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Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

. . . behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord. One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten – Jeremiah 24:1-2 (ESV)

Fruit has a prominent place in the Bible. For New Testament believers, fruit is the byproduct of our good works in the name of the Lord. His desire is that we produce “much fruit.” Also, fruit is considered one’s offspring, the fruit of your loins. It represents your own legacy. It also represents the potential abundance of the harvest as well as the hard work and toil of the vineyard.

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Ripe or Rotten Fruit

In chapter 24, we see that two baskets of figs have been placed at the temple. One basket has ripe fruit, while the other has rotten fruit. Each has its own basket. If it had said that the figs were all in the same basket, I could imagine the results at the end of the day. We’d expect a basket full of rotting fruit, spoiled by the closeness of the rotten fruit to the ripe fruit. Essentially, the rotten fruit would eventually ruin the ripe fruit.

Oddly, the two separate baskets make it so that the rotten figs do not interact with the good figs. The rotten figs do not have the opportunity to ruin the good figs. The bad ones do not have a chance to turn the good ones bad like them.

God has plans for both the good and bad figs. He points out how the good figs will be watched over and cared for, even brought back to Judah after exile to Babylon. Oddly enough, that is not the fate of Jehoiachin the king of Judah according to chapter 22.

Discover the Big Idea

That seems sort of odd. Good figs get sent into exile, and bad figs remain in place.

The bad figs actually do not get exiled. They remain in place and in Jerusalem and even in Egypt. In fact, when it comes to King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials, they actually remain in power.

 9 I will make them a horror[a] to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. 10 And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they shall be utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers. - Jeremiah 24:9-10 (ESV)

We are not called to reason or rationalize why or even how God does what He does. We are called to accept it as right and just as part of who He is and His character or persona (for lack of a better term). We are called to believe it in faith and embrace it as part of God’s will while accepting it as part of the way He works.

Some focus on breaking down God to the simplest part and live with that. Others find it necessary to get into the deep constructs of what makes God tick and why along with adding how it happens, too. Many take a more studious approach and search the Scriptures to discover who God is and accept Him as He is found in the context of the Bible.

Get comfortable with God doing things His way. Get beyond your past hang-ups about what God does that mystifies you and leaves you dumbfounded. Get to a place where you can come to accept God as the true and living God who rules over all.

Go to the discussion guide for this week and see what God has in store for the good figs.

Tune in on Wednesday at 11 AM PST to discover and discuss more about this chapter of Jeremiah.

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And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 (esv)
Making more homemade meals has been just one added benefit of the challenge so far

Reflection on Day 8

I roasted some baby potatoes seasoned with rosemary and garlic the other day, filling the house with a tantalizing aroma as it blended with some roasted vegetables. Day #8 had me baking some much larger Russet potatoes combined with the same medley of roasted vegetables. I dressed my baked potato with rice and vermicelli mixture and black beans with chopped green onions. (You don’t see that plated because once you pop open a baked potato. . . well, if you don’t know, you just don’t know about it.) I might try adding sautéed mushrooms and onions with the next one, but I recognize that even something as basic as a baked potato does not have to remain plain and bland. With the right touch of herbs and accompaniment from complimentary vegetables, you can dress up any seemingly plain dish to the point where you feel like an artisan in midst of a standout creation. And it tastes good. Plus, with these larger potatoes and their added toppings, I found myself filled and satisfied by one potato and a couple of servings of roasted vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

One of my goals was to eat more vegetables. Another was to increase the variety of fruit and vegetables that I consume, especially various colors such as red, orange, yellow, purples and greens. As I approach Day #9, I have indeed met my mark for consuming veggies. I just need to keep pushing myself with the fruit, especially the berries.

Focus on Faith

Live @ Lunch Bible Study
Download Live @ Lunch Bible Study Lesson: Undefiled Part 2

This 10-Day Detox Challenge started based upon my personal study on preventable chronic disease among minorities, in particular among Blacks and LatinX communities. It was also sparked by my Old Testament biblical study and research surrounding Daniel and his refusal to defile himself with the Babylonian king’s delicacies. That also took shape in the form of our Live @ Lunch Bible Study series Undefiled with its second part coming up this Wednesday at 12 PM PST via livestream.

Focus on Fuel

My fuel for today is all about antioxidants, the foods that naturally counteract the damaging effects of certain toxins on living organisms like the human body. I want to continue to clear out my system naturally and strengthen my body as I am able. If that means coming up with an alternative option for adding more berries, so be it. If that means granola or oatmeal with a nut-based milk like Almond Breeze, then I am going for it. Also, I am dying to crank out some of these Almond Breeze blueberry pancakes that Jessica Alexandra has as a featured recipe. That might be Day #10, though. No matter how I spin it or look at it, I am compelled to get more antioxidants on the menu and by adding berries of all sorts, especially blueberries, I am going to be on the right track.

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Focus on Fitness

My journey today takes me to a new peak. I have done the things to increase my heart rate in the past few days. My visit to the scale showed that I had only lost 1.5 lbs, but I also know the numerous other benefits that i have experienced over the last week. Yet, I totally get it. I was not pushing myself to any new level or degree with exercise due to the unknown for me. I was not sure about my energy level throughout this process. Let me say that the right way. I was not sure about what my energy level would be throughout this entire process and that makes it hard to plan and prepare for an extensive and intensive workout plan. I know next time that I can push it a little further and harder due to this initial experience. You got to keep in mind that I have never fasted before and I have done a primarily vegetarian diet with fish and chicken even turkey bacon in the past. This was an entirely new perspective with a goal of detoxification, not simply a shift to veganism.

It’s always too early to quit

Norman vincent peale

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Fruitful pic

Photo by Lukas from Pexels

 

Earlier this with week, I started a YouTube Influence Challenge through Think Media#GrowWithVideo.  Sean Cannell  kicked the 7-day challenge off in Day 1 Session #1 by driving home some hard points that call for self reflection, but he was careful to state that making videos for YouTube also requires a formula. Heather Torres led Day 3 into a challenge to develop our own introductory videos using the “secret formula.” The point of this is real simple: even developing and posting videos to YouTube requires a formula.

Oftentimes, I hear the cake baking analogy to the point of exhaustion when it comes to the right ingredients or mix of items. Whether it be a Sunday sermon or a professional development Zoom meeting with PowerPoint slides shared, cake baking seems to be the way many explain what is needed to reach a point of success.

Jesus used a differed methodology during a different time. He used what people understood to teach a life lesson.  He shared allegorical stories called parables to capture attention and drive home a point. He mastered the teachable moment and made the most of the opportunity to teach a life-changing message on a miniature scale.

The parable of the sower offers a word picture of sowing seeds and the potential outcomes. The parable occurs in Matthew 13:1-9. Jesus shares it and ends it with “Whoever has ears, let them hear” in verse 9 according to the NIV.

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The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”              – Matthew 13:10 (NIV)

At some point His disciples want to know what’s behind the parables.  That is when Jesus opens the spiritual floodgates. He unleashes the formula for fruitful ministry through His explanation of the parable to His disciples in verses 18-23.

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. – Luke 8:11 (KJV)

Jesus broke down the faulty and failing, even fertile, hearts as the soil. The seed is identified as the word of God. The results vary based upon the conditions, the season. Rocky and thorny soil doesn’t allow the seed to take root. Thorny soil leaves folks in a condition where they “bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14, KJV). The seeds on the pathway are snatched up by the birds quickly, not even reaching the soil. It is the see that finds the “good ground” that is fruitful, “which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15, KJV).

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So, what’s the formula for fruitful ministry?

You need to sow the RIGHT SEED in the RIGHT SOIL in the RIGHT SEASON.

You can sow tirelessly under the wrong conditions and find no fruit. You can sow time and time again with no results due to it being the wrong kind of soil or the wrong season. You cannot force the fruit. Jesus said the right mix will “bring forth fruit with patience, according to the King James Version.

  • RIGHT SEED: Your ministry work must be rooted in the Bible, God’s Word. If your message is about anything else, it won’t take root in the soil of the heart.
  • RIGHT SOIL: You minister to the heart and soul of people. You do not win souls via debate and logic. You win souls based on the Spirit and the Word working on the heart of an unbeliever. Heartache and pain might have prepared the way. Disaster or disease might have readied the person to receive the message. Unemployment or a new normal via COVID-19 might have opened the heart to hear the message, but the soil has to be right and receptive.
  • RIGHT SEASON: You cannot force the fruit. Fruit emerges in its season. Psalm 1 speaks of a believer when it says: “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season” (verse 3, KJV). You do not determine when it’s fruit-bearing season. That’s God’s work. Like Paul one shared to the brothers and sisters of Corinth, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6, ESV). God gives the increase and He does so in the season in which He determines for it. Bringing forth fruit requires that patience Jesus mentioned.

Take this formula into consideration while you are ministering to others. It might not be the right season. Just remain patient. God can turn things around in His own timing. It might not be the right soil. If you do not feel like you are breaking ground and getting anywhere, you can continue to support and allow someone else the opportunity to be used by God in the situation. Imagine if God wanted you praying for the person (like Paul planted) and another was to step in and usher the person into the faith (like Apollos watered) , and then God would give the growth.

Finally, check yourself. You must keep the Word as the message. That is the right seed. Without the right seed, your ministry and its work will fall flat all of the time.  You might see some growth spurts but nothing will remain sustainable.

But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown (Matthew 13:23, NIV).

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Sometimes, it just seems like our good intentions just aren’t good enough.  I know that we mean well, but it may not end up doing us or anyone else any earthly good.

I believe that we all have set out to do something for someone else without an ounce of greed or arrogance in mind, not even within our hearts. Sadly, the end result ended up being a disaster in our eyes. It was not even close to what you had in mind when you started out. It ended up blowing up right in your face.

I speak from experience.

As bad as it has felt, I also realize how humbling it had been for me. I recognized the short-sighted and well-intended moves that I made really made no difference in anyone else but me. I was humbled enough to see how fruitless my efforts were from the start.

In order to truly help someone out, you truly need to hear someone out first. If you don’t know they’re needs, desires and hopes, you are merely going through the motions and working from assumptions.

I had been doing so for a long time.

“Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” – Romans 13:10

Loving others will cause to help without harming a soul. Love will cause us to listen and learn. Love will cause us to take it slow as we take it all in. Love will cause us to pause and pray over needs and issues that people have shared with us before we make the wrong move.

It was hard for me to learn that life lesson.

Let these words sink into your soul for a moment.

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching”- Hebrews 10:24-25

By God’s grace, we have been saved. Our purpose is to produce fruit through good works. Live out your purpose as a believer and seek to do good. Allow your good works bear fruit that lasts eternally.

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