Prayers for Love & Fruit

This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God. (‭Philippians‬ ‭1‬:‭9-11‬ CEB)

I love this letter that Paul writes. After he gives thanks for the people and their faith and devotion, he flat out tells them what he’s praying for. This is convicting to me because I don’t always pray for these qualities in people. 

So often, I believe, we pray for physical needs and health, as we should; but we can also neglect the spiritual needs and health. I have come to the understanding that we should focus on the spirit of people just as intensely as we focus on physical health and healing. 

Paul is praying for their love to be developed in such a way that his congregation, and us, become even more rich in knowledge and insight (wisdom). Our love grows more rich when we take time to abide (remain) in Christ and allow His Spirit to fill us and transform us. 

God freely gives wisdom and understanding to all who seek it. We can find this in many ways. God can choose to give wisdom through people, reading, praying, visions, dreams, directly to our minds and spirits. Truthfully, God is not confined to any method. Paul is praying for his people to be open to this; and this is my prayer for you and I today. 

When our love grows, the fruit God produces in us grows even more abundantly. What is this fruit? When we allow God to live in and through us, the fruit we see growing is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, self-control. Imagine how the world would be if we lived in this manner and really allowed these qualities to blossom in our hearts and be manifested in our lives. 

Jesus Christ came so we could know life and live abundantly. I pray, as Paul prays, that your love grows strong. That you will see great fruit in your life. 

Today, I encourage you to read John 15:1-16. Read it and reflect on it to see what it looks like to remain in Christ. I also invite you to journal what you think about and talk with another person what God revealed to you. 

#LifeIsSoMuchMoreWithChrist

What I Love & Appreciate About Christianity

StJohnsAshfield_StainedGlass_GoodShepherd_Portrait

Many people hear countless times how much they have to do in order to win affection from another person. Because this is how we live, it almost seems natural to apply this kind of thinking and “works mentality” to religion especially Christianity.

What I appreciate and love about Christianity is that is breaks all of the “rules” that humans have established. In order for God to love you, you do not need to do anything to earn his love and favor. God’s love was there from the beginning of time and loves you, even likes you, because you are his most valuable creation. This seems kind of strange because of what we have to go through and do just to earn a little respect from people around us.

Three verses in the Bible sum up Christianity for me. There are many but these three stand out: John 3:16 (God loves the world that he sent Jesus Christ), Ephesians 2:8 (we are saved by grace and nothing else), and Romans 8:38-39 (nothing can separate us from the love of God).

After we accept the fact that God loves us and we accept his love and forgiveness, we really experience the presence and life of God within us. We realize it is not us doing the work, but God through us. We have this incredible opportunity to work with the Creator of the universe and spread the message of his infinite love to all people.

This all still seems backwards. Why would a God who created everything want to be part of and involved with people he created? The answer is love. It was out of love that Jesus Christ came down to earth. It was out of love that he lived life, facing the same temptations we do. It was out of love that he died and rose from the dead breaking the curse of sin and death. It is out of love that he wants to be present with us.

We are saved by grace, meaning we did nothing to deserve it; except that God created you and me. We have eternal life with Christ, even though our lives reflect how we disregard and reject Christ. When we accept Christ and the love of God, we will know what it means to live in true freedom.

What I love and appreciate about Christianity is that there are only 2 basic rules: love God and love people. So, it is out of our love for God that we can love people (even the undesirable people because God loves and likes us); and we serve out of love for people so they can experience and learn about the good news of Jesus Christ. It is because God loves us, that we love. It is because we love God that we love and serve people.

Our lives are a constant battlefield for peace, patience, morality, justice, hope, joy, etc. that we need God to fight for us and with us.

What I love about Christianity is that it shows God, coming down to personally be with his creation and walk with each one of us.

Have you accepted the grace, love, forgiveness, hope, peace, joy of God through Jesus Christ? Your life will not be instantaneously better; BUT you will experience joy, peace, hope in the midst of trials and the valleys of life.

There is so much more; but what I love about Christianity is Jesus Christ.

Sabbath Rest

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus calls for those who are weary and burdened to come to him and he will give rest.

Rest. Our culture says that on our days off we should fill them  with play and non-work activities. At the end of the weekend, it is no wonder we do not feel rested. We really need to take time off from our time off!

Jesus is proposing a different kind of rest. In the rest he gives, we do not just try to stay busy and fill the time with activities we do not have time for during the week. When we rest, we focus on him and allow his Spirit to fill us. We take the time to be quiet before him. We look at the world differenly: not as projects or tasks to accomplish,  but as the incredible creation it is. We’ll be kinder toward other people who otherwise may annoy or frustrate us. We’ll instead see them as God’s masterpiecs who need to be reminded who and whose they are.

It is in this kind of rest, when we focus the attention off of ourselves that we can hear the “still small voice” of God who is calling out to us and desiring to be our guide.

May we rest and experience the true fullness of life that God through Jesus Christ givesto each person who is still and listens for the voice of Truth.