I recently heard a teaching on John 15:5

John 15:5. I am the vine, you ARE the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Over the years, I have heard innumerable sermons and lessons on this verse. I don’t profess to be an expert on this topic.  But I am an avid gardener and love anything that vines.  In plant observation, I have yet to see a “struggle” for a plant to become what it is supposed to be.  The tiniest of carrot seeds will become a carrot… no questions asked. Melons produce melons, tomatos produce tomatos.  I have yet to be told by a plant where I should plant it, how I should prune or that it needs less water.   Plants do not struggle to be something beyond their God given design… unlike us.  We, as God’s people are told by Jesus Himself that we ARE the branches ~ notice present tense. He is the vine.  He is the mature plant, capable of producing and replicating Himself in the branches perpetually.  His blood (the sap) sustains every aspect of growth for the branch.  There is no struggle in being an abiding branch.

As we, the branches grow, are expected to produce fruit ~ fruit to feed others, fruit of encouragement, fruit of love and kindness, fruit that reflects Christ in us.  It really feels good when you produce fruit. Yet, just like in the natural, fruiting is followed by pruning if the plant is to become stronger and produce even more and better fruit.  As it goes in the plant world, so it goes in our spiritual walk.  We must remember that WE are the branches and not the vine.  Our only job is to abide.  Jesus accomplishes His good works through us.  To know our true place of abiding in Him allows us to enter His rest where all things get accomplished.  In the abiding, you must have faith that He will care for you… all provision, all needs met.    And you must trust Almighty God, the Vinedresser.  Trust Him in times of growth (spring) fruiting (summer) pruning (autumn) and dormancy (winter).  When the Vinedresser prunes us, I believe those branch pieces become tinder for those things we need to place upon the alter through surrender.  He cuts off old wood that worked in the last season but will hold you back from the new place of growth He has designed just for you.  As the dead wood is cut away, and sometimes it is painful, we can then see issues that need to be fully surrendered in order for new growth to come forth.  This cycle will continue throughout our walk with Him until He calls us home. Until that time, welcome your seasons of life.  Each season pulls you closer and closer to His heart.  His desire for you is to be exactly who He called you to be.  Ask Holy Spirit to guide your heart into a place of closer abiding in Christ and you will see fruit!

What a harvest!


Matthew 6:24   No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one ad love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.

Luke 10:27   You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.

So I ask you… is your heart divided?  Divided to seek and serve self before God?  Or a cause?  Or an idol?  Or a lifestyle, or business or a relationship?  Before you answer, allow Holy Spirit the opportunity to shine the light of truth upon your soul ~ examine your motives because God already knows your heart.

Psalm 111:1   I will praise the Lord with my whole heart.

I Samuel 16:7   For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Psalm 119:58   I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; be merciful to me according to Your word.

Psalm 119:69   But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.

To love God wholly, IS the path to holiness.  Complete surrender and an undivided heart allows the Lord to freely work and operate in your life.  Why do you fear surrender to the loving God who created you and loves you so much?  Each of us is at a different place of surrender… and some not at all.  As long as I cling to fear and worry, I am not fully surrendered.  Where emotions dictate responses, I am not fully surrendered.  When business and long hours divide my time, focus and heart, I am not truly surrendered.  I have found that in true surrender, where God is in His rightful, blood-bought place in my heart, there is a flow of life that can’t be explained.  Things get accomplished  without effort, relationships are fuller, business is more profitable, worship is awesome and effortless.  Once you “taste and see that the Lord is good” and ever faithful to His word, you will desire surrender in every aspect of your life.  You were created with an undivided heart but the enemy of your soul seeks to divide your loyalties into chaos, division and turmoil.  The choice is always ours.

Joshua 24:15  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

To see Him is to worship Him… and in that place of worship, the experience of awe in His presence, of glimpsing the majesty of the most holy God is where we become acutely aware of our sins and failures just like those we read of in His word.  We become aware of legalism reigning in our lives.  In the self imposed  limits of every aspect of who we are, we find that love of God and love of others takes a distant second place to our laws and traditions of religion, even as we spout off of being under grace and not the law.

Luke 10:27  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.

Religion may not have stone tablets with carved commandments hanging in its foyer, but it still dictates ever increasing and difficult to maintain standards that offer a mere suggestion that they are biblically based.  I do not see “love” showing itself in religion ~ except the love of more law, tradition and doctrine.  I don’t see many walking in the promised freedom of scripture.  I don’t see many christians walking in promised power.  Mostly, all I see is one form or another of legalism ~ some obvious but most hidden and subtle, behind a veil, yet still controlling.   It is in the tentacles of legalism where we become entagled, where we are striving to measure up to our man made “laws” that we forget about complete surrender, or yielding to Holy Spirit.  Instead we become a people driven to do more, be more, to reason more, to bring God down to human levels.  What we need is not more logical thinking but worship… not legalism but surrender… not intellectualism but revelation!

The first revelation must be to grasp the holiness of God.  As I’ve said before, God is not your buddy or pal.  God is set apart from man.  To glimpse His holiness will completely humble you… to be overcome with holy fear.  To see HIM is to worship HIM!  Holiness is the sum total of God ~ all of His attributes combined (there will be future posts of the attributes of God) equals awe inspired reverence.  According to Malachi 3:6…

For I am the Lord, I do not change!

He never has and He never will.  God doesn’t have an “off” day.  He is always 100% God, 100% holy, 100% powerful.  He doesn’t offer less than 100% either!  For the asking, we receive 100% salvation, 100% mercy, 100% grace, 100% righteousness ~ no matter what, He loves us unconditionally, even when we have an “off” day, week or even month.

Be hungry for God today ~ He’s waiting for you.  Let us all seek to uncover legalism in whatever form and cast it out of our lives.  Seek Him in His holiness.  You will leave His presence changed forever, never again to relegate Him to anything less than Almighty God.

To love God completely ~ wholly ~ is the path to holiness… to love Him with all that I am with an undivided heart. He is ever faithful to Who He is.  Therefore, it is in the fullness of surrender that I can offer complete trust.  I hold nothing back.  But then neither does God. How long He waits for my total surrender.

Do I not create my own difficulties?  My stubborn will ~ likened to a mule. Or unsure commitment? Perhaps not totally unsure… just completely unfocused.  Or my lack of trust? The enemy delights in whispering his lies to me. “Did you hear the one about how you can take care of “this” all by yourself? Surely, God doesn’t need to be bothered by something this trivial?”  How about wavering faith?  Being tossed to and fro is enough to make me buy stock in Dramamine.

Ephesians 4:14  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.

My will is in absolute opposition to God. Period!  To flow with His Spirit, to bask in His glory and to be of good use to the Kingdom, I must surrender ME and allow God the freedom to do with me as He wills.  I get in the way of my blessings, my favor from God of all good things.  I become  my worst enemy.  I choose to shut down the flow from Heaven designed to be continual to those who love Him, who worship Him, who strive toward holiness because  surrender is not easy.  O God, keep my feet on Your chosen path as I daily surrender my life to You.  Lead me toward holiness.  I want others to see Jesus in me.  More of Him and lots less of me until I only reflect Christ to the world.  I surrender anew this day, knowing that I lose nothing and gain everything Heaven has for me.  Stir Your hunger in me, Lord… hunger for Your Presence… hunger for Your righteousness… famished for Your holiness.

Matthew 5:6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Who’s The Boss?

We sing and pray ~ “Give me Your heart, O God”.  It’s a great song.  Do we, in turn, give our hearts completely to Him?  There is a prerequisite of surrender that then allows us to receive everything God has for us.  That seems to slip a lot of Christian minds.  We behave as spoiled children… stomping our feet, whining and throwing a hissy fit to “get what we think we want/deserve”… continuing to ask for more and more, never accepting the responsibility of our duty to the Most Holy God. Sometimes Father God has to show us a little tough love.  God desires that we love Him.  He loves us. It’s Who He is!  He can do no less, as His love is unwavering and unchanging (unlike ours).  It is in our surrendering to His vision for us, what He desires us to ultimately become, that we align ourselves to His purposes. He must be enthroned in His temple…

1 Corinthians 6:19  Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (who is) in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

Right now, is He the center of your life… are you passionately seeking after Him… does He have control of everything in you?  He paid for you so long ago on that cross… is there any room for Him in your life?  Or is He relegated to digging you out of trials and troubles or a couple of hours on Sunday?  He chose to lay down His life for my sins, your sins.  How can we do less for Him?  How can we, at the foot of the cross, decide how we want Him to be in our lives?

As believers, we have been offered everything!  There’s a banquet set by the King in front of us… never to hunger or thirst again.  Who among us can truly grasp this truth or the delicacies of the feast?  He bids us eat.  Are we too absorbed in ourselves and life that we grab mere morsels and dash away from His Presence in pursuit of  our self indulgences… content with  scraps that are unable to spiritually sustain.  How this breaks His heart, when He has so much for us ~ every answer we’ve ever needed.  How little we value His provision.  Without complete surrender to Him and His purposes for our lives, I believe our attempts to worship, adore and reverence the most High and Holy God are but pitiful crumbs on the floor beneath His banquet table.

He says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Can we say the same?  Just how much does God love us?  Enough to convict us to examine our hearts and with Holy Spirit guidance see those places that are not fully surrendered to Him.  Then, we must choose to repent and turn away from those familiar places that control our lives and accept that Jesus, who bought us with great price knows far better than we, how He desires us to live.  I encourage you to find those places not fully surrendered, offer them as a sweet sacrifice to God and experience a new place of freedom.

Ants as teachers!

Living in this beautiful country is such a blessing… it also has a few drawbacks, one of which is dealing with creatures insistent on invading your space. Especially during the dry season, unless you spray poison profusely, you are likely to have an issue with ants… no matter what. I had stood my ground, proclaiming my dominion and authority over them according to Genesis 1:26… all to no avail. In fact, the more I claimed my dominion and authority, the more the ants invaded. I hadn’t experienced this before. I was troubled. I moaned to my prayer partners, but again… more ants. I just couldn’t allow our home to be poisoned for the sake of ants who “had to leave”! My Bible said so. Where was the power I had once walked in? The power had diminished ( read LEFT) because I wasn’t walking where I thought I was. I was self-deluded ~ believing that my walk with God was just fine. BUT GOD ~ He knew I needed to step into a phenomenal new place. A place of surrender ~ the abode of Holiness. I just couldn’t get there from here… at least not until I did some housecleaning. So I actually have the ants to thank for pointing me toward bended knee and bowed head. You see… I believed that where I walked and how I operated in the Spirit was now a given (arrogance) and I would just continue to grow (pride) on auto pilot. I was worshiping and praising and studying all on auto pilot. I was not engaging the most Powerful, most Holy God, the source of Power. Sadly, I didn’t even recognize this. I had “a sense” that something wasn’t right, but why be bothered. After all, I KNOW who I am in Christ (religious spirit, deception) Fortunately, the ants just kept adding to their extended family. I kept asking God, “Why aren’t they leaving?” Asking dissolved into pleading. Still more ants!! He, the Master, finally grabbed my attention. My prayer about the ants changed from my exerting “my” dominion and authority which had accomplished absolutely nothing, to “Lord, show me what is wrong and while You do, could You exert Your authority and dominion over these nasty biting creatures.” You know what happened? God opened me up and showed me the issues that I had allowed to exist… sin issues. Spiritual surgery, painful indeed, was necessary. Humility was primary in recognizing my need to repent. Until the Lord caused me to focus on MY SINS, I was blind to my need for repentance (pharisee, hypocrisy) To enter into a new place, a new level with Him, I had to remove all that Phariseeical baggage. I could only enter, unencumbered, not only free from heavy baggage, but also free of what had worked in the past. All the familiarity… it too had become an idol. You can’t do a new thing using old stuff. It must be Him. All about Him. And you know what? The ants have departed! Thank You Lord for answered prayer, for new avenues to explore, for the call of Holiness. And thank You that I walk this journey with You.

Beckoned by the River

I love how God uses occurrences in the natural to show me His spiritual perspective. We went to the Grande Rio ~ the river, to cool off. The sand was scalding hot, causing me to OW, OW, OWWW it into the water. It was instantly cooling… almost chilly to my very hot and sweaty body. I wanted to slowly immerse myself as I moved into the deeper water, but that was not to be. Within moments, I could no longer stand as the river bottom was covered in large rounded stones, slippery and dangerous. Through no choice of my own, I went down with a splash. Brrr ~ but the coolness was quickly replaced with a comfortable Ahhh! I dog paddled over those stones to an area where I could stand neck deep. The river was clear. I could see the gravel all around my pink toe nails. Above my spot, I could hear and see white water as it was forced through the narrows before spreading itself wide and free. Soon, I was surrounded by a school of small fish. If I turned one way, they were invisible to me. Turning around, they reflected the shocking pink of my swimsuit. As I relaxed and bobbed about, the flow of the river subtly drew me off my feet. The water seemed to call to me and very soon, I was in the center and being moved by the will of the river. It was a bit scary ~ soon, I had to swim back against the flow to eventually regain my footing in the shifting gravel. I did this several times, amazed at the calming yet powerful force of the river.
I believe God wants us to be immersed in Him (the River). To stay where we are is the hot sand. The River beckons with its coolness, shadowing the stones (of life) We can float over those troubles, buoyed by the water. We feel safe where our feet can touch the familiar, but the gravel kept shifting, just like life, keeping me off balance. The fish reflected “learning”, after all, they were a school. Some, although right in front of me, were concealed… perhaps representing truths yet to be revealed or as is often the case, issues that need to be dealt with. The pink fish, reflected what I was “wearing” and the light  of the sun (Son) What I can’t see, but God does. The white water, the narrows, represent testing… being forced through a narrow place, tumbling over huge boulders, to finally come into a wide place… a place of calm. I was reminded that those boulders above me used to be MUCH bigger… but the River wears them down to eventually become the gravel beneath my feet. The River really wants me to flow with it (Him), unencumbered by the world and its trouble.  The River wants my complete surrender, to take me anywhere He desires because He is Sovereign God. And yes, it was a bit scary to relinquish control to the River. But each time brought greater peace and deeper understanding. I really do desire to flow with the Lord, giving Him control over where He takes me. I want to banish fear of… the unknown, the what ifs, the why … and fully trust that He knows what He is doing. He loves me with an unending love and sees me complete in Him. I wonder if you get all wrinkled and pruney in His River?