Exponential Growth

Lent: Day 13 – While at the 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show I came across a very intriguing notation as part of the Delaware Valley College education exhibit. It read; “Soil is a system of organisms, air, water, organic matter and elements. Soil is a systems teeming with life! …dirt is what you find under your fingernails, on your clothes, or stuck in your tires.” In many ways I believe the parable of the sower speaks to the various environments in which we sometimes find ourselves. Ultimately our goal is to always be found in “good soil,” where we are able to hear and accept the word, allowing it to be nourished within us, so that together we may be of good use and our exponents can be released and shared for sowing God’s word in and through others. I liken it to the law of exponential growth in which the base is the word of God and the exponents are the various gifts we bring to enhance and spread the gospel. Our gifts express who we are in Christ. The more we use our gifts in and through Christ, the more God is glorified. Who then, can stand against such glory and power!

Teeming – abounding or swarming with something

teeming. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved March 07, 2012, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/teeming

Mark 4:1-20  Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’ 9And he said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’

Yeast Of Malice vs. Bread Of Sincerity

Lent: Day 12 – I believe one of the greatest challenges we face is the unwillingness to understand that any malicious act has the capability of becoming an acceptable part of our culture when in fact, it goes against the relationship God intended us to have with one another. For example, bullying has reached this level of acceptability in some communities, to where it is often not seen as a problem until one person makes a tragic response that either hurts one’s self, others or both. Bullying has never been a healthy part of any person’s life nor will it ever be. The relationships we teach and have with one another should reflect the relationship we know that God has with us. Bullying in any form is a contradiction to that relationship and although it can be healed, old habits are hard to reverse. Let’s save our selves the trouble, aggravation and pain. Let us encourage our relationship through Christ in our children and our children’s children. Discourage any yeast of malice, then, see if the body of Christ does not grow, as the enemies’ realm diminishes! In this instance, for those who hold to God’s promise, Christ’s strength in numbers pays forward in real life dividends with the bread of sincerity that forever nourishes our souls.

Mark 3:19-35 ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? 

1 Corinthians 5:1-8 Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?

Psalm 68:1,35 Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered; …Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; he gives power and strength to his people. 

Faith For The Benefit Of Others

Lent: Day 11 – Because of his faith in God alone who interprets dreams, Joseph is placed in a position to make a difference. He does so because he himself now has a family of his own. Thus, saving Egypt means saving his own family. Joseph’s wilderness was a good ten plus years, plenty of time to discern his relationship not only with God, but also with the family he as been separated from. He has time to discern the responsibility that his own attitude, arrogance and naïveté played in his endured and present circumstance. My guess is that initially, Joseph was angry. Perhaps he even thought about vengeance until his situation seemed to get worse, being falsely imprisoned, in spite of God’s favor. Yet ironically, being in prison saves his life. Joseph’s faith in God allows him to truly recognize and experience God’s wisdom in his life! Yes, Joseph suffered, but it was not his suffering that saved the life of his family but rather his faith in God. In this journey, we fight a lot of battles and suffer a lot of things for our selves and the people we love. To put our hope in those battles and suffering I believe is a disservice to God. I believe our hope should be in our faith and belief that God’s wisdom in the midst of our circumstance is greater than our own. Victory is only a matter of time.

Genesis 41:46-57 Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.’ … all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine became severe throughout the world.

1 Corinthians 4:8-21 We are fools for the sake of Christ, …To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly.

The Company We Keep

Lent: Day 8 – Sometimes we just have to work a little harder for the things we want and especially for the things in which we believe. Other times we have to work even harder for someone else we love, who doesn’t believe because they have lost hope, lost their way, or perhaps are simply paralyzed by fear, which keeps them moving forward in their lives. One of the most difficult things to do is to forgive our self for the things we’ve done or the things we believe we have done. The longer we convict our self, the longer it takes for us to believe that anyone else will forgive us. It is at this point in our lives when the people, with whom we have surrounded our selves, become very important. When because of our weakened faith, we are unable to see the blessing God has waiting for us, it is in and through the company we keep that supports and holds us up. Continually, while in our strength, we must discern the company that we keep, so that in our times of weakness we know that God’s presence will still be reached through the strength, prayers and efforts of those surrounding us, who not only believe but also desire to help build our faith on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

Mark 2:1-12 And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and take your mat and walk”?

1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15  Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are discerned spiritually. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny.

Habitual Journey

Lent: Day 4 – Some say it takes a minimum of 30 days to train a specific behavior into a habit. Others say it takes a lifetime. I say it only takes one successful day at a time. All we really need is to be successful today and before you know it, many days will have become yesterdays. One day you will find your journey in this life focused on the hill, and know from whence your help comes. You will find that you remember the days of turmoil, only to remind yourself and others of how great God really is in this life, because of his mercy and his love, which endures forever. You live this journey, because He lives in you.

Philippians 4:10-20  I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Ezekiel 39: 21-29  They shall forget their shame, and all the treachery they have practiced against me, when they live securely in their land with no one to make them afraid, when I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them from their enemies’ lands, and through them have displayed my holiness in the sight of many nations.

John 17:20-26  I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Psalm 30

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.

God’s Favor Alone

When Jacob left Laban, God instructed him to do so. No longer did Laban favor Jacob, namely because Jacob’s wealth was amassed through God’s favor and subsequently as a result of Laban’s selfishness. What did Jacob owe to Laban? Nothing. Jacob belongs to God not to Laban. There are many people who will favor us because of what they believe they can gain from us. They enter into God’s favor and into God’s presence with us by pretending to be on our side or traveling this journey with the same goal and purpose of a life redeemed and reconciled through Christ. In reality their motive is skewed and eventually they come out of their sheep’s clothing. When this happens we may find our selves in a place we don’t necessarily want to be. That’s okay! God knows his sheep and his sheep know him. The sheep always have favor with God! Keep listening, stay alert, return to his Word and believe in his truth. Eventually, like Jacob, God will call you out and lead you in his favor, to where he wants you to be.

God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands… Genesis 31:25-50

‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit…I know my own and my own know me… John 10:1-18

I write to you, …because you know the Father…because you know him who is from the beginning…because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:12-17

Nothing Is Insignificant

Absolutely nothing we do or say today is insignificant. Everything we do and say will affect either our selves or someone else in both small and large ways. With five barley loaves and two fish, Jesus fed five thousand people. When a task seems insurmountable to us, God will (if we allow him by giving him the glory) take whatever we have to offer regardless of its size, and make it work in our favor. Walk everyday in confidence knowing that with God our life has both purpose and meaning!

Nothing Insignificant; Insurmountable Tasks; God’s Favor

Follow The Star

Thursday:

“Mother let me send him my crutch, who knows, he made need one and this I made myself.” Amahl and the NightVisitors (1955), a made-for-television, Opera in one Act, is for me perhaps the most meaningful holiday story. Amahl, a crippled child with a vivid imagination and his widowed mother struggle to survive when three kings bearing gifts and looking for a place to rest, visit them. The kings have been following a star that will lead them to a child who doesn’t need the gifts they bring because they’ve heard that love alone will build his kingdom and the keys to his city belong to the poor. As Amahl and his mother begin to understand who this child is to be, Amahl with his limited mobility is willing to let go of the one thing on which he has depended through his life. Without hesitation he reaches to give the crutch to the kings and immediately begins to walk. We often create our own crutches in life. Sometimes out of necessity, other times out of fear. There comes a time when we have to let them go so that we don’t become paralyzed by them. If we can find the strength to believe in the one gift that we’ve all been waiting for, our faith will soon reveal that the gift has already been given.

Two Kingdoms

Wednesday:

At times the Kingdom of God seems far away and the ways of the world make demands, which sometimes overwhelm us. Whose authority do we fall under? To whom do the children of the earth give toll or tribute? This is a twist on the question Jesus poses to Peter in Matthew 17 and helps us to understand that we, who believe in The Word, neither belong to the ways of the world nor owe nothing to it. Our honor is given to God. Yet as we live in this world, we abide by its laws. However, we give God the glory because as children of God we know that our provision, our sustenance and our reward will return to us not only in abundance but also from unconventional sources. We should never underestimate God’s authority over this world.

Matthew 17:22-27 From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?’ When Peter said, ‘From others’, Jesus said to him, ‘Then the children are free… go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.’

Honoring Sabbath

Friday:

Taking time to honor Sabbath is critical in this journey and should be an act of our will.  One Advent season I had been completely busy; right up to day we packed the car to drive across the state to visit my oldest son’s godfather for the Christmas holiday. Four hours into the trip the pain in my back began at the first rest stop. I could barely move. I survived the nine-hour trip. However, as I finally allowed my body to rest I was in excruciating pain.  Although I had pneumonia, I didn’t have to stay over night at the hospital. It would be one month before my energy level was restored to full strength, but I got the rest I needed. Only then did I more fully understand the importance of taking care of the self: physically, spiritually and emotionally. Some of us can get by on 4 hours while others need as much as 8-10 hours of sleep, but sleep and rest are two different states.  Sleep involves immobilization of the body. Rest is separation (setting aside) from physiological, emotional, or mental activity, in order that one may relax (calm down, unwind, let go) and be restored. Too often we don’t remember regular Sabbath and keep it Holy. Take the time to be still, for in that stillness God speaks (if we are willing to hear) and his Spirit will nourish and restore the soul.

Psalm 23 He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside the still waters; he restores my soul.

Psalm 92 – A Song for the Sabbath Day

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
   to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
   and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
   to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
   at the works of your hands I sing for joy.