Sunday, July 28, 2013

Closing Thoughts on Cultivating

Over the last month I've been doing a Bible study entitled, "Cultivating a Heart of Prayer" and in that time God has done much. I've shared thoughts about this in two posts titled "Time to Cultivate" and "The Cultivator". I'm grateful for all God has taught me and the pictures He's given to me; today I'd like to share some closing thoughts from our study.

Yesterday I read Proverbs 27 and verse 17 caught my attention. It says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." I'd read this verse many times, but this time it came to life...because God had been making it real in my life. 

Numerous thoughts came to mind, many connected to our study. The first phrase of the verse made me think of the equipment my husband uses to cultivate our field - it is made of iron (or steel, but it's strong metal) and it has to be sharp in order to work well. When the pieces are dull, it's still a cultivator, but if Job wants it to work well, he needs to use iron to sharpen iron. 

As I thought about this I realized the same is true for me - since I've asked Christ to be my Savior, I will always be a Christian, but if I want to be a woman who serves Him and grows closer to Him, I must continually allow Him to melt me and mold me. 

He has been doing just that as I worked through this study and He's making me sharper, stronger and more effective by using His double edged sword. Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." 

Through this study I've been challenged to dig into God's Word, listen to His Truth, believe His promises and pray with power. It truly has been a time of growth. The other day as I watched my husband cultivate, I noticed how the soil changed after the cultivator passed. Before the equipment passed, the ground was hard, dry and cracked, but afterwards it was tilled, fresh and full of life. The same is true when God cultivates our heart!




With His Word, God has changed me...He's opened my eyes to sin, He's tendered my heart and He's strengthened my faith. 

He's also brought the last half of Proverbs 27:17 to life. I've seen Him use one woman to sharpen another. Through this online Bible study many sisters in Christ have reached out to one another, they've shared their stories and prayed for each other. I've not only watched this happen, but I've experienced it as well.

Through the study God brought to mind something to pray about, so I did. And as I did, He put it on my heart to do more than pray. He led me to send an email I didn't want to send. It was a message about words that may be misinterrupted, but as one who strongly dislikes confrontation I tried to ignore what God was asking me to do. You see I knew this person, trusted their heart and knew these couple of questionable words were not an issue. Thoughts of addressing this simply left me with the fear of being misunderstood. 

Though I didn't obey immediately, God had done enough cultivating that eventually I did what I didn't want to do. I prayed, then wrote the message. I prayed and then sent the message and prayed some more. Shortly after I had a message back; my friend thanked me for my obedience, explained the situation and assured me she wasn't upset. I was grateful, but then satan went to work.

He began whispering lies and I listened to them. My friend realized this and responded with wonderful words and powerful Truth. She assured me my words were wisdom to her and prayed for peace for me. And she reminded me that God could be using this experience to grow and stretch me. 

A few days later as I read Proverbs 27:17, I realized my friend was right God was, no He is growing me and stretching me. And He's using friends who are in His Word to sharpen me. He works through women who are in the Word to remind me of my identity in Christ, to encourage me in my walk of faith and to strengthen me to live out my calling. As I share with sisters in Christ, I see examples to follow, I hear stories that remind me I'm not alone and my faith grows. They teach me from God's Word and increase my desire to know it better myself.

Friends, I pray you are experiencing the same because when iron, knives and even people are sharpened they shine more!! If we want our lives to shine for Christ we must be willing to let God cultivate our heart and sharpen us with His Word and through His people!!

Our official study has come to a close, but I know the work has just begun! My husband has cultivated our fields twice this summer and God will continually do the same with my heart!


And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

10 comments:

  1. Dear Jill, this is such an encouragement to me. Thank you so much for your faithfulness to listen to the Holy Spirit. I can hear His voice in your writing. I can say that my heart has been stirred within me. God's words spoken through you has sharpened me.
    Love and prayers,
    Barbara

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    1. Barbara, thank you for your kind words! You provided encouragement I didn't even know I needed...love the way God works!!

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  2. Jill, what a beautiful post! I love how you equated the cultivating we are doing in our hearts with this study to the cultivating your husband and other farmers do. I love what you have learned from this study, thanks for sharing!

    Kris Danko (OBS Small Group Leader)

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    1. Thank you Kris! And thank you for all the work you did in the study and for sharing your heart as well! Blessings!

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  3. Jill a beautiful post about cultivating and like you I've seen how God has put us Jesus sisters together to grow,share and encourage one another. So glad for this time with you in this study. Debbie W. (OBS Facebook Group leader)

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    1. Grateful for the connection with you as well Debbie! Praying the cultivating will continue for all of us!!

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  4. I have learned so much as you have compared God's cultivating to your farm cultivating. It truly brings the Word alive! I am thinking your church could have saved a lot of money and just had you lead this conference!! :)

    See you soon,

    me

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    1. Wendy, it's a joy to know God's used my words to speak to you. Thank you for the encouraging words! Your last line makes me laugh...writing and speaking are two totally different things! God knows I still have more to learn and I'm so grateful He's bringing you to Iowa to teach me!!
      See you soon!!

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  5. Beautiful post Jill! Cultivating farm stood out to me - I have a huge farmers field behind me and I love watching the farmer from the beginning to the end of the season. This study has been so rewarding! I figure I will be going over it again on my own from time to time. Have a great day! ~Martha

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  6. Thanks for stopping by Martha! This is a study I will revisit as well! Blessings!!

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