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6 entries from August 2022
On Monday registration opens for the LIVE Zoom study of the Book of James. This is a five-week study of the entire book. This book is all about practical faith. Ann and I will be teaching this study for five consecutive weeks. Martha is writing a few questions for our homework assignment. This will help to flesh out the lessons in our daily life!
Bring your Bible, your hunger, your pen and paper. Have coffee ready to go because I talk fast!!! grin
Check in here on Monday, August 15th and sign up. It will only take a minute. After you register, the Zoom link will be provided. Plan to copy and store it somewhere to be ready when it's time to meet up.
We will have a great time of community and learning!
Jesus is King! Hugs, Lynn
Hello, Ian here. Fiona and I planted a lemon tree two or three years ago. And this year, we discovered we had some fruit, tiny green lemons. The yellow comes later. Gradually they grew a bit more each day, week and month. And then the colour began to change from green to yellow. That took months too.
Recently we picked them. Almost fully yellow lemons. We juiced the first one and it was nice and tart as a good lemon should be.
Productivity and Fruitfulness
We live in a world where achievement is highly recognised and rewarded. From an early age we are encouraged to be better, do better and achieve much in whatever field we choose to follow. It’s very hard for us to get away from wanting to keep up with the joneses. Even in things like our marriages and our children, it is very easy for us to compare ourselves and want to achieve great success in our marriage, the be the best wife or husband and for our kids to be the star student, athlete, and cheerleader. As parents, we can be exhausted simply meeting the demands of all the extra-curricular activities we take our kids to after school and on weekends.
The world and often the church tells us this is the best life. When we’re being highly productive and achieving much whether in secular activities or within the church.
Remember, Jesus invites us to take His ‘easy yoke’, to settle into His ‘unforced rhythms of grace’ (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG). Also, the image of Mary resting at the feet of Jesus as her sister Martha keeps busy preparing the sumptuous meal for the gathering. Jesus invites us to abide, to intentionally choose to hang out with Him, in such a way that we discover how to be conscious of His presence throughout a day.
Jesus is less interested in our productivity as it is all about what we’re doing. On the other hand, He hopes in us choosing to abide with Him and discovering how to do life with that ‘easy yoke’, we will become fruitful. Fruitfulness is all about who we are becoming.
We Become what We Do!
We are creatures of habit and daily rhythms, even if they’re highly structured/planned or completely disorganised. We become what we do. Our soul is being fed all the time by what we behold and what we do. That’s why there are so many books on understanding how habits and the disciplines that consume our day.
Jesus doesn’t ask us to bear fruit. The fruit will come because of sticking with Jesus. This is the crux of the vine/branch analogy of John 15:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5 NIV UK)
We bear fruit because we abide.
It Takes Time
Lemons take a lot of time before being ready to pick and juice. Bearing fruit takes time too. We’ve got to be prepared to hang out with Jesus. He will feed us with everything we need to bear fruit. Just like the lemons needed to hang on the branch for a couple of years. If they dropped off too quickly, they wouldn’t have grown or become juicy or tart.
Be patient. We will become the ripe lemon only if we continue to stay with Jesus.
Extend grace to yourself. Don’t rush it. It’s not like we can take a pill and suddenly be a great lemon full of juice. Jesus’s way is gentle. That’s the easy yoke. Like the growth of a lemon, it comes from the inside and is reflected in the peace, love, joy, kindness, goodness, patience and self-control we begin to experience. Similarly, our loved ones and others will see the fruit in us too.
I thought I’d leave us with this very apt quote from C.S. Lewis:
“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol [and now diesel and electricity], and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself.”
Grace and peace, dear friends.
Once in a while my children will say or do something that blesses my spirit beyond words. When those moments happen it feels as if God is saying, “See? They ARE learning! And you are doing a good job!”. One of those moments came a few weeks ago with my seven year old daughter.
First, let me give you a little back story. My husband has been an atheist for almost 11 years. Of course as children get older they notice that daddy does not pray or come to church and they start asking questions. That is around the time my husband will have a talk with them about what he believes. This was something I REALLY struggled with at first. I had to pray many times about how I was supposed to handle it! I felt that God told me it was important for Hubby to feel heard and respected. So I simply cover my children in prayer and put on their armor, I pray for their ears and hearts to be protected during the conversation, and I give it all to God.
The time came for this talk with our daughter a few weeks ago when she randomly asked Hubby why he does not believe in God. He asked me to leave them alone so they could talk about it so I stepped out (you all can just imagine how hard that was!!). I felt as though I was holding my breath the entire time. I whispered prayers over their conversation and tried to keep myself busy until it was over. They came out of the room calm and in good spirits. I did not press for any details and our evening went on as usual.
When it came time for bed my daughter said something to me that really was wise beyond her years. She said, “I think daddy doesn’t believe because he forgot his miracles. Hasn’t he seen miracles? YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THE MIRACLES!”. She continued on about miracles we have seen and how important they are to remember. My heart was so full of joy that night!
The practice of remembering miracles is something I have been trying to teach my kids for a few years now. Whenever we pray for someone, or for something to happen, I tell them to watch for it and remember to thank God when it comes to pass. It does not matter if it’s big or small, we try our best to remember and give thanks. I think this is something we all need to put into practice, and teach our children! It gets them excited and involved in prayer, as well as strengthen their faith.
During those times when our faith may be wearing thin, or when we are in the thick of battle, we MUST remember our miracles! Holding on to what God has done for us in the past can help sustain us when we feel like we cannot go on! Remembering our miracles can feel like sunlight bursting out of darkness, or water when we are in the driest desert. Remember becoming a parent? Remember the time you (or a loved one) were sick and then healed? Remember getting married? Being freed from depression or anxiety? Finally finding the right doctor or the right medication? Making a new friend? Just getting up in the morning?! These are our miracles! Hold on to them! Thank God for them! If we focused on our miracles daily we would find ourselves living with an attitude of gratitude every day! We would be filled with peace and joy, and our faith would be strengthened. So, lets do it!
What are some miracles you would like to share? Leave them in the comments, I would love to read them!
Hi SUM family, it's Ann here.
I'm on holiday at the moment in England, where I've been visiting my parents in my home town (Reading), and attending my brother's wedding. I have one more week here before flying back to New Zealand. It's been special to be with my family.
I am finishing off this post with my Mum pottering in the next room. That's nice huh!
Now for today's post:
Today I had a catch-phrase I wanted to share -- It's something that we can speak out when feeling battered by others' unbelief. The catch-phrase is this:
I'm not going to let anyone steal my crown!
Perhaps we can even take a moment to speak that out right now, in fact, before continuing to read? Here we go: I'm not going to let anyone steal my crown!
The back story to that phrase is this:
I know there are some here who became unequally yoked because their spouse used to be a Christian, but then lost their faith. In many of those cases your spouse's faith was real, even vibrant, but now that same spouse lives in unbelief. You now hear from their mouth all the many reasons they choose not to believe.
I know a little of what's that like as I used to work with a man who lost his faith, having previously been on fire for Jesus. This man was a clever man, and he would share with me on many occasions the various reasons why he had chosen to walk away from Christianity. After spending time with this man I would often feel embattled.
God would show me all over again that Christianity is true. Nevertheless that man's voice was in my ear on a regular basis. So, which voice was going to be louder: God's or this man's?
A friend who was very strong in his faith knew I had this challenge and decided to send me some words of wisdom. They were such on-point words that I wrote them down at the time. I was greatly helped by them, and discovered them again this week so thought I would share them here.
Perhaps these words are especially for you today if you're one of those whose spouse lost his/her faith. Here goes:
"Don't let anyone steal your crown.
You sit in the heavenly realms with the Lord (Ephesians 2:6); you've been lifted. So it is that you remember the incredible position of authority and respect you have right now, and in the next life as well, even if some people have forgotten their position or have chosen to lower themselves after having once been elevated."
Amen to that. For the Bible does speak of us inheriting a crown, or crowns, and phew it will be quite the inheritance. We must hold onto it like crazy, not letting the unbelief of another person steal it from us.
In that spirit, then, let's look at the scriptures about the crown that is laid up for us:
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away (1 Peter 5:4, NIV).
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:8, NIV).
Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown (Revelation 2:10, ESV).
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (James 1:12, NIV).
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:25, NIV)
If you would like prayer for perseverance today -- That is, if you are feeling battered by the unbelief of those around you and need prayer to keep going, leave a note in the comments and we'll pray for you.
You will be in awe and wonder when you hear what happened. 3 pm pacific time, on Facebook, and YouTube.
See you soon. Lynn