I HAVE AN ETERNITY AHEAD OF ME
"Our being fruitful does not only apply to how we treat others, but, also, in how we treat ourselves!"
GOOD FRUIT VS OVERINDULGENCE AND GOOD FOOD
My Brothers and Sisters, Brethren, this message is for men and women alike; for just as pregnancy is produced by joining the mind, body and spirit of a man and woman to reproduce, the pregnancy I am referring to is also achieved by the joining of our mind, body and spirit with God to produce GOOD FRUIT.
God has been doing a new thing in my life, which I can only relate to as being pregnant. I've struggled with losing and gaining weight since I was a child. I've gone through sporadic periods of weight gain and weight loss, as have many people trying to lose weight and keep it off.
During my childhood, my cultural foods and lifestyle affected my daily diet and food intake. Like most of my family, I had little self-control over my intake of food, but little did it matter to me and many other family members.
The way the African-American race has integrated American food into its culture has much to do with our history and slavery. Consumption of good, healthy food was most often a privilege and a rarity among slaves. Needless to say, many families are still living with the mindset of feast or famine and still eating the same unhealthy foods in large quantities. Therefore, we are faced with widespread health issues and obesity brought on by our cultural lifestyle. In present day society, this is not only an issue of concern for African-Americans and other ethnicities who live on rich or fattening cultural foods, but to the American population as a whole.
I wasn't an obese child, but I was well-rounded, or pleasing plump as some might prefer to call it. I was certainly aware of my nonstandard size, but, it was being among peers, having come of age to enter school, that taught me the drawbacks of being considered a "big girl." Of course there were harsh remarks and even discrimination from children and adults. The effects created the usual personality distinctions to compensate for or hide my emotions. In my case, it made me even more introverted, passive and shy as opposed to outgoing, aggressive and extroverted; not to say that all obese or slightly obese children develop these characteristics, but they are behavior patterns known to develop in some.
BECOMING A WOMAN
It wasn't until my middle school years, when my body began to mature, that a growth spurt allowed me to slim down and see my feet, which had been hidden under my pleasingly plump pot belly, since infancy.
Nature took its course as was programmed by its Maker and developed me into a noticeable, shapely, young woman. It was a relief, but, also, something for which my mind was not prepared, as are most adolescents.
Pregnancy is something that effects a woman mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It requires you to be in touch with your body and teaches you to be in touch with yourself. However, we most often leave out or forget that it began with the touch of God's hand and continues by His Will. Therefore, just as Mary was, when she conceived and carried Jesus, a woman with child should be in touch with God.
Like Mary, any young woman conceiving out of wedlock is going to be under scrutiny and judgment from the eyes of society and within her inner and outer circle of friends, family and acquaintances. Some things never change and most of the standards for women, no matter how progressive society attempts to be, remain the same. Perhaps, because people see it as helping to set and maintain a standard for family, as the building block for the human race.
God saw that Adam needed companionship, thus, a woman was made that the two would be FRUITFUL; for the principle characteristics of the Kingdom and its Foundation is INCREASE. As we see through His Holy Spirit, God is fruitfulness and creates increase. But, let us not stray too far from our subject matter.
We know that people need one another to love, grow and learn, for support and protection, and for joy, comfort and peace. These are things EVERY woman preparing to bear a child should have. However, in the beginning, it was not so for the virgin Mary, the soon to be mother of Christ Jesus. Discriminating eyes cast shame upon her. She was in danger of being stoned for having broken the law and shaming her family. What joy, comfort, support and protection she should have had was quickly swept away in the eyes of man. It was a tumultuous time and no doubt her mind was in turmoil. At such a young age, did she have the faith, growth and maturity to endure such hardship? Certainly, it effected her in some way, she was only human and but a child herself, still, in many ways.
We can be assured that God knows how much we can bear and always has a plan and a way. He didn't bring Mary that far to leave her. He was not going to allow anything to happen to her or His child. So, it was put upon Joseph's heart not to scorn her and continue with the betrothal.
I can relate this to the tremendous heartache and disappoint my mother experienced upon discovering my teenage pregnancy. Yet, it was her faith in God that allowed her to have unconditional love for me, so, that she followed through and obeyed God, much like Joseph.
Joseph provided for them, supported, protected, brought joy and comfort and together they grew and learned from one another to become a family to endure the hardships ahead of them and be fruitful.
It is a beautiful story, because, even knowing the danger and hardships Jesus' family encountered, we know that God provided a way. When we obey God's Will, even when we are met with adversity, God provides a WAY! Now, how can we apply this to living abundantly in our eternal life?
First, let's think about the other young people today, who find themselves pregnant and unmarried. We find that we are faced with millions of teen-aged parents who have the same needs as Mary and Joseph. In the past, I too, was one of them. These young parents may or may not be following God's Will and Way and are not alone in their sin, because society also is not following God's Will and Way. They may not be able to provide for their child and family. Some may see them as being a burden upon society, which has to provide for their basic necessities. However, don't think that that young man and young woman aren't affected in some way by what they have done, and this event will continue to have an effect on the rest of their lives. It is important that we help them learn from this experience in a POSITIVE way to counteract the negative effects.
During my pregnancy, I came to rely on food for comfort, joy, and support due to feelings of insecurity, shame, guilt, sorrow, depression, anxiety, etc. Yes, I gained too much weight. Was I just weak, stupid, ignorant, greedy or was I lacking what I needed mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually to be healthy for me and my baby? Did the stress of my negative and hostile environment help me to create POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT to relieve that stress and maintain my eating disorder and promiscuous behavior?
People around me were experiencing similar feelings of stress and both families of the child were struggling with acceptance and responsibilities. There were mixed emotions and bitter feelings that arose, which evolved into bickering and fighting.
I remember having talks with God during my periods of anxiety attacks, where my heart ached and my chest hurt. We were a proud and religious family and my mother was determined that I would not be a welfare case and a burden upon society. So, she even took on burdens that she should have given to God. However, I am eternally grateful for the faith and love that she had and for God giving her the strength, wisdom, love, endurance and ability to care for us and provide. No one could have tried to do more to help their child and family. Yet, those things she wouldn't let go of cost her dearly, diminishing her health, quality of life and relationships. She was a great woman, in that she lived to 'serve' others, effecting countless lives, and continuing to do so through her legacy. I was blessed to have her as a mother and my children were blessed to have her as a grandmother. God continues to see that her work is not in vain.
HOW CAN I GAIN?
So, here I am and God is doing a new thing in my abundant and eternal life, that it may be more abundant. At first, I thought that He wants to know what I will give up to have a more abundant life. Then, I realized that I've had it all wrong all along. I was looking at abundant life and weight loss the same way and the WRONG way, causing me to struggle.
The Kingdom is about GAINING something, NOT LOSING something!
When a woman is pregnant, she realizes she is no longer just one person. She is sharing her life and her body with someone she considers precious and already a part of her. She looks forward to the birth of her child who will bring her increased joy and another part of being a woman--motherhood. She GAINS from her labor by having someone to love and care for, who will reciprocate that love. After birth her womb is never empty, as the child remains forever a part of her unless something happens to the child and the child dies. Then, she grieves for the loss of the child and the empty void within her womb.
How have I drawn upon this new awareness of my body and feeling of expectancy and gain?
What we let go of or die to cannot compare to what we GAIN from God and His Kingdom. Our labor is not in vain. Our womb in this instance is our heart, or spirit. Our heart will never be empty as God will NEVER leave us and can never die.
When we truly acknowledge Jesus and God's Holy Spirit inside of us, realizing we are no longer living just for one person, we can continue to be expectant, growing and being fruitful through the Holy Spirit within us. As one person put it, it becomes a reverse pregnancy whereas, the entity within nourishes the host.
(1)What a Friend we have in Jesus
Music:Charles Crozat Converse (1834-1918)
What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.
(2)John 4 King James Version (KJV)
4 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
4 And he must needs go through Samaria.
5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
27 And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.
31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.
32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?
34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
41 And many more believed because of his own word;
42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
43 Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.
44 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.
45 Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.
46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.
47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.
48 Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.
50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.
51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.
52 Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.
53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.
54 This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.
(3)Psalm 51 King James Version (KJV)
51 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
Published by Mishael T