Thursday, June 21, 2012


"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-dresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you.  AS the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.  Just as the father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love (John 15:1-9)."

Often times 'fruit' is thought to be action or obedience; that fruit can be measured by how much we are serving God.  We make ourselves feel better by assessing the fruit in our lives such as; how many people we talked to, how often we read the bible, how often we go to church, how many times we don't do the things we know we aren't supposed to do.  We look at the outward manifestation that is obedience and feel either proud or ashamed by what we are 'producing'.  If our assessment of our works isn't as high as we think they ought to be, we respond by trying harder, finding ways to serve and express outward manifestations of God's presence in our lives. This type of mindset is that of slave, or someone under the law; but we are friends of God (John 15:15) and freed from the law (Galatians 2:19).

Scripture teaches that fruit is not an outward manifestation of service, but an inward manifestation of character.  "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:23).'" These people were obedient to service but still Jesus did not know them.  The gifts of the spirit are different than the fruit of the spirit.  God desires something more than obedience, something greater; He desires relationship. Looking again at the passage from John 15, God's command is, 'Abide in me and I will abide in you.'  A branch cannot force itself to produce fruit, rather its only job is to stay attached to the vine. When our main goal is to be with God, to seek his face and his presence, then we begin to produce true fruit.  

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23)."  Fruit has everything to do with our character, our very nature.  God doesn't want to create people who can serve and merely fulfill a purpose, rather he wants to transplant our very nature.  This is an uncomfortable reality, because it is easy for us to be obedient without having the heart of Jesus; in other words we are very good at faking it.  We can dance during the fast songs, raise our hands during the slow songs, know all the right answers, serve others, and fool everyone to think that we are good Christians that are close to God while never actually being transformed from within.  God doesn't want slaves, he wants new people that can be in relationship with him.  He calls us to be transformed by the power of Jesus, not just motivated by it. God wants to give us a new nature, not just a new appearance.

We can only be transformed into His likeness by being with Him.  That is why he calls us to abide in him and he will abide in us.  Likwise James 4:8 says, 'Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.' When we get close to the Fathers heart we are transformed into his likeness.  The closer we are the more we become like Him.  We need Him to renew our minds so that we no longer ask, 'How can I serve you', but instead state, 'God I want to know you'.  When God is the ultimate goal, when knowing him and being with him is our purpose in life, we become like Him and fruit is produced in is.  It just so happens that when our character does become like His that we begin to love like he loves, we have compassion on those he has compassion on, and we do what we see our father doing (John 5:19).  The 'fruit' we bear because of the intimacy we have with the father, results in outward manifestations of love and service, not the other way around. 

Do you want God to change your character? Do you actually want to be like Jesus?  Ask yourself if this is really your hearts desire.  Or do you just want to get by, to do what you think you need to in order to gain his approval? Do you only want to control your actions by being obedient, or be radically stripped and transformed by the presence of God?  Do you want to know God or merely serve Him? Paul says he does not want a righteousness that comes from the law but that come through Faith in Jesus (Philippians 3:9).

John 15 expresses the depths to which God goes to make our character like His own.  Not only will he cut away branches in us that do not bear fruit, but even the branches that do bear fruit he will prune.  Even our semi-good branches need refining.  Romans 5 shows how some character attributes can only be given through suffering; if his image in us is our ultimate goal then we rejoice in our suffering.  "We exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through he Holy Spirit who has given to us (Romans 5:3-5)."  When we have true fruit as our goal, that is transformation from being in His presence, then we will exalt in our suffering!! That is a crazy transformation of the mind that can only be achieved by spending time with God! If we are obedience minded then we will always take suffering as a setback rather than an opportunity to know God and be known by Him. 

God we want to know you, give us your heart, your mind, and more of your Holy Spirit.  Strip away the dead branches in our lives, and prune the ones that already bear fruit.  Let our relationship be known by our fruit, that is the fruit of the spirit.

 If I am producing things contrary to the Spirit it is a reflection of my lack of intimacy with the father.  If I am naturally producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, this is a reflection of the intimacy that I have with Him.  There is no middle ground, either I am spending time with my Father and as a result being pruned and cut to produce the fruit of the Spirit, or He does not know me and I am producing things contrary to the Spirit.  My outward actions can disguise the inward character. The true mark of our character is what we do and think about when we are all by ourselves.  What do you produce when you are alone?

"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits.  Grapes are not gathered form thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  So then, you will know them by their fruits."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Daddy Issues (part 2)

The story of the Prodigal son reveals the importance of our understanding of God as Father further.  It says in Luke15:12 that the father split the inheritance between his two sons. The story reveals how Daddy issues have two possible consequences when it comes to the inheritance/promises of God. The first son, wanted the in inheritances without the presence of His father.  But in that instance he squandered everything he had been given.  He learned that the presence of his father was more important than the inheritance, and that we will neglect our inheritance if His presence isn't of first importance (Luke 15:18).

The oldest son reveals his ignorance after his brother has returned and been restored to full son-ship.  His first blunder is to ask a servant about what is going on instead of going to his father.  If we do not have a correct understanding of God as Father, we will never learn to relate directly to Him.

The older son says to his father, 'Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never game me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends (verse 29).'  The elder son revealed specific lies that he was believing about His father.  1) That he needed to 'earn' his inhertiance.  Much of the church still struggles as slaves, believing that God desires obedience over relationship. We try to be recognized by our merit rather than by His free gifts of mercy and grace.  2) He already had been given his inheritance (verse 12), and he had access to have a party whenever he wanted to.   3) A small side note is that we do not party enough as the body of Christ because we are too stuck being slaves rather than sons.  We are set on obedience and so we never enjoy being in His presence; the truth is however, that we actually become more obedient when when 'being' with Him is more important that 'serving' Him.  The closer we draw to the fathers heart the more we are transformed into the likeness of Jesus.

One of the hardest things for many Christians to accept is that there is more to a relationship with God than they have experienced.  In fact, this very truth often times feels condemning to Christians rather than hopeful and exciting.  The truth, is that there is always more of God to know and experience.  "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom (Isaiah 40:28)."  God is looking for seekers, those seeking His face, His very presence. It is only in pursuing God that we are transformed from Glory to Glory (2 Cor. 3), and only with Him will we come to realize and actualize the inheritance he has given us!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Daddy Issues (part 1)

And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased (Matt. 3:17)."  The revelation of God as our father, and we as His children, drastically alters the way we view Him. As we step into our identity as children of God, we begin to relate with Him and others around us in Spirit and in Truth; we are transformed into His likeness and are able to steward what he has given us on this Earth just like Jesus did.

Much of the church today is suffering from 'Daddy Issues' because we do not have a correct revelation of God as Father and we has His children. Because of this, we have failed to step into everything that he has made available.  There is a great inheritance that God has made available for His children, but it is our job to claim that inheritance.  Our 'Daddy Issues' have caused the church to function under a slave mentality rather than a family mentality; and this is devastating to the way we steward the Kingdom of God.

When the people of God finally were able to enter the promise land, two tribes decided not to cross the Jordan into the land of promises (read Numbers 32).  They did not choose to do this because they believed that the inheritance God had promised them wasn't actually meant for them (verse 19).  They even fought with the rest of the tribes to conquer the promise land, but were again not able to accept the inheritance from the Lord; "We will pass over armed before the Lord into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us beyond the Jordan (Verse 32)."  I believe that the reason why the two tribes didn't cross the Jordan into the land of promises was because they were still suffering under their 'slave mentality' from Egypt.

Much of the church suffers the same issues, they refuse to truly believe that the promises of God are for them, and so live in a state of unbelief that produces fear, worry, anxiety, and false humility.  Not accepting our inheritance from God is not humble, it is the worst form of pride. God has promised us new life, power from on high, and freedom from sin, grief, and shame.  Simpering on about how 'we don't deserve it', 'we aren't worthy', and 'I don't want anything God but just to serve you', are slaps in the face to the mercy and grace of God; these attitudes most often stem from a misunderstanding of our Father.  Of course we don't deserve it, but we need it; and we cannot let our pride and our shame prevent us from stepping into everything that God has made available.  Ask God today to reveal himself as your father.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


           I have felt spiritually 'off' the last couple weeks.  God has been using me and been revealing things to me, but I have found myself striving for more in ways that has left me feeling stretched and unfulfilled. God has revealed to me that my lack of fulfillment is a result of me not recognizing a change of seasons in my life.  I have just stepped out of a season of intense leadership and involvement. I am used to consistently being a leader in many people's lives, teaching, encouraging, and exhorting.  I was established in a setting where my gifts were recognized and pulled upon every day.  Because I was devoted to that season that God had prepared for me, I was getting revelation downloads from God regularly and my intimacy with Him was ever increasing.  Lately the revelation's haven't come, neither have I felt very intimate with the Father.  I believe that is because I have failed to recognized that I am entering into a new season in my life and been trying to force it to be the same as the previous one; this has caused me to come out of alignment with the present and His presence.

         I am no longer the leader of a large ministry, nor am I surrounded by people I know and who know me.  Instead God has placed me in a new situation with new people.  I am not an established leader, and don't have as much recognized influence as I did before; however I do have more time to dig into His word, to go through a refining process on my character, and to learn to sustain my relationship with God in an independent way.  In accepting where God has placed me and where he is taking me, I can minister from a place of security and take my 'blinders' off to see God's presence in my new situation.  This will allow me to be available to God's call on my life and be able to access what he has set before me; thereby entering into intimacy that leads to revelation once again.

        "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)."

         God puts us in different seasons in life to draw us closer to Him, furthering his kingdom.  I believe he has prepared us for each of these seasons (Ephesians 2:10); these can be seasons of intensity or seasons of rest, seasons of large community and seasons of small ones. There are certain character traits that can only be given through trials, and it is because we have the promises of God that we can rejoice in the present suffering (Romans 5:3).  We rejoice in our suffering, because we know the end result is character transformation and hope; hope doesn't disappoint.  Our faith in the promises of God shape the way we view the present, no matter the circumstances. It is important that we align our minds and our intentions with the season that God has brought us into, even if it is a season of trials.  If we do not, we are not going to reap the full benefit of what God has made available to us, and we are going to miss out on a revelation of His character that he wishes to place in us.

        If God has put me in a season of rest, prayer, and learning, but continue to force myself into a role of leadership and restless activity, I am going to miss out on what God has made available only in rest. It is clear when our season has changed because we will always feel uncomfortable when we place ourselves in a situation that God has not prepared us for.  This dissonance is a result of relying on ourselves rather than on God, it is seeking a source of fulfillment and purpose that is not there to find.  Imagine that there are different wells in a desert; but some wells are dry during certain parts of the year while others contain water.  If I go to a well at the wrong time of year it will be dry and I will not be able to relieve my thirst.  However, at a different time of year, that well that was dry may now have be filled with water.  Sometimes we force ourselves into a place that we have not been prepared for, and it is like stepping into a dessert where our thirst cannot be quenched. If we wait upon the Lord, he will work on our character and send us to that same well, except this time it will have been prepared.  God will not give us more than our character can handle, and he is continuously working on our character to make it more like His.

      Ask God what season you are in, and how you ought to be pressing into him.  If you feel disconnected with our Father, it might be because you have entered into a different season in your life.  Maybe you are being called to lead rather than to follow, or to rest rather than to run.  Seek it out, look at what God is doing instead of what he is not doing.  Become satisfied in Him alone not matter the circumstances.

"Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life (John 4:13-14)."