces sweet fruit but neem produces bitter; both from the same dirty soil. Suffering can bring out the best in us or the worst. Job was pruned and he became more fruitful; but Judas died in his humiliation. Three people died on the cross. One man in his pain reviled Jesus and went to hell. Another man prayed to Jesus and went to paradise. The third Man, Jesus, died in agony and brought many sons to glory. How are you handling your pain?
Note what Jesus says: “This is to My Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples” (v8). When we go through suffering and produce abundant fruit, not only is the Father glorified but the world recognizes us as the disciples of Christ.

Following this, Jesus talked about the king of fruits and the first fruit of the Spirit - Love! “Love one another as I have loved you” (v 12). John was sitting under the tutelage of Jesus who gave a new commandment to love one another as He loved them and thus let the world know they were His disciples (Jn 13:34,35). That made a deep impact on John. He decided to put it to practice. Being a ‘Son of Thunder’, it was hard work for him. He did not want others to cast out demons in his Master’s name; he wanted the prestigious kingdom seats; he boiled to the extent of bringing down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans who refused to entertain Jesus. Such was his hot temper. So it was second nature for him to trample on people’s nerves.

When he knew he had hurt someone, he found it impossible to override his ego and apologize to the concerned. But the scene of his Master with the towel around His waist, stooping down to wash his feet flashed across his mind. His words, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” jabbed his conscience (Jn 13:14). He had to give a death blow to his ego before he learnt his lessons in love. When he was old then he could write, “Yet I am writing to you a new command... Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother, is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” (1 Jn 2:8-11).

If a ‘Son of Thunder’ could become an Apostle of love, we all can - if we put our best foot forward. If we say, “I am in the light, I am saved” yet continue to harbour hatred in our hearts, we are in danger of losing God’s guidance and straying from His will. We need an outpouring of divine love, without which our world will lose colour. A life without love is a tree without fruit.

What happens when the Father prunes us? Come to Hebrews 12:11: “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Our suffering is not punishment but training. Through chastening we learn to live right. I used to ask God, “Lord, why do you punish me and then make me realize my fault? Why don’t you tell me before I err?” That sounds logical indeed, but that’s not God’s method. We learn to bear more and more fruit when we go through God’s discipline - fruit of righteousness.

Remember, we did not choose God but He chose us and put us in the world to “go” and bear fruit that won’t spoil (Jn 15:16). Epaphras “went” and bore fruit and his fruit lasted (Col 1:7). He was commended by Paul for his ministry of intercession (4:12). Epaphras was the minister to the church at Colosse, perhaps its founder. Paul says that the people of Colosse heard the gospel from Epaphras. “The gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world - just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf and who also told us of your love in the spirit” (Col 1:5-8).

I imagine how Epaphras started sharing the good news to one, two and three, overcoming his fear and shyness to talk to pagans, till it became a church in Colosse. He did not stop there but worked hard for those at Laodicea and Hieropolis (4:13). This explains why some Christians seem to soar while others barely get off the ground. Archippus exercised a fruitful ministry here (4:17; Phile 2). Philemon and Onesimus were active members of this church (Col 4:9). This is how a small seed becomes a tree in which birds come and perch (Mt 13:31,32). May be he became a prisoner with Paul (Phile 23). Each of us should raise up a congregation in our locality. God smiles on those who have the courage to go on.
Leela, a retired missionary of Blessing Youth Mission was a Poojari’s daughter. She started talking to village folk and a few gathered to listen to her. Today around hundred gather once a month near the BYM Headquarters. Many have joined the church through this humble beginning.

A father went to his son and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” The son rudely said, “I will not”. But later he “changed his mind” and went. He then went to the other son and said the “same thing.” He very respectfully said, “Yes sir. I will go” but did not go (Mt 21:28-32). God is asking us to go to His vineyard and work. What will be our response? Will we just say “yes” with our mouth and wash our hands off our responsibility? We need a “change of mind.” The first, changed his mind and went. Even if we have not gone into His vineyard to work, even if we had said, “I will not”, it is possible to change our mind.

The second son changed his mind for the worse. He had a mind to go. What made him change his mind, we do not know. May be laziness, may be some other work. Whatever it may be, he disregarded his father’s request and disobeyed him for his own selfish reasons. We must take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:5). If we harden our hearts like Pharaoh, then God will harden our hearts (Ex 7:23; 8:15,32).
Their father did not command harshly. He just asked them ever so gently. God’s voice to us is always a gentle breeze. We must be able to understand His feelings and know His will. Will we change our mind and go and work in His vineyard? Buds and blossoms are not fruits. Our thoughts and words must lead to commitment and action.

“In the days to come Jacob will take root. Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit” (Isa 27:6). You must first bud, then blossom, then fill the world with fruit. As a school student I taught in the church Sunday School. As a medical student I was budding. Since my father was a professor in the same medical college, other professors would ask him for my number so that they could pass me. But I would refuse to give. They would tell my dad that they had not seen a student like that. After fifty years I met one of my old professors who told me, “After you left, we are yet to see a house-surgeon like you.” I was praying that God would give me an opportunity to testify to atleast one or two of my classmates. Within a short period, a man called me and said, “Hi Lilian we are planning our fiftieth year get together...” So I was there. Many went to the mike and said, “Lilian was like this.... Lilian was like that.” I was surprised. How keenly they had been watching me! Then it was my turn. I went and testified. They all sat spellbound, Hindus and Muslims, Professors and Specialists. When I concluded, there was an ovation. I bowed my head and worshiped. I gave a story book to all and a New Testament at the next get-together. I believe there was a budding stage for me. Then I blossomed. Now I believe I am filling the world with fruit. I am not God’s favorite. You can start budding now. You will surely blossom and fill the world with fruit. Do not be afraid. God is with you.

Ironically, the literal remnant of Israel is now budding and blossoming, grabbing eyeballs from around the globe. It has a message for us. We have hope. God is not going to let us down. He is ruffling His feathers and rising up.

Esther, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshak, Abednego, Naaman’s maid, all took root downward and bore fruit upward. They were not known for their foliage but for their fruit. They were a minority and so are we. Those who desire to renounce kingship to bear fruit will always be a small number. But never mind. We can be the little flock and fill the world with our fruit. Then we will witness a repetition of the book of Acts. Take root, bear fruit!

 Daily Devotional for Women (Tamil)

  •   August 3 Who shut your mouth?
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  •   August 2 Who cares?
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 Daily Devotional for Women (English)

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      Dec 31, 2019
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 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 4

  •   051. Blessed Accident
      Feb 21, 2018
    A sailor wanted to go round the world in a boat and set up a record. Sadly, a storm lashed his boat and it broke to pieces. The sailor swam and reached a small uninhabited island. He ate wild fruits and roots and survived. He made a more...
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    An elaborate feast was arranged for all the palace staff on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth?s birthday. It was a grand affair. The table was loaded with a variety of dishes. Everybody enjoyed the feast and sat down for dessert. In the meanwhile the table more...
  •   053. Great and Small
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 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 3

  •   094 Ant and Worm
      Jun 01, 2016
    An ant was majestically walking along a forest. She saw a worm crawling. The ant told the worm: ?Look at me. I am so brisk and smart. You should be faster and dress up beautifully. You look ugly.? Despising the worm the ant moved along. more...
  •   095 Diligence Pays
      Jun 01, 2016
    Ragu was very jealous of the humble minister, Ra more...
  •   096 Poor Minister
      Jun 01, 2016
    A poor minister of God used to go to a rich businessman asking for contribution for the work he was doing in villages. The rich man would give excuses and ask hi more...
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 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 2

  •   001 The Modern Prodigal
      Jul 11, 2013
    The Modern Prodigal more...
  •   002 Lower One Foot, Lord!
      Jul 11, 2013
    Lower One Foot, Lord! more...
  •   003 Beautiful Cheques
      Jul 11, 2013
    Beautiful Cheques more...
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 Little Stories For Little Hearts

  •   Introduction
      Jun 06, 2013
    Story Behind The Stories more...
  •   001. Is GOD For Real
      Jun 05, 2013
    There were two scientists. One was a believer in the true God and another was an aetheist more...
  •   002.The Language of Love!
      Jun 05, 2013
    A circus was running in town, and crowds elbowed each other to buy tickets. One day an unusual incident happened more...
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 Sweet Sixteen

  •   019 - Mala the Great!
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Dec 1988 Dear Aunty, It?s been 2 months since we were in touch. I?m saturated with ?news? to give you and nearly bursting with curiosity to hear what?s been happening at your end. The last letter you wrote to me was an eye-opener. To more...
  •   020 - The Rainbow
      Jun 25, 2015
    On the day she arrived, she was at my doorstep! ?Hi aunty? ?Oh Mala, how are you?? She shook my hand so long and hard that it ached, and planted a kiss on my cheek - so unusual of her. ?Why didn?t you write aunty?? ?Oh, I knew you?d be coming soon. So more...
  •   021 - What to Do?
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Jan 1989 Dear Aunty, Christmas holidays were great fun. It was lovely getting in touch with friends and relatives. On New Year?s Day I gleaned thro? my diary- There was so much to thank God for! My friend Esther is in Rajasthan. She wrote asking for g more...
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 Family

  •   Creepers Without Support
      Sep 30, 2016
    Creepers Without Support The Bible mentions ?pure religion? only once. ?Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted from the world? (Js 1:2 more...
  •   Mothers,Be Mothers!
      Sep 30, 2016
    Mothers,Be Mothers! In the first chapter of Proverbs we meet the dynamic personality called mother. She is presented not as a wobbly- footed weakling but as one who passes the law. Even inside the home she does not appear as a second class citizen, ra more...
  •   The Mother-in-laws Son!
      Sep 17, 2016
    Many a wife would introduce her mate as her mother-in-law?s son, rather than as her husband. Nearly 80% of Indian husbands continue to be (their mother?s) sons. According to a recent statistics, not less than 10% of suicides in India are due to the proble more...
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 Ministry

  •   I am a Missionary!
      Aug 14, 2018
    1. I am a missionary and so I work for God and not for an organisation. Though I am under the discipline of an organisation, whatever I do, I do with the fear of God. God is my Master and so I subject myself to the leaders. I quell any rebellious spirit t more...
  •   Sewer turned Sower!
      Mar 13, 2017
    To understand John chapter 4, we must first understand about the Samaritans. Samaria was between Judea and Galilee so much so any Jew travelling from Galilee to Judea or Judea to Galilee needed to go through it. Many Jews, because of the aversion they ha more...
  •   Afraid of Iron Chariots?
      Jun 29, 2016
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 Women

  •   Golden Girl
      Aug 27, 2018
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      Jan 16, 2017
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  •   Women,Leaven and Heaven!
      Sep 30, 2016
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 Youth

  •   A Teenagers Story
      Oct 04, 2017
    In the Bible we read about many teenagers. One such is David. When we are introduced to him, he is probably fifteen or sixteen, trying his more...
  •   Why Not Wait ?
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    It was a whirlwind romance - all moon-beams and star dust; until one day in a moment of madness, they succumbed to each other?s charms. That was the last cruise of their love boat. The world seemed to crash around her when she fo more...
  •   May Days are Gay Days!
      Oct 19, 2016
    Vacation wind is blowing and the air is heavy with the fragrance of holiday. With the exams behind you it?s time to rest, relax and recoup. Holiday is an oasis in the harsh and fiery deserts of modern existence more...
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 General

  •   Foliage or Fruits?
      May 10, 2020
    God brought Israel from Egypt to the land of Canaan where they flourished. But when they picked up the idolatrous practices of the neighbouring nations, God in His vexation drove them out of the land more...
  •   The Root of the Matter
      Apr 05, 2020
    The Root of the Matter more...
  •   WAKE UP!
      Mar 28, 2020
    WAKE UP! more...
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  Address for Correspondence Contributions

Dr. Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
 +91 9843511943
  lilianstanley@gmail.com

Blessing Youth Mission

Blessing Youth Mission
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Vellore 632006, India
 +91-416-2242943, +91-416-2248943
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  www.bymonline.org

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To buy books written by Dr. Lilian Stanley, kindly reach to us in the follwing address

Blessing Literature Centre
21/11 West Coovam River Road,
Chintadripet,
Chennai 600 002, India.
 +91-44-28450411
  blc@bymonline.org

 Daily Devotional for Women (Tamil)

  •   August 3 Who shut your mouth?
      Aug 03, 2020
    Who shut your mouth? more...
  •   August 2 Who cares?
      Aug 02, 2020
    Who cares? more...
  •   August 1 Serving all the time
      Aug 01, 2020
    Serving all the time more...
  • Click here for more 

 Daily Devotional for Women (English)

  •   367. December 31 Golden Girl
      Dec 31, 2019
    Now the Golden Girl has climbed from her state, step by step, to the right hand of the King. She is now the bride and the queen. Let?s see the blessings of the right hand of God more...
  •   366. December 30 Golden Girl
      Dec 30, 2019
    The enemy has all the gold but God will give it to us more...
  •   365. December 29 Golden Girl
      Dec 29, 2019
    Your faith is costlier than gold more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 4

  •   051. Blessed Accident
      Feb 21, 2018
    A sailor wanted to go round the world in a boat and set up a record. Sadly, a storm lashed his boat and it broke to pieces. The sailor swam and reached a small uninhabited island. He ate wild fruits and roots and survived. He made a more...
  •   052. Offense
      Feb 21, 2018
    An elaborate feast was arranged for all the palace staff on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth?s birthday. It was a grand affair. The table was loaded with a variety of dishes. Everybody enjoyed the feast and sat down for dessert. In the meanwhile the table more...
  •   053. Great and Small
      Feb 21, 2018
    A small zero collided with a big zero. ?Don?t you have any sense? Don?t you know I am much bigger than you?? asked the big zero; ?You must be ashamed of yourself.? more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 3

  •   094 Ant and Worm
      Jun 01, 2016
    An ant was majestically walking along a forest. She saw a worm crawling. The ant told the worm: ?Look at me. I am so brisk and smart. You should be faster and dress up beautifully. You look ugly.? Despising the worm the ant moved along. more...
  •   095 Diligence Pays
      Jun 01, 2016
    Ragu was very jealous of the humble minister, Ra more...
  •   096 Poor Minister
      Jun 01, 2016
    A poor minister of God used to go to a rich businessman asking for contribution for the work he was doing in villages. The rich man would give excuses and ask hi more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 2

  •   001 The Modern Prodigal
      Jul 11, 2013
    The Modern Prodigal more...
  •   002 Lower One Foot, Lord!
      Jul 11, 2013
    Lower One Foot, Lord! more...
  •   003 Beautiful Cheques
      Jul 11, 2013
    Beautiful Cheques more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories For Little Hearts

  •   Introduction
      Jun 06, 2013
    Story Behind The Stories more...
  •   001. Is GOD For Real
      Jun 05, 2013
    There were two scientists. One was a believer in the true God and another was an aetheist more...
  •   002.The Language of Love!
      Jun 05, 2013
    A circus was running in town, and crowds elbowed each other to buy tickets. One day an unusual incident happened more...
  • Click here for more 

 Sweet Sixteen

  •   019 - Mala the Great!
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Dec 1988 Dear Aunty, It?s been 2 months since we were in touch. I?m saturated with ?news? to give you and nearly bursting with curiosity to hear what?s been happening at your end. The last letter you wrote to me was an eye-opener. To more...
  •   020 - The Rainbow
      Jun 25, 2015
    On the day she arrived, she was at my doorstep! ?Hi aunty? ?Oh Mala, how are you?? She shook my hand so long and hard that it ached, and planted a kiss on my cheek - so unusual of her. ?Why didn?t you write aunty?? ?Oh, I knew you?d be coming soon. So more...
  •   021 - What to Do?
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Jan 1989 Dear Aunty, Christmas holidays were great fun. It was lovely getting in touch with friends and relatives. On New Year?s Day I gleaned thro? my diary- There was so much to thank God for! My friend Esther is in Rajasthan. She wrote asking for g more...
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 Family

  •   Creepers Without Support
      Sep 30, 2016
    Creepers Without Support The Bible mentions ?pure religion? only once. ?Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted from the world? (Js 1:2 more...
  •   Mothers,Be Mothers!
      Sep 30, 2016
    Mothers,Be Mothers! In the first chapter of Proverbs we meet the dynamic personality called mother. She is presented not as a wobbly- footed weakling but as one who passes the law. Even inside the home she does not appear as a second class citizen, ra more...
  •   The Mother-in-laws Son!
      Sep 17, 2016
    Many a wife would introduce her mate as her mother-in-law?s son, rather than as her husband. Nearly 80% of Indian husbands continue to be (their mother?s) sons. According to a recent statistics, not less than 10% of suicides in India are due to the proble more...
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 Ministry

  •   I am a Missionary!
      Aug 14, 2018
    1. I am a missionary and so I work for God and not for an organisation. Though I am under the discipline of an organisation, whatever I do, I do with the fear of God. God is my Master and so I subject myself to the leaders. I quell any rebellious spirit t more...
  •   Sewer turned Sower!
      Mar 13, 2017
    To understand John chapter 4, we must first understand about the Samaritans. Samaria was between Judea and Galilee so much so any Jew travelling from Galilee to Judea or Judea to Galilee needed to go through it. Many Jews, because of the aversion they ha more...
  •   Afraid of Iron Chariots?
      Jun 29, 2016
    Afraid of Iron Chariots? more...
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 Women

  •   Golden Girl
      Aug 27, 2018
    As India basks in the glory of the golden girls who kissed their gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games, let us meditate upon the Golden Girl who glitters in the Scriptures. The Psalmist profiles her in his 45th Psalm: ?At Your right hand is the royal bride more...
  •   Sister Sodom
      Jan 16, 2017
    Sodom is always associated with wicked ''men''. But here God calls her as 'Sister Sodom!' more...
  •   Women,Leaven and Heaven!
      Sep 30, 2016
    Women,Leaven and Heaven! 'The Kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened ' ,said Jesus (Mt 13:33). more...
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 Youth

  •   A Teenagers Story
      Oct 04, 2017
    In the Bible we read about many teenagers. One such is David. When we are introduced to him, he is probably fifteen or sixteen, trying his more...
  •   Why Not Wait ?
      Oct 21, 2016
    It was a whirlwind romance - all moon-beams and star dust; until one day in a moment of madness, they succumbed to each other?s charms. That was the last cruise of their love boat. The world seemed to crash around her when she fo more...
  •   May Days are Gay Days!
      Oct 19, 2016
    Vacation wind is blowing and the air is heavy with the fragrance of holiday. With the exams behind you it?s time to rest, relax and recoup. Holiday is an oasis in the harsh and fiery deserts of modern existence more...
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 General

  •   Foliage or Fruits?
      May 10, 2020
    God brought Israel from Egypt to the land of Canaan where they flourished. But when they picked up the idolatrous practices of the neighbouring nations, God in His vexation drove them out of the land more...
  •   The Root of the Matter
      Apr 05, 2020
    The Root of the Matter more...
  •   WAKE UP!
      Mar 28, 2020
    WAKE UP! more...
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Foliage or Fruits?


“The remnant who have escaped... shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward” (Isa 37:31).


This was Isaiah’s prophecy. God brought Israel from Egypt to the land of Canaan where they flourished. But when they picked up the idolatrous practices of the neighbouring nations, God in His vexation drove them out of the land. It was at this time that Isaiah prophesied thus. All hope was lost; only a minority remained. Will they also be wiped off was the question that haunted the prophets. But true to the prophecy, Israel once again was gathered as a nation. They budded and blossomed.

History repeats itself. We, the believers of the living God are the remnant today. The majority has been swept away by the world’s tidal waves. We see many pillars of salt on the way in our spiritual journey. Only a minority keeps striving to be true to God, to take root below and bear fruit above. Isaiah’s prophecy must find fulfillment through this kernel to bear fruit and fill the earth.

The one who introduces fruit bearing in the beginning chapters of Matthew with his austere message is John the Baptist. People were streaming from Jerusalem and all Judea to him. They confessed their sins and were baptized. But when he saw the Pharisees and Sadducees showing up for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, he said, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance... The axe is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (3:5-10). This crisp statement was a sharp warning to those who thought they could get by with confession of their sins and baptism. It was a truth they didn’t want to hear.
Repentance is a good thing; baptism excellent. But things do not end there. The good beginning should proceed to a life of fruitbearing, not just foliage but fruits. Is your life green, blossoming and loaded with fruits? The judgment is not on the basis of repentance and baptism but fruit bearing, as John puts it.

Luke adds more information to this incident. The crowd that was listening to this asked, “What should we do then?” They wanted to know how they could give fruit. Listen to John’s reply: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” He also admonished them to be honest in their work spots and be happy with whatever they had. John made them to understand that fruitbearing is compassionate, clean and simple living (3:7-15). Or as Paul puts it “bear fruit in every good work” (Col 1:10). Most Christians are full of rich foliage. They involve in every religious activity and appear green. But fruits are conspicuously absent.

This is what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt 5:16). People must be able to see a glaring difference in us, something out of the ordinary, something that they don’t normally see in the world around them, and praise God. You should do more than others (Mt 5:47). What touched me in the passage was this: “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ” (Lk 3:15). A man mistaken for God! Let our lives be so godly.

In a busy airport, a team was rushing to catch their flight. In their dash, they toppled a table full of apples. Apples rolled all around. The boy selling those apples was in tears. Suddenly one man from the team came running back. He picked up the apples, arranged the table, handed a hundred dollar note to the boy and asked, “Is this enough?” The boy beamed and asked, “Mister, are you Jesus?” That is fruit bearing.

Let’s see the importance of fruit bearing from a passage in the book of Judges 9:8-15. “One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and men are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’ Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’ But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’ Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king. “But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and men, to hold sway over the trees?’”

None of them were willing to give up their fruitbearing that honored God with their sweetness and cheered God and men, to be promoted as king. Finally the thorn bush accepted the offer.

Many have left their calling of fruitbearing for more lucrative positions. They are not cheering the heart of God and man. God comes looking for fruits in His hunger. But He is often disappointed because they had gone to do the thorn bush’s job. Men look for sweet fruits in a Christian so that they can receive some cheer. But the fruitbearing trees have gone to become kings to rule. God’s calling for you is to bear fruit. Satan offered Jesus “all” authority and kingship. Jesus said ‘No’. People wanted to catch Him and make Him king. But He slipped away. He wanted to do the will of God, to give fruit.

I have a wicked desire in my heart, to enter politics and make radical changes. I may think, that way I can glorify God and bring joy to people. But no way. God will not be pleased with that because that is not His calling for me. Let thorn bushes do the job. I must stick to my calling. Jesus once visited a garden where He saw a barren tree and ordered it to be cut down. Obviously it was lush with foliage. God is unhappy with trees that do not bear fruit. Let us follow the example of Jesus and run away from what is not our calling. Let the limelight posts be given to those who crave for it. Let me be lighting my little corner.

Psalm one is a song on fruit bearing. In a nutshell, the Psalmist tells us not to be whiling away our time with people who have no godly desires. If you lie down with dogs you get fleas. All three, the wicked, the sinners and the mockers fill TV and other media outlets. They will eat away your time. Instead delight in God’s Word which is the root of fruit bearing.

We cannot be meditating the Word day and night. So what does it mean? It means the whole day we remember to live by the Word. Morning you get up and when you feel like shouting at your spouse and children, discipline yourself to speak kind words. Where do we have control over our lives? It is in the little things. You go to the office and a colleague wants to flirt with you. You remember what you read about faithfulness and move out of the place. Your subordinate forgets an important issue. Instead of unleashing a litany of expletives, call him aside and calmly counsel him. After a harrowing day in the office, you come home and find your child had left the lunch box in school. You feel like slapping the child. But you give a hug and gently remind the child to be more careful and the punishment if she forgets. This kind of self-discipline is declining precipitously. Do the right thing at every instance. Trouble is, most of us know the difference between right and wrong. We just don’t want to admit it. Quite often we change jobs, friends and spouses instead of ourselves.

So the whole day, at every instance you meditate the Word and the whole day you bear fruit. If you don’t meditate the Word seriously, if you don’t spend sufficient time with your Bible, if you don’t write down your meditation, if you don’t prepare your heart as a good soil to produce much fruit, then you are not going to give fruit. “How can you serve the Lord with your lips if you don’t serve Him with your lives? How can you preach His gospel with your tongues, when with hands, feet and heart you are preaching the devil’s gospel and setting up an antichrist by your practical unholiness?” asks Charles Spurgeon.

The remnant is always a minority. Those who love the Word, who delight in it and put it to practice are not even a handful. For example, Jesus exhorted us to love our enemies. We read it, meditate it but do not put it to practice. We must join the minority. For that, we need practice and perseverance.

Jesus told us a parable in Mark 4:27- 29, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces the grain - first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Note, it is the soil that produces the grain. The circumstances we are in, throws us in all kinds of situations that try our character. We fail and we get up. We fail seven times and we get up seven times. This is how we become the stalk, then the head, then the full grain. Then it ripens. So we need practice and perseverance. “Next time I will be better, next time I will not fail”, should be our chorus as we push on. I received an email from a girl who gets angry at the drop of a hat. I replied her. She was so happy to know that controlling anger is a lifetime process and was relieved. She had expected a miracle. No miracle happens. We bud and blossom and bear fruit. Unknown to us, it grows. We may not feel the change happening in us every day, but it is happening, alright.
In John 15:1-2, Jesus talks about the vine and the branches. Our Father, the Gardener cuts off every branch that bears no fruit, while every branch that bears fruit, He prunes (v2). Both receive cuts, both go through suffering. But barren branches die in the agony and the fruitful branches flourish in the pain. Mango tree produces sweet fruit but neem produces bitter; both from the same dirty soil. Suffering can bring out the best in us or the worst. Job was pruned and he became more fruitful; but Judas died in his humiliation. Three people died on the cross. One man in his pain reviled Jesus and went to hell. Another man prayed to Jesus and went to paradise. The third Man, Jesus, died in agony and brought many sons to glory. How are you handling your pain?
Note what Jesus says: “This is to My Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples” (v8). When we go through suffering and produce abundant fruit, not only is the Father glorified but the world recognizes us as the disciples of Christ.

Following this, Jesus talked about the king of fruits and the first fruit of the Spirit - Love! “Love one another as I have loved you” (v 12). John was sitting under the tutelage of Jesus who gave a new commandment to love one another as He loved them and thus let the world know they were His disciples (Jn 13:34,35). That made a deep impact on John. He decided to put it to practice. Being a ‘Son of Thunder’, it was hard work for him. He did not want others to cast out demons in his Master’s name; he wanted the prestigious kingdom seats; he boiled to the extent of bringing down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans who refused to entertain Jesus. Such was his hot temper. So it was second nature for him to trample on people’s nerves.

When he knew he had hurt someone, he found it impossible to override his ego and apologize to the concerned. But the scene of his Master with the towel around His waist, stooping down to wash his feet flashed across his mind. His words, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” jabbed his conscience (Jn 13:14). He had to give a death blow to his ego before he learnt his lessons in love. When he was old then he could write, “Yet I am writing to you a new command... Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother, is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” (1 Jn 2:8-11).

If a ‘Son of Thunder’ could become an Apostle of love, we all can - if we put our best foot forward. If we say, “I am in the light, I am saved” yet continue to harbour hatred in our hearts, we are in danger of losing God’s guidance and straying from His will. We need an outpouring of divine love, without which our world will lose colour. A life without love is a tree without fruit.

What happens when the Father prunes us? Come to Hebrews 12:11: “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Our suffering is not punishment but training. Through chastening we learn to live right. I used to ask God, “Lord, why do you punish me and then make me realize my fault? Why don’t you tell me before I err?” That sounds logical indeed, but that’s not God’s method. We learn to bear more and more fruit when we go through God’s discipline - fruit of righteousness.

Remember, we did not choose God but He chose us and put us in the world to “go” and bear fruit that won’t spoil (Jn 15:16). Epaphras “went” and bore fruit and his fruit lasted (Col 1:7). He was commended by Paul for his ministry of intercession (4:12). Epaphras was the minister to the church at Colosse, perhaps its founder. Paul says that the people of Colosse heard the gospel from Epaphras. “The gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world - just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf and who also told us of your love in the spirit” (Col 1:5-8).

I imagine how Epaphras started sharing the good news to one, two and three, overcoming his fear and shyness to talk to pagans, till it became a church in Colosse. He did not stop there but worked hard for those at Laodicea and Hieropolis (4:13). This explains why some Christians seem to soar while others barely get off the ground. Archippus exercised a fruitful ministry here (4:17; Phile 2). Philemon and Onesimus were active members of this church (Col 4:9). This is how a small seed becomes a tree in which birds come and perch (Mt 13:31,32). May be he became a prisoner with Paul (Phile 23). Each of us should raise up a congregation in our locality. God smiles on those who have the courage to go on.
Leela, a retired missionary of Blessing Youth Mission was a Poojari’s daughter. She started talking to village folk and a few gathered to listen to her. Today around hundred gather once a month near the BYM Headquarters. Many have joined the church through this humble beginning.

A father went to his son and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” The son rudely said, “I will not”. But later he “changed his mind” and went. He then went to the other son and said the “same thing.” He very respectfully said, “Yes sir. I will go” but did not go (Mt 21:28-32). God is asking us to go to His vineyard and work. What will be our response? Will we just say “yes” with our mouth and wash our hands off our responsibility? We need a “change of mind.” The first, changed his mind and went. Even if we have not gone into His vineyard to work, even if we had said, “I will not”, it is possible to change our mind.

The second son changed his mind for the worse. He had a mind to go. What made him change his mind, we do not know. May be laziness, may be some other work. Whatever it may be, he disregarded his father’s request and disobeyed him for his own selfish reasons. We must take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:5). If we harden our hearts like Pharaoh, then God will harden our hearts (Ex 7:23; 8:15,32).
Their father did not command harshly. He just asked them ever so gently. God’s voice to us is always a gentle breeze. We must be able to understand His feelings and know His will. Will we change our mind and go and work in His vineyard? Buds and blossoms are not fruits. Our thoughts and words must lead to commitment and action.

“In the days to come Jacob will take root. Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit” (Isa 27:6). You must first bud, then blossom, then fill the world with fruit. As a school student I taught in the church Sunday School. As a medical student I was budding. Since my father was a professor in the same medical college, other professors would ask him for my number so that they could pass me. But I would refuse to give. They would tell my dad that they had not seen a student like that. After fifty years I met one of my old professors who told me, “After you left, we are yet to see a house-surgeon like you.” I was praying that God would give me an opportunity to testify to atleast one or two of my classmates. Within a short period, a man called me and said, “Hi Lilian we are planning our fiftieth year get together...” So I was there. Many went to the mike and said, “Lilian was like this.... Lilian was like that.” I was surprised. How keenly they had been watching me! Then it was my turn. I went and testified. They all sat spellbound, Hindus and Muslims, Professors and Specialists. When I concluded, there was an ovation. I bowed my head and worshiped. I gave a story book to all and a New Testament at the next get-together. I believe there was a budding stage for me. Then I blossomed. Now I believe I am filling the world with fruit. I am not God’s favorite. You can start budding now. You will surely blossom and fill the world with fruit. Do not be afraid. God is with you.

Ironically, the literal remnant of Israel is now budding and blossoming, grabbing eyeballs from around the globe. It has a message for us. We have hope. God is not going to let us down. He is ruffling His feathers and rising up.

Esther, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshak, Abednego, Naaman’s maid, all took root downward and bore fruit upward. They were not known for their foliage but for their fruit. They were a minority and so are we. Those who desire to renounce kingship to bear fruit will always be a small number. But never mind. We can be the little flock and fill the world with our fruit. Then we will witness a repetition of the book of Acts. Take root, bear fruit!

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Dr. Lilian Stanley
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