Cheri's Blog

Increase your Bloom Ability: Day 5

Increase Your Bloom Ability:Day 5

Many of us easily recognize areas in our lives that need to be cut away. We stay in unhealthy relationships. We continue in our bad habits. We exploit our time and money.  We battle bouts of selfishness, anger, or we completely lack forgiveness. Hands down. These are branches that need to be removed!

Sometimes, however, there are branches we think are healthy and good, but for God’s glory they too need clipping. For God to do even greater things in specific areas of our lives, there must still be some cutting.

But we are a stubborn people. We are happy with the status quo of our branches. We think they are pretty enough. We stop short of prolific and becoming profoundly fruitful.

How to Increase Your Bloom Ability Step #4

It’s time to let God clip what is good to make room for great.

It may be a job, a ministry, an opportunity, a relationship, an area of service or giving, the location you call home, or even the house where you worship. It could be where your kids attend school, your college, or anything that would take up time or space or resources in your life that could give Glory to God and be fruit-bearing.

For me, this is a difficult step in the process. These are not dead branches. They are vibrant, flowering and fruit-bearing branches. It often doesn’t make sense to my human understanding why these must be cut back, sometimes severely.

How do we recognize when God might be prompting us that it’s clipping time of this nature? Graciously, the Holy Spirit nudges our stubborn hearts. Other times, He uses circumstances, people, even our health, and most assuredly, His Word.

This is the kind of year I am having. I have streamlined my life to the bare bones as it is. The only things to cut were places I felt necessary. Places of calling. Important work. Dear people. Stuff I loved and ministries that excelled.

Allowing God to cut what looks perfectly fine hurts because with it comes a sense of purposeless loss. And how can we be sure it will be worth it? That’s the heart of our hesitation, isn’t it? Can we trust Him?

Maybe that’s why He gives us this word picture of The Vine. We know a severe pruning makes all the difference to a healthy branch. We’ve seen the effects. The call here is to trust His ability to know us well enough to make each branch more vibrant, more effective, and more fruitful—even when we can’t see it. Not only that, but the promise is to make this fruitfulness lasting.

Will you trust Him today to increase your bloom ability?

Cheri

 

*Click here to start the reading plan on YouVersion*

Increase Your Bloom Ability: Day 4

Increase Your Bloom Ability: Day 4

Rarely does the Lord criticize us for being too aggressive in matters of faith. When do we find Him suggesting that our dreams, our requests, our deepest needs, our greatest desires, are out of His league? When does Scripture find God telling His people to stop trusting Him for so much? Where does He declare Himself Unable?

How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of our fathers, has given you? (Joshua 18:3)

Instead, we find God asking His people how long they are going to keep meandering in the desert and put off taking possession of what He has already given them.  No. It’s usually us. We put on the breaks. We stop short. For a hundred different reasons.

Don’t let it happen today. Today Jesus offers something critical to the life of every believer.

Increase your Bloom Ability – Step 4

Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. (John 15:4, AMP)

In teaching us how to take possession of what we have been given to become abundantly fruitful, He calls us to live in Him. What exactly does this look like? Picture two chairs pulled closely together so that two people could sit on the porch regularly and have good conversation and coffee together. It’s your go-to spot with your go-to person. He sits in one chair and you sit in the other.

Before He moves any further –Jesus makes clear in the relationship, just Who is driving the relationship, giving the sustenance, and is responsible for the fruit-bearing. And it’s not you. Nor is it me. Jesus succinctly declares, He is The Vine. You and I are simply the branches.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Why is this important? Because the only thing standing between yourself and a life of abundant fruitfulness is, well…you. Independence is your greatest foe, period. Learning to live in Him is absolutely key for increasing your bloom ability.

Almost as if He knows our tendency toward waywardness and taking our coffee on the run, He makes an almost-too-good-to-be-true offer (John 15:7).

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. 

Once we rented a duplex where there was the promise of a $500 deposit return if you completed everything on the cleaning list before you moved out. I wanted my promised $500. I was doing fine until the tasks became ridiculous. It wasn’t long before I realized the expectations were preposterous. The list was so difficult there was no way anyone could complete it and get the deposit back. It was rigged.

When Jesus proposes that we can “ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” Is He serious, or is this rigged? Does He simply know we can’t keep our end of abiding, so He doesn’t have to worry about the providing?

No. Jesus is not like my landlord.

Increase Your Bloom Ability Day 4

Sit in the chair, sweet girl. Ask Him anything. Tell Him everything. Just sit in the chair and learn to live in Him. And you will bloom.

 

*Click here to start the reading plan on YouVersion*

Increase Your Bloom Ability: Day 3

Increase Your Bloom Ability

Day Three

Have you ever ordered something on-line expecting it to be one size only to be disheartened when it arrived? Or have you believed the marketers’ promises of special amazing features, only to get half of them functional? Has there been a time when you purchased something that looked really good from the outside, only to be disappointed with the results?

Left unto ourselves, that’s what can happen to us spiritually. You and I may produce plenty of leaves. We might look like flourishing plants! But there may not much fruit on our branches.

What might be keeping you and me from our blooming potential? Jesus addresses another key component for developing a fruit-bearing life in John 15. Maybe you and I are in need of a good cleanse.

…and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit. (John 15:2b)

Increase Your Bloom Ability by Allowing God to Cleanse You

Extra leaves and stems use up the nutrients and resources needed for fruit-bearing. One way the Vinedresser cleanses the branches, is to pull off the life-sucking extras in the spring that drain the nutrients from producing fruit. Note, this is His regular activity. You and I repeatedly find ourselves in need of a good spring cleaning. Although we have nothing to do with it, I find it helpful to acknowledge this reality by inviting God to do His work in me.

I’m not discerning enough on my own to become more like Jesus, recognizing what is hindering fruit-production verses what is necessary for growth. But I can pray for a willingness to cooperate with anything and everything that lines up with Scripture. I might ask myself:

  • What uses of my time are more centered on what the world values – than what God values?
  • What seems to spike up onto the calendar appearing urgent and overcoming the important?
  • To what establishments is my money spent? Are they God-honoring – or do I spend it just like everyone else?
  • Do my possessions look like the pile at my neighbors, who is NOT aiming to bloom for Christ, or is there a distinct contrast between us?
  • Are my actions God-honoring to those around me? Or am I stuck in the same emotional rut I found myself one, two or five years ago?

The key here is this: It’s not enough just to look good. Looking like a fruitful branch is not the same as being one. We need the supernatural work of the Vinedresser for that.

May we be receptive and open to receive whatever cleaning the Father sees fit to do in our lives so that we will become more and more fruitful from the inside out.

Cheri

 

*Click here to start the reading plan on YouVersion*

Increase Your Bloom-Ability: Day 1

 

 

Increase Your Bloom-Ability

My house is entered by a long driveway lined with rose bushes. Well, they aren’t exactly bushes at all– more like sparse sticks with thorns and a few leaves. It’s not lovely or welcoming. But I envision the day when I drive up to find a prolific display of colors exploding with blooms extended from luxuriant flourishing bushes.

My husband, Chad, does not share my vision. Instead, he has urged me to remove these stragglers. He thinks they’re an eyesore. Indeed, my ugly bushes are not a vision of horticultural beauty. But I haven’t been willing to cooperate. Their current state continues to remind me of my own spiritual place of discontent. Just as I long for thriving plants that burst with a kaleidoscope of colors, I deeply desire to live a life of substance that bears an exuberant amount of spiritual fruit.

If we’re honest, this desire for exuberance in terms of spiritual fruit is something you and I have both felt from time to time. The desire to reflect the character of Christ in our day to day activities runs deep through our veins. But too often, instead, we resemble my straggly excuses for rosebushes:

  • We do not have the patience to endure what the day brings. Those closest to us pay the consequences.
  • Sometime our anger is not in check–losing control of our emotions.
  • We battle forgiveness and resolution, mentally regurgitating events we have endured by hurtful people. We recite different endings– what we SHOULD have said instead of what we DID SAY—that may have made all the difference–at least to our pride.
  • We fret and worry in the face of unknown circumstances and questions without answers– not really sure if God recognizes the gravity of our circumstances. We wonder if He is willing to help us.
  • Sometimes we’ve simply lost our vision for who God has designed us to be. Life is not what we planned, but numbness or even indifference develops toward others.

God’s purpose for you is that you become a prolific bloomer–that you increase your bloom-ability! We find this truth in Scripture (John 15:8).

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

It’s blatant. Unhidden. And if that were not enough, Jesus, Himself has provided the blueprint for how this can be achieved in our lives. (Forthcoming in the text.)

You and I must simply make a choiceEither we will take Him at His Word and move to the next level– or we won’t.

I’m going to choose to be a Take-Him-At-His-Word kind of girl. What about you? Will you join me as we look more closely as what Jesus has to say to use about increasing our bloom-ability?

The next day in this series should post Thursday.

Cheri

 

*Click here to start the reading plan on YouVersion*