The Empty Box

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I got this prayer box necklace from my aunt years ago and recently it got me to thinking.

Looking at the empty box, I could have worn this as just a pretty necklace over the years, or I could take my prayer and place it in the box, close to the heart. I chose to write my favorite scripture and put it in the box and whenever the necklace moved or I saw it in a reflection I would meditate and believe that word was qualified in my own life.  The empty box did not remain empty.

I use this, as an illustration, to show how we may take the time for our empty box during our downtime. We have spent all day, pouring out our energy and when we stop we are depleted. When we take the time to recharge,  we make choices. Those choices are to leave that box empty, fill it with distraction, or fill it with life.

For a season I found myself filling the empty box with distraction. Such as binge-watching Netflix or spending hours on my social media accounts when I wanted to just ‘chill’. Not before too long it became habitual and without any thought, I pick up my phone first thing in the morning and throughout the day, all day, and mindlessly scroll.
Then there is the other box in the room that grabs my time. As soon as I sit on my couch I would reach for my remote and scroll for an hour looking for something to watch.
Then one day it hit me, did I really just waste an hour (or hours)  scrolling nothingness?

There is a danger for me personally to use ‘nothing’ or distraction during down time. Before too long it becomes same old’ same old’ and if not careful I slip into the melancholy of nothingness and the empty box turns into a life of meh.

Think of your own life, are you working and going home and doing nothing? Is the place that you want to be in 5 years? I ask this because if you are filling your free time with nothingness or distractions, then in 5 years time, you will accomplish only keeping your box empty.

I know this may be an extreme thought, but for me it became extreme. I was created to write, paint, minister and to be present, yet I filled up a season of my life with nothingness and wondered why I was not getting anywhere. It all turned so quickly and without notice went from a few minutes of decompressing daily, into a lifestyle.

I am being exposed here. Not because it is fun to admit it, but because I know I am not alone and my hope is that others will see before the melancholy or time thief sets in. The thief of your time can also be a thief of your joy.

So what can you fill the empty box with?

I am determined to fill my life with things from the Lord through prayer, worship of all forms and pursuit of my future that He has planned for me. I want my empty box to become filled with life. So that I may pour it out onto others and not be running on a nothingness.  So that I may remain young and strong.

Psalm 103:5- He fills my life with good things so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.  

A matter of Influence

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I want to imagine, I want to dream, I want to believe, but all I feel is anger, hopeless and despair. I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I just feel like at any moment I can explode.
These words were spoken to me recently and my first answer was, you are dealing with anxiety, you need to address the issue, as it won’t go away on its own.
But as I was praying for this individual the word that has been rolling around and around in my spirit has been the word influence.
I asked the Lord how am I supposed to articulate such big things going on in my heart at this moment with mere words?
I honestly have no direction on the how, so I will just share my heart as best as I am able and hope that the one that needs to hear it, receives it with the love intended.

Here we go… One definition of Influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.

We all have been influenced by many sources both negative and positive, our entire lives. Those influences have shaped who we are, and our influences will impact who we yet will become.

I think this is why  Paul was so specific about focusing on the good and true.
Philippians 4:8- Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I have watched many in love with Jesus, focused on the Lord and the hopes in Him that He has a great plan for their lives, fall into the deepest of despair, anger, judgment and hatred. I myself was on fire for Jesus and then there was a shift in my health which lead to a shifting in my thinking and then all those things influenced my walk and focus.

As I ask the Lord, how is this possible that we can shift so completely, I feel strongly that He pointed out that it is all about the matter of influence.

So what or who has the ability in your life to affect your character, development or behavior?

To put it simply everything we put into our lives or everyone that we are around, have in some capacity, the ability to influence our character and behavior. If you are walking your life with positive influences, the truth of Gods word, prayer and focusing on all that is good, and have people in your life that are character building and encouraging,  it would be very unlikely that your character or behavior would carry that which is destructive. On that same line, if you are filling your life with the latest YouTube videos that are not lovely and not great, entertainment that is dark, and contrary to what is good and lovely  or fellowship with others who’s entertainment is to tear down and focusing on all that is not lovely, your character and behavior will be producing the very thing you cry about when you are under attack of the enemy.

Why am I angry all the time? Answer: a matter of influence.
Why am I anxious? Answer:  a matter of influence.
Why am I empty? Answer:  a matter of influence
Why am I sick all the time?  Answer: a matter of influence
What doors are you opening for the influence to pour into your life?
Are you turning to Godly answers or shoving the moments down and filling your life with the entertainment of the world?

I have seen it every single generation, that we as Christians get desensitized to the world around us. Our hearts when we actively seek things, not of the Lord, become hardened and no longer feel the conviction that we once had in our lives. We answer, it isn’t that bad, or they are not that bad.  Until one day you wake and you no longer can see the good.

we need to be mindful of what we let impact us.

I have mentioned in past posts, you will not reap good fruit unless you are cultivating good fruit.

So when I counsel others that come to me with broken hearts and broken homes, from experience of my own, my first question is, what is the influence in your life?

If you want to see the fruit of your dreams come true, be influenced by other dreamers.
If you want to see your walk with the Lord grow stronger, fellowship with those that have a passion for Jesus that outshines the entertainment of this world.
It is time to look with new eyes, and ask yourself, am I being a person of influence that I want to be? Am I impacting the way I am called to impact?
My friend, it is all a matter of influence. So who and what will you choose to follow that will build your character, development, and behavior?

I want to inspire, I want to motivate, I want to be a person of positive influence, I cannot be those things if I fill my life with the lies of the world. I can not give what I do not have…so again…

Philippians 4:8- Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Think about these things……

Give a listen to this one for all of those that have been down and dragging:
Let your faith arise

 

 

Fruit of the Spirit part 2:

rotting apples

Part 2: The fruit is Rotting

The journey to writing about Spiritual Fruit, actually started because I knew I had produced fruit in my life at one point, but in the most recent season, I was not seeing the evidence. It was almost as if my Fruit of the Spirit was rotting away. 

Galatians 5: 22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.

Reasons your Spiritual Fruit may be rotting.

  1. You are leaving your harvest behind in your walk. You may have the Fruit of the Spirit at the moment, but when life gets hard or the world is tempting you have let it go and become buried in the mess.
  2. You have not shared the harvest with others by connecting with a community. You must USE your fruits of the Spirit. We cannot hold on to our fruits of the Spirit for our own gain. Our gifts are to bless and impact the Kingdom. It is then that we will see more fruit production because God’s math multiplies a good thing!
  3. Distraction is a killer of the fruit of the Spirit. When we are consumed with the weight of this world or the busy craziness of life, we are not focused on our God. He is the producer of our fruit. If we are disconnected from Him our fruit will rot.

 

Let’s look at the fruit of the Spirit and see how it may look when rotting. Now mind you, I am not talking about a once in a while I messed up, but if I am constantly walking in the ‘mess’ I am going to have rotting fruit.

*LOVE: Love your neighbor as yourself, love your family, love your church, love the stranger and love your enemy well!

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I already failed at this one today, as I was not very patient or kind with my own husband.  I was tired and moody and failed. I was not showing the fruit of the Spirit within me. Now he was gracious and the Lord gives us grace, but how much more love will the Lord bless in my heart when I can actively obey his call to LOVE and love well?

*JOY: A feeling of great happiness. A source or cause of delight.

Psalm 47:1- 
Clap your hands all you nations; Shout to God with cries of Joy.

When I was grumbling and complaining to my husband about what I perceived as an offense, I was not shouting for Joy. I was not walking in joy. How many of us grumble and complain from the moment we see someone until we depart?
If we are grumbling and complaining we are not showing the fruit of the spirit, Joy.  If we are spending more being critical than we are walking in Joy, we are going to be sitting on the rotten fruit of the Spirit.

* PEACE: It is impossible to walk in stress and anxiety at the same time as peace.  I may begin my morning in peace, and by the afternoon of facing the daily stress, I often have chosen to let peace fall to the ground and rot. I must WALK in peace.

Isaiah 26: 12- 
LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

God has established His peace for me, I do not need to pick the garbage back up. He has done it and I have to share it.

 

*FOREBEARANCEHolding back or self-restraint. Specifically, a refraining from the enforcement of a punishment; holding back judgment.

Matthew 5:38-42
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Oh how I have wanted to retaliate, throw the stones back that was smacking me in the face. Even though I didn’t, my heart was so ugly with the thought of revenge. My Forbearance was undeveloped for sure. I don’t even think that one had a chance to rot. But now that I am aware of what it is and how to walk in it, Lord will give me the strength to sow that seed with HIS grace.

*KINDNESS- Friendly, thoughtful and considerate. 

Luke 6:35- But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

I think kindness is taking love into action by actually connecting. For myself, in the past, I could compare my kindness vs. others towards me and get disgruntled. But I must be kind to the ungrateful enemy as well as those that will sow back. I can’t expect anything in return, just sowing the kindness for the sake of being kind. Because the Lord has given me much, I must share much.

*GOODNESS- The quality of my character and conduct. For example; integrity, honesty, and uprightness.

Ephesians 4:29- Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

It is so easy to tear down what we see as flaws, but the Lord directs us to build up. Edify others with our speech and conduct. He has called us to be faithful and honest. In my name of ‘sickness’, I have not walked in goodness but in despair and my character showed it. I affected the atmosphere around me and truly was giving off an offensive rotten fruit.

* FAITHFULNESS- Faithful, constant, loyal imply qualities of stability, dependability, and devotion.

Matthew 5:7- When you make a promise, say only “Yes” or “No.” Anything else comes from the devil.

I am learning to take on less so that I can be faithful in my YES. There is nothing more frustrating to others in my life when I can not follow through. This area of study has me more thoughtful on what I am able to do.  

*GENTLENESS-  Walking in the tenderness of the Father. Choosing to use a soft word.

Proverbs 15:1- A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

So many times with my family I have been harsh and I have watched the anger stir up. I have also experienced the anger stirred up in myself from the harshness in others. At the same time, I have seen the hand of God move when I answer with a gentle and tender heart. Lord I am praying that my action of tenderness is my first and my fruit won’t fall from you and rot.

*SELF-CONTROL-   Controlling your emotions and desires or the expression of them in difficult situations. 

2 Timothy 1:7- For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid; but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

God has given me the tools I need to be self-controlled. When I blow up in my emotion of the moment, I have not glorified His work in me. I have not turned to the creator with my emotion. I have let my spirtitual fruit is rotting.

I am still a work in progress, and I know the Lord gives me grace in my seasons of mistakes, but I have made up my mind to not WALK in this state, but rather in HIS POWER.


Fruit of the Spirit

apple treeGalatians 5: 22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.

The word says we will know them by their fruit. I have had some amazing deposits in my life from fruit-bearing individuals. Life changing deposits that I am so very grateful for. Their lives are overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit.

 I have been asking lately, Lord what causes the others to not bear fruit?
( I was bearing fruit but it was rotting, that is in part 2)

I can see no outward appearance of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.
Outwardly there is hate instead of love, anger instead of joy, anxiety instead of peace, impatience instead of kindness, rudeness instead of goodness, judgment instead of gentleness and goodness, you get my point. But I was feeling as if I was judging them by looking for their fruit and God said you will KNOW them by their fruit of the Spirit.

So I said, okay Lord, what causes a person to not bear fruit when they are your child?
The Lord impressed on my heart to look at the fruit-bearing trees and address, what causes a tree not to bear fruit?

barren apple tree

Part One:

HELP THERE IS NO FRUIT!!!

  1. Immaturity– A fruit tree that is young will not bear fruit. There is a time of growth first.  For a new Christian, there is a learning and a growing season.
    The Lord will do the work in their lives, preparing them for fruit growth and that will require time with Him. Get to know the Holy Spirit and you will bear His fruit.
    1 Corinthians 3:1-2 

    Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly-mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.

     

  2. Pollination– A fruit tree requires pollination. Some are self-pollinating and that would be us getting into the word for ourselves and spending time with the spirit our self (very important)
    But other trees are cross-pollinating, and they require others near them to pollinate, they require a community to help them grow. A community that walks in the fruit of the Spirit, pouring out and sharing what the Lord has done in them. I think we need to do both, self-pollination and cross-pollination are equally important.
    Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

  3. Zones– This is a big one for me personally. A fruit tree was created to flourish in certain zones (atmosphere). If a fruit tree is planted in the wrong zone, it may bear fruit but it will not flourish as it was intended to. So often I would stay where I was at because it was the easy thing to do. But if an environment is hindering my fruit production in my life, I have to look at the very real possibility that it is time for changing my zone.
    Also if an intense shift in your life has come (drought or freeze) it may be harder to bear fruit. This is a time to press into the Lord and let Him do the repair. This may be a season of great care for your Spirit but it may be a season of less visible fruit production. It is preparing you for more fruit in another season of your life.
    The Lord has a plan for our lives. It is so important to press in and ask, where will I best flourish Lord?
    Jeremiah 29: 11- For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.

  4. Pruning- A fruit tree will not be as productive without pruning by the hand of the gardener. Buds often form on limbs that have air circulation and light infiltration. By cutting off the old you are making room for air and light. By cutting off the things in your life that are holding you back from the Lord, you are available for the Holy Spirit to circulate and infiltrate your life.  This process can be very uncomfortable, as we often have grown attached to the things that need to be pruned from our lives, but it is absolutely necessary for fruit production.
    John 15:2- Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

  5.  Spacing- Fruit trees that are too close to one another, compete for light and nutrients. While the community is so very important to fruit-bearing for the Christian, relying upon and getting closer to one another than the father, can leave us lacking the depth of nutrients and light that we are in great need of.
    I can rely on my community, grow with my community and fellowship with the community, but if that community becomes my first or everything, then the Holy Spirit is not allowed the room He needs to maximize my growth. As well, this leaves us extremely vulnerable when the community lets us down, as we were leaning on the wrong source. We must have space and ABIDE in Him.
    John 15:5- “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.

  6. Soil Conditions- A fruitful tree needs fertile soil. This is the nutrients for growth. A Christians nutrients (food) is the word of God. You will not be properly fed without getting into Gods word for yourself. Not the word from others and how it has impacted them, but being impacted yourself. Lack of getting into the word leads to spiritual sickness.
    Matthew 4:4- But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

  7. Roots- In trees, nutrient reserves build up in the roots from the previous year. This is important for the continual growth of the next year. Hold fast to the word truths, Holy Spirit connection, and community that you have built on. Don’t let it fall to the wayside and be forgotten. You need those reserves to build upon.
    Psalm 119:11- I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 

The most important thing I have gathered in all of this. Stay so so close to the Lord, and He will lead you in His spirit and you will bear much fruit. ABIDE in Him.
Here is a worship song that spoke to my heart. Great is the Lord in Hebrew.

This has been part one of Fruit of the Spirit. I have been greatly blessed by the depth the Lord has taken me on in this post.
I will be posting part two (Why is my fruit Rotting) after I meditate on what He has shown me today.

I thank Stark Brother’s Nursery for their blog on Fruit tree blooming and bearing problems, for insight on the process of growth of fruit-bearing trees.

 

rotting apples

Part Two:

HELP THE FRUIT IS ROTTING!!!