16”x20” Acrylic On Canvas
"Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to BELIEVE in the one he has sent."
Around October, the island has a quietness that falls in the air along with the leaves on the trees. During this time of year, I recall my childhood memories of Christmas. We would travel to grandma and grandpa's house. When the last guest arrived, we usually gathered around the kitchen table. A few of us who enjoy cooking would stand next to grandma by the stove, waiting for the opportune time to stick our finger in a pot she was stirring. I remember great conversations that included a lot of laughs. Mom and grandma were fierce competitors at the game Scrabble. Every year they would try to lure anyone to play. Heather's first visit out, she took the bait. She lost terribly. But oh, what fun just being family together.
I celebrated my very first Christmas in that small unpretentious house. Fifty-four years later, after twenty-three holidays with her family, Heather gifted me a flight to spend Christmas with mine. Albeit grandpa and grandma are no longer with us, that home on a hill remains a very special place for all of my family.
Along the walls of their backyard were orange, tangelo, lemon, and a fig tree. I never recall when I was there that the trees did not bear fruit. I remember the fig tree was huge. It always intrigued me. I mean, how often do you see a fig tree? As an adult, I now understand there are seasons trees bear fruit. Whatever time of year I would visit, I would walk out the back to find the best-looking fruit. It was always ready for me to pick, taste, and enjoy. I BELIEVE a relationship with Jesus is a sweet spiritual fruit for all to enjoy.
Did you know the fig tree is a character in the Bible? It has relevance to both you and me. In the gospel of Mark (Mark 11), Jesus was traveling from Bethany in the morning and was hungry. He saw a fig tree full of leaves. It appeared to be flourishing and bearing plenty of fruit. He thought it would satisfy His hunger. When he approached this tree looking for a fig to eat, it had not one piece of fruit. His response was to curse the tree and tell it, "No one would ever eat of its fruit again!"
As the rest of the story goes, he enters the temple to find people who have set up shop to sell their goods. It had become a marketplace instead of what God intended to be a house of prayer. Very upset, Jesus turns over the tables in the temple and verbally rebukes the people.
Later on, Jesus and his disciples passed by the same fig tree. Peter noticed it had withered entirely. Next, Jesus teaches his disciples about faith. "If you believe and have faith, you can move mountains." The religious leaders and the people in the temple were like this fig tree. Jesus was coming into Jerusalem! (Palm Sunday) Christ had an expectation and hunger as he arrived at the temple. Yet, what he found was no fruit. He found the exact opposite. Although the temple was full of priests and townspeople, it was only the appearance of the fruit. It was what Jesus called a "den of thieves." They were fervently after self-gratification. The God of Heaven and Earth rebuked them just like He cursed the fig tree.
Our hearts and soul are both precious sanctuaries created to house the spirit of God. A sacred place where faith resides that is meant to be kept Holy and pure. It is the temple. (1 Cor. 3:16-7) When we invite anything other than the Holy Spirit to satisfy the desires of our heart, we grieve the presence of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). Our life may look right on the outside but on the inside, it is vacant and can produce no good thing. It is no longer fertile ground for creating goodness. (Gal.5:16-24) When we eagerly fill this temple with the community of God, He sits and dines with us.
We then reside in a house of prayer, not a den of thieves. God loves to make our hearts His home. He sent His son, Jesus, the one foretold, the one to whom we believe. The sole purpose of our faith. Not faith in faith but faith in Jesus. Jesus says when we have this kind of community, we bear a specific fruit of the spirit where God can remove flesh barriers. A spiritual mountain is always Sin. Sin leads to spiritual death. Death is brought to life again through repentance then forgiveness is gifted to us through the Savior, Jesus Christ. Death no longer has a sting! The one sent from Heaven, as a babe in a manger, suffered death in our place when he hung on the cross. Buried in a tomb, God raised him to a new life. Now, Jesus sits at the right hand of God the father.
BELIEVE in the one sent; invite Jesus into your life today.
We hope you enjoy time with your family this Christmas season. More importantly, we invite you to enjoy and celebrate your spiritual family; God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit. Christ is home for Heather and me, where we can taste and see He is good. Like my family's fig and citrus trees I enjoyed so often, Jesus is a spiritual fruit always ready to enjoy. Go ahead, taste, and see that the Lord is good!
"Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb."
ADDITIONAL REF. Ps. 23