This past summer, a friend brought me a few plants which I reluctantly took with a “thanks, but”.....you see, in the past I have killed most plants that came into my home. My mother and grandmother had a green thumb when it came to houseplants. I do alright with outdoor plants, but somehow when they are in my home, they die (often a slow death because I ebb and flow between remembering to care for them and forgetting). Let’s just say they have never thrived.
Well, this year, I have had some success. I have even been able to give a few cuttings away to family and friends and have used some cuttings to allow myself to have a few of these pretties. In my efforts to care for them, I have tried to keep up with removing dead leaves and stems.
This past weekend I was doing this and noted that there were a few spots where they didn’t look healthy and in order to preserve the whole, I had to remove some seemingly healthy leaves that were attached to unhealthy stems. I thought about how this is often how life is. We have to remove some things that we may feel are good things in order to make room for the best things. Lysa Terkeurst calls this “The Best Yes” in her book with the same name.
My life has been pruned this past year. Some changes are out of my own decision-making and others out of my control. What I have found is that as my life becomes different (I almost said “simpler”-HA!), I am better able to discern what is my “best yes”.
Have you had to make changes and found that the changes have been a relief? Have changes been made out of your control that have been difficult? What is your plant looking like these days? What can you do about it?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
I’m sure if we’re truthful, many of us will admit we do not always exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit. What we may not realize is that some of the fruit that we display can be a product of our previous experiences. Say one grew up in a home that had a lot of chaos and arguing. The fruit that person may bear out in their adult life might be related to the things they grew up with in their childhood. They may thrive on chaos or be argumentative in their daily lives. Old habits die hard, it’s said, and it’s so true. However, the whole point of the teaching of the Fruit of the Spirit is that the Holy Spirit GROWS that fruit in you. It’s a beautiful thing, really, but WE MUST ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN!
There is some scientific information supporting the fact that we can change our approaches as well:
In "Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising Connections between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices That Can Transform Your Life and Relationships" by Curt Thompson M.D., he discusses that the brain can adjust how it responds to things. Even if we have fully established patterns of reaction, with some allowance on our part and with the work of the Holy Spirit, we can change. It states: "And we have even more reason to hope. While it’s true that established neural networks are most likely to fire, it’s equally true that recent research demonstrates that our brains were created with beautiful and mysterious plasticity. That means our neurons can be redirected in ways that correlate with joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self- control. Instead of automatically following the wired sequence of our old memory, with reflection, we can choose to create new pathways. “
So, as in most spiritual things, there must be an availability of our desire to change things. We must be, if nothing else, willing to allow the Spirit to work, but also may have to do some work ourselves in changing negative thought patterns or ways of interacting with the world around us.
Do you have a story of how you have changed thought patterns from what you have learned? If so, would you be willing to share?
Earlier, we looked at Gideon who was hiding in a pit threshing wheat. He did this because he was fearful of the Midianites and did not want them finding him. He then gets a Heavenly visitor who calls him a Strong Warrior and tells him to stand up to the Midianites- now Gideon may have thought he was calling him a worrier, because essentially this is what he was doing. This visitor then told Gideon to “Go in the Strength that is yours”, again pointing out something that was not clear in the character of Gideon- especially to himself. Gideon isn’t going for it because his answer asks how can he, an Israelite, do this? He says Israel is weak and his clan is the weakest, then he points out that he is the RUNT of that group. In other words, send someone else. ”I’m not your Guy”. The response? DO IT! Well, really, the response was “have I not sent you?” God often answers a question with another question.
Ultimately, after a lot of questioning and testing God in this message, Gideon did do what he was told and he won! Do NOT let what others say about you or a poor self image limit what God has planned for you. Remember who you are in Christ and trust Him when He says that you are more than enough!
*originally published 11/2020
Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. ~Romans 8:5-6
Have you ever prayed for God to give you peace? And then wondered why you didn’t feel peaceful? God does give us peace, but generally we’re expected to participate in the process. He’s not going to force it on us. How do we join in? By what we center our thoughts on. When we choose to think about what we’re thankful for, for example, we don’t have room to worry. He’s built into our very brains the ability to get in touch with his peace.
Not sure where to start? Start with gratitude. It will literally help you live longer. Take 5 minutes to focus on what you’re thankful for. Put it as a reminder in your calendar, on your to-do list, as a reminder in your phone.
Prayer: God of peace, grant me peace, as I focus my attention on your Spirit that gives me life. Amen.
As we go about our daily business,we hear of so many things happening in the world that just seem beyond our comprehension. So, we ask ourselves, "has the world come to this?" It's scary out there! We feel lost and unsure of life. We feel afraid. What can we possibly do to make a difference? It's like watching an old movie about the city of San Francisco taken by a massive earthquake. Or there are fires out of control everywhere out west. The corona virus is still taking our loved ones. We have more and more families being put out on the street because they can't pay their rent or mortgages any more. We have friends and family members living in nursing homes that we can't visit because of covid.
What will happen to us next? How can I take care of my family when I'm not feeling well myself? Where can I get help? What can I do? Is anyone listening to me? All of these thoughts and worries and many more are always on our minds.
I happened to hear an old hymn that made me think about all of these things. It's the hymn Nearer My God to Thee . THAT'S who we need to take our fears to. We need to lay them at the feet of Jesus and just step away from them. It's a very hard thing to do, I know. BUT, that's where our fear belongs. I believe the term is " LET GOD AND LET GO". You will once again find those beautiful and peaceful days. Not saying life becomes a bed of roses but you'll find your life will take on a richer meaning. And don't forget that just because you've laid down your fears you're done. God still wants to hear from you. He wants to know that you really mean to be transformed from the worrier. It doesn't take much. All it takes is a moment of time to say Thank You. Take just a moment to breath out a "THANK YOU GOD". Say it to yourself or say it out loud. Takes seconds. You got through the day without any major things happening, THANK YOU GOD. The doctor told you somethings wrong but he feels it can be fixed, THANK YOU GOD. There was someone injured in a car or motorcycle accident and you happen to hear about it. " PLEASE GOD, BE WITH THAT PERSON IN THEIR TIME OF NEED. HELP THEM AND THEIR FAMILY. BE WITH THE DOCTORS AS THEY DIAGNOSE THE INJURIES , HELP THEM SEE QUICKLY WHAT THEY NEED TO DO.". Or " THANK YOU GOD FOR JUST BEING THERE".
All these things take seconds. Be nearer to God. It's time to put Him back in back in your life. "LET GOD AND LET GO".
I'd like to share Nearer My God To Thee. The song is about a very familiar story to you. Its about " JACOBS LADDER". Genesis: 28: 11-19. Please take some time today and open your BIBLE and read this amazing and beautiful story.
You can also find this song on YouTube and you can sing along.
Nearer my God, to thee, nearer to Thee!
Even though it be a cross that faith me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!