This year I declared war again on the Poison Ivy growing in the fence row next to our property. Most of the thick growth died earlier after I sprayed it pretty well with Roundup Brush Killer. I surveyed the situation again Monday morning and spotted more growth in some hard to reach places. I took my loppers out and cut through several vines growing up trees. I’ll spray new growth before fall when the vines begin to heal. Now I’m hoping I didn’t make contact with any of the nasty stuff.
Poison Ivy reminds me of sin. All it takes is one contact and the poison spreads. Although its leaves are a lush deep green, don’t let it fool you; it is potent and can make you miserable. Once you get contaminated, it develops in you a healthy fear of getting caught again. You can enjoy it today without any fear, but about two days later, the symptoms begin to break out, and can continue for weeks. It is so severe in me I need a shot to dry it up and stop the spread.
Is it any wonder I’ve declared war on Poison Ivy? We should do the same with sin.
Some really great things happened at New Hope this weekend. Pastor Adam and the worship team led some powerful spiritual worship. 9 people received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We heard a great healing testimony from Terry Purdy. Bob and Michelle Day brought peace to my heart at the Oasis. And about 45-50 came to the altar to “wake up” from spiritual sleepiness. Seeing God actually “do” something in people’s lives is absolutely exhilarating.
When we read the Bible we read about amazing spiritual breakthroughs in people’s lives. The more we ignore God the less we see those kinds of breakthroughs. But, I’ve seen that when people get serious with God, His presence begins to renew those breakthroughs. They aren’t automatic; they require us to press in. God has never changed and He loves us with great passion. Press in today and watch what ‘coincidences’ happen in your life.
Two years ago my kids and wife bought me a Red Oak tree. I planted it where it should give evening shade over our fire pit in a few years. Its a beautiful tree.
This last harsh winter it got some disease of the bark on one side. As the tree grew this season, that side of the trunk was completely dead, and the remaining bark grew to heal the wound. As the new growth on the branches and the leaves filled out, the weight of the new growth overwhelmed the weakened trunk and the tree began to bow over toward the weak side. I knew it needed help.
So I placed fence posts on the strong side and used bungee cords attached to the posts to pull the tree upright. Then I used ribbon to attach a 6-7′ bamboo pole to straighten up the longest branch and give the tree some extra height. Then I soaked the roots to promote growth. It looks good; now I’ve got to wait for it to heal and grow firm in that position.
God does the same thing to us. He sees where we’re broken, and begins a plan for healing. He pulls us this way, and forces us that way, and then he ties us in place so we can’t move, like a cast on a broken leg. After a due season, He can take the restraints off and presto: We are exactly as He planned. We are His workmanship. Don’t resist the Master’s hand.
Our daughter, Jenny, married a Brit and moved to England where they lived for five years. We visited them once and caught the high speed train into London. You can travel all over town on the multi-level Subway. At all stations is the visual and audible warning, “Mind the Gap”. The phrase refers to the 1 1/2″ gap between the walkway and subway car. Its a danger for canes, umbrellas, small-wheeled carts, toddlers and things dropped.
But, perhaps it can also be a warning to us Christians. Mind the gap between what you do and what God’s word tells you to do. Mind the gap between what you say and what God’s word tells you to say. And mind the gap between the world’s ways and God’s ways.
Mind the Gap.
Occasionally, God gives us a word to give us hope. I bring such a word today. The Lord is declaring the season is changing. What we have been accustomed to will be different. The winds are beginning to shift and it will affect each of our lives. Do not be dismayed with this shift, for it comes from God and it will bring refreshing.
There has been a staleness to the air and God is going to breathe freshness of ideas to His church. Some will resist this change and miss the refreshing. But God will give new purpose to those that embrace the new season. Breath it in deeply and let it change your life. For the new season is here to stay,
“‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said, ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here’” (Mark 16:6).
The angel sitting in the empty tomb was trying to help the women, not frighten or hinder them. They were looking for a dead man, and He was not there. He had risen. It was so natural for the angel, but the women were really confused.
Sometimes we spend our time trying to find a Jesus that is not there. We’re trying to find a Jesus that we can fix, or make better. But Jesus went all the way for us, and that Jesus is no longer here. Quick fixes are not in His plan. He is determined to change our hearts from the inside out. You won’t find the Jesus you think you’re trying to find. You’ll find His Spirit, though. And His great insight will set us free. Don’t look in the wrong places.
“‘Be quiet!‘ said Jesus sternly” (Mark 1:25).
These are unusual words from Jesus . He was usually asking people questions to get them to speak out. And He never told the Pharisees, chief priests, or teachers of the Law to shut up. The Apostle Paul said that “It is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9). Romans 10:13 even gives us the rewarding promise, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
So, why is Jesus so sternly telling this guy to “Be quiet“?
Because Jesus was speaking directly to a demonic spirit. The man had interrupted Jesus while He was speaking in a synagog. “I know who You are,” he declared, “the Holy One of God” (v. 24). The words may have been true, but they were not truth, and Jesus shut him down.
It is important that we feel confidence to speak out what’s in our hearts. Because only then can God bring correction into our lives. Listen up!