Being Prepared for Harvest

Day 129. Psalm 129.
Though the enemy of God means destruction for God’s people, God is Sovereign over His enemy.

God is powerful. Almighty. Greater. Already victorious. God has already won our victory. Join Him in it!

The enemy of God still attempts to overcome the Kingdom knowing full well he’s defeated. His design is to deceive as many souls as possible while he still has time. He is successful at taking people and regions captive to his schemes. People, even those belonging to God, find themselves in bondage to lies and defilement.

Just take a look around you…

However, God, Who is only Righteous and Mighty to save, is jealous for His own. Ultimately every knee will bend in the presence of King Jesus and every tongue will confess His Majesty. All people alive and dead. All people on earth, above and below. All souls will bow and confess the name of Jesus Christ as King and sovereign victor over all of creation.

Maybe we should all sit with that realization for awhile.

Reading this psalm reminds me of Jesus’ parables regarding farming and sowing seed. {Matthew 13 & Mark 4 are good places to begin reading}

The earth must be turned, shredded, and purified from rocks, weeds and other contaminants. The soil is made ready, defiled soil made clean, to receive the seed and bring a hearty harvest in due time.

It is the diligent, caring and responsible farmer who allows the tearing up of the soil. He desires the best production from his seed and works tirelessly to make sure that the good harvest will come to fruition. He tends, he waits and waters and watches over the miracle of death becoming life!

God will allow the tearing up of our soil – even at times by the hand of His enemy – and God uses it for His good purposes in our lives.

So if you’re feeling scourged and raw, take heart. God will use this soil purification process for your good. If you, and I, will yield to the process of preparation, allowing God’s good seed of His Word to be sown in our newly opened hearts; we will experience a great harvest.

Christ, Living Water, will nourish the seed sown if we’ll let Him. He is Light and protection for our growth. Let us yield and turn our faces to His attention. May we surrender to His care for our good and His glory.

Let us not forget Jesus, most of all, gave His back for us. He knows. He’s received the worst on our behalf. He’s been where you are, and He endured it all for God’s glory. With the Joy of the harvest ahead, seeing you and me as His victorious inheritance, Jesus endured the ripping and tearing. Jesus trusted His physical body, and His spirit to His Father knowing the temporary scourging and humiliation of obedience would produce a glorious harvest for The Kingdom of God.

Thank You, Father, for turning our eyes to Your dear Son. Thank You, Jesus, for setting the example of endurance and victory. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for coming to invade our vessels and empower our obedience to God.

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Eyes on Jesus. Focus – Jesus. Following Jesus.
#eyesonjesusandshine
#day129 #harvest #joy #endured

Pondering {release}

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Galatians 6:7

This scripture popped up recently as a ‘verse of the day’ and it reveals a truth that I keep hearing from the Lord. He’s been speaking this truth to me with an urgency since last year 2019. At various times and in various ways, Holy Spirit is pointing me back, and asking me to look again. Ponder this truth. Take it. Chew on it. Taste it and let it become a part of your being.

So, if my sowing determines what I will reap later on, isn’t it important to plan for the seed in advance? I wholeheartedly believe so. I mean I know this truth experientially to be true throughout my lifetime journey. Thus, I believe God’s Word to be true. We do, all of us regardless of our belief system, reap what we sow.

Ask any farmer or gardener if seed matters. The seed I choose to have in my life is the seed I will release as a result of my life. The seed I release is the seed sown wherever my feet may roam. That seed will take root, for the good or the bad, and will grow a harvest well beyond the amount of seed sown. And so I am increasingly aware that my life has the opportunity to produce abundant, healthy, delicious and nutritious fruit to feed myself, my family and even multitudes.

Or my life can produce fields of weeds. The truth that if I am not intentionally choosing good seed to be sown by my one life I am allowing a famine to be sown unto destruction, scares me to my core. The idea of leaving behind me the despair of no good fruit causes me to tremble before the Lord God Almighty. May it not be so, Lord.

“May my life be overwhelmed by Your Spirit, Jesus. Teach me to deny the flesh and fill me with Your Good Holy seed for sowing. Jesus, I want to sow of Your seed and to produce a harvest of Good fruit 30, 60 or even a hundred fold, for Your glory, and to bring in a harvest of souls for Your Kingdom.”

Bold love; Humble heart.

In marketing, this would be called a tag line. Bold love; humble heart. Or possibly this can be seen as a mission statement. However our modern day media driven society would choose to tag this short phrase, it is the phrase Holy Spirit wrote on my heart and asked me to keep in the forefront of my thinking. The words were challenging to say the least. And I received the phrase with an honest desire to pursue daily living which reflects bold love and a humble heart.

Of course, I had know inkling of the world events, which were about to bombard each of us and our way of life in this year – 2020. Only God knew in advance how to train me for such a time as this. Father, God, has shown me day by day that these few words are meant to be my brand in a new era.

The fruit grown from my life of sowing is supposed to be known by these characteristics. This is what the Holy Spirit has been teaching me. Since He reminds me of this phrase almost every day, I’m paying closer attention, and leaning in for deeper instruction. I’ve become, during the virus induced incubation season, intentionally focused on the formation of these two characteristics in my life.

Boldly love ~ This means I face the hard things. It means I look straight into the most difficult relationships. I don’t turn my back or think someone else should “do something”. Loving with boldness means I determine to not be offended, and I choose to live peaceably with all who share my path.

Humble heart ~ This means I recognize and deal with the depravity of my own flesh, and allow Holy Spirit (not me) to bring conviction in the life of another person. Certainly, I should not overlook, condone or partner with sinful choices. However, in humility I must spend more of my life asking my Savior to purify me from my flesh by the nearness of His all-consuming fire. I must purposely choose to walk so close with my eyes trained on Jesus that bold love flows from my life.

I want to reap a bountiful harvest of Good Fruit so that my life feeds many hungry souls. I’ve asked for it. Father God says, “YES!” He also reminds me not to be deceived. God is jealous for His own and He will not allow Himself to be mocked. No imitation of God The Father, Son and Holy Spirit will produce life-giving abundant and lasting fruit.

I hope you’ll read Galatians 6, Romans 12, and Psalm 103 today. Join me with BOLD love and HUMBLE heart.
Amen!

Day 15: If I have found favor in Your eyes, Lord, why wouldn’t I {remain}?

“Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it.  But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you.  Lie down until the morning.”  Ruth 3:13 esv  remain

{Remain}  Also abide.  Stay in.  Attached to.

From my study of Ruth so far, she was a woman who knew how to remain… to stay… to abide.

Ruth chose to {remain} with Naomi instead of returning to her mother’s home.  She chose a new homeland and culture and people in which to {remain} for all the rest of her days.  Ruth chose the One true God, Jehovah – The Almighty – over the false gods of her culture in Moab.  And once she chose Yahweh, she chose to {remain}.

How do I know that?  From the words of Boaz in answer to Ruth’s question, “Why have I found favor in your eyes…?”

“All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.  The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”  Ruth 2:11-12

These words of Boaz are similar to Jesus’ words to His disciples.

“I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has left houses or brother or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”  Matthew 19:28-29branch with fruit

I am so encouraged by these commands to remain.  I wish I had understood as a youngster that ‘being saved’ – going forward in a church, professing Christ as Savior and being publicly baptized was the beginning of being adopted into a new family.  I wish I had understood then that an eternity of abiding – remaining in a relationship – had begun already.  I wish I had remained at Jesus’ feet as Ruth remained at Boaz’s feet expecting to be at home with him and cared for by him and building a relationship with him in the present.

I am even more grateful to Jesus it is never too late to learn what it means to {remain} with Him.  Jesus was patient with me.  He was waiting for me to come back around and realize there is no true life or JOY in living apart from Him.  When I began to ask, “Where is this abundant life You promised, Jesus?”, He was right there to show me His way.

Lord, Jesus, my greatest desire is to {remain} in You.  I am asking You to teach me how to live daily in the truth our eternal relationship has already begun.  I will never be alone!  

Ponders:

No coincidence or accident I attended a women’s day retreat yesterday in which my friend, Kaitlin Miller, taught us so much about JOY in the Journey of following Jesus.  One really big take away for me was this truth from John 15:1-11

True JOY comes in abiding (or remaining) with Christ.  As I {remain} with Him, He fills me with joy and I am full of His joy continually.

Whatever, wherever we’re walking, we need to remember we must choose to {remain} in Him.  Christ has already promised to abide in us – we are never alone.  Our eternity of relationship with Him has already begun…

  • As you ponder this truth of {remain}ing in Christ – abiding – where do you see yourself?  Are you purposefully attached to Christ with an awareness of His never-ending presence?  Or have you wandered off?
  • If you are in a place of remaining, what fruit of the Spirit do you see produced in your life?  Does the enemy try to deceive you into thinking your life isn’t purposeful?  Resist the devil and he must flee from you.  Draw near to God…remain near and know He is already near to you.
  • If you feel far off, what would you like to say to Jesus?  Will you pour your heart out to Him in repentance?  Will you head for home with a decision to remain – to abide with Him?  Are you ready for your eternal relationship with Him to begin right here on earth?

Lord, we are grateful for Your desire to abide with us and for us to remain in You.  Thank You for Your promise to fill us with JOY and to never leave us.  May we be so faithful to remain at Your feet and experience the fullness of a joyful life simply because we are in You and You in us.  For Your glory, Jesus.  Amen.

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa

Community: We want it, but how does it happen?

I’m sitting today, quietly reflecting on the magnitude of the last four days.  There’s joy in my heart, and a deep, satisfied soreness in my muscles and a tired feeling in my bones.  It’s the kind of tired soreness you feel with a great deal of satisfaction after you’ve experienced a victory in an arena about which you are deeply passionate.

Nattie's flowers

I think it’s the feeling a farmer has after he’s made straight rows in the rich earth and scattered seed, diligently watered, fertilized and waited; then suddenly the green shoot pops through the earth!  Aha, those seeds really do go down in the earth and then resurrect in new green life unto a harvest.  Hallelujah!

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

So, what was this momentous occasion?

Our young friends came to visit from Ohio with their toddler daughter and Champ (the wonder dog), and a new baby girl being wonderfully and steadfastly knit in her mother’s womb.  It was a reunion of sorts – a reunion of community.  Ultimately, as I sit today and ponder their departure a year ago, their return has sparked a re-dedication to persevere in my desire to build community.

Four years ago, a house behind and to the right of ours sold.  We wondered and waited.  I had prayed for just those God-chosen people to live here.  One eventful day, cars bearing Ohio license plates arrived along with moving trucks and people – lots of people!  There were young people and older people, and then there was Champ, a friendly and beautiful black lab, and his side-kick, the three-legged cat named Dusty.

Dusty the three legged cat

There was a stir of curiosity, and neighbors began to wander out of their homes.  As my husband and I walked our dogs along the outskirts of activity, my husband spied the Ohio tags.  I watched wide-eyed as my mostly introverted husband (born and raised in Dayton, OH) began to walk up the driveway, hand extended to introduce himself and offer assistance.

Once the dust settled a bit, the young couple quickly became known as Champ’s parents.  Though they struggled in the thick Georgia humidity of their first southern summer, each day Champ would take his long sauntering strides through the whole neighborhood – people in tow.

Champ was not the only one eager to make friends.  His human mom was determined to know the name matched with faces of every neighbor.  Soon Champ’s mom and I found ourselves fairly consistent walking partners.  We walked and talked about anything and everything – sometimes long after the dogs were done.

Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. Hebrews 13:16

 

We found we had many things in common despite our generational and geographical diversity.  Most notably we learned we share a Good Father – our heavenly Father – making us spiritual sisters.  Cultivating a friendship we realized we had another shared passion – building community.

It had long been my desire to connect with neighbors and in turn connect them to one another for the mutual edification of our community.  And while Champ’s mom seemed to feel I had taken her under my wing, I knew that God had purposely brought her into my life at a time such as this.  Over the previous ten years, I had sewn many seeds, watered, carefully tended to some budding hopes of community, but the harvest had been far less than bountiful.

Besserat and children

It was during this drought season, at the exact time I felt the most discouraged, Champ and family moved into our neighborhood.  Champ’s Mom came for me, and yes, I was here for her.  We had a few extra years of experience in marriage, career and parenting, which could possibly prove beneficial.  What amazed us then – and still does –  was their desire for community and their commitment to pursue it; not just with their peers, but with the full diversity of our whole neighborhood.

the girls of CC

As we walked and talked on our long treks up and down the hills and around cul de sacs, Champ’s mom asked walking companions for the names of people who lived in particular houses.  Many times she practiced pointing to the houses and reciting the names of the people who lived there.  Come to find out, Champ’s mom was so serious about knowing her neighbors she kept a hand drawn map on her refrigerator to which she added the names as they were gradually revealed.

For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. Galatians 5:14

Over time other houses sold and other younger couples moved into our neighborhood, and we could see (with the hopeful expectation of a farmer) the green shoots beginning to pop up from the dead seeds that had been sewn.  In three years time, Champ and his parents made quite a startling impact on our community.  Groups of neighbors walked together nightly, each knowing the other by name.  We had cook-outs and ice cream sundae parties.  And eventually, new babies were added to our community.  Life events were commemorated, celebrated and assistance offered.

All too soon, with tearful goodbyes and promises of just saying, “See you later”, a year ago Champ and his family moved back to Ohio.  I think they took far more home with them than a Georgia peach of a daughter.  They packed memories of a neighborhood with its people – shared favorites and frustrations like Atlanta traffic!  And that hand-drawn map with all the names carefully documented.  They were sent here on purpose for a purpose.  Champ and his family left a mark on all our hearts.  And that’s why we welcomed them back one year later for a reunion – a celebration of community.

When Champ comes to visit 2017

We’ve all confessed, “It hasn’t been the same since y’all left”.  Honestly, the neighborhood hasn’t been the same.  Several more neighbors have moved away in the past year, and it’s been difficult to dig those new straight rows in the earth to scatter new seed.  I’ve found myself discouraged once again in this dry season of attempting to re-cultivate community.  And so, it was good to have our friends return – to hear their stories of cultivating community in their northern home, and to encourage one another through the challenges and frustrations.  Persevere, here and there, was our conclusion!

I needed to be reminded.  I needed to be spurred on in love.  I needed to have my passion stirred into action once again.  And these words, from Champ’s Mom packing to go home, were the needed refreshing cool water on my parched heart:

Everyone wants community, they just don’t know how to make it happen.

She’s right.  I know she’s right.  That’s why I’m so grateful – whengreen shoots friends come to visit they pick right up where they left off.  So for now, Champ and family, “We’ll see you later!”  I’ve got some straight rows to hoe, some seed to scatter and some committed watering to do.  May God bless it, bring the green shoots, the harvest of community and the many workers to fulfill His good plan for us and keep it thriving.  All for God’s glory and for the love of neighbors – in community!

 

{Ponders}

  • What keeps you (has kept you) from reaching out to meet a neighbor?
  • Is it true that you (regardless of your age) desire someone from the next generation to reach back and help you navigate life’s journey?
  • Do you believe it is true that everyone longs for genuine relationship?
  • Was there something in this post that inspired you to take a chance on cultivating just one relationship in your neighborhood?
  • Would you share an idea of your own?