Grow Baby Grow

Then God Blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.”  Genesis 9:1

Weekend radio garden shows are popular because they ignore the rest of the world and focus on the basics: How do I manage to grow more and better tomatoes, etc.  There’s no consideration of politics, terrorism, family issues or religion.  Growing plants don’t care who the president is or what woke us up last night.

While we often want God to be more involved in the world and our particular problems, He really has more of a garden show approach.  He wants us to grow, and grow well.  It’s about each of us individually and less about everything else. He wants us to reach our full potential in Him just like a gardener wants the asparagus to be perfect.

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Ouch!

Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord; the one you teach from your law.       Psalm 94:12

The sentiment expressed in this Psalm sounds noble, doesn’t it? But who really wants to be disciplined? NONE OF US! And we’ll do a lot to avoid any sort of pain, let alone the kind inflicted by the Almighty.  But when He catches up to us and disciplines us, we always know that He is right and we’re wrong yet again. Ultimately, we should just glad He didn’t hit us the way we deserve to be hit: a knock-out punch.

When He finally gets our attention, which is never easy, we temporarily grasp His righteousness, and accept our failures and inadequacies. We repent and promise and promptly forget. Pray that we won’t ever be disciplined by Him with justice. Only plead for His mercy!

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Prime Time

Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship Blessed my house.  Job 29:4

When does prime time end? We all hope not it’s too soon! We enter our prime when we convince ourselves that we’re in control of our lives.  Unfortunately, we don’t really hit our prime until we realize that we can’t control anything. God’s in control, always!

Job suffered and doubted.  So do we. Our “prime time” ends when we feel we have no further future, which is where Job thought he was when he uttered this verse.  When we finish Job’s story, it becomes clear that what he thought was the end of the game was only half time. Let’s remember that with Jesus we always have a future. Our prime time is now. So let’s start acting like it!

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Misplaced Priorities

The man who was dying Blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing. Job 29:13

A recent news report said that after a severe drought the new danger was flooding as rain finally returned. We complain about the heat, then the cold, then the drought then the rain! What keeps us from giving thanks for what we have regardless of whether the weather is good or bad?  Pride. We want things “just so.”

We want to control EVERYTHING and when we can’t, we complain – first to ourselves, then to anyone who will listen and lastly to God because this is ultimately HIS FAULT!!  The man who was dying blessed Job because he understood that when we die what worried us in life are no longer important. Our priorities at death won’t be money, status or looks. But what will they be?

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A Friend in Need

Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. Proverbs 8:34

Intimate friends are few and far between. Sometimes our families, co-workers (and even pets) fill in the blanks.  True friends, when they exist, take on our burdens and let us talk as long as we’d like.  Not many people volunteer for that job.

How about God? That’s what prayer is about.  It is complaining, crying, laughing and making Him listen to us whine and whisper about our day, our week, our month and our life – for as long as we want.  It’s His job. And when we have an intimate conversation with Him it’s called Prayer. We can talk as long as we want, we can yell, scream and even demand.  What we hopefully get from Him is wisdom and with that faith!

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Field of Dreams

“Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has Blessed.” Genesis 27:27

200 years ago almost everyone was a farmer. Planting crops, tending livestock and praying for good weather was the primary job of our ancestors.  Theirs was a more godly culture. The rain wasn’t in their control; with it they prospered and without it they staved.

Now we don’t have many external threats. Sure, we live under a “nuclear threat” but it doesn’t affect our daily lives. We’re not worried about starvation; we’re more concerned about our waist-lines! Israel was self-assured until the day it collapsed. Recognizing our need for Him daily, in the little things too, is what brings us closer to Him. He knows our dreams, but those can become nightmares unless we trust Him enough to sleep tight with Him.

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So Far, So Good

There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families will eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has Blessed you.  Deuteronomy 12:7

“If someone wants to be nice to you, let them.”  That’s a nice saying, but it’s easier said than done.  We want total control. Even when we accept help, we often do it grudgingly.

We need to rethink our attitude toward God.  Since we don’t know what is going to happen this year, or even in the next ten minutes, asking Him to be “nice” to us right now is really an acknowledgement that He actually has the power to act. Eating and rejoicing with Him would be incredible. Are we willing to do what it takes to do that? So far, so good!

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The Next Step

Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of 1,335 days. Daniel 12:12

Let’s not double back to what we left behind last year. It is easy to revisit old wounds and wrongs.  Just because the calendar changed doesn’t mean that our human nature magically erases our memories. Daniel is looking at the end, not the beginning. So should we.

But God has Blessed us with a new year to allow us to start afresh and reset ourselves toward greater, more godly thoughts and actions. As the writer of Hebrews says: “Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts…”  Let’s accept God’s blessing of today and the new year and become a blessing to everyone, especially those who hurt us deeply last year. It isn’t easy, but then again, neither is dying on a cross.

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Bring It On

O Lord Almighty, Blessed is the one who trusts in you. Psalm 84:12

Each new year brings a combination of optimism and fright!  We’re  hopeful about what the future holds and scared to death that it will be much worse than we could have imagined.

We can only trust God. We are powerless to change any of it – as much as we would like to do so. Trust is not blind belief; it is an active knowledge that regardless of how things look or feel, someone who loves us has put us here, and will not leave us alone. Facing a future with an Almighty Father makes us powerful. Trust fills us with an attitude of invincibility not inevitability.

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Power House

God Blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”‘  Genesis 1:22

Blessed. What a powerful word! Someone greater than us has decided to be more than kind, more than generous. A blessing is completely unmerited and bestowed because of love and affection, not our efforts.

God’s love for us frankly makes little sense. We are always messing up, we rarely ask for forgiveness, and only acknowledge Him when we have reached rock bottom. He loves us because He made us, just the way parents loves a child who often ignores them. Let’s resolve to spend this year focused more on Him and less on ourselves. Although we’ll never deserve His blessings, hopefully, we’ll be better at recognizing them – and thanking Him for them all!

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