Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Empty Feeders

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:20 (KJV)

Kevin enjoys collecting birdfeeders.  There are several he has received as gifts that he hadn’t had the time to fill and put outside.  His work hours are such that he has little time to keep up with many of the hobbies he enjoys.  Today, he and Zachary had to run an errand, so while they were gone, I surprised him by taking some of the feeders out of their packages and filling them with food.  When he got home, it made him so happy to place them in various places in our yard. 

As I was filling them, the Lord reminded me that by putting the food out for the birds, we are helping Him feed His creation.  I could picture the sweet, little creatures flying around, then landing on a branch of one of our trees and happily discovering the various goodies they would find in the feeders.  Envisioning that made me smile.  Then it came to my mind how disappointed they would be to get used to finding nourishment there, only to come back later and find the feeders empty, and how important it is that we keep re-stocking the feeders on a regular basis.  I have heard that if a hummingbird comes to a feeder and finds it empty, they won’t come back.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to confirm or disprove that.  I’m not sure if that is true, but it gave me some spiritual thoughts I’d like to share.

Jesus told Peter to feed His lambs and His sheep.  (John 21:15-17)  Peter had to have something on hand within his own heart and life in order to feed others.  He had to keep his own soul nourished and fed, so that he could, in turn, let his spirituality spill out and feed others around him.  He had a divine call upon his life, and he had to stay up-to-date for the ones who were spiritually dependent upon him.  Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him.  Why three times?  Was it because Peter denied Him that number of times?  Or was it because Jesus wanted to stress the point that Peter would need to have a deep love for Him in order for him to pay the price it would take to fulfill the ministry He had called him to do?  Perhaps Jesus was asking Peter, are you sure you love Me enough to do this?

Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 4:2 (KJV) “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season…”  In other words, at all times, in all situations, under all circumstances, Timothy needed to be ready to “feed” others.  He needed to be prepared, so he could minister to anyone he came across who needed spiritual sustenance. 

The world is full of dry wells.  Places where people go to fill up the void in their hearts, only to come up feeling more empty than ever.  I profess to be a Christian, so when people turn to me for encouragement, spiritual nourishment, or an inspirational boost, I need to always have something on hand to feed them.  The only way I can do this is to keep my own “feeder” full of the fruits of the Spirit.  The world we live in is full of people who long to see something real…they are tired of hypocrisy, false pretense, and an outward show.  They are hungry, and they need to be fed.  As Christians, you and I have a responsibility to be real. 

One time, Jesus was walking with His disciples, and the Bible says, “He was hungry”.  Mark 11:12 (KJV)  Yes, our Lord and Master was hungry!  He had needs just like you and me.  He looked afar off, and He spotted a fig tree.  He could tell that it was a fig tree, and He came closer to it, hoping to find fruit to eat and fill His hunger.  When He got closer, He realized the tree had nothing on it but leaves.  Jesus was disappointed, and He cursed the fig tree with a perpetual curse. 

I thought of that fig tree...I know it was just a tree, but it had the chance to feed and nourish our Lord and Savior!  What an honor and privilege!  But, it was not bearing fruit, so it had nothing to offer when He passed by.  Had He been by that way before and found delicious, filling fruit on the tree?  Is that why He was so disappointed this time? 

God wants us to be consistent…”in season and out of season”.  Ready at all times for close inspection to prove that we are bearing true, genuine, Christian fruits of the Spirit.  Kevin’s birdfeeders are beautiful.  Some of them are eye-catching, and he strategically places them in places that he thinks will be most visible to the birds he hopes to attract.  No matter how colorful or appealing they are, they will do the birds no good at all if they are empty.  We can be ever so outwardly “religious” and profess to the highest levels of spirituality, but what matters is whether or not we have the real goods on the inside.  What are people finding when they take a closer look?  If Jesus were here in the flesh and passed by, hoping to find some encouragement, would He find anything in us to fill His need? 

God is not deceived with what is on our outside….He looks on the heart.  (I Samuel 16:7)  We may as well be honest with Him, because He already knows who we really are.  We don’t impress Him by dressing a certain way, professing a certain religion, going to a particular place of worship, or acting pious and sanctimonious.  In all actuality, Proverbs 6:17 (KJV) tells us that God hates a proud look.  Why is that?  I think it is because He knows what is on the inside, He hates hypocrisy, and He sees right through it.  If we profess to be something we are not, the people around us see right through it, too.   And believe me, my friend, they are not impressed, either.

What about you…and me?  Who is looking to us and expecting us to have spiritual nourishment to feed their hungry soul?  Will they take a closer look at us and realize we have no substance?  Will they turn to us because we appear to bear fruit, but become disappointed when after closer examination, they find us to have just an empty profession of Christianity?  The kind of fruit we bear in our everyday lives is the proof of our true selves.  And that, my friend, is how we are truly known. 

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