Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Surviving the Storm

James 1:2-18

Trials and Temptations
 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
     A little over a year ago, God moved my family from our home of 12 years in Normal, Illinois to Sachse, Texas. Our first day in town was our first glimpse at what the first few months here would be like. Hard. I remember sitting on my bed in my new room surrounded by boxes that were waiting to be unpacked and feeling so homesick. This feeling didn't let up too quickly and I relied on God to be my comforter. I knew that this was my new life that God had placed me in for a reason. Even though I couldn't see it then, if I continued to cling to Him, God would show me the reason in His timing. I learned that God would help me persevere and with His help, I would adjust to life in Texas in no time.

     To be honest, I had my doubts - my times of thinking I would never get used to Texas. But God worked with me through those times and now I am happy to tell you that I am loving life in Sachse, Texas. I have made wonderful friends and I can see God's purpose in this more clearly.

     What are you facing today that seems impossible to survive? I hope that you can find joy in the testing of your faith. Persevere and trust God's plan in this. Trust me, you will find that it is ALWAYS worth it to follow God, even when it is difficult.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stay Connected

John 15:1-17

The Vine and the Branches
 1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 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.
   5 “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. 6 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. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
   9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other."

             For my sister's birthday a few weeks ago she received thirteen beautiful red roses. They sat in a vase on our kitchen table for a week. After a few days, the natural beauty in her roses began to fade as they wilted and turned brown. They were dying because they were cut off of the rosebush. That is the same thing that will happen to us if we try to survive disconnected from Jesus. We cannot bear fruit away from the vine the same way that my sister's roses died away from the bush. But if we stay connected to Jesus and bear fruit in his name, God will prune us and help us so we can grow even more in His glory.
             But how do we stay connected? How do we remain in Jesus' love? Keep his commands and His joy will be our joy. Love one another with His love. Put others before yourself like Jesus showed us so perfectly when he died on the cross for us. Share the good news with everyone!! Jesus has chosen you to bear eternal fruit in His name and in His glory.
Love One Another. Keep His Commands. Stay Connected.
Will you live attached to the true vine or will you die away from Him?