“I am the vine; and 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.” John 15:5 NIV
This verse has so much to say about our walk with God. Who God is and how he sees his awesome plan for us. God is the one who made us and he is apart of us. We were never meant to be apart from God. Our need of him is so very important in every aspect of our lives. If we want to be all that we can be then we need to cooperate with him. He does know what is best. He has great plans for us. To be a people for himself that will bear much fruit, this fruit is the characteristics and traits that will further his kingdom. We will be loving, joyful, peaceful, long-suffering, gentle, good, meek, temperate, and faithful. These are the fruits he desires to see in us. He uses the example of a grape vine for good reasons. If God is a grape vine then we are connected to him and will produce fruit like his. Grape vines produce grapes. We can not on our own decide to produce some other fruit such as tomatoes. We are to be more like him each day. He decides what we need to be and what is best for all. We also need to stay connected to him. He is our power source. When we do what we want and not what he has asked us to do we will be week, and ineffective . We need to spend time with him. A relationship with him is very important. Anyone you have ever had a relationship with is first, important to you. You spend time together, sharing, the good and the bad together, and grow closer to each other. Another thing about a vine is being connected, always, every day. If you are not connected to him, his vine, you are disconnected. If you are disconnected you will die. It may be a slow, miserable death, but with no nutrients you will die. When a vine dies it is cast off and burnt up. You don’t want to be cast off or dead do you? You will not be very productive if you are dead. As I was reading my Bible today I was in Deuteronomy. The Israelites had just spent forty years wandering in the wilderness and the whole time God provided for them. They were brought out of Egypt in such a mighty way. Even when they faced their first struggles God was strong. Splitting the Red Sea so they walked right through, in the mud, no! The walked on solid, dry ground. He provided water when they needed it, food for thousands of men, women and children. They demanded meat and God sent them quail. Their clothes and shoes held up for forty years and did not wear out. During this time they married and raised families. He kept them safe and strong. Because there were more people after forty years and all the original ones died in the desert. Only Joshua and Caleb remained from the original bunch. When they came into the promised land God fought for them. No matter how big or how strong their enemies were, they did not stand a chance. But he warned them to leave certain people alone. Because he had already blessed them, such as Esau’s family and Lot’s family. Those who God has blessed shall remain blessed.
Do you want to be one of God’s blessed people?
“How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I am awake, I am still with you.” Psalm 139:17-18 NIV
God delights in us, his love for us will never fail. He made us for greatness on purpose and he thinks about us continually. When you have something like that on your side you have hope. This is a difficult life we live. We need someone who loves us unconditionally that will always be there for us. Even though we won’t always be there for ourselves. We are not perfect like God. We can get mad at ourselves , put ourselves down, and even lie to ourselves. God will not. You can not be happy until you have this unconditional love God gives. I see so much complaining and anger from people. People can be very selfish, thinking first and foremost of themselves. They even expect others to fulfill them and make them happy. Of course they can’t and it only angers people. There is something inside us from the time we are born that is searching for that unconditional love. Even if we find that for a time with a loved one, there will come a day when they will let us down and prove to be imperfect. Someone can love you but it is not their job to make you happy. Only a perfect God can do that. He wants to do that. But we do have to come to him first. Until you are finally loved unconditionally by God and following him. Doing his will, his way, you can not be truly happy. Until you are it is going to be difficult to get along with others, who are like yourself, imperfect. I am a very happy person and care very much about the people I come in contact with and try to be pleasant and helpful. But I wasn’t always that way. Things could easily bother me and upset me. I knew God all of my life but I didn’t really know him. I made it very personal in 2013 when I began to search for the Lord with my whole heart. The more I read my Bible and prayed the better I got to know him and how much he loved me. For the last year I have been reading a daily devotional called, ‘Letters From God’ by Ivan Tait. I love this book because it tells me some of the many thoughts God has for me and it is so empowering. Knowing how God sees you and all he has for you can fill you. The more love I get from God, the more love I have to give others. When you love God and yourself you can’t help but love others. God says to love others as yourself. But what if you cant love yourself? Until you know how unconditionally you are loved you can’t. You will try to earn that love and no one but God can give it.
Do you know just how much God loves you?
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV
This morning in my quiet time this verse just jumped off the page. Life can be hard and scary at times. I’ve had times when I just felt confused. Was I going the right way? Couldn’t I just have a clue? Before I had my stroke I stopped trying so hard I just wanted to satisfy myself. I stopped caring about doing the right thing. It was my time. I had gotten away from the Lord and Satan had me convinced that I wasn’t wrong. I deserved it. It was a very selfish time in my life and I am not proud of it, but I was so deceived. I now know how easily that can happen. Not spending time with the Lord and in questionable pursuits had hardened my heart and I was not seeing clearly. I really feel my stroke was what saved me. God grabbed my attention and said, “What are you doing?” Well after a massive stroke I was flat on my back, unable to speak, move, or even open my mouth. I had plenty of time to think. That was such a dark time, but now I can see again. It is so important to stay plugged into God so the power does not go out. I never want to go there again. I have been seeking the Lord so earnestly for the past few years and my life is so much better. People all around me chat about this problem and that problem like it’s normal and I feel so blessed and lucky. This morning it began to make more sense. Jesus really is light, and if you really are walking in the light you can see clearly. When you are doing everything you can to grow with Christ by praying, reading the Bible, going to a good church, listening to praise music, and really focusing on doing things that lift you up. For me that was no tv except Pureflix, Christian books, Bible studies and podcasts, even religious games and staying away from non edifying things. I had to immerse myself in God for a time. Now I enjoy it so much I can’t stop. Now I am flooded with light and my life has never been more awesome. I still have problems and concerns but when they pop up I can hear that still small voice telling me which way to turn and that’s so special. Try this, do that, and they work. The light of life is great.
Do you know how much easier it is to walk in the light?
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8 NIV
Have you ever been at the end of your rope? Barely hanging on and not able to go on? Trials and circumstances seem to be pounding into you like waves. God where are you? I need help I can’t do this. You are not alone. You are in good company. Last week fear was gripping me and saying all of God’s promises just didn’t help. I believe Gods words and I can quote many of them but that wouldn’t make it go away. I was trying to write in my book and ignore what was going on in my mind. I felt God said to write on strength. God is an ever present help in trouble. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. So I wrote and God spoke. When I was almost done he told me something really important that would help. Praise! Whenever you need victory stop. It isn’t that God’s not there. It isn’t that you don’t deserve help. It isn’t that God doesn’t want to help you. Be still and know that I am God. The only way to do that is to be open up and be in his presence. Because in his presence is fullness of joy. Something I didn’t have right then. Where can you find his presence. Correct, he inhabits the praises of his people. So all week long I plugged in my ear buds and turned on praise music and sang along letting each word fill my head. He is good and he knows what he is doing even though I don’t. I don’t have to know the outcome because he is trustworthy. I look back over my life and can not think of once when he failed me. He is never late or unable to meet my needs. I could talk all day about his great and mighty wonders and barely scratch the surface. I think, “what is the worst that could happen?” Death, well if I’m dead, I’m with him, so not death. Job was probably one who holds the record for bad days. He lost everything his children, servants, possessions, his wealth, even the respect of his friends and his wife. They blamed him and told him it was his fault. While he sat in ashes wishing he was dead. His wife told him to just curse God and maybe he will strike you dead. But Job was a good man and could never do that. Even if God was to slay him he would always serve him. Worrying and being anxious doesn’t do anything. Can we change anything ourselves? No! Seek him and his presence and wait. This too shall pass. This week I am back to blessed and victorious. And I know a week of his presence helped.
Where does your strength come from?
“I have food to eat that you know nothing about. My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:32&34 NIV
When you are passionate about something you will find so much satisfaction in doing it that you can forget other things. I sold homes when I was younger and I would get so busy that meal times would come and go and what I was doing was so satisfying that I wouldn’t even notice that I had missed a lunch. I felt I was making a difference in someone’s life and that kept me going. That wasn’t anything that was life changing but it was important to someone. Right now I am so close to God and seeing him do so much. I am so amazed that he is willing to let me be a big part of what he is doing and now I am making a difference. God is so good and I want to do all I can for him. In Matthew it says, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.” Whenever I think of doing God’s work I get excited. I’m saying, “Send me, send me.” I want to be a part of when God is moving. It brings so much satisfaction. He is so busy in so many peoples lives and I just love being a part of it. So many people are busy worrying about what they need or want. “What about me?” When I started running after God and making a difference in others’ lives. Especially wanting to see people growing in their walk with God life got so much more exciting. I didn’t even think much about my needs but they are always being met and exceeded. So many others needs are being met and exceeded also. It is all consuming. I get so excited that I just want to see and do more. Before my stroke I just didn’t get it. I didn’t get involved and I didn’t have a special relationship with God. He might move in a service that I was in and I would see it but I didn’t really understand. Now everything is different. I will never forget the time the music we were singing just lept off the page and I saw every word and what it truly meant to me. I sit up on the front row during worship and the passion and emotion of the worship team seems to flood over me like a tidal wave on the beach. I get so emotional and God’s love is so strong. I just want to be more involved. It is never enough. If I have been praying or given money for a certain need I am so blessed when God moves.
Do you want to be a worker too?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord'”Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven .” Matthew 7:21 NIV
We are all on a journey. Each and everyone of us who are alive are on this journey to discover first ourselves, then God, and the true meaning to this life we have been given. This life is but a snapshot of the long journey we are on. Our life here is approximately 80 years. Some more, some less. But it is very brief compared to forever. We all go somewhere after this life is over. That is determined by the small life we live here. To describe eternity is difficult. Throughout this life God is always calling us. Whether you were born into a Christian Family that went to church every Sunday, or were born to a Muslim family or a non-religious family who did not go to church. You are given life by God and he loves you. Everything around you tells of his glory the fact that there is a great creator is around us daily in all we do. You will know someone who knows Jesus. And will hear about him. But whether you accept or reject these feelings is up to you. You will make a decision to believe or not. If you don’t want to think about it you have already made your decision to reject Jesus. Back to eternity. Heaven will be a wonderful place. There will be no pain or trials anymore . Everyone will have perfect bodies and perfect minds able to know everyone by sight even people you have never met. Like Moses, King David, or the Apostle Paul. It will be a perfect joyous place. Where your happiest memory on earth is just multiplied and goes on and on forever. Or darkness and isolation , surrounded by flames of fire closing in on you all around. Fire that touches and smells overwhelming you but never consuming and never ending. There will be no parties in heaven and your friends may be there but you will never know because you are isolated. No one to hear your cries. How we live our lives and where our heart lies is so important. The only way to heaven is to let go of your past, your pride, your hurts, hate, anger and reach out to Jesus he is the only way. He is already reaching out to you. He knows you are lost and since all man has sinned we are separated from God. We need a savior to forgive us. He will with just a word. Then you can know what it is to really live. Blessed and loved. Forever.
“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.” Nahum 1;7-8 NIVp
God is good. He cares for his children and always hears when we cry out to him. He does not like to see his children hurting. Especially at the hand of wicked and evil people. That’s how he is , He always brings punishment on those who are evil, sinners. Eventually judgement will come. Nineveh was a very worldly and corrupt city. Their reputation preceded them. That is why God asked Jonah to prophesy the destruction he had for them. But Jonah said no way and ran the other way. God sent a big storm to follow him . God always knows what we are up to. You can not hide from God. When the people found out he was running away from God they had no choice but to get him out of their ship. They still cried out to God to forgive them for throwing him overboard. But the minute he was out of the ship the seas grew calm. God is powerful. They were stunned. Well we all know what happened next. After three days in the belly of a fish yelling at God he agreed to go to Nineveh . He had not wanted to go because he knew God to be very merciful and loving. He knew if he warned them then they would cry out to Him and he would stop from sending judgement . They were so wicked that he thought they should pay. Well the minute he agreed to go, poof, he was on dry land. He headed for Nineveh and poured his heart out to the people letting them know all God had told him. Well you know what happened? They cried out to God for forgiveness and turned from their evil. And he forgave them. Jonah knew it. He was so upset he went just outside the city and sat down to pout. “Just kill me, I knew you would do that. I would be better off dead.,” he said. Well God let him sit there and fume for a while, but God sent a plant to grow up over his head to shield him from the burning sun. The next day when he woke up a worm came munching on that plant and it died. Well now Jonah was real mad. But God asked him why he was so angry? You didn’t make that plant. It was just an old plant so why should you care. You see that city is full of thousands of people that I made. Some were good and some were bad but I loved them. That’s why I had to warn them. Even when we are evil sinners. God still cares about us. If you come to Him and ask him to forgive you for bad tings you have done, even if they are really bad. If you are sorry for those sins he will forgive you.
Don’t you want to be on God’s side?