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Grow Up - A Devotion

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Matthew 13:31-32 (NLT)
Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

It is time to grow up. No really, as the Kingdom of God our growth has not met its true potential as the halls of the hospitals are filled and homeless shelters overflowing. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed. You have been given a measure of it called faith. What are you doing with your “faith” today? Faith is to be planted. It is to grow, develop and mature. This is the definition of prosperity. By doing so, it will become a mighty tree with deep roots. When our faith meets its full potential not only will it change our life but should change the lives of others around us. “It grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Rummaging through the garage yesterday looking for a tarp to spray paint glittery gold vases for our eldest daughter’s upcoming nuptials, she joined me. Please picture me in old workout clothes as this glitter mess flies everywhere, and her in her Sunday Dress with an oversized t-shirt as she would be attending a friend’s wedding in a couple hours, now you get the picture of who was committed but less I digress. As I am pulling out boxes looking for the one with painting utensils, she was looking for something else. Being a woman, I had to ask. She was looking for the nest. Every year a little mockingbird always manages to make its way in our garage to roost in one of the boxes. Scurrying to build its shelter inside the warm, safe structure, the trouble is that she must wait for the garage door to open and close. When it opens, the bird will fly past your head to go grab something for the nest and later food for her babies. The kids have grown to love the little birds that have come and gone. My husband on the other hand is not a huge fan of the whole process. They tend to tear up whatever else is in the box with them leaving behind little “presents” that must be cleaned up. In the front yard maybe twenty feet from our garage, there is a little tree with a tiny nest. Each year as I prune back the tree, I am careful to leave it intact for the next residents hoping maybe they will avoid the garage with little luck. Why this senseless story about ordinary life? As Children of God and active members of the Kingdom of God, our life should grow, develop and mature into a sound structure of faith that people come to for help. The trouble is they cannot discern between believers and non-believers anymore. Our lives do not represent the faith that we have found in the Righteousness of Jesus Christ or the overwhelming victory that allows us to overcome fear and live triumphant and prosper lives.

2 Peter 1:3-7 (NLT)
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

God has given “us” everything we need for living a godly life. Godly is god-like and it does not just pertain to how we live, what we do, how we act, what attitude we have or even the words we speak. Of course, all these things should reflect that the hope that we have found in Jesus Christ. By coming to know Christ, the potential of our life is finally realized. It was there all along but now we have a place to “plant it” and watch waiting for it to grow. Now before, you make an excuse as to why you lack this potential or perhaps judge me for insinuating that have something that you are quite sure you do not, please let me point out that you do not know me. I do not know you or your struggles, setbacks or difficulties. But I do know the Lord! He changes everything. My life as you may peek into it seems like a good one. No friend, I have a great life based solely on the Promises and Plan that God has given me. However, what you see now is the product of cultivated faith. I had a difficult childhood. I have experienced many of the same things that you may currently be going through or suffering from but I will not give the enemy glory in his attack on my life. But when all I had left was a tiny “mustard seed” of faith, I planted it into that firm foundation of hope named Jesus Christ. It began to grow, develop and mature becoming my life today. I am still growing every day and prospering according to His Word working in my life. You can, too. It all starts with Jesus.

God doesn’t tell us to change our life. He will do it when we decide to respond to His Promises. Your faith will never reach its full potential if you do not do something with it. Walking past the seed packets in the local hardware store on my way to buy that irritating glitter paint, I can only imagine the potential if every packet that is purchased is planted. Thank God for the farmers who see to it that these seeds especially those that will become a harvest of the food that we eat. But like many people who live in suburbia and cities, we head to the supermarket to buy prepackaged, mass produced food rather than planting gardens for ourselves. When we do the same thing with our faith, depending on teachers and preachers to feed us spiritual nourishment rather than digging into the Word of God and allowing the Holy Spirit to work it in our life, we will not prosper. You were created with a measure of faith intended to grow and develop into God’s Plan and Purpose for your life. What are you doing with it today?

Matthew 13:3-9 (NLT)
He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

If you want to grow in Jesus Christ, it will require effort on your part. “A farmer when out to plant some seeds.” It is time for Christians to become intentional. You will never prosper in this the Kingdom of God or life for that matter without a commitment. Planting a seed commits it to the process of change. It must die in the ground to release its potential locked inside. We must consider a field before planting. Here is where we miss it time and time again. Grace does not make every field fertile for producing a great harvest. The soil must be assessed. Your faith is not a product of the field but the field can become your place of prosperity. You bring the potential and purpose. So pick and choose where you plant in your life rather than giving your faith to everything that comes along. We must consecrate our heart to the Lord so that He can soften it preparing it for planting. No seed will ever make it through a tough exterior to the cold, damp soil below. Cultivating one’s faith requires daily tending of our heart to remove the rocks that try to keep us from prosperity. We must protect our growth from the harsh elements of this world. We must remove the thorns that are trying to choke out our new harvest. What makes our soil fertile? Jesus Christ makes us worthy of planting and harvest. Jesus Christ alone releases our full potential in the midst of the life that we are living. If we will just concentrate on knowing the Lord more and more, we will grow more and more into the Tree of Righteousness that He has planned for us to be.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT)
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Once we accept Jesus Christ, it is not enough to tuck Him in our pocket and walk away. We must do something with this knowledge of hope that we have been given. “Let your roots grow down into Him and let your lives be built on Him.” It is not enough to call on the Name of Jesus Christ and have no faith in Him. Grace is not an excuse to live like you did before you came to Christ. Coming to Jesus is to turn (or repent) from your old life to accept this brand new life although they look remarkably the same and will until you take your faith and plant it in the Lord. Faith will not grow until it is connected to our Life Source who is Jesus. A seed of faith is useless unless planted in the firm foundation and rich soil in the Knowledge of Jesus Christ. You were called to be a tree not a seed. True potential is realized in prosperity before that it is still just a promise. A life that is prospering is attractive.

Our yard is lined with tall flourishing trees. On any given spring morning, as you walk along the driveway you are greeted by excessive chirping especially after the eggs have hatched. When the garage door opens, it begins this chorus. The crazy part is when you look at the trees – you do not see the birds. One may fly out here or there especially if our little dog comes out. They love to chase him back into the house. They are well-hidden and safe in the branches of the fully grown and mature trees. Stop right there for a moment, “it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” Our purpose is not a reality until our life is a shelter for others. When we do not feel burdened by other people but feel the need to protect and provide for them – it is in this place that we truly connect with Jesus Christ. Faith is not all about us. It is the very thing that connects us to the Kingdom of God. “The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.” (Proverbs 11:30)

James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it seemed like everywhere we went and everyone we knew was afflicted the same way. Family members, friends, co-workers and acquaintances kept being diagnosed with cancer. I do not think that there was a rise in this epidemic, but we became more sensitive to it. I believe that as we become connected to Jesus Christ by faith and hope rises in our heart that we will become more conscious of the Love of God and true potential of a prosperous life. It is not about me, but I will clearly benefit from it. We are to plant seeds of righteousness. (Hosea 10:12) In doing so, we are called blessed while our seed is yet in the barn. (Haggai 2:19) God’s Word is ready to water every seed we put in the ground by faith in Jesus Christ. God’s Word will never return void and will accomplish everything that it sets out to do just like a plant must grow when placed in good soil. (Isaiah 55:10-11) Going back to 2 Peter 1 when the Lord tells us that we have EVERYTHING we need to live a godly life. God life is a glorious standard of living we find in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter who plants or waters, it is God who increases our life raising it to His Standard. (I Corinthians 3:6-8) What is God’s Glorious Standard of Living? Well, the Fruit of His Spirit cultivated in prosperity are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) These things benefit our life spiritually and naturally as we learn to prosper now and forevermore thanks to Jesus Christ.

There are days when this thing called prosperity seems like a brutal process. I completely understand. When the seed lies in the darkness beyond where we can see, feel or touch it, it is touch not to think that maybe you were wrong or missed it somehow. It doesn’t help that the enemy keeps whispering in your ear how dumb you are, that God doesn’t care if you prosper or not, and that you are missing out on the party watching over this dumb little seed. I promise you that every seed of faith you plant in Jesus Christ will yield a huge harvest in your life. It will do more than you can even think to ask for but it must be left to die and become new. This is the growth process of God that leads to prosperity as we give our old life room by room to Jesus and He renovates our heart and life. This process will test your faith. Endurance is the only way to survive the wait. What is God doing? He is completing you and making your life perfect so you do not need anything but Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NLT)
Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

How much of your life will you allow the Lord to cultivate? It is exactly the areas of life that will produce a harvest. You must decide how much of your heart to give Him for His Use. If you plant just a few seeds of faith, you will see a few miracles. But those who surrender their life to Jesus Christ, baptized in the likeness of His Death, raised to walk in His Love, putting all that they are into all that He is – these folks will prosper! They will become trees of righteousness where others find shelter from the storms of life until they are ready to plant a seed or two for faith for themselves. This is our true potential in this life to be complete lacking nothing. It begins by giving all that you have to all that He is! Now grow up! “For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11)

James 3:17-18 (NLT)
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

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