From Amish Peace...
Steps to Godly Living
"Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone." - 2 Peter 1:5-7
Just as an Amish child or a non Amish child grows and matures, we must grow into mature children of God. Why must we do that? To make ourselves look better? To treat others in a more positive way? No, the ultimate reason is so our excellent character will reflect our excellent God.
God sets a high standard - perfection. That means that non of us can ever reach it, not completely, and not in our whole lives. Did God set this standard so we'd fail? No, He gave it to us so that we will turn to Him.
No matter what society we live in, no matter how we are raised, no matter what heritage of faith we carry, none of us can be godly without God's spirit in us. We may be good in some ways. We may be kind sometimes, but godly character is from Him: "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)
This fruit isn't "produced" by working harder, trying more, or living in a Christian community. The only way the fruit of the Spirit will flow out from us is for God's Spirit to flow in.
How can we do that? First, we must understand our shortcomings. Genuine character starts with facing the reality that we are sinners in need of a Saviour. Jesus saved our souls and allowed us to enter into eternity. But He also rescues our character on a daily basis as we turn to Him. With every step, let us praise God for where we've come and also submit to our Father's leading and to where He wants to take us.
Dear heavenly Father, I'm thankful that I'm not where I use to be. You have begun a good work in me. Now, dear Lord, I submit to where you want me to go from here.
From Beside the Still Waters...
Flower or Fruit - Read: John 15
"As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." - John 15:4
It was late spring when I finally got around to trimming the old apple trees behind our barn, a chore which should have been done much earlier. I stacked all the branches in one big heap, intending to burn them once the rains let up. Some time later I was astounded to see an enormous bouquet of pink and white blossoms issuing from the brush pile. Beautiful flowers had budded and bloomed from virtually every one of the severed branches.
As time passed, however, not one bit of fruit developed, and those beautiful flowers withered, dried up, and fell away. They had been cut off from their source of nourishment, and now they were truly good for nothing but the burn pile. Those limbs still attached to the trees, however, yielded bushels of apples.
A pruned tree may look like a disaster at first glance, but an experienced orchardist knows that trimming produces a more fruitful and profitable tree. The parallels in the spiritual realm are striking. Our Lord declared, "Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2). Purging for believers is painful yet essential to develop the quantity and quality of spiritual fruit which strengthens the individual and glorifies his Creator. The alternative is to be cast away as a dead branch into eternal fire.
Man's showy displays of wealth, position, physical beauty, and prominence are like those flowering branches - fruitless and brief. Both in season and out of season, may we all submit to the Master's pruning. We can be assured that it is all for our good and for His glory as we by faith continue to abide in Him.
Pete Lewis - Halsey, OR
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God" - 2 Corinthians 3:5
And if you have time, there is another beautiful post from Sheryl's Splinter from our African Log blog to read.