2018-11-20….Tuesday….Bear

2018-11-20….Tuesday….Bear

A simple statement says to bear fruit is to see God produce Christlikeness in you.

It was an amazing time in John 15.  Jesus has basically began his walk to the Garden.  He has walked out of the South Gate into the vineyard and has started teaching.  There was a path below the city walls and he was trying to stay hidden as he and the disciples walked to Garden of Gethsemane. Our pastor taught me years ago that Jesus  often taught what he saw.  Thus the vineyard and the branch.  As we continue to read through the scripture as he speaks about Gehenna.  Gehenna (Valley of Hinnom) was on the way to the garden.  In ancient times children were sacrificed there…it continued to be an unclean place used for burning trash from the city of Jerusalem.  Jesus used it as an illustration of hell.

So Jesus is walking and talking.  He is speaking to the disciples about fulfilling their purpose in life.  What was going to happen and how they were…should live their life in their mission to fulfill what he had started.  Obviously this is going to take time.  

It takes time for fruit to grow. So don’t despair if you don’t see all of these qualities fully developed in your life yet. But if you are a Christian, you should see growth or progress in these things. You should be in the habit of obeying Christ. You should see the fruit of the Spirit increasing in your conduct. You should be hungering and thirsting after righteousness with increasing intensity. You should be looking for opportunities to tell others about the Savior. If you’re not seeing these fruits growing in your life, you need to figure out why not. Growth in Christlike fruit should be the normal experience of every Christian.

Also, the fruit that we produce will vary in amount and in kind according to our spiritual gifts. In the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:3-8), the good soil representing true believers bore fruit, but it varied: some bore a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. The soil that didn’t bear any fruit represents those who did not truly believe in Christ. Also, we’re all given different spiritual gifts and so our fruit will vary in kind. Determining your spiritual gift helps you to know where you should concentrate your efforts in serving the Lord. Those gifted in service will bear fruit that is different than those with speaking gifts. Both are vital. But we all should exercise our gifts to glorify God 

So the overall point is both clear and important: God saved you to bear fruit for Jesus Christ. If you profess to be a Christian, but you aren’t bearing fruit, you need to examine yourself and make some course corrections before it’s too late.  I guess should point out the obvious.  Either you bear fruit or you don’t.  Those branches wither and die because they are not attached.  Some go through a pruning more so than another but their preparation is for a great stewardship. 

The point of today is not are you fulfilling your purpose but simple where are you in the process of starting or what stage are you in at the moment.  You see we are all called to bear fruit.  The process is different for each one of us but we are all called.  Problem is some of us (me) didn’t realize it till late in life.  I think we will always have regrets in the Christian life.  But realization, and action still yields a great reward.  God will still say one day to us “enter into my house thy good and faithful servant”. Some will have done more for sure…but the reward…it will still be there.

By his grace…its never too late.

Advertisements

2018-11-19….Monday….Real Life

2018-11-19….Monday….Real Life

There is a funny video out there that is in German; but you didn’t need to know German to get the point. A young woman asks her father how he likes the new iPad she gave him for his birthday. He says, “Good.” But then she watches him use his iPad as a cutting board for chopping his vegetables. She is horrified as he rinses it off in the sink and puts in the dishwasher! A caption in English informs us that no I-Pads were harmed in filming the episode.

In real life, it’s no laughing matter when you see something costly not being used to fulfill its intended purpose, or even worse, being used for something contrary to its purpose. Yesterday while driving home to Pikeville we were a few miles outside a small town by the name Hazard KY.  Pam commented how little traffic was on the road.  Time was 11:00. We figured it is church time and most were attending at that moment.  Then we round a turn and at the foot of the hill was a small church abandoned.  As we looked past the church it looked as if the entire “holler”….(between the mountains) was entirely vacated.  Time gone by destroyed by the coal industry in a down turn.  I reflect back to the church… How sad! A place that was built so that God’s people could gather to sing His praises and to hear His Word proclaimed is now vacant.

Over the next 4-5 weeks we are going to discuss real life.  Real life will cover several attributes of the Christian life.  Often just like the church we saw on our trip home we saw a building that often compares tour Christian life…Sadly we fail to live for the purpose for which He saved us. So often we drift through life like the unredeemed people around that live in our lives, living to accumulate more stuff as we think it will make us happier.  But often we never stop to consider what God wants us to do with the our life as life is precious and short.  The gifts are numerous but it is what we do…application of stewardship of the gifts He gives.

Our text will be John chapter 15, Jesus gives the disciples an extended allegory that reveals God’s purpose in saving them: He wants them to bear much fruit. Jesus pictures Himself as the true vine, the Father as the vinedresser, and the disciples as the branches. A man plants a vineyard for a different reason than he plants a flower garden. We plant flower gardens so that we can enjoy the beautiful flowers. But if you plant a vineyard, your purpose is to harvest a crop of grapes. Your goal is that your vineyard would bear a lot of fruit. If all it produces is flowers and leaves, your efforts in planting it have failed. So the Lord’s point in John 15:1-6 is:

Christ’s true followers abide in Him as branches in the true vine and so bear much fruit.

This week will be discuss fulfilling our purpose.  This scripture John 15 falls into three sections that reflect our priorities as a church and as individual believers. Our first priority is God-ward, and verses 1-11 focus on our relationship with Christ. Our second priority is to love one another, which is the point of verses 12-17. Our third priority is to proclaim the good news to the world, which is the focus of verses 18-27. But the point of the allegory of the vine and the branches is that we who follow Christ would abide in Him and bear much fruit. That’s our purpose as redeemed people. So we need to understand the parts of the analogy so that we can understand how to fulfill our God-given purpose.

Our purpose..to live the live with purpose.  It promises to be a great week.  The series real life will cover several aspects of our life as a Christian.  I borrowed a couple of the titles from our pastors past sermons but I believe that hold true value for our daily reflections.  Prayers for a great Monday…I hope if you are traveling this week you have safe travels,

2018-11-16….Saturday….Trajectory

2018-11-16….Saturday….Trajectory

Saturday…grace day, a time of reflection against what I was but often it is a regret of what I am want or desire to be.  Remembrance of the time, when the memory is different than the experience reveals isolation and the loneliness of the life lived is masked only but the distribution His love and grace that I am now calling “experienced.”  As time experienced life the bar was always raising.  Judgement of what I saw, was the not the view of the gospel but the reflection of a life judged by others.

Judgment depends on what we see, how deeply we look at the other, how honestly we face ourselves, how willing we are to read the human story beneath the frightened face.

Grace has many definitions but I keep thinking of the gentleness of Jesus with us sinners flowed from His ability to always love.  It seemed as if he read their hearts and met them with the truest desire. We all want be loved, we want to be wanted, we want to be pursued.  There is not doubt that we serve the God who came down from the mountain.  We are taught the he ruthlessly, relentlessly purses us at all times.  I can’t quote the scripture but it tell us of his long-suffering.  As I have watched my life I remember as I see others do.  Behind people’s grumpiest poses and most puzzling defense mechanisms, behind their arrogance and airs, behind their silence, sneers, and causes, it really doesn’t matter to God.

In a book I often refer too and read when I have a few moments it states, “Assured of your salvation by the unique grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” is the heartbeat of the gospel, joyful liberation“from fear of the Final Outcome, a summons to self-acceptance, and freedom for a life of compassion toward others.

I love the face it says Grace is the heartbeat of the gospel.  It is the reason for my being.  Over two years now I have been studying and writing about Grace on Saturdays. I probably need to go look as it may be longer but I have come to the conclusion of the word trajectory.  This word to me has come to mean the progressive nature of my being that directs my path.  In all segments of the world “trajectory has similar meaning but the out come is the same. There is an angle with an arrow on it and it is either pointed up or down.   Amazing how I have been the fool in life thinking my trajectory was always on the climb, but the world had me fooled the entire time.

God provides Scripture as a map for the journey, but sometimes we let it crumpled in our back pockets.  We capitulate to culture, affirming human reason and experience as adequate to navigate the mountains.  Sometimes we wrongly rely on others and their interpretations of the map—a podcast here, a conference there.  We construct our own trajectory and often or may I should say 99% of the time if we are worldly based and not biblically based our chart is upside down.  We draw the arrow going up but in reality….

Exaggeration and overstatement are not the danger here.  It is not that we are fooling ourself purposfully.  The danger lurks in our subtle attempts to rationalize our moderation in this regard. Turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, offering no resistance to injury, and forgiving seventy times seven are not whims of the Son of Man. The only thing that matters is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).  It is a life of stewardship that models the actions of Jesus.

Really….It is a life of stewardship that models the actions of Jesus…..mmm

In all things God has forgiven me.  Given me grace to live another day and the encouragement and forgiveness that I can do it without guilt.  I must continually remind myself that all is for him, that all I have belongs to him.  I must have stewardship in this world, yet have the faith that shows the love of Jesus in all things.  A task I can do….must do…I know I can do….

It is possible only because of his great love for me that he gave me mercy….Grace yet this morning to do it again.

2018-11-16….Friday….Kids

2018-11-16….Friday….Kids

I know yesterday was long and I apologize.  But I am a finisher and I was going to finish yesterday so I could do kids today.  In Sunday school class Sunday I told the class my daughter one time told me to write down the “top” few things in my life she should take with her.  Needless to say I never finished the list..  I just didn’t have enough to write down.  Things happened so much later in life for me.  One of the things I always told my daughter was to take the good and make it better.  I want her to take the good parts of my life and build on them.  The bad…leave it, its mine.

To get back to the list…what does it have to do with tithe.  Absolutely nothing….my list was a more personal reflection of life list.  What we are discussing today is teaching our children.  Our Children we are gifts from God and we must teach and train them to be good stewards. If we don’t train them to give and save then we haven’t completed the cycle of tithe ourselves.  I believe there are some basic steps to training our children.  Financially training.  

First establish chores as that is part of their contribution to the family but also create the opportunity for work.  It may be small things like extra work in the shrubs, washing the car, painting the fence etc.  Never pay for anything incomplete, untimely, poorly completed.  Learning to work and take pride in your work takes training.  It takes being consistent both in their part as worker and our part as supervisor.  One of the worst things we can do as parents is fail to provide consistency in our children lives.  Set rules and guidelines and never waver.  I am not saying there isn’t a time to change and if the rules need changed then we need to change them.

The bible specifically talks about no provoking our children.  It is Ephesians 6:4.  Being unfair, raising your voice to be critical, threatening tones are all negative relationship builders.  Taking time to train in failure and assist in times of “too much” are great training opportunities and teaches your child to work and work hard as failure is greeted as an opportunity to learn and get better.  

Be flexible. You need to remember that things that work with one child may not work with another. You need to understand your child’s personality type and learn how to deal with that type. Be disciplined. Proverbs 15:32 says, “He who ignores discipline despises himself.” In order to discipline your children, you must be disciplined yourself. This means taking pains to see that when rules are established, they’re enforced. And, you need to lead by example—it’s hard for your children to see the need for a clean bedroom when the rest of the house is a mess.

Lastly, be calm. My experience is that effective parents are the ones who remain clam in the face of all circumstances and don’t let the children get them flustered and upset.

Tithe…encompasses so many things other than just your money.  I hope you have enjoyed this small series.  Tomorrow is Grace… see you then

2018-11-15….Thursday….Wealth

2018-11-15….Thursday….Wealth

Hard to believe the first snow is already here for this year.  At first glance this morning it looks like we go the lesser of the forecast.  My mother may love the snow more than any person I have ever met.  It will get toward Pikeville today sometime.  I know what window she will be sitting in front of.   God is smiling cause Mom will sit with her bible and watch the snow.  He will have a great conversation this afternoon.   Well I must get on with the reflection as I am meeting a buddy for breakfast. 

This week…writing the conclusion of the series tithe might be a little confusing.  You may be thinking well “Todd’s hamster fell out that spinning wheel in his brain.  He does that now and then.”  Well I assure you this time it is not the case.  I think as we build wealth, we enjoy our work, our stewardship always should lead the way.  Let’s face it true wealth is being able to manage properly in order to give more.  As most Christians know, the Bible has a wealth of information and advice about handling money and the ability to build wealth. The book of Proverbs alone provides enough guidance to fill many personal finance books.  And you know I love Proverbs.  When Syd left to be married I knew our conversations would be less so I fell out of the habit..…  I just realized how much I miss it.  Mind-boggling how great that book is for you and your kids. 

Of course the Bible doesn’t focus on becoming wealthy for wealth’s sake, but to bless others. That said, if you apply the principles in the Bible, you can’t help but become wealthy. Over the past 30 years I wish I had applied three simple steps to become wealthy. At the same time, my knowledge of what the Bible says about money has grown. Somewhere along the way I realized that my actions mirrored what was in Scripture. When I say somewhere along the way…It was much later in life my focus came on stewardship and preparation.  My father taught me to tithe, to save, to help others.  But he never taught me scripturally. There is a huge difference

There’s no way to cover every verse and every money angle talked about in the Bible in one post. But I would like to share three steps that I have learned.  I think these 3 steps will make you wealthy.  My definition of wealthy?  Satisfaction of my lot in life as I learn to enjoy my walk with God.  That is wealthy.  Today we will do a few Proverbs and talk about the 3 steps.  Step 1 is earning. “Do you see any truly competent workers? They will serve kings rather than working for ordinary people.” – Prov. 22:29 (NLT)

The first step to help you build wealth is earning money. And to no one’s surprise, the more you earn the faster your wealth can grow. Fortunately there’s a path to doing this.

The Bible says this path involves becoming competent in your work. The dictionary lists competence as “having the necessary ability, knowledge, or skill to do something successfully. Being efficient and capable.”If you meet these criteria, you will “serve Kings.” In other words, you will rise to the upper levels of your chosen profession. As your responsibilities increase, so will your income.  It is called being a Christian worker.  It is called working as all things belong to God.  It is the realization that if you work as if God is going to have a staff meeting at the end of the day….you would get a great report.  This goes to business owners and their treatment of employees!!!

The second step is simply saving. “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.” – Prov. 6:6-8 (NLT)

Even ants know that to build wealth you need to save a portion of what you earn for future uses. If we emulate them and save a bit from every dollar we earn, we are on the road to wealth.  We must save whatever, however the source of income.  Most of us have second jobs, a hobby that produces money.  Every now and then we sell something, inherit a portion, etc….we must always save a % of what comes through the door.

I constantly read that most people who make tremendous incomes and yet throw it away by spending more than they earn. On the outside they look wealthy and appear to have it all together. In reality their bank accounts are on the brink of destruction.

Unfortunately, this is the case for most Americans. Their spending simply keeps up with their income or even surpasses it. They do not learn from the ants and they are not wise. They simply spend whatever they get. If you don’t believe this is the case, look at any study on savings rates, levels of emergency funds, net worth, and so forth. The results are so dismal that they border on being unbelievable.  Be diligently in the % you save because the compounding of your money is powerful, powerful too.

This is getting long today but I feel I must get it in…We are truly discussing stewardship because we are increasing God’s gifts which thus increase our giving.  Third follows the lines of stewardship and wealth building.  You must invest. “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.” – Prov. 13:11 (NIV)

The power of compounding..wow..From what has been saved, the wise person now takes each bit and invests it little by little. From there the “miracle” of compound interest begins to take hold. It starts out small, but gains momentum over time. The invested money begins to grow on itself. More is added a bit here and a bit there. That begins to grow as well. Over time the investments get to the point where they become the investor’s major wealth-generator. Simply by investing little by little over a long period of time – and time is key to investing success – the money grows to a large amount.

Of course there is the question of where to invest. The Bible gives guidance on this by encouraging us to diversify our investments to keep ourselves safe from any disaster (Ecclesiastes 11:2). 

Some of us will trust the market…some of use will have a rental property or two to take care of in our later years.  Whatever the investment we keep the “stewardship” of God’s gifts.  The wisdom from the bible tells us very simply: earn a good salary, save and invest a portion of it, and over time become wealthy.  

2018-11-14….Wednesday….Brevity

2018-11-14….Wednesday….Brevity

Earlier..before the blog I was just emailing those who wanted to follow along.  I went to this blog format because people come and go. That is okay as there are seasons in life.  I will tell you there is more winter than summer but most often in summer we can’t see that God is still working in our lives so we make choices that keep us in the winter season.  Either way He promises to always continue the work He started.  He promises to finish one day, His promises are real and if we look we can see those promises being fulfilled in our lives.  The problem is our focus.

Focus on the joy that God will provide rather than on the brevity of life or worrying about the future (5:20). 

If you focus on all that God has done for you and given you, you will not be disturbed by the fact that life is short. Nor will you be plagued by worries about what is coming tomorrow. Your heart will be full of joy, and the cares of the future will not discourage or distract you. You will recognize God’s faithfulness today and be confident that the God who is faithful in the present will be faithful in the future. There will be no room in your heart for the negative thinking that traps so many in the snare of doubt. God was faithful yesterday; He is faithful today; and He will be faithful tomorrow—whatever it brings. 

People of faith face life’s problems with this determined confidence and assurance.

I personally think that Satan seeks to rob us of the joy God intends us to have. The devil’s oldest trick is to convince people that God does not really love them, that God is withholding from them many things that would contribute to their happiness and fulfillment. This is the lie he effectively used to trap Eve in the Garden of Eden:  (Ge.3:1-7a).

Believers in particular must not fall for Satan’s age-old ploy. When the devil prompts you to question God’s goodness, take an inventory of what the Lord has done for you, even today. See His faithfulness. Enjoy His blessings. Do not be drawn into the net of doubt by questioning the Giver of all good things!  As I had written down a few verses to end verse 20 and our time in Ecclesiastes they referenced other verses.  I already mention Matthew and thought I would show you Jesus words.

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt.6:25-34).

Okay might as well give you a few more if you have read this far….

“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:4-7).

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17).

“Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (Jas. 4:13-15).

Brevity defined is simply life is short and defined.  What you choose will be a lifetime choice as there is brevity of life.  Choose to enjoy and pursue God.  All else will fall perfectly in line.  It will be added…I believe abundantly added

2018-11-13….Tuesday….Living

2018-11-13….Tuesday….Living

We will pick up in verse 19 of chapter 5 today as I didn’t even come close yesterday as I wanted to do 18 and 19..  Solomon is having quite a reflection on life isn’t he…He is telling us to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  He has looked out into the horizon and viewed his past, but looking into the setting sun he also sees his future.  He is telling his reader two simple things, he is saying enjoy and keep on working. 

Now first I need to preface today as this week will end our small mini series on tithing. We are supposed to enjoy and find satisfaction in our hard work.  We have discussed over that last 3 lessons the value of becoming debt free, stewards over what God has given, and we have put a number on our giving. This is not about carelessly spending what we make..this is a 1st Timothy 6:17 moment.  If you have never studied that passage it is worth a moment to read the surrounding verses and understand 1st Tim 6:17.  But the idea of 19 is to quit two things.  Quit worrying what other people would think if you bought _____ or went ______.  Secondly quit being jealous of another.  Your job is to live.

We are to enjoy whatever wealth and possessions that God has provided through our work.

Whether much or little, great or small, an abundance or just enough—your possessions are a gift from God and the reward for your labor. Enjoy them! If you have little, do not allow Satan (through others) to convince you that God has been ungracious toward you. Enjoy what you have and rejoice that you do not have the burdens that often accompany wealth. If God has given you much, do not become proud or greedy; rather humbly enjoy God’s abundance, share it with others in need, and use it for His kingdom and glory. This is God’s desire for you.

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (1 Ti.6:17).  (couldn’t help it…had to go get that verse!!)

In other words accept your lot in life and be happy in your work.  Please notice that Solomon isn’t telling you to retire on your blessings.  God made you to work and work you should.  I told the story once of my father in his later years he owned one small business.  He kept multiplying, he kept working.  Now it might have been from early morning till 1:00 because he had a tee time at 2 every day.  But he continued to work, to breath into others lives, to give to the storehouse, and he truly enjoyed life.

He…I accepted our lot in life.  My father raised his sons to work and work hard we always have.  We are a prideful bunch to a fault who thinks there is nothing we can’t do.  But I think you are supposed to take pride in who you are, where you come from, the job you are in.  I think you are suppose to work hard, be happy with your life, and rejoice in your work. Both you and your work are a true gift from God.  

Tomorrow we will do verse 20 and then a few proverbs to end the series.  See you Wednesday!!