Jesus Feeds five thousand. (Luke 9: 10-17) This is a very familiar passage in scripture. It is one of the few miracles that Jesus did while on earth. (share the story) If you aren't familiar with the passage, I encourage you to take time to read it for yourself.
There are a few key takeaways from this passage. I want to focus on three.
1.Give thanks for what we already have.
In verse 16, Jesus takes the loaves and fish, looks up to heaven, and gave thanks. Simply put, He thanked God for the food he already had in his possession. He gave thanks before the miracle was performed, a behavior we should model. Sometimes we can become so focused on the problem or what we lack, causing us to overlook what is already in our possession.
2.Operate in faith. Move/act like it will happen.
In verse 14, Jesus had the crowd sit down in groups. He didn't put them in groups based on those he thought would get food and those that might not get food. Jesus had faith that all would eat; He didn't doubt. He also didn't wait until the miracle was performed or happened to prepare the crowd to receive. He prepared them in faith. Are you waiting on God to do something before you take action? Are you ready to receive what you are asking for? Should God do it today?
3.Our Blessings don't just impact us.
Once Jesus said grace and the disciples distributed the food to the people, they later found that it was more than enough. Once the crowd left, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of broken pieces that were leftover. They went from not having enough to having more than enough. The crowd was fed and satisfied, and so were the disciples. The results of the miracle speaks to the character of God and how he can work in our life. He is gracious in that we ask for something, and he provides more than we ask for-overflow. We may not have enough at the moment, but when we thank God for what we have and give it to Him to use, He can multiple it. In some cases, we have leftovers. Again overflow! We can't hold on to our stuff too tightly. When we hold on too tightly, it can be difficult for God to multiple what we have. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. If we hold on to things tightly or don't like to give, we can eliminate ourselves from blessings and overflow.
Not only do you benefit from God's blessings, but those around you also do.
Questions to consider:
This word has been jumping off of pages for me, the first half of 2021. I have learned over the years that when things keep showing up like that, I need to pay attention. Willing is my word for 2021. God first revealed the word to me at the end of 2020, but I missed it. In Luke 5, Jesus calls His first disciples. The word willing was not in the story, but it was the heart of Simon Peter. His actions demonstrated willingness. One of the definitions of willing in the dictionary is prompt to act or respond. In verse 11, it says, "So they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything and followed him." Simon was WILLING to leave everything to follow Jesus. He left a job he had been during for years. He also left what appears to be one of the biggest fish he had ever caught. I honestly don't think Simon knew what following Jesus would entail, but he trusted Jesus enough and was WILLING to leave it all on the shore and follow him.
He had a willing heart.
There are other biblical examples where someone demonstrated a willing heart. They were given a command and, despite not having all the answers or doubting their ability to perform the task, or having uncertainty on how to accomplish the task, they did what was asked of them.
What is God asking you to do that you haven't done yet? I have found this question to be an excellent starting point for reflection. This question causes me to take a step back and do a self-assessment. It's a high likelihood that if you aren't doing what God has already commanded you to do, you won't be willing to do the things He will require of you to obtain what you are praying for or necessary to go to your next level.
Do you have a willing heart?
God may not ask you to leave a large catch of fish on the seashore; however, He will ask something of you.
Again I ask, are you willing? Do you have a willing heart?
In my journey, I have discovered that my desires don't always match my willingness. For example, I have desired to get in shape and tone up. Yet, my willingness to eat better and work out regularly is not there. This mismatch of desire and willingness consistently resulted in me not reaching my desired goal. On the other side, I have also given a proverbial yes to doing what's required to achieve something, but I wasn't willing when it was time to do what was required.
For example, I desired increased self-awareness and personal growth. I said I was ready to do the work on myself and dig deep. As I started on the journey and the time came to dig in, do the work, and go deeper, I wasn't willing. Eventually, when I was ready, I was able to begin to attain what I was desiring.
For Everything there is a season, a time or every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT
We all go through seasons in our life, just like nature. The seasons that we may find ourselves in can impact us spiritually, personally (on an individual level), and in our relationships with others. Having an idea of the season you are in can help you develop the right perspective during that season.
This is a time of rest and recharge, a time to take advantage of the slowed-down pace that it brings and a time to seek guidance and direction. The winter season is cold, and many things go dormant. Although things may appear lifeless, their dormancy is actually a part of their growth cycle. Winter is a time for inner growth.
Spiritual: Winter is a time of introspection and the examination of our hearts and motives, allowing God to work in us to strengthen and mature us. Winter may sometimes feel like God is not present like He has forgotten about us. As a result, this can work positively in that it compiles us to seek God more, to hunger to get into His presence. This continued seeking draws us closer to God and God closer to us, resulting in a deeper love relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Personal: During this time, our relationships can seem to take a much-needed break allowing us to focus on ourselves. It becomes an opportunity to examine our goals and pursue professional and personal development. We can also invest in ourselves by taking time to enjoy hobbies and invest in activities or practices that will increase our self-awareness.
Relationships with others: The is also a time to look at our relationship with others. In Dr. Dharius Daniels's book Relationship Intelligence, he encourages us to press pause. This pause is an opportunity to reflect, evaluate, and align the relationships in our life. To ensure we have the right people in the right place. It's a chance to invest more in relationships that you don't usually get an opportunity to do so.
When we emerge from our winter, we are busy planting, cleansing, and restoring. The spring rain acts as refreshing. This is a time of transition as the soil is rotated, new things are planted, old plants are pruned, and we also experience re-growth as things that went dormant in the winter start to take bloom.
Spiritual: Represents a time of joy and glory after dormancy and hardships. We have a stronger sense of His presence in or life. New seeds of truth are planted in our minds and watered and cultivated through intimacy with Him. This season holds within it great hope—hope that the planted seeds will eventually manifest an abundant harvest.
Personal: It's a time of implementation. To take the things that you dreamed of in the spring, the things that God planted into your spirit and get busy planting. You may experience a transition during this time. Transitioning from one position to another in your job, financially changes, or transition in relationships or in your business or career.
Relationship with others: Spring is a time that can feel like we are emerging from "hibernating." We become more social and active than the winter increasing our interactions with our friends. At the same time, we are perhaps implementing and adjusting to changes in our relationships as a result of the pause that we took in the winter. These changes in our friendship could be watching them re-bloom, re-positioning for some, and pruning for others.
Summer is a mixed time of work and fun. It's an enjoyable time because you are starting to experience some reaping from your spring planting. During the Summer, you do experience times of extreme dryness and heat, but the summer showers offer some relief. There is still work required because you have to do maintenance such as watering, pulling weeds, and fertilizing and keeping away bugs. Growth is still taking place.
Spiritual: Represents a time of spiritual dryness. A time of needing more spiritual food than usual to stay replenished. You can come out of this season stronger if you endure. On the downside, Summer is a busy season, and we can become overzealous and place too many irons in the fire. This is a valuable time to seek God for guidance and wisdom, so you know where to put your energy and efforts to the right things.
Personal: Summer is a Self-development season. In this season of our life, we may have to persevere more than in other seasons. It may seem at times like you are "going through the fire" with some of the trials you face. God can use this time to prune you, which enhances your growth. However, at the same time, you experience moments of relief from the difficulty. The difficulty or tension of this season comes from the growth that is taking place internally. Self-Care is of extreme importance to help you stay encouraged and focused because of the level of investment you will make into others during this season. You want to make sure that you keep your cup filled so that you can pour "quality" things into others.
Relationships with others: This season requires more work than others when it comes to maintaining our friendships. We should always work at maintaining our friendships, but during the Summer, the maintenance needed to keep it healthy and is higher. Part of this could be due to the conflict experienced in the friendship. The friendship may experience some tough moments and require more time and effort for it to remain healthy but to also flourish. This is also a season, were those friendships that have changed are pruned because they are not healthy or fit for this season in your life.
Things fall off/loss, change, and preparation for the new things that are to come. Things start to slow down, and there is relief from the Summer. Fall is known as a time of harvest requiring more pruning in preparation for the approaching winter, another time of transition.
Spiritual: Represents a time of harvest when you bear fruits and see God's love expressed throughout our lives... More correction and shaping will take place as God prepares you for the winter season.
Personal: This is a time for evaluation of self. Asking yourself, "What is working?" "What is not?" "What are some things that you need to let go of or change?" We all love a harvest! This is the time that we experience the harvest. God blesses you in other seasons, but in the Fall, you are experiencing the fruit of your work. Look at your harvest as overflow. The things that you planted in the spring, cared for, and continued to care for throughout the Summer are in full bloom, and you see the full effects of it in your life. It may bring about change and loss, but it's required for you to have the things that you have been working for. This is a time where you get to also rest because you have done the heavy work the season before.
Relationships with others: This can be a stressful time for the relationships in our life. A Fall season can be a time where we experience loss, and things fall away. Sometimes you see it coming, and other times, you aren't given that insight. The other side of the coin is seeing the harvest of the investments you have made into your friendships/relationships. The relationships are flourishing and perhaps are in a place that you long for them to be, a place you have been working hard to get to.
This is yet another season of pruning in preparation for the winter. Pruning is a way to be a good steward over things that God has given you. It doesn't only mean cut away the dead. It also means to cut away at the things that are doing well, but pricing or making some adjustments, you will experience what you are trying to accomplish when it's time for it to grow or as it continues to grow.
It is essential to realize that these seasons do not line up with the experience in the natural. That would be nice, but that is not how it works. We all go through seasons in our lives, and many times the season you are in is not the same as others close to you. However, it is vital that as Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ that we support and encourage each other in whichever season someone may be experiencing. While our circumstance and the totality of how we experience a season are different, we can empathize and connect with the difficulty of a season. Sharing your season and how you experienced God in that season can be the BIGGEST encouragement to another. This not only encourages others but is also a way to walk alongside each other on our Christian journey.
Until Next Time~
Over the last eight or nine months I have really taken to journaling. It is at a point now that, when I go a while with out writing I can tell the difference in my mood and how I handle things.
In our Purposed for a Purpose Facebook Group, I took a poll and asked if people journaled or not and most said they do or at some point have. There were others that did not journal at all. Journaling has been around for a while and most have journaled, especially as a little girl. When we were younger we called it a diary. As we got older, I guess we change the name, but the idea is still the same.
Journaling is great for your mental, physical, and emotional health. In the coming months I will be sharing more about journaling, the benefits, methods and tips to getting starting and making it effective.
Today I want to share with you how I use and you too can use journaling in your quiet time with God. Journaling provides you the opportunity to:
Journaling is good for you. It can positively impact the relationships in your life to include the most important one—your relationship with God. You can journal for many reasons, but if you looking for a place to start, I encourage you to try journaling during your quiet time with God. Regardless if you journal or not, incorporating journaling in your quiet time with God will help in developing and strengthen your relationship with God, which is what God desires of his children.
Until Next Time~
Bearing fruit is what believers are called to do. It is the outward actions or evidence of the change taking place on the inside. The fruit we produce is the result of our relationship and walk with Christ.
We often talk about the fruit we bear and our personal walk with Christ. This was the topic I planned to discuss until God placed something else in my spirit. Fruitfulness is something we should desire in all areas of our life. For me, God's focus of emphasis has been fruitfulness within the context of friendship.
I have always maintained various levels of friendship in my life, and in my current season, God is having me reassess and realign. In many cases, it's been easy, but challenging in others. There have been moments I felt like I was grieving from a "loss"—I can now say perceived loss). The prominent question I ask in assessing a friendship is, "is this friendship fruitful?"
We must have the same level of inspection for the fruitfulness of our friendships as we have for the fruitfulness in our lives. I know it may feel a bit rigid or surgical, but it is necessary. But why is that? Because when you are in a relationship with people, influence is exchanged. Friends influence how you think, behave, and speak. If your friendships don't produce good fruit or lowers the quality of your fruit, then I ask, "Why are you in relationship with them?"
In the most general sense, do your friendships make you better? Do they aid in moving the needle in your personal walk with Christ? Does the relationship support you bearing the fruit God has called you to bear?
If not, what is the purpose of the relationship? Understand that I am not saying everyone in your life needs to offer this to you. Sometimes there are people in our life that we are called to mentor and guide. We are sent to pour into them with no level of reciprocation. I am talking about your inner circle. The ones you spend quality time with, share personal life details with, laugh with, cry together, the ones you take the mask off for.
Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction.
When we accept Christ into our lives as our Lord and Savior, it begins a life long journey with an eternal destination. When you think about your Christian journey, there is a lot of emphases placed on fulfilling our purpose. I am NOT suggesting that we shouldn't seek God for our purpose and fulfill it. We absolutely should! (I am a supporter of that-hence the name purposed for a purpose.) However, our focus and efforts can become misplaced. We focus all our attention and efforts on fulfilling our purpose, forgoing what's most important, our condition, and transformation as we walk with Christ on the journey.
We can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that our journey is a race. A race by definition is about time, who can get to the finish line the fastest.
A journey is about getting from one place to the next. Unlike a race, we may run in the physical, and we rush to the finish line. The bible does talk about the race we are in (insert scriptures) Our Christian race/journey operates differently. It isn't one that we rush through to get to the end. It would be best if you pace yourself. Why do you ask? Because trying to rush and speed things up to make things happen, often leaves us tired, frustrated, disappointed, overwhelmed, and more than likely making a mess.
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness, and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. -Lamentations 3:19-23
A little bit of background on Lamentations:
The author is Jeremiah, and Lament means loud cry. Jeremiah is in anguish over Jerusalem's destruction from unrepented sins. Much of Lamentations, if not all of it, reads like a prayer. I think it's vital because even in the midst of how Jeremiah felt (the anguish and heartbreak), we see that he arrived at a place where his focus changes. Instead of focusing on the situation, he focuses on God!!
This part of Lamentations is a great reminder and example to be mindful of our perspective and to maintain the proper perspective. It is easy and very natural for us to focus our attention on the situation itself and everything wrong. Instead, we have to pause, step back, and change our perspective. Changing our perspective means asking God what he wants us to learn or show us. Think of it as putting on God's lenses or having God's eyes in the situation. When we are trying to see things with our eyes, we will rarely see the situation from the proper perspective because our flesh usually gets in the way.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for
the evidence of things not seen.
In July, I went in for my regular six-month check-up with my doctor. All of my appointments end the same, with no surprising discoveries and the scheduling of my next appointment in six months. However, this appointment went a little different—by the end of the visit, a fairly major surgery had been scheduled. I was okay with the surgery, trusting that God would take care of me as he did four years before when we found the malignant tumor.
In the weeks following that appointment, God realized to me on two separate occasions that I would not have the surgery! Logically, I couldn't understand how this revelation would come to fruition. With the things that I read online, the physical evidence, and the input of others, mostly contradicted what God had said, it was difficult to understand how I would end up not having the surgery. I knew that God could heal and could perform miracles. I prayerfully petitioned for wonders on others and believed it could happen, but could it happen to me? It came down to what I would choose to believe. Would I believe God, others, or myself and what my eyes could see and what I could understand?
The doctors scheduled my surgery for the first week of September. But the week before the surgery, Hurricane Dorian struck the US, causing all operations to be postponed a least a week. We rescheduled the surgery for October. I had no idea how God was going to move, and I struggled at times with my faith. I wanted a sign that the Lord was operating. Realistically speaking, if he gave me a sign, would it have required faith? Nah! I had to trust God with no indications. Before the rescheduled surgery, I requested an ultrasound. The doctor's office couldn't understand why I needed or wanted it, but they scheduled it anyway. It was at that appointment the reason for the proposed surgery was revealed; it wasn't required! Instead of a significant operation with a 6-12 week recovery, I only needed an outpatient procedure with a week recovery! It was ALL God! There wasn't anything that I could have done to bring about this change. Two days after my surgery, I received a call with the pathology results—EVERYTHING was NORMAL. Thank you, God!
When God spoke to me and said I wasn't having the surgery, he meant the specific surgery the doctor wanted to perform. I spent many weeks trying to figure out what he meant by that. I had ideas and suggestions on how He could make that happen, but the truth is God didn't need my help, opinions, or recommendations. He is God, all by himself. It wasn't for me to figure out, but simply to trust Him based solely on his character and the word He spoke.
There were times when doubt would try to creep in, and I would have a little anxiety because of the unknown. The uncertainty of the details would cause me to become a bit uneasy. In those times, I would respond with, "God said I'm not having the surgery." God's word trumps my fears and anxieties! It all comes down to whether I trust God or not. God does not lie, and His word will not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11).
If God gives you a word, hold on to it! Things at times will seem not to line up. Logically you may not be able to make sense of it. But hold on to His word. If God said it, then that's all you need to know. The enemy will try in different ways to cause you to doubt, but remind Him of what God says and "walk" away. Don't entertain it. If you resist the enemy, He will flee (James 4:7).
Until Next Time~
For we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7
Is it possible that the reason we aren't walking in our purpose, fully maximizing our potential is that the things we love/desire are not being placed in the proper priority?
We say we love God, we want to live a life that is pleasing to Him, and He is the head of our life, but we also love self, stuff, comfort, acceptance from others, applause, the approval of others, and living by culture's standards perhaps a tad bit more. Sometimes we can be quick to say no, that is not the case with that question, yet our actions speak otherwise. It's similar to how we sometimes say we trust God and know God will take care of our situation. Then we pray and lay it at the altar and quote, "Be still and know that I am God", but the second we get up, we are back trying to fix the problem–supposedly “helping God out.”
Matthew 19: 21 says, "Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’" (NIV) Jesus was answering a young man's questions about how he could have eternal life, exposing the man’s heart when he did, which reflected a sin in his life. The rich young man desired his possessions more than he desired to have eternal life. Because the man's heart wasn't in the right place; his priorities were not in the correct order. Verse 22 says that he went away grieving because he had too many possessions. What Jesus was asking of him was too much for the young man. He chose not to follow Jesus. His love of things took priority over his love for Jesus and desire to follow Him.
When I read this story initially, I thought the young man was just plain silly. Material stuff over eternal life seems like an easy pick to me! But after further thought and re-reading the chapter, I realized that it could have easily been me or any believer in this story. This young man treasured stuff, but it could have been a job, business, relationship, friendship, money, retirement funds, talents and skills, performance, and the list could go on.
To love God is to obey God. (John 14:21; John 14: 15). When Jesus said to give up our own way, take up our cross and come, follow him (Matthew 16:24) it requires that we must be willing to let go of things and follow Him. Letting go doesn't mean you get rid of them so they no longer exist in your life, but rather, you let go of your grip on it. (open hand). Letting go of things is a form of surrendering. We often understand surrendering our lives (as believers, we give our lives to Christ), but it also means our lives in totality. All areas of our lives are surrendered to God, His way and His will. It's not just our eternal destination we are talking about when we say we surrender our lives. We have to surrender our ways, our thoughts, agendas, attitudes, relationships, etc.–fully and completely. Romans 6:13 says that we should give ourselves completely to God. You are giving Him lordship over every area of your life. This is a choice that you have to make daily.
J.Branch is a wife, mother and child of God. She is passionate about helping others live the life they desire, have fruitful relationships and know who they were created to be and to live a life of purpose.
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