Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Balanced Christian Life

Free stock photo of landscape, mountains, nature, rocks

The Gospels of the Bible give us a play-by-play account of who Jesus was while He lived on the earth. The Epistles denote the power which Jesus now exercises from within His Body of authentic Believers.

We walk this earthly realm in the flesh, but through the dealings of God's Spirit within us, we crucify the flesh and the lusts thereof (2 Corinthians 10:3; Galatians 5:24). We no longer live in the flesh (Romans 8:5).

As we walk in the Spirit (Romans 8:9), the life of Christ is manifested through our physical existence (2 Corinthians 4:10-11). We live in the world, but we are not part of it (John 17:16).

Christ performs His work through us, which God prepared for us before the world ever began (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus moves into our spirit and we walk with His direction for each moment of the day (Galatians 5:16, 25).

We are controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit, who fills us (Ephesians 5:18). This is accomplished by the particular fruit and gifts of the Spirit, which He provides for each one of us individually (Ephesians 4:8-16; Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, 27-31).

We submit our negative thoughts to the Lordship of Jesus Christ for healing. We even lay down our positive thoughts and adopt His thoughts as our own (Philippians 2:5).

We have the abiding love and peace of God resident within us (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 2:14). Desiring to live Godly lives, we have everything we need to achieve this through Christ Jesus within (2 Timothy 3:13; 2 Peter 1:3).

Father God, as we surrender our will to Your will, we soon realize that You fill us completely. You lead us to give the fruit of our labors to our local church and to missionaries doing Your work, rather than to spend our time, energy and resources on frivolous amusements and earthly treasures. The earthly is here today, but gone tomorrow; yet Your work lasts into eternity (1 Corinthians 1:9, 6:17; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 1:3-14, 4:32, 5:22-33; Galatians 5:22-23; Acts 15:28).

We want to do only Your will with our life. Following the leading of Your Holy Spirit moment by moment throughout the day results in physical productivity, a healthy mental and emotional life, spiritual advantages and material blessings which we cannot even begin to imagine until we walk in Your ways!

Thought for the Day:
When Christ is foremost in our thoughts and we pray about His order for our day, even cleaning the house, tending the children, working in the secular world, ministering at church, preparing meals and spending time with our family is the result of a spirit-filled life.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Life as a Branch

What does a branch do? Not much (Galatians 3:1-3). The roots, vine and leaves of a plant do most of the work. Without them, the branch will wither and die, and be pruned and thrown into the fire and burned up (Matthew 7:19).

Yet, securely connected to the vine, the branch will bear much fruit (Matthew 7:18). The vine is one long system with many branches flaring out from it. It uses rocks, other plants, trees or any viable support for growth.

The vine helps to fertilize the soil over which it spreads, holding in moisture needed by the branches to bear fruit. It colonizes and spreads quickly. When pruned, the branches bear even more fruit (John 15:4-8).

The vine always moves toward the light in order to position the leaves of the plant to access the most and best sunlight. The vine will even overcome walls, fences and ravines in order to spread. So like our spiritual walk.  

Vines stabilize the plant on which they attach as a support, and also help to hold soil in place and to cover parts of the earth that would otherwise be bare, parched soil.

A stem is stationary and remains in one spot, but a vine spreads out and up and around. Jesus could have used the word "stem" instead of vine in illustrating our connection to Him.

However, His use of the word vine shows that He is interested in spreading His gospel as quickly and prolifically as possible. The roots of the vine also spread out in the soil, offering stability and nourishment for the whole vine and branches.

Roots act like tiny straws, sucking up water and minerals from the soil. The little hairs sticking out from the roots help in this absorption process too. Roots anchor the vine much like God's Spirit anchors us in life.

Roots also store extra nutrients for later use, ensuring that the Vine and branches have the provision they need for healthy growth now and in the future.

The leaves on the branches join the roots in providing much needed food for the vine and branches. They use sunlight, water from the soil and carbon dioxide from the air in photosynthesis to make a sugary energy drink for the vine and branches.

Living apart from God's presence, the nurturing of His Spirit and the Body of Christ, we cannot survive in this world (John 15:5). We would wither and die, be pruned and discarded.

Father God, thank You for providing Jesus as the support for our life as our Vine. We are amazed at how You piece together the Body, the Spirit and Your presence to make us healthy, and a viable conduit of Your life in order for us to bear fruit for Your Kingdom.

Remind us that we are useless without You, Your Spirit and Your Body, because we could not bear fruit. We rely on You for everything we need for life and godliness (2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Peter 1:3). Use our fruit to feed the multitudes who come to gather in Your presence.

Thought for the Day
The symbolism which Jesus used of the Vine and branches is such a perfect picture of the Christian life; the fellowship, comradery, spiritual nourishment and support provided to us by Jesus, His Spirit and His Body is invaluable to our personal growth in Christ.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Over the Years and Miles

When God puts someone on my heart to encourage, I pray for them, shoot them an email, make a phone call or send them a card. I got a blessing back recently that I never expected.

I received a photo of several of my cards which I sent to one sister-in-Christ over the years. Rather than reading and discarding my handcrafted cards, she kept every one of them. The photo she sent is of a little pile of my cards, which I sent to her.

This wonderful Saint had to relocate multiple times over the years and suffered painful devastation repeatedly during that time. Yet, in all of that confusion and the heart-rending circumstances, she carried those little cards with her.

She told me that whenever she needs encouragement or support or to know that she is loved, she takes out all the cards I sent to her and reads them all over again.

What a huge blessing to know that this simple act on my part is continuing to show God's love over the miles and the years. My own mother has several of my cards placed around her home and she says they bring her comfort and joy when she glances at them or rereads them.

Please always respond to God's directive if He tells you to send someone a card or email. Like me, you may be humbled and encouraged someday to learn that the person kept them and continues to be fortified in their spirit because of them.

Never underestimate the importance of a simple act of obedience to the Lord. The amazing love from Christ in us to His Body can reap benefits for that person for many years and across thousands of miles and end up blessing us in return.

Father God, thank You so much for teaching us to obey the leading of Your Spirit each moment of every day. Help us to simplify our life; so that we are never too busy to obey You even in the simple, seemingly insignificant ways You call us to minister to one another. Remind us that birthdays are special and we should acknowledge the day for those we love.

We give You all of the honor and praise when You use us as Your hands and feet. Teach us that You also give us Your heart to show Your love to the Body of Christ and the unsaved people in our life. Help us to be even more mindful of You throughout our day - even in the most mundane or routine experiences.

Thought for the Day:
A simple act of kindness and obedience to God's Spirit will send repercussions of encouragement and love across the years and miles.