Why do we think that God wants to bless others but have a hard time believing that He wants to bless us? Do we forget all the promises He made? Do we forget that the only blessings aren’t material blessings? I was speaking to a friend yesterday and she reminded me of the eternal blessings. She reminded me that God loves us and that we grow in the valleys and not on the mountain tops. Let’s look at a seed. Before we plant a seed we prepare the soil by digging it over and putting fertilizer or manure into it. Now if you know anything about fertilizer, it’s a chemical and chemicals can burn you. And manure is animal waste, it is stinky and unpleasant to be around. But that’s what the seed needs. First it needs to be watered, so it gets good and soggy, and it needs to be warm. Once that has happened it starts escaping from the seed pod and grows stems and roots. The seed doesn’t exist anymore and it starts to feed on the yucky stuff that’s been added to the soil. Soil is dirty as it is so here the seed is in an unpleasant environment and it is growing. It is growing and it is on its way to becoming a strong healthy plant, maybe the biggest tree in the forest. It is going to bear good fruit that can be eaten by birds and animals, and provide shade in the heat of the day. It will be a place where birds can build their nests and nurture their young. Among its strong roots insects will find a habitat. Small rodents and reptiles can also burrow among the roots to be safe.

John 12:24, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain

What happens when we start to get wet and soggy and warm? We start complaining. And when we are put into the fertilizer or manure? We shout out against injustice and unfairness. We believe that we are being punished. Why? Because it doesn’t feel good. It feels uncomfortable and it scares us. We have this ungrounded belief that if we believe in God then He is always just going to give us good things and we are going to be showered with nice things. But what about our characters? Does God want spoiled children who are going to be whining about all the stuff they want all the time? Why doesn’t God give me a big house and a fancy car like my neighbour? Why are things easy for other people and I always have to struggle? Why can’t my children get a bursary and others can? Etc, etc, etc. Sound familiar? Except that we are speaking bad things over ourselves,

Proverbs 18:21,   Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

And those who love it will eat its fruit.   

we are denying God the power to change our lives into things of strength and beauty. We are stopping the growing process. We are not hiding our lights under a bushel, we aren’t ever going to shine brightly enough to make a difference.

Romans 5:3-5, And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

We have to be willing to go through the process of being formed into the people God wants us to be. We have to go through this process to grow, else we will stay in the seed stage and we are going to become more and more miserable and disheartened until we give up.

We have to start looking at God, and life from a different perspective. We have to so that we can become the tree that is planted by the waters and bears fruit in season and always has green leaves.

Deep calls to deep

We have lots of trees in our little town. There are very few houses that don’t have at least one tree in the yard, and many have more than one. We also have an indigenous natural forest in our district.

I grew up on a farm and climbing trees was one of our favourite pastimes. Trees are very much a part of my life.

Psalm 1:3,  He shall be like a tree

Planted by the rivers of water,

That brings forth its fruit in its season,

Whose leaf also shall not wither;

And whatever he does shall prosper.

Jeremiah 17:7-8, “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.

I thought about the tree planted by the water which bears fruit and has green leaves throughout the year. Its roots are spread out so that it will be firmly planted and also it will be able to receive water from deeper than the surface. It will not be touched by drought.

Just think about it. Our roots have to be deep enough so that the daily comings and goings don’t affect us. Our faith must be strong enough to withstand the blows that life throws at us. Just like the tree stands firm when there are storms, so we have to be able to stand firm when different trials and temptations come our way. We have to be able to stand firm when the devil tries to make us believe that we have no option but to collapse in a blubbering heap. The tree allows its roots to seek water and nourishment deeper and deeper underground. Likewise we have to keep pushing in and seeking the nourishment that the Lord has for us. Deeper and deeper until we find what we need for the season we are in.

Psalm 42:6-8, (Passions translation) Here I am depressed and downcast.

Yet I will still remember you as I ponder the place

where your glory streams down from the mighty mountaintops, lofty and majestic—the mountains of your awesome presence.

My deep need calls out to the deep kindness of your love.

Your waterfall of weeping sent waves of sorrow

over my soul, carrying me away,

cascading over me like a thundering cataract.

Yet all day long God’s promises of love pour over me.

Through the night I sing his songs,

for my prayer to God has become my life.

It says, “My deep need calls out to the deep kindness of Your love.” That is so profound. We have to call out to the kindness of God’s love. God loves us more than we can ever comprehend. There is nothing on earth that even begins to compare to God’s love for us. He loves us so much that He was willing to look on while His only son was battered, beaten, belittled and crucified so that we could taste the freedom He offers us. Not one of us deserves that freedom, but God loves us so much that He offers it as a gift. We can’t purchase it or even work for it. How is that for love?

Now a tree that is planted by the water and that send out its roots for nourishment and that has green leaves that never wither certainly won’t want to be planted in any other place. It has everything that it needs, in abundance. Once we enter a relationship with Jesus we mustn’t get tempted to move away from that relationship. We should have the picture of a beautiful green tree in our mind; full of fruit and with roots firmly planted. We have to be constantly putting our roots deeper and deeper into scripture, into a closer relationship and into getting into the presence of the Holy Spirit. We have to personify that tree so that all can see that there is more to life than merely existing.

More weeds

Yesterday I picked the last dried pea pods and pulled out the dried remains of the peas which had been so green and lush just a month ago.  I used their stakes (reeds) which hadn’t actually sprouted and started to grow, and made little teepee structures for my cherry tomatoes.  I had put stakes in next to them but they were totally inadequate.  Now my tomatoes can hold their heads up high and the birds can see the ripening fruit even more clearly!  When I turned my attention to the rest of the garden all I could see was weeds.  All beautifully green and thriving.  But how was this possible?  I had weeded just last week.  What do they say in the old plays, “Woe is me, woe is me!”  That’s how I felt.  How could this be happening.  I am going to have to spend more time on my knees – weeding!

I was speaking to a friend a while ago about anger and he was saying how he recognized anger in one area of his life and he realized that because he hadn’t dealt with it, it was spreading to other areas as well.  Anger is like weeds.  You have to be on top of it.  You can’t ever allow it to get out of control.  It will take you over and swallow you up.  You won’t be able to see the wonderful fruit because of the weeds.  They get so big and ugly that they overpower everything else.  Please take care of the anger, pull it out by the roots, don’t allow even a little bit to stay behind else it will slowly start to grow again and before you know it will be a problem.

OK, enough of the negative, on Sunday I cooked a lovely lunch for my family.  All gluten free and delicious. The chicken was the best.  I learned to cook chicken this way from my aunt.  She had spent a few years in Israel and this is how they do it there.  You need one whole chicken, a packet of coarse salt and a roasting pan.  You pack the salt around the sides of the roasting pan.