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.”

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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.”

Until He Comes

Until He comes

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.

What are you waiting for? Is there a prayer or two or three or many that are yet to be answered? Are there problems still in need of solutions? Questions unanswered? Dreams unfilled? Expectations not met? What do you do when the process is not yielding results? Waiting on the Lord today? For what? As I prayed, this verse came to mind. I read it. I read it again. Sow righteousness. God, I think I am pursuing righteousness through Christ. Reap the fruit of unfailing love. I know His Spirit is working on me from the inside out. Lord, my heart is broken into so many pieces – I am amazed that you are able to do anything with it most days. Yet you do, day after day taking each one and fitting into proper placement. It just seems to be taking a really long time. I cannot see the picture on the puzzle box. I do not understand your plan. Am I missing something? I read the verse again. Three words change my perspective completely.

Until He Comes…

Matthew 10:22 (NIV) …But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Would waiting be easier if put into perspective? Impatience is human nature. Our flesh prefers immediate gratification over long-term fulfillment. We do not fight for the Kingdom. We fight our flesh to prefer the Kingdom. What if the problem with the process is not the process at all but finding the patience to stand firm to the end? We try to work for our righteousness. Work to maintain our freedom. Fight for faith. Try to triumph. What if all of that is given? What if all I am required to do is wait? Sometimes doing all the right things does not produce a quick outcome because it is not about doing the right things. It is about knowing, trusting and believing the Right One. Comfort longs to be maintained, convenience cries out for release, and control is based on insecurity and fear. All of these qualities are coveted by our flesh. However, covenant requires a commitment to abandon such things and endure to the end…those who do will be saved.

Psalm 112:6-9 (NIV) Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.

The righteous will never be shaken…

Sow righteousness. Plant it in your heart. The seeds of righteousness come only from the Father through the Son. I do not want to dissuade you from attempting to make better choices or live a holy life. However, the only way to the Father is through His Son. You cannot be right without God except through the bright red Blood of Christ. Abram believed and it was credited to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6) The righteous live by faith in God through the Grace provided by Jesus, His Son. (Romans 1:17) It only comes through Christ. (Romans 3:22) And we all need it. (Romans 3:23) Sowing seeds of righteousness has nothing to do with what we do. It solely based on what we believe. To continually sow God’s Word in our heart until it takes root and grows into total trust, complete confidence, absolute obedience, and a solid relationship with God. This is the kind of believing the Lord is looking for in us. The devil and all of his demons believe in God. They know Jesus. They are subject to His Authority and Power. We must do the same for righteousness and salvation sake.

Their hearts are steadfast, trusting the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear.

Reap the fruit of unfailing love. Jesus released His Spirit upon His Death on the Cross. Immediately the curtain was torn from top to bottom giving people access to God again. The Spirit immediately started giving life. He opened graves right then and there. (Matthew 27) The same exact Spirit released then and imparted at Pentecost lives in us. He is the identity of Christ in us and identifies us as Children of God. He produces fruit in us that is representative of our Father. (Galatians 5:22-23) He changes our character into that of Christ so we may become Christ Imitators. Just as righteousness cannot be obtained any other way than the full assumption of God’s Grace, no good thing comes out us that His Spirit is not producing in us.

Break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord.

With all of this in mind, it becomes clear that although we submit to God’s Process by faith that there is very little contribution on our part. We must simply believe. Those who do will reap the benefits. Believing by faith is our righteousness. It makes us, like Abraham, friends of God not estranged family or prodigal children but born again believers become Kingdom Kids. Children of God confident that their Father is good. His love faithful. His Purpose fulfilling enough to seek Him all the days of their life…until He comes.

My heart must be broken before the Lord to receive all that He has promised. My heart is already broken by trials and tragedies of life, but this is a different kind of broken. The kind of broken that gives way to humble submission before the Lord so He can take His Word and plant it in us. The seeds grow into every good and perfect thing that He promised. Faith gives God our heart and mind. It says no matter what I will remain broken before the Lord. We begin a list of things to give Him and as that lists grows day by day so does our dependence upon Him. Faith grows into a righteous oak from even the smallest investment. A tiny seed of trust well-placed in the fertile soil of our heart will yield miraculous and supernatural results… if we wait until He comes. It is time to seek the Lord. He promises that those who seek His Kingdom first AND His Righteousness and all these “things” will be given to you as well. Make the Lord your priority today. You may give up on everything else you try but don’t give up on the process that He has placed you in. Wait until He comes.

Revelation 3:10-11 (NIV) Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

 

In the Weeds

IN the Weeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Time to Plant – A Devotion

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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.

 

After a long day of consultation at the hospital, it has been determined that the best course of action in our battle against the cancer that insists on attacking our son is a bone marrow transplant. The consultation took around three hours as the doctor poured over endless notes and information from various trials and studies looking for those individuals whose stories closely resembled our son. The truth is his story is unique. There are few documented cases of this type of cancer in young men with no prior history that would indicate such a progression. He does not fit in the box. I believe the world is constantly trying to group unique individuals in clusters and boxes to find a common thread other than creation but less I digress. It is one thing to trust God to save your child’s life when his body is under the attack of a life-threatening disease. You must do whatever it takes to cure him and therefore trust God placing all faith in Him as He becomes your only hope. But it is quite another to step out on faith when your son is thriving with no evidence of disease in his body. The doctors have now determined that this particular cancer is the result of mononucleosis or the Epstein-Barr virus. A common illness that many will contract this year whose immune system will readily attack and remove. Our son responds well to chemotherapy and tolerates it by the Grace of God in ways many doctors have deemed impossible. However, each recurrence has come more rapidly and more intense. The doctor fears that each time the cancer goes into dormancy it gains strength and will one day be resistant – so here we are on the verge of the unthinkable. Now comes the point in time when faith is not forced. It is time to pay forward our trust in the Lord without any guarantee from the medical team of remission or even survival. It is time to plant seeds of faith. It is time to plant seeds of righteousness. It is time to plant in the Kingdom of God. The Lord has been clear that you will always harvest what you plant. My sinful nature wants to run from this challenge, bury my head in the sand, and pass the cup along to someone else. But the buck stops here. Talking to my son after the long visit that would begin yet another journey of faith on his way to victory, I told him that we would not give up but press on for the Promise of God. He said, “I didn’t know giving up was ever an option!” I love that kid.

 

Genesis 8:21-22 (NLT)

And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

 

The acceptable sacrifice of Noah pleased the Lord and so He promised to “never again cure the ground” no matter how desperate and depraved the human race was or would become but that as long as the earth remains that there will be planting and harvest in every season. God promised to never again destroy all living things. Judging from the world in which we live, this is probably a good thing. The doctor told us nonchalantly that cancer is present in every human body leading me to the belief that it is all a product of sin. The only cure for sin is Jesus Christ. To seek the advice and care of a good physician is well within my human rights and reasoning. However, to find healing and a complete cure from sin, as well as all other diseases, I must seek the Lord. I need Jesus Christ more today than yesterday. I will need Him more tomorrow than today I am convinced. I must learn to constantly and consistently sow and reap in the Kingdom of God throughout this lifetime and the territory I have been entrusted here.

 

Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NLT)

Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.

 

God has a purpose for my life and yours as well. As the Lord works in us and through us, He expects some sort of investment…in every season of life. It is irrelevant how we feel or what our circumstances look like, He has compared us to farmers who sow their seed no matter what the weather is like if a harvest is expected. Faith in God and trust in the Lord will never be completely comfortable or easy because it is not our nature to do so. Those who choose to be lazy and decide not to plow the hardness of their heart and plant the Word of God there will not reap the harvest that the Lord has promised. Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food in the harvest. (Proverbs 20:4) Maybe you are thinking (like many other people) that since the Gift of Salvation and Righteousness are free gifts from God that promises are received and blessings discovered the very same way. You will never experience the Promises of God without an investment in the Word tucked away in our heart. Jesus Christ is the Word. The Bible is the written Word. His Spirit confirms that the Promises and Provisions of the New Covenant are our personal inheritance. But that does not negate the cultivation process of sowing and harvesting in our life – but rather empowers it. If we will pay close attention to what we sow into our heart, the harvest of our heart will change and multiply in our life. Too many times after calling on the Name of the Lord to be saved – we tuck away our faith for another time or place and never step through the door of His Grace to receive the rewards hidden away for the righteous. Your faith will not grow until plant and most of the time will dry out without being watered by our tears. Those who put their hand to the plow and look back choosing to return to their old life, sinful nature and darkness of this world are not fit to receive the Kingdom of God available for your use now. (Luke 9:62) What are you waiting for today… it is time to plant!

 

Isaiah 28:23-26 (NLT)

Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention. 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.

 

God has provided everything that we need to produce a harvest of spiritual blessings and divine promises in our life. He has also given us understanding if we choose to use it. God’s Word is His Careful Instruction to His People of how to cultivate all that the Lord has promised for our life. Life represents a process. We are to constantly strive to plant more faith and trust in the Lord to produce more and more confident hope. We are told to plant seeds of righteousness that draw us closer to the Lord. (Hosea 10:12) We are also encouraged to plant seeds of faith that will empower us from glory to glory. (Matthew 17:20-21) We are to plant all of our seed in the Kingdom of Heaven for supernatural harvests! (Matthew 13:31-32) We are in the constant cycle of sowing and reaping. We can waste our time as the lazy man but have no reason to gripe and complain against the Lord when we live in seasonal droughts that consume us as we experience failure to thrive in the Kingdom of God and become weary and overwrought as we work hard with nothing to show for it. Pay close attention…to what Lord? My Word…every word that comes from His Mouth, planted deep in our heart will produce prosperity in our life as our faith grows and hope is renewed day by day! The greatest thing about the Word of God is that it never comes back void. A farmer can plant a handful of seeds in the ground and only a few seedlings may break through the soil. But when we plant just one seed of faith in the Kingdom of God…mountains will move! “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.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

 

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (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.”

 

God told me in the very beginning of this battle that my son will live and not die. I have seen the Goodness and Grace of God overshadow Him every single step of the way with each recurrence followed by amazing grace and healing. Each time cancer knocked – it was knocked out simply by trusting the Lord and waiting for Him to come. I have asked the Lord many times to pass this cup along – but as always He says that His Grace is sufficient for me. I am beginning to believe it. As my mind cries out in suffering, my heart is at peace with the Lord. If my child wanders too close to the edge of Eternity too soon, I know that the same Resurrection Power that brought Jesus out of the grave will bring my son back to life. How do I know? God has given me His Word. I planted it in my heart. It is beginning to grow. Too many times we read verses like 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 and associate it strictly with finances or tangible blessings. I believe God is talking about our faith and trust in this promise. If you give your life including all your faith and trust to Him alone, He loves a cheerful giver! Those who are willingly will plant their life in the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness will thrive in every season and situation. Though they may plant in tears, they will harvest great joy! (Psalm 126:4-6) God sees my desperate heart longing to be closer and crying out for Him to come near. He is clearing out the sin in my life that once separated us, slathering it with grace and coming to my aid. I understand the words of the psalmist who says that “my suffering was good for me!” I have learned some valuable truths through the sowing and reaping process of the last two years. I have discovered that the Lord keeps His Promises. I now believe in areas that were consumed with doubt. I have learned some self-control though admittedly He is still working on me. I now pay close attention to His Word and keep my eyes focused on the Word (Jesus). I know that God is always good! (Psalm 119:65-72) Yes friend, even in suffering God is always good and working good through every detail no matter how bad it seems. So I am able to release my life to the Lord even when it is hard knowing that these seeds of faith will flourish producing a harvest of unspeakable joy in my life. God is working in us and through us to produce a greater harvest! (2 Corinthians 9:10)

 

 

James 5:7-8 (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. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

 

It is a new season in our life. No longer living defensively, it is time to live offensively. Rather than coming to the Altar of God in desperation, we make the decision to trust the Lord freely and thoroughly not because we have to but we have chosen to. Our gift of faith and trust is the result of believing that God is able in all things to accomplish the impossible according to His Word. I would be a liar to say that I am overly enthusiastic about this process. I am investing everything in what I know to be the Truth over the carefully documented lies of the enemy that limit my son’s life and destiny. God has a purpose for his life that will not be ended or cut short by cancer or the devil. I have no confidence in my ability to save him but I have total trust and faith that God’s Word will come to pass in His Life. So today and tomorrow and then next couple of months will be sowing in many tears as the hard, dry ground of my heart is broken in the process of cultivation but I know in the end we will experience the greatest harvest of our life if we are patient in God’s Process. It is indeed time to plant…

 

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 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.

 

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.