HOW ABOUT A NICE PIECE OF FRUIT PIE?… Galatians 5: 16-21

Something I notice at my Millburn, New Jersey High School 50th Class Reunion is that my classmates are still intently interested in exploring life.  Few are sitting around waiting for the ‘grim reaper’.  One loves to take college courses at a state university, auditing them to learn something new.  Another is fascinated by the history of Judaism and Christianity as it impacts American history.   Someone else sculpts commissioned iron-work while teaching skiing at the New Hampshire resort he lives at.  I could go on and on.

Keep growing as we get older.  Don’t sit around waiting for your number to be called.  Keep growing.  But in what way?  Certainly, if we are committed believers, we’ll want to get closer to Him until we’re with Him forever…and then that’s just the beginning!

In Galatians 5, Paul contrasts the ‘works of the flesh’ with the ‘fruit of the Spirit’.   As I was reading these verses, I took note of the great contrast between ‘flesh’ and ‘Spirit’.   For most of my life, even today, ‘flesh’ is more than present.  Not always a bad thing.  But the Apostle Paul is not referring to the body created by the Lord, helped along by our earthly parents!  He means the actions that flow from our sinful nature.  My bent toward the ungodly.

Back to that contrast.  What I noticed is that the ‘flesh’ is not some victim, but an aggressive part of our nature.  What we can and must control.   Sometimes, our proclivity toward sin leads to domination by that sin.  Serious stuff, to say the least.  Agreed?

The other side is the ‘fruit of the Spirit’.  No way can we take credit for that which comes from the Holy Spirit.  To claim such would be thievery.  Fruit comes from good trees and plants.  Healthy ones.  Nurtured and well-fertilized.  Protected from predators and the elements.

In our walk with the Lord, we don’t create that fruit.  That comes from Him, when we’ve done our part.  This involves godly disciplines.  Like praying, reading and studying our Bibles, giving to Christian causes we trust and believe in, and lots more, which prepares the soil to produce good fruit.  Godly living results in and triggers what Paul calls ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (Galatians 5: 22-23).

Personally, I’m praying to harvest the Spirit’s fruit in my life.  More each day.  Preparing the ‘soil’.  Taking no personal credit.  It comes from Him…yet through me and you.

The pie of choice for your holiday tables this season?  Nothing like a good fruit pie…from the Lord!

Prayer:  Lord, we desperately need the fruit of your Holy Spirit in our daily lives.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

GOING…GOING…ALMOST GONE!

I ordered 50 ‘Reflections’ devotional books to offer at cost to followers of this blog.   A day later and only have 12 left!  Going like hot cakes.  I’m getting hungry!

Seriously, if you’d like one (or more), please do let me know as soon as possible.  $12 including free shipping.  My wife will Christmas gift wrap them (she has asked me to step aside here for very good reasons!)and I can inscribe/sign them if you so wish.

Just send me a check for $12 each to 4274 Dudley Dr.  NE    Lacey,  Wa. 98516.  Also, e-mail me your wishes for soon they’ll all be in the mail.  Wonder who you’d like to give a Christian devotional book to for Christmas or New Year??

Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving!  John

SO LITTLE TO ASK… Hosea 13: 4-6

It’s really simple.  Nothing complicated or mysterious.  No cryptic, secret passwords or codes.  None of that.  Strait-forward and upfront.  And, on top of that, asks little of us.  What does?

Have you read those verses from Hosea in the Old Testament?  This prophet’s wayward wife symbolizes God’s wayward people.  Hosea, means ‘salvation’ in Hebrew.  Chapter 13 records the anguished heart of God the Savior.  For He alone is the Lord.  He is Yahweh God.  His people are simply to acknowledge Him and no other.  Should be easy.  So little to ask.  After all,  there truly is no other God.

No mystery really.  The Lord said that He Himself was the one who saved them and cared for them in the desert.  My wife and I remember being in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.  It was 120 degrees.  Everyone says that’s dry heat, but so is an oven, and I don’t want to live in there either!  The coolest place was down deep within those tombs.  King Tut had a cool resting place!  Move over, buddy!

Hosea 13:5 records that even in those scorchingly hot places, God takes care of His people.  He feeds them, not a few measly morsels of food, but enough to fill them up (v. 6).  Every day for forty long years.  They gripe and complain.  Yet, He feeds them until they push back from their tables full as full can be!  Without a care in the world!  ‘Man, aren’t we lucky!’

That’s when things take a rather nasty turn.  In their self-satisfaction, they start thanking each other, taking credit where none is due.  Luck instead of the Lord.  Preening with pride.  For all that THEIR hard work has produced.  They forget the Lord who saves them.  Who gives them everything they have.  Everything.

A proud people…yet unthankful.   A bunch of ingrates.  They forget who stays up with them all night long.  Who plans and pulls off their escape from Egypt.  Who everyday gives them food for their growling stomachs.  When no one else is there, He is.

I could be one of them.  A spoiled, unappreciative Christian brat.  How about you?  Lucky as can be?  What a fine fellow am I?!

Or blessed by the Lord our God and His Son Jesus through the Holy Spirit?  You decide.

Have a happy, appreciative Thanksgiving… to the One who deserves it most of all!

Prayer: Lord, we want to be your grateful people.  We know that ALL comes from your hands.  And we thank you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

CHRISTMAS BOOK SPECIAL!

No, this is not a ‘Black Friday’… special but it could be!  I have purchased a limited number of ‘Reflections Out Of Time’ Devotional books that I would like to make available to ‘followers’ of Reflections blog.  Cost to you is $12 including free shipping (usual price is $17.99).  And I’ll inscribe the book and sign it, along with Christmas gift wrapping.  Is that a deal or what?!

My intention is for you to have an affordable gift for someone in your family, or church family or that special neighbor.  A good way to witness, I think.  And this is the time people are looking for devotional books for the new year.

Interested?  Only have a few I’ve dedicated for this purpose.  Just e-mail me at jafischerja@gmail.com to reserve a brand-new book.  Send me a check for $12 made out to me along with who to send it to.  Maybe you’d like it sent right to you.  Fine.  Whatever works.  Only US offers however as international rates are out of sight.  My address is 4274 Dudley Dr.  NE  Lacey, Washington  98516.  Let me know soon so I can get them out quickly.

Blessings to you.  And a very Happy Thanksgiving!  John  I’m grateful to the Lord to write for Him and have all of you as faithful readers.  Thank you…

TIME TO OFFER A TOAST TO… Psalm 116

To God, of course!  Lift high your glass and toast the Lord of All!  Like at a wedding, wishing the man and woman to find joy and happiness together, for soon will plow through the lean and lucrative times of life.  La Chaim!  To life!

More so… to God!  To life… eternal, given freely to us in His Son Jesus!  For making us a family of faith.  For so many blessings, hard to number.  I can’t count that high!  Never was good at math!

Psalm 116: 13–‘I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord…’  See what I mean?  Time to toast the Lord our God!  For what?  For salvation.  For forgiveness.  Freedom from the horrid effects of our sin.  We have no idea how deep a hole we’ve dug for ourselves through ungodly rebellion.

God knows and He stoops down to lift us up.  A helping hand.  A strong arm to lift up what is falling hopelessly and helplessly away.  A cross that appears to be the end of the road, when in reality it’s the way to God Himself.  The only way, as it turns out.  That’s salvation!

Psalm 116: 14–‘I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.’  A toast to God who creates a new family of faith.  ‘…in the presence of all his people.’  His people.  Not just anyone.  No dissenters or mockers allowed.  No more taunting laughter at the things of the Lord.  For in His presence are His people who love Him.

This wedding toast is in the company of all who receive an invitation and respond positively to it.  In our case, if we’ve RSVP’d ‘yes’ to Jesus, confessing our sins and repenting of them, wanting most of all to have Him in our lives,  then together we can lift high the cup of salvation to the Lord our God!

A toast!  With Thanksgiving!  To Him!  To Him alone!   La Chaim!  To life…everlasting!

Prayer:  Lord, we thank you for all your gifts.  All from your Son Jesus.  In whose name we pray.  Amen.

 

 

 

STAY WITH ME… 2 Kings 2

This is the story of Elijah’s last days on earth.  He’s one of the great prophets of the Lord.  Along with Moses, Elijah can be seen on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13), speaking with and encouraging Jesus in His last days.  Two great Old Testament characters, side-by-side with God’s Messiah!

In 2 Kings 2 we’re with Elijah, and his successor Elisha, travelling from Gilgal, a small town in Israel where big things happen.  In Joshua 5, we read that it’s at Gilgal that Israel renews its covenant promises with the Lord; and where Samuel anoints Saul as the first King of Israel (1 Samuel 11).

Elijah, on his way to Bethel, tells Elisha to stay behind in Gilgal.  Elisha knows, he’s been told many times, that Elijah is living on borrowed time, soon to leave this earth.

Elisha is heartbroken, anticipating the death of his great friend and mentor.  Elijah has been like a father to him.  The group called ‘the company of the prophets’ keeps repeating what Elisha does not want to hear–‘…do you not know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?’ (v.3).

Elisha shouts back, hoping to shut them up–‘Yes, I know, but do not speak of it’ (v.3).  I wonder if Elisha is feeling that if this group would only keep quiet,  maybe it won’t happen?  Nothing will come of it if he buries his head in the sand.

What does Elijah do next for Elisha?  Sensitively, he lets him go along with him for as long as possible, allowing him to say whatever is on his mind and heart.  Doesn’t scold or belittle him for some lack of faith.  No.  He lets him be.  Allows him to work it through.  Stays with him until…

Elijah trusts that the Lord will do for Elisha what he himself can’t.  He steps aside.  Trusting God.

Is there someone in your life that you need to simply be with, allowing them to work through with the Lord what needs His attention?  Being a friend who keeps his mouth shut?  Not all the time, but probably more than I’ve done in my life.

How many times have others stood by me, trusting God to work in my life?  Keeping their ‘good’ advice to themselves?  Not many, sad to say.  Hardly anyone.  On one hand… not counting all the fingers either.  Most could care less about anyone else… but themselves.

But maybe I could be a good friend to someone today?  You too?  Can’t leave you out!  Let’s do it!

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the example of Elijah.  May I know when to speak up and when to keep quiet.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NOT SURE WHAT HAPPENED!

Began working on a new meditation on insecurity.  Only a beginning.  Since I work weeks, sometimes months in advance, crafting each submission until I am almost (!) completely pleased that I have done the best for the Lord and you my faithful readers, I schedule a publish date.  Why that insecurity post was sent to you today?  No idea.  Still scheduled a year out and not even listed as ‘published’ in my own  master account.  Should I get insecure about all this?!  Hardly!  I’ll trudge through and someday you’ll get the whole devotional, Lord willing!  Hang in there!  I will…blessings always, John

WATCH YOUR STEP!… 2 Peter 1:5-9

I’ll never forget walking up the steps leading to one of the gates of Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Marble steps, thousands of years old.  Jesus and His disciples used these same ones.  We sat down on them, gazing around the Holy City, imagining ourselves with Jesus!

Our Holy Land tour Bible teacher talked about these steps and its city gate, now unavailable for entry.  What was most interesting to me was that every step was of a different depth.  One marble block was set very deep.  The next one up rather shallow.  Deep…then shallow.  Making the climb most treacherous, especially if you weren’t paying attention.  Could easily land on ‘all fours’, bruised and battered.

What we were told next was fascinating.  They were planned that way, so that no one could run up those steps, barging willy-nilly into the Temple.  You had to watch your step.  Keep an eye on where you were going.  Think about what you were doing, and hopefully who you were there for.

Peter says something similar in his 2nd letter.  He urges his readers to godly living.  To confirm their calling and conversion by being careful to live for Jesus.

2 Peter 1: 5-9– standing at the base of a spiritual stairway, step up on faith.  Then virtue… knowledge… self-control… steadfastness… godliness… familial affection.  Ultimately, reaching love that’s love as God shows it.

Like going up those steps to the Temple.  One at a time.  Not too quickly.  Watch your step.  You could stumble.  Takes concentration and single-mindedness–focusing on Him and His will for our lives.

Let me admit that I have bruises all over.  I’ve stumbled and tripped in life, fallen flat on my face too many times.  The only one?!  Did I hear a faint ‘amen’?  We’ve all fallen.  We imagine that we had such good intentions.  Jesus knows that we’re made of dust and clay.

However, we really do want to live godly lives.  Don’t we?  I do.  As much as we fail, He’s right there to pick us up, put healing ointment on our wounds, listen to our cries, hear our apologies and excuses, and stand with us as we head back up those stairs, one at a time.  With care and thought.  Slowly but surely.

Unlike Jerusalem today, when we get to heaven, with Jesus by our side, the gates will open wide!  No stumbling!  No falling!  Welcome home!

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for being with us, right beside us, on all the steps we take in this life and beyond.   In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

A FAVOR TO ASK

Blessings to all who follow Reflections Blog.  I am honored that you follow along week by week.  Thank you so much.  I do have a favor to ask of you.  We have an opportunity to sell the digital version of the Reflections Daily Devotional Book to literally thousands of new readers.  Would be quite the experience after working over two and a half years producing this book to see it bless countless thousands more than I could ever imagine.  Only one problem.  No, not money!  We have too few reviews of the book on the Amazon sight.  Will you please help?  Otherwise, we’ll have to pass on this opportunity which would be a shame.  All you have to do is click on ‘Amazon’ and pull up ‘Reflections Out of Time’  book.  Then where you see ‘Reviews’, click on that.  Then just click on ‘Write a Review’ and keep it short and upbeat!  Then if enough of you bother to do this, you will be a significant part of reaching many others for the Lord!  Please do it…NOW!  Thanks, John