Ripe Fruit

Ripe Fruit

John 15:16-17 (ESV) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few items last week. Passing through the produce section, there was sign marked “tree-ripened fresh peaches”. Reaching for them expecting soft and supple fruit, the peaches were still a bit hard and not at all what I expected. However, this did not stop me from filling a bag anyway. An elderly gentleman in a riding wheelchair came up to the table and asked if the fruit was any good. He also felt the peaches and declared them not ripe but firm to the touch. I shared the secret to delicious juicy peaches. If you take some home and put them on the counter for a couple of days, the fruit will ripen and soften to perfection. He chuckled and said that earlier in the week that the employee stocking the fruit told him the same thing. The man is on a fixed budget and was afraid to splurge on the fruit only to be disappointed. He didn’t trust the worker so he didn’t buy any that day. He told me his story as he selected some peaches to take home.

We are called to bear fruit as disciples of Jesus Christ. To abide in the Vine so fully and completely that His Fruit begins to blossom and ripen in us. His Spirit cultivates the kind of fruit that satisfies our soul and is worth sharing with others. The man did not buy what the market was selling but he decided to lean on my personal experience that day. People relate to a Gospel that is shared like a good meal. They prefer an authentic relatable experience over a chance encounter that may not go as expected. It is not my “job” to share Christ but my privilege to offer others the abundance of goodness produced by having Him in my life living in me.

It is important to note in John 15 that the Lord has chosen us. We did not handpick him from a plethora of other gods but rather God created us as Children in His Image. Christ in us restores and rebuilds our relationship with God the Father through righteousness. I have seed worth planting and fruit worth bearing inside of me. What I do with the seeds of faith given to me in measure is up to me. Pursuing His Kingdom is a promise of reaching eternity that is already set within my heart but will I consider the cost worth paying for the privilege of the everlasting is truly up to me.

Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

God’s Word is the seed that produces every good thing in our life. Jesus is the Word. We hear the Word and must decide what to do with it. There are several choices. There are some who hear the story of Jesus and cannot comprehend such a gift or fathom the depths of His Love so they deem it unbelievable and decide to choose this life. The enemy comes and takes the seed easily discarded. There are those who hear the Word of God and believe it…at first. Like the sign on the peaches boasting “tree-ripened fruit”, they are interested until reaching for it and finding it hard. Rather than taking it home and allowing it to ripen on the kitchen counter until it is just right, they pass by the opportunity to taste and see that it is good. We are encouraged to taste and see that God is good yet do not engage in the process because it takes too long or too much energy so we take a shortcut or substitution instead. We must let the Love of God given to us through Jesus Christ take root in our heart so when tests and trials come we overcome the temptation to abandon our effort and let go. There are those who hear the Word and believe it, yet they are too busy to take the time to really meditate on it and allow it to sink in and produce its potential. The Word blossoms and good things start to happen but the process is again abandoned for the good rather than waiting on the God Fruit that is coming. Our seed (the Word) must be sown in fertile broken hearts and given time to grow, develop and mature into the Fruit it is supposed to be. The seed will always produce its potential.

Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV) “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God’s Word always produces its potential. The promise will always come. He gives seed to the sower. Those who decide to cultivate God’s Word for themselves will find new promises every single day. The fruit produced in their life becomes enticing to others who will want to know how it happened, where it came from, and how you got it. The influence in our life increases when abundance becomes our experience. The seed always produces its potential in us. It prospers our soul which in turn spills over into our life. Others will want and desire what you have suddenly opportunities will arise to share the good fruit of God’s Spirit with others time and time again because success becomes our experience.

Colossians 1:9-12 (ESV)  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

For Mother’s Day, our church gave all the mom’s succulent plants. I have the orphans sitting in the window in the dining room. I have been honest in my admission that I have a history of plant killing. I am a homicidal horticulturist or at least I was… I have painstakingly cared for the handful of plants and they are beginning to grow and thrive. I am amazed at the miracle before me. I think sometimes we decide who we are and what we will be based on our past experiences and history. God promised to give us new life. He gave us His Word with the promise of an inheritance to those who begin by sowing it in their heart and mind. Those who decide to try it out and trust Him little by little with the broken pieces of our messed up life will begin to see subtle productivity that will one day become our success. His Word is our promise that cannot return to Him without absolute fulfillment. To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord is not a religious exercise but a daily experience of sowing His Word and sharing its productivity. We have been given the opportunity to bear fruit in every good work even a simple encounter with someone at the grocery store. Many sermons will be preached. Teachings shared. Insight given. It will spread seeds of God’s Word all around but it will be those who take the time to sow it, stay with it, wait for it and then share it that will see its good fruit.

Psalm 34:8 (ESV) Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

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Soulful Sowing

Young woman reading bible by stream in summer

Hosea 10:12 (NIV) Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.

God has already provided for us. He has supplied every need. The Lord desires to bless us. To prosper us in the land of the living long before entering His Kingdom forever. This is the Will of God for us. It is not a contract with heavy stipulations but rather a covenant of love. Sow in the Kingdom – reap Kingdom rewards. Sow in the Spirit – reap the Fruit of the Spirit. Sow in the natural – reap in the natural. What you sow – you will reap. It is a principle set forth in the Days of Noah and a promise that holds true today. When God’s Promise suits us – it is called good. When God’s Promise delivers what it says it will but we do not like the outcome then He is not good. The promise is good if the outcome favorable. The promise is deemed a threat if it is considered unfavorable.

The Word of God is good because He is good. It is for us. It promises good things to us. God cannot contradict His Word. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. If He has spoken it, His Word will not return to Him until it has fully accomplished what it was sent to do. It is sometimes difficult to fully comprehend the perfection of God in that He will not relent to our notions and whims. The senseless whining and ongoing pleas of a people full of doubt lacking trust and yet His Patience prevails in His Persistence to make sure that His Promise arrives right on time because He is faithful in all things.

Isaiah 55:9-11 (NIV) “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

If only one might take the time to consider God’s Word in relation to His Promises. To sit and ponder at the wonder of His Word released to accomplish great things and not take hold of the reins to steer it, put our hand to the plow to break it, or decide that it means something entirely different. If I plant watermelon seeds in my backyard, and then tell everyone to watch and see my new zucchini plants grow. I am leading others astray for surely when the plant yields its fruit it will be a watermelon despite my declaration. We must know the Word of God including its context and content to fully understand Kingdom blessings and benefits.

In Leviticus 25, I found a passage regarding sowing and reaping that I feel is helpful. It is a command to observe the Sabbath Year. The Lord tells Moses that once the Children of Israel enter the Promised Land that they must observe a Sabbath Year. For six years, they will sow and reap from their fields. In the Seventh Year, they must not work the field. Whatever the land yields they may eat it but they cannot work it. The same account is in Exodus 23, the land is to be unplowed and unused for the whole year and not only will you and your family eat from it but others may get food from it along with livestock. An entire year of trusting God – to provide for a household. This passage ends with the warning…be careful to do everything I have said to you. What if God told you not to work for one year? To live off what you have and trust Him for the rest, could you do it? We must evaluate our sowing and determine the condition of our heart. To sow simply for the productivity of the field will not produce a rich and satisfying life. It is the sowing of God’s Word in our hearts that yield the kind of life God promised.

Mark 4:14-20 (NIV) “The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

The Lord has given us the Word to sow into our lives for supernatural productivity. However, we all fall into own of the categories described in the Parable of the Sower. I believe that many of us experience different stages of receivership according to spiritual grow and development. Spirit maturity advances us to the next level of faith that allows us to take God at His Word and trust Him a little more each time. The Word is the good seed of our life that will produce exactly what it says it will provide. We must plow through the hardness of our heart to make it fertile for the Word. Hearing the Word, it must be accepted as Truth for our life. You must believe. Believing is not enough. What you believe is of the utmost importance? We must accept God’s Word as our Truth and then do what it says. Then, a prosperous crop of what is sown will surely come up and become established in our life.

Galatians 6:7-9 (NIV) Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Prudent words to live by. Desiring God’s best must be followed by a disciplined decision to do exactly what He says. We cannot have God’s Best outside of His Faithfulness which comes to those who diligently seek Him with their whole heart. Sometimes Christians get so caught up in the sowing and reaping process that they do not find the rest of the Sabbath. So God in His Infinite Wisdom and Divine Perfection allows His Mercy to prevail and the job loved more than Christ is gone. Or perhaps, our Christian service becomes a jewel in our crown rather than another one to lay at His Feet. Perhaps vain glory and puffed up pride have convinced us that we are doing is more important than what the Lord is about to do so we ignore some of His Commands as old-fashioned or unnecessary. You will reap what you sow. Sowing God’s Word in our heart will always cause our heart to prosper and soon after our life.

It is important to engage in soulful sowing. It is easy to turn what was once faithfulness to God into something fruitless in small focusing on His Hand rather than His Heart. We must focus on sowing righteousness for ourselves. Continually reaping the fruit of unfailing love. I cannot do this for myself but fully rely on God and His Word. Allowing Him to break up my habits, practices, routine, schedule and agenda to make room for the Lord and His Work to be accomplished in me and then through me. Everyone wanders off from time to time. Don’t let anyone fool you. The enemy is a formidable foe. But the Book says that we win! We live in the Triumph of Jesus Christ who is in us. We must not allow the world or other people to influence our pursuit of righteousness but live in the Word and do exactly what it says. You don’t have to but you will certainly reap exactly what you sow!

Matthew 13:23 (NIV) “But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Ignore the Roar

Ignore the Roar

I Peter 5:6-9 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

There is an adversary prowling the earth seeking someone to devour. The word “devour” means to consume destructively, recklessly or wantonly. It is to engulf or swallow up. To absorb or engross wholly. The enemy of our soul seeks someone to devour. How does one resist the devourer? Those who remain subject to God and His Word that humble themselves under His Mighty Hand will be lifted up…at the proper time. Does it seem like you never have enough time? Or do you live from paycheck to paycheck? What are you lacking? We are people who are predestined to live in abundance. Jesus Christ came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The Lord promises to do exceedingly abundantly more we ask or think…according to His Power at work in us.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. We have a good Shepherd who carefully watches the flock called the righteous. I am called righteous in right standing with God based on the salvation of Jesus Christ who opened a gate for me. To enter the Presence of God and live in peaceful surrender to the Living God. Humility is essential to the righteous remaining in the shelter and refuge of God. The roar of the lion is loud. When I was a teenager, I went to Africa on a missionary venture. Lying in bed at night, an occasional roar of a lion could be heard in the darkness. At first it was a bit frightening, however; I was safe in a compound with whitewashed walls and members of the Maasai tribe patrolled the perimeter to keep those inside safe. The lions roar was just a reminder of the dangers lurking outside the walls of the camp. Lord, help us to see that the roar of the lion that produces fear, anxiety and stress is but a veiled threat to those who live in the sanctuary of trust and peace that you provide.

Malachi 3:10-12 (ESV) Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

“And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.” (Matthew 13) The Lord gives seed to the sower. You are a sower. You plant in your life every day. You decide the productivity of your life based on the quality and quantity of your investment. The potential in us is based on the Kingdom as we have been given eternity in our heart. A promise that EVERYTHING will be made beautiful in its own time. A gift of faith that is the beginning of great fruitfulness in our life. There is a thief who wants to steal, kill and destroy the hope that is given to us in the productivity of our seed. Jesus came to grow it in us and for us.

The seed of God’s Word must be pressed deep into a soft and fertile heart to grow into anything of worth in our life. Malachi 3 talks about the tithe. The tithe of our life is our time, talent and treasure. All should be considered in our giving to God. Our covenant relationship with the Father gives us the opportunity to reap Kingdom benefits and blessings in all three areas according to our level of faith and trust in Him. To partner with the Lord requires an investment. We must give to receive these things. Our position in life must be Presence. Our posture must be humility. It is under the Mighty Hand of God that we find the prosperity longed for. This is an act of submission and surrender to the Lord that gives our time, talent and treasure to Him – we must decide that God deserves our first fruits of each not what is remaining.

The promise of partnership with God is that He will rebuke the devourer. To rebuke means express sharp, stern disapproval. It also means to reprove or reprimand. The original meaning of rebuke means to beat back or hack down. The Lord will call off the devourer by His Word. We have God’s Word that He will deal with the devourer if we choose to trust Him more. When we move our life and all its resources from doubt and fear to live in full dependence on the Lord and trusting Him – the enemy can roar but he cannot move within the borders of faith and trust. He can only hurl lies and threats over the fence but they are quickly rebuked by God’s Word now active in our heart and mind. When Jesus was in the wilderness, the enemy came to him. Jesus did not argue with the devil or complain about the situation. His answer to every temptation was simple. He told the enemy what God said. The Word is Jesus and He lives in us now. His Word is the potential for our life. Do you know what God says about you? Do you know what the blessings and benefits of the Kingdom are for you? Do you believe it? When we decide to trust the Lord fully with our time, talent and treasure enough to give Him the most choice portion, the devourer must move back as he is beaten down by God’s Word. Jesus makes intercession for us with the Father and defends us by the Word.

Proverbs 21:20-21 (ESV) Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it. Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.

Remember the widow who cried to Elisha, her husband was dead. (2 Kings 4) He was a man of God and servant of the Lord. The woman feared the creditor was coming to take her sons. Elisha asked her, “Tell me; what have you in the house?” Her response, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Oil represents anointing. Christ lives in us. The Anointed One has chosen to inhabit our heart. With faith, nothing is impossible. Faith cannot stay in our heart but must be sown in trust. What if you already have what is needed to prosper and live in the abundance of God but it is just hidden in your “house”? You have the Word of God and the faith that moves mountains but cower in fear over simple provisions of life. You have the Peace of God that passes understanding but remain in fear, worry and anxiety over the roar of the lion. The woman changed her situation when she became a vessel. Her abundance of oil in the small flask did not run out until she stopped providing a place for it to flow.

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness and honor. Ignore the roar! Give no credence to the lion today. Jesus has rebuked the devourer. Do not let him in. He cannot touch anything resting inside the Shelter and Refuge of God’s Presence. When we plant all our expectation in Jesus Christ by faith it will be fruitful in its proper time. The Lord has promised that there is a season for EVERYTHING. He tells us that EVERYTHING will be made beautiful in its time. No seed planted today bears fruit tomorrow. There is a process and most certainly a wait time. But in the meantime, the Lord promises to the rebuke the devourer in all things given to Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Just Plowing

Hand to the Plow

Psalm 126:4-6 (NLT) Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. 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.

Restore us, oh Lord. Has that been the cry of your heart lately? Are you experiencing a dry season? A drought in your life. It can be physical, emotional, spiritual or maybe financial. Where is the abundant life? Where is the satisfaction promised to those who love God and seek to do His Will? Does it seem like the field is barren? The brook has dried up? Are you are barely holding on – weak and weary from well doing? The productivity in each season is directly correlated to the cost. To restore us there must be emptiness. Surrender to the creative power of the Divine Creator to fill us to capacity. New wine cannot fill old wine skins. God’s Mercy will not give us what we ask for until we are ready to receive it. His Glory cannot shower a hard and unwilling heart or risk its complete devastation. See God loves us too much to give us what we want if it will require more than we are willing to give. Sowing and reaping are partners. One must accompany the other. Sowing is a release that precipitates receivership. We cannot receive more of God until willing to release more of self. It is in the ebb and flow of planting, growing and harvesting that the Lord increases every area of our life. Those who sow little will reap little. But those who give their all will gain the Kingdom.

Isaiah 28:24-26 (NLT) Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds—black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat—each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.

The Kingdom principle of sowing and reaping was established in the days of Noah – known as seedtime and harvest. A covenant between God and His People. The promise that the work of our hands to provide for natural needs and work in our soul to prosper in supernatural blessings. However, it is human nature to limit our giving to maintain comfort, control and convenience rather than giving our all in obedience to God. We diversify our efforts yet expect God to exponentially do more than His Word mandates. We must sow to reap. Sacrificial giving, total surrender, and diligent submission to God’s Word, Will and Way produces the rich and satisfying life promised to us by Jesus Christ. To have it requires more than most are willing to give. The cost of discipleship too high for ordinary people who are not fully convinced in the Living God who dwells among us. A lack of confidence in the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ and the new life promised to those who are willing to give their all to Him.

To serve the Lord is like plowing. We can plow away day and night. We can continue season after season. But when we do not put any seed in the ground – those seasons becomes cycles. Cycles produce the same thing over and over again. They are dry, stale and barren times that cause discouragement, disappointment and doubt. Cycles become seasons when there is new seed put in the ground. The sacrifice is great. The seeds are watered with our tears. God honors the price paid by the righteous who change plowing into planting. They will see a harvest. God tells us what to do – He is always speaking to His People. Obedience is the key. Not just doing what we want to do – but doing exactly what the Lord is telling us to do. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Partial obedience is disobedience, too. Neither will produce the kind of fruit in our life that the Word of God promises.

Galatians 6:7-9 (NLT) Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) If the fruit of the Spirit is love, maybe the sacrifice of self is forgiveness. If the fruit of the Spirit is joy, perhaps the release is sorrow. If the fruit of His Spirit is peace, maybe the cost is surrender. To have the Fruit of the Spirit requires the giving of self. Pride is non-existent in the Presence of God. A flourishing field is covered in the sacrifice of the farmer who rises early. Tends and nurtures it while there is nothing above the ground. The sweat of his brow and even some tears along the way. He stays in that field until the harvest comes no matter how hot the sun or torrential the rain. He considers the cost of the harvest worth having so he pays the price. Is the life that God has promised you in Jesus Christ worth it? If you think it’s worth having – you will pursue it? The Kingdom of God is like a field with hidden treasure. The man sold everything he owned to buy the field. It is like the pearl of great price – the merchant sold everything he owned to have it. (Matthew 13:44-46) You must decide what is the Kingdom worth to you? How much are you willing to give to have it? Is it worth your all? Jesus considered us to be the joy set before Him when enduring the Cross. He thought we were worth His All.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NLT)  For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.

God is a good father. He is constantly providing good things to His Children. He supplies our life. He is ready to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or imagine. He is ready to heal us. He wants to restore us. The Lord is ready to make a masterpiece of all the broken pieces of our messed up life. The prosperity of God is not withheld from us because God doesn’t love us or as an act of punishment of any kind. His Grace is always enough. Rather than plowing through life and doing it our way, God is looking for the one who pursues His Way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Everything we want, need and desire is complete in Him. He withholds no good thing from us. God doesn’t give seed to those who plows. He gives seed to those who plant. Those who release self. Those who begin to serve from the heart and not the hand. Those who pay the price of obedience freely and willingly even in times of famine and drought knowing that God is faithful and His Harvest in us, through us and to us secure. The Lord will enrich those who sow in every possible way.

Thank you Lord for giving us the seed to sow. Thank you for placing us in proper fields. Let us put our hand to the plow and not turn back. Eyes on You, Jesus! Father, show us areas of our life where we are just plowing and not sowing anything of worth. Give us the strength and grace to give attention to these areas. May we remain diligent in sowing even if all we have to give are salty tears at the end of self. Holding nothing back, Lord – we give our all to You today!

Luke 9:62 (NLT) But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

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.

Faith is Not Enough

Faith is Not Enough

Matthew 17:20 (NLT) “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

A mustard seed is tiny and round. The diameter measures between 1 to 2 millimeters. It weighs about .000004409 pounds. A mustard seed planted in the ground will produce a tree at maturity will average between 6 and 20 feet with a 20-foot spread. In ideal conditions, exceptional plants will reach 30 feet tall. Mustard plants are hearty. They will grow in most conditions. Jesus told his disciples that if they had faith even as small as a mustard seed…nothing would be impossible. If they had faith even that small it would move a mountain. I wonder today…what would happen if we believed enough to sow a tiny seed of faith? Not a lot…just a little…real and genuine faith into the brokenness of our life, the disappointments, the despair, the longings, and unmet expectation. What would happen if we believed God? What if we believed His Word? What if rather than working so hard on the appearance of faith the church dug deep in the folds and recesses of our own hearts and minds to put a teeny tiny seed called faith? What would happen? Miracles. Healing. Life. Change. Dare, I say, “Revival.”

What if the problem is not our desire for revival to come but our willingness to sow the seed called faith necessary to produce it? To get over our situation, self, and opinions long enough to take the smallest bit of believing and planting it in even the most adverse and unfavorable conditions of our life. What would happen? If rather than cultivating division, we began to till the field together with the love and grace of our example – Jesus. I am challenged by the promise that NOTHING would be impossible if I had enough faith. NOTHING. Religion hems us in to ideology, theology, and doctrine. It stifles growth with a fence of pride, rules and regulations contradictory to flourishing growth and continual perpetuation of God’s Love to all people. People don’t leave church full of love but more self-loathing presented with a standard no one can live up to. God’s love is limitless. It is unconditional. Maybe if we believed in God’s Love, Goodness, Grace and that He is always pursing us with these qualities – faith might become our focus. What does MY faith have to do with anyone else?

Matthew 13:31-32 (NLT) Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Jesus describes the Kingdom to be like a mustard seed planted that grows into a tree where “birds come and make nests in its branches.” My faith is not just for me. It is not for my personal use. It is a demonstration of my participation in the Kingdom of God. It is what makes me effective in the Kingdom. It is fulfillment of my membership in the Body of Christ. We are given a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) The opportunity to be a part of something everlasting and much bigger than ourselves. He placed eternity in our heart to give us direction towards hope. There is no fulfillment as a believer without faith. Tangible faith. Genuine faith. Real faith. Not fruitless talk from an empty heart. It is take the faith given to us by God and the hope we have and to do something with it. But what?

The seed of faith must be planted, invested, and/or released to reach fulfillment. Putting our faith in action is releasing it into God’s Hands. It allows the seed to change and become what it was purposed to be. To reach its full potential – it must return to the careful oversight of the Maker and Creator of life in order for the transformation process to occur. God creates newness from within us. This is why we must die to self to have new life. It is impossible to maintain our present form in our present condition and step into newness of life.

Faith comes to life by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) To put a seed in the ground, but not water it or expose it to light or give it the nutrients it needs but rather abandon it is not good farming. To say one has faith but do nothing to continually cultivate and care for that seed will allow dreams to die in the ground or lay dormant. The purpose is still in the seed just as God’s Promise is still just for you but without proper care (Paul planted and Apollos watered) there will be no increase. To say, “I believe” yet live like you don’t – just isn’t enough to grow anything worthwhile or good in our life.

James 2:17-20 (NLT) So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Plot twist. Faith is not enough. Faith is but a seed hidden inside of us waiting to be planted for fulfillment. Faith is planted by trust. Total trust. It must grow. It has to undergo a transformation that you and I cannot do apart from the Lord. We need God, His Word, and His Spirit to produce the fruit that offers fulfillment to us and those we come in contact with. Our external life will only prosper as our soul does. Faith is not for tangible giving unless born of generosity reminiscent of a prospering soul. I have learned not to go by my emotions, feelings or opinion. When offered a life choice of any magnitude at all I seek the Lord. He knows what’s best for me. Sometimes it means swallowing my pride to plant that seed of faith. It means offering an apology simply to make room for a relationship to grow. Other times I have to stop worrying about myself and consider the needs, wants and desires of another entrusting my care to the Father. I find that when I am cognizant of the seeds of faith that I have been given and keep them in my right hand ready to plant – I am given many opportunities. Sometimes the growth and reward evident immediately, others over a span of days, months and years, and some harvests – I am still waiting to see come up. It is a constant perpetuation of seasons. When I allow God to be in charge of my seasons and choose to sow faith in them all – I find that whether it is a season of just enough or more than enough – I am content. When it is almost here or way far off – I can still wait. When the night has given way to weeping, and the joy of the morning not yet arrived – I can still rest in perfect peace because God is with me. He loves me. He is for me. He will never let me down. Faith grows much fruit in our life and has the potential to be a life giver to others. It can do nothing if it is not planted.

The credit card company asks, “What’s in your wallet?” Today I am asking, “What’s in your hand?” All your cares, worries, burdens and regret? All the disappointments, delays and detours of dead dreams. God makes all things new. He does it by faith. Change will not come holding on to all these things, but when you sow them by faith and trust in the Father’s Love. Miracles happen when we do that – believe God at His Word, trust Him in His Way, and seek Him wholeheartedly.

Revelation 21:5 (NLT) And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

Break the Cycle

Break the Cycle

2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

Just about every morning, I start a load of wash to start the day. This house produces mounds of laundry at an alarming rate. It is my personal ongoing challenge to find the bottom of the hamper though only able to glory in it shortly before it fills back up. The washer has different cycles according to that which I am cleaning. There is a delicate cycle for those things that are fragile or nice. There is a normal setting for all the average materials. Then there is a heavy duty one for those big loads like towels or really dirty loads. There is a plethora of other choices in between so many options just to get your items clean. When I visited Africa as a missionary, there were two sweet ladies that would gather up the laundry and in the sunshine of the day with a couple buckets of water work through all of it until it was pristine. No fancy machine with a bunch of buttons just two hardworking women beating the clothes on rocks, scrubbing with brushes, rubbing with lemon and hanging the product of the labor to dry. They were scheduled for twice a week to come to the missionary’s home. They were part of a cycle, too.

Are you living in a cycle? Or are you living in seasons? To live life making the same choices and expecting different outcomes is thought to be insanity. I don’t know if that’s the case, but it certainly is sad. I wonder if sometimes as believers the mistake is made to think we are living in seasons but only an ongoing cycle. Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. Am I a new person? Or am I the same person just doing different things? Hmmm… I was listening to my daughters talk about a situation with some friends. Teenage drama. The same scenario played out not too long ago. Hopeful that the cycle of hurt feelings was over yet clearly not. And that’s when it hit me…my own thoughts were filled with disappointment that was creeping in as frustration, bitterness and discord. Is Christ a concept in my life or is Christ my life? I am a new creation. I am a new person. I have a new life. It is not because of conditions or circumstances and certainly not dictated by people. It is up to me to break the cycle of sin and continually sow seeds in seasons including those intangible seeds that grow into the Fruit of God’s Spirit. One day my girls will mature into adults (I hope) that can see past immaturity and temporary circumstances. As Christians, it is our privilege in Christ to grow, mature and develop our character in every season. Too often, we fall prey to cycles.

A cycle is a sequence of changing states that, upon completion, produces a final state identical to the original one. Like my washing machine, I can operate in cycles that do nothing to grow, develop or mature my character and produce a harvest but yields the same results over and over again. If I do not break such sequences in my life and determine to plant the Word, pray in the Spirit and do something different – I run the risk of becoming like the fig tree which could produce beautiful leaves but could bear no fruit. It did not make it past an encounter with Christ. Is your life producing fruit? Are you doing all the “right” things but not experiencing the associated blessing? Are you living in a cycle? Religion often creates cycles in life. Repetitious rules and rituals that without true repentance and real righteousness will bear no harvest in us.

Romans 7:18-20 (NLT) And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

Galatians 4:9-11 (NLT) So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing.

Unproductive seasons are nothing more than cycles. I am now convinced that the derailment of a season turns it into a cycle. If we do not plant seeds of faith, trust and confidence and allow them to grow, develop and mature there will be no harvest. There will only be disappointment and discouragement when no blessing comes. We can endure seasons, but to get a harvest something must be sown. To reap a harvest there must be a spiritual investment. A seed in the ground must die to produce the potential within it. I wonder today if some of us have fallen into dangerous cycles rather than living from season to season. We can break these dangerous cycles by choosing to live according to the seasons.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 11 (NLT) For everything there is a season a time for every activity under heaven. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 

Galatians 6:7-9 (NLT) Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

James 1:21-22 (NLT)  So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

Who the Son sets free is free indeed. We get to choose how we live even after coming to Christ. It doesn’t mean that our lives will produce harvests of blessing and abundance no matter how we live but that His Mercy and Grace is always enough to save us. We must only endure to the end to be saved. Some Christians will live in cycles from here to eternity and walk right in. That’s not enough for me. I believe that Christ died to give me an abundant life and do exceedingly abundantly more than I can think or ask according to His Word. I believe that His Promise to make good of every detail of my life also is true and valid. Every spiritual blessing is given to me right along with everything I need. I am marked for success. I am prospering from the inside out. However, believing all these things are not enough. I must live according to the seasons and break every fruitless cycle that I once engaged in.

God promised that the seasons of our life would produce a harvest…if I carefully obey His Commands. (Deuteronomy 11:13-15) His Desire is for His People to thrive and produce good and lasting fruit in EVERY season even in drought or famine. (Psalm 1:1-3) Obedience will break cycles and turn them into seasons. Our heart must be broken, fertile and ready to receive that seed by faith and allow it to reach its full potential which means I cannot live by what I see but by faith as the Word prescribes. God is more concerned with the life produced inside of me than a tangible harvest. When my heart and soul prosper it will overflow into abundant life around me.

I Corinthians 13:11-12 (NLT) When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

James 1:23-25 (NLT) For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

The beauty of our walk with Christ is that it is individual and personal. He longs to walk with us and talk with us every day. To be yoked together as one. He knocks awaiting a personal invitation and always comes when called. He offers to be the vine with a place for branches to become engrafted and bear fruit in all seasons according to the resurrection power and life that is in Him. We have been given the opportunity as Children of the Living God filled with His Life Giving Spirit to produce good fruit. Lasting fruit. Abundant fruit. We must live each season through Christ and refuse to settle for cycles.

We must look into the mirror, not at our appearance. It is our reflection that must be determined. Sin leads to death a vicious and endless cycle. Life begets life – new life in each season. Sin is anything that is contrary to His Word, His Will or His Way. Hope never leads to disappointment. True repentance produces a love affair with Jesus so special that there is nothing of more value or worth to compare it to. It is the sweetest love that produces a desire in us for more of Him. It is produced by the seed of faith committed in trust and confident that it will be worth the wait. Are you in a cycle today? Good news! New life belongs to you. You are a new creation. You are more than a conqueror through Christ. You always win. You live from glory to glory. Anytime you would like to break an unproductive cycle – you can! Is it time to put away some childish things? Maybe it is time just to believe again. Whatever the season of your life make it productive. Find your promise. Plant God’s Word. Speak life over it every day. Wait until He comes with the harvest He promised. He will come. Will you be ready?

Isaiah 55:10-13 (NLT) “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

Sow Good Seeds

Sow Good Seeds

Mark 4:30-32 (NLT) Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” While I agree with Mr. Franklin in his statement about discipline, I might be so bold to add that what you do between those hours of rising and then falling into bed are equally important. The hours of each day are expended time which cannot be reclaimed. Some days are filled with productivity and others lived on a whim. What are you doing with your time? The most important commodity of your life is the very thing that cannot be replenished. In order to produce something of worth – the Kingdom of God – we must sow our time wisely along with the right seed to have it prosper into fulfillment rather than regret.

Seedtime and harvest is the simple process of planting and harvesting in life. Sowing and growing are naturally occurring but when used to expand and increase the Kingdom the natural is infused with the supernatural.

I Corinthians 3:6-7 (NLT) I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.

What is God growing in your life today? Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your current condition? Are you prospering or stalling? Consider the seed you are sowing. Going to bed early and getting a good night sleep will definitely improve the quality of your day with ample endorphins. Rising early will allow you to get a head start. However, before attempting to put your seed in the ground – let’s consider what it is that is being sown. It is the telltale of the harvest. Sowing the right seeds each day will produce a good harvest. God wants us to be healthy, wealthy and wise – these are qualities of prosperity in life. Jesus came to give us an abundant life full of satisfaction. We must plant. It must be watered. God will increase it.

2 Corinthians 9:10 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

In Matthew 3, it tells of the farmer who is scattering his seed. The seed is sown in a variety of places. There are many outcomes to the productivity of the seed according to where it falls. The parable is a picture of God’s Word. Each day it is important to sow the Word of God in our life to produce Kingdom results. Not to get too deeply theological, it is the essence of communion with Jesus Christ. His Body was broken for our consumption so that we can live connected to Him like the vine and branches. Abiding in Him. Jesus is the Word of God. We must consume the Word daily to produce the workings within it. The Word of God that falls on a fertile heart will produce the kind of life we long for.

We must make a conscious choice to find time each day to plant God’s Word in our heart. To study, meditate, marinate and digest the Word of God is my personal endeavor in farming His Plan and Purpose for my life that will prosper into a harvest of His Promises. To rise early allows us to do just that apart from the distractions of life. If we can get a jump on the day and determine what God has for us – it will allow us to get good seed in the ground before facing the challenges and responsibilities that come with the sun. I Co

“Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” (2 Corinthians 9:6) If you have decided to follow Jesus all the way to the Kingdom, sowing the Word of God is essential. The more you sow the more you grow. God’s Word is filled with good things for your life. It is impossible to please God without faith. The Word of God feeds our fail and grows into confident hope in our life producing God’s Goodness wherever it is planted.

Mark 4:26-29(NLT) Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

Once seed goes in the ground and watered, God takes over. He is the one who increases our life with good things. He has an inheritance in Heaven released by obedience. The Word of God released in our life, over our homes, in our finances, infusing our ministry, or any other area of life partnered with God – it will experience radical growth. The potential in the seed is not obvious to us but God knows exactly what to do to bring it to full maturity and productivity in our life. Sowing is an act of faith. To put that seed in the ground and leave it requires patience and persistence that require assistance from the Holy Spirit to encourage us and keep us in the waiting. “As soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it.” God has not forgotten or ignored the seed. He is preparing and processing it to produce abundance in our life.

James 5:7 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.

The pathway to prosperity is patience in the process. Be patient. The seed you have sown will grow because it is mandated by God. If you sow plentifully, you will reap bountifully. If you are sowing God’s Word, you will harvest supernatural abundance if you are willing to wait for it.

Psalm 63:1 (NLT) O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.

Consider the seed being sown in your life today. Where do you spend your time? What are you investing in? The place where seed goes in the ground is the place your harvest will come from. Seedtime and harvest is a natural and supernatural process ordained by God. He promised never to curse the productivity in our life again. But God is Sovereign. He does not lie or change His Mind. He has no double standards. What does that mean? What you sow you will reap. When you plant you will harvest. He does not pick and choose what is planted – you do. I decide the productivity in my life by the sowing I choose to do and the seeds I pick to plant in my life. The natural conditions and circumstances of my life do not impact God’s Potential Growth in me – I do. Will I choose to sow seeds of God’s Word and plant from the measure of faith that I have been allotted or will I let natural conditions dictate the harvest in my field?

Early to bed and early to rise works. When I choose to rise early and seek His Face with a thirsty soul filled with good seed sown from God’s Word, my life begins to change supernaturally as my soul prospers so do I. I cannot explain it but can testify of it. God is good. His Mercy showers my life removing the bad seed giving the good seed room to grow, develop and become the abundance of my life. It’s time to sow some good seed. If you plant it, He will water it, and give increase in your life.

Hebrews 6:7 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. 

 

Intentional Planting

intentional-planting

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

The seeds planted in our life today yield the harvest of tomorrow. Intentional planting of the proper seeds will give us the things desired in the future. In the natural, people prepare for the future. Carefully considering investments, retirement accounts and even creating a will to divide their assets once departed. No matter how carefully I plot out the rest of my life, there is always uncertainty. Even those who plan and prepare for the future seldom are completely satisfied with the results. Seeds planted in this life for daily provision that provide a sense of control will never satisfy the longing in our heart for eternity. We can strive for a comfortable life with careful planting and planning for the future. However, human beings were created to thrive. If there is no planting in us for our spiritual future, the things of this world will fall far short of meeting our expectation.

I know that my heart’s desire is to be a living sacrifice. What about you? However, to do so requires a transformation. This can only be achieved by depositing all that I am into all of who Jesus Christ is. I must be found in Christ to enter heaven. Jesus is my righteousness. Religion does not produce rightness with God, but is through the Grace given to me by Son that gives me the privilege of peace with the Father. The fine line between sacrifice and offering are confusing. In a world full of compromise, it is hard to comprehend God who does not accept such a thing. It is by transitioning one’s life from this world into the Kingdom that residency is established in Eternity.

John 15:1-5 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

What if the problem is not our action but attitude? What if the lack of abundance in our life is a disconnection from the Source of life? We cannot produce good fruit or godly character apart from Jesus Christ. In fact, apart from Him there is nothing we can do to change the sowing and reaping productivity in our life because it is directly connected to the world. When I place all of my life in Christ sacrificially which is ALL OF ME versus an offering of my life in service and partial commitment – complete alignment produces abundance. I must be intentional.

I was visiting my parents when I noticed a stick sitting by the back door. It was a limb barren of leaves and slumped over leaning. I inquired as to its purpose. He encouraged me to take it home and plant it. I couldn’t help but laugh kind of like Sarah laughed when God promised her a son at 99 years old. He continued to press me to take it home so I finally relented. If you know my father, you know the source of my pushiness. When I got home, I couldn’t just throw it away as was my original intent but decided to test my dad’s word. The more I considered putting the dead limb in the ground rather than carelessly sticking it somewhere, I decided to choose the proper place for it in the event it did actually grow into the crepe myrtle it came from. There was a place by the deck in our backyard that could use some privacy and shade. I watched and watered it without real hope anything would happen just doing what my father said. Well, low and behold the little twig became the mighty tree that dad promised it would. It grew so big in fact you can see it over the privacy fence from the road next to the house. The roots so deep and vast that when I wanted to replant it at our new house, it was impossible. I wonder how many blessings we miss out on because we refuse to believe and take our Father at His Word. In Christ is new life, a life marked by abundance. Abundance is released when our life is in alignment with the Word. When the Word begins to work in our life, it is clear that God is the One doing it.

Ezekiel 36:25-30 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God. I will cleanse you of your filthy behavior. I will give you good crops of grain, and I will send no more famines on the land. I will give you great harvests from your fruit trees and fields, and never again will the surrounding nations be able to scoff at your land for its famines.

God’s Grace given to us by Jesus Christ erased the bloodlines of Jew and Gentile. Every promise given to Israel is now available to all God’s Children. As I studied changes in human behavior and its direct connection to sowing and reaping, I came across Ezekiel 36:29-30 which promises good crops and great harvests when He becomes our God. It is to choose the Light of His Love over the darkness of this world that facilitates such a change. But when I read the reference, I immediately realized that one of my favorite promises was just a few scriptures above.

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender responsive heart.” I cannot produce the fertile ground for God’s Word- His Seed – to grow in me. He has to give me the heart, mind and spirit to produce an abundance in my life. I must give Him my heart. All of it. I must give Him my mind including every wayward thought. My spirit of pride and selfishness must give way to His Spirit in order to produce the kind of life that satisfies our soul and secures our future. We must sow seeds of righteousness. I don’t know if the church will ever fully understand that this has nothing to do with religion but everything to do with one’s relationship with Jesus Christ.

Hosea 10:12 (NLT) I said, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.”

Plant good seeds of righteousness and you will harvest a crop of love. Rightness is the law of God. No one is righteous. Our righteousness is in Christ alone. His Love produces seeds of love in us worthy of planting in others. Religion is about being right. Religion can change a person’s behavior and perhaps improve an attitude, but it cannot and will not ever produce the seeds of righteousness that only Christ can give. His Spirit cultivates the crop worth sharing in us including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Intentional planting requires directing our efforts in life to spiritual cultivation and not natural acquisition.

Jesus did not come to make this world a better place but to draw a line in the sand. He did not come to make peace but war against sin and darkness. He came to provide the way for all humanity to come back home and live with the Father forever. It is all about a Kingdom not this world in which we live. If you are after God’s Hand, you don’t need to waste your time for every good and perfect gift already in your life is from Him. If you desire His Kingdom, it is found in His Heart. Jesus Christ is the fullness of God’s Heart and the place where our life must be planted to be transformed from a lifeless limb into a tree of life. Doing God’s Word will produce good things in our life. Every act of obedience will yield the connected promise. Is that enough for you? It will change your life today and even make tomorrow a little easier. However, it will not afford you the peace with God necessary to secure faith, hope and love forever. Do you want a good life? Do you want a God life? It’s completely up to you – who the Son sets free is free indeed – to choose the abundance of their life. You will reap what you sow. You will harvest where you plant.

Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your  life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

When my dad told me to plant the dead stick in my yard, I did not believe that anything would grow out of it. I planted the twig because I trusted my father. Knowing him, I decided in my heart to be obedient and see what happened. God has given us His Word. It is filled with opportunities to take something from it and apply it by faith. Not just throw it on the ground, but intentionally plant it in our life. Trust is essential in our relationship with the Lord. We must trust His Word. We must believe His Word. We must follow His Way. Salvation is choosing the Light of His Love over the darkness in this world. Jesus did not come to condemn anyone but that everyone might know Him and be saved. This is very different from making Him our Lord. The Lordship of Christ is established through obedience. To do what the Word of God tells us to do makes Jesus the Master of our life. This allows me to tap in to the resources of His Household – the Kingdom. I benefit from every bit of the abundance because of our union.

The truth is that by faith in Jesus Christ and acceptance of His Grace – I am a Child of God. No longer a slave to sin or just a hired servant – I am His Child. Do I act like a Child of God? I have shared this many times. Three of our children have entered adulthood and live their own life. Two still live at home. The ones who remain in our house have access to everything. We care for them completely. They do not worry or fret about their next meal, clothing or having shelter. All that we have benefits them right down to money. When they grow up and leave the house, they must care for themselves. Provide the things that are needed. While they live under this roof, there is no need to do anything but maintain our relationship. When our children buck the house rules or demand certain rights – I gently but firmly (okay maybe a bit sarcastically) remind them that if such is coveted it must be accompanied by a lease or mortgage but in our home this is the requirement. We want heaven on earth. We desire the abundance of the Kingdom. We must abide by the house rules to have them.

Set your sights on the reality of heaven. If Heaven is real, it is worth living for. Think about the things of Heaven…not the things of the earth. Jesus gives us a new heart and new spirit for the asking. We decide how to respond. Wholeheartedly, half-heartedly or not at all. The life worth having is hidden in Jesus Christ. I must be in Him to find it and yield the harvest that is found only in the grace that empowers me through weakness. I must exchange being right for being righteous. I must live as though Christ is all that matters. (Colossians 3:11) Before I can share anything of worth with the world, God must produce an abundance of His Love, Joy and Peace along with all the other fruits of His Spirit to share with others.

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

Through Jesus Christ, I am a new creation. Before I anything worthwhile can be produced in my life, I must plant all that I am in the Person of Jesus Christ completely. All that I am for all that He is. This means that I must not conform to this world but be transformed. Transformation is only possible if I commit to the process. It is a sacrifice not an offering. Christ becomes my example. (Ephesians 4:21) Behaviors have to change. I must not continue to react to the conditions, circumstances or situations that I face but to Christ who lives in me. It doesn’t matter how thinks look. Dead things must give way to the resurrection power inside of me. Without faith, I will never trust the reality of heaven enough to put my whole life in the pursuit of it. There are certain behavioral patterns that I must work diligently to change in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Pride fortifies our right to be right. Acceptance of God’s Grace no longer allows it. Now I live to sow seeds of peace with God and every other person I come in contact with. I must check my attitude. Evaluate my actions. Not by religious practices but relational values such are listed in Ephesians 4, Colossians 3 and 2 Timothy 2. I don’t need to fix others, I need the Lord to continue to transform me. Intentional planting of our life in Christ, growing deep roots in His Love, trusting Him in all things and producing even the smallest seed of faith will create an abundance in our life that satisfies our soul, strengthens our heart, enlightens our mind, and nourishes His Spirit. The best is yet to come for those who choose to respond to God’s Love by sowing seeds of righteousness.

James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

 

Fragrance of Life

Fragrance of Life

Philippians 4:6-7(NKJV)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

With thanksgiving. I think sometimes we miss those two little words that mean so much. Be anxious for nothing is a bold endeavor. Raise your hand if you never worry, stress, fear, or experience anxiety. Yeah, I didn’t think so. We are to give everything (care, worry and burden) to God in Jesus Christ. Now hang on, everything has to mean more than that and it does except that is not the problem. We praise God when we win, overcome and triumph. When things are good, great and better than expected, we give Him praise and say, “Thanks”, right? Or at least, we should. No, it is before victory comes that our thanksgiving is most powerful and effective. We are to bring everything by prayer and that thing called supplication before our God which means to pray, seek or ask humbly. We petition God not for our haves but have nots. To be anxious for nothing means surrendering our wants, needs and desires before the Lord for fulfillment. People have never really had a problem making their requests known to God. In fact, they offer very little else in their approach. However, we must learn what it means to be thankful to experience the triumph associated with faith in God and living in the realm of confident hope.

 

Philippians 4:10-13 (NKJV)

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

Paul indicates in this passage that the “givers had stopped giving” for a while. “At last your care for has flourished again…” Paul goes on to say that his words are not in “regard to need” for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I touched on the subject of contentment yesterday. I should not be surprised that the Lord was leading me to this place. Thankfulness is the thread that secures contentment to our heart and mind. It is a shift from our current circumstances to look beyond today, tomorrow and the natural world in which we reside to the Kingdom of God. To be content in all things comes at the cost of sacrificial thanksgiving. To give thanks in all things is our primary goal to move from merely surviving to thriving in the Presence of God. It has absolutely nothing to do with our haves and have nots but the faith and confident hope found in trusting the Lord. He is our Provider. He is our Strength. It is the radical shift in our attitude that frees us to follow Jesus. It is a surrender of self and forfeiture of comfort that allows us to move from tragedy to triumph in life.

 

I read an article yesterday that is all too common in this perverse world today. A father ruthlessly murdered his daughter. If possible to be more heinous is the fact that the child was turning the corner in her cancer treatment for retinoblastoma. She was a living, breathing miracle. When the two did not show up to pick up mom after work, she called the authorities. The man was soon found childless. Upon questioning, he described the horrific act of killing the toddler. When asked for a motive, he told authorities that he committed the act of murder because his child’s illness had consumed the attention of his wife. I am appalled. This little girl was finally able to live her life again. She was stepping over the finish line into victory lane.

 

I came across this story while flying home from Cancun, Mexico after a much needed break with my sweet husband. This was our first getaway alone after a more than three-year cancer battle with our son. After a year of remission, it is apparent that our life is turning the corner as he has triumphed over the disease. As I was laying in the middle of paradise with my husband in the soft ocean breeze resting and relaxing under a tiki hut, I thanked the Lord that we made it. We finally could breathe again. Most couples do not make it through the ordeal, it is just so hard. I don’t know how anyone survives life’s tragedies without faith and hope in the impossible thanks to God through Jesus Christ. She was almost there. Her tiny foot poised for victory and evil took them out. I think of all the time and attention fixed on our son at the price of others. I was not able to be home all the time off waging a war. My husband did a wonderful job. He took excellent care of our children and supported me wholeheartedly.

 

What made the difference? Why did we make it to victory while others have not? It is simple. Too simple, in fact, for some to accept. You probably do not want to hear it. Jesus. Pure truth. If we had not had faith in the Lord, we would have never made it to triumph. It was a complete sacrifice of self in total abandonment to our faith that kept us all going when the medical team seemed to be losing. Thankfulness is a sacrifice that leads us to triumph because in the midst of the ultimate opposition in life it forces the attention off of us (who can do nothing) to our Lord (who can do anything). It was never about us. Jesus is the only one who can lead us from victory to victory and glory to glory. Tragedy strikes when we take our eyes, hearts, and minds off of Him. In the middle of the fight, when the doctors opened the conversation to hope because modern medicine was no longer working a decision had to be made. Would I respond to the hope we have in Christ or allow their words to have a worldly meaning because they were telling us that he may die? We chose faith and trust in God no matter what. Live here or live with Him – we would be thankful. See thankfulness as a response to faith and confident hope has eternal impact on our life.

 

Romans 1:20-23 (NKJV)

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

 

From Creation, God has been revealing Himself and His Intentions to all mankind. He has clearly handwritten His Instructions and sent His Spirit to many men to construct the Gospel for our use. We have it all presented in the Word of God. It is clear the Lord’s Great Care and Concern wrapped in Unconditional Love and Overwhelming Grace claimed by faith alone. We can do nothing for God. Our only hope is to accept His Grace by Faith. Thanksgiving in all things, all circumstances and living in contentment all point to a made up mind, steadfast and immovable in the Lord. There are people who know “of” God and then there are those who strive to know God. I am know of many people. I am acquainted with some of them. I am friends with fewer of them. This is the movement and progression our relationship with God. We knew of Him. We decided to meet Him. Finally, we choose to become intimate with the Lord allowing Him access to our life.

 

Romans 1:17 tells us that God reveals Himself to us faith to faith. Faith is trusting, leaning, relying on God. How do we know if we are successful? We become thankful in all things as His Faith and Confident Hope begin to resonate from our life as thanksgiving. Not for what He is doing, but because of who He is. To know God really is to love Him. To trust Him leads us to triumph. If we hold on to our faith and remain anchored in confident hope no matter how rough things get.

 

I Corinthians 15:56-58 (NKJV)

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

 

God has given us victory through His Son, Jesus Christ. If you knew you would win the lottery, you would buy a ticket. If you knew that you would win the drawing, you would fill out the form. If you knew you had victory in all things, you would be thankful. I’m sorry. Did I trick you? People buy lottery tickets with crazy odds just at the thought of winning. You endure endless calls and inquiries from salespeople just for a chance to win a car or vacation. Why is it so hard for us to walk in triumph so freely given? It cost God everything yet seems too good to be true. There are no guarantees in this life, but forever is secure. If you want the same security today, one must invest their life in Jesus.

 

We labor for things freely given by the Lord when all along the key is to be steadfast and immovable in faith alone. So confident in our hope that we are consumed with sharing the Gospel with others so they can win, too. Any fraction, portion or part of our life surrendered to the Lord is never wasted. We do not labor in vain when it is an act of faith and confident hope in God. Yet, we decide our efforts well-placed in working for things hoping for natural comfort rather than choosing a life of thanksgiving that leads to constant triumph. We have victory in Jesus, how do we secure it?

 

Thankfulness is a sign or symptom of faith in God. It keeps us going from victory to victory in the Lord. Thankfulness is subject to the hope we have in Him, not our natural circumstances. This is how it guards our heart and mind when God’s Way is a little longer than anticipated or takes a little more staying power called endurance. It is that our hope is secure, we are able to remain steadfast and immovable until victory is evident and the win secured.

 

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (NKJV)

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

 

Whatever grows in our heart, will release a fragrance in our life. If we allow bitterness to grow into discontentment and dissatisfaction because God does not move quickly enough or do it our way, it gives us a certain stink in our life. Others are driven away by it. The Lord cannot come close to us in such a state. We must yank bitterness, discontentment and dissatisfaction out by the root, planting faith that blossoms into confident hope which releases thanksgiving from our mouth. It is the aroma given off by a heart filled with faith and confidence in the Lord. It is the very thing that guards our heart and mind until fulfillment arrives. Our thankfulness is the fragrance of faith and confident hope that draws the Lord closer in our wait times. It is the comfort and peace that we need to make it across the finish line of faith to claim victory forever. Thanksgiving before He comes is like a burning incense on the altar that draws the Lord closer as it is written in the smoke – “I trust you Lord!” Thanking God in triumph is not a sacrifice. Thanking God in the trenches is.

 

2 Corinthians 4:13-15 (NKJV)

And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

 

I believed and therefore I spoke. What is your confession over your life today? Are you thankful for Jesus today? Do you believe Him at His Word? When Lazarus died, Martha met Jesus on the road. She told Him, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give it to you.” Good one, Martha. But she was not telling the truth, she didn’t believe it. When Jesus told her, “your brother will rise again”, Martha quickly brushed it off to the day at the last day. See we all do that. When the Lord has a way other than our own, or decides a little more time is needed, we chalk it up to Heaven and decide to do our own thing. Later, when Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus fully intending to keep His Word that day, Martha protested that his body would stink too much. Our words hold power. They can facilitate God’s Power in our life or keep it stopped up dead in the tomb, what is your choice today? Will the dead dreams and buried expectations be brought to life by faith in God and confidence in His Word and Power? Or will you leave them scattered around like dry bones crying out for life again? We must learn to wrap our thoughts, fill our heart and release from our mouths confidence in God beginning with thanksgiving to keep ourselves open to the impossible and supernatural intervention of Jesus and His Spirit on our behalf. Do not react to God based on the temporary but respond to the Lord based on Who He is. (16-18) Thankfulness in Jesus Name has the same power that brought Jesus from the grave.

 

2 Corinthians 9:8-11 (NKJV)

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.

 

Thanksgiving is like a seed sown in faith. When the farmer plants it, he hopes it will grow. He invests his resources, time and energy into cultivating it not knowing if it will become a harvest, yet he plants it just the same. I believe that God gives seed to the sower. Whatever you decide to plant and cultivate to the Glory of God has the potential to deliver in your life. When we make thanksgiving that seed, God gives us more because He gives seed to the sower. What produces more thankfulness? Results. When we plant thanksgiving by faith and hope in God it cannot and will not lead to disappointment. We wake up with even more to be thankful for. We begin to see our life through God’s Eyes and not our own. Suddenly all those “things” we took for granted, begin to add up. This process of cultivation will produce a harvest of victory and triumph in our life. It will require seasons. It will activate some rain and maybe a storm or two. It may get a little rough on the climb and dark in the valley but those who choose to continue will produce a harvest of blessing uncontainable that will pour out of your heart, mouth and life giving Glory to God. What is planted in thankfulness grows into triumph – of this I am convinced. When we give our thanks to God as a sacrifice, He moves a little closer and draws us in deeper. Our faith grows. Our confidence digs in and we become immovable and unshakeable in Him. Be on guard today. The only possible way to be anxious for nothing and have peace with God is to surrender your life in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. This is the sacrifice that will produce fulfillment in our life. I think I will try it today. Rather than complaining, I will give Him thanks. Instead of grumbling, I will be gracious before my God. Rather than giving up, I will press in. I will monitor the words of my mouth exchanging those reeking of bitterness covering them with fragrant thanksgiving. I am thankful and ready to triumph today. I will fan the flame of His Spirit today. Lord, may every word be covered in thanksgiving as I place it on the altar with my life. I want the fragrance of my life to bring You all honor and glory today and every day.

 

Psalm 100:3-5 (NKJV)

Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His Mercy is everlasting, and His Truth endures to all generations.