Archive for the ‘Growing to Maturity’ Category

For the front lawn at our home, I chose and planted a healthy young magnolia tree especially for Bev to enjoy. This was about 20 years ago.

The tree grew fast at first, showing the brilliance of those dark green leaves and producing awesome white blossoms with golden stamens. I felt so good about my wife driving by that tree daily while going and coming to and from our house.

But…last year the leaves began to look pale and the top part of the tree began drop more leaves than it produced. My heart started to panic, especially after taking some of the branches and leaves to an expert nurseryman in town. He said the severe drought we had a few years ago caused damage to magnolias all over town.

He said the roots were damaged by the drought and it would take the very best of treatment to save the tree. Magnolias need more iron and other minerals than some other trees. He also said magnolias have roots near the surface of the soil and they need a lot of water. He prescribed treating the soil with iron, rebuilding the soil at the base of the tree and good watering for the future. My hope began to soar.

The parallel to our human condition is amazing. A drought of the water of the word of God can damage your spiritual life. But you can regain your spiritual health by adding not only hearing the word but also reading, studying meditating upon it.

Finally getting connected to other members of the body of Christ and to the Lord Himself will save your life and add joyful years of happiness and fulfillment. You will be amazed at the wonder of God’s riches that have been waiting for you. Help yourself to them! They are God’s gift to you.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. (Psalm 30:11-12 (NASB) 

I awakened one day spiritually to realize that my world was crumbling right before my eyes. Until that moment of discovery, I had testified to people and given thanks to God almost daily of how good things were. And they were actually good.

Twelve years ago, I had triple by-pass heart surgery. Last fall I had five stents inserted in two different arteries requiring two surgeries only two weeks apart. The anesthesia twice in such a short time was a bit of a challenge at my age to overcome, but God came through for me. During all growing older adjustment, I have been advised not to climb ladders and to stay off elevated structures of all kinds. This was new and very hard to accept because I’ve always been able to physically do just about anything I wanted. But I did comply to the instructions

All of this has resulted in an increased load on my wife Bev. She really puts a huge amount of work into Christmas decorations. Because of this, our house is really gorgeous during the holidays. But it is a lot of work and I did not help as I should have done.

In a discussion about it, tears were shed and unfortunate and untimely words were spoken by both of us. Both of us were emotionally devastated following the “discussion.” We took a “time out” for a couple of days and said little to each other.

During the “time out,” I began to remember the good things and to feel pressure in my soul that I had not done my part to help Bev. As I prayed, I was solidly convicted to send her an email, to be followed by a verbal discussion, apologizing without any expectation of how she might respond. Well, she responded graciously and with forgiveness and mercy. All is well now to the glory of God. I have the best wife in the world. She always has been and always will be.

When I got out of the driver’s seat and off the throne of my life, the Holy Spirit took over with conviction, repentance and humility. He turned my mourning into dancing, removed my sackcloth and filled my heart with praise and thanksgiving for my wife and family.

Try it the next time you find yourself in a “discussion” about something that needs to be handled.

You are drawn to understand the Bible. Your hunger for God’s truth is about to be satisfied. Embrace My Bible and hold it close to your heart. Pray and ask for a way to install and activate My word so that you are approved as one of My workers with no shame. When you were born again, I wrote upon the tablets of your heart. My goal for you is that you will speak as I speak and do as I do.

2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB) “Be diligent to present yourself approved by God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

In that one verse, we can learn truth that will change minds and mountains. I want to break it down simply for you.

One of the churches I oversee has a pastor with grown twin boys. Both boys attained to rank of Eagle Scout. I was invited to the occasion of their being honored because of that accomplishment. The ceremony was to certify that they had crossed all the “t’s” and dotted all the “I”s” for becoming Eagle Scouts. Now they have the honor that many great leaders in America have. They all graduated as Eagle Scouts.

How about you? Would you like to attain the level of being an approved workman for God? Frankly, I can remember exactly where I was when God dropped it into my heart that I could attain to being a skilled and convincing workman for God in the Scriptures. It was on Briarwood Drive in Nashville, TN. I was a young man and God told me that chilly Saturday morning that the Bible was like an Owner’s Manual for my new Volkswagen. He said “Knowing and applying My word is necessary to get the most out of your Christian life and to show others the way.” Below are some things I learned and am still learning.

Taking the “key words” of 2 Timothy 2:15, we find that those key words become the key to efficiency in living God’s word. Let’s start.

2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB) Be diligent to present yourself approved by God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 

Diligence. In the Greek, the simple meaning of diligence is diligent, earnest or eager. Be diligent to read and study the Scriptures. Ask many, many questions as you read. Look up words you don’t understand. Don’t stop until you are satisfied that you know what God is saying in a verse. Also find out the context of culture in which this verse was written. What was the overall picture that makes up the truth God wants you to know?

Gaining God’s Approval. A serious disciple of Jesus wants to please God and gain His approval. Embrace with the emotions of your heart what it means to be approved by God for His will and purposes. You are presented daily to Him to make sure you are showing the attributes He desires.

Approval by God. Your aim is to present yourself approved by God. In the Greek, it means to accept or receive. Proved, receivable, tried as are metals by fire and thus are purified. Sometimes that approval comes as a result of trials by fires of adversity and difficulty.

Doing that which is honorable brings a person real approval, as distinguished from only seeming to be approved.  A workman needing not to be ashamed is approved unto God.

Being God’s workman. Firemen, policemen, military soldiers all wear uniforms. That uniform says they are authorized and empowerd to carry out their assignments. Those called and anointed by God are sent as soldiers, ambassadors, evangelists, pastors and all included in the five-fold ministry. You and I are included here. We are God’s workmen, sent to complete an assignment. Study, prepare and serve as one who need never be ashamed. You want others to see you as blameless as you do God’s will so very well. Settle in your heart that you are not to be ashamed as a workman approved by God and anointed for His assignment.

Accurately handling the word of truth. Be one who accurately handles the word of truth. In the Greek, that means to handle correctly and skillfully; to correctly teach the word of truth.

Join with me in seeking to make God proud, very proud to call us His approved workers. Enjoy your study and rejoice greatly.