Weeds

weeds

“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!

Matthew 13: 1-29, John 4:7-15

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Watch In Hope

watch in hope

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”Micah 7:7 NIV

I had a long season of waiting. Being still. Over a year I was still. My year consisted almost exclusively of reading, prayer, and journaling. Other things had  gradually been stripped out of my life. Some of the stripping was easier than others. Some was downright painful. When I stumbled upon this verse, the word “hope” stood out to me. In my stillness, my one desire was to be obedient and learn a new way of life. It didn’t feel like a sacrifice.  It was more of a determination to do things differently.

For years I had tried to do things my own way and that didn’t work out very well.  Now I was determined not to repeat the same patterns all over again. The “hope” in this verse was as loud to me as a thunderclap. It started as a warmth in my belly.  It occurred to me that I can be still and sit in hopefulness for what is yet to come.  I do not have to have any direction.  I can still sit quietly but hopefully. It made me want to spend the day watching Karate Kid.  It made me realize that in my daily activities, small as they might be, a transformation was taking place. A kinder, gentler lifestyle that depended on someone else for a change. A hope for something better.  So much better in fact, it required a purging of old patterns, relationships and hurts that I no longer needed to carry around anymore.

Hope was the beacon that lit my new path.

Lord help me to always place my trust in you and not myself, others, or material things!

Psalm 34:5-6, 37:7-9, 40:1-3; 1 John 5:14-15

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My Master

Embed from Getty Images “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24 NIV

This one has been ticklish for me. The world reinforces some very bad behavior that serves the world well.  The problem is that it doesn’t serve God. It’s everywhere.  The truth is, it wears me out.  I read this scripture during a particularly tiring week. In addition to the demands of the week, I was struggling between my old way of operating – performance oriented, self-sufficient, frantically rushing to meet deadlines — and God’s way – a more elegant flow that is thoughtful, intentional and efficient.

In the middle of my shame attack, I recognized a nudge.  I heard the words “Yes, you slip…but you catch it.” I paused for a moment to reflect.  I feel when things are off.  I really do try to tuck into God as a check point. The shame melted away.  I realized I had cause to celebrate! There had been a shift inside of me.  It had happened so subtly that it was not discernible to anyone watching.  The big shift was inside. It was in my heart.  My heart was searching for a better way.  There were now alerts that went off inside me when I began to toil and struggle.  That was my cue to check the rule book I was using.  A peace washed over me.  I am so thankful! I realized that God was pleased too. He knows my heart and my desires. I am the apple of His eye.

God, help me to be bold and courageous walking in Your ways.  Continue to nudge me as I grow and shift.  Thank you for the precious gift of the Holy Spirit as my comforter, guide and intercessor. Thank you for teaching me a new way! A kinder and gentler way of operating in You!

Proverbs 8:32, 23:26; Isaiah 55:8, Joshua 1:9, John 14:26

Watch For His Works

watch for his works2

“Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works;
be alert for signs of his presence.” Psalm 105:4 The Message

What are signs of God’s presence? It is a peace. A settling. A knowing. Sometimes it happens really quickly. It is not God’s intention for us to get bogged down in minutia.  Sometimes He just needs us to do our part and trust Him to orchestrate the rest.  We simply have to do as He asks.  His transactions are bigger, more grand and more elegant than anything we can do in our own power.  And of course a lot less stressful if we can learn to let go of our desire to control and manage outcomes.

Lord, I ask for Your help.  Do not let me overthink what You ask me to do.  Help me to simply listen and continue to move forward.  Help me to put one foot in front of the other. One day at a time.  Father, order my steps and help me to trust that You will order everything else.  You are King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  I am Yours, Father. I am Yours. I am Yours.

Psalm 105; Psalm 27

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Hope

hope2

“the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11

Hope: noun. A longing; dream.

Similar words:  Achievement     Ambition     Anticipation     Aspiration     Belief     Concern     Confidence     Desire     Expectation     Faith     Goal     Optimism     Promise     Wish

These are weighty words.  Do I feel confident placing all of them with God?  Do I trust that He loves me so much that He wants the best for me in every word listed?  What about my achievements? My ambitions?  My concerns?  My desires?

Well then do I believe His promises to me?  Can I take God at His Word?

These are big questions, but the answer is even bigger.  The answer is YES.  We can.  We can place every single one of these big words at the feet of Jesus.  God knows we are not equipped to handle that long list and the pressure, stress and anxiety that goes with it.  If we can release it all to Him as He intended and believe with all our heart that He loves us more than we can imagine, then we find comfort. We find our inheritance as a child of God. Our thirst is quenched.  We find mercy. We see God. We find peace.  We find the kingdom of heaven.

Lord, thank you for instilling hope in my heart. A hope to dream and reach for the very best that You have for me!

Psalm 147, Matthew 5:1-12; Hebrews 10:23

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Dig Deeply

dig deeply2

“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!

Psalm 139, John 14:26

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Before and After

before and after

Before:

“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

After:

“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!

Ephesians 4

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