The Goal of Sowing Seed
Here’s a great goal in life: get as much good seed into the ground as possible. Your seed will always determine your harvest, whether good or bad, and we all should expect a harvest! Would you consider a farmer presumptuous for expecting the land he’s sowed seed into to bear fruit? Similarly, wouldn’t it be absurd to expect a harvest from a piece of land you’ve sowed nothing into? All of us are sowing something and we are reaping something as well. I believe it’s fair to say, “You and I will reap exactly what we have sown.” Embrace the challenges that come your way, and your response to them as a seed. Seeing them as appointments or dis-appointments is always our choice. Take some time to reflect each day on the seeds you’re sowing.
There’s power in a praying Mom! Though Augustine’s Mom was a zealous Christian, he chose partying over following her faith. Later, he became a star professor of secular philosophies. But his Mom continued to pray and plead to God for her wayward son. Eventually he acknowledged, “The evil in me was foul.” Reading the Bible, combined with the death of his mother, son, and a close friend brought him to a deeper place of surrender. He wrote, “Mankind is divided into two sorts: such as live according to man, and such as live according to God.” With the destruction of both the culture and church a genuine threat in his day, Augustine responded with such wisdom, his writings are considered some of the church’s most important documents after the Bible itself.
Victims Become Heroes
Do you feel like a victim? Be encouraged, God wants to make you a hero! Why? Because that’s what He did with His Son. He allowed Him at first to seem to be a victim, dying for the sins of the human race, so He could ultimately become a Hero, by conquering sin and death, and then rising victoriously from the grave. His heroic obedience to the Father rescued the entire human race. As Jesus refused to be a victim, so should we. But our transition from victim to victor can never be accomplished in our own strength. We only have the power needed to live a victorious life when we are plugged into the source of our eternal health. “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, NKJV)
Do you ever have a desire to create something…something that uniquely expresses what’s inside of you? It’s been said, “Man is never truly himself except when he is actively creating something.” (Dorothy Sayers) Why is that? Because that’s the first quality of God, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth…” (Genesis 1:1, NKJV) We are each fashioned in God’s image and likeness, and our willingness to use our God-given gifts and talents to create, brings glory to Him— not us. But, in all your creating, never forget, “…neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:7, NLT) “God, thank You for the gifts You have given us. Let us use them as an expression of our love for You.”
An Unflattering Look At C. S. Lewis
Are you hard on yourself, especially with how you look? Many people are. The great author C.S. Lewis described himself in this way, “I’m tall, fat, rather bald, red-faced (and) double-chinned…” Not a very flattering assessment of himself. He was also known to wear clothes that desperately needed ironing, jackets that were ragged and spotted with food, and shoes that were scuffed and worn at the heels. But “Jack,” as C.S. Lewis’s friends knew him, was meticulous about the precise use of words, and for that the Oxford scholar is remembered as one of the greatest Christian writers of the twentieth century. Each of us can focus on what we’re not, our shortcomings, but God is looking at our long-term attributes, who He created us to be, and that always makes Him proud.
Rejoice in Your Weakness
Do you feel completely incapable of fulfilling what God has asked you to do. Wonderful! That is a healthy place to be: having no confidence in your own ability—realizing if you rely on your own efforts you cannot be who God has asked you to be, nor do what He’s asked you to do. Your only hope is in God! This is reality for every human being, though few know it and fewer still live it. When David was living in a cave, as an outcast, he had little choice but to fully trust in God. But when he became a successful king, he counted his army and relied on his own strength. (2 Samuel 24) Rejoice in your weakness, it is your only hope of true success. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10, ESV)
Standing On the Shoulders of Courage
Every virtue stands on the shoulders of courage. Without courage we will not allow the God of love to captivate our heart, the Prince of Peace to be our rest, and the joy of the Lord to be our strength. Without courage we will give up too soon, show up too late, and believe for too little. Bowing to fear is the least safe thing we can do. At times, being brave means being courageous five minutes longer than those around us. Though we will all fight weariness, we must hold fast to the call of God on our lives, and the promises of God we have each been given. Courage is best seen in a humble Man walking up a hill carrying a cross.
Are you growing from the inside out? God created what is eternal in us, our soul and spirit, to do so. Studies of palm trees found that unlike other trees, they grow from the inside out. Perhaps that’s why the psalmist wrote, “The righteous flourish like the palm tree…” (Psalm 92:12, ESV) It’s true! Godly men and women grow from the inside. The Bible says, “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2Corinthians 4:16, ESV) What’s happening around us is never the main event. We should each focus on what God is doing in us. As The Message Bible says it, “These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.” (2Corinthians 4:17, The Message)
Heaven’s Great Joke
There’s a revealing conversation in “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis. It takes place in Heaven where one of the characters says to a spirit being. “‘Everything I say or do is wrong, according to you.’ ‘But of course!’ said the Spirit, shining with love and mirth so that my eyes were dazzled. ‘That’s what we all find when we reach this country. We’ve all been wrong! That’s the great joke. There’s no need to go on pretending one was right! After that we begin living.’” What a profound statement! Heaven’s great joke is that there’s no need to go on pretending we are right. Sounds like we all need to quit pretending, admit when we are wrong, and then begin to really live. Being right is so overrated!
There is an age-old question that perplexed even Charles Darwin. Do people blush in the dark? A recent study with heat-sensitive cameras determined they do. Researchers found that the faces of women studied, flushed with color after being embarrassed, even though no one was looking. They stated, “In the case of blushing, this trait might indeed be a measure for ‘modesty’.” Hmm? In an age where immodesty is increasingly esteemed, is it possible that God hardwired a woman to be appropriately embarrassed. Noah Webster defined it this way: “Modesty results from purity of mind. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor.” The Bible says, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30, ESV)
God’s Will is the Express Train
Growing up in New York City my twin brother and I would always run to catch the Subway Express Train. Why? Because we knew it was, by far, the fastest way to get to where we wanted to go. Local trains stopped at every stop…way too slow. In the same way, I’ve found that God’s will is the best and fastest way to living a fulfilled life…the life I’d really want, if I knew all of the options. God will never ask you to do something He wouldn’t do, or be something He wouldn’t be. Whatever request He asks of us is not just for our good, it’s the best possible option for our lives. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…Seek His will in all you do, and He’ll show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)
Following Jesus Alone?
Is it possible to follow Jesus by yourself? Possible? Yes! Healthy? No! It was John Wesley who said, “the Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.” In other words, there are no healthy isolated Christians. One of the greatest lies is that “your relationship with God is a private matter.” Christianity, from its beginning, has always been centered, not just on an intimate relationship with Jesus, but upon deep and lasting friendships amongst believers. We are members of one another—parts of the Christ’s body that need to remain connected in order to receive the true value of the relationship God intended. The Bible says, “…let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25, NLT)