Sunflowers and Sonflowers

Sunflowers and Sonflowers. Botanical plants and Biblical people. Plants that require light from the scientific sun of the solar system. People who seek the spiritual light from the Son of God. Sun and Son.

We will begin from the botanical perspective. If we want to think about sunflowers, we start by considering the sun. The sun is the star at the center of our solar system. It is a hot ball of glowing gases. It radiates energy as well as visible light and infrared radiation. It is the most important source of energy for life on earth. It is the source of life for sunflowers.

From the spiritual perspective of Sonflowers, we start by seeking the Son. We remember that Jesus is the Son of God. In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” He is our spiritual Son – Son of God and Son of man. John 1:3-5 states, “Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The horticultural sunflower looks like a blossom with yellow petals surrounding a fuzzy brown center. Scientifically, there are many species of plants in the sunflower family. Some sunflowers are a composite of two unique flower types. Ray flowers and disk flowers. The ray flowers look like petals but each is actually an individual flower. The disc flowers are in the center of the head inside the ring of ray flowers. The disc flowers are usually extremely tiny.

From my perspective, the sunflower’s yellow petals look like rays of sunshine bursting forth from the round center that depicts the sun’s circular shape.

Jesus tells us how to be spiritual Sonflowers in Matthew 5:14&16. “You are the light of the world…. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” We are symbolic of the yellow petals. Romans 12:5 NASB says, “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Here we represent the multitude of flowers within the sunflower. As believers, we exemplify both the ray and disk flowers. Galatians 3:26 stresses, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”

Blossoming sunflowers bend their heads toward the sun. They follow the light of the sun. In Streams of the Desert, William C. Garnett describes individuals enduring hard times as human sunflowers, seeking and seeing the Light in a world of darkness.

When floral sunflowers become heavy with seeds, they appear to bow their heads in humility. Their seeds drop upon the ground having the potential of producing new plants. As human Sonflowers, we have the privilege of humbly bowing our heads in prayer when we experience the world’s heaviness. Our prayers ascend to heaven planting spiritual seeds.

One little seed has powerful potential botanically and spiritually. It may be small, but under the right conditions, one sunflower seed can grow into a plant that will yield a great harvest. Spiritual multiplication is the same. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. “

I have heard that a bouquet of sunflowers should be picked in the morning. If gathered in the afternoon, the sunflowers may wilt quickly. This is a good reminder for us as Sonflowers. Psalm 63:3 NJKV says, “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.” Jesus says in Matthew 6:33 NKJV, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

A sunflower plant reflects the beauty of the solar system’s sun. As spiritual Sonflowers, we reflect the beauty of the Son of God. Psalm 34:5 NLT says “Those who look to Him (the Lord) for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.” Philippians 2:15 NLT exhorts us, “Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”

Immortal but became Mortal – Invisible but became Visible

I woke up singing Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise with lyrics written by Walter Chalmers Smith. The first two lines of the first verse declare, “Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes.” The last verse concludes, “Great Father of glory, pure Father of light…, O help us to see ’tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee!”

My Reader, please join me in worshiping God and meditating upon His divine attributes. I want to focus upon God being immortal and invisible.

Exodus 33 records a conversation between the Lord and Moses. Ultimately, Moses asks to see God’s glory. In verse 20, the Lord responds, “You cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live.” However, the Lord tells Moses in verses 22-23, “When My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.” No mortal can see an immortal God.

Job 36:23 says, “The Almighty is beyond our reach; He is exalted in power! In His justice and great righteousness He does not oppress.”

One of my favorite verses regarding God’s attributes is I Timothy 1:17. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

I Timothy 6:15 highlights God as “the blessed and only Sovereign One—the King of kings and Lord of lord.” Verse 16 continues, “He alone is immortal and dwells in unapproachable light. No one has ever seen Him, nor can anyone see Him. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”

Psalm 1042:2 tells us, “He wraps Himself in light as with a garment; He stretches out the heavens like a tent.”

Humans, who are mortal, cannot see God, who is immortal and invisible. However, God chose to reveal Himself by sending His Son, Jesus, to earth.

John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” John 1:14 continues, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Jesus is the Son of God and Son of man. Colossians 1:15-16 says, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:19 NLT continues, “For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ.”

Paul describes the mindset of Christ Jesus in Philippians 2:6-8. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!

Jesus lived 33 ½ years in a mortal body. Ultimately, He was arrested and crucified. In Matthew 26, Jesus is brought before the Sanhedrin. Verse 63 records, “Then the high priest said to Him, ‘I charge You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.’” Verse 64 continues, “’You have said it yourself,’ Jesus answered. ‘But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” Jesus interacted with the high priest as a visible mortal. However, He was referring to His spiritual place as the invisible, immortal Son of God.

Romans 6:10 tells us, “The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God.” Paul goes on to say in Romans 14:9, “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.”

Hebrews 13:1 NLT declares, “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.”

Let’s remember John 1:18, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.”

It amazes me that our immortal and invisible God wrapped Himself in flesh and walked the earth for 33 ½ years as a visible mortal. However, we must not diminish God to a physical being who can be experienced only with our senses. We meet Him in the spiritual realm separate from our physical senses. The spiritual realm is invisible yet real, hidden yet active. John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” It has been said that worship is the response of our spirits to God’s revelation of Himself.

My Reader, we now conclude our time of worship and meditation regarding our immortal and invisible God who is not inanimate or inactive. May we remember I John 4:12. “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.”

A Hammer for the Heart

Lot of hammers at work! We recently moved into a new home in an area that is still being developed. Big jackhammers break up boulders and smash rocks preparing the ground for new construction. Smaller hammers rhythmically bang nails into lumber erecting new structures. Hammers are powerful tools in the hands of craftsmen.

While listening to these physical hammers, the Lord has been showing me that He provides us with a spiritual hammer. It is known at the Bible – God’s word. It, too, is a powerful tool.

Jeremiah 23:29 says, “Is not My word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”

Matthew Henry’s Commentary explains this verse by saying that the unhumbled heart of man is like a rock. If the heart is not melted by the word of God as a fire, it will be broken to pieces by God’s word as a hammer.

Ellicott’s Commentary says, “As the hammer breaks the rock, so it (God’s word) shatters the pride and stubbornness of man. It is mighty to the pulling down of strongholds, and the heart of him who hears it as it should be heard is broken and contrite.”

Stubbornness is denoted as a cause of hardened hearts in scripture. Jeremiah 16:12 says, “But you have behaved more wickedly than your ancestors. See how all of you are following the stubbornness of your evil hearts instead of obeying me.” Romans 2:5 says, “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed.”

Ignorance is also associated with hardened hearts. Ephesians 4:18 says, “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”

We do not have to endure hardened stony hearts forever! Barnes Notes on the Bible says that like a hammer, God’s word rouses and strengthens the conscience and crushes everything evil within our hearts. The Lord promises in Ezekiel 36:26, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

The Message translation of Deuteronomy 30:6 says, “God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children’s hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live.”

As our spiritual hammer, God’s word is not only a tool – it is also a weapon. II Corinthians 10:4 NLT states, “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to break down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” In Ephesians 6:17, God’s word is described as the sword of the Spirit. Both the spiritual sword and a hammer are weapons describing God’s word.

Let’s use the following scriptures as hammers to break up our stony hearts.

For the stone of fear, apply the hammer of Isaiah 41:10. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

For the stone of unbelief, use the hammer found in Mark 9:23-24. Jesus has a conversation with a man whose son was demon possessed. And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

For the stone of anger, the hammer of Ephesians 4:26 is appropriate. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

For the stone of unforgiveness, use the hammer Jesus gave His disciples when teaching them how to pray. Matthew 6:12 NLT, says, “and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”

God’s word is a hammer that strikes with spiritual force. Just as a jackhammer has the force to break rocks and boulders, God’s word has the spiritual power to break hardened hearts. The soil of our souls is often littered with sinful stones. I encourage you to search your heart for any rocky remnants and pulverize them with the hammer of God’s word.

Activate your jackhammer in the name of Jesus! Ephesians 3:20 says, “(the Lord) is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” Apply the power of the Holy Spirit to the hammer of God’s word and see the hardness in your heart be smashed in ways you cannot imagine! The Lord promises in Ezekiel 11:19-20, “I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.

Masks – Physical and Emotional

Mandates for wearing masks are declining and we are seeing more smiling faces. However, I wonder if some of these smiles are a form of masks. The pandemic has caused not only physical illness but also mental stress. Our circumstances influence our moods and emotions. These affect our mental health. The past year and a half has been a challenge for people around the world. And the challenges continue.

When God created human beings, He created us with body, soul and spirit. The soul is composed of the mind, will and emotions. God birthed within us various emotions. God knows we will be emotional.

My Reader, what emotions are you feeling today? Let’s see what God says about how to handle a few of these emotions we try to mask.

FEAR Although it is a negative feeling, fear is an emotion all of us experience. God knows we will experience fearful times. No need to hide behind a mask. God wants to help. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” God will not desert us just because we become fearful. He is with us to help us overcome our fear. II Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

WORRY Worry is a natural human response to a crisis. When looking at the world’s situation with human eyes, we tend to worry. We have the choice of whether to worry or worship. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Psalm 103:1 says, “Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.”

DISCOURAGEMENT It seems like waves of discouragement have washed upon most of us sometime during the past year. It appears like the pandemic will never end. God knows our discouragement. We must be willing to unmask our feelings. Joshua 1:9 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Paul says in II Corinthians 7:6 NLT, “But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.” When Paul was discouraged, God encouraged him through Titus. The Lord often uses other people to offer encouragement. We do not have to handle everything alone.

TIREDNESS We can become tired emotionally as well as physically. We are tired of the pandemic. We often think we have to be productive and successful so we mask our weariness with more work. God wants to refresh us. But first, we must admit how we feel. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Psalm 23:3 declares, “He restores my soul.”

Colossians 1:17 says, “He (Jesus) is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” “All things” includes us. The Lord holds us together even when we feel like we are falling apart. We can’t mask our true feelings from God. He already knows how we feel because He is omniscient. God says in Isaiah 41:10 NLT, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.”

God will not leave us (desert us), but neither will He leave us (allow us to remain) in our negativity. He has a plan! However, we must remember Isaiah 55:8-9. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

We may have to endure fearful times before we can overcome fear. Stressful times cause us to cry out to the Lord. Then He can give us the Spirit’s power and love.

If we want to pray more, we may have to encounter more things to worry about. Hopefully, we will eventually learn to worry less and worship more. When we release our situations to the Lord through prayer, He floods our souls with His peace.

We may have to go through some discouraging times before we realize that the source of our strength and courage is the Lord. When we call upon Him, He answers.

Work! Work! Work! This often seems to be our attitude. God will allow us to try to do things in our strength until we realize we can’t do it. Finally, we cry out to God. He then gives us His rest.

I Peter 1:6-8 says, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

Romans 12:12 remind us, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Joy! Sincere smiles radiate joy. Our smiles should not need to be masks covering up our negative emotions. My Reader, may your smile proclaim to those around you the words of Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the LORD is your strength!