Devotions from My Garden: Guest Post!

Today, I have a special treat for you!  Bill Jones over at I Was Thinking the Other Day About is guest-posting here and sharing a devotional from his garden!  I hope you enjoy and take the time to check out his blog of devotional thoughts and encouragement.

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I marveled at our backyard’s beauty. The white phlox beamed beside the weathered picket fence. The hibiscus was nearly eight feet tall and had smothered itself in pink blooms. Long tendrils of the guara held out their flowers and danced as the bumblebees did touch and go landings. Cardinals and bluebirds were bright spots of color at the feeders.

Several years earlier the yard was just an expanse of pasture. Over time I built the garden’s structure and established the flower beds. The fence came first and defined the back of the yard. I think I actually applauded in satisfaction when the gate’s latch clicked in place and fit perfectly.

A working gate deserved more than a dirt path, so a walkway of red concrete pavers came next. The addition of a pump house with a barn style roof and weathervane on top added a rustic touch to the scene.

The bahia grass in the old pasture was so thick that my tiller just dragged me along as it bounced over the top. I’m sure it was comical to watch, but to me it was frustrating. With that obstacle, it became a struggle to transform sections into flower beds. Many exhausting sessions of hand work were required but the transformation did occur.

The histories of many of the plants also came to mind. The oak leaf hydrangea was 12 inches tall when planted. Now it covered an area twenty five feet across and has been the mother plant of several more now spaced around the yard.

I bought the pagoda plant sight-unseen. What a surprise we had when it produced spectacular orange blooms over a foot tall that did look like a Chinese pagoda – with multiple stems and flowers in layers that decreased in circumference from the bottom to the top. And they were like butterfly magnets.

Standing there, remembering the years of work that had been involved, I could have shouted “Look at this great garden I have built!” Thankfully, I thought better of it and didn’t.

I thought of King Nebuchadnezzar who gazed at his city and said: “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? (Daniel 4:30 KJV) At that moment, God showed him who had the power and majesty. The King spent the next seven years eating grass like an ox.

I didn’t mimic his words. Not from fear of having to eat grass, but from the realization that without God I could have done nothing. I praised the Lord for the beautiful flowers and birds He created. I thanked Him for the strength to build the fence. I thanked Him for the time, resources and opportunities He had provided.

That day I knew what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote that he had planted and Apollos had watered but God gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). Paul was writing of spiritual growth, but in my physical garden I understood that while I may have built and planted and watered, it was God alone Who, in His power and majesty, had completed it and made it beautiful!

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Rerun: I’m Not A Boy!

I’m not a boy.
I’m not a good dancer.  I’m not easily offended.  I’m not a blonde or a red-head.
I’m not tall.
I’m not artistic.  I’m not quick to cry.
I’m not usually a fan of “chick flicks.”
I’m not much of a TV watcher.
I’m not from a small family.
I’m not a quick decision maker.
I’m not an extrovert.  I’m not athletic.  I’m not fond of “outside.”

We all define ourselves by lists of “I ams” and “I am nots.”

“Are you a Christian?”
I am.

“Are you fond of sports?”
I am not.

Is it any wonder that God has a list, too?  His “ams” and “am nots” through Scripture establish His character and give us reliable assurances in times of trouble.

We rest in safety because we know He is “I AM.”

It’s the most powerful declaration of God’s identity in Scripture, when He tells Moses His name: “I AM WHO I AM . . .This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation” (Exodus 3:14, 15).

My Bible notes that His name could also be read as: “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.”

He is I AM and I WILL BE.  He is eternal.  He has existed before our human history began and He has walked through the entirety of our time on this planet and will still remain forever.

So, we can trust Him.  We can place in His capable hands all that frightens us because He knows where we have come from and where we are headed.

It’s more than that.  He tells us:

  • “I AM with you” (Genesis 26:24).
  • “I AM God Almighty” (Genesis 35:11).
  • “I AM the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).
  • “I AM the LORD your God” (Exodus 16:12).
  • “I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).
  • “For I AM the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:3).
  • “I AM the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5).
  • “I AM the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17).
  • “I AM the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord Almighty is His name” (Isaiah 51:15).

Can you read through this list of what God says about Himself, His “I ams” and not be in awe, not be filled with the desire to worship, not be comforted?

He is with you, there in the places of hurt and despair.  He heals you.  He is holy.  He is your Savior, pulling you out of the pit and redeeming you through the blood of His Son.  He is the only God.  He directs our steps.  He is Lord Almighty, in control of all creation, including the circumstances you find yourself in.

Praise God!

He doesn’t stop there, though.  He also has “am nots.”  Just as powerful, these are declarations of His dominion over all the fake gods that vie for our worship.

In Daniel 2:11, the magicians and advisers of King Nebuchadnezzar whine that no one can possibly tell the king what he dreamt except the gods, and “they do not live among humans.”

Not our God.  He made His dwelling among His people, directing them to “make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).  He abandoned the glories of heaven and “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

He can say, “I am not distant from you.”

In Psalm 135:15-18, the Psalmist writes:

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men.  They have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear nor is the breath in their mouths.

Not our God.

Our God is the Shepherd who speaks to His sheep (John 10:27).  He is the God who sees us (Genesis 16:13) and hears our voices when we call to Him (Psalm 5:3).

He can say, “I am not ignorant of your need .”

And our God “is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).

Colin Urquhart wrote, “God is the God of promise.  He keeps His word even when that seems impossible.”

He can say, “I am not a promise-breaker.”

It may feel difficult at times to believe in God’s nearness, responsiveness, concern, love and faithfulness because we are immersed in a pit of circumstances that blocks our view of Him.  And yet, He tells us all the things He is and all the things He is not and it is that Scriptural assurance of His character to which we cling.

We can rest in safety knowing that He is I AM.  We can rest in safety knowing all that He is not.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King