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

grapevine-with-detail-of-grapes-picjumbo-com.jpgFruits That Remains: Lessons from my journals. These are excerpts from 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.

Strategies for spiritual warfare and for staying refreshed under pressure:

I must sing worship songs and make melodies in my heart to the Lord in the midst of spiritual warfare.  The Lord will speak to me and peace will come over my soul.  Worrying won’t change my situation so I might as well feel God’s peace while I’m going through it – and He may speak to me solutions and strategies.

Forgiveness is another weapon; no matter how feeble my prayers start out, God won’t turn me away.

My body, mind, and spirit must be united.  If my mind is worrying, my body wants to sleep, and my spirit is not leading, I will be divided, my prayers won’t be fervent and I won’t get results.  During spiritual attacks chaos hits.  I must be led by my spirit and bring myself back in line.  Wounds left unattended attract evil spirits.

Goals:

  • Speak the Word to keep my faith level up. Keep doing it until there is light in the darkness.
  • Pray until I hear from God. God can raise dead things to life, but we cannot consider the deadness but put our focus on the One who can resurrect the dead to life.
  • The person who will consistently get alone with God will never go under. Trials will come, but this person will never be overcome! I will continue to be faithful to my time with Lord even when I’m so tired that I want to stay in bed.

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Check out this quick two question poll about our obstacles to experiencing self-worth!

I’m leading a class in which we’re discussing how we can escape the torment of comparison and insecurity. We are finding that we all struggle in different ways with negative messages that tear down our proper image of ourselves. I created this poll to see what your responses would be to a couple of our discussion questions.

Follow the link below and participate in this quick two question poll.  I can’t wait to read your answers!

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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?

Words in Red: John 6:61 – When God offends you

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.

Sitting on the tracks

John 6:61  “Does this offend you?”

Lord Jesus, I honestly have to admit that there have been many times that I have been offended by You.  When I was a young, immature Christian everything about You seemed so neat and tidy.  Before long, I started creating a nice doctrine where You answer every prayer the way I pray it, and behave according to my interpretation of how God should behave.

Fortunately and unfortunately, You are not containable in a theological box of my creation.  The only way You could mature me and bring me to a deeper understanding of Who You are was to smash the box.

 
I remember one time when You didn’t answer my prayers regarding something really big.  When the opposite of what I prayed for happened, I thought I wouldn’t make it. I thought John and I would be ruined – and I was offended by You.

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“Free”: The word that gives access

 

Free PassI love free stuff.  In fact, “free” is a four letter word that gives me great joy! I especially love free stuff when it’s great quality and something that I have been wanting for some time.  I remember once when I needed a chandelier for our dining room.  We didn’t have the money to purchase one but I had seen a chandelier at a local store that I loved.  One day, my mother-in-law, not knowing anything about the chandelier I had been eyeing, gave me a gift certificate to that very store! You better believe that I bolted over to the store, purchased the chandelier and had my husband up on a ladder installing it that night! And the best part about that blessing is that every time I look at that chandelier, I am reminded that God provided the exact thing that I was hoping for which made the waiting so worthwhile!

What about you? Do have any stories about stumbling upon or being given something that you wanted for a while?

Here’s another angle to “free” stuff that I was pondering the other day.  A few weeks ago, my husband and I rented a beach house for our vacation.  We rent the same house during the same week of July every year.  We let our grown children, extended family and friends know well in advance that they are welcome to come up and enjoy the beach house.  We only ask that they let us know in advance when they plan to come so we can prepare food and make sure that beds are made.

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Words in Red: John 5:44 – Looking for love in all the wrong places

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.

value-plant

John 5:44 – “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes only from God?”

Jesus asks the questions that cut right to the heart of the matter.  Like a surgeon, He uses his words as a scalpel to cut down to the tumor and expose it.  But he won’t remove it without our cooperation.  There is no general anesthesia.  We need to be awake for this procedure.

This cancerous tumor is called the Fear of Man.  It grows unchecked in the unhealthy environment of lust for the world. When we love this world and what it offers, then we are forced to serve its masters – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). The Operations Manager for these worldly slave drivers is the Fear of Man, since people will impact everything we lust after.  They either become pawns in our desire for satisfaction or they impede our achievements. Even the best relationships – like those between parent and child or between spouses – can be polluted and poisoned by fear of man as it twists those relationships into something dysfunctional that they were never meant to be.

Jesus, I hear you say here that as long as I accept praise – look for, long for and crave praise – from people, I can’t truly have all my trust in You.  I can’t approach You in humility and Truth as long as my heart belongs to another.  It’s an adulterous situation that You won’t be a part of.  Where am I getting my identity needs met – in the praise or judgment of other people or from my Creator and Savior?  I’m foolish and short-sighted if I do the former, but how often do I do that?

I can’t serve two masters.  If I am pursuing the praise of man, there is no way that I can pursue the praise and acceptance that comes from God.  Even if my heart wants Your acceptance, there is no way I can pursue both at the same time.

Lord, remind me today, in both my successes and my failures, that when people praise me, correct me or even criticize me, that You approve of me.    May Your joy in me be my sustenance and my “craving” today.  May I have a single focus – to obtain the praise that comes from God!

Now you:

  • Maybe you are struggling with rejection from someone or a group of people that is making you feel like a failure or a loser.  How do the words of Jesus put everything into its proper perspective?
  • Do you see how Jesus does NOT want us to put weight in the praises of people (which are fickle and fleeting) or in the judgments of people (which are based on their assessment of us, not on the truth).  When we allow people’s pleasure or displeasure in us to control our emotions and sense of worth we are negating the value that Jesus put on us when He purchased us with His blood on the cross.

The value of an item is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it.  You never know what someone thinks is valuable and what price they’re willing to pay for it. A piece of clothing that was worn by George Washington could sell for thousands of dollars! No one can wear the clothing again, but because he touched it and wore it, people will pay a lot of money to own it.

The price that was paid for you determines your value.  Can anyone on earth put a price on the life of the Son of God? Could anyone pay that price or outbid God for you? Not at all! You truly are ‘price-less’.  Let that knowledge keep you steady in the face of the Fear of Man that wants to rule your heart and grab your focus.

Get Hungry or You’ll Starve to Death

Not hungry

I felt guilty that I wasn’t hungry.  My husband and I had taken separate cars to church as we had commitments at different times.  He left for home before me and began preparing a lovely lunch.  He knew I was famished, because half-way through the sermon my stomach growled and I was outed!

I left the parking lot soon after John, but didn’t go right home as I had an errand to do first.  I stopped to purchase more of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar that we like to get from this amazing Italian market that sells specialty Italian food items.  When I walked in, they were just taking a fresh tomato and basil flatbread out of the pizza oven and I caved.  Even though I knew that John was at home working on lunch for us, I couldn’t wait.  I had allowed my hunger to go too long unattended; so when temptation came across my path, my resistance ran out the door like a burglar!

And that’s why I felt guilty that I wasn’t hungry when I finally got home.  Did I come clean about my “appetizer”?  Nope!  I ate every bite of what John prepared.  But it didn’t taste as good as it would have if I was still hungry.  And my stomach actually felt uncomfortable eating that much food after the two pieces of pizza I previously ate!

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Yard Sale of the Heart: It’s Time to Move

cans in garage.jpg

I put Yard Sale signs up until I ran out of thumbtacks and nails.  Our house is off the beaten path so the signs were my greatest hope of driving Yard Sale traffic to our driveway.  I wanted this stuff that I had so painstakingly washed, folded, assembled, and placed price tags on to GO!  I didn’t want to load those things one more time into my car – even if it was to drive it Goodwill after the Yard Sale.  I wanted happy faces offering me lots of money to take my junk…I mean, my treasures, back to their house.

That was quite a few years ago…

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