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ASPECTS

a monthly devotional journal
by David Lampel
Issue No. 55
June 1995

WEEDS



In this issue:

It's been a bountiful, fragrant spring. With abundant rains the world has quickly left behind the drab browns and grays of winter's end to burst forth into spring's endless palette of fresh greens.

The maples and oaks, in timeless succession, have released the buds and leaves held captive during the long winter months; the lilac bushes and Lilies of the Valley have sprouted their aromatic clusters and shared their sweetness; and the cherry, pear and apple trees have already clothed themselves in extravagant blossoms, then turned to the more serious matter of growing fruit.

The animal world too has sprung back to life. The wrens have returned: first the male, to call and sing for his mate; then together the happy couple has set to the task of collecting twigs for their nest. The wood ducks, with the male so resplendent yet henpecked, have returned to the pond, hoping once again to claim one of the houses before the grackles; but alas, same as last year, they took too long to make up their minds, and they've missed the opportunity. The evergreens are filled with nests and new life for the families of robins and mourning doves and cardinals.

Everyday the resident chipmunks scurry back and forth, jowls crammed with food. The squirrels, too, busy themselves retrieving the acorns left over in their winter hiding places. And every evening around dusk the deer come to drink from the pond, the young bucks always showing off for the thoroughly unimpressed does.


Linda has been busy restoring the splendor of her gardens. New crops for this year are leeks, spinach, garlic, bok choy and cucumbers for pickles. For fruit, she's added three currant bushes, blueberries and an apricot tree.

Always one of the first tasks, before planting anything new, is to remove the weeds that have sprung up between seasons--and, with the rains of this spring, the weeds have been abundant.

But a gratifying phenomenon is taking place. After several years now of removing the weeds from the gardens--of long hours spent digging and cultivating and pulling up the persistent villains--the job each succeeding year has been easier. With each passing year, the weeds have had less of a stranglehold on the good plants, and are removed and kept at bay with less work. With immediate attention given to their beginnings, and with generous helpings of nutrient-filled compost and mulch applied around the remaining plants, the weeds very often stay away for the rest of the summer.

There is, at the same time, a companion phenomenon observed. A garden overgrown with weeds is depressing. It's appearance is unsightly, cluttered; excuses are found for avoiding the area as much as possible. It saddens the one expecting to see rows of healthy vegetables or beautiful flower beds.

But a well-tended garden brightens the spirits. The sheer abundance of things growing and flourishing in a healthy environment brings joy and thanksgiving. The sight of brightly-colored blooms and luxurious bushes and plants--even from a distance--fills the mind with peace and expectations for good things.


Our lives are gardens that need constant attention to the weeds that persist in cropping up. One way or another, today or tomorrow or the next day, we will have to deal with these weeds. When and how we do has a direct impact on the quality of our lives right now.

Perspective 1
B Y   T H E   H A N D F U L

There is one profound similarity between
weeding the garden and Spiritual weeding:
both are performed on one's knees.


Winter is finally past and the last night of freezing temperatures has come and gone. The ground has thawed and the garden is at last ready for planting. Now what?

The first thing to do in preparation for planting the year's garden is to clear away the weeds that have accumulated since the previous fall. The gardener can choose from many different methods of weed removal, from mowing them off to blasting them with some obnoxious chemical. But the most effective method is to simply get down on your hands and knees and yank 'em out by the roots.


We all know there are different levels of faith. Compare Cain to Abel, Samson to Joseph, Eli to Samuel, or Demas to Timothy. The result of living in this world--as opposed to the next--is different for each person. This temporal enclave does not create or cause the sin that dwells within us, but it does feed it. And while some people are under the impression that temptations diminish after coming to Christ, the truth is that temptations seem to flourish once the Spirit is in residence.

I respect those who claim they can--even for a little while--live a sinless life. Personally, I think the only times I am sinless is when I am fast asleep.

For most, the Christian life requires daily weeding, and it is an active occupation; weeding does not take place by simple attrition.

The ultimate act of weeding is, of course, the initial act of faith: believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and confessing that He alone can remove our sin. Beyond that, however, our lives require regular maintenance--not for salvation, but for Godly living.


There is one profound similarity between weeding the garden and Spiritual weeding: both are performed on one's knees. Our Spiritual weeds are not removed by attrition, but by contrition. There are certainly tangible actions we can take to remove sin from our life, but the process always begins with repentance before God, and agreeing with Him on just what should be removed.

Repentance means that God's standards are the ones used to determine what is a weed--thereby needing to be removed--and what is not. We will never rid our life of those things repugnant to Him by listening to the standards of the world; we will never remove those things that inhibit our healthy growth toward Him by taking counsel with our own rationale.


Into the Word

1 Kings 16:30-33        ___________________________
Eccles. 12:14           ___________________________
Isaiah 29:15            ___________________________
Jeremiah 9:3            ___________________________
Jeremiah 16:11-12       ___________________________
Jeremiah 50:8           ___________________________
Jeremiah 51:6           ___________________________
Luke 12:2-3             ___________________________
1 Cor. 6:18             ___________________________
1 Cor. 10:14            ___________________________
Ephes. 5:8-20           ___________________________
1 Tim. 6:11             ___________________________
2 Tim. 3:12-15          ___________________________
James 4:7               ___________________________

 

Digging Deeper--Moving Higher

Depth of Mercy

Depth of mercy! can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear--
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?

I have long withstood His grace,
Long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His calls,
Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

Now incline me to repent;
Let me now my sins lament;
Now my foul revolt deplore,
Weep, believe, and sin no more.

There for me the Saviour stands,
Holding forth His wounded hands;
God is love! I know, I feel,
Jesus weeps and loves me still. Amen.
[4]


 

I Am Resolved

I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world's delight;
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.


Refrain                          
I will hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, Greatest, Highest, I will come to Thee.

I am resolved to go to the Saviour,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.

I am resolved to follow the Saviour,
Faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
He is the living way.

I am resolved to enter the Kingdom,
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.
[5]

Making it Personal

The first step is obvious: What and where are the weeds in your life?

After confession and repentance in prayer, what can you do to remove these weeds? What will you do?

Into the Word

Once you have compiled your list of personal weeds, above (whether on paper or mentally), use Scripture to determine how God feels about them.

Perspective 2
F E E D I N G   T H E   G O O D
S T A R V I N G   T H E   B A D

God's word is rich in Spiritual nutrients
that make it difficult for bad things to grow--
and easier for good things to take root.


In garden circles it is referred to as 'black gold.' It's a precious substance that is horded, and portioned out sparingly. This gardener's gold is called compost.

Compost begins with garbage. Organic kitchen scraps such as banana peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, orange rinds and carrot tops are combined with shredded leaves or grass clippings and first layered, then later mixed together well with manure and soil. The compost pile (or heap) sits there percolating for several weeks or months (depending on the mix). Periodically the gardener turns over the pile, stirring the ingredients.

Slowly over time, the stew that began as kitchen garbage decomposes, blends together, and comes to resemble nothing less than a mound of dark, rich loam. The end product-- humus--is a soil rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms that improves garden soil structure, encourages earthworms and other beneficial soil-dwellers, and improves drainage.


Compost feeds the garden with good things, so that it can better fend off the bad.

A life that is not nurtured with righteous things will never be capable of weeding out sin.

There are still those who believe that people are essentially good--that everyone is born innocent, and any bad or evil qualities are learned, or imposed by someone else.[6] If that be the case, permit me to pose just one question: Would you like to live with a teenager who had never received any parental discipline?

What happens to children who receive no other training than the behavior with which they were born--who are, essentially, left to raise themselves? They grow up to be adults who are selfish, arrogant, self-centered, abusive, uncaring and unsharing.

The best instruction for any child--or adult, for that matter--comes from God's word.

God's word is rich in Spiritual nutrients that make it difficult for bad things to grow--and easier for good things to take root.

A heart occupied with the things of God has little room left in which sin can root and spread. A heart occupied with self has little room left for God.


Compost not only nourishes the garden soil, but it also breaks up clay with its organic matter.

The soil around our house in San Diego consisted almost entirely of clay. One day years ago, when trying to find an easy and quick solution for a darkroom sink's drain, I ran the drain pipe out the wall and dug a hole in the ground into which it would run. Being from Iowa, I figured that the waste water would run into the hole and eventually soak down into the soil.

Silly boy. That miniature lake sat there for weeks--months! That clay was so dense, so compacted that the water simply would not budge. It could only evaporate out of the hole.

God's word is the rich organic matter that breaks up the tightly-compacted clay of sin in our lives. Unconfessed wrong builds up, layer after layer, becoming a dense layer of sludge that insulates us from the blessings of God. His word absorbed into our mind fills our life with nurturing righteousness, which breaks up the compacted sin, making it easier for good things to take root.

Into the Word

Psalm 54:4              ___________________________
Psalm 55:22             ___________________________
Psalm 103:2-5           ___________________________
Psalm 119:9-11          ___________________________
Proverbs 30:8           ___________________________
Matthew 4:1-4           ___________________________
Matthew 5:6             ___________________________
Matthew 6:11            ___________________________
Romans 8:1-17           ___________________________
1 Cor. 3:6-7            ___________________________
2 Cor. 9:6-11           ___________________________
Philip. 4:8             ___________________________
Col. 3:16               ___________________________
2 Tim. 3:16-17          ___________________________
Hebrews 1:9             ___________________________
Hebrews 5:13-14         ___________________________

 

Digging Deeper--Moving Higher

Break Thou the Bread of Life

Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord,
My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word.

Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord, to me, to me,
As Thou didst bless the bread by Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease, all fetters fall;
And I shall find my peace, my All in all.

Thou art the bread of life, O Lord, to me,
Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me;
Give me to eat and live with Thee above;
Teach me to love Thy truth, for Thou art love.

O send Thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes, and make me see:
Show me the truth concealed within Thy word,
And in Thy Book revealed I see the Lord.
[7]


Making it Personal

With what is your life being fed? Are you mixing in healthy Spiritual nutrients, or unhealthy things of this temporal age? Are there any items that should be removed from your diet?

What things can you cultivate that will make you stronger, healthier Spiritually and permit fewer weeds?

What role does the Holy Spirit fill in this process?

Into the Word

Fill in the "whatevers" in this verse with some specifics. For example, list some "noble" things on which you can meditate.

Perspective 3
S H I E L D   A N D   D E F E N D E R

Come autumn, when the pumpkins and squash are ripening on the vine, our routine is to rake up as many fallen leaves as possible, run them through the shredder, then package them into plastic bags for winter storage. The bags are piled in an out-of-the-way spot in the woods, near the compost heap. Then, come spring, we open the bags and have a ready supply of mulch for new plantings.

Mulch is the final step in protecting the garden against weeds. Once the initial weeds have been pulled, and the compost (if any) has been mixed into the soil and the seeds or seedlings planted, a protective layer of these shredded leaves is applied liberally around the area. This thick layer of organic mulch (which can be leaves, wood chips, grass clippings--even newspapers) robs the surrounding soil of light and oxygen, thereby depriving the weeds of these elements vital for growth. A garden plot with a blanket of mulch requires considerably less weeding than one without.


In our Christian walk we need to first remove the obvious sin from our life--deal with it, get it out. Then we need to feed ourselves from God's nutritious word, encouraging healthy growth. Finally, we need to strap on our Spiritual armor to protect ourselves from inevitable attacks by the evil one.

Satan spies that freshly weeded, tilled, planted and fertilized patch of ground and he can't wait to get in there and mess it all up again. He has little interest in a weed-infested garden; it's already a part of his acreage. But let him find a piece of ground that's been worked and improved, and he'll soon be cultivating his weeds in among the good seedlings, trying to force them out.

The Christian is never more tempted than when he is on a Spiritual high. Satan's radar is finely tuned for those who have just experienced close communion with the Lord, and he's quick to swoop in and release his 'flaming arrows.'

Our defense against Satan and his weeds is a careful combination of offensive warfare and dependency on God. Even our offensive and defensive weapons are from Him. Ephesians 6:10 says to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power (emphasis added). The mulch in the garden of our life--along with everything else--belongs to the Lord.

In a healthy garden the blanket of mulch retains the soil's moisture, so that the seeds and plants don't dry out. It keeps the soil warm on cold nights and wet drizzly days. And when autumn comes, after the vegetables have been harvested, the mulch is turned into the soil where it becomes nutrient for the next year's planting.

Into the Word

2 Samuel 22:2-4         ___________________________
Psalm 32:7              ___________________________
Psalm 61:1-4            ___________________________
Psalm 91:4              ___________________________
Proverbs 2:7            ___________________________
Isaiah 31:5             ___________________________
Zech. 12:8              ___________________________
Matthew 23:37           ___________________________
John 17:6-19            ___________________________
2 Thes. 3:1-5           ___________________________

 

Digging Deeper--Moving Higher

Soldiers of Christ Arise

Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies Through His eternal Son;
Strong in the Lord of hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trustsIs more than conqueror.

Stand then in His great might, With all His strength endued,
And take, to arm you for the fight,The panoply of God;
That having all things done, and all your conflicts past,
Ye may o'er-come through Christ alone,And stand entire at last.


Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul;
Take every virtue, every grace,And fortify the whole.
From strength to strength go on, Wrestle and fight and pray;
Tread all the powers of darkness down,And win the well-fought day.
[10]


 

Fight the Good Fight with All Thy Might

Fight the good fight with all thy might!
Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race through God's good grace,
Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face;
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

Cast care aside, lean on Thy guide,
His boundless mercy will provide;
Trust, and thy trusting soul shall prove
Christ is its life, and Christ its love.

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear;
Only believe, and thou shalt see
That Christ is all in all to thee.
[11]

Making it Personal

Let's go over the items of our armor, making sure we understand what they are. For each piece, define it, then find Scripture passages that illustrate or further explain its use.

      Belt


      Breastplate


      Shoes


      Shield


      Helmet


      Sword

Which pieces are defensive and which offensive?

Into the Word

Find Scripture references that explain how we are to both go on the offensive against sin and let the Godhead do our fighting for us.


NOTES, COPYRIGHT & SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

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Issue No. 55
June 1995

NOTES

[1.] A.W. Tozer in The Warfare of the Spirit: Developing Spiritual Maturity (Christian Publications, 1993), p49ff. (return to footnote 1)

[2.] C.S. Lewis, A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C.S. Lewis (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), p106. (return to footnote 2)

[3.] H.G.J. Adams. (return to footnote 3)

[4.] Charles Wesley (1707-1788). (return to footnote 4)

[5.] Palmer Hartsough (1844-1932). (return to footnote 5)

[6.] "The father of such thinking was 18th-century philosopher Jean Rousseau, who argued that humans, inherently good, were warped by society. According to [his] ideology, individuals were not guilty of anything; rather society was responsible for all the depraved things people did. In this century, Rousseau's concept of collective guilt enjoyed a resurgence of popularity since the 1960s, when it resurfaced on college campuses as a proscription against 'blaming' and thereby putting people on 'guilt trips.' Not e, more recently, the liberal media's penchant for explaining anti-social behavior in terms of bad parenting, racism, poverty, etc." (John Rosemond, columnist; from the Des Moines Register, April 23, 1995) (return to footnote 6)

[7.] Mary A. Lathbury (1841-1913). (return to footnote 7)

[8.] Stuart Briscoe, quoted in Leadership Journal, Winter 1995 issue. (return to footnote 8)

[9.] A.W. Tozer, The Warfare of the Spirit: Developing Spiritual Maturity (Christian Publications, 1993), p3f. (return to footnote 9)

[10.] Charles Wesley (1707-1788). (return to footnote 10)

[11.] John S.B. Monsell (1811-1875). (return to footnote 11)

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

All original material in Aspects is Copyright © 1995 David S. Lampel. This data file is the sole property of David S. Lampel. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as "freeware," without charge. All reproductions of this data file must contain the copyright notice (i.e., "Copyright (C) 1995 David S. Lampel."). This data file may not be used without the permission of David S. Lampel for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold. This includes all of its content. Brief quotations not to exceed more than 500 words may be used, with the appropriate copyright notice, to enhance or supplement personal or church devotions, newsletters, journals, or spoken messages.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture is from the New International Version. NIV quotations are from the Holy Bible: New International Version, Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission. NASB quotations are from the New American Standard Bible © 1960, 1962,1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by The Lockman Foundation.

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