Thursday, July 4, 2013

What Yard Work Can Teach You About God: My Morning Devotion

This morning I had the delight and luxury of being home for the July 4th holiday.

Since I knew lots of people would probably be in and out of our home all day celebrating and visiting, I wanted to take the opportunity in the task-absent morning to give the bushes outside in my front yard a little shaping. I really don't have a green thumb at all, in fact I've been most successful growing cactus and succulent plants. But I do so enjoy the effort and learning process in it all. The Bible uses so many horticultural references that I just can't resist trying.

People often ask me how to discern the voice of God. The truth is, He often speaks to me through Scripture I have read and studied by recalling it to my mind at just the right moment. As I trimmed and tended the plants, today my thoughts drifted to this verse:

Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
John 15:2

I couldn't help but liken my morning activity to God's care in our lives as His children. I wondered if, like me, my plant felt hurt when part of it was removed or cut off. I thought about how when I'm changed and shaped up, sometimes I feel disappointed because I had a different vision or notion of what I should be shaped into. Of course it's silly to think that of plants in that sort of light. They are not a life form that experiences pride or vanity like us. They live only to express the creative genius of our Heavenly Father, to lift their branches and reach to Him, to sway in praise as the wind blows, to glorify Him and to testify to His character and personality.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made...
Romans 1:20

Isn't that what we are all supposed to do? How funny it must be to our Lord that though He created us and has called us out for His purpose, that we would be frustrated or disappointed and want something different. When you think about it, It is as silly as my plant telling me how I should prune it.

Why, furthermore, does one even feel the need to work in one's yard, I pondered? What is the purpose of any work we put in to making our homes or property look nice? Well, I can tell you with certainty that it was not in hopes that everyone would come over today and say, "Man, that's a nicely trimmed plant!" In fact, I don't really want the focus to be on the plant at all. What I hoped was not to draw attention to the possession, but to the owner - me! I want people to look at my yard and my belongings and see something about me. I want it to represent that I am a good homeowner, an attentive caretaker, a capable task-master. I want the plant to reflect aspects of my character, in other words. And isn't our Lord and King the same way? But how often to we want to be the star of the show, the main attraction? Yet Scripture tells us that in everything, we are to point to Him:

For you have been bought with a price; be glorifying God with your body, which are God's.
1 Corinthians 16:20

Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. 
1 Peter 4:11

Would our neighbors, our families, our friends describe that if they were describing us? Is it obvious to everyone that we meet that we are submitting to God's authority and pointing to Him in everything we do? I know I sure have a lot of work to do in that area. So let this be our prayer today, Beloved:

Heavenly Father, 

You have redeemed us, and to You we commit ourselves. We ask that today, you transform us into Your vision and for Your glory. We ask that You "create in [us] a clean heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within [us] (Psalm 51:10)." Lord, Your word says "Do not despise the Lord's discipline (pruning), and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves." We thank You for loving us enough not to leave us as we are. We thank You for allowing us to be a part of Your great plan, for calling us out "for good works, which [You] prepared in advance that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). Oh God we beg that You teach us, give us eyes to see and ears to hear the works You have prepared for us, and bestow upon us humility to receive instruction. We pray for strength to allow ourselves to be shaped by You, that we not resist the work You are doing within us. Give us the wisdom and conviction to flee from sin, to abandon every distraction, to break free from the worry and fear of being different or disliked by others and cling to Your word and our call and purpose, which is this: "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name! (1 Chronicles 16;29)." We praise you, we thank you, we hope that our lives today will be an act of worship worthy of You and a reflection of our gratitude for what You have already so abundantly provided for us in this life. 

In the name of Jesus, our Messiah, whose sacrifice makes our covenant of peace possible,

Amen, Amen

May we, God's gardens, bend and bow and reach for Him every moment! I continue to pray for your strength, growth and for great joy today as you celebrate the freedom which God has granted us in Christ.


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