The Joy of Feasting on “Vegetables”?

“Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred” (Proverbs 15:17, NIV).

I had a picnic lunch with my buddy, Su Juan, today. We enjoyed the scenery, the melodic chirpings of the birds flying above us, and the soft and gentle breeze blowing on our faces.

As a full-time pastor, I realise what I eat and drink is important to optimise my health for ministry. What we eat and drink are important for our well-being but our attitudes when we are receiving our food are equally important. We may be having an abundant feast with the finest of food and in the grandest of place, but if we are not thankful for what we have, or if we do not get along with the people we are dining with, we will not enjoy the meal.

The next time we sit down together for a meal with our companions, thank the Lord for them. It may be a simple meal, it may be with your parents, it may be with your closest friends, it may be with your colleagues. It is the companionship that counts. Look them in the eyes. Pay attention to what they are saying. Show that you care. Minister to them.  Enjoy each other’s presence.

Life is short. We should treasure the people in our lives and appreciate them while we still can. Don’t take them for granted.

Choose Gratitude

I was in the garden this morning when dad showed me a plant (photo below). He said the fruits of this plant are poisonous.

It is such a beautiful plant but unfortunately it carries poison. It reminds: don’t look nice on the outside but is filled with poison on the inside.

The Bible verse for my meditation this morning is from Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived: God can not be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (NIV). If I have poison in me, I will bear fruits that are poisonous. I will reap poisonous consequences. They will bring damage to me, cost me my health as well as destroy my relationships with others. They will also break my love relationship with God because the poison gets in the way of receiving His love and His healing grace.

Bitterness is the poison to the soul. Therefore, it is important to cultivate gratitude. Choose gratitude. Count our blessings daily. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”. Bitterness will make us rot on the inside and then it will show up on the outside.

Whenever I feel frustrated, whiny, complain-y about the circumstances I am in, or getting bitter and jealous at someone, I will bring this matter to God. I tell Him how I feel, and I grumble to Him and let Him know my frustrations. He already knows what is in my heart and He is eager to hear about it from me.

Bitterness dries up my soul. May I encourage you to choose joy. If there is something you are not so happy about, bring this matter to God, for He cares for you.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for harbouring bitterness, anger, resentment, and frustrations. I admit these emotions eat me up and destroy my relationships with You and with the people around me. Give me a heart of thankfulness and to a heart of gratitude to remember Your blessings and goodness to me. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Fruitfulness and Fruitlessness (Mark 11:12-14; 20-21)

Just this morning, I was peering out the window to enjoy the plants in the garden that my dad had been faithfully tending for about 20 years. Shocked, I saw some broken branches and flowers on the ground. My mum explained that dad had pruned the shrub just yesterday.

Not a gardener myself, I couldn’t understand the concept of cutting the branches away but I found out that pruning is essential for the health and growth of the plant. Even Jesus taught about pruning.

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2).

And He prunes us so that we can grow spiritually.

After Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus went into the temple courts, and they left for Bethany that night. The next morning, Jesus and His disciples left Bethany. Jesus was hungry and He saw from a distance a fig tree in leaf.
Surprisingly, the fig tree was one of the most important trees in the Bible. Its sweet taste was even described in the Bible (Judges 9:11).

In the Old Testament, prophets used the fig tree as a sign of judgment (Isa. 34:4; Jer. 29:17; Hos. 2:12, 9:10; Joel 1:7; Micah 7:1). The good figs were used to describe faithful believers (Jer. 24:2-3); while rotten figs were used to describe wicked men (Jer. 24:2-8).

Jesus was hungry but as He examined the fig tree, He could not find any fruits, though it was full of leaves. Verse 13 tells us that it was not the season for figs yet, but the main concept here is that if the tree had leaves, it means, the tree should also be producing fruits.

Jesus was angry at the tree because it was not producing fruits when it promised it could. Jesus then cursed the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again”. His disciples heard Him. The tree was not bearing any fruits as it was supposed to do, so Jesus removed it.
This is a reminder for us today that Jesus is not just a friendly, gentle, humble, loving person. He is loving and gentle and humble and He also expects His disciples to be committed and faithful to Him. He expects us to bear much fruit for the glory of our Father in Heaven.

If Jesus is examining you right now, what will He see? Will He see that you are faithful and fruitful? Will He see that you are bearing good fruits for God? Or He can only find leaves, and no fruits?

Today, we have received so many spiritual blessings. We have a church to help us to grow and to serve God and one another, we have friends here to journey with us in our spiritual journey, we are also blessed with such a rich spiritual legacy handed down to us by our Methodist forefathers, John Wesley and Charles Wesley.

There should not be any excuse for not bearing good fruits for God, unless we choose not to bear fruits, like the fig tree.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
Jesus said we can bear much good fruits only in Him. “A good tree can not bear bad fruit, and a bad tree can not bear good fruit” (Matt 7:18)

For those who are in Jesus, we bear good fruit. The good fruit include transformation in our lives: there is a new sense of purpose and deepest joy in our daily lives, knowing that we have been reconciled with our Creator (2 Cor. 5:17), we continue to grow to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:19-23) and we are excited to tell others about what Jesus has done in our lives (Acts 1:8)

However, Jesus also warns if we are slacking in bearing good fruit in John 15: 6, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into fire and burned.
This was what happened to the fig tree. It was not producing fruits. So, Jesus cursed it not to bear any more fruits. And the next day when Jesus and His disciples passed by, Peter noticed that the fig tree had withered (Mark 11:20-21) from the roots up. This was something unusual as trees usually withered from the top to bottom. There was total destruction to this fig tree.
However, there is hope for every one of us to start afresh. When we are not fruitful, Jesus will come and prune us by teaching us, disciplining us so that we can be spiritually healthy and fruitful. We will then bear good fruits for His glory (Heb. 12:5-11; Rev. 3:19).

John 15:8, Jesus says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples”. When we bear good fruits, it shows to other people that we are the disciples of Jesus.

Let us abide in Jesus and may He come and prune us, so that our lives will glorify Him.