Friday, August 29, 2014

Son Follower

I recently read an interesting article about sunflowers. I learned a few things with incredible spiritual application. Sunflowers love the sun.  A sunflower grows with it's face constantly toward the sun. The sun provides growth from light and causes the sunflower to stretch even closer toward that light source. This process is called phototropism. Now, Heliotropism is the sunflowers added ability to track the sun's movements... slowly moving the face of it's flower toward the sun to receive the full impact of the sun's rays.   The stem of the flower and the leaf's stem contain specialized cells (pulvinus) which alter the amount of water present in order to optimize the health of the sunflower. These specialized cells can reduce their water flow in response to the sun's rays in order to keep the sunflower healthy.

Wow, wow, wow!!!! Is it just me or are there a ton of analogies that can be gleaned from the life of a sunflower?  As Believers, we must love the Son, always keeping our faces toward Him. We must be so in tune with the Holy Spirit that our whole being moves when He moves and is still when He is still. We must "track" the Lord's every move and sense His leading inside of us. We have a built-in GPS in the form of the Holy Spirit. We don't have to guess what way to go, we can just ask the Lord and His Holy Spirit will guide us. Acts 17:28 tells us that "in Him we live and move and have our being."
I am reminded of the Israelites in the dessert, led by a cloud in the day and a pillar of fire by night. The Holy Spirit led them wherever they should go. Whether it was day or night, clear or stormy, whatever was going on in life, when that cloud or that pillar of fire moved, they moved along with it. Dear brother, dear sister, no matter what is going on in your life, be guided by the Holy Spirit. Be so in tune with His leading that your face is forever pointed toward the Son. The sunflower's entire life is based on drawing closer to the sun. It doesn't fret over anything. It isn't moved or thrown off track by what is going on around it. It stays steadfast constantly stretching toward the sun.  At night, it repositions it's face in the direction of the East in order to greet the sun first thing in the morning. Do you see where I'm going with this? Our primary goal in life is not about prosperity, health or even "ministry". It's about knowing Him, breathing Him, living Him more and more intimately. Stretching and growing closer to Him every day.  As we seek Him continually, He is able to accomplish His perfect will in our lives. When we are completely emptied of any selfish motives and filled with an intense, unquenchable desire to know Him more and more, then we truly live.
His plans for you are good. All He requires of you is to keep your face (heart) inclined toward Him continually. Hebrews 12:2 states, "We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith, and he is the one who makes our faith complete....... If you're looking for a life filled with peace that is unshakable and unsinkable, you only need be a Son Follower.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Waves of Mercy

Psalm 139:13 states, "Certainly you made my mind and heart; you wove me together in my mother's womb."

The Lord knows us intimately. He knows us better than we know ourselves. So, obviously, He knows that I am a visual learner.  I learn through nature and every day happenings. If we pay attention, there are spiritual lessons and applications in abundance all around us, every day.
In a recent visit to the beach, I had a few "aha" moments with the Lord. Those of you that know me, know that the beach is my happy place. Perhaps it's the lull of the ocean waves, the gentle breeze upon my face or the warmth of the sun (Son) embracing  me that puts me at such peace when I am there.
On this particular visit, the beach portion was very small and disappeared as the tide came in. There was a large wall at the back of the beach just before the street that ran along the shoreline. Therefore, when the tide came in, it reached all the way to the wall and plunged up about 2 feet high. At high tide, the locals and most tourists would pack up their belongings and leave the beach until the tide went back out. I decided to wait out the tide and just place my chair all the way against the wall and lift it for any big waves that would ensue and threaten to carry my belongings out to sea.
As I waded in the water, I noticed something. After a few close calls with my belongings almost being swept away, I began to watch the waves more closely. I noticed there were incoming waves that I was almost certain would crash against the back wall and drag anything and everything with it in its path back out to sea. However, the previous wave that was going out to meet the incoming wave, subdued the strength of that incoming wave. It was able to restrain the strength of the incoming wave. What seemed like an incoming disaster was thwarted by the restraining power of the outgoing wave. As I observed this process, I could not help but think of God's mercy and grace. Often times life comes at us full force. Consequences of bad or selfish choices (whether our own or others) have the potential to bring along with it heartache, pain and destruction. Sometimes those consequences are lessons that are necessary and actually profitable even though painful. But sometimes, God intervenes and His "wave" of lovingkindness restrains the impending doom and destruction. Often His amazing grace and His loving mercy subdue and restrain the affects of life. He is able to speak to the storms of our life, "Peace be Still" (Mark 4:39)
After almost 35 years of walking with the Lord, I have finally arrived to a place where I thank God for all the things He's spared me from AND I thank Him for all the lessons, as painful as they may have been, that caused me to grow and become a better person through them. He knows best.
Another lesson I learned that day was that many will "run" when the going gets tough but often they will miss out on the lesson behind the impending storm. No one likes going through difficulty but as Corrie Ten Boom stated, "In order to realize the worth of the Anchor, we need to feel the stress of the storm." May we have the resolve of Jesus to say, "If it be possible, let this cup pass before me. Nevertheless, not my will, but Your will be done. (Matthew 26:39)
I want to encourage you today, wherever God has you (I just happen to be going through a difficult storm in my life right now) be at peace knowing that He knows best. As long as daily you set your heart to please Him and walk in His ways, you can have the assurance that He is working it all for good in spite of how things seem and in spite of any pain you may be experiencing. The pain Jesus faced in the Garden of Gethsemane yielded an eternal, magnificent, and beautiful reward. His plans are best.