What does it take?

Have you ever eaten a piece of fruit and considered all that was necessary to make this piece of fruit so enjoyable and edible?  What makes a piece of fruit so sweet and juicy? The time that it would take to go into all of the details of a piece of fruit and its delectableness is beyond what I have time to write. Metaphorically speaking, there are a few key thoughts that when we compare them to our life help us to realize that a great piece of fruit can come from our lives if we work at it.

First of all, a piece of fruit must stay connected to the plant for as long as possible in order to be as sweet and succulent as possible. I recently bought some peaches from California; I live in Michigan. Those peaches were not picked at 6am and flown on a special airplane to make it to my hands by 12 noon. These peaches were picked when they were still hard and not edible so they would not rot on the trip across the country. Once I bit into those peaches and tried to use them for a recipe I realized that these peaches were still hard and did not have a rich, sweet flavor. Instead they were almost tasteless. A friend of mine brought me some peaches from Georgia, and the difference between peaches picked when they were ripe and driven immediately to my doorstep was amazing. These peaches were sweet, succulent, and juicy. everything you want in a peach.

My life is similar to this peach. The better I stay connected to God, my Heavenly Father,  the closer I will be to a sweet peach. The longer I am away from God the more hard I become. Matthew 3:8 says, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” In this chapter John the Baptist is talking to the Sadducees and the Pharisees. These two groups of people were the religious men of the day. John was encouraging them that repentance is what brings fruit to our lives in the spiritual realm. These men were basing their spirituality on their heritage; Abraham was their father (Matthew 3:9). They also were known to be very pious and rule followers. They followed extra rules so they would not break the rules they weren’t supposed to break in the first place. John was trying to help them understand that it isn’t about heritage and it isn’t about following rules for rules sake. We are to bear fruit by repenting of our sin and by staying connected to God the Father.

These religious people were basing their spirituality on their outward behavior and on their heritage. Jesus wanted them to see that it was what was in the heart that matters. The more connected our heart is to God the Father, the better our outward behavior will be.

So the question for you is what type of fruit are you bearing? Is your fruit hard, not sweet, and undesirable? Or is your fruit sweet and delicious? We must repent of our sins, and follow Christ; then there will be fruit that will be pleasing to God.

We must understand that Jesus is the One that paid the penalty for our sins. We need to confess our sins to God so He can forgive us. Jesus is the One who took my punishment, so it is in the name of Jesus that I must be forgiven. This confession can be done anywhere and at anytime. The key is do we have a repentant heart, or are we confessing out of obligation? “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Mathew 3:8)

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Time with God

Every morning when I get up one of the first things I do is make myself a cup of tea. If you know anything about me you know that I am rather particular about how my tea is made. I only use water that has been boiled on the stove top. I don’t think microwaved water produces a very good cup of tea. Once the water is boiling, my cup is prepared with a smidgen of sugar and a Lipton tea bag, and I pour that piping hot water into my cup so the tea can steep. The steeping process is just as important as the hot water. The longer the tea bag steeps the better the flavor of the tea. For me, a good cup of tea is made with care, precision, and most importantly time.

The importance of this perfectly steeped cup of tea is that it is my companion as I sit with my Bible or kneel by my desk and spend time in prayer. Just as a good cup of tea takes time to produce quality results, so a quality relationship with God takes time spent with Him.

We cannot work at this relationship with God if we skip through church and fulfill our one hour per week obligation. We cannot build a relationship with God if we spend an hour at the food pantry or performing any other act of kindness that shows how kind and loving we are. God delights in us serving Him, but not if it is at the expense of spending time with Him.

I John 1:3  says, “..Indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” God created us to have and enjoy fellowship with Him. We are here on this earth for that reason first. Once we have focused on this relationship and continue to make it a priority, it will be easy to know when God is directing us be involved in other areas of kind service. These acts, like church attendance and kind deeds for others, will flow out of our love for God.

There is a requirement for this relationship with God. Just like my perfectly steeped cup of tea needs a few things to be pleasing to me, so my relationship with God needs to have a few things to be pleasing to Him. First, I must admit that I am a sinner. (Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”) Second, I must believe that Jesus died on the cross and took the penalty for my sin. (Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”) Third, I must confess with my mouth that I am a sinner and that Jesus Paid the price for my sin. (Romans 10:9 “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”)

Come, sit with me and let’s have a cup of tea together and enjoy what God has for us today in His word and through a time of prayer. If you have never admitted to God that you are a sinner or believed that Jesus died for your sins, you can do so today. Just pray to God and admit that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus paid the price for your sins, and confess to God that you want to have a relationship with Him.