Monthly Archives: July 2015

Lessons From The Farmer

The Apostle James has a direct way of presenting things.  He wastes little time with nuance and gets right to his point.  In James chapter 5, verses 7-9, he makes the point quite clear, we are to be patient.  We tend to think of patience as sitting back and doing nothing.  But from my understanding of this passage, patience is quite a bit more than just “doing nothing.”  Using a farmer as an example for us, I see three things in this passage that James is trying to show us about patience.

Plant – Before the farmer harvests a crop, he must first he plants a specific crop. He doesn’t just sit beside his empty field and say “LORD, I’m being patient.  Now do something!”  Rather, he planted a crop and then confidently expects it to produce for him.

Too many Christians sit back and do nothing.  I don’t mean doing “things” or areas of serving as much as mean submitting ourselves to God.  Too often we’re so busy that Bible study, personal prayer and even church attendance is cast aside because we are busy.  The idea of living a life submitted to Him (and not a bunch of stuff we do) is foreign to many of us. Then we wonder why God seems distant or our prayers go unanswered.  Before the farmer waits, he plants.

Expect – Further, all farmers I know expect a product that is a result of what they planted.  Meaning if they planted corn, they do not expect to see anything other than corn to grown in that field.  They very well may enjoy strawberries or watermelons, but they would not be happy about seeing those in a field planted with corn.  They harvest a product from what they planted.

The question I must always ask myself is what am I planting?  James tells us in verse 8 that we are “not to grumble against one another.”  If my idea of patience means I look at, point to and then complain about others, then I am not planting a good crop.  Like the farmer, I can expect that type of crop to re-produce itself.  We really do reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-8).

Wait – Finally, there is this process of waiting for God’s timing.  While they have a rough idea of when the “early and latter rains” may occur, farmers ultimately must stand back and let God control their harvest. They must trust Him to bring the rains in His time and not on their schedule.

So too we must wait on God’s timing.  His time usually isn’t my time.  Sometimes I even find His time inconvenient to my personal schedule but His timing ultimately works out best.  Of course this becomes a control issue.  God is in complete control and like the farmer; waiting on His timing puts me the position of submission to Him.

I wonder if patience is really is a control issue.  Most often for me, when I am impatient it is because things aren’t progressing at my desired speed or with the outcome I desire.  It is so easy to become impatient when I struggle with control.  But like the farmer, planting, expecting and finally waiting on Him, helps me release my control allows me to fall under His care.

Be patient!  And be blessed my friend!

-jm

Pluto Thoughts From Psalm 145

This week NASA presented us with the news that we’ve reached the outer edge of our solar system with the recent flyby of Pluto by the New Horizon’s spacecraft.  After traveling for nearly 10 years covering 3 billion miles, we are receiving amazing images from this small craft.

Our solar system seems to be a very big place.  Or is it?

Depending on who you turn to research the question (or should I say “when” because their answers change quite often), the current consensus is our universe is 92 billion light years in diameter.  If light travels 5.8 trillion miles in a year and it takes 92 billion of those to span our universe, then……  well the number is staggering.  Our solar system, as big as we think it is, is just a very tiny speck, on a very small dot, in a vast ocean of dots.Pluto

When I think of the size of the universe, I am reminded of Psalm 145:3.

Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; And His greatness in unsearchable.  – Psalm 145:3 NKJV

The word “unsearchable” as used in the NKJV, ESV and HCSB is an attempt to translate 2 Hebrew words into English.  We have a hard time putting the Hebrew into English but the general idea is He is beyond our ability to fully grasp.  Bottom-line, He is a big God.  And yet, He finds value in us – each of us.

Check out Psalm 139:17.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God.  How great the sum of them!

Jesus said in Matthew 6, verse 26 that we are to look at the birds and see how they are taken care of by the Father.  Then He says we have more value than the birds.  In Luke 12 He stated that “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”  God is the creator and ruler over this vast universe, but He is personal and knows us, loves us and values us.  I find this so comforting.  God is huge, big enough to handle any problem we encounter and at the same time close enough to find pleasure in our existence because He knows us very well.

Take comfort in knowing God does love you, He knows you and has everything from Pluto’s orbit to your life under His control.  This is true when you feel it and when you don’t.  Nothing surprises Him and because He has these precious thoughts about you,  you can trust yourself to His care.

Blessings My friend.

Your Choice, A Shrub or a Tree

There is a passage in Jeremiah that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time. In chapter 17, verses 5-8, the prophet draws a contrast between those who trust the man (humanitarian principles) and those who trust the LORD.  He uses some great word pictures to describe both.

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.”

The person who doesn’t place their trust in God and relies on either his/her own strength or ingenuity is one who “departs from the LORD.”  They are compared to a “shrub in the desert.”

I don’t know about you, but the idea of being compared to a shrub isn’t very appealing to shrubme.  This “shrub” (in some versions it’s called a “bush in the wilderness”) is a small tumbleweed-like growth.  Sometimes it is translated as a “broom tree.”  Not an especially pleasing picture.

The people of Jeremiah’s day were looking for ways to protect themselves.  Babylon and Egypt were competing on the world stage for dominance and Judah was caught in the middle of their ongoing fights.

Further, Judah had walked away from following God, their leaders were not interested in submitting to the LORD and giving up their pagan ways etc.  But they also knew the nation was not going to survive without some military alliance. Rather than repenting of their sin and throwing themselves on the LORD and trusting Him for their protection, they were relying on a pagan nation to protect them for another pagan nation.

Jeremiah compares that thinking to a “shrub in the desert.”

The contrast is remarkable:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

TreeJeremiah tells the people and their leaders that those who trust in God, whose “hope is in the LORD,” are better able to withstand the “heat” when it comes.  He doesn’t say they won’t endure some heat, but he says they can endure it and won’t cease from being productive.

 

I have been thinking about what it means to trust God, to put my hope in Him.  I’ve been wondering what this passage means and how to fully throw myself on Him and trust Him.

There are times I am pretty good at trusting God.  Then there are other times I find myself trusting in something else.  Trusting in God sometimes isn’t always so easy is it?

As Christians, we live in this world but we serve another one.  We function within the confines of our physical surroundings but we strive to serve a higher calling which motivates and guides our activities in this world.  Sometimes the two don’t mix well.  Who and/what are we going to trust when the “heat” or troubles come?  When things aren’t working out well for us or when we are facing adversity alone or when we see evil all round us, who do we rely on?

I know this is somewhat generic and trusting God may seem like an abstract concept.  But I am realizing trusting God is a daily commitment, not just a one time thing.  It effects my decisions and maybe more importantly, my attitude.

Hearing Him, following Him and trusting Him is a bigger issue than what we usually think – at least that has been my experience.

Meanwhile, don’t be a shrub.  Be a big ‘ol tree!  Productive, alive and able to endure some heat.

Blessings My Friend!