Tag Archives: reading the bible

Producing Better Fruit

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

Brian Tracy is one of the world’s leading motivational speakers for sales people. He has written several books, and is known internationally. One of the things he teaches is the Law of Correspondence. It says that your outer world will always be a reflection of your inner world. That means that your actions are driven by what’s going on inside of you. If there is chaos in your mind and heart, your actions will reflect that and your life will be crazy on the outside too. Our lives produce fruit that is a reflection of what’s going on in our heart.

In Matthew 12:33 Jesus said, “To have good fruit you must have a healthy tree; if you have a poor tree, you will have bad fruit. A tree is known by the kind of fruit it bears” (GNB). Every one of us bear fruit in our lives. The question is, is it good fruit or bad fruit? Our fruit is a reflection of our spiritual health. What goes on in our spirit man reflects in the fruit we bear. To have better fruit, we have to work on our spiritual health.

In my garden, I’ve noticed that the quality of the vegetables it produces is in relation to how much water it receives. When I forget to water it, there will be little to nothing being produced. What is produced during those times is undersized and not very tasty. When I add water, the plants will look differently almost over night. They will bloom quickly and produce a better harvest. It has to be constantly tended to if it is going to continuously bear good fruit.

If we fail to continuously water our spirit with the water that comes from God’s Word, we risk the same thing. Our fruit will be small and tasteless. It will reflect a dry spirit. We must take time to feed our spirit through reading God’s Word and spending time in prayer. If we are ever to escape a chaotic life end the fruit it bears, we are going to have to make time to focus on what’s going on inside of us. In time, our lives will bloom and produce the fruit that’s tasty to others and God.

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

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Training For Godliness – Avoiding Injury

Each year, I take one week off from writing to help me refresh and reset. This is that week. To help you stay faithful to your daily devotional time, I’m bringing back a series I wrote a few years ago on disciplines we as Christians need to have. Enjoy and I’ll be back next week with all new devotions.

Avoiding Injury

The way to avoid or minimize injury in sports is to do all the right things. The same applies spiritually. One of the things you can do to prevent injury is stretching. When is the last time you stretched yourself spiritually? I’m not talking about a faith pledge financially. I’m talking about stepping out in faith and you really doing something positive for the Kingdom. It could be walking up to a stranger and just telling them, “God wanted me to tell you that He loves you.” It could be fasting for three days with water only to grow closer to God. It could be any number of things that you don’t think you can do for God.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” The same thing applies spiritually. If you don’t stretch yourself and think you can do more than you are right now, you’re right. You will stunt your growth and never do more than what you’re doing today. God wants us to step out of the boat like Peter did. When he saw Jesus walking on the water and asked Jesus to call him out of the boat, I’m sure his mind told him that he couldn’t do it. Thankfully his faith in God told him that he could. Have you asked jesus to call you out of your boat? Which voice are you listening to? Stretch yourself.

Pre-Training

So before you begin your in depth training for Godliness you need to be able to do some things first. You need to be able to read God’s Word without interruption. How much you read isn’t important in the beginning. It’s not about reading a chapter a day or at a time. God can speak to you with just one verse, but you need to be where you can hear Him speak to you through it. Get away from all distractions and the noise in your life. Jesus went away from others to hear God. You should too.

You also need to be in the habit of praying and listening. Prayer is important. I think contemplative prayer is even more so. I’ll do a post on this soon because it’s more than just praying what comes to mind. It’s purposefully thinking through your prayers. That’s something you work up to though. Beyond just praying, you need to learn to quiet your mind and give God time to speak to you. We, like Elijah in I Kings 19:11-14, think that God speaks loudly all the time. We want Him to speak to us audibly. Elijah saw a windstorm that tore rocks loose from the mountains, but God’s voice wasn’t there. He saw an earthquake, but God’s voice wasn’t there. He even saw fire, but God’s voice wasn’t there either. After the fire, there was a gentle whisper of God’s voice. That’s how God speaks to us. We need to get to where we can hear His voice, then quiet our mind and listen for it.

Tomorrow I’ll wrap this series up with some final thoughts and encouragement to continue your training for Godliness.

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Training For Godliness – Nutrition 

Each year, I take one week off from writing to help me refresh and reset. This is that week. To help you stay faithful to your daily devotional time, I’m bringing back a series I wrote a few years ago on disciplines we as Christians need to have. Enjoy and I’ll be back next week with all new devotions.

Nutrition

Proper nutrition is essential when in training. It will keep you strong and keep you going. You need to have a steady diet of God’s Word in you. Thats what will keep you strong in your faith and keep you going in the difficult times. When researching nutrition for a marathon, they recommended that your diet should consist of 65% complex carbohydrates, 25% unsaturated fats and 10% protein. As a Christian, I believe you should be getting 65% of your nutrition from your study of God’s Word and in prayer. It is important that you are feeding yourself.

You should get 25% from your church. It should not be the bulk of your diet. The food you get there should balance out what God is giving you personally. It should help give you more nutrition beyond what God is speaking to you. For too many of us, the on,y time our spirit eats is on Sunday morning. Your physical body won’t last long eating once a week and neither will your spirit man.

The final 10% should come from other trusted places. I recommend reading books or blogs on living a Christian life. There are a lot of places where you can get daily doses of God’s Word. Find books or blogs that challenge you to do more than you’re doing now. Some book authors I recommend are Mark Batterson, Chip Ingram, John Bevere and Max Lucado. These men write things that challenge me to grow and help change my perspective.

Hydration

You will go no where if you get dehydrated. You must carry water with you and drink it often if you are running a marathon. Dehydration causes weakness, dizziness, confusion and sluggishness. Spiritual dehydration causes the same symptoms. If you are weak, you are vulnerable to attack. If you are dizzy or confused, it is easy to get lead astray. If you are sluggish, you should go to the ant and consider her ways according to Solomon! These things will slow and stop your spiritual growth. Just as dehydration physically is dangerous, it is more so to be dehydrated spiritually.

We all go through the dry times our lives. We must continuously pour the water of God’s word into our spirit. In the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13:3-9, Jesus talked of the seeds that fell among the rocks. It says, “But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.” (NLT) You need roots to get water. The water for your spirit is in God’s word. Dig deep into it and plant your roots in it so you can stay spiritually hydrated. If you don’t read the Bible much because you don’t speak personally in “thee’s” and “thou’s”, then read a different translation. I recommend the New Living Translation. It’s easy to understand and is in language that you speak.

Tomorrow we will look at how to avoid injury and some pre-training things you need to do before you really start training for Godliness.

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The Power Of God’s Word


As Christians, reading God’s Word should be a part of our daily life. We should be so acquainted with it that it becomes integrated into our thought life. In the Psalms, David told us that he hide it in his heart, so that he wouldn’t sin against God. Think about how powerful a statement that is. Each one of us struggles with sin, but putting God’s Word in us can help us with that struggle. We are the ones responsible for putting it into own hearts, but that’s where so many of us struggle.

I struggled with it for years as well. It felt like a chore more than anything. I tried the chapter a day approach, but it wasn’t always meaningful. I began to pray that God would put a hunger in me for His Word. I wanted the desire to devour it, and God answered that prayer. The more I read it, the more I understand how important it is to keep putting it in me, if food is the main energy source for the body, then God’s Word is the main energy source for our spirit. Without eating, it’s hard to thrive.

Here are some verses in the Bible about the importance of God’s Word.

1. Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”
Luke 11:28 NLT

2. So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls.
JAMES 1:21 AMP

3. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you.
Ephesians 6:17 GNT

4. There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool? 
Psalm 19:11 MSG

5. For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Hebrews 4:12 NLT

6. Your word, O Lord, will last forever; it is eternal in heaven.
Psalm 119:89 GNT

7. Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God], so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless.
EPHESIANS 5:25-27 AMP

8. Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said, The old life is a grass life, its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers; Grass dries up, flowers droop, God’s Word goes on and on forever. This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.
1 Peter 1:22-25 MSG

9. When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.
Jeremiah 15:16 NLT

10. And we also thank God continually for this, that when you received the word of God [concerning salvation] which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of [mere] men, but as it truly is, the word of God, which is effectually at work in you who believe [exercising its inherent, supernatural power in those of faith].
1 THESSALONIANS 2:13 AMP

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Spiritual Exercise (Video)

Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.

I Timothy 4:8 GNT

 

 

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The Walk of Shame

One of the things I love about our car is when you get low on gas, not only does it notify you, the navigation screen automatically shows you where all the gas stations are. If I keep going, the alarm will continue to let me know every few miles that it’s time to fill up. So far I haven’t run out of gas in it. That’s a good thing because I know what it’s like to run out of gas and to have to do the walk of shame to the gas station.

What about you? Have you ever run out of gas? How about spiritually? Again, I’m guilt of that too. I’ve let myself run out of gas spiritually and I’ve stalled. There were things that I did that caused me to run out. One of the first things I quit doing was reading the Bible daily. It was more of a box to check off for me at the time and I saw it as a chore. When I quit reading my Bible, my faith took a hit.

Romans tells us that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I can increase my faith by putting God’s Word in me. I wasn’t doing that. I quickly found out that I was susceptible to attacks. It turns out that faith is also our shield that helps to protect us against the fiery darts of the devil. I began to slip in areas I had never had trouble in. I started to go places and do things that I never dreamed I would have.

After that, I noticed that my church attendance began to slip. “I wasn’t getting anything out of it,” I would say. I wasn’t getting anything out of it because I wasn’t trying to. I wasn’t listening because I didn’t want to be convicted of the things I was doing. I didn’t want to chat with people at church so I started leaving as soon as the pastor ended his sermons. I cut myself off from the community of believers.

Hebrews 10 tells us not to forsake the assembling of fellow believers. I looked up “forsake” and dictionary.com said, “to quit or leave entirely.” Because I did it, I know why the writer said we shouldn’t. I left a group of people who loved me, prayed for me and lifted me up when I needed it. Church is more than just a group of believers going to hear a message. It’s a place where we connect and find a sense of belonging.

After I left, it didn’t take long before I ran out of gas. When I couldn’t move forward in my life anymore, I decided to take that walk to the altar. The good news is that this walk isn’t a walk of shame. It’s a walk of rejoicing because God comes in and fills us with His love and restores us to a right relationship with Him. If you’re on empty today, you might have made the same mistakes I did. The good news is that He’s waiting to fill you up again and to restore your life. He did it for me and my church accepted me back with open arms. There’s no shame in walking home.

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