Sermon Seeds: It’s All About The Fruit

WP vine

I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

It seems so obvious. We wouldn’t argue the point if we were discussing grapes, or squash, or pumpkins. The only way to produce fruit is for the branch to be connected to the vine.

In this section of the gospel (John 15), Jesus identifies himself as the true vine–the genuine item, the real deal. He would only make that point if there were false, fake, or dead vines people were trying to attach themselves to.

The way to know who or what we’re attached to is to examine the fruit. Good fruit comes from abiding in the true vine.

So, how’s your fruit?

If we are going to produce fruit for the Kingdom, fruit that brings glory to God, then we need to be a people of the vine.

WP people of the vine

Breakfast Pause

My spiritual focus for the year comes from John 15 and Jesus’ repetition of the word “meno” to abide.

I’m not usually hungry when I first wake up. Maybe I worked up my appetite taking the dogs out in the frigid cold and then cleaning the snow and ice off my husband’s van. Whatever it was, there was definitely a very large “rumbly in my tumbly.”

I decided to have an English muffin, fruit, and tea. I had to defrost the gluten free muffin. When I pulled it out of the package it was solid like a hokey puck. I had to double the usual defrost time. I opted for butter and honey. I’m not sure where the reference to molasses came from because in my experience honey is excruciatingly slow.

The honey may have seemed that slow because I had already spent forever gleaning the precious and delicious seeds from a pomegranate. Husband had purchased this special treat and he picked a great one. I don’t think I’ve ever had one with more seeds. But more seeds resulted in more work. I started to wonder if I was ever going to be done…ever going to get to eat.

This morning I felt more like tea than coffee, so I put a large amount of water in the microwave to heat, loaded my tea ball with loose leaf tea, and proceeded to steep a large mug of tea. To be done properly the process takes about ten minutes.

Finally, as I bowed my head to give thanks for my meal, I felt that reminding nudge. I confess I was a bit grumbly–can I blame it on the hunger?

I am so used to instant meals. Grab and go. Wolf it down. There’s a time to savor, but that is rarely when I’m by myself.

God’s word to me was that I wasn’t by myself. And I didn’t need to rush. Rushing is the antithesis to abiding, dwelling, to being still.

There’s an old hymn that admonishes “take time to be holy.” Here are the lyrics. You read them and let God speak to you and I’m going to finish my tea. Breakfast may be gone, but there’s still a need to pause…

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.
Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above. William D. Longstaff, c.1882

Never Leave the Temple

I’ve had a convergence of sorts happen in my life. It’s one of the ways that God gets my attention.

Not long ago a writer friend expressed a desire to memorize scripture in the coming year. I was intrigued with the idea, but it was the text she chose that caught my attention. Her choice: John 15. And the word that jumped out at me from that first was “meno”, abide or remain.

Then our pastor referred to the Prophetess Anna when he gave the children’s story. He talked about how Anna “never left the temple.” (See Luke 2:36-38) It wasn’t that she lived there, but that she was there physically whenever possible and in her spirit she carried the temple wherever she went.

And I began to see my theme forming. My #oneword is meno, abide, remain, dwell. And my #oneverse is “never leave the temple.”

Sitting in the pew, I found myself lost in thought…but not really lost because I began to see things unfolding, the many facets of abiding.

Spiritually I will need to pay attention to the verses that point to praying always, thinking on these things, dwelling.

But it also reminded me of where Paul describes our bodies as the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:20). I can’t leave the temple even if I want to–and I need to be taking better care of this temple. And therein lies a whole bunch of goals and work for 2014.

So now that you know, feel free to ask me occasionally how things are going at the temple…and I’m sure I’ll find a few things to write about, too.