The Fine Art of Cultivating

“Everyone helps his fellow-workman, everyone says to his brother, “Be strong!”  The woodworker encourages the goldsmith, the polisher encourages the hammerer…”

Isaiah 41:6-8 (The Complete Jewish Bible)

Cultivate – prepare and use for crops and gardening; nurture (a person or friendship); work-on, further, promote, foster, advance.

Plowing is hard work in breaking up the fallow ground of the heart.  We unknowingly begin this process each time we encounter another person, whether it be through direct contact, a phone call, casual conversation or our reputation arriving at a place before we do.  Influence can be a constructive or dangerous thing.  When we encounter another human, we somehow exchange souls, each leaving a piece of themselves with the other person, by direct or indirect associations.  Countless times we have admired something someone has or wears, or we witnessed a gesture or attitude we respected or shunned.  We decide then and there to incorporate it into our lives or take a firm stand against ever duplicating what we have seen.

All of us at one time or another had and will have trying times, bringing about frustration, exhaustion and mental anguish.  Then, out of the blue, someone speaks some words of encouragement to us and this makes us stand just a little bit taller, putting the “wind back in our sails.” The right form of encouragement is priceless.  Provoking others to good works is an art that everyone can excel in its use.

We have at times felt so beaten back by life that we are tempted to “stick our head in the sand until the trouble passes over.”  We soon realize taking the easy way out is not the way of an over-comer.  We will will not be delivered out of everything but our faith is in the “overcoming” of these challenges.  Know that God can and will deliver us out of some trials, but we are more valuable to Him when we have overcome an issue, through the help of the Holy Spirit.  It is with this that our testimony of what we have made it through that is so valuable.  We forget that our tomorrows will depend on our decisions and thoughts today, if by God’s grace we get to see it.  The plan should be to make every breath and moment count for His glory.

We must make it a point to get before God and face the troubling issues of living.  He already knows our thoughts afar off, but wants us to sit and talk with Him about how great He is and that nothing about us and our life has escaped His notice or care of us.  Hard to do….yes!  We tell Him of this big mountain facing us as if He is not there with us through it all.  It’s hard to focus when these issues come our way.  We have to make ourselves re-focus on His goodness several times in a day.  But when we take take the time to worship at His feet, somehow or another, He sends a “fresh wind” our way in the form of encouragement.

Think back on the encouraging phone call you received all of a sudden, or the Holy Spirit brought something back to you remembrance of His faithfulness.  We may be reminded of a song we heard during one of our “night seasons” that kept us anchored in Him.  It could be any number of reminders of His care.

God will place people in our path to loosen the soil of a cold heart toward Him.  We ask God to move us to “anywhere but where we are” and He does not seem to listen to our cries for help, or would it be cries of cowardice. We tell Him someone else would be better at this than we are, but still we find ourselves where we are. We like to tell God how we would be of use to Him.  We are His emissaries in getting a heart ready to receive His Word.  As one of His saints, nothing is ever by chance in this life.  Things happen for a reason, or by Divine appointment.

God will often not explain to us why a situation happened until we are more mature in our faith.  A circumstance will arise and the Holy Spirit will bring back to our remembrance the reason why something happened in our past that we had earlier questioned.  Now, this is not saying that the “horrible issues” we endured were sanctioned by God, they weren’t.  We live in a fallen world and someone’s bad decisions could wreck havoc on us, but, He does not waste a moment of our living.  Everything gets woven into the tapestry.  He is the only one that can take our messy lives, in His time, making it beautiful (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:20).  He is arranging our lives for His good pleasure. With the many trials and challenges we face in living, we are responsible for keeping ourselves “lifted up with songs and hymns and spirit songs (Ephesians 5:19), (improvise a song just for yourself, or change the words to a song to what matters to you). We are to sing ourselves happy and out of a slump.  His plow has broken up the hard places in our life through the arrangement of circumstances, and we don’t look at life or ourselves the way we used to.

Here are my words of encouragement to you:  Learn how to breathe in LIFE (2 Timothy 3:16), then put what you have learned into practice.  All we have is today, this moment.  Make the most of what has been given, right now.  Try to live so as to have few regrets.  Even when it seems nothing is really happening, know God is always working, changing and rearranging on our behalf.  Delays don’t mean no!  They are just detours to what we have planned, because God has something much better than what we could have ever thought of,  just a little further up the road.  If we insist on going our own way, we will forfeit the blessings up the road.  It may not seem like it, but God is making use of us right where we are!  Our presence in any given situation will make all the difference in the world because He lives within us.

Sometimes, others tell how we encouraged them.  Frequently, encouraging words are few and far between,  Learn to encourage yourself in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6) as David did….”________  (put your name here), you are cooking with gas today, keep it up!  Amen & Amen!

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