Fresh Fruit: Seeking Jesus for His Goodness

Fresh fruit is a staple in my household. My son especially loves it! But, one thing this Mama has a hard time with is how quickly fruit rots. I buy so many varieties that by the time we have tried a bit of all, we find rotting has begun with the remainder.

Take a carton of strawberries, for example. Once one has molded, the strawberries that surround it begin to mold as well. Interestingly enough, the opposite side of the strawberry that is touching the non-moldy ones still appears in good condition.

However, it is said that once the mold has begun they are no longer safe to eat and must be thrown out. Even if half of it still appears good, the whole is not considered good to eat.

I pondered the implication of this imagery with the condition of my heart. Imagine, if my heart touches the heart of the world that’s full of sin, I, too, reflect that sin nature.

As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”- Romans 3:10-12 (NKJV) [emphasis mine]

But, if my heart touches the heart of God, then I’m healthy, full of goodness, and safe.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.- John 15:5 (NLT) [emphasis mine]

On my own I am merely self-righteous or an appearance of good. But given time, one may see the true reflection of a heart that touches a world full of sin is no different.

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However, a heart that touches the heart of God produces the fruit of ‘goodness’ by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). And what does this goodness look like? It’s definition says this: uprightness of heart and life.

Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.- Psalms 25:8 (NKJV)

Though, imagine it’s said that, I, too, must be thrown out if my heart has started to decay from touching a world of sin.

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.- John 15:6 (NKJV)

It’s a stark realization. But living for Christ is a wholehearted commitment. It is daily dying to self and surrendering both heart and life to His righteousness.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.- 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Thank God for His mercy and His grace to accept us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!- Romans 5:17 (NIV)

A life found in Christ is certainly like finding and consuming the freshest fruit. May we continually seek Him and touch hearts with His. For in Him is true goodness— uprightness of heart and life!


Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.- Matthew 7:17‭-‬20 (NIV)

 

A Growth Process: Transforming with Knowledge and Understanding

I feel as if I am reliving the same day over and over again. Within that concept lies another underlying problem. I’m also repeating the same things over and over again. “What did I just say?”, “Are you even listening to me?”, “How many times do I have to tell you?” are just a few of those sayings on repeat to two toddlers.

Not only am I reliving this moment by moment, day by day, but I am reliving the frustration and impatience with it all. I figure, they know these things. I’ve modeled these things to them. Yet they still don’t do it! Other words, why can’t they just match what I do and be like me?!

Simply put, that’s an expectation that’s unachievable. The reality is that they’re toddlers. They have a short attention span. They have not yet acquired maturity. They may have knowledge of something, but they have not received the ability to carry out that knowledge. Because the growth process entails taking time. I train, guide, and correct them until they are transformed in such a way that mirrors the potential for who and what they can be. And it’ll be a continual process.

This requires more than just knowing something in their mind. They have to understand it with their heart. Take my son for example. He is completely obsessed with construction vehicles, tractors, emergency vehicles, etc. He both knows and understands about them because he loves them so much! On the flip side, he knows about his sister’s kitty obsession, but he doesn’t understand it because it’s not something he thoroughly enjoys.

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I realized the implication this had on my walk with Christ. I was striving so hard to match what I knew about Jesus. I was so hard on myself every single time I failed. On my own I could not think, say, do, and behave in such a way that mirrored Jesus. So I loathed in my condemning thoughts. “I’m just never going to be or do enough!”

Simply put, that’s an expectation that’s unachievable. I’m not meant to match Jesus, to think, say, do, and behave all in my own efforts. Only, I live through Him. I love how The Passion Translation says it like this:

“The light of God’s love shined within us when he sent his matchless Son into the world so that we might live through him“.- 1 John 4:9

I was, then, reminded of the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with His disciples (Matthew 14:13-21). At this point, the disciples knew Jesus could perform miracles. Jesus had modeled miracles before their very eyes. Then, in the very next chapter, (Matthew 15:32-39) Jesus calls His disciples to feed a different 4,000. Their response? “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?” [-Seriously!] Sounds familiar, right?

The reality is, just like those disciples, I have not fully figured it all out. I still have to attend to Jesus. I still have maturity to acquire in Him. And while I may have knowledge of Him, I have to allow Him to help me carry out that knowledge. It’s done by gaining that understanding through deep revelation within my heart that only He can provide.

“These people honor me only with their words, for their hearts are so very distant from me. They pretend to worship me, but their worship is nothing more than the empty traditions of men.” Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “Come, listen and open your heart to understand.”– Matthew 15:8-10 (TPT) [emphasis mine]

And it’s a growth process (aka: sanctification). He trains, guides, and corrects me as I surrender to Him and His word. Moment by moment, day by day…

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.- 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)

…until I’m transformed in such a way that mirrors the potential for who and what I can be in Him.

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.- 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT)

No longer do I have to feel frustrated and impatient when my children don’t follow through with my instruction or perform to meet my expectations. Nor do I have to feel frustrated and impatient with myself when I don’t follow “having a mind like Christ” or performing like “Christ lives in me”. That type of thinking leads to striving and results in condemning thoughts. Right now, I surrender all those expectations.

I thoroughly enjoy the word of God and love Him- just as my son loves his machines! Which means I have the ability to both know and understand who Jesus is in me. I can trust His sanctifying work that is declared in Galatians 2:20, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

To my children, to myself, and to anyone who can relate to my circumstances: “Come, listen and open your heart to understand”.


The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.- 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 (NIV).

Saying “Yes!” to Right Now

“Not right now.” I’m guilty of repetitiously quoting this phrase to my children.

Just the other day, my daughter was chasing my heels and trying to hand me a book. The same book I had already read twice before 7:30 AM. And just one of the dozens of others I knew she would hand to me thereafter. I hurriedly muttered, “Not right now, Sissy”.

Except this time, I heard an internal voice chime back at me, “If not now, then when?”. I stopped in my tracks and whispered back, “Yes, You’re totally right!”.

I decided to cease what I was doing in order to read her that book. Because I knew if I didn’t, I’d fall into my cycle of, “Mommy just needs to finish ______, and then I’ll read it to you”. And then task one morphs into task two. Task two magnifies task three. Task three trails onward to task four. And before I know it, half the day is gone and I still haven’t read that one book.

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This revelation dawned on me that I don’t just fall into this cycle with my children. But I have been guilty of doing this with Almighty God. I offer up a quick “Thank You, Lord, for this day”. I check off a couple devotions. And then I move hastily to those stacked up tasks.

Though non-verbal to my daily tasks, it’s as if my actions have muttered to God’s bid for me to “Come!” with a harsh “Not right now!”. And His still, small voice acknowledges my disregard by saying, “If not now, then when?”.

Every day is a new opportunity to say to my Creator, “Yes, You’re totally right! Right now is when.”.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.- Lamentations 3:21‭-23, ‬25 ESV

The soul who seeks the Lord is one who joyously responds saying yes to right now. Here are but a few ways to do so:

  • Surrender– Before the day begins, maybe even before my feet hit the floor, I can choose to yield my heart and thoughts to the Lord. So then, surrender to God. Stand up to the devil and resist him and he will turn and run away from you. Move your heart closer and closer to God, and he will come even closer to you. … Be willing to be made low before the Lord and he will exalt you!- James 4:7‭-‬8‭, ‬10 TPT
  • Worship– This is more than just playing some Christian tunes and singing godly lyrics. It is a glimpse into the posture of my heart. Whatever I place the most emphasis upon is where my heart is postured. Now, with breathtaking wonder, let everyone worship Yahweh, this awe-inspiring Creator. The Lord looks over us from where he rules in heaven. Gazing into every heart … he observes all the peoples of the earth. The Creator of our hearts considers and examines everything we do. The eyes of the Lord are upon even the weakest worshipers who love him— those who wait in hope and expectation for the strong, steady love of God.- Psalms 33:8‭, ‬13‭-‬15‭, ‬18 TPT
  • Prayer– I often tend to overcomplicate this one. This doesn’t have to be forcing out perfect words or meeting a specific time quota. It’s simply longing to have conversation with the Lover of my soul. … But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words. God, the searcher of the heart, knows fully our longings, yet he also understands the desires of the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit passionately pleads before God for us, his holy ones, in perfect harmony with God’s plan and our destiny.- Romans 8:26‭-‬27 TPT
  • Gratitude– I often remember to thank God for the physical blessings I have- life, my family, a home, a car, food, clothing, etc. But, I, too, should thankfully acknowledge every spiritual blessing that’s promised to me as God’s beloved child. Let every activity of your lives and every word that comes from your lips be drenched with the beauty of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. And bring your constant praise to God the Father because of what Christ has done for you!- Colossians 3:17 TPT

Before the tasks begin. In between the tasks. After the tasks are complete. -It’s not about ignoring life’s demands. But it’s also not about ignoring God’s call to “Come!”. I have found there are so many reasons and opportunities to obediently transform my heart’s response from “Not right now!” to “Yes! Right now!”.


Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life. Come every day to me and you will never be hungry. Believe in me and you will never be thirsty. But everyone my Father has given to me, they will come. And all who come to me, I will embrace and will never turn them away.”- John 6:35, 37 TPT (bold emphasis mine)

A Word for the Year: Reflection and Resolution

2019. The first time I jumped on the Word for the Year bandwagon. In December 2018, I felt such a passionate fire in my heart to declare arise as my word for 2019. And more specifically to shift my purpose to Wake up! (Romans 13:11) and Go! (Mark 16:15).

I was so focused on fulfilling calling and purpose for God’s kingdom that I took this to heart. I thought I would spend 2019 writing a book entitled ‘Arise: Wake Up and Go’.

Unfortunately, like many times in my life, I start projects with such zeal. I continue with determination when the going gets tough. Then, once I’ve had enough of certain pressures I, most often, don’t finish my purposed tasks. Much like this book’s manuscript.

What I originally intended with this book became snuffed out by doubts. It tripped me up by wondering if I really understood my calling and purpose with clarity. I became too sidetracked by distractions. I felt a heaviness of daily frustrations and quickly became overwhelmed.

I felt like a failure with my literal interpretation of my Word for the Year. It had seemed as though the word was lost on me. However, I had previously purposed within my heart to accomplish something in full- from start to finish. I internalized my new year’s resolution to read through the Bible in a year. Midway through the year, I almost gave up as I dwelt upon my heart motives. I knew my heart was in the wrong place as I attempted to complete this personal challenge to prove something to myself. Although I persevered, I felt disappointed in myself and nearly depressed.

Until today. I reflected upon this year’s journey with gratitude in my heart. And I found that God did, in fact, show up BIG in my life this year. He’s merciful. He’s gracious. He’s faithful. He’s loving. And He’s oh, so good. 

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1) In determining to write my book, I was led to forgive two crucial persons that have impacted my life. I particularly held onto [over two decades each] of hurt and grudges from our relationships together. It cascaded into uncovering several years of suppressed pains, from and against, other certain peoples. Those of which I didn’t know we’re hidden in my heart. More forgiveness flowed.

Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.  -Luke 11:35 (NLT)

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. -Matthew 6:14‭-‬15 (NLT)

2) As a consequence of forgiving, my heart began it’s transformation to healed. God’s light shone upon areas of my heart that needed further repentance (perfectionism, control, striving). I found freedom from pursuing worldly affirmations and approval. And I learned to become better acquainted with God’s heart.

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah.
Acts of the Apostles 3:19‭-‬20 (NLT)

3) In dedicating myself to reading the Word, I saw how God grew me with deeper revelations than I have ever experienced in my lifetime. He demolished lies I often believed, such as common “worldly wisdoms”. He transformed thoughts of Who I believed Him to be. I once thought He was out to punish me for every wrong choice I made (which is A LOT). But instead of punishing me for my wrong heart motives in reading the Word, He proved Himself faithful with the gifts of growth, help with perseverance, and deeper understanding of Truth.

But the Lord Yahweh is always faithful to place you on a firm foundation and guard you from the Evil One. Now may the Lord move your hearts into a greater understanding of God’s pure love for you and into Christ’s steadfast endurance.
2 Thessalonians 3:3‭, ‬5 (TPT)

I’m so grateful for this year. God truly beckoned me to arise. To Wake up! from a religious slumber. Of going through the motions of life while proclaiming to be a Christian, but harboring grudges and unforgiveness in my heart. He asked me to Go! and do the hard things that were needed to be done for deeper revelations and transformations.

Because isn’t that what any of us are called and purposed to do? To love Him with our lives, showing utmost obedience to Him, in order to bring glory to His name. He has been, and will continue to be, faithful to point all my failures and frustrations back to Him, His goodness, and what He has done.

I look forward to what I feel deep in my heart is for 2020. After prayerfully considering a word for the year, my heart is wide open and ready for renewal. And of course, to shout and proclaim glory to His name along the way!


“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”- Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

Persevering with the Faith of an Infant Child

What is one thing you’re facing, right now, that seems scary to you? For my ten month old little girl, it’s our vacuum. Obviously, she cannot tell me that by her words. But when the vacuum gets rolled out of our closet, hysteria ensues.

I usually place her in the room next to me so that she can be distracted by toys and still see me near. But those distractions hardly ever work. She cries at the sight of the vacuum, and she does not stop until one of two things takes place. Either I put that vacuum away, or I carry her throughout this routine.

Yesterday, I was experiencing some excruciating shoulder pain which prevented me from carrying her. Thus, leaving me with the only other option: letting her cry until I was done.

As I was vacuuming, something about this painstaking event astounded me. Every single time I put her in a safe and fun-filled environment, she abandoned it to crawl toward me.

With a deep, red face and stream of tears she pushed past her fear of that big, noisy vacuum. All to be held by me. She had faith bigger than her fear. She knew I was the source of her comfort.

I admired her perseverance as I repeatedly witnessed this act. I pondered about previous circumstances in my life that were certainly scary. I often focused on my fears and the results only amplified my weaknesses. I made attempts to withdraw from it by cowering. I recall wanting to avoid it by running in another direction. What’s more, I have disregarded my faith by doubting, God, could even be near.

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It is inevitable. There will be times in my life when I will face scary circumstances.

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side… he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.- Matthew 14:22-24

Sometimes when good comes my way, my mind still perceives my surroundings as something to fear.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.- Matthew 14:25-26

But I have one of two choices in which I can place my faith: Upon my physical feelings which magnifies my fears. Or upon my heart believing the One Who helps me persevere. Then with my eyes focused on Jesus, I can hold out my arms requesting Him to carry me.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.- Matthew 14:27-29

Yes, fear will continue to knock- “My circumstances are bigger than me!”

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”- Matthew 14:30

Yes, fear will continue to mock- The voices in my mind can be noisy!

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”- Matthew 14:31

I stopped myself to wonder, “Do I really believe that God is Who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do? Do I perceive my fears to be bigger? Or is my faith focused on God, Who I know is bigger?

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”- Matthew 14:32-33

On the outside I may not appear to have it altogether. Even still when I encounter scary circumstances, my face may be deep red with streams of tears running down. But in my heart I’m choosing to believe God for His word.

I can push past my fears with perseverance. Even now, I look for God’s face. He’s my familiar, Heavenly Father. I am promised He carries me. I am promised His comfort. Through a seemingly ordinary vacuuming routine, I learned all it takes is having the faith of an infant child. 


“‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”- Isaiah 41:10 NASB