Share Your Story

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on how powerful it is when you share what’s on your heart. Have you ever had a conversation with a friend and been inspired by their grit? Encouraged by their faith? Convicted by their resolve or heartened by their victories? Every conversation you have leaves an impact of some kind. But I don’t think we realize the actual life-change that takes place long after the conversation is done.

A few days ago I met up with a new friend. We met at a park and rode around on some electric scooters. It was a beautiful Minnesota evening, where the humidity was low and the breeze was cool. As we scuttled around the trails and neighborhoods, I listened as she told me about the last few months of her life. The stuff life has thrown at her in the first few months of her marriage is amazing. I was awed at how despite all the transition and challenges she’s facing, she has this undercurrent of trust in God that is getting her through. She is full of hope that God will see her to the other side.

As we parked the scooters and hung out on the swings, we moved on to other topics. I was blown away how she naturally brought up topics that God had been speaking to me about lately. I opened up about my own struggles and was so encouraged as we talked.

Driving home that night, it hit me: our story is powerful.

Revelation 12:11 NLT says, “they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.” We have power over the enemy when we place our trust in Jesus and tell others our story.

Proverbs 27:17 AMP also says, “As iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion].” The conversations that we have with our friends have the ability to build up, call out, call higher, make stronger, bring life, and encourage healing. 

Your story is important. It has power.

Even days later, I am still learning from that conversation I had with my friend.

Share your story. Use your words to share God’s hope, healing, love and joy. You never know how a life might be changed.

 

The Gardener

John 15:1-17 is a classic passage where Jesus talks about the importance of abiding in him. It speaks to finding your life in the Lord. The first two verses say, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”

I’m struck by the significance of these two verses. God is the gardener, trimming and pruning the grapevine. Jesus is the core of the plant – the stock, the roots, the strength, the source. We are the branches, growing out of him and producing leaves and fruit. Our life is fueled by the nourishment we receive from Christ. It’s just as it was written in Deuteronomy 8:3 where it says we do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

What’s amazing is that it’s not enough that we would produce some fruit. But God cuts away the dead or overgrown stuff in our lives, even sometimes the beautiful things, so that we might increase in fruitfulness and growth!

In James 1:2-4 is says when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. We’re able to handle life’s trials, and God’s pruning, when we’re connected to the vine (Jesus) – when we are abiding in him.

The Lord is asking us to stay with him. To stay with him means that he is allowed to work a deep work in our lives. Our lives are made of so much more than what we can see in the physical world around us.

A sobering thought is that we see in scripture that he cuts off every branch that does not produce fruit. To him, that branch is useless. They’re gathered together to be burned. Nothing comes of them. It is as though they never existed, never benefiting anyone.

But you who remain?

You bring great glory to God.

So lean in to the good work that God is doing in your life. Trust his timing and his methods. He is the gardener. Jesus is the vine. And we are the branches.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Philippians 1:6 NLT

A Man of His Word

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
John 15:4

Through this section of John, Jesus is telling us that if we remain in him, he will remain in us. In this way, we produce much fruit.

Jesus also tells us that just as a branch that is severed from the vine cannot continue to bear fruit, for it withers and dies when it is cut off from what gives it life, so are we severed from the source of abundant life when we no longer abide in Christ. When we are living on our own strength and doing life apart from God, the simple yet profound truth is that we are no longer able to bear fruit.

And what is this fruit?

Galatians 5:22-23 says that the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These things are the direct fruit of abiding in Christ and being connected to the vine.

If your life is lacking these things, if you’re devoid of joy, peace, and self-control, there is no way to experience what he’s talking about outside of taking a step of faith and connecting yourself back to the vine. We’ll never experience the blessing that comes from abiding… until we abide. In this case, he’s waiting on us to make the first step. He says he will remain in us. We will be fruitful. We will bring great glory to the Father. We may ask for anything we want and it will be granted! When? When we remain in him. When we trust him to do what he says he’ll do.

We need to have confidence that Jesus is a man of his word. We need to stop being so suspicious of his motives! When doubt creeps in, we need to fix firmly in front of us a sureness, certainty, and assurance that God is bigger than we are and more than capable to accomplish above and beyond what we can.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20