It comes up with street people and I have asked the same question of why “Christians” do not behave or love like Jesus. The answer is pretty simple, a person will bear the fruit of who and what they worship. “Christianity” can be rooted in going to church, giving money to a church, attending Christian events and reading Christian books, memorizing the Bible, singing Christian songs, belonging to a particular denomination or political party, pursuing marriage and raising Christian children, finding spiritual parents/mentors/priests/pastors or a Pope to follow, outward signs of piety, or in charismatic circles displays of miracles/signs/wonders. None of these things produce the fruit of God’s Spirit. None of these things mean a person is right with God, in relationship with God, following Jesus!
Jesus stated quite plainly, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide (remain, stay in close connection and relationship (intimacy)) with me, then you WILL bear good fruit.” This means relationship, personal relationship with Jesus on a daily and continual basis is what empowers a person to bear the fruit of God’s likeness. Whatever parts of our lives that are bearing fruit, God comes along and prunes to produce even more fruit.
Religion does NOT produce the fruit of the Spirit. Yes, reading the Bible and connecting with other people who believe in God does help with the journey. You can read the Bible, spend all your life in church, and end up in hell. God did not send Jesus to increase the roll number at churches. God sent Jesus to reconcile the world to Himself and expand His family.
I have encountered people more in love with their church than Jesus. More in love with their spouse than Jesus. More in love with their political party than Jesus. More in love with miracles, signs, and wonders than Jesus. More in love with money or power than Jesus. More in love with looking like a Christian than obeying Jesus. If a person does not abide in the real Jesus of Nazareth, they will NOT bear the fruit if His love, character, or likeness.
It’s not a pull yourself up by your bootstraps type of deal. It is a sink into knowing Jesus and pursue close relationship with God.
“Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons and daughters of God.” Those without the indwelling of God’s Spirit do not have the seal of God upon them.
I am not against Christian events and the outward expressions of celebrating God. I do know, as Jesus knew, with the Pharisees that you can spend your life thinking you know God because you’re religious and completely miss God. Jesus stood before the Pharisees and they rejected Him. They had their religious feasts and the Torah. They had the Law. They had their outward expressions of righteousness and piety. What they did not have was personal relationship with the Messiah.
Relationship with God is not complex. It is a conversation and yielding of one’s heart and life. It is choosing to say yes to the stirring of God on the heart. “Yes, God I long to follow you. I repent of my sins (the ways I have lived outside your holiness). I accept that apart from you I can do nothing. I want to know you for myself. I yield my life to you. Come live in my heart. I thank you for Jesus. He who knew no sin took on my sins. He is God’s Son. The sinless One who died and rose on the third day. He triumphed over life’s greatest enemy-death, for me. Jesus be Lord over my life. God fill me with your Spirit.” The next steps involve inviting God into each day. Yield to the nudging of God. Listen and follow. It’s about relationship.
The more we abide (sink into personal relationship with Jesus), the more we begin to think like Jesus, love like Jesus, and display the character traits of Jesus. When Christians place the real Jesus first, then their behavior shifts to be more like the Christ (anointed one). Sadly, when being religious replaces relationship, what manifests is behavior that does not mirror Jesus at all.
Let’s be ones who abide in Jesus and display His glory (reputation) on earth.
2020 gave us waves and waves of change. Though people said 2021 would be the year to return to normal, it has not seemed “normal” to many people. Some have stated we are living in a “new normal” and things may never quite be as they were.
Change, especially when it’s unexpected, can be unsettling. There was or is no time to prep for this “new” thing. It can expose anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and anger. Not many people like the feeling of not being in control of their circumstances. The desire to be in control creates tension because despite our best efforts, we do not command the universe. For those who come from the camp of faith or belief in God, there can be frustration when their decreeing and declaring for God to do their will is not met with a manifestation of their will be done.
I watched in 2020 as people commanded who would be President, only to either recant their statements or blame it on sabotage. Last I checked, no one can thwart God. God has never ceased to get His plan fulfilled. People had to wrestle with either they heard wrong or God is not as powerful as they say He is. If you believe God can be sabotaged, then you are are saying God cannot stop mere humans from sabotaging His efforts. I will tell you in all my years of knowing God, God has not failed once to fulfill a promise or His plans.
Even before Adam sinned, God had a plan for redemption. Adam, nor Eve, nor the serpent could overthrow God’s ultimate plan which would be humanity would rule and reign with Him. God is never unprepared. God is never caught off guard. God is not sloppy in His execution. God always, always gets the plan right. Humans, however, do not always hear correctly. I did not sense from time with God that evangelicals were going to get their way and their chosen person would win. I heard differently than the platform prophets from around the USA. I heard words of caution to the church over their obsession with backing one person without looking at the impact it was having on the reputation of Jesus and the church. Some people listened to me, some ignored me. Either way, what I sensed from God is what happened and 2020 ushered in a new President.
Why bring this up now? Well, there was a shift in 2020 and this decade will continue (I believe) to expose who and what we trust. Are we like ancient Israel who trusted in almost everything and everyone but God, or will we be like Daniel who trusted in God and looked to God as the source? There will consistently be an alternative god that we can turn to as the source of our safety, protection, provision, and comfort. The only God I know who is worthy of full trust is the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.
Our reactions to change reveal who and what we trust. If we trust in God, then there is a level of supernatural peace that emerges for us. Jesus slept through storms. I am not stating there will not be a wave of emotion with change. I am saying that if our anchor is truly God, we will not be tossed all over the place like a rag doll in a tsunami. There is a settling that comes into our spirit (if we are united with God) where we proclaim, “I know God is good and can help me in this situation.”
Psalm 125: 1-2 (TPT)
Those who trust in the Lord are as unshakable, as unmovable as mighty Mount Zion! Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord’s wrap around presence surrounds his people, protecting them now and forever.
What helps us in seasons of change or transition?
Knowing God is with us.
Leaning into God instead of away from God.
Asking God what is the lesson we can learn in the season.
Pursuing God to highlight the opportunity made available to us in the season or with the change.
Seeking God for His vantage point instead of our own.
Looking to the promises and character of God.
Asking God to reveal what we are not seeing about what He’s doing.
If I use the election as an example, one thing I noted was charismatic Christians (some not all) rely WAY too heavily on platform prophets for knowing what God is supposedly doing. There can be this “group think” that happens and a lack of testing what is shared. I saw way too much over confidence in the “prophetic” and far less of, “God maybe you are doing something else, I pray your perfect will be done.”
I take a neutral approach to quite a bit with “God needs to do this.” Do you want to know why? God sees fully, and I see in part. I may think something is an incredible idea and God can see that 10 years down the road it will be a hot mess. I learned to pray for God to show me what He’s doing and to increase my level of understanding, not pray-“God, this is what you need to do.” God can also tell me things I do not desire to hear. I am not stating I jump up and down when He does. I am saying God can trust me with the news that does not tickle my ears.
I saw God exposing what the church loves. I saw God giving the church an opportunity to reach the people turned off by church and the political climate. I saw God highlighting a great need to leave the church buildings and go serve the community. I saw God providing opportunity to build bridges, not burn them with a political spirit. I saw God highlighting a new era and a new way of doing “church.” I saw God exposing there is way too much dependence on the platform prophetic people. I saw God revealing a deep need for the church to preach Christ, not “Vote for Trump.” I continue to encourage those who claim to know Jesus to 1. Know His voice for yourself 2. Love your neighbor as yourself (even if they vote differently) 3. Seek first the Kingdom of God. It fits with the guidance of Jesus.
I challenge church people to consider that church as it was may not be church as God desires it to be. One must seek God to know. The world needs a relevant church that cares about them, and not the fake Christian nice stuff. The world needs to see the Jesus we talk about is the same one we imitate. They need to see something different in us. They need to see us moving like our Messiah. In the middle of change or even adversity, we are the walking billboards for the God we claim to worship.
I get that change can bring a host of emotion. I was laid off from my job in 2018, then decided to launch a business, and then another. Owning a business was a huge change. I went from that back to working in the corporate sector while running the businesses on the side, this after 18 months of not working for someone else. From 2018 forward my friendship circle drastically changed once again and people I invested in for large chunks of my life departed. Some were unkind in their exits without me doing anything negative to them. My job titles have changed rapidly in the corporate world. This year we moved my grandpa/papa here and I help out some with him. My life has been a roller coaster of change for a few years now. Throw into the mix I took a team to Cambodia to help with human trafficking and I am trying to help solve the housing issue with the homeless in my city. I had to make a decision to ride the wave with Jesus or sink. I prefer to surf than drown.
Change is inevitable. Life does send us curve balls, and some are not fun ones. We get to choose to focus on who God is or our lack of control. We can ride the waves, or let them crush us. God promises to help us rise above the waves.
I leave you with this promise from God that has sustained me over and over.
Psalm 84: 11 (TPT)
For the Lord God is brighter than the brilliance of a sunrise! Wrapping himself around me like a shield, he is so generous with his gifts of grace and glory. Those who walk along his paths with integrity will never lack one thing they need, for he provides it all!
I get that change can be irritating, nerve racking, and create a source of tension. I can tell you in all the changes that have occurred in my life, God was perpetually working things together for the highest level of good. God can be trusted. We can give God all the emotions and concerns, then leave them at God’s feet. He’s not going to fail. He has not before, and will not start today!
You are greatly loved by Jesus! May this week flood your heart with peace.
P.S I am hosting a Masterclass Reboot course on soul healing/deep inner healing Oct 23rd, 2021 via Zoom and I will teaching people what I do to help clients step into freedom in their soul. Empowered-free.com/book-online. I would love to see some of you in class!