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.
Emotions are vibrations of energy that our body produces, and each emotion has its own unique vibrational frequency. When we experience an emotion weather, we are in a difficult situation or not; we go through a three-step emotional experience.
1. Our body generates the emotional vibration
2. We begin to feel the emotion and any thoughts of physical sensations that come along with it.
3. We process the emotion-We choose to let the emotion go, and we move on.
Once we have successfully moved through the emotional experience, we are free to forward. However, when the second or third step is interrupted, the emotional experience is incomplete, and the energy of that emotion is likely to become trapped.
Often the more overwhelming or extreme an emotion is, the more likely it is to become trapped.
When we experience situations that touch the "heart," think things that we often describe as causing heartache, heartbreak, broken-hearted, and sometimes as a result of that painful situation, we go into protect mode. We feel as if we need to put a wall up around our hearts. The crazy part is that is literally what is happening on the inside of us. A wall of emotional energy is being built around our hearts as a form of protection.
Our heart is essential to not just our physical body, but our emotional well being- Our subconscious mind knows and understands this. It is for that reason; our subconscious will protect our hearts from danger or perceived danger. When we are in danger physically, we hide and protect ourselves. Our subconscious mind follows the same logic. When your heart is being hurt or in danger of being hurt, your subconscious quickly responds by building a shelter-a wall- to keep the heart safe. Heart walls are created with the energy of trapped emotions.
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.
I love to travel! Long trips, short trips, day trips, it really doesn't matter. Have you ever heard the saying, "Let the past stay in the past?" Well, I agree. We should let the memories of the past remain memories and take the lessons learned from the experience. This doesn't mean that past experience won't impact your present or future; however, you determine its level of impact. When it comes to past experiences, let's be honest—it's not the positive experiences we struggle with; it's the negative ones.
As I mentioned before, I like to travel, and traveling requires packing, except for the occasional day trip. Upon returning from my journey—I am sure you do the same—I unpack the dirty items and put things away. If we think of our experiences like trips, then it's essential to unpack them afterward. Otherwise, we begin to haul around baggage from months and years past that have no place in our present or are negatively impacting your current journey.
I am guilty of doing this in my life, carrying around negative things from my past. It's not the memory that is problematic, but the emotions associated with the memory that causes the issues. Carrying my emotional luggage prevents me from moving with ease, being fully present, and acts as a hindrance in relationships. The bags that we carry around can be numerous such as rejection, shame, guilt, humiliation, grudges, fear, or even a feeling of worthiness.
Some of the baggage we carry is obvious. Similar to the yellow, red, camouflage, or polka-dot luggage that comes out of the baggage claim at the airport. You can't help but notice it. When I do my 'Heal the Hurt' talk, this is the first type of baggage I assist you with unpacking. What I have discovered on my healing journey is that as you begin to unpack your bags, you may find that there are other hurts hidden in the crevices of your luggage. Let's call them hidden hurts. These hidden hurts are often the real roots cause of the more blaring issues.
I am excited to be able to participate in the Bloom Healing Arts Academy retreat in Bali, Indonesia taking place on September 13-19, 2020. During this retreat (which I would love for you to join me BTW), I will dive more into healing our hurts. This is an excellent opportunity to begin the work on unpacking baggage. Unpacking our baggage allows us to not just walk in our purpose, maximizing our potential. I'm excited because there is so much freedom that comes when you unpack, learn from the experience, forgive, let go, and move forward.
If you haven't considered going with me next year to Bali as part of the Bloom Healing Arts Academy Retreat, please give it some consideration. However, at the very least, start the work of unpacking your baggage and step into freedom, my friend!
You will not regret it!
Until Next Time~
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.
Recently, I had a pleasant conversation with a good friend as we caught up on the "what's happenings" of our lives over the last few months. It's such a blessing when you can catch up with a friend, and despite the time between calls, it always feels like you talked just yesterday! During that call, I shared with my friend some of my hang-ups and struggles in promoting my new devotional Hello God. My friend, being the wonderful person that they are, ever so politely told me that every excuse I gave was a lie from the enemy and I needed to ignore them. Thank God for friends that will be real with you.
In life, we WILL encounter storms. The storms may cause us to want to look for the closet and easiest exit. Some may even cause us to suggest taking a detour to get the destination. A detour would get you to the final destination, but you may cause yourself to miss out on something significant.
Instead, buckle up, hold on and stretch your hand out to God and ask him to lead the way.
Storms in life are not designed to be a place comfort, but there is a peace in knowing that the creator of the universe will hold your hand thru it. All you have to do is ask and stretch your hand out. Taking the detour won't allow you to experience God's fullness. Experiencing who He is and what He can do in, through and for you. Sometimes when we opt for the detour we miss the opportunity to allow God to work in us. It has been in some of my difficult seasons of life that I have seen God's hand the clearest. It's an opportunity to draw closer to Him and Him to us. Those times have been moments where He has highlight areas in my life that need some real attention, stretched me my Christian walk and my roles. No matter the goal, the storm was with purpose.
Don't get off...Don't take the detour...Buckle up and Let God lead.
Until Next Time
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.
To connect with me about speaking or facilitating please contact me at contact me.