Death to Life

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I was SO disappointed after one of the recent cold nights we had. Our camellia had so many buds just waiting to burst open, and the cold snap turned them brown. Just like that, my anticipation of pink loveliness dissipated like the morning dew.

Then, the other morning I was out with my clippers to cut off the reminders of what could have been, and to my great joy, there was a large pink bloom! It was way in the back, under foliage and had been protected.

Death to life.

This is what the Resurrection of Jesus is all about.

Death to Life!

Romans 5:10  (AMP)

10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more certain, having been reconciled, that we will be saved [from the consequences of sin] by His life [that is, we will be saved because Christ lives today].

When I think about how excited I was to see the flower blooming, (which by the way I had nothing to do with) I can only imagine God’s joy when His creation, you and me, move from death to life.

“we will be saved because Christ lives today”

Hallelujah!

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In My Garden with God  #8

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Pure Water

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Spring Lizard

Phil was cleaning out around the overflow from our spring. Several years ago Phil and my father threaded a hose through a vintage water pump and the water now flows freely nestled in our wild flower area.

“Gayle, come look here!”

I hurried over and much to our delight, a tiny salamander was peeking out from some decaying leaves Phil was about to remove. He gently moved a rock, and there was another one! I love seeing these amphibians of God’s creation. They have such a fluid, simple form as their moist skin shimmers in their wet habitat.

I remember my father showing me salamanders as a little girl and telling me not to pick them up because they are very fragile and our skin oil can harm them. Dad went on to say that they were an indicator of  pure water. Salamanders only survive in pure water.

Mountain folks call salamanders “spring lizards”. They knew if salamanders were in their spring boxes, the water was safe to drink.

As I was working outside yesterday, I started thinking about purity. Just as a salamander is an indication of pure water, what is the sign of purity in my life as a Christian?

Is there some quality that indicates I have a pure heart?

I thought about this awhile. Does love, joy, or peace in my life indicate purity? Those are “fruit of the Spirit” and are the result of God’s Spirit dwelling in me.

Not necessarily signs of purity. I asked God, “what denotes purity in our lives?”

Then today, our pastor asked us to read Luke 6:45. Our pastor was preaching on “Soul Food”, yet as soon as I looked at this verse, I knew it was God’s answer to my question.

Luke 6:45  (NLT)

45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

The indicator of a pure life is the words that come out of one’s mouth.

John 7:37 says

37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”

The words we speak come from our heart. Those words then are the indication of what is in our hearts.

A PURE heart speaks PURE words.

The sign of purity in my life will be the words I speak.

This brought me back to my father. When he passed away a bit over two years ago, so many people expressed how kind, thoughtful, and loving he was.

And he was.

My father spoke kindly as his natural pattern of speech. It was rare for him to speak ill of others. I think those of us who knew him would say he had a pure heart.

I want a pure heart.

And the test of that will be what comes out of my mouth. Each morning I pray –

Psalm 19:14

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Amen

 

In My Garden with God    #7

Despite the Weather

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We have had some weird and wild weather lately, yet I felt like spring had finally arrived.

Then I drove to Wheaton, Illinois to visit my mother and it has been in the 20’s and 30’s. Tomorrow morning the weather prediction is 10 degrees! It will be March 12th tomorrow!

The weather is one of those things in life we do not have any control over. It reminds us we are finite human beings.

We need that reminder once in a while – truth be told.

Because I cannot control the weather, I cannot control when, if at all, plants in our yard will bloom. That is one reason that the wildflower blooms create excitement for me. They are like a surprise, an anticipated, but uncertain gift.

The subjects of the above pictures herald the arrival of my favorite season. I LOVE to see the trillium in bloom. The various colors and parts of these treasures of God’s creation never cease to excite me.

Phil is very patient as I drag him around to see each of the varieties, many of which he helped transplant from further up on the hill in the woods. We have moved over nine different varieties to the edge of the backyard where the woods begin. We enjoy these beautiful flowers and especially appreciate the variety. This picture was taken in our backyard. We are SO BLESSED!

Jesus refers to the beauty of wild flowers in this passage in Matthew 6: 28-30

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”

These verses remind me of God’s great love and care for me. Jesus said these wildflowers should remind me as well – that when I notice just how beautiful and perfectly they are made – I should be REMINDED that my heavenly Father cares ever-so-much more for me!

I hope you will notice the wildflowers this spring and that they will inspire you and remind you of just how much God loves and cares for you, despite the weather or circumstances in your life.

 

In My Garden with God #6

Worth the Cost?

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Phil and I spent all Saturday afternoon and evening trimming, pruning, raking dead stems and leaves, and then hauling off the refuse we had created to pitch over the bank.

(one of the many great benefits of living in the mountains is that our cuttings create critter habitat as we toss all cuttings over the bank.  Previous owners also tossed old cars, old furnaces, and who knows what all over the bank – but that is a story for another time)

I carefully removed the old leaf matter from around the area where our native plants grow. The tiny white buds of blood root were just starting to poke through. As I moved on I saw the trout lily leaves and the stems emerging that will soon be crowned with lovely yellow blooms.  “Phil,look at this!”

I LOVE spring!

It signifies hope.

After the cold and sparse winter, new life springs forth! But, to really get the full benefit of  the new growth in spring, we have to pay the price. It was a lot of hard work to trim, rake, prune, and gather the cuttings and dead leaves and stems. The new plants would have come up anyway, at least many of them would. But – they would have been hidden and their growth hindered by the old dead leaves and stems.

In our Community Women’s Bible Study this past Wednesday, my friend Cathy shared her reflections on Ephesians 2: 1-5

2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 

Then she challenged us with questions to ask ourselves – one of which was “Do we consider our participation in the Body of Christ a privilege worth the cost?”

We were all “dead” spiritually following our own way – in trespasses and sin, as verse 2:1 says. But, God, who is RICH in mercy, made us alive with Christ!

As we ask for forgiveness and choose to follow Jesus, God clears away ALL the old stuff so the new life can come forth!

Was it hard work cleaning up our yard this spring? Yes!

Was it worth it? YES!

Especially as I watch new life spring forth each day.

So back to Cathy’s question – Do I consider it a privilege to be part of  Jesus’ Church – the Body of Christ? Yes!

Paul says in verse  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Incomparable riches – meaning NOTHING compares to what God has offered us through his son Jesus.

Is it worth the cost?

Yes!

We must let God rake away the old, dead ideas, traditions, and beliefs that keep the fresh, new life from shining through. The old way that was gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. v3

Then our NEW life in Christ will emerge, fresh, clean, and vibrate like the flowers in spring.

In My Garden with God  – #5