Abiding Fruit – Part 2

As God’s Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ, we abide in His abundant love forever. We keep His commandments and love our friends, relatives, associates and neighbors with the love of the Lord (Matthew 22:37-39; John 15:10).

The Vine existed long before the branches ever grew, and He sacrificially shares His love and life with us (1 John 4:19). We choose to fully commit to our relationship with the Vine (John 15:16).

Separated from the Vine, we can do nothing (John 15:5). We display the fruit of the flesh, which is envy, strife, hatred, self-centeredness, criticism, worry, depression, pride, bitterness, complaining, quitting, backbiting, loving our self more than others, loving money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to our parents, ungrateful, unholy, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; inventing ways of doing evil; disobeying our parents; and as adults, we put work and fun ahead of God (2 Timothy 3:2; Romans 1:30).

Abiding in the Vine gradually renews our heart and replaces these negative issues with the fruit of God’s Spirit, which we bear through our obedience to Him. This is the evidence of our union with the Vine (John 15:13).

We rest in His grace and renew our strength as we wait on Him (Isaiah 40:31). His Spirit directs us each moment of the day (John 16:13). We increase God’s Kingdom by our obedience to Him and His Word (Mark 4:26).

God’s fruit in our life is proof of our faith in God (James 2:14-26). We abide in Him, but He also abides in us, completing the sanctifying work of holiness, which He started in us at salvation (Philippians 1:6, 2:12-13).

Prayer:
Father God, let us never break our connection with Your Vine. The life we receive through Your presence in our spirit is not paralleled by anything this world has to offer.

Help us to exhibit affection for others, an exuberance about life, serenity through the storms, determination and patience, a compassionate heart, and kindness that pervades our entire being (Galatians 5:22-23).

We trust that You have this world in Your control and have a perfect timetable for its culmination and the renewal of all things. Remind us to live humbly in service to You and others, and continually guide us by Your Spirit.

Thought for the Day:
Our God, who called us, is faithful to us and will fulfill us and care for us until we abide with Him in eternity. – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

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An Exchanged Life

Many people argue that they do not need Christ dwelling within them to enjoy a changed life. They use meditation, medication, Yoga, Tai Chi, Eastern religions and pure will power to make a better life for themselves. However, a changed life is not the only benefit of admitting we are sinners and trusting in Christ for our salvation (Romans 3:23, 6:23).

Jesus not only reforms us, but He also renews us by bringing our spirit to life within us. His sacrifice on the cross makes us co-heirs with Him of the entire Kingdom of God (Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:20-21). He comes to dwell within us by His Spirit who sanctifies us and disciplines us until we walk in a transformed life (Hebrews 10:10, 12:11; 2 Corinthians 3:18). He give us an exchanged life.

God forgives us of every sin – past, present and even future sins. However, we no longer desire to sin, but seek to live a life free of sin and its penalties (I John 1:3). Yet, if we fail, we are not under condemnation (Romans 8:1; 1 John 1:9). We reap many of the consequences, but none of the penalties of the mistakes we make.

God is involved in every area of our life, which we surrender to Him. We relinquish our free will and submit our choices to Him. We walk in victory through life, regardless of the circumstances we face. We have the presence of Christ in our life both now an in eternity. He gives us the fullness of the fruit of His character and His divine nature to live life on earth to its fullest (Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Corinthians 5:8; 1 John 3:2).

Prayer:
Father God, Your everlasting joy resides in our heart both now and forever (Psalm 16:11). Yet, we are so focused on the material world around us, and the circumstances we face, that we fail to notice Your love and peace, which
surround us (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing occurs in our life without Your express permission (Job 1:12). You promise never to leave us or to forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). You remain faithful to us, even when we wander from You for a season (2 Timothy 2:13).

Thought for the Day:
God promises us to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our husband and our whole life. – Colossians 3:4; 2 Corinthians 11:2

Intercessory Prayer

There is nothing as sweet as time alone (all-one) with God, a time of separation from the world and spiritual renewal, a time of grace, mercy and unity with both Christ within us and our Father on His throne. Jesus is our intercessor, constantly serving as our advocate with our Father. He suffered the torture and agony of the Cross to provide for our earthly liberation and our eternal glory (1 John 2:1).

The Holy Spirit also intercedes for us, often with utterances, which we do not understand (Romans 8:6). We are the temple of God’s Spirit, and He dwells within us and sanctifies us over the course of our lifetime (2 Corinthians 3:18). He slowly crucifies the old nature in us as we cooperate with Him, by starving the little fellow to death at the same time that we feed our spirit with spiritual food (Ephesians 4:24; Romans 6:6).

God’s Word is an infinite source of wisdom and practical advice, especially the Psalms and Proverbs. Reading them daily can improve the way we handle and react to life. God’s Word is a lamp and light for our life (Psalm 119:105). Praying God’s Word allows us to identify with the prophets and psalmists as they interceded for themselves and their world.

During our times of oneness with God, He gives us His heart for the world (John 3:16). When we feel the torment of others, we can join Christ in interceding for that person or people group. Intercessory prayer facilitates our unity with God. We identify with God’s heart and learn to despise what He disdains and embrace what He holds dear, as we spend time mediating for others through prayer.

Prayer:
Father God, You make us aware of the spiritual warfare, in which we engage with each prayer we breathe. By Your Spirit, we put to flight tens of thousands of demonic predators, which roam the earth, seeking people to oppress or possess (1 Peter 5:8; Mark 3:15). The more intimate our unity with You, the more authority You give us over the demonic forces we battle through intercessory prayer.

Thought for the Day:
The pain of those we pray for becomes so real to us that it is almost as if we are pleading for our self as we pray for others.

Trials are not Punitive

Some people think that if someone is going through a prolonged illness, time out of work, heart-wrenching grief or a trial of some sort, that God is trying to teach them something; and that once they learn it, they will be freed from the trial. Those in the trial beat themselves up by thinking they need to pray more, read their Bible more or make some attempt to appease God’s wrath.

This causes people to doubt their connection to the Lord and gives them hours of unrest and soul searching. Trials are not only times of correction and repentance, but also of renewal and sweet fellowship with our Father God. God is jealous and enjoys having us all to Himself. We find our self lost in the presence of God. We surrender all control to Him.

During times of trial, we have an abundance of time to spend with God. When we think back on those days of horrid illness, stress or persecution, we smile; not because we are masochists and love pain, but because our normal schedule is totally interrupted and we have free time. We are isolated from the world and able to spend that sweet time of oneness with the Lord.

Often, the Lord will give us a “holiday” through a trial, during which we can spend focused time worshipping the Beloved of our soul. During trials, do not trust in your own efforts or expect generosity from family, church and friends. Instead, wait with your whole soul – your mind, will and emotions – and put complete hope in the Lord and His Word.

Prayer:
Father God, You hear our voice in the morning, as we lay our requests before you and wait expectantly on You (Psalm 5:3). You love to spend all of Your time with each one of us. The next time we are without work, isolated by sickness or find our self alone through the death of a loved one or the devastation of divorce, we will take this time to spend entirely with You. When we do, we always find our self irrevocably changed in spirit, soul and body.

Thought for the Day:
We walk in the ways of the Lord and wait for Him, because His name and fame are the desires of our heart. – Isaiah 26:8

A Paradigm Shift

Prior to coming to Christ, we determined our daily routine by our priorities. We valued, worked toward and pursued anything that would assist us in reaching our goals. We developed these habits, day in and day out, living by our human reasoning and working to please our self and to secure our future. We focused on our success and make sure we came out on top (Romans 1:25; 2 Corinthians 5:15).

Our flesh formed habits as we trained our thoughts, attitudes, words and actions to respond and react in certain ways to the challenges and trials of life. We are used to living independently of any restraints or parameters on our behavior (Romans 8:7-8). We do good deeds for others, but we want the praise. However, when the Spirit of God comes into our life, He encourages us to entirely shift our mind-set.

This sets up a dichotomy in our life, which causes a tug-of-war within our soul. God wants us to put to death the carnal deeds of our flesh, so that we can live an abundant spiritual life (Romans 8:13-14). Yet, our flesh wants to maintain the status quo, so that we can retain control. The tie-breaker is God’s Spirit. He resurrects our spirit, which was formerly dead in sin (Ephesians 2:5).

Our spirit is Born Again and Spiritually alive (Colossians 3:3). Then, He crucifies our old nature with Christ, and we partake in the divine nature of Christ (2 Peter 1:4). The fruit of the Spirit replace our formal carnal character (Galatians 5:22-23). We no longer live independently, but in dependence on God’s love and will. Yet, some of the former traits, alien to God’s ways, still influence our thoughts, words and behavior.

Gradually, we experience a shift in our paradigm. As we lay down our independent and willful tendencies on a daily basis (Matthew 16:24-26), and obey the will of God instead, we willingly submit our old fleshly habits to the work of God’s Spirit within us (Romans 8:12-13). Each day we walk in more and more victory over the flesh (Romans 7:14 – 8:12). We eventually abide in God’s Spirit and daily follow God’s desires for our life (Galatians 5:16-26).

Prayer:
Father God, Your saving faith, a gift to us from Your mercy and love, comes from Your Holy Spirit and influences and transforms us. You draw us to Your heart and You renovate every aspect of our life by Your Spirit. This free gift is priceless, and we thank You for the sacrifice Jesus paid for our eternal life (Ephesians 2:8). We give You all of the praise, honor and glory for what You accomplish in our life.

Thought for the Day:
We overcome the deeds of our flesh by renewing our mind and surrendering our life to Christ. – Romans 12:2; Mark 10:28-29

The Power of Words

Our faith in God’s faithfulness allows us to trust that God knows exactly what He is doing, even if we do not understand His ways, which are so much wiser and deeper than our methods of thinking (Isaiah 55:8-9). When we stoop to entertain negative thoughts and words, we allow Satan to use us. There is life and death in the power of the tongue (). For instance, God considers gossip as detrimental to us as lying, cursing and wrath.

Gossiping stirs up strife and starts a firestorm of controversy, whether purposely or accidentally. Tidbits of gossip are sweet to the talebearer’s lips, but they strike to the very heart of the unfortunate victim’s soul (Proverbs 26:20-22). The longer the tale is told, the more vicious and debilitating it becomes. If we refrain from gossiping, however, we quench the fires of contention and prevent arguments.

God advises us to put off our old self and to allow His Spirit to renew our character into the image of our creator (Colossians 3:5-10). We listen to gossip with our ears, but it effects our emotions and self-esteem as well. Lies will create shame, distrust and fear in our soul. Satan convinces us that we are “not enough”, cripples us with self-doubt and debilitates, confuses and discourages us.

Therefore, it is important that we limit the words that enter and leave our mind and speak only graceful words that encourage others. Otherwise, we grieve God’s Spirit and wound our own soul and the soul of those in our life (Ephesians 4:29-30). God’s Word encourages us to stop entertaining bitterness, anger, dissension and slander; and instead, to be kind, forgiving and loving toward one another (Ephesians 4:31-32).

God’s love gives us affection for others, His joy births in us an exuberance for life, His peace permeates in us a deep serenity, His patience develops perseverance, His gentleness causes our heart to blossom with compassion and His goodness permits kindness to pervade our entire being. His meekness gives us the humility to live as a servant. His self-control helps us to be guided by His Spirit.

Prayer:
Father God, You forgave us and released us from the debt of sin we owed. This allows us to live by Your Spirit and to do the works, which You called us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Remind us that our tongue has the power of life and death in it (Proverbs 18:21).Your Spirit imparts His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, meekness, goodness, self-control and faith into our life, so that You can use us for Your glory.

Thought for the Day:
Words have an impact on our soul and influence our attitude, feelings and demeanor.