As a Flower of the Field

 

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As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.” (Ps. 103:15-16).

In this fleeting moment known as life on this earth, let us be diligent to open our hearts to the One Person who can offer us a life that is not fleeting, but rather is eternal. Jesus Christ offers His own life – everlasting life — to anyone who will receive Him as Lord. We can make our fleeting moment on this earth count for eternity if we will only allow the One who is “the way, the truth, and the life” to give us all of Himself.

Then once He has done so, He can live His life through us, showing forth His love and mercy to a multitude of others who pass through our lives. Like the flowers of the field, we give forth the aroma of the Lord Jesus, and we scatter our seed into the soil all around us. As a result, our short lives become invested into other lives, drawing them into a glorious eternity with the Lord as well. It’s amazing how many eternities can be determined by a single fleeting lifetime on earth, once it is wholly committed to the Lord.

 

 

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Dead In Christ — Part 1

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If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”   (Colossians 3:1-4).

Walking in the likeness of Christ on this earth stops being some vague, mysterious idea when this scripture becomes real to us. I like the translation of verse three in the Living Bible. Although the Living Bible is actually a paraphrase, and, in some places, lacks accuracy, on this verse it hits the bull’s-eye in translating God’s intention in these words. Verse three in that translation says, “You should have as little desire for this world as a dead person does.”

Brothers and sisters, when we move into complete surrender to Jesus, we truly recognize that we have been crucified with Him – we have died to this world, to sin, to the pull of our flesh. And we have been raised, but not given our own life to live. Rather, we are raised with Jesus in us – prepared to live out His life, His plans, His purposes, His goals through our bodies and minds. According to this passage of scripture, our own life is hidden away safely in God. When Jesus comes again in glory, then our life will be released to us so that we may live it out in glory and perfection with Him. But, in the meantime, we are not our own.

Let me use myself as an example. Since Sandra Conner is dead and her life is no longer to be lived out on earth, but rather is tucked away in God for the time being, the only life she is to live here is Jesus’ life. Sandra no longer has rights and privileges for herself personally. Rather, Jesus in her has all the rights and privileges. Sandra no longer calls the shots in making plans or determining how she will act or react in any situation. Jesus does. Sandra no longer has the say in how she spends her time, her energy, or her money, because she isn’t living out Sandra’s life anymore. Jesus is using Sandra’s body, mind, and heart – and her material goods — to continue to live out His life here on earth, so that His love, His truth, and His power can be offered to all the people Sandra comes into contact with.

Needless to say, Sandra Conner no longer has a right to indulge in offended feelings, hurt feelings, self-defense, self-indulgence, or self-promotion. Jesus has all the rights, and if He does not have His feelings hurt, Sandra certainly can’t express hurt feelings, because she is dead, and her new life is tucked away in God and cannot be reached with offense. If Jesus doesn’t give in to the temptation to indulge the flesh instead of spending time in the Word and prayer, Sandra certainly can’t feel free to do so, because she isn’t the one living now.

Do you see how it works, church? Please don’t misunderstand. Sandra Conner is not perfected in this walk by any means. But by using myself as a real-life example, I can better explain what our understanding and attitude should be. Does it seem far-fetched? Remember that the Lord calls us to renew our minds through His Word so that we no longer perceive and judge things according to the natural ways of the world. Does it seem impossible? Well, for the human part of us, it surely is impossible. But we do not have to accomplish this feat. Jesus has all the ability to live out His life through us. All we have to do is get so absorbed with and full of His Word that we become pliable enough to be used.

When we truly see that it is to be Jesus living His life His way through us – that we’re just the carriers, so to speak – then our perspective of life will change dramatically. We will see life from an eternal perspective. Our goals will become eternal goals. We will begin to judge everything we do and say on its ability to accomplish something lasting for God’s kingdom.

So how do we live out being “dead to the world” practically? We will talk more about the “how-to’s” in Part 2 of this lesson.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting Moment

A Fleeting Moment:

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.” (Ps. 103:15-16).

In this “fleeting moment” known as life on this earth, let us be diligent to open our hearts to the One Person who can offer us a life that is not fleeting, but rather is eternal. Jesus Christ offers His own life – everlasting life — to anyone who will receive Him as Lord. We can make our “fleeting moment” on this earth count for eternity if we will only allow the One who is “the way, the truth, and the life” to give us all of Himself.

A Tree Grows In Herrin, Illinois

I have a Blue Spruce tree. And I love my Blue Spruce tree very much. Though I am a far cry from the type of person you’d call a “nature worshiper,” I have to admit that I have this deep connection to my tree. For one thing, I have always thought the Blue Spruce was one of the most beautiful trees on the planet, and I used to think that it was unlikely I would ever have one in my own yard. But about 12 years ago, shortly after my husband and I moved into my current home, a cousin asked me if I’d like to have a Blue Spruce.

It seems that this little tree – not much more than a baby, at 5 feet tall – was having a very hard time of it in his yard because it was sitting in an old barrel, beneath several other trees, which were robbing it of sun and seriously stunting its growth. It was leaning to one side, trying to stay alive, but my cousin said it wouldn’t last if he didn’t get it out of the barrel and give it a home in deep soil, with plenty of sunshine and moisture.

I jumped at the chance to have my own Blue Spruce, and I believed that, through care and a lot of prayer (I always pray for my pets and my plants), I could get it back to a state of good health. I was especially encouraged to learn that when he went to pick up the barrel and transfer it to my yard, he could not get the barrel to budge. Upon further investigation, he found that this persistent Blue Spruce had forced its roots down between some very small cracks in the bottom of the barrel and rooted itself in the solid ground, determined to live and grow.

So we planted it in the middle of my front yard, drove a metal stake into the yard against its trunk, and fastened it to that stake so that it would help it to grow straight again. It was barely 5 feet tall, and two people could reach around its circumference and touch hands. 12 years and much prayer later (due to drought, bagworms, and a couple big dogs who kept mistaking it for their bathroom), it is thriving. Standing straight and strong, it now reaches almost 20 feet into the air and would require about 7 people to encircle it if they wanted to touch hands. I used to decorate it every year at Christmas, but now it would take a truck with a bucket ladder to do the job.

I guess you could say that I have a love affair with this tree. And every spring, I get excited just thinking about how it will again put out thousands of little pods on the end of each branch and push from those pods the most delightful bright green fluffs which will become the new leaves for that year. I look forward to the experience every year, and each year I am thrilled all over again as I watch the brand new life spring forth and totally renew this giant friend. Part of that thrill, of course, is not just because my tree is growing. But that bursting forth of new life from my tree represents all the new life that God gives us each year in nature – and the new life He offers each of us through Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

This year, I got the bright idea that I would take pictures and record each step in the process of this renewal of life in my Spruce tree. And since WordPress so conveniently offers a slide show apparatus on our blogs, I have put those pictures into a slide show in order to share the beauty and the thrill with everyone who visits here. Enjoy.

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So … How Long Do YOU Believe You Should Live?

It never fails to grieve me when I meet someone in need of healing who believes that God has restricted each one of us to a designated number of years to live and that, as a result, we can’t be sure if He wants to heal us once we’ve come to the end of those years. They read verses like the one from Exodus 23:26, where God says, “I will fulfill the number of your days,” and they assume that He has personally decided just exactly how many days that will be, and there’s nothing we can do about it. That’s a deception from the enemy, of course, and we can see this clearly if we will look carefully at the whole Word.

Again and again the Lord tells us that we have a very important part to play in determining how long we will live. To begin with, He says in Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  So, evidently, that which comes out of our mouth has great bearing on our length of life. Then, He also says in Proverbs 3:1-2, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life, and peace they will add to you.”

The Lord gives the following instructions in Psalm 34:12-14: “Who is the man who desires life and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. (There’s that tongue again.) Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.” This was such an important message that we find it again in the New Testament, when Peter is moved by the Holy Spirit to quote these same words from Psalm 34 in 1 Peter, chapter 3.

Also in the New Testament, we find the following words quoted from the Old Testament and reiterated as a promise for the born-again believer in Ephesians 6:2-3: “Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.”  Add to all these examples the one in Psalm 91:16, which says, “With a long life I will satisfy him and let him behold My salvation,” and even though these are by no means all the Scriptures on the subject, they are more than enough to prove that the Lord has not preordained the date of our death and locked us into that time.

The other deception that many people have fallen into concerning length of life comes from a passage of Scripture in Psalm 90. Beginning in verse 7, we read:

For we have been consumed by Thine anger, and by Thy wrath we have been dismayed. Thou hast placed our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy presence. For all our days have declined in Thy fury; we have finished our years like a sigh. As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away. … So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.”

So many people have read these verses – specifically the portion in bold print – and automatically assumed that they represent God’s will and Word concerning how long we can expect to live. This verse has been quoted, taught, and trusted by millions as God’s final word on the subject, until untold numbers of people in their 70’s and 80’s can’t find faith to believe God for healing of their bodies and minds. They assume that since they’re past 70 years of age, they can’t count on anything more and may even assume that God doesn’t want to heal them because it’s their time to die. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The Bible itself tells us clearly that Psalm 90 was written by Moses and concerns the plight of the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness as part of their punishment for their rebellion after God brought them to Canaan and told them to go in. They had sent in twelve men to spy out the land, and when ten of them reported that the men of Canaan were all too big and that the cities were too well fortified, the Israelites decided that they could not trust the Lord to fight for them and give them the land as He had promised. They refused to go in; rather they stood around and moaned and wailed and complained that they would die right there in the wilderness.

So the Lord spoke to them and told them that, because of their refusal to believe and obey Him, they would have what they did believe for and exactly what they had said out of their own mouths – that they would die right there in the wilderness. So they continued to wander there until their whole generation had died (except for Joshua and Caleb, who had believed God). They were indeed dying at the age of 70 or 80 because they were under a self-spoken curse, brought on by rebellion against God. If one reads the whole Psalm carefully, the picture is perfectly clear.

These words have nothing to do with the life span of the New Covenant man – the man in Jesus Christ – for whom the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has overcome the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2). Dear senior citizen, don’t let false teaching, using this verse from Psalm 90, rob you of faith for healing. Take these other verses that you know are God’s promises. Plant them in your heart and expect your Lord to heal you in spirit, soul, and body – no matter what your age.

It’s interesting to note that the Lord makes a statement in Genesis 6:3 concerning the length of man’s days. Up to this time, men, especially those who walked with God, had commonly lived up to 600, 700, or 800 years. To be sure, they were in a state of spiritual death as a result of man’s sin in the Garden, but one can see that it took the curse a long time to actually kill the physical body.  Now, however, after almost 5,000 years of that curse in operation, we seem to be dropping like flies. Here in Genesis, the Lord is preparing to destroy all life (except Noah and his family) because they have all forsaken God, and we find this statement in verse 3: “Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’”

Many people have wondered if this statement meant that God intended men to live to 120 years of age after the flood. Well, I believe that’s what He meant, and it’s interesting to see that medical science is beginning to take a serious interest in that possibility as well.

At the time I originally wrote this article (which constitutes Chapter 2 of my book Healing Is For You!), I was blessed to come across two different secular media reports concerning scientific studies of the human body and its cellular reproduction. The scientists concluded in these studies that the human body has a built-in biological clock that, if allowed to run its full sequence, would run 120 years. One study, reported via national television news, indicated that if the body could function as it is seemingly intended to, there is no reason why it should wear out before 120 years of age.

The other study, reported in the November 12, 1990 issue of Time magazine, looked at the other side of this truth. Researchers in this study proved that there is also a biological upper limit programmed into human cells, and, while the body should be able to live to 120 years, their evidence says that no human body is equipped to live past 120 years, regardless of medical advances that may eliminate most fatal diseases. Coincidence? I think not.

(There have been a very few reported cases of human beings living beyond 120 years of age, but, according to medical science, based on the research reported in this article, those cases are evidently the result of some other extreme positive influence that is not at work in the vast majority of human bodies.)

So why do we die? There’s a spiritual law in effect that the Word calls “the law of sin and death.”  (Romans 8:2). When Sin came into the world, it brought forth a curse, including all sickness and disease, which destroys our bodies and shortens our lifetime on earth.

Many Christians believe that any time a believer dies, it is because God decided to take him. They believe that because Jesus, in Revelation 1:18, said, “ … I hold the keys of death and Hades.” that He meant from now on, no one would die unless He willed it. No, that isn’t what He said at all. In the first place, God’s will has never been, and never will be, death for His people. Psalm 116:15 says, “Costly in the sight of the Lord if the death of his saints.” and Ezekiel 18: 32 says, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God.”  Death is part of the curse, and everything on earth that sin has contaminated must die so that it cannot become a part of eternity in the presence of God. So death of the body eventually comes to each person, bringing his or her stay on earth to a close.

But it is because death is so repulsive to the Lord Himself that He had to win victory over it for His beloved children. When Jesus says He now has the keys of death, He means that death can no longer hold us locked in its grip. Before Jesus’ finished work, the dead went to a waiting place often referred to as Hades – one part of which was comfortingly called Abraham’s Bosom. Here, according to Luke, chapter 16, those who died in covenant with God rested, while those outside of that covenant suffered torment.

But regardless of which side they were in, they were still eternally separated from God because they were unregenerate sinners. Before the work of salvation wrought by Jesus Christ, no human being could be “born again,” so not one of them could be allowed into the direct presence of God in their unregenerate state.  By covenant, God mercifully gave them a waiting place until Jesus could finish His work and go and preach the Gospel to them so that they could be “saved.” If Jesus had not accomplished His saving work, then death would have held those people in its bondage — away from the presence of God — for the rest of eternity, because they would still be spiritually dead.

Now Jesus has conquered the power of sin and the spiritual death that separates man from a holy God for eternity. That’s why He was able to go into Hades, release those who believed, and take them into the Father’s presence. He has not yet put the complete end to physical death, occurring when the spirit leaves the flesh, but He has secured the keys and has swung the prison door wide open, so that death now has no power or authority to hold us. Believers no longer pass into a state of death and get stuck there.  They pass through the death experience in their bodies and move right on into the living presence of God. (Phil. 1:21-23, 2 Cor. 5:6-8).

Moreover, Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that He came to bring life, but the enemy is the one who kills, steals from, and destroys God’s creation. St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:29-30 that many were dying, not because it was the Lord’s will, but because they were not judging themselves or discerning the Lord’s body and blood in their celebration of the Lord’s Supper. When the faithful Dorcas became sick and died, in Acts, chapter 9, the believers called for Peter. He did not say, “Accept this death as the Lord’s will.” Rather, he prayed for her and raised her from the dead. Also, when Paul preached past midnight and the young man fell from the window to his death, as recorded in Acts, chapter 20, Paul did not say, “Well, God wanted to take him home.” No, beloved, he hurried down to him and raised him from the dead.

As we said earlier, God promised us a long life on this earth if we walk in covenant with Him. So, any death that cuts short a long life, or any death that occurs as the result of something included in the curse of the broken law (disease, miscarriage, enemy attack, accidents, etc.), is not the work or choice of God. He does not need to use such horrifying, mutilating, dehumanizing tactics to call His precious people home.

Many people have the mistaken idea that we cannot ever die if we do not get sick. Nonsense. God’s plan for His children, beloved, is to give them health and usefulness all the time they are on this earth. When they are ready to come home to Him, He has only to withdraw the breath that He breathed into them, and they slip away to Heaven. Many of the saints of the Bible believed the Lord for good health until their last day on earth, and then simply fell asleep in Him when the time came to go home. Many of the saints of the twentieth century have done the same.

Remember, Psalm 91 says that if we’ll dwell in the secret place of the Most High, He’ll satisfy us with long life. Now that won’t be a life of physical illness and agony, because that wouldn’t be satisfying. That will be a life of health, strength, and fruitfulness. Psalm 92:14 says of the righteous, “They will still yield fruit in old age.” And Job 5:26 says of the man who walks with God, “You will come to the grave in full vigor, like the stacking of grain in its season.”  We don’t have to be sick to leave this life and go on to be with the Lord in Heaven. So, dear believer, if you’re past 70 and need healing, take it, and go on yielding fruit for God until you and He are both satisfied with the length of life you have lived on this earth!