Devotionals

The Tomato: A Story About the Details

Last night, I was cranky.  

 

We had just gotten home from celebrating our soon-to-be-born niece at a baby shower. 

 

We brought home our older niece, this baby’s big sister, to have a sleepover with her cousins.

 

As I heard the giggles coming from our little ones down the hall, I felt myself becoming more and more the opposite of what I was hearing. 

 

I was completely, utterly frustrated.  

 

I was angry. Down. Depressed. 

 

Without going into detail, we’ve, once again, been finding ourselves severely attacked by Satan.  

 

We have found ourselves confused as we see others not struggling, others that have what we’ve asked for for years, and haven’t received.  

 

One of those things being, that we’ve dreamed about potentially adding on to the side of our house. More bedrooms, a much needed garage. Nothing fancy. Just basic.  

 

Now, for the past four weeks, as we leave our nook in the woods, we are greeted by the very addition that we want for our home, but cannot afford.  

 

The house directly across the street, newly remodled and purchased by a family of three, is building a very large, albeit, slightly overkill addition for their home. 

 

Its exactly what we’ve been hoping for. 

There’s more to why we feel this way. There’s a lot more I cannot tell you, and will be revealed in eternity. But, trust us, there’s several perfectly good reasons why we feel almost forgotten in the financial blessings department. 

 

So, we had this conversation about how it’s very difficult to see beyond this life. It’s very difficult to keep our eyes on an eternal reward we can’t effectively imagine.  

 

In fact, I have no idea what is waiting for us.

I’m sure it’s great. I’m sure it’s worth the struggle here, but it’s tough to trust that God still cares about the details when He doesn’t allow things for us, but for others. 

 

Do you ever feel this way?  

 *Click thru the photos.💗

Around 8PM, I was in the kitchen cutting a juicy, plump, fresh organic tomato.  

 

A warmth came over me. A familiar warmth.  

 

And I stopped cutting for about half a minute, allowing His Spirit to speak. 

 

I really saw the tomato for what it was. I mean really, really saw it. With spiritual eyes. 

 

A beautiful, detailed, amazing creation of God. 

 

It was full of purpose, beauty, and provision.  

 

If God can care about the details of a tomato, surely He even more so cares about the details of my life.

 

Of your life. 

 

But He went on further.  

 

The redness of the fruit: representing the freedom found in the shedding of His blood. 

 

The fruit itself: a representation of how He is the vine and we are the branches. We have the ability to bear fruit.

 

Tomatoes grow on vines. Are you actively growing thru your times of struggle?

 

It’s easy to grow when it rains, but what about times of drought? Are you willing to allow the elements to dry up your fruit?  

 

The seeds inside the tomato: a representation of duplication. 

 

Are you trying to actively duplicate yourself, starting first with your family, and then with your communities? Making disciples of Christ is what we are called to do. No matter if we’re in the valley or on the mountain top. 

 

Purpose. 

 

Cared for. 

 

Perfectly loved and designed to nourish the lives of others. 

 

I must say, I was so thankful for the reminder in this little tomato.

 

I was thankful for the reminder that God, always, always, always cares about the details of our lives.  

 

Why? 

 

Because He’s a detailed God.  

 

He’s an orderly God.  

 

And He certainly never ceases to show us His perfect love, even when we don’t remotely perfectly understand.  

 

 

 

 

Of Demons and Daniel.

“I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. “-Jesus, Revelation 2:12-13

 

If there is a throne, there’s also a kingdom. 

 

 

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I bet you’re like I was (before last Thursday). 

 

You don’t give much thought to Demons or the Kingdom of That Most Evil One, Satan. 

 

I didn’t either.  

 

In fact, I was so well distracted that I barely had time to really give God what He wanted from me. 

 

I believe there’s a natural sort of solution to solving the issue I presented above. The easiest way to get your spiritual butt in gear towards a deeper relationship with God, is to study our Enemy. 

 

Yes. I’m telling you to read up on Satan and His current, and very vast Kingdom.  

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2 Corinthians 2:11 ESV

So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

 

Ephesians 6:12 ESV

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

2 Corinthians 11:3 ESV 

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

 Powerful. Stealthy. Quiet. Patient. Camouflaged. Deadly. Yet, rendered helpless at just one five letter word:  Jesus.  

Powerful. Stealthy. Quiet. Patient. Camouflaged. Deadly. Yet, rendered helpless at just one five letter word: Jesus. 

The truth is, we need to study our Enemy.   

 

No great army of men goes into an impending battle without strategy; without studying; without purpose.  

 

All distractions are removed.  

 

Gear is carefully placed on the body.

 

Supplies and ammo are stocked. 

 

The drills and practices are recalled over and over again.

 

And most of the time, a battle begins with an air of confidence, on both sides, as the final exam is given.  

 

Can you imagine our U.S. Army going into battle and being caught off guard every single time? Casualties everywhere. Territory gained. Lives hanging in the balance. 

 

Look up! Fight!  

 

 

 

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Yet, this is what Christ-followers do all.the.time. 

 

We are more distracted than ever before. 

 

Satan and His minions are loving it. Our defenses are down. We have “no time” to dedicate to battle-readiness, and the gods of busyness and self-absorption rule and reign. 

 

 

1 Peter 5:8 ESV

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

 

Last Thursday, I was face-first with a few demons of my own. 

 

While Believers in Christ cannot be inhabited by Demons, don’t think for a second that we cannot be tormented and made into a rather comfy nest of sorts by these evil ones.  

 

I had two.  

 

One was named Bitterness. 

 

The other, Fear.  (Anxiety, Worry, Panic,etc)

 

As I literally gorged myself, for days, on all things about my Enemy, I began to feel terrified. More terrified than I have ever been in my life. 

 

ATTENTION:This is NOT a drill!

 

Satan and His Kingdom are wrecking true havoc on our brothers and sisters in Christ. And we need to be vocal about how to suit up and defeat this already defeated foe. 

 

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Step 1: Why did Jesus have to come? 

 

No, really.  

 

Think about why.  

 

Not only so we could become friends with God. But so that Satan and the stain of sin, itself, could be fully eradicated. So we could be free. So we could choose to live life without chains. 

 

I have this feeling that most Believers feel like the Gospel no longer applies to them.  

 

That this Gospel is just something we memorize to share with those we witness to. Right?  

 

Dead wrong. 

 

The Gospel is, I believe, more for the Believers, (than those who don’t). 

 

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You see, if we, as Believers, walk around, feeling defeated, addicted to mood-altering drugs, and chalking up our social media “friendships” as actively being a part of the body of Christ, who are we kidding?! 

 

How is that attractive?! Would you do a double-take for a person who lives without hope?! Those hopeless Christians. The great mystery of the universe. 

 

Most of us are neck-deep in unconfessed sin, grasping for pills or that drink, before we fall on our knees.  

 

We’ve forgotten that sin still exists because we go to churches that have completely omitted that word from their vocabulary. 

 

We’ve put ourselves in this sort of hypothetical “safe zone” just because we’ve been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.  

 

Nobody mentions Satan anymore because, well, that’s just weird and makes people uncomfortable. And yet, we take no issue with indulging ourselves with the pleasures this world offers.

 

Maybe if I squint really hard, I can see the difference between us and them. Maybe.  

 

Maybe not-so-much. 

 

 

Sure, you may not be overtly sinning. 

 

You may stay away from gambling, sexual immorality, and gossip.

 

In fact, you may be immersed in ministry, somewhere, (somehow), and you really don’t have time for anything else.  

 

But, you see, Satan has deceived even you.  

 

For he knows that when a society, as blessed as ours, becomes used to a pattern of constant indulgence; self-control becomes nearly impossible.

 

He also knows constant distractions mean his job gets wayyyyy easier. 

 

So, why are you making it so easy for him to do his job?  

 

Sure, Jesus defeated him on the cross, but he’s still very much in power. He didn’t render him helpless on the cross, just hopeless. The helpless part comes later on.  

 

Until then... 

 

 

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Ask God to reveal to you specific sins you’ve been struggling with. Tell Him, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you, to put those sins on the forefront of your mind.

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Next, admit that, indeed, you are struggling with those sins. Don’t hide. What’s the point? God sees all.

Repent.

You may be saved by grace, through your faith, but that doesn’t mean we stop asking for forgiveness from God. 

Humble yourselves. Confess and repent.

Then, call Satan out on his ways. Tell him you know what he’s been up to and you have every intention of duking it out right then and there.

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This is the fun part: say the names of those sins/those demons out loud. Couple those words with “In the Name of Jesus, leave me!” and watch them scurry along leaving you free and warm from the Holy Spirits love.

 

But don’t even think about retreating just yet.  

 

This battle is ongoing and it won’t end until we see His face. 

 

So stay vigilant, friends. 

 

Ask God what you can give up for Him.  

 

Like Daniel, we too, can find freedom in sacrificing those daily distractions in exchange for a life full of victory. 

 

God delivered Daniel many times from the clutches of death, because He knew Daniel meant business with Him. He was about as unshakable as they come. Trusted far above most. And revered forever as one of the greatest bible “heroes” in history.  

 

It takes a man like Daniel to show us that a “take-no-crap-don’t-back-down-God’s-got-this” attitude is what saves us from our own self-destruction.

 

It also, boldly shows the world that “In Christ, we can truly do and face all things”. 

 

So let God try you.  

 

Strip down to nakedness.

 

Allow Him to expose where you’ve gotten it all wrong. Then, put on the armor of God. Praying every single piece over your body.

Ready.

Steady. 

Because the battle is going on right now. And Satan has studied you like a college final.  

 

Don’t let him ace this thing. Be ready. Send him running. Tail between legs and all.  

 

Back to the drawing board.  

 

Because he will keep coming back. And, with Christ, and some overnighters, you can meet him at the gate. Ready. 

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“But He knows the way that I take and when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” -Job 23:10

 

#yearofdenial2018  

Living Hope.

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The ocean is one of my favorite pieces of God's creation. I love going to the beach during the summer and sitting in awe and wonder at the vast space full of water. I love standing at the edge feeling the waves and sand swirl at my feet. To sometimes spot little fish swim or catch a glimpse of a really unique seashell as the water whirls around. It's truly a time of peace and comfort for me. 

However lately I've felt like the bits of sand swirling. I have felt like that little grain of sand, being picked up, and crashed down upon...again...and again and again. Isn't it always true when trials come they rarely come one at a time? Because if the dishwasher breaks, its no surprise that all the kids got the stomach bug? 

For the past 4 weeks I've been going through a valley. I've had relationships around me go through terrible suffering, I've watched people I love hurt, I've found myself anxious and physically sick to where some days I can only sit on my couch. My allergies this year have caused me to go to the doctor numerous times in hopes of helping my world to stop from spinning. The fluid buildup in my ears is horrible. The pain in my head sometimes feels like I may pop. If you looked up my recent searches in Google, you'd find every different type of wording for "relief from severe sinus pressure, how to drain your ears,  help with vertigo..." My birthday and favorite holiday this year were spent with tears in my eyes just crying out for relief of some sort. 

Life is hard. It is easy to get caught in the waves. Seeing trials come and keep coming. To feel like there is no hope. To be picked up by the wave and crashed down upon again and again. To bury yourself in the pain and focus on your hurt. It is easy. 

Hope. Where is the hope in trials? Is there an end? 

As believers in Jesus we have hope, but not just any hope. We hope every day for different things "I hope I get a great review at work" "I hope I find a great deal at J.Crew" "I hope my kids listen to me today" "I hope I get a raise" etc... However that kind of hope can be easily crushed. In Jesus we have something different. We have a living hope. 

“In 1 Peter we see Peter write, ‘…he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…’ The tomb could not hold the living, breathing, scarred, but victorious body of our Jesus. The man who claimed to be God, who committed no sin, and who died before hostile crowds, appeared again, just days later, before crowds bearing the wounds of the cross, but demonstrating a power and victory over it. He is alive." (Desiring God)

Because of His death and resurrection we have Jesus as our living hope! God established and secured our hope when He raised his Son. Therefore, our hope is as alive as Jesus!

Jesus is our anchor. We don't have to take life's blows alone. We don't have to keep our eyes on the waves, on the trials, we have Christ who promises peace and comfort. During those trials He does not leave us. He offers love, comfort, peace and understanding. He is not a God who wants us to suffer. He longs for us to draw near to Him so we can know Him better. He wants us to share His truth with the world. He is for us. He is the arms around us when we can't stop crying. He is the peace, speaking words of encouragement and strength to get through each day. All we have to do is call out to Him. In faith we know that He hears us. Don't doubt His goodness. It can be so hard during trials. You think, “God, why?” We may never know, but rest in what we do know. He is our living God. Trust in His promises! 

Take heart, my friends, in the fact that “the God who raises the dead is your God and he’s with you. God has given you a new, true, full life through his Son, Jesus. And the life he gives is filled with an unconquerable, unquenchable hope.” (Desiring God)

 

Love, Sarah