July 29, 2018

Abide and Seek

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."                      ~ John 15:4-5

A close friend sent me this vacation picture last summer of a California vineyard with many other photos from her trip there. The first thing I thought of when viewing the photo and admiring the vineyard was a favorite passage of mine in John 15, specifically verses 1-17.

In John 15:4 Jesus declares Himself to be The Vine and we are the branches and He invites us to abide in Him and to thrive in the unique relationship that comes from keeping ourselves closely connected to Him.

When we diligently abide in the Lord, He will bless us more than we ever thought was possible. He will draw us near to His heart and He will never let us go.

Abiding in the Lord is where we learn to freely turn all things over to the Lord and finally understand in crystal clearness, we never had control at any time, and all things are better held in His hands—than ours. This is such an important and significant step in our relationship with Him.

Abiding and seeking must become constant, it must become integrated in all that we do and as natural as each step we take and every breath we breathe. This is where we will find a depth of love from the Lord we did not know before. This is also where we will learn to rest safe and secure in all areas of our lives.

Abiding in the Lord and seeking Him above all else is the place where our hearts will find rich and satisfying contentment. 

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  ~ Matthew 6:33

July 25, 2018

One Thing Is Needed

"But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." ~ Luke 10:42

It is not my intention to write a lengthy exposition on the subject of two famous sisters in our Bible—Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus and Martha in the kitchen “worried and troubled about many things” while Jesus is in their house. We all know this story and many have even chosen sides and defend one or the other, which can be somewhat troublesome if we aren’t careful.

Yet, let us be reminded that this passage in Luke is aimed at teaching each single one of us the value of sitting at the feet of Jesus and taking the time to be with Him and to listen to Him. The objective is learning to be still and know Him. This is a choice and priority we need to make in our walk with the Lord. Jesus Himself extends this beautiful invitation through this account in Luke 10:38-42.

The message to all of us is the importance of taking time and making time to pursue teachable moments with Jesus and to experience the magnificence of His nearness. These admonishing words were spoken by Jesus to Martha in verse 41-42 when he told her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” 

It is hard when our culture is driven to shape us into a constant active and busy mold. It is hard when we have so much pulling at us—not leaving time or room for the drawing near we desperately need.

But we can learn to pay attention and listen for His tender voice within our hearts and appreciate that He is calling us to this.

If we listen, we will hear Jesus invite each of us to sit at His feet.

July 22, 2018

Is Your Faith Standing Strong?

You could literally spend hours reading one blog post after another, one devotion or article after another, all by people who love the Lord and have something they want to impart. And that is a good thing. We each have a different style and different approach and that is because God made all of us unique.

It is my desire to write words that settle in your heart and are real. I want you to know that I mean them. I am not just saying them. There is a reason that I write what I write and say what I say.

I am in this too. We are in this together.

There is a day to day battle for our hearts and minds in a troubled world that needs the light of Jesus.

We need to help each other be strong in our faith because we are the message carriers of the reason for our faith and that is Jesus.

I don’t write about having a close relationship with God just because I want you to spend x amount of time praying or reading your Bible or having a sweet time of fellowship with the Lord. (Yes, all of these are vital to the health of our spiritual growth.)

I write about having a close relationship with God because that is what strengthens and prepares us and helps us endure the trials and battles we face. 

The significant reason I write is because I want us to walk close with the Lord who is the source of our strength, on our good days and in our difficult times. When He is the source of our strength we will stand strong in our faith.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.

July 18, 2018

The Wound of Bitterness

Hebrews 12:15  
Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.

When I engage in conversation with people I don't know very well, it usually does not take long to figure out who is holding onto bitterness in their life. This always saddens me because holding on to bitterness does so much damage to the person who cannot find a way to let go. Bitterness is like a thorn left in one's flesh causing a deep untreated wound.

A hard and deep bitterness allowed to fester will grow a deep root whose tentacles will spread a poison to every aspect of one's life. It will derail us. Stop us. And eventually, we will find ourselves going backwards.

Lingering bitterness will lead us to justify, rationalize, and reason that we have every right to feel this way until we even convince ourselves that we have made peace with living with this bitterness in our life.

This is a dangerous place to be. God does not give us permission to live a life rooted in bitterness. He warns us against this because He knows the damage it will do to our life, and to our testimony. It truly is God's will for us to allow no place for bitterness in our lives. Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Simply put, there is nothing like bitterness to make a life bitter. But there is good news...

We can remove the thorn. It does not have to remain. We can let it go. We can remove the thorn and heal, and breathe the fresh air of a life free of bitterness.

Where there is bitterness
There is brokenness
Where healing should be
Can be
Will be
When the bitterness is gone

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.