Fruit can be measured in a variety of ways. One of them is in that which the Holy Spirit does in us as we grow in Christ and are conformed to His image as evidenced by the list of Galatians 5:22-24. In that list are joy, peace, patience, and self-control (among others). For this next Sunday I am working on a message from Jesus' last "I AM" statement in John which is found in John 15:1, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser...." Jesus then said in verse 5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit...."
This past weekend we went through the event with the water heater. For those of you who did not hear about this one, well, needless to say it was a bundle of fun. Our water heater began leaking and soaked one of our bedrooms. Replacing it was not easy, and God really showed Himself to me in my the most frustrating of moments when I had no answers for a problem that surfaced or strength to complete the task. Tonight the challenge was the dishwasher (no not the human ones--they are capable). The latch stopped working and it would not close. At first I said that I would not deal with it tonight and probably not even this week. But then I realized how "escapist" that was, and I went in to look at the problem. After fiddling with it for a while it was very obvious that it would not work and no amount of playing with the latch was going to change this fact. So, I sat down quietly in front of the dishwasher and listened while I prayed. I asked Robin for a screwdriver, and I removed to top portion of the face to find that the handle was busted. There it was right in front of me--a broken part that could be replaced. I then went online and ordered a new one with the anticipation that it should arrive in two days. Unlike the water heater, I am hoping that this fix is that easy one, In the mean time we have plenty of hot water for the human dishwashers to step up and get the job done.
I started with Galatians by citing some of the things that the Spirit does in us as we abide in Christ. I am thankful that to a large degree I was able to experience joy and peace in this trial and especially thankful for some patience and self-control.
Practical object lessons for sermons (or for life in general) can be difficult. I hope that I don't have to relearn many of them. But then again I am reminded of the words James wrote, "Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of you faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result that you might be complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).
In verse 9 of John 15, Jesus went on to say to His disciples, "Abide in my love. ... These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." Submitting those things that frustrate us most to the infinite hands and wisdom of God is a huge relief. There are many things that are outside of our ability to fix, but there is nothing outside of God's ability to see us through to His perfect end.
(By the way, it's now the next day when I came back to edit this some. And the message that I was preparing has been delayed a week while God has drawn my attention to a passage I thought we would have to skip over for lack of time. He provided the time, and He gave us His Helper which is the promise of John 14 where I am studying today.
"The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NASB95)