January 22, 2018

Second Chances

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For we are God’s handiwork,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

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As we walk through life, we are given chances to begin again.  God knows we are not perfect.  We strive every day to be better.  With the help of the Holy Spirit we will do more and more for the Kingdom.

I was listening to someone this week talking about bearing fruit for the Kingdom.  If you have been serving in a certain area, and you feel God is closing that door, it is not always a bad thing.  You have to cut away some of the bad (or simply unnecessary) things to let the good enter into your life.

While David was living his life, he did not know what he was going to be or where God would have him.  He served God in the areas where he was needed.  From being a shepherd in his father Jesse’s household to showing up where his brother’s were serving in the king’s army.  I am certain David did not plan on slaying a giant that day!  But David did what was asked of him.  David was not perfect.  But he did do what was required of him to serve God and His people.

Can you and I have a relationship like David did with God?  Of course we can.  God will always be there for us to call upon Him and for us to talk to Him.  All we have to do is trust Him and believe God wants the best for us.  Why else would God send His Son Jesus to live among us? Why would God sacrifice his only Son?  Because He loves us.  As our Father, He disciplines us, loves us, hugs us and holds our hands all throughout our lives.  All we have to do is reach for Him.

God knew what Peter would do. Jesus knew what Peter would do. Under pressure and full of fear, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times.  Would we deny knowing Him if we were in similar circumstances—under pressure and fear-filled?  We do not know.  Just as Jesus restored Peter after His resurrection, I would hope and pray that Jesus will restore us if we are faced with such an occasion. Our Heavenly Father loves us.

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Father, thank You for loving us.  Thank You for showing us how Peter was forgiven and restored so that he could proclaim the words and ways of Jesus.  Help us to be bold and able to speak on Your behalf when we need to.  Let the power of the Holy Spirit speak through us.   Thank You!  In Jesus’ name, amen.

This Week…I AM The True Vine (John 15:1-8)

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Recorded in the Gospel of John, our Lord made seven statements referring to Himself as I AM

I AM The Light of the World
I AM The Bread of Life
I AM The Door

I AM The Good Shepherd
I AM The True Vine

I AM The Way, The Truth, and The Life
I AM The Resurrection and The Life

Each week during this season of Lent, here on the Seeking Him blog, we will be focusing our devotionals on a different aspect of Jesus’ revelation of Himself as I AM.  The aim of Lent should be to prepare our hearts for the remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice—His trial and torture, the Crucifixion and His death…and above all, the celebration of His Resurrection from the dead.  We pray that this will be a great encouragement to each of you who read them.  And that all of us will consider the significance of Jesus’ words and, through them, be helped as we remember and are thankful for all Jesus went through during the last few weeks of His life on this earth.

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I AM the True Vine, and my Father is the gardener.
He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit,
while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
Remain in Me, as I also remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.
Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.
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.
If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers;
such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
If you remain in Me and My words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples
John 15:1-8

This week, here on the Seeking Him devotional blog, our sisters have shared some insight on these words spoken by our Lord…specifically regarding the statement He made, “I AM the True Vine.”  Jesus gave us such clear direction AND encouragement as He made it very clear that it is vitally necessary to abide/remain…and that, apart from Him, we truly cannot do anything of worth or value.   Here are a few highlights from the devotionals that Laura, Cynda, Ann, and Ahmee wrote to encourage us.

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In Bearing Fruit in the Vine, Ann asked some needful questions…(have you answered them?).

“This passage gives us an illustration of how bearing fruit is essential in the eyes of God.  The Bible is talking of a garden that is being taken care of by God Himself.  And Jesus said “I AM the True Vine…”.  This means there is another vine that is not true and has not been planted not by God.

As Christians we need to understand which garden we belong to—
is it God’s or the other garden?

We are told “you are the branches.”  Branches bear the fruit; and so if a branch is not producing fruit, then it must be cut off.  If we do bear fruit, we are true branches. If we do not, then we are not true branches. Which side of the coin are we?”

In God the Gardener, Laura made the comparison between a person tending the garden in their yard—purging and pruning—and God as He cares for us, the branches.

“Just as a gardener works to keep their garden beautiful, so does God in His relationship with us.  He points out the things that we need to cut off and get rid of in order to strengthen our relationship with Him.  The stronger we are in God the more fruitful we are in His Spirit.  We are the branches of God’s beautiful Creation—His own garden. God makes us (the branches on His vine) stronger through our blessings and the hardships He guides us through.”

In Just Hanging Out, Cynda reminded us that as we abide we are able to bear fruit…because of the Vine.

“Philippians 4:13 AMP (one of my favorite verses) tells us:

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me
[I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him
Who infuses inner strength into me;
I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].

Christ empowers me!  And when I abide in Him, I have full access to all His power.  The fruit will be a natural result.  I like the way David Guzik * puts it: ‘Fruit bearing is impossible without abiding; but it is inevitable with abiding.’  Philippians 1:11 HCSB tells us when we hang out with Jesus we are ‘…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.’

We have two choices then: either hang out with Jesus or go it on our own.  If we hang out with Jesus, fruit comes naturally.  If we go it on our own, we will continue to struggle and begin to wither.  Not much of a choice really, is it?”

In Fellowship Through The Vine, Ahmee addressed the difference between relationship and fellowship.

“I pondered the difference between relationship and fellowship.  Relationship, although very basic, is a distinguishing factor of Christianity.  (Without a dictionary in hand) I concluded that it is possible to have a relationship with someone, but not be in fellowship with them. And it seems very unlikely, if even at all possible, to be in fellowship with someone and not have a relationship with them.

But now, I have my NLT dictionary/concordance handy and have the proper definitions:

  • Relationship (n): a state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings
  • Fellowship (n): friendship; association; company; partnership

Stay connected to Jesus (via the word, prayer, etc.) and this will be evident in your life. We have to have our Life Source in order to do anything productive. We need more than just a mere relationship…we have to have that fellowship…that DEEP connection.

So, take a look at your relationship with God…
Are you in a relationship only? Or is there fellowship?”

Have you had the opportunity to read through these blogposts this week?  If not, I would encourage you to do so!  Our bloggers have made these as well as some other wonderful points to direct us towards Jesus, Who IS The True Vine in Whom we can abide and remain.

Remain In Him

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Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

So Jesus and His disciples took many walks before they stopped at the final place—the Garden of Gethsemane. They fed the hungry, healed the sick and gave hope to the hopeless. As Jesus led them, He used every opportunity to teach them all that He could before He left this earth for Heaven.  One day, as they were walking, they passed a vineyard…the vines were full of fruit.   Jesus told them that He is the True Vine.  And that if they would remain in Him, as branches connected to a vine, they would bear beautiful fruit. Beautiful for others to see. He said:

“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.
This is to my Father’s glory,
so that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be My disciples.”
John 15:7-8

God wants so much for us as His children and the best way to have the abundant life that He ordained is to remain in Jesus.  The closer we get to Him, the more He pours into us.  And then we begin to bear His fruit!   Before you know it, you are equipped to lead others to the Kingdom.  What kind of world would we live in if all those who are lost saw in us the hope that they have been searching for and we gave them the answer—it is Jesus!

The stronger you become in Jesus, the more the enemy seems to comes at you.  He will tell you over and over how insignificant your life really is…and that Jesus isn’t enough to brighten your life…and that joy is temporary.  (Remember after all, he is the father of lies. Jesus, however, is the Truth.)  And God would haveve never sacrificed His own Son for us if He didn’t think we were really worth it.

He loves us so much…as much as He loves His own Son, Jesus.  As Matthew 3:17 says, “This is My Son, Whom I love…with Whom I am well pleased.” Jesus has this same love for us, too.  And He never gets tired of us.  He only wants to give us all that He has and all the love that He can give.  We need only remain in Him. He is the True Vine and we are the branches. Without the vine, and the nourishment that spreads through to the branches, there is no fruit. As Christians, without fruit, we cannot be a witness to others.

Maybe you just need to be still today and let Him love on you. Maybe you don’t feel lovable today and life has really been hard lately and you just need to be reminded that He really is for you and He is always working on your behalf.  Please don’t forget that He died for you—even if you were the only one on earth that needed saving, He still would have gone to the Cross.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believes in Him should not perish
but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

I have loved you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3

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I ask you today: do you know Jesus?  Do you know God?  He is waiting for you, my friend, with open arms.  All you have to do is ask Him into your heart and to be your Lord.  Will you pray with me?

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and I need forgiveness. I believe that Jesus is Your Son and He came into the world as a baby, and walked the earth as a man then died on the Cross with my sins on Him.  Jesus is the Savior and I need Him.  Please come into my heart and be Lord of my life.  I want to know You more.  Walk with me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.