On Wings Of Eagles

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Do You Need to Be Hit By a Brick?

1 Peter 1:18-19  (NIV)
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

A few years ago, a young and very successful executive named Josh was traveling down a Chicago neighborhood street. He was going a bit too fast in his sleek, black, 12 cylinder Jaguar XKE, which was only two months old. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something.

As his car passed, no child darted out, but a brick sailed out and- WHUMP! -- it smashed into the Jag's shiny black side door! SCREECH...!!!! Brakes slammed! Gears ground into reverse, and tires madly spun the Jaguar back to the spot from where the brick had been thrown.

Josh jumped out of the car, grabbed the kid and pushed him up against a parked car. He shouted at the kid, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing?!" Building up a head of steam, he went on. "That's my new Jag, that brick you threw is going to cost you a lot of money. Why did you throw it?"

"Please, mister, please ... I'm sorry! I didn't know what else to do!" pleaded the youngster. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop!"

Tears were dripping down the boy's chin as he pointed around the parked car.

"It's my brother, mister," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up." Sobbing, the boy asked the executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."

Moved beyond words, the young executive tried desperately to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. Straining, he lifted the young man back into the wheelchair and took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checking to see that everything was going to be OK. He then watched the younger brother push him down the sidewalk toward their home.

It was a long walk back to the sleek, black, shining, 12 cylinder Jaguar XKE, a long and slow walk. Josh never did fix the side door of his Jaguar. He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at him to get his attention...

..... Some bricks are softer than others. Let’s look for the bricks of life coming at / to us today.

Dear Lord, we pray that we will not be so busy that we don’t see those around us that need our help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Will You Offer a Helping Hand?

Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Take a minute and imagine this...

Imagine that there is a person standing in front of you struggling with several large packages. You may know them, or you might not. It could be a friend or a stranger. Maybe it's your spouse or maybe it's someone you barely know. Perhaps it's someone you see every day, or it could be someone you'll only meet once.

Imagine then there before you struggling with several large packages. They've got more than they can carry. The burden is too much for them to bear alone. You see them straining and hurting and aching from the weight of the packages.

Now, what would you do?

Think about it, you're at Wal-Mart or the grocery store and you're standing there with nothing in your own hands. And all of a sudden you notice this person in front of you who is just about to drop their packages because they have more than they can handle. What is your first thought?

Of course, you have the natural urge to give them a hand. You wouldn't just stand there and watch them struggle and drop things when you could easily help them out.

You know, you don't have to use your imagination unless you want to. You can see it in living color every single day of your life.

You see, there ARE those in your pathway, standing right there in front of you, who are struggling with more than they can carry. Oh, it may not be groceries or household items from the department store, but it is a very real burden that weighs them down just the same.

Maybe it's a divorce they are going through. Or, it might be an illness. It could be a relationship problem, a difficult decision, a situation at work, or they could just be having a bad day. There are all kinds of things that weigh us down. Things that we struggle with. Things that leave us straining and hurting and aching from the weight that is upon us.

Someone who is carrying too many packages will be in front of you today. You can count on it. Will you notice them? It might be a friend or a stranger, someone you are close to or someone you barely know, someone you see everyday or someone you'll only meet once. And they'll be standing there struggling under the weight.

What is your first thought? Will you reach out and give them a hand? Will you do what you can to help meet the need? Will you offer a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on? Will you be someone to help bear the burden in whatever way that you can?

As we read in the Bible we are to "bear each other's burdens." We are to lighten each other's load. We are to help with those spiritual, emotional, mental and physical packages that are weighing each other down.

Today you'll meet someone who is carrying too much. Will you offer a helping hand?

Dear Lord, help us see those today that need us to carry something for them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Will You Add Your Strength?

Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

It was a very hot summer day when Herman Trueblood was walking home from a cool dip in the ocean when he noticed a man perspiring profusely as he was trying with the help of his two young sons to push his broken-down car up an incline.

Trueblood looked at the struggling trio and said to himself, "Here is an opportunity for service. "You ought to give them a hand." An opposing voice chimed in, "No, it's none of your business. You'll get yourself all hot and dirty. Let them take care of their own responsibility."

Eventually he yielded to the better impulse, put his shoulder to the task and together they pushed the car over the incline and on its way.

Before they took off, the father, putting his hand out to Trueblood, said, "I'm very glad that you came along. You had just enough strength, added to ours, to make the thing go."

Trueblood noted, "Years have passed since that hot day, but I can still hear that man saying, "You had just enough strength, added to ours, to make the thing go."

There are numerous people around us who are barely making it over their private hill of despair when, with a helping hand, they could make it. Will you answer the call and be the one to help?

Dear Lord, we thank You for those that take the time to help others. We pray today that You will give us the opportunity to help somebody in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

We Are the Lord's

Romans 14:8 (NIV)
If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Two stories:

Kim and Teddy were in love. Surrounded by family and friends they were married on the third anniversary of their first date. The wedding went exactly as they had planned. Then, during their first dance as husband and wife, Kim said she felt "light-headed". Shortly after, she collapsed and died.

Here is the second story. Firefighter David Harmon was walking the muddy, debris-filled fields of Castalian Springs, Tennessee. A tornado had destroyed homes, and it had taken lives. In the midst of the mess David saw a doll. But it wasn't a doll. It was a child. David touched the child's neck to see if there was a pulse. The boy took a breath and cried. He had survived after the storm had blown him more than one hundred yards. The child lived; his mother died.

Different stories? No, the same story. Both tell of people in love who have been separated by death. Both stories leave us confused. But both stories can end the same way. Because of Jesus' perfect life, His suffering, death, and glorious resurrection, there will be an unending reunion between husband and wife, mother and child. As St. Paul said, "whether we live, or whether we die (with faith in Jesus) we are the Lord's."

Dear Lord, We give thanks for what You have done. Your sacrifice brings comfort to those who mourn. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Penciled In

John 14:6 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

My father in law always carried a notebook and a pen in his shirt pocket to make notes to himself. I recall how he would write down each and every part that we would use on a job, that way he would know what we needed to restock the truck. Once they were written down he would say “Now they are penciled in, I won’t forget.”

These days, I, too, write things down, well I enter them into my notes app on my phone, so I won't forget them and miss my appointments: special lunches with friends, the activities happening in the community, or my doctor's appointments.  As I took out my phone and looked at my notepad to see all the things I had to do that were written down, I thought about how I am written down in God’s book.  
The Bible tells us that God, too, has written our names down in His Book: "Rejoice because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20b), "written in the Lamb's Book of Life" (Revelation 21:27b).

We have an appointment with our heavenly Father, and He will not forget. Our future is secure with Him in heaven because He has promised us that someday, we shall be with Him. We are penciled in when we accept Him as our Savior. Each of us is special!

Dear Lord, we thank You for securing our place with You. Thank You for recording our names in Your book and for sending us Your Son to show us the way to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Full House

John 14:2-3 (NIV)
2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

In our back yard we have two bunny hutches.  As I went out this morning to check on our bunny family I noticed something. We have two hutches, one houses the males and one houses the females.  Presently we have 1 male and his hutch has lots of room. The other hutch has our females and it is full, a “Full house”.

Some restaurants also experience a full house, especially on weekends. “Sorry,” they will say, “reservations are full.” This can be a discouraging situation, especially if you are planning a celebration. Football stadiums, Baseball stadiums, basketball arenas, Hockey arenas and Soccer stadiums  may have a full house for game days, though it is referred to as a sellout crowd. Being turned away at the gate can be a disappointing situation.

Now to the point that came to my mind as I checked on the bunnies this morning. There is a house which is never full, for there is room for all in this particular one. Jesus said, “There are many rooms in my father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly.” (John 14:2) What a promise! There will always be room for you and me or all of God’s children in His house. No short supply of places to abide, and it is for eternity. That is the great news, and I am thankful for it!

Let’s spread the news!

Dear Lord, we thank You for preparing a place for us. As exciting as that is for each of us help us take the opportunities that we have to share that great news with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The End is Set Before We Begin

Isaiah 46:10 (NIV)
I make known the end from the beginning,
    from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
    and I will do all that I please.’

Reading is one of my wife’s favorite pastimes. She has numerous books, so many that I think she should open her own library. We very rarely throw anything away, unless it is truly valueless, so the library continues to grow.

All of these books have one thing in common: The end is set before we begin start reading them. The outcome has already been determined by the pen of the author, and all depending upon the actions of the characters, they either end up in triumph or in utter defeat.

Despite the fact that authors usually know the final outcome long before the book is completed, they often give their characters opportunities to redeem themselves. Those are the books I truly enjoy, for they remind me of how God truly is. Despite everything that has happened in the history of the Earth, He still yearns that all of us be saved for eternity. That’s His greatest wish!

The problem is that most of us are hard of hearing! "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

Even more accurately than any author, God knows the end from the beginning, and He is there to sustain us through whatever  that our journey takes us through. What fills me with hope is that He knows my end from the beginning. In other words, I have nothing, absolutely nothing to worry about, even if, like an object caught up in the flow of a draining sink, my health is failing and my life is falling apart.

Jesus Himself can vouch for that, too. Though He knew what would happen to Him, the only time He was anxious about Calvary was just moments before His arrest. And even this anxiety was temporary. Jesus knew His end from the beginning. He knew that in all reality, it wasn’t the “end” at all! It was truly only the beginning!

How did He do it?

Though His heart was completely devoted to saving us all, and though He would have done it to save even just one of us, I am certain that Jesus was much more focused on the resurrection part than on the suffering part.

Because God knows our end from the beginning, we have truly nothing to fear. We may not always like what we are going through, especially if suffering is involved, but we don’t need to be obsessed by our circumstances, for these will soon be over! Jesus has planned our new home for eternity, and all of our tribulations on earth are but temporary inconveniences, trials that can be likened to a blink of the eye when compared to eternity with our Forever Friend.

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

All is for a reason, everything is destined to be an opportunity for us to begin trusting God completely.

Next time you pick up a book or look at a book let it remind you that God knows the end and He is there to sustain us through whatever that our journey takes us through.

Dear Lord, we thank You for being the author of our life. Thank You for always being with us through the journey. In Jesus, Name, Amen.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lessons from a Scarecrow - Conclusion

Genesis 8:22 (NIV)
“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

I have truly enjoyed my job as the scarecrow to watch over this garden and learn many lessons throughout the experience. May we all take the job that God has given us seriously and strive to do our very best.

As we look at our gardening experience let’s look as some important lessons we learned through the season.

1.  Preparation- We often assume we know what we what are doing, so we didn't study up on gardening or ask anyone for guidance; we just do it. Christians-especially new converts- need to read and study the Word of God. Sometimes, as new Christians, we might also need someone to walk alongside us to disciple us. Don't assume you know what's expected of you. Become familiar with the God's Word and what it means to have a relationship with God.

2.  Take 'baby steps'--Instead of planting such a large variety of vegetables the first time around, we should have started out small; with one or two vegetables and increase the garden over a period of time.  As Christians, we sometimes bite off too much, expect too much of ourselves and others, or get burned out in ministry.  In frustration we end up disillusioned and walk away from everything because it's too much.

3.  Don't just plant seeds, nurture them-After all the hard work of digging up the ground and planting the seeds, we failed to do our due diligence by weeding, watering and nurturing the plants. We relied on the rain and, periodically, I would water the plants, but I didn't spend the time or take the care that is required when gardening. As Christians we are called to discipleship. In doing so, we sometimes need to do more than ‘plant seeds'; we need to nurture and spend time with those whose lives we plant into-in prayer, Bible study or just listening to them.

4.  Don't expect to see the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor overnight. For the longest period of time, we didn't see the fruits of our labor, and after a while, I lost interest and became less committed to tending to the plants. As Christians, don't we sometimes become disillusioned or disenchanted in our walk? Some of us think that when we give our lives to Christ, the old man disappears. He does not. We have to stay prayed up and studied up, recognize our imperfections, forgive ourselves for our missteps and ask God to do the same.

5.  Realize that the enemy will find a way to get to you-Even though we put up stakes and a wired fence, the enemy (critters) dug underneath the fence to get to our vegetables and devour them. The enemy will do the same thing in your life. No matter how hard we try to live a good life, we are all imperfect and whenever the enemy sees an opening he will come in and steal our joy, if we allow it.

We must work in God’s garden, in His vineyard while we have the opportunity.  It is never too late to begin!  The devil will lie to you, and tell you it is too late, and that your life has been wasted.  But there is a plentiful harvest, and fertile soil out in the world.  Men, women and children are hungry for the reality that comes from knowing God, and fellowshipping with His son Jesus.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the many things that You do for us. We thank You for the lessons we can learn from all the aspects of gardening. We pray that we would remember the lessons we learned and apply them to our life so others will see You in us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lessons from a Scarecrow - Harvesting

Mark 4:26-29 (NIV)
26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

As a scarecrow standing out her for weeks I have seen many exciting things. Today has had to be the most exciting. Today vegetables were taken from the garden. Red tomatoes, leafy lettuce and crowns of broccoli all on the first day of harvest.

It is one of God’s greatest wonders to watch a garden grow.  After preparing the soil, planting the seed, watering, and fertilizing, all a person can do is watch the plants grow.  If the conditions are not right, the plants won’t grow to maturity.  So it is with our walk with God.  We have the responsibility of preparing our hearts, and planting the word of God in our hearts.  We have to water our hearts with prayer.  But only GOD can truly cause the growth.  He provides the right spiritual conditions for us to grow in Him.

The type of seed that we sow into the soil of our hearts determines what kind of crop we’ll get.  There have been times when a seed manufacturer slipped seed into packets I bought that contained weeds and weed grass.  Of course, this means more weeding once the bad seed grew up out of the soil.  This is what it is like when we sow bad things in our lives.
There are a variety of bad seeds, which represent the desires of the “flesh.”  The seeds of the “flesh” are those things which are opposite of God’s will, and His desire for our growth.  Some examples of bad seed are:

Excessive television, Obsession with things, Pornography of any type, Aimless thought life, Gossiping, Slander, Exaggerating, Bragging, Unforgiveness, Bitterness, Hatred, Greed the list seems to be endless.

Of course, we can sow things that will build up our spirit, and this is like sowing good seed into the soil of our hearts.  Sometimes thinking of what we can plant as good seed is so simple; it merely takes a friendly reminder to start doing it:

Daily reading and meditation upon the scriptures, Prayer, and fellowship with God the Father, and with His son Jesus, Reaching out to help others, sharing our faith, resources, time, and money to be a blessing wherever there are needs, Praising and thanking God for who He is, and all He has done for us, Thanking others for their kindness to us, Listening to uplifting music about the Lord, Reading books about God, and other people’s experiences with the Lord, Taking time to pray for others, including when you assemble together anywhere, Meeting with other believers regularly for fellowship, edification and encouragement, Sending a card, a note, or as letter to someone who needs our love, Making a phone call to a friend, Loving those who are your enemy, or who demonstrate hatred towards you, Forgiving others when they wrong you; never holding a grudge against someone, Leaning on God during the hard times. This list is endless also

The things we do indicate that the amount of time and energy that we invest in seeking God will be the measure of what we harvest.  It is not necessarily just a matter of doing more things for God, but of surrendering our whole person and life to His will.  Jesus is the supreme example of being wholly given to God’s will.  He is our example.  He is the Master.  We are his servants.

Many Christians are lukewarm without even knowing it!  They have become satisfied with status quo Christianity.  To them, going to church, putting some money in the offering basket, and reading a few scripture verses are enough.  Some don’t even do that.  These kinds of believers will harvest very little of that which is of eternal value.  It takes discipline, and a continued seeking of God to harvest plentifully.  It is allot of work at times to serve the Lord, but it always a joy.

It is crucial that a person harvest their fruit when it is ready, or it can become rotten, or the insects and birds of the air can eat it.  There are always many hurting souls that need our love.  There are always people that need Jesus.  Many Christians make excuses for why they won’t reach out to the lost.  They say, “I’m not ready yet; I need to know more first.”  While it is true that knowledge is helpful, love is the greatest gift God gave us.

There is no greater reward to a gardener than to pluck fresh, ripe, healthy vegetables from the garden.  Nothing tastes as good as homegrown veggies.  It is the reason the gardener invested so much time and effort.  God has invested much time and effort into us, that He too, might have a harvest of souls.  God planted His own son Jesus as the most precious seed in the soil of humanity.  Now the Father waits on us to be His harvesters.  The crops are ready...will we go pick them?  Will we step outside of ourselves, and reach out to others?

Sometimes we have the opportunity to become partakers of another person’s labors for the Lord: “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

If you have prayed for a loved one who doesn't know Jesus, but have been unable to reach them with your own words, wouldn't you want some other Christian to be obedient to God’s voice, and harvest their soul?  You see how personal this harvest of God’s has become?  We are fellow workers together with God and each other.  Each one, then, must take responsibility for the harvest of souls as we see from Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9: I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.  Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.  For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. 

May we all work for the harvest that is out there and ready for us.

Dear Lord we thank You for the harvest that is ready for each of us. Help us be willing to do our part to bring in the harvest of souls for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Lessons from a Scarecrow - Pruning

John 15:5-8 (NIV)
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Something strange was happening in the garden the other day as I stood here.  The plants all seemed to be growing fine then the strange part happened. The plants started having leaves and fruit cut off. I heard them say that as the week parts are cut off it will make the plant stronger and bear greater fruit.

Pruning is essential in maintaining the health, and fruit bearing ability of any plant or tree.  Even in my vegetable garden, I have learned that simply pruning older leaves on plants like tomatoes and cucumbers can yield more vegetables, and cause the plants to thrive.  I also prune my orange trees, cutting away dead branches, or branches known as suckers (which grow vertically, and do not bear fruit).

When pruning vegetable plants, one must be careful not to do too much pruning, as it can put the plant into shock, and even result in the death of the plant.  Usually, I prune away older leaves that have yellowed and lost their deep green hue.  This yellowing of the leaves is an indicator that the leaf is no longer beneficial to the plant.  It has become dead weight, and is draining the plant of nutrients that could be going into new leaf growth, or blossoms, or increasing the size and yield of the crop.

We are like these vegetable plants.  We are like God’s garden.  We are like His vineyard, or His orchard.  God prunes away those things in our lives that have become old, and useless.  Sometimes that pruning is the removal of our “old ways’ of the world.  Sometimes God prunes away our old concepts, and doctrines.  Sometimes He allows us to suffer the loss of our health, or our ability to generate income, or other areas to learn dependence upon Him.

By so doing, the Lord knows that we will grow healthier, and stronger.  We will grow higher towards the sunlight of His love.  We will bear fruit of the Spirit, and harvest many souls for Him.

Jesus told the parable of the vine and the branches.  The main Vine represents Jesus.  The branches represent His followers and disciples.  The branches (us) must be connected to the main Vine, from whence comes the source of life.  If the branches are broken off of the main Vine, they dry up, and become useless.  They can no longer bear fruit. 

We must abide (continue) in Jesus; that is, we must continue to grow in Him.  It is not enough to just be connected to Him.  We must yield fruit.  Sometimes we lose our vision, or we backslide.  When this happens, we become dried up spiritually, and no longer glorify God.  If this condition persists, and we don’t repent, and be grafted back into the Vine (Jesus), we are cast into the fire, and burned.

Christians don’t like to be taught about hell because it doesn't feel good to them; they are self-deceived in thinking that to avoid this topic it will go away, or cease to be a reality.  We need not cower before God’s throne of grace, but we must not ignore the fact there are eternal consequences for failing to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. 

As I mentioned earlier, when pruning fruit trees, only the dead and sucker branches are to be removed.  I know that I cannot do major pruning every year, because the plant must have time to be renewed.  This is especially true with fruit trees.  God told the sons of Israel to prune for six years, but on the seventh year, they were not to prune, and give the plants a rest.

Oftentimes we struggle with sin.  God knows that we will sin.  What keeps us in sin however, is failing to believe that we can come to God for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.  Oftentimes we just don’t feel ‘worthy’ enough for the Savior’s love and mercy.  Let us each let God prune what it bad from our lives so that we can bear the good fruit.

Dear Lord, we thank You that You are there to prune the bad habits, and things that cause us to fail from our life. We pray that we would come to You faithfully and allow Your good work in us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lessons from a Scarecrow - Fertilizer

Jeremiah 3:15 (KJV)
And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

As I stand here watching as the plants grow day and night.  I notice how at certain times they come out and spread fertilizer all over the garden.  If I didn't know better I think that the plants really enjoy those times and become healthier and bigger because of it.

Fertilizer is like food to the plants.  Without food the plants become weak, sickly, and will even die.  We are like plants.  We need food too.  Jesus called himself the “bread of heaven.”  If we feed on Jesus, by doing his commands, then our lives will be like healthy, fruit bearing plants.  If we are self-seeking, and disobedient, then our lives become unproductive, and we can even lose our salvation.  We must ask God to feed us with whatever is needful for us to serve Him in righteousness, in order that we grow in the knowledge of our Redeemer.

One of my favorite products to fertilize is Miracle-Gro.  This product is mixed with water and sprinkled on and around the plants every two week.  It is a systemic fertilizer, and will be absorbed by the leaves of the plant, as well as nourishing the plant roots from the soil.

God’s word is like Miracle-Gro.  When we pray, and hear, and obey the word of God, it is like mixing the Lord’s commands with the power of His Spirit.  This is a winning combination for bearing fruit, and for making us healthy plants.

It is the responsibility of the shepherds of God’s people to feed them, just like the gardener does his plants.  God is going to restore true shepherds to His people that they might grow into a healthy crop, mature and bearing the fruits of His spirit.

Jesus told a parable of a fig tree in a vineyard (representing Israel, but applicable to us as well).   The fig tree did not bear fruit, just as Israel (as a nation) did not bear the fruit of repentance when their Messiah came.  Though Jesus tried to fertilize Israel with the truth, yet after awhile, their unbelief caused them to be cut off.  If we won’t bear fruit in our lives, the fruit of the Spirit, we can be cut off from the life of God.  We can lose our salvation, and backslide.  If we have become unfruitful in this way, only through repentance, and God’s forgiveness, can we be revived as a healthy plant in His vineyard.

What is the best food that we, as followers of Jesus, can use to nourish God’s plantings in our hearts?  The same food Jesus partook of!  Doing the will of God!  How can we know the will of God?  It is revealed by His spirit, through His word, and when we listen to the counsel of His only begotten son Jesus!

Dear Lord, we thank You for the shepherds you have brought in to our life to feed us. We pray that we would focus on bearing good fruit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Lessons from a Scarecrow - Pests and Insects

Exodus 10:14-15 (NIV)
14 they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again. 15 They covered all the ground until it was black. They devoured all that was left after the hail—everything growing in the fields and the fruit on the trees. Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.

As I stand here taking my job very serious I can’t help but notice the bugs that scurry around attacking the plants eating the leafs and eating holes in the vegetables. The good news is as of yet I haven’t had a bird land on me.

Insects and pests are the gardener’s number one enemy.  One of the worst is slugs.  Long, slimy, ugly looking little creatures (like snails out of their shell) that do all their damage to the crops at night.  They work like the devil does, in the cover of darkness.  They hide by day in the shadow of the leafy plants, in places that are damp and dank.

Also, once the plants begin to mature, one has to watch out for birds, which will peck away at the fruit of your labors.  Birds are compared to demons, which nest in the branches of our lives, waiting to devour whatever fruit of the Spirit we can grow to maturation.  As you look you can find tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables half pecked, and left to rot.

We can see birds of prey, and other pests represent the judgment of God.  Pharaoh found this out when he refused to listen to Moses to let the children of Israel go from their captivity.

When I first plant my seeds, and the seedlings sprout, I take protective measures against the bugs.  bugs will devour all tender shoots of the new seedlings if left unchecked.  It is important to use a product that will kill the bugs when they crawl over the soil it is spread on but doesn't harm the good vegetables.  We can liken the bug bait to the word of God.  If we surround the good plants in our hearts with the protection of the word of God, the slimy creatures the devil sends our way will not destroy the work that God has done in us.

We must be like gardeners in our lives and walk with God.  We must look ahead, and realize that we have an enemy named Satan who seeks to devour us as we walk steadfast in the faith.

Dear Lord, we pray that we will be diligent in protecting our heart from the evil one that is trying to destroy the fruits of our heart. Help us to stand firm with You today with our heart protected. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lessons from a Scarecrow - Weeds

Genesis 3:17-19 (NIV)
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

As I stand here and watch over these vegetable plants it is amazing how fast the weeds sprout up and try to take over the garden. It is the biggest cause of extra work in the garden.

From the very beginning, weeds have been a symbol of mankind’s disobedience to God.  God had made the garden to be cultivated, but after the curse, man would have to work to remove thorns and thistles from the fruit bearing vegetation.  What a bummer!  Have you ever had to pull weeds?  Weeds are the most prolific of all vegetation.  It has been said, “Weeds never sleep.”  Weeds are like sin.  They don’t take any nurturing or care to grow.  They will overtake us unless their roots are yanked.  The root is the cause of the sin.

Once I clear the weeds from the soil in my garden how nice the dark, rich soil looks without the presence of weeds.  And yet I know that within a matter of a few short weeks, the weeds will be back.  When I plant my vegetable seeds, and water them faithfully each day, the tiny seedlings eventually pop up out of the ground.  But guess what?  Right alongside the precious vegetable seedlings there are tiny weed sprouts.

It is difficult to tell the difference between some weeds and the good plants.  For example, carrots seedlings look almost identical to small grass-like weeds when they first sprout.  If I try to pull the weeds when they are young, I risk pulling up the carrot seedlings.  As much as I want to weed right away to keep things under control, I must wait.  There are small weeds that grow in our hearts, and we are unaware of them until they become large enough to see.  If God showed us all of the weak areas in our lives when they were too small to see, we would perhaps pluck up the good seed of what God is trying to do.  He knows how and when to open our eyes to the weeds in the garden.

Even while I sleep at night, the wind and other elements spread weed seeds in the garden.  Like sin, weeds can creep into our lives when we are unaware of it.

Jesus taught we must be careful when trying to distinguish between good and bad in the garden.  The devil is clever, and he will sow those persons into the body of Christ who are destructive...malicious gossips, greedy, promiscuous, selfish, argumentative, false prophets, dishonest, manipulators, ambitious etc..  He likens true believers to wheat, and those who are not to tares (weeds).  As we see the interaction between the true and false, and give it time, the nature of the tare will be revealed.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would have the wisdom to get the weeds of sin out of our life. Help them not to take over and strangle the good that You have in all of us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lessons from a Scarecrow – Watering

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

So I have a question for you.  Have you ever stood out in a rain storm?  The other day I was minding my own business watching over the garden and the skies opened up and wow did the rain come down. From my calculations we got a little under 2 inches of rain.  The garden sure seemed to like all fresh water.

Water is the most important thing we have been given by God to support our life system.  We can go many days without food and live, but without water, we will be dead in a few short days.  Water is a key element in growing a garden.  Both seeds and plants need adequate moisture to grow.  Seeds cannot germinate unless their hard outer shells are softened by the moist soil.  So too, our hearts can become hardened without having communion with the Spirit of God.  Jesus promised that when we receive the Holy Spirit, it would like rivers of living water:

Rainwater is the best way to water a garden (and it keeps your water bill down too!).  God, in His infinite wisdom, knows how to send rain in proper proportion to each stage of growth for the plants.  One must be faithful to properly prepare the garden, so that the rain God sends will be beneficial to the plants.  For example, plants such as squash and cucumbers, it is best to plant the seed on a small mound, encircled by a round trough to keep the moisture in.

When we are obedient to God, loving Him with all of our hearts, and preparing ourselves by serving Him in obedience, making the soil of our heart ready, God sends the rain of His Spirit in it’s seasons.  By preparing the soil of our hearts through active and daily prayer, like my water troughs, our hearts are both receptive to receiving God’s spirit when He pours down on us, and we are able to contain more of what He sends.

Without water, plants will die.  Once I delayed to water my garden during a particular hot day.  When I finally went to water the plants, some were drooping and fatigued.  This reminds me of when we go without prayer and fellowship with other believers.  It is like the saying, “Seven days without prayer makes one weak.”  Also, sin and disobedience takes us out of fellowship with God’s Spirit, and He withholds Himself so that we might hunger and thirst after righteousness again:

What will you do?  Will you keep your garden watered with prayer and communion with God?  Will you be satisfied with a droopy spirit, or press on to know the Lord?  It is a matter of life or death, for no one can live without the rain of the Holy Spirit.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the rain that You rain down upon each of us to refresh and strengthen us. Help our hearts always look toward You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lessons from a Scarecrow – Sunshine

1 John 1:5 (NIV)
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

didn't know one of my jobs as the scarecrow was to stand here in this hot Florida sun. But I have noticed the difference it makes for each one of these plants.

Any experienced gardener will tell you that sunshine is essential for the growth of plants.  The sunshine warms the earth, so that the seeds can be softened by moist soil, and then it germinates.  Sunshine plays an important role in the growth cycle of plants.  Germination does not take place unless the seed has been transported to a favorable environment where there is adequate water, oxygen, and a suitable temperature.  Differing species of plants germinate best in different temperatures; as a rule extremely cold or extremely warm temperatures do not favor the germination of seeds.  Some seeds require adequate exposure to light before germinating.

The scripture says that God is light (1 John 1:5), and there is no darkness in Him.  God is our sunshine, He is the one whose light causes the seed of His word to germinate in our hearts, come to life from our dormancy, and bring upward growth of the planting.  Without the light of God’s revelation, the seed (word) is lifeless, dead, and unable to become alive in us.

Sunlight can bring life and growth to plants, or it can result in the death of a plant.  If the sun becomes too hot, or there is inadequate moisture for the plants during a hot season, the plants will wither and die.

It is possible to plant seeds too deep in the soil that they cannot germinate and reach the soil surface where the warmth of the sunshine helps germination.  Seeds can also be planted too shallow, so that when the sun shines upon the tender seedlings, they don’t have enough root to withstand the heat.  This speaks of those who have not allowed the word of God to be properly planted in their heart.  They have not counted the costs of walking with God, so that when trials and temptation come, they wither in the sunlight of God:

It is always disappointing when a little plant withers and dies.  All the time that goes into preparing the soil, and planting the seed makes you become attached to the plants.  How the Lord must be so hurt and disappointed when we don’t allow His word to go deep in our hearts, and we fall away from the source of His light and life.  God loves us, and He does want anyone of us to perish:

Sunshine is also needed for the bearing of fruit.  Without adequate sunshine, the plants will not grow blossoms, and without blossoms, the plant cannot bear fruit or vegetables.  It is amazing at how quickly plants grow in my garden when there is plenty of sunshine.  As long as I am faithful to water the plants, God’s sunshine does the rest.  How amazing!  We simply plant the seed, and God’s light causes it to grow.

This is a good lesson for us as believers.  We need to simply look to God, His word and His Spirit and allow Him to mature us. Let His light shine in us and through us so that we can grow into the Christian He wants us to be.

Dear Lord we thank You for being our Sunshine. Help us to use that Light in our life to bear great fruit for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lessons From a Scarecrow - Germination and the Nature of Seeds

1 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV)
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.

It has been fun to watch the seeds that were planted as they poke their little sprouts through the soil.  The fun will continue as we watch them mature and get bigger each day and then start to bear fruit.  Maybe I will get to sample some of the veggies?

It is truly a marvelous process of germination that God has created. During germination, water diffuses through the seed coats into the embryo, which has been almost completely dry during a period of dormancy.  The water causes a swelling of the seed; the swelling is often so great that the seed coat is ruptured. 

Some seeds need to be exposed to fire, we must endure trial—sometimes even fiery ones—throughout our lives. When a seed is exposed to fire, extreme heat or a period of freezing temperatures, a chemical change occurs, triggering the seed to grow.
In the same way, trials trigger us to grow. God uses problems, troubles and afflictions to strengthen His begotten children—to cause us to learn, change, grow, endure and overcome.
Some seeds must be exposed to complete darkness for germination to occur. Likewise, we sometimes go through periods of darkness—when life seems bleak and all hope has faded.

The purpose of every seed is to reproduce its own kind. Each seed has the potential to grow into a new, fully mature plant. In the same way, God is reproducing His “own kind” through man. As His “firstfruits,” God gave us the “seed” of His Spirit, with the potential to become like Him—having perfect character.

The next time you do a little planting in your garden or see a farmer planting his field, remember the example God has given us in the little seed!

Dear Lord, help us remember the lessons we learned from the Seed.  Help us to bear the fruit that we should as Christians. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.