First Fruits

First Fruits
fresh fruits and vegetables
Here is my blog from cbn.com for March 15, 2018–here is the link if you would like to visit the site
http://www1.cbn.com/devotions/first-fruits

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored. Deuteronomy 26:1-2 (NLT)

Running into the farmhouse I shouted to Tom, “They’re up! They’re up!”

Tom looked alarmed. “What, Pauline, what are up?”

“Our squash seeds, they have green leaves poking out!”

We both ran to the field in front of the farmhouse to examine this miracle.

“Sure enough,” Tom said as he bent over low, eyes moist. “Sure enough.”

That day was our first successful farm day. The first fruits of months of labor in our new life in North Carolina. Even though it was almost five years ago, I can still remember the joy.

When we start tiny seeds in plastic trays under hot lights, we both check morning and night for the first signs of life. We oooh and aaah like gazing at a newborn when the first sign of life appears. After they are planted our anticipation grows and our mouth waters when we think of that first bite of a perfect heirloom tomato. And when our purple and green asparagus launch, it is always cause for a celebration.

So, when today’s Bible reading in Deuteronomy speaks of bringing the first fruits of the harvest to the Lord, both Tom and I can relate.

Let me share how I try to bring the first fruits of my life to the Lord.

The first fruit of my time. My husband and I have marked this year as the year of prayer. Sure, I have a somewhat designated prayer time. I even have prayer cards for people. Knowing God is best through His Word and prayer, most days, I get up, have two cups of real strong coffee, get out my Bible, my prayer cards, and a notebook with 40 days of prayer that I downloaded from the Internet. Since Easter is right around the corner, I desired to really take my time with this sacred season and savor it instead of letting it sneak up on me.

As I give the Lord the first fruits of my day, I tend to bare more fruit during the day. Try it.

The second way Tom and I bring our first fruits is the first fruits of our tithe. We don’t resent giving our money, we are grateful to give. We have found we can never out-give God. He doesn’t need our money, but He does desire our trust.

In America, we tend to view our security in 401K’s, or health insurance, or life insurance. Those things are not bad, they just are not stable.

God owns everything, is all-powerful, all-knowing, and in the end, He wins.

Let’s just say, investing in heaven is a sure bet.

The last of my first fruits is the first fruit of my worship.

I’m not talking about Sundays and Wednesdays. I am talking about where your heart is. Where your mind is. What you talk about most.

That is what you worship.

For me, worshipping the Lord and Him alone is a daily challenge. But it is so worth it. He is so worth it. The more I meditate on Jesus, His life, death, and resurrection, the sweeter He becomes and the more I desire to worship.

Romans 12:1 (NLT) states, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”

Think of your first fruits, especially during this sacred season. And bring them to the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

You’ll be glad you did. Here is the link if you would like to visit the site…  http://www1.cbn.com/devotions/first-fruits

Copyright © Pauline Hylton 2018, used with permission.

Startled by Christ

My pastor is taking four weeks to savor Isaiah 52-53. I’m so glad.

It seems that each year, Easter sneaks up on me. Not Christmas. I’m fully aware of that celebration from about October 1st thanks to retailers.

No, Easter is muted by the Easter Bunny, and sweets and hunts, and eggs.

The real meaning is profound.

Take Isaiah 52:13-15 written 700+ years before Christ:

“Behold my servant shall act wisely, he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you–his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind–so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.”

I would like you to take a closer look at the word sprinkle. In the Old Testament, blood was sprinkled on the altar to make atonement. In fact, Moses even sprinkled blood on the people and they were glad. (Exodus 24) They knew they needed a covering for their sin.

But that word has a double meaning. It also means startled.

Christ startled many with His teachings. Remember when He visited the temple at the ripe old age of twelve? The teachers were astounded by Him. And all through His life, people were amazed at His wisdom, not to mention the miracles He performed to authenticate His deity.

This last Sunday, our pastor asked if we as a congregation were startled by Christ. Astounded. Awestruck. Amazed.

I knelt at the front of our little church because that is my desire, to dive into the gospel of Jesus Christ–His life, death, resurrection, and kingship.

How about you? Care to join me?

It begins with desire. Ask Him. Wait on Him. Read His loving Words to You. Talk with Him.

And be startled.

Here is a link to the website. Invest time in the message to renew your love for Christ.

http://christcommunitychurchofmountairy.org/

Why Blood

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to die? Me, too.

Here is my contribution to CBN.com today:

http://www1.cbn.com/devotions/why-blood

 

The Good News Applied

“The gospel is not the diving board into the pool of Christianity. The pool is the gospel.” The radio pastor went on to say, “When you want the best water, you don’t make the well wider, you go deeper.”

I’ve thought about those words for several days. For a long time, I dug outside and around that Christian well. Debating this doctrine and that. Concentrating on parts of my Christian life like they were fragmented.

Lately, the gospel is where my focus has been and where it will stay. The Good News of Jesus Christ. I love I Corinthians 15:1-4,

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”

Simple, right? You probably learned it in Sunday School. Colored pictures about it.

But it is profound. Deep, like that well—like that all-encompassing pool.

For instance, when I see a client at work who has been in some trouble, and lost their job, and rub me the wrong way, I can’t think I am better, or smarter. My thoughts line up with the good news. Jesus died for me. I didn’t deserve it, didn’t earn it, didn’t even want it. But Jesus had mercy on me and opened my heart to hear His Spirit. And He saved me.

And when someone doesn’t treat me right, or I am misunderstood, or even mistreated, I think about Jesus, the perfect Son of God Who was mocked, beaten, and crucified. Not only did He never do anything wrong, He never even thought a bad thought, and yet many shouted, “Crucify Him!”

My slights seem insignificant.

And when I face uncertainty, or death of a loved one, or illness, I cannot despair. Because not only did Christ die for my sins, He rose from the grave—paying the penalty for my wrong thoughts and actions and motives—not only providing the payment for my sins, but also eternity with Him.

That is deep, like the cold, clear, water in that well.

It surrounds me, like the refreshing water of that pool.

I don’t ever think I can reach the bottom or explore the depths.

But I’m gonna try. And then I will have eternity to enjoy it.

 

 

Getting Gas is Fun?

When visiting New Jersey a few years ago, I had my picture taken with Louie, the man in charge of pumping my gas. “Hurry up, baby,” he quipped in his abrupt New Jersey accent.

What he didn’t really understand was that the rest of the citizens in the United States pump their own gas. You must know that sweet pic made my Facebook wall.

Usually, I do not relish pumping gas. Especially if it’s cold—or hot. Or I’m tired, or have someplace to go.

Enter, Gas Station TV or GSTV for short. Here is how it works. Pulling up to the pump, you insert your card, type in your zip code and voila! The pump comes to life with car commercials, ESPN interviews, car commercials, Twitter Trending facts, car commercials, and word of the day information. (BTW, today it is bombogenesis.)

Here is my problem…after a particularly generous friend of mine gave me a little go-kart-like car that gets over 30mpg, my tank doesn’t hold much. Therefore, I usually only get a quick interview and three car commercials.

It’s disappointing.

I hardly watch TV and rarely surf the web. I work as a Social Worker, go home, do a few household chores and go to bed. So GSTV is my only TV fix.

Sometimes, I pump the gas real slow as to view an entire loop of the segment.

Pitiful.

This morning, Tom told me to drive his truck which needed gas. Secretly, I was glad. I learned a new word, got caught up on Bill Belichick possibly either retiring or going to another team. I learned that John Gruden signed a contract with the Raiders for a 100 mil over 10 years.

Not every gas pump gives you that kind of useful information.

Maybe I should purchase a gas-guzzler for my next vehicle. Or Tom could loan me his truck every day.

Probably the cheapest thing to do is watch a little more TV.

Who needs Louie, anyway?