Monday, November 21, 2011

"Um, What was I talking about again?- Oh, yeah, John 15"

Fatigue has really set in. I always crash about this time. I do ok for the first month and then- wammo- it hits.  I am determined to get baby sleeping through the night but this is not my forte. I need Nanny 911 for this part. My brain has completely stopped functioning and I am afraid to talk in public because people might think I am on drugs. :) Everything intimidates me these days too--from responding to emails to deciding what is for dinner.
I walk around confused most of the day with blurred vision... hearing 1 million voices saying, "momma" all at the same time. Sleep-deprivation+ nursing= crazy steph. It is hard for me to complete a thought right now much less a task. But, by the grace of God we make it through another day and God is showing up in the lives of the children. It is so comforting for me to know it is His power that draws them to Himself.
Tim is amazing. I feel like I am just hiding behind his protection. He is my banner right now (spiritually and emotionally). He is working so hard around here but seems to really love it in a "this- what-I-was-created-to-do" manly kind of way. I see an over-protective side of him coming out toward me. He knows how hard this is for me and how weak I am. It is very humbling to be so loved when you are unlovable. Such a picture of Jesus. My respect for him continues to deepen.
I can't imagine having more children. I am overwhelmed with 5. But, I was overwhelmed with 2, then 3, then 4, and now 5. It is all hard. It is all a transition. I always think I won't survive it but God's grace carries us through things, doesn't it?
I did get a precious opportunity to do a Bible Study with some girls from the last girls conference. It is cool at every conference, the leaders rise to the top. It is always the girls with hearts of obedience. Willing to leave it all to follow Jesus. They begin to hunger for the Word and grow fast. It is incredible to watch the power of God in their lives right before my eyes.
I scribbled some notes on some scratch paper and off I went with no babies to meet my sweet girls in the middle of a tavern where we ate cupcakes and studied our Bibles! I love the freedom we have in this country!
Here are some notes from the study..

John 15

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love."
*I am the TRUE vine. Jesus Christ is the original. We were all created to worship. The question is what or who will we worship? Jesus is the TRUE vine. All others are only a counterfeit or a substitute. We were created to have a living relationship with a LIVING God.
*He cuts off dead branches and prunes healthy ones. I have had some dead branches wacked off more than once. It hurts at the time. But, how I praise God now for his wise gardening moves in my life!  When we are weighted down by heavy, dead, dry branches, we are unable to bear much fruit. I had a lot of branches cut off when I first came to Christ. It felt like I was like the tree in my front yard that Tim always chops way back in the Spring. It looks so pitiful at the time but then growth begins. 
I am pretty sure all that was left was a stump because nothing I had in my life had any life in it until I fell in love with Jesus Christ.
Whether it is a misguided dream, a relationship, a job... some things will never produce eternal fruit and they have to GO. When we come to Christ with all our dead branches, He begins his perfect gardening work in our lives... and it will continue until we see Him face-to-face.
Not only do the dead ones get chopped but the fruitful branches in our lives get pruned so that we will be even more fruitful! Again, not fun at the time but God chose us to BEAR FRUIT! (John 15:16) That is the purpose of our lives and God is committed to bringing out the BEST in us.
The word often translated pruned is really "PURGED".
"When the grapes begin to get ripe, the vinedresser will pick up the large bunches and wash the dirt off of them so that the grapes that are lying on the ground will not rot.  That the word means washed or cleansed is obvious by the next verse, "Now you are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you." Chuck Smith
 So, if you are being purged right now and feeling it... BE ENCOURAGED! You are being cleansed! A crop is coming!! And, Your heavenly Father is so near to you as He is carefully cleaning and preparing your healthy branches.
*the progressive process in John 15 is
1. No Fruit
2. Fruit
3. More Fruit
4. Much Fruit.
Which number categorizes your life today?
If that is a discouraging evaluation, here is the GOOD NEWS: God does all the work. You just simply have to sit at His feet and Abide while He does all the cool work in your life!!
This is a process. It is a maturing process that takes time. Be patient. God IS at work in you if you have accepted His Son as your Savior.
*Abide/Remain- What does this mean? How do we do that?
Abide means to keep in fellowship so that His life can work in and through us.
The Greek definition is "relation of one person or thing standing with another, to be and remain united with him, one with him in heart, mind, and will."
How do we do this? Being in His Word, prayer, obedience, worship, and confession.
I LOVE THIS----Another definition of this Greek word (Meno) is
to wait for, await one.
The other morning I woke up and the first thing I thought of was "Is it going to be today, Lord? Will you come back for me today?".
I am a Bride waiting on her Groom and He can come for me at any time. The doctrine of imminence is such a beautiful one. That with a loud command, the voice of an archangel and the sound of The trumpet, we could be caught up together with Him in the clouds. According to the spiritual climate described at His return in Scripture, it must be getting close.
I love waiting on my Beloved. I love that He is coming back for me. That He has gone to prepare a place for me. This truth is comforting, exciting, purifying, & motivating. It has comforted me in my darkest hour and motivated me in my most exhausted hour. We don't know what the "shout or command" will be but I wonder if it will be our name. Just as in an ancient Jewish wedding, the Bride is told to simply be ready and watching and then AT ONCE she hears her name shouted as the Groom with his procession comes for her. AWESOME.
If you want to hear a cool teaching on the parallels found in an ancient Jewish Wedding, click HERE and type in "Wedding Symbolism" in the search box.  It is from the conference we do for single girls. I LOVE this teaching.
I named my daughter, Hope, after our true Hope- our Blessed Hope.

 "while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" Titus 2:13
No one can take this precious truth from me. It is part of my core. I have learned this through careful study of His Word.
I love waiting on my Groom to call for me, His Bride. Not everyone believes in an imminent return of Christ. That's ok but it makes me sad for them because living with the expectancy and anticipation that He could come for us at any second is not only Biblical but also beautiful.
It is part of the greatest love story ever told.
“But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her there.
 I will return her vineyards to her
and transform the Valley of Trouble
 into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
as she did long ago when she was young,
when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
 When that day comes,” says the LORD,
“you will call me ‘my husband’
instead of ‘my master.'...
I will make you my wife forever,
showing you righteousness and justice,
unfailing love and compassion.
I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
and you will finally know me as the LORD."
Hosea 2
Maybe He will come tonight.
I hope so.
I am ready.
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready." Rev 19:7
There is also a crown given to those who love His appearing. I want that one. :)
"Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."
2 Tim 4:8
Oh, I can't wait!
Anyway, where was I again?? :) Oh yeah, ABIDE.
How do we know if we are abiding?
Is it a feeling? Not exactly.
More like evidence than a feeling.
1. You will produce fruit.
2. You will be getting purged and cleaner.
3. Answered Prayers
4. You will have a deepening love for Christ, His Word, and other believers.
5. You will have more JOY!

Again, practical ways to ABIDE is to Worship, Meditate on His Word, Spend time ALONE with Jesus in prayer and reading the Word, & SERVE.
Once you begin to truly abide in Christ, you will never want to go back to a half-hearted, shallow spiritual life.

Fruit appears. There is always fruit where there is life.
"The fruit that the Father desires is that which develops naturally as the result of relationship.
1. It is not something that is forced.
2. You do not have to struggle to produce it.
3. As you abide in Christ it just develops naturally."
Chuck Smith
This encourages me so much as a stressed-out/maxed-out/stay-at-home mom who loves to do ministry. I have mourned over my lack of time to do ministry outside the home but it isn't ministry that is the goal, it is JESUS. He says that if we abide in Him, we will produce fruit. So, I realized that if I am abiding and falling more in love with Jesus, I will produce fruit. Even if it is as a tired, stressed-out, stay at home mom. That is so freeing. He doesn't want any ministry from me. He just wants me.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
Sometimes we can step out apart from God in ministry and it LOOKS like fruit but the difference in man-made fruit and true fruit from the vine is that God's fruit has MORE SEEDS IN IT. Man-made fruit is dead. It doesn't take long to see the difference. God's fruit goes on from one life to another.
Praise the Lord. How encouraging is this? That if I am faithful and allow the Lord to produce life through me, it will go ON and ON and ON. This makes me excited to see the fruit God can produce through my children.
*Lastly, there are some ways to kill your crops.
SIN prevents the Word from being planted in our hearts...
"So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls."
James 1:21
Here are some other ways to kill your crops...
"and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful."
Mark 4:19

What an exciting life it is to live with Christ. The boys and I just read a book about a missionary named George Mueller. The amount of fruit in his life was INSANE. I want to be as fruitful as possible.
So, how do we do that? Fall more deeply in love with Jesus. Spend time with Him. Love His Word. Not be polluted by the world. Persevere in trial. Confess my sins. Worship. Obey. Pray. Memorize. Love.
And, watch in amazement at the fruit that pops up all around me.
It is Him. It is ALL Him in us.
 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love."
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last."
Jesus Christ

May you bear MUCH fruit and fruit that will last as you ABIDE in Christ. It is the word of God that will bring real and lasting fruit. Fruit that will continue on after you are gone.

"I pray that your life might bear fruit for our Lord. I pray that as you begin to bear fruit, you will bring forth more fruit. I pray that you might bring forth much fruit to the glory of God. I pray that the fruit might remain. The key is abiding in Him and in His word."

Be Blessed and ignore my typos~


Anonymous said...

Love this Steph! You are so blessed!!! It is amazing how He works in our lives!

~Kristin Rushng

Erin Southwell said...


Ellen Williams said...

Thank you so much -