Abiding Faith

What does it mean to have abiding faith?

This past weekend I attended the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, Texas District Convention in Lubbock. Our keynote speaker, Cindy Steinbeck of Steinbeck Vineyards & Winery, spoke to us about abiding faith. Our theme for the convention was based on John 15:5, I am the vine, you are the branches. Cindy gave us the definition for the word abide and talked to us about the significance of the root of the grapevine.

Abiding faith comes from being rooted in Jesus. He is like the root of the grapevine which is drought and disease resistance. Jesus is holy and therefore we are holy because we are grafted into Jesus. The root nourishes the grapevine and so Jesus provides nourishment for your spirit.

Hence, God is the vine-dresser. He directs the growth of the vine thus seeing what needs to be pruned. Together both God and Jesus helps us to grow. Yet, we are to abide (continue in relationship) with Him. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing just as a branch when cut away will die. When God wants me to grow, He makes me uncomfortable.

In order for me to bear fruit (such as gentleness, kindness, patience, and self-control), I must be abiding in Him. I am to stay rooted in Jesus through His word and prayer. He alone can provide me the strength I need, the wisdom and discernment in the various positions that He has placed me.

I interjected Cindy Steinbeck’s definitions into the following passage where the word abide is found.

Abiding in Him according to John 15:1-10

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

Abiding in Jesus.

Dwell in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, neither can you, unless you continue in relationship with me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in relationship with me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you dwell in me, and my words dwell in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

God is glorified.

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Stay in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will reside in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and continued in His love.

My question for you. Where or in whom are you abiding?

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Book Review of J E Berry’s New One

Book review

This Book is a Must-Read!

J E starts her book, “The Truth About Happiness,” with a prayer and an honest look at her life. J E shares with you how she has embraced God’s love for her. You will like how she invites you to join her on a journey of discovery with her as you read. She draws you in by getting you to want to know more about how she learned the real difference between joy and happiness.

Another point is that J E’s honesty is refreshing and bold, and she is not afraid to tell you like it is. She hits the nail on the head regarding the fact that we humans have a skewed about what true happiness looks like. She reveals that the truth about what we are really looking for. Hence, you will have to read her book for yourself to find out. She makes a valid point, too, that we have a choice to make, a very important one!

Furthermore, J E walks with you on this journey of discovery. She gives you an understanding of the words happy and happiness. We have come to link these to worldly things and situations outside of self. Hence, she tells you clearly where true joy comes. As you read this book, you, too, will discover for yourself where joy can be found. This joy cannot be taken from you and it is lasting. You have a responsibility to make the right choice because Jesus calls us to it. You are to find you joy in Him.

Yet, don’t take my word for it. Order a copy for yourself because you owe it to yourself to live in joy. The above link will get you there. You will be glad that you did.

You Will Be Encouraged!

In conclusion, J E reminds us that we have been saved and rescued from sin and eternal death. Though times will be rough, one must recall the one who paid the ultimate price for us. She uses scriptures to clearly show the way.  I suggest that you read for yourself and find the source of true joy! Take action! You are not alone. She reminds us to pray and find someone to journey with and we are to journal as we go. Come and join her on this journey of discovery. I look forward to getting my copy.

Book by J E Berry
J E Berry – The author of “The Truth About Happiness.”

Another book review: Finder Keepers Losers Winners by Kay Gray.

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Attitude Adjustment Needed

Lord, I Need My Attitude Adjusted!

Ever have one of those days when you felt that your attitude needed an adjustment? I had one of those days yesterday. There have been other times, too. I knew what I needed to do but found myself being self centered and not wanting to do the necessary thing. Yesterday, thankfully wasn’t one of those days.

While I was on my way to visit my sister and my niece. I felt in my spirit that something wasn’t right. I was struggling with an issue apart from them. I said, “Lord, I need an attitude adjustment.” I realized that I had to surrender what I was struggling with and turn it over to God. Allow God to work it out. This plea reminds me of taking an aspirin for a headache; wait 30 minutes and the headaches is gone. I asked the good Lord for an attitude adjustment.  By the time, I got to my sister’s house my attitude had done a 180. Matthew 21:21 reads,  And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Not only had God straightened out my attitude but He also fixed the issue that I was struggling to figure out. He supplied all my needs for the evening’s event at our vacation Bible school for the group I was teaching. My husband even purchased sides for their meal. God provided us with enough help for the crafts that we were doing. He also gave me the right words for the lesson.  As a result, we had a most wonderful time learning about Jesus.

Therefore, all I need to do is pray when I am faced with another bad attitude. Because God is able to do abundantly more than all that I can ask. The key is to ask and keep on asking. God is a good Father  who loves to give good gifts to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

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Tale of Two Friends United by Christ!

Tale of two friends

A Tale of Acceptance and Grace.

God makes life most interesting when you let Him in and He opens your eyes. This is my tale of my friendship with a dear friend of mine. We have something in common but yet so different. She grew up in the Lutheran Church but has changed to a Baptist church. Whereas, I grew up going to a Baptist church and now I choose to worship at a Lutheran church. We have both been baptized in the Baptist church and have a strong love for Jesus.

This tale is about acceptance and grace. Acceptance of the differences between us and the grace to embrace what we have in common. There was a time in my life that I was not attending a Lutheran church. I was attending the Church of the Nazarene where I chose to rededicate my life to Christ through baptism. My friend did likewise when she went to the Baptist church. A few years later, I returned to the Lutheran church and had to attend membership class. I was reluctant at first for my faith in Christ had not changed but it was to my benefit because I needed to be reminded of what Lutherans believe. There is a part of me that identifies with the Baptist but I need the affirmations that I find in the confession, creeds, and communion at the Lutheran service.

My dear friend refers to her change as a conversion. Yet, a convert is a person who has been persuaded to change their religious belief or faith or other beliefs? So what does it mean to convert  from Lutheran to Baptist? Do they not believe in the God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit? For me, I have not converted from one to the other for my faith has not changed. Where I choose to worship has changed. I guess that the change lies not in our faith but in other beliefs.

On the key points of faith which are creation, the birth, life, sufferings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I believe that the Baptist and Lutheran agree. Now on matters that are not of eternal importance, there is a lot of differences. Some of those differences are in baptism and communion and order of service. I don’t want to go into these.

Am I okay that my friend attends a Baptist service? By all means, yes! God knows her heart as He knows mine. Do we both believe in Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him? Most definitely so! Each person’s walk with Jesus is as unique as a snowflake. We both serve the same Lord. How we do so is different, that’s all and it is perfectly okay.

As Michael W. Smith writes in his song,”Friends are Forever,”

 Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them…

A lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.

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Relationship with Christ? Truth and Meaning!

Relationship

What Does It Mean to Have a Relationship with Christ?

I have a dear friend of mine who wants to know more about what it means to have a relationship with Christ. I think that a key word here is being in rather than having one. First, let’s look at the word relationship and its definition.

One definition of relationship is a connection, association, or involvement.

How does one have or make a connection or association with Christ? I would say much like it would be with anyone else. It takes time and effort in getting to know Him. This is different for each person because God has wired each person differently. It will also take some thinking outside the box, too, because people can get caught up in “doing” and not in being in a relationship. For example, if you are inclined towards ‘getting it right,’ you might get caught up in going through the motions of a scheduled quiet time. Yet, God wants you to focus on Him. Step outside of your routine, go outside and talk to Him as you would a friend and journal your thought and prayers. With Christ there is no right way to have a relationship. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

Another definition of relationship is an emotional or other connection between people.

How does one make an emotional connection to Christ? This comes through spending time in His word and reading His love letter to you. Here again, it is different for each person. For the individual who is drawn to ‘getting it right’ the gospel of Matthew is a good starting point. I believe that reading through the Proverbs is also helpful. Memorizing verses that speak of His great love for us is a good practice. After all, there is nothing one can do to add or take away from God’s love for us. God accepts as He created us and sent Jesus to die while we were still sinners. Therefore, we don’t have to ‘get it right.’ Jesus already did that for us. We have a right standing before God.

So to my friend, I will say, do a new thing and begin to journal your thoughts and prayers with Him. Choose a new place to spend time alone with Him and read His love letter to you. Ask Him to speak directly to your heart how much He loves you. Tell Him that you want a deeper relationship with Him and then be amazed at what He does.

Here are some key verses that speak on drawing near to God/Christ. Hebrews 7:24-26, 11:5-7; James 4:7-9

Related link. Letter to My Beloved.

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Word Pictures For Spiritual Adornment

Word pictures

 Biblical Word Pictures

There are a number of beautiful word pictures in the Bible. Today, let’s look at those address spiritual adornment. I have found a couple in Proverbs and one in Isaiah that I will explore first.

First, the beginning of Proverbs 1 it talks about wisdom, instruction and teaching. I find that heeding the instruction of my father and the teaching of my mother is described as a graceful garland for my head and adornment for my neck (Proverbs 1:8-9). Therefore, I asked the question, what is the significance here? This word picture points to the fact that our lives are to reflect whose instruction and teaching we follow. Thus, it will be as plain as a necklace or garland worn on our heads.

Second, Proverbs goes on in chapter 3 verse 21-22 to say that I should not lose sight of wisdom and discretion for they are life for my soul and again, an adornment for my neck. Hence, I would hope that my life reflects the beauty of God’s wisdom much like the beauty of wearing a set of pearls as seen above.

Third, in Isaiah 61:10, I find another word picture that is inspiring.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
    my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.*

Likewise, God has graced us with these through His Son, Jesus. God calls us beloved and chosen. He dresses us with the righteousness of Christ. He loves us with an everlasting love.

Wisdom for Adornment in the New Testament

Last but not least, there is one more that I have found in the New Testament in 1 Peter 3 verses  3-4. Here, I am to adorn myself with the hidden person of the heart with imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. This is precious in God’s sight. This is also in stark contrast to what the world would have me to adorn myself.

How do you adorn yourself, according to His Word or to the way of the world?

*The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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Letter to My Beloved from God the Father

God’s Letter to His Beloved.

I have a dear friend who struggles to find her worth in what she does. I have tried to tell her that her worth does not come from what she does but from whom she belongs to as a believer in Christ. And her value also comes from His great love for her. Therefore, God has put it on my heart comprise His love letter to my friend and anyone else who struggles as a believer to find their self worth in what they do. There are several verses that I have found that to comprise this letter.

This is how I imagine God would write His letter to her.

Love LetterMy Dearest Child,

You are my beloved and chosen. I gave My Son, Jesus, because I love you so much that I would rather die than live without you. You are mine through the blood of My Son and I rejoice over you with singing. I love you with an everlasting love therefore I have drawn you to Me.

Yet, I have loved you even while in you were still in your sins thus I sent My Son to die in your place that you may have life more abundantly and have everlasting life. It is a free gift of faith to you. You cannot earn it. Though I, being rich in mercy and great love, have done this for you. Therefore, I now call you My child. Relax, let go, and know that I am God.  Furthermore, there is nothing that you can do to add or take away from my great love for you. My love for you will never fade or die away. 

Hence, you don’t have to prove yourself and stop trying to be someone else. Be who I created you to be. Just breathe!

Come and abide in me. You are loved.

Signed, God, the Father

(Zephaniah 3:17: Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 46:10; John 3:16; Colossians 3:12; Ephesians 2:4-5, 1 John 3:1, 4:9,16)

Check this post regarding God’s Message Back to Me.

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