Fruit. (with a funny story at the end)

Pr. 27:19:  “As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man.”

What is truly in our hearts will be reflected in our actions.  We may think that we can walk in our own strength, outside of God’s will, and still appear to be living for Him, but our fruit will eventually give us away.  The truth of the fruit in our lives reveals what, or who, is really in our heart.

Galatians 5 says that when we are walking in the flesh, our fruit will show as adultery, fornication, uncleanness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.

When we are walking in the Spirit, our fruit will show as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The truth of the matter is that the fruit of the flesh is what comes most naturally for us.  In our natural state, we are selfish and indulgent.  The fruit of the Spirit is just that…His fruit.  It comes from walking with Him and allowing Him to be the One to feed, water, and fertilize us.  John 15:4 reminds us that we cannot bear fruit of ourselves, unless we abide in the Vine.  Jesus is the Vine, and our Father is the Vinedresser.  When we abide in Jesus, we will bear much fruit, and that fruit will be of the Spirit.

Our flesh wars against the Spirit, just as drought, pestilence, and heat war against healthy plants in nature. We must pay attention to the fruit we are bearing.  If we notice something rotten, then adjustments need to be made.  We need to ask God to fertilize, prune, protect, and water us with His Spirit and His Word, so that our fruit will once again be of Him.

NOTE:  As I was typing this, my son spilled milk on our cloth couch.  Instead of reacting in the flesh, yelling and belittling, allowing it to ruin our morning, or going out to buy a new couch, God gave me His Spirit to react with His fruit.  I was patient and kind with my son.  I practiced self-control by thoroughly cleaning the couch instead of throwing it out and buying a new one (like I wanted to do), and I was able to show joy as I laughed with my kids when they pretended the uncovered couch cushions were cloud town.  🙂  Thank you, God.  What a perfect example you allowed me to live out.

Abiding in the Vine,

jamie

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Nourishment to complete the tasks

Pr. 19:27:  “Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

It is easy for us to give in to busyness in this life, especially during this season of year.  There are so many things pulling at us each day.  We have countless responsibilities.  We are asked to help with many things from those around us.  We have personal things we want to do.  There is nothing necessarily wrong with being busy.  Currently, our “Christmas break” schedule is jam-packed with things to do.

The danger; however, is neglecting the only thing that really matters:  our relationship with God.  With all the busyness, it can be easy to put aside our time with God in an effort to get done all the things that are pulling at us.

Without God, though, we can do nothing.  He is our Strength.  He is our Provider.  He is the One who guides and directs us.  He is the One who instructs us.  If we put Him first, He will help us get done all the things we need to do, or He will direct us when we need to say no to certain things.

Because it is true that when we cease listening to instruction we are more likely to stray from the words of knowledge, we must be diligent and intentional in setting aside our time for the Word of God.

If we are going to choose to say no to something, we must make sure that something is not our time with God.  Above all else, we need to continue abiding in the Vine.  We must remain attached to Him, allowing Him to nourish and enrich us.  It is only abiding in Him that brings the fruit in our lives.

John 15:6 reminds us, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered, and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

We cannot risk not abiding in Him.  Once we become unattached, we stray, and eventually fall away, being then cast out and withered.  After that, we see what happens.

It may seem like I’m being overly-dramatic, but I’ve seen it before.  Sometimes it only takes a few days for the enemy to cause us to become so distracted that we get out of the routine of making time with God our priority.  Once that takes place, we are vulnerable to his sway.  His sway will always lead us away from God.

During this season, during all the busyness, giving, and frivolity, we must protect our time with God and in His Word.  We must ensure that abiding in Him is at the top of our to-do list.  If we put Him first, all the rest will fall beautifully into place.  “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Let’s remain in Him,

jamie

Come and rest

Mt. 11:28-30:  “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I love reading these verses about the true rest that Jesus gives.  We do not have to work for grace, He gives it freely.  We do not have to work harder to earn our salvation.  When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then His salvation is ours.

Submitting to Him doesn’t shackle and burden us, or add more weight.  It takes the weight away.  Allowing Him to pour His love and peace upon us will give us true rest.  We are invited to come to him, learn from Him, and find rest for our souls.  He is gentle and lowly in heart, as He proved when He walked on this earth.

Isaiah 40:29-31 says, “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Running faster or working harder will not increase our strength or our salvation.  Our strength comes from the Lord.  The harder we work in our own flesh, the more likely we will fall.  God says to “wait” on Him.  We must slow down, be still, and wait.  When we do, He will renew our strength, in His power, and we will no longer be weary.

Jesus also taught us in John 15:4 to abide in Him.  Abide means to wait, to stay, be still, endure, and bear patiently.  He said that, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”  He calls Himself the vine and us the branches.  With only the minimal knowledge of vines, we can certainly understand that if the branch is not attached to a vine, it cannot grow fruit.  In fact, it will wither and die.

What better news could we receive today?  Our job is to come to Jesus, be still, endure with Him, wait on Him, and learn from Him.  This will allow Him to give us rest, renew our strength, and cause us to not grow faint.  Abiding in Him will also allow Him to cause fruit to bear forth in our lives.  We don’t have to work harder for the fruit to come, but we must remain attached to the Vine.  He is the source of life.  Remain attached to Him and enjoy your rest.

Sigh…

jamie