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Lessons From An Olive Tree

Author: Cheryl Zelenka

The Hebrew word for olive tree is es shemen, which literally means “tree of oil.” It is from a primitive root meaning “to shine.” It is related to the word shemesh, “to be brilliant,” which is also the Hebrew word for the “sun.”

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12

Jesus commands us to shine our light before mankind in hopes of glorifying the Father and leading the lost to His saving grace. The light within us is the Holy Spirit and He enables us to live righteously within a crooked and perverse world. Continue reading “Lessons From An Olive Tree”

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Highway of Holiness: Serving Jesus Christ

“I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.”                   ~ John Wesley

Many of us are praying for a revival: A revival that restores our faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. We ask that revival once again comes, sweeping over our land like a wildfire out of control. A spiritual wildfire that would bring many prodigals home and open the eyes of the lost.

However, it is not enough to merely understand we have been saved and redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ. We lack passion. It is the reverent fear of God and an indescribable thanks for His eternal love that is absent in so many of us today. Humility has not brought us to our knees, prostrate with gratitude and submissive in our absolute repentance.

Are we merely speaking empty words of godly sorrow, without the earnestness and sincerity of heart our Lord so desperately desires? Every move to remove God from our government and ignore His truth is breaking His heart and causing Him anger.  For we are turning away from the One who has blessed and protected our nation. He will not have it! We will see the consequences of our sin and rebellion… unless we turn from our wicked ways and repent.

“See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point,  you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”        2 Corinthians 7:11 (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 4:7 (NKJV) says, “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.”

We are called to be holy, for He who has called us is Holy. This means our conduct. We are to take the life of Christ as our example, and the wisdom found within His Living Word and apply it to our lives. Our family, friends, neighbors and even strangers should know we are Christians by our actions and lifestyle. They should see our love and willingness to serve. We are not to compromise Biblical truths for the sake of avoiding adversity or hurting the feelings of those who have been deceived. We are to witness and share the truth, but always with gentleness and respect. America does not want to offend anyone, although offending God does not seem to matter as of late.

“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NKJV)

If there was a revival of holiness in our day, what would it look like?

Chastity would be practiced and honored. Integrity would be valued and honest words would once again serve to instruct and advise. Love would rule our hearts and compassion would cause us to intercede throughout the day. Our personal relationship with Jesus would grow in intimacy and our ability to hear the Holy Spirit would be fine tuned. With our closer walk with God, our faith would grow and our trust in God’s provision and grace would carry us past times of persecution and suffering. Our actions and decisions would not be based on fear, for nothing is impossible for God. He is ALMIGHTY.

We would live among the dirt of this ailing nation, but remain pure and clean in His sight. Our light would be evident to the lost and they would be drawn to us. Some drawn for a desire to be more like us… others drawn with evil intents and a desire to put out our light.

However, hope is eternal and living a life of holiness promises great reward.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”    Philippians 2:14-16a (NIV)

How do we live out our faith with a “No Compromise” attitude? Is it even possible to live a life of holiness in a world so bent on hate and debauchery? Yes. Yes it is, with the help of Christ. Will it take personal sacrifice and be the cause of conflict. Most likely. However, we are not called to be man pleasers. We are called to serve and honor God. We have one judge and that Judge is God alone. We should consider our ways daily and determine if they please or grieve the Lord.

The heavenly Father gave us free will. He also gave us an instruction manual… The Bible. We must read it daily (even memorize it) so that we know what God says about certain behaviors/actions. What God expects from His children and what He finds as abominations are also written in scripture. Just as God tested Abraham, Moses, and Mary, He will test our faith as well.

These are dark times and the days ahead will prove to be even darker. Find encouragement in the community and Body of Christ.  There is a comfort to be found with like-minded believers. Surround yourself with brothers and sisters who will hold you accountable and lift you up in prayer. We need each other to maintain our calling to be holy. Blessings to you as you continue to travel the highway of holiness.

“Suppose for a moment that you were allowed to enter heaven without holiness. What would you do? What possible enjoyment could you feel there? To which of all the saints would you join yourself and by whose side would you sit? Their pleasures are not your pleasures, their tastes are not your tastes, their character not your character. How could you possibly be happy, if you had not been holy on earth?” ~ J.C. Ryle

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Jesus And The Fig Tree

Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?

“Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry.  And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it.” Mark 11:12-15 (NKJV)

When He realized it was all leaves and no fruit, was Jesus so terribly disappointed that He vented His anger in emotional vindictiveness? Since we know Jesus is without sin… we must conclude His anger towards this fig tree was righteous. Continue reading “Jesus And The Fig Tree”

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Waiting Patiently

*Patience

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, 
 and He shall strengthen your heart; 
 Wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:14 (NKJV)

“But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, 
they shall run and not be weary, 
they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

In order for us to wait on the fulfillment of hopes, callings, and desires, Ms. Patience must step forward and work her wonders.  I picture Patience as a good and kindly woman full of compassion and love. Her mere presence calms and soothes even the most harassed and anxious of souls. Within her gentle nature, there is a hidden and marvelous strength. This strength rises out of self-control and her faithfulness to the one she serves. In fact, it is with pure joy that she assists others, for she lives to glorify her master.

If you read the first paragraph once again, you will come to realize that successful waiting requires the fruit of the Spirit. Patience is tied to love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The soul, who lays aside personal goals and chooses to trust God with His timing and purposes, truly lives in freedom. He or she is blessed for you see, they have learned the way to endurance. Job is a good example of faithful endurance, for in the end we see how God greatly blessed and rewarded his devotion and patience. 

Our Lord knows all about waiting. He has been waiting a very long time to be united with His Bride, the church.  And because the church is still incomplete, we must wait some more. There are many folks who have yet to join the Body of Christ. Because of His immeasurable mercy and grace, He will never consider leaving even one of His beloved behind. This is why His return has not yet materialized.

Therefore, we must rest in the knowledge of His promised return. To do so with an assurance that permits peace and rest is not easy, if our flesh is leading the way.  Instead, it is the Spirit within us that must spur us on to endure.

So, as our God waits, we wait. His justice and truth prevails. One by one, lost lambs are found and carried home to safety by the Good Shepherd. Many dear ones, near to death, suffer from deep wounds and gashes. Though He heals each and every wound, they have been saved right out of the mouth of that horrible lion. 

Eventually, God exposes and disarms every spiritual snare the enemy so cunningly sets. No trap escapes the eyes of the Almighty. Therefore, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” (Lamentations 3:25) We who long for His return and wait are called blessed in Isaiah 30:18. 

Let me share a warning. While waiting for something to happen, it is easy to get distracted. We can all quickly loose our focus and allow our eyes to slip from His loving reflection. Our gaze sadly settles on the things of the world. What dangers befall those who let this occur! Too often a believer lacks the self- control to wait for the promises of God to appear, therefore slipping off the course ordained for them by God.

Oh, the misery of missing out on even one of the gifts and blessings of God. Do you really want to let even one of them slip away? If you are desperate to have something right now, when patience and waiting is required, really pray fervently. Consider whether your desire is a need or a want, and if it is aligned with Gods will for you. Are you willing to settle for a temporary contentment when God is offering you a complete fulfillment, so long as you agree to wait for His timing and purpose? 

“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” James 5:11 (NKJV)

“Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you, for the Lord is a God of justice; 
 Blessed are all those who wait for Him.”  Isaiah 30:18 (NKJV)

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.  You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:7-8 (NKJV)