Dec 08

Where is the fruit? An object lesson for the 3rd week of Advent

Objects needed: A piece of fruit, or several different fruits.
Theme/Main Idea: What we do to help others shows that on the inside something has changed. Just as a good tree bears good fruit, we want people to see the “fruit” from our lives and see that it’s because God hasfruit-bowl changed our hearts!

“Good morning! How are you this morning? Are you filling up your change cans at home or in your Sunday school class? I sure hope so! It makes a big difference in the lives of the children at Intermountain. And, it’s a sign that you understand what Advent is really all about… but I’ll get back to that in a bit.

First, I bet you want to see what the object lesson is this week? Yes? Okay… let me get it out for you.

[take out fruit that you brought with you]

You know what this is? No… it’s not my breakfast or my snack for after the service! It’s fruit. Yep. Just fruit. Our Bible story today talks about fruit, so I thought I’d bring some in.

In the story, John the Baptist warned the people that Jesus was going to come soon to teach them and show them what God was all about. John told them to live lives that showed others that they had really turned away from sin to follow God. Then he said something kinda funny… He said, trees that don’t produce good fruit, like this [hold up an apple, pear, or orange], are going to get cut down! Apparently, fruit is pretty important.

But, do you think John was really worried about fruit trees? [kids respond, “No…”]

I think this is one of those word pictures, again, that we see all over the Bible. The people John was talking to seemed to understand that, because they asked him, ‘What should we do, then?’ They didn’t ask him about how to take better care of their apple and orange trees! They knew that John was talking about their actions and how they treated other people.

In response, John told them to do some really practical things, like take care of people who don’t have enough clothes or food, and to be honest with their money.

As we are getting ready to celebrate Jesus’ birthday this Advent season, we can take some of John’s advice. Just as the people back then were told to take care of one another and to use their money in ways that pleased God, those things can be signs of ‘good fruit’ in our lives too!

It’s part of the reason that we take special offering from time to time at church, like the Change for Children cans we gave out a few weeks ago. It’s not because giving money or doing nice things for others earns us God’s approval; it’s that doing these things changes our attitude towards others. Our hearts rearrange from just thinking about what we will GET during the Advent season to what we can GIVE to others.

And, as we build in ourselves the characteristics of gratitude and generosity, we prepare ourselves to truly celebrate the One we recognize this Advent and Christmas season—Jesus!

Let’s pray:

God, thank you for meeting our needs so abundantly. We hope that when you look at our lives you see lots of good ‘fruit.’—gratitude, generosity, kindness, and love. Help us show others by our actions that our hearts have changed for the better. We don’t want to give into the selfishness that sometimes comes with the Holiday season, but instead live as examples of your love and grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Key Text:  Luke 3:7-18 (NIRV)

John spoke to the crowds coming to be baptized by him. He said, “You are like a nest of poisonous snakes! Who warned you to escape the coming of God’s anger? 8 Live in a way that shows you have turned away from your sins. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘Abraham is our father.’ I tell you, God can raise up children for Abraham even from these stones. 9 The ax is already lying at the roots of the trees. All the trees that don’t produce good fruit will be cut down. They will be thrown into the fire.”
10 “Then what should we do?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has extra clothes should share with the one who has none. And anyone who has extra food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” John told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
John replied, “Don’t force people to give you money. Don’t bring false charges against people. Be happy with your pay.”
15 The people were waiting. They were expecting something. They were all wondering in their hearts if John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I am will come. I’m not good enough to untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His pitchfork is in his hand to toss the straw away from his threshing floor. He will gather the wheat into his barn. But he will burn up the husks with fire that can’t be put out.” 18 John said many other things to warn the people. He also announced the good news to them.