Sunday, May 31, 2015

Picking Fruit - Goodness

                                   
 
As I was preparing for this week's post, I was challenged.  I wanted to know the difference between kindness and goodness.  At face value, they seem to be the same things to me.  Yet, I knew that God wouldn't give words to us for the sake of "filling in space".  Each word God has given us in the Bible is meant for us - for our growth, our learning, our comfort, our faith.  It amazes me the more we delve into his Word, the greater He reveals himself to us.

Goodness is to DO good!  Don't worry, we'll get to kindness in a different week.  This week, it is goodness - our ability to be like God and actually DO good.  Sounds easy enough, doesn't it?  I really thought about that and would like us to challenge ourselves this week.  Let's really think about us doing good.  Have you really done something good for someone lately?  I thought back over my week and, I have  to say, I'm not sure I have.  I've tried to be kind, gentle, loving, and share joy, but doing good I am not so sure.

Today, I heard that some of the most wealthy people are truly starting to take a stand and give back.  Yes, they may have billions of dollars, yet, they are working between themselves and others around the world to give to those that are less fortunate - those in need of food, of homes, of clothing, of medicine, of cures, etc.  It had to be one of the nicest things I have heard in a long time.  People like Warren Buffet and the Gates are encouraging others to give 1/2 of their wealth away - now.  They don't want to wait until they have passed on, they want to do it now.  And they are influencing others to do the same.

I think the biggest take away that I had from that was NOW.  Not waiting.  Some times I say to myself, "Oh, I would like to do something for someone," and the time gets away from me and the moment has passed. NOW is the key word.  I wait, we wait, to do good for someone when it may be convenient for us.  Yet, on OUR time is probably not the best time for the other person.  Doing something good involves us putting ourselves out there and DOING the right thing, for the person at the right time.  I need to work on this one.  I need to challenge myself to do good NOW, to do good OFTEN, to do good with a willing heart.  

Our goal on this study of "picking fruit" is to delve into these words with a deeper understanding - to gain a viewpoint of how these words depict Christ and how the spirit can reveal these words in us.  Think of all the goodness Jesus did on earth.  Think about how tired Jesus may have been, yet, that didn't stop Him from doing good things for those He met.  He healed, He resurrected, He loved, He gave comfort, He brought peace, He taught, He . . . . .   Jesus felt what we do, yet His perfect heart provided good each time, all the time.

So now it is time for us.  I challenge you this week to DO good.  I offer you the path to step out of your comfort zone and DO something for someone when THEY need it.  May this opportunity to do good provide you much grace and mercy.  I am sure we will all be blessed by goodness.  I encourage you to write a brief note on this blog sharing your experiences of goodness.  May we bless each other on our journey.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Picking Fruit - Joy



Joy is one of those words that I find hard to define.  Yes, I can certainly go to a dictionary and find a definition, but for those that know me, I enjoy defining words by what they "mean" to me.  Joy is one word that, for me, is hard to explain.  We have read about "shouts of joy" or "cries of joy".  To me, joy is a feeling.  It's more than happy, it's more than jubilation.  For me, joy has an element of peace to it.  When I think of happy or jubilation, I find myself standing up, jumping up and down, clapping, screaming with happiness, etc.

Joy is all of that, with a sense of calm.  It's as if there is something inside of me saying, "this is what true joy is - a heart full of love with the situation at hand, and a soul filled with peace that - in this moment - this is exactly where you are supposed to be."  Joy is one of those unexplainable feelings/situations where greatness collides.  Who brings us, me, such a feeling?

Well, it's ironic that today is Pentecost Sunday, the day in Christianity where we celebrate the Holy Spirit.  Today we celebrate the Holy Spirit in all of us, helping us to move through ALL of the fruits of the spirit, as listed above.  It is the Holy Spirit that provides us the opportunity to not only experience each of the fruits, but more importantly, to share these fruits with others.  Joy is one of those fruits - the one that envelopes why the Spirit is part of each of us.

It is the Holy Spirit in each of us that give us hope when we are downtrodden, the hope that provides the focus on our Lord and Savior.  The Spirit gives us strength when we don't think we can go on anymore, when we are tired and discouraged and need someone to help us get on our feet again.  The Spirit gives us courage when we need to step out in the name of faith, but may be afraid of what the world has in store.  The Spirit gives us guidance when we are perplexed with decisions.  The Spirit gives us joy when our souls need to be restored.  Yes, it is the Holy Spirit that provides all these fruits for us.

Spend some time thinking of experiences when you might have felt pure joy.  Those moments in time when time seems to stop - even if it was ever so brief.  You'll remember the feeling.  The moment you knew you were in love?  The birth of a child?  A prayer that was answered?  A time when you knew the trust of a friend?  Yes, maybe even the day when a loved when went to our Lord - we may find that even during that moment of loss, there is great joy that the pain is gone and their place in heaven has been taken.

Joy is not only for us to experience, but for us to share.  Do you have an opportunity to share joy with someone else?  Is the Holy Spirit tugging on your heart to share ultimate joy with someone?  Step out in faith, provide that joy.  Give someone else that sense of happiness and peace.  "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."  (NIV)  John 15:11

Live for the moments of joy.  When they arrive, give thanks to the Holy Spirit for providing you with that moment.  Keep them tucked in your heart and pull upon them with love.  May the week ahead provide you a moment such as this, a moment of joy.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Picking Fruit - Faithfulness

  
                 
                              

Special days are meant to be celebrated, reveled in, and to give thanks for. So I ask my readers to allow me this opportunity to share with you such a moment. My oldest nephew had the wonderful moment today of being confirmed in his faith. I have always believed that this day is one of the most important days in a person's life and I feel blessed to be a part of it. 

As I was sitting I church this morning I couldn't help but realize that this important sacrament is a great example of one of our fruits - faithfulness. Being confirmed as a Christian provides us the great comfort of knowing we can put our faith in our God almighty, Jesus His heavenly son, and the Holy Spirit residing in us. What a privilege we have to know that despite what may come our way, we will ALWAYS have someone to go to. I was confirmed at the age of 13. I still have the beautiful cross my parents gave me that day. I never realized on that day the impact my faith would have on my life. I can be pretty guaranteed that many of you feel the same way. 

Over the years to be filled with the faith that has seen me through times I never thought I would see another day can only be attributed to the one who is with me every day, every moment. The faith I have, the faith you have, is a gift for us to enjoy. He bestows this gift on us, on all of us who believe in Him, to bring us the comfort, strength and hope we need to get through this earthly life. How fortunate we are!  

Because of our faithfulness, God shines His righteousness on us. "Faithfulness springs from the Earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven." (NIV) Psalm 85:11. Our faithfulness is seen by our Heavenly Father, His mercy gives us all the hope we will ever need. 

So to all of us, confirm our faith in Jesus. Let Him see, feel and hear our faithfulness in Him and He will richly reward us. Peace to all for a blessed week. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Picking Fruit - Love

 
 
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.  I hope all of you had a wonderful day!!  My day was certainly filled with many blessings.  Yes, each gift was hand-picked with such care and meant so much.  The children were lovely and wrote such incredible sentiments.  Thank you, family for a special day.  It meant so much.
 
There's something about a mother's love.  When we feel it as children, and even into adulthood, it can bring such comfort.  For all that is done in our lives, our moms continue to love us.  They guide us when we have lost our way and help us when we are drowning in a world of self-pity.  They are there for all the big moments and even the not-so-big moments.  They seem to avail themselves to all the moments of our lives and ensure that they are kept in their hearts.  I feel that way about my mom and I pray every day that my children feel the love I have for them.
 
The life of a mom can be hard.  I know there were times when I should have treated my mom much better than I did.  There were times when I rejected her and her efforts.  There were times when I was angry or frustrated with her.  Yet, she never turned away, she continued to love me.  This so closely aligns with our Heavenly Father.  With all the wonderful gifts that Jesus gives to us, I can't find any greater than the love He has for us.  It is with this love that he graces our lives, provides us mercy, fights for our souls, guides our ways, and dies for our sins.  It is with this love that we can live in glory with Him.  He only asks for a few simple things from us. . . .
 
Jesus wants us to believe in Him, to hold on to Him, and to count on Him in ALL circumstances.  Similar to our earthly Moms, Jesus just wants to be there for us.  Jesus, unlike our earthly Moms (and certainly unlike me), is perfect in all His thoughts and actions.  There have been more times than I'd like to admit where my lack of patience got the better of me, where my judgmental tone was far too strong, and where my busy days didn't leave enough time for my children.  Yes, I look upon those moments and cringe - as this is NOT the mom I wanted my children to have.  Yet, the goodness of God's simple message is that because I believe Jesus died for me, I am forgiven of those "not-so-great" Mama Moments!!  I hope that those that are reading who are moms can relate.  The goodness comes from God's word that another day will bring a better Mama!!
 
Jesus wants us to love others the way He loves us.  He tells us this in 1 John 4:7 "...let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God."  Love each other.  Love our babies, our children, our young adults, and our actual adults.  Love them, support them, hold on to the memories you've made with them.  Love them on their imperfect days, when they make imperfect choices, and when they have strayed - love them so that God knows you are loving them and will help them to come back home to Him.
 
On this very special day, may we freely love our Lord through our words, actions and praises.  May we freely love our families through our words, actions and praises.  May we freely love those we meet every day through our words, actions and praises.  May we love others because He first loved us.
 
Gracious Jesus, thank you for the love you give to all of us, for the love you unconditionally provide to us regardless of our misguided ways, and for the simple ability to love others. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Picking Fruit - Gentleness

 
I have always wanted to do a "blog series" - something that continues for more than a week or two.  This began during Advent, when I did a series on what each of the Advent candles meant.  I learned so much and was able to share with all of you.  When I started thinking about another series, I had only to turn to one of my favorite passages in the Bible - the fruits of the spirit.
 
What are the "fruits of the spirit" all about?  To put it VERY simply, it is the Holy Spirit working in each of us in the characteristics shared in the passage - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  These are all characteristics that our Dear Jesus possesses and many of those close to Him got to see these characteristics every day.  Can people say the same for us - can they see these characteristics in us every day?  I know that I lack many of these on a regular basis.  Each "fruit" alone can bring so much to others, so much to us - for they all come from God himself.  What I would like to do is focus on one each week, and help us to grow in our fruits of the spirit.
 
For those of you who like order - I'm going to mess things up - I am not starting with LOVE; I am starting with Gentleness.  Why?  Because I saw the most amazing act of gentleness this past week.  First, though, let's start with what gentleness means? I see it as someone who is humble, tender, caring, friendly - not bitter or angry.   Now let's explore how that compares with the one that brings us this great fruit - Jesus.  Think for a minute about His life, His time here on Earth.  Think about the stories you know about Him, the words you read about Him - was gentleness sprinkled in anywhere?  I believe it was a very strong trait of Jesus.  The picture that depicts this most is when he told the disciples to let the little children come to Him.  His focus on the little ones and His gentle behavior must have been something to behold.  (Matthew 19:14).  I know there are many others, but as a parent, I often wanted to bestow this type of gentleness on my children - I have to say, not proudly, that this type of gentleness was not always present.  I tried, and will continue trying, to display more of the gentleness fruit.
 
This past week, I looked outside my back window and saw a cardinal and a squirrel at the bird feeder.  I watched as I waited to see if the squirrel was going to chase away the bird (as I've seen many times), so that the food could be all his.  Yet, something happened that day.  As I watched and watched, the squirrel was actually ensuring that the cardinal was eating.  The squirrel would actually move away so the bird could partake of some breakfast.  It was amazing to see - the gentleness that the squirrel showed the bird.  The picture below was the best I could do (sorry - I'm not the best photographer).  Yet, you can see how close they were to each other and how gentle they were.  If God's smallest of creatures can do this, then certainly we as Christians who have God in our hearts can do this!!  This week, let's focus on this fruit - the fruit of gentleness.  May you feel God's grace as He fills you with His love.
 
"Heavenly Father, grant all of us with an abundance of gentleness.  As we engage in the week ahead, may we exude the gentleness to others that our Jesus shared with those around Him.  May grace and mercy become who we are.  May others see our gentleness and want to grow closer to you, Jesus.  Blessings to all.  Amen."
 
 

 
 

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.