There Is a Season for Everything

Ever since the pandemic hit, I have been struggling with a sense of contentment.  Perhaps you can relate?  God, in His mercy, continues to reveal things to me about why I have been struggling.

This morning I read Ecclesiastes chapter 3.  Verse 1 just jumped off the page at me.  It says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven.”  The chapter then goes on the say there is a time for this and a time for that etc.

It hit me.  This is a season like no other that I have experienced.  And just because it is like no other,  it is a season that I still need to embrace because God is sovereign and He has allowed this.  It is a season that I need to “be still and know that I am God”.  (Ps. 46:10)  It is a season that I need to rest in and not focus on what is NOT happening but glean all the goodness of God around me.

I shared at the top that I have been struggling with contentment.  Well, over the years I have learned that when we say we are struggling with something, it means that we are somehow, someway, battling against God’s plan for our life and not trusting His love, grace and goodness.  Or, we are disobeying the Lord somehow, someway.  Either one signifies that we are in disobedience of some sort and that will always cause us to feel discontented.  So, I knew I was the problem but wasn’t sure until this morning exactly what I needed to understand in order to be free from my disobedience, which brings dis- contentment.

Famous author, Elizabeth Elliot, said that “acceptance=peace”.  I just realized that I need to accept this highly unusual season and accept the days the way God designs them.  “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.”  Contentment has come to me afresh because God has shown me I need to submit and accept this particular season and even embrace it.  I need to ask Him to fill me with His love, His joy, His peace and all of the fruit of the Spirit each morning and just bask in His Presence all through out the day.

St. Augustine said that we have problems (like discontentment) because of our “loves being out of order; we need to reorder our loves”.   SO TRUE!  If we love anything above the Lord, it will somehow, someway, cause disorder in our soul.  We are meant to love the Lord above anyone or anything else and when we do not, our loves are out of order and we must reorder them to have peace of soul.  We must reorder them in order to be obedient to the Lord.

So, for myself, I have had to reorder my thoughts on a lot of things in order to line them up with God’s.  I have been guilty of what Pastor, author and biblical counselor, Paul Tripp, calls, “being our own little sovereigns”.  Yikes.  Anytime we are struggling, there’s a good chance we are trying to be sovereign over something and it’s a battle we will never win because there’s only one true Sovereign!

It’s a strange season.  I just need to embrace it and be in tune to however and whatever God would have me to do and to be for His glory!

 

What Am I Making Larger Than God’s Power?

Yes, it’s Debbie!  I am still with us!  I have not posted on my blog in over a year I believe!  For those of you who don’t know, we moved to Waco, Texas this February!  Our son, Alex, and his dear family live here and God truly called us to make the move.  We love being near them all and are adjusting well, I would say, even in a pandemic!

It has been a bizarre time in our country and in our world for about six months.  This virus has caused so many people to experience fear, worry and anxiety like never before.  I would say a general overall feeling of a lack of rest or peace in the soul might be appropriate for countless folks.  I hit the wall a few months ago and had a melt down of sorts.  Just felt hopeless about many things.  Everything “normal” seemed  absent.  God, in His mercy, heard my cries for help and comfort and restored my soul.  He is such a Good Shepherd.

The title of this post is, ‘What Am I Making Larger Than God’s Power?’  Well, I would like to ask you to search your heart and ask yourself that question because whatever the answer is to that question, will reveal what is causing you unrest or a lack of peace.  It will point to what we think that God just can’t or won’t have power to restore, help, manage, revive, heal, uplift, encourage, comfort or ???  You fill in the blank.  Your answer to that question can limit your experience of almighty God demonstrating His power in your life.  And THAT will always cause us to have a lack of peace and a lack of rest in our soul.

In Matt. 8:23-27, Jesus is on a boat with His disciples.  There is a tremendous storm.  He is asleep in the middle of the storm.  The disciples are ridden with fear.  They woke Him up saying, “Save us, Lord, we are perishing!”  And He says to them, “Why are you timid, you men of little faith?”  Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm.  The men marveled, saying, “What kind of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Two things stand out to me in this scripture passage.

1)Jesus could rest perfectly because He trusted His Father perfectly!  We (and I am speaking to myself here too) need to take this to the depth of our hearts.   Truly, if we want to rest like Jesus rested, we must trust our heavenly Father!  He knows what He is doing or allowing and He knows exactly what we need at any given minute.  He is just waiting to show Himself to us if we will just trust Him to do so.   Jesus was never rattled.  He was never rattled because He trusted His Father completely.  And, He was never rattled because He wasn’t about doing His own plans.   He was about doing His Father’s business.  He lived surrendered.  Are we?

2)The other thing that stands out is the incredible power of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh!  If He can calm the sea and the winds, He can do anything!  So, if He can do anything, we need to ask ourselves again, what am I making larger than or putting in place of trusting in the power of God?  Whatever that is, it has a hold over you that is robbing you of the rest that Jesus had in the boat.

In John 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

One of the greatest gifts Jesus has given to us is His peace.  But, if we are allowing something else to rule over us apart from trusting in our Father, our peace has left the building!

Our heavenly Father loves it when we trust Him for whatever concerns us.  Just like we who are parents love it when our children trust our love and trust our judgement, our heavenly Father is even more pleased than we humans!

Peace. Rest. All available to God’s children when we live trusting the Father and not living for our own plans, but His plans for our life!

 

This entry was posted on August 22, 2020.

Don’t Forget Who’s With You!

I truly believe that one of the main reasons we loose our peace so easily is that we forget Who is with us. We forget Who is on our side. We forget Supernatural Presence is with us. We forget Perfect Love is with us. We forget Perfect Wisdom is with us. We forget Perfect Grace, which equals Perfect Power is with us. We forget Perfect Knowledge and Understanding is with us. We forget Perfect Compassion and Mercy is with us. We forget Perfect Help is with us. We forget the Perfect Planner is with us.

All this ‘forgetting’ brings about a huge deficit on our minds and hearts…a lose of peace; God’s peace.   All this ‘forgetting’ leaves us depending on the imperfect; ourselves. And that equals no peace. All this ‘forgetting’ leaves us trying to manage life on our own and that equals no peace. All this ‘forgetting’ leaves God out of the picture and therefore the Prince of Peace is not reigning and cannot reign because the banner over our heads isn’t waving King Jesus on duty, it’s waving Queen/King (insert your name) is on duty.

I am realizing more and more that in order for the “peace of God that passes all understanding” (Phil.4:7) to rule in my mind and heart, I have got to continually remember Who is with me. I am never alone, ever. I have got to trust that all of God is with all of me, always. I have got to walk in faith because without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6)

Over and over again in the scriptures we read how Jesus honored a person’s faith and said “because of your faith” etc.   He blessed them in some fashion due to their faith in Him.

We need to remember that Jesus is always at peace. He is Jehovah Shalom. We need to come under the shelter of His peace like an umbrella in the rain. His peace is available to us 24-7.
We are the ones who simply must remember who is with us~

*in the raising of our kids

*in our Drs. appointments

*in our running errands

*in our marriages

*in our illnesses

*in our waiting for God to answer prayers

*in our ministries

*in our relationships

*in our finances

*in our disappointments

*in our grief

*in our sleepless nights

*in our health issues

*IN EVERYTHING

Yes, the peace that passes all understanding is available in all things. As I mentioned above, we must walk in faith trusting that God is with us in all things.

Another “must”, if you will, in having the peace of God reign, is submission to God’s ways and timing. If we do not have a posture in our heart of submission, that means the banner of Queen/King (insert your name) is still ruling and with that, peace has left the building!

God’s heart wants us living in His peace! In order for that to be real for our heart, we must trust in all of His divine characteristics. We must be actively aware of His Presence in all of our circumstances. We must submit to His ways and His timing.

Above all, don’t forget Who is with you……always! (Is.41:10, Matt. 28:20)

 

 

This entry was posted on May 9, 2019. 2 Comments

Keep a Humble Heart

Key Verses for Today~

“…seek humility.” Zephaniah 2:3  

“…put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

“No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18

“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all.” Psalm 103:19

This past week the Holy Spirit has impressed a very important thing upon my heart.  It’s not anything new, per se.  But, it’s something that is enabling me to live in greater peace, greater contentment, greater joy; all of which the Lord wants for His children!  And, all of which are available to us if we just remember some vital truths and apply them to our hearts.  The Word is so powerful…. but only if we APPLY IT!!

The above verses have come alive to me afresh this past week.  The first one from Zephaniah is a command.  We are commanded to seek humility.    The one from Colossians is also a command.  We are to put on humility.  

God always gives us commands for our benefit and well-being.  His commands are also there because if we apply these things to our lives, He is glorified!  He is magnified.  He is lifted up as opposed to ourselves being lifted up.

Keeping a posture of humility in our hearts tells God we are submitting to what He either causes or allows.  We are submitting to His character.  We are submitting to His ways and His timing.  If we do not keep a posture of  humility in our heart, then we are saying to God: I don’t trust your ways or your timing.  I don’t like the way you are taking care of this issue.  I want my plan to work and I am not content with Your plan, God.  You are just not good enough, God.  No humility there.  Self is on the throne.  There is no peace, joy or contentment when self is on the throne.

And we need to remember 1st Peter 5:5, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  God is attracted to the humble!

When we keep the Lord on the throne, (which is where He is whether we submit to Him there or not!)and keep a posture of humility before Him, there is great peace.  There is great contentment and joy.  Why? Because we are essentially saying to God, I trust you.  I believe in your character.  I believe in your promises.  I trust your ways and your timing.  It’s all about You and not about me!  The peace of God just takes over because the onus of life (apart from our responsibility) is on Him and God is completely trustworthy in caring for His children!

However, if we don’t truly believe that God is good, if we don’t truly believe that He is for us and not against us, if we don’t truly believe that He is all loving, all powerful, all knowing and a compassionate, merciful God, then keeping a humble heart before God will most likely not happen.  We are not going to bow down in humility to someone we don’t really trust.

I love the 3rd verse above that says that only God is good.  We may think we are good, but the truth is, only God is good.  And He wants us to depend on His goodness!  If we depend on the only One who is good, then keeping a humble heart will come much easier to us.

The last verse above has always brought me much comfort.  God’s sovereignty rules over all.  In other words, He is in total control, even when things seem out of control to us.  Knowing He is sovereign helps me to keep a humble heart.  His will, will be done!  Even when we mess up, His purposes will not be thwarted. (Job 42:2)

O dear readers….may we follow the commands to keep a humble heart before God because there is SO MUCH peace and contentment and joy when we do!!  And this is how Jesus longs to see His children; completely dependent on Him and His character!

 

 

This entry was posted on July 10, 2018. 1 Comment

It’s All A Gift- Part II

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Phil. 2:3,4

The Lord has put on my heart to share something as a follow up to my latest post.  In that post, I listed all kinds of ways that the Lord has poured out His gifts/graces upon us.  I shared that everything, everything, we have is a gift of His grace.  From our next breath, to being able to use our eyes to read this post,  to being able to eat, to being able to share life with others, to having medicine to help our physical needs.  You name it, it’s a gift!

The Lord just showers us with gifts…..all day long…..24-7.

So, what the Lord has put on my heart is the fact that with all these gifts, with all this love, with all this grace that He continually pours upon me, I truly believe that I need to take on this  word, “gift”, and BE the gift; BE the “gift” to others around me.  To think of myself, whenever I encounter anyone, or when God puts someone on my heart, and think, ‘how can I be a gift to this person?’

Yes, I know we’ve all heard Jesus’ command to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves” Mk.12:31  (note~we do love ourselves!)  But, to help myself and to perhaps help you as well, think of this word, “gift”, because it really encapsulates how Jesus would love for us to be unto others.  A gift. 

If we all think of ourselves as a “gift” to those around us, I believe it would change how we treat each other.  It would change how we speak to each other.  It would change our attitudes.  It would reduce our self-absorption and concern about how the other person is treating us.  It would help us to forgive others, because it’s pretty tough to be a “gift” to another individual if we are holding grudges and unforgiveness.  That totally keeps one focused on self and looking to be served rather than to serve.   Being “the gift” is out the window.

All the myriad of  gifts that the Lord Jesus has lavished upon us are never for us alone.  They are to be poured out upon others and I truly believe if we can see ourselves as a “gift” to those around us, there would be a beautiful transformation in the quality of relationships.  There would be a shift from being focused on me, myself and I (I call this the counterfeit trinity!) to focus where it should be, on God and others.  There would be much more joy all around us but especially bring much more joy to the heart of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

May we all ask for the grace of God to enable us to see ourselves as a gift to others and then seek to be just that….God’s gift to others during our short time on this earth!

 

This entry was posted on June 26, 2018. 1 Comment

It’s All a Gift

The two verses below tell us exactly where everything we have comes from.  It’s a radical truth to allow to sink into our hearts:

“For who makes you different from anyone else?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” 1 Cor. 4:7

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…”James 1:17

The Lord has impressed upon my heart,  in a deeper way in this past year,  this fact…everything we have, everything.…. is a gift from God’s hands.  Everything is a gift of His grace upon us.

Below are more scriptures that give descriptions of the types of gifts, graces, if you will, that God pours into our lives.  Allow them to speak into your life:

Our very conception to live a life on this earth is a gift.  God planned you! (Ps. 139)

He gives us our breath and all things.( Acts 17:25)

He gives us the ability to live and move and exist (Acts. 17:28)

He gives us our spiritual gifts to use, not for ourselves, but for others. (Rom. 12:6)

He gives us the gift of repentance. (Acts 11:18)

He gives us our skills. (Ex. 36:1-2)

He gives us guidance and direction. (Ps. 32:8 & Is. 58:11)

He forgives all our sins (Mk. 3:28 & 1st Jn. 1:9)

He created us for a reason/purpose, which is to glorify Him. (Is. 43:7)

He tells us where to find ultimate joy….which is in God.  (Ps. 87:7)

He gives us the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension. (Phil. 4:7)

He loves us so much He even calls us His children. (1st Jn. 3:1)

He will supply all our needs. (Phil. 4:19)

He refreshes us when we need it. (Jer. 31:25)

He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. (2nd Cor. 1:3)

Spiritual growth comes from God. (1 Cor. 3:7)

He knits together lives and forms friendships (1st Sam. 1,3)

He gives us stability for our times. (Is. 33:6)

He gives us wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:3)

He has provided salvation from our sins. (Jn. 3:16)

The gifts, all the different kinds of graces, are truly above and beyond what we could ask or think! (Eph. 3:20)  This list doesn’t begin to name them all!

Our Lord certainly deserves our whole heart.  He certainly deserves our trust.  He certainly deserves our obedience.  He certainly deserves our putting Him first in everything.  He certainly deserves our turning over our fears and worries to His mighty hands and perfect care.  He is worthy of being praised and thanked all day long for all He does for us, mano-second by mano-second.  He certainly deserves our ‘utmost for His highest’.

He made us.  He saved us.  He treasures us.  He longs to commune with us all day long because He is the One who created relationship!  His gifts and graces just do not cease!

I want to continually  remember everything we have is a gift of His grace, which is His favor.

EVERYTHING!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on June 22, 2018. 5 Comments

It’s the Heart That is the Problem

Today the Lord led me to share this from Paul David Tripp’s daily devotional book, ‘New Morning Mercies’.  I cannot recommend this devotional enough.

“It’s the heart that’s the problem.  People, locations, and situations don’t cause me to sin; they’re where the sin of my heart gets revealed.

If you ask the little boy why he hit his sister, he won’t tell you it was because of the sin that’s in his heart.  No, he’ll say, “She was bothering me.”  If you ask the teenager why he came in late, he won’t willingly take responsibility.  He’ll tell you a long story of how there was an accident on the freeway, then a long train he had to wait for, and then a water main break that flooded the street he normally drives on.  If you ask the father why he is so angry all the time, he won’t tell you it’s because of the selfishness and impatience in his heart.  No, he’ll say it’s because of his kids; they just drive him crazy.  If you ask the single person why she’s so moody and discontent, she won’t say it’s because of the jealousy that resides in her heart.  She’ll point to all the ways that life has been hard.  If you ask the old man why he is so mean, he won’t tell you it’s because of the bitterness that has captured his heart.  No, he’ll talk about all the times in his life when he didn’t get what he knew he deserved.

Sometimes I think it’s the one biblical truth that no one believes.  When we do something wrong, we all tend to point outside ourselves for the cause: “This traffic makes me so angry”; “She gets me so upset”; or “My boss brings the worst out of me.”

It’s a comfortable, street-level heresy.  It feels good to think that your biggest problems in life exist outside you and not inside you, but the problem is that it is simply not true.  Jesus devastated the self-atoning perspective on human behavior in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But, I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. (Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28) Sin is a matter of the heart before it is ever an issue of our behavior.  This means that your and my biggest problem in life exists inside us and not outside us.  It’s the evil inside me that connects me to the evil outside me.  So I must confess that I am my greatest problem.  And if I confess this, I am saying that I don’t so much need to be rescued from people, locations and situations.  I am in desperate need of the grace that is alone able to rescue me from me.  I can escape situations and relationships, but I have no power to escape me.  This is exactly why David prayed in Psalm 51 that God would create a clean heart in him.  God’s grace is grace for the heart, and that is VERY good news!

 

 

This entry was posted on March 11, 2018. 3 Comments

Are Your Thoughts ‘Gifts’ From the Devil?

What have you been thinking about lately?  What are you thinking about now?  Are your thoughts filled with faith?  Are they true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, praiseworthy? (Phil. 4:8)

Or, are they thoughts filled with fear, confusion, doubt, lies you are believing, worry,  or anxiety?

God says in 2nd Tim. 1:7 “God has not given us a spirit of fear….”

God says in 1st Cor. 14:33 that “God is not the author of confusion.”

The originator of doubting God first entered the world when Satan said to Eve, “Has God really said….?” Gen. 3:1

God says in John 8:44 that the devil is the father of lies.

God says in Matt. 6:34 that we are not to worry.

God says in Phil. 4:6 that we are to be anxious for nothing…

We have an enemy of our souls, Satan, and he wants nothing more than for us to “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) in this second list of thoughts.  The first part of this verse says, “IN HIM, we live and move and have our being”.  If we are born again Christians, we are IN HIM, that is, in Christ.  But, that doesn’t necessarily mean our thoughts are like His!

We are in a daily spiritual battle and the greatest thing Satan wants to attack is our mind.  He pulls out all the stops to cause us to have thoughts that are NOT OF GOD.  He is very active in sending us messages to cause fear, confusion, doubt, lies, worry and anxiety.  He wants to bring us great temptation to have these kinds of thoughts which all lead to doubting our faith!  And if we are not walking well in faith, there goes our peace; there goes our joy.  And there is one big win for the enemy!

In Luke 22:3-32 Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail…”  Satan’s big ploy is to steal our faith and he knows just what kind of ‘gifts’ to fire at us to make that happen.  Fortunately, we do have our Intercessor, Jesus, always praying for us! (Rom. 8:34)

In Romans 8:6 scripture says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”  When our sense of spiritual well-being and peace seems to be absent, we simply must examine and see what our mind is set upon.  We simply must examine and see if we are believing thoughts that the devil planted in our minds.  And if we are unsure where they came from, either from ourselves or the devil, we need to renew it!  We need to ask God for grace (His favor and power) to redirect our thoughts and replace them with God-honoring ones.  We need to ask  God to deliver us from the evil one and renew a right spirit within us.  We need His divine help to think God’s way because the battle is raging.  The world, the flesh, and the devil are all enemies vying for our thoughts and our faith!

So, what ‘gifts’ from the devil have you, perhaps, been entertaining?

The Holy Spirit, whom is our divine Helper, is sitting on ready to help us get our mind set on the Spirit and think God’s thoughts and deliver us from those of the evil one which bring such havoc to our souls.  We just need to be willing to pray and then experience the power of our omnipotent God as He restores right thinking, peace and joy to our hearts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on February 15, 2018. 3 Comments

The Secret to Bearing Fruit

Dearest Readers~ God has put on my heart to share a message that I gave at my church’s (Grace Fellowship, Duarte, Ca.) New Year’s Women’s Luncheon.  May the Lord use this to encourage and strengthen your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, is my prayer for you all.

The Secret to Bearing Fruit

It’s just great to see you all here today! For many years we have typically had a Christmas Luncheon but the Lord put it on my heart to switch it up and make it a NY’s luncheon in 2018! My hope was that instead of adding one more thing to your already busy Christmas season, that this would be something to look forward to AFTER things settle down and be something to kind of jump-start your New Year!

I don’t know about you, but for me, a new year can bring all sorts of thoughts to my mind…

Thoughts like I wonder if this situation will change this year, or I sure would like to have victory in this area this year, or how is this situation going to turn out, or how much longer am I going to have to pray over this, Lord, or I wish I had handled that situation differently last year, or I wonder if this will be the year that God changes (countless things). These are just some of the types of thoughts I can have as I enter a new year. Maybe you have them too.

Statistics show that facing a New Year can bring great depression and anxiety for countless reasons. Perhaps it’s because people feel hopeless and they feel stuck for whatever reason. Perhaps this describes you even today.

Well, it is my hope and my prayer that this message will bring some level of renewed hope to you today so that you can live in a hope-filled state instead of in a hope-less state. It is my hope and prayer that you will leave here with a fresh inspiration for this New Year!

It’s 2018 now and I don’t know about you but I don’t want the live a life that is same 0, same 0 in this New Year. If I want to be un-stuck in areas of my life, if I want to live a life that has new freedom and fresh joy in 2018, then it is going to require change. And if you want to stop living life same o same o and live a life that has more freedom and fresh joy in 2018, then it will require change for you as well.   There is a saying that goes, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you will keep getting what you’re getting.”

In the Bible Jesus talks a lot about living in freedom. Think about that word, freedom. Let’s say it all together….FREEDOM. When I looked up the definition of freedom, one of the definitions I found was; a state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. (repeat) Also, some synonyms for freedom are liberty, release, deliverance, and discharge.

Now, I ask you, who does not want to live in a state of liberty, release, deliverance and discharge from something!? Who does not want to live in a state, like the definition says, of NOT being imprisoned or enslaved?! Who does not want to live in the freedom that Jesus went to the cross to give us!? Jesus says in the gospel of John chapter 8:36 “If, therefore, the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Well, what is the secret to living in this freedom? What is the secret to bearing new fruit in our life and getting rid of the ole rotten fruit? What is it going to take to have 2018 look any different from 2017?

It’s one word and it’s a word that we don’t like to talk about. It’s the only word that allows new fruit to be produced. It’s the word that will bring true freedom to our lives. It’s a word that Jesus Christ is very familiar with. The word that I am speaking about is death. You heard right, death.

Listen closely to these words from Jesus. This is found in John 12:24. Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies (meaning, dies to itself), it bears much fruit.” (repeat) Now, whenever Jesus says truly-truly or verily-verily, He is about to teach on a profound matter. The double truly or double verily indicates that what follows is of extremely weighty significance so we are to pay extra special attention to it.

Jesus is talking about what is involved in bearing good fruit. He frequently used nature to give us illustrations for life lessons and what he wants us to understand as followers of Christ. Here he uses a grain of wheat and what it will take for it to bring forth more fruit. First, it must die. Jesus says if it doesn’t, it remains alone and produces no fruit.

When my husband plants his garden he puts out all these dead seeds into the earth. Then over time with watering and sunshine, the seeds begin to sprout up and before long the fruit comes and we are able to enjoy it.

Well, why is this fruit-bearing thing so important? It’s because it’s a critical part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus made this very clear in John 15:8 when he said, “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

Well, how are we going to bear much fruit and bring glory to God unless we apply Jesus’ death principle to our lives? To help us grasp this in a way we can relate to I want to give us a “practical” translation to Jesus words in John 12:24.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless your ways, your plans, your ideas, your time table, your expectations, your wants, your desires, are put at the foot of My cross and surrendered to me, they will keep you in bondage and they will be idols in your life. But if they are put at the foot of My cross and are dead to you but alive to Me and My Almighty hands, you will then have freedom and will then bear much fruit.”

Renowned Pastor Tony Evans says it well. “Until there is some dyin’, there is not gonna to be any livin!”

You see, if we don’t die to self and self’s ways and self’s plans and self’s expectations, and self’s wants, and self’s time-table, then how in the world are we going to bear the fruit of God? We won’t. The fruit of our life will look very humanlike and that means no glory to God and that means no freedom/joy for our soul. If we don’t die to self, that means we are still on the throne, so to speak. How can God produce His fruit when we are filled up already with self and self’s brand of fruit?

Remember our key verse again:

Jesus say, “Truly, truly unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies (to itself), it bears much fruit”

So, what kind of fruit is Jesus talking about? It’s not the kind of fruit that we eat, we can definitely assume that! So what kind of fruit is Jesus making such a big deal about? He’s using terms like truly, truly before he talks about it, so we know that this is extremely important instruction from his mouth to our ears. And we know that Jesus’ instructions are always for our good and His glory.

I want you to look up at the wall behind me here and read what it says along with me. LOVING GOD, LOVING PEOPLE, CHANGE THE WORLD. These words have been up here since this sanctuary opened.

You can’t get a more God-centered focus than that! Loving God, Loving People, Changing the World. THIS IS GOD FRUIT. THIS IS NOT HUMAN FRUIT.   Notice the KEY word before God and people. What is the word? LOVING

If we are instructed from God to love God and to love people we need to really understand where we are going to get this kind of ability to do this; we need to understand where this kind of love comes from; this love that we are instructed to love God and people with. It certainly doesn’t originate from us! No, it is the very nature of God and God alone. 1 John 4:8 says that God is Love. The bible never mentions that a person is love. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The bible says in Romans 7:18 that nothing good dwells in our flesh!

So, if we are going to bear good fruit like loving God and loving people in this New Year and if we realize that God says nothing good dwells in our flesh, we are going to have to apply the Lord’s death principle to our lives that Jesus talked about in John 12:24. Remember….Jesus words, “Truly, truly I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains by itself alone; but if it dies (to itself), it bears much fruit.”

LOVE is the main fruit we want to produce this year and every year. Loving God and loving others as yourself are Jesus’ two greatest commandments, so we need to take that seriously. In 1st Corinthians 13, which is famous for being called the Love chapter of the bible, we see descriptions of love.

Listen while I read these descriptions. As I read these, be aware that in order to love these ways, each one requires a form of death to self. In our flesh we naturally want to do the opposite of these descriptions. So, in order to love Jesus’ way, we have to apply the death principle so that Jesus’ fruit will grow.

Listen to these descriptions of love….

Love is patient, love is kind and not jealous, love does not brag and is not arrogant, it does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek it’s own way; it is not provoked, it does not take into account a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Now, by nature none of us likes to be interrupted when things are going well. We do not like delays in our plans. We all have a strong craving for a trouble-free life and we tend to get irritated when our best-laid plans go awry. We don’t like traffic tie-ups on the freeway when we have an appointment. We don’t like overheated cars on vacations. We don’t like for babies to cry thru the night. We don’t like checks to get lost in the mail. We like it when life flows according to our plan and our pleasure. And when it doesn’t, our nature is to be provoked and to complain and grumble and murmur and be angry and critical.

Paul says in 1Cor.13 that Love is patient, it is not easily provoked. So, what becomes of this whole side of us that is impatient and has a short fuse and that is easily provoked and easily complains and easily grumbles and easily gets angry and easily criticizes? The answer is it must die! In order to love the way God describes, something in me must die. My strong craving for a trouble-free life must die. My need for an uninterrupted schedule must die. My demand that frustrations and interference get out of my way must die.

We simply cannot love the way Paul describes until we apply the death principle!

Paul says Love does not brag and is not arrogant. That is, it does not speak much about itself and is not puffed up with its achievements. It has to die to this tendency. He says love does not take into account a wrong suffered. We have to die to our wanting revenge or getting angry and bitter. We must forgive. He says love does not seek it’s own. That means we must die to wanting attention and constantly talking about ourselves. Love is other-centered, not self-consumed.

Listen to what Pastor John Piper says regarding this. He calls it a call to love and a call to death

*Being long suffering or patient means dying to the desire for an untroubled life.

*Having no jealousy means dying to the desire for unshared affection

*Not boasting means dying to the desire to call attention to our successes.

*Not acting unbecomingly means dying to the desire to express our freedom offensively.

*Not seeking our own way means dying to the dominance of our own preferences.

*Not being easily provoked means dying to the need for a frustration free life

*Not taking account of wrongs means dying to the desire for revenge.

*Bearing all things and enduring all things means dying to the desire to run away from the pain that comes when we choose to obey God.

You can see from all this, to love God’s way, is to truly die God’s way. It is a sacrifice. It’s a giving up of my self and self’s desires. It’s a crushing of self. It’s going to our own Calvary. Until we go to our own Calvary, we will not be lovers like Jesus, joyful like Jesus, peaceful like Jesus, patient like Jesus, kind like Jesus, gentle like Jesus, good like Jesus. These are all fruit of God’s Spirit, not my spirit. So in order for them to be produced, there has to be a crucifixion of sort. And crucifixion always involves suffering. When we choose to die to our flesh and it’s ways, it’s painful! We should not be surprised by this at all.

But look at what happened to our Lord Jesus after his going to Calvary and his suffering! He died but then God raised Him from the dead! You see without death there is no- new- life. Without death there is no- new- fruit. Without death there is no freedom. Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came to give us life and have it abundantly. Well, what kind of abundance is he talking about? He is definitely not talking about feeding our fleshly desires. He is definitely not talking about granting our every wish like a Genie. No, He is talking about the kind of abundance that He originally created us for. He is talking about the abundance to which fulfills our purpose for being on this planet.   The abundant life that He came to give us requires death to our flesh so that we can be all filled up with Jesus. And when we are all filled up with Jesus and emptied of self, then the abundance comes! The supernatural life shows up! The supernatural freedom, supernatural love, the supernatural peace, the supernatural joy, the supernatural strength, the supernatural grace, the supernatural blessings and on and on! When Jesus has full access to us, we have abundance far beyond what we can ask or think! When we go to our Calvary like Jesus went to His, then new life, resurrection life can occur! That is abundance my friends!

Let’s think of that seed’s purpose from John 12:24, unless it falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies (to itself), it bears much fruit…in other words it fulfills it’s purpose for which it was created! This is exactly what God wants for us, to fulfill the purpose for which He created us! To bear His fruit which brings Him glory!

Isaiah 43:7 declares this truth so beautifully—

“Bring (to me) all who claim me as their God; for I have created them for My glory. It was I who created them.”

This verse declares that it is God who created us and declares why He even made us. He made us to give Him glory. To bring God glory means we bring Him honor, we make Him look great because we are dying to ourselves so that we can reflect His image. If we are true Christians, then we are Jesus Christ’s address…he lives within us and our purpose is to bring glory and honor and praise to HIM.

So, in closing I’d like you to ponder some things….

What are you needing to die to…what are you needing to go to Calvary on in order that new freedom can come into your life in 2018? What do you need to go to Calvary for so that you can bear new fruit?

Perhaps it’s a perpetual sin issue.

Perhaps it’s expectations from others.

Perhaps it’s surrendering your timetable for God to answer prayer.

Perhaps it’s surrendering control of something or someone and totally giving that or them over to God.

Perhaps it’s living more in faith than by sight

Perhaps it’s choosing to love someone right where they are at instead of trying to conform them into your image.

Perhaps it’s acceptance of what God has allowed into your life that makes no sense to you and it is painful.

Perhaps it’s forgiving someone who hurt you deeply and you need to forgive just as Jesus has forgiven you for all the sins you commit every day.

Are you willing to release to God the thing that you want to hold onto the most?

Maybe fear prevents you from releasing to God what you know He wants you to release. Pastor Robert Jeffress has this great definition of fear: “Fear is the suspicion that God is incapable of handling my problem.”

Maybe the thing you need to die to isn’t on my list, but you know exactly what God is asking you to go to Calvary about. You can feel it in your heart.

Ladies, whatever yours is, the power of God is there to help you to be freed from yourself.
We are not left alone to do this. In fact, we CAN’T do this on our own. We simply need to go to God in prayer, by faith (which is critical) and ask Him to help us go to our personal Calvary and turn whatever it is over to His Almighty hands. Once we do this, we may not “FEEL” all warm and fuzzy inside. We may not sense the freedom all at once. In fact, we may have to go to our Calvary several times because we may keep taking whatever it is that we need to die to, back into our own hands. Just remember God is with you, He is FOR you, He is never more than a prayer away, so to speak. Just keep on drawing near to Him and He will draw near to you. He desperately loves you and wants you to live in freedom, not bondage.

Remember this truth: Humility is a key component of our joy!

Yes, new life comes from death. This is Jesus’ plan, not mine! This is the secret to bearing fruit. May we all experience new fruit and more freedom and more joy in our lives in 2018 than we have ever experienced before!

Amen?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on January 27, 2018. 2 Comments

What Kind of Bread Would You Like That On?

Key Scripture: John 6:35

“Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

When you go to Subway or to other places where you can order the sandwich the way you want it, they will ask you, “What kind of bread would you like that on?” Then you tell them Italian or sour dough or rye or whole wheat etc. You are asking them to put your meat and cheese and veggies on a particular type of bread.

I want to use this analogy today to explore what kind of ‘bread’ we put the ‘meat and cheese’ of our life on!

We are all hungry. We are all thirsty. We have hungry hearts. We have fickle hearts. We have parched souls. Perhaps we are hungry for comfort, approval, acceptance, peace, romance, recognition, better relationships, and financial improvement, to name just a few examples. Think of these things as the meat and cheese of your life. They are the things that you hunger for.

What kind of bread do you look to put them on? Our tendency is to pick out a ‘bread’ that is going to make the hunger go away and Jesus calls that in John 6:27, “a food that perishes”. It does not satisfy. It is temporary. It isn’t from the True Bread of Life.

Jesus says in John 6:35, “I am The Bread of Life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

Then in John 6:51 Jesus says, “I am the Living Bread that came down out of heaven…”

So, Jesus is declaring that He is THE Bread of Life and He is the Living Bread and if we come to Him and lay our hungers on Him, we will not be hungry and we will not thirst. He is the true answer to our hunger; He is the Bread that does not perish.

We will be hungry this week. We will have these heart issues that need bread. And somehow, someway we will feed them. How are you feeding that hunger? What is your heart bent towards to feed your hungers? Do you turn to the Living Bread?

Perhaps this describes us to some degree:

“It always seems like the last time God came through for me was ten years ago when really it was only 10 minutes ago. We are such forgetful people. We forget the things God did ten minutes ago and they feel like ten years ago to our heart, but the disappointments we had ten years ago feel like ten minutes ago to our heart. That’s what we’re like.”  Pastor Timothy Keller

This insight causes me to realize just how often I need continual fresh Living Bread and to get rid of the old stale bread I am feeding on.

So, how do we feast on the Bread that does not perish? Jesus is the Bread of Life, so how do we feast on Him?

The only way to eat the Bread of Life is by faith!

In John 6:28 the disciples asked Jesus what they needed to do to work the works of God. ie: What do we do to eat this food, this bread, which you are telling us about?

Jesus’ response to them was, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

You say, that sounds too simple! And that really is the crisis point.

What God requires of us is to come with empty hands, in faith, and say, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”

He wants us to come surrendered and with hands open to receive from the Living Bread. He wants to feed our hunger with the Living Bread, Jesus Christ, Himself. HE IS the food we need. He has the true knowledge of what will feed us. We may think we know, but our CREATOR knows infinitely more than we do.

He has given His life for us so we can feast off of Him, the Living Bread!

Pastor Timothy Keller’s insight: “When Jesus says I am the Bread of Life, He is saying, I am God made breakable for you.”

I love that! That is the degree of love to which our God went so we could go to a true and living Source for our Bread!

“O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Ps. 34:8   His bread ‘tastes’ the best! It is genuine. It is not stale bread! He is the Nourishment for our souls.  He is the Satisfier for our hunger.

“There are two Greek words for life. Bios (biological life) and zoe (quality of life). Think of zoe as a life full of meaning and joy. Even though actual bread is linked to bios (biological life), Jesus links bread to zoe (quality of life) when He says that He is the Bread of Life. Zoe is the kind of life that makes life worth living. When Jesus says, I am the Bread of Life, He is offering not merely eternal existence but eternal zoe—a radical and ultimate life.” Timothy Keller

This is the kind of Bread I want my meat and cheese on! I will have my meat and cheese on the Zoe Bread please! Thank you very much!

So, we’ve established that we eat the Bread of Life by faith. The act of eating the Bread of Life and showing God that we are living in faith is done through prayer.

Lifting up our hungers to the Lord through prayer shows our dependency upon Him; it reveals our faith in Him and not in ourselves. Lifting up our hungers to the Lord tells God that we want His Bread and not our own “default” bread that we might typically go to feed our hungers. Lifting up our hungers to God brings honor to Him. When He answers prayer, He receives the glory. Scripture says in Isaiah 42:8 that He will not give His glory to another!

Lifting up our hungers to the Lord, the True Bread of Life, brings Jesus’ life into the situation; His power, His peace, His joy, His comfort, His best provision etc.

As long as we go to “stale bread”, we will always come up empty and hungering for more. It may satisfy for a moment, but eventually prove to be fruitless.

May we all take our hungers to the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, who promises we won’t hunger or go thirsty because He is The “Wonder-Working” Bread!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on August 26, 2017. 1 Comment