Thursday, June 23


Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3

In this part of the country we are snobs. Particularly when it comes to strawberries. I dare you to try convincing a native Oregonian that delicious strawberries are available in other parts of the country. Here in the Willamette Valley, our damp springs and cool, sunny early summer days provide the ideal climate for giving red berries adequate time to ripen into their full flavor before harvest.

The powers that be are projecting a dismal strawberry harvest this year. We’ve had too much rain and not enough sun. It’s supposed to be hot this week. Too hot, too quick. The delicate fruit will fry before it hits it’s prime.

Oh, there will still be fruit. It will just be harder to come by. But the plants will bear fruit.

The primary sign that we are functioning properly in our spiritual walk is that we bear fruit. Paul explains the metaphor when he lists for us the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control.

I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life where my fruit harvest looked dismal. Circumstances beyond my control made producing good fruit incredibly difficult.

Circumstances can stifle our growth at times, but that doesn’t let us off the hook. We must produce something. We must mature somehow, or we will wither like the fig tree:

Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

(What does it say about me that my first thought after reading this story is “Oh good. Jesus got cranky when he was hungry too.”?)

We bear fruit through obedience to God out of love and devotion to him. When we yield to his authority, we function the way we were designed to function.

Certainly things get piled on top of us that make it difficult on us. Maybe our soil is not the best. Maybe our gardener doesn’t water us as often as necessary. Maybe weeds are strangling us. That’s where our roots planted by streams of water come in handy. While surface stuff gets hard, we need to dig deeper. We need to send our roots out to find sustenance.

Since I can’t quite get enough of the plant analogy, let’s talk blueberry bushes. If you plant just one, nothing will happen. It will grow, certainly. It will get tall and lush with leaves, but it will not flower and the flowers will not turn into delicious blue globes. Rather, you will have a nice shrub.

Blueberry bushes require proximity. Their fruit bearing relies on cross pollination, and if they don’t get it, they don’t produce. When the two plants work together, they produce a bountiful harvest. You don’t just get the fruit from one bush, you get the abundance from both.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

That’s what we’re here for. To commiserate through the tough stuff, but also to spur you on.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:16-19

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