Vines are Deceptive and Destructive!

The other day I was in my daughter’s room praying. At one point I looked out her window and saw a vine growing from the top of a large bush that is in our back yard. I hadn’t noticed it while walking past it, or while cutting the grass around it. I needed to be in the right position in order to see the vine.

I knew that though the bush was healthy, if I didn’t remove the vine, it would continue to grow and would slowly overtake the bush to the point it would choke all the life from it.

Vines are deceptive and destructive!

They grow unnoticed at the base of a larger plant. They wind their way around the inner branches slowly working their way to every branch. It is a slow process that steals the life of the plant. It suffocates it from the air and light the plant needs. Until eventually the plant is no longer recognizable, and all that can be seen is the vine.

When I was finished praying I went to the garage and got the tree trimmers and went to do business with the vine.

Since the bush is so big and thick I couldn’t see where the root of the vine was. So I began by pulling on the top of the vine and discovered there were several vines growing within the bush. As I cut these off I continued to dig deeper into the bush, I knew I needed to get to the root or the vine would continue to grow. Eventually I found the root! I  pushed back the branches, holding them out of the way while I pulled with all my strength to get the whole root out.

As I was pulling on the vines, searching for the root, and then digging out the roots I thought about how similar what I was doing for the bush was like what I was doing while praying in Kayla’s room.

Purposely praying in the presence of God supernaturally reveals hidden things!

I have found that when I purposefully spend time in God’s presence He shows up. Whether I go there because something overwhelming has happened and I need to pour out my heart to Him, or whether I really don’t know what I should pray for, God always has something to show me that I didn’t see before.

‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3

What an amazing invitation!

To be personally invited into the presence of God…

the Creator of all that exists will personally show me great and mighty things!!!

the God of the supernatural will show me things I do not know!!!

That invitation should cause us to leave everything else and to run straight into the presence of God!

Too much of life is lived just looking at the outward appearance. As long as we look good to those who pass by and to those who spend some time with us, we conclude that everything is good. When people ask how we are doing we answer, “Good.”

But just because things look good, doesn’t mean they are good. The bush had me fooled. And we can fool others, and we can even fool ourselves, but we can’t fool God.

It wasn’t until I put everything else on hold and went into the bedroom to pray, to talk with God, that I saw the vine.

And this is often the same when it comes to the “vines” that are growing in our lives. Lies of the enemy are as those vines in the bush. They begin small and go unnoticed, but slowly creep into the branches of our lives. Their deception covers our thoughts with fears. They twist their way around our hearts so our faith is weakened. And they overcome our souls so compromise leaves us unrecognizable.

Lies are deceptive and destructive!

But, that is why God invites us to call to Him!

When that bush was planted it was intended to grow and add beauty to my yard. It was never intended to be a host to a vine, to be choked out by another plant.

The same with us…when God formed us and knit us together in our mother’s womb His intended good for us. We exist by God’s design to bring beauty and purpose to His kingdom here on earth.

And just as the vine that grew in my bush, God knows there will be lies that grow within us. God was the One who sent Satan to reign and rule the earth and He knew some of Satan’s lies would take root in each of us. And that is why He invites us to call to Him so He can show us things we need to see, and to tell us things we need to know.

In the presence of God lies are revealed!

When I saw the vine growing from the top of the bush I could have responded in several different ways…

I could have just excused it away believing that it was nothing to be concerned about.

I could have been glad to have seen it, but put off taking care of it until another day.

Or, I could realize the real danger that vine was to the bush, knowing that I needed to go out that morning and cut it down before I got busy and forgot about it.

These responses are the same choices we have when God shows us things in our lives that don’t seem right. When we see the evidence of a lie, or we see a fear that keeps affecting situations in our lives we can either excuse them away, believing they aren’t anything to be concerned about. Or we can see the lie, realize the fear, but choose to leave it go until another day. Or, we can do business with the deception, we can destroy the lie, and be free from the fear.

Forgotten, uncut vines will continue to grow, creating greater and greater damage!

While the vines covering my bush were somewhat easy to cut and a little bit harder to pull out by the roots, cutting down the deceptions and lies of the enemy can seem impossible. But, be encouraged, God doesn’t tell us we need to do it ourselves…

“It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Zechariah 4:6

Remember, when you are in the presence of God you are in the realm of the supernatural!

When God opens your eyes to see the deceptions, lies, and fears that are slowly creeping into your thoughts, heart, and soul, He will also show you how to cut them down and pull out their roots. Remember His promise… to show you great and mighty things you do not know!

 

 

 

Distinguished by Supernatural Power

God’s people have always been distinguished by His supernatural power!

Noah was a just man who walked and talked with God. His relationship with God saved him and his family from the destruction that came upon the rest of the earth.

Abraham was chosen by God to be the father of a nation that belonged to Him. God called him to leave his home, his relatives, and to go to a land He would show him.

From the very beginning God has shown His heart of love and salvation for all who believe in Him, and His desire for them to be great, to be blessed, and to be a blessing to others!

Belief in God results in walking and talking with Him.

Walking and talking with God positions you to hear what He has to say.

Listening to and obeying God’s voice results in the supernatural!

I’m sure those long years of building the ark when everyone else was going about doing whatever they felt like doing was worth it all when Noah walked off the ark with his family by his side!

God supernaturally saved Noah and his family!

I”m sure it was worth leaving the comforts of home and the long time of traveling to a new country when Abraham and his wife Sarah held their new born son, Isaac, in their arms.

God supernaturally provided Abraham and Sarah with a son!

From these chosen men and their families God put into motion a chosen generation that represents His salvation and blessing that distinguishes His people through His supernatural power and love!

“You have been set apart as holy to the Lord your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure.” Deuteronomy 14:2

Throughout the Old Testament God’s people, His own special treasure, were distinguished by supernatural blessings of provision, supernatural acts of nature, and by supernatural victories over their enemies.

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

The supernatural didn’t stop with the Old Testament.

A virgin gave birth to a Son, and she called Him, Jesus!

God’s heart of love brought salvation to His people once again, through the life, death, and resurrection of His one and only Son, the perfect Lamb of God!

Jesus left His throne in heaven to bring salvation to earth.

Jesus called twelve men to leave the comforts of their home and jobs to walk and talk with Him.

Jesus called the disciples to follow Him. His call to them wasn’t so He would have cheerleaders who would pat Him on the back and keep Him motivated. They were not to just be in awe of what He was doing and applaud His displays of the miraculous.

Jesus called His disciples into relationship with Him so they would learn from Him, to live as He lived, and to do as He did!

Jesus wanted His disciples to get it, to fully understand what it meant to follow Him. Jesus reminded them over and over that He was here to do His Father’s will, not His own.

Jesus’ disciples needed to know it wasn’t about them, but by following Jesus’ example of complete surrender and trust in His heavenly Father, they had access to the supernatural!

Several times Jesus came to the disciples, some of who were experienced fishermen, when they had caught nothing; their nets were empty.

But when Jesus told them when and where to let down their nets they were supernaturally filled with fish!

Then there was the time Jesus was sleeping in the bottom of the boat during a raging storm and the disciples ran and woke him up, terrified they would drown, and believing Jesus didn’t care about them. When Jesus saw their response and realized their fear He rebuked them by asking them where their faith was.

Then Jesus supernaturally calmed the storm.

Jesus put the disciples through tests to prove their faith.

Like the time He tested Philip…

“Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.” John 6:5-6

Philip’s first response was in the natural. He replied that even if they worked for months they wouldn’t have enough money to buy food for all the people.

But Andrew must have been starting to get the supernatural ways of God…

“Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” John 6:8-9

Andrew was learning to look at what was available with the possibility that Jesus could do something with it!

When those five loaves and two fish were placed into Jesus’ hands He looked to His heavenly Father and thanked Him for them. Even Jesus didn’t trust in His own ability! He thanked God for the little that was available and began to break it and gave it to His disciples to give to those who were hungry.

The crowd of over 5,000 people were supernaturally fed, with twelve baskets of leftovers!

Jesus was demonstrating to His disciples that they are not to rely on the world’s ways of meeting needs. He was showing them that even the little they have available is to be given to  God in faith. And when they thank God for it and place it in His hands, He is able to do above and beyond anything they could think or imagine!

As they went out on the grassy hillside and picked up each left over piece of food it was another reminder of the supernatural power of God!

God’s people are still to be distinguished by His supernatural power!

And this is why I am to explain my faith…

It is because of God’s supernatural power that we have been married for 37 years…

It is because of God’s supernatural power that our children walk and talk with God…

It is because of God’s supernatural power that we have always had everything we needed, and more…

It is because of God’s supernatural power that our printing business continues to thrive in a “paperless” society…

May I always be aware and thankful for the supernatural that God does in my life every day, may I always be ready to explain those God stories to others so they will see the goodness of God, and may I have great faith to give God the little I have, to thank Him for it, and see the supernatural abundance He produces!

God’s supernatural working in our lives isn’t just so we will live a blessed life, but it is so we will demonstrate the goodness of God so others will want what we have!

God’s supernatural power is about building God’s kingdom!

 

 

“Unexplained Faith is Useless”

This is a something my pastor has been saying lately and it really makes a lot of sense, 

“Unexplained faith is useless.”

Though I didn’t realize it at the time I experienced the reality of this just the other day.

Today, June 13th, Mark and I are celebrating our 37th wedding anniversary! Mark received a gift certificate for his birthday to The Grange restaurant up in Warwick, so we decided to use it this past Sunday.

After enjoying an incredibly delicious meal and reminiscing of many years together, the waitress brought the check. As Mark handed her the gift certificate I mentioned that we used it to celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary.

I wasn’t thinking that it would be an opportunity to explain my faith, but…

I could tell by her response that she was really amazed at the amount of years we had been married. She then said that she and her boyfriend had been together for four years and that it had been a lot of hard work.

A door was opened to explain my faith!

I could have just responded with a simple answer like, “Yeah, it has been a lot of work for us as well.” But to answer with something that left her thinking we were married for 37 years because we worked hard at it or that it was because of how great we are, would have been unexplained faith, and it would have been useless. To answer in any way that led her to believe it was because of us would have denied the grace of God and the glory that belongs to Him.

I am thankful that God gave me the answer to say to her…

“It has only been by the grace of God.”

Then I told her I appreciated a song that was played while Mark and I were eating, “This Little Light of Mine.” I told her that it is my prayer that our family shine as bright stars in this dark world.

She asked me what book that was from.

I said it is in the Bible, in the book of Philippians.

Then she said that her favorite verse is Philippians 4:13.

What?! She knows the Bible?! She has a favorite verse?!

Then she said that her mom says she should pick up the Bible and read it. And of course that’s when I said, “Yeah, that’s a mama’s heart!”

So, I encouraged her to read through the book of Philippians because there are a lot of other really good verses found there!

As we rode home that evening I thought through our short, but amazing conversation. I realized that was an example of explained faith. I realized, though it wasn’t planned and intentional, that is how God intends for me to live.

“…you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” 1 Peter 3:15

I’m sure that young woman has a praying mother and perhaps that opportunity to share our faith was an answer to her prayers. Perhaps our example of God’s grace through 37 years of marriage and our words of truth watered those seeds that her mother planted years ago and will continue to grow salvation in her heart. And you can be sure I have said several prayers for her as well!

Unexplained faith is useless!

But not only is it useless, it denies God of the glory He deserves and it keeps God’s truth hidden from others who need to know Him!

So, as Mark and I celebrate 37 years of marriage this year I am thankful for the opportunity to testify of God’s amazing grace to a young woman who needed to be reminded that, “(She) can do everything through Christ, who gives (her) strength. And though relationships are hard, God is the One who makes them last. There certainly have been hard situations through these many years when the enemy came with strategies to steal, kill, and destroy the covenant we made before God, family, and friends. Our weaknesses and vulnerable areas have been tested and tried. We have given in to the enemy’s strategies, but what he meant for our harm we have chosen to trust God’s grace to work together for our good. The very areas the enemy has tried to steal have been the very things that have made us strong. The very things meant to divide have bound us together. It is because of those stumbles and those falls that we know we haven’t arrived here on our own, and in fact, they keep us trusting God even more.

We know God deserves all the credit!

And this needs to be my attitude towards all my life. God made a covenant with me when I believed in His Son, Jesus, as my Savior. He adopted me into His family and has promised never to leave me or forsake me. He has promised to take care of me and to provide for me. I am here to be loved by God, to know Him, and to be known by Him.

“…for in Him we live and move and have our being,” Acts 17:28

Everything I am and all that I have is from God!

And so my response to others should always explain my faith. Rather than taking the credit or leaving the truth hidden, I must take the opportunity to give God the credit and to share the truth of who He is and of what He says!

 

 

 

 

 

Interrupted

How do you respond when you are interrupted?

I was interrupted yesterday as I was writing my blog and wasn’t able to finish and publish it. It has been my goal to publish every Wednesday and it has happened for a long time, until yesterday.

But, in all fairness I was having a hard time coming up with something to begin with so the interruption convinced me even more that I just wasn’t to keep going with what I had been working on.

However, the interruption yesterday was a good reminder that sometimes there are things that are more important than what I think is important.

It was an interruption that I could have put off. I could have said that I needed to write and not gotten involved in the discussion. I could have said that I would get back to them later when I had time to talk.

But, I’m glad I didn’t. 

First of all I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on my writing because I would have been thinking about what I would say later.

And second, I’ve found that some conversations just need to continue without interruption.

Either way something needed to be interrupted and I chose for it to be my writing.

And that brings me to today when I once again have just a few minutes before I am interrupted again with the things I need to do today.

So, I am reminded of the many times Jesus was interrupted. His celebration at a wedding was interrupted, His sleep was interrupted, His quite times were interrupted, as He walked along the roads His day was interrupted…

But every time someone needed Him, Jesus stopped what He was doing and took care of the need.

Jesus demonstrated the heart of His Father towards people. Jesus’ agenda was to do His Father’s will. The needs of others who came looking for Him were the very things Jesus came to do.

So God’s heart of love demonstrated by Jesus shows me that God is always available!

In fact God loves it when I interrupt Him and He will always make time for me! May this be an encouragement to you today as well. If you have a need, no matter how big or small, you can interrupt God and tell Him about it. He knows you completely, He understands what you are going through, and already has an answer waiting for you.

All you need to do is interrupt something that you think is important, put it aside, and go and talk with God. It will be worth whatever you think is more important! 

I don’t know if my conversation yesterday was helpful or not. I trust that God used me to speak words of life and to demonstrate His love through my willingness to be interrupted.

I thank God for His heart of love for me; knowing I can go to Him with all my needs and know that He will listen, understand, and answer me.

And I pray too that I will be willing to be interrupted  and respond as Jesus did…

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” Philippians 2:3-5

 

 

Life at a Slower Pace

I have lived in Stonetown for twenty-six years and have driven past these mountains almost every day. When I first moved here I really appreciated their beauty, but over time I have taken them for granted. I find the busier I am and the more preoccupied my mind is with many cares and concerns I drive right past them without any notice.

Today I decided to experience the three mountains!

While Dixie and I hiked over the mountains along Stonetown I saw things I have never seen before in my rush to get to where I was going.

While hiking the entire trail for the first time I experienced things I never have while driving past.

Sometimes you need to get out of the car and experience life at a slower pace!

While the car is practical, I miss so much that is worth seeing, smelling, and hearing…

On my hike I saw the beauty of wildflowers blooming, a startled turkey fly up into a nearby tree, and a little fawn jump up from his morning nap.

I smelled the musk of animals, and the rich aroma of moist soil.

I heard the singing of birds, the chatter of squirrels, and the trickling of the stream.

And while driving along Stonetown in the comfort of my car I don’t experience all that the mountains require of me…

Hiking these mountains I needed to pay close attention; rugged climbing, cautious descending, swampy areas, all interspersed with some level grassy paths.

I felt the sweat run down my forehead and the sting of mesquites on my arms.

There is a difference between seeing and experiencing!

I realize my spiritual life can be the same.

I can drive through life just looking at God. I can see His beauty. I can appreciate His greatness. I can tell of His splendor.

But, there is so much more to God than just seeing Him!

I need to know and experience Him!

I need to be known by Him!

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven—only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’”Matthew 7:21-23

These verses are a sobering reminder of the importance of not just knowing about God…

You must know Him, experience Him, and be known by Him!

Knowing God from the “car” is convenient. It doesn’t require a lot of time. It doesn’t require much attention. But it will rob you of the experiences that will bring you into an intimate relationship with God.

Jesus is calling you to get out of the comfort of your “car”…

to stop living your life driving past God; some days admiring Him, and some days taking Him for granted, because it will only deceive you.

While you say you know God and you appreciate Him, the truth is that you are so busy and preoccupied you rarely notice Him and never experience all the sights, smells, sounds, heights, lows, joys, and sorrows that cause you to have an intimate relationship with Him.

Life is more than just a verse for the day to keep the devil away!

God wants you to be known by Him!

Choose today to get out of the comfort of your “car” and to stop driving past God, and taking Him for granted.

Choose instead to experience God!

Make time to walk and talk with God!

Spend time reading God’s word and allow Him to show you the paths to take.

When you encounter difficulties and become frustrated and sweaty, remember Jesus knows and understands everything you are facing and trust Him to help you through.

When you feel the sting of conviction thank Holy Spirit for showing you your sin, confess it, and receive forgiveness.

By choosing the slower pace of experiencing God, walking and talking with Him, you will discover the beauty of intimacy with God!

This is where God will surprise you with new sights, smells, and sounds that will bring joy to your day!

This is where you will realize the reason you were created…

to be known and loved by God!