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John 15:4,5 – “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

“Without me ye can do nothing.” I don’t do well with doing nothing. I’m busy from the time I get up until I go to bed. And I guess in a way that’s good, but it can be very tiring. 

But when I stop and consider my spiritual life (which should seep over into my physical life), do I try to do things without Jesus? Do I try and read my Bible without inviting Him to come along side me? Do I try to serve at church without asking Him if it is where I’m supposed to be? Yep. 

So what does this have to do with these verses and this blog title? I need to take up permanent residence in Jesus. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Duh, Melissa. We are followers of Christ. Isn’t that where we should be?” Yep. But are you? Are you truly abiding in the Vine? Are you letting Him supply your every need? Are you producing His fruit or your own? Have you truly established yourself in Him? Could you be the person you are today without Him?

Jesus should be so much a part of who you are that to attempt to disconnect yourself from Him would bring complete and utter destruction. You need to be a permanent resident in Jesus. He has to be your source of life for all parts of you. He needs to be what gets you out of bed in the morning. He needs to be what motivates you to care for those around you. He needs to be the One that you rely upon when the job gets too heavy. He needs to be your Friend when no one else is around. You and Jesus need to be stuck together with eternal glue – no coming apart, ever. 

So let me encourage you today to dig a little deeper. Grow that bond a little stronger. Make Jesus a bigger part of your life. This is what He wants. This is what He desires – a relationship with His child – you. Happy Wednesday. 

The world thru His eyes

John 4:35 – “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”

What if for one minute you could see the people around you as Jesus sees them? What if you could see their pain, their sin, their fears? How would you respond? Would you ever be able to look at them the same way again?

My kids are going to church camp today. Now, this is camp. No hotel. No linens. No nice bed. This is rustic. And beautiful because of it’s simplicity. There will be kids there from all over. So that means there will be situations, thoughts and beliefs from all across the board. All of them have a past and all of them have a future. But that future depends upon the decisions they make after hearing the Word of God preached boldly to them. 

If we could see a person as Jesus sees them, I think our perspective and priorities would be a lot different. I think that our petty problems that seem overwhelming would be nothing more than a minor inconvenience when compared to the heartaches that some people face. 

Our challenge yesterday from the morning service was to be burdened for the lost souls of the world around us. A burden is a weight that you carry around. It is something that is not easily removed. What if we had that for the lost? What if we truly saw them for who they are and was never able to let that vision go? Would we be different?

This week, I want to challenge you to think about this when you see that person across from you at the gas pump. I want you to think about this when you are walking down the hallway at work. What if you could say something to the next person that you saw that would change their eternity? Would you take time from your deadline to tell them or would you put it off to another time that might never come? 

Extra Icing

John 10:27,28 – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

I had an amazing experience yesterday.

I was seeing a client and this client told me, out of the blue, that they thought their death was close. This client has multiple medical issues but seems to be functioning fairly well. I probed a bit and found out more information but nothing that would necessarily substantiate the fears that were expressed. 

Yet, I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon my heart that I needed to confirm and/or present the plan of salvation to this person. And I did. It was amazing. I told my client very bluntly and candidly about what it takes to KNOW that death is not the end. And my client confirmed that they had the free gift of salvation in their heart. 

I’m a nobody. I love what I do. I love being in contact with people and helping them and walking through all sorts of situations and problems with them. But when I get the opportunity to speak to someone I have grown close to about Jesus and His free gift of salvation- well, that’s just extra icing on the cupcake. I don’t push it but I don’t hide it. And when God was speaking to my heart yesterday, for once, I listened. And it was beautiful!

So I want to encourage you to live it out. We never know how long we have or how long the person across from us has. Yesterday, I heard His voice and I followed and it was truly a blessing in my life. I encourage you to do the same. Happy Wednesday. 

The writing in the dirt

John 8:3-11 – “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

It is so easy to judge. We see other people; we think we know them and what do we do? We pass judgment. 

I think it is partly human nature to judge others. We see the negative and automatically make an assumption that they obviously don’t deserve our best because of this or that. We hear things and assume the worst. We have a hard time giving people the benefit of the doubt. 

Notice I’m using “we” because I have a problem with this too. I have to consciously make an effort not to judge. And that’s hard. 

We don’t know what Jesus was writing in the dirt this day but we can guess that whatever it was did not make people want to stick around. They tucked their tunics and took off, one by one, when Jesus started writing. They were ready to stone this woman for her sin. They thought they had it all figured out and were going to involve Jesus in this woman’s death. Little did they understand and appreciate that whatever Jesus was writing in the dirt would expose their judgmental attitude. 

What if Jesus started writing in the dirt every time you began judging and accusing people? Would you want all your dirty laundry aired out for everyone to see? I’m guessing no. We want to keep our dirty little sins tucked away and not discussed. 

What I want to encourage you about is this – be careful. Be careful who you accuse. Be careful who you judge. Be careful how you handle dealing with the past of another. We are none perfect. We all have things we would rather forget. Be kind. Be gentle. Be forgiving. Be cautious. Jesus may be writing in the dirt about you. 

Control

John 10:17,18 – “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

Power. We like to think that we have power over our life. We like to think that our date book is our own. We like to think that we have control over when we sleep and when we rise. We like to think that we have control over what the scales say or doesn’t say. We like to think that we have control over how our children are raised and who leads us into the future of our country. 

But do we really have control over any of those things?

I’d venture to say no. No we do not. Oh, our perception may be that we got this. But in reality….we don’t. 

In these verses today, Jesus reminds us of a very important fact – He has control. He has so much control that He has the power to freely give His life and take it back up again. This blew His audience’s mind. How could this possibly be?

We serve an amazingly powerful God. One that has the capability to give His own Son who has the power to willingly sacrifice His own life. One that has the power to raise Himself from the grave because He is all God and all man all at the same time. Did you hear that? Minds being blown all over the place!

What I want to get across today is God is in control. He knows what has been, what is and what will be. And if Jesus can raise Himself from the grave, He won’t forget you when He returns. Sometimes life feels so uncertain, so easily downtrodden, so discouraging. But take heart, God is in control. Truly, we have nothing to worry about. 

New Year, New Mantra

Proverbs 3:5,6 – “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Let Him be seen in 2017. 

So yesterday at church, we were talking about a mantra for the year – a phrase to sum up what we, as a local New Testament church, want to achieve this year. Well, a couple of us came up with this phrase – Let Him be seen in 2017. 

Why did God lay this upon our hearts?

We need to let Him be seen in our life. We need to stop hindering Him. We need to take the spotlight off our own selfish desires and allow Christ to shine in and through us. 

We also need to pray for His immenit return. It is coming soon. We need to be asking that He hasten it. That’s kind of a scary thing to pray for – it means I need to be ready. That’s a blog post for another day. 

So what do these concepts have to do with the verses above?

We won’t let Him be seen in our life if we don’t trust Him completely. We have to reject our own thoughts and ideas for our future and fully rely upon Him. That’s tough as well. That means giving up what you think is right and believing that Someone you can’t see is fully in control. We are a tactile society. We like to see and touch things in order to make them real. I can touch and feel my Bible. But I have to believe in my heart that it truly is His Word to me. And I do. That is how I touch Jesus, for now. But I trust Him. And as much as I trust Him, I want to trust Him more. I want to give over more control. I want to see Him do more in my life. But that means I have to get out of the way. 

That means that I have to acknowledge Him more. As John said in John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  I need to acknowledge Him more and me less. 

Let Him be seen in 2017. 

So here is the challenge for the year – choose to show others Him instead of you. Because when they see more of you, they see more of what makes You unrighteous in His eyes. But when they see Him, they see the potential for love and grace and mercy that He extends to every man, woman, boy and girl. 

Hmm…how about that?

John 12:42,43 – “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

When I read this the other day, I though to myself “Hmm, how about that?”

Many people believed on Jesus but they were afraid to confess Him because of the fear that they had in what others would think. 

Sound familiar?

How many of us today keep Jesus tucked in our back pocket for emergencies and fail to put Him in the spotlight? It’s all well and good to express our gratitude and thanks and praise when we are in the walls of our church building, but what about when we survived a tough commute to work? What about when the weather miraculously changes in our favor? What about when we somehow have more than enough money to pay the bills this week? What about when we go into the doctor for something terrible and somehow or another it is gone?

Jesus said in Matthew 10:32,33 – “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”

Don’t you think that Jesus meant that just as much now as He did then? 

This is serious stuff. We are neglecting to share Jesus with others because we don’t want to offend or we are afraid. And I am just as guilty as the next person. I have a tough time with this. But do I, for one minute, think that those lame excuses will fly at the Judgment Seat? Nope. They won’t. And I know that. 

So what is to be done? Be brave. Don’t be a scaredy-cat when it comes to Jesus. Don’t hide Him in your back pocket. Wear Him on the front of your shirt where everyone can see Him. Hey, I’m speaking as much to my heart as yours. 

Just look around you. Do you see the wind moving the trees? God is doing the same thing to our hearts today. He is stirring and churning and trying to poke us into service. He wants us to share. He wants us to brave. He wants us to, at the very least, try. Let’s never let it be said of us that we loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.