Here in California, we are often referred to as being “fruity” and “nutty.” It comes with the territory, I guess. I mean, no offense to Arnold Schwarzenegger fans, but only in California could we elect “The Terminator” or “The Predator” to be our governor! Well, it does seem a bit extreme. I know…he has been governor for almost six years, but I still can’t get used to it. It just seems to justify the stereotypes that people have of Californians. Fruits and nuts. Yep…that’s us.
What does California’s governor have to do with The Lord’s Table? LOL! Well, in this lesson, the author, Mike Cleveland, draws attention to scriptures that challenge and encourage the participant to be aware that God calls us to bear much fruit–and not the California kind either!
…the thought that we want to convey today is the need to turn our focus away from ourselves and begin to look for those we can help… (TLT, p. 140)
Referencing 2 Timothy 2:21, Mr. Cleveland says purity and freedom precede useful ministry. (TLT, p. 141)
Yet he also cautions that we not make exuses to keep us from obeying the mandate of scripture (found in John 15 and elsewhere) that we are to bear much fruit. It is so easy to say “I am not there yet, I can’t possibly minister to others.” Or “I have to be busy at work to get my act together first. I don’t have time or energy to help others until I have been victorious…” There may be some shred of truth to this, but at the same time, this myopia can keep us so inwardly focused that we miss that God is glorified when we bear fruit. He has called us to get on with bearing fruit for His Name’s sake!
Before I ever had much “success” with Thin Within, God called the things that are not as though they are (Romans 4:17)…and invited me to take Judy and Arthur Halliday’s Thin Within workshop material and put it into a book form…He called me to link arms with these two precious folks to bring about the book that you now can see as Thin Within. His call made NO earthly sense at all! Yet he called and said it would be. He wove our hearts and joined us for an amazing experience (for me, certainly).
Had I allowed my self-doubt to disqualify me from this call, I shudder to think of what I would have missed out on!
God calls us to be others centered, to be ministry minded. You may not feel free right this moment, but He IS DOING A NEW THING IN YOU! Isaiah 43:18-19 proves it!
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
God IS doing a new thing in you right now!
Having lived most of my life in an overweight body, I know how easy it is to let our “condition” keep us from reaching out, from being “up front,” to hide behind closed doors. We fear ridicule and people can be SO cruel.
But picture this…Jesus extends his hand to you. RIGHT now. RIGHT where you find yourself. He reaches for you to take your hand in his. A tender smile is on his face and unconditional love is in his eyes. He welcomes you to cast all shame aside, to take his hand and let him lift you up into what he is doing–HIS story. He invites you to participate with him in reaping fruit for eternity. By this is the father glorified! That you bear MUCH fruit! (John 15)
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