Friday, October 2, 2015

Fertilized in Faith

It’s that time of year when we go through our yard and do a big clean-up for the fall. After the initial raking of leaves, trimming the branches and pulling out all the dead foliage, we plant bulbs and cover the flower beds with mulch or straw. 

Upon opening the bags of mulch there is a big stink from the manure that is in the mixture.  Spreading it over the yard leaves a stench for a few weeks, but in time the smell is gone, leaving all the good nutrients our plants need. 

In reality what we are doing is preparing the ground for spring and new abundant harvests.  All this preparation got me to thinking about life in general as a Christian.  I certainly don’t look forward to all the hard stuff I have to do, but I know I’ll be glad for the experience in the end. 

Sometimes life is like that stinky stuff, we experience things that we wish we didn’t have to encounter, but in reality we need it in order to grow in faith and favor of God. 

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When Chocolate Wasn’t So Sweet 

In 1990 we had the opportunity for our church youth group to visit a Christian event being held in Hershey, Pennsylvania at Hershey Park, before the place opened to the public for the season. 
I was really looking forward to it based on my past visits where we got free chocolate samples. 

Immediately you can smell the chocolate factory when you pull into the parking lot and the excitement built from there.  We were about to meet  with kids from all over the country, tour the chocolate factory, go on rides, eat until we burst and finally close out the evening with a Christian concert.   

Everyone from the church met in the parking area. Our group gathered and proceeded toward the gate when our noses notified us that something was definitely wrong about this sweet setting. 

As I expected the grounds were gorgeous, filled with the most extravagant designs in flower arrangements and bushes.  We walked throughout the park, but everywhere we went we couldn’t escape this certain stinky smell.  It was really getting to my throat and I had to find out what was making that gross fragrance. 

What we did know is that it was coming from the plants.  A worker relayed the information that earlier that week tons and tons of root mulch (which while rotting smells like the worst manure ever) was put down throughout the entire park.  They were getting ready for the season and fertilizer was all part of the framework for a “better place” to be that year. 

I don’t know how we did it, but we were able to put the smell behind us and press on for the entire day into the evening.  The factory tour was great and so was the experience.  What we learned is that when life hands you something stinky, chocolate can still put a smile on your face! 

Triple D 

If twenty years ago you asked me what I’d be doing in life, I can assure you it wouldn’t be what I’m doing presently.  My life, according to me, was mapped out with good things and fun situations.  Not once had I thought about the things I would come to experience these past years.  Except being married to the same man, nothing resembles what I had wanted for my life.  Although things have changed extremely, nothing has been wasted, and for the most part I can see why things had to happen the way they did. 

You could say that there has been more “stink” than beds of roses, but every time something has happened I’ve learned more about myself and the strength of Christ that resides in my heart.  Deep down I know that God has something bigger in store for me … more than I could possibly realize on my own. 

What about you? Do you feel like things really stink about now and that life’s manure has been dumped on you? The truth is that you will never reach all you can be unless you become “fertilized” in faith, so that God can work through and in you to reach your potential. 

Disappointments, discouragements, downfalls and set-backs are all a part of life.  What we should realize is that God wouldn’t have allowed it if He wasn’t going to use it for our good.  Our attitude needs to be that God is preparing me for something greater.   

Maybe you have had more than your share of “stinky stuff.”  Be encouraged that you have plenty of “fertilizer” times where you have overcome and learned, so it puts you in front of the others when it comes to promotion by God. 

If you have stayed in faith, all those “stinky” things that have happened are leading you to something great God has set apart for only you.  It’s a time to get ready and prepare for places you’ve never gone. (Think about our preparing for yes challenge – saying yes to God and prepare for the greater journey!) 

Even Kings Experience Stink 

Believe it or not, life lessons and the trials of faith are what God uses to enlarge or increase us along our journey.  The Bible documents individuals who have experienced the hand of God on their lives in difficult times and from these incidents we can gain insight. 

When I think of Kingdoms and the throne, I envision beautiful buildings, rooms and landscapes where everything smells lovely.  The aroma of lavish fragrant gardens and sweets baking in the palace fill the air.  

My vision of these glorious abodes changed when I visited some castles  abroad.  The walls were cracked, they smelled musty, the windows were tiny, there were dungeons, the kitchen seemed miles away from any room and spiders are no respecters of dwellings.  My house and life were looking pretty good at the time. 

It reminds me of times past when being a royal wasn’t so sweet in the castle of the King of Israel.  When reading through the adventures of King David, his life always had a measure of unpleasantness in it.  The extraordinary thing was that the King recognized this and thanked the Heavenly Father that He enlarged him in time of distress. Doesn’t that seem weird?  Who thanks the Lord for bad times? 

What I noticed is that times of favor didn’t usually come to the King during happy times.  It is in the middle of hard times where we learn how strong our faith is and whether or not we really believe what we say we have believed.  David used those difficult situations to draw closer to the Lord, and each time he did God showed him supernatural, abundant favor. 

Fertilizer Promotes Better Growth 

I know it may be hard for you to grasp, but the “stink” (bad thing happening) you are experiencing at the moment is strengthening you for a new level.  It’s not hurting you but helping you.  Don’t let the bad things and a little “stinky” dirt stop you from fulfilling your dreams and all God wants for you.  Those hardships and what looks like disadvantages can be instruments the Lord will use to give you an amazing future. 

Just like fertilizer, if used the right way those obstacles that have prevented things in the past can be turned around and used in our favor.  God doesn’t waste anything, nor does He make mistakes. 
Everything has a purpose. Just like the principle of fertilizer for plants, all we experience can be used for growth when it comes to believing God for a better outcome.  

Think of it like this.  Instead of complaining, say, “I’m being fertilized so better things can grow out of a bad situation.”  Retain a positive attitude and don’t be talked out of your dreams.  It’s not too late.  If you remain in faith God will use those “stinky” things to fertilize your dreams and cause blessings and favor to come into your life. 

No one escapes the stinky things in life.  Let them fertilize your faith. Take the opportunity to grow through it all, knowing that you are getting stronger, more than able and about to come into your destiny.  God created you to be the overcomer and the victor.  You have the DNA of Christ and favor is part of that bloodline, so start to believe it. 

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the
victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” (1 John 5:4 NKJV)

That very thing that you don’t like in your life God can use to change your future.   If you looked back on your life when was it that you grew closer to the Lord? I can be pretty sure it wasn't during the good times, but more than likely it was in the bad times when things looked impossible. 

From Stink to Sweet 

Maybe you think you have had more than your share of stinky situations in life; let God use them to take you to levels beyond your own thoughts. His ways and thinking are higher than ours.  He can turn that stink into something “sweet” and life changing for our good if we let Him. 

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,
says the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8 NKKJV) 

Your faith roots are growing deeper and being fed valuable nutrients needed for the place you’re about to go with God.  He needs you rooted and grounded in Christ to be able to stay at the level He wants to take you. 

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith,
as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”
(Colossians 2:6-7 NKJV) 

That stinky attitude person that is getting under your skin at the office, home or church is the *sandpaper you need to help you gain the skills for that promotion.  Getting angry, quitting or changing jobs isn’t the answer. Hang in there and thank God you’re learning to walk out the fruit of the Spirit.  You’re not going down, but moving up! (Read Sandpaper Blessings) 

People may try to stop you, but God wants to use these hurtful events to increase you in His favor. There was a man named Joseph in the Old Testament of the Bible who had tremendous strongholds against him. Reading thought his journey of faith you can see how everything he experienced didn’t stop him but strengthened him.  Those hard times prepared him for his destiny taking him from a stinky prisoners pit to a sweet position in the King’s palace. 

If you stay in faith during the hard times and let the stinky things of life fertilize your faith, God will vindicate you and others will see it. God has the final say, not your circumstances or situations. Your story is not over, but it ends in the palace where God’s favor resides. 

Don’t get comfortable in the stink pit of your thinking things will never change. Are you alive to read this? Then you are not at the end of your story.  If things didn’t work out, it wasn’t a part of your destiny.  Keep going by faith and believe the blossoms are coming.  One touch of God’s favor will take you from the bottom to the top, but you have to let your faith be fertilized in order to see it happen. 

Using Life’s Mess-Ups 

I have had my share of mess-ups along the faith journey. God has turned some around for my good and others He hasn’t.  Oh, it’s not that He wasn’t willing to grant me favor to change a situation; I didn’t ask, made the wrong decisions or worried myself out of the blessing.  Sometimes my faith was weak and sometimes my thinking was way too small for what God had in mind for me. 

On the other side, when I did believe what God said in His Word, those were the times when favor kept coming and coming.  Blessings weren’t only on little things, but also came to me in greater amounts when I began to think like Jesus.  Christ never doubted or failed to expect God to act on His Word. When we do the same, the favor that was given to Jesus will also be given to us, even if we mess-up!   

Those poor choices and unfair situations will change if you see them as God’s fertilizer for your faith.  Those things aren’t pushing you down, but are becoming steps to a higher level.  Stop listening to satan the accuser who is whispering in your ear that you blew it and lost your chance.  He isn’t the author and *finisher of faith, Jesus is.  Listen to the Lord and believe what He says about you and receive forgiveness. (*Hebrews 12:2) 

From Mess to Message 

How many times have you heard, seen or read a story about a sad situation that turned out good?  Most ministries were born out of the stinky stuff in their lives and God used it as fertilizer to grow a ministry for Him. God’s grace and favor gave them a new beginning. If He did it for them, He can do it for you.  

An example of God doing such a thing can be found in chapter four of the book of John.  We are reminded how God can bring good into something that seemed unforgivable.  John shares the account of a Samaritan woman who had led an ungodly life.  You can read about the details on your own, but this is something I’d like you to remember. 

It was during her encounter with Jesus that the mess of her past was forgiven and God turned it into the message of her future.  The woman of Samaria would leave that place of visitation with a new hope and a change of career. 

What an eye-opener … the first person who Jesus told He was the Messiah was the woman at the well.  He took her wicked past and turned it into good by making her the first evangelist for Christ (a woman at that).  The past that worked against her God turned around and used it to work for her.   

God can take your mess and turn it into your message!

Tragedy to Triumph 

If you think God has stopped turning around situations, think again. Time has no bearing on God’s goodness or favor.  He is good all the time and all the time God is good. 

Joan Koonce is a modern day witness of what God can do for those who stay in faith during the dark valleys of life.  She shares her story of “tragedy to triumph” in the book “Integrity in a Box of Chocolates” of how she learned that despite the hardships of life, a box of chocolates can still be sweet (meaning there is something good happening in the midst of the tragedy for those who choose to see it). 

Friends, we don’t have a testimony without a test.  All those things that come into our lives to tear us down, God wants to use to build us up in faith.  What the devil and enemy means to use to defeat us God will use to give us victory. 

God can take the waste, the broken dreams and mistakes and turn them into something wonderful.  Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.  Bad breaks, discouragement or injustice can’t stop what God has in store for you. It may smell bad right now, but remember your faith is being fertilized to your advantage.  You’re about to come into God’s favor in fullness, because you stayed in faith and believed. 

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them,
because He who is in you is greater than he (satan) who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NKJV) 

This Week’s Challenge:
Appreciate the Fertilizer 

Over the years I’ve come to appreciate what fertilizer can do for my yard and plants.  It’s coming to terms with all the components that go in that process that is hard to deal with at times.   

This is where our challenge takes us this week – coming to appreciate the “fertilizer” the stinky events, situations and circumstances that come into our life to strengthen us. 

It’s time to cover our noses and thank the Lord for the stinky things that are fertilizing our faith for the bigger favor of God.  Stay in faith believing that God will be faithful to His Word and show His hand mighty on our behalf. 
Trust Him to see you through it all and remember this ...

When life hands you something stinky, eat some chocolate and wait for God to turn the situation into something sweet!

Until next time, expect the sweet favor of God.

“I overcame the stink of the cross for your faith.”
Jesus Christ

Note: The words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives.
Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

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Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Bible Gateway
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Image:  Hershey Park 
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