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.”

Fresh Springs

Fresh Streams

Proverbs 18:20-21 (ESV) From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

The proverbial warning is that death and life are in the power of the tongue. It is spoken and taught on a regular basis. Cautioned that every idle word will be judged according to its fruit. Though such a small part of a large organization, the tongue is the most powerful weapon given to mankind. We can start wildfires with one tiny spark. It can also put out raging ones with just a little of its soothing calm. Communication is the sowing of many seeds. What is growing in your life today? What is the fruit of your communication today? Are you satisfied? From the fruit of my mouth, my stomach is satisfied. I am satisfied by the yield of my lips. Faith has deposited seeds of potential in full measure inside of me. They are waiting to be sown. My words are part of the process. If my words are not life giving, they will be death to my potential. Words can take the life of my dreams and seal them in dark tombs of disappointment.

Proverbs 15:4 (ESV) A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

The gentle tongue is a tree of life. It takes a tiny seed to make a giant oak. God has called us to be “oaks of righteousness”. In our frustration, He is blamed when there is no growth or development of the promise that is in us. But maybe…just maybe… it is not God’s Lack of attention that is the problem but rather the poison flowing from our lips. Right and righteousness must be partners. I can be right about a lot of things. Righteousness is given to me only through Jesus Christ. My mouth my speak truth. Truth without love is the law and seals my fate. Each word is wrapped in the breath that God began in me and carries the fruitful potential of prosperity in my life.

James 3:7-10 (ESV) For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

Jesus has cleansed the church by the washing of water with the Word. The same Word is declared living and flows within us as a steady stream. It is useful in cleansing our conversation and watering the fresh seeds planted in communication. Blessing and cursing cannot come from the same mouth without nullifying itself. If you bless it, then curse it – something will die. You are created in the image of God. The Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is resurrection power and life, lives inside of you. You will make declarations on the earth. You cannot choose to be salty and sweet at the same time. You cannot be living water and a stagnant stream together. You must choose to be a fountain of living water. You must decide that you desire to bring life and not cause death. The taming of our tongue and monitoring of our words is not easy but vital in living the life that God has promised us. We must speak His Word. We must let Him be the gatekeeper of our lips.

Exodus 4:10-12 (ESV) But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Moses was commissioned to set God’s People free. He was to go and speak to Pharaoh. Moses used the excuse that he was “not eloquent…but I am slow of speech and tongue.” I wonder if that was really what was holding Moses back or could it be his pride. He was in exiles tending flocks in a hillside because he was a fugitive from justice. A murderer. He was once a palace dweller, but now living in a pasture covered in the smell of sweat and sheep. Was it really his ability to speak that was holding him back? Sometimes our mouth gets us in trouble and pride keeps us from making it right. Look what the Lord tells Moses, His Servant, “Who has made a man’s mouth? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be your mouth and teach you what you shall speak?” In Psalm 139:4, it tells us that even before a word is fully formed on the tip of our tongue, God knows it altogether, fully or completely. It means that before our body gave breath to that thought or idea – God had already put life in it. He knows the potential of our words and the rebellion of our tongue which means that Jesus has already provided sufficient grace to secure it. It means that the potential inside of our words always has goodness attached to it. Even when rash, callous, heated or ugly words are spoken, at the submission of pride, He will bring about new life.

Luke 6:45 (ESV) The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Our life is lived in seasons. God is constantly giving us the opportunity to sow and reap in a perpetual seedtime and harvest. What we sow in each season determines the harvest that will come. The great part is that our next season of life doesn’t have to yield the same as the previous one did. Because Christ lives in us – we have the promise of new life and becoming a new creation. Our words reveal the abundance of our heart. Harsh and hurtful words are often born of the same seeds planted deep within. It is up to us to filter our speech but first we must sift through the contents of our heart. A communication problem is a heart problem…at least that’s what God’s Word indicates. If the mind, soul and body agree than our words will duly reflect its unification, but if blessing and cursing come pouring out – it is time for careful examination. No one is exempt. We will be judged by the fruit of our life. The Lord is looking at our fruit. We must become fresh streams of living water to prosper as the Lord intended inside and out.

John 7:37-38 (ESV) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

What flows from our mouth waters the seeds of promise in our life? Abundance is born of living water that produces a harvest in our soul that prospers our life. You have this kind of stream inside of you. Release it today – in Jesus Name.

Proverbs 10:19-21 (ESV) When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.  The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.

Bad Seed

Bad Seed

Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT) Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Is there such a thing as bad seed? At the end of Creation, God looked over all that He had made and He saw that it was “very good”. God declared it complete and not just okay but “very good.” Our seed is good. The ground is good. From the foundation of the earth, it was good. Sowing and reaping is a principle set form later in Genesis by God. Sin entered the world. Now mankind was at odds with the Lord God, and so now the ground would be cursed. The Lord told Adam that “all your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you though you will eat of its grains.” So the land now would bear good and bad in each harvest.

Sin grew more rampant and then God sent a flood to destroy the earth and everyone in it. There was one righteous man, Noah. Noah faithfully constructed the ark and entered it. God shut the door and wiped the earth clean. Noah and his family endured the destruction of the earth by flood and immediately departing the ark set up an altar consecrating the new beginning and rebuilding to God. The Lord said, “As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” (Genesis 8:22) With this brief history lesson complete on seedtime and harvest, I ask the question again, “Is there such a thing as bad seed?” I don’t think so.

When sin entered the earth, God did not curse the seed. He cursed the ground. The potential of seed remained intact. So if there is no such thing as bad seed, why are there weeds in life? Bad choices. Bad investments. Bad returns. Bad consequences. The Bible is clear that one will reap as one sows. This is not a punishment of God but a principle of life. If I plant corn in my backyard, but expect cucumbers to grow – I would be foolish. The Lord has given us seed to sow. He always gives those who plant the means to grow something in their life. It is up to us to follow the leading of God in our sowing and planting. It is our freedom to choose the seed that will be planted in our life. So if the seed is not the problem, what is? It is the ground. The soil of sowing. The condition of the field.

In this parable of Jesus, the farmer was doing what farmers do – he was planting crops. However, when the sprouts came up – there were weeds among the wheat. Panic ensued. Surely the enemy has come and sown weeds in the wheat. Has the enemy sown weeds in your wheat today? The seed that you have placed in the fertile ground will produce exactly what God has promised you. The weeds will be of no avail if you do not panic and pull up all your seed – good and bad. As you inspect the productivity of your life today, there will be good things and not-so-good things. I want to charge you today that the problem is not in your seed. It will always produce according to the promise of God for your life.

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.

Lord give us understanding. Teach us that you have given us good seed. Show us where to plant it. There are many seeds in our life including natural, physical, mental and spiritual. Seeds are the productivity of life. There must be an investment to yield a return. We must be careful not to eat our seed. To be generous sowers that is the charge in the New Testament. Fear is a prime hindrance when it comes to the giving of our life to God’s Potential. Fear of loss, failure, rejection and the unknown are all excuses that keep us from trusting God.

The immediate reaction of the workers was to pull all the weeds before they overtook the crops. The farmer responds with wisdom instead instructing them to leave the weeds to grow with the crops instead. Have you ever given a large offering? Maybe you invested an uncomfortable sum of money in a venture? What is the immediate reaction of most people? Regret. Remorse. The enemy wants to rob us in our sowing by convincing us it is foolish. We must know before we sow. God will instruct us in every area that we seek His Wisdom even in our giving. God isn’t looking at what you toss in the offering plate. He is not evaluating your generosity to the poor. He is not judging you by the balance in your checking account. He doesn’t even care that you spent a couple hundred dollars on new shoes and a matching purse. The Lord looks past our appearance and examines our heart. The fertile soil that yields the best harvest comes from a broken and humble heart. The seed in our hand will be blessed according to the condition of our heart not the field it is otherwise sown.

For example, you may have a dead end job with an overbearing boss. Yet, each day before you leave for work, you pray for your employer and coworkers. You arrive early to work thanking God for the opportunity. You work as unto the Lord and not man giving your all even though you are completely overlooked and taken for granted. You give the Lord the first fruits. You tithe off your meager earnings. The job is not your provider but you have decided that God is your Source. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. You will harvest a blessing – pressed down, shaken together and running over. It may not be that your boss has a heart change or the job becomes enjoyable or rewarding. The Lord of the Harvest will bless your faithfulness. He promises a harvest from your tears. (Psalm 126) God’s Eyes are always intent on our heart. We must become faithful farmers who gain wisdom and understanding from the Lord who do not move from field to field based on emotions or reactionary to the natural conditions of life. We must be people who respond to God’s Promises.

Isaiah 32:16-20 (NLT) Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest. Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down, the Lord will greatly bless his people. Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.

Jesus Christ established righteousness for God’s People. In Him, I am in right standing with God the Father. The productivity of the Kingdom is established in my covenant with God as I live at peace with Him. Quiet confidence offers the opportunity to live by faith and not by sight. When I choose God as my refuge and consecrate my life to Him, the field called my life is blessed again. The seed that is planted will always harvest the promise of God instilled in them from the beginning. God has given us seeds of peace and prosperity that will produce His Promises in our life when sown with the measure of faith given to us as well. To put good seed in the ground and let the process be completed takes a whole lot of faith and patience to see come to pass especially when the enemy tries to fill us with regret. Our seed is wrapped in righteousness and cannot help by grow and prosper. No weapon (or weed) formed against us will prosper.

Haggai 2:18-19 (NLT) “Think about this eighteenth day of December, the day when the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid. Think carefully. I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”

We are God’s Temple. His Spirit lives in us. The promise given to the people in Haggai when the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid holds true for every believer you has chosen Jesus to be Savior and Lord of their life. You have become a living stone part of the Body of Christ. The Lord is giving you this promise today. Your seed is good. It is okay to sow it generously because you do not serve a sparing God. Before a single seed is sown in your life, the Lord is assuring you today that it is good seed and the foundation of your life is blessed.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NLT)  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. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

God has given you good seed. He has called the foundation of your life blessed. You have all the resources to sow goodness and produce promises. You must now find the faith to do so. To trust the Lord of the Harvest. He will instruct you. He will guide you. His Spirit inside of you is the cultivator of life. An abundant life is a product of righteousness as God’s Word accomplishes exactly what it set out to do in you and for you. Do not regret seeds sown in barren fields? They are still subject to God’s Instruction and Purpose. He will always bless the giver who gives from a humble and broken heart. He is supplies seed to the sower not to the withholder. You cannot judge the harvest by the seed. It must be planted. The giver with a heart for God does so cheerfully with godly wisdom and spiritual discernment. Don’t give under pressure. Give in to His Presence. He will prosper you from the inside out. God is good. His Seed is Good. His Word is Truth. He is Lord of the Harvest.

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

 

 

Good Soil

Good Soil

Matthew 13:13:3-9 (NLT)  He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

It might seem that the emphasis of this parable of Jesus is all about spreading seed. Seed time and harvest are exciting ventures in the Kingdom of God. Though the process seems a bit risky and timeframe uncertain, a harvest is the desired result and worth waiting for. Jesus shared this story with his disciples. Their response representative of our own many times. “Why do you use parables when you talk to people?” Jesus responded, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” What if the Lord is speaking to us? What if it really isn’t the Word that is elusive but our impatience that keeps us from hearing His Voice and applying His Wisdom to our life?

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.

God gives seed to the farmer. God has given us seed. He gives us a measure of faith to be sown into salvation. He gives us His Word to become the promises of our life. The seed is established and already provided. Soil needs good soil. I wonder what might happen if believers truly believed in the potential of the seed given to them by God. Seed reproduces. Seed increases to become more than its present form. Seed is important. It is significant. But if the seeds of potential and promise do not find their way into fertile soil – purpose remains hidden within it. If you notice in this parable of Jesus – all the seed produced something. Seed will do exactly what it is predestined to do. It will grow into the very thing that produced it in the first place. The vulnerability of the seed is not its potential but in its placement.

What did the disciples hear when Jesus shared the parable? Were they immediately disinterested because the majority were fisherman by trade therefore this did not apply to them? It happens all the time. We seek God to solve our problem. To provide our lack. To meet our need. To heal our disease. To do something for us. The Lord has already given us seeds of faith and His Word that will become every promise that He has given us when we seek Him and pursue the harvest of faith and fulfillment. God’s Word cannot and will not return to Him void. It must do exactly what He sent it forth to do just like the seeds in the story. They grew where they were planted. You and I are permitted to know the secrets of the Kingdom. What are we doing with these mysteries of hope? Do will sift through them or sow them all in a fertile heart? God has given us every spiritual blessing. It comes in the form of tiny seeds of faith and the Word of God. When He Spirit begins to cultivate them within us what is our response?

Matthew 13:18-23 (NLT) “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

What are you doing with your seed today? Where are you planting it? Do you carelessly leave it to be trampled? Is it scattered in a heart still rocked by bitterness, regret, shame or unforgiveness? To harvest the promise of the seed means allowing our heart to be broken to receive it. Are you rooted and grounded in the Love of God offered through Christ Jesus? Or moved by the winds of change and storms of life? Are you embarrassed to be a Christian? Afraid of what others might think so you hide your faith and beliefs? What about doubt? The killer of most seed put in the ground is the worries and cares of life that choke out the new life as it begins to grow in us. That’s right in us. The fertile soil for the seed of God is our heart. When the seed finds good soil, it produces. When our seed fails to produce its true potential, it is time to test the soil of our heart.

John 12:23-25 (NLT) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.”

Jesus knew the potential of His Life. He knew that He was the Resurrection and Life for all mankind. He knew that once His Death and Repayment of sin complete that He would be placed in the grave or ground for three days. He willingly endured the tragedy and torture of the Cross to go into the grave so that He could release our full potential. We must follow the example of Jesus Christ. Giving up this life to have new life is the objective. The full potential is in us. It will die with us if not sown. Kingdom potential is inside of every man and woman ever created. We have faith and eternity hidden in our heart. God gave us His Word not just spoken and written but in bodily form to live in us. The Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, is the prime cultivator ready to produce every good thing God promised for our life as an inheritance. We just need fertile soil – a broken and responsive heart that is ready to receive. A mind and body willing to wait on God’s Timing. Everything else has already been provided for our salvation and success in this life and the everlasting.

Hebrews 6:7-8 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.

God has invested the mysteries of His Kingdom within you and me. We have vast potential outside of natural occurrences in supernatural and divine sowing and reaping. Our heart must be fertile. It must remain broken to receive and cultivate all that God has for us. The mysteries are hidden in the hard exterior of the human heart. The Lord softens us by breaking our heart and we are saved. There is more to life than a one-time prayer to accept Jesus as our Savior. Those who live calling Him Lord will experience the true potential of seedtime and harvest. The prosperity found by the prospering soul. Bountiful harvests come from broken hearts that dare to allow seeds of faith and the Word of God maximize their full potential.

Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

Little Faith

little faith

Matthew 17:20 (ESV) He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Dynamite was invented in 1867 by Alfred Nobel. The same Nobel who is responsible for Nobel Prizes for scientific and cultural achievements and awards. His invention of dynamite is what gave him the wealth to fund what is historically one of the most prestigious awards in the world. Before dynamite, the strongest explosive was gunpowder. Gunpowder did not have the power needed for many needs as it was very dangerous to handle especially in larger quantities. Dynamite met this need and was much safer to use.

Dynamite consists of a few common elements. Nitroglycerin, which already existed though extremely dangerous and quite unstable, is the primary potent ingredient that causes the massive explosion. Nobel took nitroglycerin and packed it in diatomaceous earth which is soft, chalky stone made nitroglycerin safer to handle. A wick and blasting cap are the final two components needed to create a stick of dynamite. Once placed in the desired location – the wick is lit and when it ignites the blasting cap causes a small explosion that triggers a much larger destructive explosion.

The Greek “dunamis” is used 120 times in the New Testament. The word refers to strength, power or ability. Yes, it is the root word for dynamite, dynamo, and dynamic. In Matthew 17, the disciples have tried to release the power of God by casting out a demon from a possessed person. It did not work. They are perplexed. When they ask Jesus, he responds “because of your little faith.” I often have read this thinking that the faith of these men too small to get the job done but I do not think that is the case at all. How much smaller can faith be than a mustard seed? What if Jesus was not talking about the size or quantity of faith but rather its handling and placement?

Mark 4:30-32 (ESV) And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Faith is given to us. God assigns us a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) We have the proper amount of faith but it must be properly handled to release God’s Power and Glory in our life. The Purpose and Plan of God for us is released as faith is planted then grows, matures and develops into a fruitful and abundant life. The seed must be buried to give way to its present form and release its divine purpose. Seeds of faith must be sown into the fertile heart in order to produce the dunamis power inside each one. Maybe when the Power of God and His Glory are not evident in our life is not because of a lack of potential or purpose but maybe abandonment of process. Unless we truly believe in the potential of each tiny seed of faith, there will be no energy expended in cultivating them. Funny that even with dynamite the powerful nitroglycerin must be enveloped in earthen material in order to be properly handled. The death of self is in living a life of faith not futility by trusting and believing God at His Word, planting it deep in our heart, lighting it with the Power of His Love, and allowing the Holy Spirit to explode inside of us until the Light reaches the world.

It only takes a stick of dynamite to release an explosion capable of great destruction. You have dunamis power inside of you in the person of Jesus Christ. We connect with His Power by faith. Faith comes in the form of seeds to be planted in a soft and fertile heart. It must grow into the confident hope. This is accomplished outside of our five senses. Faith is not logical unless it is supported by the Word of God. Quite simply – faith can only become powerful when properly handled until just the right time. God has given us a purpose and plan that is far beyond our expectation. It is not to be found in our present form but the Glorious Power that He has hidden on the inside of us just waiting to find its way out. You have faith. It must be handled properly. Thank you God for giving me the right amount of faith. Teach me to use it properly. I have Christ in me. He is enough. The Power and Glory of God is hidden inside of me. Lord, I ask that Your Power becomes the energy and drive of my life. In Jesus Name!

2 Peter 1:3-8 (ESV) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Too Broken

Too Broken

I Corinthians 15:35-38 (MSG) Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

Can anything be too broken? Beyond repair? Without hope? Are there things in God that are destroyed for a purpose? How does one know the difference? If the scripture is true that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His Purpose.” How do you explain brokenness in the midst of goodness? The painful process of dying to the present to release the full potential of the future requires every bit of faith inside of us and all the hope that has been mustered up. It takes courage beyond that which we are born with because it is a total investment in something we cannot see or comprehend with our senses yet nevertheless seek it with our heart. What seems to be “dead” in your life today? What dream, vision, goal or revelation? This is not about meaningless or worthless endeavors but those pursuits once sought after wholeheartedly that have fallen into pieces at our feet. You thought it was right. You thought it was His Calling. You believed that He sent you to this place or put you in this position. Now what?

The biggest hurdle of faith to overcome is human disappointment. Those times when things do not turn out as one expected and the experience is not what was hoped for or imagined. Faith must overcome the perceived failures in our life to reach the full potential of brokenness. Fully bending and surrendering our mind, will and emotions to the hope that is given to us in Jesus Christ will require someone relenting and it will not be the Lord. If you are truly seeking to live the life that God has promised, brokenness is inevitable because the potential that is inside of us must find its way out.

John 11:21-26 (MSG) Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”  “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus, had died. He was a friend of Jesus. Martha confided in Christ that she believed that if the Lord had been there that her brother would be alive. Jesus shared a secret with Martha in her grief. “Your brother will be raised up.” The limitation on her faith exposed in her response. “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.” How often we put boundaries on the Living God by pushing our expectation beyond this life into forever. Jesus goes on to tell her and then show her that He is the “I am, right now, Resurrection and Life.” You say that you believe but are you willing to let that thing you love most die to experience the Glory of God that waits those with real and genuine faith in the Living God?

And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?” Our firmest conviction must become that there is nothing impossible with God in order to let doubt and fear die to grow faith and believing in our life. Some things will have to be too broken for human hands. Some things will have be become impossible for the Living God to manifest His Plan and Potential for your life evidenced in His Promises. We must die fully to self to be clothed fully in His Righteousness. Religion is only a half-hearted attempt to love and serve a fully-invested God.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10 (MSG) Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

The Grace of God is sufficient for me. His Power works its best in my weakness. His Presence is closest in my brokenness. Hear me today! Grace cannot become power in hard heart. It cannot facilitate God’s Strength in the stronghold of pride. If you are still standing, you have a long way to go before His Power can make it to your heart and mind. We must die to self to experience Resurrection Power and New Life. The battle begins inside of us. We must give up our way along with it our control. It is the continual lowering of self and exaltation of Christ. It is the giving to and forgiving of those who once were considered our enemy. We have but one enemy. The seed goes in the ground alone. One seed has enough potential to grow into something far greater than itself and reproduce enough to create more than it ever was. This potential is in you but cannot be released unless you are willing to put it all in the ground and let Jesus cover you in darkness and bring forth new life. You will be broken but the potential of what is to come will be worth it.

Psalm 51:16-17 (MSG) Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

Christian performance is overrated. God desires our heart not our hand. There is nothing God needs me to do for Him yet so often I get caught up in service as though it might somehow make me worthy of His Love. My pride has been shattered countless times by my inability. Failure has brought me to the end of self. My heart broken many times until the pieces too many for me to put back together again. God comes to us when we can’t do it ourselves. No longer given to the thought that I am anything outside of Christ, I become putty in His Hands. It is only then that creation of His Masterpiece begins. (Ephesians 2:10)

Romans 9:20-26 (MSG) Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well: I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!” They’re calling you “God’s living children.”

Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? We do it all the time. Second-guessing God is the moment one chooses delayed obedience or to partially obey Him even in the most simplistic of commands. It is revealed in our words of doubt, fear and defeat. When we complain or gripe about our life is the tell-tale signs of disbelief and discontentment with God’s Provision and Promise in our life. We are His Created Ones. He is the only one who can take all these broken pieces and makes something beautiful out of it. The Lord promises to work good from every detail and perfect all that concerns us but He is not going to wrestle control from us – we must submit and surrender every area of our life to the wonder-working power of God given to us through His Son, Jesus.

Can anything be too broken? Beyond repair? Without hope? The definitive answer is no. Absolutely not. But does it feel like that sometimes…absolutely. God cannot use us until we become completely compliant. A fertile heart is a broken heart. The seed of God’s Word cannot penetrate a willful, hard, and stubborn heart. So the Lord leads us to brokenness so that the seed of His Word and faith within us meet and become the purpose that He promised would become a rich and satisfying life. He leads us from victory to victory. You cannot win if you do not play the game. Play to win. Leave your all on the field or more aptly the altar today. It is human nature to squirrel something away for a rainy day but it will not be enough in the storm. All of me for all of Him requires complete and utter brokenness the kind that I cannot put back together but only Jesus can fill with Resurrection Power and Life.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (MSG) Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

Half Baked

Half Baked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Word of God

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

7, Helps me. (Vs. 39)

  1. Renews my life. (Vs. 40)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

When Mountains Move

When Mountains Move

Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountain fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

“The mountains quake with their surging…” I wonder what our response might be to the moving of the mountain beneath us when the Lord starts to break apart the foundation of doubt that once was our security as pride kept us in complete control. The smallest step in faith will produce a profound rumble in the ground beneath our feet. Faith is not logical. It is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen which makes it intangible. In fact, sometimes the smallest movement of faith in our life produces an avalanche of circumstances as the enemy fights to keep us from attempting another. Fear is a fortress with an unlocked door. It binds us in the dreadful expectation of something that may not ever be a reality. Faith produces a refuge in the Presence of God that endures the moving of our mountain as the earth gives way to eternity.

It seems as though the more I desire to live by faith the more uncertain life becomes. God is an ever-present help in trouble because His Spirit lives in us. The reality of God’s Love shines from those who encounter it, engage it and somehow endure to the end. It is up to me to fan the flames of His Spirit and keep the light shining brightly even on the darkest days. I must feed my faith the Word of God to continually nourish and strengthen it. I must water it with the Word to keep it supple and growing. I must protect my seed of faith from the things that want to choke it and kill it such as fear, anxiety, stress, worry and cares. Life is hard. There is no question that everyone faces difficulties in life. The outcome is determined by our response to adversity. Do I run for cover or run to my refuge. God is with us. He is working for us. He will never let us down. He must be the place of comfort and rest when the mountain starts moving.

Psalm 46:4-7 (NIV) There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Faith displaces fear in our life but doesn’t stop the world from turning. The world is headed for destruction. There are wars and rumors of war just as the Lord predicted when He was with us. Just because you have faith doesn’t change the current conditions or natural consequences in the world, it changes us. It conditions our soul, mind and body to respond to God’s Word and His Faithfulness rather than reacting to the situations faced on any given day. I didn’t realize until today that the words, “God is within her, she will not fail” were actually words of encouragement tucked in the Bible. I needed some encouragement today. If God lives in you, you will not fail. It’s true. If we could only believe that His Word is true and relevant in our life – we just might wait to see what happens.

Haggai 2:6-9 (NIV)  “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Why shake things up? I believe that the shaking is to keep us from settling. Comfort and complacency produce a sense of control that is contradictory to allowing God’s Spirit to work in us and through us. God is determined to give us His Very Best. He doesn’t cut corners or compromise. We must press and push to stay in the Presence of God even in the midst of violent storms or shifting sands. In Luke 6:38, it talks about being “pressed down, shaken together and running over.” The giving of our life in full surrender to faith produces this kind of movement in our life. It is not a bad thing. It reveals the true wealth of our life. We have the opportunity to become refined and purified as gold.

Psalm 46:8-11 (NIV) Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Is the ground beneath you moving? Are the winds of change blowing like a hurricane through your life? Do you feel unstable? Could it be that your faith is producing some movement in the mountain of doubt you have been climbing? Faith moves mountains even in the smallest form. The changes and conditions that seem to be threatening you might be the very things moving you from complacency to confidence and producing the hope from the ashes of unmet expectation. You cannot expect to be transformed and not moved. It would be contradictory. Stagnancy is not a Kingdom condition as His Spirit flows through our life. Changing us and the outcomes of each trial. The Lord is moving us into a refuge of faith that produces confident hope that in the midst of shaking all around us – it produces a stillness just knowing that He is God. He is Good. His Love for us is unending and unconditional. He will stop at nothing to show you how much He desires you. If the mountain is moving today, do not let it move you. Keep the faith. Remain committed to confident hope. Hold on to Him with both hands. The Lord is for you. You will not fail!

Psalm 62:8 (NIV) Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

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.”