In Numbers 17:1-13, God tells Moses to collect the wooden staffs of the 12 tribal leaders, including Aaron's staff. To help show that Aaron has been chosen by God and "to rid myself of this constant grumbling against [Moses and Aaron] by the Israelites" (v5), God causes only Aaron's staff to bud, blossom and produce almonds (v8).
What can we learn from this? You can recognize the ones whom God has chosen by the fruit of their lives. Do they exhibit the fruit of the Spirit -- namely, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22)? Does their ministry (represented by the staff) bear fruit -- that is, are people's lives being changed for the better as a result of their ministry? Are people drawn nearer to Jesus as a result of their ministry? As Jesus says in Matthew 7:16-20:
Matthew 7:16-20 (NIV)
16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Let's pray that all of us would be good trees that bear good fruit, both in our character and in our ministry, both in our private lives as well as our public lives.
Bonus Teaching: You Need to Die to Yourself Before You Can Really Live for Christ
Finally, in verse 12, when the Israelites see that only Aaron's staff blossomed and produced fruit, they say to Moses, "We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die. Are we all going to die?"
Let this be a reminder that before we can experience new life in Christ, we must first die to our old selves, the sinful desires of our flesh. Jesus says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up the cross daily and follow me." What does Jesus mean by "take up the cross daily"? It means to die to our old selves (to repent of our old sinful, selfish desires) on a daily basis. That's why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:31, "I die daily". It's because following Jesus requires that we die to our old selves every day.
I like how Pastor Jon Courson of Applegate Fellowship puts it: "there is no real Spirit-filled living without there being a radical flesh-dying. The flesh must die before the Spirit can live. And because my flesh seems to reawaken every day, like Paul, I must die daily...There's no resurrection and life without crucifixion and death. There's no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. There's no way to enter in without first being broken down. It's a process that must happen daily, continually. And the way it happens is through the Word of God very simply, very continually, very definitely." (from the Jon Courson Application Commentary)
So like Jesus says, let's deny ourselves, take up the cross daily and follow Him.