(n.) the scent of rain on a dry earth

May 31, 2017.

John 15:16 New International Version (NIV)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

My wife and I have an affinity with landscaping. To come to a place where disorder and obstructions exist or an area with bareness that lays open, offers my wife and I such an opportunity. We are able to look together and cast vision on what we are looking at. We are able to practice faith, imagining things that are not as though they are. We can create a plan and invest our time and energy with results. I love to be able to walk away from a once chaotic or barren area, full of value and substance. However, I have realized that the satisfaction gained from this is only seasonal. Once the racking, digging and planting is over the place must be maintained. This now flourishing area cannot be neglected or else it will return to it eroded state. Maintaining the area is crucial for continued growth. Making watering, de – weeding a priority will allow for more growth and make room for fuller life. This is where the Holy Spirit, breathed his message into my spirit. “You are also called to continue”. Jesus, reminded the disciples that he chose them to “bear fruit – that will remain”, This is our call as followers of Jesus. Bearing fruit for one season is one thing, but to continually bear fruit takes more than just a burst of energy on a nice day. It requires us to continue, to choose every day, passion, intention, and willingness. This is the conditions of growth, we must be constant. Being constant asks us to evaluate the value of spiritual growth, daily. To keep pulling, digging and watering our spiritual man daily. If we neglect to do this, it will not be long until life begins to wilt and weeds begin to grow choking out room for further growth. It will only be a matter of time before we look just like we did before the work began.

I believe God is speaking this to me, due to my tendency to neglect my spiritual growth. This, for me, happens when I get busy, tired or discouraged. Sometimes, I will intentionally avoid his presence due to knowing that I have neglected spiritual matters. I don’t want to walk by the landscaped area because I am afraid there may be weeds or wilted-dry areas that I have refused to nurture. However, God seems to know how to bring me back to the place where he began the work. He shows me, once again the passion I had for the vision when I first began, the commitment that I knew it would take to bring life and sustain it. This causes me to recommit, to get down on my knees and allow the work to continue. Gods desire for us to bring glory to his name. People take notice, when they witness, what was once dry dead and barren, suddenly flourish with life. They are drawn to beauty in a blemished world. They are then curious as to how, or what happen. They want to know how their chaotic, dry and bareness can be flowing with life and substance. We then are able to tell them, to show them, to dig with them.

Challenge for this week:
Revisit the dry- wilted, and barren condition you were in before Christ changed you. Allow God to ignite the passion, energy and commitment toward the vision that he birthed in you for your life and for others.

Such a time

(n.) the scent of rain on a dry earth

May 22, 2017:

Esther 4:14 New International Version (NIV)
14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

This week I have been thinking a lot about moments that have been given to me; moments such as; interacting with my kids, my wife, and even strangers that I encounter on my way to a specific destination. The encounter may have been brief, no words exchanged, just gestures of acknowledgment. Lately, I have been more aware of those encounters and challenged by a voice that asks the question, “what have you left them with?”. I must admit, too many times I have left them with a message of “you’re in my way, I have no time, life is hard, hope is scarce”, or worse I ignored them. At the time, I think nothing of it, but at the end of the day I see their face again, this time I notice the pain, hopelessness, and desperation. At that moment, I become aware of that missed opportunity that God was wanting to use me in. I hear his voice say to me, “that moment was given to you for a reason, that seemly insignificant fleeting encounter, carried spiritual significance, what did you do with it?”. He reminds me that our steps have been ordered or ordained by him, every moment has a purpose. Our call to this world is to exhale the hope of Christ to a broken world. Our call is to seize the moment that God has given us.

My Prayer:
I do not want to squander opportunities, that I may never have again. God make me more aware of your times and moments are for the purpose to exhale the hope of Christ to the world. Help me to not overlook the moments of encounter, with my children and wife. Help me to recognize, the times I am with them as a time that God is giving. Every word, every hug, every touch has spiritual significance. Help us all to stand as Queen Esther stood reminded by Mordecai, “you have come to this place, (home, store, street), for such a time (an intended moment of purpose) as this.

Looking Forward

Today I sat and listened as a brother in the Lord shared the story of his life with me, due to making arrangements to leave this world and transition into the next. I was moved by his journey, especially, how he responded to his lows of life. As I listened, I began to think about my life journey and how I have responded to lows of my life. This left me convicted and ashamed. This brother endured so much loss and hardship, yet was able, through it all, to embrace and hold on to hope and peace. I felt that peace comfort me as he shared his story. At that moment, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples that he would give “a peace that passes all understanding.” This means a peace that causes the world to scratch their heads in confusion, because it does not make sense. This man shared that others ask him how he can be so positive through all the pain. His answer? “I am looking forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God.” “One day I will call that place home, a place where I will see my mom and dad and other loved ones that have gone on before me.” After hearing his narrative, I began to ponder my attitude, my worries, my troubles and my response to all of these. I am in need of change. I must remember that this life is temporary, along with the struggles and trials that it may bring. I must embrace the truth of heaven while walking through my journey of life. I must not allow the things of life to blur this reality. My challenge today is to hold on to the hope of eternity, to remember that this life is but a vapor, to look forward to the city, whose maker and builder is God.

Hearing From God

Hearing from God:

The other day I had a very interesting conversation with my sister. I come from a family of three sisters and me, the youngest and the only boy. Needless to say I had a unique childhood. In the word of Andrew Gold, “Oh what a lonely boy.”  The conversation that my sister and I were having centered on an uncertainty which she felt about her relationship with Christ. She shared that she feels like she does not quite get it. She shared that in some areas of her relationship she has some certainty, but feels inadequate in most other areas. I asked her what it would take to make her feel certain about her relationships with Christ. She responded by saying hearing him. She said I believe that you hear God, I can tell it when you preach, I can feel it, and the sermon usually relates to what I am going through at the time. My response to that was “I am no different than you.” James 5:17 helps us with the misconception that we have to be special or favored in order for God to speak to us. The book of James challenges this thought, by reminding the readers that the great prophet Elijah, the one who God used mightily to speak to a nation and to prove to a wicked King that Jehovah is the only God, was a human just like us.  James said that if God can do that through Elijah, He can do it through every believer. Understanding this can bring peace into our relationship with Christ so that instead of spending our time trying to qualify ourselves to be used by God we can begin to walk in his willingness to use us.  Wanting to be used by God has nothing to do with wrestling with His reluctance and everything to do with embracing his willingness.

Knowing this truth can help us posture ourselves into a greater expectation:

By expecting God to use us and speak through us, we will live in a state of readiness. We will look for opportunities to be used by God. We may see a need in someone’s life and become willing to meet it. For example, you may have a conversation with a friend or a stranger in the grocery store. There may be a detected need that is revealed by your friend, a spiritual need, and instead of having doubts and uncertainties about stepping out and praying or speaking a word over the need, you will boldly and confidently make yourself available for God to move through you. You will witness God’s faithfulness and experience His desire to touch the lives of the broken and meet their needs through you.

Knowing this truth can create an intentional posture:

Being intentional will allow us to be able to recognize when God is speaking to our lives, because we are expecting it. When we are looking we are being intentional. Being intentional creates a sensitivity that will allow us to hear God when he speaks. Samuel the great prophet of Israel learned to hear from God when he became intentional. The story can be found in 1Samuel the third chapter. The story begins while Samuel was a little child and he was being groomed by Eli, Israel’s present prophet, to be the next prophet. As Samuel laid in his bed he heard a voice call his name. He thought the voice that was speaking to him was Eli’s. He ran into Eli’s chamber and asked him what he needed and why he called for him.  Eli reported to Samuel that he did not indeed call him and to return to his bed. This happened two more times until Eli understood that it was God’s voice the boy was hearing. His response to this can be found in 1 Samuel 3: 8-10

“Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if He calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Samuel is a lot like us, God is speaking but we are not aware that it is God. We hear a voice and respond to it. We sense a direction and move to it. We feel an emotion and are led by it. This may be God talking to us, but we are not intentional about hearing him, because we judge ourselves unworthy to be spoken to by God. Therefore we miss the valuable recognition of knowing this is God’s direction and His leading in our life. The challenge is to us that expectation and being intentional will open us up to an awareness that God is speaking to us and this will help us grow in our relationship with Him.

James 5:17 “Ordinarily Extraordinary.”

Matthew 4:18-20

18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

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