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Thursday Thoughts August 10, 2023

August 10, 2023


In the spring of 2022, I planted a honeysuckle vine to climb a trellis on my garden shed. This is not the invasive honeysuckle that grows along the roadside and up into trees that smells so wonderful when it blooms in May. No, this is a better-behaved honeysuckle that blooms lovely clusters of pink, peach, and white flowers. Being its first year, I have been pleased with how much it grew and the number of flowers it had earlier this summer. Butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and bees visited the flowers. As a result, little berries started growing where the pollinated flowers had been. Now the vine is covered in sparkling red, translucent berries. To my delight, new flowers are blooming on the fresh tips of the vine. So the honeysuckle has new growth, flowers, and berries all at the same time. In addition, the vine is growing in width, covering the trellis and adding interest to what would have been a bare building. I wonder what it will look like in another year.


Many of us have been believers in Jesus Christ for nearly all our lives. We have grown in our faith and as a result, so have our works. We have labored in the church and for the Kingdom of God on earth. We may have even seen the fruits of our beliefs and efforts. Maybe we have labored and labored fretting over our work to the point we have become burned out. The enthusiasm for what we have done in the past has come and gone. The passion for doing the work of the church may have grown stale, but that doesn't mean that our love of Christ has lost its luster. It might be quite the opposite.


Just as the honeysuckle vine had done its work and appeared to be done for the season, new growth happened and it flowered again. Maybe just like the vine that decided to grow new shoots and flowers, we too can find a new way to serve the Lord. What are we being called to do? Is it something different and new? Is there a new way to honor God in our lives? What will it require? What is the cost of time, resources, and faith? Maybe God is leading us to something fresh and even scary because it is out of our comfort zone. We tend to put God in a box and put limits on what we think he can and cannot do with our lives. Following the direction that we are pointed to, is an act of obedience and faith. What you may be asked to do may be as simple as learning about a new neighbor or volunteering in a way that benefits others. Maybe it involves using your phone, your feet, your prayers, your gifts, or your knowledge and experience.


Who are some of the Bible superstars who were obedient and faithful, following the path that God had laid out before them? These persons were not perfect, not rich or famous, nor were they said to be geniuses, but they were obedient and tried something new. Can't you imagine the comments of the people who watched Noah and his family build an ark when there had never been rain? Abraham was 75 years old when he tried something new. God called him to "go to the land I will show you". So he did. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses all were obedient and God used them to carry out his plan for his people. Even Rahab, a harlot, turned from her ways and was obedient to God and found herself in the lineage of Jesus. All these people stepped out in faith and obedience. What they did before God called them to do something else may have been good or not, but the past was the past and God needed them to be obedient and faithful at the time he called them because he had a plan for them.


Do you think God has a plan for you? Do you think you have already 'bloomed' and now it is time to rest? NOT! We are called to continue to grow in faith and be obedient in whatever way will serve The Kingdom. "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."


When we are faithful and obedient, we grow, move, and do. Maybe what we do is not the size of an ark, or leading a whole group of people out of slavery, but it is still an act of faith. What is faith? "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1


We have been planted in the richness of God's love and mercy. It is our job to grow in faith, to help the kingdom grow by being obedient, and to bear fruit as a witness of God's greatness and sovereignty. Maybe we don't always see or feel where we are to join God in his work. Maybe we are doubtful that God can use us. Perhaps a leap of faith is required to do something new and different. Take time to explore the growing tips of your life so that your life's vine will expand and be fruitful.








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