Friday, September 9, 2011

The Power of Advertising

PRINCIPLE: “When thirsty for fruit, check the ads.”

Summer is fading fast. One of the things I’ll miss most is the fresh fruit. I love fresh fruit. And we live in an area where it is usually abundant. So abundant, in fact, that sometimes it’s hard to know where to purchase it. Which market, which stand, which store has the best fruit at the best price? That means looking at a lot of ads. That’s where we get our principle: “When thirsty for fruit, check the ads.”

Yet as I think about this, where do we go to quench our thirst for a godly, fruitful life? Paul lists the fruit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23) He says the fruit comes from the Holy Spirit. In other words, we quench our thirst as we allow and ask the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. (Note that ‘fruit’ is singular. It is not like the ‘gifts’ of the Spirit where we have some but not all. There is one large fruit that consists of all these characteristics – we do not get to pick and choose!)

But what about the people all around us who are thirsty for fruit, who don’t know where to turn? What about people who are thirsty for the luscious fruit of the Spirit? Where can people go to find that fruit? Well, “When thirsty for fruit, check the ads.” But where are the ads?

Advertisers know what they are doing. They tease our senses with just enough to whet our appetites and entice us to come and see, believing that once we see we will buy. Shouldn’t we be the ads for the Spirit’s fruit? Should we not be living advertisements for Jesus Christ? Should not others be influenced to come to Him because of us? Does the fruit of the Spirit spring from our lives enough to whet appetites and entice others to come and see Jesus? Our lives should be neon signs advertising the fruit and pointing to Jesus - so when people are thirsty for fruit, they’ll have ads to check.

May the Holy Spirit transform your life into a living advertisement that draws others to Jesus. How will he do that? He’ll do it as we look at His greatest advertisement. “When thirsty for fruit, check the ads.” (John 15:16-17) “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other. Begin by loving. Then the Spirit of God will fill and flow through you. Then you will have full access to all the fruitful blessings of our Father – and you will be his living advertisement.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Hibiscus Mystery

PRINCIPLE: “When you open up, sparkle.”

For a second straight week, I’m thinking of flowers. After writing last week’s note on opening up like flowers to the sun, I went home and was struck again by the magnificent beauty of our Hibiscus flowers. We have three bushes. Their flowers are amazing. They don’t bloom until later in the summer but when they do, they’re loaded – and they are gorgeous. They are big and colorful. We have 3 varieties – pink, deep red (my favorite), and white. I often go out just to stand in awe of their beauty. We even take some pictures for posterity.

Yet it’s hard to figure – in spite of all this beauty, they shine for one day and then they fold up and wither away. I mean, why wouldn’t God design such a marvelous flower to bloom brightly for a much longer period of time? To me that makes great sense. I can’t say it’s a waste because for that one day, it adds tremendous beauty to God’s creation. And perhaps that’s the point – could God be using the Hibiscus to remind us daily that it‘s today that counts? Could He be reminding us “When you open up, sparkle?”

I’ve thought about that a lot this week, because the Bible underscores the idea. Consider James 4:13-16 (GNB). “Now listen to me, you that say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will travel to a certain city, where we will stay a year and go into business and make a lot of money.’ You don't even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this: ‘If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.’ But now you are proud, and you boast; all such boasting is wrong.” That’s pretty straight forward, isn’t it? Today is what counts. Why? Because tomorrow is not promised. Like the Hibiscus, all we know is that we have today to shine.  So “When you open up, sparkle.”

I used to think that dwelling on the thought that tomorrow is not promised was too morbid. But no longer! Think of it this way. If you’re given the blessing of waking and rising tomorrow, immediately open up to receive Christ’s light. Then determine to let the beauty of the Lord shine through you today. Add beauty to God’s creation today. Live such that someone stands in awe of the Lord’s beauty in you today. This is the way to carpe diem – seize the day! This is the way to make today count. This is the way to make every day count. This is the way to peaceful night time rest. This is the way to receive the peace of God that passes all understanding and that will keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. This is the way to light the path for those coming out of darkness so they can meet Jesus. This is the way to lighten the burdens of others so they can walk the path to Him. This is the way to let your light shine.

You don’t know what your life tomorrow will be – so carpe diem. “When you open up, sparkle.”