Life as a Branch

What does a branch do? Not much. 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.

 

Prayer:

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.

 

 

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 today 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.

 

Prayer:

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.

Sitting Quietly at Jesus’ Feet

Sitting quietly at Jesus’ feet is a tremendously healing endeavor. We cease from our labors and listen to His voice, feel His hand stroking our head, breathing in unison with Him as He listens to our troubles and trials, and receives our praise.

 

His presence fills us with His peace and joy in spite of circumstances. His ministry to our spirit by His Spirit makes a lasting impression on our soul as He calms the raging sea within our thoughts and emotions.

 

It is easier to keep busy than to sit quietly and still. We rush headlong into life and ignore the deep recesses of our soul that need healing; but these unresolved conflicts tear us down every day for the rest of our life – until we are willing to sit quietly and listen to our soul.

 

We feel vulnerable when too much of our inner self is exposed to the light of day. Satan’s condemnation, the world’s expectations and the negative self-talk in us from years of input by significant others in our life, make us uncomfortable with confronting our fears and insecurities.

 

It is important to pause during the day to prop up our feet, drink a cup of tea, do a craft, watch a wholesome show or movie, play a video game, paint a picture, learn a musical instrument, etc. This gives our soul a much needed chance to play and experience a time of abandon and creativity.

 

Proven scientific studies show that meditation decreases our negative attitudes and neurosis, as well as increases our feelings of control and security. Meditating on God’s Word heals these psychosomatic issues and decreases their effects on our life.

 

God’s Spirit is sanctifying our soul little by little and day by day. Our carnality is decreasing so that He may increase in us and through us. We do not attempt to perfect our self (Galatians 3:1-3), but we surrender to God’s work within us (Romans 8).

 

We pray without ceasing by consulting God each moment of our day (Proverbs 3:5-6) and we walk in the Spirit rather than fulfilling the former, diminishing, carnal desires of our flesh (Galatians 5:15-25; Colossians 3:3-4). We live in victory and fulfillment with His ceaseless peace and joy.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You draw us to Your heart through our wounds, scars and brokenness. You accomplish Your most powerful miracles through those of us who turn toward You in our weakness, rather than blaming You and turning away from You in our distress. You plant a seed for a miracle in every trial.

 

You use our brokenness to prove Your love for us and that You are sovereign in our life. You call us by name and give us treasures from our darkness and riches in the midst of the secret places of grief in our soul (Isaiah 45:3). Thank You for setting us free from worldly concerns and for reminding us to stay focused on You and Your will throughout our day.

 

Thought for the Day:

When we walk in the power and anointing of Christ in us and fulfill God’s will for our life, we see the lasting fruit both of God’s sanctifying work in our soul and of our spiritual endeavors in the lives of those God brings into our life; this causes us to rejoice constantly in God’s faithfulness and goodness.

 

 

Tucked Securely Under God’s Wings

God created us in order to share with us His awesome blessings and provision. He gave us Paradise to enjoy and will once again restore the whole earth to this euphoric condition (Revelation 20-21).

 

The message of the gospel is senseless to those who are lost without Christ as their Savior. In their pride and rebellion, they condemn themselves with their unbelief (John 3:18).

 

However, for those of us who trust Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, it changes our lives (1 Corinthians 1:18-19). God’s love gives us a secure foundation on which to place our faith (John 3:16-17).

 

As we experience and come to understand God’s love, we are filled with adoration, gratitude and love for Him (1 John 4:8). As branches, we are nourished through the Vine of Christ by His love, which is our foundational roots (John 15:5).

 

God inspired the writers of the Bible to relate both the successes and failures of His Saints. By their examples, we learn hope, reassurance and patience (Romans 15:4).

 

He fills us to overflowing with the presence of His Spirit (Ephesians 3:19), which replaces our carnal nature. We gradually experience His spiritual fruit and divine nature infiltrating our thoughts, choices and feelings.

 

We need not fear the terror of night or the arrow that flies by day (Psalm 91:5; Ephesians 6:16). In Him we rejoice always, pray continually and see the seed for a miracle in every adventure through which He leads us (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

 

Prayer:

Father God, we cannot help but shed tears of overwhelming joy as we sit in Your presence. Your love encompasses us on every side (Romans 8:35-38). Your wisdom protects us in every decision (Proverbs 4:5; James 1:5). Your Spirit guides our thoughts, words and deeds (John 16:13). Your angels carry us so that we do not even stub our toe (Psalm 91:12).

 

Thank You for the fellowship of Your Body and the guidance of Your Word, which comfort us during this life of affliction. Thank You for making us heirs with Christ of Your entire Kingdom. Eternity is not long enough for us to have the time to give You all the praise and gratitude, which You deserve.

 

Thought for the Day:

We are secure in every circumstance as long as we trust God and are tucked safely under the covering of His wings; even in sickness and death He gives us wisdom, provision and protection. – Psalm 91:4

 

 

Healing from Negative Emotions

Every person alive is affected by our childhood experiences. The memory of these events are stored in our subconscious mind. They shaped our opinion of our self and how we react to the world around us.

 

They cause many of our current negative emotions, which affect us in body, soul and spirit. These negative emotions are driven by lies, which Satan planted in each of our life’s experiences.

 

The deep hurt, abuse, rejection, condescension, ridicule, belittlement and deprivation we experienced are etched into our subconscious mind. We have feelings of being “not enough”, failures, unworthy and unacceptable.

 

We continue to blame our self for our negative emotions rather than the woundedness caused by our significant others, which we carried into our adulthood.

 

This self-condemnation causes other deep seated negative emotions to dominate our soul, such as: depression, stress, anxiety, hopelessness, and feelings of being unlovable.

 

The negative self-talk accompanying these feelings actually comes directly from Satan’s lies planted in our soul. God wants to set us free from these lies. As we surrender them to Him, He reveals to us His Truth about them.

 

This requires that we reject the negative attitudes, expressions and clich├ęs, which we collected throughout our lifetime. God exposes unconscious memories by bringing them into our conscious mind.

 

He sets us free from their hidden power over us and provides us with His love, security, value, sense of belonging and life’s necessities that we were deprived of in our past.

 

All that is required of us is that we courageously and willingly accept as our own, His free gifts of salvation, sanctification, deliverance and redemption (John 3:16-18; Psalm 34:19; 2 Corinthians 4:17).

 

Prayer:

Father God, continue to set us free from the negative energy of Satan’s lies and help us to respond to Your love and provision in our life with gratitude and acceptance. When our emotions are triggered negatively by some current event, help us to trace it back to the lie, which Satan planted during our past; and then reveal to us Your truth about the situation in order to liberate us from the negative effects of these lies ( http://www.theophostic.com ).

 

Remind us to give attention to these nagging, unresolved conflicts, so that You can heal us and free us from their ability to rob us of the energy and focus we need to accomplish Your will with our life. Thank You that those, whom the Son sets free, are free indeed (John 8:36). We are no longer bound to negative emotions, but free to have a positive outlook on each moment of every day (Philippians 4:8).

 

Thought for the Day:

The significant others in our past did the best they could for us from their wounded soul; as we forgive them for their faults, we set our self free to love and be loved by God and other people.

 

 

Victory and Sufficiency

When we view our life from the perspective of our responsibilities, world disasters, terrorist unrest, failing economy and relational issues with family, community and at work, our heart fails us for fear (Luke 21:26).

 

We prefer to stay in bed in the morning, hiding under the warmth and security of our covers. We want to roll over and continue to sleep like Rip van Winkle and wake up to a whole new world.

 

Our familiar companions throughout our day are fear, insecurity, doubt and trepidation. Our broken life and world tend to overwhelm us with hopelessness and doubt.

 

We have no guarantee that our greatest fear or the unexpected catastrophe will not catch us off guard and put us flat on our back or in the hole financially, emotionally or mentally.

 

Some of us rely on addictions to get us through the day. We adopt bad habits that relieve pressure on the surface, but actually compound our problems in the long run, because we end up reaping the negative aspects, which we sow.

 

We are too proud and stubborn and rebellious to turn to God and follow His will for our day. We think that we are safer when we remain in control, but this is merely a false illusion to which we cling.

 

Once we come to God for salvation and allow Him to hide us in the cleft of His Rock, Jesus Christ, the scales fall off our eyes. We clearly see the road to destruction which we formerly followed.

 

We are filled with His peace and joy overflowing from our spirit and soul as we trust God with our life (Isaiah 43:2). We sing His praises night and day.

 

As we increase our love and devotion to God, we grow spiritually and the false illusions of this world slip into proper perspective. We realize that as we hide our self through Christ in God, nothing which occurs can touch our life unless it is His will (Colossians 3:1-4).

 

We walk in unity with His Spirit and grow in our faith in His faithfulness. He gives us the strength, wisdom, provision and mercy we need to face each moment of the day in victory and sufficiency.

 

Prayer:

Father God, remind us that we must uproot sin in our life without compromise or sympathy. These little foxes spoil the vine (Solomon 2:15) and prevent us from bearing fruit for You through our life. We cannot perfect our self (Galatians 3:1-3), but we can submit to Your Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work (Romans 8; Philippians 2:12-13).

 

Stir a hunger and passion in us to do only Your will with our life, and to dedicate our heart to Your Word and love. Remind us that you are not only in charge of our life, but of the entire world in which we live (Ezekiel 38:4). You have the ages and times in Your capable hands and we can have faith in Your faithfulness.

 

Thought for the Day:

God instructed Israel to complete destroy the nations currently inhabiting the land, which He gave them, because He knew their sin would infect Israel and pull their hearts away from Him and His truth; in the same way we rid our life of the sins which so easily hold us back. – Deuteronomy 7:22, 11:16; Hebrews 12:1

 

Living in Contentment

God equips us to live in His abundant life, but we do not recognize it, because we are too worried about some aspect in our worldly life. We want this person, place or thing more than we want to live in the will of God.

 

In my walk with the Lord, I have learned that if I do not have something I think that I need, or that I want so much that it consumes my every waking and sleeping thought, it is because God does not want me to have it.

 

God protects us by withholding from us what is not good for us at this time. If I go out and procure my desire for myself, if I settle for second best and choose my way instead of God’s way, I am always disappointed and I cause trouble for myself.

 

If I focus instead on loving God with each moment, He will provide for me what I need in order for me to accomplish His will for my life. In His provision, which He gives me in His way and timing, I find complete fulfillment, peace and joy.

 

God has a perfect plan for our life. Altering that plan will bring us discontentment, suffering and unhappiness. He supplies us with His church and the world around us to give us opportunities to serve Him, which helps us to find pure joy in our day.

 

There is a time for grief in our life too. We can journal our feelings, allow our tears to wash away our grief and tuck our thoughts and feelings in the heart of God for His safe keeping.

 

I actually purchased a heart-shaped box and I write all of my desires and concerns on little slips of paper in that box. Then when I think about them again, I remind myself that they are in the heart of God, and He will care for them for me (1 Peter 5:7).

 

I review my little box from time to time and write the date that God answered that prayer and supplied those needs in His timing and way. This builds up my faith and also prevents me from living in torment from overwhelming grief and worries which I cannot control.

 

Prayer:

Father God, when we are consumed by longings for what we do not have, we are actually insulting You and Your provision for our life. We beg You, quote scriptures at You and attempt to control You by having faith in what we interpret as Your promises. Teach us to enter Your rest and to trust in Your provision.

 

You are sovereign over the world and our life. You give us what You want us to have when You want us to have it. Remind us that as we seek You and Your Kingdom first, You will provide us with what we require, even if it is often not what we think we want. Your provision is always better than our desires, because You know what is best for us and You have our best interest at heart.

 

Thought for the Day:

If our faith in God is vibrant, and full of awe and expectation, we will be open to move into the deeper waters of faith and committed service to Him, as we allow Him to provide for us what we need to live in fulfillment and contentment.

 

 

No Longer a Sinner – The Love of God

We learn more from one another’s example than from our words. We often say one thing, but do another. Many times we are not even aware of it. Our children are always watching us.

 

The human eyes absorb sights we do not even register with our conscious mind. These images are stored in our subconscious mind and affect us for the rest of our life.

 

We need to guard what our eyes, and the eyes of our children see. TV, movies, magazines, books and all media are sources of perversion that we can control to protect us and our children.

 

God uses our eyes to reveal to us His glory through nature all around us (Romans 1:20). We feel His pleasure in His love when we experience it through the details of our life.

 

The glory of Christ in us is the revelation of His divine character, which changes us into a new creation. He imparts to us the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and relates to us through His grace and love.

 

The servant role, which Jesus performed while on earth, teaches us how to model His character to our world as well. We serve others as Christ serves His Bride, His Church.

 

Jesus was obedient to our Heavenly Father to the point of submitting Himself to the death on the cross. Similarly, we come to the place spiritually where we are willing to die to our self (1 Corinthians 15:31; Galatians 2:20).

 

We live for God to the point where He actually lives through us. We adopt the mind of Christ as our own and refrain from living a sinful lifestyle – fully convinced that He sets us free from the law of sin and death by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

 

Christ’s life and death are the manifestation of the love of God for all of mankind. Due to His great love for us, His compassionate mercies never fail us; they are new every single morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

 

Prayer:

Father God, we gaze on Your goodness through every moment of every day. We esteem, appreciate and adore You with every breath that we take. We look forward to You changing us into the image of Christ by the work of Your Spirit in our life (Romans 8). Lead us by Your Holy Spirit so that we only do the activities which You are calling us to accomplish with our day (Ephesians 2:10).

 

Help us to ignore the overwhelming flood of details in this life, which attempt to sidetrack us from doing Your will. We have confidence that Your Spirit will lead us to perform each detail of our responsibility in Your timing and way, without the stress we usually put on our self when we try to control our life.

 

Thought for the Day:
We are channels of God’s love to everyone in our sphere of influence from our family to neighbors, workmates and acquaintances, as well as strangers we meet on the street, the store and the restaurant.

 

Your Life Matters

As we grow up, we tend to put away childish things. As adults, we take on too many responsibilities and we neglect our self. Eventually we have a break down.

 

We may physically run away from our responsibilities or our soul may make our body sick in order to escape the pressures of daily life. There is a much more effective way to stop the feelings of being overwhelmed by life.

 

We can simplify our life by removing any activity or responsibility that is not necessary for the well-being of our self or our family. Also, be sure to make time for play in the midst of the daily grind.

 

We often have our children in too many activities. Simplify by enrolling them in just one extra activity other than school. They do not need sports and dance and music classes all at one time. See what they are really interested in and just do one class.

 

A birthday party does not need to be a momentous event involving elaborate decorations, special themes and their whole class. It can be a few of their closest friends and a simple cake, ice cream and juice.

 

Are we too involved at work, going the extra mile to impress our boss, working late or extra shifts in order to get that promotion, raise or coveted praise? Simplify by maintaining the required hours and then going home.

 

Do we function in too many ministries at church? We all have a place to serve, but none of us can do it all. Pick just one thing that you are passionate about and serve in that ministry. You can always change to another ministry later on if you have more than one passion.

 

Maybe we feel abused, misunderstood, unappreciated, neglected, insecure or fearful. These are valid feelings and we can acknowledge them as such and validate that we are a person too and that we matter.

 

Do not allow negative self-talk to belittle or to criticize your feelings. Your feelings are real and deserve to be validated as valuable and important. What is stressing out your soul right now? What is causing the negative emotions currently plaguing your soul?

 

Spend some time getting to know your inner soul – your thoughts, feelings and choices. Journal and write uncensored thoughts about how you are feeling, what you are thinking and why you are making your current choices.

 

Follow the Serenity Prayer and correct anything in your power to change, accept those things you cannot change by changing your focus about them, and trust God to change or to empower you to face those impossible challenges in your life.

 

Give yourself little breaks during the day to prop up your feet, have a soda or cup of tea, take a walk in nature, rock or swing on the porch or at the park, sit in the sun for a few moments and soak up those healing rays, do some deep breathing exercises, listen to your favorite music, watch a movie or read a novel just for fun.

 

Start a new hobby that gives you time for yourself, but make sure that it does not add to your already stressful schedule. Just something simple like a craft, an adult coloring book, needlework, walking, swimming, gourmet cooking class or baking a special dessert and sharing it with those you love.

 

Climb a tree, jump rope, learn to paint or play an instrument, cuddle a stuffed toy, pet the cat, make a batch of cookies or jam, frame photos of yourself as a child and hang them on the wall with your other photos, wrap up in your favorite blanket or quilt and take a short nap,

 

Grieve your losses, no matter what they are – big or small they are all important. Give yourself permission to cry; tears are healing and they wash away our grief. They also help us to relieve pent up stress and emotion.

 

Prayer:

Father God, help us to treat our self as a human being rather than as a machine. Remind us that the good thing in life often become the enemy of the best things. You have a special plan for each life, so help us to walk in it. Give us wisdom in making our decisions, prevent us from overly scheduling our day with too many activities. Help us to take breaks and to give our self a little treat or to take time to breathe in Your Spirit and to give You praise.

 

We want to honor You with our life and to stop allowing the good things to rob us of walking by Your Spirit and fulfilling Your plan for our life. Teach us to care for our own needs as well as everyone else’s and prevent us from being so busy we cannot enjoy our time with family, friends and especially with You.

 

Thought for the Day:

Never fill your life so full of activities that you actually feel overwhelmed by all of the responsibilities that you have accepted as your own.

Covenant with Christ

God made many covenants with the Old Testament Saints, which He keeps even to this day. Then He sent Jesus to make a new covenant with those born after the Messiah’s birth (Matthew 26:28).

 

Anyone humble enough to receive Him receives eternal life in return (John 3:16-17). He replaces our human, uncircumcised heart of stone with His heart of flesh and makes us a new creation in Christ (Romans 2:29; Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

 

This new life in Christ enables us to mature spiritually and allows God’s Spirit to conform us the image of Jesus, the Christ (Romans 8:29). The Spirit spurs us to desire more of God and a more intimate union with the Trinity within us.

 

He gives us the desires of our heart – not the carnal aspects which we covet from this world, but He puts His desires in our heart to replace our carnal, fleshly ones – which would not make us happy anyway (Psalm 37:4).

 

He does not fulfill our lusts for better health, a bigger home, sportier luxury car, lucrative job and a Hollywood model for a mate, which do not fulfill us when we get them. He gives us what we need to succeed in His calling for our life.

 

Existing only to do the will of our Father, Jesus lived in contentment, even through the crucifixion and death on the cross. He kept His focused on the prize of glory ahead of Him (Hebrews 12:2).

 

Jesus gave us this example of how to live our own life. He glorified God with His life and completed the work which God gave Him to do during His lifetime on earth (John 17:4). We can do this too.

 

We delight in the Lord each moment of our day, content with His provision and wanting nothing more than to serve Him in any way He chooses. We rejoice as we see Him transforming us into the image of Christ and readily relinquish the earthly ties which hold us back from following hard after Him (Psalm 63:8).

 

Prayer:

Father God, circumcise our heart of the excess flesh which surrounds us, and set us free to serve You with abandon and dedication. Allow us to find our fulfillment, not in the things of this world, but in service to You each moment of our day. Our true joy comes from living in the center of Your will.

 

You did not create us to be happy in this world, but to live holy lives -consecrated to You in the same degree of covenant promise that You give to us. When we do, we find a joy that is deeper than the fleeting happiness we obtain from worldly prizes, and we live in eternal peace which starts the moment we surrender our life to Your love.

 

Thought for the Day:

Living in the center of God’s will is very satisfying and brings us a more lasting joy than we can receive from anything this world has to offer.