Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Luke 6:43-45 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: We’re a part of a culture that loves to see the end results, or maybe that’s just me. Last Sunday I threw a “Friendsgiving” dinner at my apartment. This was the first big dinner party Kiefer and I threw as newlyweds! I had all the preparation mapped out in my mind and had the end in sight. All the food would be ready, the apartment would be perfectly clean, all the pots and pans would be washed, decorative pumpkins would be strategically placed . . . you get the picture. Or at least you get the picture that I’m a control freak.
Well, things didn’t go as planned, to say the least. Kiefer got home at six in the morning from attending a “Growing Young” conference in Kansas City, Kansas. He chatted with me for about a half an hour before he was out cold. Still, my morning was perfectly planned: I would go out to breakfast with my friend Becky to celebrate her birthday, do some last-minute grocery shopping, and swing by our friends’ house to pick up their poodles that we had agreed to watch for the week. Everything was on track until a few unexpected errands began popping up. I fell behind schedule and ended up with potatoes—and patience—boiling over on my stove. We kicked ourselves into high gear and ended up getting everything ready just before [most of] our guests showed up.
Looking back, I realize I was so obsessed with the end result—the fruit—that I forgot what the root was. The root was community. We wanted to bring people together, to get to know some new friends and to connect with some old ones. Jesus knew and was trying to explain that the fruit points back to the roots. There can’t be good fruit if the roots aren’t getting enough nutrients or if they aren’t grounded.
The fruit is what it’s all about, but sometimes we don’t look to see what is making the fruit good or bad. We don’t do a “health check” on our hearts. If you’re feeling like things just aren’t going so great for you and the world appears to be against you, it’s time to check your roots. What kind of water are you drinking? Are you giving your roots nutritious food? Have you planted yourself in healthy soil? Why are your fruits the way they are? In less metaphorical terms, what’s making you feel and act the way you are?
Recalibrate: What situations are affecting your “fruit?”
Respond: Pray to be completely rooted in Jesus.
Research: Physical and mental health affect one another. Read WebMD’s tips for living a healthy, happy life.
Remember: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45, NIV).
Jessyka Dooley is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church, leading Live Wonder (ages 0-3), Live Adventure (ages 4-11), and Live Purpose (ages 12-17), along with their supporting ministries. She grew up in Washington State and has a degree in theology from Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. Jessyka has served in various areas of ministry, but her passion for discipling kids has taken center stage in her career.
Make shadow puppets on your wall with your hands or toys. (Check out this link from Lauren.) Just as the shadows in this example show what the shape is, what we say and do shows what shape our heart is in. Know that Jesus is the best at fixing a broken heart. Check out what he did for Zacchaeus—who didn’t even think he was broken.
Make time to watch these videos about Zacchaeus. How is it that Zacchaeus, who was a bad guy, became a good guy? Meeting Jesus turned the bad stuff in Zacchaeus’ life into something good. Find some trash and see if you can create something good from it. This is what happens when we meet Jesus and invite Him home to live in our hearts, just like Zacchaeus did.
In the text this week Jesus talks about two kinds of tree; the good and the bad. When you look at the original language, another way to describe these trees would be to call one a beautiful tree and the other a rotten tree. If a tree is rotten, it is not physically able to bear fruit. All of the tree’s energy goes to sustaining life so that it does not completely die. Here’s a personal question: do you feel beautiful or rotten? If you feel rotten, chances are that you are spending a lot of time and energy trying to make yourself feel and appear beautiful. Why not spend that time and energy in growing to know Jesus? There have been times in my life where I have felt rotten, sinful, bad, messed-up, and all of the other adjectives often used to describe the opposite of beautiful. You know what helped me? Turning my eyes to Jesus. Only through Him can a rotten tree become beautiful.