by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on March 13th, 2017

So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
​Matthew 7:17
 
​I'm really proud of myself. I've gone almost a whole week without potato chips. Six days and counting. This is a big deal because chips are my weakness. Remember those old Lay's commercials... "can't eat just one", yup that's me.

​As good as they are in the moment, their lasting effect is not good for me. And that one bad eating habit, makes it easier for me to make other poor dietary choices. 

​I know this to be true, but maintaining a healthy diet takes a lot of discipline and a focused purpose.



Maintaining our spiritual diet is as vital to our spiritual health as maintaining our physical diet is to our physical health.

In both cases, what we consume effects how we live our lives.

A poor diet limits our body from achieving it's peak performance and leaves us weakened and susceptible to illness. Additionally, just a few poor nutritional choices can easily develop into poor eating habits.  (I write as I’m drinking my Dr Pepper at 10:30pm)

The same is true with our spiritual health.

Skipping our Bible reading or study today because it’s Monday and really busy, makes it easier to skip again. Then before we realize, it’s been a month and we haven’t opened our Bible.

Missing church because it's cold and wet and more comfortable to sleep in, may not seem unreasonable. But as we let excuses creep in week after week, what seemed a reasonable decision has turned in to a bad habit.

So why is missing a day of Bible Study or missing a Sunday at church a big deal?

Y’all, I’ve been there, I understand. It can be a struggle for me too. I’m not writing pointing a finger. And I’m not writing just saying we are to do these things because the Bible says so, even though the Bible does say so.
 
​Psalm 119:15-16
I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.

Hebrews 10:24-25
​And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
 
​Maintaining our intake of spiritual food effects the outward expression of spiritual life – how we interact with others, how we respond in stressful situations, and the decisions we make when facing temptation.

​And I really want to be both physically healthy and spiritually healthy. But both take effort and intent. As I begin week two without potato chips, I am also focused on spending daily time in God's Word.

Healthy trees bear good fruit... Let’s be healthy trees.

Blessings #SoulFriends
#BearingFruit
​If you have enjoyed today's blog, I invite you to join us all month as we talk about #BearingFruit. We have a new #SoulInspired Bible Study and Journaling Kit available!
(more info here​)

​The Study includes 4 study sessions (today was an excerpt) and a bonus section discussing the Fruit of the Spirit, plus color pages, verse mapping pages, prayer journal pages, and more!

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on March 7th, 2017

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls
into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies,
it bears much fruit.”  
John 12:24
 
​I can almost see the confusion on the faces of Andrew and Philip. They went to tell Jesus there were visitors and he responds with talk of farming and lonely wheat and dying to bear fruit.
 
Huh? 
 
We have a different perspective today than they did then and we know Jesus was talking about his own death, burial and resurrection.
 
The farming-wheat-dying-fruit analogy He gave also applies to his followers today.
  1.  Just as it was an image of Christ’s literal death, burial and resurrection, it is also an image of Christian’s literal death, burial and (eventual) resurrection.
     
  2.  It is also an image of Christian’s spiritual death to self, being rooted in Christ and reborn to bear spiritual fruit.
 
 

Planting the Grain

… “unless a grain of wheat fall into the Earth”  ...
​ 
Clearly, we are the grain of wheat mentioned in today’s scripture. But let’s consider the life span of an actual grain of wheat.
 
Seed —>  planted in soil —> roots & first leaves form —> roots & leaves grow —> grain heads develop —> wheat is harvested —> seed gathered —> planted, etc..

To simplify even further, there is planting, dying, growing and producing.
 
It does seem odd to have dying in the middle of the life-cycle instead of the end, but somewhere in the middle, what was planted dies and becomes something else. 
“Seeds are sown and rot but are far from perishing. Rather they grow up more beautiful. T
hey are sown naked and dry and spring up green from death by the power of God.”

- Geneva Study Bible

 

​Dying to self

… “but if it dies, it bears much fruit”  ...
 
​Dying to self is part of being “born again” when the old self dies and the new self comes to life. (John 3:3-7). 
 
In practical terms, it can be  described as putting aside what we personally want in the moment to focus on loving God. It moves us away from self-centeredness and closer to Christ. 

So what does this look like in our lives? 
  • We no longer try to get our own way (to gain attention)
  • We stop trying to impress others (to be elevated)
  • We stop offering unasked for advice (to feel important)
  • We no longer are obsessed with ourselves
“It is much easier to pay attention to the needs of others when our own interests no longer consume us.”  Jan Johnson

 

​Can’t do it alone

… ”unless a grain falls into the Earth it remains alone”  ...
 
​Right in the middle of today’s scripture three words grabbed me - “unless” and “into” and “alone”.
 
The processes of planting the seed and dying to self may explain where the action occurs, but they can’t be done alone. There must be a catalyst, a stimulant, a food source.
 
In order to bear fruit, we must be “into” our food source, and our food source is God.
 
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit
by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless
you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever
abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit,
​for apart from me you can do nothing”
   John 15:4-5
 
​“fruit - karpos - everything done in true partnership with Christ, i.e. a believer (a branch) lives in union with Christ (the Vine). By definition, fruit results from two life-streams - the Lord living His life through ours - to yield what is eternal.” - HELPS word study
 
​Let's make a recommitment to God, to put aside our personal desires and to focus on God and his will for our lives. Let's be fruit bearers.

​Blessings Soul Friends,  
  
​The color page of todays scripture is included in our ​Bearing Fruit - Soul Inspired Scripture Coloring Book.

​•Bible Journaling Templates / Bookmarks
•Tags to color and share
•Full Page art prints
20+ Designs to color!


​See all of our Bearing Fruit Resources

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on March 6th, 2017



Inspiration.... we may not always  be able to say when it will come, but I think we all know what inspiration does - it moves us to action.

It is a catalyst. It lights a fire. It's an "ah-ha" moment. It's the light bulb over the head.

​Inspiration motivates. It spurs us to do.

​I can always tell when inspiration has struck one of the grand-boys -- his eyes widen, his eyebrows arch, and then he says, "Nana, watch this!".  Oh- no 


Now divine inspiration is of a different sort. Look how it is defined in the King James Dictionary:

The infusion of ideas into the mind by the Holy Spirit; the conveying into the minds of men, ideas, notices or monitions by extraordinary or supernatural influence; or the communication of the divine will to the understanding by suggestions or impressions on the mind, which leave no room to doubt the reality of their supernatural origin.

Oh I love the word infusion used here....
  1. to penetrate
  2. to instill
  3. to inspire
  4. to steep or soak in
  5. ​to pour in

This is how the scriptures were written from the pens of many men but the heart of the one God.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
​2 Timothy 3:16 KJV
 
I believe this type of inspiration is available to us today also.

​Now not in the sense of the authors of the Bible, it is written, it is whole, it is complete. No, the Holy Spirit will not inspire us to add to the writings of the Holy Bible.

​But, as believers and children of God, the Holy Spirit does pour in to us and inspire us to action.

and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship,
​Exodus 35:31 ESV

And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
​Acts 13:52

​We are also told in Galatians 5 of the Fruit of The Spirit, the outward expression of the inward dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all the physical result of the Holy Spirit infusion into our lives.

​If we stay in step with the Spirit, this infusion into our lives will inspire us into action!
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;​.... If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
​Galatians 2:22-23a, 25

​So I have a challenge for all of us this week... to let our souls be inspired.

To be more in step with the Holy Spirit's prompting and be aware of the moments when we have the divinely inspired opportunities to love others, to be joyful, to bring peace, to exercise patience, to extend kindness, to live out goodness, to remain faithful, to respond with gentleness and to exercise self-control.
 

Inspire Someone with Kindness


​One way we can inspire others is through a simple act of kindness. Share a word of encouragement with someone. Send them a note. Leave an encouraging word on a co-workers desk. Thank someone for their selflessness.

​To download a printable blank version of the tag in the photo above, click here. Just download, print, color, add your own message, trim and bless someone's day.

​Ask the Holy Spirit to inspire you!

Blessings Soul Friends,​
​If you have enjoyed today's blog, I invite you to join us all month as we talk about #BearingFruit. We have a new #SoulInspired Bible Study and Journaling Kit available!

​The Study includes 4 study sessions (today was an excerpt) and a bonus section discussing the Fruit of the Spirit, plus color pages, verse mapping pages, prayer journal pages, and more!

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on March 3rd, 2017

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 does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
John 15:1-2

 
​If you have ever grown roses or geraniums, you're probably familiar with the term Dead-heading. It's the process of removing the dead flower heads which have already bloomed. It's an important aspect of the plant maintenance and enables it to flourish and produce more blooms.

Just as pruning is important to a plants life, it is also important to our lives as well.

In both instances, pruning and dead-heading removes those pieces which will no longer produce but are still drawing nourishment and energy from the plant.

It's this illustration that Jesus chose to give as an explanation of God and his children who are fruit bearers. By pruning back those things which are unfruitful but drawing our energies, we are able to actually be more fruitful.

This really challenges me to evaluate those things in my life which take up my time and energy yet provide no value. How about in your life?

It could be spending too much time watching tv or on social media instead of investing that time into family and friends.

Or, harboring hurt feelings which interfere with the development of Christian friendships.

Or, so many other things....

Let's all accept the challenge this week to be brave enough to ask God to make us aware of the things which need to be pruned back from our lives and to give us the courage and desire to allow Him to prune away.

​Blessings Soul Friends,
​If you have enjoyed today's blog, I invite you to join us all month as we talk about #BearingFruit. We have a new #SoulInspired Bible Study and Journaling Kit available!

​The Study includes 4 study sessions (today was an excerpt) and a bonus section discussing the Fruit of the Spirit, plus color pages, verse mapping pages, prayer journal pages, and more!
     

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on March 1st, 2017

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season and it’s leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”  Psalm 1:3

 
What a beautiful symbolic portrait here. A bright, healthy, green, flourishing tree planted so close to it’s never ending life source that its roots are constantly being fed. The result is a tree which remains healthy, green and fruitful.

Remember when Barbara Walters asked Kathryn Hepburn, “If you were a tree, what type of tree would you be?”

Well I want to be a healthy spiritual fruit bearing tree.
 

​The Source of Our Soul’s Food   … like a tree planted by streams of water….

​Clearly, we are the tree mentioned in today’s scripture.
 
And we are all planted and being fed, meaning we have roots extending out into something and returning food for our soul.
 
The question in – what is our life source? What are we feeding on?
 
Are we feeding on the fresh flowing life giving waters that a healthy relationship with God offers? Or the stale, stagnant, dirty waters of the world?
 
It’s our choice, you see. The saying ‘garbage in – garbage out’ applies to our soul.

​Like a healthy diet for our bodies, we must control what we are letting feed our souls. Our soul food will determine the type and quality of fruit which our lives produce.
 

If we want the nourishment that only God can give we must go directly to His flowing waters - the Word of God.



​The Type of Fruit We Bear     … that yields its fruit in season….


What is the fruit your life produces?

Our lives are all producing something, we are all bearing fruit – whether good fruit or bad fruit. And we are each designed to bear fruit, but do you know what fruit you were designed to bear?

Galatians 5:19-26 Paul provides quite a list of both bad and good fruit. He details the spiritual fruit all of God’s children should bear, but individually we all have a unique kingdom purpose and a unique fruit to bear.

Apple trees bear apples, not oranges or pears or peaches. And pecan trees bear pecans, not walnuts, peanuts or almonds.

Each is a unique tree, each bears a unique fruit.

We are each unique and God has set you apart for a specific kingdom job, you are designed to bear a specific kingdom fruit.
 



​The Health of Our Soul    … its leaf does not wither ….


Wither and fall off. We see some trees go through this cycle of losing their leaves every autumn. But for evergreens, this withering and falling off only happens when the tree is unhealthy or dying from lack of nourishment.

A tree can lose its nourishment for a variety of reasons
·        it becomes damaged or broken from the trauma of a storm,
·        it becomes stressed by disease,
·        it becomes overtaken by pest or outside invader.

This can happen in our own lives as well.

Life circumstances can damage us spiritually and as a result we might disengage from relationship with God.
·        we overschedule our calendar and put aside reading our Bible
·        we experience hardships and blame God
·        we have a disagreement with someone and let bitterness infest like a devouring insect

​It is vital to our spiritual health to remain rooted to our life source - especially in difficult times. As we remain faithful to God and we experience God remaining faithful to us, our roots grow deeper into Him and we become stronger.



​The Result of Our Faithfulness    … in all that he does, he prospers….


To understand this last portion of today’s scripture, we must first understand what the Bible is meaning by “prosper”.
 
We make an enormous error if we infer the world’s definition of prosperity – health and wealth – over the Biblical meaning in context of this scripture.
 
The word “prosper” here is not a label for money, finances, acknowledgement or fame. “Prosper” here refers to being prosperous or successful as it relates to fulfilling our individual purpose.
 
What is a tree’s purpose? To bear fruit, whether literal fruit or by seeding other trees.
 
If the tree stays rooted in its life source, it will prosper, it will be successful, it will achieve its purpose – it will bear fruit!
 
Likewise, if we stay rooted in our spiritual life giving source, if we remain faithful in relationship with God, the natural result will be the achievement of our kingdom purpose – we will prosper!

Acknowledging what kingdom success looks like helps us to not get distracted by what it is not.


​Blessings Soul Friends,
​If you have enjoyed today's blog, I invite you to join us all month as we talk about #BearingFruit. We have a new #SoulInspired Bible Study and Journaling Kit available!

​The Study includes 4 study sessions (today was an excerpt) and a bonus section discussing the Fruit of the Spirit, plus color pages, verse mapping pages, prayer journal pages, and more!





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