Saturday, July 3, 2010

The PARABLE of the TEN Tomatoes

Pastor Jim Baize of Ocean View Church told a parable about ten apples during one of his Sunday sermons. i don't have ten apples to illustrate the parable, but i do have ten, just-picked, fresh tomatoes from the backyard. (This is my take on the parable.)

As a Bible-believing follower of CHRIST JESUS, i believe that everything was created by the one true sovereign GOD -- our Father in Heaven. Therefore, since He is Creator of everything (including me...though He used the physical birth process through my earthly parents to bring me into the world -- Psalm 139:13-16), it makes perfect sense to me that GOD owns everything, including me -- my life, all that i am, and all that i have today. All are gifts from GOD.

The tomatoes in the backyard were planted by my uncle Ricardo and tended by my mom Rose...but GOD gave the increase. I have planted, Apollos watered; but GOD gave the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6)

These are the early summer bounty of tomatoes, ready for eating...GOD's gifts. (These illustrate but a portion of all the many blessings received each new day.)

These biggest three, i'll use for my grilled cheese sandwich... nothing like a hot off-the-grill cheese and tomato sandwich when famished! (These represent top priorities -- family, health, time.)

These other three, i will use for salsa...with chopped cilantro, onion, jalapeno pepper and ripe avocado. Scooped up with tortilla chips, it's fun food for the 4th of July Independence Day celebration. (These three illustrate what are also very important -- friends, art, personal goals.)

These other three beauties will be healthy snacks -- just sliced and lightly salted. (And these represent lifestyle, money, material necessities.)

Hmmm...this one is certainly not the best. Perhaps i'll give it to my next-door neighbor. It's still usable -- the spoiled part can be cut out and and the rest diced... it'll be perfect for an omelet. (The Holy SPIRIT uses the Conscience to convict: This does not put into practice JESUS' command to love one's neighbor as oneself. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39)

The story above is about giving back just a portion of what GOD has given. GOD doesn't demand our little bit, nor does He need any of it. He does deserve utmost honor and heartfelt worship, for He is the Giver of all life and all good things. And the part we offer to honor and worship Him must be the best part -- the firstfruits of our time, our talents, our money, our good works -- our very soul. Fear the LORD your GOD, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul... (Deuteronomy 10:12)

And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly. (2 Chronicles 31:5)

Giving back to GOD is worship... it is thanksgiving... it is obedience for the child of GOD.

To me, GOD owns everything -- GOD controls everything. It is satan's lie that tells me i deserve to take the best for me, myself and i. He has pulled the wool over my eyes if i believe that the money i have is mine to use just for me, myself and i because i made it. And i would be a fool to believe that i have control over my body, my life, my destiny. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. (Psalm 39:5)

Everything i have -- my body, my daily bread, my very life -- are all from GOD. Even my salvation -- my eternal destiny -- is my most precious gift from Him. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17) By the grace of GOD, i am.

As a child of the Father, as a doulos to the Master, as clay to the Potter -- i "tithe"... i give back to GOD what He owns anyway.

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10)

Through offerings, i give back a portion of the money He allows me to use. Through church ministries and fellowship, i give back the time He permits me to live out. Through sharing His Word (rLn art, blogs, OFF the WALL), i declare -- out of utter gratefulness and love -- that CHRIST alone is Savior and Giver of everlasting Life.

i give back to GOD what He has always owned -- my life. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for GOD loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7) After what CHRIST JESUS has done -- suffered intolerable agony on the Cross as atoning sacrifice so that sinners like me may be saved from eternal Hell -- it is but my reasonable service to offer my body, my life... a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to GOD... (Romans 12:1)

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