Archive | July 2012

Steppin’ Up The Faith!

Before Picture

This is what the front looked like when I first planted the flower seeds (around March 2012).

So, my question for everyone this morning is, “Exactly, how do you step up your faith?” The best illustration that I can come up with that has a visual is my front flower bed. This is what it looked like before I planted the flowers. Now, I haven’t planted things in years but with a great deal of faith in the Lord, I drug my friend Shawn over, dug up the mulch and ground cover, laid soil and dropped the flower seeds in the ground. Now if patience is your long suit then planting flowers from seed is the way for you to go. LOL! It takes approximately six weeks before the little green shoots that eventually become flowers start to slowly (and I do mean slowly) poke forth from the soil. And then there is the time period where you know you need to weed out all the bad things that will choke out the pretty flowers but at this point you aren’t really sure what needs to go, what should wait and what should stay; unless of course you have planted these before and know what they look like. 🙂 So with another step out in faith, you bravely wade in and start weeding, praying that when you are done, you have actually left some flowers in the ground. As they slowly grow, you tend to them: watering, more weeding and, in my case, a whole lot of praying. Having been so long since I planted anything, I figured this was my trial by fire…if they grew I was golden to start something else; if they never came up then I was going to hang up my gardening gloves and shovel and leave the planting to my sisters (who are much better than me at things like this).

It’s kind of like spiritual growth…you get saved (God plants the seed) and at first all you see is bare ground. God knows where you’ll end up eventually but you yourself haven’t a clue (and by the way, neither do others around you). So, you read the Word, attend a Bible believing church and try to stuff as much spiritual wisdom in your head and heart as possible because you are all fired up for Christ and you want to grow. Then comes the maintenance that happens before you see your first fruits. You water your heart, soul, mind and spirit and then sit back and wonder…”Where is that growth everyone talks about!?!” Your impatience mounts as you desire to serve Christ in ways that He hasn’t prepared you for as of yet. And then one day, you open the Word and you see some green! WooHoo! So you throw on your Armor and head out, ready to do battle for the Lord you love. Oh oh! You get tangled in the mire of the world as you try to witness for Christ; old sins trip you up or you find that it’s hard to do what Christ would do every second of every day. The pesky weeds have arrived right on schedule. You know you are on the right track (I mean, look at all the other Christians around you, right?) but when you look at others and not at Christ, you tend to fall into the trap that others have it all together. Surely they don’t struggle with gossip or quarreling and you just know in your heart of hearts that they pray 24/7 and have probably memorized the whole Bible by now.

I think that God intended weeds to separate the weak from the strong…flowers need to have a good root system and then God does provide the rest (water, sun and nutrients). But some flowers don’t grow a good root system due to bad seed, poor planting or just not the perfect conditions for that type of flower. We don’t always have a good root system either even though we have Christ as the basis for it. Think about it…work was hard so you skip church that weekend because you deserve to rest. Prayer meeting Wednesday night? Love to but I have to get up early the next day and you know I always get out late. Read the Bible every day by myself? I probably wouldn’t understand it all; it’s easier to wait for church so that the Pastor can explain it out for me. Now I’m not saying that everyone has had these thoughts but I will tell you, I have been saved as of tomorrow (July 31st) for 8 years and I can’t say that I’ve never had any of these thoughts in regard to my growth in Christ. We may be saved by the Blood of the Lamb but we still carry that flesh with us until the day we go to be with the Lord. That flesh my friend, is still strong especially if you give in to temptation and feed it from time to time. And there isn’t one of us that hasn’t done that.

We feel as if we wait soooooo loooong for the fruit to arrive. We look, we trim here and there…and sometimes, we pull the fruit instead of the weeds and then we are back to square one it feels like. However, our God is faithful and when we step up that faith and refuse to give up on Him and what He has promised, little by little, bit by bit, our walk with the Lord is strengthened and grown until we can look up and see the flowers just growing and popping up every place those seeds were planted by the Lord’s loving Hand.

After Picture

My front flower bed as of July 21st, 2012! 😀

The Lord gave us the facilities to think and reason along with free will to choose what to learn, how to learn and when and how to apply it to our lives. Everyone makes mistakes; it is what you do with what you learn from those mistakes that makes you victorious in Christ as you move forward. Now I’m not where I will be but I am not where I was – Thank the Good Lord for that!! So now, when I weary of what seems to be my never-ending fight with sin or my ability to change something for the better, I try to remember my front flower bed and how for the longest time, I thought there was absolutely NO growth going on but in all actuality, under the surface there was a lot going on…it just took a bit for it to show. 🙂

Are you like me…did you ever despair of showing any growth for God? Or, are you like plants that come from a nursery, ready to go in the ground already flowered and root-bound, thinking like Topsy, “You’ve done growed all ya gonna.”? If you have any advice for growing and flowering in Christ, please feel free to share…we are in this together and just like the maintenance I gave my flowers to help them grow, God gave us each other to edify and help maintain our flower plot that resides in our souls.

Till next time – Faithwalkin’ 🙂

My God Is Full Of Surprises

Butterflies

One of the big butterflies (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail) that comes to visit the Doll House Jungle. 🙂

The Lord is full of surprises. Even if we take each day for granted, one has to wonder just where all these wonderful things that fill our world come from! The flowers that grow in front of my porch came from a box of flower seeds that said “Flowers to Attract Butterflies.” When I put them in the ground it seemed like forever until they started to grow (no impatients (get it!?!) here – LOL!). Actually most of the wildflowers are Zinnias, my favorite being the PomPoms.

The butterflies do indeed like them, as well as the hummingbirds, bees and wasps. There is quite the little nature farm going on here lately as summer heads into high gear. I have a hummingbird feeder on my front porch and I can sit at my table inside and watch them through my front door as they come to hover and feed from the nectar in the container.

I love all the nature here. It uplifts my spirits so much and daily reminds me of my blessings from the Lord, especially when I’m not feeling very grateful. I know all I have to do is walk outside and see all the plant growth, all the tomatoes getting ready to ripen and all of God’s creatures flying around and almost instantly I’ll be reminded of how awesome my God is and how benevolent He is to me in the midst of His lovingkindness. 🙂

In fact, God is good even in the midst of your troubles, struggles and difficulties. My Pastor said (and I agree) that the Lord has already blessed us abundantly with salvation. He never promised us money, fame, or an easy life. In fact, He states unequivocally in His Word that we, as born-again, Bible-believing Christians will be hated by this world because He was hated; that we will be faced with hard trials and tribulations because He was faced with them while on this earth. But…merciful Heaven! What more could we ask for? We have been given the Holy Spirit, the armor of God, His Word and through all this, His everlasting presence until we go home to be with Him! He gave us salvation; eternal life with Him in glory with no death, no pain, no suffering and no tears! What more could we possibly ask to receive from His Hand? We can’t expect to take on the Holy Spirit, become one with Christ and not partake of the effects of the lingering lifestyle of Christ that is hated by this world…can we? I am told to stand with Him, to place Him before me in the battle against the principalities of this world and to not falter not let this world drag me back to what I came from.

God's Surprise

A “real-time” view of one of the watermelons that showed up in my flower bed.

This was one of God’s surprises to me – two baby watermelon growing in my flower bed! How awesome is that of the Lord to give me something that I didn’t plant (apparently dropped seeds though) and didn’t tend to; it just shows that He, and not us, is the One that is in complete control over life – all of it! In the end, it’s up to Him and the world that He created on whether or not the plants survive, produce and get harvested. Yes, we have work to do with them but I didn’t tend to these watermelon; shoot, I didn’t even know they were there! But, He did and He planted, watered, watched and gave the increase; I just sit back in awe and receive/accept the fruit of His labor (hint: just like salvation!). And, did I mention, it’s my favorite fruit of all time!! God knows what I like and when what I like is good for

me, He sees that I get it when I need it or need a reminder of His love for me.

I admit to struggling lately with some things in my life. I feel out-dated (LOL) and I haven’t really made many friends since moving in February. Lately that is becoming a struggle because, well, I feel lonely sometimes. Maybe I am not putting myself out there enough or maybe I live to far from the ladies in church; I’m not sure. Everyone is so friendly but they alclose-uplive at least a half an hour from me and lead busy lives.However, I think that God is giving me this time to learn, grow and to lean more abundantly on the Lord and His promises. People are so easy to lean on as you can see them and audibly hear their voice. God, not so much unless you are in His Word more often than not (and obviously, that isn’t audible) but He truly holds every answer for every problem or situation that you will ever come across. He alone, gives peace and understanding regarding the world, it’s sin, our sin and how to handle the flesh on a daily basis. We can glean from His Wisdom to help others BUT at some point, all of us need to go to the Lord Himself and not to a mouthpiece that speaks for Him. If we are His we know that He speaks to us through His Word, if we will but pick it up and open it from time to time.

Aflac

It’s hard to tell but Aflac’s head is green from the hydrated lime spread around the yard.

We live in this world, even if we aren’t of it anymore, and we get dirty…sometimes filthy from the muck and the mud that is slung around on a daily basis: at work, at home, even in church sometimes. Thanks to God and His sacrifice, His Word (the written and the blood of Jesus) will wash us clean everyday. Aflac (pictured left) reminds me of that. I don’t know if you can see the green coloring on her face or not but my ducks like to play in the mud…imagine that. I found this lovely stuff called Hydrated Lime, which when sprinkled around will remove the bad smells from your yard that occur when you have livestock. Yay for the lime! However, what nobody told me (although yes, I should have guessed) was that when the lime gets wet, anything that’s really, really white will turn a light shade of green. LOL! Imagine my surprise after I spread the lime the first day, left it sit while I was draining the duck pool and then came back around the corner to green-headed and green-breasted ducks! Aflac and Miss GG love to play in the water that comes out of the hose from their pool (really any standing water). They grab their afternoon snack of grubs from that water and generally just make themselves out to be a big ole’ muddy mess. I’m used to this and when all is said and done, the pool cleaned and the ducks fed, they climb into that lovely, clean pool and get it filthy by washing off all that mud they picked up. But hey, they look so pretty after (I’m guessing that is one reason they continue to get a clean pool) that I try to humor them often. However, when I came around the corner last Monday afternoon and saw “green” ducks, I about choked. All I could think of was, “Oh Lord!” What if they stay green!?!”, quickly followed by “Arghhh!!!!”As soon as the pool was full to the top, I shooed them into the water to see what would transpire. Lo and behold, their lovely green tinge washed away and they became white again. Now, it’s a daily thing…play in the lime, get green, scare my owner and then take a bath and get white again! What a cycle! What a laugh! I thank God for them; they make my heart smile. 🙂

I guess that is why it reminds me of what Jesus did for us. Like I said in the paragraph before, Jesus washed us clean and continues to each day from the dirt of this world. But boy, howdy! Don’t we sometimes like to roll around and dig out the grubs of that mud before we let Jesus wash us clean?!? We will always have our flesh in this world; doesn’t mean we have to act on it but it’s there and it reminds us constantly how much fun it was to get some of that world’s dirt on us and, “Gee, don’t we want to do it again?”

How many times can I say, “Thank God for His mercy, grace and forgiveness.” Without that, I would stay dirty and have no hope. What a horrid, spirit-shuddering thought.

Have you received His forgiveness? Are you blessed daily by His mercy and grace? Please share how the Lord changed and blessed your life recently.

Till next time – faithwalkin’ 🙂