Archive for the ‘fruitfulness’ Category

The more that you and I learn from the Bible and allow that sanctified knowledge to guide our actions, the more likely our reward in heaven will be a mansion rathen than a tiny hut.

Yes, I know that’s quite a statement.

But read the following words from the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 3 and I believe you’ll see what I mean:

Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

“Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.” (vv. 10-15)

Paul makes the presumption that all of the above efforts are based on the belief that Jesus is the Messiah, demonstrating one’s Christian belief. That’s why he says a genuine believer’s soul will escape eternity in hell.

However, half-hearted, token efforts to build a congregation or to appear as Christian at work or school or home — efforts that aren’t refined as gold or silver — will be burned up and proven to have been a big waste of time, effort, influence and perhaps money.

Listen, if I don’t grow in my knowledge of scripture and my intimacy with God through prayer, I’m going to end up building a life based on opinions and comfort-zone preferences, both mine and others’.

Why would God reward me by eternalizing memorials to my lack of spiritual discipline?

Such wood, hay and straw should be burned up because it was — to a certain extent — chosen in this life ahead of pursuing the gold and silver of biblical truth.

Listen, we’ll walk on streets of gold in heaven, not bales of hay.

Let’s invest richly the time in devotional study at church and at home so that we might enjoy greater riches in God’s presence when time is no more.

As always, I love you

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Our lives are like rose bushes — we have moments when our words and actions bless others’ hearts with beautiful roses in the form of sweet-smelling blessings of kindness and encouragement and intercession.

At such times, the handiwork of God manifested in the colorful compassion toward another is so inspiring.

At our worst times, though, people around us don’t feel soft petals but instead sharp thorns.

Perhaps we’re upset with them and don’t want them to enjoy something nice from us, almost as a form of punishment for offending us.

They’re punished if they try to get close to us and, in a moment of spiritual blindness, we might even think, “It serves them right for what they did to me.”

Listen, Jesus is the Rose of Sharon, not the Thorn of Nazareth.

God never calls us to be thorns, but instead to offer a sweet aroma of faithful living to Him and to those around us.

Here is a teaching by Jesus on this topic:

“Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:44-45).

The Great Commission of sharing the gospel isn’t served when people see or feel thorns in our lives. Even if there are random good deeds and kind words dangling from our life’s thorny vine here and there, the risk of being hurt is greater in the unsaved person’s eyes than the reward of a small piece of help or encouragement now and then.

Let’s each pray for humble wisdom in order to have more roses in our lives and fewer thorny branches.

More people will reach out to us, and ultimately to Jesus, if we’ll do this.

As always, I love you

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We face all sorts of peer pressure.

Even if we’re surrounded by people who identify themselves as Christians.

Since we’re not going to be exempted from such pressure until we graduate to the next life — where everybody is perfect — our challenge is to ALWAYS be concerned first about what God thinks we should do.

Yes, we’ll have to accept some alienation at times if we’re going to be true to faith. You’ve felt that isolation at work or at school or among extended family or perhaps even in your own home.

You’ve heard the words that you should just go along with the plan the “everybody” wants.

It’s vital to remember that “everybody” should include God.

And it’s vital that God’s voice should be the One telling you that He’s cool with the plan.

The cost of flawed listening is too high and we shouldn’t make faith-reflecting decisions based only on the testimony of humans pushing personal agendas.

This topic was prompted this morning by a passage in I Kings 22 that involved a prophet named Micaiah who was asked to be a “yes” man for Israel’s King Ahab. The king wanted to launch a military campaign against a foreign king who had earlier taken control of an Israelite city.

Ahab knew in his gut that the 400 paid prophets in his kingdom were not in tune with Jehovah and, although the king was a basket case spiritually, he wanted the endorsement of a legitimately faithful prophet.

Before Micaiah spoke, a messenger was sent to Micaiah from King Ahab to prompt the prophet to endorse the words of the other prophets who said, “Attack!’

In essence, Micaiah was told to just go along with the other prophets and all would be fine.

“Don’t rock the boat, Micaiah. Don’t seek God’s wisdom. Just agree with the others,” was essentially the message to the faithful prophet.

Micaiah’s response?

But Micaiah said, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.”

This is a good example of how we should resist peer pressure that doesn’t include God’s voice.

Let’s keep Micaiah’s example in mind the next time we face peer pressure to do something that might not be the Lord’s will at work or at school or at home or even at church.

Peer pressure is all about gaining approval from others. Join me in making sure that the One exerting the most pressure is the One whose approval we MUST have for gaining eternal life.

As always, I love you

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Jesus said in Matthew 7:20 that whether a person lives to do good or not is determined by visible evidence.

So then, you will know them by their fruits.”

Jesus also said in John 15:8 that His disciples are to bear fruit for God.

Are you? Am I?

I encourage you to take an honest look at your life in this respect.

Would all the people at your job or school define you as an encourager? Or do some hear discouraging words drain from your lips?

Would the people at your congregation define you as a hard worker for the Kingdom? Or one hardly working?

Would the people in your family define you as one whose quickly forgiving nature closely imitates the God who desires nobody to perish in hell?

God is not afraid of evaluation. In fact, He encourages people to check His record in human life and choose Him as Lord.

“The LORD is known by his acts of justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands” (Psalm 9:16)

Please give those around you evidence today that you live for God. I’ll attempt to do the same. As our “just” living becomes better known within our circles of influence, our ability to bless others and lead others to Jesus will grow.

And some we know just might choose to leave behind the trap-filled and turmoil-filled lives that is too often tangled up in trouble.

As always, I love you

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