By Their Fruit…

…You will recognise them.

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Before I say a word to you, let’s read these verses;
“By their fruit you will recognize them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
“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.”

My question to you is, what will you birth this year?

And I’m not necessarily talking about new creations or ideas or businesses, but actually when the 31st December 2019 comes around, what will the summary of your character be for this year?
In the last post, we discussed how special this year will be.
We embraced the great news of 2019 being a year in which many things will unravel in our lives and bring forth purpose and meaning to our very existence.
We’re now in the second month of the year, (by God’s mercy and grace), and hopefully many of us are still working on the various plans and goals that we set for ourselves for this year.
I want you to think of those plans/ideas/resolutions, and ask yourself – how much of what I have planned involves God?
Reflect on your desires for this year and just check – is God at the forefront of all this, or have I left Him on the back burner?
Did I focus my plans around me, my pleasures and my will, or have I put God centre stage, for all eyes to be on Him, and for His glory to shine through?

 

When God planted Matthew 7:16 into my heart, He gave me a message for you and I, saying that in this year (and always) we ought to ensure that God shows through in absolutely everything that concerns us!

The King wants us to be intentional about showing Him forth.

So here are a few specific things this means:

(But this list isn’t exhaustive)

1. Our decisions must minister Christ.
That is, the things we actively choose to do by ourselves.
E.g. Abstain from sexual immorality, pay the correct public transport fare, obey laws of the land that others may commonly seek a loophole for, attend church more often, engage in more kingdom-directed activities (fellowships/bible studies/evangelism) (Galatians 5:13-26, Romans 13 particularly verse 6). The list goes on.
We need to take our spiritual walk seriously, align our will with the instructions we find in the word of God, and really cultivate habits and behaviours that will affirm our love for Christ, rather than do the opposite.
Going back to our plans for this year – I’m asking that we go to God and find out what He wants, find out how we can be used by Him for His name to be praised, find out what His agenda is for us in this year, and then ask how we fit into all that, rather than the other way round.
In being intentional about showing God forth in our lives, we need to actively set out to do, or equally, refrain from doing, certain things. These intentional and purposeful decisions will set us apart within our environments, and thus minister to the world that there is something different about us, and indeed it is Jesus!
Let us be mindful of our decisions; making sure that we’re choosing the options that will more and more display that we truly do have a heart for God, ultimately causing people to draw onto us to get to know this God!
2. Take up a voluntary task/charitable deed to benefit the less fortunate.
Matthew 25:31-40 – read it.
We’re 41 whole days into 2019 – how many of those days have been spent selflessly?
Often times, particularly at the beginning of the year, and especially if it wasn’t one of our ‘resolutions’, many of us get so stuck and fixed and focused on achieving these sparkly new goals, that we neglect the needs of the community around us.
We’re head strong, we’ve got the eye of the tiger and we really want to achieve all the ME goals that we’ve set, that we forget that we have a world of people around us that God has both directly and indirectly put under our care. This includes those we know personally and those we don’t.
Where do the homeless, poor, needy, and underpriviledged come in our plans for this year?
I’m asking that we go back to those plans and ask God where they fit in. Tell God that we WANT them in our plans, and that He should give us a mission to HELP those who are in need. Let it become a regular activity in our lives, by God’s grace.
This also includes those friends or family members that require our emotional, financial or just any kind of support too! Let us factor them in, take some time out to really be there for them and see how we can be a blessing in their lives, in accordance with God’s will.
3. Manage ill situations graciously.
Yep! I’m talking about our  R E A C T I O N S  here.

I’m talking about us never REacting, but rather always maintaining our Christ-like character irrespective of what is being thrown at us.

What fruit are we producing when we respond to unpleasant situations?

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When we find ourselves in that complex, conflicting issue at work, home or school – who are we in that moment when our emotions are flying REALLY really high?

It could also be in terms of personal trials, hardships, let downs.
We all face disappointing and displeasing scenarios in life – but my question here is in these moments – what and who do we look like?

As a representation of Christ, who is God, who is Love, and so therefore we are Love, I believe one of the key elements in our walk is maintaining our cool when things get shaken and stirred up. We have to remember to LOVE first.
God is calling for a consistency in us, which means that we keep our peace at all times!
It doesn’t make you foolish, weak or a loser to walk away from a situation if it means maintaining your attitude and not acting out.
In situations that test our emotions, be it heat of the moment type scenarios, or even longer-term difficult ones, we must remember that we are STILL children of the Most High God. We are still children of grace, who ought to speak with words seasoned with salt always (Colossians 4:5-6), build others up with our words always (Ephesians 4:29), and bring light into situations rather than darkness.

 

Now let’s round this up and makes sense of it all.
You may notice that in the verses we read at the beginning of this word, I put Matthew 7:21 on its own, even though it’s the immediate continuation of the preceding verses.
Well that’s because this verse is special.
It helps to put everything into context.

“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.”

Often times, we speak of Jesus, but we aren’t really living out Jesus.
And essentially that’s what this word is all about – at the end of the day, will God be able to search your heart and find that you were intentional and proactive about really promoting the gospel and the things of God with your life? (Jeremiah 17:10 NLT)
When Jesus said ‘by their fruit, you will recognise them’, He was talking about distinguising the false prophets from the true believers of the gospel.
In the same light when God gave me this word and pointed me to this verse, He was asking; Are we really for Him wholeheartedly, ready to align our hearts with His will, and press in deeper, into His Spirit to get to know Him better? 
Or are we dipping our toes in and out of the water every now and then, and in fact masking mediocrity with colourful words and empty actions that sort of look Christ-like, but actually we lack a firm foundation and are easily moved by winds of the world?

Matthew 7:21 says ‘only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven’ will enter the kingdom of heaven – therefore we need to go to God, and:

  • Seek out what His will for us is, in EVERY area of our lives?
  • Ask that He enables us to live a life that truly and genuinely shows forth all of His glory and goodness, where the focus is on Him and not us!
  • And ask that He works on our hearts and perfects our hearts, so that all in all, everything concerning us will birth fruit that show we are children of God, and the light of the world.

 

I pray that your fruit will show forth great things about you, and will display your true desire to walk and work in the perfect will of God, in Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Keep the Faith, Don’t Stop Believing
God bless you.

 

#ByTheirFruit
#HisTruthWithLove

Talk To Me…

Food for Thought…

How many of us are guilty of this?

Someone has done something you don’t like; offended you, been rude, hurtful, or simply annoying, with their words or actions towards you; and so you’ve cooked up an entire fight in your mind and you are absolutely boiling….. Planning how badly you’re going to ‘go off on them’, or maybe even just not speak to them ever again.
(We each have our personal ways of dealing with people who upset us, but you get my drift). 

I have a question for you friend,
Do they even know they’ve done anything wrong?

In many cases, the answer is actually ‘NO!’

And in all cases, whether or not the other person is aware of their fault,
We have to understand the importance of communication – we ought to remember and appreciate the importance of being sensible enough to verbally address situations with people when we feel that they’ve done something displeasing to us.

Communication not only allows a resolution, but it also gives you peace and freedom, from an anger that actually has the potential to eat you up, and completely destroy that relationship, if harboured too long.

Communication allows you to understand where they are coming from; it develops your perspective – you get to understand why they said those words, what they intended to achieve by doing what they did.

Communication allows them to understand you better – by you explaining how their words or actions or decisions made you feel, you allow them to relate with you better. They have the opportunity to think of it from your point of view and therefore widen their outlook on the situation.

Communication allows growth – they now not only know what displeases you, but they can be mindful that it could potentially upset others also.
They are therefore able to reflect on why/how they were perceived as hurtful, and (if deemed necessary) they can revise their delivery/choice of words, or work on changing that action to something less selfish/aggressive/(whatever it was perceived to be by yourself).

The bottom line is this;
They won’t know unless you tell them.

Therefore there is no point walking around sulking, moaning and telling others, or sizzling up a storm of an argument to attack them with.

Your most important step, and responsibility, is to speak with them.
You’ll notice I didn’t say it’s your first step, and that’s because some of us will benefit from stepping away from the situation and calming down, and reflecting on it.
Once this is done, all of us, not just those who get heated easily, but all of us, will most definitely benefit from asking God to direct our words and our entire approach, because the last thing we want, is a full blown argument.

Therefore let us remember to speak to God first, before we speak to them…
Ask Him to soften our hearts
Ask Him to sanctify our tongues
Ask Him to open up our minds.

And with this, we will be able to;
Have a cool, calm and mature overall approach,
Say things in the right way, for the other person to understand well, and understand in love,
Receive what the other person says without creating a bigger problem or dismissing/doubting their reasoning/explanation for their behaviour.

I’ll end by saying this;
For as long as you aren’t a mind-reader, I can assure you that the next person also ISN’T!
So Go!
C O M M U N I C A T E  with them, and smooth things over; remembering that the word of God encourages us not to last long in a state of anger (Ephesians 4:26).

Keep the Faith, Don’t Stop Believing,
God Bless you.

Trained Thoughts

In Gracious Words; Speak Life, we looked at the fact that we should be kind and constructive and helpful with the things that we say.
But only briefly in that post did we explore the fact that the bible teaches;

“Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.”
[Proverbs 4:23]

The Good News Translation of this verse reads;

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.’

Before we talk about anything else, I want us to understand that the condition of our heart is extremely important.

The heart is where God Himself searches, to know the true character of a person; to know one truly loves Him and is for Him.  (Jeremiah 17:10)
The heart therefore must be nourished with good things, because it controls absolutely everything else; ‘from it, springs the situations, the issues, the happenings of life’.

Now let’s move to the next step, before anything else, after the heart we have our thoughts, hence why different translations of this Proverbs verse, will refer to our thoughts, if it doesn’t mention the heart.

Our thoughts are crucial!

Our thoughts, are the products of our hearts, and they determine –
Our words,
Our actions,
Our beliefs,
Our morals,
And therefore essentially, they determine our character; the person we are and the way we live our lives.

So in short, our hearts ought to be clean, for our thoughts to be clean, in order for our lives to glorify God.

Prayer point:
Father,
Purify my heart, and teach me to feed it with the things that will bring forth goodness and positivity.
Help me to make the right decisions with what I watch/read, whom I surround myself  with, and what I spend my time doing, in order for me to ensure that my heart is being filled with things that will produce thoughts of life and love, not otherwise!

I once read something that said,

‘If we watch our thoughts, we won’t have to do so much watching over our mouths’.

Now that’s why we’re here today…

We already know that it is important for our words to be positive, to build, and to encourage others, but the question now is, is it a struggle for you to produce life-speaking words, or do they flow from your tongue naturally?

Do you find yourself always having to stop yourself from cursing, cussing, and tearing others down, or do you find that your mind automatically encourages you to think the best, of and for, others?

Don’t be ashamed if you relate more with the first part of these two questions – that’s exactly why we’re here, we’re going to highlight it as an issue, and we’re going to deal with it…

‘Why does it need to be dealt with?’ You may ask…

Well friend, if we could speak, act and live, just for the sake of it, then we wouldn’t have to worry about dealing the heart and our thoughts!
However here is the truth;
It’s not good enough for us to say things just because we know it’s the right thing to say.
Neither is it good enough for us to do things just because it’s the right thing to do.
The God we serve is One who looks at the intention – and the intention begins at the heart.

Therefore we need to go back to the step before the words and actions, and be transformed by the renewing of our minds, in order to  C O R R E C T  the way we think.

Jesus teaches us with what He says in Matthew 5:28 regarding adultery, that actually, sin begins with the thought. A similar concept is mentioned in James 1:15 – basically telling us that harbouring a wrong thought, will give birth to the wrong practise, which is sin.

So, Simply put – Our thoughts are powerful!

Now let’s flip it.
If the wrong thoughts have the power to birth wrong words and actions, then surely the right thoughts – the God-pleasing thoughts, will birth Christ-like words, actions and attitudes.

Friend, from today, Let’s focus on thinking right.

Let’s begin to cast out rude thoughts, negative thoughts and tempting thoughts, and immediately replace them with the better opposite.

Let’s not only work on what we’re thinking, but as mentioned above, let’s work on ensuring the heart; the root of it all; is being filled and encouraged with the things of God.

Spend more time, feasting on God’s word to know what it says.
Spend more time fellowshipping with those who already have a positive and trained mind, rather than those who are bitter and see the worst in everyone.

Be careful with the shows you watch and the social media feeds you follow – if all they represent is cheating, theft, lying and death, then these will also be the first things we think of when a situation arises.

Above all,

P R A Y.

Ask God to give you a heart that chases after Him in every single aspect of life!
Pray for God to renew your mind, transform your heart and therefore perfect your thoughts, in order for you to truly be, a person of Love, a person who is pleasant and a person who is positive in all things.

As we strive towards Christ, we have to ensure that we have it right from the very foundation – so, let us Train our hearts and our thoughts, so that from them, GOOD life will flow.

Keep the Faith, Don’t Stop Believing,
God Bless you.