Up Manure Creek Without a Paddle?
6And He told them this parable: A certain man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but did not find [any].
7So he said to the vinedresser, See here! For these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and I find none. Cut it down! Why should it continue also to use up the ground [to deplete the soil, intercept the sun, and take up room]?
8But he replied to him, Leave it alone, sir, [just] this one more year, till I dig around it and put manure [on the soil].
9Then perhaps it will bear fruit after this; but if not, you can cut it down and out.
Luke 13:6-9 [AMP]
In our last blog, we used the above scripture as the thesis for last week’s study. In it, we talked about how a vinedresser will put manure around a tree as fertilizer so that it may bear fruit. As you may recall, a tree requires manure, otherwise it will be worthless and cut down. In the book of Isaiah (61:3), we are referred to as trees of righteousness.
1THE SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound,
2To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
3To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion--to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit--that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:1-3 [AMP]
As trees (oaks in the Amplified translation of the Bible) of righteousness, we must be properly fertilized in order to bear fruit. The fruit that we must bear, as discussed in last week’s blog post, is the fruit of the Spirit.
One thing about our Father in heaven is that He will test us to show the quality of our fruits. I recall as a child accompanying my mother to the supermarket. I watched with fascination as she felt the pieces of fruit to see whether or not they would be good to take home to eat. I wondered how she knew whether fruit was ripe or whether it was rotten or whether it was perfect. The key, it seemed, was using touch to tell the quality of the fruit. Our Heavenly Father will often touch our circumstances in order to show us that true quality of our fruits. This might include placing us in those manure laden circumstances.
The week after we published that blog, we found ourselves enjoying a wonderful week. However… that wonderful week (from Monday until Friday morning) was merely a set up for something quite... what is the opposite of wonderful? Well, it was quite painful. Quite alarming! Quite disturbing! What happened to us was an attack from satan. As this season of trouble entered our life, there were the usual emotional reactions.
Fortunately, the Holy Spirit arrived and gave us comfort by reminding us of the promises of the word of God. It was during this time of testing that I faced a decision point. I could pray like the sons of thunder (James and John) to rain down fire upon those who caused me such pain. I could pray like the Lord Jesus who said “Father, forgive them… for they know not to what they do.” Ultimately, I decided to behave the way that my Lord and Savior behaved.
I wonder if any of you have been in manure this past week? Perhaps you might or feel that you have been in manure for as long as you can remember. I hope that the scriptures from last week were a source of comfort. This week, we hope to help deal with the second phase of a trip down manure creek without a paddle (grin).
The best advice and that I can give to you is the advice and that the Lord has given to me through the Word of God, through His Spirit, and through friends and prayer partners. That advice is to praise the Lord not because of your circumstances but in spite of those circumstances.
Here are some meditations from Judypie that should help:
Fruit of the Spirit
Father, your Spirit lives in me, and I am swift to hear. I have learned it’s more important to listen than to be heard. I purpose to be slow to speak, and choose the words I speak with grace. I am slow to become angry. May my recreated human spirit, under the control of the Holy Spirit bear fruit -- joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. For man's anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires].
James 1:19-20 [AMP]
But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
Galatians 5:22-23 [AMP]
The Lord is my Shepherd
O my Lord, you are my Shepherd, and I have everything I need. You are ever true to Your Word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with You forever in your home. Amen
THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake. Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over. Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.
Psalm 23 [AMP]
Meditation is very beneficial, spiritually, mentally and physically. This form of discipline will help you stay focused on eternal things, give you insight into the Scriptures, your energy will increase, and your youth will be renewed according to Psalm 103. Here in these quiet moments, you can
Hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and creativity is released. Purpose in your heart and mind... "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to my Lord". Meditation is deep contemplation or reflection that will bring the Word of God from your head to your heart.
In the name of Jesus, I am blessed. My Lord, I delight in your law, and on your law I meditate day and night. I am like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever I do prospers. Jesus, you have been made unto me wisdom, righteousness and sanctification, and I enjoy living in the Way of Truth. Thank you, Lord, for watching over the way of the righteous. Amen
1 Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
Psalm 1:1-6 [NIV]
Open My Eyes
Lord, I ask you to open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things in your law. Thank you for the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father has sent in your name. He will teach me all things and will remind me of everything you have said. Lord Jesus, thank you for opening my understanding and for showing me how to read my Bible. Amen
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
Psalm 119:18 [NIV]
He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You're the first to hear and see it. You're the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you're equipped with power from on high.”
Luke 24:45-49 [Message]
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14:26 [NIV]
Father, there isn't a challenge I will ever face that will be too hard for You to solve. Nothing can outsmart You. The world’s wisdom is foolishness in Your sight. Your wisdom is increasing in me as I meditate on Your Word. It leads, guides and protects me. It gives me greater insight and credentials than the world has to offer. You have said in Your Word that the person who gets wisdom loves his own soul. I cherish understanding and I will prosper for your glory. Hallelujah! In Jesus name. Amen.
Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me?
Jeremiah 32:27 [AMP]
For this world's wisdom is foolishness (absurdity and stupidity) with God, for it is written, He lays hold of the wise in their [own] craftiness;
1 Corinthians 3:19 [AMP]
I Run to Win
Father, I thank you for all the pioneers who blazed the way, all the veterans cheering me on. I will never quit! I lay aside every weight and every sin that would hinder me. I fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. I am running to win. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Amen
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Hebrews 12:1 –3 [Message]
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Hebrews 12:1 –2 [NLT]
You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 [Message]
I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.
Philippians 3:13-14 [AMP]
All is Well!
Jesus is Lord, and everything is all right! Your plan is to prosper me and not to harm me. Your plan is to give me hope and a future. Thank you for listening to me when I call upon you, when I am praying to you. I love you because you first loved me. And I know that in all things, Father-God you work for my good because I choose to love you. I have been called according to your purpose. Even in the face of adversity I declare, “All is well.” Amen
Run to meet her and say, Is it well with you? Well with your husband? Well with the child? And she answered, It is well.
2 Kings 4:26 [AMP]
For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 [AMP]
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 [NIV]
One final note is that when others are used by satan to attack you... do not fight against them. Rather, direct your energies against the spiritual forces at work!
For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 [AMP]
If you find yourself in a manurey situation and want to know how to fight with spiritual weapons... we suggest your download (for free) our book Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Here is one final meditation -- from our Psalms from the Pen of the Ready Writer series:
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired [to have] you, that he may sift [you] as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:4
If you are dedicated to God’s service, know this. There is a contract out on your life. The more serious you have taken your commitment to serve God, the more demons have been assigned to take you out.
We can take comfort in the fact that the hit man has been denied permission to whack you. No matter how many demons are trying to bring you down, God (who is greater) will lift you up!
The hunter is seeking a soul to drag down
Down into the pit of destruction
The lion is roaring, new prey he has found
but only if he has permission
The devil asked for me...
but God said, “NO!”
“he’s covered by My Blood...
you have to go!”
The devil pleaded, he begged, and he cried
Jesus repeated... “Petition Denied!”
The devil is waiting, refuses to quit
Just like a fly that keeps buzzing
he brings his battalion and bag full of tricks
but one little thing he’s forgetting
i’m covered by the Blood, the Blood of Jesus
His Spirit lives within, that’s how He frees us
And everyday i live in the Shadow of the Most High
The flames, they are raging and burning in hell
It’s filled to the brim yet, it’s growing
The devil desires to throw my soul in
but that’s not the way i’ll be going
The devil asked for me...
but God said, “NO!”
“he’s covered by My Blood...
you have to go!”
The devil pleaded, he begged, and he cried
Jesus repeated... “Petition Denied!”