A Note to Christian Men

  

I’ve listened to women gripe about men for years. I listen to the men at work gripe about women. Whether we realize it or not the devil targeted relationships from the beginning. He hates love, he hates unity, he hates marriage. God is love. 

While men shake their fists demanding respect and submission, I’ve watched countless women be mistreated/abused by men in the church and celebrated by men in the world. The rates of domestic violence, spiritual abuse, neglect, etc in Christian marriages is well beyond disturbing. 

I wrote this note to hopefully give men a glimpse of what it’s like to be a woman who loves Jesus interacting with them…I lead women and listen to them. I’m also a woman following Jesus. 

It’s long, but wanted to share. My note to Christian men…I’m praying for men quite a bit. Women too..Here goes. 🙏🏼

Jesus loved women, empowered them, treated them well, and maintained purity. It’s possible. 

It’s necessary for men to love women with the love of Jesus (agape). If Christian men don’t, there are multitudes of men who don’t love God offering support, encouragement, affirmation, friendship, asking for dates and marriage, and pursuing Christian women. 

Please don’t treat us poorly or ignore us because you believe if you’re nice to us we are going to fall for you. Every woman isn’t desperate or after you. Some of us are simply trying to obey the command of Jesus to love you the way He does, as a brother in Christ. 

Please treat us the way you’d treat God’s most prized possession. We represent half of the nature of God. We were created in His image (Genesis 1:27). 

Please treat us the way you’d want someone to treat your mother or sister or daughter. You know “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Please know that men who don’t love Jesus are pursuing us, telling us we are beautiful/valuable while you’re ignoring us in fear we will get the wrong idea about your intentions. 

You can be our friends and allies, pray for and encourage us without it being a romantic gesture. We need your support & love. All love is not Eros (sexual/romantic). God calls us to agape. 

Please know your attempts to not look lustfully after a woman often come off to us that you’re unattracted to us, disinterested, or even disgusted by us. 

Please know we were not simply created to be your sidekick or play things or the mother of your children. Do some in depth studies of how Jesus treated women and the powerful women in the Bible: there were judges (Deborah), queens who led countries (Queen of Sheba, Esther), prophetesses, leaders, women who discipled/taught men. We have a purpose other than wife/mother. 

Please know your flakiness in dating/courting causes massive confusion on our end. It’s possible to get to know someone without putting marriage on the table in the first few meetings. We truly aren’t all desperate to snatch or capture you. 

Please know we need you in community, on the frontlines with us, linked arms with us, serving with us, you represent half of God’s nature. You are needed.

Know we pray for you as your sisters in Christ, want to see you succeed. Please pray for us too!

Love in Christ, 

Erin 

Being With Jesus (The Life & Teachings of Jesus Part V)

  
I’m excited to get back into this series on Jesus! Isn’t He incredible? Yes indeed. 

Today, I want to talk about being with Jesus. In order to know someone, there must be some time invested in getting to know them. It’s a process, a journey. It involves faith, seeking, and experience. 

Think about the people you know well, how did you get to know them? 

You spent time them? Or did you simply read about them? 

The Holy Spirit gives believers the ability to have complete access to God 24/7. Sunday morning isn’t the only time to be with God, nor is reading the Bible the only way to be with God. If the Holy Spirit is in you, then you have the ability to be with God whenever you want. He seeks us out, He also wants to be sought out. 

One of my favorite things is to invite Him into the day, each day.  

The Real Jesus vs. Culture Loving Jesus

In our culture today I’ve seen so many posts or word posts that have information about Jesus that’s not true. I’ve read some that read, “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality so it must be okay.” Heard people say, “Times have changed so I can sleep with my boyfriend or girlfriend or do what I want to do.

Here’s the deal. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. They do not contradict each other. The Holy Spirit inspired the written word of God. So even if Jesus never preached a sermon on a topic, you can bet He’s in agreement with all of scripture. Jesus did preach in the Sermon on the Mount that a man who looks lustfully (to covet) after a woman has committed adultery in his heart. Jesus went beyond the physical acts into the heart. Side note, the desire to have sex is not sin. A sex drive was given by God to enable procreation. To covet someone is to desire with the intent to take from them. Lust is about self gratification. Love is about giving, honoring, showing respect. If you have questions regarding sex or sexuality, check out Moral Revolution. They cover every topic imagineable and they use the Bible as their basis. 

In order to know if Jesus would say or do something, we must be in relationship with Him as well as read His Word. God invites us to be with Him. Through relationship we know Him. 

Intimacy (knowing) with God is where we abide in His love/truth and then bear the fruit of His likeness (John 15:5). 

There are people who know the Bible yet have no personal relationship with Jesus. Therefore, the interpretation of what He’s like is not always accurate. 

Jesus revealed the Father: The Father Revealed (John 14:7-11)

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I
speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

So this is my prayer: 

Father may we know who You are. May we read Your word and abide in You. May we spend time with You daily and invite you into every area of our lives. May we seek to know You. May we read Your word with You, be led by the Holy Spirit. May we have realtionship with You! 

Jesus & Sinners (The Life & Teachings of Jesus Part III)



Photo Credit: Son of God Movie (Pinterest) 

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:16-17 (NIV)

One of my favorite stories involving Jesus is with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus stopped to speak to the Samaritan woman which was not culturally acceptable. She was not only a Samaritan woman speaking to a Jewish man, she was a woman who had multiple male suitors. 

Jesus knew everything about her, and it’s remarkable the outcome of this story. You can read it here: 

Jesus and the Samaritan WomanFrom John 4:1-26.

I love this story because the Samaritan woman went on to tell everyone she knew about Jesus. He offered her life not judgement. 

Jesus wasn’t afraid to speak to someone the world deemed unworthy. Some of the harshest words we hear spoken by Jesus were to the self righteous, the Pharisees, and when He rebuked Peter. 

To the tax collector, the woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman, other sinners…He offered forgiveness and the chance for a new life. 

Jesus always loved the sinner, yet acknowledged their need for repentance. He said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more,” (John 8:11). 

We live in a culture that believes that stating something is wrong or a sin is intolerance. Not so with Jesus. 

He did not say to the Samaritan woman, “I know you have multiple relationships, do what’s best for you. I love you.” 

If the Jesus we are following approves of sin, it’s not the Son of God. 

If the Jesus we are following is too good to share the Gospel or love with sinners, it’s not the Son of God. 

We have two major noticeable extremes in our culture; the “Jesus loves everyone so anything goes,” and the “Jesus hates everyone who sins and especially the sins I don’t commit.”

Both are wrong and not in alignment with scipture. 

From Scripture: 

God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son so we would be able to have everlasting life (John 3:16). God SO loved the world. 

Those who do not repent and accept Jesus as Savior will pay the full penalty for their sins which is eternal separation from God. Jesus is not a way, He is the way into heaven (John 14:6).

Jesus mingled with sinners and shared the Gospel with them. He came to save the lost. 

The Good News of the Gospel is we don’t have to live separated from God. Jesus paid for all sin so those who believe in Him and follow Him would have everlasting life. 

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Only Jesus is mentioned as living a sinless life.  

So we can’t look down our noses on other people. If it were not for God, where would we be? We have to put down the picket signs and hold up a cross, a cross that reads, “Paid in Full. Jesus paid it all. No matter what you’ve done, Jesus paid for it. Come to Jesus! He loves you!!

We share the Good News of the Gospel of grace. We check our hearts to see if we’ve fallen into the trap of being a Pharisee-seeing yet not believing-self righteous and hypocritical; filled with unbelief.

We take the Gospel into the marketplace and what the world calls the worst of sinners. 

Father I ask that we’d see ourselves and others through Your eyes and the eyes of Jesus. May we share the Gospel with the lost and more importantly live the Gospel in front of the world. May we love people, yet still have a desire for holiness and purity. 

The Real Jesus (The Life & Teachings of Jesus Part II)



Photo credit: Pinterest, Son of God Movie 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,”~John 14:6. 

I posed the question during the worship series, “Which God are we worshipping?” 

If we worship the “God” created in our own image we become more selfish, & self centered. When we worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we become more like Jesus. 

So the question posed in this post is which Jesus are you following? 

I’ve had the honor of talking to numerous people about their thoughts on Jesus. He’s a great prophet some say. He’s loving and kind and forgiving. And for some He’s still hanging on a cross being crucified for our sins. If you go on social media there are many things about Jesus that are antibiblical, antichrist, and opposite to the character of God. We need to know who we are following. 

I want to investigate the Jesus written about in the Bible. It’s good to understand His full nature. Last post we established Jesus is the Son of God. He is Supreme over all. This post I would like to talk about the character of Jesus and His invitation to follow.

Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. He perfectly represented the heart and nature of the Father. 

“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does”,~John 5:19

Jesus aligned His life with heaven. There was no sin in Him. 

He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth,~1 Peter 2:22.

Jesus invited people to deny themselves and follow Him…

I can only find instances in the Bible where Jesus asked people to follow Him. Following implies submission, obedience, listening, and abiding. He’s not only friend, He’s Lord. Here’s a passage where Peter decided to tell Jesus He would not be crucified. 

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done,~Matthew 16: 23-27. 

Jesus was no people pleaser…

Jesus walked the earth and offended people. He offended the religious systems of His day. He offended some of His disciples. He offended the culture of His time by empowering women and mingling with sinners and tax collectors. He did things that were unconvential and unprecedented. He turned over tables in the temple. He called the Pharisees blind guides, bloody vipers, and children of Satan. 

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 

Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it,~Matthew 23:15-22.

Jesus was and is serious about cultivation of relationship. 


“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”~Luke 6:46. 

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’~Matthew 7:21-23. 

Jesus cares about the sick, hurting, poor, and oppressed. He devoted His ministry to caring for people. 
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him,~Matthew 20:34.

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him,~Acts 10:38. 

Jesus came to redeem the lost, free humanity from the power of sin and death. 

And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death,~Romans 8:2. 

Jesus told people to repent and sin no more…to abide in Him. 

Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”~John 8:11b

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,~John 15:5. 

Jesus is love. He is filled with compassion, joy, hope, life, truth, and honor. He reaches low to lift humanity higher. He is the resurrected King. He gave His life for relationship. Part of that relationship is following. In order to follow Jesus we must know who He is. We have the Bible that gives us insight into the person of Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit who continually reveals Jesus. He offered us the key to relationship in John 15:5. He tells us to abide. May we investigate the God we say we are following and continually encounter Him. 




Supremacy of Jesus (The Life & Teachings of Jesus Part I)

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Photo Credit: Pinterest (original Source unknown)

The world has ideas about Jesus. He is well known in many religions other than Christianity. Those religions call Him a good man, or a prophet. They do not call Him God or the way to salvation. They remove the supremacy of Christ which is crucial. The bible outlines for us who Jesus is. Let’s dive into some text…

Colossians 1:13-23 (NKJV)

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

What do we learn about Jesus in this passage?

1. He is fully God. The Father chose to have all His fullness dwell in Him.

2. He is the firstborn of all creation.

3. He was before the creation of the world and all was created through Him and for Him.

4. By Jesus the Father reconciles all things to Himself, by Jesus, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood shed on the cross.

4. Through Him we have forgiveness of sins. He presents us holy to the Father through His sacrifice.

5. He is the head of the church.

Let’s look at another passage about Jesus.

Ephesians 1: 19-23 (NKJV)

…what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

We learn from the second passage…

1. Jesus was raised from the dead.

2. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father.

3. His name is above every name.

4. Jesus is far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

It’s important that we understand who we are following. Jesus is fully God. He’s not weak, powerless, intimidated, still hanging on a cross, defeated, or passive. The Father gave Him the name above all names. He is the way to heaven, salvation. Without relationship with God, no person shall enter heaven.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,“~John 14:6 (NIV).

So my questions for us this series post are?

A. Do we view Jesus as scripture depicts Him?

B. When we share the Gospel, do we let people know Jesus is Lord? We aren’t inviting people to live as they please. It’s an invitation to love and commitment.

C. Have we made Jesus Lord over every area of life?

To call Jesus friend is an honor and privilege. Yet have we made Him Lord. If He is Lord, then we are submitting to Him. We align our hearts with His will.

I hope this series challenges us to know Jesus and what He taught. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He’s highly exalted. He’s worthy!

Father, help us to see Jesus as He is, not our preconceived ideas of who He is. May we know Him and follow Him. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

Love,

Erin

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,~Jeremiah 29:13.

Believe, Know, Listen, & Follow (Intimacy with God)

This is from my book website ithoughtiknewwhatlovewas.com. I posted it this morning. I try not to post the same thing on both sites but felt led to. There are different followers on each site. I hope this encourages you to plunge the depths of God’s heart. He loves you!

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Photo credit: Son of God movie

John 10:25-30.

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

I recommend reading all of John 10. In this passage Jesus refers to Himself as the good Shepherd. Shepherds were overseers of flocks. Sheep are not the brightest animals. They will fall into ditches, see another sheep in a ditch and fall in…they can wonder off and be destroyed because they are not wise. Shepherds protected their sheep. They were invested in keeping them safe. They’d lay at the gate to prevent them from escaping. They spent time with the sheep. They rescued wayward sheep.

Jesus is the good Shepherd. We are like the sheep. He’s responsible to care for us, reveal who He is to us, and we are to know and follow Him. We are not an obligation to God. We are His dearly loved children.

In the verses above Jesus is responding to the questions of the Pharisees about who He is. Is He the Christ? I love His responses. He stated, “You do not believe, therefore you are not my sheep. My sheep know and follow me.

Intimacy with God starts with faith. It starts with belief.

Do you believe God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do?
It is not enough to simply believe there is a God or Jesus is the Son of God. Even the demons believe and tremble. (James 2:19), yet they are not saved. There’s no salvation for them. There is for humanity.

If you’re reading this and you’ve never confessed your sins before God, repented (made a decision to turn from sinning and turn to God), asked God to cleanse you of your sins, placed your faith in Jesus Christ as the appropriation for your sins, and asked Him to be your Lord and Savior, I invite you do so. There’s no salvation apart from Him. There’s no entrance to heaven without going through the Son. We can’t do enough good works to earn holiness or righteousness. Jesus did it for us. We by faith, receive what He’s done and accept His righteousness as our own.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith,~Romans 3:23-25a.

If you invited God into your life, I would love to hear from you and provide more information to you.

The second step in intimacy with God is being with Him.

Sheep spent their time with the shepherd. They learned his voice, his smell, his mannerisms. It’s impossible to have intimacy (knowing) with someone and you never spend any time. If Sunday morning is the only time you spend with God, well your level of intimacy is not going to be high.

I am not stating you attend worship services all week, lock yourself in a room to pray and read the Bible all day. I am saying we can commune with God every day, as much as we’d like. One of my morning activities is to start the day with worship and thanksgiving. “Good morning God! I love you. Thank you for who you are and all you’ve done. I invite you to be a part of my day. What do you want to do? Who do you want to bless?” And there are days where I’m just listening. What is God doing? What is He saying? It’s not a ritual, it’s relationship.

Intimacy with God involves listening and knowing His voice.

The Bible says God speaks. There are some who teach He doesn’t and that does not align with scripture. God speaks to His children. If you had children and wrote an instruction manual for them, would you then say, “I refuse to speak to you. Go read the book I gave you.” That would seem insane. Yet some teach God only speaks to us through the Bible. God spoke to people in the Bible through dreams, visions, directly, through prophets, even through a donkey. Before you get too excited, let’s lay down some ground rules.

1. When God speaks He will not tell you to sin or violate His already written word.

I had someone tell me once the Holy Spirit told her not to read the Bible ever and only to listen to the voice she was hearing. That’s wrong and violates scripture.

I heard someone say God told them to leave their spouse for someone else. That’s wrong. It violates many scriptures.

Our culture says do whatever feels good for you and if it’s “love” or feels good, God must approve of it. That’s wrong. If there’s no place in scripture where God is condoning a behavior, you can’t condone it either and claim it’s God. There are some verses that seem to contradict each other which is why God gave His Holy Spirit to teach us.

We can’t toss out the Bible and rely on feelings, human wisdom, angelic visitations, or voices we believe are God.

2. All prophecy (speaking God’s word) is to be tested. Meaning the following:

Does it align with God’s word? Example, there are many false prophecies about when the world will end. Well, the Bible states the following:

“No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows,”~Matthew 24:36.

Does the prophecy fit the character of God?

I’ve had destructive words spoken over me. There was no life in them. God does give warnings. He also provides redemption. Those who repent can find hope and life in Him. Jesus came to save, not destroy. If people are destroyed, it will be because they refused the gift He offered and refused repentance.

Finally intimacy with God involves following Him.

We are called to obey God. It’s not a popular teaching, yet Jesus taught it often. Christianity is not simply praying a prayer, it’s following a person. That person is Jesus. We cannot claim to love God and live a life where we refuse to do what He says. He gives us grace and His Spirit to enable us to do His will. If we cease to obey, we will eventually cease to hear from Him. If He continues to speak, we are held accountable for what we know. So if you feel super disconnected from God, one thing to ask is , “Has He told me to do something I have not done?”

I will continue this series because I truly believe we perish for lack of knowledge of who God is. We are called to know Him, to be loved by Him, to love Him, and enjoy Him. God is not boring, cold, stern, a kill joy, or mean spirited. He is good, holy, exciting, adventurous, overflowing with love and joy. He’s beyond amazing. He’s generous, faithful, merciful, and forgiving. The evil one doesn’t want the world to know who God is and how good He is. Once you know Him, it’s almost impossible to resist Him.

Will you join me on this relentless pursuit of God’s heart? I hope so.

You’re continually in my thoughts, prayers, and you are deeply loved (John 3:16).

Love,

Erin

Abide in the Vine (Identity in Christ Part 16)

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“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,”~ Jesus, from  John 15:5.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name,”~Jesus, from  John 15:16.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you,”~Jesus, from John 15:7.

I want to focus on John 15:5. Jesus tells us that He is the vine. What does this mean? It means He is the source. To the audience receiving this message, a vineyard would have created a picture for them that was easy to understand. We are the branches, meaning we are not the source. Any good in us come from Him. Any fruit of the Spirit manifested in our lives comes from Him. Therefore, no person can boast of how good or righteous they are. We have no righteousness of our own. Any self-righteousness is like filthy rags to Him. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away, Isaiah 64:6. We can’t be holy enough to please God. We can’t do enough good works to earn His favor. It’s only by faith in Christ, relationship with God, the acceptance of the sacrifice of His shed blood, that we are able to obtain righteousness.

Apart from God we can do nothing. I love the verse, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” Philippians 4:31. The key to the verse is that the strength comes from God. It’s not our strength. I went through four years of very challenging relationships, stress at work, family members sick with cancer, and looking back the only thing holding me together was Jesus. I had a lady tell me I must be faking it because there’s no way I should have had it together (not that I did). I see Jesus holding a fragile person together. It wasn’t my strength. It was His strength. The past few weeks I’ve lost two family members and survived a car accident which totaled my car. It’s not me who lives, but Christ who lives in me. Does this mean we have no weakness? Absolutely not. We will still struggle, cry, maybe weep, maybe stumble along this rocky path called life. It does mean that God keeps His promise to be our strength if we abide in Him.

He’s looking for fruit.

If I plant tomato seeds, I expect tomatoes to grow. God is looking for fruit in our lives as well. We are intended to look more and more like Him. What is this fruit? It is the fruit of the Spirit. Let’s take a look at Galatians 5:13-25

 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

When we first start walking with Christ, we will not automatically have all the fruit manifested in our lives. God works in us to sanctify us. We are already justified by faith, but we don’t look, act, or consistently behave like Jesus. It’s a process of being with Him, submitting to Him, and abiding in Him. I love Bill Johnson’s quote, “Many believers have the Holy Spirit, but does the Holy Spirit have them.” God will not force us to grow up, mature, or submit to Him. He will lovingly keep pointing in the direction of truth, pruning us so we can bear more fruit, and setting up circumstances so we could become more like Him.

What does it mean to abide?:

To abide means to remain in or  stay connected to.  Sunday morning service is not enough to abide in Christ. If we ate food only once a week, we’d be weak and starving. If we only spend time with God every blue moon, then spiritually we are not as strong as we could be. I am not an advocate of forced time either. God like us, knows when people don’t want to be with Him, but they are doing it out of obligation. He wants us to want to be with Him.

Jesus who was God in the flesh took time to be alone with the Father. He regularly left the crowds to be alone with His Father. The disciples would look for Him and He’d be away. If Jesus did it, there’s a good reason why. God is our source. It’s not people. It’s not the TV. It’s not the internet. It’s not our family. It’s not our Pastor, Priest, or Rabbi. God alone is the One who can change a wicked man into a righteous man. God alone went to the cross for our sins. God alone heals to wholeness. Without intimacy, partnership, relationship with God, we can not do anything. We are alive today because God allowed it. We need more than anything to be with Him. He said to love Him first, then others. To put Him first above all others. God is more important than a spouse, family member, friend, pastor, job, ourselves, or anything in this world. We become like the one we spend the most time with. God says, “Spend time with Me.”

Final Notes:

We are the objects of His affections. God doesn’t love us based on the fruit in our lives. He loves us whether we are progressing or not. He longs for us to grow so we can be blessed and be a blessing. If we look like Jesus, and acted like Jesus, how blessed would we be and the world? The word Christian originated from the fact that the early church was doing what they saw Jesus (the Christ) doing. If we don’t look like Him, then how will the world get to know Him? I’ve met too many people who are turned off from church because they have encountered mean, hateful Christians. At certain points in my walk, I have encountered hateful people who claimed Christ as Lord which made not want to fellowship with other believers. The point isn’t to judge or condemn others. Every person has their own journey. And we are to pray for people, knowing we are not perfect either. The point is, to abide in the One who is life. We can impact the world for good! Jesus did. He’s calling us to follow His lead.

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P.S If you’d like, join me on http://ithoughtiknewwhatlovewas.com. The Journey into God’s heart. Weekly posts about the Father, God’s love, and book excerpts. Bless you friends. Praying you are blessed richly this year.