Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Blueberries and the Book:

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Part one: The Firstfruits

Lots of girls blog these days and it’s fun…how you can take a minute now and then to catch up on what’s going on with a friend. It’s almost as if you get a little visiting time together. You can look at a room she’s decorated or hear about a book she’s reading or get her favorite lasagna recipe and it’s all accomplished in a few clicks (much quicker than driving or flying to see her, walking through her house, having some lengthy conversations and writing out the recipe). Some people think the internet has replaced personal relationships, but I think the jury is still out. I get to stay in fairly close contact with a lot more people than before I had the internet connection.

Sometimes I think because it’s so easy to “like” something on facebook, we all start to think people are really interested in what we just spilled on the kitchen floor or that we’re having leftover kraut and wieners for supper or that our dog had to go to the vet. So let me preface this little series about berry picking by acknowledging up front that I know you don’t really care that my blueberries are in and that just about every morning for the last week has found me in the bushes with my berry basket. I probably need to get out more, but I’m going to write about the blueberries anyway. It’s not profound, but if you spend enough time in the blueberry bushes, you start finding lessons even there.

This one’s about the firstfruits. I waited and waited for those first berries to ripen. Glenn and I traveled to speak in Mississippi and this very nice lady in the church there gave me a bag of blueberries–two weeks before mine got ripe! Now I know she thought she was doing something very nice and the berries WERE really good, but bringing that bag of berries home made me think when I got home, my berries would be ripe, too. I could not wait. But when I got home, my blueberries still were not blue–at all…and they were only as big as Dippin’ Dots. In fact, that’s what they looked like…vanilla Dippin’ Dots.

So I waited a few more days…until one night, I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of a torrential rain…I mean a real gully-washer. As I lay there listening to the pounding rain, I thought about those blueberries. “When it gets dry enough to walk out there to those bushes, I bet I’ll have ripe blueberries at last!”

But, alas, they were still not blue. I mean, a few were starting to turn blue, but now most of them were pink strawberry colored and the size of an English pea. I could not resist, so I tasted one. That was a mistake. I thought about what James said about being patient:

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains (James 5:7).

I guessed the torrent in the night had been the early rain and that we’d just have to wait for the late rain. What I’m saying is that by the time those blueberries were blue enough to eat, I was way past ready for some blueberries in my cereal!

God knows how farmers feel about the firstfruits. The first tomato is the very best one, because anticipation adds flavor. The first watermelon seems to take forever to ripen because we’re watching that vine so closely. We prize the firstfruits.

Did you know that God wants the firstfruits? He wants the first because they’re the best. Listen to a couple of many passages in which God instructed the Israelites to bring him the firstfruits:

Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce (Proverbs 3:9).

For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things (Ezek. 20:40).

And they shall not sell of it, neither exchange, nor alienate the firstfruits of the land: for it is holy unto the LORD (Ezek. 48:14).

The scriptures also speak of Christ as the firstfruit from the dead (I Cor. 15:20), because he was the predecessor of all who will be resurrected. Christ, the firstfruit, was the long awaited one…the sweetest…the best.

Now, if you are one of the three people who got a bag of those first berries, I really love you a lot. Those were the long awaited ones, the sweetest, the best. Frankly, they were the hardest to give away.

That’s what God requires of us. He wants the sweetest. He wants our best. He wants what means the most. Do we give Him that? Do I give him the top spot on my “to do” list? Do I make His offering my first budgeted monthly expenditure? Do I elevate the spiritual above the material? Does he really get the firstfruits of my oblations?

Finally, The redeemed righteous are described as the firstfruits to God:

These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. (Rev. 14:4,5).

The only way I can be a firstfruit is through redemption; the freedom from sin and guile that comes through Jesus. But, for those of us who are the redeemed, the firstfruits, God is waiting. We are His best, not because of any human merit, but because of the very nature of redemption. He made us perfect and complete in that redemption process. He’s begotten us in His word of truth. He brought us forth (NASB), so that we could be his precious firstfruits.

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures (James 1:18).

I hope you get to eat the first tomato or the first melon or the first peach or even the first squash this year. (Squash firstfruits are really good, but then, once you’ve had eight casseroles with mushroom soup, and you’ve had it boiled six times and fried 7 times and stuffed three times and sliced on a sandwich five times, and tossed in a salad twice, it’s just not AS good as it was that first day.) When you’re savoring the firstfruits, I hope you’ll take the time to read over the thirty Biblical references to firstfruits. I hope you’ll thank God that He’s redeemed us for His firstfruits. I hope you will determine in your heart to always give God the firstfruits of all you are and have. I hope you’ll also share your garden’s firstfruits with someone in the kingdom. “Inasmuch as you have done it for the least of these my brethren, you’ve done it unto me,” (Matthew 25:40).

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