Today I am also starting a 21 day series (5 days a week for October) on this same topic) on Instagram. It is complementary to this series.
This is the link if you would like to join.
For more posts in this series, click here.
How to bloom in a desert of evil, unbelief, and cynicism?
I often find myself quenched by people who are cynical of my beliefs. At least iI am internally quenched. It brings out fear and discomfort inside of me. I have a strong streak of cynicism myself. Maybe that is why I pick up on it. I don’t like for people to think of me as being stupid. But often, the more I talk, the more they think I am! Of course, worse than having people think I am stupid is for God to think I am a fool!
What if I waste my life in the pursuit of things that don’t matter to God?
Or waste it concentrating on things that He has no desire for me to concentrate on? That isn’t blooming.
I think of people who have died recently and consider the things people said about them. The Queen died yesterday as I write this. One frequent comment has been that she put others before herself or her country and her family before herself. There was no mention of her many jewels in her obituary. There was no value put on her land holdings or how much money she had in the bank. It is no longer important. There were some who even commented on her devotion to God,
There are often actors who die who pursued themselves and their narcissistic interests. There isn’t much to be said in their obits about them that is complimentary except to list their movies. That is hardly something to recommend them and in some cases could be a negative. In other words, they are more like contributing to a desert in our culture, not to blooming.
So how can we bloom?
- Connecting with God through His Word
- Connecting with God through prayer
- Connecting with God through His people in mutual community-the church
- Connecting with God’s people through ministry to those around us.
Connecting with God through His Word
One major way to connect with God is to read His Word. It is the only objective way to hear Him speak to us. Do you want to know more about God? He tells us about Himself in HIs Word in a variety of genres. History, poetry, narrative. It amazes me how many people want to know about God, yet they find all kinds of ways to disagree with or discredit the book that claims to be God’s Word. They say it is a good book, but rarely read it or interact with it. I can tell you now that if you think it is a good book AND want to discredit it, you will have to decide which way you want it. You can’t have it both ways. It claims for itself to be God’s Word.
Connecting with God through prayer
Prayer also a major way to connect with God. It is not a one way conversation. We talk to God but by virtue of the fact that we are being quiet, the Holy Spirit has a chance to talk to us. However, if we have not spent time in God’s Word, we won’t have much fertile soil from which He can speak to us. There are other spirits around too. If we are Christians, we have the Holy Spirit in us. He can help us discern truth. But if we do not have God’s Word to draw from, our discernment will be weak when we are listening. Often, people ask God for things they have no business asking Him for. If they read the Bible, they would know that.
For example, you don’t need to pray about going to bed with someone you aren’t married to. The Bible forbids it. It is clear. Don’t waste your breath. You don’t need to pray about marrying someone who is clearly not a Christian, if you are a Christian. It is clear throughout the Bible that you should not join up with someone who is not a believer. The “but I love him.” excuse may work on your parents, but it doesn’t work on God. He made that rule, not to make your life miserable, but in order to make your life joyful. He is trying to give you a joyful, flourishing life.
So don’t try to use prayer to get around laws God has already stated in His Word. it won’t work. God gave direct revelation to prophets and apostles. He no longer gives direct revelation to people that is in contradiction to what His Word says. That is one thing that is very clear.
Connecting with God through His people in mutual community-the church
I can already hear the sighs and the buts from some of you. First of all, I didn’t say it has to be the abusive church you are going to give me an example of. You may have to look around for a different church. Despite the churches that make the news, there are many out there that are healthy (I didn’t say perfect). It may have a different denominational name on it than you were expecting too! I have no idea.
This is what God says about church. Of course, there is a log more.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,
and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10: 24-25 ESV
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,
and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
for our God is a consuming fire.Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV
Is it easy to get along with everyone. Of course it isn’t. But if we stay away, we miss out on many wonderful relationships and friendships. God uses some of the difficult ones to teach us how to love hard people. He also uses them to teach us things about ourselves that we wouldn’t learn otherwise. And we learn about His grace to us as He helps us learn to love people we might never have learned to love before.
Connecting with God’s People through Ministry
We also need to learn to look outward. Sometimes we minister with friends from church or we work together with other churches. Sometimes, the ministry we do is from our home to our neighbors or others around us. But this is an important part of being a Christian. We reach out to others around us. Sometimes it is in a personal way through friendships, Other times, it is through a more formal way as we work together to minister to others either in mercy ministry, evangelistic ministry, or diaconal ministry inside the church.
Of all the ministries of the Church that the watching world is touched by, it is our ministry to one another in times of need, or to those in need around us, that touch even hardened unbelievers. Pay attention, the next time there is a hurricane and those Southern Baptist teams arrive with hot meals and construction. They are super organized and ready to go. Other churches do that work on a local level, but none are so big or organized as the SBC! Our denomination is much smaller and we help, but aren’t as well organized and don’t usually get there as fast. We don’t even try to compete. I’m told the SBC does their thing. We do other things. During those emergencies, there is plenty for everyone to do. That is just one example. There are plenty of needs out there for everyone to help with
Four ways to stay connected to God just like the branch stays connected to the Vine. This is the way to bloom during hard times or easy ones.
These are 4 basic ways you can stay connected to the branch so you can bloom during hard times. Another point is that you need to understand where you fit. What gifts and abilities has God given you? Understanding where you fit will help you know when to say, “No” and when to say, “Yes.”
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you, unless you abide in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:4-5 ESV