Some Facts About Fruit

Christians speak often about the importance of bearing good fruit, and important it is. Galatians 5 provides a faithful reminder of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
Fruit to be evident in our lives.

There seems to be something, though, not often included in our fruit-bearing training: what happens to the fruit once it is ripened on the tree. Through everyday experience and exposure, our great Teacher has enlightened me to some important truths about fruit.

For starters, it will be inspected. Just as we check for bruises, our lives will be examined. Like we squeeze to make sure the fruit is ripe and juicy, people will critique our attitudes and behavior. They will pay attention to how we respond to the world around us and situations in our lives.

Most of us don’t like that at all. We call it “judging”. Jesus expressed it as acceptable to evaluate one another’s actions when He said, “…for the tree is known by his fruit.” (Matthew 12:33)   Judging as we should not runs deeper, to the root.

Once our fruit has passed inspection the real fun begins. Somebody needs or wants it. We feel good about that, happy to be of service to the kingdom of God – until the reaping begins.

Think about how fruit is removed from a tree. Occasionally, a gentle hand reaches up in appreciation of its find and ever so carefully confiscates the needed nutrition. But that’s not the norm.

Usually It’s twisted, pulled, and plucked. Often the tree is violently shaken until the coveted fruit falls to the ground where it can be easily gathered.  Remaining joyful or gentle is seldom easy. I’m sure you can think of at least one someone who has tried your patience and pushed your self-control to its limit.

Feel like you’ve been pulled on, plucked, and shaken?

And that’s not all.  Think about what you do with your own fruit once you get it home.

It gets chopped, diced, and drained. It is pulverized into smoothies or smashed into juice. As if that’s not bad enough, sometimes it just sits until it rots, after which it becomes food for the sharp blades of a garbage disposal or thrown in the trash.

I used to get angry about the way people treated my fruit once they removed it from this tree. You know you’re feeling this same way when thoughts of being taken advantage of and unappreciated cross your mind.

There may be times when the Holy Spirit will direct you to back away, at least for a while. But make sure the Holy Spirit is the Director. Too often when we feel like our good nature is being abused and misused, we fence it off or stop producing altogether.
We are to yield the fruit, not dictate what happens to it. When it gets tough, God’s grace is sufficient to see us through.

One more thing. The tree doesn’t choose who gets the fruit. It’s usually easy to love those we deem lovable, to be gentle with those we are fond of, and patient with those we care about.

Yet, those to whom it is harder to offer fruit are often those who need it most. The lack of love, joy, and peace in their own lives is frequently manifested by nasty, hostile behavior. Letting them consume your fruit may be the very thing that initiates a change of heart.

After pondering these truths you might wonder if bearing fruit is really worth the effort.
It is.  You see, we have promises of great reward when we bear fruit.

John 15:16 records one such promise spoken by Jesus, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

Wow! Anything we ask in Jesus name can be ours if we maintain a fruitful life. Anything in line with His word, yes, but that includes everything we need and could ever desire – plus some!

And the greatest payment of all for our fruit? It makes us more like Christ.

Till next time –
June

Teeth Marks

A week or so ago I stopped by to see my friend, Honey.  It wasn’t out of my way, seeing as how Honey lives in a large cage in our family room.  She just so happens to belong haired guinea pig that belongs – so I’m told – to my grandson.

I don’t really speak Honey’s language.  It sounds to me like little more than a squeak-squeak here and a squeak-squeak there.  When I talk to her I try to speak a little softer than normal, afraid my voice might roar like thunder in her tiny ears.  Nonetheless, we look at other each eye-to-eye and share.  We understand each other.

I compliment her on her hair and ask if the boys have been taking good care of her.  Her cheerful demeanor and the lack of any offensive odors rising from her home answer that question for the most part.  Her round, bulging brown eyes add that she gets lonely sometimes, but for the most part life is good.  She thanks me for stopping by to get her out of the house for a bit.

We laugh together at the way she plays hard to get.  Knowing she can’t wait for my grandson to pick her up and play a while, when he first reaches into her cage she runs as fast as she can around and around.  She ducks behind her igloo for a second then darts back out again, screeching, “Catch me if you can!”

Finally she lets him grab hold and lift her gently out. She knows when she’s pushing him too far, and dares not let his frustration send him away.

Yep, Honey and I have become good friends. We visit most often when no one else is home.  It’s our quiet time.  My stop-over on that day was no different.

There we were, having a nice conversation as she rested in my hand, her little body stretched out on my arm.  I brought along some leaf lettuce, one of her favorite treats, so I was doing most of the talking that day.  She gave me her undivided attention though. She watched me intently as I spoke and gave me a high pitched response now and then as she reached out for her next bite and chewed like there was no tomorrow.

Once the lettuce was gone, she talked a little more as I smoothed her white hair down her back and scratched the brown patches behind her ears.  It was a nice visit, to say the least; two friends having a marvelously relaxing time together.

Then it happened.  Honey bit me!  She bit my finger and she bit down hard, as though driving her tiny teeth through a strip of rawhide.  She was likely well aware of how needle sharp her teeth are, but until that moment I had no idea.

I snatched my hand away in shock.  “Honey, what was that for?” I shouted at her as I quickly put – or should I say dropped – her back in her cage.  “That really hurt! What on earth possessed you?”

“What in the world?” I could not believe it when I looked at my finger.  Just behind the knuckle of my forefinger I saw blood.

Well, that may not mean much to you, but I just don’t bleed.  Every time I have to have blood drawn the technicians cringe, and on more than one occasion have called for help. Drawing my blood is like trying to siphon gas from a car with a straw.  My veins are tiny and hard to find, and the flow has been known to stop before the syringes are full.  Yet, there was blood forming a tiny puddle on my finger.  I thought for a minute I might actually need a Band-Aid.

I washed the blood away with a little water, dabbed the spot with a tissue, and then saw two tiny perfectly round holes in my flesh barely a quarter inch apart.  Looked like I had been attacked by a vampire action figure.  And in that minuscule spot between the two holes, my finger had that quickly swollen. A little mound had formed and colored itself red from the inside out.

“It’s okay, Honey,” feeling remorse for my reaction, “I don’t understand why you did it, but I know you didn’t mean to hurt me.

Didn’t understand was an understatement.  I was actually wondering what in that bee-bee sized brain of hers made her think it was necessary or even okay to bite my finger.  She had accidentally nipped us in the past when reaching for a bite of carrot or other treat in our hands, but she had never, ever just bit down hard or when no food was near.  She had certainly never drawn blood.  What was she thinking?

As I pondered my own question, I realized she would never intentionally hurt me. Yet, that one little bite did hurt.  It hurt a lot.  How could it cause so much pain?

You realize, I’m sure, this story is not just to warn you about the perils of raising a guinea pig.  It’s not really even about being careful who you befriend, although that is a good thing to do.  It’s about those who are our friends. Our good friends. Our true friends that we laugh with, cry with, share our dreams with and confide in.   It’s about those friends we push to succeed while feeling their hand on the small of our back doing the same for us.

And how we sometimes hurt each other. We don’t mean to.  But sometimes we do.  We allow stress, fatigue, poor health, heartbreak, fear, and other such emotions dominate us and before someone can toss us a Snickers Bar, we’re lashing out against the very ones we count on to stay close by.

The tiny, even accidental nicks from someone we love seem to cause far more pain than a deliberate slash from someone we don’t know or whom we care little about.  The best solution is to just not hurt one another at all.  To think before we speak and recognize the influence our emotions are having over us at the moment.  You know… the ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure thing.

But when we do, let’s be quick to forgive and help one another get back on track.

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34

Now, however, you should forgive him and encourage him, in order to keep him from becoming so sad as to give up completely.  2 Corinthians 2:7 (GNT)

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1, 2

Ten days ago and one of the holes is still there.  The bleeding stopped almost immediately, and the pain lasted but a few days.  Still, I can see and feel one scabbed-over bite mark and see a tiny scar from the other.  Wounds do take time to heal.  But it’s so very important that we let the healing come.

I didn’t stop my visits with Honey because of what she did.  I admit, I was a little cautious at first, but I know her.  I love her, she loves me.  Hurting one another is not part of the plan, but if it happens – forgiveness is.

June Yates-Boykin

FEEL FREE TO PRAY

“Lord, teach us to pray,” came the disciples’ plea. Jesus, undoubtedly pleased at their request, lovingly responded in that which has been called for centuries, “The Lord’s Prayer” (Luke 11).

When we desire a deep, personal relationship with our Savior, and to be an effective intercessor, learning to pray becomes a priority of our heart.  We can learn to pray more effectively. We can increase in fervency and knowledge. We can grow in understanding and rise to new spiritual heights of prayer.

However, in our passion to grow closer to Jesus and our eagerness to be of greater service, we often leave behind a most critical element of prayer – freedom. We are free in Jesus Christ to be ourselves; to be open and honest before our Lord. We are free to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.

We can become overly focused on saying exactly the right words for exactly the right length of time. We can become too concerned with the precise balance of praise and petition, tears and rejoicing, prayers for self and prayers for others.

When this happens, we soon become frustrated with unsatisfactory efforts to get it right. Undue guilt plagues us as we blame ourselves for problems because we didn’t pray enough or according to the guidelines for success. Prayer soon becomes something we reluctantly mark off of an obligatory do list as opposed to what it should be – communion with our heavenly Father induced by love and desire. It’s all part of an awesome, personal relationship of love and grace.

An Irish peddler declaring he had found something equal to salvation was challenged to explain. “The companionship of the One who has saved me,” was the reply.

Anticipation, not of having to pray, but having the privilege to pray, will explode within us only when we fully understand how completely transparent we can be in God’s presence. Liberated from restrictions and rules, we can rejoice at the very idea of a rendezvous with our Lord. Prayer becomes the extraordinary in our ordinary day, the marvelous in the midst of our mundane.

I am a person who talks to God all the time and about everything. I enjoy His company and want to know His thoughts and will. But I also relish the special time that I set aside where my complete focus can on Him.

Every day I look forward to closing myself off from the rest of the world to spend time alone with my Father. It’s my favorite thing to do and I really miss it when life gets in the way and I cannot. My time with Him is part of my daily routine. What happens once I get there is not routine at all.

Some days I have it all together. Thanksgiving and petitions are presented in an almost systematic way and beautifully laced with Scripture. Some days I fall completely apart. I can do nothing but sob uncontrollably and utter a word here and there that, like those of Hannah, are formed on my lips but never escape my vocal chords (1 Samuel 1:10-15).

At times my prayer is offered completely in song and words of praise and rejoicing. Other times fervency, determination, and victory dominate. Occasionally, I simply sit down before Him and we share one with another, discussing matters of great importance as though we were chatting over a cup of tea.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include the days when all of the above decide to manifest themselves in a single sitting!

One hour may pass, or two. On rare occasions, I find I have been there the entire morning. But it might have been twenty minutes, or fifteen. My schedule, although full, does allow me flexibility that you may not have. Still, we’re talking about freedom in our prayer life.

While sacrificial time is most often required, God does not hold you to standards that are impossible to meet. This is part of the freedom. I don’t enter into God’s presence declaring, “OK, God, I’ve got ten minutes to give You today, hope that’s enough.”

Nor does He say to me, “If you don’t pray two hours, you need not pray at all.”

Allowing the Holy Spirit to lead the way, I pray. When I feel in my spirit it is time to go, and when the Spirit releases me to do so, I go (never leaving my spirit of prayer behind). Remorse has come only when I allowed things of lesser importance to rush me out of the room before I felt the complete release of the Spirit.

Liberty in Christ doesn’t invite disrespect or disobedience. It isn’t demanding or self-gratifying. It is, however, an open door through which our hearts can join with His. It is an invitation to come as we are before the King. An opportunity to offer ourselves in as many different layers as form our personalities.

A story is told of a little girl who had just learned the alphabet. A missionary noticed the child on bended knee, and quietly approached only to hear her thoughtfully repeating the ABC’s again and again. God for sure learned the alphabet that day. When at last the little girl rose, the missionary asked why she had kept her repeating her ABC’s. She answered quite unashamed, “I felt that I should pray, and because I did not know how to pray, I repeated the letters of the alphabet, knowing that the great Lord would fit the letters together to make words out of them.”

This child wanted to pray. She hadn’t learned the rules. She hadn’t been taught Jesus’ pattern or the importance of praying the Word. But she understood freedom in the presence of her Father. If only she approached Him with what she had—herself—He would fill in the blanks. No fear. No shame. Just freedom to pray in whatever way her spirit told her was best.

Have you spent such special times with Jesus, led by the Spirit into a no-holds-barred arena of love where you expressed yourself openly, and in return received life-changing counsel? Where you offered yourself for service and were not rejected? Where you laughed or cried—or both? Have you unashamedly emptied your heart, even if it did sound like an over-achieving auctioneer with more merchandise than time to sell it? Have you bowed in silent awe to gaze upon the Father?

Continue your pursuit of effective prayer. In so doing, you will learn to pray the Word of God, you will learn keys to praying unselfishly and by the leading of the Spirit. You will learn to pray prayers of faith, not of fear or self-pity. And you will find excellent examples of prayers throughout the Bible for most every situation.

Use what you learn with a sincere heart, but don’t let it inhibit you. After a while, you will realize that what you learned has become evident in your prayer life.

Approach God always with love and reverence. After all, He is our creator and our God. Remember though, He is also our Father and our friend.

So by all means, feel free to pray.

till next time —

June   jyB Inspired.com

When the Mountain Talks Back

We’ve all stared at a huge mountain wondering what we were going to do about it. As far as we could see the rocky tower had our way blocked, and it reached to the sky.

Maybe there is one standing in front of you now.

Sometimes we create those mountains through sin or unwise choices. Others appear at no fault of our own. Either way, they rise up and stand in our way.

We can’t do a thing about them in our own power, we’ve tried. But there is nothing too hard for God. He assured us, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? …thou shalt become a plain.” (Zechariah 4:6,7).

Jesus explained just how to get the mighty Spirit of God working on our behalf to bring about victory when our problem seems unbeatable.

The disciples were amazed that the fig tree Jesus cursed earlier now stood dead. Matthew 21:21 shares His response, “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”

We convince ourselves that if God spoke to the mountain and Jesus instructed us to speak to ours, that is exactly what we should do.

So we override how foolish it seems to be looking into thin air speaking to inanimate, invisible, foes. You know the kind I’m talking about – depression, addiction, sickness, marital and family problems, oppressive work situations – whatever our mountain may be – and we speak to it.

We may even wait until no one is watching to pick up our check book or point our finger at that stack of unpaid bills and tell poverty and lack to take a hike.

But we do it. We do it because Jesus told us to and He knows best.

By the power and authority given us in Jesus’ name we command that interfering, path-blocking, trouble-making mountain to crumble so we can walk sure footedly on level ground. We stand in confidence knowing our faith is in the all-powerful God, expecting the mountain to disintegrate before our eyes.

Then the unthinkable happens. The mountain opens its ugly mouth and spits back in our face, “And just who’s going to make me move? You? Who are you to be telling me what do to do?”

And instead of things getting better, they get worse. We cover our heads to avoid the blow of the rocks the mountain hurls in our direction.

Satan starts filling our mind with every reason for what appears to be failure on our part. We haven’t fasted enough. We’ve made too many mistakes. We brought this all on ourselves. God isn’t so loving and powerful as we believed him to be.

Lies. All lies.

Instead of running for cover, stand firm. Realize that the mountain (the spirit behind it, that is, which is what we’re really speaking to) is going to test you. Especially if you are new to exercising your God-given authority. Satan turns the heat up a notch and fires back, hoping to scare you off before you destroy his plan to destroy you.

The truth is, if you hadn’t been effective nothing would have changed at all. Things wouldn’t be getting better, but they also likely would not be getting worse. Why would the devil put more energy into a fight he’s already winning?

He is a lot like that child you had to tell not once, not twice, but three times to put their toys away and go to bed. Not until you gave them the “look” and your demand contained more oomph did they realize they pushed you too far. Obey or face the consequences.

Satan will try to intimidate you when in reality he’s the one who is scared. He knows he is defeated. He also knows if you grab ahold of the power of God within you and exercise the authority Jesus gave you, you are going to know it, too.

So he puts on his best poker face and plays all his cards to convince you otherwise.

Stand your ground and speak again. And again and again if necessary. Keep the faith. Every stone that mountain throws at you is one less it has in its stature. Rock by rock it is destroying itself.

The boulders may fall and the ground may shake, but God’s got you. He’ll hold you steady as the mountain crumbles into nothingness. Soon you will walk freely across a grass covered plain.

till next time,

June — jyBInspired.com 

Seven Principles of God to Make Your Dreams Come True, Part 5 (Conclusion)

Wow! Look how far you’ve made it. You’re down to the very last element of making your dreams come true.

Remember, though, you need to apply all of these principles, make them a way of life. I hope you’ve already started with the first six. Keep in mind, they aren’t a lineup that takes turns; they are a team that work together.

“Work” being the key word there, as well as the subject of our finale:

Work Hard

For a dream cometh through the multitude of business, but a fool’s voice is known by a multitude of words. Ecclesiastes 5:3

Most modern translations indicate this verse is simply saying that if we think on something too much it will cause us to drift into daydreaming or have nightmares. Worrying about something will result in sleepless, reckless nights.

I don’t doubt those interpretations, they are true. But that is not the revelation that exploded in me one day as I read it. God spoke to me more in line with the wording found in the Amplified Version, “For a dream comes with much business and painful effort.”

If you want your dreams to come true, you have to work. Success isn’t going to fall into your lap while you sit on the sofa watching television or sleep half your day away. Rest and relaxation are necessary for our wellbeing, but laziness is never found blessed or successful in the word of God.

When laziness is mentioned in Scripture it is accompanied with starvation and ruin. Consider just a few:

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10

I passed by a lazy person’s field, the vineyard belonging to a person without sense. I saw that it was all overgrown with thistles. The ground was covered with weeds, and its stone fence was torn down. When I observed this, I took it to heart. I saw it and learned my lesson. “Just a little sleep, just a little slumber, just a little nap.” Then your poverty will come like a drifter, and your need will come like a bandit.  Proverbs 24:30-34 (GW)

And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:11, 12

Not only does laziness not profit anything, it results in loss. Look again at Hebrews 6:12. Don’t be lazy. Follow those who do just the opposite – who diligently work. The people to be followed were obviously hard workers because they were contrasted to the slothful.

And what happened to the workers? They coupled that labor with faith and patience. They never stopped believing and they persevered with joyful expectation (definition of patience in Greek lexicon) until they inherited the promise.

This is a good place to reiterate that all of the principles discussed in this series have to be working together. We addressed faith and perseverance, continuing to trust God and move forward to the end result even when problems arise and the road seems long. This Scripture now links those two principles to hard work.

The result? The people inherited their promise.

Dreams came true.

How hard and how long you will have to work will depend on several factors. The dream you are pursuing, how many other people affect the outcome, how much support you start off with, and how well you are operating within the principles God established for success – all of these and others will come into play. Regardless, you are going have to exert yourself if you want to succeed.

Some of the spiritual aspects alone will require effort. It’s not always easy to think about what we’re thinking about and renew our minds. Overcoming mindsets of failure and inadequacy can be laborious, especially if they’ve been imbedded us for a long time.

If we’re the emotional, vocal type, we have to work hard at thinking before we speak until our mind has been completely renewed to make sure we are speaking only what God has to say.

If we think our life is supposed to be like the drive-thru at Burger King where we can have everything our way and it better be quick, more effort will be required to learn patience and perseverance.

Those efforts result in a bonus for us, though, because they affect every aspect of our lives from the smallest issue to the greatest. Our lives are immensely better and far less stressful when we trust God and keep our thoughts, words, and attitudes in line with His.

Aside from the spiritual aspects, there is all sorts of work that may be required. You may need to take some classes or pick up a hammer and tie a nail bag around your waist.

Your lifestyle may change as you discipline yourself to achieve goals and reach milestones along the way that cause opposition from friends or family.

Long hours and sacrifice just might be the path to your finish line.

And, you probably won’t enjoy every task along the way. I can attest to that.

A new writer doesn’t get to just write. They have to read, to learn, to promote, to submit, to study the market, to proof and edit and edit and proof. While they’re doing all this they’re usually working a job to support themselves.

When all they really want to do is write.

Over time the work pays off and, in many cases gets lighter. People are brought in to help or the classes are complete and the career underway. The name and reputation of the new company spreads bringing in new clients and easing the financial load.

The work will never end, but in many aspects it will get easier. A lot of effort goes into building a good car. With the laborious and costly work finished, continued maintenance and repair keeps that car operating smoothly and properly.

It’s pretty much like that with anything in our lives.

We can’t afford to get lazy once we see the dream come to pass, and we can’t take for granted that we have arrived so it’s eat, drink, and be merry from now on. But like a proud parent of a new baby, we understand that taking care of that which God brought to life for us is no burden compared to the joy it brings.

 In Conclusion

God engraves dreams in our hearts in different ways. We see a need and long to help meet that need. We realize from an early age we have a flair for a certain art or a giftedness in business. Maybe we have a fascination for architecture or flight or science and know our future is embedded somewhere in that field. Sometimes He just softly speaks, “I want you to do this.”

How He planted that dream in your heart is not the topic of this writing. Nor is what your dream might be.

The dream He has given you may or may not be directly related to ministry as we think ministry. It might be family related or occupational, it might be in the area of sports or government affairs. It may be to see your own family restored in the bond of godliness and love.

If God has given you the dream, it will serve its proper role in ministering to others.

It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you know it’s from God. Forget how big or small it might be in the eyes of man, God doesn’t have any insignificant or unimportant works or plans.

The new church I told you about at the very beginning of this series? Well, to some it would seem as not much at all. It is small in comparison to many. As a matter of fact, it could likely fit in the foyer of many a grand church buildings today, seating only about 150 people. But for us it was huge. He established that vision in the heart of a widowed woman pastor with a small congregation of people, most of which were on lower or fixed incomes.

For us to build a new building at that time was as likely as a finch building a nest to accommodate a family of eagles.

It was our dream, and it came to pass.

Dreams do come true, but it takes effort on our part.

Isn’t your dream worth it?

Please remember, God wants you to succeed. He didn’t create any of us to fail.

On the contrary, He equipped us with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and the Holy Spirit within us, more powerful than anything or anyone in this world (1 John 4:4).   Furthermore, we have access to every resource in and from Heaven (Luke 15:31), which is far more than we need to accomplish our God-given goals.

That is not a combination for failure.

Since putting this knowledge to work in my life, a few of my own dreams have come true. Now I am pursuing some greater ones. Little by little they are also coming to pass.

So, my friend, can yours.

What now?

Go back through the posts. Read the principles. Digest them. Put them into practice. Here they are again as a simple list:

  1. Dream. Your dream can’t come true until you have one. It’s in there…seek God to find out what it is then set it free regardless of what anyone else says or does.
  2. Have faith in God. All things are possible to them that believe (Mark 9:23)
  3. Persevere. Remember the age old adage, “Quitters never win and winners never quit.”
  4. Be led by the Spirit. There is no problem God doesn’t have a creative solution for. It may seem totally ridiculous in the natural, just the opposite of what a wise person would do. But remember, the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 3:19). Trust God to know what He’s doing, and follow His lead.
  5. Guard your mind. In so doing, we guard our heart, and as we think in our heart so are we (Proverbs 23:7). Change the way you think. Replace every negative, hindering thought with promises and counsel and encouragement from the Word of God. Your thought life is vital to your success.
  6. Speak only Life and Victory. The power of death and life is in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Hold fast the confession of your hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
  7. Work Hard. Dreams come true through much business and painful effort (Ecclesiastes 5:3).

Add more knowledge as you journey. And never, ever quit.

If you have any questions or comments, by all means contact me. I certainly don’t know everything, but I know the One who does.  I would love to hear from you.

June  jyBInspired.com

 

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the Authorized King James Version.

Scripture marked AMP is from the Amplified Bible. Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture marked GW is taken from GOD’S WORD®, © 1995 God’s Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group.

Seven Principles of God to Make Your Dreams Come True, Part 4

It’s been too long since Part 3, so let’s bring everybody back up to speed. The entire purpose of this post is to point out that God created everyone for success. He plants a desire in our heart, a dream to pursue, then He helps us bring it to pass.

The key word there is “helps” – He doesn’t do it for us, He does it with us. We have to do our part. My intent is to give you a starting point with seven Biblical principles that must be in play if you are indeed going to see your dreams come true.

As said before, there is much to learn and practice about each of these seven principles, but this post provides you a great starting place. The fundamentals are here, and actually if you took to heart just what you’ve read in this series and put it into practice, it would be enough. But the Bible has so much to say about each of them that I cannot possibly include it all. Continue to seek God, learn all you can and apply what you learn. Then you will remain enthused and hopeful. Your faith will abound more and more.

We have addressed five of the seven principles:

  1. Dream. Your dream can’t come true until you have one. It’s in there…seek God to find out what it is then set it free regardless of what anyone else says or does.
  2. Have faith in God. All things are possible to them that believe (Mark 9:23)
  3. Persevere. Remember the age old adage, “Quitters never win and winners never quit.”
  4. Be led by the Spirit. There is no problem God doesn’t have a creative solution for. It may seem totally ridiculous in the natural, just the opposite of what a wise person would do. But remember, the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 3:19). Trust God to know what He’s doing, and follow His lead.
  5. Guard your mind. In so doing, you guard your heart, and as you think in your heart so are you (Proverbs 23:7). Change the way you think. Replace every negative, hindering thought with promises and counsel and encouragement from the Word of God. Your thought life is vital to your success.

Now we continue with the sixth principle:

Speak Only Life and Victory

An evangelist friend of mine often makes this statement, “Your tomorrow is waiting to hear what you say today.”

That is a truth of God’s word.

Because of erroneous teachings the power of our confession has developed into a controversial issue among Christians. So much that I spent four consecutive weeks at my own church teaching in detail what Scripture does and does not say about it and combatting some of the common notions that are verbalized when the topic arises. I can’t do that here, but what I can do here is try to get through to you the validity of the power in our words.

And well, the only way to do that is be blunt. Do you take God at His word or don’t you? If so, you cannot ignore Scriptures such as these:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)

For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Mark 11:23

And those are only two of several. Remember, God created this universe with His word. When the Holy Spirit came to live in you, with Him came that power to create through your words. What we experience in this life is highly dependent upon what we let come out of our mouth.

We can be working hard and making wise decisions and doing everything right, but if all we are saying is, “I just can’t see this happening for me,” then it won’t. If we keep saying we can’t afford to pursue our dream, we’ll not be able to fund it. Or, that we just don’t have time (my big downfall which I really have to work at), then a myriad of seemingly more important things will flood our lives.   If we speak failure, we create it.

On the flip side, if we speak God’s words of success, health, provision, and possibilities, we will begin to see doors open and ways made where it seemed in the natural there was no way.

The thing is, just mouthing empty words does us no good. It’s the words spoken in faith that move mountains. So what if you’re not convinced? What if in your heart you still don’t think your dream can come true? What then?

First of all, be slow to speak (James 1:19), which will be easier to do if you have started thinking about what you’re thinking about (5th principle).

You see, it is out of the abundance of our heart that we speak (Luke 6:45). In other words, whatever is settled most in our hearts is what will flow naturally out of our mouths. You don’t want words of defeat coming out and empowering failure (death) in your future, so don’t react or respond without first stopping to think about what you are about to say.

Then speak only life. Speak the promises of God. His words are spirit and life, so speak them (John 6:63). Speak in confidence the fulfillment of the hope God has planted within you.

“God has given me a vision. He wants me to be nurse. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to work that out yet, but He is making a way and I am going to walk in it. I will not be just a nurse, but a great one He can use to help and influence people.”

All the while you may be wondering where the money for school is going to come from, how you are going to manage job, school and parenthood. You may be thinking about the difficulty you had in science class.

But you’re also remembering that God said He will provide. He will lead you. He will strengthen you. He will be strong in the areas you are weak.

Why should you speak it anyway when you’re not fully convinced? Isn’t that just a way of getting your hopes up? Yes. And that’s exactly what you want to do.

Faith is the evidence of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). If you don’t start with hope, your faith has nothing to form in your life. And here’s where it gets great and shows yet again just how awesome God is and how much He loves us.

He established His principles of success in our lives so they help one another develop for our benefit.

All you need is this starting point: You must have it established it in your heart that God cannot lie. It is impossible for Him to lie (Numbers 23:19 and Hebrews 6:18).

Even if He could, He wouldn’t. He loves us too much. However, knowing it is impossible for Him gives us the priceless reassurance that we can stake our lives and our futures on His word.

If you’re not fully convinced of that fact you will never abound in faith. So make sure this is your starting point: God cannot lie.

Now, you’re ready to put His word to work for you, like this:

Regardless as to what your mind is telling you, speak the desired end result as though it is a done deal. We are to be imitators of God:

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. Ephesians 5:1 AMP

God calls things that are not as though they already were (Romans 4:17). We must do the same. This is why you must be fully persuaded in your heart that God cannot lie. If you’re not, your heart will convince you that you are talking like a crazy person or a liar.

At the very least, say things like, “This is God’s will and plan for me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Everything I set my hands to do is blessed.”

As you speak – out loud – positive words of victory (the promises of God), you will hear yourself. And guess what? Faith comes by hearing! (Romans 10:17). Instead of hearing negative words of failure and defeat and letting your faith build on that, now your faith will be fed words of triumph and promise and those seeds will begin to grow.

The cycle begins. As your faith grows, it will become easier and easier to speak the positive words of success because faith is connected to speaking:

We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak. 2 Corinthians 4:13

The more we speak, the more we hear, the more we hear, the more our faith abounds, the more our faith abounds, the more we speak… see? Isn’t that great?

Pretty soon, we are speaking words to create a future based on God’s will for our lives to walk in health and prosperity as our soul prospers; to enjoy the plans He has for us.

And we’re doing it naturally, without having to stop and force the words out of our mouth. The words we’re hearing are settling into our hearts, filling it up, and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

The doubt leaves, and we have whatsoever we say.

To take this a step further – remember last time we talked about guarding our thoughts because then we guard our hearts? The important principle then being that as we think in our heart so are we.

The cycle of speaking building faith and faith making it easier to speak also feeds your mind.

Thoughts of failure get pushed to the background if not completely out (which is the desired result), and the man in your heart transforms from the defeated to the victor. Soon you will think yourself a winner, successful, effective, healthy, and happy.

That’s who you will see when you look in the mirror, the person living out God’s plan for their life. Then because that’s who you believe in your heart you are, it will be.

Knowing that we have to learn to walk by faith and renew our minds, God made these principles to work together for our benefit. When used according to His will and based on His word, they join forces to create within us an unstoppable power source.

Dreams come true.

Guard your words. Speak life. If you must make a statement concerning the natural reality, hook on an addendum of faith. “I don’t have the cash on hand to open today, it’s still in the planning stages. I am seeking God and He’s helping me work out the details. It will happen.”

As a result, your heart is motivated to start pursuing the person it believes it is and you start to believe more and more the words you have spoken. They are settling in your heart and pretty soon they are coming naturally out of your mouth, creating good things for the days ahead.

There’s one more part to this series, which hopefully will post soon. In the meantime, start paying close attention to the words you speak. Make sure you choose words of life and promise.

Keep your relationship with God the most important thing in your life, and speak over your dream just as He does.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 NKJV

Till next time,

June  jyBInspired.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the Authorized King James Version.

Scripture marked AMP is from the Amplified Bible. Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture marked NKJB taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Seven Principles of God to Make Your Dreams Come True, Part 3

Through Parts 1 and 2, you recognized the need to dream and seek God for His inspiration. You allowed Him to plant a desire in your heart that is in line with His good will and plan for your life.

You starting building yourself up in your faith in God, learning to combat doubt and unbelief. Your hope is being renewed as you search His Word and stand on His covenant promises.

You determined in your heart to persevere. Whether this first dream is located just down the block in the unseen realm, or whether it requires a journey around the world, you made up your mind that nothing and no one will stand in your way and stop you from bringing it to fruition.

And, you are now seeking God more and quieting yourself before Him so you can become more sensitive to His voice. Knowing He has the route laid out and the solution for every challenging situation, you’ve recognized the need to hear and heed His advice.

You are well on your way to taking back what the enemy has stolen from you for so long, and to seeing your dream come to pass in this life. And just think – then you’ll have the faith and confidence to dream even bigger.

It was my intent to conclude this series with this post. Well, that’s not going to happen. There is so much I want to say on this next principle that it took several rewrites just to keep this post at a doable length.

My plan all along has not been to provide a lot of detail in each area. This series is meant as an ignition switch to get the motor running, with needed fuel and maintenance to follow as you travel further down the road. That is especially true in the next few areas because there are so many supporting Scriptures that explain their necessity and help us put them into practice.

I did my best to keep it brief while stressing the importance, but brevity is not my strong point. That being said, let’s move on to the fifth of seven principles God established to help our dreams come true.

Guard Your Mind

If you want to see your dream come true you cannot afford to let your heart be governed by the negativity, discouragement, and defeat that come from the natural world or from the lies of the devil, who comes to steal your hope and deplete your faith in God.

We are taught in the word that as we think in our heart, so are we (Proverbs 23:7).

That Scripture is primarily addressing the moral condition of our hearts. Regardless as to how we might act, if our hearts are evil so are we. If our hearts are pure so are we. Even if we try to pretend otherwise, eventually our true colors are going to show because that’s who we are.

By that same token, if there is an image of defeat in our hearts we will be defeated. If we see ourselves as a nobody, that’s who we will remain. If, however, we can accept in our hearts that we are successful, victorious, happy, blessed and free, that’s who we will become.

This is why we are cautioned about the condition of our hearts:

Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 AMP

So if I’m stressing the need to guard our heart, why is the instruction on guarding our mind? Because the mind, what we think, is the primary gateway to our heart. If we learn to control the mind, guarding the heart will just about take care of itself.

With every thought we make a choice. We choose whether to accept it or reject it. If we accept it, it settles into our heart and sooner or later we are going to act on it.

It is our responsibility to guard our minds and make sure our thought life is one of love and hope and promise and success. Protecting our minds is vital to living the abundant life Jesus provided for us because it affects every single aspect of our wellbeing.

This law of God does require some effort, but I trust if you’re reading this you have a dream worth putting some effort into. So let’s talk about this for just a bit.

First of all, stop saying things like, “I can’t help how I think or what I think about.”

Yes, you can.

God never, ever, ever tells us to do anything we can’t do, yet in His word we are instructed several times concerning ways we should and should not think. This often referenced verse found in Philippians needs to become a way of life for us:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Did you pay attention to the last four words? Think on these things. You can learn to control your thinking and bring it to a place where your heart is nourished with the food of peace, health, prosperity, and success.

Let me give you just a few examples from Scripture of people who were controlling their thoughts in a positive way.

The prophet Jeremiah penned these words:

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23

He said, “This I recall to my mind…” Jeremiah made himself recall the goodness of God. He trained his mind to think on the mercy and compassion of our heavenly Father and how through them God keeps us from being eaten alive by the sin, corruption, abuse, and standards of this world.

And what was the result? Hope! “…therefore I have hope,” he declared. He refused to allow negative and fearful thoughts enter his mind and feed his heart. He remained a man of strength and faith, accomplishing that which God had for him to do, often in terrible circumstances, because he controlled his thinking.

Then there is the Apostle Paul.

I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: Acts 26:2

Paul was actually saying he considered myself fortunate to defend himself to Agrippa concerning the allegations made against him. Paul had confidence in Agrippa as far as his knowledge and understanding of Jewish ways. Most Bible translations word that verse accordingly.

In a difficult situation Paul’s focus was not on why God allowed it, on fear of the outcome, or on how unfair the whole situation was toward him. He wasn’t focused on failure or revenge. He directed His thoughts to how God was making a way out and putting him in just the right place at the right time.

But it goes even beyond that to a place that causes me to just love this verse as it reads in the King James. You see, this war against rampant, destructive thoughts has not been an easy one for me. One day in the heat of a battle, I just happened to be reading in Acts and came across this account.

It stood out to me more vividly than white patent leather shoes against black slacks: I think myself happy.

Paul was thinking himself happy and so could I.

And so can you.

We can think ourselves happy and healthy and successful and prosperous because as we think in our hearts so are we. I am not saying that we can sit down on the sofa and think ourselves into a whole new life or think our dreams true.

But this is a spiritual principle set in place by our Creator and it has been proven true time and again. You see, what we think about will begin to govern our lives. Thoughts we retain eventually become automatic. They settle into our hearts and we act on them.

The more we think about our sore throat or headache, the more we convince ourselves we should stay in bed and nurse ourselves back to health. We can imagine our spouse having an affair to the point we accuse and act on jealousy and suspicion, even when they are absolutely innocent. We can focus on our mistakes to the point that we will never try again, having convinced ourselves we won’t ever get it right.

Such negative and damaging thought patterns are far too common in our lives today. We have to get that garbage out and the Word of God in so we will begin to act on thoughts of love, joy, health, success, and the overall goodness of our Father.

Procedurally, this is a simple principle:

Stop thinking negatively. Stop worrying about mistakes, failures, what might or might not happen. Stop dwelling on things as they are now. Stop emphasizing your inadequacies.

Start thinking in line with God’s promises and His will. Start thinking success, blessing, and victory. Focus your imagination on the outcome you desire and go to your happy place, to cite a cliché.

Sounds simple enough. However, the mechanics may not be so easy. Many of us have allowed ourselves to be hindered by fear, failures, disappointments, and the standards of the natural world to the extent that our thoughts (thus our actions) are dominated by those things. We don’t even realize how often we think that way or the adverse effect it is having in our lives.

So while understanding the process is simple, actually working through it may take some real effort. I know from experience the result is worth far more than the labor. Here are the basic steps to help you get started:

1. Think about what you are thinking about.

Thoughts are always scurrying around inside our heads. Very often, our active thoughts are pushed to the background and we don’t realize they’re working back there because work or television or driving or whatever else has our attention. But they’re there.

Have you ever said something “out of the blue”, or, without a defined reminder suddenly thought of a long ago memory? It really wasn’t out of the blue or suddenly, it’s just that the thoughts lining up one after the other to that point weren’t at the forefront of your mind.

Make some effort to pay attention to the thoughts wandering around behind the scenes. Force them stand front and center so you can size them up. Force them to show themselves.

Another way of thinking about what you are thinking about is to question why you respond to certain things or people the way you do. Why did I give him that answer? Why did I open the refrigerator to see what’s in there when I already know? What was I thinking?

And yet another, ask yourself why you believe what you believe or why do you feel so strongly about one matter or another.

Become of aware of your thoughts.

2. Recognize thoughts that need to be replaced.

These are the thoughts that argue with you when you see yourself successful and move in that direction. They are thoughts of death, suffering, failure, unworthiness, inadequacies and so on. They say words like “can’t”, “never”, and “just accept it.”

They come from our environment, from past experiences, from other people, and even from the devil who will plant lies in our minds to steal from us and destroy our dreams.

There is nothing lovely about them.  They don’t bring a good report or praise.  So they have to go.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

This process is known as renewing your mind. And though it is our responsibility to do so, God has provided the means.

3. Use the weapons God has given us to destroy those arguments.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; Romans 10:3-5

The weapons He refers to? There are more than these, but some dominant ones are:

(a) Free will. We can choose how we will think. We make the choice which thoughts to discard and which to keep and nourish. Nobody can force us to think against our will;

(b) Grace. Ask God for grace to conquer the negative thoughts. He is more than willing to help us in our time of need; and

(c) His word, which is full of hope and promise. It is His word we use to replace the thoughts we are removing. If we don’t replace them, I assure you, they will return.

The ungodly thought pattern that had the most effect in my life was that of failure. I couldn’t get anything right. I didn’t meet the standards or requirements for what I wanted to do, and likely never would. I had made too many mistakes that would forever haunt me. Who would listen to me anyway? There were little or no results from past efforts.

On and on and on reasons why I would never succeed bombarded me every single time I dreamt of doing something meaningful. They ran wild in my mind and overpowered every accomplishment, every triumph, and every good thing I am through Jesus.

But then I learned to capture them. I hunted them down, lured them out into the open, and then destroyed them. And in the territory they once occupied, I planted guards such as these (as paraphrased by my mind for me):

I am the workmanship of God, created in Christ to do the good works God preplanned for me to do so I can live the good life He prearranged for me (Ephesians 2:10)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Because I have committed my life and my works to Him, He brings my thoughts in line with His will so I can succeed (Proverbs 16:3).

Because I trust the Lord with all my heart and don’t lean to my own understanding, and because I make Him a part of everything I do, He directs my paths. (Proverbs 3:5, 6)

I am remarkably and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

I am more than a conqueror through Jesus. (Romans 8;37)

Everything I set my hands to do is blessed; it prospers. (Deuteronomy 28:8)

With my new thoughts, I started making myself imagine myself where I want to be, not where my toxic mind was showing me I was headed.

Anticipation and expectation have replaced fear of disappointment. Confidence has replaced insecurities. Hope and faith have replaced hopelessness and unbelief. What a wonderful change God has wrought in my life.

He will do the same for you.

4. Repeat steps 1-3.

5. Repeat step 4.

6. Repeat step 5.

7. Repeat…okay, you get my point. A lifelong mindset is not likely to go away at the first attempt. Some will take more effort and resist eviction more than others.

As a matter of fact, I still have to fight the feelings of failure and impending disappointment. It’s just that now the battles are fewer and farther between, and won much more quickly than they used to be.

Don’t give up. Remain aware of those thoughts and mindsets, choose to oust them, replace them with the Word. If you don’t already, you will eventually have positive experiences and memories to accompany Scripture in taking the place of destructive thoughts.

Finally (don’t stop now, you’re almost to the end!)…

As far as back as I can remember, I have heard this said: You might not stop a bird from flying overhead, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair.

In other words, you can’t stop a thought from entering your mind, but you can reject it (if you are thinking about what you’re thinking about) and keep it from taking root in your heart.

While there is much truth to that, I believe we sell ourselves a little short by clinging to that counsel in its fullness. We can indeed stop a lot of the thoughts from coming in, in the first place. When it comes to guarding our minds offensive moves are much easier and more effective than defensive ones.

King David wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes…it shall not cleave unto me.”

David was speaking primarily of things that would tempt him to sin. He wouldn’t even look at things that would bring thoughts of evil doing into his life. He determined to guard his mind in order that his heart remained pure. (He learned that lesson the hard way.)

That same principle should be applied to not allowing thoughts of defeat, disappointment, failure, or giving up enter into our minds. We can prevent negative thoughts from entering our minds by simply not exposing ourselves to them.

I’m not implying you should live in a silent world all alone. But you can greatly reduce negative influence by separating yourselves from dream killers – people who respond with words like, “Aren’t you a little old to be trying such a thing?” “You just need to make a living and stop worrying about all this other stuff.”

Things like, “You can’t do that.” And, “Do you realize how many businesses fail every year?”

Or the dreaded laugh, “Yeah right,” followed by the sarcasm, “Good luck with that.”

Don’t share your dream with people who have poison in their mouth unless you want your dream to suffer.

And turn off the television more often. Stories of doom and defeat dominate the air waves in both news broadcasts and fictional programming. If you have to watch, find stories of those who overcame the odds to march triumphantly down Winner’s Circle.

You can stop some birds from flying overhead. There are going to be plenty that you can’t, so stop the ones you can.

To sum it up –

We become as we think in our heart. Our hearts are fed by our minds, our thought life. So by all means guard your mind. Let your thoughts and imagination work for you, not against you. If you are a born again believer you have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), but it’s up to you to let it work (Philippians 2:5).

I will try my best to make Part 4 the final part of this series, but no promises. Until then I hope you will remind yourself of God’s principles for making your dreams come true that we have addressed so far and start putting them into practice.

There are great things waiting with your name on them.

June

See more at http://jybinspired.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the Authorized King James Version.

Scripture marked AMP is from the Amplified Bible. Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture marked NLT is from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.