"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens...a time to plant and a time to uproot." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2) Where plants and seeds are concerned, fall is the ideal time to put them into the ground. There are several reasons for this: moderating temperatures, lower humidity, moisture availability, and more time for roots to get established before summer heat causes stress and weeds try to take over. The best way to ensure that grass, shrubs, or trees prosper is to help them build a sturdy and extensive root system. Strong roots enable plants to endure during stressful seasons.
A procedure for helping grass seed to grow healthy root systems is called aeration. In this process, thousands of small plugs of turf and soil are removed from the lawn. If there is a buildup of thatch (a layer of organic debris that accumulates where the stem and root meet) it becomes a barrier to the benefits for a healthy lawn. Aeration reduces thatch and creates a path for water and nutrients. It goes together with over-seeding (the seeding of existing turf areas). The holes in the lawn give seed a place to settle in and protect it from winds that might blow it away or water that might wash it away. It is amazing how lawns are transformed into lush, thick, green carpets after this process is applied.
Galatians 3:29 refers to Believers in Christ Jesus as Abraham's seed. "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." As Abraham's seed, we are assured that God will plant us in ideal conditions for our growth and prosperity. He wants us rooted and established in His love. (Ephesians 3:17) Let us look back at God's original plan. Mankind was created with the dust of the ground and the breath of God. (Genesis 2:7) It was in the Garden of Eden that He placed Adam and Eve so that they would have the perfect place to live and grow and prosper in their relationship with the Lord. However, sin entered the picture, and He was forced to remove Adam and Eve from the Garden. As time went on, Scripture tells us that "The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain." (Genesis 6:6) God decided to destroy all of life except for Noah and his family, who were found righteous, and the animals that he gathered. A flood was sent that eradicated every living person, animal, and plant that was not protected in the ark. After the waters receded, a new covenant was made between Noah and God, and Noah was given these instructions: "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth." (Genesis 9:1)
From Noah's son Shem came Abram (Genesis 11:10) who would be called Abraham. His line would be the one through which God would make an eternal covenant. God told Abraham, "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore, and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies." (Genesis 22:17-KJV) Nothing would stop the growth of this seed and the manifestation of the promises of God from generation to generation! From Abraham's seed came the Davidic line—the line of our Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah the prophet declared that God would make an everlasting covenant with His people and that "Their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: All that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed." (Isaiah 61:9 - KJV)
We are the seed of God, blessed to be planted by the Divine Gardener in an environment where we can root and grow in His love. Let us praise Him for the way He nurtures us. May we grow to glorify Him.
"Be joyful at your festival," it says in Deuteronomy 16:14 about the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot. How could we not celebrate this festival that is a picture of the Lord sitting at our table of rejoicing with us? Some prefer to say that the Lord will tabernacle or dwell with us. I find the details of all that happens during Sukkot particularly fascinating this year, because it is a Shemitah year—a year of rest. Leviticus 25 shares how God's people are to live during the seventh year. "When you enter the land, I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord," (Verses 2-4) "You may ask, 'What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?' I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years." (Verses 20-21) Here we have God's promise to be faithful to us as we are faithful to His Word.
A report written by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz in Biblical News on March 16 explains an interesting application of this requirement as it pertains to the Pool of Siloam, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the water libation ceremony (Nisuch Hamayim) performed in the Temples in Israel. The water libation ceremony is part of the oral tradition handed down from Moses. Water was collected daily from the Pool of Siloam in golden vessels and brought to the Temple. This ceremony was one of extraordinary joy as those who escorted the priests to the Pool would sing and play musical instruments. When all the people returned to the Temple, water and wine were poured on the altar as a sacrifice that accompanied their worship of God. When the libation ceremony was repeated by the worshipers every day, the excitement built until the seventh day when the joy and celebration was at its height.
It is significant that Tabernacles is celebrated at the end of the dry season. Israel has no rain for approximately six months. The pouring out of the water on the altar is a significant sacrifice every year. Prayers asking for the rains to come during the next six months are part of the libation ceremony. Those prayers were answered by God in a dramatic way this past year. It is reported that two years ago a contingent of Kohanim (priests), Levites, and Jews descended to the Pool of Siloam in the Old City of Jerusalem to collect water for the libation ceremony. They were shocked that there was barely enough water to fill their golden vessels. The good news is that after six years of drought, God blessed Israel with such an abundant rainy season that the Pool of Siloam is overflowing. The Sea of Galilee was also at its lowest level in many years and has recovered to such an extent that it is within 12 centimeters of being full.
Bountiful crops cannot occur in the sixth year without bountiful amounts of water. Here is where God made good on His promise: "I will send such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years." (Leviticus 25:21) We can count on the faithfulness of God. He is a promise keeper who loves to bless us with "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine." (Ephesians 3:20)
God is beyond understanding! He is faithful to His promises and made that clear to His people when He was teaching them not to worry. "Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap; they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds." (Luke 12:24) Our world is in turmoil with cataclysmic and destructive events, evil agendas to destroy our families and our nation, and increases in sickness and death. Israel is in the thick of a battle for her life, and yet God provided rain for the Pool of Siloam. How much more does He care about us? Be joyful! One of the Hallel Psalms read at the Feast of Tabernacles is Psalm 118. The end of this Psalm is so encouraging: "The Lord is God, and He has made His light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar...Give thanks to the Lord, for He is Good; His love endures forever." (Verses 27 and 29)
God speaks to me through His creation. Such was the case this past weekend when we went to visit the Delaware Bay and learned about what is considered one of the top 10 environmental phenomena on the planet. We found an abundance of horseshoe crab shells on a narrow beach at the edge of the Delaware Bay. As I began to research the reason for this, I was treated to information that confirms my faith in a God who cares for every creature He created. "The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountain from His upper chambers; the land is satisfied by the fruit of His works. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate--bringing forth food from the earth...All creatures look to You to give them their food at the proper time...I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praises to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him as I rejoice in the Lord." (Psalm 104:12-14, 27, 34)
Horseshoe crabs, I read, are older than dinosaurs and one of nature's oldest creatures. Millions of horseshoe crabs migrate from the ocean to the Delaware Bay in the spring. The warm sand that surrounds the shallow waters of the Bay is perfect for incubating the eggs of the females. They come to shore when the moon is full, making the tides high. The males attach themselves to the back of the females who drag them ashore to fertilize the eggs. During each tide cycle the female may lay four to five clutches of eggs or about 100,000 eggs. When the sands are disturbed by the females' repeated trips to the shores, the clutches of eggs are split apart, and millions of eggs are washed into the water. This is the reason for another phenomena at the Delaware Bay.
There is an ecological connection between the horseshoe crabs and migratory shore birds. From the first week of May through the second week of June shorebirds migrate to the Delaware Bay. The Bay is a critical habitat to more than 400 species of birds, and it is estimated that between 425,000 to one million of them converge on this sanctuary yearly. A yearly migration takes place between different regions of South America and the Artic territories where millions of birds breed. The birds only make one major stop to refuel during the middle of their 8,000-mile trip. Their flight burns many calories, so there is a need for them to rebuild their fat reserves. In order to complete their migration, they need to double their weight. Horseshoe crab eggs provide just what the birds need to rebuild their fat reserves. In one day, the eggs help the birds regain four to nine percent of their body weight. It is common to see a huge congregation of birds pecking at the shorelines of the Bay during the full moon when the high waters are awash with horseshoe crab eggs. (Check out this web site for pictures and additional information: Delmph.org/shorebirds)
Isn't it magnificent to know that God cares for every creature on the earth and establishes within them patterns of behavior and cycles of life that bring them the provision they need? The Psalmist describes this in Psalm 145:15-16. "The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing." Jesus teaches us not to worry about our lives in Matthew 6:25-27. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" We should be inspired by the yearly migration of the horseshoe crabs and birds. Let us remember the words of Jesus during times of difficulty. We are more valuable to Him than the birds and provision is waiting for us.
What a wonderful gift I received this week! My partner in a weekly Bible study gave me a bouquet of lime-green hydrangeas cut from her garden. Hydrangeas are nostalgic flowers for me as they remind me of my grandmother's garden and a picture of me as a girl holding a bouquet of pink and blue hydrangeas.
I noticed that my friend cut the stems of the flowers at a 45-degree angle. This is one of the "tricks of the trade" that florists use to assure that the flower stem has maximum surface area to absorb water. Once a flower cutting is taken from the main plant, it will eventually die. The objective is to make the cut flower last as long as possible. Jesus told His disciples, "If you do not remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown away and withers...If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (John 15:6-7) We, like a cut flower, will die if we disconnect from Jesus.
Who doesn't enjoy having a beautiful bouquet of cut flowers in their home? Let's look at some of the other ways in which we can prolong the life of a cut flower, and how our lives in Christ Jesus can be refreshed and sustained. The right tool must be used to cut the stem of a flower. Regular scissors pinch the water channel of the stalk. A sharp knife or pruning shears should be the tool of choice. Also, cutting flowers under a steady flow of water keeps air pockets, that prevent water absorption, from forming. Stems should be plunged into a vase of clear, tepid water immediately after cutting according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that He met at Jacob's well that He is "living water." He said, "Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14) We must be sure to drench ourselves in living water daily.
To maintain longevity of cut flowers we must strip all leaves from the bottom part of the stem that would be under the water. Rotten plant material destroys the quality of the water. If the water becomes cloudy it means that bacteria is growing and can clog the stems. A splash of bleach in the water reduces the amount of bacteria in the water. It is also important to avoid placing a vase of flowers near fruit or vegetables since they give off ethylene gas which shortens the life of cut flowers. We too must not give the enemy of our souls access to our lives. We must say with the Psalmist, "But I trust in You, Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love." (Psalm 31:14-16)
It is helpful to place a small amount of sugar in the water as it feeds the flowers. It is also wise to change and refresh the water every few days. In addition, it is recommended that about one inch of the stem bottom be removed every three or four days. This assures that the water continues to penetrate the stem. Let us remember what it says in Psalm 104:27. "All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time." God is faithful to give us what we need when we need it. The Psalmist said to the Lord, "Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love, and have lived in reliance on Your faithfulness." (Psalm 26:2-3)
We must remember that "The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in HIs unfailing love." (Psalm 147:11) In Psalm 91:16 He says of the one who loves Him, "With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." The Lord is the one who leads us beside quiet waters and refreshes our souls. (Psalm 23:2-3) When I look at a vase of freshly cut flowers, I think of our God who created them and how they are a testimony to His love and care. Psalm 119:175 comes to mind: “Let me live that I may praise You, and may Your laws sustain me."
We learn from Genesis, Chapter 3, that God had a habit of walking in His garden in the cool of the day. I would imagine that He looked forward to this time of the day more than any other because He could look at the beauty of the garden and "catch up" with Adam and Eve. He must have loved talking with them and learning about their activities of the day. My husband (Jac) and I also delight in walking through our neighborhood during the cool of the day. We talk with one another, speak with our neighbors, and look at the plants that are blooming around us. Our walks are filled with peace.
Last week we had such a treat as we walked down a residential street of townhomes that back up to a wooded area. We, and the man walking in front of us, came upon a young buck standing on the strip of grass between the sidewalk and street. The deer seemed calm and unafraid of us. He was so intent on eating a clump of clover growing in the grass strip that he allowed the man to come within two feet of him. As we approached, he pulled up the clump of clover and began chewing it as he calmly walked across the street toward the homes, looking for more clover.
Isn't it fascinating that God gave the deer peace to be in our presence and intelligence to find a plant that is not only tasty but healthy for him as well? Clover is a short-lived herb with fragrant flowers that appear in the late spring. Farmers may plant a crop to feed their livestock because it is high in protein, phosphorus, and calcium. The clover must have been so delicious that the deer thought it was worth taking a chance staying in our presence. Not until he had his treasure in his mouth, did he move on.
Actually, the deer was extremely vulnerable in staying close to us because his velvet antlers were growing. At six months the Whitetail deer grows "buttons" from what is called the pedicle or the frontal bone that protects his skull. The antlers grow from the buttons in the spring and early summer and are covered with an exceptionally fine and soft membrane called velvet. During the growing season, the antlers are high in water and blood content and are easily injured before they harden. Somehow the bucks are aware of their vulnerability during this season. Bruises and cuts to the velvet can impact the formation of the antlers. It is not until the end of summer that the testosterone levels in male deer rise to initiate the hardening of the antlers.
Psalm 91 comes to my mind: "Those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High can rest in His shadow." We can say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." (Verse 2) In The Passion Translation, verses 9-11 say, "When we live our lives within the shadow of God Most High, our secret hiding place, we will always be shielded from harm. How could evil prevail against us or disease infect us? God sends angels with special orders to protect you wherever you go, defending you from all harm." Verses 15-16 (TPT) continue to assure us of the Lord's presence and protection: "I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel my presence even in your time of pressure and trouble. I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast. You will be satisfied with a full life and with all that I do for you. For you will enjoy the fullness of my salvation!"
Psalm 42 talks about the deer that pants for streams of water and how our souls thirst for God in the same way. Yet our hope rests in God and His love for us. He is our shield, protector, and peace. Just as our friendly deer felt secure in our presence, we should feel the security of the Lord in whose shadow we dwell.
Rest is such an important part of the life that God wants us to live! He modeled that for us during creation. "Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating He had done." (Genesis 2:3) The Lord set up cycles of rest—weekly, monthly, yearly, and every seven years. Not only were the people to rest, but also their animals. (Exodus 23:12) In addition, there is provision for the land to rest. "But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards." (Leviticus 25:4)
The Scriptures on the land resting came to life for me as we drove past fallow fields on the way to church. Where fields were full of stalks of corn in early fall, they are bare in the spring. A field is left bare without a crop for a season so that it will produce a healthier and more vigorous crop in the season to come. "Fallowing" helps to increase the nutrients in the soil and increase the moisture in the sub-soil. The structure of the soil also improves. Another benefit to fallowing is that it disrupts the life cycles of pathogens because the host plant has been removed. Today, resting farmland is part of a crop rotation technique that farmers use. When the end of the resting period comes a cover-crop is often planted and tilled into the soil to replenish nutrients.
Observing the fallow fields reminded me that at the beginning of the Hebrew year 5782 (sunset on September 6, 2021) it will be the beginning of a Sabbatical year on the Hebrew calendar. Called the Shemitah year, it is the seventh year of a seven-year agricultural cycle and is still observed in contemporary Judaism. The Hebrew word Shemitah means release. During this year, the land is to be left fallow. Anything that grows voluntarily may be eaten, and at the end of the year, all debts are to be forgiven. Releasing the land from having to produce a crop is extremely beneficial to the soil and to the crops that will grow in the future.
God's call on humankind is to be fruitful for His Kingdom. One of the keys to fruitfulness in humans is rest. Repeatedly, the Lord reminded the Israelites of their need for rest. He told Moses, "The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed." (Exodus 31:16-17)
The Lord is a gardener and tends to the soil of our hearts. Just as rest for the land makes it more nutritious and productive, rest for our bodies makes them healthier and improves the ground in our hearts. Rest brings peace for our minds and hearts. It replenishes us with energy. When we rest from our labors and the thoughts in our minds, giving ourselves time to focus on the Lord, we enhance our relationship with Him. He intentionally set up patterns of rest for His children. Stepping into God's rhythms of rest can transform our lives. Let's be more intentional about seeking the Lord for ways to rest in His presence.
How did a colony of mealy bugs end up infesting my orchid plants? This is the question of the week that I had to answer. When I bring a new houseplant into my collection, I check it for bugs. Apparently, when I brought in a new orchid plant for my window shelf, I did not look carefully enough. Attached to the base of the underside of one of the flowers was a white, cottony speck. Since its color matched the flower, it slipped in without my seeing it. Female mealy bugs lay up to 500 eggs in a sac that is attached to the plant. In the case of my orchid, she went to work by embedding her sac of eggs at the juncture of the leaves. One leaf overlays the other in a whorl, and it is easy to tuck a miniscule sac that looks like dust into the leaf juncture so that it is undetected.
All I had to do was allow one bug in with my collection of orchids. They slowly began to travel from plant to plant. I noticed that several of the orchid leaves were looking deformed and that their tissues were beginning to break down. The infestation was so bad that I could not save my plants, and I had to do a complete cleansing of the trays they sat on. It was interesting for me to see that the violets that sit with them were not touched. Violet foliage is very "hairy" and unappealing to the bugs. One of my violets I have had since the early seventies. I am so please that it continues to "stand its ground" and grow.
There is an analogy in this scenario for all of us. We must not let our guards down. "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing in the faith..." (1 Peter 5:8-9) I believe that the enemy has targeted the United States for destruction as this nation was founded on godly principles and is meant to be a land where people worship the Lord, grow in His ways, and share their faith with the world. The devil is shrewd. He did not come in full force with guns blazing but slowly infiltrated our lives so that he could eventually take over. Souls of individuals are being invaded, one by one. But we must not be naive about what is at stake. There is a global agenda to remove all traces of Christianity.
I grew up in a time that seems so innocent compared with today. One example is that stores were closed on Sundays (Blue Laws) and families spent time with one another. Sunday was a day dedicated to God. How quickly all that has changed. There has been a war on the very fabric of our nation. Slowly, things have changed until we look around and say, "How did we get here?" The "bug" has laid her eggs and attacked our culture so that it is unrecognizable. The family is broken, abortion is sanctioned, our God-given identities are questioned, lifestyles that permit sexual promiscuity and perversion are celebrated, moral values have been redefined, education of our children has taken a wrong turn as liberal teachers attempt to control their minds, liberalism has permeated the church, and the very foundation upon which our nation was built is being destroyed. We have allowed the enemy's agenda to take over by compromising and being complacent as we watch the fabric of our nation being shredded.
So, what is the bottom line? We cannot allow complacency or compromise. God has fit us for battle. He chose to bring heaven to earth through a people dedicated to Him. Each of us needs to be a light in the darkness. We must take a stand and fight for what is right in God's eyes. We must declare, "Not on my watch!" God calls us to intercessory prayer as we take the authority He has given to us in the name of Jesus. It is time for us to put on our battle gear and follow the ways of Jesus to destroy the works of the devil. We must be like violets standing against the mealy bugs. We must see ourselves as warriors and release the Word of God over our lives, our homes, our country, and the world. Here is the apostle Paul's advice: "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:3-5) We must be vigilant, prepared to go to battle with the truth of God's word, the love of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit. The victory is ours if we follow through!
At the sound of a familiar song, we can be transported to a special time and place. That happened to me this week as I listened to Marty Goetz play and sing "This is My Father's World." In my mind I was a 12-year-old girl at summer camp. Camp Sunnybrook was in a beautiful spot in the PA Poconos. Part of the camp program included vespers that would take place on a White Pine tree-covered peninsula that extended out into a small man-made lake. The floor of the peninsula was covered in a bed of aromatic pine needles. When the late afternoon sun was shining on the needles the smell was out of this world.
A group of campers would gather on the peninsula at the end of the day to listen to a devotional and sing songs of praise and worship. As I sat in the heavenly atmosphere, we sang "This is My Father's World.” After vespers were completed and everyone left, I stayed behind, because I was not ready to walk away from a holy moment. With deep gratitude and renewed commitment, I continued to sing the song, knowing the truth that our world was created and sustained and ruled by our Heavenly Father.
Scripture is filled with verses that confirm that God is our Creator, Maker, and Sustainer. He is all that and more! Psalm 8:3-4 asks a question: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?" Indeed, how blessed we are that the One who is ruling the world stops to care for us. Let's look at 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 where David praised the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel. "Praise be to You, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, Lord, is the Kingdom; You are exalted as head of all. Wealth and honor come from You; You are the ruler of all things. In Your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name." Amen!
I want to share the words from "This is My Father's World" (Verses 1 and 3) with you, because they are comforting to me, especially when I consider the state of our world today. It is my hope that they also comfort you.
"The Earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it on the seas and established it on the water. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessings from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, God of Jacob.
Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty--He is the King of glory."
Let the truth of this Psalm strengthen us and bring us peace. Remember that this is our Father's world!
One small, withered leaf hangs on to a thin, curved branch on the Maple tree outside my door. It will not release and battles as the wind is relentless in shaking it violently. It should have released in the fall to accomplish its intended purpose—to fall and lie at the base of the tree where it would have joined the other leaves and soil to provide compost for the roots. When a leaf decomposes it goes into the ground and provides nutrients that can be taken in by the tree roots. It is meant to give strength and health to the tree so that it can produce new, green leaves when spring arrives—a new season.
Why doesn't the leaf release? Why doesn't it recognize that the season has changed, and that God has a new purpose for it? As for the leaf, God has set times and seasons for us. Every season comes to us with blessings and opportunities to grow in our faith and trust in God. The enemy does not want us to live in the right season or to obtain the Lord's blessings for our lives. We must wait upon the Lord and learn to think the way He thinks. We must let His truth transform us so that we fully release from one season and launch into the new one. Romans 12:2 is an appropriate Scripture to look at concerning our way of thinking. The Passion Translation of this verse ministers to me: "Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God's will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in His eyes."
In the book, A Time to Advance, Robert Heidler writes, "Blessing comes to those who align themselves with God's purposes and timing. God's cycles produce change and bring us to the higher level of blessing." We cannot step into blessing without following God's timing. He designed our lives to have seasons. There are set times for us to actively participate in God-given activities; there are times for us to rest, and there are times for us to prepare for a new season. Doing this requires that we trust in our Creator and Sustainer to give us what we need for each season. The leaf will not fulfill its divine purpose until it releases from the branch.
In Isaiah 43:18-19 God says, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." How can we let go? Only by trusting in the Lord and His great love for us. We can expect God's best for us because He already gave His best to us: the sacrifice of His one and only Son, Jesus, so that we can have eternal life with Him. We can trust in the Lord's best for ourselves, the Body of Christ, and our nation. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purposes." (Romans 8:28)
Daniel 7 speaks of the end times and the evil king who will subdue other rulers. This demonically- possessed king "will speak against the Most High and oppress His holy people and try to change the set times and laws." (Verse 25) The enemy will lose his battle to change the set times because God already ordained the hour of his destruction. Galatians 4 also speaks of another set time for us to become children of God and heirs according to His promise. "But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship." (Galatians 4:4-5)
The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us that "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens." (Ecclesiastes 3:1) God changes seasons and sets times for all of us. We must trust Him with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. In all our ways we should acknowledge Him, and He will make our paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) This requires us to be willing to release from the past season and to inquire of God about His plans for the new season. As it says in Romans 12:2, we will be empowered to discern God's will when we allow and invite the Holy Spirit to reform our way of thinking. Let's release from the old season and walk into the new with the Lord's guidance.
Even though we are in a new year there is spillover into 2021 from the year 2020. There are obvious challenges for all of us, some more pressing than others. The problems of the world affect the mental and physical wellbeing of many individuals. Lack of understanding, depression, loss and sorrow all contribute to a mindset that does not make for good health in individuals. Here is where our Healing Room and Mashah teams come in. At The Crossing we believe that healing is for today, and it is "By His stripes that we are healed." Physical and mental healing go hand-in-hand. All of our team members minister God's love to those who visit us. We pray that healing will take place and that will receivers will be strengthen and empowered.
Pastor Amy has been scheduling Healing Room and Mashah sessions for us through Zoom sessions. This venue has taken some getting used to but everyone has accepted that this is the only way to minister at this time. We look forward to the day when we can meeting a person again. Please pray that time before then will be accelerated. Pray that the teams will be effective in their ministry. Pray for breakthrough for those who come to us for prayer. Ask the Lord to make His presence known in our meetings.
Healing teams are meeting with people twice a month. Mashah team appointments are scattered throughout each week, however, training occurs twice a month. We have four brand new and several moderately new team members who will be trained in the basics over the next six months. More seasoned team memebers will help with the training. We expect to begin some more advanced training for everyone in a month. So, our teams are busy, and we covet your prayers for encouragement, wisdom and perseverance. Ask the Lord to visit all of us in an intimate way.
I believe we all need to be encouraged about the Lord's faithfulness during this season. I had an experience last week where I listened to a negative report that took me to a place of worry. The Lord spoke to those fears through His Word and then back it up with a fun confirmation. "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you wear..." (Matthew 6:25) "He provides for those who fear Him; He remembers His covenant forever." (Psalm 111:5) "For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." (Psalm 100:5)
As I was reciting these Scriptures, two ravens flew into the Maple tree outside of our sliding glass door. This was an unique experience for me. Since God speaks to me through nature, I looked up the verses on ravens. The two most impactful ones included Luke 12:24 ("And Jesus said, 'Consider the ravens; they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them, and how much more valuable you are than the birds!'") and 1 Kings 17 that is the story of God's care for Elijah during a season of turmoil and one of the worst kings in Israel's history. He is fed by ravens at the Kerith Brook and by a widow at Zarephath. There was never a moment when Elijah was not cared for. I encourage you to read the story in 1 King 17.
Wednesday night, 1/13, Healing Room and Mashah teams will meet on Zoom for a night of worship and asking the Lord for direction for our futures. Please pray along with us. May the Lord direct and guide you, give you provision and peace and rest, and build up your faith in every area of your life.
Joan E. Mathias