Sunday, June 20, 2010

Put Manure on it

6And He told them this parable: A certain man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but did not find [any].
7So he said to the vinedresser, See here! For these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and I find none. Cut it down! Why should it continue also to use up the ground [to deplete the soil, intercept the sun, and take up room]?
8But he replied to him, Leave it alone, sir, [just] this one more year, till I dig around it and put manure [on the soil].
9Then perhaps it will bear fruit after this; but if not, you can cut it down and out.
Luke 13:6-9 [AMP]
The above scripture presents an interesting situation. You have the owner of a vineyard who was hoping to enjoy the fruits from one of his trees. The tree, unfortunately, was not producing fruit. The owner’s reaction was to order the tree chopped down and discarded. 

After all, the owner surmised, this tree was taking up space, sucking up water from the irrigation system... and blocking sunlight that the more productive plants and trees could benefit from.  Fortunately (for the tree), the vinedresser had a solution. 

Let’s dump some manure n the tree and maybe it will bear fruit.

Unlike the Mary Poppins song that a spoonful of sugar will make the medicine go down... it would take several shovels full of manure to make the fruit pop up.  And God does expect His children to bear fruit. 

If you are not bearing fruit... the alternatives seem to be to either be chopped down, or to have some manure  be dropped on you. 


Think about it.  Those manurey situations that pop up in your life are not simply random sources of frustration or disappointment.  They are there for a reason. 
From Jehovah [are] the steps of a man, They have been prepared, And his way he desireth.
Psalm 37:23 [Young’s Literal Translation]
The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. Even when you are (figuratively) stepping in manure? Well, if that situation brings what is needed to perfect the spiritual fruits in your life, then yes!  But what if it is the devil wreaking havoc in your life?  If the Book of Job tells us anything... it is that satan has limits over what damage he can and cannot do to you.  Take comfort in the fact that God has it all under control.

So, then... when we find ourselves in a “manurey” situation, what do we expect as the outcome?  I think the outcome should be better fruits.  What kind of fruit specifically?
But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
Galatians 5:22-23 [AMP]
In our book Spiritual Fruits or Religious Nuts, we provided the following expository on spiritual fruits:
  • The Joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).  We have more strength available to us than we often realize when we learn to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4).
  • True Christians are in perfect peace because their minds are steadfast on the Lord (Isaiah 26:3).
  • True Christians are patient. They understand that the enemy works through other people and, rather than retaliate against that person, they stand against the devil in prayer and return that person’s negative behavior with God’s love.
  • God’s kindness is what leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). As we live lives of kindness, we can lead others to Christ. We don’t beat people over the head with our Bibles and call them sinners. Rather, it is with kindness and gentleness that we show them the kindness and gentleness of our Heavenly Father.
  • True Christians are faithful. If they say they will be there at 10:00, they are there no later than 10:00. They don’t wander in at 10:30 or 11:00. You can trust the word of a true Christian.
  • True Christians have self-control. They know when to shut their mouths and not say what is on their mind. They know when to push away from the table when they have had enough to eat – despite how good that dessert looks.
This forms a frustrating conundrum for most of us... because to live the Christian life goes contrary to our basic human tendencies. 

How do you rejoice when your company gives you a pink slip? 

How can you have peace when the evening news talks about terror and disaster? 

How can you be patient when you have been waiting and waiting for that thing you so long for? 

How can we be kind when people around us act like jerks? 

How can we be faithful when it is so inconvenient to do so? 

How can we control our basic Maslow Hieracharcy desires? 

How?  How?  How?

The answer was given to us by "Lon Solomon.  Lon’s simple explanation is that we cannot live the Christian life by our own power.  It can only be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He gives us His spiritual fruits to replace our, erm... rotten fruits.  And these fruits are often developed in the same manner that natural fruits are developed. 

By fertilizing them. 

With manure.

There is a saying that if life hands you lemons... make lemonade.  I like to embellish that one by adding that if life hands you manure... then fertilize your lemon trees to get bigger and better lemons so that you can have more and better quality lemonade. But the absolute worst thing to do is get a negative (or manurey) attitude when we find ourselves being fertilized.  After all:
My son, do not despise or shrink from the chastening of the Lord [His correction by punishment or by subjection to suffering or trial]; neither be weary of or impatient about or loathe or abhor His reproof, For whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
Proverbs 3:11-12 [AMP]
And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes.
Hebrews 12:5-6 [AMP]
God allows things into our lives for a reason.  We need to realize that it is only a test (and all of God’s tests are open book exams.  Just open the book (the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) to get the answers.

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