Month: June 2024

The Blessing of Dominion

DOMINATE: To subjugate; rule over; control

Since our blueberry bushes have become ready for harvest, I have been steadily picking them in the early morning and evening…often in the afternoons as well. I need to frequently harvest because the birds have discovered the bountiful sweetness our bushes offer, and they relentlessly peck at the berries. I say “peck” because they often don’t eat the entire berry; no, they peck at each and every one : / —so my intention has been to beat them at their game and harvest the blueberries quicker than they can ruin them ; ) .

One morning as I was harvesting, a couple of catbirds menacingly chirped at me…they hesitated to leave our larges bush until I actually began picking berries. Immediately, scripture came to my mind:

I thought to myself, “If God had not given me dominion over these birds, they could easily attack me and keep me from the blessing of my harvest!”

It is amazing to me how the gifts of God keep manifesting in ways that I had never fully appreciated. I was familiar with the passage in Genesis 1, yet I had not thought about the extent of this blessing of dominion; that is, the significance of the respect the animal kingdom has for God’s ultimate creation.

Although the “attacks” on my blueberries had initially frustrated me, there still remained a bountiful harvest. I was reminded of the messages of Genesis 2:15; Revelation 4:11; & Col. 1: 16-17: Humans were created in God’s image; furthermore, God loved his creation…all of his creation. It was created by Jesus and for Jesus. And so, I felt privileged to provide food for part of that creation; after all, man’s first job was to tend the Garden of Eden and to be good stewards of the Father’s world.

Unmet Expectations- Part 2

As I continued the journey seeking truth about the Father’s love, I was lead to various pertinent scriptures and engagement in deep self-examination. It became clearer that my expectations and attitudes were often based on my personal desires rather than primarily out of a heart to seek God’s desire above everything else…

In my heart, I did not want to require or need my expectations to be met in order to feel fully loved by God. Instead, my intent became to truly develop a heart attitude like that of the Apostle Paul:

So, how did the Apostle Paul reach this high and holy level of living? If I could understand the process whereby he died to self and lived by faith, I believed progress towards a new attitude would be possible for me. Amazingly Romans 5: 1-5 outlined this process:

Notably, the first step was to recognize and believe that I had been made right with God; through Christ, I had a favorable and peaceful standing before the Lord. Furthermore, all the grace I needed had already been made available to me through Him.

By this grace, I could actually have joy in the midst of tribulations. I did not need to fear suffering or insist on its absence in order to experience God’s love; because, a byproduct of tribulation is perseverance, which would enable me to persist and endure whatever might befall me. Not only that, but persevering would develop my character whereby I could bear up under my trials while confidently looking to God to work out his good purposes through them.

Finally, I realized that the Holy Spirit, who had already been given to me, would fill my heart with God’s love—I did not need to struggle or require “proof” that God loved me, if I would only allow the Spirit to operate freely regardless of my suffering. This process outlined in Romans by Paul was a sure path to receiving and living in God’s love, because each step took me closer to hope; and, once I experienced hope, I knew my Heavenly Father would work everything I was going through for good (Romans 8:28). This hopeful belief transformed my desires to align with God’s will and promises, which would never fail!

Unmet Expectations

I confess that in my past, I had equated God’s love with protection from the evils of the world; yet, I intellectually understood suffering was a part of life that God allowed for His purposes. Only after deep self-examination did the Holy Spirit begin to give me understanding about the true nature of God’s love—I was, in fact, deeply loved. The Lord always protected me; He would never allow me to be destroyed or caused to fall (please read 2 Corinthians 4: 7-9); nevertheless, I needed to reach a place where I believed in Jesus’ love for me in my heart…without doubting or diminishing that love.

God’s Word was vital to my comprehending and receiving the love of God.

I began with the foundational truth about God’s perfect love for me: “God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 8)...I understood that this fact should be enough. God chose to give me everything, when I had earned and merited nothing good from Him! Nevertheless, I confess, there was persistent disappointment buried deep in my soul concerning my unmet expectations: My ideal life was not happening—that is, my notion of happiness and success, or at least, the absence of challenging and painful experiences that could not be quickly resolved.

…but this was only the first step in my quest to discover and receive the immeasurable love God had for me.

(to be continued)

Burdens & Loads

It may appear that these two verses contradict each other: Should one be expected to bear up under their own burdens by themselves, or should we help each other bear burdens together?

The literal meanings of “burden” (Greek: phortion) and “load” (Gr. baros) help provide the answer to this question:

A burden (Gal. 6:2) is so heavy that a person needs help to carry its oppressive weight. They simply cannot “go it alone” without being crushed under their burden, whether it is some form of spiritual warfare, personal failure, loss, etc.

…on the other hand, a load as used in Gal. 6:5 signifies a type of burden that we ourselves are expected to carry—our responsibility. “Load” literally signifies a pack that a marching soldier carried; and, in a way, it represents what Jesus has called believers to do for the kingdom…how they are to live and suffer for the sake of His name (Mt. 11:29 & 30).

A balanced view concerning these verses may be this: True believers should be observant to the plight of those struggling under the unbearable weights of the world, the flesh, and the enemy. Then, these Christians should act out of mercy and compassion to help down-trodden people by way of prayer and other concrete provisions, as the Holy spirit leads.

At the same time, it is good to realize that many things we are called to bear are part of the service and sacrifice we are expected to carry out during our life’s journey—our personal responsibilities. God has well-equipped us for His purposes and He is sufficient to see us through.

And so, we must be spiritually discerning about habitually asking for help, as well as offering help too indiscriminately. Prayerfully seeking God’s will is key because: The Lord may wish to stretch and grow us through difficult times with reliance solely resting in Him. Conversely, offering help too quickly to one who is supposed to bear their own load could interfere with: God’s plan and process for their personal growth and maturity in faith, as well as His intention to draw them to Him.