The Chilling Requirement

Pastor Jean Owens          

Winter has landed! My favorite season had always been winter. Up until a few years ago, that is. When I was young, I never knew where my winter coat was left. I can hear my grandma now yelling, “Where’s your coat? You make me cold just looking at you.” Yesterday I yelled the same words at my seven-year-old grandson who came running out of the house to greet me in short sleeves and NO SHOES in the snow.
I used to think people who complained about winter weather needed to toughen up or something. The years have given me an attitude adjustment. I am the one who complains about the cold now.
The chilling requirement of a fruit is the minimum period of cold weather after which a fruit-bearing tree will blossom. It is often expressed in chill hours, which can be calculated in different ways, all of which essentially involve adding up the total amount of time in a winter spent at certain temperatures. Some bulbs have chilling requirements to bloom, and some seeds have chilling requirements to sprout.
Have you ever noticed that the most mature fruit comes from the most mature plants. You don’t get good apples from immature trees.
I think maturity over recent years has received bad press. The movies and television sitcoms, jokes shared through social media, all seem to popularize immaturity at the expense of maturity. I don’t see the humor. It seems that being immature has some sort of glamor in it and maturity is viewed as old fashioned.
Why? I’ve given this some thought. I think immaturity is propagated by the Me, Myself, and I thinking promoted by the marketing community because immaturity aims at delivering more self-gratification than maturity does.
My concern is that the long-term results of immaturity can be ugly and extremely damaging.
Take the drug culture for example. Immaturity suggests that just once getting high can’t do any harm. The long-term effects for a certain percentage of people who try it just once is obvious to me. A road lies ahead of growing addiction with the drug taking over the person who no longer has any control over their life. The drug is in the driver’s seat resulting in disaster and also very unfortunately often a life lost.
In the beginning, the immature choice is more attractive than the mature alternative. In fact, the mature decision can look boring.
In this parable, Jesus has been talking about the seed of God’s word and he points to things that rob the believer from maturity.
Luke 8 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up.  Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’
 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
To mature, Jesus says that we need to hear the word of God and retain it.
There are many things in life that will come along and try and rob you of the effectiveness of God’s word in your life. Life’s worries, riches, and seeking pleasures inhibit our maturing. Jesus suggests that hearing the word of God, retaining it and persevering will produce a good crop.
The production of the crop depends on the good and noble heart. Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Malachi 3:3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. When a silversmith works, he will hold a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. In refining silver, one needs to hold the silver in the middle of the fire, where the flames are the hottest as to burn away all the impurities. God is holding us in such a hot spot. He sits in front of the fire the entire time the silver is being refined. If the silver is left even a moment too long in the flames, it will be destroyed. He knows when the silver is fully refined when he can see his image in it.
Perseverance is so important because you never quite know what God is doing in this process.
Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
I’m pressing on the upward way
New heights I’m gaining every day
Still praying as I’m onward bound
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay
Though some may dwell where those abound
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground
I want to live above the world
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled
For faith has caught the joyful sound
The song of saints on higher ground

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright
But still I’ll pray, ’till heaven I’ve found
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground

Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland
A higher plane than I have found
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground
Johnson Oatman, Jr 1898

Paul’s prayer for maturity in Christ.
Philippians. 1:9-11
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

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