God’s Garden of Gladiolas

I spent the afternoon in a garden of gladiolas. A floral array that created a botanical masterpiece. Gladiolas are perennial plants known for their tall floral spikes and large, colorful blooms. Each blossom is composed of multiple flowerettes creating one flower that bursts forth from a sturdy green stalk. I was enthralled by the beauty surrounding me. I felt like I was surrounded by God’s presence portrayed through posies. In my spirit, I sensed multiple multicolored messages.

Botanically, gladiolus originates from a Latin term meaning sword. This flower is sometimes called the sword lily. It is described as a plant with unbranched stems having several narrow, sword-shaped longitudinal grooved leaves enclosed in a sheath. From within these green leaves, funnel-shaped irregular flowers emerge on slender stalks. I thought about the sword of the Spirit that is part of God’s armor. Ephesians 6:17 says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The botanical spires inspired me. The gladioli, commonly known as glads, seemed to echo Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.’”

Each flower reminded me of the steeple of an old church. Each blossom pointed to God in heaven. I felt like I was in a cathedral of living stained glass windows. So many flowers! So many colors! Ruby red – coral – pink – yellow – white – lavender – deep purple.

The stalks talked to me of God’s goodness. Psalm 25:8 declares, “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He instructs sinners in His ways.” Psalm 23:6 says, “Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” God is good!

Some gladioli were standing up straight declaring the glory of God. I Chronicles 16:24 says, “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.” Other floral stems appeared to bend lowly in humility. Psalm 95:6 invites, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Through the magnificent beauty of the flowers, I experienced the fulfillment of Isaiah 33:17. Your eyes will see the king in His beauty and view a land that stretches afar. Psalm 90:17 NKJV says, “Let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us.” I also was aware of a sweet perfume in the air. It was the fragrance of the flowers! In Ephesians 5:1-2 we are encouraged to, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.” II Corinthians 2:15 NIV says, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” The New King James version translates it, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ.”

Each cluster of blossoms appeared to symbolize a choir of trumpets. I sensed that the gladioli, or trumpets, were declaring a chorus of triumph. Psalm 98:6 NLT says, “With trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn, make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King!” A cacophony of praise was being declared by the colorful trumpets. God’s greatness and grandeur was being portrayed and proclaimed. Psalm 47:1 NKJV says, “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!”

Throughout the afternoon, I was encircled by a floral hedge. Psalm 135:9 NKJV says, “You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.” I was captivated by more than splashes of color. My spirit was communing with the God of all creation. Revelation 4:11 declares, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.”

Trinity – Trilogy – Triplet

Trinity – Triune – Trilogy – Triple – Triad – Triplet

All words signifying three.

Let’s begin with Trinity – the term used to describe our God. He is one God yet three persons. God the Father – God the Son – God the Holy Spirit.

Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. We skip a few verses and read Genesis 1:26,Let Us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness.” “Elohim” is the Hebrew word for God in both verses. Elohim reveals that God is the majestic ruler over all. It is a plural word and is used as the first name of God placing Him high above all other gods. It also foreshadows the later revelation of the triune Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

My favorite scripture revealing the trinity of God is Matthew 3:16-17. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” These verses specifically name the three persons of the Trinity. Jesus, the Son, is water baptized. The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, descends upon the Son. God the Father declares Jesus as His Son.

I think of the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy by Reginald Heber.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee;
holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
who wert and art and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye made blind by sin thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea;
holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

I have highlighted “trilogy phrases” within this hymn. It begins with the repetition of “holy” three times. This is a literary form of emphasis that accentuates the holiness of God. There are several other “three phrases” within in the hymn.

““Wort” and “art” and “and “evermore” can be stated in more common terms “was” and “are” and “forever.” Whatever the choice of words, it reminds me of Hebrews 13:8. Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Heber refers to the perfection of God in “power, love and purity.” Another trilogy is found in “earth and sky and sea.” The conclusion of the hymn emphasizes the blessed Trinity of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – three yet one.

I think God knew it would be hard for us to grasp the concept of His being “three yet one.” Consequently, He has surrounded us with examples of “threes.” Let’s look at numerous triad references found in scripture and our surroundings. Although none of the following triplets give us a 100% accurate description of God, they are helpful reminders of His nature.

Remembering that God said He made us in His image, we find our first illustration of “three in one” within our makeup. Human beings have a body, soul and spirit. Another triad is reflected when we describe our soul as being our mind, will and emotions. Even our ears have three parts: outer ear, middle ear and inner ear.

When explaining the Trinity concept of God to children, we often refer to an apple. An apple is one piece of fruit yet it has three parts. The peal, the flesh and the core or seeds. These three parts are found in all fruits.

A family is a unit of a father, mother and child/children. One group with three individual identities.

Within the Holy Trinity, the Son is known as Lord Jesus Christ. Lord is His title. Jesus is His name. Christ, Anointed One, is His role. Philippians 2:10-11 says, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow,, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.One person with three names. Most of us have a first, middle and last name.

Every 24 hours we encounter triplets. Morning – Noon – Night. Or, we might prefer to say Morning – Afternoon – Evening. One time period yet three parts.

The government of our country, reveals a triad through the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the one government over one nation. As I look at our nation’s flag, I see three colors. Red, white and blue.

Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.

In music, a triplet is three notes given one count or rhythmic beat.

As a child, I remember having a puzzle with three pieces. Each piece was a primary shape: square, triangle or circle. One puzzle. Three pieces. Three in one. Even the triangle piece was formed of three lines.

I see a triad symbol when I look at the lights above our bathroom mirror. One light with three bulbs. 

A traffic light is comprised of three separate lights.  Each light gives a different directive.  Green tells us to go. Yellow wars us to slow down. Red commands us to stop. One traffic light with three colors giving three instructions.

Deuteronomy 6:4 that says, “The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” The word “one” comes from the Hebrew word “echad” that means “united one.” This supports the fact that God is three in one.

None of my illustrations are perfect. They are simply reminders of the Holy Trinity. My list is certainly incomplete. I challenge you to look for your own triplets in your surroundings and scripture. Whenever you find a “three in one” symbol, take time to remember the unique nature of our God. Take time to praise God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!

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.”

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!

God Questions

I was reading Genesis 6. Abram and Sarai were frustrated because they could not conceive a child. In hopes of solving the problem, Sarai gave her maid, Hagar, to Abram. Hagar became pregnant. It seemed like one problem may have been solved, but another problem arose. Sarai was jealous. Finally, Abram told her to do what she wanted. Sarai sent Hagar away.

My attention was drawn to the angel’s questions for Hagar. The angel asked in Genesis 16:8, “Where have you come from and where are you going?”

Hmmm. If God is omniscient and knows everything, why did He send an angel to ask Hagar where she was? Didn’t God already know where she was? Didn’t He know where she was headed?

At the conclusion of Genesis 16:8, Hagar responded, I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” Her answer did not give a specific physical location. She replied by describing the situation she was escaping. She did not answer the second question.

I think God sent the angel to ask Hagar these questions to encourage her to evaluate what she was doing. God was holding her accountable for her actions. I suspect God was trying to teach her a lesson or two. He may have wanted her to think about the consequences of what she was doing. She could not simply run away and have everything be OK. Also, God may have been letting her know He was with her. She was not completely alone in the wilderness. God sent an angel to help her.

As I meditated upon these questions, I wondered if God was asking me the same questions. Where have I come from? Where am I going? I can get busy with all my coming and going. Am I on the path God is leading? I do not want to just run away like Hagar. I want to learn from each life situation.

I believe God has a reason for asking us these questions. He wants us to think about what we are doing and why we are doing them. He sees and He wants to guide us. He may point out wrong turns we make. However, He reveals these to help us get back on the right track. He does not condemn. But, He does convict so we can correct.

In the English language, we have 3 tenses of verbs – past, present and future. All are depicted in Hagar’s conversation with the Lord. The angel refers to the past when he asks, “Where have you come from?” The angel is interacting with Hagar while asking the questions. This signifies the present tense. The second question, “Where are you going?”, looks into the future. The Lord cared about the complete life of Hagar. The same is true for us today. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

The questions God asked Hagar and asks us always have a purpose. He does not ask to get information. He already knows everything. He asks to prompt us to seriously think about where we have been and where we are going.

God is interested in more than geographical locations. Where we are spiritually is His primary concern. He wants us to rely upon the Holy Spirit’s guidance for where we are going. He knows where we have been in the past. He is presently with us. He promises to be with us in the future.

My Reader, where have you come from? Where are you going?