The Case of the Missing Dryer

The Case of the Missing Dryer

Proverbs 16:2 (NIV) All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Our dryer was in need of repair. The repairman came last week and determined the problem. He would order the parts and return this week to complete the task. Upon arriving home from work, I noticed that the laundry room rug was in the garage and dryer lint everywhere. Opening the door, there was a 100-lb Black Lab where my shiny white dryer used to be kicking up dust with her wagging tail. I called out to the girls, “Where’s my dryer?” They came out laughing. “In the laundry room…” Still giggling as they looked around for it, the two set out in search of the dryer all in jest. No seriously – how does someone remove a major appliance from my house and nobody notice? This is no laughing matter.

We do laundry every single day. The washer and dryer are full service in our house and part of the daily routine. The initial reason for the visit turned into a two-fold repair and it was easier to take it to the shop to complete it rather than try to in the very small and narrow laundry room. My watchful eyes were unavailable when they were leaving so they later called my husband to explain. No big deal right? Maybe not for you but we take our washing, drying and folding very serious around here.

All joking aside, our days are filled with activities, actions and even attitudes based on the motives of our heart. Innocent routines and schedules that can become a priority to us. Perhaps there are certain things that you do on a regular basis that others find a bit excessive. I hear it all the time. Whether it be accusations or excuses, judgment of the life or lifestyle of others based on the motives in our heart. It is important to examine and evaluate our ways to decide how to spend our time. Time is the most valuable commodity that is given. We do not know how much we actually have. It is invaluable because once it is spent and cannot be replenished. The resources in our life are time, talent and treasure. The Lord takes the human heart and weighs its motives not productivity. God doesn’t give to us based on performance but rather obedience. Obedience to God will always produce blessings and promises in our life even if it takes a bit of time.

What does any of this have to do with a clothes dryer? While some people reading this may think the loss of a dryer no big deal, others will be completely offended that the repairmen took it without asking and then some may know the feeling because they are avid launderers, the point is that no matter what we do or do not do in this life – God is weighing the motives of our heart in all things. He is checking our time table for His Timing. He is evaluating our motivation according to His Word. God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. He says that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Perhaps, it we became more intent on examining our heart and motives daily – extra time or different priorities might be for our favor. I didn’t have a dryer last night. I could not continue my evening routine of putting on a load while cooking dinner and tending to it afterwards. Instead, I sat on the front porch rocking, Snapchatting friends, and then talking with the Lord. I rested for a few moments.

Psalm 26:1-3 (NIV) Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

The Lord searches our heart for our motives. He evaluates our intentions. He rewards us for our actions. (Jeremiah 17:10) Is it possible to be obedient with the wrong motives? Is it feasible to be right with unjust intentions? Does God reward actions other than obedience? The Lord is looking in the human heart for one thing – love. Every other action must come from the Source of Love that is in us thanks to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is on a mission to produce Christ-like Love in us so that every motive and intention becomes an action based on our sole motivation to love the Lord and others. Ugh.

In our busyness, it is easy to justify good motives and intentions without ever tapping into the prosperity of God given to our soul. We perform hoping to persuade God to move for us but His Desire is to move in us. To change our heart and mind to live in full agreement and harmony with other people. He wants to break our routine to produce new relationship opportunities and increase our sphere of influence. You can be filled with faith and overflowing in anointing yet completely miss God’s Will, His Way and His Blessings in our own rightness.

The psalmist says, “Vindicate me…” which means “Free me”! Are you living a blameless life but are not experiencing the blessings and benefits promised in God’s Word? Do you trust the Lord with limits? When your life does not align with God’s Word, His Will and His Way – it is time for a test. Testing and trials give us an opportunity to examine our heart and mind for breaches. To be mindful of His Love is not enough. We must learn to trust the Lord and depend on Him in full reliance. Our purpose in life is not fulfilled until we are called home. God has placed certain things in our life that take time. Things that will require change in us that takes us out of our comfort zone and destroys complacency. To have them requires us to examine and evaluate our motives and intentions openly and honestly before the Lord and allow Him to point out any offensive way in us without becoming obstinate and offensive. Ouch! Ain’t nobody got time for that… except those who desire to live as one with Christ.

I Corinthians 4:4-5 (NIV) My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

My mother keeps an impeccable home. It looks as though it is the model home staged for perspective buyers at all times. She has always been that way. I am quite sure it set her into heart palpitations trying to keep up with our family as none of us were committed to the same level of clean. Over the years, I developed better habits and decided to keep a neat home. Yet, when my mother comes for a visit, I am set into a flurry of activity to clean and organize my house. When I visit my daughter, she does the same thing. She attempts to make it acceptable to me. The truth is that my mom doesn’t judge my home according to her standards. When I go to visit my daughter, I am after the chunky little hunk of a grandson not that all her laundry is done and dishes clean. We must be very careful not to judge our life according to others or we will become busy in comparison rather than in our convictions.

My conscious is clear. It doesn’t make me innocent. There will always be someone with higher or lower standards to compare ourselves to in order to feel better or worse about our life. However, the Lord is our judge. He examines our heart for love born of the faith found in Christ that releases all humans from our expectation to invest our entire life in the Hope of Glory – His Name is Jesus. He will bring to light those things hidden in darkness to expose the motives of our heart. His Convictions are not the same as the court of law but based on His Love. His Grace. His Mercy. He delights in mercy. I believe that by investing all our faith, hope and trust in Jesus that we will begin to let others live their life freely as well. It is by cultivating my relationship with Christ that allows me to let go of what I do for Him to become like Him. Lord, help me to evaluate my motives and examine the intentions of my heart today. May I only compare my life and standards to You – Jesus and the love you have placed in me with the grace to fully accept it. Let me live according to Your Standard of Love for others and even myself.

The case of the missing dryer is solved. It will be back in its proper place today ready for service. I am thankful for the mysteries in life that cause us to hear God whisper even in the simplest of things. He is always speaking – but sometimes busyness keeps us from listening and routine too busy to sit and hear.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

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Fruit Inspector

Fruit Inspector

2 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV) Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Examine yourselves. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. I would much rather inspect the fruit of another tree than take inventory of my own sometimes. The old saying, “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. Our reactions reveal a lot about who we are on the inside. I am striving to learn to respond to God’s Promises rather than constantly reacting to the conditions and circumstances of life. The enemy will constantly try to sow seeds of doubt and discouragement to hinder the growth process of God’s Fruit in our life. It is His Constant Agenda and Overwhelming Passion to fuel any thought or idea that might take root to become fear, anxiety, unforgiveness, bitterness or the like. It’s easy to react. Reactions are driven by impulses and feelings. It is a spiritual discipline to learn how to respond to God’s Promises and hold tight to His Word when things aren’t going as one planned or hoped for.

Paul says, “Examine yourselves…test yourselves.” It is easy to find someone to blame. It is much harder to trust the Lord to work every detail of our life for good. To constantly sow good seeds of faith rather than unleashing fury when things don’t seem to bearing the right kind of fruit or given the desired results. I am not responsible for attitude and actions of others. I am responsible for my own. It is up to me to behave in the disciplined and dearly loved role of God’s Child who is filled with Jesus Christ.

John 15:5 (ESV) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

To abide in Jesus Christ is to bear much fruit. Those who live in love with Jesus cannot help but prosper. The prosperity of our life begins in our soul. The environment of our life is conducive to spiritual growth. It is up to us to sow Kingdom seeds in the hard ground of human nature to allow God to prepare us for natural prosperity that only comes with spiritual growth and development. To covet another person’s garden or think the grass is greener on the other side is to believe that God has favorites and that I am not favored by the Living God. Not true. I must examine my fruit. Allowing God to prune my vine. To live so in love and involved with Jesus that I know and understand that He has already given me a rich and satisfying life to be cultivated in our walk together.

Luke 6:43-45 (ESV) “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

It is easy to inspect the fruit of others. To judge them in the moment rather than giving the same grace that is required by us. However, I must always focus on my own tree. The fruit of my tree must be of the Spirit. The Spirit produces “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” The first fruit is always love. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” God defined love. We cannot change the characteristics of love and still please God. The Word of God stands as the Truth that governs and details our life. The first fruit is love. I must daily inspect my tree for it. It is the beginning of all things in Jesus Christ. For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son. If I give away all I have and produce every other fruit but have not love…I gain nothing.

John 13:34-35 (ESV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The fruit of my life must be love. Not my interpretation of love, but by God’s Definition. I must examine the fruit of my tree. I must test myself. My faith is dependent on the Spirit cultivating godly fruit in my life beginning with love. People will know that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ if I love them properly. Completely. Soul-ly. Purposefully. The way that Jesus loves us. Even when we rebel, run from or hurt Him, His Grace is always enough.

Lord, examine me today. Help me properly access my own fruit rather than looking at the productivity of others. Keep me focused on my garden and the brokenness that is possibility in my own heart. You know exactly what you are doing. I do not trust man, Lord I trust You! Let my life overflow with an abundance of good fruit that feeds others the love and goodness that You have so graciously given to me!

Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Yes Lord Yes

Yes Lord Yes

Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

There are seasons in life when it is time for a little introspection. It is important to evaluate our heart carefully to determine the proximity of Presence in our life. Relationship can easily turn into religion if our worship becomes habitual not a result of intimacy. I am here today. In this place of quiet with the Lord, the only One can truly hold me accountable by His Spirit in faith and confident hope. The words of the psalmist inspired by the Holy Spirit hold true today for all of us if our internal desire is the eternal hope of Christ. Though righteousness is found in Christ alone, it is up to us to give the Lord permission to examine us, evaluate our progress, eliminate that which is unproductive and exact growth and development in all the proper places. All we can do is say, “Yes!”

Create in me a clean heart, O God

Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV) And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

A change of heart is in its absolute breaking. God must have all the pieces of our heart in order to create a masterpiece. An artist cannot do anything with a canvas if there is no brush or paint. It is easy to withhold bits and pieces of our heart in order to preserve pride. It is difficult to surrender those parts that are painful. Depths of emptiness too vast to risk devastation. Darkness that is so recessed light has not reached it yet. All this space within us ready for holy inhabitation must be fully exposed and exchanged for the new heart, new spirit, and new mind waiting in the Presence of God offered by His Son, Jesus. Lord give me a new heart today. Remove the stony one of flesh and make it soft as promised.

Renew a right spirit within me.

2 Timothy 1: 6-7 (ESV)  For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

The Helper, Holy Spirit, who the Father gave us through the Son lives in us. He teaches us all things and brings into our remembrance that which God has ordained, decreed and spoken to us. (John 14:26) The Spirit offers us internal insight and eternal understanding not given to the world but received through Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12) Finally, the Spirit is God’s Guarantee of every spiritual blessing in our life. The Spirit identifies us as God’s Children. This is the Gift of God when we come to Him through Jesus Christ. It is a non-negotiable part of our covenant with God as the Spirit is full consummation of our relationship to Him. Have you opened this gift in your life?

God has not given us the spirit of fear. Too often it is readily taken when offered by the father of lies as the truth that governs our life. Oh to have back all the time wasted worrying about things that never happened and carrying burdens that never came to fruition but still robbed me of peace and rest in the Lord. God has given us the spirit of power, love and self-discipline. Have you taken hold of that today? Sometimes we must exchange something we have to fully obtain what God is trying to give us. The same is true in renewal of a right spirit within me. I must examine my motives and emotions for power and love which always requires self-discipline to overcome the traps of doubt marked worry, anxiety and fear. God didn’t give us these so we must reject them.

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

There is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God. (Romans 8:28) Do you believe that today? I mean really believe it. Sometimes even saints of God forget that the Love of God for us is constant and concrete in the Cross. There is absolutely nothing you can do to ever make the Lord stop loving you or pursuing you with unfailing love and goodness. His Mercy is new every morning according to His Faithfulness not our ability to be faithful. There are no fatal errors for those who love God. Hard times create soft hearts. It is those moments of extreme weakness (physical, emotion and/or spiritual) that the truest nature of God is discovered. His Grace. When I am weak, I am strong. The enemy tries to make us think that when our walk turns to wandering or our thoughts to wandering that we somehow become lost. The Lord never leaves us or forsakes us but waits like the father for the prodigal son. I wonder what would happen if Children of God fully understood and embraced the importance and power of God’s Grace. It would be a life changer and history maker for the Body of Christ as the fullness of His Power permeated people and steeples everywhere.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 16:11 (ESV) You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I’ll say yes, Lord, yes to your will and to your way. I’ll say yes, Lord, yes… I will trust you and obey. When your Spirit speaks to me with my whole heart I’ll agree and my answer will be yes, Lord, yes! (Shirley Caesar)

As I sit here today in the quiet of early morning, I am offering my heart to the Lord once again. I say yes, Lord, yes to Your Will and to Your Way. Sometimes that is not an easy proclamation in our journey with Jesus. We walk by faith not by sight. Trust is the issue of greatest importance. He will make known the path of life to me and offers me a choice which is a product of the freedom afforded me by His Son. In His Presence, there is fullness of joy but I must leave myself at the doorway and enter through Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The only way to the Father is through the Son. I must give Him my heart today. I must present Him my willful and overbearing spirit with all its pride to make room for His Spirit. I must move in closer with each “yes” until I am close enough to experience His Pleasures marked as promises forevermore. I find joy in doing His Will which always starts with love. His Spirit is producing the kind of fruit in me that is worth sharing. The cost is my pruning so that more fruit will grow. The sacrifice is my hard heart and unwilling spirit. Today – I say I will say, “Yes, Lord, yes!”

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (ESV) From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

Fertile Soil

fertile-soil

Matthew 13:3-9 (NLT) He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

As I have shared previously, our family relocated to the rural county just outside the city limits last year. My husband has been diligently cleaning up the property. He discovered an irrigation buried under the sod that he has been restoring. One day while clearing out the flowerbed with him, I discovered that the soil here is much different than that of our old yard. The old house was built on red clay. It is very hard to grow things on. Just digging it up is a chore. With each new addition, bags of top soil must be used to help fortify and feed the new plant. It is very particular about what will grow in its thickness. However, here the soil is dark brown and very rich. It is good soil. There are many bushes thriving already. I had to dig up the rose bushes that had died without proper care. There were some other plants that had taken over the root system and choked it out underground. I tried to pull them out by the roots but with time I can see that they are still down there as they produced to take over again. In preparation of spring, I am deciding what plants to add to our garden outside. Hydrangeas are my favorite. I couldn’t grow them in the other house because it was usually very dry and full sun all day long. But there is a perfect place to root some in the corner. I have been researching all the wonderful varieties of color and choices of new plants to sow in the flowerbed that will greet our visitors and frame our home.

The secret to success is that there is fertile ground. All those other attempts to plant in hard, packed clay only yielded disappointment but now I have hope because the soil is rich and ready for seeds. Jesus shared a parable with his followers about the importance of the ground in which seeds are sown. Our life is a constant cycle of sowing and reaping. The seeds sown in our life react and respond to the soil encountered. When sowing into the earth, one must consider the physical elements. When sowing into the Kingdom, only one surface is considered. The condition of our heart indicates the growth of potential in us. Before I sow a single seed of worth into the Kingdom of God, I must have a fertile heart that is ready to receive from God’s Word, be cultivated by His Spirit, and produce the abundance to share with others. How is your heart today?

There are four heart conditions that indicate our readiness to receive from the Lord. Jesus touched on it in this parable of the farmer sowing seed. There is a heart with no foundation. Seed falls on it but is quickly plucked out by the enemy. The lack of foundation is because there is no hope. Next is the hard heart, it hears the word but doesn’t believe it. It cannot comprehend unconditional love or amazing grace because it has no faith. The Word (or seed) falls on this heart but cannot take root because doubt and disbelief have built a hard wall around it. The surface is fortified with pride packed by experience that causes it to harden. Of course, then there is the racing and busy heart that tries to meet any and all expectation. Trying to please God, mankind and the demands of this life, it becomes overcrowded. Such crowding overpowers the seed God is sowing in us and it can never grow without proper attention. “Jack of all trades, master of none.” They try it all in hopes something anything will satisfy their soul, but the lack of commitment leaves them empty like before. Oh but then there is the fertile heart. Broken by life, and yielded to the Savior – each Word precious, tucked deep in its folds, cared for by His Spirit, given time to grow, releases every promise and fulfills godly potential. This is the desirable soil. This is what we are after. It is the heart ready to receive all God has for them. Built on the firm foundation which is Christ alone, full of faith that is unwavering, giving up Martha to live like Mary, it is a fertile soil ready to receive the impossible and watch it become possible in all things. God prepare my heart today for your Word.

Hosea 10:12 (NLT) I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’

Is my heart fertile? I know the condition of the foundation and soil that my earthly home is built on and it is good. What about the foundation of my faith and condition of my heart? My heart is the platform for the Kingdom. God wants to plant seeds in me that by faith will grow into godly potential and produce all of His Promises. My life is not complete yet. Each day is not filled to capacity with the blessings and favor of God which come through true repentance and radical obedience. Not to rules or regulations set forth by religion but the complete and confident surrender of my heart by faith to Jesus Christ in all things. I must make my heart ready through true heart rending repentance to receive all that God has in store for me. What about you? Are you completely satisfied? Lacking nothing, do you awake each morning with total contentment? Are you thankful in all things? Do you praise God more than complain? All questions that test the condition of our heart.

John 12:23-25 (NLT) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man[a] to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.”

When Jesus died on the Cross, he gave us the opportunity to harvest righteousness again. He reached out handing us a seed called faith that if planted properly would produce a life of peace with God. The one thing and only thing that will complete us is peace with God through right standing given to us as a Gift from Jesus Christ. That’s it. Nothing I do, say or sacrifice matters if this one seed is not first planted to save my soul and break my heart. Just as I had to move to find good rich soil, we must change our residency from this world to the Kingdom of God. It begins in our heart. John14:6 is clear. No one makes it to God except through His Son, Jesus.

Leviticus 26:3-5 (NLT) “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.

The promises of the Old Testament were not nullified by sin or ended by the arrival of grace. Each precious truth is completely possible now by faith. Leviticus 26 begins with these words, “Do not make idols or set up carved images, or sacred pillars, or sculptured stones in your land so you may worship them. I am the Lord your God.” Who is your god? Or maybe should ask what is god to you? Our heart is wrapped around something or someone. It is intent on a desire that only the person can know. To discover the truth, the real truth, is to break apart our heart and investigate the contents. Who is willing to do that? Yep, didn’t think anyone really wanted heartache or heartbreak. Me, either.

We all allow other gods, idols, carved images, sacred pillars, and sculpted stones in the real estate of our heart and mind from time to time. It is human nature to be driven by our five senses rather than the Holy Spirit. Our sinful, prideful condition demands our constant attention tilling the soil of our heart, examining our thoughts, evaluating our time, and discovering the truth. However, those who are willing to put their “hand to the plow” and stop “looking back” will be fit for Kingdom productivity. (Luke 9:57-62) What is that thing that keeps pulling you back? Is there something in your past you just can’t stop looking at? Are you constantly starting and stopping? If so, spiritual growth is impossible. Perhaps if you could see the advantages to such planting in our heart and life and choose to commit your hand to the plow and live obedient in a right relationship with the Lord you would see its worth.

God promises some things in Leviticus in response to our faithfulness. He promises us seasonal rains that will produce in all seasons of life. You will never be without God’s provision and prosperity if you allow Him to continually soften and mold your heart for more planting. God offers a life of peace in this life. He also empowers us through grace to overcome in all battles for our promise waged daily within us and in the spiritual realms. He grants us His Favor. Favor is better than finance any day. But probably the most wonderful thing that the Lord gives those willing to allow their heart to be broken is Presence. He will live with us. When God steps in everything changes. First of all me. Then those around me. Revival comes through His Presence. When I die, I awake with Jesus. This is not just for forever – it begins today. When I die to self, He lives in me and every seed promised in my heart begins to grow. Read it Leviticus 26.

Isaiah 28:23-26 (NLT) Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention. Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds—black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat—each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.

You cannot grow what you do not know. God gives the farmer understanding when he decides the crop he decides to grow. The Fruit of God’s Spirit is clearly stated in Galatians 5:22-23. It is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” How is that going to bring me contentment or satisfaction? I hear you. The farmer who grows cumin plants seeds to grow into the spice. It becomes a crop that he harvests for himself and to sell for profit. It becomes a source of satisfaction for his own life and benefits others. To say, well I don’t want cumin, I want tacos. Well cumin is the spice used to season beef or chicken to become tasty tacos. God is growing the essentials in you that become the harvest for your future in all things. His Seeds yield perfect promises and the power to overcome. To be victorious in all things but if we do not allow Him to grow the right seeds in us it will never yield the desires of our heart. For example, let’s just start with self-control. It is listed last probably because it is our greatest struggle and highest goal. If the Holy Spirit grows seeds of self-control in me it will benefit every relationship that I have. Anything I season with self-control keeps me engaged in the effort until it produces all that is promised. God is seasoning us for success from the inside out. His Word is wisdom. His Spirit the cultivator of our life. We have everything we need for spiritual success – if our hearts would surrender and break so it will grow.

Isaiah 32:10-16 (NLT) Tremble, you women of ease; throw off your complacency. Strip off your pretty clothes, and put on burlap to show your grief. Beat your breasts in sorrow for your bountiful farms and your fruitful grapevines. For your land will be overgrown with thorns and briers. Your joyful homes and happy towns will be gone. The palace and the city will be deserted, and busy towns will be empty. Wild donkeys will frolic and flocks will graze in the empty forts and watchtower until at last the Spirit is poured out on us from heaven. Then the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.

“Until at last the Spirit is poured out on us from Heaven…” God poured out His Spirit. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to all mankind. If the Spirit of God is not working within us, it is not because it is not being poured out each day. New mercy comes ready to forgive and restore our right standing with the Lord so His Seed can make its way inside of our heart and release His Potential in our life. The rock in our chest must be broken into a soft and fertile heart. Dissatisfaction produces disappointment that leads to desperation. When our way doesn’t work anymore, we turn our heart and mind back to God who promises the impossible with inexpressible joy, peace of mind and confident hope. When His Spirit makes its way in us, His Fruit surrounds us even in the darkest, driest, and most barren places. He gives us new life. He refreshes us. Revives us and restores us right then, right there even when nothing else changes but we choose to. True repentance makes the way for all spiritual growth.

Psalm 51:7-12 (NLT) Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

If you are not satisfied with your life, love or relationship with the Lord, it is time to examine your heart as I am mine. To determine if it is fertile, soft and ready for good seed. We must remove every growth deterrent from our life to facilitate the growth process again, A lack of growth is evidence of certain death. True repentance means turning. We must allow change to enter and release complete control to the Lord for the abundance He promises. I cannot produce anything of worth or that will last in my life outside of my connection to Christ. He must be the center of it all. He must become the foundation of my life. I must strive to secure more faith in each endeavor. I must be committed to the Lord in all things. I must live humbly repentant before my God. To grow is to know… I want to know Him more.

Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

Fruit Inspection

Fruit Inspection

Matthew 12:33 (NIV)

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

Our house has been eating a whole lot of fruit lately on the Daniel Fast, the girls are living on it as they are not huge vegetable or nut fans other than peanut butter. While I was preparing dinner the other night, our youngest was helping me by cutting some fresh strawberries. As she lay each one on the cutting board, we chatted about day until she let out a shriek of pure despair. A tiny bug came crawling out of one of the berries. She hates bugs and was totally grossed out. I tried to explain to her that the berry was not produced in a factory but grew freely in a field so it is completely natural to find an occasional critter inside. I have found a worm in an apple before and other tiny stowaways along the way. She shuddered in pure repulsion at the thought. I was pretty sure that she was done eating them which would have been horrible since she is currently surviving on them through the fast. As we sat down for dinner, she took each strawberry and carefully inspected it before finally eating it from that point on.

What if we inspected the fruit of our life? What if we took each quality that is to be produced by the Holy Spirit in us and evaluated it as closely as my child now analyzes fruit? What might we find? Many years ago when I finally gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ for good, I joined the Church of God which is full gospel. My grandmother who prayed for me, carried me to church and is the reason that my heart belongs to the Lord was concerned. She was Southern Baptist, who at that time, ignored the book of Acts. Focusing more on Hebrews and Revelation, the idea of the Living Breathing Holy Spirit was not discussed and the Gifts of the Spirit were not in full operation. She expressed much concern over my choice to join my new husband’s church. What she didn’t know or could not understand despite my explanation was that I had been filled with the Holy Spirit. A change that would make all the difference in making my faith a reality in my life. After much prayer for wisdom, I finally told my sweet Gram to decide by my fruit. Watch me. Evaluate me. See what kind of fruit is produced in my new life with Christ. She did. Before she went to be with Jesus, she recalled our conversation all those years ago. She told me, “I see your fruit.”

Fruit takes time. It is part of a process. We all must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It is more than one trip to an altar or a prayer with a pastor. It is changing the product of our life into something worthwhile and fruitful. God has a plan for us that includes a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Those who seek Him wholeheartedly will find it. (Jeremiah 29:13) Make a tree good and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad. A tree is recognized by its fruit. So I ask you again, what does the fruit of your life look like today? It makes a difference.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

We have the living, breathing, moving, changing, producing Spirit of God within us who has a purpose. To take our life surrendered to the process of salvation through repentance, submission and obedience to cultivate these fruits – love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are things that we should strive for in life. Jesus tells us that people will know we belong to Him by this kind of fruit produced in our life. (John 13:35) Doctrines are a dime a dozen. Churches are on just about every street corner in the South. How can one determine what is right or wrong? The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God working into wisdom and action in our life. Before I was filled with the Holy Spirit, I knew the Word of God but struggled to activate it in my life. I believed in Jesus Christ and that He died for my sins. I asked Him to be my Savior and for years, tried to make Him my Lord. When I partnered my life with His Spirit, it all came together. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things and remind us of everything He said to us.

John 15:1-4 (NIV)

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.

Jesus said, “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.” This is important. We need to hear this today. In a world filled with false prophets (Matthew 7:15-20) who speak the Word of God but bear bad fruit or no fruit at all, to the preachers for profit (2 Corinthians 2:16-17) who peddle the Word of God for personal gain, we must know what we believe and do it regardless of what anyone else says, does or tells us to do. We have been giving everything we need to produce a garden filled with fruit even out of the most barren and broken life. It is up to us to evaluate what is being sown in our life. The Word of God is not based on public opinion. It is from the Mouth of God. Jesus is the Word of God who came in flesh. (John 1:14) The Word of God is the Bread of Life that is the sustenance of the Spirit in our life. (Matthew 4:4) It is alive and cuts the truth from a lie. (Hebrews 4:12) Public opinion is not necessary. Social acceptance is far too overrated. A big church does not mean a healthy vineyard. God’s Grace gives us time to work out our salvation and prepare for His Return. It is time for the church and everyone in the Body of Christ to step back and inspect the fruit of their own life. Comparing it to the Word of God, praying in the Spirit and removing every not of God’s Word, Will and Way. The Lord warned the Pharisees that just being called Sons of Abraham is not enough. God could produce children from stones. (Luke 3:8) Until they produced the fruit of repentance, they were still in danger of death. The Kingdom of God will be taken from those who do not produce fruit. (Matthew 21:43)

 

Mark 11:12-14 (NIV)

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

Mark 11:20-25 (NIV)

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. We must believe in Father, Son and Spirit. We must believe that the Word of God is infallible truth for our life and live according to what it says. Faith is a personal journey not a corporate endeavor. We will individually stand before God one day, not with the other members of our congregation. It is safe to say after attending many, many churches over the years that there may be some things that we do not entirely agree on but we do our best to fellowship together living in harmony, sharing the Gospel and ministering to one another as we live out love. All of that being said, at the end of the day, when we venture to our prayer closet, all that matters is what we believe. Those who believe the Word of God is true, our God is real, Jesus Christ is Lord will live a productive life in the Spirit striving to bear fruit. These are the people to connect with.

In a world filled with fancy sanctuaries, flourishing culture groups, perfect productions, and the show of church, it is the condition of each heart that matters more than any performance that a human could ever give. God is not asking to be entertained but glorified. He is glorified by the fruit of our life. (John 15:7-8) An empty life means we have no substance. When Jesus went to the fig tree looking for fruit, he found none. Though it was full of leaves, it had nothing to give. A fruitful life produces fruit that gives off seed. (John 12:24-25) When that seed makes its way to a fertile heart, a new life is born that produces more fruit offering more seeds. “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:22-25) Revival will come when the church begins to produce fruit rather than doctrine. When men and women of God no matter what position they hold, humble and pray with repentant hearts and willing spirits offering their life as a place for godly growth and productivity. The tree has gone bad and the fruit is telling on it. We must be like a tree. The one called an oak of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:3) The one found by living water. (Psalm 1:3) Our roots so rooted and grounded in the Love of God and His Word that nothing can change our mind or direction and will not become unstable. (James 1:5-9) If the church today and Body of Christ could just make up their mind about what kind of fruit they will produce rather than just being some kind of packaging plant, it would make a difference. Those who produce fruit will always have life and life everlasting.

Philippians 1:21-24 (NIV)

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

What is being cultivated in your life today? The Fruit of His Spirit. Confidence in the hope that you have. Faith that can move mountains. We have been given everything needed to prosper in this life soul, mind and body. If we are not, it is not a God problem, church error, or anyone else’s fault. We have everything needed to inspect the productivity of our life and supernatural power to change it into something fruitful and good that glorifies our Father. Don’t get mixed up in doctrine. Church only supplements what we believe. You have to know what you believe first. The Word of God is all truth. The Holy Spirit is a great instructor. Jesus is our Savior and our Lord. If our live is unproductive, one of these three things is not working in our life which always points back to a heart problem – the human heart. For me to live is Christ because nothing good lives in me but Jesus. To die is gain, if I am a product of my salvation not just a person who calls their self a Christian. To live what I believe produces fruit for the world to see. If I live for Christ alone, my fruit will always be good.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

Examine Me

Examine Me

Psalm 26:1-3 (NLT)

Declare me innocent, O Lord, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart. For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth.

 

I am a good person. Have you ever heard someone say that before when asked about their spiritual life? I have found that this is the response of most people when questioned about Christianity. I don’t want to be a good person anymore. I want to be a godly woman. This requires more than picking and choosing the one or two things I can do in Christ and deciding that I must strive to do them all. Does that mean attending church every time the doors are open? No. Does it mean that I can only hang around other likeminded people? Absolutely not. Should I be serving in every single opening? Nope. To be a godly person is not “doing” anything but fully accepting who we are in Jesus Christ. When we finally see who we are, then and only then will we know what we are supposed to do. Anything done out of the goodness of my heart is worthless, but those things born of faith in my life will yield harvests of blessing. Maybe you are thinking, I don’t understand. Don’t go to church. Don’t give. Don’t serve. What are you talking about? Good now that we are all thinking again – it is time for a little self-examination.

David is subjecting himself to divine scrutiny and asking for full redemption in Psalm 26. He asks God to declare him innocent. He invites the Lord to cross-examine his heart. He believes that he has walked in integrity and trusted the Lord. Now David is asking the Lord to approve him by testing the motives of his heart. David declares his motives to be awareness of God’s Unfailing Love and living according to his faith in it. Every day we should do the same even more so than David. We are fully empowered by the Holy Spirit every single day and not on certain occasions. Each morning our request should be, “Lord examine me!”

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)

Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Faith is a product of the heart. Every action and attitude in our life is evaluated by God according to the intent of our heart. There are people who seek to be good people and do the right thing who are not in right-standing with God. They are good people but fail the test of true faith. Faith in God is believing that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins and rose again the third day to hand us back our freedom. We can choose redemption in repentance or refuse it altogether continuing to live in full rebellion against God. The Lord does not force Himself on us but invites us to come and gives us His Spirit. This changes the motives of our heart completely when we decide to follow Jesus because our life becomes a constant act of worshipping Him. It is an undeserved privilege to live for Jesus Christ. If I do not have faith, my life is impossible. I am not going to make it past this life into forever. Grace is only enough when it impacts us and changes us from the inside out. To accept God’s Grace and do nothing with it is like having keys to a car but never driving it. Grace is a vehicle for change in our life as the Lord changes us from the inside out. We can try to do better but fail in our weakness. We will never be able to meet the expectations of God outside of Jesus Christ. When He looks at us, He must see Jesus or our sin will rat us out. Examine me Lord. I want to be a full reflection of You today.

Psalm139:1-6 (NLT)

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

 

The truth of the matter is that God already knows our heart. He knows everything about us. He created us and recorded every moment of our life. He gave His Son to us fully knowing the requirement of repayment for our sins every single one. The Lord goes before us and follows close behind with one intention. He places His Hand of Blessing on our head ready to release His Kingdom to us when we decide to accept our role as Child of the Living God. Good people are close but only godly people will possess the supernatural inheritance of those whose hearts are set on Him. His Plan for us is too wonderful to even comprehend yet every day we compromise and choose something less in some way shape or form. We decide to allow substitutions to take the place of perfection. I want people to think I am good. I want them to know that I love them. But it means nothing unless it comes from a heart surrendered to God fully and completely so that every act comes from the God inside of me. Random acts of kindness may change the world making it just a little bit better. Radical obedience to God in the heart and mind of His People will create a revival that will change people forever. This world will pass away one day, but those who put their trust in the Lord accepting His Love from His Son, Jesus Christ will live forever.

2 Peter 1:3-4 (NLT)

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

 

God has already given us everything we need to live a godly (god-like) life. Just by coming to Him, it was given to you. This makes me think about the end of the week just before the next grocery run. I open the pantry to prepare of meal from what is left from the week before. I open the fridge or maybe inspect the freezer in the garage. Without fail, there is always enough to make the evening meal even though in my mind there is nothing to eat. I believe that if we would examine our life each day even in the tough moments when we are ready to give up or give in to our flesh’s whining, moaning and complaining pulling out that Love hidden in us by God the Father, reclaimed through Jesus Christ, and sealed by the Holy Spirit, we would live as more than conquerors, overcomers, and have more than enough to fight the good fight of faith and stand in confident hope. I am challenged today to examine my heart. I have formed many “good” habits as a Christian. That is not enough! Am I living according to the Unfailing Love and never-ending Goodness that I have been given by His Grace? I must examine, inspect and scrutinize my life to insure that I am taking full advantage of the undeserved privilege and that the things I do and say are according to God’s Word, His Will and His Way for me. All of this comes from what I am given in salvation and found in following Jesus. It never was about me. Yet it “is” all about me. What does my heart reveal about the faith I have? How can I dig deeper and find more? Is it all about Jesus or have I somehow wandered in the way? I know that I have potential hidden in me because the Holy Spirit lives in me as a guarantee that everything God said about me is true and will happen if I only believe. Lord, help me if there is any unbelief hidden deep within? Continue to change me from the inside out. Make me more than good, make me godly today. As I examine myself, Lord examine me and show me anything that is not like You!

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.