Sister Verna’s Harvest

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Photo via vixen-vintage.com

The air is a bit crisper, the days a bit shorter, and the leaves boasting a bit more color. Yes, fall is upon us. So, in honor of my favorite season, I’d like to share a harvest-time illustrative story I wrote teaching the biblical principle ‘faith, not works‘. Enjoy!

***

I see a field and I buy it. Boy, this woman is already oozing virtue! Quickly, I run through a mental checklist making sure I have everything I’ll need. Hoe? Check. Tiller? Check. Seed? Check. Compost? Check.

Yes, I believe that’s it! God has called me to cultivate and I am so excited to show the Lord the harvest I’m going to bring in! He’s gonna love it!

Well, it may not be as good as Sister Jane’s. But, I mean… who can compete with that? Really!?! I’m sure if I had a nice big, fancy tractor and all that expensive cultivating equipment my crops would yield like hers too!

Okay, back to the task at hand. Shew! I haven’t even broken ground and I’ve already broken out in a sweat. Focus, Verna! But just looking at all this barren ground around me makes this task seem so daunting! Where to start… where to start. Oh! I almost forgot! Brother Tom’s “How to Manual.”

Step 1: Find a spot. Well, I’ve already done this by purchasing a field and all. Moving on. Step 2: Prepare the soil. Dig and churn all packed dirt approximately two feet down.

Wow! Two feet down, eh? That’s pretty deep. So, I may not have a tractor like Sister Jane, but I do have a tiller. I cannot imagine how poor Sister Pam does it with her little hoe. Bless her heart!

Alright, God. This isn’t so bad. Me and my trusty little tiller are breaking new ground in the name of Jesus! All for Your Glory!

— 8 HOURS LATER —

Oh, dear Lord! That was so hard! I’ve spent all day working and I still haven’t planted the first seed. The ground was so hard and I kept hitting rocks. Every time, I had to stop the tiller and pick up the rock and throw it out. Some of those rocks were so heavy.

God, I ran parallel lines and then perpendicular lines. My back aches and my hands are covered in blisters. All I’m saying is I hope You bless me with a tremendous harvest after all this effort I’m putting in.

—THE NEXT DAY —

So where was I? Here we go. Step 3: Add compost and mix it into your dirt. Well, I’m not really excited about this step. I went to my local farmer supply store and the only fertilizer they had left was a mixture of cow manure, horse manure, and straw. I just now opened the first bag and the stench is awful!

— 4 HOURS LATER —

This is so disgusting! I can’t even scratch my nose or wipe the sweat from my brow without getting poop on my face. God, are you watching? You better turn this into the Promise Land ’cause I’m surely not seen any promises being fulfilled yet!

—DAY 3 —

Step 4: Hoe your row. Now, this isn’t so bad. Gotta make them straight though. There will be no crookedness in my path. Only perfection!

Now on to Step 5: Plant your seeds. Finally! A step that seems productive. I picked out the best seeds too… Pumpkin seeds!

I know, I know… Sister Sara, said I should’ve planted something more practical. Corn, tomatoes, beans. “Verna, get something to feed the hungry,” she said.

Well, don’t judge me until you’ve had my pumpkin pie. It’s the best in five counties! I really could live off my sweet pumpkin pie. God’s gonna be so proud of me!

— 5 MONTHS LATER —

Oh, the sweet aroma of pumpkin pie! I just made the first one of the season and I’m going to sit down and enjoy every last bite! I’ll share the next one, Lord, I promise. But just looking out my kitchen window at that glorious orange patch of goodness blesses my soul! Lord, I know it has to bless Yours too. Glory to Your Name!

***

REFLECTIONS – WHO WAS LORD OF THIS HARVEST?

In this story, Sister Verna is focused on her works and fully believed the fruit of her labor would be pleasing to the Lord. Throughout, we see her walking in self-righteousness, jealousy, and competition with a lot of complaining and boasting.

She followed man’s plan and never asked God for His plan. She even chose the seed of the harvest after what she thought was good according to her flesh and missed God’s seed of the harvest which brings life into all who partake of it. In the end, her reward was no more than the pumpkin pie she devoured all by herself. Sister Verna got fruit, but it was by her own hand, not the Lord’s.

Dear friends, God calls us all to cultivate. His cultivation always produces the fruit of the Spirit and transformation into the image of Jesus. From glory to glory.

Why was Abel’s offering acceptable and Cain’s rejected? Remember, Cain was a tiller of soil. His offering was brought forth by works. However, Abel was a keeper of flocks. His offering was a blood offering; a representation of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So just as God rejected Cain’s offering of works, God will reject any cultivation brought forth by works. God is looking for a representation of Jesus.

The soil is our hearts. The seed is the Word of God. Our cultivation comes through repentance, prayer, worship, growing deeper in our relationship with Jesus, and sowing His gospel into the hearts of others. What does your harvest look like? Remember, you will reap what you sow…

***

“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” –Galtatians 6:8

“All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” –Isaiah 64:6

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9

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The Makings of a Fine Wine

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Image via terlatovineyards.com

In the past several years, I’ve noticed vineyards popping up here and there throughout my lovely state of Kentucky. Now, I’m no expert, but apparently those who are have determined Kentucky’s limestone-based soil and climate are perfect for growing a wide variety of grapes. From vine to bottle, they say, a good wine starts in the field.

So, I’ve researched this a bit and discovered it’s hard work! The work of a vinedresser is endless. First of all, pruning is essential to producing good grapes. The dead canes need to be cut off in winter when the vines are dormant. You see, the dead canes will not bear fruit so they must be removed. The dead branches are then gathered and burned. This pruning process gives room for new, healthy shoots to grow which will bear fruit.

Then, through the growing season, the vinedresser trains the branches. Gently, he combs the branches, untwisting them and positioning them so they have optimum exposure to the sun. The leaves blocking the sun from the berries must be thinned. Clusters that will never ripen evenly need to be broken off. Why? Because they only steal the life of the vine from the good clusters. In addition, the vinedresser cuts away excess showy foliage to concentrate the life of the vine into the best berries that will make the finest quality of wine.

You see, pruning goes on for the life of the vine.

Also I discovered, best wine is produced with a little bit of stress on the vine. Grapes are the only crop that need to be stressed to enhance the flavor. When a good vinedresser waters his vineyard, he pours water just beyond the reach of the roots so they stretch and and grow deep in search of the water.

Essentially, the fruit is richer and the wine is full of character and grace when the vine is stressed enough to produce deep roots, the shoots are pruned, and the clusters are thinned.

Learning these vital details about tending a vineyard make Jesus’ parable about the vine and the branches come alive. Look at this with me. John 15:1-2, 5-6 says,

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit… I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned…

Jesus says it right here – in order for us to bear fruit, we must be pruned. The Holy Spirit reveals to us what needs to be cut off in our lives. You know that feeling you get when you know you’ve sinned. That’s the Holy Spirit leading us to repentance. And true repentance cuts that branch of sin off our lives.

Furthermore, it’s God the Vinedresser who trains us and places us in the best position in order that Jesus is glorified in our lives. He thins our showy foliage, which is our flesh (i.e., our own agendas, pride, self-righteousness), so that we will see more of the Son and so that the Son may be seen in and through us.

Lastly, it’s the stresses of this life that help us realize our need for a Savior. These cause us to dig deep in search of the Living Water. Producing deep roots of faith. Then we become firmly established in Jesus Christ and our fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control) is full of character and grace.

Just like a fine wine.

There is a Ripple in the Clouds! Come Catch the Vision of Heaven!

(Photo via Pinterest)

I had the most glorious dream last night! It was so sacred, it took me a while to even share with my husband. But from it, I believe God has given me a message to share with you today. So, here goes! I pray it ministers to you!

The dream began with me gazing into the clouds. It was a beautiful evening. My husband and children were there along with a few other people whom I didn’t recognize, but somehow I knew them in the dream.

Something in the clouds had caught our attention. The clouds had taken on the formation of ripples. There were several of them, and just like a ripple from a drop of water in a pool, each one began with a central focal point surrounded by a ripple effect. It was so captivating and intriguing.

We all desired to go the place directly underneath this portrait of beauty in the sky. It was getting dark by this time and the journey to our destination was going to be a long one. I looked down at my two boys and realized we couldn’t make the venture that night. I told the others to go on ahead and we would catch up with them in the morning. And so they began the great expedition that we would start the next day.

And boy, were we anxious to get started! At the first gleam of dawn, we were up and loaded in our car. Just like the night before, the ripples were still high in the sky. Our time had come and our journey began.

My husband drove the car through what appeared to be a metro-like area. We were heading toward a huge building that may have been a courthouse. Regardless, I knew we were on a main street with a lot of traffic.

Then suddenly, like a flash of lightning, my whole family was transported directly to the place of our destination beneath the ripples in the sky. The scenery before us was spectacular! A transparent curtain that rippled like the clouds above us was unveiling another world in front of us. It looked like a place fairy tales are made.

It was breathtaking. Astonishing. Majestic. Glorious.

At the splendor of it all, I placed my hand over my mouth in amazement. God’s presence fell over me like a heavy blanket. I dropped to my knees and began crying. A heavenly language came out of my mouth and at the same time I felt like I was communicating the magnificent array with my husband in my native tongue.

The colors were absolutely brilliant. It was a field of green with a gently rolling landscape. Remarkable trees, flowers that would blow your imagination, and a sparkling crystal clear stream.

I was immediately drawn to the water. Not able to muster the strength to stand, I crawled on my hands and knees to the water’s edge. All the while, crying and speaking in my heavenly language.

Floating on the water was a luscious fruit and I desperately desired it. It grew on a leafy vine. Bright red and tender. Bigger than a cherry. Smaller than an apple. It was the best tasting, juiciest fruit I’ve ever eaten!

And as quickly as we were transported there, I was transported back home. Back to my daily routine; still holding the fruit I retrieved from the water.

At that point, I came across a lady I see almost everyday and I shared my fruit with her. She devoured it hungrily and her eyes grew large with delight. Then a great rejoicing broke out. The place filled with singing and dancing. Such joy invaded the atmosphere!

A beautiful young maiden dancing merrily with her fiancé caught my attention. I say ‘maiden’ because the setting appeared to be in the 1800’s. Kind of ‘Gone with the Wind’ -ish. As I watched intently, I discovered this dark-haired beauty was mute. She had never been able to speak her love to her betrothed. While she was dancing, I saw her gaze turned toward another woman dancing in the room.

The mute girl had a vision, and I saw it clearly. In the vision, the other woman laid her hands over the young girl’s throat and prayed a simple prayer to Jesus for her healing. The vision ended and, without hesitation, the mute maiden rushed to the woman, motioning her to pray.

Proceeding precisely how the vision played out, the woman prayed for the mute girl and she was healed. She had received her voice.

Laughter erupted from vocal cords that had never uttered a sound! She ran to her fiancé’s side and began exclaiming words of adoration, love, and devotion to him. I witnessed such intense emotion in her face. Such tenderness in her words. Such love in her voice. It was a sweet, sweet sound.

And then I woke up…

I firmly believe God gave me a vision of heaven last night in my dream. Just a glimpse of His glory. A taste of His splendor. A touch of His majesty. The water represented the living water that never runs dry. The fruit was the fruit of the Spirit. The mute maiden signified the Church, the Bride of Christ, and the other woman, the Holy Spirit who is healing the voice of the Church. And of course, the fiancé is the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, who is soon and very soon returning for His Church.

I pray that we would all catch the vision of heaven. All it takes is a glimpse, a taste, a touch… and we are transformed forever. When we catch the vision of heaven, we are drawn into the secret place of the Most High. What God gives us freely in this place, He wants us to give freely to the people He places in our lives – He gives us all a sphere of influence.

The fruit of the Spirit that He cultivates within us in the Holy of Holies is meant to be shared so others can taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Then they will be drawn to their own secret place of the Most High, desiring to eat from the hand of Jesus themselves!

The Holy Spirit is awakening His church from its slumber. He’s turning lullabies into battle cries! The voice that has been muted by the enemy is beginning to proclaim her love for the Bridegroom! The voice of the Bride will resound in the heavens and all who hear it will feel the vibration of its power!

God is releasing drops of His glory among people who are seeking His face. One drop ripples. Then another drop ripples. Followed by two or three more ripples. There is coming a reverberating ripple of God’s glory throughout the entire earth!

Oh, what revival would break out if each one of us would take our eyes off ourselves and seek the face of Jesus. Oh, that we would all catch the vision of heaven. Partaking the fruit of Jesus and sharing it with others. All while edifying the name of Jesus with our unified voice. When He is lifted up, He will draw all men.

This ripple of revival will pulsate throughout the whole earth!!! Behold, the Bridegroom is coming! People get ready!

(We each have a sphere of influence. If you have been encouraged by this post, please consider sharing with yours! May the ripple of revival begin in each one of us! Thank you and God Bless!!!)