Tag Archives: Girls with Gusto

Bearing Fruit: The Evidence and Opportunities of Faith

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Photo and design by Ashley L. Jones.

 

If you’ve been going to church for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard of the phrase “bearing fruit.” People who use this phrase are usually referencing Galatians 5:

“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 NAS).

I used to think that bearing fruit was something only the most spiritually-minded people could do. That’s because it seemed like only the grandmas and grandpas of the church could adequately display these fruits, such as kindness in traffic jams, patience in line at the store, and peace when everything seems to be falling apart.

And yet, as I study the concept of bearing fruit for my book Girls with Gusto, I realize that I’ve been mistaken.

Bearing fruit isn’t just for spiritual giants! Learn how at BigSisterKnows. [Click to Tweet]

 

The Image of the Vine

In John 15:1-5, Jesus used the image of the grape vine to describe our relationship to Him and the Father:

  • Jesus is the True Vine
  • God the Father is the Vinedresser (or vine gardener)
  • God’s people are the branches of the Vine

He then says, “He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b NAS).

This makes more sense when you understand the structure of grape vines. The grape bunches that you buy at the grocery store are cut from branches, which are connected to a vine. Although the branches produce the grapes, they cannot live on their own. Instead, they are dependent on the vine, which is the life source of the entire plant structure.

We rely on Jesus just as the branches rely on the vine to survive and produce grapes. As we tap into Jesus, we begin to access His essence of pure love. As we experience more of God’s love, we begin to overflow with it and all the fruits of the Spirit that derive from it.

This means that all believers—each and every one of us—can display the fruits of the Spirit.

 

A Fruitful Expectation

Jesus also explained, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, [the Father] takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2 NAS).

This shows that, not only are we able to bear fruit, we are expected to do so. If we don’t, it is a sign that we are not actually connected to the Vine of Jesus. However, when we do bear fruit, we give evidence of that God’s holy nature is alive within us. He then refines us so that we can bear even more fruit. Perhaps this is why we prove ourselves to be disciples of Jesus, and we glorify God the Father, when we “bear much fruit” (John 15:8 NAS).

 

Evidence and Opportunities

On one hand, “bearing fruit” is the evidence of our relationship with God; on the other, it is the opportunity to receive and share in the love of God.

A great example of this is the story of Joseph in Genesis chapters 37-50. After his brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph was accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and he ended up in an Egyptian dungeon. Even so, Joseph remembered his God. Perhaps that’s why God used Joseph to warn the pharaoh of a pending famine. Joseph heeded the opportunity, and his leadership and good stewardship saved countless lives, including those of his own family. Then, when he could have turned his back on the brothers that did him wrong, Joseph chose a better path. He took the opportunity to display mercy, forgiveness, and love.

Throughout his entire story, Joseph took every opportunity to do God’s will, and his character was filled with the fruits of the Spirit. Although we think of Joseph as a spiritual giant, we are expected to display these very same fruits of the Spirit in our own lives. Likewise, our opportunities to serve God may seem less important than Joseph’s mission to save the kingdom, but we should treat them with the same respect and gusto that Joseph exemplified.

 

Encouragement

I encourage you to examine your own life. Does your character and your actions give evidence that God is alive in your heart? Are you seizing the opportunities God sets before you?  If not, take a moment to get back on track by saying a simple prayer like this one:

“Lord, I’m sorry. I’ve missed the opportunities you’ve given me, and I don’t really see the fruits of the Spirit in my life. Please clean my heart and help me to focus on you. In your grace, give me more opportunities to serve you. Help me to hear your guiding voice, and give me the strength and courage to act accordingly. Thank you in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

 


Has someone affected your life by bearing the fruits of the Spirit? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Please leave a comment below or on my Facebook page.

 

 

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Classes, Manuscripts, and Radio Interviews, Oh My!

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Navigating_Meme

 

This month, I’ll begin teaching a 5-week course called Navigating Your Spiritual Journey at my alma mater, the Tallahassee Christian College and Training Center. I developed this class based on 13 years of research on the topic of the spiritual journey, which is the topic of my non-fiction manuscript, Girls with Gusto. In the class, students will learn the eight major steps of the spiritual journey and will be able to identify where they are on the map and what they need to do to advance forward.

Every semester, our local Christian radio station, Wave94.1, interviews a faculty member about his or her class. This semester, they picked me! So, for more information on this class, my manuscript, and the college, check out my radio interview. (I added photos and memes I’ve shared on this site or posted on social media to make it more fun.)

 

I hope to see you later this month at TCCTC. If you’re not in the area, or you can’t commit to the 5-week class, don’t worry—I’ll continue to share encouraging posts with you right here at BigSisterKnows. As always, your prayers (as well as your Likes and Shares) are sincerely appreciated!

Three Keys to Spiritual Maturity

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Meme_Obedience

Thanks a bunch to CBN.com for posting this blog on their amazing site! Be sure to check out their website for resources, information, and lots of good reads.


It’s easy to love the Lord. He comes to us with arms open wide, taking all of our sins and burdens upon Himself. He offers us life in place of death and freedom from our bondage. He has plans to prosper us and give us a future. What’s not to love?

Unfortunately, many Christians believe in God and love Him, but they don’t live for Him.

The Bible says that our relationship with God should mature over time and that we should “grow up in all aspects into Him….” (Ephesians 4:15 NAS).

So, how do we take our relationship with God to the next level? By developing a spirit of surrender, faith, and obedience.

 

Living in Surrender

According to Webster’s Dictionary, to “surrender” means “to yield (something) to the possession or power of another.” In our independent, Western society, this is the very definition of weakness, but in the Kingdom of God, it is the source of our strength.

Think back to when you first believed in Jesus. You acknowledged your sins and exchanged them for God’s righteousness. You surrendered to God, turning in the “old you” for a “new you.”

So was that just your spiritual life that you surrendered? What about your daily life?

The world separates the spiritual from the daily routine. However, when we split our lives in two, we also divide our hearts.

You may be serving God “half-heartedly” if:

  1. You relegate God to Sunday morning and “live life” the rest of the week.
  2. You’re earnestly trying to obey God’s call on your spiritual life while struggling to maintain control over the day-to-day decisions.
  3. You’re willing to live for the Lord…as long as He doesn’t interfere with your plans.

To grow closer to the Lord, we must serve Him whole-heartedly. For that, we need faith.

 

Blind Faith

We rarely know what God is planning, or what the big picture looks like. That’s because we’re called to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 NAS). With each step, we have to trust that God loves us and wants what is best for us.

A great example of this can be found in Proverbs 31:15 NAS: “She rises while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens.” What’s so amazing about this verse is the spiritual imagery: she gets up while it’s still dark, when she doesn’t know what God is up to or what the future will hold.

It’s not unusual for Christians to feel “in the dark” as they wait for the Lord. Perhaps you’re waiting now for God to give you guidance or direction, or for Him to open doors to new opportunities. If so, be encouraged! As your faith is strengthened, you will grow closer to the Lord.

 

Obedience in Action

Jesus said it’s not enough for us to call ourselves Christians or to do good deeds in His name. We also have to be obedient to His Word and His direction for our lives. (See Matthew 7:21-27.)

You can show obedience to God even as you wait for His guidance, direction, or a new opportunity.

  1. Use the time to develop patience and perseverance. In fact, this may be the main reason why the Lord is delaying.
  2. Resist the urge to get angry or depressed. The Enemy will take advantage of the situation to cultivate fear, pride, or anxiety. Don’t give him any leverage.
  3. Avoid getting ahead of God. Don’t move forward with any new activities until you have His guidance or blessing.
  4. Don’t neglect your daily activities. Like the woman in Proverbs 31, be sure to care for yourself, your family, and those in need around you.

Once the Lord does give you the answer you’re waiting for or the opportunity you need, then it’s time to take action!

  1. If God gives you an answer to a question, write it down. Sometimes, God gives us the whole picture, and sometimes it’s just a piece of the puzzle. Either way, cherish the fact that God is sharing His heart with you.
  2. If God says “go,” then go where He sends you and do what He asks. Don’t delay or waste the opportunity.
  3. If God’s answer is “no,” then be content. Stay where you are, decline the offer, pray about Plan B, etc. Whatever the situation is, honor God’s decision and trust that He has your best interest at heart.

 

Don’t settle for less than a mature, intimate relationship with the Lord! Begin developing a spirit of surrender, faith, and obedience today.

 


I wrote this blog based on a section of my manuscript for Girls with Gusto. I’ve identified eight major steps in the spiritual journey, and this comes from Step Four, “Developing a Disciple’s Disposition.” Unfortunately, many of us falter here—a mere half-way point—and fail to persevere to the next step.

The good news is that you have a choice! Whatever decisions you’ve made in the past, you can decide today to pursue a meaningful, intimate relationship with God.

“I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7 NAS).