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The Apple Tree

God gave me an object lesson one day. We had an apple tree in our garden and one summer a whole limb had only produced very small leaves and no fruit. I soon remembered that several years before I had tied a string around it. As the limb had grown the string became tighter, slowing and eventually stopping the flow of sap to the branches of the limb, causing the whole limb to die. The sap was there, the channels for it to rise in were there but the flow was impeded.

As Christians we have God on the inside of us as the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17), we have his word and his life changing wisdom. It is God, his word and his power that can change us and make us more like him each day (Phil 2:13). In fact, he says he will do this until Jesus comes (Phil 1:6). So why aren’t so many Christians and churches changing, maturing, walking in victory and impacting their world?

God told me in the object lesson above that a lack of humility was a primary reason. Being humble and walking in humility are quite similar in many ways. They mean to be completely lacking in arrogance or unhealthy pride. To see ourselves as being small of ourselves and yet invincible with God on the inside of us. Probably most importantly they mean to be teachable, to realize our need for God.

If we can humble ourselves before God, the word says he will exalt us. (James 4:10) If we are teachable and spend the time with God in his word, prayer and fellowship, he will change, mold, bless and use us. Wow, that’s what I want, how about you? 

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Soaring with Wings as Eagles.

In Isaiah chapter 41 and verse10 (KJV) it says: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

God says do not fear, I am with you. For us as New Testament Christians God is not only with us but in us (Gal 2:20). We are more than conquerors (Rom 8:37), victorious in Christ (1 Cor 15:57) and we have the greater one living on the inside of us (1 John 4:4).

God says to cast all our cares on him for he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). In our verse from Isaiah above, God goes on to tell us not to be dismayed and anxious as he is our God. Just think, God Almighty, creator of the universe is our God. He says he will strengthen us.

In Isaiah 40:31, we are told to keep our eyes on the Lord, trust in him and we will find strength in God. If we do we will soar with wings as eagles, and we will run our race for God without weariness. I love the image of the eagle soaring, wings stretched out on the air currents, looking to God. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).

Finally, in our main verse for today, God says he will hold us up with his right hand of victory and righteousness. Fear has torment (1 John 4:18) but perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Rest in our God who is love (1 John 4:8) and let his love saturate you and flow through you. This will drive out all fear, it will strengthen you and you will soar with the eagles, eyes focused on God.

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Taming the Tongue

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 12 and verse 36 it says that we will give an account for every idle word we speak and in verse 34 we are told that our mouths speaks from the abundance of our hearts.

In Proverbs chapter 18 and verse 21 the writer states that: “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (KJV). If that is the case, then what we put in our hearts is of utmost importance. What we look at and what we listen to is what we put in our hearts.

“The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity” (James 3:6) and can be tamed by no man. It sounds like we have a job for God on our hands. Fortunately, we have been made new creations in Christ, our minds are being renewed, we are attached to the vine and abide in Christ. As the Holy Spirt that lives in us changes us and develops his fruit in us, our tongues will be changed, as long as we cooperate with him.

James also gives us some very good advice in Chapter 1 and verse 19 of his epistle: "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." If we all put that verse into practice the world would be a much more pleasant place to live. I encourage you to join me in spending time each morning asking God to help you put James advice into practice.

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What is Love?

Genesis chapter 24 and verse 67 always strikes me because of its simplicity. Isaac and Rebecca had met for the very first time but it says she became his wife and he loved her.

In new testament Greek the predominant word for love is "agape." This is an unconditional love, an act of our will, by faith. This is how God loves us (John 3:16). We are called to "agapao" one another as Christ loved us (John 13:34). It always impresses me that husbands are admonished to set the tone for love (agape) in their marriages (Eph. 5:21-33). They are the ones admonished to love in that passage.

This love or “agape”, for others is patient, pure, humble, controlled, kind, polite; thinks God's thoughts and abhors evil. It is never selfish, it is full of faith and never fails (1 Cor.13:4-8).

In any relationship, “agape” is the foundation but affection ("phileo" in the Greek) is also important; the fondness, tenderness, proclamation and demonstration of love (Rom.12:9,10).

Let us let the Apostle John have the final word: "my little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth" (1 John.3:18; KJV). Isn't that what God did for us? (John 3:16) Wow! Enough said!


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God Exalts the Humble

Peter in his first epistle tells us that God: “resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5; KJV). To walk in humility and have a humble heart are cardinal virtues of the Christian. We are commanded to humble ourselves before God. (1 Peter 5:6)

Jesus is our greatest example of one humbled before God the Father. Jesus gave up the privileges of the God head to come to earth as a man and humbled himself to the point of death on a cross (Phil 2:5-9). Notice that as a result of Jesus humility God was able to exalt him. God will also exalt the man or woman that will humble them self before God. (1 Peter 5:6)

What does it mean to be humble, to walk in humility? The words mean to make low, to be modest, to see ourselves as small and limited without God but able to do all things with God’s help (Phil 4:13). Perhaps the most significant part of the meaning of these words is that we need to be submitted to God and teachable.

Are we teachable? Can God address us in any area of our lives? To be teachable is not just to be a good listener but it is to allow the word of God to convict and change us and to be obedient.

Our teachability will determine how far we progress in our Christian walk, how much God can work in us, through us and for us. We are nothing without God. We need to humble ourselves and allow God to change us so we can be all he wants us to be. That’s the God kind of life. Pass this on.

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