Mary and Elizabeth: Bearing fruit for the kingdom

In case my header for this post didn’t clue you in, I’m still thinking about fruit . . . the spiritual kind of course.

Jesus’s mother, Mary, had a cousin named Elizabeth who lived about 60 miles away in the hill country of Judea. Elizabeth was married to Zechariah, a priest. The Bible says they were upright in the sight of God and observed all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. (Luke 1:5-6)

Yet, Elizabeth was barren. Being unable to conceive meant she was disgraced and cursed in the eyes of her community. I can only imagine how painful it must have been for this faithful couple.

When Elizabeth was very old – well past the point of childbearing – God answered their prayer and Elizabeth got pregnant. Tradition says that Elizabeth and Zechariah were in their 90’s when they were blessed.

Talk about God’s timing!

Mary learned of Elizabeth’s pregnancy when the angel Gabriel visited her with an astonishing announcement. He told her she would conceive God’s son by the Holy Spirit and Mary, an unwed virgin was mystified by the news. The angel comforted her with these words:

“Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary had to see this for herself.

The Bible says: At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:39-44)

The actual words Elizabeth uses in part of verse 42 is “. . . and blessed is the fruit of your belly.”

Elizabeth’s baby John (aka John The Baptist) leaped for joy over the fruit in Mary’s belly. How awesome is that! Justin's fruit

We are to be fruit carriers. We’re to bear it within us and share it with the world. Often it takes awhile to come to fruition. Do you know what the old Middle English definition of fruition is?

Enjoyment!

Are you like me . . . waiting to actually see some fruit? Do you feel like you’ll be too old to enjoy it?

Don’t despair. It’s coming in God’s timing and in His way!

I’m encouraged by Mary and Elizabeth’s story, it proves that fruit production is ultimately God’s business. When we faithfully trust in him, His plans come to fruition.

Your turn: What are you trusting and waiting on God for?

Spiritual Fruit: Five questions to help you live a fruitful life

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4       (emphasis mine)

I’ve been thinking a lot about fruit lately.

As believers, we’re called to produce fruit. Fresh, juicy, life-giving fruit for Jesus Christ.

Last day of school 2013-2

Yet, I’m running into some Christians who aren’t fresh or juicy. Instead of being life-giving, they are joy sucking. Sometimes they’re even downright rotten. Have you ever bitten into a piece of fruit expecting sweetness and got a mealy, mushy mouthful of yuck?

In Galatians 5:22 the apostle Paul gives us a description of what believers produce spiritually: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law.”

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control are by-products of a fruitful life.

I’ve been checking for fruit lately; asking myself these questions: (feel free to use them for yourself!)

  • Is spiritual fruit evident in my life?
  • Am I putting out good stuff into the world?
  • Is anything starting to rot?
  • Is what I’m producing giving life to others?
  • If I were a tree, would people want to pick from me or would they pass me by?

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I admit that some days it feels as if the joy suckers are winning. I feel like I’m constantly struggling against the elements of spiritual darkness. Against those powers and authorities that work to corrupt and discourage us.

I want to be fresh for Jesus. I’d like to pray for us and I’d covet your prayers for me!

Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to serve you in this rotten world. Lord Jesus, we eagerly await your return and the restoration of all things. Give us the strength to persevere in our walk and help us fight against the evil surrounding us.

Amen.

Your turn: Do you have any tips on defeating joy suckers?

Friends are like pancakes

Friends are like pancakes.

Making the first one is hardest and sometimes has to be tossed (or in this case eaten).

pancake fail

They come in all kinds of shapes

pancake 5

colors and sizes

pancake 4

and sometimes they even come with little ones.

pancake 3

The thing they all require is attention, patience and often, sacrifice.

I’ve been struggling in the friendship area lately. Keeping old friends and making new ones in this season of my life is difficult. I find myself unable and unwilling (sometimes) to give attention to those who don’t give at least the same level of care and attention back to me.

And I know that for the most part, this is wrong. Proverbs 17:17 says: A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity. 

My New Year’s resolution is to take the attention, patience and sacrifice necessary to reconnect with some old friends, and make new ones. Hopefully, I’ll make some new sisters in the process.

If I’ve neglected our friendship over the past year, I apologize. And if we haven’t met yet, then I’ll try not to disappoint you.

What about you? How do you feel about your friendships…or pancakes?