The Root of the Matter (excerpted from God and The Garden)

 

“But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away,” Matthew 13:6 NKJV

No matter how beautiful the plant, no matter what its leaves look like or its fruit that shines, if the roots are rotten it is as good as dead.

The same also holds true for us as well. No matter how we appear to others, it is truly what is unseen that determines our character.

Most people want to look good but fail to nurture what really counts, their roots or the foundation that is vital for growth and sustenance.

Psalms 80: 8-9 states, “You have brought a vine out of Egypt; you have cast out the nations, and planted it. You have prepared room for it, and caused it to take deep root and it filled the land.” NKJV

Deep roots are necessary for significant growth. The acorn cannot become a mighty oak with shallow roots at surface level that leave the tree vulnerable to disease, a lack of nutrients, and physical destruction. It is necessary that the roots grow deep if the tree is to grow to up.

Our roots must grow deep if we are to grow up!

“And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward,” 2 Kings 19:30 NKJV.

This theme is found repeatedly in the Bible. Deep roots are crucial. Jesus’ parable as explained in Matthew teaches if we have shallow roots the heat of life will surely scorch us! We won’t survive. We will wither and die. This fate is not what Jesus died for.  He died that we may live and do so abundantly.  So, how do we develop deep roots and thrive as God intended?

In nature a lack of water at the surface forces plant roots downward. Our personal droughts can do the same for us when we don’t give up, but instead dig in. When we are in hot situations we must root ourselves in God’s Word that we may not just survive but thrive in spite of our test. Our trials are to push us closer to God, not drive us away. Plants survive by doing this even though they may look parched at the surface.  Certain trials leave us looking fried as well but digging into the Word strengthens us and leaves us better off long after the test has passed.

Our roots need fertilizer. Nothing will develop you into the person God intended like the real “Miracle Grow” of God’s Word. His Word establishes the righteous. “But the root of the righteous yields fruit,” Proverbs 12:12 NKJV.

Turning to God when the heat is on, establishing yourself in His Word, constantly reading and meditating on it allows your roots to push downward so you can bear fruit upward. The taller the tree, the deeper the roots.

We can’t grow up unless we dig in!

Rooting ourselves in God’s Word provides stability that keeps us from being blown over and plucked up by hard winds (hardships). Sure we may lose a few leaves and have a branch or two broken through our trials but most importantly we can remain rooted where God would have us.

Some plants, once established in the ground are incredibly hard to pull out. Shovels and picks won’t do the job. Their roots expand outward and downward embedding themselves through the earth and around rocks. The longer the plant is established in the ground the stronger it becomes. The more we establish and root ourselves in God’s Word the stronger we too become.

Who we become in life is often dictated by what is unseen by other people. What we do when no one is watching, the thoughts we have toward others, the things we say when no one can hear are extensions of what exists below the surface.  These inner things dictate what is produced outwardly.

“And if the root is holy, so are the branches,” Romans 11:16.  If you want good branches start below the surface. Kill anything below the surface that will hinder your growth. Bad habits, bad thoughts, ill influences and addictions will do nothing but promote root rot. People who are negative influences are often “weeds” that can rob you of nutrients you need to grow.

Replace whatever has the potential to kill you with the Miracle Grow of God’s Word, inspirational influences, positive acquaintances, prayer, devotion and whatever it takes to push you up toward God’s very best for you!

If you feel unproductive or at a loss don’t focus on the surface but instead investigate those deeper things that may hinder your desired outcome.

If there is anything that needs to be gone, toss it! Change habits. Change direction. Make different choices. Think different thoughts. Turn toward God who “establishes” you so that you can thrive, not just survive.

If you want to bloom and be fruitful, living the abundant life Christ died for… tend to your roots!

Thank you Heavenly Father for enabling me to root myself in You. Allow me to take root and grow strong into the person you have ordained me to become. May I focus on what lies beneath the surface and find nourishment in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

B is for Better Late than Never!

Oftentimes, life’s challenges and unexpected circumstances cause us to defer a dream. A dream that has been placed in our hearts by God can often become buried by responsibilities, poor choices and even circumstances beyond our control. Yet God’s grace and mercy affords us those second chances we don’t deserve. God can restore time and opportunity when we allow ourselves to be open to what to what He can do instead of focusing on what is impossible for us to do under our own power.

Abraham had a promise of a son. This promise came to him when both he and his wife were well beyond child-bearing years. While waiting, Sarah became impatient. She hastily took it upon herself to “accelerate” God’s plan which resulted in later turmoil and strife.

We often make the same mistake when we work outside of God’s timing and end up with a mess! In our microwave ready world, the notion of waiting on anything seems futile and frustrating when we are constantly bombarded to “do it now and get it now before it is too late.” That may be the way of the world but it is not the way of the Word.

Abraham received his blessing after he obeyed God. And many years after, at that. Then, his obedience was tested yet again, when he offered up the very child God promised as a sacrifice. (Genesis 22)

We often want the blessing but are remiss to be obedient, especially in areas that are “comfortable,” even when we are well aware those same habits and comforts distance us from God’s very best.

God desires to bless us but we need to want to be blessed enough to change.

We must renew our minds not to pursue what we want, but to be willing to pursue God’s will in our lives. Anything else would be less than God’s best anyway. Who wants that?  You can struggle outside of God’s will and even when you are in it! But when you are in the will of God you can have peace that you will overcome your trial and not be overcome by it.

A willingness to do new things (like obey), meet new people and change attitudes and habits often manifest a different result. These changes often take time but thankfully, God holds time in His hands. His timing is always perfect.

Joshua and Caleb had faith that they could inherit the Promised Land even though it took decades to see their dream fulfilled. They were the few spies who lived to see the promise fulfilled. Joshua knew that they were well able to take the land with God on their side and said so! God rewarded them for their faith.  (Numbers 14)

If you don’t have faith enough to speak life with your words, what good can manifest under those circumstances? You have to expect God’s goodness if you want to see it. Allow your mouth to align with your spirit. Allow what you know to supersede what you think!

Sometimes we lose sight that we are well able because we are trying to accomplish things under our own power and not through God’s power. The great things we are blessed with and desire to achieve are often done not through our own ability but God’s power in us enabling us to endure to the end.

We all seek the blessing but few are willing to endure the test that puts you in position to be blessed. When we trust God enough to walk out His plan for our life then can we embrace joy and peace even in the midst of what we perceive as trials. The bigger the blessing, the longer the test. The longer the test, the greater the testimony.

Joseph suffered many trials and many years before he became ruler. He kept his faith even after he was sold into slavery, lied on, and imprisoned. He continued to hold on to the dream God placed in his heart. His faith allowed him the confidence to expect better.  Joseph expected deliverance, telling the chief cupbearer to “remember him” while imprisoned. The cupbearer did remember Joseph but not until years later. (Genesis 41)

Joseph’s blessing came by way of preparation. Joseph allowed his God-given gift to interpret dreams to provide way for his eventual promotion. How many of us would have been too concerned with our own plight to help the cupbearer while in dire circumstances?

Expect the best and prepare for your blessing, realizing that preparation will probably require patience with a good attitude. Whatever dreams you allow to die within you, God our Father, can resurrect. He is the absolute Master of bringing dead things to life. He can even resurrect you into the person you were destined to become instead of someone currently content with what is comfortable.

Our feelings can convince us that nothing good will happen because we can’t see God working or we can’t see our circumstances changing. Instead, we must act on what we know God is capable of doing and the plans He has for each of us. God gives us a dream.  Rarely will He reveal how it will manifest. If we knew, that wouldn’t require faith, patience or maturity on our part. The journey to deliverance is just as important as the manifestation.

It is never too late. There are eighty year olds competing in triathlons. Octogenarians are earning college degrees. People are pursuing second and third careers to fulfill dreams they deferred decades before.

I know a ninety year old man who recently was able to purchase his dream car, a red Mustang convertible! He never gave up hope and decades later God allowed his dream to come true!

Whatever your dream, God can make a way. He can do the impossible if you will stretch your faith and allow Him to be your Lord of your life!

Pray that God aligns your will with His will. Don’t give up on your dreams. Don’t give in to disappointment or despair. Never doubt God’s plans for you. God’s timing may be later than you’d like but if you have faith and keep it…God can make later the best ever!

What are you believing for? Are you willing to wait patiently in faith for God’s perfect timing?

Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:14 NKJV

Clean cuts

“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell,” Matthew 5:30 NKJV

I know a gentleman who suffered over a year with an infection in his lower leg. He was on all kinds of oral medications, IV medications and various wound treatments in an effort to get well. During this treatment, side effects from his medications made him ill. He never felt well and complained often about how his entire body and not just his leg suffered. His blood was monitored often to make sure the medications that were used to treat the infection did not harm his vital organs. His doctors were constantly on alert to make sure his infection had not spread. The entire ordeal left him weak and miserable daily.

Finally, his doctors decided the treatment he was receiving was not enough to kill the infection or keep it from spreading. In fact, his medical team was forced to amputate his lower leg. If his infected leg remained, the bacteria would spread throughout his body and kill him.

About a month after his surgery, I asked him how he was feeling. He declared, “I haven’t felt this good in years.” He was no longer relegated to taking an arsenal of medications that left him feeling poorly. His infected lower leg had been removed but he was now very mobile with his new prosthesis.  He was actually moving around better than he had before the amputation.

He now felt healthy, was happy and had a positive outlook on life.

Likewise, it is necessary that we make certain “cuts” in our own lives that would leave us better. Instead of making a clean break from anger, guilt, regret, disappointment and un-forgiveness we sometimes “nurse” these things instead. We often try to repair our feelings and emotions instead of cutting them off all together. Some people are haunted years later by mistakes God has forgiven decades earlier.  They allow guilt or bitterness to remain, infecting them and robbing them of a better quality of life. There is no freedom in “forgiveness” when you insist on making your offender acknowledge the offense time and time again. An unforgiving spirit does very little to the offending person in comparison to the damage it wrecks on the person who refuses to forgive.

Forgiveness is often hard. However living with unforgiveness is much harder.

Anger, bitterness, guilt, and spite can be deadly. They often cause both mental anguish and physical decay. Worse of all is those suffering under these afflictions don’t recognize the toil these toxic characteristics take on themselves and the people around them!

Bitterness drains. Peace sustains.

Is there anything you need to cut away today?

 

Follow Through!

“Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” James 2:22 NKJV 

We often begin a task full of optimism and confident that God can see us through our challenges. It may be something such as starting a diet, a budget or a changing careers.

However, our good intentions are often derailed as soon as the path we have chosen gets a little bumpy, muddy, broken or narrow. Sometimes when we make a concerted effort to break specific strongholds, the more things seemingly come against us.

Good intentions are often interrupted by family obligations, emergencies, or other events.  A number of things can just “appear” right when we decide to make some serious changes.  This is the time  when you must press forward with “follow through faith.”

This faith is different from the initial confidence that you can “do all things through Christ.” We often know what is possible, yet still fail to push through to that next level.

This faith allows you to pass the cookie aisle when you need to lose weight. It forces you to sign up for classes even though you seemingly don’t have the time. It pushes you to apply for another job, open a savings account or put into action those things that will promote the changes you desire.

We often pray to God for change but fail to do our part to produce the change. The first day or even week we often start out strong but then as time wears on and the task becomes harder we often fall back into comfortable habits that don’t push us to become all that we can become.

Follow through faith prompts us to do the things we don’t feel like doing. It pushes through fatigue and pessimism. It does not yield to complacency It sees beyond the pain that will yield the eventual gains.

Follow through faith differentiates the believers from achievers. Achievers continue down the narrow path even as the pain sets in. Achievers are not afraid of failure as they pursue their goals. They simply learn from their mistakes and move on.

Follow through faith will push you forward when everything and everyone around you is a deterrent.

You can believe all things are possible, but are you willing to obey God and push yourself to turn the possibility into a reality?

What is God asking you to follow through?

 

Pruning

B Is for Blessed!

“I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit,” John 15:1-2 NKJV

Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches is one of the most readily quoted. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15: 5 NKJV

Without Him we can do nothing. However, the scripture prior to that, John 15:2 is often skimmed over. It is easy to realize how dependent we are on Christ, yet most of us are remiss and become ill at the notion that to become fruitful we must be pruned.

Without pruning, even the best specimens in any garden will eventually lose the ability to…

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B is for Bent not Broken

B Is for Blessed!

 

Everyone in life is guaranteed some form of hardship, storm or distress/duress that is necessary to forge us into the people God would have us to be. Though not pleasurable experiences, our problems are necessary for our promotion from one stage in life to another. The way we deal with these experiences really determines how we will come out of them. Some people seem to make it through, scraped up a bit but they come out in one piece. Others, instead, succumb to situations and trials never to come out and are overcome and swallowed up by their circumstances. So what is the difference between making it through a bad situation and getting stuck in a particular circumstance? The answer is simple.

Bent not broken.

We all at some point have the best laid plans. However, the plans for our life and God’s plans are not necessarily one and the same. Our expectations don’t always transform into…

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P is for Protection

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shieldPsalm 5:11-12 NIV

 

There are times in life when we all are in need of protection. Little kids tend to run to their parents when they are afraid, confident that a parent can spare them from harm. We too, should have this same attitude even as adults, running to our Father who is a refuge from what at times can be a cold and cruel world.

Instead, we often try to solve problems ourselves. When a situation is more than we can bear, we shrink back in fear. God does not want us to fearful. If there is anything we can’t bear or undertake He is willing to offer His shelter. The psalmist wrote that God spreads His protection over those who love Him. He surrounds the righteous with His favor as a shield.

Thankfully, by grace, we are made righteous through the sacrifice of  Jesus Christ and not by our own works. We are provided the luxury that we may run to our Father when we are in need of protection with the same confidence of a young child. God’s favor isn’t “fair,” thankfully. He grants His grace and mercy in spite of our flaws and failures. He sheds His mercy even though we do not deserve it because we love Him and have faith enough to run to Him and lean not on our own understanding.

Bankruptcy is an example of a process that protects the debtor from his creditors. It is a lawful process that grants the debtor protection against harassment when the debtor has fallen short, unable to repay the debt. God is also a refuge for His children when we make mistakes and are subject to persecution. We can run to God for a similar kind of protection. God’s favor protects us even though we don’t deserve it. God protects us from complete downfall even as we suffer the consequences of our actions. The legal system affords the debtor relief from creditors but consequently the debtor will face limited financial opportunities. God’s protection prevents us from becoming completely broken even though we may suffer a few bumps and bruises along the way.

God, our Father, is the ultimate source of protection. We can ask for it before we need it. Our faith in God’s ability to protect us (even from ourselves) can keep us on the path He would have for us.

God’s protection doesn’t save us from every hardship, lest we learn nothing from life’s journey. But God is faithful to those who seek Him, have faith in His ability and know that He is in control. God can allow the winds of life to merely bend you instead of break you!

P is for Protection.

Thank you, God, for your faithfulness and your protection.

Heavenly Father, thank you for grace and unmerited protection. Thank you for Your future favor and protection, saving me from dangers seen and unseen. I know it only through You that I have made it thus far. I ask Your protection through my life’s journey. Please cover me and those with whom I have covenant relationships. In Jesus’ name we have confidence in your protection.  Amen.

P is for Potential

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23

Potential – that can come into being; possible; latent, Webster’s Dictionary

 

God created everyone with a latent potential. Each of us was predestined from the beginning, no one an “accident” that just happened upon the earth. Each of us has a purpose waiting to be fulfilled. But to rise up to what we can become we must first unlock the seeds within before we can ever reap a harvest.

A farmer works his land and finally gets that seed into the ground where it is irrigated and warmed by the sun from above. After the farmer gets the seed in the ground, his work is not done, he can’t just leave the land to fend for itself. He doesn’t just wait for the harvest to come in. And neither can we.

Farmers watch aggressively for parasites and diseases that would destroy the harvest. He protects it from predators and pestilence. Farmers aren’t idle. They work and plan consistently. This takes lots of time, planning and patience.

We must work diligently if we are going to unleash the potential that lies within us. God gives us gifts but we must unlock the potential. Each talent and gift requires that we first acknowledge the gifts we are given. Some people have no clue of the talents within because they believe what others have said about them. Yet it is our duty to nurture our gits as seedlings, protect them from predators and develop them over time. Learning from our experiences, seeking God’s knowledge and remaining open to new and people and opportunities that will allow us to flourish.

Only God knows our true potential. Often our lack of achievement stems from a lack of vision. What odds we can overcome if we would recognize what God can do with us and through us! Instead of thinking about our limitations we should reflect on His power.

Consider the potential within each of us as a small flame. You can smother the flame and cause it to die. Or you can fan your flame, add fuel to it and be on fire for whatever purpose God has placed in your heart.

If you sincerely doubt you have a purpose, ask God to reveal it to you.

The activities you enjoy may hold the key to your talents. Pay attention to the things you do that make people smile or are helpful. Often the things we do best hold the key to God’s plan for us. Many times our frustration stems from working outside of those areas God has called us to.

Never doubt your significance. Never doubt God’s love for you. If you are alive you are part of His plan!

Even if you feel you have messed up so badly there is no hope for you, our God of mercy can ignite a new flame within you! With God there is always hope to fulfill the purpose He has assigned to you!

 

P is for Perspective

“Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.” Psalms 34:3

perspective a) a specific point of view in understanding things or events b) the ability to see things in a true relationship, Webster’s Dictionary

 

The majority of angst, agitation, aggravation, frustration, anxiety, depression and disappointment we Christians face is not necessarily due to “enemy attack.” The mental chaos we often experience stems from failing to view things in the proper perspective.

Psalms instructs us that we are to magnify the Lord. In reality, Christians who ought to know better magnify the Lord typically at church services yet throughout the week, as challenges arise, we focus on and magnify our problems instead. We often do not focus on appreciating how great our God is and His omnipotent power. Rather we talk about (repeatedly) our problems, struggles and aggravations. If we would focus this same effort on speaking about the greatness of God we would realize how inconsequential our “problems” are in comparison. We talk about the things that are problematic sometimes to no end. What better result could we achieve in overcoming these matters if we would speak of the greatness of God?

Life and death are the power of the tongue. That is why it is important to speak of God’s goodness and greatness. This “action” of faith puts things in the proper perspective. This sets the stage for blessings and breakthrough. Your praise of the Lord acknowledges that you realize that God is in control, God is larger than your problems and you have faith that whatever you can’t do to resolve an issue He most certainly can do!  Promotion is in your praise. Progress is in your praise. Productivity is in your praise!

When we don’t magnify God and continually moan, gripe and complain about a negative situation the only thing we do is make our problems larger in our mind’s eye. Our words can distort our vision to where we, indeed, make mountains out of mole hills. We find faults where there are none and create major issues where only minor situations exist. This misconstrued vision is akin to viewing things in a carnival fun house of mirrors. What we see is distorted and warped, not at all what actually exist.

Magnifying God with our mouth maintains a spiritual and mental balance. We can then see things as they are and not make circumstances larger than they are. Perspective is vital to keeping it together. There is a common saying “don’t sweat the small stuff.”  Magnifying God makes us see what really is small and not worth the angst and effort we give it.

Lastly, it is important to realize God’s perspective is not at all our perspective. The things that seem immovable as obstacles and problems that seem to have no solution are microscopic to the Creator of the universe. God cares for us so much that He can see the big picture and allow us to remain in situations we think would kill us because He can see the end that we cannot.  He sees the solutions from up high that we can’t see from our lowly perspective. It is like flying in an airplane. From 20,000 feet in the air you can see entire cities, counties and even some states. But when you are on the ground you can see maybe a couple of miles into the distance. The only thing that has changed is not the landscape but the perspective from which you view it. From high in the clouds huge things look microscopic (God’s eye). On the ground, the same things viewed from the plane as dots on the landscape appear large and looming.  The area may be the same but what you are able to see from where you are makes all the difference. Perspective is key.

The right perspective keeps you from making poor decisions. The right perspective can keep you from stressing and allow you to enjoy your blessing. The right perspective promotes peace and invites the presence of God.

P is for perspective. Keeping things in proper perspective promotes progress and productivity. The proper perspective lays the foundation for peace and serenity.

Father God, allow me to truly see things not as they appear but from Your perspective. May I magnify You and minimize my trials. May I voice our praise! Remove from me a tongue of death. I choose life and I choose to see things as You would have me to view them. Thank you for these things and for a new “vision” in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Root Rot

Root rot is the bane of many a gardener who lovingly tends to plants and flowers only to find that what was once bold and beautiful is now slumped over and at death’s door.

Root rot often occurs when plants are placed in conditions or soil that doesn’t facilitate the growth or functionality of the root system. Often the ground is saturated with water or pollutants due to poor drainage or the earth is too dense due to lack of aeration. In conditions such as these, the roots are not able to absorb the good qualities from the earth necessary for the growth of the plant.

Not obvious like pests or diseases above the ground, this predicament can lead to an unexpected demise as the damage is done below the surface. Everything looks fine above ground but the root system of plant is quickly deteriorating in a damaging environment. The pathway of nourishment and sustainment is no longer working.  Unfortunately, we can find ourselves in similar circumstances with that same deadly potential.

Like plants, we often are unsuspecting of the dangers that may exist in our environment and their pollutant potential. We can find our own personal roots in less than ideal circumstances if we aren’t careful. Instead of growing downward and outward our roots can also become poisoned, absorbing all the wrong things that eventually get deep inside of us.

Sometimes we inadvertently place ourselves in the wrong environments that can also cause our demise or at the very least stunt our personal growth. Have you ever been in a situation or place that you really knew you should not be in? Have you felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit pulling at you when you are in the company of people who may not share your same values and prompt you to do things you know are immoral or at the very least are of no benefit to you?

Sometimes we allow comfortable situations and familiar friends to allow us to stay in a place we know we should be far removed from. How many people are often thwarted in achieving their goals because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Many of those same people will often admit they knew they should not have gone to that specific place or hung out with that particular person but didn’t allow the conviction felt on the inside to translate to action to do something about it.

Have you ever been in the company of people speaking in such a manner you didn’t particularly care for or found offensive yet you continued to stay there? Have you ever gone to an event or party that turned out to be something other than what you expected but you continued to stay because you didn’t want to be rude? Have you ever gone someplace and felt uneasiness come about you but you remained in that place all the while knowing it was not the best use of your time?

Just like plants that unknowingly absorb things from their environment that prove deadly, we can also absorb tendencies, habits and associations to our own detriment. The opportunity to absorb the worst tendencies from our environment will often increase when we are trying to be obedient and make significant changes in our lives.

When you are trying not to drink alcoholic beverages friends may prompt you to celebrate with them and cannot understand your newfound non-alcoholic tendencies. If you are trying to save money, friends or family may urge you to splurge because you “deserve it.” Sometimes when you are convicted about your speech you will find yourself inadvertently surrounded by people who are full of gossip and pressing you for your comments and opinion. So, what can you do?

The only treatment for a plant that is suffering from root rot is to transplant it into another environment conducive its growth. The same is true for us as well. If you are trying to make a significant change and grow but you cannot seem to bring it about in your present circumstances you may need to get your own roots in a better environment.

If you need a positive attitude, hang out with positive people. If you don’t know any, meet some. Don’t go to the same places with the same people if they are adding little to your growth. We often need people who are doing positive things in front of us to set an example to aspire to. We also benefit from spending time around the people who serve as role models as they can help pull us up out of our weaknesses and show us examples of how they achieved whatever desirable traits we find compelling in them.

If you are going through a difficult time, the last thing you need is someone else telling you how the same circumstance almost killed them! If someone is declaring that there no hope for you, remove yourself immediately!

Instead, seek the company of encouraging people who will share their tests and give a testimony of what you, too, can do! We are to encourage one another. If you are surrounded by doom and gloom from naysayers, you may find that you absorb their same pessimistic attitudes. In their presence, your faith may wane and their hopelessness will devour any hopeful expectations you have for a change in your circumstances!

Oftentimes God, in His care of us, will transplant us out of certain situations. But as we mature, we should become aware of those places and people who are harmful to us and actively transplant ourselves out of toxic situations and company.

If you want to become more spiritual, spend more time with spiritually minded people. I’m not talking about people who are always talking and quoting scripture but instead people who are consistently walking it out!  Many of the most positive people don’t have to say a word. They let their actions speak for them. The most beneficial people do not have to convince you of why you should spend time with them. Instead, the God in them will reach out to the God in you!

Be careful of the places you go and the people you know.  Benjamin Franklin’s quotation has proven itself through the years. “Be civil to all, sociable with many, familiar with few.” Unfortunately, lots of Christians turn that particular quote completely upside down. Many are civil to few and familiar with far more people than they ought!

Oftentimes people can get bedazzled by the status of others, their titles and sometimes the glitz and glamour on the outside of a person that they can’t see the person for who they really are.

Familiarity should lend itself to family. Don’t treat just any and everybody like family when you know very little about that person and what they are truly all about. Don’t rush to bring people you barely know into your innermost circle. You do not need to readily expose yourself to other people’s vulnerabilities. The last thing you need is to absorb the drama of someone else when you are making sincere efforts to get your own self straight.

Jesus was kind to all and served those that came to Him seeking help, however, He “hung out” with just His inner circle of disciples, the men closest to Him. He didn’t have hundreds of friends He was trying keep with Him all the time! He wasn’t trying to accumulate the most “friends” possible to have in His immediate circle. Many called themselves His disciples at first until they were in His presence and found they did not know him or really understand Him. In fact, Jesus’ teachings left many confounded and the mass majority of His disciples readily fell off and away leaving Him with His faithful few! It was these few men who would later spread the Gospel. We also need only the people in our own lives that are positive, sincere, and support our own efforts.

Familial bonds are strong and created over time. Yet there may be divine connections you make that are God driven and you know God put a particular person in your life. The point is to make sure you give your time and effort to people worthy of it. It should be time well spent for all parties.

Don’t allow fear of disappointing people to keep you complacent when you know you should be changing your circumstances. If you are convicted to move, do so. God will make sure He sustains you where you should be planted. Don’t ignore the prompting that tells you to leave a conversation or that a new acquaintance may not be all he or she appears to be. Many a trial or tribulation could have been averted had a person simply followed their gut instinct or rather “God instinct” and left certain people and places alone.

All flowers need a specific combination of minerals, moisture, soil and nutrients to grow. We also need our specific combination of Holy Spirit, discernment, obedience and willingness to change so that we too can grow. Don’t waste time with the wrong people and places that will only poison you when you absorb what they are putting out. Negativity? Drama? Envy? Spite? Confusion?

Make an active decision to go where you can grow! It may be a bit uncomfortable. People may wonder what you are doing. But don’t second guess your decisions to move where you can absorb something good in your life.

Move where you are free to soak up more of God, His grace, and His goodness. If you lose a few people you thought were friends through acting on your conviction, God can give you new and better friends! The very people you may be fearful of losing may be actually blocking the blessings God intends for you.

Oftentimes we are aware that we are in a less than ideal situation but feel that we can handle it. We are often confident that the God in us will leave us unaffected by our environment. That may indeed be true for the most mature Christians but more often than not, those who think they are unaffected later find out they have been infected!

Complacency can often breed the kind of comfort that allows you to let your guard down because you are familiar with certain people and places and the danger is unseen. Flowers suffering from root rot often look fine on the surface all the while they are absorbing something toxic beneath the surface. It is often when the problem is too far gone that you can even detect an issue. Don’t allow that same sneaky rot to happen to you!

Make a move if you need to. Change your atmosphere and change your outcome. Don’t stay stagnant and absorb toxins in a poisonous environment when God is prompting you to make a move.  God’s intention is that we bloom to the fullest! Sometimes to grow it is necessary that we must go. It is up to each of us to protect our roots. Transplant yourself when necessary and trust God that you will indeed bloom!

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