Monday, March 23, 2009

Weeds in my Garden



One of my favorite things to do in the spring time is to pull the weeds in my garden. There is a satisfaction in knowing that every weed removed makes way for the beautiful flowers that I have planted to flourish.

One thing that I have notice while weeding is that the biggest most noticeable weeds are oftentimes the easiest to remove. The reason being that some of the tallest weeds have the most shallow roots. 

It is the small weeds that are the hardest to pull up. They are the ones that if left unattended will spread and eventually overtake the garden and choke out the beautiful flowers I have planted.

I find that this is the same way with sin. You see the sins that are the most noticeable are often times the easiest sins to identify and turn away from. They are actions that indicate ones heart condition. For example, drunkenness, cussing, wild living, sex outside of marriage, cheating, course joking, fits of rage, lying, stealing, fighting. Just to name a few.

I have found in my personal life that my behavior is an outpouring of what is in my heart. I have also found that it's much easier for me to change my behavior than it is for me to change my heart. Actions are just indicators of one's heart condition toward God.

I want to now talk about the small weeds. The weeds that if left unattended will choke out all the beautiful flowers that the Lord has planted in your life. These sins will also strangle your faith and over take your garden. These small weeds, are often times, the reasons we do what we do. 

Most of the time, these sins go unnoticed to the outsider. They can easily be explained away by the insider. They are dangerous because they are socially acceptable and often times not even recognized for what they are WEEDS (sins)! They go unnoticed and over time wreck our faith and render us useless for the kingdom of God.

What are some examples of these creeping weeds? Fear, anger, jealousy, pride, control, complacency, bitterness, spirit of entitlement, relying on self rather than relying on God, blame shifting, complaining, selfish ambition, gossiping, vanity, greed, just to name a few. These sins reside in the heart and often times effect our behavior.

What are we doing to tend our garden of faith? We need to be diligently asking the Lord to help us identify and pull up these faith choking weeds. We need to expose the heart conditions behind the sin and bring to light the deep roots of unforgiveness, hurt, disappointment, abandonment, abuse, dejection and rejection. We need to surrender to an Almighty, All Powerful, All Knowing God.

What weeds in your garden need tending?


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sickness

Hannah our middle child has been sick 4 times since Christmas. She woke up yesterday morning with a fever and last night in the middle of the night it had climbed to 104.2. 

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. Psalm 91:4

Have I mentioned before that I'm a hypochondriac when it comes to sickness. I tend to be a little bit of a mother hen. I do not want to leave them and last night was no exception. When Hannah's fever reached 104 I took her out to the couch and laid down with her. She snuggled into me and drifted off to sleep.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. Psalm 91:4

How precious are these tender moments. Complete trust in my ability to care for her. As her mom I wanted to absorb her sickness. I wanted to heal her pain. I didn't just want to cover her with my arm and comfort her I wanted to take it and bear it so that she didn't have to feel the sickness and the pain. Knowing that I could not absorb it I did my best to comfort her and reassure her of my love. I did my best to provide for her needs and let her know that she can trust me to take care of her. I wanted her to know that in the midst of her pain I would not leave her.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. Psalm 91:4

I wonder if God felt the same way about the Israelites before Jesus came to take it all?

Seeing their sin and depravity He offered a way to cover their sin by sacrifices, burnt offerings and sin offerings. This is referred to as the old order. These sacrifices and offerings were never enough to completely take away sin but it was just enough to temporarily cover their sin. 

In Hebrews Paul tells us, that the law was only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never by the same sacrifices repeated year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed (healed) once and for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices were an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:1-4

OK, I know what you are thinking, you're thinking, "Liz what on earth does Hannah's sickness have anything to do with the old order of things also known as the Old Covenant?" 

Here is what occurred to me, I love Hannah so much that my heart's desire in the midst of her sickness was to absorb her pain not just to mask it or cover it. 

You see I was masking the pain with Tylenol and Motrin. As soon as the pain medication would wear off the fever would come back with a vengeance. The giving of Tylenol was the reminder that Hannah was sick. 

As she was laying next to me I wanted so badly to absorb her sickness so that I could endure it on her behalf. I wanted to take on her sickness so she wouldn't have to endure it. Although, I held her and comforted her it was not enough to take away her sickness and relieve the consequences of the having the flu. 

God referred to himself over and over again in Isaiah as Immanuel, God with us. He provided a way for us to be made perfect through the suffering of His one and only son, Yeshua (Jesus). The name Jesus means, the one who saves. You see it was out of HIS GREAT LOVE FOR US that he came down to dwell among us to reveal to us the truth and to ultimately die for our sins. 

His desire was to absorb our sin, suffering and pain ONCE AND FOR ALL. Unlike me, He has the power to absorb our pain and heal the sickness of sin. He endured a brutal death where every sin that I have ever committed or will commit was placed upon him. He took on the punishment and absorbed the consequence of my sins. 

He did it because I could not. He not only covers us in our time of need but he ultimately heals us by his death and resurrection on the cross.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when THIS priest had offered for ALL time ONE sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by ONE sacrifice he has made PERFECT FOREVER those who are being made holy.
Hebrews 10:11-14

He loves me so much that he wasn't satisfied to just cover my sin he wanted to take it upon himself.