Tag Archive | Fruitfulness

Redeeming the Time

“We ought to make the best possible use of God-given opportunities and should not waste our precious time by neglect or carelessness. Many people say: there is plenty of time to do this or that; don’t worry. But they do not realize that if they do not make good use of this short time, the habit formed now will be so ingrained that when more time is given to us, this habit will become our second nature and we shall waste that time also. ‘Whoever is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much’ (Luke 16:10).”

-Sadhu Sundar Singh

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Discerning the Movements of the Spirit

Question Mark

Short confession: In case you hadn’t noticed it by now, I’m the type of guy people label as a Charismatic. I’m not the persuasive guy that can sell someone any type of car, but I am the Christian who believes the Holy Spirit still works in the life of believers.

Now, I’m not just the “raise-your-hands-during-worship” charismatic, I’m the charismatic they warn you about in Cessationist circles. I actually believe God does things like speak audibly and heal people. I believe at times we are to pray for the dead and see them raised (and I know people who have done it and seen people come back to life). Bottom line: I’ve seen the Holy Spirit do some amazing things that defy rational explanation.

It was in this type of environment that my mom was healed of cancer through a prophetic word. We immediately dedicated our lives to Jesus and joined the fellowship where this took place. That fellowship was highly geared towards experiencing the Spirit and during that decade there was a movement of the Holy Spirit that was very controversial, even among charismatics. This environment forced me to learn a very valuable lesson: We know whether the Holy Spirit is moving not based on what we see with our eyes, but by the fruit it produces.

Here’s the thing: Most people judge by what they see. If they like what they see, they accept it. If they don’t like what they see or don’t understand it, they criticize it. This is a huge problem, because the Holy Spirit has a way of constantly pushing us past our comfort zones. Your comfort or understanding of something is not a good barometer of whether Jesus is involved. Frequently, judging by our comfort or understanding will cause us to reject situations that God is inviting us into.

The reality is Jesus didn’t judge things this way. He actually taught us to judge a person and the ministry that flows from them by the effect that it had. He says in Matthew 7:15-20:“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

The fruit we are looking for is this: Does whatever is happening have the long term positive effect of causing people to follow Jesus? If it does and its not in rebellion to some clear scripture, you are probably dealing with something legitimately from the Spirit. If it doesn’t, then you’re dealing at best with something of the flesh and at worst something demonic. You can then respond accordingly.

This whole process that Jesus describes requires one thing: time. Fruits and weeds don’t grow over night. The effect of a ministry often times is only seen sometimes months down the road. What this has meant for me in our local context is that I’ve had to take a kind of “wait and see” approach with things that aren’t overtly wrong. And to be honest I’ve both put up with some things longer than I should. But I’ve also not shut down people and ministries that needed space to grow into what God called them to be.

The result, at least for me, has been a general growth in our church in regards to moving with the Holy Spirit as well as a growth in discernment among those in our midst. They are learning to judge whether something is of the Spirit and not just wait for a leader to do it.

How do you know if something is from the Holy Spirit? What has helped you and those around you to grow in discernment? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Questioned Proposal by Eleaf.

Emotional Love vs. Spiritual Love

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, I’ve been reading and quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s profound book “Life Together.”  Here’s a quote I hope you enjoy:

“Emotional love lives by uncontrolled and uncontrollable dark desires; spiritual love lives in the clear light of service ordered by the truth. Self-centered love results in human enslavement, bondage, rigidity; spiritual love creates the freedom of Christians under the word. Emotional love breeds artificial hothouse flowers; spiritual love creates the fruit that grows healthily under God’s open sky, according to God’s good pleasure in the rain and storm and sunshine.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When You Just Don’t Understand (Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness, Day 27)

This blog was temporarily overtaken In September by my Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness Challenge. This post is one of the final days I did not get to post until now.  You can find out more by checking out the Introduction.

One of the joys of this journey is that I’m beginning to hear on a much clearer level than I have in a long time.  This is great.  The only problem is, what happens when you totally do not understand what you hear?  What do you do with those things you don’t quite get?

Case in point: I woke up this morning with a very clear word on my heart.  It was like God whispered it to me when I woke up.  He said, “I’m giving to you the books of service.” What does that mean?  I immediately began to recall the heavenly scrolls that God would give to his prophets.  These weren’t for reading, the scrolls (or books) contained heavenly realities that were being imparted to the prophets (Ezekiel 3:1-3, Revelation 10:8-10).  So, I guess I have a little bit of a grid for what God is talking about.

The other interesting thing is when I went to lunch today I was thinking about what I heard and was tempted to write it off as just something I dreamt.  But as I was eating, I read some of Nudge by Leonard Sweet.  I just “so happened” to be reading the the part of the book where Len focuses in on spiritual hearing being the main source where we become awake to what God is doing.  To paraphrase what I read, everything begins with what you hear and whether you are willing to listen.

So while I feel like the Lord is confirming what I heard, it doesn’t answer any of my more specific questions.  What is a book of service?  And what should I do with it? What is it supposed to impart to me? And how do I respond to this?  I’m asking Him these questions when I’m not listening.  I’ll let you know when I get a response.

As you were listening, did you hear anything you didn’t understand?  What did you do about it?  Tell us in the comment section.

Join us on the “Thirty Days to Greater Fruitfulness” experiment.  For all of September we spent 30 minutes in silent prayer listening to Jesus and then acting on what He asked us to do.  Then we blogged about the changes that were occurring in our lives through the marriage of listening and obedience.  It’s not too late.  If you’re just checking out that experiment feel free to jump in.  And if you want more information, you can check it out here.

Photo Credit: September WallPaper Calendar by DewDreams

Loving A Brother (Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness, Day 26)

This blog was temporarily overtaken In September by my Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness Challenge. This post is one of the final days I did not get to post until now.  You can find out more by checking out the Introduction.

So today continued a string of hard days.  My “situation” still is not resolved.  But to make matters worse, instead of just not being able to workout the situation with my brother, I had to be in a social environment with him where it would have been inappropriate to bring the whole thing up.  If you’ve ever been in that situation, you know it’s hard not to stew on the whole thing and get really agitated.

The beauty of the day (which I’m attributing to my time of listening) is that the Lord gave me the ability to love my brother in reality.  In a similar situation in another month, I probably just would have avoided being in the same part of the building as my brother.  But today God gave me grace to not only be with him in the situation, but also to bring up the “elephant in the room.”—us getting together to deal with it. 

Now, I’ve been able to make decisions to do hard things before.  But today I did this because I genuinely cared about my brother.  That kind of love you can’t make up or manufacture.  It comes from Jesus, and I believe I got some of it by hanging out in the presence of God and listening.

How about you?  Have you noticed through the experiment God giving you virtue that isn’t normal to your character?  Tell us about it in the comment section.

Join us on the “Thirty Days to Greater Fruitfulness” experiment.  For the rest of September we are spending 30 minutes in silent prayer listening to Jesus and then acting on what He asks us to do.  Then we blog about the changes that are occurring in our lives through the marriage of listening and obedience.  It’s not too late.  If you’re just checking out that experiment feel free to jump in.  And if you want more information, you can check it out here.

Photo Credit: September WallPaper Calendar by DewDreams

Walking In Obedience To Yesterday’s Leadings (Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness, Day 25)

This blog has been temporarily overtaken by my Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness Challenge.  You can find out more by checking out the Introduction.

If you’ve been participating with me and/or reading about this journey I’m on, you’ll know that there are days where you don’t hear anything.  Today was one of those days.  That doesn’t mean that today was a failure.  Part of the mystery about listening to Jesus and following His leading is that there is power in His voice and because of that there is power in your obedience.  Today instead of hearing a lot of new things, I obeyed a bunch of old things and it really seems like some positive stuff is going on because of it.

Positive Thing #1- We had our block party.  Here’s the fun thing about this party: We not only obeyed the Lord in having the party, we actually planned it the way He asked us to plan it.  We included a “person of peace” on our block in the party planning.  Now the day that our “person of peace” planned the party for ended up being one of the coldest and rainiest days all month, so instead of having it outside, we had in our neighbors’ house.  But the party was a huge success.  We got to know people we didn’t know.  We bridged some relational gaps on the block.  Everyone had a great time.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I was freaked out about the rain up until an hour before the party, but God helped us regardless.)  So we obeyed what the Lord told us and even when things looked terrible, following Him and obeying His ways paid off huge.

Positive Thing #2- My situation is still really eating at me.  I’m still having a hard time praying.  However, the Lord very kindly reminded me that He had spoken to me some things about this situation the first time around and that those things are extremely relevant still. The Lord is definitely leading because things He spoke weeks ago are even more relevant today than the were when I first received them.

Positive Thing #3- Finally, the book I received as a sign a few days ago I finally gave to the couple I was sensing it was for all the way back at the beginning of the month.  I don’t think I would have had the courage to breach the conversation with the couple if I hadn’t had the Lord speak to me several times about all of this.  But tonight, I started the conversation.  There will be more to come, I’m sure and I’ll need to be bolder than I was, but I started the conversation and I’ll report back on the fruit as we go.  As I was contemplating starting the conversation tonight, I was reminded that I had heard a similar thing for this couple several years ago and I could have spoken it then and possibly saved them some heartbreak.  Instead, I disobeyed.  I’m rejoicing in the fact that God is merciful and speaks more than one time and that tonight I was obedient to His voice.

All of these positive things came from something the Lord had spoken days, weeks, or even a month prior.  I know sometimes it’s hard to obey a word that you haven’t just heard recently, but if you sense the Lord stirring that word in your spirit, don’t be afraid to step out.  Obedience to Jesus’ voice powerfully affects the world around us for good.  Don’t wait.

Do you have things that Jesus has spoken to you about doing that you haven’t done yet? It’s not too late.  If you’ve obeyed something recently that God spoke to you about a while back, leave a comment, tell us the story, and encourage the rest of us to be obedient to the voice that is always speaking.

Join us on the “Thirty Days to Greater Fruitfulness” experiment.  For the rest of September we are spending 30 minutes in silent prayer listening to Jesus and then acting on what He asks us to do.  Then we blog about the changes that are occurring in our lives through the marriage of listening and obedience.  It’s not too late.  If you’re just checking out that experiment feel free to jump in.  And if you want more information, you can check it out here.

Photo Credit: September WallPaper Calendar by DewDreams

The “Situation” (Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness, Day 24)

This blog has been temporarily overtaken by my Thirty Days To Greater Fruitfulness Challenge.  You can find out more by checking out the Introduction.

So today a situation came up.  I’m going to apologize up front for my vagueness, but several passages in Scripture prevent me from being more specific.  The short, internet appropriate version of the story is that this situation that came up kept me upset most of the day.  The result was that I was unable most of the day to focus on what the Lord was speaking.  This in itself is a lesson for me.  I need to guard my heart.  I need to make sure I don’t let issues of the day distract me from what Jesus is wanting to do.

Here’s another thing I think I’ve learned from this distracted, unproductive day: Jesus is perfectly capable of dealing with situations that arise.  This situation that came up today is somewhat related to an earlier situation that came up this month and I blogged about it here.  Really that post was about two different situations.  One has completely fallen off the radar with no work from me required.  The other, the one related to today, I knew probably needed to be addressed but I didn’t know how.  And now, here it is again.  I’m not discouraged by that.  In fact, I’m somewhat encouraged that Jesus knew how to bring the right factors together so we could deal with this situation a different way.  I still haven’t heard exactly how to deal with it but it obviously is not of His radar.  We’ll see what He has to say tomorrow.

How have you experienced Jesus leading you throughout this experiment?  Has it changed how you handle situations that need your attention? Let us know in the comment section.

Join us on the “Thirty Days to Greater Fruitfulness” experiment.  For the rest of September we are spending 30 minutes in silent prayer listening to Jesus and then acting on what He asks us to do.  Then we blog about the changes that are occurring in our lives through the marriage of listening and obedience.  It’s not too late.  If you’re just checking out that experiment feel free to jump in.  And if you want more information, you can check it out here.

Photo Credit: September WallPaper Calendar by DewDreams