Forecast for Rain

Forecast for Rain

Isaiah 55:8-10 (NKJV) “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

The forecast is for rain. My plan to head the beach is nixed. A little rain is one thing but the weather app is forecasting thunderstorms. No thank you! My husband who had planned some yardwork today is watching the sky closely. The ground is still soaked from last night’s showers. The air is hot and humid with the front that is moving in. What an inconvenience after working all week, the messiness of natural interrupting my plans. Rain is important. It is vital to production in the earth. The grass would not be green without water. The replenishment of the earth that keeps us all well-hydrated yet in its abundance is loathed and often disregarded as a problem. I wonder what would happen if we decided to welcome the rain. To thank God for its arrival, productivity and potential. What if we didn’t identify it as an interruption but part of God’s Magnificent and Perfect Plan? To declare, “Lord, we receive your rain today!”

The separation of natural and supernatural revelation is not appropriate. The God of Heaven is indeed God of the earth. He set this place in order and pre-recorded a plan including the wind, rain and storms of life. From a full force hurricane to a light sprinkling – God is the one who sends us the rain. Each droplet holds purpose and potential to water our seed and grow its promise every single time. The grass is drenched and mowing unlikely today. The hydrangeas in the flowerbed love it when the soil is wet. They are flourishing in the showers that seem to pop up every day. Right outside the dining room window – where just on the other side are rows of succulents that are bending toward the sun. They do not care for rain and rely on my careful watering every once and a while. They would surely die outside in the torrential downpours that we have been experiencing so they live in tiny pots.

What does your life resemble today? Is thick, green, leafy and covered with blooms growing and producing in abundance under the open heavens of God’s Outpouring? Or like the little succulents in small restricted containers dependent on mankind to stay alive growing only slightly in the same amount of time? It is all about position and perspective – I guess. God’s Word cannot and will not return to Him void. It will do exactly as He intended it to do. It must accomplish its purpose before coming back to Him.

Job 36:26-28 (NKJV) “Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His years be discovered. For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man.”

Am I the only one who thinks it’s crazy that Job could describe the process of rain production by God without modern technology? He knew that God draws up drops of water stores it in the clouds to be moved released again. Think about it. God supplied the water – springs, rivers, streams and then eventually rain. Rain was not an afterthought. It had a time and place. The imagery of God’s Word is demonstrated to us every time it rains. God’s Word is released and it must achieve its work. Replenish. Renew. Restore. Rejuvenate. It is then taken back up to the heavens and poured out again and again. God’s Word is likened to the rain. It is described as water. The washing of the Word is what replenishes, renews, restores and rejuvenates us.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it was devastating. Through the long process and journey to a miracle, it was God’s Word that kept me standing from beginning to end. Entering the realm of hope when modern medicine could not save him and insurance would not even try – it was the most devastating and divine moment of my life. The storm destroyed me in many ways and God restored me in more ways than the pieces of my broken heart and life resembled. I am not thankful for what cancer did to our child, but I am absolutely thankful for what the storm did for me. Only those who have endured a hurricane or tsunami within can understand these words that I am sharing.

Matthew 5:43-47 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

We are quick to blame the enemy when the seasonal rain does not seem favorable. Too much, too little, not the right time or too inconvenient. What if the rain has nothing to do with our life externally but internally? Jesus was talking about forgiveness and loving the unlovable when He interjects this tiny tidbit…”for He makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and unjust.” What if God is allowing the sprinkles to wash over you or downpour to move you to release the potential inside of you? The Lord has already told us not to worry or get stressed about provision going as far to remind us that we have every spiritual blessing already. Where is it? What if it is locked inside of you as seed that needs some good rain to get the process underway? Prosperity is always precipitated by an abundance of rain.

Genesis 9:12-17 (NKJV)  And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

When it was time to start chemotherapy and radiation for our son, while driving to the hospital (about two hours away) it was raining. Not a downpour, but rather a light shower with the sun still shining, though a bit hard to see through my tears. With worship music playing softly, I saw a rainbow. A few tears turned into immediate sobbing, God was reminding me that He was here. He was telling me that cancer had no power over the healer. We would win the battle just remember who I am and that I am with you. He was showing me His Love all over again. Now that would be cool enough, right? But in the course of the next two hours of travel, I saw more rainbows along the interstate than I have experienced in my lifetime. I stopped counting every time I turned around there was another one. God is faithful to His Word. He keeps His Promises. His rainbow just another reminder that though the storms of life may come even big ones that His Love is unfailing and goodness for sure.

Psalm 84:5-11 (NKJV) Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of  Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Yesterday it felt like there was a little black raincloud over my head. You know just one of those days. I have not a single thing to worry or stress about yet I was doing it anyway. I have no reason to be ruled by chaos because I have perfect peace yet I was a bit frazzled. My blessings are too many to count – believe me I tried to enumerate them to silence the complaining in my head. Just a day covered in a bit of melancholy, everyone has them. I was in a funk. We all face storms in life. There will always be rain coming. It falls on the just and unjust because God loves and desires us all. He wants to renew, restore, and revive us. He wants us to thrive in His Courts rather than being locked in self-imposed cells offered by wayward thoughts and inner rebellion. There is a place to thrive for those who are merely surviving. When rain comes, it is human nature to run for shelter. This should be our spiritual inclination as well. His Ways are higher than our ways along with His Thoughts. His Word and His Way is better than anything we can think, ask or imagine. We want what God has for us whether we realize it or not. There must be rain. We must learn to welcome the rain while hiding in the shelter of His Presence.

Psalm 147:5-8 (NKJV) Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, Who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.

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The Fallen Tree

The Fallen Tree

Psalm 1:3 (ESV) He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Engaged in the morning routine, I head outside with our dogs in the pitch black darkness before the sun rises. Our black lab begins barking into the darkness followed by the high pitched retort of our little Chihuahua. Shining the flashlight, there is a fallen tree in the backyard. Oddly there was no storm or wind in the night. Closer inspection reveals the same soft bark as the other trees that have just toppled over. I am certain that when upon further inspection in the daylight will reveal the same orange fungus in the treetop that was on the others. Curiosity leads me to Google to try to discern what is killing the small hardwoods in the backyard.

The most likely suspect is called Heart Rot. A fungus makes its way into the tree either by pruning or another injury to the bark and without notice begins to deteriorate it from the inside out. Though the tree seems to be growing and changing with the seasons, it is dying day by day. If I had leaned on it yesterday, it would have toppled over. If a storm with any kind of wind, it would have fallen just the same. Could it be the same for us when injured or neglected? Is it possible for the human heart to take on such an insult or offense and unknowingly die on the inside?

Blessed is the man or woman who walks in the counsel of the godly. Those who engage with other believers and fellowship with Christians who are likeminded. Yet human are we. To be part of the Body of Christ means oneness with Jesus Christ. He is the One who makes our heart steady and secure in every season. He is the One who fortifies us and plants us. Rooted and grounded in His Love our expectation of others is replaced by love, grace, compassion and mercy.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV)  For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Our strength and power is by His Spirit in our inner being. Christ dwells in our heart by faith and His Spirit works His Love all the way through us. We must be rooted and grounded in the Love of God demonstrated through the Gift of His Son – Jesus to withstand the storms of life with a heart wrapped up in and secured by the hopeful anchor of salvation. God is good. His plan for our life contains a future and hope well worth the transformation process. We must examine our heart daily. Moment by moment working to become more rooted and grounded by faith in trusting the Lord until our trust is fully invested in Christ alone. Full comprehension of God’s Love and His Grace that sustains us will cause us to let go of every other expectation that we may fully engage with the One “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Psalm 52:8-9 (ESV) But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.

How deep are your roots in the Love of God today? The green olive tree is a source of oil. Oil represents anointing. Christ who is the Anointed One lives in you and me. We are the Children of God. His Spirit dwells in us producing the good fruit that feeds our soul and establishes our trust in Him. Do you trust the steadfastness of God’s Love for you? Such love casts out all fear, doubt, insecurity, offense, and any other affliction placed in our heart by the father of lies. This creates a healthy root system as faith grows in us and hope anchors our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) Such a belief system creates a spirit of thanksgiving and fullness of joy that the storms of life cannot remove or uproot. It affords us patience that in the times of great turmoil, testing, trials and tribulation that God is with us, He is for us, and we are immovable and unshakeable in the Lord.

We must learn to live in the Presence of God and not the present. Such a lofty pursuit found in the quietness of space apportioned time to spend with the Lover of our soul, studying and mediating on His Word, listening for that still small voice whispering to us, praying face down on our knees, relying on His Spirit to work in us and through us as we learn to live in His Love moment by moment. To live any other way does not feed our faith or establish our heart which are stark contradictions to “normal” life.

I do not want to live a lie. To build a life on other people’s convictions and human doctrine with a rotting heart. It can happen. It is easy to live on the coattails of someone else’s faith until the rubber hits the road and you need your own faith to pass the test. I cannot cheat the Lord. He knows everything about me. He sees the innermost workings of my fickle heart and longs to change me from the inside out. I must allow the Lord access to the parts of me that are not okay. The doubtful darkness that looms deep inside the crevices of a broken heart. The wounded places that I cover so well. The pruning of hard seasons that I do not acknowledge left raw, opened and exposed. Lord, I do not want my heart to rot. I want to be someone known by good fruit.

Matthew 7:16-18 (ESV) You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.

Our backyard is partially cleared and on the backside of the property there are many trees. The trees that have succumbed to the fungal invasion are small. Funny, it was one of the things I liked the most about our lot. Those trees are now a detriment. We live in the South in an area prone to hurricanes. Soon, we will walk through the backyard and push on each tree to see if it is impacted by Heart Rot. The ones that are will give way under the pressure. These trees will need to be cut down and burned. Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” What kind of fruit is your life producing? We are called to live a rich, satisfying life. The only hindrance in our life is fear and doubt. Faith will always flourish. The places of insecurity or insufficiency need to be seeded with God’s Word and given careful attention. Why? Without faith, it is impossible to live a life pleasing to God. To remain in mediocrity is to stop the miraculous. To accept the ordinary is to reject the ordinary. These are the inheritances of every believer according to God’s Word. His Promises are all “yes” and “amen” according to the Spirit living in you. The only way not be blessed, prosperous and fully supplied is to somehow stop faith from producing its full potential in that area of your life. With God all things are possible if we believe. Do you believe today? Do you really believe? A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit. A diseased tree cannot bear good fruit. Lord, make me like a tree planted by living water who produces fruit in every season and leaves that do not wither or die.

Matthew 13:31-32 (ESV) He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

God has placed potential in our life that must be sown, cultivated and harvested to prosper us from the inside out. We are created to bear good fruit. He has given us the seed (His Word), the cultivator (His Spirit) and even the faith to wait on it. It is important that in our doing, serving and living for God that we do not forget to examine our heart daily. To come to the Lord and ask for forgiveness for our sin. It seems so simple yet many cannot remember the last prayer of repentance but readily remember the long list of requests. Everything I want, need, and desire are fulfilled in Christ. The only requirement is reconciling my life to His Way, Truth and allowing Him to produce life within me.

I must pay attention to my relationship to the Lord rather than getting wrapped up in religion or being right. God is God no matter who believes in Him. Jesus died for our sins and offers us the Precious Gift of Salvation whether anyone accepts it or not. The Spirit of God lives in us to be our helper whether acknowledged or not. The existence of God and His Great Love for you and me are firmly established in who He is and not what I choose. Humbling to think that even when I reject Him – God’s Love for me is secure. How have I rejected God? Anytime I choose something other than steadfast faith and confident hope in His Love. Every area of my life ruled by fear, doubt, worry, anxiety and insecurity is a place of void with a need to be filled.

When my life is fully invested in the Kingdom of God with flourishing faith and hope – it will appeal to others. The fruit of my life will feed the hungry. It will give sustenance to those who are thirsty. Bad fruit will spread like a fungus just the same. Just as many people if not more will be turned off to God by fruitless or faithless Christians each day. The efforts of Christianity become productive when faith is produced in us that others can see. The good fruit of God’s Spirit and confidence in His Love will be something worth having. It is not that I can do everything right, clean up my act or even preach a flawless gospel. It shines from the Light of His Love that has fully taken over my heart and soul. It makes me like a tree that can give good fruit in every season. To live a healthy and prosperous life full of thanksgiving and praises to God in every season knowing His Love for me is secure and so are His Promises.

Lord, I ask you to shine the Light of Your Love on the inside of me today. I am sorry for the sin that I harbor within thinking no one sees. Lord, you see it and desire to put good things in its place. Expose any unforgiveness, offense, or insecurity. Lord, I ask your Spirit to remove it and sow seeds of new faith in its place. I give my all to You again. Lord, give me a new heart and steadfast spirit in Jesus Name. Amen.

Psalm 92:12-15 (ESV) The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Half Baked

Half Baked

Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Our little grandson came for his first visit to our house. He is just over a week old. Tiny and helpless but perfect in every way. As I sat holding him inspecting every little feature as he peacefully slept in my arms. Time stood still in those moments. Everyone told me that becoming a grandparent would be a blessing but I could not fathom until now just how wonderful it is. As I continued to rock back and forth, I realized that with age and maturity experience has taught me to savor this time with him. He has wonderful godly parents who will raise him. My role is to enrich his life and enjoy every moment.

It’s funny how people mellow with age. The kitchen could wait. Laundry just fine in the hamper. The television turned off with all its incessant blaring. Just to sit in the little man’s presence while he slept brought peace to me. I imagined what it would be like when those little legs began running all around. I thought about the things we would take about and discoveries made together at Grammy and Big Poppa’s house. All this contemplation brought force by a little human who is just as imperfect in all his humanness as me yet making me a better person just knowing him for one week. I wonder what life might be like if our amazement and awe of Jesus were the same. To decide it worthwhile to sit and spend time getting to know Him, falling in love with Him, and giving up something to give the One who loves us most and best to have a place in our life and busy schedules. Honestly, in those moments, nothing else really mattered but spending time with my grandson. What if we gave up something worthless to give worthwhile time to Jesus?

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.

I do not live in regret. Shame is gone thanks to the Lord. However, I have wasted a good majority of my life on worthless endeavors. Time consuming traps by the enemy to steal precious moments that cannot be regained or relived. Thankfully, I have a promise hidden in Romans 8:28 that tells me that God takes every detail of my life into careful consideration and turns it into something good. Our spiritual life comes and goes in seasons just like our natural life. If I blink too long, my children will all be out of the nest and my grandson chasing his dreams and aspiration. Time is the only commodity once spent that cannot be reclaimed. The Work of Christ within me doesn’t necessarily add to my everyday life but extends my existence into eternity. Why not invest some of my time to the things that are valuable. Paul understood. Most of his adult life was shrouded by religion. He became a murderer for the cause. He didn’t know the Word in person just by perception. Religion had not given way to a relationship. When Saul met Jesus everything changed. Has Jesus done the same for you?

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.

To know Christ and become one with Him. Is this the relationship you desire? To love Christ and be loved by Him completely. To build your life on a faith so tangible that it becomes shelter in every storm. To have a hope so concrete that you can approach the Throne of God regularly, boldly and with absolute confidence. Me too. It is my heart’s desire. In order to make it my mission, it must be worthwhile. I must see the value and worth of the exchange of my time for more of Him. Going to church won’t do it only encourage me. Other believers are trying to find the Way, too. Pastors and preachers are human beacons yet still struggle with fleshly battles and rebellious thoughts. The Truth that is valuable for my life is God’s Word. Jesus is the Word who came wrapped in flesh. His Spirit fills me. His Right Hand extended. He is waiting for the Sword that will tear down and cut through every lie the enemy has presented me until only tangible Truth governs my life and directs my movement.

Psalm 119:33-40 (NLT) Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart. Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found. Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money! Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Reassure me of your promise, made to those who fear you. Help me abandon my shameful ways; for your regulations are good. I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness.

Everyone has the same amount of time given in a single day. We all wake up with 24 hours and choose how it will be portioned by our mind, will and emotions. I shudder when someone claims to be “too busy” and even catch myself when I try to use the excuse. Priorities are the cut marks that portion out our time. We choose what is important and what is worthy of our time. The Word of God is absolutely essential to become one with Christ as Paul describes in Philippians. Jesus is the Word. We need to know the Word of God to know Jesus intimately and completely. His Spirit uses God’s Word to seed our heart and prosper our soul. With empty hands, there is nothing for God’s Spirit – the Holy Spirit to produce His Good Fruit.

Giving our time to seek God and know Jesus in His Word empowers us with some excellent tools for godly success. Consider the following:

The Word of God

  1. Teaches me. (Vs. 33)
  2. Gives me understanding. (Vs. 34)
  3. Convicts me. (Vs. 35)
  4. Produces eagerness. (Vs. 36)
  5. Leads me to repentance. (Vs. 37)
  6. Reassures me. (Vs. 38)

7, Helps me. (Vs. 39)

  1. Renews my life. (Vs. 40)

The Word of God is absolutely vital to our vitality as believers. It requires us taking a portion of time allotted to something worthless and applying it to something worthwhile. Saul knew the Word. He knew the rules and regulations strictly enforcing the religious mandate. Everything changed when Paul met Jesus Christ who is the Word. Suddenly, the rules and regulations that once convicted him set him free to become a bright light in a dark world. Salt becomes worthless if it is not salty. What’s the point if it adds nothing to our life? (Matthew 5:13)

I Corinthians 3:20-23 (NLT) And again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; he knows they are worthless.” So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you— whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas encountered a problem. The people decided they were idols and tried to worship them. How silly right? Maybe not. When the Word of God is spoon-fed to us by speakers, preachers, pastors and teachers ONLY – it is a leftover. God has promises, blessings and hidden things that are just for you that will not come from the teaching of another. It is very easy in this age of media to listen to many great podcasts of sermons and teachings BUT the Word of God is the source of seed for our life. When I hear people quoting people and not the Word of God or more importantly Jesus Christ – there is an immediate concern. The enemy also knows the Word of God intimately. He is quite adept at twisting and turning the truth just enough to make it dangerous. If you do not know the Word personally and intimately, you will fall for his traps and snares every time. You cannot consider the message you are hearing if you have no Truth to compare it to. There is a strong warning in the Bible of false teachers. How will you know if the word you live by is from a man or God if you do not know His Word? Impossible.

Hosea 7:8-10 (NLT) “The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, making themselves as worthless as a half-baked cake! Worshiping foreign gods has sapped their strength, but they don’t even know it. Their hair is gray, but they don’t realize they’re old and weak. Their arrogance testifies against them, yet they don’t return to the Lord their God or even try to find him.”

One of the list of “to-dos” with our grandson is baking. To sit him on the counter and bake cookies and cakes together during the holidays. I cannot wait to let him lick the spoon and see his chocolate covered face. In Hosea, the prophet shares this warning, “My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.” Some translations say, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” You can know a lot about one thing or a little bit about everything, but if you do not know Jesus Christ it really doesn’t matter when time runs out. In Chapter 7 it warns that a co-mingled life can make us worthless as a “half-baked” cake. Have you ever bit into a cake or brownies that were not quite done yet? I want only the best for my family including that new little baby. God wants His Very Best for you. He detailed your life and all its possibilities in His Word. He even sent His Word to us to demonstrate His Great Love and Desire for us. Can we set aside some of our life to know the Word and fall in love with Jesus? Lord, turn my eyes from worthless things to fully engage in a worthwhile pursuit of You! I want to know You and be known by You! May I never lose the wonder of Your Word and desire to find You in it each day!

I John 1:1 (NLT) We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.

 

The Power of Discernment

The Power of Discernment

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

To be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God. What is good? What is acceptable? What is perfect? Here’s a hint. People will never lead you to perfection. It is impossible for the imperfect to go where they have not been. Maturity in Christ is an independent mission of finding completion in Him. Discernment takes knowledge of God and as it becomes our understanding it will begin to produce wisdom in our life. Wisdom is nothing more than applied knowledge. To be wise is to make choices based on sound knowledge and good understanding allowing it to change the way we think, live and speak.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6) A lack of knowledge in our natural life can cause unwanted consequences. For example, if you are not instructed that if you touch a hot stovetop that you will be burned, then when you come in contact with one that you will likely touch it and pay the consequences. Spiritual instruction is absolutely necessary to change our life from natural to supernatural outcomes. We can present ourselves as “living sacrifices” but it is discernment that keeps us aligned with God and following Jesus Christ. We need knowledge. We need understanding. We need wisdom. We need discernment. What if we have it but are not using it? Well, according to Hosea, people are destroyed because they lack…or reject godly knowledge.

I Kings 3:10-14 (ESV) It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

Solomon was the beloved son of David. David was a man after God’s Heart. Solomon following the footsteps of his father offered a sacrifice pleasing to the Lord. God came to King Solomon in a dream and asked, “What shall I give you?” The king could have asked for anything. He could have asked for riches and honor or a variety of natural desires. Solomon asked for wisdom or more importantly “understanding to discern what is right”. His request pleased the Lord and it was granted to him.

Godly wisdom and good discernment does not make us perfect. It is simply good judgment that readily discerns between good and evil. Good people are not always godly. Religious folks aren’t always godly. We are quick to follow preachers and teachers but reluctant to strike out and follow Jesus especially when He leads us out on our own. People are people. God is looking for those who desire Him above all things.

Remember when Jesus met the rich young man. (Mark 10) He called Jesus “Good Teacher” and quickly the Lord replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Discernment. Jesus was questioning the man’s knowledge and wisdom. He knew the commandments and religious rules and regulations. But did this rich young man have a relationship with God? Did he know God? Did he love Him? Did he recognize the Son of God standing before him? Well…when asked to leave this world behind, sell all his possessions and give everything away to follow Christ…he walked away. There are many people with a whole lot of head knowledge about the Lord. We need heart knowledge called discernment to change us and transform us.

I Corinthians 2:14-16 (ESV) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

We have the Mind of Christ. We must decide to adopt His Mindset and gain knowledge of who He is from God’s Word. In fact, John 1:14 tells us that Jesus is the Word of God who came to us wrapped in flesh. Without a personal working knowledge, there is no wisdom. Without wisdom, it is impossible to discern between good and evil. God is good! He is always good! His Way is always the best. To know His Way, we must know His Word and allow His Spirit to guide us.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)  Jesus is the Word. He is the only Way to God. We cannot access God through man anymore but must personally enter His Presence. To read the Word is to actively engage in the process of spiritual circumcision as the Lord removes the callous hardness applied by life to break our heart and fill it with the Light of His Love. If Jesus is your Savior and Lord, you have been given His Spirit. The Holy Spirit as you will see in the next scripture is called our “Helper”. He takes the Word of God like a surgeon to cut away the worthless and fruitless desires to give us a new life and make us a new creation just like the Lord promised to do.

John 14:25-27 (ESV) “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

The Holy Spirit is our guide. He teaches us the meaning of God’s Word. He shows us how to apply it in our life through His Gentle Nudging or not-so-easy conviction. We are free to choose our way but in order to choose THE Way – reliance on the Spirit of God in us is important. The Spirit of God aligns our heart and mind with Him. In doing so, it creates inner peace as our heart is no longer in conflict with eternity. It is in this place that God changes us and transforms us. You were not created to be like anybody. God created you to be you. There is no one else that has your potential. There is no one else that can fulfill your purpose. To know Him is to love Him but aside from His Word (Truth) and His Spirit it is not possible to be a true worshipper. Our faith is planted solely in Christ to harvest the confident hoped needed to endure to the end.

Psalm 119:65-68 (ESV) You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.

I will be the first to admit that I have asked the Lord for specific “things” and detailed outcomes more than I care to mention. All those prayers “instructing” God on what I needed, wanted, desired or thought that He should do. God’s Word tells us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But then, I have had many pastors and teachers instruct me to tell God exactly what I want and to pray in specifics. This is where the power of discernment works in our life.

I find that when I pray for “God’s Will” to be done – I have greater success in accomplishing peace in my life. Thinking of all those times I thought I knew what was best, but the Lord had something better in mind. There is nothing wrong with praying for specific things but it is better to seek the Will and Way of God. His Hope never leads to disappointment. His Way never comes up short. His Promises always produce fulfillment and full satisfaction. His Economy is abundance. God is good. His Love unfailing. His Goodness always pursuing me. I must simply know Him and love Him to have it all.

Today, my prayer is simple. “Lord, teach me good judgment and knowledge. I desire discernment. To see people, situations, and opportunities through Your Eyes and consider each with the Mind of Christ. This is my heart’s desire to be a living sacrifice and live a life acceptable to You, Lord.”

Proverbs 16:20-22 (ESV) Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.

Under One Roof

Under One Roof

Ephesians 1:23 (NLT) And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

There is something about having our children together under one roof. Even though there is chaos to just be together enriches my soul and fills my heart to overflowing capacity. Last night, we have the privilege of our oldest daughter spending the night with us. Sitting around the table at a local Mexican restaurant, the girls were chatting and my husband had that look. The smile that effortlessly creeps across his face when his girls are with him. There is something about daddies and their little girls. Even though the group around the table are far from small anymore. Our oldest daughter is great with child in her last trimester of pregnancy. Our middle daughter graceful and beautiful even in a t-shirt, athletic shorts and hair put up in a messy bun has become a woman right in front of us. Where has time gone? In a week, our baby girl, the last to join our large family will be driving a car as her fifteenth birthday comes and goes. God has blessed us with this group. Our boys are now men building families and careers. How does it all happen so quickly? I cherish these moments and times like this when I can enjoy these kids that once had me running in five different directions.

Two people came together with the commitment to love each other no matter what. Now close to twenty years later, look what love has done. It wasn’t always easy. We are a blended family. My new husband and I brought a handful home from the church on our wedding day. God took two empty lives and filled them to capacity with love. There were days when the commitment to God and each other held us all together. He did it. Now our next generation will soon arrive. The connection of family is important. It is worth the cost of love, grace and forgiveness that is required. How often we allow insignificant things to breach the bond that God has instituted? Thoughtless words or careless actions cause offense to root in human hearts as pride tells us that we somehow in our imperfection still deserve better. Families have been under attack since the first one was created in Genesis. We belong to individual families; but it is only a fragment of our true family.

The Body of Christ is a family or at least it is supposed to resemble one. With many members, there is but one unified body that should work together to be unified. I wonder if it brings the Father the same joy it brings my husband when all of his “kids” work together, enjoy each other, share with one another, and long to be together. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Our family doesn’t always enjoy peaceful harmony. My girls can be arguing over a borrowed shirt one minute and helping each other pick out tomorrow’s fashion statement the next. But let another person come against one of my children, and you must contend with the tribe. They will circle wagons and turn on you with a vengeance. There are little insecurities in the heart of our youngest at the thought of a new baby arriving soon. She has always been the baby. She sometimes feels forgotten as we gush over movement in our daughter’s belly or talk about when the little man arrives. It is foolish to think she would lose her place among us but in her heart it is real. These are little things the Family of God encounters although the Word of God says that we are “made full and complete by Christ.”

Romans 12:9-10 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Love is a commitment. I have tried to vehemently express this to each of my children in their relationships and preparing one day to be married. Love as the world knows it is not real love. It is based on emotions and feelings. It requires reciprocation. It is conditional. God’s Love for us and in us is not like that. It is defined as “patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Love never fails.

To “love with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other” takes hard work, motivation and concentration. You can fall in love but you will not remain in love without a commitment to love. God is love. Our identity in God must be characteristic of love to unite the family of God as instructed. Not just to love the lovable, but to love our enemies as well. It is a pure and true love based on how God loves us not how people do. Romans 12 begins with a plea to give our life as a “living sacrifice” and then goes on to tell us to love each other, honor each other and bless one another and more…

Romans 12:14-18 (NLT) Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

The Christ in us allows us to love others unconditionally. There is freedom in such love because it casts out all fear. The fear that breeds insecurity. The kind that allows unbelief to flourish in doubt and choke out the new faith that is growing inside of us. We are to be a representation of Jesus Christ to others. We must not expect others to be our Savior or allow them to reign as Lord. This is evidenced in our ability to love and be loved despite human imperfection, betrayal, and offense never allowing bitterness to disturb the newfound love growing in us as our relationship with Christ makes us one.

Ephesians 2:4-6 (NLT) Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. My body houses the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God who identifies me as His Child. The same Spirit that unites me with every other living breathing human who God created with purpose and promise. He is Father to us all. The Spirit lives in those who have taken their place in God’s Family by a choice to be reconciled to the family. Estrangement from God because of sin gives way to reconciliation by accepting Christ to be our Savior. His Grace is enough to give us access to the Kingdom and our rightful place in the Body of Christ. We are all unique. There is no competition and God has no favorites. Our desire to be one with Christ which leads to repentance keeps us unified with His Body that completes us so that we can give our life away recklessly. This allows us to take on the Character of Jesus Christ who is humble, gentle, patient, and forgiving. This is not a human trait. Pride hates these attributes and fights to reject them in our life. It is His Spirit who allows us to become like the Lord by producing good fruit in fertile and broken hearts.

As I mentioned before, though my children may bicker and pick on each other, if anyone comes against them they instantly become a unified front. A few years ago, while I was caring for our son who was undergoing cancer treatment, I got a call from my oldest daughter. Someone was bullying her younger sister in middle school and she was really mad. She called to tell me that she was on her way to confront the girl and do something that were less godly to her. I reminded her that she would be arrested for assault but at that moment she did not care. She continued to vent while I listened with a grin on my face. Someone was picking on her sister and she was ready to fight. She finally calmed down and chose only to stare the girl down. The bully and my daughter are still friends today.

What would happen if the Body of Christ became protective of relationships? What if we decided to become one family? I live in the South. There are churches on every corner, in just about every strip mall, and even small groups in homes. Why so many? There are some churches being planted, but it seems that most of them are products of disagreement. Someone gets upset and spreads their discontentment. People choose sides and suddenly a molecular split occurs. I cannot imagine how this breaks the heart of God who gave His Son, His Only Son, to bring His Children back under one roof.

We must make the decision to agree. To find common ground in Christ, and stop being led by emotions and feelings contradictory to those given to us by His Spirit. Just like a family, the Body of Christ must make the commitment to stop allowing fear, insecurity and offense to be the guidelines for their life and overcome them with the Love of God that gets rid of such nonsense. There will be disagreements. There will be hurt feelings, disappointments, unmet expectations and failed attempts in human relationships. When we allow the Love of God to be our response rather than reacting to the imperfection of humans it will produce the kind of love that will produce unity in the Body of Christ once again.

Is your family coming home for the holidays? Will all of your children gather around the Christmas tree? I find no greater joy than when our family is able to worship together in the House of God. Imagine what the Father would experience if all of His Children gathered together under one roof labeled Jesus Christ. Choosing to put aside personal feelings and accept perfect love, joy and peace from our Living Breathing Source of Life and Hope. It would change the impact of the church. Functioning as one body, the church would become effective. Salt would become salty again. The Light would reach the darkest corners of the lost and dying world. Imagine the Glory that would pour out in our services when Jesus was the Center of it all. Last night my husband slept like a baby, just the thought of all his girls under one roof. He woke up with the same look on his face. I wonder if the Father smiles when we get it together…of course, He does!

Psalm 133 (NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

In the Weeds

IN the Weeds

Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Hate is a learned behavior born of insecurity and fear. As believers, the only real and true enemy is satan. Children are born with hearts of acceptance. They do not understand the inherent dangers in life and so God gives them parents to love and protect them. Being of an imperfect nature, it is easy for us to teach our children the morals and ethics of our life molded by our experience rather an encounter with God’s Love. Jesus says, “Love your enemies” and “bless those who curse you”. As if that is not enough, we are to pray for those who spitefully or intentionally use us and even those who persecute us becoming a thorn in soft flesh. Why? So we may be Kingdom Kids who live in alignment with their Father and His Kingdom. Tough one. High calling for sure.

How do we love the people who abuse, betray, hurt, and use us? Where do we find the capacity to ward off offenses, ignore bad intentions, and keep the penetrating darts of gossip and slander penetrate a heart softening in the Hand of God? God doesn’t allow us to ignore them. We are to love them. Pray for them. Accept them with forgiveness no matter how many times they continually mistreat us. I know what you are thinking today. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Or maybe, it’s God doesn’t want me to be anyone’s doormat. The all-time best is I can forgive them but it doesn’t mean I have to let them hurt me again. Well…

He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Evil is not a character trait of human beings. People are born with eternity in every heart. Each given a measure of faith like seeds to sow in life. Everyone. Even the person who is causing you pain and strife. God loves and desires them just as He does you. Evil is cultivated from sin and sinful desires that take over but are like a sickness or disease that can be removed by the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ. Which means every person has potential and God is constantly showering all of us with “fresh rain” in the hope that faith would grow and eternity would break through the hardest of hearts growing into a fruitful relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NKJV) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Peter asked the pointed question, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” I wonder if we ask the Lord the same question. The answer is more than anyone can conceive in the natural. True forgiveness as God forgives us is born of grace. Grace is enough. God’s Grace given to us is the river from which our ability to accept apologies and restore relationships come from. When our expectation is in the Lord, it becomes our profound privilege to extend to others the same grace that has been given to us. I didn’t say it was easy only that it is possible. The Kingdom of God is all about relationship. Not only a right relationship with God but all of His People even those still living in sin and darkness.

True love is unconditional. True love waits while others catch on or catch up. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Is this truly the kind of love that is required of Children of God in every situation? Yes…it is. The model of prayer presented by Jesus to His Disciples does not suggest it but requires it in order to be forgiven and fully accepting God’s Grace. God will not give us anything that does not promote generosity in us. Seed reproduces. Good seed produces a harvest of good deeds that give honor and glory to God. Love is the greatest of the Fruit of His Spirit and the first step in achieving our purpose in the Lord and prospering in this life.

Matthew 13:24-30 (NKJV) Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

We must sow good seed in our life. Seed produces of the Holy Spirit and not unmet expectation. The Kingdom is comprised of men and women who as daily disciples strive to sow and grow godliness in their life. Any seed not of God is produced from fear, insecurity and doubt that God’s Power is enough and His Authority somehow compromised. It is human nature to experience such emotions. It is the Power of God working in each one of us to remove them.

The enemy will constantly sow weeds in our field. He is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy every good thing that the Lord is producing in our life. He is methodical in his approach. Ruthless in every attack. There is no compassion for his victim. We are God’s People who live in His Love and Compassion for others. His Directive is clear. We are not to uproot the weeds. It is not our job to kill them. We grow right along with them. Why? It is God’s Eternal Hope that one day the rain will touch their heart and the seed of faith and promise of eternity will grow from within in them as it does in you.

John 13:34-35 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I have recently been studying the differences between followers of Jesus and disciples of Jesus. There is a marked difference. Followers are led by their feelings and disciples are led by their future. Public opinion can influence the objective of a follower and offense cause them to be distracted and detoured in life. If you desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, love must be the premise of your life. Not just any kind of love, but the love received from the Father through the Son. Love that sacrifices its feelings for a future hope far greater them temporary circumstances. A fruitful life that continues to cultivate grace when surrounded by weeds. The kind of life that does not walk by sight but faith continually overcoming daily assaults and attacks by the enemy in an effort to kill our faith by producing fear, anxiety, worry and the worst of them insecurity. Love is relational. To love requires interaction. It is the overwhelming compassion of Jesus Christ who tells us to there is no great love than to lay our life down for a friend. To be a friend to all who are around us unaffected by their inability to show love and kindness in return. The only root to be removed is bitterness. By this ALL WILL KNOW that you are my disciple, if you have love for one another.

I will be honest this is a challenge for me with a handful of people. I am not speaking from a place of innocence but a daily struggle to love others including those who don’t love me. Those who have hurt me. Those who talk about me. I do so with this promise from the Lord – perfect love casts out all fear. God’s Love for me is enough. His Grace is sufficient for me. I must accept His Love and Grace in full measure to extend it to those around me and be His Disciple.

I John 4:17-19 (NKJV) Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.

Fake Plants

Artificial Plants

John 15:5 (NKJV) “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 

I am a natural born plant killer. When I walk through a garden center or nursery, all the little plants shake in fear that they will be fatefully selected. My thumb is a dark and ominous shade of black. Thank the Lord that I am much better at raising children and pets than the unsuspecting houseplant. About the only safe plant I own would be the one that is planted in our yard where my husband can take care of it. I am not a fan of artificial plants with all the vivid and perfect greenery. I have one little tree in the corner of the house given to me by my mother. It really is beginning to look sad after years of being dusted and vacuumed. Little hands tugging at the fronds. Now a huge puppy who likes to nibble running by. It cannot experience new life and regrowth because it is plastic created in a factory made to look good but produce nothing.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” An illustration of new life, growth, maturity and productivity available by engraftment. The cutting away of our flesh sounds painful and brutal. Engrafting allows us to grow from a new source. In horticulture, it means to insert one tree or plant into another for the purpose of multiplication. The Kingdom of God operates on the principle of sowing and reaping. We sow our life into Jesus Christ. He produces the Kingdom through us. Planting is the pathway of productivity ordained by God. Whatever you plant, you will harvest. You cannot harvest what you do not plant.

“He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  

The Fruit of the Spirit are clearly identified in Galatians 5:22-23 as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” But many times, this is not the natural expectation of new or young believers. They come to Christ desiring the things naturally occurring rather than supernaturally produced. It’s only natural. However, to truly flourish and prosper is to live IN Christ. Give up our way of doing things to live disciplined lives hence He produces self-control in us that allows us to truly repent and turn from our old way of life to fully embrace His Gift of new life.

John 15:1-4 (NKJV) “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. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

Walking through the local Ace, looking for my next victim. Just kidding, I was actually trying to find a crepe myrtle tree for the yard so botanist and horticulturists can put their mind at ease. It was hot and humid outside but then a steady midst of cool water made me look up. All around the covered area a PVC irrigation system periodically watered all the potted plants. The plants will survive in this environment until they are rescued and put in the ground. Once in the ground, the fertile soil will begin to give the plant or tree the nutrients it needs to begin to sprout new growth. The roots will anchor it down so wind and rain will not be a threat. It will be watered from the ground to the sky and all around as natural and man cooperate to produce an environment conducive to growth and prosperity. What was once limited to a contained environment will hopefully begin to grow, develop and mature. God is inviting us to enter the prosperity process of growth but it requires being moved out of the limitations of our natural life and planting ourselves in His Presence. I access such a place through His Son, Jesus Christ. He washed us in the Word. The Word made flesh is Jesus. Now we have true growth potential but we must endure the growth process to actually prosper.

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.

Reading some commentary on this passage, I came across a new term. It shook me to my core rattling my roots if you will. Pseudo-believer or false believer. Yikes! How is this even possible? Do I truly believe? Am I growing in Christ or producing a bunch of leaves without fruit? Here is the danger of religion versus relationship exposed as a warning to those who follow Christ. If I do what the Word of God tells me to do, my life will become productive. I will experience increase because I am sowing good seed…God seed. It will do what is sent forth to do in spite of me. God is good. He wants to bless us. Obedience produces blessing and prosperity in our life. Any part of my life partnered with God’s Word will begin to experience a radical change and dramatic shift not because I did anything but when I plant and water with the Word – God gives increase. However, it is possible to walk with Christ but not live in Christ. Prime example – Judas. He was one of the twelve. He heard every word spoken by Jesus, experienced every sign, wonder and miracle with the others and even walked in the Presence of the Living God but did not believe. If I do what the Word says but do not fall in love with Jesus Christ, I can experience a pseudo-relationship called religion. If I fall in love with Jesus Christ and do my best to follow His Teachings and allow His Spirit to produce His Fruit in my life – I am redeemed. I will live in Christ. I will become a true believer worshipping in Spirit and Truth. I will not be separated from Him in the end.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I John 5:2-4 (NKJV) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

The word “yoke” is the device that joins two or more work animals so that they work together. Jesus invites us to take His Yoke upon us and partner with Him in this life. I must give up my way to go His Way. The promise is that His Yoke is easy and His Burden is light. This does not mean that life is easy and becoming a new creation is not without its struggles, sorrows and suffering because the death of our flesh and old way of thinking is often painful. But when we love God, live in Christ, and strive to keep His Commandments – His Spirit cultivates growth in our relationship. We do things every day out of responsibility. Some relationships such as that with our co-workers is born of responsibility. There are things we do to maintain that relationship because it is our job, duty or responsibility. However, when we yoke our life to Jesus and decide to live in love with Him first, all other responsibilities become His Responsibilities. He takes the lead. It is His Yoke. His Burden. We can have peace that the process is prosperous without worrying, stressing, or fretting about it. We do not have to fear the outcome but simply wait on it. God gets no glory in our death but His Glory shines in our success.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV) For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Are you rooted and grounded in His Love today? Does Christ dwell in your heart? Do you abide in Him today? Fake faith and artificial growth produce nothing but disappointment. It may bring some momentary happiness and temporary blessings but just a fake plant fades with time so will our satisfaction. Sometimes it is easier to take up the responsibilities of religion and do the right thing rather than allowing Jesus to be completely and totally responsible for our life. I cannot become the new creation that He promised and have the rich and satisfying life marked by abundance if I do not surrender my life to Jesus. My heart must bear the Fruit of His Spirit first to live in love with Him. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us. Jesus lives in us. We must focus first on cultivating our relationship with the Lord in order to experience the prosperity and success promised as our soul prospers. Without a prospering soul, our flesh will never be satisfied with the productivity of our life. Jesus is the One who satisfies our soul.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV) Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Tiny Treasures

Tiny Treasures

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

I have many masterpiece designs made by my little artists over the years. Carefully wrapped in newsprint and bubble wrap, hidden in the guest room, they are precious treasures to me. Preparing for our move last year, I held them in my hand carefully wrapping each one. I labeled each box “fragile” and made sure they were transported in my car. We are fragile clay jars. (Job 33:6) Produced from clay, by the Potter, yet far from finished from completion. (Isaiah 64:8) The work of the potter’s hands begins with a lump of clay thrown unceremoniously on a wheel. Water is added to soften the mound. The potter takes his hands and begins to firmly knead the clay working the water through it and making it pliable in his hands. He presses hard with all his strength to eliminate all the air bubbles inside. It is a rigorous process. But if any of those pockets remain when the final work is placed in the kiln exposed to great heat – it will crack or worse explode. Oh Lord, remind me today that I am only clay. A masterpiece in the potter’s hand who just happens to be my Father.

Ephesians 2:9-10 (NLT) Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

There are other little art creations tucked away. The kids and I used to go to the local ceramic store in the summer or when visiting my family. A “pick-and-paint” operation filled with shelves of different items to choose from then with a wide assortment of colorful paint create a bowl, cup or little boxes. Once complete, the shop would put them in the kiln bringing the color to life. I love those little pieces and the memories they hold, yet do not prize them as I do all the little clay pieces. Could it be the time invested? Or maybe because the clay pieces were the individual work of each child rather than one simply painted?

Growth in God may seem like complete destruction. Well, if God’s Plan and Purpose is the true desire of my heart – it will be the complete undoing of my heart. God has a plan and purpose for my life – He promises that it contains a future and hope. It is blessed. It must be broken. I cannot maintain my present form and be the masterpiece that Lord has called me to be. I must become a new creation.  A new person. A seed must die to its present form to become the potential hidden inside. We must die to our present form to become that new creation and let God’s Light shine from us.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (NKJV) Substance…what is the substance of our life? Our bodies are molded and shaped of clay or so the Bible says. God scooped up some earth and made a human being. Our physical being is terminal. From the day of our arrival – our death is one day closer. This is not a morbid reality just a bit of mortal truth. Our potential is locked inside of us. God put eternity in our heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) He labeled it a “measure of faith”. (Romans 12:3) It comes wrapped in the promise that the Lord will make all things beautiful in its time. Romans 8:28 ensures us that He will use every detail for our good and His Glory. God is working the substance of our life. He is kneading us. Pressing out the impurities, filling us with His Grace, and shaping us into the new creation He promised. He needs only one thing from us. It is not what you may think.

Psalm 37:3-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

The invisible link between faith and hope is trust. We must trust the Lord enough to endure the process of our undoing and remaking in the Potter’s Hands. If our desire is to know Him, serve Him, find Him and live in His Presence – we must do so with the understanding that God does not lie or change His Mind. Though favorable for us, it will not allow us to remain the same while inching closer to Him each day. We must be changed by the grace that saved us into the masterpiece that He calls us. To change in our appearance but not in our substance puts us in danger of becoming like the Pharisees. Doing and saying all the right things, but never becoming the new person changed by faith, trust and confident hope. Instead, we are simply “white-washed tombs”, (Matthew 23) The Blood of the Lamb washes us white from the inside out. Not the other way around, The Lord doesn’t want perfect Christians with hard hearts. No, He wants new creations who are soft and responsive to know and become one with His Heart.

To live for Christ and become one with Him will never allow for me to remain the same. I must submit to the process of applied pressure that works the measure of faith hidden in my heart to become the Light-Conducive vessel that breaks through the darkness of this world. I have a purpose. It is hidden inside my very human heart. The more my heart breaks – the more evident it becomes day by day. I am not called to strong, but completely broken so that the Lord can do what He planned from the beginning before I was born when He recorded it from my mother’s womb as He knit me together there. (Psalm 139) Trust allows me to commit every detail of my life to the Lord and become yoked to Him. (Matthew 11) I don’t have to worry about tomorrow or the troubles I find in this day or the next. The future is no longer a concern.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NLT) We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

I know that I will be pressed, but trust the Lord not to allow me to be crushed. I may be persecuted, but I trust the Lord to never abandon me but stay right beside me. I know that I will not understand it all, but that’s okay because I can trust God at His Word. The enemy can hunt me down and draw a huge target on my back, but the Lord is my strength and shield and I can trust Him. Though struck down by insecurity, fear and even doubt, I trust the Lord to never let me fall and keep me from stumbling. I trust Him at His Word. It is all that I have to go on. It must be enough. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped up in flesh. Trusting His Father through this life, to be tortured and killed on a Cross, but it did not stop there. He marched through the fiery depths of the hottest hell to take my life from the enemy’s hand and deliver it back to me when Jesus came back just three days later. My faith must grow into absolute confidence in the hope that I have been given so that when I am tested and tried by the fire called refinement, I will not be destroyed but exhibit the Power of God given to me by His Grace. Faith, trust and confident hope are essential in becoming the person who God calls His Masterpiece. It is not a pleasant process all the time, but I can find joy in it each day.

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Thinking about the tiny treasures tucked away in the box marked “fragile”, I cannot help but wonder if God thinks of us the same way. How precious it must be when we trust Him and submit to the process and pressure as evidence of trust? How happy the Lord must be when we decide to let Him work that measure of faith into a something of substance so that we become the Light of the World no longer hidden in darkness? Oh how the Lord treasures us even in our present broken and imperfect state as He whispers from the potter’s house, “Come and let me finish this great work that is within you.” Let me mold and shape your life into the Masterpieces that I created you to be. Jesus wants to complete me today… and you, too. He longs to work His Love, Grace and Mercy through us so His Love can radiate from us. I hear His Calling and I answer with my heart, “Lord, I am coming.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

 

Dead Seed

dead-seed

Psalm 126:5-6 (NLT) Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

When the messengers of the Lord came to visit Abraham, he was an elderly man. Well past the years of successful producing the sons and daughters promised to him by the Lord. Abraham had faith in the Lord but he was also realistic. He knew his wife was well past her childbearing years as well. He even was so bold to joke with God. “Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is 99 years old?” Abraham even went so far as to give God an out. “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!”

How many times does this happen to us in life? God gives us a promise like a seed in our hand. We sow it by faith into our heart and wait for it. When the wait is too long and everything dies all around it – it is human nature to give up. Abraham was to be the father of many nations but all he had was an illegitimate son. A son born of compromise not trust. In Abraham’s desperation to achieve God’s Promise, He asked God to go back on His Word and change His Mind, His Plan. He might as well have said, “Your Kingdom come, my will be done in Heaven as it is on earth.”

Dead seeds still contain the full potential that God placed in them. There are some religious doctrines that teach of the Perfect Plan of God. This is true. It deviates from the truth when it implies that sin keeps us from every achieving it. God’s Perfect Plan includes the exact amount of grace needed for every dream to come to pass and our expectation to be fully met. Is there a promise in your life that you have given up on? A dead seed buried in the cold dark ground still yet to grow despite careful nurturing.

Genesis 18:9-14 (NLT) “Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked. “She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied. Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’  Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

I must be completely honest. If a messenger of the Lord told me that I would have a baby at 50 years of age, it would probably require a visit to the local behavioral health center. My children are almost grown. Three out of the nest, one will graduate next year and our baby almost in high school. I see the finish line in the distance. I cannot imagine a pregnancy at the age of 99. I don’t even really comprehend breathing at that time. Sarah laughed to herself. Her comments were valid. “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure…” The Lord’s Response is valid. “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” If nothing is impossible for those who believe it seems that the missing element must be faith.

Hebrews 11:11-12 (NLT) It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

Sarah did have a child when she was barren and too old. She believed that God would keep His Promise. Do you? What is that thing that you were once so confident would happen that is now a dead dream buried in a wasteland? What is the promise that you have given up on? The seed is not dead. It requires only one thing to grow into the Promise of God. It’s called faith. Faith is the resurrection power that brings dead things to life. One man who was as good as dead produced a nation with so many people that there is no way to count them. Imagine the potential of your seemingly dead but only dormant seed.

Hebrews 11:17-19 (NLT) It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

Faith is acquired through sacrifice. The sacrificial seed is the hardest to press into the soil and leave in God’s Hands. For many years, I believed that I had faith in God. There were many instances when I tried a little faith here and there. It worked every time. But I was only offering God my faith in pieces. There is a real difference between seeds of sacrifice and seeds of offering. Offerings to God are what we choose to give. Sacrifice is to give Jesus Christ our all. I prayed for more faith. I sang all the worship songs about it. I prayed for it. I pursued it. Oh boy did I find it!

Our life was prospering in just about every way possible. The Favor of God evident in every tangible way and spiritually as well. I felt so blessed. I was thankful. We were obediently following Christ in every conceivable way. Life was good. When our son fell ill, I really didn’t think too much about it. He was a college student in the cesspool called university living. However, as he continued to have symptoms I became concerned. It was time to get in mom mode and get involved in his adult life, the medical team needed a little motivation. This would be the turning point of the “good life”. Within 24 hours, he was diagnosed with Stage III – IV cancer.

The night of his diagnosis, I locked myself in a filthy bathroom to go to war for my son. I charged into the Presence of God demanding an answer for such an intrusion and requested a cure. I spouted every word contrary to the attack on his body and reminded God of His Promises for us. I did everything I knew to do until I could barely whisper. God asked just one thing of me, “Do you trust me?” Of course, I did. Where had He been for the last decade of my life? Didn’t He recognize all the changes in our life? Didn’t He consider our commitment to Him? Didn’t He know that I loved Him? Why would He ask such a question? He whispered in that still small voice, “Lori, do you trust me?” “Yes Lord, I do!” He gave me a promise that night that “our son would live and not die.”

When God speaks – it is loud and clear. Through the test and trials of life, it is often human nature to entertain the other voices around us more than the still small voice inside of us. We get caught up in conversation and tangled in useless lies the enemy uses to call us from faith to doubt and disbelief. When the first course of treatment seemed to work, celebration broke out but was short-lived. By the third relapse, things took a turn. The doctors told us that he had entered the realm of hope. They were uncertain if they could cure our son with chemotherapy.

The cancer cells in his body were smart. When chemotherapy was introduced, they would go into a state of dormancy. As soon as chemo cleared his system, they would come raging back stronger and faster than ever before. The cancer formed when he contracted the Epstein-Barre virus but his immune system did not detect it. It formed a tumor. The tumor released cells into his system. These are not dumb cells but can decipher DNA. If one of my children has a virus and it spreads to another family member – such as a sibling – the symptoms and duration are generally worse because the virus picked up on the genetic code and improved its attack. Viruses mutate from carrier to carrier. With this in mind, with each dormancy, his cancer grew stronger as it was learning his DNA growing stronger and more resistant each time.

It was ultimately determined that our last chance would be a bone marrow transplant. This procedure is life threatening to a human who has never had chemotherapy. With each round received prior to transplant, it is more and more dangerous. When our son was finally approved for treatment, he had received five rounds of extensive chemotherapy. The clinical studies only showed a handful of people who survived the transplant. The choice was die from cancer or take the monumental risk of death by transplant to be one of the 2% who survived. I turned to Abraham. I had to put my son on the altar and trust the Lord to save Him. I would have been a fool not to consider the fact that God very well could have taken him, too.

This is when faith is evaluated on the most granular level. When there is nothing else to put our hope in but the Lord. When faith is the only solution offered to the test and trail before us. Faith is never accomplished standing on the dock waiting on the Lord, but when He says come jumping in over our head. I would have never offered my son or any one of my children or even my husband to the Lord willingly. I had to do it faithfully.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The most important factor in sowing and reaping supernaturally is faith. I cannot force the Hand of God or break the Heart of God to bend or shape Him to my will. I must trust Him. I must shove that thing I want to hang on the most into the ground and wait for Him to do the rest. Faith relinquishes control of our life, body, mind, will and emotions to the Power of God to mold it and shape it according to His Plan. Trusting that He is good. His Word is true. His Love is constant. His Grace is sufficient. His Power complete. The price of that is the seed called self. I must plant myself in Jesus Christ. Pride forfeited and heart completely broken is when His Power works the best.

Romans 4:16-24 (NLT)  So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 

Have you done everything you know to do to make your dream a reality? Have you tired just about everything to make God’s Promise a reality? Are you tired? Discouraged? Just about to give up? Your dream is not dead. It is dormant. It is waiting for you to introduce faith. God will take every seed entrusted to Him wrapped in faith and carried by confident trust to Him and make to grow into the Promise that He gave you. His Word says so. Abraham and Sarah testify to it. You cannot claim faith if you, your hands or ability have anything at all to do with it. Being right is not the same as righteousness. Nothing “I” do, good or bad, changes the productivity of the potential placed inside me by God. His Grace is enough. But until I realize that His Power works in weakness dreams will lie dormant and all hope seems lost. The moment I decide to entrust my life to Jesus Christ…all of it… and wrap every seed planted in my life in faith…God’s Work begins to produce the good things and great visions that He promised. How’s your faith today? If you think you can still do something to make your dream a reality, you’re not quite there yet? It is the realization that apart from Jesus I can do nothing that His Power is perfected in us. No seed is ever wasted. This is according to God’s Promise in Romans 8:28 that says He makes good of every detail of our life. Those missed opportunities are actually scheduled for the future when faith takes over. Those dead dreams are vivid reality when His Grace is enough. Nothing is wasting when faith becomes our foundation.

Romans 3:22 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

 

 

Life in the Light

life-in-the-light

Psalm 84:10-12 (NLT) A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.

According to The American Heritage Science Dictionary, “our living language” is photosynthesis. Almost all life on earth depends on food made by organisms that can perform photosynthesis. These organisms make carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water using light energy from the sun. The energy is captured from different wavelengths of light once absorbed facilitate the process. As a plant reacts to the light, it will use the energy to break down water molecules into oxygen, hydrogen and electrons. This is called cellular respiration. Cellular respiration refers to the metabolic reactions that produce energy. All living creatures must have successful cellular respiration to live. Our blood operates on a similar system.

Although never much of a science fan, I managed retain the process called photosynthesis maybe to use in this reference. Thinking about this process, I wondered if people needed the light in similar fashion as plants, algae and bacteria, etc. Sure enough, science adds humans to the list as well. Plants produce the oxygen used in human respiration. Vitamin D from the sun is needed to absorb calcium for healthy bones. Light allows us to see as it reflects in our eyes. It allows us to differentiate color. Scientists now believe without life there would be no you. Not to mention if there were no sun, the earth would be very cold and uninhabitable. If we do not agree on another point, it is safe to say that everyone concurs that human beings need sunlight to survive.

Genesis 1:1-4 (NLT) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness.

The creation of light was the first recorded words of God, “Let there be light.” There was light. The first miracle recording if you will but nevertheless important even if was only God and His Spirit that witnessed it. God spoke and something happened. Light is important to all growth naturally and spiritually in life. God also thought it important to separate light and darkness. He called the light “good”. There is a clear line drawn in the Word of God between darkness and light. It bears noting. It is worth remembering. As we sow and reap in life, the light is important. It is necessary to grow things in our life. It is essential and the one thing that science and theology agree on. Not necessarily where light originate but that it is vital to growth and survival.

The Lord God is our sun. When a seed is planted into fertile soil and then nurtured, it dies to former state and begins to grow upward. What is it looking for? Light. Even potatoes that grow under the ground, produce leaves above the ground to absorb the sunlight and facilitate photosynthesis. What about seeds sown in the human heart? Do we need the Light to survive? Of course, we do. Light is representative of Jesus Christ. To sow naturally, sun produces a process of cellular respiration that repeats itself. It releases energy or growth potential in every cell of the organism using it to perpetuate life. In spiritual sowing, the Son is the Light vital to producing a new life and making us the new creations that He promised. As we die to self, the Light of His Love becomes our life source.

John 3:19-21 (NLT) And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

Judgment, ultimately life or death, is determined by this one thing. God’s Light came into the world. His Name is Jesus Christ. People loved the darkness more than the Light. Those who do what is right come to the Light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. Well, there you have it. No splitting hairs or gray areas, just two distinctive choices. Do I live in the Light of God’s Love? Do I prefer darkness and sin? No one can achieve a sinless state. Grace is sufficient for the removal of sin and recreation of our life in Christ. There is no possible way to earn the Gift of Eternal Life. We must choose to live in the Presence of God and the Person of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

The seed planted in our heart is salvation. The saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that starts a process deep under the thick layers of our hard heart breaking new ground. The Holy Spirit waters the Word in our heart enabling it grow within in us. As the Word of God grows roots, it seeks the Light more and more. Faith is convinced that the Light that cannot be seen is worth having so it pushes through the touch spots, dry seasons, and hopeless situations to find more of His Light. The Light is the Presence of God. In order to grow deep roots in Jesus Christ, it must be our full motivation in life.

A plant in a pot is limited to the size of its container. The roots cannot grow beyond the barrier of the pot. It is subject to those who move it around. Others must water it, or give it access to sunlight. If forgotten in the cold, it becomes subject to the natural elements. However, a plant in the ground can grow according to its conditions. The roots are deeper and more secure. It can change according to the seasons. The rain will water it. The sun shines on it. It will grow under the right conditions far larger and stronger than the plant limited to a pot.

You are a new creation. When you decided to love the Light more than darkness, you planted yourself in Jesus Christ. This is not salvation. Salvation is the seed of change. It must be planted in the person of Jesus Christ to have unlimited potential including a future and hope. This is the decision to call Jesus our Lord. No longer calling on Him to come to us, our life is committed to allowing our roots to grow down in Him. To let our lives be built on Him. Our faith will grow as the Truth rises up within us. Christ is the fullness of God available to us when we are committed to life in His Presence. This is not a religious practice, but to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Psalm 37:5-7 (NLT) Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

I am completed by my union with Jesus Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. My union with Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, is essential to spiritual productivity in my life. I must believe that He is the head over every ruler, authority and power. Faith releases trust just as photosynthesis releases oxygen. A plant takes carbon dioxide, the waste of human respiration, using it to produce oxygen which is vital to the survival of all living things. Every cell of a plant must be committed to this process for it to survive. Every cell of the human body must participate in respiration to live. However, our body is still born dying. It is spiritual resuscitation that produces future and hope that delivers us from the natural to become supernatural. It requires commitment to be still in the Presence of the Lord rather than running back and forth into and out of the darkness. We must wait patiently while God through Jesus Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit grows spiritual fruit within us. If a farmer continually plants seeds, digs them up and replants them somewhere else because they failed to grow overnight, he will never have a harvest. To reap requires waiting, watching and believing. Are you willing to wait? It is a must in all growth processes even with God.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Still not convinced? Many believe that the sufficiency of grace allows them to conduct business as usual, but are quickly discouraged when their life does not yield the fruit and favor of God’s Word. You reap what you sow. Sowing God’s Word in our heart without seeking to live in His Presence is to commit robbery. It defies the very law of sowing and reaping. You are planting seeds of faith without a desire or taste for spiritual fruit. We can thank the prosperity gospel and its false teachers for this problem in the church.

Let’s go back to the beginning, in Genesis God, His Spirit and His Word existed. In John 1, they are clearly defined. The Word existed in Genesis 1. The Word was with God, part of God, and in God. God created everything through His Word. The Word gave life to everything. “His” life brought light to everyone. “His” now the word is personified and no longer just a noun. It has taken on a form. The Light shines in the darkness.

John 1:10-14 (NLT) He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

The Word is Jesus Christ. His Presence is all that is needed to become complete lacking no good thing in our life. He was from the beginning. He is the One through which everything and will be in the End. Our life begins and ends in Christ alone. If we do not understand the importance of light in our life and choose to live in it, we choose darkness. Church participation is not required but it enhances our knowledge and allows us to share the Light of His Love with others. Grace is sufficient. Like photosynthesis, every dead thing in our life submitted to Christ and nailed to the Cross will be exchanged for something better even our good. Every detail is subject to change in the Presence of God basking in the Light of His Love. We are free to choose our dwelling place. The Presence of God requires faith, trust, commitment and new mercy every day. Those who choose such a life and devote themselves to living in His Presence will experience God’s Glory.

Ephesians 5:8-14 (NLT) For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.  It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Galatians 6:7 tells us,Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” This is not meant to be a threat but it is a biblical Truth to be considered. Every day our life is filled with seeds that are planted for the next day, next year, or coming season. We must carefully consider the seeds sown in our life each day. The Light of His Love in us will cause all seeds to grow because it was ordained by God. The Word never ever contradicts itself. Choices are seeds planted today that yield consequences tomorrow. The end of consequence is to plant and harvest better choices. God will make good every detail of our life but will never interrupt the process of sowing and reaping in our life. It is important to plant the Word in our heart each day, to ask for His Spirit to show us any way that is offensive to God or contradictory to His Plan and act accordingly. Presence is only available by faith through the Grace of Jesus Christ. If I am not “in” Christ, I cannot make my way into the Presence of God. I need the Light of His Love and I desire His Glory to fill my life therefore I must leave darkness behind and do my very best to avoid sin out of love and respect for my Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jesus went to the Cross bearing the weight of our sin and shame. He took the stripes required for our healing. He has all power and authority over death and the grace. The Light of His Love shines for all who choose to enter. It is only in His Presence that change is possible. We choose each day what and where we plant the seeds of potential for our life. If faith is our choice it will always require planting without seeing the product but believing and trusting it will come. This is the hope that anchors our soul like giant roots holding us in the Presence of God until His Power reaches us. No plant can live without sunlight. No person can live without the Light of His Love.

Revelation 22:1-5 (NLT) Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.