Friday, June 29, 2012

What's In Tomorrow

Psalm 37:23 (NIV)  "The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord.  He delights in every detail of their lives."

All of us want to know the future.  We recognize our inability to see past today and agonize over tomorrow. Many people look to their horoscopes to be informed and others consult fortune tellers.  It is a fact that there are people who have insight that is given to them by evil spirits.  If they are getting information that is not naturally available, and it's not from God's Spirit, then it is from Satan. 

Some Christians even chase after prophets and well known ministers, seeking to get a word for their life.  I have to honestly say that I like to get a word of prophecy myself, however, if God doesn't minister or speak it to your heart and if it doesn't agree with the character of God and His Word, it should be rejected.  We should remember that man has something to gain if he is 'right'.  People will trust him and follow him.  He may even get larger offerings.  God is the only being that does not have any selfish motive behind His instructions to us.  He is motivated by love and love alone.

When my husband was called to be the pastor of our church, I didn't even consider what that meant.  I do remember thinking that no one asked me if I was okay with that plan, but since I had no reference to base my expectations upon, then I was willing to do and be whatever it would require.  What if God had let me see a mini movie of the ups and downs that we would encounter during the coming years.  What if God had allowed me to know the sacrifices, the disappointments, the heavy responsibility of keeping a church healthy, alive and thriving.  What if God had let me see the year that my youngest child was a newborn, my other two girls were ages ten and five and my husband had to take a job fifty miles away because the church couldn't pay his salary, and I had to carry the load at home and at church in his absence.  What if God had let me see the time when my closest and dearest friend betrayed us and stole from us, all the while sowing seeds of discord among the members, causing them to believe lies and leave the church, which resulted in several years of picking up the pieces and trying to rebuild again.  I have to be honest and say that if God had let me see all of it I would have run like a mad woman to the farthest corner of the earth to avoid going down that road.  Since I didn't know, then I was forced to trust God and lean on Him for strength and ability.  I found that He was there to help me and His grace was enough to empower me in each trial, making a way to overcome.  I am sure that Father knows best and He knows that we can't handle seeing our future!

God promises us that He will light our way.  Psalm 119:105 (NASB)  "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path."  If you've ever used a lantern in the dark, then you know that it doesn't illuminate a large area, it is sufficient to see where you will take your next few steps, the rest of the path must trusted to God's hands.

He will grace us where He takes us!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Deep And Wide

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV)  "16) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18) may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19) and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  20) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21) to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen."

If ever there was a heart that truly desired for the Christian to have an enlightened walk with God, it was Paul!  These six verses are packed with so many aspects of the ingredients which ensure one to be able to live a Spirit-led life.

Verse 16 - We are strengthened with power in our Spirit-man from God's great amount of help.
Verse 17 - We have Christ in our heart by faith.  Our best foundation is the root of love.
Verse 18 - We together with other believers need to continually expand our understanding of Christ's love.
Verse 19 - The revelation of His love, which we will never fully understand in this life, will keep us full of God's characteristics.
Verse 20 - God is the One who owns all power and ability and it's His power, not ours, that brings great things.
Verse 21 - All glory must go to Him, to Jesus, and never ever to any man or thing!

I'm reminded of the Sunday School song, "Deep And Wide".  I have memories of singing this song along with the hand motions during Vacation Bible School at a little Pentecostal church on the North side of Birmingham, near the area where I grew up.  It was one of my favorite songs that we would sing each night.  It is also a song that I taught my girls when they were small and now I sing it with my grandchildren.  "Deep and wide, deep and wide, there's a fountain flowing deep and wide, Deep and wide, deep and wide, there's a fountain flowing deep and wide."

The words are simple and don't offer any explanation of the meaning.  I like to think that it means there's a flow that comes from heaven, from the throne of God's grace and mercy, that is so vast and expansive that we could never explore nor cover all of it.  It is a river of life flowing freely for all who will jump in and partake of its refreshing power.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Humble Pursuit

Isaiah 55:6 (NIV)  "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near."

It may sound as if God can't be found at times, or that sometimes He is afar off according to this scripture, however, God is omnipresent - He is everywhere at all times.  David makes this statement in Psalms 139:7 (NIV)  "Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence?"  David fully understood that there was nowhere on earth that he could hide from God.

Isaiah is referring to the fact that there are times when we are more conscious of God than others.  It is at those times that we need to reach out to Him, to pull upon His manifest presence while we are most aware of it.  His presence being manifest among us is a work of grace in response to our hunger.  God responds to His children hungering and thirsting after Him!

A. W. Tozer said, "The Presence and the manifestation of the Presence are not the same.  There can be the one without the other.  God is here when we are wholly unaware of it.  He is manifest only when and as we are aware of His presence.  On our part, there must be surrender to the Spirit of God, for His work is to show us the Father and the Son."

This can also explain why there may be times when one person 'feels' the presence of God while others in the same room seem oblivious to 'feeling' anything at all.  It is the condition and the pursuit of one's heart that God responds to, He is a God to heart God.  I believe that a person's pursuit and worship of God cannot be limited to certain methods nor certain outward expressions, likewise, when God's presence is felt, neither can a person's responses be contained nor limited to certain actions.

James 4:10 (NIV)  "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."  This is the main ingredient for experiencing the presence of God, humbleness.  Man cannot approach God in his pride and arrogance and expect God to bless it, we must come to God in humbleness and repentance, for we are mere flesh, and He is Almighty!

May we seek Him humbly and find Him!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sheep Know Their Shepherd

John10:27 (NIV)  "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."

The Bible uses sheep to represent people in many places.  The first passage of scripture that comes to my mind is Psalm 23.  David, who was a shepherd himself and certainly knew about sheep, talks about the Lord as the Shepherd.  He relates how that everything the Lord does for the sheep is for their good.

Jesus' words in John 10 says that His sheep listen to His voice and follow Him.  It is interesting to know that sheep have an excellent memory.  They can remember as many as fifty faces for up to two years.  They have a keen recall of unpleasant experiences, too, so they would easily reject someone who has been cruel to them.  Another interesting fact about sheep is that they have an excellent sense of hearing.  This could be one reason Jesus assuredly compares His followers to sheep, their hearing is keen, they remember His face and they will not follow anyone who has treated them wrongly.

If we have experienced anything hurtful, it has been at the hands of man, not of the loving, caring Shepherd.  Sadly, we often attribute our hurtful experiences to God, blaming Him wrongfully for the actions of humans.  It would help if we would familiarize ourselves with the attributes and characteristics of the Lord, as David so wisely penned in Psalms, then we could more easily recognize our Great Shepherd.

Psalm 23 (NIV)  "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quite waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

It's Not Too Late

Joel 2:12 (NIV)   "The Lord said: It isn't too late.  You can still return to me with all your heart."

If there is anything that can be sure about God, it is that He longs to have every human come to Him.  He created man in the first place to have fellowship with Him, but God cannot commune with sin, so when man disobeyed, sinned, and brought sin into the perfect world God had created, there had to be a way to breach or bridge the gap that came between God and man.  In the Old Testament, it was through offerings and sacrifices of lambs and bulls, but humans were unable to keep the Law, they just kept adding to the Law, making it all the more impossible to live.

All through the Old Testament, God reveals His plan to send the Messiah, the perfect sacrifice for mankind.  In each book, Genesis through Malachi, there is a consistent thread, a type and shadow, that predicts God will send Jesus to redeem and save man.

God always has and always will be the Father standing at the end of the road watching to see if today his child will come home.  He has made every provision possible that we may know Him and be in right relationship with Him, even to the point of giving His only Son as the sacrifice, the Holy Lamb of God whose blood could cover our sin.

As the scripture in the book of Joel says, "it isn't too late".  This is good news!  No matter how far down we may have gone, God says it's NOT too late to come back to Him with all our heart.

Luke 15:11-24 (King James Bible)  The Parable of the Lost Son
vs. 20  And he arose, and came to his father.  But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.  21  And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.  22  But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.  23  and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry.  24  for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  And they began to be merry.

It's not too late!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I Love Church

Psalm 27:4 (NIV)  "The one thing I ask of the Lord - the thing I seek most - is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life."

I truly believe that there's not many who love to attend church as much as I do!  As a child growing up, we didn't attend church as often as I wished.  We weren't members of any one church, but attended here and there, mostly revival meetings and oh those wonderful open air tent meetings!!  I have memories of my grandmother, my mother and I going to those exciting revivals in tents.  Mother would bring me a couple of toys and a book to draw in or coloring book with crayons, a thermos of something cold to drink and snacks, usually consisting of cheese and crackers, cookies and maybe a sandwich.  There would be wood shavings on the ground and Mother would lay out a small blanket (a pallet, she called it) on top of the shavings and I would play or eventually lay down to sleep.  I loved the singing and the boisterous praises that people would shout to God.  I would try to imitate them and sing along, raising my hands and shouting, too.  It was in one these type of meetings that I went to the altar at age eleven and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  My favorite aunt, Dorothy, was with us that night.  She was a mighty prayer warrior and led many to meet Jesus.  She went with me to kneel before the Lord and led me in asking Jesus inside my heart.  I was on such a heavenly cloud that night that I wished I could live in that church service from that moment on.  I can just imagine the Psalmist David feeling the same way as he penned this scripture.  It's the desire to remain in the presence of a Holy God.  A church building or structure is nothing without God's presence.  Sadly, this is the state of many localities where God should be present.  Sure, it can be nice to learn and hear about God, but to experience Him is so much more.

I believe that the largest amount of God's presence that we can feel only pales in comparison to what it will be like in heaven.  There, God's presence will be fully felt with nothing withheld from us.  Our human bodies would not be able to experience His fullness here on earth and live.  In Exodus 33, Moses was on the mountain with God to receive the commandments for His people.  Moses begged of God to see all of His glory.  God told him that no man could see His face and live, but there was a place near Him where he could stand on a rock and when He passed by, He would put Moses in the cleft of that rock, cover him with His hand and after He had passed by, he could see His back.  Since everything in the Old Testament is a type and shadow of things to come, then I believe that the rock God is telling Moses about is Jesus who is near to God.

Oh God, hide us in the cleft of the rock, that we may see you!!  We long for Your presence, for in that presence is joy and peace, healing and deliverance, salvation and love.  Truly, one day in Your house is better than thousands elsewhere!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Jesus Floats My Boat!

Luke 8:24 (NIV)  "The disciples woke him up, shouting "Master, Master we're going to drown!"  So Jesus rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm!"

It wasn't an unusual event for Jesus and the disciples to go out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee.  This body of water, according to Wikipedia was also referred to as Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias.  It is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, 33 miles in circumference, about 13 miles long, and 8.1 miles wide.  The lake has a maximum depth of approximately 141 feet.  It is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake overall after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake.  The lake is fed partly by underground springs although its main source is the Jordan River which flows through it from north to south.  In other words, it is and was in that day, a very large body of water.

Now if you have ever been on the water when a storm comes up, you will understand the fear these disciples felt.  The larger the body of water the fiercer the effects of the wind.  Obviously, these men who were accustomed to life on the lake, were not easily shaken, so this must have been quite a dangerous situation.  The point in this story that stands out is the fact that Jesus was asleep during this storm!  They didn't have a boat with a nice comfy cabin below the deck equipped with a cushioned bed and all the lovelies of home like many modern boats, Jesus was asleep in an open, wooden rig, void of comforts in the midst of a dangerous storm that was about to capsize them!  I would call this behavior a huge absence of fear!!

The disciples woke Him and He immediately calmed the storm that was raging all around!  Just a word from Jesus and the wind ceased.  His rebuke calmed the surge of the waves that had threatened to take them down.  What a wonderful thing to have Jesus in the boat!

Life is very much like the Sea of Galilee.  Some days it is sunny and calm, all is good.  Other days, there's a storm raging, all is not so good.  Some days, the fish are plentiful and others, no fish can be found.  On one such occasion in Luke 5, Simon Peter, who was a fisherman by trade, had toiled all night with no fish to show for it.  Jesus showed up on the shore and told him to go out deep and let down his nets.  When Simon did as Jesus said, he caught so many fish that he had to call for help from another boat.  There were so many fish in his nets that they filled both ships to the point of nearly sinking the boats!

We need to keep Jesus in our boat and meet with Him continually on the shore for direction in our lives.  He is the the calm to our storms and the provider for our needs!  He IS peace!  He IS provision!

Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. 
-George Mueller

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Love Is Deep

I Peter 4:8 (NIV)  "Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins."

Why do we somehow imagine that people will be perfect?  Why do we have expectations that our dearest and closest friends or relatives will never disappoint us?  Most interestingly, why do we think that our brothers and sisters in Christ will never falter in their conduct?  Yet, when we ourselves miss the mark, we are quick to declare that we are not perfect and are in need of mercy!  Surely we should know that we all fail.  Romans 3:23 (NLT)  "For everyone has sinned, we all fall short of God's glorious standard."

The scriptures warn us not to judge.  There's only one who is capable and worthy to judge, and none of us are Him!  We are so fast in our scrutiny of others, it is scary!  In Matthew 7:2 (NASB) it says, "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you."  Oh my Lord!  Help me to have an extremely long measuring stick, for I will want mercy and will need lots of it when I fail!

I find it most interesting in the translation of I Peter 4:8 stated above that it says to continue to show DEEP love for each other.  What would DEEP love be like?  I Corinthians 13 may explain it best.

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NASB)  "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Now that's what I would call DEEP love!  We need to sow that kind of love to others, for we desperately need that kind of love ourselves!  We all have a multitude of sins that are in need of being covered.  Jesus shed His blood to cover our sins.  If we are receiving His love, forgiveness and mercy, then that is what we should be giving to others.

Lord Jesus, help us to have DEEP love for one another.  Help us to quickly forgive and to not keep a tally of wrong doings.  Help us to be patient, kind and long suffering, which are the fruits of Your Holy Spirit.  Help us to not be jealous when others are blessed and to not brag or be arrogant about our own blessings.  Help us to only rejoice in truth, not in seeing our brothers and sisters stumble.  Help us to not be easily provoked, or to seek ourselves being recognized or act inappropriately.  Help us to be strong in believing, hoping and expecting to see good things.  Dear God, help us to walk in love!  Amen.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Who Cares?

I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)  "Be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless."

I must admit that this scripture is exactly what I needed to hear today.  How easy it is to get discouraged and down heartened about our efforts for God!  I'm sure I'm not alone in this, or else, there wouldn't be a scripture in the Bible addressing the issue.

I think however, that if most of us were truly honest about our feelings, we would have to admit that we are more concerned that people don't care or feel what we are doing matters.  I know this is quite true for me, because when I begin wondering if it all matters to God, I immediately know it does!  I know that everything I do for Him from my heart, whether big, small or in between is seen and He is pleased, it's the indifference of people that really gets me down.

So it boils down to this same issue that we humans struggle with the most, am I doing what I do for God or for people?  In other words, who do I serve?  If I serve God, then what I do is for God, and ultimately will benefit people.  If I serve people, then what I do is for people, and ultimately benefits no one!

I think that every time we struggle with feeling down and disheartened about our service in God's Kingdom, it would be wise to make an adjustment in our "who I'm doing this for" commitment.  Let's remind ourselves that God was the one we signed up to serve, with our whole heart, our whole mind and our whole being, and that anything we do for Him is never useless!  With this re-established in our hearts, we can re-gain the enthusiasm and strength to continue serving our Lord!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Seek Jesus, Not A Crowd

Have you ever noticed in the scriptures that Jesus is never trying to gather a crowd?  In fact, he seems to always be trying to avoid being the center of attention.  Over and over, he tells recipients of miracles worked by his hands, "Go your way and tell no one."  Of course, they always did, because who could hold in such marvelous happenings, especially if it has changed your life drastically.  Imagine being blind all of your life and now you have sight, or being lame and dependent upon others for everything and now you are mobile with full use of your legs.  Imagine your child laying dead and now she's alive again!  Such things could not be held inside.

This is so opposite to our Christian methods today, in that, we are always trying to come up with another gimmick or event to draw crowds.  We tell ourselves that if we can get the people there, then they will find Christ.  It sounds good and even in our hearts, we believe it is the way to reach the multitudes for God.  However, we humans tend to work our efforts in the carnal, flesh realm of our being.  We are also fooled into thinking that if there are many who attend a church service or Christian event then it proves that we have done a great thing for God.

Jesus was so unconcerned about drawing crowds that on one occasion, thousands had followed him to listen to his teaching.  There were men, women and children in that huge crowd.  The disciples told Jesus that they did not have enough money to buy bread that each person could have even a little.  A small boy offered his five loaves of bread and two fish.  Jesus took the food offered and told the disciples to have all the people sit down.  Now it doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that five loaves of bread and two fish would not be enough for five thousand people to have a bite each, but Jesus took the offering, gave thanks and then began to break off pieces to be handed out.  Not only was there enough for each person in the crowd but the disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers!  (John 6:1-15)

John 12:32 (KJB)  "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

What if we put more passion and heart into worshiping Father God, spending more of our time in prayer, lifting up Jesus the Savior.  What if, like Jesus, we stopped worrying over the crowds and fretting over how to get them there.  What if as we just concentrated on lifting up Jesus, he was able then to draw the people to himself.  After all, he IS the bread of life that can feed every hungry soul.  Let's face it, we do not have anything to give that will change a life.  Only Jesus can multiply the bread and the fish.  Only Jesus can calm the sea.  Only Jesus can heal the lame and the blind.  Only Jesus can set the demoniac free.  Only Jesus can save.  Only Jesus!  If our trust, our hope, our faith or our life is built on anything else, it is sinking sand.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

My Hope Is Built (The Solid Rock)
Words by Edward Mote
Music by William B. Bradbury

Monday, June 11, 2012

There's A Lot To Be Said Of Being Content

Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)  "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Paul truly had the right to make this statement.  He was once a man of means, probably quite well off in his day and time.  He was a scholar of the Old Testament and highly revered among his peers.  He did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah that all the Jews were waiting for, and so, he was one of the main persecutors of those who did believe.  However, one day, on his way to Damascus, God literally knocked him off his high horse.  He was known then as Saul.  This account can be found in Acts chapter 9.

It was during this experience that Saul who then afterward became known as Paul, heard the voice of God speak to him, revealing that Jesus was the true Messiah and he fell under conviction that he had been persecuting and killing followers of the very One he credited himself of seeking after.  He made a complete turn around in his life and began to learn of Jesus, later preaching and teaching the saints and writing a large part of the New Testament.

During Paul's service to Jesus Christ, he experienced many perils and persecutions.  He was beaten, imprisoned and left for dead countless times.  Truly, he understood the depth of what he said to the Philippians, that he had learned a secret to be content in any and every situation, leaning on the strength of God for whatever that situation was.

Discontentment - a longing for something better than the present situation, prolonged unfulfilled desire or need.
Contentment - happiness with one's situation in life.

This secret of Paul's was to be content.  He was living to fulfill the purpose of an Almighty God and King.  Living in the assurance that God is pleased with us is the best path for happiness.  Micah 6:8 (NIV)  "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

The things and desires of this world only tug at us, screaming reasons why we should not be content.  But there is a happiness that baffles the world, that contentment of which Paul speaks, strengthened by the Ruler and Giver of all things, both now and forever!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bread Of Heaven

John 6:51 (NIV)  "I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

Have you ever eaten bread that was alive?  Well, of course not, so how is this statement Jesus is making a sensible one?  In relation to the natural things in life, it is not.  Bread is not a living organism.  The wheat that once was living and produced the grain the bread is made from is long departed.  We can't understand spiritual things with carnal thinking, we must tap into the spiritual concept that Jesus is revealing.

Jesus is making the analogy with bread being a life sustaining food for our physical bodies and He, being a spiritual bread, a sustenance for our spirit.  This is the scripture we use with taking communion, the ritual of remembering the sacrifice of Jesus' body and blood on the cross.

In the Old Testament, God gave the children of Israel manna that fell with the dew upon the ground.  It was like a seed or a grain that they would gather in the mornings, grind it and make it into bread.  It was a supernatural type bread, in that it sustained them.  You could say that it was bread from heaven.  This is a type and shadow of Jesus, the bread from heaven that was yet to come.  The manna would not last from one day to the next.  It could not be saved and used later because it would spoil.  It was bread for the day it was gathered and that day alone.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)  "The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning."

We can't live on yesterday's manna, but must gather the fresh nourishment of Jesus for that day.  He is current, He is now, He is with us, He is bread to our soul, He is the sustenance needed to trek through the desert of life, journeying to our land of great promise.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

I thought about this nursery rhyme as I viewed my little vegetable garden upon the return of a recent trip away from home.  Even though I had only been away four days, things had really changed with the condition of the vegetables and fruits in my garden plot.  The cabbages, brussel sprouts, brocolli and cauliflower had all come under attack from an insect, probably caterpillars or some sort of worm that had been eating away on the leaves.  The tomatoes and strawberries had over ripe fruit and there were weeds and grass growing with glee between the rows.  My, how things change quickly in just a few days!  It is the same way with our spiritual gardens.

Matthew 13:25 (NLT)  "But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away."

The garden of our hearts can come under attack quickly.  If you don't believe this, just let someone hurt your feelings, or tell a lie about you to someone who is important to you, or steal from you, or, well, you get the picture.  We walk a fine line between good fruits and weeds growing in our hearts.  We are spirit and flesh, the two must dwell together.  We are susceptible to things showing up in our spiritual garden just like the garden in my backyard.  It is best to stay on top of the situation and remedy things before they get out of hand or else the weeds and insects will multiply and eventually completely destroy the good fruit.

So what did I do about my garden dilemma?  Gathered the ripe fruits, attacked the insects and removed the weeds.  What should we do when anger, offense, jealousy, doubt and fear show up in our hearts?  Gather our ripe attitude with confession in humility, attack the sin with repentance and forgiveness, then remove the destructive power of the enemy by bringing our heart's garden back to spiritual fruitfulness.

Galatians 6:7 (NLT)  "Don't be misled--you cannot mock the justice of God.  You will always harvest what you plant."

Friday, June 8, 2012

Have A Drink

Revelation 21:6 (NIV)  "I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.  To him who is thirsty I will give drink without cost from the spring of the water of life."

God is the first and the last, the beginning and the end as it says in this verse, He is everything in between, too!  He, being everything and always being, has all that we need.  He is the giver of life, all life flows from Him.  Everything He does is life producing.  He is the source from which life comes.

As long as we are alive we will be thirsty for water.  Sadly, so many people do not drink enough water for their physical well being.  Our bodies are mostly made up of water and so we need plenty of water flowing through us to nurture us as well as flush away the impurities that collect in us.  Too many people try to replace their body's need for water with alternatives, such as sodas, juice, tea, coffee or other flavored liquids.  None of these produce life enhancing effects nor satisfies the body's thirst like water!  In spiritual things, people do the same type of thing.  Our spirit man thirsts after the life enhancing effects that only God gives, yet, we try to quench that thirst with alternatives, none of which brings spiritual health and vitality to our spirit being.  There's nothing to compare with a long cool drink of pure water from God's well!

The best offer in town is, it's offered to us without cost!  God offers us water from His spring of life without charge.  It is freely given to any who will receive it, however, it isn't free, someone has paid a price for it. Just as in today's economy, welfare, social security, food stamps, housing and other social assistance may be offered to people without charge, it isn't free, someone has paid for it and it wasn't the government.  The government has no money to give, only the authority to take some from those who work and give to those who are in need, the working citizen of the United States of America has paid for it.  The difference is that the working man gives up an average 30% of his income in taxes that are used to give to those in need.  Jesus didn't give a percentage, He gave his life, He gave everything, He paid the greatest price of all that we may have living water!  He bought THE gift that keeps on giving.

John 4:14 (NLT)  "But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.  It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Be On Guard

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)  "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

Our heart that this scripture speaks of is more than the blood pumping organ in the middle of our chest.  It is the center of our being, like the heart of a tree, it is referring to the core of its trunk, the center.  In the depth of our existence is our heart, our tender spirit, the well where life pours forth.  The only one who can be trusted to enter into this deep place is God, for He is the only one who will not damage it.  We need to guard against the enemy who desires to destroy life.  In reference to a tree again, if a worm or beetle destroys the leaves or branches, the tree will still live and survive, but if an attacking organism destroys the core of the tree, the tree dies.  So it is with humans!

So what kind of things or what kind of people do we guard against?  Anything or anyone that attacks our faith in God, or that pulls us away from His ways.  Anything or anyone that plants organisms of fear, doubt, hate, revenge, backbiting, lying, stealing, cheating, complaining, or any other negative action or thoughts.

As a child's Sunday School song goes...

Oh, be careful little ears, what you hear (repeat)
For the Father Up above,
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little ears what you hear.
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see
Oh, be careful little mouth what you say
Oh, be careful little hands what you do
Oh, be careful little feet where you go
Oh, be careful little mind what you think
Oh, be careful little heart what you love.

All of these are avenues to our innermost being, the place where the enemy is trying his hardest to destroy us.  

May we guard our hearts well, keeping it sacred for the Lord to dwell.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

When I Am Weak

Psalm 28:7 (NIV)  "The Lord is my strength, my shield from every danger.  I trust in Him with all my heart .  He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy."

There are times in our lives that we can feel so strong, so able and so together, but inevitably there will be many times when we realize that we are extremely weak, unable and falling apart!

God is strength, but we don't know His strength until we are weak.  While we are running along in our own strength, we don't lean on His, so actually, it is a blessing when we find out that our strength is fleeting and we grasp onto God, hold on and discover His awesome power is what we needed all along.

David speaks often in Psalms about God being his protection, a shield; most likely because David spent many days running for his life or in war battling enemies of Israel.  We are all in a war, a spiritual war, battling against the enemy of God and His people.  Let's take this reminder from David that God IS our shield as well, protecting us from every danger.

Notice that the Psalmist says his heart is filled with joy following the fact that he trusts God with all his heart and God helps him.  I believe this is a key factor in having joy.  We cannot have joy while we are afraid, but when we trust God, He helps us - then comes joy!

When we find ourselves weak, let us rejoice that He is strong!

Friday, June 1, 2012

You Are The Light

Matthew 5:14-15 (NIV)  "You are the light of the world - like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see.  Don't hide your light under a basket!  Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all."

Notice in this scripture it says that we (Christians) are 'the' light of the world, not 'a' light.  To me, that is bringing it home to us how important it is that we get out from under anything that would hide that light.  I've always thought of this scripture as meaning we have a light and to let it shine, but instead it is saying we ARE the light and don't hide!  Being something is much greater than owning something!

There's never been a darker time in our world since I was born than now.  It seems that everyday, I hear of the most horrendous evil acts that have been done to humans and animals.  Things that could only be done by someone who has no conscious, no feelings of guilt in inflicting harm.  I will never forget a dream I had nearly ten years ago now.  I dreamed that I was asleep in bed when I was awakened by a disturbing presence in my room.  I sat up and began searching the darkness to see what was there.  Suddenly, I wasn't looking in my bedroom any longer, but looking into space at planet earth.  I saw a large dark ugly figure with a huge bucket in his hand standing over the earth.  He tipped the bucket over and a black bubbly substance came pouring out of it onto the earth.  I saw each bubble hit the planet, and as each one touched the surface of the earth it took bodily form and scurried away.  The figure pouring out these evil forms began to laugh and I immediately knew it was Satan, releasing more evil into the world than ever.

But we should not be afraid!  We are THE light!  When darkness abounds, the light becomes its brightest!  We have a promise in Isaiah 59:19  (KJV)  "So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him."