I’ve often said if we as Christians fail, it is that we fail in love. I am certainly guilty of this on occasion as most all are.This morning’s emailed devo (from a longtime friend of mine) came with the following anonymous message:”You will know a tree by its fruitand you can’t pick an apple from a lemon tree.You will know their lives by their love.By their love you will know who they’re following.”Perhaps there are times when you, like me, feel like a lemon?!I preach, teach and seek to model the life of a Christ-follower. But oh how the Spirit, both directly and via friends and accountability partners brings me to face the sad and ugly truth at times! Whew! And Amen, Lord help me/us. I am often not the Christ-follower I desire to be.Self-confidence is a lemon because the real truth is “our sufficiency is of God”, and really, “what have you [we] received that is not a gift?”This Thanksgiving here in the U.S., among the many people and events I’m deeply thankful for is my gratitude to God for the chance to change, to grow, hopefully to become more of a true follower of Jesus. Love is so obviously both the motive and the goal throughout the Word of God.I’m thankfully hopeful because I know God still works miracles. I mean actual “we have no other explanation for this” healings and such, but indeed the greatest miracle is that I can grow, change, become more like Jesus. Ha, due to how little I reflect Him at times, I’ll never run out of things to learn and grow in!!But this is in part why I’m thankfully hopeful and why all who seek Jesus should be: “for it is God who works in you [yes, YOU and I], both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2.13)The word translated “works” in the Greek means “to be operative, be at work, put forth power, to work for one, aid one, to effect, to display one’s activity, show one’s self operative.” God DOES that in those who seek to follow Jesus. He does it by God the Holy Spirit, daily moving in our life. You may not notice the wind but it’s blowing. It’s there even when you don’t feel it, even when there is no perceptible movement.We do not always recognize positive inner change taking place. But the grace of God is that He (unlike many of we humans) never gives up on us. “I will NEVER leave you or forsake you.” Yes, thankfully hopeful is what we can be!Holidays can bring out the tensions of meal preparation, shopping and “we rarely see one another and when we do, we bicker” family calamity. Holidays can be an opportunity to backslide or grow, to learn/reflect the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace and patience or of course, human old nature. We can fuss over the smallest things and blow it when it comes to loving.”But now faith, hope, and love remain–these three. The greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13.13)I’m thankfully hopeful, truly am.Though it may at times seem a crawl rather than a walk… remember, you and I who seek to grow in the love of Jesus Christ NEVER walk alone.