Tag Archive | grow

A Long, Hard Look in the Mirror

James 1:22-25 – “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

Happy 2018!

I hope that your Christmas was lovely and your New Years was fun. We had a great time visiting with family and sharing memories together. 

One of the presents that I got this year was a vanity mirror – you know the ones that light up and magnify to show every imperfection on your face. I love it! Now I can really see time marching across my face! No, seriously, I really wanted one. I was practically sitting on my bathroom counter trying to put on eyeliner. This is going to be a great help.

But it made me consider another type of glass – the one mentioned here in James. Oh, this glass shows way more imperfections that my magnifying mirror will show. And these imperfections hurt. The ones I see in my mirror just remind me that I’m not 20 anymore. 

The imperfections I see in myself that are reflected by the Perfect Law of Liberty remind me that I’m not done growing yet. I have faults, failures and shortcomings that need to be addressed. I see opportunities missed and conversations squandered. But I also see successes and accomplishments. I see places where I have been obedient. I see times when Jesus was smiling on me.

Today is the first day of 2018. It is a time for goals and/or resolutions. It is a time for reflection and thinking ahead. Today is the perfect day to sit down and take a good, hard look in the mirror…of God’s Word. It is the perfect day to start a Bible study, begin reading through the Bible, start that journal you have been thinking about, begin that prayer time that has been convicting your heart – whatever the burden God has laid upon your heart to begin doing, do it today!

And when you get up to do the other things that this day is bringing, don’t forget what you saw in the mirror of God’s Word. Let it penetrate and change you. Let it open you up to His will for your life. Let Him have control this year. Live like you believe.


Baby Believer

1 Peter 2:2 – “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

My daughter has a good friend that accepted Jesus as her Savior this school year. Since that time, she and my daughter have been reading and discussing the Bible together. It’s really cute, if one forgets to read a chapter, they have to give the other one a dollar.  If they neglect to read more than one chapter, they have to buy a spirit ribbon on Friday and the other one gets to decide where they wear it, like on their forehead. Not something I would do, but it is the way they hold one another accountable.

Last night, they were face timing and discussing what they had read the night before. My daughter’s friend had made a list of questions to talk to her about. She is a new Believer who is hungry and thirsty for the Word. She has been taught so many different things from so many different people that she just wants to know what Jesus says about everything. And what better place to find it than the Bible.

When was the last time you and some close friend of yours had that sort of discussion? When was the last time you were hungry for the Word of God? When was the last time you made a list of questions to discuss with someone about what you read in the Bible?

Heart pricking, isn’t it?

The older we get, the less likely we are to ask questions. We don’t want to look foolish. But this young lady doesn’t care what she looks like to others. She wants to know God more and more. And her questions are thought provoking. They make you stop and consider what was going on, who Jesus was talking to and why. It’s a great way to learn. 

I also think that we ebb and flow when it comes to reading God’s word. We have times when we are really diligent about it and other times when “stuff” gets in the way. Maybe we all need some sort of accountability partner to keep us reading. I think it would be good for us. Maybe it would get us to sincerely desire the Word of God in a whole new way. 

So this week, I want to challenge you to read His Word diligently. Let His words so seep into you that you are contemplating long after you close the Book. And ask questions. Teachers always tell their students at the beginning of the year that there is no such thing as a stupid question. And it is so true. More than likely, someone else is thinking the same thing. Go, learn and grow.

Hiding His Word

Psalm 119:10-12 – “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.”

I’m terrible at hiding God’s word in my heart. Oh, I know story after story and content and reasonings but memorization- nope. Not my forte. And here’s my reasoning behind it…or maybe it’s just my excuse. 

I learn concepts. I learn reasons. I learn the how and why behind things. It is how my brain works. Now, that’s not to say that some Scripture doesn’t stick in there from time to time. But it is more when I can apply it to something or have had some form of close interaction with the verse that I remember it. 

But despite not being able to spout off chapters or verses, God still hides His word in me. His word should be seen in my choice of speech – how and when I say things. His word should be seen in my actions – how and when I respond to things. His word should be seen in my thought process – thinking of others before myself. 

Hiding his word should be more like planting His word. I need to establish God’s word so deep in my heart that when things grow within me, they should shine with the Light of God’s love. Every step I take should be a seed planted further into the ground. Every word I utter should be seasoned with God’s grace and mercy. Every thought I think should be filtered through His word. 

His word needs to be applied and utilized. Anyone can memorize Scripture with enough practice and dedication. At the same time, anyone can apply and live God’s word with practice and dedication. 

So let me encourage you today to plant God’s words. Don’t just hide them on the surface of your heart. Hide them deep within you so that your actions, your words and your thoughts are affected by the power of His word. 

John 15 – Part 2

John 15:4-8 – “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

Here’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. 

Abiding. Here’s how good old Webster’s 1828 defines abiding – “Dwelling; remaining; continuing; enduring; awaiting.” 

It’s kinda like the wheels on a car. They have to be in line to work properly. If one is out of whack, the car drives crazy. You can’t have one wheel in front of the other. They have to work together to make the car go straight. 

We have to allow Jesus to dwell in us. We have to abide or stay in Him. If we get out of line, everything goes crazy. We can’t stay on the narrow way when we are out of line with Him. 

And then there’s the whole fruit aspect of these verses. We kind of touched on this in the last blog post, but in case you have forgotten – you can’t bear fruit without Jesus. You have to be attached to Him. 
Now you can grow yucky fruit. Fruit that is not sweet or pure or beneficial. But this kind of fruit has no benefit. It does not make life better by knowing it is there. 

If you want to grow and produce some type of fruit, the plant has to have a source for nutrients. The branches where the fruit is produced must be attached to a base or a vine that can sustain the plant and give it what it needs to grow good fruit. There is a reason Jesus used this analogy – those He was speaking to knew farming and gardening. They understood and realized the necessity behind what He was saying. This wasn’t rocket science. This was real life. 

They understood that if a branch in their vineyard wasn’t producing, the logical thing to do was cut it off and burn it, get rid of it. They knew that in order for the grapes to grow, the branches where the flowers bloomed must stay attached to the vine. This was their life; this is what they knew. 

Jesus wasn’t speaking to them in some weird language. He was speaking to them in a way that they can understand and that people throughout the ages could understand. I may not tend a vineyard, but I know enough to know how things like that sort of work. I can get the gist of it. 

God still speaks like that to us today. He is telling us here in these verses – “You MUST be attached to Jesus if you want any thing productive to go on in your life. And if you aren’t doing something, well then, drastic measures are going to have to go on to get your attention and to get you back to where you need to be. I do this because I love you and I want you to be the best you can be.” (Melissa interpretation here.)

I know when I have had a garden in the past, I go out there and hope that there will be nothing that I need to do to make the vegetables grow. I hope that the plants are growing up with no issues, that the weeds are not there and that all of the branches are producing fruit or vegetables. But deep down, I know that will not be the case. I know I will need to pluck and prune and rake the soil around a bit. I know that if I want a bountiful harvest, I’m going to have to work at it. 

God is the same way. He would like for things just to go along smoothly and everyone accept Jesus for who He is and what He has done. But He knows that it takes work. The human race has been work since day 1 and we will continue to be work until the very last day. But God is full of grace and mercy and He wants to make our life here the fullest and most profitable that it can be. We just have to let Him do the pruning, the raking, the weed pulling and the fertilizing. And above all else, we MUST stay attached to the Vine. Otherwise, we will perish without His nurturing love. 

Lessons from running

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

I try to run. I’m not fast. I haven’t gotten to the point yet where I can go long distances. But I attempt to move myself down the road at a pretty good clip about 2-3 times per week. And I enjoy it. It gives me time to think and pray and listen to my music. I like the way that it makes me feel. I like smelling the flowers and the trees and seeing the beauty of God’s creation when I run. 

Yesterday, I tried to push myself a little – start just a little earlier, go just a bit farther before turning around and then stretch out my stopping point by a few feet. No large gains but I thought my body was going to crash before I got to my stopping place. I’m tearing down this trail with the end in sight praying, “Come on God! We gotta do this! I need to do this! Get me there I pray!” And I did. And I felt amazing. And I’m sure Jesus was up in Heaven smiling because He knew that I needed to prove to myself that it can be done. 

The whole experience made me think about the life lessons I have learned from “running”.

  1. Start with an end in sight. I have learned that if I have a destination in mind and I set my mind to that endpoint, I can coach myself to get there, usually. The same is true in life. I need to remember, each and every day, why I am doing what I am doing – I’m doing my part to advance the Kingdom of God so that no one dies and goes to Hell. And some days, I have to coach myself on that endpoint. The Holy Spirit reminds me to keep going for this very cause. 
  2. Know when it’s time to turn around. I need to know when it’s time to go back. Sometimes I get going on things and forget what I’m doing. That’s when I find myself in a big mess. I didn’t turn around in time. Sometimes I will get going on something spiritual and then end up messing the whole attitude of it up because of sin. 
  3. Keep your eyes on the prize. Yesterday when I was running, I knew my endpoint. And I must have looked like a crazy person mouthing to myself, “Come on. You can do it. One more curve and you will be able to see the end. Come on.” That was the longest curve in the history of mankind. But I knew if I could just see that stop sign that life would be so much better. I knew that the stop sign meant more to me than the people that put it there intended. It meant that my run was over. When I am running through life, I have to keep my eyes on the prize – Jesus saying with open arm, “Well done, Melissa! Welcome home!”

When Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians, I dare say that he never dreamed that people would be running just for the exercise benefit. But he knew that exercise is important to the body. He also knew that spiritual exercise was good for the soul. This is the type of exercise that he was encouraging the Corinthians to participate in. 

If you want a muscle to get stronger, you have to do exercises that will create tiny tears in the fibers. Those tears are addressed by the body and become stronger because the body builds them up. The muscle fibers come out stronger and ready to take on more. 

The same is true in our spiritual life. We have to go through tough times and tear those spiritual fibers just a bit to make them stronger. But just like we can’t make our muscle fibers stronger on our own, we can’t make our spiritual fibers stronger. We have to rely upon God to make both stronger. And in both instances, those fibers can’t be torn too much. It requires just the right amount of stress to create the necessary scenario for growth in strength. And only God knows what that scenario is – He created our spiritual and physical fibers. 

Let me encourage you to be aware of growth in your life. Take these little lessons from running and try to apply them to your scenario. But no matter what, make sure that you are allowing God to direct the scene and let Him encourage you to keep on going. He has the prize in His hand. 

Bloom where you are planted

Mark 4:26-29 – “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”

The other day I was walking into work and I noticed something – a flower growing in the gutter of the building. It always makes me smile when I see something like that. A tiny, beautiful little flower growing way up high in a place where flowers really aren’t supposed to grow.

It made me think about what God expects of us. Here we are in this yucky old world where society is ever trying to sweep us away. And we are supposed to be just like this little flower. We are supposed to grow no matter what. Despite the circumstances, despite where we are at, we are supposed to grow. And we are supposed to produce fruit. We are supposed to bring hope to those around us by showing the beauty He has created within us.

I know that no one person purposefully climbed up on a ladder and planted that seed up in the gutter. But I believe that God put that seed up in that gutter for a very specific reason – He wanted me to see it and He wanted me to remember that it is so very important that we grow where we are planted. You may be planted in a fertile field where people are coming to Jesus every day. Or you may be planted in the desert where birds of prey are waiting to pick your bones dry. Either way, we are instructed to grow. If cactus can grow in the desert, then so can you. You just have to get creative. Cactus produce fruit as well. They provide water for animals and flowers to grow other cactus.

The endpoint is this – Christ’s return is coming soon. Harvest time is almost here. How much fruit are you producing? Is it bountiful? Or are you just scraping by? We can’t grow without the Living Water supplying all that we need. We can’t produce without the Master Gardener pruning and encouraging growth. So get with it, sister! Get that soil fertilized and get those weeds pulled. Times a wastin’!

Dig a little deeper

Jeremiah 17:7,8 – “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”

I like to grow things. Sometimes I am successful. Sometimes I am not. Right now I have mums on my porch that I know need to be watered today. I want them to continue growing. I want them to continue opening up their beautiful flowers. I have tried in the past to grow a garden. Some years were bountiful and beautiful. Other years were pitiful and sad.

Part of the reason that my garden did not do so well was from lack of water. Another issue that probably affected things was lack of nutrients. Plants need both these things in order to successfully produce fruits and vegetables. I also had weeds in my gardens. They took over one year because I didn’t pull them and tend to my garden the way that I should.

The point in all this plant talk is this – plants must be fed and tended to in order to grow. We are no different. If we want our relationship with our Savior to grow, we have to be fed and we have to tend to it. We have to make choices to be fed by His Word. We have to make choices to allow Him to tend to the garden of our life. Weeds will grow up and try to choke out new growth. Droughts will come when we feel like everything is going wrong. We will not be able to see any good whatsoever in our life. It is in those times that we have to be like a tree planted by the water. We have to ensure that our roots go down deep. We have to trust that our tap root will keep us supplied. How do you think that giant old trees stand through a tornado or hurricane? It is because their roots are strong and they go deep. We have to be the same way.

This verse in Jeremiah is encouraging to me. It helps me to remember to dig in a little deeper. It promises that blessings will be mine when I trust only in The Lord and hope only in The Lord. The verses before this one actually bring curses upon those whose hope is in man. People can and will fail. People forget to water their garden. People forget to weed their garden. And because of these choices, people aren’t always producing fruit. Why would we think that depending on them for something as important as your spiritual well being would be a good idea? God is constant. He doesn’t change. He never leaves His Living Water. He never fails to produce.

My encouragement for you today, princess, is to check out your root system. Do you need to dig a little deeper? Do you need to go to the Water for a drink or maybe a long gulp? Are you in a drought of joy? He can provide all this and more. You just have to be willing to let Him be all this and more.