A Watered Garden

IMG_0412A month ago my flowerbed was green and thriving. We’d had plenty of rain and lots of sunshine. The plants looked perfect.

Now, at the end of July, it’s been hot and dry. The plants are beginning to show some stress. The change happens gradually. First the leaves lose their shine. Then they start to curl ever so slightly. Next the curl becomes more pronounced and the plant begins to droop. They need water.

If they don’t get water soon they will shrivel up and die. No fruit, no flowers, no beautiful greenery. Just ugly brown. Then finally, crispy dead leaves. Useless garden waste.

We can become the same way spiritually. If we don’t allow God to water us through His word, and through other believers, we can become as dead spiritually as those plants in my garden.

God promises that He will care for us. He promises that He will give us exactly what we need to thrive and bear fruit. He is the master gardener and knows exactly what is needed.

Take some time today to allow God to water your soul. The fragrance of the blossoms and the abundant fruit that will be produced will bless you and others around you.

Isaiah 58:11 And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

Jeremiah 17:8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.

Trying to Find Some Order

Chaos.

That’s describes my dining room at this moment.

You’ve experienced what I’m feeling. Maybe you are building a house or working on a remodel project. Maybe you are moving or reorganizing your basement or garage. All of those require a certain amount of chaos and disorder before you finally arrive at the order that you are seeking. When the project is finished and you stand back and look at the completed work you sigh in satisfaction and feel a sense of peace that it’s done and everything is now in order.

My dining room isn’t there yet. It’s actually an ongoing project, getting this room into some kind of order. Our dining room isn’t the kind you would see in a beautiful homes magazine. It’s really an all-purpose room. It’s a craft room, a school room and also houses our extra refrigerator. And, yes, sometimes we also manage to eat in there. We recently removed a built-in cupboard that I would call a monstrosity. It wasn’t built well and needed to go. In its place are two sets of commercial wire shelving. Not much to look at but oh so practical. With a family of boys, I have learned long ago that usefulness is way more important than how things look.

Yesterday my table was so covered with the items that had been removed from the now dismantled cabinet that we couldn’t eat there. It was chaos.  But I knew it would eventually come into order so I kept working.

While I was laboring over where things should go, God drew a picture for me.

His creation was designed with perfect order. Then sin entered the perfect world and created utter chaos. We have been living in this world turned upside down by sin ever since. God is waiting for the day when His work will be complete and we will finally return to the order He had in place in the beginning. But it is a process, just like organizing my dining room.

Sometimes we look at our lives or the events of the world around us and wonder if things will ever come into order. We tend to fret and worry and question God’s actions and timing.

But God is waiting too. He understands what we feel when things seem out of control. But He has a plan. God does some things that we should learn to do as well.

God doesn’t lose His peace. He remains in perfect peace because He knows the outcome. It WILL all work out eventually.

God is patient. He knows He must wait and He does so without getting irritable or angry. He doesn’t get discouraged when things take time. He knows the end of the story.

God is faithful to do what He has promised.  He continues to guide us and direct us in the direction of His plan. And he expects us to cooperate and do our part. We need to listen to Him to see just what He would have us do.

The final peace and order will only come when Jesus returns to restore all of creation to God’s original design. Until then there will be chaos, and you know sometimes the mess gets bigger before you see any progress!

Whatever chaos is in your life, ask God to give you peace in the midst of it. Ask Him to help you wait with grace and patience and ask Him what He wants you to do while you wait.

John 14:1  Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more

The Umbrella of God’s Love

We’ve had  a lot of rain lately and that means pulling out the umbrellas. I don’t think we see as many umbrellas now as we used to. It seems that people are not too concerned about getting wet. Some would rather run and hope to avoid a few raindrops than bother with getting the umbrella out. Others would rather just get wet knowing that they will dry eventually so what’s a little rain?

Consider for a moment that God’s love is an umbrella that He places over you. You can come under His umbrella and be protected from all kinds of evil and danger.  You can be shielded from the hurts of life.

Life under God’s umbrella isn’t perfect. Just because you are under His covering, it doesn’t mean that you are never affected by evil or the ugliness of this world. When it rains, sometimes the dirty water splashes on you even with your umbrella up.

Life is like that. Sometimes we are touched by evil and sin and we must make the best of it.

But there is something we should never do. We should never choose to step out from under God’s umbrella thinking that a little of the evil in our world won’t hurt us. We should resist the temptation to just make a run for it on our own thinking that whatever we encounter will eventually evaporate like a spring rain.

God has offered us His umbrella of love and under His shelter we are safe. Always choose to remain in His care.

Does it look like rain? don’t leave your umbrella at home.

Isaiah 4:6 There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.

Psalm 91:1-2 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

 

What Does it Mean to be Set Apart?

In your closet you have an assortment of clothing. Some items are for wearing to important events, some are for casual outings, and others you might wear when painting your living room. You know exactly which items are for which purpose.

In your kitchen you have a variety of utensils. You know which ones to use for cooking, which for serving, and which for storing leftovers. You would never store your leftover spaghetti in the crystal bowl with the silver trim that Aunt Martha gave you for a wedding gift. That isn’t its purpose.

We are like those various items in your closet or your kitchen or your garden shed. All the things you own have been acquired to serve a purpose. You care for your belongings according to their purpose.

God does the same with us. He has designed each of us with a specific purpose in mind.  Before we were ever created, God set us apart for His Kingdom work.

We have been set apart. Think about that for a moment. What does it mean to you that God has set you apart for a purpose that pleases Him?

1 Peter 2:9 says But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

To be set apart for God means to be carefully chosen to perform that particular work that you were designed for. God doesn’t make mistakes. He won’t accidently try to use you for something you weren’t designed to do.

Remember Aunt Martha’s crystal bowl? God knows exactly what to use it for. He won’t use it to contain anything but what He specifically created it to do. No leftover  spaghetti. Nothing that isn’t worthy of the beauty of that sparkling bowl.

It’s the same with you. God designed you for a special purpose and when you allow Him to set you apart and use you for what you were designed to do, you will be like that crystal bowl.  When you are serving the Lord in the way you were created to serve, the glory of God will come shining through you.

And He will be pleased!