Mental Illness Article, Part 5

Mental Illness Article, Part 5

 

C. “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” (Matt 12:33)

C1. “Success is not measured by what you do compared to what others do. It is measured by what you do with the ability God gave you”. ( Unknown)

Matthew 25:19-30 talks about three servants who were given talents (five, two, and one bags of silver, respectively). In the parable, the two servants, who invested the silver bags, doubled what was entrusted to them (five bags of silver became ten bags, and two bags, four ). The master therefore said.: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” Unfortunately, the master was indignant at the servant who hid his silver: “You wicked and lazy servant! . .), and gave his silver to the one with ten bags, to further invest the master’s money.

God has given all “talents” to be used for His own glory. Regardless of how many talents a person may have, God blesses the stewardship of his servants. In the human body, just as “the eye is needed as much as the hand and foot”, there is no unimportant person with talents. (1 Corinthians 12:22: “In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.”). God doesn’t like it when people don’t use or misuse their God-given talents. Through the empowerment of the Vine, we should sow our talents to reap spiritual fruit.

C2: The Vine And The Branches

In John 15, Jesus used the “Vine and branches” concept, to delineate our new to rely upon the Trinity’s empowerment to produce fruit:

John 15:4-6: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

Disconnected from the vine, branches are incapable of producing fruit. So is man powerless to reap spiritual fruits when not abiding and surrendering to the Holy Spirit. Because the Spirit’s work is done internally, we may never see the reaping of His work in us; just as people cannot the process of a vine producing its fruit. Also, most spiritual fruit, produced by the Vine, cannot by us, the branches, we just need the faith to believe it is happening:

“Fruit is always the miraculous, the created; it is never the result of willing, but always a growth. The fruit of the Spirit is a gift of God, and only He can produce it. They who bear it know as little about it as the tree knows of its fruit. They know only the power of Him on whom their life depends”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Just like how a gardener does pruning to “clip away” bad branches that interfere with the further growth of fruit, God uses sanctification “to make our bad behaviors holy”, so the Trinity can bear more spiritual fruit in our lives. Sanctification involves habitual studying of the Bible (as a spiritual guidebook) to understand the “do’s and don’ts” of proper Christian conduct, and then relying upon the Holy Spirit to empower us in removing bad behaviors, and replacing with proper ones. Only through daily surrender and reliance upon Him can the “sanctification” and “fruit-bearing processes” work.

Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John:15:1-2)“
C3: Not Sinning

KEY QUOTE: “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” (Nelson Mandela)

Every person has life areas which interfere with Holy Spirit’s fruit-bearing work in us. Many times we want to do right but cannot. That’s because we have a sinful nature that conflicts with the Holy Spirit for control. Whoever we yield to wins:

Galatians 5:16-18 says “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

The Trinity knows we will constantly fail in trying to do right in our own strength. So the Holy Spirit says “Let me do the work!”
In Galatians 5:25 says: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”. Rather than trying to do right, the Holy Spirit instead says, “Stop trying not to sin! All I want you to do is, in everything I do, everywhere I go, just be right next to me, take a step when I take a step, and follow Me! I won’t lead you to astray!”

In an analogy, when a woman slow dances with a man, she follows the lead of the male. Holding hands and enjoying the intimacy of the event, the female stays close to the guy. When the male takes a dance step to the right, she reciprocates. A step to the left, she does likewise. Not thinking about trying to dance, her focus is upon the relationship and the male dancer’s next step. The next thing she knows, as she follows His lead, she is slow-dancing quite well.

We are the female and the Holy Spirit is the man. Our focus when “dancing with Him” is the relationship and the process of “keeping in step” with Him. The next thing we know we are sinning less. Focus upon Him and watch and follow Him. Don’t try to lead and don’t force the movement of sinning. Just enjoy the intimacy, ask Him to take control and lead you in your daily walk with God, and then follow Him.

Because we are human, and the flesh still resides, many times we try to take control of the “dance moves”, or other times, we “slip and fall” as we try to “keep in step” with Him. Either way, just like how a male slow dancer doesn’t get rejecting at the girl he loves, when she falters; the Holy Spirit will still work with you in trying to “slow dance” as long as “you get up from the floor” and “be willing to continue trying to learn how to slow dance with the Holy Spirit, with Him leading the way.
D1. FREEDOM OFTEN DEMANDS LOVE IN FORM OF ANOTHER

KEY QUOTE: “Though we cannot see the heart, we can see the life.” (David Paul Kirkpatrick, The Address Of Happiness)

KEY QUOTE: “Choices made, whether bad or good, follow you forever and affect everyone in their path one way or another.” ( J.E.B. Spredemann, An Unforgivable Secret)

KEY QUOTE: “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable”. (Brennan Manning)

KEY BIBLE VERSE: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

To every believer, God has a giant-sized purpose to achieve through Him. “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive His power, and be ‘Christ’s witness’”, telling people about Christ in the manner and in the places He desires us to go. Without the power of Holy Spirit, and especially without Love, all our efforts are powerless and, usually counterproductive.

“A witness is “a person who affords evidence”, or “a person who gives testimony”. (dictionary.com).

Our life is comprised of all our actions, behaviors, decisions, thoughts, experiences, and emotions. How the Trinity has transformed our life, in all ways, represents our testimony. Thus, our testimony includes how the Trinity has impacted our actions, behaviors, decisions, thoughts, experiences, and emotions. This includes many aspects, inclusive of “how the conversion to a Christian by Jesus has “changed my life, before and after becoming a believer”.

Our testimony may include overcoming strongholds, new freedoms experienced, change in moral character, and positive attitudes of life in spite of great adversities. Unfortunately, Choosing self-centeredness, including disobedience, or just plainly making bad choices can be real consequential, in the Holy Spirit’s evangelistic plans, of your testimony. Joe Focht once said:

“There is no more confused message that you and I could give to a lost and dying world than to live in sin and at the same time to tell people about the transforming power of Jesus Christ. There isn’t a more confusing thing we can do to our kids and the generation behind us, to this world.

God will not use a compromised life to reach a compromised world. God will use a life that is given over to Him, that is a demonstration of the message that through the power of Jesus Christ and His love He can transform our lives and set us free.”
― Joe Focht

Also note the following two quotes:

“We should remember that bearing a heartfelt testimony is only a beginning. We need to bear testimony, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to live it. We need to both declare and live our testimonies”. (David A. Bednar)

“The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual – for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost”. (M. Scott Peck)

Our testimony is our witness. When we live the life how God intends us to live, we “show evidence” (a witness) of who Christ is, and our experiences represent our “testimony” of what God has done for us.. “Do not let sin control the way you live, do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.”

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