“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”
Ephesians 3:17 NLT
My husband and I had the privilege to be able to travel to Portugal this spring. The last day of our trip we took a two-hour train ride from Porto to the Duoro Valley, the famous winegrowing region. As the train approached, our eyes could scarcely take in the vast, steep mountains, rushing down to the edge of the powerful Duoro River. Each mountain was layered with terraces cut into its sides where rich grapevines grow that produce some of the finest wines and ports in Europe.
As we toured a lovely winery estate and stood among the vines, we were told that the older vines could be hundreds of years old and were very valuable, not only for the quality of wine they produced, but for their stamina against droughts, fires and disease. Though rigorously pruned back each season, their roots grew thirty or more feet into the shale ground, so they reach the water to sustain them, no matter the climate or circumstances.
I was reminded of the many times grapevines are used in the Bible as examples. There was certainly a spiritual lesson from these ancient vines. As we mature in Christ we may expect things to get easier and less “pruning” to take place. The Father is an excellent “wine” maker. He knows that only by continued pruning will his vines grow the deep roots into his love needed to sustain us in times of drought, when it is even hard to pray, or fire, when we feel like we will never survive the day. His love, like sweet, life-giving water will keep us strong when the winds of adversity and challenge threaten to blow us down.
So, if you are looking for signs of spiritual maturity in yourself, do not look to the surface signs of lush, showy leaves. Instead, look to the quality of the spiritual fruit you produce and to the length and strength of your roots into the Father’s love. Those roots will manifest in peace, love for others and quiet joy that nothing can deter.
Pray with me: Holy Spirit, please teach me how to rest in the Lord, to trust him more and more, so that the roots of my heart grow deep into his love. Father, fill me each day with your unfailing love so that I may overflow with that same love onto others. Grow beautiful spiritual fruit in me that you can use to feed the people you will send me. In your precious name, Jesus. Amen.
Dear friend, be blessed to experience the love of God which is beyond understanding, so that you will remain strong and faithfully committed to share it wherever the Lord may send you. Amen.
May 30, 2019
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Proverbs 4:24 NLT
Have you noticed that random thoughts sometimes just cross your mind? Recently I was doing a study on hearing God’s voice and the speaker pointed out that the random thoughts that cross our minds have three possible sources, our own minds, God and the devil.
What random thoughts have you had recently? Do any keep repeating themselves? How do they make you feel? If they build you up, give you godly direction or truth, they are from God. If they tear you down, accuse you or make you feel worthless or ashamed, we know they are from the devil. Our own thoughts may drift up from our unconscious mind, giving us a clue as to what we really believe.
Any of those thoughts have power to determine our behavior and mood on any given day. More importantly, perhaps, is that, as we believe them, they can fill us with peace or steal the peace from which God wants us to live. If you are human, you will make mistakes. When you do, do you hear, “I am so stupid!” Or, “Lord forgive me,” and then receive his forgiveness and peace?
As followers of Jesus, we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us to help in all our ways. Ask him to help you discern the lies, accusations and negative thoughts and to train your mind to align with God’s truth and light.
Practice listening to your self-talk. When you discern a lie or a thought that does not sound like Jesus, replace it with one that does. The Bible calls that taking our thoughts captive and making them obey Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5) The better we get at that, the more we honor and glorify Jesus, and the more of his peace and joy we allow into our hearts.
Let’s not become passive, instead let’s choose to engage in the battle for our hearts and minds. Christ won that victory for us. Let’s step into our authority and agree with him, that the victory is ours, and claim the peace and joy!
Pray with me: Father God, forgive me for allowing negative and deceptive thoughts to control my mind. Holy Spirit, empower me and teach me to capture my thoughts and make them obedient to Christ. I want the peace and joy that is mine in Christ, so I claim it now. In the precious, victorious name of Jesus. Amen.
Dear friend, may your spirit be awakened to discern and capture your thoughts. As negative, lying thoughts are eliminated, may you hear more and more from God and be strengthen, directed and filled with new life. Amen.
May 8, 2019