Saturday, January 21, 2012
A BASKET OF FRUIT – WHAT DO YOU SEE?
Shalom family, it is good for us to gather together as we gather in the Name of our Master and Saviour, יהושע Messiah, and enter into His Shabbat with great joy and delight for His presence, His Truth and His unfailing love over us, aměn!
Appearances can so often be deceiving as we many times encounter moments in our lives where that which we thought looked right and good and safe sadly turned out to be horribly wrong and even dangerous to our life in Messiah! It is also true that so many people spend much of their lives doing their best to put up an appearance of happiness and joy while inside they are riddled with fear, doubts and stress that is silently killing them while they put on a fake smile before others in order to avoid the confrontation of deeper issues that are conveniently supressed under the pursuit of fleshly lusts and worldly passions that consume their lives and leave no room for seeking out that which really matters and therefore neglect the need to walk according to the Spirit unable to see the need for change! When we each take a heartfelt look at our own lives, I often wonder how intensely we look into the mirror of the Word without forgetting what we see. And so, in a message tonight called, “A Basket of fruit – what do you see?” I would like us to look at Amos Chapter 8 where יהוה showed Amos a basket of summer fruit and asked him what he saw, and then what יהוה revealed.
A basket of summer fruit – a fitting message as we are hitting the heat of summer at the moment, and so as the heat of tests and trials hit you as much as the heat of the sun has been hitting us here in the Cape this past week, how are you coping and more importantly what do you see? Are you rejoicing and enduring under the heat of trials and bearing much fruit that lasts and is good or are you pretending that the fruit is good and in the process find that you are only covering up compromise and doing your utmost at keeping an appearance of a fruit filled life by going through the motions while inside there is some rotting going on because the fruit does not last?
In this chapter we have just read we see a clear message that is very relevant for us still today and I would like to break it down into three key areas that ought to clearly reveal much fruit of obedience. And while we might think that we see the fruit – what does יהוה see when He asks you? Are you prepared to see what He sees through the mirror of His Word and not just look at the surface of appearance but at the heart of obedience? And more importantly, if you find that there is some bad fruit, are you willing to change? As we look at the Word given to Amos may we take this opportunity to have a look into the basket of our lives that He has given us each to carry so to speak and inspect the fruit that is inside and do our utmost to ensure that we offer up to Him the fruit of righteousness!
A basket of summer fruit – we think of wonderful delicious and juicy colourful fruit that is fresh and tastes sweet and is refreshing and pleasing to the taste and the eyes, filled for all to enjoy and be nourished. Well on the outside that is what Amos saw – a basket of summer fruit – yet what had the appearance of fruit was quickly revealed by the words that followed – for this basket was certainly not pleasing to יהוה. At closer inspection what we actually get to have revealed to us was simply fresh fruit gone bad – and nobody likes to eat rotten fruit! The fruit of righteousness must be evident in our daily lives and must never become stale and rotten due to disobedience or lack of use or neglect but must rather be fresh every day!
This word was to Yisra’ĕl and as this word speaks to the scattered tribes often referred to as Ephrayim which means ‘doubly fruitful’ and they were anything but that – their fruit was stale and very displeasing to יהוה. They had the fruit of unrighteousness rather than righteousness and so as we consider the fruit of obedience in the context of this chapter let us look at 3 areas that were lacking that we would do well to heed and take great care to not be found in lacking the true fruit of righteousness and obedience. In verse 2 יהוה makes it clear that the ‘end has come’ – this is the same language used in Berěshith/Genesis 6:13 when יהוה said to Noaḥ that the end of all flesh had come just before the flood of judgement had come and Noaḥ was told to build an ark. There is coming again the time for fruit to be revealed as real or fake is coming when there will be no more pardon but only judgement for those who do not heed these words.
Let’s take a look at 3 Fruits of obedience:
1 – FRUIT OF WORSHIP (v 3)
In verse 3 יהוה tells Amos that songs of joy will no longer be heard in the Hěḵal that day – as there will be a wailing! For far too long Yisra’ĕl had been singing songs in the Hěḵal but were not living according to the words of worship they were singing! The very same thing still happens today where so many gladly sing-along to the tunes of worship and recite the words to a hymn or a song or psalm of praise while the fruit of their lives reveal the total opposite of what they declare with their lips in song to יהוה showing clearly to יהוה that their hearts are in fact far from Him!
We have been truly blessed with the gifts of song that Marcia has been, and is continually fruitful with in bringing us wonderful songs of praise, equipping us to worship our King as we sing unto Him new songs of His very Word. Let me ask you this – how many of the songs that we sing here do you simply recite – be it when we are together in corporate worship as a gathered assembly or in your car or at home – yet your lives somehow do not always match up to the words you are singing? Does the pure fruit of your worship resonate into your lifestyle and is evidenced in your walk of righteousness or are they words you have come to know and sing when you hear the tune while the effect of the words themselves have little or no impact on your life? I ask this simply because so many today do that – just think about how often you may go into a shop and hear a tune to a worldly song that may have horrific lyrics and before you know it you’re humming and singing along to a tune that does not line up with your character or walk? The same applies to many attempts at worship. When just reciting words of worship to a tune with no effect of pure righteous living then the ‘fruit of worship’ that you often may see in your basket may not be as fresh as you think, but rather be over ripened and of no use becoming a stench before יהוה instead of a pleasing fragrance. This kind of ‘cold-hearted’ attempt at worship will be turned to mourning and wailing in that day! Singing psalms and spiritual songs with the lips only while the heart is rotten and one’s life is full of compromises will be severely dealt with in that day when יהוה will rid His Bride of all false external worship!!!
When you look at the basket of summer fruit - and you see your fruit of worship as you are able to know many of the lyrics to the psalms and recite many of the songs – what do you see? As you look intently into the mirror of the Word – do you see what יהוה sees or do you see that which you want to see – is there true worship or is it simply a manufactured attempt at an external covering of compromise that no one but יהוה can see? May our lives be filled with fruit-filled praise unto Elohim and reflected in a life of pure and uncompromised obedience!
Mattithyahu/Matthew 15: 8-9 “This people draw near to Me with their mouth, and respect Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as teachings the commands of men.’”
May our worship, be it in song or in the words of our mouth – that is our daily speech – may it be pleasing to Him – no more crude jokes and filthy talk – throw it away that we may be found to have only that which is good come out of our mouths:
Tehillim/Psalm 19: 14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing before You, O יהוה, my rock and my redeemer.”
2 – FRUIT OF STEWARDSHIP (v4-8)
The next lot of fruit that was exposed for being bad was that of stewardship. How do you take care of ‘guarding and doing’ His Word – that is – how do you take care of walking in righteousness? As you look at Yisra’ĕl at the time they were being addressed here – they had certainly forgotten all that יהוה had done for them as they had been brought up from nothing to having abundance; having been delivered from slavery to dwelling in the Promised Land and established as a mighty nation – a chosen and royal nation! They had forgotten who they were and unto whom they belong and as you ask the question of what did they do with that which they were given the answer is a sad one! They had neglected to do righteousness. They had swallowed up the needy as their accumulation of wealth made them greedy and selfish and so refused to help the poor and took advantage of them. Overcome with such a great love for wealth, fleshly pleasure and self they did not even keep the Sabbath as the Sabbath as they were more interested at getting ready for business as soon as Sabbath was over. On the Sabbath they did not delight in יהוה – they thought about business and couldn’t wait to trade and do shady deals in order to get wealth for self through deceitful practices.
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 58: 13-14 “If you do turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My set-apart day, and shall call the Sabbath ‘a delight,’ the set-apart day of יהוה ‘esteemed,’ and shall esteem it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, 14 then you shall delight yourself in יהוה. And I shall cause you to ride on the heights of the earth, and feed you with the inheritance of Ya’aqoḇ your father. For the mouth of יהוה has spoken!”
How do you ‘guard’ the Sabbath? Do you delight yourself in יהוה, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words – if you do then the promise is amazing and sure – He will cause us you ride on the heights of the earth and feed you the inheritance of Ya’aqoḇ!
Here Yisra’ĕl were simply just going through the motions because they knew they had to keep the Sabbath, while their hearts were not interested in delighting in יהוה. Many are doing the same today – they may have come out of the false system of worship and have an attempt at keeping the Sabbath as a rule while their hearts have not embraced the pure joy of it – it is not only a rest from the daily work but it is a delighting in Him with His word together as a set-apart assembly growing in intimacy with an Elohim who loves us.
Delighting in Him will cause you to not want the day to end, soaking up every moment of His presence. Do you find yourself thinking about business and other matters on Shabbat? Let us learn from these mistakes that Yisra’ĕl were making and make every effort to delight in His Sabbath! Are you able to even switch off your cell phone, especially while we are gathered or does your mind think ‘what if someone needs to…’? Trust יהוה that when you delight in Him that He will take care of other things that you need not worry about!!!
The love of money and business gripped Yisra’ĕl that they eagerly waited for Shabbat to be over and they were also robbing their own people for unjust gain through deceit as they would falsify the value of goods being traded, hiking prices even for the needy among them and in the process they were robbing יהוה.
They used false scales, overpriced goods and even took advantage of the needy by scooping up their lands for next to nothing instead of helping them and would sell the ‘chaff’ of the wheat – kind of like today when you pay per kilo price for beef and half of it is bone or fat and you are buying that which is of no value. So when people bought with the chaff they were not getting pure grain and were getting what was defiled. This could also bring reference to selling the droppings of the fruit which was to be left for the needy and they would have no right to sell that which was יהוה’s.
It was all about the money no matter who was taken advantage of and in the process they were in fact deceiving יהוה.
Today it is no different when it comes to wealth among the people of Elohim. For many it becomes a task to see how they can minimise their tithing to as little as possible – what do I mean by that? Well think about it for a moment – if only true worshippers would all actually tithe on their increase that יהוה gives! Many who have their own businesses can cleverly, for their own conscience sake, devise well-crafted schemes of reducing the tithes of that which has been given by יהוה as they have been taught through a worldly financial system and try to apply worldly ways to pure fruit of stewardship unto יהוה. What many will do is pay all their bills out of their business and then ‘give’ themselves a much reduced salary for tax benefits and tithe on their declared salary to the tax receiver. Did not יהוה give the income of their business – each one must do their own math before Him as what is very obvious is that His ways are higher than the world’s and trying to have deceitful scales before Him using worldly schemes that do not line up with pure fruit of obedience in order to satisfy your own needs will find you coming up short!
יהוה gives us ripe resources and when you hoard them instead of using them while they are still fresh for His esteem then that fruit will begin to rot and open doors for decay!
Yisra’ĕl had let the fruit of stewardship rot through greed and selfishness and as a result יהוה would take away their prosperity. A life of obedience is evidenced in the good fruit of sincere worship and diligent stewardship of that which He entrusts into your care – keep your basket free of rotten fruit of compromise!
3 – FRUIT OF THE WORD (v 9-14)
יהוה had certainly given Yisra’ĕl physical blessing, but more than all the blessing they received physically – He gave them His Word through Mosheh and the Prophets. His Word was available to all His people and they were to bear the fruit of that. It is no different today – His Word is available to all! Yet here He tells Amos that He would turn their festivals into mourning – why? Because they did not eat of His Word! We too today have the abundant fruit of His Word available to us and if we do not eat of it – we will not bear any good fruit that ought to last. We are to eat daily of His Word – we cannot rely on past meals for today and expect to survive – although for many the only word they are seemingly eating is that which they hear on Shabbat – if their ears are open and they are not distracted by the world! If you do not eat of His Word it is an offense to Him and you will not be able to live fruitfully! יהושע said in Yoḥanan:
Yoḥanan/John 6: 53-58 “I am the living bread which came down out of the heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever. And indeed, the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” 52 The Yehuḏim, therefore, were striving with one another, saying, “How is this One able to give us His flesh to eat?” 53 יהושע therefore said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Aḏam and drink His blood, you possess no life in yourselves. 54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood possesses everlasting life, and I shall raise him up in the last day. 55 “For My flesh is truly food, and My blood is truly drink. 56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood stays in Me, and I in him. 57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me shall live because of Me. 58 “This is the bread which came down out of the heaven, not as your fathers ate the manna and died. He who eats this bread shall live forever.”
He also said, quoting from Deḇarim while being tempted in:
Luqas/Luke 4:4 “But יהושע answered him, saying, “It has been written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of Elohim.’” (Deḇarim 8:3)
We live by EVERY WORD of Elohim – it is really sad for those who claim that the Tanak is not needed any longer – every word – without it we shall not live and have a fruitful life with a great basket of summer fruit that is real!
If you neglect His word He sends a famine for the hearing of His Word! They heard but it did not change them and so they would find themselves in a famine for hearing when what Yeshayahu says is true even still today: Hearing but not hearing!
In verse 11 the famine that would be sent because of the lack of pure fruit was not a hunger for bread or a thirst for water but for a hearing of the Word. We know that ‘bread’ represents the community or body of Messiah and ‘water’ speaks often of the teaching of the Torah as we are washed in the Word and cleansed. Yisra’ĕl had the Hěḵal and they had the Torah teachings yet they did not hear – guard and do! There is still today plenty of Bread and Water so to speak as there are many assemblies to choose from and there is plenty of Torah instruction available – yet what is lacking in a great way is true obedience to His commands!!!
Verse 12 goes on and says that they would wander from sea to sea – in other words many are knowledge hunters as they seek the latest teaching and will go a great distance for it too, or they will fall into the trap of rabbinical insights thinking it will enhance their learning, while some may even try to decode the Scriptures. The Word is not far off or hidden – it is simple and plain for those who will but hear. We have been amazed at how the Father has grown us as a family as we look back a year to the torah portions we are doing over and how we see that if we are simply obedient to hear and with hearing do the Word then the plainer the Word becomes for us.
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 30: 11-14 “For this command which I am commanding you today, it is not too hard for you, nor is it far off. 12 “It is not in the heavens, to say, ‘Who shall ascend into the heavens for us, and bring it to us, and cause us to hear it, so that we do it?’ 13 “Nor is it beyond the sea, to say, ‘Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, and cause us to hear it, so that we do it?’ 14 “For the Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart – to do it.”
Sadly too many do not want to obey – that is to hear – guard – do!
In verse 14 the reference to Dan and Be’ĕrsheḇa represents for us false man-made attempts at worship that will fall! – These were two alternative worship sites that were not authorised by יהוה and many today are still swearing by alternative false religious practices as they make various golden calves of false security and prosperity and twisted morals of a perversion of the truth and these will all fall and never rise again!
Are you eating His Word – do you hunger and thirst for righteousness – that is to hear – guard and do His Word – do what you hear and do what you eat? Are you studying His Word or do you still have the religious mind-set that says it is for only a select few that must teach. The best way to avoid a famine of hearing His word is to Love His Word – Live His word and Share His Word!
Fruit of obedience – worship, stewardship and His Word – Keep them for yourself and they will rot – it is not meant for a display bowl only – they are to be eaten and shared – the more you eat and share the more you will have!
How is the Fruit of your Worship? Have you found that you are at times just going through the motions and is it a huge burden to be on time for when we worship together or are you truly living out that which you are singing and declaring back unto יהוה?
How is your Fruit of Stewardship? Are you faithful in bearing good fruit of stewarding faithfully that which He has given you and are faithful in stewarding your obedient lifestyle in adhering to His Word in every way through a loving obedience to His secure Love for us? Are you giving freely of your time and your resources or do you find that you at times have used deceitful scales before His eyes? Do you keep His Shabbat as Shabbat? Do you give freely with no strings or conditions attached? Are you cutting corners in your attempt at being a good steward of His Word in your daily life and find you neglect to eat of that which gives you life? Are you engaging faithfully in committing to working together in giving your all to building this community that He is calling for us to be faithful stewards of or is building community a big headache for you?
How is the Fruit of His Word? Do your love it – read it – study it – meditate on it – recite it – live it and share it? Or are you simply getting by with a small weekly dose of an hour or two on Shabbat – that is not enough!
יהוה has filled your basket so to speak with unspeakable riches and the fruit of such must be continually fresh through constant use of pure worship, diligent stewardship and earnest hearing and doing of His Word and not of a false appearance through an uncontrolled lifestyle of compromise after compromise.
When יהוה asks you like He did to Amos – “…. What do you see?” and you say a basket of summer fruit – what do you see? Do you only see that which you want to in order to appease your conscience through compromise or do you see what He sees as you look intently in to the mirror of His Word and if need be are you willing to change that which must be changed?
A Basket of Fruit – what do you see? Stay in Messiah and be found to have the very good fruit of righteousness that lasts – shalom!