Fruit that Remains: Excerpts from my journals that nourished me and might encourage you, too!

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Fruit That Remains: Lessons from my journals. These are excerpts from my journals over the years. Some are more current than others. I love going back into my journals because I always get refreshed and re-learn the lessons that the Lord has taught me and that I have faithfully scribed.

 

I can’t take it anymore! I’m so overwhelmed I feel like I’m going to have a breakdown!

Have you every felt like that? I have – many times! On one such occasion, I had been trying to make everything work in my own strength but I was in a season where there were too many demands and not enough of me to go around.  I had too much on my plate and plainly needed a clone of myself to get all of my work done, let alone things at home and in ministry. It was just TOO MUCH. So I brought my anxiety to the Lord.

1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

So in this instance, here is how the conversation went down in my journal:

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Choices: How to Make Better Ones

transfagarasan-road-valley-between-the-mountains-picjumbo-com.jpgWe have choices to make every day.  And if the truth be told, we would love to make all good choices. However, we will make some good and some bad choices this very day. The issue is that when we have a choice to make, we don’t see all of the consequences. How can we see all of the ramifications of every choice when we are limited by time and by our experience?  We can only visualize certain outcomes that are within our experience or imagination.  The most impactful part about this scenario is that some choices carry huge outcomes for us, for our destiny and for others.

So it’s very important that we look back at the track record of our choices, and make changes going forward so that we can make better ones.  If we want to get to the end of our life without regret, we need to steer a strong course and not let every wind or current have their way with us.

Here’s an example from the lives of my pastors regarding a choice that was intimidating to make but had powerful consequences.  16 years ago, my pastors took over our church as the Senior Pastors.  They had been living in Massachusetts but our church is in Maine.  Just before the transition, they had purchased their dream home in Massachusetts and were now commuting up to Maine to lead our church.  This commute was difficult but doable.  Then came the season that our church was faced with the need to expand.  There weren’t many options on the real estate market for the type of building that we needed and we had a time crunch due to our lease ending at our current building.  In prayer one day, my pastor, Pastor Denise, clearly heard the Lord tell her that if she would sell her house in Massachusetts and move closer to the church, He would provide land and finances for the church to build a building rather than purchase an existing structure.  Pastor Denise told Pastor Ron what the Lord had spoken and they put their house on the market right away.  Within one week of putting their house on the market, the land that our church is built on came on the market.  It’s a beautiful plot of land on the top of a lovely hill with a pastoral view of farms below.

But the story gets better.

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Church within the Church: Will you be of the few who press in for more of the Lord, no matter the cost?

gray door.jpgThere is a church within the church.

The Song of Solomon talks about the Bride that was called out from Daughters of Jerusalem (Song of Solomon 6:1).  David was called out from among his brothers (1 Samuel 16:11).  Jehu was called out from among his companions (1 Kings 9:4-7). When David went to Ziklag to rescue the wives and children of his army that had been captured, he took only 200 of his men.  The others stayed behind.  When Gideon was called to fight, he was only allowed to choose 300 men of the 32,000 he started out with (Judges 7:1-7).  Joseph was called out from the sons of Jacob.

The church within the church wins victories and gets spoils for all.  They share their victories so others can be spiritually prosperous and better off.  Not everyone is going to pay the price to fight and win and come back from the enemy’s camp with the spoils of war.  Not everyone is going to pray the price to maintain intimacy with Jesus in order to hear what He is doing in the earth and lead out in that way.  But relationship is built in shared experiences with Jesus on the battlefield and in the prayer closet and it’s that relationship that can’t be shared.  I can share the benefits of my time with the Lord but I can never share the intimacy that I have pressed in for.  I can give away what I have seen and heard, but I can never give away the knowledge I have of His presence that I took hold of for myself.

Look at Elisha, the pupil and servant of Elijah.  On Elijah’s last day on earth, the school of the prophets knew that it was Elijah’s last day.  (Weird but true!) They kept telling Elisha, “This is your master’s last day.” He said, “I know, I know!” Elijah also acted strangely.  Instead of asking Elisha to stay close to him, he tried to send him away back to the group of the prophets. But Elisha wouldn’t go.  Why? I believe that he knew that what Elijah carried needed to be passed on to someone and he wanted to be that man.  He knew that for his ministry to be what he had experienced while walking with Elijah, he was going to need that anointing.  So Elisha stayed away from the group and pressed in closer to Elijah.  He got so close that when the chariots of God came to take Elijah from this earth, Elisha was right there to catch Elijah’s mantle.  Now that must have been a cool moment.  Many of us have watched someone die, but we’ve never seen angels take them away – in a chariot of fire, no less! So Elisha represents the zeal of the church within the church.  When trials, inconvenience, and the cares of this world tell us that we need to back away from the intense presence of the Lord and rejoin the group – the status quo of religion – we say, “No! Jesus, I will not leave your side! I want all that you have for me.”

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Would you take my suggestion?: The true test of respect

take-my-suggestionI love to make suggestions.  I feel really happy when I suggest a restaurant to someone and they try it and have a great experience.  I will go to great pains to passionately describe why someone should try a certain restaurant, or book or check out a podcast that I have listened to.  And it bothers me to no end when the person I am trying to convince gives me the impression that they don’t have an interest in trying out my suggestion.  I have often thought about why this bothers me so much. What do I care if they miss out on a fabulous meal or a marvelously written book? It’s their loss, right? But it does bother me.  A lot!

In giving this thought, I realize that I am bothered simply because I care.  I want the people in my life to have every great experience I have had and I want to be able to share in that with them. For instance, when a friend comes back to me after having read a book or listened to a podcast I recommended, and they gush about how amazing it was, we now have something deeper to share.  We now have a common experience that we can talk about. I also have the joy in my heart of knowing that my recommendation added value to my friend’s life in some small way.

So did you know that in the Bible God has made countless recommendations that add value to our lives? Not only does He have the most intimate knowledge of what is best for us, But He knows what we will enjoy, what will keep us free from misery, and what will feed our souls. Out of this most intimate knowledge of us, He recommends actions and behaviors.

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Follow closely, love deeply, obey quickly

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This past weekend, I went away to a lovely spot called Rangeley, Maine.  Rangeley Lake is a peaceful yet breathtaking lake surrounded by mountains that seem to take off right out of the lake.  There isn’t one view that isn’t spectacular.  I went up with some friends and we spent a lot of time around the lake.

On the second day there, we were sitting lakeside in our beach chairs, drinking in the late summer sun, reading and napping when I noticed a dog jumping in the lake down by the dock.  The dog was jumping off the dock into the water and swimming back to shore.  He was getting all kinds of praise from his owner who was throwing sticks into the water that the dog was delightedly fetching and returning to his feet for the next round.  Then some boys joined in the fun and were swimming with the dog as well.  After about 20 minutes of this play, the owner decided it was time to leave so he said Good-bye to the boys, called his dog and they walked off the together side by side.

My friends and I were sitting about 20 yards from the dock and I noticed that the dog saw us and wanted to come and ‘check us out’.  He started to head in our direction, but after one firm call from his master, he changed course back to the young man’s side.  The dog’s owner probably realized that five ladies lounging in their beach chairs might not want a sopping wet dog to walk on their belongings or shake the water off his coat all over them!

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Words in Red: John 7:6 – Ready, Set,Wait!

Words in Red are excerpts from my journal as I have been taking the words of Jesus and letting them speak directly to my own heart.

20160901_191329_resizedJohn 7:6(NIV): Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do.”

Timing is everything. The right thing done at the wrong time becomes the wrong thing.  Jesus, You never succumbed to the pressure of hurry or allowed other people’s agendas to get you off track.  Your time in prayer and in the Father’s presence set Your daily course and caused  You to walk in power and authority out of divine directive.

Now Lord, You tell me in your Word that I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and that I can know the will of God for my life on a daily basis.  Jesus, as I wake up and spend time in Your Word, I ask You to tune my ear to Your voice so that I don’t go running in my own reactionary direction, running into obstacles I could have avoided and making rushed mistakes.

Lord Jesus, You told your unbelieving brothers that any time “was right” to them for You to reveal Yourself as the Messiah. They were like pushy agents for a Las Vegas talent act – trying to get You to “perform” where and when they thought best to get the most attention and biggest following. But You didn’t allow their worldly agenda to get You out of alignment with the Father and push You out of His will. You knew that success and promotion come from God – and self-promotion is from Satan. Therefore, You were able to wait on the Father’s timing for the “who, what, when, where and how” of every detail of Your destiny.

Lord Jesus, help me to settle down and rest in You.  Help me to approach the throne of grace with confidence, asking for help in time of need and patiently waiting on You for the right timing to execute the items on my task list.  Free me from a “hurry up” mentality and lead me calmly beside still waters. (Psalm 23)

Lord God, today may I hear Your voice for my day.  May You guide me in all my affairs. Because I have given my day to You and surrendered everything that concerns me, I trust and believe that You are going before me to make straight paths for my feet.(Proverbs 3:6) I walk on the red carpet of Your favor. Thank you Lord that my acceptance and identity are settled in You so I don’t have to scramble, struggle or strive for promotion or approval from people.  I will wait on Your timing for all good things in any way you choose to bring them! Amen.

Now you:

  • Do you struggle under the pressure of deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise?
  • Are you a slave driver of yourself?
  • Is someone else in your life putting great pressure on you to perform perfectly and causing you feel the weight of their unreasonable expectations?

I’ve been on both sides of that coin. Have you? Most of the time, though, I am the one putting pressure on myself to get too much accomplished – and perfectly at that!  I want to be all things to all people.  I want to be the perfect wife, mother, grandmother, friend, employee, colleague, Women’s minister, teacher, and child of God.  Seeing it all in print reminds me how impossible that would be, even on my best day.  Jesus states so clearly in the Scripture above that there is a time for everything.  God knows when and how things should be done and when we fail to consult Him, we are doomed from the start!

You can learn to start Your day off with prayers of consecration and requests for wisdom and guidance and favor.  Thank the Lord for His everlasting goodness and faithfulness in your life, even through the times when you were faithless!  The more you magnify Him in your day, the more your ear stays tuned to His voice and you receive guidance without having to strive. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Speak, Lord. I’m listening.

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John 10: 4-5: And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.

Over the 16 years that my husband and I have been married, I would estimate that we have spoken millions of words to each other.  Some have been informational, some have been directional, some have been purposed to probe the heart, and some have been revelatory.  But every word, for better or worse, has been part of  the picture of our marriage.  Some of the nitpicking and critical words I wish I could take back.  Other words, like words of encouragement and praise, I am trying to say more often. But each and every word has been a brush stroke on the canvas of the marriage we now have.

This is true for every relationship.  Our words are powerful and have the ability to create or tear down, offer peace or instill fear, give hope and direction or confuse and distract.

The power of words originated with God.  God created everything seen and unseen with words.  He could have used thoughts or He could have used His hands.  But He chose to speak everything into being.

And God still speaks.  He hasn’t changed over time, as many falsely teach.  He upholds the words He has already spoken and He speaks new fresh things to his children.  He tells us in John 10:4-5 that his sheep hear his voice and the voice of another they will not listen to or follow.

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No template for this

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2 Kings 5:26 Amplified Bible (AMP)

26 Elisha said to him, “Did my heart not go with you, when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Is it a [proper] time to accept money and clothing and olive orchards and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants?

God doesn’t use a template for our lives. This frustrates me sometimes.  I like to have things all figured out.  Give me the program, the plan, the template, or the pattern and I will learn it and follow it as if my life depends on it.

But I’ve noticed in my journey with God that when I try to react to a situation with yesterday’s strategy, I often run into a wall.  I often don’t have the success and breakthrough that I anticipated I would, especially since I used the method that brought great breakthrough the last time!

In 2 Kings 5:26, we read the story of when a powerful warrior named Naaman, who had been struck with leprosy, came to Elisha the prophet to be healed.  Elisha told him to dip in a nearby river 7 times.   On the 7th time, Naaman arose from the water totally healed.  He was so grateful to get his life back that he offered Elisha money, clothing and many other things that he had brought with him as a huge “Thank You”. But Elisha declined the gifts and sent Naaman back home with his donkeys still laden down with goods. But Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, was not in agreement with this decision and didn’t want to see that wealth ride off into the Israeli sunset; so Gehazi snuck away and chased Naaman down.  After a brief chat about how his master had changed his mind, Gehazi, the servant returned to his tent with some of the booty.

But one thing every servant of a prophet should know is that your boss hears from God and you’re not going  to get away with sneaking around. Elisha confronted Gehazi and said to him, “Is it a proper time to accept money and clothing and olive orchards and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants?” (Is it striking you how MUCH stuff Naaman bequeathed to Gehazi on Elisha’s behalf??)

Elisha said, “Is it the proper time…?” to which the answer was No. It was not the proper time.  Why? Because God’s desire was to show His goodness to Naaman and to show this wealthy man that He is Almighty, the only true God.  He can’t be bought with trinkets or gifts.  God works in His own way, for His own purposes.

What caught my attention was the flip side of that question, “Is it the proper time…?” The flip side of Elisha’s question is as follows: If there is an improper time to do something, then there is a proper time as well.

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