“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 continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you]. Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you, My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.” John 15:1 AMP
A little while back our Bible Study class was discussing this passage in the book of John; pondering it brought to mind the many years that I had my gardens. Specifically it reminded me of tending to the couple dozen tomato plants I would plant in my vegetable garden each year.
Left alone tomato plants will overtake a good portion of your garden space while producing little or no fruit. They love the heat and the sun… add water and you have the makings for some pretty big plants. Notice I say “big plants”… I didn’t say a lot of tomatoes, just big plants.
“If I regard sin and baseness in my heart [that is, if I know it is there and do nothing about it], The Lord will not hear [me]” Ps 66:18 AMP
What is cherished sin? Cherished sin is any sin that lives inside of us that we know is there, yet we choose to keep it hidden. It is those deeds and actions that we choose to coddle and excuse from our life.
It is the kind of sin that hinders our prayers and our relationship with God.
“We know [according to your tradition] that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone fears God and does His will, He hears him.” John 9:31 Continue reading
“And God spoke these words, “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have NO other God before me.” Exodus 20:1-3
The first of the Ten Commandments, along with the next three, tells of our duty to God. While the remaining 6, speak to our relationship with our neighbor. It is correct that this commandment be first as we had a Maker to love, before we had a neighbor to love.
He is Jehovah God. He is the singular object of our worship. The worship of any other god animate or inanimate is forbidden.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: Do not make any gods to be alongside Me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.” Exodus 20:22-23 Continue reading
“Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him” John 12:27
During His three-year ministry on this earth, Jesus had performed so many miracles, signs and wonders as witnessed sometimes by a few and other times thousands, yet the people wouldn’t, or couldn’t, believe in Him as the Messiah – the Son of God.
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John there are over 30 miracles documented. Yet, despite the eye-witness evidence of the lame raised up able to walk, the eyes of the blind opened to see, the lepers healed, the 5000 fed from 5 loaves and 2 fish, the dead raised to life, demons cast out at the mere sight of Him, enabling the mute to speak, turning water into wine, healing at the simple touch of His robe, life-long paralytics restored to complete health, house servants healed by only the words of His mouth, raging storms on the sea clamed by His command, and walking on water just to name a few, and let’s not forget His resurrection from the dead as witnessed by hundreds. Yet, despite all of the evidence, so many people in Jesus’ time would not believe either during His earthly ministry or after His resurrection.
Perhaps some had only heard about the miracles and did not witness them personally. With a skeptical mind, they could not, or would not, believe in what they didn’t see first hand. Perhaps they thought someone was exaggerating the event. Continue reading
God Hates Me! Okay maybe He doesn’t hate me, but at the very least He is mad at me! He’s just waiting to get a hold of me and punish me. I have sinned so much, there is no way that He could ever forgive me. If I can’t forgive myself, why would He forgive me.
Sadly, that is the prevailing opinion of many Americans today. God is unrelenting. He is vengeful and angry. How could He ever forgive me for what I’ve done?
Gods promise in Isaiah 54: 9-10 gives us the hope and assurance we so need.
9 “In the time of Noah I promised
never again to flood the earth.
Now I promise not to be angry with you again;
I will not reprimand or punish you.
10 The mountains and hills may crumble,
but my love for you will never end;
I will keep forever my promise of peace.”
Answering the Toughest Questions about God and the Bible by Bruce Bickel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When it comes to the big questions about God, Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz don’t pretend to have all the answers. But they do know how to wrestle with doubt. They welcome questions, and in these pages they ask some of the most important ones you have about God and the Bible.
With candor, insight, and a disarming touch of humor, Bruce and Stan provide some answers to these critical questions, yet they leave enough space–and grace–for you to keep wrestling, asking, and seeking truth. Continue reading
Hearing God’s Voice Today: Practical Help for Listening to Him and Recognizing His Voice by James W Goll
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Discover the Adventure of Hearing God. God longs for a deeper, more intimate relationship with you. When we pray, He listens. Always. But do you listen for His response? You should! Hearing God is a privilege and delight available to every child of God.”
“As it was in the beginning”… and so starts this book; “Hearing God’s Voice Today; Practical help for Listening to Him and Recognizing His voice” by James Goll. In this book the author takes us right there… to the beginning and from there offers the readers the tools necessary and equips them draw nearer to God and truly believe that He wants to speak to us. In this book, we learn to recognize His voice while overcoming what gets in the way of that.
There’s a question that has been bouncing around the Internet for a few years….
If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
This question, in my mind, is not meant to be a political statement about what may be happening in other parts of the world. To me, it is more a question that should make the reader ponder their own spiritual walk.
Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing by Wayne Stiles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life he has given you? We wait at red lights, in long lines, and for a person to change. But the most difficult waiting? Waiting on God.
We want to know God’s plan so that we can trust the plan–but often God hides his plan so that we will trust him. What can we do in the meantime while we wait for an answer to prayer, a change of heart, or a miracle of provision?”
Hearing God: For Intimacy, Healing, Creativity, Meditation, and Dream Interpretation by Mark Virkler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“In this interactive journal, Dr. Mark Virkler takes you on a life-changing journey that reveals three powerful ways you can hear God’s voice and recognize how He is speaking in your life everyday. As you hear God’s voice and respond to what He is saying, you will receive direction, experience healing, and unlock creativity in your life like never before”
Hearing God by Mark and Pattie Virkler is an interesting book filled with a lot of information and exercises designed to help the reader to increase the ability to hear, and discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit with clarity in their own lives.