Where Jesus Walked

I wonder stuff; do you? For instance, I got to thinking about Jesus walking around on Earth.

When Jesus was here, He was God. “In the beginning,” He was “the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1.1) So He knew every inch of that earth, and who else had walked right there; He knew what everyone had done in any given location.

Did He lift His eyes to look upon the burial ground of Moses? Did He feel the great victories of David beat in His breast as He walked over the battlegrounds? Did the words of Jeremiah ring in His ears as He walked the streets of Bethlehem, feeling the terrified cries of mothers as the prophesy was fulfilled and babies were killed? Did He ponder the histories and peoples of Judah, Israel, and Samaria as He traveled region to region?

Was His body physically overwhelmed as He walked Jerusalem, contemplating Abraham bringing his son, Isaac, to sacrifice; as David brought the ark back; as the temple was built, and later destroyed and pillaged?

What other stories and people did He know from Bethany, home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus?

What other people did He ponder, how many millions did He consider who are never mentioned in the Bible, and who we will never know until we live in eternity?

The Key to Truly Knowing God

from https://www.oneplace.com/devotionals/daily-living-for-seniors/the-key-to-truly-knowing-god-senior-living-june-7-11736776.html

The key to truly knowing God

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but whoever hates correction is stupid.
– Proverbs 12:1

The famous baseball player Ted Williams put up some amazing statistics in his days. In the 40s and 50s, he was known as a “natural hitter” because of the seeming ease with which he would make contact with the ball and send it soaring through the air.

Williams was once asked about his natural ability to hit. He replied, “There’s no such thing as a natural-born hitter. I became a good hitter because I paid the price of constant practice.”

Many people today want to have a close relationship with God and experience Him daily. But they’re simply reluctant to pay the price to do it. They see others who have an unshakable faith and know God’s Word up and down. But what they don’t realize is that those people have spent years in prayer and reading the Bible to build that kind of faith!

It’s impossible to know God intimately and walk closely with Him without spending time in His Word and in prayer. That takes diligence, discipline, and commitment. So make sure you’re ‘practicing’ your faith daily. Commit time and effort in knowing God more intimately by reading His Word and spending consistent time in prayer!

Prayer Challenge

Pray that God would give you the discipline and desire to grow closer to Him through reading His Word and prayer.

Questions for Thought

Why do you think many people are reluctant to put in the time and effort necessary to knowing God intimately?

What are some steps you can take starting today that will help you grow even closer to God through His Word and prayer?

Wobbling in the Dark

I read an interesting devotional in Our Daily Bread:  https://odb.org/US/2021/05/18/facing-the-darkness (btw, Our Daily Bread is worth the read any day.)

It gave a synopsis of a research study on the effects of darkness on the human psyche. The study is given more detail in this article: http://thescienceexplorer.com/brain-and-body/isolation-dark-drives-humans-brink-insanity-studies-find

“Science suggests that darkness can do all kinds of things to the human body and brain: It can make us more likely to lie and cheat, make mistakes at work, and even see things we don’t normally see. ‘Darkness is like a mirror: It shows you what you don’t want to see.’” From   https://elemental.medium.com/darkness-can-do-all-kinds-of-things-to-your-body-and-brain-beb3d0da2fb4#:

Darkness may be defined as the absence of light or the absence of God.

Isaiah 8 gives us some Words that God has about darkness and light:

20To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. 21And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.

And another verse over, He says: Isaiah 9.2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

Walking in the dark will cause us to take the wrong path: the crooked way instead of the righteous way. If we persist down this path, we will continue to stumble and fall (these are like roadblocks that God will use so that we fall and look to Him). We will begin to distort God’s plumbline in our hearts by altering, warping, and stretching it. We will blur the distance between where it is and where we are, therefore overshooting or falling short. When we wander in the dark, we forget what the light was like, how we cherished it and depended on it. We begin to cherish the dark. We put ourselves in danger of discounting God altogether, and eventually denying His importance or even His existence.

Beware of visiting or dwelling in darkness. Darkness is disorienting: walking in it leads to errors, believing lies, and stumbling.

Hosea 12.8 And Ephraim boasts: “How rich I have become! I have found wealth for myself. In all my labors, they can find in me no iniquity that is sinful.”

Alas for Ephraim, to be so lost in darkness that he thinks he is innocent and smart. But the Light speaks:

Hosea 13.1When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling; he was exalted in Israel. But he incurred guilt through Baal, and he died…. 4Yet I am the LORD your God ever since the land of Egypt; you know no God but Me, for there is no Savior besides Me. 5I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought. 6When they had pasture, they became satisfied; when they were satisfied, their hearts became proud, and as a result they forgot Me.

Let us never become satisfied by the works of our own hands, may we never be so enthralled with the darkness that we wade in deeper and deeper, becoming lost.

Oswald Chambers: “Seeing is never believing. We interpret what we see in the light of what we believe.”

When we make our own “light,” we can believe anything in the dark.

If we walk toward the true Light, but do not step into it, then we are still walking in the dark.

The Light calls you, beckons you with tenderloving kindness. Accept Jesus’ invitation, Step into the Light.

Prayer Journal

Last month I was browsing through a bundle purchase I made, and found ideas for a prayer journal.

“A prayer journal?” I thought. “I always pray. Do I need a prayer journal?” The answer turned out to be a resounding YES!!!

As I started looking into what, exactly, a prayer journal is, and watched some youtube videos, I was immediately sold. Yes! A way to be organized and methodical with my prayers; some direction and prayer prompting! I got excited.

I got so excited that I started my own prayer journal, and hosted a prayer journal workshop at my church. We all brought our own supplies, and had opportunity to work together and fellowship while we put together our journals. I provided several handouts of prayer prompts that I’d found online.

I sewed a fabric and batting cover for it from a fabric that brings me God’s peace.

This was a process over a few weeks of arranging, re-arranging, making pages; and writing verses, prayers, and requests. It is still a work-in-progress as God gives me new insights and things to pray for. I love that this is a dynamic work.

I highly recommend a prayer journal (several of the youtube videos call them, “war binders”). My prayer time has blossomed. I am definite in my prayers for various people and organizations; my prayer time is focused and guided (instead of mind-wandering); I have a new and even closer connection with my Lord; I can easily spend an hour praying; and I LOVE my prayer time.

I use a mini-binder because I like the feel of the smaller size. (A mini binder fits pages that are half the size of 8 ½” x 11” pages.) I started with a 1” ring width, but had to go with 1.5” because I put so much in it.

Many of my pages that are filled with prayers have little sticky markers: I don’t pray every page every day. I pray one or two items on a page, then move the marker to the next one, to remind me where I left off.

To stave off distractions from taking me away from my prayers, I keep note paper nearby. When something pops into my mind that I don’t want to forget, I jot it down. Now I don’t have to worry about forgetting something important, and I can concentrate on praying.

I have several sections that I pray through every day; and I have five other sections that I pray Monday – Friday. As specific needs occur, I write them down wherever appropriate.

  • Praise
    • Includes a Grateful section, Bible verses, clips from online sources, an Aha! section of things that strike me as being so cool about God, and pages of hymnals that I copied
  • Self
    • This is a pretty thick section, because I need a lot of prayer!
    • Includes prayers from Supplications, various clippings, Confession section, hymns, prayer requests from this Maggie blog, and a calendar page from pdfcalendar.com (link below) to remind me of upcoming events to pray about

  • Marriage
  • Family
    • Includes a sub-section for parents, children, siblings & families, and in-laws

My Monday – Friday sections:

  • Monday: City, State, and Nation (& World)
  • Tuesday: Social Issues (abortion, LGBTQ, trafficking)
  • Wednesday: my church (people / prayer requests, missionaries, outreach)
    • This would usually include specific prayer for church leaders, but my husband is a church leader, so I put that section in with his.
  • Thursday: Friends & Neighbors
  • Friday: Persecuted, Prison Ministries / Prisoners, Homeless

Following are some things to think about before you put together a prayer binder. At the end are several online resources.

Do you have a prayer binder? Do you have resources to share?

Binder options:

  • Ring-style or spiral / permanent bound?
    • Ring-style (regular or smaller-size):
      • you can add / take out / rearrange pages as you need
      • You can take out pages to use, say, for sermon notes at church, then insert back into your notebook; you don’t have to take the whole notebook with you
        • Keep a clipboard handy for when you want to take out separate pages to write on
    • Spiral or otherwise bound:
      • can’t move or add pages
      • but you can use sticky notes / sticky tabs; can glue in pages
      • easier to carry around
  • search “journal binder” or “prayer journal” on amazon or Christianbook.com
  • “3-ring binder” or “binder portfolio” or “mini portfolio binder” or “mini binders 5.5 x 8.5 three ring” or “blank journal” or “travel binder” on amazon
  • watch out for how many rings; be sure you have a hole punch / pre-punched papers for those hole patterns

Big picture considerations:

  • Is this a lifetime journal, or will I make one for each year?
  • What size?
    • Will I take this with me to waiting rooms? Prayer group?
    • Will this be a stationary piece in my prayer closet?
  • Do I want a separate section for answers to prayer, or will I include answers along with the prayers?
  • Will I write directly on the pages, or write on sticky notes to stick on the pages; or both?
  • Will this journal be only for prayer, or will I also use it for Bible study journaling?
  • In a pre-bound journal (i.e., spiral notebook), make pages and sections (or outline your plan) before adding section tabs, so you have an idea of how many pages for each section

You may want to include:

  • Calendar to jot events to pray for
  • A front page of prayer-inspiring Scripture
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • Section for Scripture memorization
  • Sections for praise, adoration
    • Attributes of God
    • Praise Scripture
  • Section labeled Confess or Repent / what needs pruning
  • Bible studies / book study (group or individual)
  • Sticky notes / jot-a-note
    • Ideas to include in the journal
    • Random thoughts that intrude, and you need to take care of them later (i.e., don’t forget to add pineapple to the grocery list): put these in a special spot once you’ve written them down, so you don’t have to concentrate on remembering them.
  • Goal pages
  • Inspirational page(s): quotes, ideas
  • Printed prayers that mean something to you
  • Poetry
  • Hymn or praise song lyrics / sheet music
  • Names of God / Jesus / Holy Spirit
  • Coloring pages
  • “Aha!” page

Arrangement of sections:

  • Days of the week: Pray for specific issues on each day of the week (i.e., family, marriage, children on Mondays; church, leadership, church groups on Tuesdays; etc.)
  • Prayer issues (sections for family / church / ministries / prayer group, etc.)

Prayer / Section Suggestions:

  • Family
    • Self, spouse, children
    • My home
    • Extended family
  • Leadership / Government (local, state, national, world)
  • Workplace
  • Churches
    • Specific church ministries or groups
    • Church leadership
    • Church participation
    • Families in your church
    • Truth in preaching and teaching
    • Missions
  • Salvation
  • Health
  • Families / Marriages; legal battles, transgender / LGBTQ, etc
  • The persecuted
  • Prison ministries
  • Friends
  • Healing / emotional / relational
  • World events (abortion, persecution, etc.)
  • Specific ministries / schools / organizations
  • Work / school
  • Testimonies
  • Growth areas
  • Affirmations
  • God’s promises / witness to His faithfulness
  • Pouring out your heart / issues precious and dear to you
  • Listening to God: things God is telling me
  • Finance
  • A prayer group you belong to
  • Urgent needs (“Emergency Room”)
  • Other

Supplies:

  • Binder OR spiral notebook OR bound journal
    • Binder: normal size or half-size or other-size
  • Binder paper (pay attention to the kind of binder you’re using, and the hole placement)
    • Packets of paper sold for that style of binder
    • Scrapbook paper
    • You can design and print your own pages
    • Some pages can be cardstock
    • “Extra” pages can be glued into a spiral notebook or bound journal
  • Sticky divider tabs OR can make your own out of cardstock, and glue to pages
    • Divider tabs can go along the side and/or the top
  • Sturdy elastic headband or other method to keep your journal closed and secure
  • Binder pockets
  • Divider pages OR make your own
  • Different kinds and colors of pens and pencils
  • Eraser
  • Sticky notes of all sizes, shapes and colors
  • Calendar pages
  • Clipart
  • Hole reinforcers
  • Fun paper clips & binder clips
  • Page protectors / sheet protectors
  • Glue stick / double-sided tape / glue pen
  • Pen & pencil pocket (big enough to keep sticky notes, etc)
  • Scissors
  • Cutting board / paper cutter
  • Hole punch
  • Label-maker
  • Fabric
  • Hot glue gun
  • (Pretty) envelopes
  • Scrapbooking supplies
    • Lettering & numbering
    • Stickers
    • Pockets / pocket pages
    • Colored or patterned tape or sticky strips
    • Scrapbook paper
    • Cardstock
    • Stencils
  • Washi-tape (Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, dollar stores)
  • Sheet protectors for your-size binder
  • Old books to include pages (see what the library is giving away or very cheap; Goodwill; Salvation Army; second-hand stores)
    • Bible pages
    • Hymnals
    • Pictures you can cut out and glue in
    • You can separate whole books from their bindings and include some or all pages, or make a separate binder. Hole punch the pages to insert into a binder.

Online Resources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ft87GqgETs  How to Make Your Own Prayer Journal!        Stacey Johnson      41:12       spiral-bound student notebook w/ dividers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElRJCoBvQNo  My Prayer Binder: Flip Through and Thoughts               Cori Spieker      1:01:35       3-ring ½ size binder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-D9S6Yq6zBY  WAR BINDER PRAYER JOURNAL SETUP- How to Make Your Own DIY Faith Journal | Ideas and Flip Through         Kaye Lean Ramos     20:04     3-ring ½ size binder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hmy3Dd9Djc  Bible Study Binder & Prayer Journal Notebook: How to DIY       Crazy Simple Truth, Nicki Drake    11:57       3-ring binder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7chAgKsfVE Prayer Binder flip through with Dawne!     Kari Denker (with Stone Soup for Five)         45:30             3-ring, ½ – size binder

https://www.pinterest.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFKLXz1Cdkk Recycle your Toilet Roll Cores into Pretty Pockets!      Angela Kerr     44:11 and  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vi6z_xI894c    Recycle and Reuse Toilet Roll Tubes   Gi Kerr      25:07

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15BoCfZK0Ew  Prayer Journal Set Up / War Binder DIY        Annie Smith      28:40      spiral-bound sketchbook

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPqnhlAX35M&t=0s  Prayer Notebook     Gina Garland           8:45      3-ring ½ size   binder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRh8QBuTWTA Prayer Binder Walkthrough           Kari Denker      11:19           3-ring ½ size binder

https://www.stonesoupforfive.com/p/tutorials.html

https://www.stonesoupforfive.com/2014/11/a-walk-through-my-prayer-binder.html

https://www.stonesoupforfive.com/2018/05/all-things-prayer-binder.html  homepage https://www.stonesoupforfive.com/

https://www.dailydwelling.com/prayer-journal-printables-updated/

http://www.dailydwelling.com/prayer-journal-printables/

https://www.dailydwelling.com/category/printable/

https://hosannasmom.wordpress.com/tag/word-cloud/

http://inspiredtoaction.com/resources/

https://ifapray.org/resources/prayer-guides-and-resources/

https://www.josh.org/resources/spiritual-growth/attributes-of-god/

https://banneroftruth.org/us/devotional/a-disciples-renewal/  https://www.chapellibrary.org/book/dado/doctrine-and-duty-of-self_examination

http://storage.cloversites.com/arkansasbaptiststateconvention2/documents/Design%20Guide%20-%20Prayer%20-%20Long%20(Final)_2.pdf  Scroll down to Appendix A (pg 6) for a list of convicting questions

http://pdfcalendar.com/  create your own calendar

https://lovinglifeathome.com/

https://www.angellabundz.com/free-printables

https://latoyaedwards.net/notebook

https://momsinprayer.org/group-leaders/

https://www.opendoorsusa.org/prayer-resources/

Recipe Friday: Praying for Your Pastor and Church Leaders

This week’s recipe is a prayer list for our Pastor and church leaders, all over the world. I took notes from a pastor’s wife’s presentation, then ran it by my pastor for editing and input. Please, please, pray for our pastors and church leaders; pray also for leaders of households; and for leaders in our communities, states, nations, and world. Prayer WORKS: it is work to pray, so put in the effort and see what miracles God will work on our behalf.

Feel free to print this out. You can copy it into a word processing document, then print in portrait; or split into columns and print landscape.

Another prayer resource is Supplications, which can also be printed.

May Pastor and Leaders fully accept and appropriate all God’s gifts, and use them for His eternal glory.

Protect Pastor and Leaders from:

  • Weariness
  • Frustration
  • Attacks from the enemy in thought, word, and deed
  • Fleshly temptations
  • Worldly pressures

May Pastor and Leaders receive from people of their congregation:

  • Words of encouragement
  • Prayer
  • Wise counsel
  • Tokens of appreciation
  • Palpable love

May Pastor’s and Leaders’ eyes be open (enlightened) to the next move, season; to attacks, not caught off-guard. May he see people as God sees, each sheep as worthy of God’s love and grace

Give Pastor and Leaders hearts free, pure, full of God’s agape love

Instill in Pastor and Leaders a spirit of excellence, of joy in their work

Inspiration

May Pastor and Leaders receive as from the Lord lessons of humility

Pray for direction in decision-making and for confirmation of decisions

God continually give Pastor and Leaders ears to hear what His Holy Spirit has to say through them to others, the congregation, and their families

And the other way around: ears to hear the Holy Spirit speak to them through others, the congregation, and their family

Flourishing, deep, fruitful, restorative, refreshing prayer life

Give Pastor and Leaders strength to carry out God’s special work

Pray for patience, understanding, timing; with that, that their time will be spent being productive, rather than just busy.

A stable mind: free of anger & bitterness, renewed day by day in the mind of Christ, centered on God’s Truth

Pray for the Holy Spirit’s perfect unity among church leaders; for love, understanding, compassion, empathy, inspiration, patience, direction

Pray for Pastors and Leaders to be good husbands and fathers, tenderhearted and loving toward their families.

Pray for Pastor’s and Leaders’ wives: protection, sustenance, purpose, patience and understanding, joy, peace.

And for their children, that they will grow in the nurture and understanding of the Lord, raised unto salvation.

Ephesians 6.18, 19 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;  And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel

Serving One Another in God’s Love

Some days ago, during devotions and prayer, my Lord planted this in my heart. As I meditate on it daily, it grows and grows:

It’s not about me:

You will do Your work in me as I do Your work in serving others.

Several Bible verses support this. I leave one passage here, and ask that you leave your thoughts and pertaining verses in the comments.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Philippians 2.3, 4

God bless you.

Nothing Can Change Until I do

I was reading through Facebook, and someone shared a nice post about what a privilege it is to be a mom, how all the hard work is worth it, etc. One woman responded with bitterness, saying that in the old days women had all day to take care of the house and kids, but modern day requires both man and wife to work; and it must be nice if both of them pitched in with the kids and housework, but her husband never lifts a finger around the house and she has to do it all.

My first response was to pray for her (“Emily”). Then I thought, “Nothing can change until we do.” I can see that God must be working on her heart, giving her life lessons to cleanse her bitterness. But she won’t learn those lessons until she receives the position where God put her, and thanks Him for it.

Psalm 16.  5 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.

6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

7 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

God always has a good reason for where we are. We might not like it; in fact, if it’s a hard lesson we’ll probably hate it. But God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. And – here’s the important part: He’s right. God is always right, and He always loves us.

Lord God Almighty, You created Heaven and Earth, and You designed and created us, each individual Us. Thank you. You work from Love, and You continue in Love. You desire us to live Your abundant life; but we cannot accept and live that out until You show us our sin, we repent, and You cleanse us from sin. Thank You for Your Life Lessons, for Your gifts. Teach us to forgive, Lord, and increase our faith (Luke 17.1 – 5). May we accept You and Your ways with grateful hearts. Please bless us with teachable spirits. I love You, Lord. Amen.

What Kind of Fruit?

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John 15.1-8  1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

From this passage I understand that I am grafted into the perfect vine of Jesus. With that life force flowing through me (the Holy Spirit working through me), I am to produce fruit. The fruit of Jesus is bountiful and nutritious and refreshing, and useful for many things.

Mark 12.1-9 1 And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. 2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4 And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. 5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. 8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others

From this passage, I understand that God gives me choice. I can decide how to manage my vineyard. He planted wonderful seed in me (His Holy Spirit), and I have the ability to access that life force for growing wonderful fruit. But I can also decide to keep that fruit to myself and / or to grow that fruit in a different way. My way of growing fruit is not good, as God’s is; therefore, I will produce poison or malnourishing fruit.

From this same passage, I understand that God sends people to me to collect His fruit. Again enters choice: How do I treat those whom God sends?

What kind of fruit am I producing, and what am I doing with it???

Good fruit from the vine of Jesus vs worldly fruit is like eating real food vs junk food. Worldly works “taste” good to the world, but there’s no nutrition, and leaves you wanting more of the junk. Jesus’ fruit is real, and it is satisfying.

As new or immature Christians, coming from the world, we may still like the worldly fruit better. Often, this bad fruit gets pruned away and it hurts.

  • John 15. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away and
  • v6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered
  • Isaiah 64.6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses areas filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

As Christians we yearn more and more for the nutritious fruit of the vine.

How do we get fed the nutritious “fertilizer” and nutrients to produce good fruit? Connect to the Source:

  • Jesus is the Living Water
  • Jesus is the True Vine
  • God’s Holy Spirit abides in us
  • God’s Word is Truth: read it

Romans 5.8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – and – Ephesians 3.20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us  — Did you get that? The power that worketh IN US. That’s God’s power IN US!

This is the mystery and miracle of God working through us: We are to be channels of God unto others – we commend God’s love to others while they (we) are sinners. To do this, we must die to ourselves. We allow God to take away all those branches and leaves that are our flesh; and we step aside to let Him live through us. Then we will bear His fruit, and it will be so abundant and good that there will be plenty for ourselves and to share with all those whom God puts in our paths. And we will give God the glory!

Galatians 5.22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 

Philippians 1.11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

* images collected from google images

Firstborn Son

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Luke 2.7a And she brought forth her firstborn son

Mary was a virgin when the Holy Ghost came upon her and she conceived. She knew beforehand that she would bear a son, and that His name would be called Jesus. This was her firstborn.

As I read this in Luke Chapter 2, I thought of the firstborn of the human race. Adam and Eve were created, but not born of a woman.

Genesis 4.1, 2 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.  And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 

Cain was Eve’s firstborn, the firstborn of the entire human race. His younger brother, Abel was born next (we don’t know if they were twins, since the verse doesn’t indicate that Eve conceived again after Cain).

But the firstborn of the human race killed his younger brother. This is a manifestation of Jeremiah 17.9, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Every human ever born of man and woman has a desperately wicked heart. We are a race steering ourselves to death.

And then there’s Mary. We don’t know much about Mary prior to the conception and delivery, and again not much afterward. Did God pick her because she was so good? Mary had the same deceitful and desperately wicked heart that everyone else has. But she was a virgin, we know that (Luke 1.27); she humbly accepted all that her Almighty God told her through the angel Gabriel (Luke 1.28 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her); and sang a praise to God her Savior (Luke 1.46 – 56).

Luke 2.7a And she brought forth her firstborn son

Jesus was God’s firstborn (and only!) Son, too: John 3.16 (my emphasis) For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God offered salvation for the human race by offering His only and beloved Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice. God loves us just as much as He loves His Son. God cannot love anyone less, because He is perfect, and He has only perfect love.

Jesus remains the only perfect example of human flesh submitting to the complete authority of God, every moment of every second of every day that He lived on Earth. He had no sin (1 John 3.5 And ye know that he (Christ) was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.)

There’s quite a difference between the firstborn of the human race and the firstborn of God through the human race. Jesus had a human heart, but that heart was in perfect submission to His Heavenly Father. Because of that, He had perfect peace always; He was in perfect communion with God always

We can strive to have the same peace of Jesus: God gives us a new heart when we acknowledge Him as rightful Lord and Savior, when we bow humbly before Him and confess our sin. God made us a new creature (2 Corinthians 5.17), with the mind of Christ (2 Corinthians 2.16).

We can humbly acknowledge that the throne of the universe (and my heart) belongs to God, and that He is right and just. How often do we give God His place, vs how often do we imagine ourselves on that throne?

Even though we are born of the human race with deceitful and desperately wicked hearts, God, in His love, has made a way, through His firstborn, for us to not only be with Him forever in Heaven, but to live here on Earth with Him in perfect peace (Isaiah 26.3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee).

* Image from TheTorah.com

The Light We See, The Light We Shine

Sometimes what we see of God is not so light and bright. Is it because God has shadows, or is it our own perspective?

1 John 1.5b God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

God is light. He has no darkness whatsoever. If we are not seeing His full lightness and brightness, it is because our vision is clouded, jaded, askew. We allow, or set, or run into, issues that stand between us and God, so we do not see Him as He is.

Be sure to read God’s Word to learn Who He really is. God is Light, God is Love; pure and unadulterated. He has no darkness, no sin, no ill-will. He is patient and kind, and He is always good to us. He is truth. Pray the Holy Spirit will shine understanding in you as you read Scripture.

As Christians, we have God’s Holy Spirit within us. That means we have His Light.

Matthew 5.16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Do others see God’s Light in you? If not, what is the issue? Are you shining His Light? This light is not your own light. It is the Light of the Spirit of God. You have your own flesh warring with this Spirit, but if we put our flesh to death daily, then we can shine God’s pure light.

The issues with shining God’s light, then, are 1) our own sin casting shadows along with God’s Light; 2) others’ perception as they look upon what we cast.

Sometimes our light is cast via actions, daily activities, and getting out and about. Sometimes it’s through conversations, our speech. These are ways other people get to know us.

Sometimes we allow our light to be filtered through fear because of 2), above: we don’t know how someone is going to perceive what God wants to deliver through us.

1 John 4.18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

If you allow God to have full reign in your mortal body, then you will begin to understand this amazing love that God has, not only for you, but for everyone with whom you come into contact. If you allow God’s Spirit to work unfettered, then you will have that peace of mind that comes with obedience to God Almighty. Granted, people will not always respond kindly to what God has to say to them through you. Look at the apostle Paul. He endured much suffering when he preached Jesus Christ. Look at the suffering of Jesus, Himself.

If you want the quiet, unassuming, get-along-with-everyone kind of life, try to get over it. God does not call us to such a life. He calls us to obedience, and He calls us to go out and tell the world about Jesus Christ, our Savior. We are to speak His truth in love (Ephesians 4.15).

Other’s response is between them and God. Your obedience is between you and God. Let the Holy Spirit in you so shine that others will glorify your Father in Heaven.