Priority Planning with Jesus

And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:5

Where does Jesus fit in the priorities of your life? Is he in first place or is he more of an afterthought?

hurry-2119711_1920Honestly, depending on the circumstances, I sometimes squeeze him in wherever. It’s the wrong thing to do because I find that when he’s in first place, I experience peace.

Today I read the story about Jesus and his disciples, who were caught picking grain on the Sabbath by religious leaders (Luke 6:1-5). The last line of the passage took on new meaning for me. Knowing that Jesus is lord of the Sabbath is a game changer.

What does it mean exactly? To know, we have to dig deeply into the words lord and Sabbath.

The original Greek meanings are as follows:*

Lord is kyrios (pronounced koo-re-ohs) and Sabbath is sabbaton (pronounced sahb-baht-own).

Lord means one who exercises supernatural authority over mankind — Lord, Ruler, One who commands.

Sabbath is a period of seven days, a week.

Many Christians observe a “Sabbath day,” a day of worship and rest from work. We gather with other believers to sing, pray, serve, and learn about God.  We rest from work after the pattern of God’s creation of the world.

pair-3798371_1920Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:1-3

The Sabbath was a holy day for Jews and the Pharisees strictly observed it. Many activities were forbidden and when Jesus and his followers picked the grain, the Pharisees considered it a form of work. Basically, Jesus was snacking.

I love how he fired back at his harassers with scripture. Read Luke 6:1-5 for the full picture. Jesus put these legalists in their place.

1 Colossians 1:15 -17 tells us: Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see — such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.

The leaders really didn’t understand to whom they were speaking. I get it. Sometimes I forget too.

Jesus is Lord. He’s the One who commands. He’s Lord of the Sabbath. This means he is Lord over the whole week.

What’s the significance for us? When we plan our days according to the commands of our commander, we put them in proper order. Jesus hammered a fundamental principle into the minds of his followers. He challenged them to align their thinking and behavior with God’s ultimate standard.

love-3388626_1920He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”  John 13:34

If we filter all we do and say through this principle, we will literally change the world.

How can you align your weekly plans with Jesus’ command?

*Louw, Johannes P, and Eugene A Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains. United Bible Societies, 1988.

 

How does your (spiritual) garden grow?

By Erika Rizkallah

Got a brown thumb? Happily, spiritual planting is all about growth! We can learn so much about growing our faith by applying lessons from the garden.

I inherited my gardening passion from my dad. I also come from a long line of farmers and joyfully remember the summer weeks spent with my grandparents. My brother and I explored fields planted with corn and soybeans and hunted for wild asparagus growing near a ditch in front of the farmhouse.

When I moved into my forever home I inherited the previous homeowner’s garden. I was thrilled with the yard until I learned she practiced Ikebana (Japanese flower design). On closer inspection, I discovered it contained all sorts of heinous invasive plants. I spent hours weeding, only to find them sprout again, trying to strangle plants I wanted to keep.

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But I was patient, and after pulling them by the roots, I planted my favorites in their place. Now I have a gorgeous yard that fills me with satisfaction and peace — though it’s still a work in progress.

Tending to my little corner of the world connects me to God in a more meaningful way. Adam and Eve’s first home was a garden and many of Jesus’ teachings took place outdoors and reflect his love of nature. Themes of harvest, sowing and reaping feature prominently in the Bible.

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Growth and spiritual fruit production are imperatives for anyone seeking maturity in Christ. Here are five ways our earthy and spiritual lives are similar:

Great soil: All gardeners know the key to a productive garden is great soil. It’s the primary ingredient for flourishing plants and must be healthy. Conditioning is often necessary because let’s face it, almost no soil is perfectly healthy in its natural state. If it’s too sandy, wet or filled with sticky clay, plants wither and die.

The soil of our spiritual life is the heart. Biblically speaking, the heart – kardia in Greek – represents our whole inner being. It’s not just a blood pumping organ, but the source of life, made up of mind, soul and spirit.

Nourishment: We can’t simply plop flowers and plants into a garden and expect it to grow. We must nourish it. Sunlight, the meticulous watering and protection from the elements are critical. We often need to amend soil with fertilizer and emulsifiers, which come from surprising sources. We apply dead fish and poop to feed our plants — this used to gross me out.

In spiritual matters, our fertilizer is prayer and scripture reading. And just as manure provides nutrients, trouble (the poopy parts of life), also benefits us. Adversity strengthens and causes us to seek God, to rely on him and his word for our inner health.

 

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Maintenance: Here is where many gardeners begin to falter. The first part, getting the soil and feeding right, is relatively easy. The hard part is keeping up with it. Regular maintenance includes weeding, pruning, pest control and deadheading — a fancy term for removing spent flower heads.

Spiritual life requires maintenance too. We get this by spending intentional daily quiet time with God. Enjoying friendship with fellow believers can help us weed out sin and discern the parts of life God’s wants to prune. While painful, pruning — cutting off dead and unproductive stuff — helps us grow and flourish. Regular maintenance gets rid of pests, slugs and worms threatening to devour us.

Patience: Waiting is the truly difficult part. After all the time and energy spent on the early part of the process, it’s not unusual to see little result. We live in an “instant” society and gardening is anything but immediate. It can take months and even years for some plants to thrive and grow. So it goes with faith . . .

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But hidden under the dark surface and seemingly dormant areas, God is always working.  Patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and our Father is generous to provide for our needs. Though often boring, waiting is necessary and active.

Being still, standing firm in our faith and trusting are active habits. Even though we sometimes can’t see it, God is ever-present and cares deeply for us.

Produce: This is the good stuff — our hard work has paid off! Beautiful, bountiful flowers bloom and we pluck fruit from the trees. We bite into the luscious apple, craft a bouquet and feel satisfaction and accomplishment.

God wants this for us. He wants fruit production and for us to enjoy that fresh fruit of our labor.

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Take a bite out of the juicy peach and thank him for his daily tending!

Your Turn: Our earthly and spiritual lives are a work in progress. There’s always work to sow and benefits to reap. Where are the areas your spiritual garden needs tending most?