When you think about following Christ, you usually think about being like Him. I know I do. I think about if my actions and attitudes reflect His. Basically, we think about bearing fruit. Galatians 5:22,23 says “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 know that Jesus was the perfect representation of someone bearing fruit. Jesus said in John 15:8 that we show ourselves to be His disciples when we bear much fruit. So now we know what the fruit is, and we know that we should bear a lot of it. Sounds good, right? Except that’s when the questions start. How exactly do I bear fruit? What do I have to do to make it grow? How do I know if I’m bearing enough fruit? Sound familiar? Yeah, I’ve been there, asking those questions. But then I noticed something. In John 15:5 Jesus says “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in them, he bears much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” It sounds like we bear fruit by abiding. The word “abide” means “to continue to be sure of, to endure, to dwell.” Jesus says in the beginning of chapter 15 that He is the vine, and His Father is the gardener. If you plant a garden at your home, you take responsibility for it. You make sure the ground you choose is appropriate. You make sure your plants are in a place to get enough sun. And you definitely make sure they get enough water. Its ridiculous to even think that you could throw some seeds just anywhere are reap a harvest. You would never blame the seeds for not growing! Seeds need to be taken care of, and the growing happens as a result of that. Jesus used this story because it represents how we grow too. We can’t grow on our own! We can only grow when we abide in Christ and let the Holy Spirit work in us. Its easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we “do” things to bear fruit, but in reality we only bear fruit by remaining in Him. Jesus tells us His yolk is easy, and that’s because He does all the work! We abide in Him by resting from our own works and depending on His. When you spend time enjoying Him, being aware of His goodness, and resting in His presence, the fruit of the Spirit will naturally develop. We become like the One we worship. So don’t worry about if you are bearing “enough” fruit. Just keep your eyes on Jesus and rest in Him. You are fully accepted and loved by God. He is a good Gardener, and He will never neglect you.
The more I learn about God, the more amazed I get at just how good He is! And He has been teaching me a lot lately about resting and how easy the Gospel is. The Bible talks a lot about rest. All the way back in Genesis chapter 2 we see God resting from His work. Its a topic that comes up over and over again throughout the Old and New Testament. And actually, not entering God’s rest is the ONLY thing we are ever told to be afraid of (Hebrews 4:1). In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Of course, Jesus wasn’t talking about physical work. We all work in some way, earning money at a job or taking care of a home and family. That kind of work is good, and most of us would be pretty bored without it. Jesus was talking about trying to work to earn our righteousness. He was inviting people to come to the cross and let everything else go. Religion tells us to “do something.” It says that if you follow certain rules, do the right things, and avoid doing the wrong things, then God will be pleased with you. And then if God is pleased with you, you grow closer to Him. But that’s all wrong, and religion misses the point! When it comes to God, He’s more of a “I’ll do all the work Myself” kind of God. God knew we’d never be able to do what was required to be righteous on our own, that’s why we needed a Savior so much. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Religion never lets you enter God’s rest, and that’s a big deal. The work Jesus did on the cross is all we’ll ever need. It does not need one single thing added to it. Our righteousness is secured in Him. We are now in Him, in perfect union with Him, abiding in Him. When God looks at us, He sees His Son. He is pleased with us and loves us the same way He loves Jesus. No amount of praying, Bible reading, serving, or anything else makes us closer to Him or more accepted by Him. Don’t get me wrong, those things are all really good things. Praying and studying Scripture are important. We definitely need to renew our minds and know His heart, and we mature as believers in the process. But doing them is purely for our enjoyment of intimacy with Him, not to earn anything from Him. We don’t need to seek Him because He already found us. We are one with Him, and we will never be closer! And as we enjoy our intimacy with Jesus, works will naturally flow from that. But we will be working out of love and a natural partnership with Him. So relax! Know that He is so pleased with you! He loves you and wants to bear your burdens. He is your Father and wants to take care of you. When He looks at you, He sees perfection and someone worth dying for. Rest at the cross and let Him do all the work! The Gospel is so good!
Isaiah 53 is such an amazing chapter of the Bible! I find myself going back to it over and over again, totally drawn to it like a magnet. I love that about God’s Word! No matter how many times you read the same passage, it never gets stale. It keeps revealing more of God’s wisdom and life to us! And this famous prophetic chapter about Jesus is incredible. I love how Isaiah wrote it in the past tense, even though Jesus would not be born until almost 700 years later. Revelation 1:8 says that Jesus was, and is, and is to come; and Revelation 13:8 tells us that He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. God exists outside of time, and His good plan was to save us all along!
As I read through this chapter, I can’t help but notice HOW MUCH Jesus did for us, and what that means for us as individuals. He was despised and rejected so that we would be loved and accepted. He took on suffering and pain so we could be healthy and whole. He was held in low esteem so that we could be royalty along side of Him in His Kingdom. He was punished so we would be forgiven and never be condemned. His body was bruised and crushed so that the veil would be torn we would have constant access to Heaven.
The most astonishing part is in verse 10 that says “yet it was the LORD’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer.” The Father loved His Son with perfect love, but He was still pleased to give Him for us. Its so hard to wrap our brain around that kind of love. God loves us so much more than we can ever fully comprehend! He gave what was most precious to Him for our sakes, so He could have an intimate relationship with His kids. We will never be able to do anything to deserve love like that! Its so freely given that it almost doesn’t make any sense to us. And we can see how much He values us by looking at the price He was willing to pay to redeem us.
Its easy to look at the cross and feel sad. Our Savior suffered so much! But in reality, it should be a place of great joy for us! In the cross of Christ we find everything we will ever need or want. We find constant peace and joy. We find healing and freedom. And we find life in Him. Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” We died with Him there so that now we can live forever in Him. He has done all that we need so that we can rest. We can never earn anything from Him with our own works. Its all free! How incredible is that??? The Gospel is so good!
Thinking back to what my thoughts were of God, in a not so distant past. An experience this last week brought back to the forefront of my mind exactly what it means to be Kingdom minded. My views on God and heaven are so diabolically different today. I recall that God was this powerful being that lived above the world. He was the creator of the universe, and like the old adage, “He brought us into the world, He can take us out”. Fear was the number one motivator, and longing for an end to this miserable world was the key note. Our praise and worship, or better known as somber hymns, reflected our exact attitude of rapture desire. Songs were lifted up in desperation waiting for the “BOOM” and its over. While heaven is the destination, I have come to renew my mind to what our purpose and experience on earth should look like.
We were born to worship!!!
Worship is to give honor and glory to the Most High. Worship is to be laid down lovers to the one who gives us the blessing of life, and the grace to live it to its fullest. Worship is not lamenting of how horrible this life is, and how the trials are bringing us to the pinnacle of justification. God has given us the will and way to change our current atmosphere. By praise and worship we can release the Glory of God. We have the access to heavenly realms, and can bring that here to earth. By focusing on God’s goodness and love, we now give him the opportunity to be who He is by nature. He is LOVE, and His love endures forever.
Don’t wait for heaven, bring heaven to earth!!
We do not live from earth longing for heaven to come. As Christians we are seated in Heaven at the right hand of the Father with King Jesus…Hallelujah. (Eph. 2:6) We live from heaven to earth. Therefore, we are not waiting on Heaven. It is waiting on us to come to the revelation that we hold the answer to this fallen world’s problems. We, you and I, hold the manifestation of the Father within us. What Jesus was for the populous of the middle east during his time here, we are for the very atmospheres we inhabit. People will get healed, set free, delivered for evil just by being around us. That is “IF” we realize who we are in Christ, and own up to the fullness of the Holy Spirit in us…that brings me to my third point.
Accept your Kingly standing!!!
We claim that Jesus is our King. He is in fact the Lord over us. The word calls Jesus the “King of Kings” and a the “Lord of Lords”. Ever wonder who the other kings are that He’s King over? You, and I are those kings. The Father has adopted us into son-ship (daughter-ship) of his family. You are in essence, the brother of Jesus. You’re in the royal family. Do you think that if you were rightly put into the royal family of England that you wouldn’t carry an authority that others were not part of. What you would say goes. Stand tall and accept your kingly standing in the Kingdom of God. No devil has power over you. They have no authority over your life that you do not allow. What you bless will be blessed, what you curse will be cursed..Jesus won the war, we can win the battles, because we are Kings…
The glory of the end times Church!!!
Like I said in the intro, my belief system of the Bride of Christ was skewed slightly in the past. I was sure that we must strive and trudge trough this life, fighting off the trials and barely eking by to make it (crawl through) the finish line. I was convinced that very few were going to make it to the end, and the final few would be a frazzled crew of beaten down remnant of faithful waiting for Jesus to return. Since marrying my beautiful bride of 15yrs. I have looked at the description of the body, the bride, a little differently. When our big day finally came, and the pressures of courting coupled with all that goes with growing up. My bride didn’t come hobbling down the isle in a torn tattered dress, missing the heal off her right shoe, hair soiled and nasty, makeup bleeding onto her off white pajama top. No way, she was dazzling. She spent the extra time to make sure every hair was in place, and her dress was glamorous. She was in such form it took my breath away (yes and a tear to my eye). She pulled all the stops to prove that I was getting a prize, that she was a treasure. So much emphasis has been put on the trials that we must face, that the Glory of the bride has been muted in our minds eye. Solomons temple, the law, the children of Israel all were glorious. I think if we were able to see the beauty of the temple of that day we would be amazed. Haggai 2:9 talks about how when Jesus comes the Glory of the latter house will be greater than the former. Jesus brought the church to manifest in us, and He said it’s more glorious than the first temple. You are far more than a struggling downtrodden bride. You are a prize. The body of Christ (the bride) should and will be a dazzling gift to the King of Kings. We the church must own up to the honor we bestow. We need to bring the bride into a renewal of mind so she becomes the beauty He’s expecting to walk down that Isle..
I believe that although God is sovereign and all knowing. He has given us free will. The days of this earth are numbered, however we have a play in the amount of days. Christ will return for His bride, but only when it’s ready. I believe that the reason we still exist is that bride hasn’t become what it should for that return. Too many are preaching poverty, judgment, and negativeness for the bride to be adorned. God wants us to prosper and be well (Jer. 29:11). Kingdom mindset says we are going to rule. Orphan mindset says hurry Jesus come get us, destroy the world, and take us to heaven. Renew your minds to Kingdom principles, and summon the bridegroom.