Producing Fruit

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 1:3, “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water; which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (NASB) As I was considering this passage, the phrases “firmly planted” and “yields its fruit” seemed to pop out at me.

The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. (Galatians 5:22 KJV) The New American Standard Bible says, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” These are the fruits that we, as Christians, are to exhibit. So, how do we go about incorporating these into our lives? Well, Psalm 1:3 tells us. We are to be firmly planted in God’s Word! Once we have these fruits imbedded into our lives, we find that joy is a result.

For some, like me, it is very difficult, to get these things deep into my heart. Love, joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness…for me, these are easy. The hard ones are patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. I’ve been thinking about last month’s devotion series I studied on “Being Content”, and that goes right along with having a joyful heart. If I’m not content, there is no joy. On top of these devotions, my Pastor has been preaching on “What Were You Thinking?” All these combined have given me a lot to digest, and let me tell you, the struggle is real! Have I conquered my anger issues? No, but I’m working on it. Have I overcome my impatience? No, but I’m working on it.

I am most definitely a work in progress. These are things that have plagued me my entire life. It took a life-time for me to develop these behaviors and it will take a life-time for me to overcome them, unless God delivers a miracle!

The first key that I see in today’s Scripture is that as Believers, we are to be “firmly planted” in God’s Word. If I don’t take the time every day to read and study His Word, I have no clue what I am to do, how I am to act, and worse, I have no relationship with Jesus! If I don’t spend that time with Him, I’m out here on my own trying to do my own thing, and when that happens, it always ends up a disaster. The Psalmist gives us the picture of a tree planted by the water. Trees need lots of water! Their source of nourishment comes from the water and the soil for their roots. The tap root of a tree seeks out that good source of water to keep it alive and bearing fruit.

Secondly, when I am trying to do things on my own, I am vulnerable to the attack of the enemy. He knows what my faults are, and he takes full advantage of that by putting me in situations where it is easy for me to fail. Additionally, if a tree doesn’t have a good source for nourishment, it will fall because its roots haven’t found a good source to sink into to keep it stable.

The second key I see is that we are to produce fruit. When we are deeply rooted in Jesus, it gives us the ability to produce the correct type of fruit…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Left to our own devices, we can produce hatred, discontentment, turmoil, impatience, and other unhealthy attitudes. The latter group is just what the enemy wants to see in our lives because then we become ineffective in our witness for the Lord. Our actions and attitudes don’t match up with our words. You know the adage, “actions speak louder than words”. It’s true! When our lives don’t match what we say, others tend not to want to listen or become a follower of God.

I will be the first to tell you that it isn’t easy. It is a definite war going on inside of me. I try so hard, and I will do well for a while, but then, something will happen, and I fall back into my old ways and I completely erase any progress I have made and I’m back asking for forgiveness from God and asking for His help once again.

If I keep my mind fixed on Him, study His Word, listen to His voice, and put what I hear and learn into practice, I can move forward and bear the fruit that draws people to Jesus. I hope that this has been an encouragement to you and that you will find something in todays devotion time that will help you in your walk with the Lord.

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Great Are You Lord

Once in a while God wakes me with a song. This morning He woke me up with a song our church has been singing for a little while now. The song is called “Great are You Lord”. I did some background checking on the Internet to see what Scripture it was based on and I found an article of an interview with the writers of the song. They talked about the passage in Ezekiel 37 where God told Ezekiel to speak to the bones in the field and God breathed life into them and they rose up to be a great army. The part of the song that keeps running through my mind is, “All the earth will shout Your praise, our hearts are stirred, these bones will sing, Great are You Lord.”

This song has been running through my head all week, and when I got to this part of the song, I wasn’t sure I was singing it right, because bones singing just didn’t make sense to me and I thought I was remembering it incorrectly. Then as I actually looked at the words of the song and found that the song says that, that’s what caused me to look into what the composers were thinking when they wrote that lyric.

As I read the article, the composers spoke about a message they heard where the pastor stated that, “Worship is when we give God His breath back.” The song says, “It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to you only.” Then as I read Ezekiel 37, it says that God breathed into the bones. Can you imagine being a great army that had been killed in battle, and then all of a sudden being made flesh and blood and breathing! I bet those bones were praising God with all their might!

Then I began to think about our Spiritual life…. sometimes we need a little breath breathed into us! Sometimes we become like dead men walking, there is no life in our walk with the Lord, for whatever reason. Worship and praise to God helps revive that life, we are giving God His breath back and He in turn breathes back into us to revive us.

Worship is our love song to Jesus. It has many benefits. The Bible says that God inhabits the praise of His people. (Psalm 22:3 KJV) When we lift our voices in praise to God, He is present, right there with us! So, as we lift our voices He draws near to us, we can feel His presence, and especially in dark times, His presence gives us strength. We find that we are more able to fight the battles, and we are encouraged. Life begins to swell in us and grow, making us stronger in the Lord.

I love how the song begins. It says, “You are life, You are love, You bring light to the darkness!” We are given life when He breathes into us physically, and Spiritually! He is the source of life! We praise Him for giving us life, love, and light to our spirit!

The past few weeks our church has gone to a whole new level in worship! God has really made His presence known. As I stand on the platform with the Worship Team, I look out over the congregation, and I see people praising God with tears streaming down their faces, there are shouts of praise, people walking the aisle with their hands raised, it’s the most phenomenal thing to see! There have been times when, while I’m playing my flute, I find it difficult to play because I’m on the verge of tears. God’s presence is so heavy on the platform, that it’s almost hard to breathe. It’s His breath in our lungs that gives us life, and we praise Him clear to our bones!

Mother’s Day Thoughts

 

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and it’s been fun to see all the greetings to everyone yesterday on Facebook. I’ve been thinking about this Mother’s Day and the ones I’ve experienced in the past.

Let me begin by saying I’m extremely blessed! I have three stepchildren and six grandchildren that I am extremely proud of. They are my delight and fill my heart with so much love. It hasn’t always been such.

Before I married their father/grandfather, I had no children or grandchildren to dote on. My first husband and I never had kids. When I was 30 I got pregnant and my husband and I were through the moon with excitement, but at eight weeks I miscarried and then went immediately into pre-mature menopause. The doctor said I would never have children. I was so heartbroken! I wanted kids so badly. When my husband and I went to premarital counseling before we were married, the pastor asked us how many kids we wanted …. we said 6, and now we were left with none! We tried for adoption and both attempts ended in dead ends…no children.

Mother’s Day became a very difficult day for me. Even though I had a baby in Heaven, I couldn’t call myself a Mom. I had nothing to show for it, no children that I could point to and say, “They are mine”, no pictures in a frame to show. One Mother’s Day was extremely hard because a lady in our church had dealt with infertility for many years, and like me, Mother’s Day was hard for her, but on this day, her heart was full because she and her husband had adopted a little boy. As she related her story to the congregation, tears started to fall down my face and I was a basket case. My poor husband didn’t know what to do. A couple of the ladies in our church saw my distress and after church, came up to me to love on me and encourage me. This happened 20 years after I had lost my baby. Some people would think that by that time I would have been able to get over it, but there’s one thing every mother who has lost a baby knows, and that is, you never get over it.

A couple of years ago on Mother’s Day the First Lady of our church (our pastor’s wife) was having every mother write her name on a slip of paper for a drawing she was going to do for a prize. She asked if I was a mother, I told her I had a baby in Heaven. The next thing out of her mouth was like a revelation to me! She said, “Well then, that makes you a mother, put your name down.” I had never thought I could call myself a Mom! It was like I was given permission to say I was a Mom.

After my husband passed away I was left alone for six years, and then God brought to me a most wonderful man! We fell in love and got married, and when I married him, I got an immediate family complete with children and grandchildren! The Bible says that God will give you the desires of your heart when you are committed to Him. Well, God went above and beyond ANYTHING I could even imagine! I have two beautiful stepdaughters, three handsome stepsons, and six incredible grandchildren.

Today my heart is full and my cup overflows! As I was thinking about my kids (even though I didn’t birth them, I consider them my kids) I began to think of my daughters and how proud I am of them as I watch them be Mom to their kids. They are strong women of God and are teaching their children to love God and are exhibiting before them the characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman. Proverbs 31:29 (NASB) says, “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” Amber and Kristen, I am so proud of you both, and the example you display before your families, of a woman after God’s own heart. I am honored to call you my daughters.  Your mothers are to be praised for raising such amazing women of God!

You are my Shield

 

Last Sunday our church sang the song, “Shield about me”, and today it’s been running through my head. In my Bible Journaling today I looked for the Scripture that the song is based on, Psalm 3:3, “But thou O Lord, art my shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” (KJV) What a comfort to know that He is my shield! He is my protector, He encourages me, He plans good for me, He is my buckler and standard! How can I do nothing less than love Him!

As I write this, I have the song playing over and over, and my soul is at rest and in a place of peace. The words of the song follow:

Thou O Lord are a shield about me,
You’re my glory,
You’re the lifter of my head.
Thou O Lord are a shield about me,
You’re my glory,
You’re the lifter of my head.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
You’re the lifter of my head.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
You’re the lifter of my head.

All glory and honor go to Him! Can you imagine what Heaven will be like, as we who are Born Again Believers all join together around His throne proclaiming, “Holy, Holy!” The idea is just more than I can even think of. I think of those in my family who have gone before me, and my heart is so full at the thought of me and my loved ones gathered together praising God and worshipping Him. How awesome is that!

I love the thought that He is my shield! He protects me from all kinds of things, but I think mostly He protects me from myself. I can get myself into so much trouble, but He is always there reminding me of the pathway I should take and not the one I’m determined to take. He leads me and guides my steps. He is the lifter of my head! I think that means that He encourages me to the point of letting me know how special I am to Him and that He loves me more than I could ever imagine. And so, I can do no more than praise Him! Hallelujah!

This is a proclamation of praise and adoration to the One who died for me, who loves me more than anyone else, who walks with me day by day, who rejoices with me when I am happy and cries with me when I am sad. He knows me intimately, every fiber of my being has been created by Him, and He is on my side! He watches over me and I am so amazed at what He has done and who He is!

Thank you, Jesus, for being my best friend, Savior, Lord, Master, and King. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross for me, for loving me so much that you gave completely of yourself to save me. I love you and worship you.

How He Loves Us

This morning God woke me with a song, David Crowder’s song, “How He Loves Me.” As I began to do my Bible Journaling today I am finishing up a series called, “Rise Up” and today’s journaling is from Hebrews 9:27-28, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this then comes the judgement., so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”(NASB)

At first as I read this I was having a hard time finding where the idea of being risen, or we would rise up to something, was in the passages. As I was journaling, the song kept going over and over in my mind, and then I focused on verse 28, “so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” I was thrown off a little in verse 27 where it talks about judgement. But then my husband reminded me that the visual of Jesus on the throne at the Judgement Seat of Christ, was not a judgement of our sinful deeds as we would normally think of judgement, but a rewarding of the Saints for their work while here on earth.

Then what popped out at me was that Christ was offered as a sacrifice for our sins, He bore them all on the Cross! Then the song and the verse tied in together! Jesus loved us, and still loves us, so much that He paid the penalty for our sins completely, and we never have to offer up a sacrifice for our sins as the priests did in the Old Testament. It is finished! That is the ultimate in love!

John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (KJV) Jesus could not show His love any better than to offer Himself as a perfect, living sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. In our church we sing a song that says, “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand-new song, Amazing Grace! Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.” How awesome is that! He was the sacrificial lamb, the final sacrifice, for the redemption of sins for all mankind. I can do nothing more than praise Him and thank Him for such a great love!

Set an Example!

Today’s Bible Journaling was taken from the TCT devotional, “Just for Today”, and focuses on II Chronicles 26:4, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all his father Amaziah did.” Uzziah became king at the young age of 16 when his father, the king, died. I find it amazing that a 16-year-old boy could have enough wisdom to rule a country. But then, when we read the whole story of Uzziah, we find that he had a good upbringing. His father, Amaziah, taught him the ways of the Lord. Looking back in chapter 25, we find that Amaziah also did what was right in the sight of the Lord, however; verse two says that he did not do it with a perfect heart. That means he made mistakes.

So, the take away I get is, we can follow God’s ways, but we’re not always going to be perfect, so it was, I’m sure, in raising Uzziah. Amaziah raised his son in the ways of God, but he wasn’t perfect. The devotional talked about living your example before your kids, not just speaking it. The old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do”, doesn’t work. Kids will model what you do before they model what you say. I can relate to this. I have no children, but my father was very strict. Kids were to be seen and not heard, we had no opinion on anything, and he would tell us in no uncertain terms what we were supposed to do. However, in some areas, what he said and what he displayed in action were polar opposites. I have become an awful lot like my Dad, and I work as hard as I can to fix the parts I don’t like.

My first husband and I were not able to have a family, so I have no experience raising kids, but I have observed a lot by watching other parents. I now am married again and have step-children and grandchildren, for which I am eternally grateful to God! They are the light of my life! I love them like they were my own. Actions speak louder than words, and when we say one thing and do another, our kids become either confused, or they decide that if we can’t follow our own advice, it’s not worth listening to.

I have seen parents yell and scream at their kids when they misbehave, and then when their kids act out in anger in the same way, they discipline them. This was my upbringing and I learned to be afraid of my Dad. When a parent reacts like this, the child comes to the point where they lose respect for the parent. I know for me when I get angry or need to discipline; my first reaction is to yell and spank. I have to fight with that. I have learned in dealing with my grandkids, a soft answer does a whole a lot better. When I get down to their level and whisper in their ear or speak to them face to face, they are more willing to listen to me.

Modeling Godly behavior before your kids isn’t easy because we are human, and we make mistakes. They see everything we do, and they are little copycats. This is where we must come to the point where everything we do and say is first brought before the Lord. Ask for His guidance in raising our kids, search the Scriptures for guidelines in disciplining. I think that sometimes when we follow Scriptural principles, we have a tendency to try to be perfect at it and follow the letter of the law. But, God doesn’t expect perfection from us, and we should not expect perfection from ourselves or our kids either.

Spanking is a prime example. The saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is not in the Bible, however; Psalm 13:24 says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (KJV) Some people think that means beating a child within an inch of their life…and that isn’t what the Bible is saying. Spanking and beating are two different things entirely. When it comes to spanking, I believe that moderation is the key. Don’t discipline in anger. For me, I have to step back first before I discipline. In that way, I am showing my grandkids how to react when things don’t go my way, or I need to correct them. Temperance in disciplining goes a long way.

Other areas we need to model Godly behavior is how we treat others, how to allow differences of opinion, showing how to put others before ourselves, being patient, showing that God goes first before everything and everyone. Let your kids see you studying your Bible, have devotions with them, pray with them, model before them what God is teaching you. They will soon pick up on that and begin to display Godly behavior themselves. Will you be perfect at it? No, and neither will they, but when you model it before them, they will be more inclined to follow in your footsteps.

So, today’s word is, “Be an example!”

Lord, I’m Amazed by You!

Music has always had a prominent part of my life. I started singing in public when I was 3 years old, and since the 5th grade I’ve played flute. Music speaks to me when nothing else will. My heart instantly connects with the lyrics and the melodies of the song. This morning a song has been running through my mind over and over again. It is a comfort, it is a song of worship, it touches the very deepest part of my heart. The song is “Amazed.” The words have sunk deep into my very soul. “Lord, I’m amazed by You and how you love me!” I’ve been running the Phillips, Craig and Dean version over and over while I’ve done my Bible Journaling this morning. It has impacted me so much that I could do nothing else but journal how I am so in love with my Lord!

I almost instantly thought of Romans 8:35-39 (NLT), “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity; or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep,’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love, Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

My heart is so full just at the thought of how much He loves me! I can do nothing but praise Him! It is so wonderful to have such an assurance, that NOTHING can separate us from His love. That seems so inconceivable! As humans, we have conditional love toward one another, but His love is unconditional! We don’t have to be perfect to obtain His love. He knows we’re not perfect, and the thought is almost laughable…us puny humans trying to be perfect like Him just to gain His love! I love the part of the song that says, “You dance over me when I am unaware.” He dances over me! How amazing is that! He’s head over heels in love with me!

I love how this Scripture lists everything we could think of that could separate us from God’s love…trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, angels, demons, fear, worry, not even hell itself, can separate us from God’s love! No power anywhere can separate us from His love!

Jesus proved His love for me by taking my sins on the Cross and dying for my sins. The Bible says, “No greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 KJV) That’s the ultimate demonstration of love. He desires a relationship with us and He will do anything to show His love for us, even dying the most horrific death imaginable, just for us. Then He proved His love for us by conquering death, sin, and the grave. He lives now interceding for us with the Father. How amazing is that!

He cares about every detail of our lives, nothing is too insignificant to bring to Him. He hears the simple prayer of a child praying over a sick pet to our most devastatingly impossible situations, and each prayer is tenderly listened to and relayed to God, the Father, pleading for answers. Lord, You are so amazing! My heart is so full to think that You love me that much!