Devotion of the Week | Pearls of Promise | Page 3

Knowing the Gardener (Part One)

Part One: The Gardener Created You

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener” (John 15:1)

Do you have a green thumb? Sadly, I do not, but I keep trying.

Meanwhile, everything my grandmother (Nonnie) touched flourished. She had a peach tree in her backyard that bore beautiful peaches every year. Nonnie used the fruit for peach preserves and delicious cobbler. There were also pecan trees and blooming plants in the back and I always wondered, How does she do this? I thought some of her gift would pass on to me when she died, but to this day, plants have a short life span at my house.

However last year, I birthed a bumper crop of tomatoes because of some help from my son, Kyle, and his soon-to-be fiancé, Bailey. I am thankful the two of them are coming back again this year to help me out. I remember the feeling when I looked at the first tomatoes on the vine.

“Wow! Aren’t they beautiful? These actually grew in my garden!”

I think that’s the way the Holy Gardener looks at us. He says, “Look at her. Isn’t she beautiful? You know I formed her from a tiny seed in her mother’s womb. She is my design.”

I know the heavenly Gardener, God, put this nerdy, sports-loving church lady together. He cultivated me to be who I am today. He’s strung the DNA intricately to create you as well, just the way he wanted you.

Are you critical of your appearance? When we say negative things about the way we look, we are telling the Creator that we don’t like his work. “Maybe a little less around the middle, please.”

We need to quit being so hard on ourselves. The Gardener has molded us and created us just as he wanted us. Remember the following verses:

“Is He not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?” (Deuteronomy 32:6).

“Yet you LORD are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).

Today, let’s not question the Gardener’s creation. Instead, let’s learn more about the Gardener by jumping into his Word and taking in a little plant food from the One who created us. And let’s not forget to thank Him for how he designed us, perfectly for His purpose.

Dear Father, we confess that we have not always been so complimentary of your creation. Help us to appreciate who you designed us to be. At the same time, we pray that we’ll take care of this intricate creation out of respect for you. Thank you for life, for the breath you give us and for our beautiful design. In the name of Jesus we pray, AMEN.

Standing in the Gap for our Pastor

“Pastor Robert had a complication after his surgery and has been taken back to the hospital this afternoon. Would you please take a few minutes right now and pray for him?”

This was the post on our pastor, Robert Morris’ public Facebook page and the beginning of a traumatic day for him, his family and his church family. Meanwhile, prayer was activated worldwide. I am the intercessory prayer leader over Jewish Ministries at Gateway Church, so throughout the day, we stood in the gap for him as we sent out updates to our team for specific prayer. It is my belief that intercession pulled this man of God through this touch-and-go ordeal.

Yesterday Pastor Robert was bathed in prayer as he underwent two different surgeries for internal bleeding. The first one took out a cantaloupe-sized blood clot in his abdomen and when the bleeding continued, pastoral leaders at the church organized a 9:00 p.m. prayer vigil at the church to get him through his second surgery in less than 24 hours.

I got the word about the vigil at 8:40 p.m. I live over thirty minutes from the Gateway, but I wanted to be a part of the corporate prayer time that would start in minutes. Not a night person, I was already winding down in my sweats, had very little makeup on, my hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail, and I was half awake. Generally, I stop talking after 8:00 p.m., but the Lord was calling me to pray. When I got up from my lounging position, my husband asked, “Where are you going?” I responded, “Our pastor needs prayer. I am going to the church.” So looking a little ragged, I left vanity at the house and drove to Gateway so I could join sisters and brothers in worship and prayer for our shepherd.

I kept thinking of the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus went to the cross. Jesus was “sorrowful and troubled” and asked his disciples to pray but the disciples kept falling asleep. Jesus said, “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?”

Last night with my energy waning and my body desiring sleep, I kept hearing the voice of the LORD, “Can’t you stay awake for just one hour?”

Here are some things we need to understand about prayer:

  • Sometimes God calls us to pray when it’s not convenient. Have you ever been woken up in the middle of the night to pray?
  • Prayer has no time clock. It is 24/7.
  • We must step up our prayer during times of crisis.

In 2 Kings 20, King Hezekiah fell ill, was told to put his house in order because he was going to die. Where did the king go when he learned this news? To the court of the LORD where he prayed and reminded God, “Remember, LORD how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” Guess what? God heard the king’s prayer, had mercy on him and gave him fifteen more years of life.

Last night, as we filled the church lobby with our utterances, many of us reminded the Lord of Pastor Robert’s faithfulness. We asked that he be healed so he could continue his work and teach His people. We sang praises to the only One who heals and our loving God heard our worship and prayers. He directed surgeons to the source of the internal bleeding and corrected the problem.

One other thing we need to know, there is no one who does not need prayer, whether it’s presidents, kings, leaders of churches, family or friends.

No one is invincible. In fact, we need to be praying for our godly leaders daily, not just during crisis, because they are the ones who are in front, and therefore a much more visible target for the enemy of our souls.

Today, I am thankful I stayed awake to pray and will continue to lift our pastor up throughout the day today. Even if you are not a part of our congregation, would you join me in prayer for the complete recovery of Pastor Robert Morris? Through television, God is using him to reach the world for Christ, and here at home, he is enriching his congregation through his teaching. I am thankful for him and for what both my husband and I have learned through his messages. We are using what we have learned to make a difference outside the church walls.

 

 

Looking Beyond the Facade

We had a decision to make. Where would we hold this September’s Pearls of Promise Level-Up Conference? At first we were sweating it out. The beautiful church that hosted us last year would be undergoing renovations and could not renew our agreement. For a while we searched and couldn’t find a church that rented out space.

However, at the eleventh hour, three possibilities emerged, and then we had a decision to make. What should we do? Two had more impressive curb appeal, but the third, New Day Church in Southlake, Texas, had a beautiful sanctuary. We also had a connection with the pastor, Ricky, his wife, Joni, and son, Joe. You could feel the heart of the church and the ministry team’s heart for the Lord. They were church planters and were putting every ounce of their energy into making sure the church thrived.

When making a decision, you must take into account all of the “God things” that happen. When I met the pastor’s son, Joe, I told him about a certain well-known worship leader we were going after to lead worship at the conference. He guessed who it was and amazingly, was correct. He told me he had a dream that he met her. I prayed that dream would come true for him.

I envisioned the speakers on the altar in the sanctuary at New Day and I remembered my “word” to live by in 2018 was “new.” Isn’t that interesting?

I also remembered how the Lord looks at us. In 1 Samuel 16:7 it says, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I still toiled over the decision. Even though all three churches had said yes to our request, I prayed that God would eliminate the venues that were not his choice. He did not. It was up to me to make the final decision and I believed God pointed me to New Day. I loved the church’s heart. Right after that, our second place church emailed and said they couldn’t host us after all. There would be no looking back. God is good that way.

So this was a lesson for me and perhaps for you.

When we look at buildings, other homes or people. What is inside?

Someone could live in the fanciest mansion but there could be no love in the house. Would you trade for that? When you meet another person, is it all about how they look, or do you try to see their heart? I know at times I am not as warm as I’d like to be, but my heart is bursting in love for people. I am praying today that everyone I meet will see my heart, and I also pray I will see theirs. What about you?

Who Will Look Up at You?

“So he called to them, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire’” (Luke 16:24).

For whatever reason, I reflected on this biblical story yesterday. In the passage, Lazarus, a former beggar, is in Heaven sitting next to the patriarch, Abraham, while the former rich man is looking up at Lazarus from Hell. While on Earth, the rich man paid no attention to Lazarus, even though he passed by him every day. Lazarus, covered with sores, was perched at the front gate of the influential man’s house and all he desired were some leftovers from the man’s five-course dinner. Now roles are reversed, and all the rich man wants are a few drops of water to cool off his body, singed by the eternal fire of Hades.

It’s a gruesome scene, isn’t it? But here’s what I envisioned. What if once we get to Heaven we will be able to see all those who didn’t make it past the pearly gates? What if the ones, in our circle of influence who we didn’t share the gospel with, could look up at us with pain in their eyes and say, “Why didn’t you say something? Could you share just a drop of water with me? It’s unbearable down here.”

Someone needs to write a book, Hell is for Real.

2 Thessalonians 1:9 says that those who don’t accept Jesus as Lord and Savior will be “punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” Matthew 13:50 says non-believers will be “thrown into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

But for some reason we gloss over these passages in the Bible. Why don’t we take them seriously?

I find that family members are the toughest mission field, so I’ve written letters with my reason for hope as the focal point. I am trying to do better about sharing Jesus wherever I am, whenever there’s an opening to speak about Him. For whatever reason, I can share about Jesus from a platform, but one-on-one is uncomfortable for me. I’m trying to get out of my box.

Lord, help me be a light for you.

Those of us who know the gospel have been given a responsibility by Jesus to share it with others. As he ascended into Heaven, our Savior’s last words to the disciples, and to us, were, “Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of this age” (Matthew 28:19–20).

I don’t want anyone looking up at me one day, asking, “Lisa, why didn’t you care enough to tell me about Jesus?”

So, if you happen to be reading this blog today and you don’t have a relationship with the risen Lord, it’s out of God’s love for you that you were led here. Don’t delay! If you have never prayed to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, here’s a simple prayer to lift up: Lord God, I know I’ve done some things wrong and have fallen short of your perfect standard, therefore separating me from you. I realize your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross and on the third day, rose again to take care of that gap that exists between me and you. Today, I ask for forgiveness of all my wrongdoing called sin and I commit my life to you. In the name of Jesus, AMEN.

Who Do You See?

When you look at Jesus who do you see?

Right after his resurrection, some of Jesus’ closest friends and followers did not recognize him at first. In John 20:11–18, Mary Magdalene was crying and mourning outside Jesus’ tomb when he asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” At first Mary thought the risen Lord was a gardener who had moved Jesus’ body to another location. But then her Savior and Hope said her name, “Mary” and Mary’s eyes were opened. She cried out, Teacher! And didn’t waste any time racing to the disciples exclaiming, “I have seen the Lord!”

The two men on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognize the risen Lord until they broke bread with him. (Luke 24:13–35)

One of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas, couldn’t see the risen Christ until he touched his nail scarred hands. (John 20:24–29)

Today millions still don’t see the resurrected Christ as he truly is.

Who do you see?

Isaiah 9:6 prophesied about Jesus, referring to him as a “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” and “Prince of Peace.”

Do you see Jesus as the provider of peace? 

In John 14:27, Jesus promises, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

When you see Jesus, do you see hope, or do problems outweigh your hope?

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, sine what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18).

As you study Jesus, do you see his strength, available to you?

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

When you look at the risen Lord, do you see the love in his eyes?

In John 15:9–10, Jesus tells us that he loves us as much as his Father loves us. In fact, God’s our Father as well because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

Are you seeing Jesus as he really is? Or is he just another man? A good teacher? A historical figure in time?

This Easter, ask God to open your eyes to see his Son like you’ve never seen him before. Ask the Holy Spirit to broaden your perspective of Jesus so you can live more victoriously.

Who are you seeing now?

 

 

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