Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lessons from Tomatoes

I was canning tomatoes the other day and while I was working, I had a nice visit with God. He layed some thoughts on my heart and mind, bringing to my attention those that I know who are struggling in their lives with feeling hopeless or families that seem to have more troubles than blessings.

He directed my mind to The 10 Commandments. Christians/Americans can really be forceful in how they feel about these commandments, but as I cut my tomatoes, the question came to me, "Do they even know what it is they think should be kept or obeyed? Do YOU even know, really know, what it is that I want YOU to obey?"

So, after my pressure cooker was filled with jars of bright red tomatoes, and the stove top turned on, I sat down to read it for myself, word for word, not adding to it or taking away from it.

The 10 Commandments start in Exodus 20:1. I didn't get very far when I had to reread a portion. And I noticed that it gave more instruction than what I had been reading, so verse 5 says, "you shall not bow down to them (referring to carved images) nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." And because He doesn't ever contradict Himself, He says the same thing in John 14:15 where Jesus says, "If you love Me, keep my commandments." This part of the 10 Commandments sounds to me like if you don't keep His commandments, He considers you to hate Him and the punishment will leak down into your future generations. Could some people be struggling so badly because of the sins of their fathers or grandfathers? Sounds like it to me. Interesting. The pressure cooker is sounding bubbly inside, onto the next verses that catch my attention.

I must confess, the next one that caught my eye, didn't stick out because it was interesting to ponder on, but because I was guilty of not obeying it. This is what it says (It's a long one with explanation on exactly how to keep this commandment and I still messed it up. I would guess He knew we would mess it up since He dedicated 4 verses to explaining it to a T.), verse 8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."

I would make my girls wash dishes. It's not that I think washing dishes is wrong to do on the Sabbath, but to them, it is work. So, I was chastised by my husband just this last week for it, and won't be making them do the dishes anymore, unless they choose to do it to serve their family as unto the Lord. Another thought that He gave me on this passage was, "Why would man change My day? I chose and blessed that day for a reason, to bless you at the end of your tiresome week. I didn't change it to another day anywhere in my Scripture." He clearly said when the day was supposed to be. If we are creating our own version of when His Sabbath is, are we keeping HIS version of the 10 Commandments or our own? He brought an example to my mind. Say I asked my children to put their bikes away, and they decided to wait until tomorrow, and their dad came home after dark and didn't see the bikes, resulting in ran over bicycles. My command was to be done when I said it, for their own good. God wants us to not just say, "Okay", but to then obey what He says, when He says it.

Then the very next commandment is, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you." I love how He gives more details on how He feels about some of the commandments, almost showing us the ones that would be harder for us to obey.

And another He elaborates on, the last one, "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's." Speaking for myself, it's hard to not want more. Just in case you might try to find a loop hole, He covers it by saying, "nor ANYTHING that is your neighbor's." So, don't think there are any exceptions. I usually do though, and this command reminds me to be content in ALL things. I am content now that I hear some bobbling going on. Fifteen more minutes and my canned tomatoes will be done.

So, back to this, "If you love Me, keep My commandments". Does it just refer to The 10 Commandments or all that He has commanded in His Word? I challenge you to search it out as our family has. I do know that Psalm 19:7&8 says,

"The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;

The judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, Yea than much fine gold;

Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them Your servant is warned,

And in keeping them there is great reward."

Time to turn the canner off, and let the pressure go down before checking out my jars of tomaters.

He brings to the forefront of my mind one more portion of Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." The "Scripture" that they had was the Law of God, The Commandments, and His statutes. This is where doctrine, correction and instruction in living righteously comes from. The "New Testament" just reiterates it by using Jesus as the perfect example of how we should obey it.

My canned tomatoes are looking pretty good. What a blessing and reward they will be this winter, after all the work we've put into growing them from seed, planting them in the garden, weeding them, picking them, cleaning them, and canning them. Is that it? Do people just not want to go through the work it takes to make our desperately wicked hearts obey God in ALL He commands us to? Our family is in the process of growing (learning His Word, causing our minds to be opened wider than ever), weeding (getting rid of all of man's version and only following HIS version), picking (choosing only the Truth of God's ways, not what is tainted with man's ways), cleaning (washing away the dirt and filth of our hearts so we can stand before him with pure hearts), and canning (preparing ourselves for that glorious day when He returns to reward us with eternity in His kingdom).

We love to talk about what we've learned and hear Scriptures that may teach us something else that we hadn't considered. Maybe we are missing something, so we always welcome hearing Scripture that we can grow and learn together with other believers. Isn't that what we should all be doing, challenging, questioning and holding one another accountable? The reward will be great when we hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant".