Tag Archive | growth

A Process

Philippians 2:12,13 – “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

Yesterday was homecoming at my church. We celebrated 128 years of service and dedication to our little community. It was a great day. We heard great singing and great preaching. We had several feet of amazing food and enjoyed a great time of fellowship.

One thing I heard in amongst the messages yesterday was this – Salvation is not an event but rather a process. Now, before you get all in a fuss, hear me out. It makes sense. 

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are saved. We have been rescued from the grips of hell and are on track for an eternity in Heaven with Him. But our experience, our closeness, our budding relationship with Christ should not stop the moment we accept Him as our Savior. It needs to keep growing, keep changing, keep enlarging. It should be a process that moves upward each and every day, closer and closer to Him. 

Sometimes the devil wants to convince us followers of Christ that we have done all that we need to do by accepting Jesus as our Savior. Yes, the devil still whispers in a believer’s ear. He may not be able to have you for his own, but he can trip you up as often as possible. He wants you to sit on your salvation like it is an event – something that happened and now we move on and away from it. Yep, you’re going to Heaven, now sit back and wait for it. 

That’s not what Jesus had in mind. He desires a closer and closer relationship with us. Living for Christ is not a religion, it is a relationship. It is something that takes work. It is something that requires a choice. It is something that insists upon a decision that every moment of every day will be devoted to the One who died for you. 

Salvation is not just an event, it is a process.

Today, and the rest of this week, remember, it is a process of growing closer and closer to Him each and every day. It is a process of choosing to trust Him with everything. It is a process of growing. It is a process of doing the things that you feel He has called you to do – using your gifts that He has bestowed upon you. Go out there today and grow. Grow, change and draw ever closer to the One who is in control of the sun and the moon. 

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Permanent Resident

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. 

Be preparedĀ 

1 Peter 3:15,16 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”

Well, the packing is almost done. I have been thinking about as many scenarios as possible to prepare for. I have bandaids, moleskin for blisters, a first aid kit, sunscreen, muscle rub, medication for pain and headaches, aloe. I have extra clothes. I have water bottles to fill. My goodness, I can’t believe all the stuff I have packed!

I like to be prepared. I don’t like to be caught off guard. I have even written off the address and lock box info for the house we are staying at just in case I don’t have cell phone service. I try to be prepared. 

But how well do I prepare myself for spiritual journeys? 

Each and every day is a new challenge, a new focus, a new opportunity to share Christ with someone. But am I ready?

Getting into the Word is a great start. Reading and studying and thinking about God’s precepts and principles is a necessary step in growing and preparing. 

Prayer is also a necessity. How can we expect to be ready for any spiritual battle or situation if we don’t communicate with The Commander and Chief? 

There is also one more thing that helps get me ready for spiritual journeys – my brothers and sisters in Christ, aka – my church family. I need them. I need their love. I need their support. I need their encouragement. But you can’t have that church family if you don’t make the sacrifice to be a part of it. 

Be prepared. Be prepared for life. Be prepared for spiritual issues and battles. Be prepared to be in His Word. Be prepared to spend time with your Savior. Be prepared to find love in your church family. Happy Monday. 

FingerprintsĀ 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

It’s a season of change at my house. Summer vacation has started. That means the grade transition has taken place. I now have two high school students. Friends have transitioned to non-high school life. People are moving from our everyday life to our text occasionally life. It is hard. It is sad. It is exciting. 

And as we look back over the last year, I see some heartache. I see laughter. I see adventure. I see success and I see failure. It’s the way of life. The ebb and flow of all things created. 

Yet as I see the page of a chapter in our life turning, I try to see God’s fingerprint. I see it in our continued love for one another. I see it in our attitudes. I see it in our tears for the change because we care so much. But I also see hope. I see the hope He gives in the promise that He will always be there. I see hope in the opportunity for new friends with new ideas and new dreams and new stories. 

Change happens in life just as surely as we know that the sun will come up tomorrow. Change can be scary. Change can be exciting. Change can be difficult. But in the midst of change, I encourage you to find hope. Solomon understood that “To everything there is a season”. We need to remember that as well. We need to accept that things don’t always keep us in our comfort zone. Growing doesn’t happen in that place. Growing happens when things are stressed and bothered. And that is exactly what God is doing in my house right now. Changing and growing with hope while reminding me of His fingerprints all over my life. 

John 15 – Part 1

John 15:1-3  – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

John 15 came to my attention 3 different times yesterday. So, I took that as God trying to get my attention regarding what He had to say in these verses. I’m going to try to do a mini-series on these verses. So, let’s do this!

First of all, let’s look at the relationships here. There is a relationship between Jesus and the Father – the branch and the gardener. The responsibility of the Gardener is to care for the plants – to feed and fertilize them, prune and protect them and to monitor and enjoy the fruit that the plants produce. The plants responsibility is to be submissive to the will of the gardener and to bear fruit. 

Here is the deal – Jesus is the vine and we, his followers, are the branches. (We will get to that verse at a later date. It’s actually verse 5.)   Without the vine, the branches cannot produce the fruit. When the branches are not producing, they are removed. (We will get to that at another date too! So much to look forward to!) The branches that are producing are pruned so that they will bring forth even more fruit. 

What does all this mean for us as followers of Christ? It means that we need to be about the Father’s business of producing fruit. We need to be submissive to His pruning and accepting of His “nutrients” He provides for our growth. Every day, we have the opportunity to grow. It is our choice if we do or not. We go through periods of pruning. Sometimes it seems constant and other times it seems a bit spread out. But the point is that God loves and cares for us enough to pay particular attention to what we need to be the best for Him. 

As for the whole fruit thing, what does that look like? What does “fruit” look like in my life? I think it can take several forms. One is explained in Galations 5:22,23 as “the fruit of the Spirit”. These are characteristics found in our life when we seek after the Lord. Another example is the people we affect in our life. We show them the love of God by our words and our actions. I believe that being obedient is also a fruit. Choosing to read, study and pray develop the relationship we are to have with the Vine AND the Gardener. And then there is the ultimate fruit – leading someone to Christ. Could it possibly get any better or any sweeter? 

I am so grateful that God tends to the garden of my heart in a more diligent and loving way than I care for my own yard. All I do is whack away at what I don’t want, the things that are unseemly. He doesn’t stroll into my life on a hit or miss basis and start whacking. He is there every minute of every day tending and nurturing and pruning and fertilizing. He provides everything I need to grow in His light. 

The question is – Am I going to choose to grow and produce fruit today? Well…that is the prayer and desire of my heart. Now, let’s see if I will follow Him through this thing. 

Move it! Move it! Part 7

2 Peter 1:5-8 – “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Today is all about love. Agape love. Self-sacrificing love. Not that warm squishy stuff the world wants you to believe in but rather the stuff that lifetime commitments are made of. That is the kind of love that says take me instead. That is the love that Jesus has for us.

1 Corinthians 13:13 – “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Why? Why, out of this list, is love the greatest?

There are several reasons. One is that it covers sin: 1 Peter 4:8 – “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

When you look at what love is, you see the necessity of it in our life. Check out 1 Corinthians 13, the whole chapter. Paul gives us, through the inspiration of God, what love looks like and how it should manifest itself in our life.

But the most important example of what it is and how we should live it out is in 1 John 4:10-12 – “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

Love should be growing in us. It should enhance our faith. It should show that our faith in Him is growing. Love is not stagnant. It doesn’t hang around like a fog. It grows. It develops. It deepens. It moves us to do things. It encourages us to care for one another. Love is imperative in our life.

So, in our final installment of this blog on 2 Peter, let me encourage you to grow. To be increasing in these areas. Let them take you over. And witness the changes. If you are growing your faith, you are being the princess God desires you to be. You will be changing the world around you. You will be harvesting in bundles. You will be storing up treasures in Heaven like it is no body’s business! Go girl! Get to growing and move it!

Growing up too fast

Last week, we had spring break. My family, like a thousand others, took off for a bit of a getaway. We had fun visiting old cities, sampling new kinds of food and just enjoying time together.

It made me think about how much my family is growing. My children are growing up way too fast. I am able to have semi-adult conversations with my daughter and can no longer stand behind my son in a family picture.

But they are growing up good. I can joyfully exclaim that both of my children have accepted Jesus as their Savior. They are learning so much about His life and what He expects of them. I am so excited to see what God is going to do in their life.

Proverbs 20:11 – “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.”

Our children are being bombarded by so much junk these days that their actions are speaking much louder than their words. So many are growing up without love and compassion. We, as parents, have an awesome responsibility. We have been given these precious gems by God. He expects us to raise them in the light of His love.

It is a hard row to hoe. We want the best for them, yet we struggle to know when we are giving or doing too much. Now is the time to lean heavily upon The Lord. We have to let Him guide us to teach our children exactly what they need to know.

I have a print hanging in my home that reads: “Children live what they learn…” It then goes on to compare different actions with what a child will learn through it. How are you living around your children? Do they see Jesus in everything you do? One of the actions that the print speaks about is respect. If your children do not see you respect yourself or your spouse, how will they learn to respect them self or anyone else? We have to remember that our actions speak louder than our words as well.

So today, princess, appreciate the role that God has given you in your children’s lives and love them the way that God loves you.