Are You a Fruit Lover?

PngMix.com-hearts_012

Written by Jennifer Morrow

Even if you are not a lover of fruit, most people like at least some kind of fruit.  For most of us fruit lovers and enjoyers, here is perhaps why – fruit tastes good, and fruit is good for us.  Fruit is light, refreshing and naturally sweet too. For those who don’t like any kind of fruit, us fruit lovers wonder why?

So many things in the natural have a spiritual parallel. The same is true about the fruit of the Spirit – through which we experience or “taste” the goodness of God and remain in good spiritual health too.

While our dietary likes and dislikes may never be revealed, our spiritual appetites are always on display.

Oh how fruitful art thou fruit lover?

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)

Are you full of the Spirit?

Walking in the Spirit?

Living by the Spirit?

Are your plans and decisions led by the Spirit?

Are you loving unconditionally?

Okay, so anything I share, be assured it’s just what I’m being reminded of personally too! I’m right there with all you other fruit lovers.

~The fruit of the Spirit are not spiritual gifts, but they are the character of Christ which only grow and develop by the Spirit of God alive in every born-again believer.~

Apart from staying close to Jesus and the presence of His Holy Spirit, our fruitful love will have limits, and much of these other 8 characteristics (or fruit of the Spirit) will be lacking or infrequently seen.  Oh, yes, we will still love especially those who love us and who are easy to love, and show our joyful expressions here and there, and maybe even be full of peace when we are asleep – haha – no, but seriously.

Jesus tells us He is the vine and we are the branches and, “...only those who remain in Me and I in them, will produce MUCH FRUIT...”

How can we…

… love unconditionally — even loving those who do not love us?

overflow with joy like a fountain — irregardless of the pains and sorrows of this life that none of us get a detour from?

walk in supernatural peace — in the midst of a world full of unrest, fear, chaos and confusion?

By becoming a fruit lover – a lover of the fruit of the Spirit of God that is.

As we remain diVINEly connected, our fruit loving hearts will overflow.

Really living in a consistent state of love, joy, and peace by God’s definition, cannot occur without remaining connected and submitted to the TRUE VINE, Jesus.  God’s Spirit is the root of all spiritual fruit.

We need to be filled fresh and anew daily with God’s presence in order for our fruitfulness to grow, flow and continually overflow.

Challenge yourself and take the fruitful test:

Am I LOVING?

(Mark 12:30-31; 1 Peter 4:8)

Am I JOYFUL?

(1 Thessalonians 5:16; Phil. 4:4)

Am I PEACEFUL?

(John 14:27; Isaiah 26:3)

Am I PATIENT with others?

(Luke 8:15; Romans 12:12)

Am I KIND to others?

(Proverbs 31:26; Ephesians 4:32)

Am I GOOD to others?

(Isaiah 1:17; Colossians 1:10)

Am I a FAITHFUL follower of Christ?

(Psalm 101:6; Luke 16:10)

Am I GENTLE with others?

(Matthew 11:29; Titus 3:2)

Am I SELF-CONTROLLED?

(1 Thessalonians 5:8; Titus 1:8)

Only The Holy Spirit consistently produces this kind of REALLY GOOD fruit.

🍎🍐🍊🍋🍉🍇🍓🍒🍑

I am certainly no theologian (far from it!), but I think these fruit of the Spirit are listed in order for a reason. If we haven’t first experienced the love of God, it is impossible to be filled with true joy and peace, and to consistently live out the characteristics of these other fruit of the Spirit.  Ephesians 5:18 reminds us to be continually filled with the Spirit.  We don’t just ask God for forgiveness, receive His forgiveness and saving grace and the indwelling presence of His Spirit, and then never need to be filled again.

God is LOVE, and He is the source of all LOVE, JOY, and PEACE.  God is patient with us all.  Through Jesus, we have an example of God demonstrating His LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control as He walked the earth.

Since LOVE holds all things together, is the greatest gift and the greatest commandment per Jesus, it might help us all to focus more on the characteristic of LOVE and loving the One who is LOVE first and foremost.

It’s interesting that the global symbol for love is a heart. By God’s masterful design, this is where all true love starts.  God has uniquely created us with hearts to love and be loved. He desires that our hearts are drawn to His love first and filled with His love overflowing to others.

 It’s all about our hearts, the place where everything starts.

Above all else, guard your heart, for from it flow all the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

At our daughter’s wedding last fall, it was the most lovely day, and I was honored and thankful to be able to stand in front of the entire congregation and read the Love passage from the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 13.  Here is the definition of love from verses 4-7:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

After reciting what “love” really means in the presence of so many loved ones, family and friends, I now have these words ringing in my ears saying, “Self, you stood up and read all those lovely words for all to hear, remember?”  Like never before I pray, “Lord, help me to walk in Your love above all else.”

Of course, we all get amazing grace and these verses remind us ALL of the GRACE we ALL so desperately need as we fall short of God’s standard.  No excuses though – God enables us by His Spirit to do all things through Christ and especially to love. We can all GROW IN LOVE and, by God’s Spirit and His grace, become more fruitful lovers of others.

~No good roots leads to no good fruit.~

~Love roots lead to lovely fruits!~

~MAY WE ALL BECOME TRUE FRUIT LOVERS IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST. MAY ALL OF US FRUITFUL LOVERS OF GOD BRING THE LIGHT AND REFRESHING PRESENCE OF GOD’S SPIRIT TO OTHERS AND BE SWEET AS WE DO!~

Lighten up!:  

Lord, I fill so full of Your love, your joy, your peace right now, but I am about to get out of bed, so help me today, Lord. Amen.  

Prayer Starter:  

Lord, I thank You that Your Spirit is alive within me and that the seeds of the fruit of Your Spirit are there too.  Help me, Lord, to be filled to overflowing with Your Spirit, Your love, joy and peace, and especially your LOVE that covers us all, in a spirit of humility and boldness I pray. Amen.

My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness! (The Passion Translation)*

A few other verse references: 

Ephesians 3:14-19; Romans 5:5; Mark 12:29-31; John 15:5; Philippians 4:13; 1 Peter 4:8; John 15:11*; Colossians 3:15

 

What MORE Do We Need? Part 3

woman-overloading-with-shopping-bag

Written by Jennifer Morrow
SOMETIMES LESS OF SOME THING IS REALLY MORE OF WHAT WE NEED.
SOMETIMES HAVING LESS OF SOME THING LEADS TO AN OPEN DOOR FOR MORE OF SOMETHING BETTER.

There is a struggle within our hearts and minds that we all face daily in order to really experience the MORE that truly fulfills.  This is the something that is MORE BETTER – okay, not proper grammar, but it works to make this point.  THE MORE THAT TRULY FULFILLS does not derail or kill the heartfelt desires that God has placed within each of us for His purpose and glory.  WHY?  Because the God who knows us infinitely better than we know ourselves and knew us while we were yet in our Mother’s womb, created us to desire, to hope for something better, and that something is more than we can often imagine or think in our finite minds.

WHAT APPEARS LESS THAN DESIRABLE TO MANY IN A CULTURE CONSUMED WITH SELF-FULFILLMENT, IS USUALLY WHAT LEADS TO MORE FULFILLMENT IN THE END.
HOW OFTEN DO WE SETTLE FOR SO MUCH LESS THAN GOD DESIRES FOR US? 
C. S. Lewis, the great British lay theologian and writer/creator of The Chronicles of Narnia and other eloquent works of literature, has a powerful quote regarding our desires.  This quote is taken from the book entitled, The Weight of Glory:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half hearted creatures … like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” 
Here’s something MORE to remember:
  • You were lovingly created by God who knows you and knows the very number of the hairs on your head.
  • You were uniquely created by God and no one else even has your same fingerprints!  Amazing!
  • You were created to be loved by God and to be in a love relationship with Your Father God.
BEING LOVED, KNOWN AND VALUED BY OUR CREATOR, AND KNOWING OUR PURPOSE, FULFILLS WAY BEYOND EXPERIENCING MORE TEMPORARY PLEASURES. 
Here’s something MORE to consider:

The next time one of your old desires for MORE leads you to carry out an old habit that continues to leave you empty, unfulfilled, and not so happy or glad, but maybe even sad(?), how about trying MORE of at least one of these new choices today my friend?

  • Spending MORE time in God’s Book and a little less time on Facebook? 
  • Spending MORE time bringing all your needs, fears, and specific requests to God while also being thankful for God’s goodness and faithfulness in your life? 
  • Spending a little MORE time actually getting together with friends who are traveling the same journey of faith for encouragement and support? You know that small group and church community thing works really well. 
  • Spending MORE time praising and thanking God over complaining?
  • Spending MORE time worshiping over worrying?

OLD HABITS DON’T DIE EASILY.  WHEN WE HAVE SPENT YEARS SEEKING TO FILL OUR DESIRE FOR MORE THROUGH OTHER PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS, WE SHOULD NOT EXPECT EVEN JUST A 21-DAY PRACTICE TO BREAK US FREE FROM EVERY OLD HABIT.  THERE IS A REASON THE BIBLE SPEAKS OF STRONGHOLDS – THEY HAVE A STRONG HOLD IN OUR HEARTS AND IN OUR DAILY LIVES.  

WE HAVE TO ESTABLISH A NEW PATTERN.  

EACH TIME OUR SOULS BEGIN TO CRY OUT FOR MORE OF THAT OLD HABIT OR THING THAT LEAVES US STILL UNFULFILLED AND WANTING MORE, WE HAVE TO CHOOSE THE MORE and BETTER OPTION GOD OFFERS US.  THIS WILL LEAD TO OUR ONLY STRONGHOLD BEING GOD.

LORD, FILL US WITH MORE OF YOUR SPIRIT, MORE OF YOUR LOVE, JOY AND PEACE.
 THIS IS THE MORE WE ALL NEED!
PSALM 4:7-8 THE MESSAGE
WHY IS EVERYONE HUNGRY FOR MORE?
“MORE, MORE” THEY SAY.
“MORE, MORE.”  I HAVE GOD’S MORE-THAN-ENOUGH,
MORE JOY IN ONE ORDINARY DAY
THAN THEY GET IN ALL THEIR SHOPPING SPREES.  
AT DAY’S END, I’M READY FOR SOUND SLEEP,
FOR YOU, GOD, HAVE PUT MY LIFE BACK TOGETHER.

 

Still, beyond all our unfulfilled desires, hopes and dreams, there is still MORE to come and the MORE that awaits us at our final destination is truly abundantly beyond and MORE than we can ask think or even imagine. 

Heaven will be so much “MORE BETTER” – Amen!

 

Other References:  Jeremiah 29:11, 31:3; Psalm 18:2, 119:1-2, 139; Matthew 10:30; Acts 1:14; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 3:20-21; Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7
IMG_3712By God’s amazing grace, I am a covenant daughter, a wife, a mother of 2 adult children and a son-in-love. I love God’s Word and I love studying it, teaching it, and listening to others teach and preach. I also love to laugh, dance, pray and worship – so I am sort of a rare bird.
My problems and my pain have always pressed me to pray, pen and pursue God’s presence in worship, not necessarily in that order. After the murder of my beloved brother, God turned my mourning into dancing for Him, which led to a ministry through dance over the past 20 plus years, including being the founder of Destiny Dance and Restoration Arts Dance. Since 2012, I have had the privilege of teaching dance at a Christ centered non-profit dance studio.
Writing, like prayer, worship and dancing, is a release of what is deep within my spirit. I also love fashion, festive parties, family gatherings, concerts and plays, reading several books at one time, cheering on the Crimson Tide, and traveling.
I am a member of Church of the Highlands, where, since 2004, I have been blessed to serve in the areas of prayer, outreach, leading small groups, coaching, and Women’s and Freedom ministry teams. I began practicing writing in 2009 on a Restoration Arts blog and in 2015, I started another blog at http://www.ponderit.org. I am experiencing a true restoration of joy despite all of the ups and downs of life.
I now even call myself “Joyful Jenny,” and I choose to laugh a LOT and uncontrollably at times! My heart’s motivation is to share what has helped me to live in love, joy, and freedom no matter what life throws our way. Having encountered the brokenness and pain as a result of my own childhood, family alcoholism and mental illness, tragic loss and grief, and a prodigal son’s journey, I empathize with other hurting hearts.
My prayer is that you will experience more of God’s love and joy and the intimate fellowship of His Holy Spirit. In His presence is fullness of JOY! Psalm 16:11

What MORE do we need? Part 2

woman-overloading-with-shopping-bag

Written by Jennifer Morrow

What do you think you need MORE of today? 
Is it really just more money, more pleasure, and more of the latest gadget, fashion, newest model car, antique painting, more “likes” on social media, or a luxurious vacation?
It is just like the enemy of our souls to get us derailed desiring more of the things that truly never satisfy, and then leave us not only feeling unsatisfied, but stressed out, depleted, disappointed, discouraged and hopeless.  Often, when our desire for more is misguided, what begins as a legitimate need, good goal or desire, or a harmless passion ends up leading us along a path to damaging our relationships, our health, our finances, and eventually our souls.
We become slaves to whatever controls us.
 This is my paraphrase of 2 Peter 2:19.  
We are consumed by whatever our minds and hearts, desires and passions are consumed or controlled by.  This can be good or this can be bad.  It just depends on what is controlling and consuming us.  The first part of this verse says “they promise freedom.” but they end up as slaves.  How true is this in our culture today.  In the “land of the free,” many of us are enslaved in so many ways in our search for something more than what we currently possess or are experiencing.
What do we really all need MORE of?
When we are physically ill, we immediately think, “I need something to relieve my symptoms.”  If we have a headache, we take a tylenol or an aspirin.  If we have a body ache, we take an ibuprofen.  If our sinuses flare up, we take a decongestant or an antihistamine. The list goes on.  These usually solve the problem initially or at least temporarily, but if we never get to the root of what is causing our symptoms, they are likely to return or even worse, turn into a more serious illness.  We usually still need something more if we desire to be cured or healed.
Because “We were once more than we are now,” as John Eldredge states in his book, Waking the Dead, we know that when God created us in the image of His glory, He placed within us desires.* So, the desire for more is not necessarily bad or wrong.
God created us to desire love, acceptance, and purpose.  
These desires are ultimately fulfilled in and through knowing God and knowing we are loved and accepted by Him and our lives have purpose in His divinely created plan.
 
Do you ever take time to ask God?:
 
Lord, what MORE do you desire FOR me?” 
Or, how about, 
“Lord, what MORE do you desire FROM me?  
Could it be, Lord, that I NEED TO SURRENDER MORE of my heart and soul to you?”
Perhaps today we ALL just need to pursue being filled MORE with the GOD THAT IS MORE THAN ENOUGH to supply our every need.
A good daily prayer:
“Fill me with MORE of Your Spirit, Lord. MORE of You, Lord, and less of me. Amen.”  (See John 3:27-30)
SURRENDERING MORE of our hearts and desires and needs to Christ is the pathway to being MORE FULFILLED in Christ.
Lord, we need You MORE, If we are to be filled with more of Your love, Your joy and Your peace!
More Jesus = More Love!
More Word = More Joy!
More Worship = More Peace!
THIS IS THE MORE WE ALL NEED!
Psalm 4:7-8 The Message

Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.”I have God’s more-than-enough,

More joy in one ordinary day
Than they get in all their shopping sprees.

At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep,

For you, God, have put my life back together.
Psalm 37:4 – My paraphrase:
Take delight in the Lord above all other things, and the good desires He has for you will eventually consume your mind and heart.
I encourage you to check out the song lyrics to these two beautiful songs by Jesus Culture:  “Set a Fire” and “My Soul Longs for You.”  Learn the chorus lyrics and pray them as a prayer from your heart as you worship the Lord today.
*excerpt taken from The Ransomed Heart devotional, p.19 – Waking the Dead
IMG_3712By God’s amazing grace, I am a covenant daughter, a wife, a mother of 2 adult children and a son-in-love. I love God’s Word and I love studying it, teaching it, and listening to others teach and preach. I also love to laugh, dance, pray and worship – so I am sort of a rare bird.
My problems and my pain have always pressed me to pray, pen and pursue God’s presence in worship, not necessarily in that order. After the murder of my beloved brother, God turned my mourning into dancing for Him, which led to a ministry through dance over the past 20 plus years, including being the founder of Destiny Dance and Restoration Arts Dance. Since 2012, I have had the privilege of teaching dance at a Christ centered non-profit dance studio.
Writing, like prayer, worship and dancing, is a release of what is deep within my spirit. I also love fashion, festive parties, family gatherings, concerts and plays, reading several books at one time, cheering on the Crimson Tide, and traveling.
I am a member of Church of the Highlands, where, since 2004, I have been blessed to serve in the areas of prayer, outreach, leading small groups, coaching, and Women’s and Freedom ministry teams. I began practicing writing in 2009 on a Restoration Arts blog and in 2015, I started another blog at http://www.ponderit.org. I am experiencing a true restoration of joy despite all of the ups and downs of life.
I now even call myself “Joyful Jenny,” and I choose to laugh a LOT and uncontrollably at times! My heart’s motivation is to share what has helped me to live in love, joy, and freedom no matter what life throws our way. Having encountered the brokenness and pain as a result of my own childhood, family alcoholism and mental illness, tragic loss and grief, and a prodigal son’s journey, I empathize with other hurting hearts.
My prayer is that you will experience more of God’s love and joy and the intimate fellowship of His Holy Spirit. In His presence is fullness of JOY! Psalm 16:11

What MORE Do We Need? Part I

woman-overloading-with-shopping-bag
Written by Jennifer Morrow
We live in a culture consumed with always wanting MORE.  Everyone seems convinced that more is better and most of us are always desiring more of something.  For example, here are some commonly held desires for more:
I need…
…more money
…more vacation time
…more recognition
…more pleasure
…more popularity
…more stuff
…more happiness
…more freedom
In our quest for more of the above, we often end up…
…more in debt
…more stressed
…more prideful
…more depressed
…more self absorbed
…more materialistic
…more discontent
…more addicted
If we are honest, most of us have been caught up wanting more of some or all of the above and having experienced more than a few of the not so desirable results thereof.
Just like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” skipping merrily off to follow the yellow brick road on a journey for something more or better, she finally awakened from this fantasy dream to the reality of truth – all she really needed was still back at home in Kansas.  
For most of us, all we really need is right within our reach.  We just need to reach out to the Only One who is always with us and is able to give more to us than anyone will ever give.  In fact, He already has given His more than enough to us in Christ.
One of my own personal stories of desiring MORE:
I have been married for 35 years, but early on in our marriage, especially about the first 10 years, I struggled with the desire to have more clothes or shoes than our family budget covered.  Even though I was a Christian and walking with the Lord, I was still in the early stages of being transformed from the inside out.  At this point in my journey, I was oblivious that my quest for more shoes and clothes was connected to gratifying the deeper needs of my heart and soul.  Yes, I was a faithful church goer, serving, studying the Word, praying, and all those good things we followers of Christ do; but, I was in need of a LOT MORE of Jesus than a shopping spree at the mall would ever quench.
As is common to many, my childhood experiences had planted some deep roots of fear and insecurity.  These roots of insecurity led to a fairly consistent focus on beautifully adorning my exterior appearance, while my unseen soul needed not only restorative surgery, but a true supernatural makeover.  Don’t misunderstand, being fashionably adorned does not necessarily indicate someone is covering heart and soul issues, and, to this day, I still love dressing well (and well within my budget).  However, my unhealed childhood fears made it difficult for me to really trust that God would provide if I waited on Him – yes, insecurity, fear, and a lack of trusting God were all still there.  
I did not realize that these and a few other deeply rooted heart and soul issues were driving my overspending habits.  Finally, as I kept on seeking MORE of God through His Word and in worship and prayer, the gentleness of the Holy Spirit shined His light on the hidden root causes of my out of control behavior.  God’s Spirit present within us is our Helper and His Spirit gives us self control. With God’s help, I went through a season of exercising the fruit of self control and saying “no” to myself frequently while out shopping.  Since that time, after waiting more in my Father’s presence, I have continued to see my Father God provide more than enough, not only in my closet, but also more of what I really needed most – the healing of my wounded soul and spirit. 
 
God fills and heals and and ultimately fulfills all our needs and desires that are submitted to Him.  All He requires is that we ask Him, wait on Him, and trust Him to be our more than enough in every situation.
SURRENDERING MORE of our hearts and desires and needs to Christ is the pathway to being MORE FULFILLED in Christ.
Lord, we need You MORE, If we are to be filled with more of Your love, Your joy and Your peace!
More Jesus = More Love!
More Word = More Joy!
More Worship = More Peace!
THIS IS THE MORE WE ALL NEED!
Psalm 4:7-8 The Message

Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.”I have God’s more-than-enough,

More joy in one ordinary day
Than they get in all their shopping sprees.

At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep,

For you, God, have put my life back together.
Psalm 37:4 – My paraphrase:
Take delight in the Lord above all other things, and the good desires He has for you will eventually consume your mind and heart.

IMG_3712

By God’s amazing grace, I am a covenant daughter, a wife, a mother of 2 adult children and a son-in-love.  I love God’s Word and I love studying it, teaching it, and listening to others teach and preach.  I also love to laugh, dance, pray and worship – so I am sort of a rare bird.
 My problems and my pain have always pressed me to pray, pen and pursue God’s presence in worship, not necessarily in that order.  After the murder of my beloved brother, God turned my mourning into dancing for Him, which led to a ministry through dance over the past 20 plus years, including being the founder of Destiny Dance and Restoration Arts Dance.  Since 2012, I have had the privilege of teaching dance at a Christ centered non-profit dance studio.  
Writing, like prayer, worship and dancing, is a release of what is deep within my spirit. I also love fashion, festive parties, family gatherings, concerts and plays, reading several books at one time, cheering on the Crimson Tide, and traveling.  
I am a member of Church of the Highlands, where, since 2004, I have been blessed to serve in the areas of prayer, outreach, leading small groups, coaching, and Women’s and Freedom ministry teams. I began practicing writing in 2009 on a Restoration Arts blog and in 2015, I started another blog at http://www.ponderit.org. I am experiencing a true restoration of joy despite all of the ups and downs of life. 
I now even call myself “Joyful Jenny,” and I choose to laugh a LOT and uncontrollably at times! My heart’s motivation is to share what has helped me to live in love, joy, and freedom no matter what life throws our way.  Having encountered the brokenness and pain as a result of my own childhood, family alcoholism and mental illness, tragic loss and grief, and a prodigal son’s journey, I empathize with other hurting hearts.
My prayer is that you will experience more of God’s love and joy and the intimate fellowship of His Holy Spirit.  In His presence is fullness of JOY! Psalm 16:11