“bear fruit with patience”

•March 30, 2015 • Leave a Comment

  

“bear fruit with patience” This concept has challenged me over and over. 

If you look at the full parable, I think my life has reflected every stage before the seed (or word) was in “good” soil. Maybe it was always in good soil, but the seed just took a long time to die. ;). Either way, I’m still challenged with how to bear fruit with patience. I have a tendency to want to rush God and not “wait patiently for Him to act”; to not “strive to enter His rest.” 

What’s helping me today is “hearing the word.” This is not someone reading to you out loud ;), but I believe reading the word until God begins to speak to you through it. The word is actually a person, Jesus. When we begin to hear him, that’s when we receive the patience to bear fruit. For me, it’s like a nudge of emotion on my heart. When you think, that really “hits” me. 

Once I get to that place, I can then “hold it fast in an honest and good heart.” To me this is choosing to believe what he’s telling you through his word over your circumstance. It’s a choice. And when you hold it fast in the honest and good heart that Jesus has paid for us to have, then we bear fruit with patience. 

What’s he telling you to hold fast to?

#word #holyweek #jesus #easter

Conflict

•January 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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Conflict. No one really likes it, but it’s a reality of life. In any relationship and especially a marriage relationship, conflict is an invitation to deeper intimacy, if we let it. I’ve found this to be so true with me and my wife. When we address our issues head on, we eventually get to a place of understanding each other and grow closer. However, when we avoid conflict, we begin to sabotage our connection. I would even say the enemy of intimacy in relationships is avoidance. Nothing good ever comes from avoiding conflict.

Jesus addresses conflict really well in Matthew 18 in regard to someone hurting you. In fact, Jesus is so clear about addressing this, that if we follow this model we will not only see amazing freedom in our relationships, but will start to reflect and release heaven on earth. Wow! Read this:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭18‬:‭15-20‬ ESV)

Wow! There are amazing promises and power attached to doing conflict well.
From experience, my only caution to Jesus’ words here is choose your battles. Not every altercation is worth a confrontation. Sometimes I’ve realized I’m being overly sensitive and just need to let it go, giving them the benefit of the doubt. If I am uncertain about a situation, I will usually pray about it a day or two. If it still bothers me, then I know that I need to have a healthy confrontation.

Conflict is not always fun, but it can be your friend. Done well, it can bring you closer and build a deeper and stronger relationship. It even has the power to prove the world that we are His disciples. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” John 13:35.

Jesus completely sympathizes with us

•January 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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Sometimes we think Jesus can’t relate to us. He can’t possibly understand how we feel or what we’re going through. The amazing thing is, he completely understands.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

Not only was he tempted by the devil for 40 days, which by itself must’ve been horrible. He grew up mocked as an illegitimate child, was shunned by his own brothers and sisters, was constantly berated by religious people, and eventually dragged into unfair court and crucified. Yet, in all of this, he did not sin. This all means he knows exactly how you feel AND more importantly, he knows how to empower you and help you through any situation free from sin. That is amazing!

You also might think that Jesus doesn’t know how you feel after you sin because once you do, everything feels way worse. But the fact is, he understands this as well. Although Jesus never sinned he did experience all of our sin on the cross. He actually became our sin (including sickness and pain) so that we might becomes His righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). So in every way, every situation, every feeling, Jesus totally sympathizes with and understands you. But it doesn’t stop there. :).

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews‬ ‭4‬:‭16‬

Nothing can keep us from coming to Jesus for help. Nothing. There’s no barrier. We can go boldly. He will always help and give power (grace). He will never withhold. Wow!

This is more of a side note, but think I need to say it. We don’t need to experience sin in order to help someone to freedom. If you’ve experienced freedom in an area, you will probably have more passion and faith in that area for others to be set free. However, Jesus proves that we can set the captives free without having done what they have done. Don’t let your lack of experience hold you back from helping someone else. Jesus has it all covered. “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 Jn 4:17).

Stop the wrestling match

•January 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, you are a new creation; the old is gone, the new has begun” (2 Cor 5:17). As westerners, maybe all humans, we are challenged in living from a new place. Our tendency is to tack on new understanding to our old thinking, rather than living from the new paradigm. When we tack on, we create a bunch of tension in our lives, acting out of a wrong place and then being mad at ourselves for doing it. It’s like a phrase I heard once, we know enough about the gospel to be saved, but not enough to get life from it. This may be why Christians are often portrayed so cranky all the time… because well, they are. Probably should say “we.” ;)

The apostle Paul wrestled with this same thing: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (‭Romans‬ ‭7‬:‭15‬) So many of us stop in this place, in the wrestling match. Yes, you are saved, but what Jesus paid for was a “rich and satisfying life.” So what do we do? Paul actually gives us a great process in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 6: Consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. Mediate on this truth.

Romans 7: Be real. The battle is for your mind, your belief system. Know that your mind is being renewed to your new reality. The enemy will continue to try and put you under the old. We acknowledge the tension, but we rest in the truth. Don’t let yourself stay in Romans 7, in the wrestling match. Jesus didn’t let Paul stay there.

Romans 8: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”(‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭1-2‬)
It doesn’t get better than that. Mistakes happen. It’s not to belittle the consequence of a mistake. Some are really bad, I admit. However, the cross changes everything. Changing your mind (repentance) is as simple as, “I’m sorry Jesus, that is not who I am anymore. Thank you that you have made me a new creation. Help me live from that reality.” We must stop condemning ourselves for hours and days. Do you follow Jesus? Comdemnation-free.

We also have to realize this whole process is relational. Paul came to this place out of relationship with Jesus. My prayer for myself and others is that we can stop the wrestling match and show the world the good news through our lives. It’s not living in denial, it’s living out of faith in what Jesus has really done for us. Believe. Jesus can and will bring you to this place. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (‭Mark‬ ‭11‬:‭24‬)

Walk in your calling

•December 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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Calling, or you could even say vision, is so important in your life. It points to why you’re here on the earth, and looks to how your life will make an eternal impact, not just an earthly one. Ephesians 2:10 is so powerful in this: “For we are his workmanship (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Even before we were made, we were created for our calling or “good works.” Even more, we were created for good works in Christ Jesus, in partnership with him. Also immensely important to see what comes first; that we are his masterpiece!

This is why I believe the enemy works so hard to get us to doubt our calling. If he can get us to doubt it, we’ll never fully walk in it because we’re not even sure if it’s for us or not. When we doubt we become afraid to go after it: we fear rejection, that we’re not capable, or fear that we’re being prideful to be so confident in our calling. Confidence and arrogance can often look the same initially.

So what do we do about it? Humbly declare your belief. Take your calling, the words spoken over your life, the scriptures God has highlighted to you, and declare them over your life. Not with arrogance, but with confidence. “Lord, this is your calling over my life, this is what you made me for, that ‘I should walk in it!'” Paul thought this was very important: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience…” (Eph 4).

For Paul (and Jesus, of course), it is crucial that we all walk in our calling, what we were made for. What’s your calling? Do you doubt it? Who do you think is the author of that doubt? You’re God’s masterpiece, and you were made to for great things here on earth!

Moving Past Your Past

•December 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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One thing you will rarely see, if ever, is an encouragement in the Bible to look at your past mistakes or failures. It’s not that we can’t grow from our mistakes, but God is confident that the solution is to get up and move forward, press on toward the prize, not look back. Read this: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, “(‭Philippians‬ ‭3‬:‭13‬ ESV)

Even Paul had to make a conscious effort to move forward. He says “straining forward,” which I believe means he had to be intentional and somewhat disciplined about not looking at his past, which was pretty colorful. It also hints that this was challenging in his life.

I believe this is a great encouragement for us, that nothing in focusing or dwelling on our past mistakes will help us. There is no life there so forget what lies behind. The enemy will often throw the past in our faces through thoughts and circumstances. But when you know that Jesus encourages us to forget that stuff, it easily diffuses the power the past can have. Even God himself says “I will remember your sins no more” (Hebrews 10). Ha! Now THAT is amazing. He forgot, so should we. :)

Super Heroes, TV, and Spiritual Reality

•December 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Recently, I’ve been watching a handful of shows (Arrow, Shield, Flash). Ever since I was kid, I very easily could get caught up in a different world, especially in a show or movie. In a happy moment, I’m smiling right along with them as if there’s no one around. ;). In some ways this can be an escape to another life for us, being part of other circumstances and situations. For me, since I like fantasy and super powers, it’s fun to be in that world. For others, the TV drama is more interesting than their life. Eventually though, we come back to reality. I’ve even heard people tell others, “you need to come back to the real world.” But do we need to come back to the “real world” or just the “right world?”

As I’ve thought about this, I’m starting to understand how God has made us. You see, there’s a wiring inside all of us that longs to live from a different reality and longs to make a difference with our lives. In Ephesians 2, Paul says we are seated with Jesus in heavenly places. We are seated there right now, even though we are also here. Super heroes, watch out! ;) In Ephesians 1, Paul says we have every spiritual blessing in heavenly realm because we are united with Christ. These verses wouldn’t be there unless we were made to live this way.

Sometimes life situations make you want to forget and we try to “escape” by vegging out in front of the TV. The average American does spend 4 hours a day watching TV. Wow! But rather than escape to something that won’t change anything or make any difference, we have the ability to tune in to the Kingdom reality and live from heaven’s perspective, where all good things are possible. I’m speaking to myself here. :). There’s nothing wrong with watching a show or a movie. However, we are missing out on the Kingdom reality being released in us and through us when we spend so much time in a fictional reality.

One final thought inspires me to discover more that Jesus has given us, and it’s his glorious riches. He paid a huge price for us to live from a different reality. It actually has the potential to be way more exciting than any show or movie, if we’re willing go there. Paul shares two great promises that inspire to go deeper: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19) & “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Eph 3:16).

 
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