Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Get What's Planted

We bought a farm.  An acre of land surrounded by fields.  Last year the other farmers around us planted soybean, and this year it's corn.  When it's time for them to harvest this year, they will reap corn.

The other day, we went out to our garden to pull what we planted.  We have produced an abundance of zucchini, squash, and tomatoes.  Though a smaller crop, we also have watermelons and pumpkins, too.

The fact that we reaped the fruits and vegetables we planted months ago reminded me of Paul's encouraging words in Galatians 6:9 when he said, "Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

Seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control harvest these characteristics in our life and heart.  They come because of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.  When we extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness toward others, our returns will be the same.  

Maybe not always from the same people, but good seeds produces healthy fruit. So as we plant these seeds into the lives of others, we can definitely expect this kind of harvest when the timing is just right.  We do reap what we sow, because God promises that He is not mocked.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Want to Love Others?

Love flows from a heart that has first learned to receive the love of God and give it back to Him.  Loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind is key to loving others.  If it wasn't, then why did Jesus, the Son of God, instruct us in this way?

You see, when asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus responded by telling us to love the Lord with everything we've got. (Matthew 22:37) We can't do that if we are unwillingly to receive His love for us first.

The Lord loves us.  These may be words we say, but do we believe it?  Do we truly comprehend His love for us?  Do we realize that we manifest the Lord when we love like Him, and we can't do that if we've withheld ourselves from first receiving His love.  We love like Him when we believe Him about His love for us.

We can truly love others when the love of Jesus has been born within us.  His love is patient, kind, not rude, not arrogant, or not self-seeking.  His love believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. His love never fails.

We can love like this when we learn to truly abide in His love for us.  His love can then flow from us to others.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How Do You Spell RELIEF?

When I read this on Facebook recently, it took me back to a time in my life not too long ago when I use to seek comfort from others by pouring out my woes over and over again to them.  I didn't seem to understand that no matter how willing they listened, the pain remained when my sharing finished.

I realize now that the person listening at the time did care about me, but they couldn't erase my pain.  My talking only provided temporary relief for that moment, but when alone again, the problem still loomed heavily over me.

However, several years ago, it finally dawned on me that I needed to break this unhealthy pattern in my life.  The Lord revealed to me that the reason my talking brought no healing was because I expected other humans to solve my hurt.  One can barely handle their own emotional wounds let alone someone else's.

When I understood this, a veil came off of my heart.  I saw Jesus inviting me into His open arms and lap. He assured me that He wanted to be near me even when I didn't react properly to a situation.  He didn't require me to get my act together first.  Instead He reminded me to bring all my fears, anger, hurts, and disappointments to Him.  Not only could He handle my problems, but He could bring about a solution too.

I love and appreciate all my friends.  They are beautiful sisters who have extend the same grace and mercy they have received back to me.  Many of them are still willing to journey with me through the ups and downs of life.

What I realize though is that it's important for every answer to point us back to Jesus.  He is in the business of making something beautiful from our ashes. Temporary relief from someone's listening ear is a nice gift, but praise the Lord for the One who satisfies entirely!!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Words of Healing

It's been several years ago, but the impact of that moment remains with me forever.  I sat in Starbucks with a dear friend, pouring out the deep hurts oozing from my heart.  The loss of a friendship that came with painful words and unkind actions left me reeling.  When I shared my struggle about wondering whether I had much to offer, she grabbed a 3 x 5 index card from my Bible and wrote the following message:
The spelling error adds the uniqueness of this card!
It took some time for me to grasp the full truth of these words.  As I read it over and over, I began to think of all the people that messed us in the Scriptures.  David called a man after God's own heart.  Abraham referred to as God's  friend.  Paul once a murderer of Christians becoming a great evangelist of his day.  Peter the one who denied Jesus and later dies for Him.

I began to realize that if God could transform their willing hearts, He could do it for me too.

In time, I came to appreciate the friends that loved me over the years with all my quirks.  They have strived with me to reach toward my full potential.  They helped me along the way and were instrumental in pointing me toward the truth.  It was through their commitment to me that I finally believed God and begin to appreciate the person He made me to be.

Yes, we can look to the Lord for our acknowledgment and restoration.  He is pleased to do it!  

Thankfully, it also please Him to send Himself in the package of His children who willing extend the grace and mercy they received toward others.

Pleasing Him needs to be our goal, and when it is, there IS freedom!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Not My Shoes

We think we know.  Maybe we actually want to know.  Reality is, we can't even begin to understand what it means to walk or live in the shoes of others. They will never quite fit. Frankly, they aren't meant to fit.  They aren't our shoes.

So much damage is done by our words and actions when we make judgments about others.  I can't even count on two hands the times I ended up finding out I placed my foot in my mouth because of my wrong conclusions.  Many relationships have been destroyed due to an unwillingness to give another person the benefit of the doubt.

What would life be like if we actually learned to keep our shoes on and walk beside others while they walk in theirs instead of trying to put theirs on?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

We Are the Church

      Finishing up Beth Moore's study, "Believing God" proved to be a great decision.  After teaching what we needed to believe about the Lord and ourselves, she took us on a journey down memory lane in a way I never traveled before.  She had us take our age and divide it by five.  My age meant looking at it in ten year spans, adding a couple more to the last fifth age period.  The common question in each age category she asked us to examine:  "Who spiritually influenced your life during this time?"

     The first ten years of my life, my father faithfully brought me to church.  It was a beautiful building, but I remember always feeling empty and yearning for answers never given through the sermons.  Something was missing, but I had no idea what.  I don't wish to make mention of the denomination, because I know that my experience happens in every denomination.  However, for the first tens years, I believe I walked into a building called "church", but don't believe it was the church Jesus commissioned His disciples to form when He said, "Go into the all world and make disciples".  Nevertheless, those first ten years provided a foundation for me to be open to the gospel when it finally came into my life at fifteen.
(Photo just for blog.  Know nothing about this quaint place.)
     In second decade of my life, the Lord brought ALL those significant people that had the greatest impact on my spiritual journey.  It is because of their influences that today I believe God is who He says He is, God can do what He says He can do, I am who God says I am, I can do all things through Christ, and God's Word is alive and active in me.

     The first person came into my life my freshman year of high school.  She invited me to a retreat with her youth group and because of that invitation, I met Jesus as my Savior five months later at the local evangelistic meetings held in our area.  My sophomore year of high school, the Lord brought another friend who became my best friend throughout high school.  She invested a lot of time teaching me how to dig into God's Word and finding His gems of truth.  

     With my father's blessing, I left my quaint "church building" and started attending youth group with my friend. I attended another retreat, and this time one of the leaders took an interest in me and became my spiritual mentor.  She invested a lot of time and energy into this messed up teen, who actually gave her more challenge than her own children ever did at that age.

     My college years brought two more lifetime sisters-in-the-Lord, and my husband into my life.  We dated for only a short time, parted ways, and reunited and married five years later.  All three of these special people are still be in my life, except one, who met our Savior several years ago after her two year battle of cancer.

     All of these people that entered my life during this decade saw beyond this messed up person to someone they believed God could transform for His service.  All of them displayed God's grace, mercy, and unconditional love to me.  They showed me what it meant to be a child of God and how it looked in every day living.  They showed me the reality of this song that sadly I never saw lived out in that first "building"I attended for ten years:

I am the church.
You are the church.
We are the church together.
All who follow Jesus.
All around the world.
We are the church together.