Abiding Furthers His Kingdom [Day 8]

I can’t believe I have blogged every single day for a week. I’m amazed. 🙂

Today, we will continue with our time in John 15:1-17.

I have to ask, am I the only one who thinks “abide” when you see “continue”? 😉 Let’s get to it.

The Passage

Read the passage: John 15:1-17 (ESV, NIV, and NLT). Pick one or all. You can also pull out your bible and read it.

Abiding in His Appointment

This passage ends with us reading the differences between servants, friends and disciples of Jesus.

Servants 

  • Servants are not acquainted with the “things” Jesus makes available because they do not know their master’s business  (v 15).
  • Servants are acquainted with Jesus but are not personally familiar with who He is and what He is doing (v 15).
  • Servants may even be aware of His commands (v 14).

Friends

  • Friends know Jesus’ commands (v 14).
  • Friends follow Jesus’ command to love one another (v 12, 14).
  • Friends have access to everything Jesus learned from God (v 15).
  • Friends know what He is doing (v 15).

Disciples

  • Disciples are friends with Jesus (v 14).
  • Disciples love others as Jesus loves (v 12, 14).
  • Disciples bear much fruit (v 16).
  • Disciples are chosen by Jesus (v 16).
  • Disciples are appointed to share the good news with others (v 16).
  • Disciples bear fruit and their fruit bears fruit (v 16).
  • Disciples bear fruit that will last (v 16).

Disciples continue in what Jesus has shared…His teachings, His life, His ministry, His love. Thus, they continue in His appointment, which ultimately furthers His kingdom.

The Wrap Up

Monday, which seems so long ago, we started on this quick, yet, hopefully, enlightening walk through John 15:1-17. Since, I have shared two key thoughts as to why you want to be a follower of Christ who is productive—one who is fruitful for the kingdom of God. They are as follows, and I will wrap it up with the final thought.

1. Followers of Jesus who abide in Him glorify God;

2. Followers of Jesus who abide in Him follow His example; and

3. Followers of Jesus who abide in Him further His kingdom.

That my friends is a wrap!

God bless.

Your Spiritual Midwife Dana Pittman

Consider this: I wrote with a broad stroke. There are other elements I could have focused on. Is there something in particular you have a question on or would like for me to consider for a future post?

 

31 Days of the Word with Dana Pittman | 2015

(Click HERE to view all the posts.)

Abiding Follows His Example [Day 7]

I feel like my entire childhood was surrounded by this demeanor of “do as I say not as I do”.

I never got that.

I don’t want to do as you say… I want to do what you do!

What you do is what I see and has me intrigued.

What you do is what has my attention.

What you do is what is speaking much louder than what you say.

The person, sharing this wonderful advice, tells you this all while having the time of their life.

Living it up!

Or so it seems…

Then they tell you…”this is not the life you want to live…” And my brain is hearing “blah blah blah blah”, as I check out all the stuff I’m not supposed to do. But it appears they are having so much fun doing.

Again, I never got it. Probably never will.

Confusing, I know…

Have you ever experienced that, whether in childhood or as an adult? It is hard for the mind to digest how something can be acceptable enough to engage for one person yet the same behavior, attributes, lifestyle is undesirable for another.

I think it is natural for you to believe if its good for you than it is good for me.

We know this type of thinking is not true. Because we don’t always do what is right. And many times we let our sinful nature get the best of us.

Which brings us to today’s thought. Monday, I declared my intention to share three key thoughts from John 15:1-17 as to why you want to be a follower of Christ who is productive—one who is fruitful for the kingdom of God. The first key thought was our fruitfulness glorifies God. The second is: Abiding follows His example.

The Passage

Read the passage: John 15:1-17 (ESV, NIV, and NLT). Pick one or all. You can also pull out your bible and read it.

Abiding in His Love

Love…

I have experienced love and I believe I know what love is, through my relationship with Jesus.  I believe I show love to others.  And I have to say “believe” because somedays…

…many days…

#RealTalk … I get it all wrong.

And I am so thankful, grateful that Jesus does not say “do as I say not as I do”. Oh no, He says, do exactly as I do.

So for today, I want to focus on one thought, “Abide in my love.” (v 9).

Jesus in this portion of the passage is all but saying you have received love from me and I have receive it and learned from the best. Continue in it!

Now, this is where my brain is working hard to comprehend. He says “if you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love…” (v 10).

And when I keep His commandments I am abiding in His love (v 10).

And when I abide in Him, He abides in me (v 4).

And when He abides in me, I have joy (v 11).

And when He abides in me, He is making me fruitful (v 5). Causing me to bring glory to God (v 8).

This is utterly amazing!

I mean, I know this…right?! But I find a way to make something so simple so hard. He is saying…

 

Keep my commands…and I got the rest.

God loves Me. I love you. Now love others.

Keep this love thing going.  😉

Continue in it.

The Wrap Up

Follow His example.

Keep his commandments. And He is not commanding us to do anything He, Himself, has not already done. And He does it unselfishly because he wants us to experience the joy He has.

Lord’s will I’ll “see” you tomorrow where we’ll continue with Abiding in His Appointment.

God bless.

Your Spiritual Midwife Dana Pittman

 

P.S. I feel like this is an abrupt end because studying this passage I noticed something for the very first time, I believe. In this passage Jesus does not command us to love Him. No He says, do as I say. The love is there. I will love enough for the both of us. But when you do what I say it places in the very center of everything I have for you.

I am so blown away but His love for us. So I’ll just stop typing…and I will not delete this because I pray YOU know that we don’t need to figure it all out. We just have to be true followers and follow His lead.

 

31 Days of the Word with Dana Pittman | 2015

(Click HERE to view all the posts.)

Productive for God’s Kingdom [Day 5]

My mother can make anything grow. She has, what some call, a “green thumb”. Plants, flowers, anything.

I remember she would visit with friends and if they had a beautiful plant she’d get their permission to cut a portion of it. We (my sisters and I) thought it was odd. But she would wrap the stem in a wet paper towel and carry it home.

From there we’d watch as she transferred this stem, usually with a leaf or two, from a paper towel to a glass jar with water ultimately to a pot with soil.

It seemed magical because months later that same friend would visit our house to see a plant draping to the floor. Full and healthy. And they too would be amazed when she’d tell them it was from their plant.

This is a gene I do not possess. 🙂

Because I do not have a single plant in my house. Which is odd because we had a house full of them due to my mother and her plant-loving ways.

But what is truly amazing to me now is…we (my sisters and I) cared for the plants. Not my mother. It was part of our regular chores. She’d instruct us in what to do for each plant.

She knew each plant as if it were a person.

Some would need watering. Others would get one-on-one time with her as she’d prune it. She’d nip here and toss it in the trash. She’d nip there and declare “put it in that glass over there”. One of us would carry the stem to its new location.

She could tell from looking at a plant if it needed to have some time in the sun, or needed rotating to another window. Others needed its vines lifted and draped casually over an adjacent shelf.

Again…it was amazing.

What does this have to do with 31 Days in the Word? Well…a lot because my mother unknowingly helped me get a better understanding of the next passage I will share over the next few days.

The Passage

Read the passage: John 15:1-17 (ESV, NIV, and NLT). Pick one or all. You can also pull out your bible and read it.

The Setup

John 15:1-3 provide an understanding of the relationship between God, Jesus and Jesus’ disciples. This relationship is illustrated using a vine.

The illustration has three key “parties”:

  1. God,
  2. Jesus and
  3. People who claim to follow Jesus.

Jesus tells us in verse 1, he is “the true vine” and God is “the vinedresser”. Now, I paused and wondered what it really meant to be a vine and a vinedresser.

I researched a little and learned that grapevines are known to be very difficult to care for since they require constant care. In scripture, the vine in Old Testament often referred to grapevines. It was also used as a symbol for speaking to Israel. But in the New Testament it is believed to symbolize the kingdom of God.

Thus, with the roles provided:

  1. Vinedresser – a person who cultivates or prunes grapevines
  2. Vine – any plant with a long, thin stem
  3. Branches – any woody extension growing from the trunk or main stem, or from a main limb, of a tree or shrub

[Definitions from Webster Dictionary]

Verse 2 then helps us to understand the ways in which each party interacts. Jesus shares that every branch performs one of two functions. He or she is either: productive or unproductive—the English Standard Version it says “bear fruit” or “does not bear fruit”. At which God, the cultivator of this vineyard, will begin the pruning process.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I share that I am not a gardner. I don’t have plants or anything green in my house other than the produce I purchase at HEB (a Texas-grocery store). Therefore, I needed a little understanding on pruning.

I learned in short a few key points about pruning that will help us here.

  1. Pruning is done to shape and encourage growth in the plant.
  2. Pruning is done to remove dead portions of a plant to prevent disease from traveling to other parts of the plant.
  3. Pruning is done to ensure the health of the surrounding stems and the overall plant.

Let’s pause for a second… Does anything about the key points capture your attention? If so, what? And why?

So back to Verse 2, Jesus says every branch either bears fruit or does not bear fruit. Every branch. In response, God will either cutback (prune) or separate (take away) the branch according to he or her productivity.

What I find most fascinating is every branch will be cut. The cutting will either result in a particular branch bearing more fruit or a branch being severed from the true vine.

What I also find fascinating is pruning is necessary to protect the entire plant. Failure to leave a dead, diseased, or unnecessary branch on a tree can result in the disease traveling throughout the plant and risking the healthy portions as well.

In verse 3 Jesus says “already you are clean”, they have the word from the Word. They have learned from Him. They followed Him. Now, they are in the position to bear fruit for the kingdom

I believe this passage shares three key thoughts as to why you want to stay the course of being a follower of Christ who is productive. One who is fruitful for the kingdom of God.

And Jesus shares these thoughts around:

  1. Abide in Him;
  2. Abide in His love; and
  3. Abide in His appointment.

Lord’s will, I look forward to sharing a thought a day for the next three days. Starting with Abiding in Him tomorrow.

Until then, God bless!

Your Spiritual Midwife Dana Pittman

 

 

 

Consider this: John 15:1-17 is a common passage shared and studied. What thoughts have you always associated with this passage?

 

31 Days of the Word with Dana Pittman | 2015

(Click HERE to view all the posts.)

God’s Promises [Day 4]

...31 Days Blogging in the Word...

I had plans for today’s post. But like my original ideas it too will be moved to the side as I share a quote from today’s sermon at church.

Day 4: God's Promises | DanaPittman.com

This coming week I believe we will really get rolling. Writing everyday has taken a slight adjustment…okay maybe not a slight one but a HUGE adjustment. LOL

However, I appreciate your comments and the message I’ve receive whether via email, in person or in the comments.

Today at church Rev. CJ talked about tests in life. Then she said this quote:

You need to be intimately acquainted with the promises God has for you, because sometimes that is all you have.

I knew she was speaking to us.

“Yes He Is” Moments

I was sent a book by publisher. The book is scheduled for release in May or June and it talks about the journey to finding faith of your own. I’m just beginning the book but the thought has always been one close to my heart. I’ve always called it “borrowed faith”. 
[pullquote3 quotes=”true” align=”center” variation=”deepblue” cite=”Luke 17:5 NASB”]The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!'[/pullquote3]

Borrowed Faith

What is “borrowed faith”? Well, it’s when you see others around you growing in their faith. As you look on you see God’s favor. Whether it’s a healing, financial blessing, peace, joy or any type of breakthroughs you can attribute to his or her faith in God. And as you eagerly look on you begin to believe “if God did it for her then He can do it for me”.

Now witnessing this is amazing. It helps us to learn more and more about our Father. However, wagering on the breakthroughs and answered prayers of others can only take us but so far.

At some point we have to look at our own walk. Or the perceived power behind that blessing loses its appeal.

Does this mean that God is not good? No, He’s still good.

Does this mean that the blessing is less real? No, it is very real. However, I’d like to believe that the power in it is much more real to the direct recipient than a spectator. [pullquote3 quotes=”true” align=”center” variation=”teal”]”Yes He Is” moments are the ones that get us through the tough times.[/pullquote3]

 

“Yes He Is” Moments

For example, as a child I loved the congregational song that said…”I know God is a good God…” and the church would sing “Yes He is.” This would go on and on. Tambourines clanging. Clapping hands. Tapping toes. Rocking bodies. All attesting to the goodness of God.

My heart would like to believe that each person as they sing has a story in mind. A time that God showed His goodness. And their hearts are racing at that recall which gives the rise of their voice its melodic tone.

As a child I sat next to my grandmother, with her soft soprano voice not missing a beat. But I had no story. No memories that I could recall.

To me it was a song. A good song that I still love but at that time I had no memories to draw upon. Thus, as time went on and I really needed to have the faith to believe in the goodness of God I would draw a blank.

I had my grandmother’s words. I heard sermons from pastors. I had heard testimony after testimony. But I, Dana, had no “Yes He Is” moment.

Beloved, those “Yes He Is” moments are the ones that get us through the tough times.

When we have more bills than money.

When our children are on our last nerves.

When our hearts are broken.

When we are waiting for God to show us His goodness…once again.

You see, as we wait our past “Yes He Is” moments is what sustains us. And borrowed faith just won’t do.

I am still reading the book anticipating all that the authors will share. As I read, I think of my “Yes He Is” moments and how I began to accumulate them to help me when hope was all I had. Hope…that God would once again show up and show me His goodness. [pullquote3 quotes=”true” align=”center” variation=”teal”]And borrowed faith just won’t do.[/pullquote3]

Beloved, this is why I mentor women. This is way I teach. This is why I write. This is why I can tap my toe and sing “Yes He Is”. Because I know…KNOW…God is good. I tried Him. I know Him. I would not want to spend a single day without Him.

I pray you can say the same. And if not…let me know.

[signoff]

Photo Credit Anissat.

[fancy_header3 variation=”teal”]Reflection[/fancy_header3]

Do you journal your “Yes He Is” moments? If so, how is it helpful? If not, give it a try. And if you’re stuck…visit your bible and search for moments when God told someone to build an altar. 

[fancy_header3 variation=”teal”] [/fancy_header3]

Your Spiritual Midwife

I travel a lot during the summer months. I meet women here and there. I am asked to call and study with this woman or that woman via referral from their close friend or family member.

In the end, I usually find myself with a list of women that I text or call when a face dances across my mind or a name is whispered on my heart.

As the list grew I wondered…how in the world will I keep up with these women until they are no longer in need of my presence in their lives….

Double-Dog Dare by Dana Pittman

I prayed. I prayed. I prayed.

Then I started a rotation of text messages. I had reminders in my phone. I keep notes in my prayer journal. I prayed and prayed until I receive a call or text saying…”Dana, I have a praise report.”

For some women our walk lasts years, while others last for weeks. Each woman and situation differs but my role is the same.

I stand, I kneel, I pray, I cry, I praise, I squeeze hands, I hug, I love and love and love until it’s time for me to exit her life.

It’s exciting. It’s thrilling. It’s heartbreaking.

I see women’s wings clipped. I’ve seen wings repaired.

I’ve seen babies come. I’ve seen babies go.

This is my role as a Spiritual Midwife.

I asked God…why…why a Spiritual Midwife? I knew what a midwife did, generally, but a Spiritual Midwife…no clue.

However, my spirit would not let me be. It popped up during sermons. It hummed in my ears during conversations. I heard it in my sleep. And with it usually came the face of a woman that had come and gone.

It wasn’t until I read a single scripture written by Apostle Paul in Philippians where he called the people in Phillippi “my joy and crown”.

I paused and realized the evidence of the work God had for me resided in these women. They were the fruit and evidence of the gifts God has placed in me. They, every single one of them, are my joy and crown. Because at the very core of our relationship is Him.

Nothing more…nothing less.

Journey with me as I attempt to share something so personal…so intimate…publicly. I will not divulge personal details however I will always encourage you to be the light Christ created you to be.