Settling For Less

My neighbor has a garden every year filled with vegetables and flowers. I can look out my breakfast room windows and watch it form from freshly turned dirt to abundant harvest over the course of the seasons. Having worked in a garden growing up, I know the hard work involved in raising and tending to a garden. There are hours and hours of hard work in the hot sun, hoeing and weeding and fertilizing and harvesting. The amount of work you put in affects the yield you receive in the end.

Our spiritual lives are like that garden, too. The hard ground of our hearts has to be broken up in order to be ready and effective for the planting of God’s tender seeds of instruction and direction. Any clods, (or strongholds), need to be busted up so that they don’t interfere with the planting of the Lord. Then we have to put in the work of being obedient, living a holy lifestyle, and submitting to God. The amount of work you put in affects the yield you receive in the end.

I am not insinuating that you must work your way into heaven. I’m just saying, if you’re like me, being obedient, living a holy lifestyle, and submitting to God is hard work! The devil knows all my pressure points and when to apply them. God is greater, but sometimes I am weak or apathetic or just plain rebellious. Mostly rebellious. Just like in the parable of the sower, some of the seeds fell on good ground and some didn’t. 

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:3-8

I have different types of ground in my heart. Some of it yields to God easier than other parts. There are A LOT of clods. Every time I think I have them all busted up, another works its way to the surface. What is most disappointing is when I think I have one busted up, only to find that it was much bigger and deeper rooted than I thought, so it resurfaces. It is at those times that I get the most discouraged and stop working. However, I also think it is at those times that God gives me the most grace and mercy. He knows that I am struggling to bust up the clod, but he waits patiently for me to ask Him for help. Since I am notorious for trying to do things on my own and in my own strength, He is patient. He doesn’t want me to settle for less of a harvest than He had planned for my life, so He gently prods me and waits for me to return to the work in the garden.

God wants the same for you. In Ezekiel 18: 31-32, God says,

 “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” (NKJV)

If during this time you have been settling for less of a harvest than you know God has planned for you, take a moment to repent and turn back to Him. He hasn’t left you. He has been patiently waiting for you to “But when he came to himself, “ (Luke 15:17). So go get your garden tools and get back to work. It’s not going to be easy, but with God’s help, you can get the weeds back under control and your harvest can still be great.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:9

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A Few Good Men

Have you felt like things were spiraling out of control recently? I know I have. With all that is going on in the world right now, most of us are terrified to leave our homes, unsure about the future, and trying to resist caving to panic and fear. Our front line workers and essential employees are fighting to help stem the spread of the pandemic that is sweeping across our nation while still providing the goods and services we need to keep going. We have good men and women working and serving everyday to help others.

All the good notwithstanding, we must consider possible reasons behind the state of the world at this moment. It is time for self-reflection. Is there anything I can do to contribute?

Most people, even unbelievers, know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The two cities had become so full of sin that The Lord Himself came down to investigate and see with His own eyes. He stopped by Abraham’s tent and foretold of their coming son, Issac, and then made his way towards the two cities.  He did not hide what He was going to do and Abraham interceded on behalf of the people of the cities. Abraham begged the Lord to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, even though they were so sinful, for the sake of the righteous who might be living there. Abraham begged that if fifty could be found, would The Lord spare them? The Lord agreed to spare them for fifty. Abraham risks further wrath by arguing for smaller numbers five more times, until he gets to the number ten.

“Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?” And the LORD replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”(Genesis 18:32)

However, as we all know, ten righteous people could not be found. The two cities could have been saved by a few good men. 

What about your city? Are there ten righteous? Can it be saved?  The Bible tells us in 2 Chronicles what to do in times of trouble.

At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)(emphasis mine)

Are you the swing? Is your “city” counting on you to be one of the righteous? Are you living like it is? If not, humble yourself. Pray and seek God’s face. Turn from your wicked ways. What would happen if we all chose to live like we were the deciding factor in saving our city?

It is time for self-reflection. There is something you can contribute. Prayer. Pray for personal, local, and national repentance and protection. Sacrifice. Stay home and practice social distance when you must leave on essential trips. Understanding. Follow rules and guidelines to help stop the spread. Leaders are doing all they can, lift them up in prayer so that they can make wise decisions. This is an unprecedented situation and therefore calls for an unprecedented reaction.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)

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