Steeping the tea bag

imageTea!  Sweet Tea.  The “house wine” of the South.  We don’t often drink hot tea, but when it gets cold outside, you know…below 65, folks start to do strange things.  Some break out the hot tea.  If you’re not an expert tea maker, sometimes things can go terribly wrong.  The tea turns out Strong.  I’m talking hair curling, eye crossing , thick as motor oil, tea.  You know what I mean.  It’s the tea where someone left the bag steeping for entirely too long, and now you can strip the wallpaper off the walls and clean Bubba’s car engine with that stuff.  Now that’s some strong tea!  Ain’t nobody drinking that stuff!

Yet, there is at least one instance in which steeping for long periods of time is the best possible thing for the soul. The stronger the better!   It’s when we steep ourselves in God’s word.  I’m sure we’ve all hear the term “abide” at some point in our christian walk.  It wasn’t until tonight’s Bible study that I found myself camping on the concept of abiding.  Y’all pitch a tent and join me.  Better yet, snuggle up in your cozy chair.  I’m too old and tired to sleep on hard dirt floors!  Do I hear an Amen? Back to Abide.   Abide means to stay, remain, or dwell. Not necessarily the word that each of us uses in our daily vernacular.   How often do you say, “I’m worn out after a long day of work, so I think I’ll abide in my comfy chair”?  I certainly have never said that.  So if abide isn’t a phrase used in the common person’s daily life, then why is abide important?

Abide becomes important when you start to pay attention to the downward spiral our world is taking.  Terrorists attacking the average Joe or Joejette as he/she takes in a concert.  Airplanes being shot from the sky as families and business people are just trying to participate in another day.  As the world trembles at all that is happening to her people, God isn’t surprised.  Nothing going on around this globe shocks him.  He’s already there.  He knows it all.  He sees it.  In scripture He warned us it would happen.  He begs us to have faith in Him.  He tells us in scripture to abide in him.  Wait a minute…there’s that word.  Abide.

If abide means to remain or stay.  Then abiding in Christ means to remain in him.  To stay with our Lord.  To dwell in Him.  To keep our minds focused on him.  That’s abiding.  In other words, imagine in our Lord were a tea bag, and you are a tea cup filled with hot water.  Now, drop the tea bag in the water.  What happens?  When we add the Lord (tea bag) to our hearts (cup filled with hot water), our spirit becomes stronger.  God takes over.  He changes us .  Just like the water as the tea sits in it.  Yep.  The longer we steep God in our spirit, the stronger our walk becomes, the more changed we become.  We become strong. Now, I’m not talking weight lifting strength.  It doesn’t matter if you can bench press a Buick or not.  I’m talking strength of spirit.  Are you strong in your belief in Christ?  Is your faith strong?  Are your fears weak because you know that God is strong?   Until tonight, I hadn’t really thought about “abide” in that way.

imageJohn 15:4 says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”  Here’s what that breaks down to.  I have to keep God in my spirit, my deepest parts of my soul.  I need to continue to cultivate our relationship.  Make it strong.  That way I am strong in Christ.  That’s the only way to survive this world without loosing your mind!  Then, realize this.  The example of the tea cup is not the only one we need to focus on.  Consider yourself a fruit tree.  Not a fruit loop, a fruit tree.  I’ll pick an apple for the example.  Now, apples don’t simply fall from the sky.  They grow on trees.  It takes the tree and it’s nurturing structure to grow the fruit…an apple.  If I go up to that tree, and cut off one of it’s branches, will I grow apples?  No.  That branch will die.  If it’s not connected to the tree, the branch can’t receive the nutrients and the water that the structure of the tree provides.  The branch needs the tree to produce fruit.

Our lives in Christ are exactly the same.  Apart from God, we can’t accomplish anything .  We don’t have the roots and nurturing structure necessary to produce fruit apart from the tree.  Apart from Christ, we don’t have his nurturing structure…His word, His promises, His love, and His strength to produce fruit.  So, we need to abide in Christ.  Yep!  We need to remain connected to Him at all times.  Not only do we need to remain connected, but we need to be strong…well steeped, in Him.  It’s only when we are connected to Christ, and filled to the rim with Him, that we will produce fruit.

Abide takes on a whole new perspective for me tonight.  Not only do I want to be connected to God.  I want to be strong in Him.  I want my faith to be hair curling, paint removing, stand back the woman is on fire, strong!  I want to produce fruit, and walk in peace during this earthly life, because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the one true God has got this! No need to worry.  He’s going to carry me through.  I pray that you too will find the same peace.  Abide my friend!  Abide.

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