Have you ever been stung by a bee? Not a fun experience! Did you know that after a honey bee stings someone, it dies? They are giving their lives to protect the hive or to defend themselves. A couple of weeks ago, I visited Pastor Bob Weeks and his church, Verona UMC. I went to preach two recorded sermons. However, my visit was intentionally timed to include helping with a “honey harvest.” Yes, Verona UMC has about 250,000 employees living in their ten beehives! This “Honey Bee Ministry” helps to fund missions, while taking a pro-active role in caring for God’s creation.
Bees are fascinating and so helpful to us as they pollinate 80% of the world’s plants and more than 90 different food crops! Years ago, I actually had two of my own beehives. Helping with a honey harvest of 10 hives was a new and amazing experience. Pastor Bob’s expertise in beekeeping showed as he guided the team of volunteers. The bee suits are hot, to say the least, but they do keep you free from stings . . . worth it! We opened up the hives from the backside and then used smoke to break the communication of the bees and drive them deeper into the hives. We pulled out the frames to see if they were filled with honey or brood (larvae). We placed the frames in the honey extractor which spins the honey out – using centrifugal force. Then, we took them back and put them in the hive for the bees to fill again!
You all know that preachers are often looking for sermon illustrations. Here are some interesting ‘bee facts’ that didn’t make the cut for sermon material.
Friends, how amazing is it, that God by His Holy Spirit produces “fruit” in us so we can enjoy it, but there’s enough of it that others can have plenty too! Paul writes to the church in Galatia, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). He is saying as God’s Spirit dwells in you and you yield to the Holy Spirit, a different kind of photosynthesis takes place and we are changed to produce visible results! Make no mistake, the Christian life is a supernatural life! Our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)! This supernatural love, joy, peace, patience . . . all are received in relationship with the living God. Our lives are qualitatively better, because God dwells with us, but it’s not just for our benefit.
The Holy Spirit produces this ‘fruit’ in us for others to experience! Is this your experience? Is there joy in you that transcends your circumstances? Do you have a love from Christ that is even extended to “enemies?” In the chaos of the pandemic and all of the crises around us, is there the “peace that passes all understanding?” It is all available to you. I know in my life I often have to wrestle against my flesh and yield to God’s Spirit before I experience bearing “fruit.” In this way, God makes himself known in the world. The world will never be interested in a “religious version of itself.” As they see in us a quality of life that they are lacking, they become open to life in Christ!
Friend, please be aware, the situation is urgent. Jesus is indeed the Savior of the world, but if people reject him, they are choosing a Christ-less eternity. Let us live boldly, a life in the Holy Spirit! 20 centuries ago, the Apostle John wrote to the church:
“This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:13-14).