“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.
Does God Really Forgive Our Sins? And if He does then why do we keep taking them back?
So a few weeks back, I was having a sweet chat with a dear friend and she said to me, “Do you believe that God really forgives our sins?” Without hesitation, I said yes I do.
She went on to tell me that sometimes she feels like no matter how many times she asks forgiveness, she feels like He doesn’t hear her. She doesn’t feel forgiven; thoughts of that particular sin seem to plague her.
There are dozens of Scriptures that talk about repentance and God’s forgiveness in the Bible, here are just a few that I shared with my dear friend.
“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
The following is a reprint of a recent article published online by Charisma Magazine. It is written by Dawn Hill; I invite you to check out her writings at http://lovesickscribe.com/
Prophetic Instruction: Wake Up From Your Coma
By Dawn Hill
For the past few weeks, I have been struggling to find the words to describe what I have been experiencing and sensing. Though I know in ministry it is not kosher to bear our souls to one another publicly, I believe that our transparency and vulnerability with wisdom is necessary. We the church, myself included, have become experts at suppression and wearing masks—so much so that we do not know what it feels like to have the breath of God blow across our being as we are set free from the masquerade of it all, and we are called to remain with Him past the proverbial stroke of midnight. I extend an invitation to you in this thing called holy discontentment. 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
“The wise man in the storm prays to God not for safety from danger,
but deliverance from fear.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I used to live in the Hill Country of Central Texas. We lived in a modest home right across the street from the amazing Lake LBJ. We were in close proximity to where the Lower Colorado joins the Llano River. It was such a beautiful area; we were blessed to call it home.
Central Texas, at that time, had been in a severe drought for quite a number of years. Many of the lakes on that river had dried up, Lake LBJ, however, was a constant level lake… so we were able to enjoy it immensely – drought or no drought.
It was about 2 years after we moved there, that the drought broke. And oh did it break. The rains started and it didn’t look like it was ever going to stop. Thankfully, our home was up on a little knoll… with all of the flooding, it looked like we lived on our own tiny little island, just big enough for our little house and our cars.
Written in collaboration with Michael Sullivan
“The Cross splits the world. Either you look at it and think – that’s pathetic or you look at it and you think – that’s powerful. If you think it’s pathetic, Paul says you are perishing. But if you think it’s the ‘Power of God’, you are being saved. But it’s one or the other” ~ Billy Graham
“Our faith must begin and end at the Cross. The trouble is that many Christians have bypassed the Cross and are trying to be moral by their willpower and self-effort rather than trusting in the indwelling power of Christ to transform them (Galatians 3:3) But if we attempt to build our spiritual life by any other foundation than Christ crucified, we are doing so by our natural strength.”[i]
“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Galatians 3:3 (NIV)
“’We preach Christ crucified.’ This is the focal point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a picture of blood flowing from Christ’s veins as He hung on the cross. The message of shed blood is repugnant to many, and they turn from such a gory sight, feeling that their delicate sensibilities have been outraged. Many people will accept Christ’s character, but they reject His crucifixion.”[ii]
“For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
The Truth of the Cross is that God Himself offered salvation by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross as atonement for our sins. This atonement, a free gift, provides each of us the single path to eternal salvation.
Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing by Kathy Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Lavish Grace is a unique, nine-week study of Paul’s teachings about grace and ways he experienced God’s grace in his life. Filled with contemporary examples of grace at work, this well-written format gives you the rare opportunity to combine a character and topical study into one rich, practical approach to Scripture. Lavish Grace is the eye-opening study you need to recognize how God’s grace is being poured out on you and through you. His grace will give you reason to rejoice every day.”
Lavish Grace by Kathy Howard is an interesting book. It is designed to be an interactive nine-week bible study, but I think that it could also devotional of sorts too. The book is divided into three sections: “Grace Poured Out”, “Grace Poured Through” and “Grace Overflowing”. Each section is then divided into three week studies and each week into four sections. Continue reading
Praise Is My Weapon by Dan Willis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“”I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.” Psalm 9:2
Life is hard. Even as believers, we are constantly barraged by challenges, sickness, attacks, and tragedies. Loved ones die. Good people get hurt. The faithful are besieged. It is no wonder we are often plagued by questions that plant seeds of doubt in our minds.
And yet, we are not powerless or empty-handed in the battle for our faith. As children of God, we are legal authorities in the kingdom of heaven, charged with taking control of our circumstances and enlarging our territory. And one of our greatest weapons in the war is praise.”
A Daily Invitation to Friendship with God: Dreaming With God to Transform Your World by Bill Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Your Daily Access to Heaven’s Wisdom, Creativity, Purpose, and Power. When people are in love they dream together. The same is true for your relationship with God. He wants to share the secrets of His heart—His thoughts, plans and purposes—with you. The Maker of Heaven and Earth wants to dream with you!”
A Daily Invitation to Friendship with God by Bill Johnson is a devotional of sorts taken from the writings of his book “Dreaming with God” The book is divided into ten sections that include: Co-Laboring with God, The Creative Edge, The Value of Mystery, The Language of the Spirit, Invading Babylon, The Practical Side of Things, The Spirit of Revelation, Celebrating the Living Word, Redesigning our World and Pulling Tomorrow into Today. Continue reading