Bloom Where You Are Planted


fruit tree by a stream

One of the most exciting things about studying the Bible is realizing how all parts of the Bible work together. John 15 is perhaps my favorite chapter in the Bible. I love the imagery and directions for Christian living; and this passage directly relates to other favorite passages in Scripture.

On the night Jesus was betrayed, He gave us the allegory of the Vine and the Branches. In this chapter Jesus explains that His Disciples (and us) are to bear fruit, and how we are to bear that fruit–by remaining in Him

John 15:1-8

The Vine and the Branches

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

So what is the fruit we are to bear? Paul tells us in Galatians 5:23-24, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Let’s not stop there. Where and when are we to bear this fruit? Psalm 1 tells us that when we meditate on God day and night we are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season.

Psalm 1:1-3

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

Trees don’t relocate. They bloom, and yield fruit, where they are planted. So it is with us. We are to bear fruit right where we are. Never underestimate your location or your position. You can bear much fruit right where you are.

Blessings on your day.

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images

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God’s Lamp


ancient oil lamp

My good blogging friend, Sue Nash, inspired today’s post.

I love the Psalms. They are not only prayers; many of them are simple statements about our faith and our beliefs. Psalm 18:28 is one of those. 

Psalm 18:28

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. 

When I think about what God has done for me, this verse sums it up. I was surrounded by darkness, but God has turned that darkness into light. Said another way, first I could see nothing, but thanks to God, I can see everything clearly!

Our lives are surrounded by a world that is colorful, fast, crazy, busy, and overly stimulating. It doesn’t seem dark, until we look for the truth. The overload on our senses attempts to blind us from all truth, sending us into darkness. The light God gives us is not of this world – it is of Him. Because our Lord lights our lamp we can see the world for what it is. By His lamp we can also look to the beauty of our Creator and all that He offers us.

Walk In His Light,

Julie

image: Google Images

AN EXCERPT FROM FOLLOW THE LIGHT


cover follow the light

Here is a short excerpt from the Bible Study I wrote, Follow The Light. It’s available on lifeway.com and amazon.com.

AN EXCERPT FROM FOLLOW THE LIGHT

 First Words

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Genesis 1:3

Meditate on a portion of the creation story: Genesis 1:1–19. Part of the passage is reprinted below.

God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. Genesis 1:16–19 

What? Back up! God did not make the sun, moon, and stars until the fourth day of creation? What was the light on the first day of creation? Go back and read just verses 1–5.

What were the first words God spoke in Genesis?

What did God say about the light?

What else did God make on the first day?

Turn to the end of the Bible, to Revelation. In the last chapters, we get a glimpse of the New Jerusalem, our heavenly home. Look at Revelation 21:22–27 and 22:3–6. What will God give?

Where will the light come from?

Light is a metaphor for God, and it is used throughout Scripture. Imagine no darkness at all, just the pure and radiant light of God! I look forward to feasting my eyes on that perfect light one day.

1 John 1:5

Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.

Walk in His Light,

Julie

PERCEPTIONS


dreamstime_2907801 

Jeremiah 33:3

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

I’ve challenged myself to be more aware of my perceptions this year. It’s too easy to think one thing when another is actually true. How often are we hurt, or cause hurt, because we perceive the world incorrectly?

I also want to perceive God more clearly. For me, reading His Word is not enough. I want more. God reveals Himself to us through Scripture, and other ways. Are we paying attention? Our perceptions will affect the way we view the world. I want to view the world the way God views the world. That means I need to get in tune with God.

Job 33:14

For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it.

How can I change my perceptions? Here is an excellent blog post on perceptions written by Jeremy Binns. The link to the post is at the bottom of the page:

What the Bible Says About Perceptions by Jeremy Binns

I believe that the Bible is the most absolute, complete, and relevant source of wisdom ever compiled.”  In today’s post, I want to show you where I found out “What the Bible Says About Perceptions.”

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” – Matthew 6:23-24

Our perceptions are the lens that we view life with.  Every thought, opinion, and experience is processed through our perceptions.

Jesus said that if our eyes are healthy, then our whole body would be full of light. The same is true for our perceptions.

If our perceptions are healthy, then our whole lives will be full of light.  On the other hand, if our perceptions are unhealthy, then our lives become a dark place.

Jesus also said, “If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”  If we choose to see all that is wrong with ourselves, with others, or anything else; we’ll inevitably find it.

If we can’t find it, we’ll create it. Our perceptions have the incredible power to shape our circumstances so that they align with what we already believe.

One of my readers shared this verse regarding what the Bible says about perceptions. “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”  Titus 1:15 (Thank you Shelisa)

If we believe what the Bible says about perceptions, then we must honestly examine them on a regular basis.  As I said in a previous post, “Bad experiences and bad information result in faulty perceptions. Faulty perceptions lead to misdirection & disconnection.”

So what are your perceptions today?  Maybe your world has been a dark place lately.

Sometimes life is so full of one bad experience after another that it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that there is anything other than more darkness out there.  I get it.  I’ve been there, and I understand.

I think that maybe Jesus was thinking of that when He said, “I am the light of the world.” I can’t tell you exactly how, but I can tell you that amazing things happen when we allow His light into our lives.  The darkness that clouds our minds and emotions can be replaced with a hope and love that radiate a Divine beauty.

In Jeremiah 33:3, God says, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”  I promise you friend, darkness must always give way to the light.  If you will have the faith to call out and ask Him, you’ll find it.

http://www.jeremybinns.com/2012/07/03/what-the-bible-says-about-perceptions/

May you perceive the world through God’s eyes.

Image: google images

Modern Day Idolatry


 32-goldencalf[1]

Jonah 2:8

“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.”

I daresay we have more idols in our culture today than the nations who opposed the Israelites. Consider our preoccupation with stuff. Everything we have must be the newest model or the latest fashion. We are obsessed with having everything our neighbor has, even if it means going into serious debt. We want so much new stuff we have no place to put the old stuff. And then there are the things we want to do – all sorts of leisure activities. We also tend to “worship” celebrities rather than God.

Idolatry is all about putting ourselves first, in direct opposition to the teachings of The Bible.

  • When we put ourselves first, we are saying that we are more important than God. (Luke 10:27, Deuteronomy 10:12)
  • When we put ourselves first, we are not caring for others. (Matthew 20:26-27)
  • When we put ourselves first, we are not trusting God to take care of us. (Matthew 6:27-29)

God has planned His best for us. Our plans can only be second best. When I realize I have given up God’s best, in pursuit of my own plans, I am ashamed. I want to repent and find my way back into a right relationship with Him.

Set aside all the stuff this world offers and reach for the only stuff that matters – the riches provided by our gracious Lord, Jesus Christ. He promises to care for us!

James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

 

Blessings on your day.

 

Scripture: Biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

The Discipline of Solitude


Sunset_Alone_by_ibadurrahman1

 Mark 1:35

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

I’ve come to depend on my quiet time. I need it. Just a few minutes alone with my Heavenly Father is how I choose to start my day. This practice is not my idea. I borrowed it from Jesus. If our Lord felt the need to be alone with the Father, then I know I need it too.

The question then becomes the quality of our quiet time. It’s not time to give God a list of our prayer requests. It’s a time to get closer to God. That means it is a time when we let God examine our hearts, and let God point out things that need to change or be removed. The process is necessary for Christian growth. Solitude is a time when God can do His transforming work in us, if we allow it. Solitude is surrendering ourselves to the transforming work of God.

Before Paul started his ministry he spent time alone in Arabia.

Galatians 1:15-17

“But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.”

When I think about how Paul prepared for his ministry, it occurs to me a few minutes each day is not enough time to give to God. It’s up to me then, to find more time to give God each day. That means turning off the TV and using that time for more productive uses. It means using my driving time as time to talk to Him. It means using the time I am waiting in line to speak with Him. I need every available minute with my Lord.

The more time I have with God, the more I want, and the more I need.

Blessings on your day.

Here is a great article about the discipline of solitude:

http://www.discipleshiptools.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=37474&columnid=4188

There is also a chapter on Solitude in Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, Harper Collins Publishers, 1988.

Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images

Materialism


I took my daughter shopping yesterday. We are planning her birthday party so we needed to pick a theme. She had no idea what to do, or even what she wanted for her birthday party, until we walked into that store. Christmas was less than two weeks ago, but the shelves are filled to the brim, and marketed with items for children her age.

There were too many choices. She quickly became overwhelmed and frustrated. I had to take control of the situation and narrow down the choices for her.

Teaching a child about making choices is time-consuming but very important. I taught my daughter a life skill yesterday about narrowing down the choices and then had a conversation about our budget. Most eight-year-olds get an allowance so they can begin to grasp the concept of money (and the lack of it.) She pouted when I told her “no” to a certain item for the treat bags, and I knew it was time to remove her from the situation.

Pouting isn’t reserved for children. Our culture has conditioned all of us that more is better, and that we need the newest item on the market. When we don’t get what we want, adults don’t always behave appropriately. At one time or another the “I want it” behavior can affect us all. What do we do?

We have to remove ourselves from overwhelming situations and situations that will cause us to become materialistic, or worse, jealous. Better yet, we should not put ourselves in those positions to begin with. While that is not always possible, the less temptation we have to fight, the easier it will be to appreciate what we have been blessed with.

Count your blessings. Really think about them. If materialism is a problem, consider keeping a gratitude journal for a while. Thank God daily for at least five different things He has given you, but don’t repeat yourself from the day before. Eventually you will find that you are truly blessed, and material things just don’t really matter as much as they once did. You may also find that you are given what you truly need.

1 John 2:16

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Let’s all enjoy the gifts God has blessed us with.

Scripture: Openbible.info