The Power of a Seed

In western New York, it seemed like spring could not decide to come and stay. Now summer is almost here. We delayed planting because we did not want our seeds to shiver and shrivel up. Finally, it is warm enough for us to think about gardening and planting seeds.

Gardeners have opened packets of seeds and submerged them into the ground. Shoots of new growth have pushed their way through the soil with the promise that more is coming. Seedlings are becoming mature plants. Soon, flowers and vegetables will be produced.

I feel like packets of spiritual seeds have been offered to me. Today, we will open 3 packets of seed promises. Join me as I plant these seeds in my heart. May our understanding of seeds begin to grow.

Never underestimate the power of a seed.”
Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love.
Hosea 10:12 NLT

Max Lucado is the author of this statement in The Applause of Heaven. Lucado continues to write, “Plant a word of love heart-deep in a person’s life. Nurture it with a smile and a prayer, and watch what happens.”

James 3:18 NLT, “And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” Seeds of peace produce a peacefulness within those who have received these seeds. Right words, thoughts and actions are produced.

Jesus says in John 14:27, Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” We need to remember these words today!

Recently, diverse seeds have been planted in the land of the United States. Desiring new growth for racial equality, peaceful protest seeds were planted. Unfortunately, seeds of chaos and destruction also erupted. I am reminded of the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13:24-30. Both wheat and weeds grew in the same field. Matthew 13:36-43 explains the parable. We learn that the day will come when the weeds are pulled up and destroyed. For now, let us water authentic seeds of peace with the water of the Word.

Ephesians 4:32 NLT says, “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted.” A seed immersed in the heart requires loving care to grow. Lucado reiterates that a smile and a prayer are beneficial forms of spiritual fertilizer.

Prayer is the seed for a miracle.”
As soon as you began to pray an answer was given.
Daniel 9:23

On enlivenblog, Helen Calder shares, “Your prayer holds great power. It is the seed for a miracle. Prayer precedes power.”

Daniel 10:12 NLT says, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” Such an assurance for Daniel and for us!

As intercessors, we plant many seeds in the heavenly realm. The coronavirus pandemic and the recent riots have brought us to our knees. The answers to our prayers may not be sprouting as quickly as we would like. We still do not have the evidence of fully grown plants. However, every word we pray is a seed planted in God’s heavenly garden. We may not be aware of the miracles produced by prayer seeds we have planted.
(see post  https://anappleofgold.wordpress.com/2020/04/15/miracles-we-may-be-missing/)

The seeds planted in the ground look very different from the new plants that emerge. The same is true for spiritual seeds. The words of our prayers look quite different from God’s answers. His answers always produce the best fruit.

God plants small seeds in us so He can show others what He does in us.”
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

Our pastor, Robert Reeves, included the statement above in a recent message. A thought or a nudge or an idea may be the small seed God plants in us.

When God plants a seed in the garden of our hearts, are we willing to help the seed grow? Will we pursue the idea that seemed to “just appear” – or will we ignore it? Let us remember the words of Zechariah 4:10 NLT. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.

Pastor Bob added, “The smallest beginnings lead to incredible things. God’s growth in you is attractive to those about to give up.” Hebrews 10:24 NLT says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

As the gardener, God plants a seed (an idea or a thought) in us. If we plant that seed (carry out that thought), it has the potential to grow and become a plant in others. In turn, they may plant similar seeds in others. The result will be an abundance of fruit produced in a garden glorifying GodJesus says in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.

The smallest seed of faith God implants in us can grow into something incredible. Think about the parable of the tiny mustard seed that grows to be a massive tree. Matthew 13:31-32 says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in it’s branches.”

In conclusion, seeds are tiny but mighty. First, never underestimate the potential power within a little seed. Secondly, let’s prayerfully plant seeds being sure that they are rooted and grounded in love. Finally, may we rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to help these seeds grow into incredible miraculous plants that are beyond anything we can imagine. (see Ephesians 3:14-21)

Max Lucado reminds us that we harvest seeds sown by men and women whom we never knew. And, we sow seeds to be harvested by men and women we will never see.

It’s time to plant seeds!

 

 

NO Spiritual Distancing!

 

Social distancing has become the latest description of how we are to interact with others. COVID-19 has interrupted all of our lives. Social distancing has been introduced as a way to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Six feet between us and others. No hugging. No touching.

Although my and husband I have not been going out in public, we have been going out for walks. Others are doing the same. We smile and shout hello as one couple stays on the sidewalk and the other couple moves to the street. More than six feet apart!

A few days ago, it was our granddaughter’s birthday. We wanted to give her a gift. We went to their home and handed her gift through an open window. We chatted for awhile. Charity and her family were inside and we were outside. More than six feet apart!

Later that evening, I was reading Max Lucado’s He Still Moves Stone. The affects of social distancing were still on my mind. Lucado wrote about Peter keeping his distance from Jesus after Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Luke 22:54 says, “Then they seized Jesus, led Him away, and took Him into the house of the high priest. And Peter followed at a distance.

Lucado expounds, “He (Peter) was loyal . . . from a distance. That night he went close enough to see, but not close enough to be seen.”

Hmmm. Peter was social distancing! It was not long before Peter regretted his actions of not staying close to Jesus. Let us not be guilty of spiritual distancing.

God is not interested in spiritual distancing. He wants to be close to us no matter what our world situation looks like. There is no need for us to keep a safe distance from Him. He is not afraid to give us a hug. In fact, He wants us to come closer to Him at this time.

James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Yes, I cannot help noting that God is telling us to wash our hands. He is referring to spiritual hand washing. Currently, we are constantly hearing about physical hand washing. A way to avoid spiritual distancing is to be cleansed spiritually.

James 4:7, says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Satan is the one from whom we must practice social and spiritual distancing. He is trying to disrupt our lifestyle, but he will not succeed spiritually.

Psalm 145:18 declares, “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

In Give Him 15 for 3/2020, Dutch Sheets shared the following. “Draw near to Him in a place of abiding. Abiding is being vitally united to Him. As you draw close to Him, listen to His voice and not to the voice of fear and chaos that so many media outlets are causing and promoting. He will speak to areas that He is causing us to think differently in, and even give us new ways to walk out our faith during this time. . . .  He is our refuge. Spend time with Him and draw near that His glory will be your canopy and shield.”

Psalm 91 is a good Psalm for us to declare over our families, church fellowships, nation and world. I will highlight a few verses. Verses 1 and 2 say, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” We can actively abide with the Lord as described by Dutch Sheets. Verse 4 tells us, “He will cover you with His feathers; under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and rampart.We can’t get much closer than under God’s wings! Verse 9-12 promise, “Because you have made the LORD your dwelling— My refuge, the Most High— no evil will befall you, no plague will approach your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.Verse 15 declares,When he calls out to Me, I will answer hm; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honor him.No space for any spiritual distancing!

For medical reasons, social distancing may be necessary at the present time. However, this only accentuates the need for NO spiritual distancing. Joshua 1:9 encourages us, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

The Lord promises no spiritual distancing throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Deuteronomy 31:6 emphasizes, “the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” In Matthew 28:29, Jesus says, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

The Lord calls out to us in Zechariah 1:3, “’Return to Me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty.

My Reader, declare with me Psalm 73:28, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.

Grace Giver

When I awoke the other morning, I heard “Grace Giver” whispered in my spirit. I believe Grace Giver is an accurate description of God. He is the giver of grace. Grace is God’s gift to us.

Let’s take time to unwrap the gift of grace. Let’s meditate upon words of scripture and words of prominent Christian authors and speakers.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8

Grace is the power of the Holy Spirit available to you to do
with ease what you cannot do by striving in your own strength.
Joyce Meyer

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
Ephesians 4:7

But grace is at the center of the life God calls us to—
and reflects the heart of the One who calls.”

John Ortberg

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.
II Corinthians 12:9

The true definition of “grace is the power of God,
not the unmerited favor of God.”
Bill Johnson

It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace.
Hebrews 13:9

Grace is the empowering presence of God that enables you
to become what He sees when He looks at you.”

Graham Cooke

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find
grace
to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

Grace sees potential – potential is more powerful than mistakes.
Grace sees what you can do, not what you have done.
Rev. Robert Reeves

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through
the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

II Peter 1:2

Grace: more than we deserve, more than we can Imagine.”
Max Lucado

(Calligraphy image done by our granddaughter Grace.)

Spiritual Photography 101

camerasmart-phoneI love to take a spiritual picture of what I see in the natural realm. Today I am looking at photography through a holy lens. Over one shoulder, I am carrying a camera bag containing a camera that uses film. In my pocket, I have my smart phone with a digital camera. I will use both types of cameras to develop my spiritual photograph.

When I use my older camera, it takes time for me to get the picture I want to photograph into focus. I have to adjust the camera lens. If I do not do this, my photo will most likely be blurry. For myself spiritually, I want to allow God’s hand to make necessary adjustments in my character so that I reflect a clear image of the Lord. I will make it a priority each day to focus upon God’s Word and His promises.

Before taking a photo, I must decide what kind of a picture I want to take. Do I want a closeup of one person or do I want a group shot of many people? Do I need a telescopic lens or a wide-angled lens on my camera? The telescopic lens allows me to focus upon one person with the capability of enlarging the image of that individual. This is something to consider from a spiritual perspective as well. If I use a telescopic, or myopic, lens, I see only how a situation affects me. With a telescopic lens, I may be focusing too much upon myself and allowing the situation to become a bigger deal than it is in reality. If I attach a wide-angled lens to my brain, I may be able to perceive how my circumstances affect others as well as me. I tend to use the myopic lens and think only of myself while God sees a bigger picture regarding how my present situation affects many people over a greater time period. I recently read an article that pointed out that the word “lie” is found in the middle of the word “believe” – beLIEve. If I use a wide-angled lens, I will have the faith to believe what God has promised rather than focusing upon the lie of the enemy. The conclusion of John 8:44 says, “he (satan) is a liar and the father of lies.” Opposite of this, Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

If I am using my smart phone camera and want to print a copy of the picture, I can click a few keys and download a digital image that can be printed. It is quick! However, this photograph may not be as good of quality as one taken with a camera with film that has to be developed. In fact, the digital picture may turn out to be so dark that the only thing to be done with it is to delete it. From the spiritual perspective, I can say that some thoughts are so dark and distorted that they need to be deleted as well. In John 8:12, Jesus says that He is the Light of the World. Adding Jesus to the picture can produce clear thinking.

In contrast to the digital image of a smart phone, a photo taken with film involves a negative that must be developed to produce a picture. Especially evident on a black and white negative is the fact that the dark and light images are reversed on the negative. It is only after the actual picture is printed that the image is a true reflection of what was captured on film. Negative pictures remind me of negative thoughts and happenings. In Revelation 12:10, satan is described as the accuser of our brethren. His accusations are not true and almost always negative. In contrast, Jesus says in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus offers the positive. II Corinthians 10:4-5 states, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought to captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Even in the spiritual realm, negative accusations have to be developed to become a reality. In contrast, there are positives to be divinely developed with God’s help. Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (my emphasis) God uses all things for good. He can even turn negatives into positives. Instead of allowing negative imaginations to become images, I can let God turn these imaginations into positive images of Christ. I must cast down the false imaginations and focus on the images of the reality. Graham Cooke has said, “You can’t have a negative in your life without the opposite also being there.” Cooke goes on to say that when we are hit with a negative thought or feeling, we are to ask the Holy Spirit what the opposite is. Then he encourages us to dwell on the positive that is revealed. Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart, Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” I do not want to settle for the negative – I want to have the picture developed into a positive reality.

Both natural and supernatural photography take time. They are not just aim and shoot actions if the best results are desired. It takes time to develop a picture taken with a camera if we choose to not just print the first image seen on the screen of a smart phone. It also involves a process for God to work the negatives of our lives into positives for His glory. The story of Joseph in Genesis is a good example. I think of all the negatives Joseph encountered because of his brothers’ actions. However, by the time we read Genesis 50:20 Joseph says, “You intended to harm me (negative), but God intended it for good (positive) to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Max Lucado makes the comment in Cast of Characters – Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God that forgiveness becomes easier with a wide-angled lens. Joseph refused to focus on the betrayal of his brothers without also seeing the loyalty of his God. The Lord desires to divinely develop a similar type of spiritual photography in all of our lives. Our first imagination may be negative, but God can divinely develop an image with a positive outcome.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Mephibosheth and Me

 

ii-samuel-4-4Mephibosheth. What a name! What a mouthful to pronounce! Did he have a nickname?

Mephibosheth. Who was he? What do we know about him?

(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet.
He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan
came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled,
but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled.
His name was Mephibosheth.)
II Samuel 4:4

In this one verse of the Bible, we learn that Mephibosheth was a crippled son of Saul. When Mephibosheth is introduced in scripture, it is in a parenthetical statement which makes me wonder about his importance. Is this information about him an afterthought just for clarification? Why am I even bringing up his name in this blog?

I think we all can identify with Mephi in one way or another. Have you ever felt insignificant? Most of us will answer “yes” to that question – maybe we have felt shoved in a corner while everyone else was having a good time. Have you ever felt like you were dropped? Most of us will again have to admit that we have experienced discouragement when something we thought was important was dropped from an agenda and not acted upon by the majority of people. Are you crippled? Most of us have experienced a time when we have felt incapable of moving forward because we have been wounded and disabled by negative words spoken about us. Yes, in a sense, I believe we are all Methibosheths.

The king said, “Is there not yet anyone of the house of Saul
to whom I may show the kindness of God?” And Ziba said to the king,
“There is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet.”
So the king said to him, “Where is he?”
II Samuel 9:3-4

Wait a minute! Here is King David inquiring about Methibosheth. Why would he want to meet Methi? We need to remember that Johnathan, Mephibosheth’s father, and David, now king, were close friends. In a previous scriptural account, David made a covenant with Jonathan that he would always care for any living relative of Jonathan. David wanted to fulfill this covenant so he inquired to see if there was a living qualified person. When David found Mephibosheth, he restored all the land that had once belonged to Methi’s grandfather Saul and invited him into his home. David knew the significance of a covenant. We, too, would do well to remember the importance of a covenant we have made with the Lord.

So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.
II Samuel 9:11

The king assured Mephi that he would always eat at his table. King David even calls him a son! He is not referred to as a cripple but he is defined as a son. How wonderful this must have felt to Mephibosheth! In his book Cast of Characters, Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God, Max Lucado makes the comparison of Methibotheth’s place at David’s table to our place with Christ. Lucado writes, “We are children of royalty, crippled by the fall, permanently marred by sin.” Ephesians 1:5 says “He (God) predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ.” Like Mephi, we may be crippled but God sees us as sons and daughters and bases His relationship with us upon the covenant we have made with Him rather than upon the label of any of our disabilities or shortcomings. Each time we partake of the sacrament of Communion, we are seated at the Lord’s table.

Mephibosheth. It is still a strange name and a hard name to pronounce, but it is also a name with which we can identify. I do not want to conclude this blog without thinking about the meaning of this name. Mephibosheth means “he who scatters shame.” When I hear this phrase, I think of two possible interpretations. “He who scatters shame” could refer to those who are crippled by shame and spread it on to those who surround them. Or, “He who scatters shame” could refer to those who break up shame so that it no longer can be an influence upon oneself or anyone else. I believe that at the beginning of our story about Mephibosheth, he felt like his condition negatively influenced not only himself but also those around him. However, by the end of the biblical account, Mephibosheth’s shame had been scattered to the wind and it no longer identified who he was. He was now a son and he lived with the king. Yes, we too can be like Mephibosheth! We are part of the family of God, forgiven of all that once crippled us.

Be proud to be a Mephibosheth!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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