"Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." John 7:38

Posts tagged ‘spiritual fruit’

To Share or Not Share

post249pic1Sharing – we all know what it means – giving a bit of what we have to others so that we all have the same thing in common. I think most of us would agree that sharing, for the most part, is a good thing.

Well, it is a good thing when what we are sharing is stuff – you know, cookies, toys, food, clothes, maybe homes, and cars. But what about sharing ideas or opinions. Sometimes that can be keep reading here

Spring Growth

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Did you get a haircut? Have you lost weight? Are those new glasses? Are you wearing your makeup differently? People can’t quite put their thumb on it, but they know something’s different about you.

You know what it is. You know that it isn’t a physical change you’ve made, but it is a change that is being made deep within you.

Perhaps it is a change that is so subtle it caught you off guard. You notice that you don’t fly off the handle like you used to. Or you have more patience with a difficult person in your life. Or you find more here

Running On Empty!

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Empty. Exhausted. Frustrated. Burned out. Worn out. Helpless. Hopeless. Joyless. Passionless. Ready to quit. Except you can’t.

You can’t quit your job. Or your marriage. Or your parenting. Or your ministry. You can’t quit, but you can’t continue when you have nothing left to give.

Maybe if you just dig a little deeper you’ll find the drive, the motivation, the passion that you used to have. Surely it’s there; it’s just a little beyond reach. So you dig, but the hole just gets wider, deeper and find more here

Love Is…

ValentineTomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I love it. I always have. I’ve enjoyed it ever since I made my first poster-board Valentine card holder in grade school. I loved being courted by Brian and showered with Valentines in college. And, as a mom, I loved helping Dan and Bob write their names on preschool super-hero Valentines.

Is it a fake holiday? Am I a romantic? Probably “yes” to both. But, I’ve purchased cards and gifts, and I’ll enjoy distributing them. And, I’ll save the ones I receive.

However, the best Valentine I can give to the people I love is to look inward and have a “spiritual EKG”. I need to take a moment and determine if my day to day demonstration of love aligns with God’s definition of love.

In 1 Corinthians 13, God tells us what love should look like:

Love is…

Patient: Love bears with other’s shortcomings, weaknesses, and failures. Love waits for the right moment, it stays calm and perseveres.

Kind: Love is friendly, careful, and meets other’s needs without having to be asked. Love bends over backward to be nice, it is courteous.

Love is not…

Self-seeking: selfishly pursuing what is gratifying to me, or putting my personal desires, focus and needs above others.

Easily angered: becoming intensely displeasured or exasperated without much difficulty; it doesn’t have a short fuse and lean toward a lit match.

Proud: haughty or arrogant, with an exaggerated self-esteem or feeling of superiority.

Love does not…

Envy: discontent with what I have, resenting what another has, wanting what I don’t have.

Boast: focus on my achievements or possessions, lift myself up even at the expense of putting someone else down.

Dishonor others: bring shame or disgrace upon others through disrespect, slander, or maligning their reputation.

Delight in evil: enjoy my own wickedness or find great pleasure when others fall victim to wickedness.

Keep a record of wrongs: maintain a list of unjust treatment, collected and preserved, so as not to be forgotten, refuse to forgive, and continue to recall mistakes, errors, hurts, inequalities and injustices.

Love always…

Rejoices with the truth: Love fills the heart with joy, and is ready to celebrate facts, reality, sincerity, fidelity, integrity and honesty. Love celebrates what is right.

Protects: Love guards or keeps from harm. Love never deliberately hurts another but shields them from hurt.

Trusts: Love believes, has faith and confidence in others. Love gives the benefit of the doubt.

Hopes: Love is not wishful thinking, but confidence. Loves look forward with confidence to the fulfillment of God’s Word.

Perseveres: Love persists, it never gives up, ever.

Love never fails: no way, not at all, not ever, on no occasion will love prove deficient or inadequate. Love will always succeed.

God tells us in 1 John 4:16 that He is love. Because God is love, He can define love, and He can command that we love one another in the way that He defines it. Sometimes I love well. Other times, I don’t. God always does.

Is your heart prepared for Valentine’s Day? Are you? Are those you love? Will you be showering those you love with true Godly love this Valentine’s Day?

Christmas Decorating Day!

With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to decorate the house for Christmas! Yes, it is a ton of work! And, yes, it’s usually a solitary job, but I love it!

What I really enjoy is unpacking the ornaments!

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This is the ornament Brian and I got when we were first married in 1979, Danny’s first Christmas 1981, Bobby’s first Christmas 1984, and an ornament my mom gave me from her tree when I was a baby in 1956.

Every ornament has a sweet memory: The excitement and pride on the boys’ faces as they presented their hand-made masterpieces, the memory of a friend I haven’t seen in years, the heartache of a family member who is gone, the joy of a baby’s birth, or the thankfulness for a new daughter-in-law!

It’s not unusual, as each ornament is unwrapped and examined, to find some that didn’t survive their storage intact and need a bit of glue; while others seem prettier and shinier than when they were put away.

Just as we take the time to unpack the ornaments we use to decorate our homes, we should also set aside a time each year when we unpack and examine the ornaments God has given us to decorate our lives.

Galatians 5:22-23 “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

As we go through the box, each one provokes a memory…

Love – do you love unconditionally? Who needs to know that you love them?

Joy – when did you last experience joy? Have you brought joy to others’ lives? Have you lived joyfully in the midst of sorrow because you know the Savior?

Peace – are you living in peace? Peace with God and others?

Forbearance – have you practiced tolerance and restraint when you’ve been provoked? Have you shown patience with others?

Kindness – would others say you are kind to them? To yourself?

Goodness – only God is good – are you growing more and more like him each day?

Faithfulness – Would you say your faith in God is growing deeper? Stronger? Is it penetrating every part of your life?

Gentleness – Have your words and your actions grown in gentleness?

Self-control – where are you out of control? Where have you gained control?

As you cooperate with God, he will strengthen and grow this fruit. This is a promise.

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

We can’t produce this fruit on our own.  It isn’t a matter of working to be good enough.  These ornaments belong to God; they are the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the by-product of God working in our lives through the Holy Spirit.

As we cooperate with God in the circumstances he allows in our lives, he continues the work of transforming us: “polishing our ornaments”.

It’s time to decorate! May the light of the Lord shine brightly through you this Christmas season!

Of Mice and Men

Years ago, we lived in Missouri and our neighbor, Trudy, had a cat that liked to regularly deposit a dead mouse at her back door. Typically Trudy tossed the mouse in the trash before anyone else saw it, but one morning I stopped by early, and there it was! Yuck!

Not being a cat-person, and revealing my ignorance of cat behavior, I asked Trudy what that was all about and Trudy explained, “She thinks she’s giving me a present. It’s what cats do.”

Right! Just what every woman wants: a dead, somewhat bloody, mangled mouse dropped on the doorstep first thing in the morning. Clearly the cat didn’t understand Trudy. And, I didn’t understand the cat.

But think about it, that cat worked hard for that mouse. This was a house cat for the most part, so to get to the field, she had to get out of the house. Then she had to cross a storm run-off ditch to get to the field. Then, she had to find the mouse in a very large field. And, she had to catch him. Her gift shopping had to be done quickly. Even with all the hard work and effort, her gift went straight to the trash.

I think that is exactly how God sees our efforts to please him if we are not saved.  No matter how hard we work to please God, no matter how many gifts of generosity, service, philanthropy, and kindness to others we do, each one is like laying a dead mouse at God’s feet and saying, “Here’s another present!”

It’s just all dead mice.

God is not impressed with any work that we do to earn his favor, or our salvation. He doesn’t find it pleasing. He tells us this in Romans 8:8 “Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”

To please God, we must belong to God. We must have faith in the God who saves and in the instrument of that salvation: God’s one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Sometimes I think we get the cart before the horse, and we try to show God that we are worthy of salvation, so we bring him gifts… dead mice. Instead, we need to come to him for salvation, believe what He says, and receive the salvation that he offers.

Then, we do have to get to work! He has ordained works for us to do, works that prove our faith, not earn our faith. It must be in that order. When we work for God because of our faith, he not only finds our gifts acceptable, but he rewards them.

One day, we will have the privilege of giving gifts to Jesus. We will not give him dead mice; we will lay our crowns at his feet.

At a Texas Winery

My son and daughter-in-law took me to lunch at a winery outside of Austin, Texas for my birthday.  As we were waiting for our reservation, we wandered up and down the rows of harvested vines, enjoying the sunshine, and marveling at God’s handiwork. We also marveled at whatever it was that was coiled around the support wires.

I have to confess, it took us a few minutes to figure out what we were looking at. Coming from Illinois, we’re familiar with barbed wire, but this wasn’t barbed and it wasn’t wire. It was coiled and it was hard, woody even. We finally realized it was the hardened leftover tendrils that had connected the grapevine to the support wires.

 These tendrils were really interesting. Some of the tendrils were multiple coils a couple of inches long, and some were just one or two coils. The tendrils were so hard you couldn’t pull them off the wire, but clearly, they were at one time a part of the vine.

When the tendril was attached to the vine it was flexible, strong, and green. It had use, purpose and worth: it attached itself to the wire supports, fence posts, or whatever else was around, pulled the branches toward the sun, and lifted them up so that the grapes could hang down. It was a necessary part of the grape vine.

However, once the harvest was complete, the tendrils were left behind, separated from the branches and from the vine; useless, worthless and purposeless.

As Christians, attached to Christ, we have use, worth and purpose, but apart from Christ, we can do nothing.

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

We think we can do things apart from Christ. We have ability, education, great insights, personality, creativity, and generosity. We understand things and teach others, we might even talk to people about Jesus; but our work has no eternal value.

When it is tried by fire, it will burn up, and we will stand before Christ as one escaping the flames with only the ashes of our life’s work to place at his feet.

However, if we remain in Christ, and he in us – not next to him, not drawing our strength from him – but allowing him to live out his life through us, we will continue to bear spiritual fruit that will last for all eternity. Apart from him, we become a hardened, useless, purposeless, worthless piece of dry tendril reminding ourselves of who we used to be, and what we used to do.

Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

The tendrils were interesting, but that is all. Apart from Christ, would we even be that?

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