Glory Seed Devotional, 2016.09.26…

Glory Seed Devotionals, 2016: Year of the Blessing…

The Journey of the Imagination: Part one…

Shalom!

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.” (Matthew 13:3, NKJV)

Quite a few years ago a friend from church introduced me to the following statement… “The fierce power of imagination is a gift from God. Joined with the grandeur of the mind, the potency of inference, ethical depth, and the natural sense of the divine, imagination becomes an instrument of the Holy Spirit.” (From the Kabbalah, book of Jewish mysticism) Since then believing my imagination is indeed an instrument of the Holy Spirit I’ve created a few fictional characters in fact one such character I affectionately named Crusty the Christian was thought to be a real person by one of my readers. She knew the name was fictional but thought I’d just changed the name of a real person. Another character I fictionalized was a man named Stumpie. Then there was Sigmond, the uncommon housefly, Founder the lost sheep and a few others along the way.

When it comes to my passion for writing the imagination has always had a special place in my heart yet somehow over the past few years it has seemed as if the door to my imagination was slammed shut and locked up. For quite a while I have put the blame on God yet each time I approached Him about it He always remained silent. Because He was silent I thought His silence stemmed from the fact that He felt He didn’t owe me an explanation. Yet this afternoon on my walk at our local township park I suddenly realized there are times when the LORD doesn’t shut and lock doors we do. The door to my imagination wasn’t shut and locked by God but by ME. So after I eat a few meals of “crow” while still on my knees I will crawl up to the door to my imagination unlock it and allow it to swing open.

My intention in writing about the difficulties with my imagination is threefold. First of all I want to give you a heads up when I do unlock and open my imagination again watch for future Glory Seeds to come from it. Secondly I would like give you a heads up we do close and lock doors that should remain open and we leave some doors open that should be closed and locked. And last but not least, I want to “turn you on” to using your own imagination to connect up with the Holy Spirit.

Believe in presence of the GOD and in the strength of his GRACE!

GRACE and PEACE,

Gary

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Note: Should you want to go back and review this Glory Seed or if you would like to subscribe so you can receive them in your email you can do so by clicking on this link: http://www.gloryseeddevotionals.org/.

If you would like inspirational music playing as you read this Glory Seed may I suggest clicking on this link: http://www.abidingradio.org/listen/

“Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.”

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Life is difficult! Living is even more difficult!

Have you ever had an experiences that remind you of a 100 foot bungee jump using a 120 foot bungee cord? You look down and feel the adrenalin building throughout your body. Then you feel a twinge of fear as you take a step out into thin air. As you drop down and down and down, as the excitement builds and the adrenalin rush gets more and more and more intense. Looking up you see your drop point getting smaller and smaller then SMACK and everything goes black! And seconds later in broad daylight you can see stars swirling around and around and around you aching head. Several minutes later lying flat on your back you open your eyes and at the top of your lungs you scream, “What the hell happened?”

I’ve never been bungee jumping and believe you me it won’t ever happen either but I wrote the imaginary scenario you just read from experience. On more than one occasion I might add. If you have followed any of my writings then you’re probably aware of some of those experiences. If your new to my writings I’ll list a couple of them: 12 hip operations, quad coronary artery bypass surgery, a heart attack, all four arteries that were bypassed plugged again, pulmonary Fibrosis, prostate cancer, and a couple of other minor things. But the one that stands out the most the SMACK and everything goes black experience that tops them all is the broken dream of moving to our beloved Townsend, Tennessee following my retirement. When our dream SMACKED intothe ground with full force and our dream died living has become more difficult than either Patti or I could have ever imagined. (There are times when we need to keep our dreams alive even though they may never become real.)

I suppose a title filled with a great deal of negativity is no way to begin an article with the ultimate goal in mind of fueling you up for your life journey of hope. While the title does have “a flavor” of negativity it also has “a flavor” of reality because every upward journey starts at the bottom. However, before going on I need to add more negativity to what is already negative: Life does not get easier! Living does not get easier either! Yet with all the negativity popping off like the finale of a Fourth of July fireworks show and we side with “The Preacher”…

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2–8, NLT)

We need to remember that all that glitters with negativity is not always negative. Please read on.

However, before do so I would like us to think about the title once more before we do so I can explain what I mean by Life and Living. Life is what we have, it is a beating heart, a thinking brain, expanding lungs, eyes that see, ears that hear, hands that feel, and legs and feet that move us. Living is what we not only do with the Life we have but also what we do with it in the world in which we exist. Life is what we have, living is what we do!

My favorite scripture is found chapter 6 of John’s gospel, “The Spirit is the one who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63, LEB, emphasis mine) My life is based and anchored on the “proven circumstantial evidence” of a living/working relationship with the Holy Spirit. John 6:63 has such a powerful impact my life I wouldn’t be surprised if the surgeons ever opened up my chest again and operated on my heart they find that scripture etched on the surface of my heart. Not only does the Spirit gives life, He also gives us every resource (blessing) needed to untie the bungee cord from around our ankles, jump up off the ground, shake off the dust, and begin living again.

The one thing many people are looking to receive from the Holy Spirit is to replace the difficulties with living on easy street. I hate to be the one who rains on anybody’s parade but that is not what Jesus said about living, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NLT) I don’t know about you but that sure doesn’t sound like living on easy street to me.

Dr. M. Scott Peck in his book The Road Less Traveled wrote something that has intrigued me since the day I first read it. He wrote, “Life is difficult but once you realize life is difficult it is no longer difficult.” I am not sure I have it worded the same as it appeared in the book but I’m pretty close. Here’s the question I keep asking myself especially when things are not going as well I as I’d like them, “Why is living no longer difficult just because I realize living is difficult?” After thinking long and hard and at the same time acknowledging my relationship with the Holy Spirit I offer the following as how I understand Dr. Peck’s premise.

Difficulties associated with living are more of an illusion than a reality. Illusion fueled by anxiety or full blown fear will stop one in their tracks. To help understand the relationship between living, difficulties, illusions, anxieties, and reality let’s go back to the bungee jumping example. You’re standing at the edge anticipating taking that faithful first step, the bungee cord is solidly in place after being reassured all will go well you take that fateful step out into the path of gravity. Then a couple of heartbeats later you decide this whole experience is way too difficult for you. But the reality is you’re not equipped to defy the power of gravity and the bungee cord doesn’t come with airbrakes.

The trouble with reality is that it does not go away and not only does it not go away it can be distorted, manipulated, and denied but whatever one does with it is, what is really happening. However, the “neat” thing about reality is it is not an end in itself because along with the ways I just mentioned it contains many possibilities and when embraced with a positive attitude it opens up new avenues for living. And it is those new avenues upon which I believe Dr. Peck bases his premise that once we realize living is difficult it is no longer difficult because the difficult situations become challenges filled with new possibilities.

The apostle Paul drops a HUGE hint at what I mean (please note the emphasized portion), “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17–19, ESV) On September 17, 2013 in an operating room at St. John’s Providence Hospital while undergoing coronary artery by-pass surgery I became a new creation, the old had passed away and the new had come. While the new would not be as physically fit as the old never-the-less I was a new creature filled with new challenges and possibilities. The new challenges and possibilities would not only call upon my relationship with the Holy Spirit but also put my “proven circumstantial evidence” to its ultimate test.

When I think about how things were prior to 1981 when my health difficulties began making living difficult and all the difficulties we’ve (my wife Patti and I) been through since I can honestly say living is much more difficult. HOWEVER! The difficulties we now face while physical in nature no longer impact our living negatively but instead not only strengthen our marriage and our personal relationship with each other but also our relationship with Jesus as well. Before moving on I need to add one more experience to the mix. I love the way the Psalmist describes our response to our difficulties today, in 2016. “I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.” (Psalm 42:7–8, NLT)

Remember the bungee cord scenario from above? Let’s add one more player to scenario, let’s add the Holy Spirit and put Him at the SMACK point keeping in mind that since the Holy Spirit is a Spirit you can’t see Him, and before jumping as you look down you remember the “proven circumstantial evidence” thing. And the “pce” thing reminds you, “The Lord is your protection; you have made God Most High your place of safety. Nothing bad will happen to you; no disaster will come to your home. He has put his angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go. They will catch you in their hands so that you will not hit your foot on a rock.” (Psalm 91:9–12, NCV) So you jump into thin air and fall 100 feet attached to a 120 foot bungee cord right into the waiting arms of your protector. And suddenly what was once a difficulty is no longer difficult even though the situation may remain the same.

On a personal note. I have discovered that those dreams that live in our imaginations never really go away, and some shouldn’t go away. What happens is life tries to replace them with reality. While this may not be true with others there are times when for me reality gets to “heavy” and I need to escape to a more manageable place, which is where my imagination comes in. For me the imagination provides me a place of temporary sanctuary where I can regroup and connect with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes my imagination takes me to the Smoky Mountains, sometimes it’s over to our local township park, sometimes it takes me into a good movie, and sometimes it takes me into the stories of the bible.

Grace and PEACE,

Gary

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“Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.”

“Scriptures marked NCV quoted from The Holy Bible, New Century Version, copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75039. Used by permission.”

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Glory Seed Devotional, 2016.09.23

Glory Seed Devotionals, 2016: Year of the Blessing…

Encourage, encourage, encourage…

Shalom!

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing… Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14, NLT)

One of the greatest needs we humans share in common is the need for encouragement because life has a way of throwing the 3D’s (Discouragement, Disappointment, and Disconnectedness) at us. A couple of nights ago on the news there was a story of two brothers running in a marathon and suddenly one of the brothers cramped up and couldn’t go any further because of dehydration. The other brother stopped, gave up his chance to win the marathon in order to help his brother to the finish line. Does that scenario have a familiar ring? Has someone put their life on hold for you? Have you put your life on hold for another? Are you now waiting for someone to offer you the encouragement you need to get back on track for the finish line? Is there someone you know stalled along the track that needs you to encourage and help them get going?

Toward the end of the movie Forest Gump as Forest and his new wife come out of the church one of Forest’s friends shout, “You can do it…” If you’ve seen the movie then you know the scene is meant to be humorous but on the serious side those four words can completely change a person’s day or even their life! In case you think you don’t have what it takes to be an encourager I have some words of encouragement for you. Jesus does not call on your ability to be an encourager; instead He calls on your availability. When you make yourself available Jesus becomes available to you to encourage and empower you to be the encourager you need to be.

There will be times in our lives when life will say, “You can’t do it…” And we will need someone to extend their hand and say, “You can do it…” Will you be the one who will take another’s plight to heart and not remind them of what they cannot do instead tell them, “You can do it…” And if they can’t do it on their own help them?

Believe in presence of the GOD and in the strength of his GRACE!

GRACE and PEACE,

Gary

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Note: Should you want to go back and review this Glory Seed or if you would like to subscribe so you can receive them in your email you can do so by clicking on this link: http://www.gloryseeddevotionals.org/.

If you would like inspirational music playing as you read this Glory Seed may I suggest clicking on this link: http://www.abidingradio.org/listen/

“Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.”

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Glory Seed Devotional, 2016.09.21

Glory Seed Devotionals, 2016: Year of the Blessing…

Taking God’s extended hand of grace…

Shalom!

I have a technical/theological question for you to think about. However, it will not require a “deep” l answer. I admit it is possibly a controversial question but I am going ahead and put it to you with the hope it does not stir up a debate. My sole purpose in asking it is to set you thinking on how your relationship with God has impacted, impacting, and will impact your life.

I am sure you’re familiar with Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT) Here’s my question: When you think about your life from beginning to end do you think God was a pre-planner or an adapting-planner? By pre-planner I mean do you think God had it planned from the very beginning of your life that you’d be reading this particular Glory Seed on this particular day? By adapting-planner I mean do you think God saw your need for this Glory Seed for some future experience so He adapted His plan for your life to put you and I on the same path on this particular day.

While you’re mulling my question over I’ve a scripture for you to consider. “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude” (Psalm 46:1–3, NLT)

Remember I said the question was a technical/theological one and it would not require a “deep” answer? I am not sure whether you think God is a pre-planner or an adapting-planner but neither of those is the response I was looking for. I was looking for you to say, “It doesn’t really matter, what really matters is God is in my life helping me every step of the way.” The point I want to make is there are things going on in our everyday life that will try to take us on a “fishing expedition” in answer to, “Why is this happening to me?” And while we are on a “technical/theological fishing expedition” we are not leaning the promise, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”

There are times when we need to take off our thinking cap lay it aside and take God’s extended hand of grace.

Believe in presence of the GOD and in the strength of his GRACE!

GRACE and PEACE,

Gary

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Note: Should you want to go back and review this Glory Seed or if you would like to subscribe so you can receive them in your email you can do so by clicking on this link: http://www.gloryseeddevotionals.org/.

If you would like inspirational music playing as you read this Glory Seed may I suggest clicking on this link: http://www.abidingradio.org/listen/

“Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.”

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Glory Seed Devotional, 2016.09.20

Glory Seed Devotionals, 2016: Year of the Blessing…

Wrestling with God…

Shalom!

Today while taking my walk at the Fort Gratiot Township Green Trail Park I found myself wrestling with God. Earlier I’d read through Psalms 91 when I came to the last three verses. “The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”” (Psalm 91:14–16, NLT) Because lately it seems as if pulmonary fibrosis has been getting the best of me I took the LORD at His word and asked Him to rescue me from the 3D’s (discouragement, disappointment, defeat) and He responded with silence. That’s not what I wanted to hear!

Here’s what fired up the wrestling match, “God, couldn’t you have acknowledged my prayer?” Silence! “Really God, I know You’re here, You never leave me to myself. It sure would be nice if You’d silence these 3D’s rather than remaining silent! After all isn’t that what the Psalms said You’d rescue me?” Silence!

Silence they say is golden. And I completely agree BUT, there are times when silence IS NOT golden ITS DARN RIGHT FRUSTRATING! I’ll bet you know what I mean. And so there I was sitting on a bench at one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever found watching geese leisurely swim by at peace with the world while I wrestled with God over something that for some reason no longer mattered. Then suddenly I realized the wrestling match was over. God won. But I didn’t lose. And once again I realized God does His best work in silence. Consider this… “When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39, NLT) And in response to Jesus’ call for silence God silently commanded a great calm to fall on the struggling craft, and it was so. Maybe what I should have done in the first place is rather than asking God to fulfill Psalm 91 I should have taken the same initiative Jesus did and commanded the 3D’s, in Jesus’ name to be silent.

Before closing I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine… I love wrestling with God because even though He always win I never lose. And never losing with God winning is AWESOME!

Believe in presence of the GOD and in the strength of his GRACE!

GRACE and PEACE,

Gary

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Note: Should you want to go back and review this Glory Seed or if you would like to subscribe so you can receive them in your email you can do so by clicking on this link: http://www.gloryseeddevotionals.org/.

If you would like inspirational music playing as you read this Glory Seed may I suggest clicking on this link: http://www.abidingradio.org/listen/

“Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.”

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Glory Seed Devotional, 2016.09.16

Glory Seed Devotionals, 2016: Year of the Blessing…

Swimming in a 5 gallon bucket of (what’s that all about?)

Shalom!

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” (Psalm 37:5, NLT)

Here’s something you’ve probably never thought about: You can’t swim in a 5 gallon bucket of water! You’re probably thinking that is the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard and it doesn’t even deserve a second thought. As dumb as that may sound but humor me for a minute and answer a simple question: Why can’t we swim in a 5 gallon bucket of water?

Answer: There is no way we can totally immerse ourselves in a 5 gallon bucket of water! You probably think I am a genius for figuring that out all by myself but don’t I’m just an ordinary guy trying to illustrate the importance of totally immersing ourselves in a relationship with Jesus. Before going any further let me ask you another question about swimming in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Why would you want to in the first place? Your answer of course would go something like this, “That’s a dumb question I wouldn’t want to because I couldn’t fit.”

BUT! You could shrink yourself small enough to fit, right then you could take a swim. “Shrink myself! Gary, are you some kinda nut?” Your thinking. Again I’m no genius but I’m not some kinda nut either! And here’s the bottom line, when we fail or ignore our need to not only build a relationship with Jesus but neglect to deepen it as well we are reducing our lives to the point where even the smallest of adversities will put us as risk of drowning.

I know shrinking and swimming in a 5 gallon bucket of water is impossible but I also know from experience when we try facing life without Jesus our mole hills become mountains, BIG LIFE THREATING MOUNTAINS!

It all boils down to this: don’t go through life in a 5 gallon bucket go through life hand-in-hand with Jesus, trust him and he will shrink your BIG LIFE THREATING MOUNTAINS!

Believe in presence of the GOD and in the strength of his GRACE!

GRACE and PEACE,

Gary

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Note: Should you want to go back and review this Glory Seed or if you would like to subscribe so you can receive them in your email you can do so by clicking on this link: http://www.gloryseeddevotionals.org/.

If you would like inspirational music playing as you read this Glory Seed may I suggest clicking on this link: http://www.abidingradio.org/listen/

“Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.”

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Glory Seed Devotional, 2016.09.14

Glory Seed Devotionals, 2016: Year of the Blessing…

Jesus enables us to talk with God…

Shalom!

If only there were a mediator between us, someone who could bring us together. The mediator could make God stop beating me, and I would no longer live in terror of his punishment. Then I could speak to him without fear, but I cannot do that in my own strength.” (Job 9:33–35, NLT)

“The mediator could make God stop beating me,” God is a bully and beats people up? While it appears to be true I am not totally convinced but according to Job and his friends He does. Most of the other versions use something similar to this, “take His rod away” which kinda goes along with the notion that God does punish when the need arises. Whether God “beats people up” or punishes people is not what this morning’s Glory Seed is about. This morning’s Glory Seed is about “the mediator” and what a relationship with Him means to you and I, His name is Jesus.

Job was referring to bringing us together with God. But then you knew that already. “For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.” (1 Timothy 2:5–6, NLT) Today’s Glory Seed is also about talking to God. Have you ever met someone of great importance and found yourself speechless or opened your mouth and said something stupid? I was speechless the first time I met the President/CEO of the company I worked for, being speechless was a good thing because I know I’d said something stupid because I was a nervous wreck.

When it comes to praying my biggest fear used to be the fear of opening my mouth and saying something that would offend God (remember I’m not sure about the God beats people up idea) and He would either go off on me or walk away from me and leave me alone. I remember the first time I got mad at God and “let Him have both barrels” I was terrified for a week expecting some form of retribution. But it never came, but I did get the quiet assurance God still loved me thank you Jesus my Mediator.

The point Job was trying to make is/was as the song goes, “Take IT to the LORD in prayer.” And when you stop to think about it nothing is hidden from God anyway! Let me give you something to think about. “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.” (Psalm 139:1–4, NLT) God knows all our hidden secrets! That’s kinda scary isn’t it?

Jesus enables us to fearlessly talk to God about our most intimate secrets.

Believe in presence of the GOD and in the strength of his GRACE!

GRACE and PEACE,

Gary

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Note: Should you want to go back and review this Glory Seed or if you would like to subscribe so you can receive them in your email you can do so by clicking on this link: http://www.gloryseeddevotionals.org/.

If you would like inspirational music playing as you read this Glory Seed may I suggest clicking on this link: http://www.abidingradio.org/listen/

“Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved

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