The Fruity Faithful

March 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Robin J. Steinweg –

If the world calls me fruity, it’s an insult. But if God says I’m full of fruit, it means I’m glorifying Him; I’m doing what Christ chose and appointed me to do!

How can I make my life fruitful? A tree can’t force itself to bear fruit. It can only take in light, rain and nutrients. Fruit comes naturally.

Here’s how I can cooperate with God’s design in order to be one of the fruity faithful:
Need—agree with God that I need His Son’s gift of salvation. “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20b NIV).

Feed—surround myself with good spiritual growing conditions, especially those that will change my thinking. “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2b NIV).

Seed—the good seed is God’s Word: I can nurture it. “…and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:21).

Plead—be in communication with the Lord throughout my day. “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV).

Deed—reading my Bible is good, but I can take it a step further and act on it. “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22 NIV).

Weed—get rid of the things that choke the life out of my growth in Christ. “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things” (Colossians 3:8a).

Freed—I can live bountifully! “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galations 5:1 NIV).

PRAYER: Lord, I desire to bear fruit that lasts, for Your glory. Thank You that You provide everything I need for this. I choose to feed, seed, plead, deed, weed, be freed—and trust You for the results.

BIBLE VERSE: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).

 

 

Nurture, with Neglect

March 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Robin J. Steinweg –

I had no idea I could actually kill with kindness.

See, I have this thing for blue flowers. Not the bluish-tinted purple color that the seed companies name, as if they really are blue. I prefer the honest-to-goodness, true blue flowers, like a summer sky. Heavenly Blue Morning Glories are just that kind of blue. I’ve tried, off and on ,to grow them from seed, but they’ve never gotten large enough to produce blooms.

This year, the local hardware store had some that were vigorous, already climbing up a skinny stake. I carefully brought one home, surrounded by shopping bags, so it wouldn’t tip over. I gave it the best soil. I rejoiced when it resumed its ascent. I babied it, plucked every threatening weed, and fed it regularly.

That was early June. Now it’s September, and you should see it—twelve feet tall; lush, thick leaves that could screen celebrities from paparazzi—but still, nary a bud nor a bloom.

Experienced gardeners shake their heads, already aware of the problem. I finally looked it up online: Why aren’t my morning glories blooming? What did I neglect?

Neglect!

For Morning Glories to produce bodacious, blue blooms, they require poor soil—harsh conditions. Instead, I coddled them with fertilizer the entire summer, denying them what I never imagined they needed.

My heavenly Father, Master Gardener, knows when to feed one of His tender shoots, when to protect it and when to give it a support to climb. He knows that a certain amount of hardship—what could be viewed as neglect, at times—will make His precious vine fulfill its purpose and flower freely.

PRAYER: Lord, the next time I face hardship, help me to remember that Your love for me is unfailing. You know exactly what I need in order to bloom and to bear the fruit of Your Spirit. Help me to be patient and trust You. In the name of Jesus I ask it.

BIBLE VERSE: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors” (James 1:2-3, The Message).

 

Three Overflows

November 11, 2019 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Robin J. Steinweg –

1. A fizzy hissing in the background crescendos within seconds to a fizzy, hissy crackling. A nasty odor assaults the nostrils before my frantic rush can prevent its cause. It’s not the first time I forgot to set the timer on the stove! Now breakfast is over—over the pot, the burner, the counter, the floor…

2. I see it coming and I leap to prevent it—the action switches to slow motion. My toddler has developed the strength and dexterity to remove the lid from a jar of pickled beets (a feat I have yet to master without benefit of a crowbar). A distant voice (my own) cries, “N-n-n-n-n-n-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!” I dive (still in slow-mo) like a 275-pound receiver to catch the 12 ounces of Red-Stain-in-a-Bottle before the contents hit the floor. In seconds it, too, is over—over the table, the high chair, the beige carpet and me.

3. Like the jar of pickled beets, I am emptied. I wait. I set no timer. My Bible lies on my lap, still open to the passage I have read. I sense a crescendo of joy bubbling up into awe, gratitude and praise. I don’t rush to prevent it spilling over—over me, under me, around me—I dive deeper. I am a different kind of receiver today. This overflow will result in a sweet fragrance. It can cleanse the deepest stain. No chaos or mess this time.

The Spirit of God fills me to overflowing. In this way, He slakes the thirst, satisfies the hunger and meets the needs of those around me.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, empty me of myself and fill me to overflowing with Yourself: Your Word, Your way, Your life. Spill out to bless those around me. I ask in Jesus’ name to be a fragrant offering to You.

BIBLE VERSE: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint me with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:5-6 NIV).

Next Time, Call for Help

October 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Robin J. Steinweg –

A boy and his little sister chased down a purse-snatcher at Daytona Beach. The thief, a young woman of twenty, nabbed their mother’s purse and took off with the children in hot pursuit. The ten-year-old girl followed the snatcher into a bathroom and ended up with the purse, while the pilferer ended up in police custody shortly thereafter.

It sounds like a movie script, doesn’t it? I can almost hear kids everywhere cheering and mothers groaning in horror, imagining what might have happened. The children’s own mother said she was proud of them, but told them, “Next time, you call for help!”

Indeed. I wonder if, in the privacy of home, their parents grounded them forever. Still, I can identify with these little heroes. They saw, they conquered. They did it themselves, though everything was stacked against them.

The desire “to do it ourselves” is steeped in us pretty deeply. We assert our independence at a young age. I remember my sons demanding to dress themselves, and coming out in a cacophony of color and patterns, putting everybody’s eyes at peril. We admire the millionaire who started with nothing, the athlete who overcame physical handicaps, and marvel at the log cabin that served as the birthplace for a future president.

We like to do things for ourselves.

What is it that makes me determined to do it on my own?  It might be stubbornness. More likely, it’s simply my old companion, Pride, and his brother Foolishness. “I don’t need to pray about this—I can do it myself.” “Pray? It’s not that bad yet!” “I’m not going to bother God with it; He’s too busy with more important things.” “God helps those who help themselves.”

Pride nudges me and says, “It’ll look great on your resume if you do it alone.”

Foolishness forgets that a God who creates things out of nothing—with just a word— is hardly going to be hindered by time. Busy? Ha!

Wisdom is more likely to say, “God help those who try to help themselves!”

PRAYER: Lord, forgive my stubborn pride and protect me when I go chasing after life without coming to You first. I choose from here on out to chase hard after You instead. You’re with me always, and You know what’s best for me.

” The Lord is near to all who call on Him… He hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm 145:18 – 19 NIV).

 

Mundane Moments or Movie Magic

August 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Robin J. Steinweg –

What if life were reduced to a 90-second movie trailer–the highest moments, best explosions, disasters and funny bits? Would anyone pay money to see it? Would it count for anything?

Let’s see. Born. Dragged by my pony, had to soak the grit off in the tub. Fell in love, married. Hit a deer with the car. Birthed two sons. Gall bladder removed… Wow, even I don’t care to go see it!

So what makes my life count? Certainly not the film-worthy exploits.

I think about what others have done that mattered to me:

*The friend who brought a meal after my dad died—a small thing to her, but huge to me.

*The doctor who, when I was twelve, kindly told me that my wide-set eyes were a sign of beauty—he gave me hope when my peers called me ‘Grubworm’ or ‘Birdlegs.’

*A stranger (a professional musician) who told me in one casual sentence that I was born to make music—and sent me in the direction the Lord wanted me to go.

*Curly-haired, three-year-old Jamie, who hugged my neck the first and only time I met him while waiting in line to see E.T. at a theater—and completely rearranged my heart about wanting a child.

Do these people know that their small, ordinary investments were used by God to change my life?

AUTHOR QUOTE: It’s not the events that create movie magic that matter. It’s the mundane moments—even unintentional acts—performed for others daily, in the name of Christ.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in My name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward” (Mark 9:41 NIV).

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