Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Evidence of God’s Love

I would like to take a moment and wish a Happy Father’s Day to dads.  Today will be bitter sweet as I remember my dad and grandfather treasuring the moments with my hubby.

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…..

Our hotel room had a small balcony that overlooked the swimming pool. Early one lazy vacation morning, I grabbed my journal, Bible, and a fresh cup of coffee then headed to the balcony for some quiet time.

As I settled in, movement by the pool caught my eye. I watched as a maintenance man approached a palm tree and briskly pulled a brown, life-less branch from underneath the green leaves. Oddly, before he pulled the dead branch off, I hadn’t even noticed it was there.

After he pulled it off, however, the palm tree looked fresh and vibrant.

Seriously.

The pruning made such a difference!

Jesus spoke to His disciples and said,

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, and I will 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 a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is 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 given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  (John 15:1-8, NIV)

Whom we spend time with really matters.

And what we say and do and how we say and do it also really matters.

Stay with me here! Don’t let the familiarity of this Scripture fade the impact it has on you.

I understand to my core how horrible it feels when my walk and my talk do not line up. Withered branches in my heart constantly need to pulled off and thrown away. You too?

In order to experience the blessings and power of God’s Spirit in our lives we must root our faith deep in the soil of God’s Word and then allow His truth to produce fruits that are ripe with evidence of His love. These fruits are clearly seen (or not) at the intersection of our faith and our actions. I’ve found that when I have those I-just-want-to-scream-because-everyone-in-the-world-is-on-my-last-nerve days God meets me with His grace when I whisper His name.

God will deepen the roots and increase the fruits of your faith as you spend time talking to Him early in the morning over a hot mug of coffee. When you pray and worship on the way to work or on your powerwalk. When you feel a prick of conviction in your heart about that behavior – or about that response – that tone – that act of disobedience. When you call out to Him for patience and strength as your teenager slams his door in rebellion – or when your adult daughter “forgets the morals she was raised with” and moves in with her boyfriend – or when frustrations mount up at work.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self control. To bring glory to God, this fruit of His Spirit must be seen in our lives.

Unfortunately, we have a keen ability to rationalize our less-than-fruitful behaviors.

But he… But she… But they… I just can’t…

Fortunately, God doesn’t expect us to behave like this without Him. In fact, we simply can’t. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Remember? (v5) But when we remain in Him – when we seek Him, obey Him, savor His presence, live for His glory, and prioritize Him above all else – we can and will make a big impact for God and experience the joy and peace we all long for.

The maintenance man at the resort didn’t pull the branch off to hurt the palm tree.

He pruned it to increase its beauty, health, and vibrancy. God does the same for us. He prunes His children to increase our beauty, health and vibrancy for our good and for His glory – to make us more useful to Him and more fruitful.

Pause to ponder this question: Are there any dead branches hanging on your tree?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Budgeting

A Rich Life Without Lots of $

“Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.” ~Oscar Wilde

This week’s focus has been on money – we need to CELEBRATE it so that it can grow in abundance.  We all want to be rich (in some way), right?

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STOP racing for riches that make you feel unfulfilled!

STOP chasing for more that leaves you stressed!

STOP feeling like you will never fit in with your richer friends.

I will admit that I spent much of my career trying to make more money BUT when I achieved it – it didn’t buy me happiness! In fact, the more I made the more I spent. The additional money left me poorer in happiness, health, and relationships. I didn’t know how to relax and I found I was missing out on those special moments.

The truth was I often failed to recognize the riches I did have.  I was measuring my inner wealth by my external wealth.  I always said that I would never be materialistic yet the credit card debt kept accumulating.  It was not long ago that I started a journey to find my inner wealth and it has been AMAZING!

Here are the things that I learned on my journey:

  1. Authenticity – Stay true to yourself and be at peace with who you are.  It is the greatest richness in life.
  2. Acceptance –  Our natural desire is to control the uncontrollable. I have been there.  Replace that struggle with acceptance and peace. When you find yourself in a situation say “It’s okay. I accept this just as it is.”
  3. Curiosity  – Childish wonder is within us. Set a goal everyday of learning something new, no matter how tiny, then share it.  It will help to reignite your spark and excitement for life – you’ll be amazed!
  4. Creativity – Create something from nothing – a meal, a picture whatever sparks your interest.  It will give you the feeling of accomplishment amid everyday life.
  5. Forgiveness – The act of forgiveness is a true testament to your inner strength. I wrote this for each person: “I forgive you, [name].” Don’t worry if you don’t feel forgiveness the first time; it will come in due time.”  It was so freeing!
  6. Gentleness – Confucius listed gentleness as one of the greatest virtues. The ability to be strong without being abrupt or harsh is a rare and valuable quality.  Next time you want to snap, smile, AND speak softly.
  7. Patience – This is an ongoing process for me.  With patience, you can achieve things over time that may seem impossible. When you start beating yourself up over a missed goal, write a realistic time line, and remember to be as patient with yourself as you are with others.
  8. Gratitude – It takes dedication to notice what you have and be thankful for it. Acknowledging all the good things in each day will make you rich in happiness.  Be sure to note one thing each day that you might have taken for granted, and begin to build a treasury of blessings.
  9. Generosity – Give when you think you don’t have anything to give – it is the true generosity of heart.  When you do this, you realize that you always have enough to share.  Did you know that in this hectic world, your full attention is one of the most generous things you can give.
  10. Kindness – Being kind brings its own rich rewards—inner peace, happiness, and knowing that you are making a difference in the world, one that people will remember.
  11. Compassion – To understand and feel another’s pain is a truly selfless act. This simple acts of kindness will help you to appreciate the areas of ease and plenty in your own life.
  12. Love – Make an emotional connection with others, no matter who it is will bring an abundance into your life that money can never hope to match.
  13. Vulnerability – Letting down your defenses allows others to see the full you. Being vulnerable builds trust in relationships. This is tough for me, but I work at it every day.
  14. Contentment – Realizing you are already blessed with abundance brings serenity and contentment. Acknowledge all the wealth you already have because, as the proverb says, “enough is a feast.”

What are your best tips for living a life full of abundance?  Share them with us.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

dreams do come true