“24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” Matthew 13:24-25 NIV
As I was weeding in my yard one summer, I received insight from the dandelions I was encountering. I started to look at them more closely and here is what I noticed:
From a distance they are pretty, adorned in bright colors. They can even appear to be a flower versus a weed to the untrained eye.
As I started pulling them, I realized how deep their roots are – deep and tough. It’s hard to get the whole root off because it breaks easily. Pieces stay that will spring up again.
They spread easily – insidiously. Their multiplication system is very easy – where the wind blows, the seeds go. Indiscriminate. High volume.
It’s also tricky. I started simply picking off the flowers, and then I saw deep down in the core other buds coming up. It was almost creepy they were so hidden.
They choke out healthy grass and other plants. They want all the space. They don’t cohabitate well.
They don’t require care or nutrients to prosper and multiply. They remind me of something so ancient – like original sin. Old and ugly. Life smothering. Steal, kill, and destroy.
Still green, they blend in with the grass except when they bloom (bear fruit).
I won’t dissect every point. From a big picture level I realized this is exactly how Satan operates. By being grounded in God’s word we are not deceived. God’s word, time with Him in prayer, and praise and worship of our King is what nourishes us. They are our fertilizer, rich soil and eternal water supply!
Father, let me absorb all the spiritual nutrition that You so readily provide!
“Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am. Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain. Psalm 139:23 The Voice
This is a cry for intimacy. When we share intimate space with someone, we get to know the good, the bad and the ugly (and of course there is a preponderance of beauty as well!). The bottom line is there can be no secrets. Nothing can be hidden. There is no room for it.
I love The Voice version because you can hear the pain in this cry “Dig deeply…Put me to the test…watch how I handle the strain.” So when this happens, we get at the truth of the matter. So here is what was uncovered for me: anxiety, doubt, worry, fear of man, unhealthy connection to people, performance, rejection and fear.
This made me so angry! It was a list I was familiar with. I was so tired of the same list popping up time and time again. After a growl, I asked the Lord to deliver me. I was done with it. I prayed in the Spirit for thirty minutes because I didn’t trust my own heart to get at the ugly stuff that seemed to be hanging around. There was a shift! My heart was lighter. My mind was clearer. I had more energy. It was amazing. I’ve heard testimonies and sermons about praying in the Spirit but this application was even more validating and faith building. Cool. God gives us all the instructions and the tools. We just have to use them.
Lord, thank you for every piece of instruction and tool You have provided. I pray i exercise them all to the fullest!
“18 They are blind to true understanding. They are strangers and aliens to the kind of life God has for them because they live in ignorance and immorality and because their hearts are cold, hard stones.19 And now, since they’ve lost all natural feelings, they have given themselves over to sensual, greedy, and reckless living. They stop at nothing to satisfy their impure appetites.” Ephesians 4:18-19 The Voice
“22 then you know to take off your former way of life, your crumpled old self—that dark blot of a soul corrupted by deceitful desire and lust— 23 to take a fresh breath and to let God renew your attitude and spirit. 24 Then you are ready to put on your new self, modeled after the very likeness of God: truthful, righteous, and holy.” Ephesians 4:22-24 The Voice
Hopefully you can see the contrast. It is very interesting that this message was for believers. Paul is reminding the believers in Ephesus to shift – leave an old lifestyle behind. Leave an old hard heart behind. Change. Transform. Renew. Choose a new life. Obviously we can’t do this alone. We need to be in a Christian community with a commitment to unity and accountability to accomplish a major shift like this.
It’s not perfect or easy. As believers we have a model in Jesus. We have instructions in God’s word. All we have to do is immerse ourselves in the operating instructions! When we lose our way, just go back and read the instructions again…God is gracious and loving and kind. He never leaves us or forsakes us. Just hang on and keep referring to the instruction manual!
“28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
I am learning that God does not want us to walk in fear. He wants us to have fun and enjoy life! It was not His intention for us to be hampered or burdened by putting too much stock in the things of this world. He loves to watch us operate in our gifts and talents. That’s how he made us!
I have had concerns about old patterns at times. Sometimes operating in a new way feels unfamiliar and awkward. I can’t build new patterns without practice. So, I look at it as exercise. I am simply practicing my faith in a new environment. I have to trust God. Let go of myself and any self-consciousness. I have to let go of perfection. I know that He would rather I take a step and fall, trusting in Him, than stand in a corner in fear.
Father, give me the boldness, confidence, courage and wisdom to continually take another step closer to You.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV
I have read that faith is a fight. I believe that is true. It is a fight to hang on to the promises of God in spite of circumstances and what we see happening around us. This peace supercedes everything. As I learn to release more to God to manage my life, it leaves me with more peace. More joy. It’s settling. There have been days when I had an agenda all lined up with tasks to complete for the day, check list in hand. From my perspective, it would be a good, productive day. Occasionally, I have had the sense that God had other plans.
If I retreat to listen quietly, my plans shift sometimes. Sometimes it results in a luxurious day that I would have missed if I had rushed to my list. One day in particular, I had my list and everything already loaded into my car to run errands. I was actually looking forward to it.
Then I heard a still small voice that was calling me to a much more gentle plan for the day. It included rest, reading, sipping on hot tea and a long luxurious hot bath. It was a warm, snuggly day inside. I had to deal with a few twinges of guilt and wondered if I was being selfish. Then I thought of how excited I get when my daughter decides to spend a day home with me. It doesn’t have to be full of activities. I just enjoy being with her. What I discovered is that God enjoys days like that with us too! We get so caught up in staying busy that we forget about forging a relationship with Him.
I threw the checklist away for the day. I took a nap. I took a long hot bath. I read and sipped hot tea while bundled up in a snuggly blanket. I sat with my Father that day and enjoyed His company. There are many days that I can run around and do errands. Just not today. Today I decided to stay home and spend it with Him.
Lord, I pray I pause to savor and enjoy the moments I can steal away to just be with You.
“15 Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people)…17 Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15, 17 AMP
The only way I can stay in a thoughtful, purposeful and wise pursuit of the will of the Lord is to stay in His word and in prayer. Those two components are critical to keep me on track. His word provides instruction and insight. Prayer allows me to empty my heart to Him and allow the Holy Spirit to pour the heart of God into me. Only then can I begin to walk the way this scripture describes. I have to practice this every day. It’s a commitment. It has been a commitment that has and continues to transform my life. It’s no different than working muscles to make sure they are fit and strong. I have to exercise my Spirit woman to make sure she is fit for the daily sparring matches the world brings my way on a spiritual level. I’m thankful for the daily workout and refreshment that God gives me in prayer. I’m thankful that even on days when I know something is off but can’t put my finger on what’s wrong, the Holy Spirit can turn it all around. All I have to do is surrender my heart.
Father, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide me every day.
“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:9 NIV
When I feel like I don’t know anything, God is the one thing that is true and constant. Even during seasons of my life when I know there is a stripping going on of everything that is familiar to me – seasons of change. During those times it is critical for me to seek the Presence of God. Stay in His life-giving love light.
We are made in God’s image. He is not a sissy. Jesus was God’s human image here on earth. He was not a sissy. Why do we think that as Christians we are off the hook? We can’t be sissies either. So here’s a new twist on God’s love. God’s love is so pure that it is like acid. It will literally melt away darkness. For a visual, I sometimes go to that scene in the Wizard of Oz when the witch is melting from the bucket of water that was thrown on her. Picture God’s love as Living Water. It will not tolerate prejudice, injustice, mockery, spite, judging or comparison. That is how powerful God’s love is. It melts the darkness away.
As I yearn to love like God, it’s encouraging to know the power that brings. It brings light into the darkness like nothing else can. Now that my friend is tough love!
Lord, teach me to more fully appreciate Your power and might.
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25 NIV
I am so very thankful for the riches and plans that God has for me. I am thankful for the immense and powerful Love that He has for me. Somewhere along the line, I realized that I had tapes playing in my head that did not reflect the love that God has for me. It was from inside of me; an internal dialog. It was definitely not God. This internal dialog started to create issues with me loving myself. When I don’t love myself, God can’t operate in me to His fullness. It was quite an ugly snare that developed. All kinds of things were snarled in the mix: performance, pride, rejection, comparison, arrogance, criticism. I could go on and on. I do not even remember where the negative words came from. I don’t know when it started. What I do know is that it started to snowball into a fearful approach to work and relationships because they were so loaded up with negative junk.
I had to ask God to remove the obstacles in my heart that were keeping me from fully walking in His plan for me. I really had to sit prayerfully and meditate on some very loving and instructional scripture and let it sit in my heart for a long time. I still need to step away from things regularly for a heart check and just spend time with God. It’s not anything that is formulaic or legalistic. The truth is if I don’t, I miss it. I miss the quiet time with God. It helps me appreciate the way He made me a little more. It helps me dig into the well that He has placed inside of me and pull from it for inspiration, creativity, focus, clarity and strategy.
Lord, thank you for teaching me every day to love and appreciate You more and how You made me as a unique expression of You.
“20 Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He replied to them by saying, The kingdom of God does not come with signs to be observed or with visible display,21 nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you].” Luke 17:20-21 AMP
So the kingdom of God is IN us. As I was reading this passage, it reminded me of a passage that is also in The Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come.” I got caught up reading a lot of commentaries. It occurred to me that I needed to simply be quiet and listen to what God had to say about these passages. Here is what I heard: He is waiting for us all to come into a state of obedience and alignment so that we will not continue to lay fragmented and broken as a body. That when we come together, we will no longer be vulnerable to heresy and apostacy. We will no longer be plagued with malice and strife between ourselves. We will be able to stand together, resolute for our King. And then, His Kingdom will have arrived.
Lord, I pray that Your kingdom come and that Your will be done in my heart and the hearts of all Christians. I pray that we come together as one body. Make us strong in that body so that we can stand together and stand strong, united and operating as one body in Christ, a true reflection of You.
“ 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Colossians 3:12-13 NASB
What does it mean that we are chosen? Well, as God’s chosen ones we are called to a higher standard of behavior. His standard. We have to come to know Him and know His ways. His ways are very different. They are a reflection of His heart: compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient. Forgiving. It’s a beautiful and tall order. So I give thanks. I thank God for the light yoke that He has for us. He never intended us to take the world on by ourselves. I ask Him to show me how to rest in Him. Trust Him. Trust His desires for me. Trust His love for me.
Lord, thank you for Your faithfulness and for Your Presence in my life. Please instill Your heart in mine. Fill me with humility, patience and gentleness in all things.