Saturday, May 12, 2012

Who Are We Wrestling With?

While praying the other day a point came to mind and of course I pondered it. Sometimes when we pray, we feel futility come in and try to distract us, or even compel us to give up praying for certain people or situations. It can be trying on our patience and a test of our faith to continue to pray even when we cannot see things change.

Sometimes we pray because we don’t know what else to do. Sometimes we pray because we know it’s the best thing to do.

But when we pray because we know it’s the best thing we can do – and we feel like our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling and no changes surface in the ordeal we’re facing, then what?

Most of us humans aren’t all that good at waiting, especially here in America where our culture promises everything from a microwave. If we’re in a drive-thru for more than a few minutes, we’ll mutter, “And they call this FAST food?”

I don’t claim to know the secrets to living a life of patience, quite frankly, if I couldn’t find folks to chat with while waiting in line I’d consider them a form of purgatory.

But I discovered a little nugget the other day that has changed and invigorated the way I pray for people and certain situations. I may not have authority over their minds, BUT – I can have spiritual authority over the evil influences that overwhelm them.

When God bestowed upon us the gift of freedom to choose, He didn’t intend for any of us to wrestle that freedom away from others, even when we think we know better than they do. You may not be able to force someone to see things your way – or God’s way, but you can take authority over the forces that want to see destruction throughout mankind.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)

(The photo is Australian actor/wrestler Nathan Jones.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Magnify the Lord?

I’d never thought about it before, but our pastor recently pointed out the meaning behind the scripture that tells us to magnify the Lord. How can we magnify God? What is bigger than God? How can we possibly make Him bigger?

But when I put a bug under a magnifying glass, he looks bigger - to me!
When I look through a telescope, the moon looks bigger – to me!
When I put my glasses on and begin to read, the words look bigger and clearer – to me!

When I dwell on a situation that looks to me like it could drag me under, I’m magnifying that problem, it looks bigger - to me!

And when I lift up my voice to God and praise His holy Name, I can clearly see that He is bigger than what I’m struggling with. This is how we magnify God, we make Him look bigger - to us - by focusing on Him and not the problems. By bringing Him into focus, we can see more clearly. We don’t need a bigger God; we need to see Him bigger. Adjusting the focus is something we do on our end. We choose to point our eyes to Him or to the problems that pull us down.

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. -Psalm 34:3 (KJV)

When we know that allowing God to become bigger in our own eyes makes our problems easier to trust Him with, we’ll, of course, want to invite everyone we know to magnify Him and exalt His Name together with us. It’s what love does – shares solutions!

Won’t you join me? Start with a simple praise song and allow yourself to focus on God today. In a few minutes you may have to readjust your focus. An hour from now you may have to remind yourself again. Keep fine tuning. Keep singing and praising and worshipping the King of Kings, till your focus is correct and you’re seeing things from His point of view.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pruning the Fruit Trees

While pruning my fruit trees in the cool evening breezes – I began to think about what I was doing, and looking for that spiritual point to ponder. I asked, Lord, what do you want to tell me about pruning these trees?

In response He spoke to me about which branches I chose to chop off and which I admired. We prune fruit trees to rid them of the weak or dead branches, to prevent the wasting of energy going to sucker branches and rerouting it to branches that will produce fruit more abundantly. Our pruning will also, eventually, improve the appearance of the trees.

He spoke to my heart, telling me that if my neighbor were to look through her windows and see me at work, she might wonder or second guess why I chopped off this branch, but left another. She might think I should cut away more or leave more on the trees. She might even question why I bother to prune these trees that seem to have such difficulty even staying alive in my ‘sand-over’clay’ soil yard.

But she’s not close enough to look at the individual branches. She can’t see from her house whether a tree is dead or just bare at the moment. She can’t feel the snap of the deadness in certain branches. She has no investment in whether or not the trees live or produce. Only someone actually doing the pruning can decide which branches go. Only someone close enough to the tree to do the pruning has that power and influence over which branches remain to produce their fruit.

And only God is close enough to my heart to prune away what will deplete me of life, and watch the healthy parts of me grow. Only He has made such an investment in my life that He cares enough to take proper care of me. He may use people that are close to me to do the pruning, as I used the big, long pruning tool. And some of the people that are close to me do cut me deeply, but I have to believe they’re cutting away deadness that weakens me. Only God is the Master Gardener in this garden of life, and I trust Him.

Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 (Amplified)

“Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.” John 15:2 (Amplified)