FRUITLESS EFFORTS

Peace and blessings to you! I don’t know about you, but I hate expending effort and not getting fruit for my labor. Have you ever put a lot of time and effort not something and then got nothing in return? Like the time I had spent a lot of time on a writing project and then because I was tired, I ended up accidentally deleting it. Don’t you hate that? I had to start all over! My efforts were fruitless!

But you know, there are some things in our spiritual life that we do that bear absolutely no fruit as well. Here are some examples:

  1. Worrying. Worrying is simply trying to figure out a solution to something that apparently has no solution. If there was a solution, you would have taken action. But since there is no solution, you roll the problem over and over in your mind in an attempt to solve a problem only God can solve. When we find ourselves in a state of worry, that’s our cue to shift into Philippians 4:6-7 mode (prayer, petition, and thanksgiving).
  2. Complaining. Complaining about situations (also known as murmuring) will not change your situation one iota. In fact, you are opening the door for the enemy to come in and wreak havoc. For example, when the Israelites complained, they were bitten by snakes (Numbers 21). Furthermore, all we do is call forth more of what we already have. I’m not sure who said this, but instead of calling those things that are not as though they are, we are effectively calling those things that are as though they will remain.
  3. Engaging in Works of the Flesh. Works of the flesh are activities that we do that are not Spirit-led. Jesus said in John 15:5, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” When we take matters into our own hands, fail to consult God, and take presumptuous actions with the false belief that we know exactly what to do, we are not abiding in the vine, and we are engaged in works of the flesh.  But when it’s all said and done, we will find that works of the flesh bear absolutely no fruit at all.
  4. Trying to change other people.  This is truly a fruitless effort because, unfortunately, people don’t change just because you want them to. Only the Holy Spirit can change people. So why not just shift to a mode of doing what you need to do to take care of yourself, make yourself comfortable, and maintain your peace in a difficult situation? But never try to change them because that is truly a waste of time.

Are you engaging in any of these fruitless activities? If so, why keep wasting time and effort doing things that don’t bear fruit? Instead of worrying, let’s trust God. Instead of complaining, let’s express our gratitude for what God has done. Instead of hauling off and doing what we think is best, let’s consult God, and do only what the Holy Spirit directs us to do. Instead of trying to change people, let’s accept them and pray for the Holy Spirit to change them or change us. Only then will we bear much fruit and stop letting Satan get the best of us.

What is your experience with participating in fruitless activities? Please leave a comment below.

Image above courtesy of Garryn H. via Freeimages.com

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EVERY DAY IS CHRISTMAS FOR CHRIST FOLLOWERS!
We must be mindful of the fact that the personal relationship we have with God on a daily basis is possible only because Jesus was born into this world to die. I encourage you to celebrate Christmas all year long and prepare to make a deliberate effort to keep Christ firmly anchored at the center of your family’s Christmas holiday beforehand. Get your copy of my latest book Keeping Christ in Christmas: Thought-Provoking Ideas for Making Jesus the Center of Your Child’s Christmas Holiday at Amazon.com or purchase copies for those you know and love with small children! Help the Revolution that began in 2020 to continue in 2021 and beyond!

Tracey L. Moore (a.k.a. The Purposeful Poet) is a poet, author and speaker whose goal is to challenge you to be your best for Christ. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Christian Counseling from Oral Roberts University and is an Associate Minister at Chesapeake Christian Center in Chesapeake, Virginia. Learn more about Tracey at http://www.TraceyLMoore.com.

THE ART OF ACCEPTING PEOPLE AS THEY ARE

Lately, God has been impressing upon my heart the importance of accepting people as they are. Have you ever confronted someone in a relationship about certain behaviors that you didn’t appreciate, and the person was not willing to change? Perhaps YOU ended up being viewed as the problem. When that happens, what can you do? If we want to avoid perpetual frustration, we have to learn the lesson of accepting people as they are. No, that does not mean we become human doormats. But let’s take a look at what acceptance actually looks like:

  1. We stop talking about the issue and pray. If you have talked and talked in an effort to get a person to change, and talking hasn’t worked, this is the first and most important step. Therefore, it’s time to stop talking and ask the Holy Spirit to change the individual OR to change you. Sometimes the Spirit will convict or arrest the object of your conflict. However, sometimes He wants you to change and come up higher so that the behavior or speech no longer bothers you, and you can stay at peace. Furthermore, if the person is indeed wrong, know that God sees it and promises to be your vindicator in the end (Hebrews 10:30) if you will trust Him.
  2. We actively seek to adopt a new mindset.  We need to make sure we are continuously renewing our mind with the Word in an attempt to get firmly rooted and grounded in our identity in Christ. That’s like putting on spiritual armor. Also, what would happen if we attempted to focus our thoughts on what experiences in the person’s past may be fueling the behavior? Perhaps compassion would well up in our hearts. Furthermore, as Don Miguel Ruiz relayed in his book The Four Agreements, we must realize that people do what they do because of what’s going on inside of them and refuse to take it personally. Many times, as Jesus said, “They know not what they do.” Sometimes, I go online and enter my topic of struggle in the Google search engine to glean how others are handling or thinking about the same situation. The point is this: if we can think differently about our plight when the devil attempts to work through people, we can stay peaceful.
  3. We set boundaries. When we set boundaries, we shift our efforts toward limiting the impact of people’s unpleasant behavior on our lives. Setting boundaries may take many forms. For example, there are some subjects I refuse to discuss with certain people in my life so I can maintain my sanity. Therefore, a boundary can be set by planning ahead of time how we will respond in the future versus reacting. Maybe we need to emotionally guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and spend less time with them. Sometimes, depending upon the offense, setting a boundary means making the quality decision to give yourself the gift of walking away. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to set appropriate boundaries so that you can block the enemy’s attempt to steal your peace and joy.  

The bottom line is this, brothers and sisters: We have to get to the place where we refuse to try to change anyone. When we try to do the Holy Spirit’s job, He is grieved, we have made an idol out of ourselves, and we effectively block Him from changing that person. Surely, we can lovingly confront a person as the Bible says in Matthew 18:15, but if our complaint is dismissed with a person’s refusal to change, accepting reality means we don’t keep talking about it. Why? Because they can’t hear us and the Holy Spirit, the Agent of Change, at the same time. Remember, the Bible says, and as far as it lies within you, be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18). So the best thing we can do is to shift to a mode of self-care and self-comfort. Let’s make keeping offense out of our hearts and maintaining our peace our highest goal while God is working.

Have you been in a conflict with a loved one lately? What do you feel you need to do differently?

Image above courtesy of Stuart Miles via Freedigitalphotos.com

View this email in your browser
EVERY DAY IS CHRISTMAS FOR CHRIST FOLLOWERS!
We must be mindful of the fact that the personal relationship we have with God on a daily basis is possible only because Jesus was born into this world to die. I encourage you to celebrate Christmas all year long and prepare to make a deliberate effort to keep Christ firmly anchored at the center of your family’s Christmas holiday beforehand. Get your copy of my latest book Keeping Christ in Christmas: Thought-Provoking Ideas for Making Jesus the Center of Your Child’s Christmas Holiday at Amazon.com or purchase copies for those you know and love with small children! Help the Revolution that began in 2020 to continue in 2021 and beyond!

Tracey L. Moore (a.k.a. The Purposeful Poet) is a poet, author and speaker whose goal is to challenge you to be your best for Christ. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Christian Counseling from Oral Roberts University and is an Associate Minister at Chesapeake Christian Center in Chesapeake, Virginia. Learn more about Tracey at http://www.TraceyLMoore.com.