Inherit the Earth!

Want to know how to inherit the earth? First, I’ll tell you what happened to me today. After that, I’ll explain.

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Today I learned that bird-watching is a good test of one’s patience. Your eye has to be skilled, watching and waiting for the bird to appear. My family got a hummingbird feeder for our backyard, filled with bright-red, citric hummingbird food, and it hangs outside on the white arch.  From the window, you can watch for the little bird. It comes every 15-20 minutes on the clock. When it comes it is sudden: the hummingbird in a flash appears and feeds for 10 seconds or less, zooming off, and then you’re stuck waiting for it to come again. (Taking a picture is even harder than waiting.)

I’ve seen videos where others have the perfect spot for hummingbirds, bringing large enough numbers so that the buzzing noise their wings make, collectively, is loud enough to be heard even at a distance. Maybe someday my feeder will do that, too, but as of today, I saw only two hummingbirds come at the same time and one ran the other away – that little green one was possessive of her food saying (I can imagine) “It’s mine! Go away,” dive-bombing at the other one, making him leave.

It’s odd, yet amazing, how animals act as the defenders of their good green earth. There’s this narrative society declares, about how peaceful nature would be if only humans would stop their wars, and although I understand, it makes me surprised when I see animals angry or possessive, bickering at one other about what they think is theirs. My Dad saw the birds fighting and said, “They should know, it’s not private property! The feeder belongs to everyone.” Ha! Absurd to think the human is telling the birds to be nice, considering I favor that popular nature narrative I told you about.

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I continually ask myself, what is meekness and what is meek? Even a person who is said to be sweet, gentle at heart, or a humble person can find him or herself thinking, “I’m meeker than my Christian brother” and comparing their blessings, or comparing their lives to see which is more blessed. In reality, in the moment a person revels in his own meekness, is the moment of weakness instead of meekness.

Let’s repeat that thought:
In the moment a person revels over his meekness is a moment of weakness, not meekness.

No matter who you are, becoming meek needs discipline. That’s why God tells parents to discipline children, wives to submit to husbands and citizens to obey governmental authorities. If a person is not disciplined, meekness is only but a concept, and not a precept.

Without discipline, meekness is a concept not a precept.

Once a person becomes an adult, becoming meek needs self-control. You have to control yourself to be a meek adult. That means controlling what your body does, controlling what your mind thinks, and controlling what your mouth says. Like reins direct a horse’s will and body strength, self-control directs a person’s body and makes a temple for the Holy Spirit.

Self-control allows the Holy Spirit to take the reins.

Listed below are four ways you can be meek:

1. Live Confidently Knowing God’s Power.

Job 1:21 When Job heard that all his servants, his livestock, and his children died disastrously all the same day, he glorified God with these words: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Luke 1:38 Mary asked the angel how she was pregnant since she hadn’t been with a man, and he told her with God nothing is impossible. She said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” Her willingness is an example on how to receive God’s power over our lives.

2. Live Obediently Submitting to God’s Authority.

Luke 22:42 “Not my will, but Yours, be done.” Jesus prayed in the garden with his friends nearby, relinquishing his will obediently to God, knowing his fate would always be to die on the cross for the sins of humanity, but he prayed with the desire for God to change His mind, anyway. He gave up his will for his Father’s.

Acts 8:3, 9:1, 9:6 Saul threatened, imprisoned, and punished Christians fervently up until the day he saw the light (literally) in which he asked Jesus, who appeared to him in the light, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Instantly, he was meek enough to know all he did was wrong and Jesus truly was the Messiah.

Jeremiah 18:1-11 God, the Potter, and mere mortals, the clay: the Lord said, “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel!  … Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” He spoke to His people Israel. Presently, God is calling us to submit to Him in Christ Jesus for the salvation of our souls.

3. Live Unselfishly Taking God’s Direction.

James 1: 21 “…lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word…” The man who endures in good even when evil tempts, tries to love the lowliest of persons, and gives up personal pride is living by “the implanted word”.

Psalm 25:4-5 A prayer from our mentor David, asking for God’s guidance: “Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.” That’s how we should talk to God.

4. Live Honestly Keeping the Peace.

1 Peter 3: 15-16 “… sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”

Ephesians 4:2-3 “…walk…with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I think the way to do that is to not think too highly of myself, and listen sooner than I speak.

Application of “Inherit the Earth”

The Jews in Jesus’s time were aware of his meaning when he said, “the meek will inherit the earth”. Like our popular idioms nowadays (i.e. “Hit the nail on the head” means exactly on point, you can picture a nail being hit by a hammer), the Jews knew to imagine great fortune and blessings when he said the phrase “inherit the earth”. Psalm 37:28-29 says, which the Jews also lived by, “For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” The Promised Land was a gracious gift to Israel from God, with the promise it would be theirs forever, as long as they obeyed God. Therefore in the Hebrew culture, it was common knowledge that God blessed those He loved with an inheritance of land and people, so Jesus Christ could say to his listeners this concept and immediately they would gain encouragement. When Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”, his listeners understood that he was comforting the common folk and lowly people of the land, and the ones who served God without trying to possess or gain anything in return.

In conclusion… Here’s how I sum up Creation vs Creator after today:

NATURE: It’s a dog eat dog world. (I learned that from hummingbirds.)

HUMANS: Bombers and missiles and nukes, oh my! (I learned that from news about North Korea.)

GOD: There are many rooms in my house. I am preparing a place for you. My Son Jesus will come back and take you there when it’s time. (I learned that from the Bible.)

 

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Garden Nymph

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We found a nymph in our backyard! #Shakespeare #Faeries

Look how small she is compared to the little tomato, and the three-leaf clover in the background.

She’s a baby, but I won’t tell you what for. You’ll have to guess…

The answer is below in white. (Select the space below to see the name.)

*Aztec Spur-throat Grasshopper (Aidemona azteca)*

 

Microscope Eyes vs. Atoms, by Lacy Andrews

 

Vast,

Void, and abyssal,

Infinity is in the palms of God.

 

God,

Beyond infinite,

Our diminutive minds strain to see Him.

 

Man,

A speck, an atom,

But God’s microscope eyes can perceive us.

 

We,

Can see His glory,

Through the Creation: God’s Infinity.

 

That,

Is nature: cosmos,

The universe is a mirror of God.

Trust in God: Be Not Disappointed

My mother has an amazing green thumb, though she’s bound not to agree.  She always points out all the plants that she cannot grow, but to tell the truth, she makes our backyard a paradise for wildlife. With cardinals and mourning doves and house wrens and mockingbirds and hummingbirds and blue jays, butterflies and bugs of all kinds, Texas spiny lizards and small geckos and squirrels, time spent sitting in our back yard truly ministers to the spirit and soul.

Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:8 (WEB)

“Our Iris is blooming Kathryn.  You thought you could get out of it,  but you’ve got to go out and take a picture of it,” Mom teased after our worship was over. It’s all right, I thought to myself. Maybe I can get a picture of another sphinx moth to go along with my blog entry.  We had gone out yesterday to see a pretty yellow butterfly flitting around the yard, calling with a wave of its delicate wings for us to join it in the sun.  While we were out, we witnessed a big green caterpillar crawling along our swing bench that we were sitting on.  At first we thought it was a tomato hornworm, but upon further investigation we discovered that it was the waved sphinx caterpillar.  With that (and a prayer) on my mind, I was ready to go outside again today.

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The sun was bright, the breeze was nice.  The shade of the ash tree cooled us from the spring heat of the sun.  Trigger (our Australian Kelpie) was chasing lizards under our lawn chairs, and today he actually caught one.  It was a Texas lizard, the type that we try to protect because Mom loves them so much. Luckily, Mom saw it immediately and she made Trigger drop the lizard.  It was unharmed.  I helped Mom hold Trig back and, after the shock wore off, the lizard quickly climbed up my pants leg and clutched on, knowing that I was a safe haven for it to hide while the angry dog tried to attack it. (Trig wasn’t really angry, he was just trying to protect his people from the lizard that he had found hiding under our chair.) After the lizard escaped, I calmed Trig down and Mom took him back inside.

Like what Mom and I were doing for the lizard in protecting it from Trig, God wants to protect us from the vicious dangers in our life.  He wants us to trust in Him and to cling onto Him, so that He can hold us in His arms and protect us from harm.

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives. In the end, he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25 (WEB)

While we were outside, I was looking for something amazing to take a picture of. The day was still and quiet, aside from the children playing next door.  As my gaze skimmed the yard, I drew my attention to the roof of our house, to a spot where the shingles are missing.  We’re getting our roof replaced this week, so I was using my telescopic lens on my camera to get a good look at the damage to the roof.  I gave Lacy the camera so that she could see the spots on the roof too, and when she looked into the lens, I suddenly caught a glimpse of something  big buzzing around the roses.  “Oh quick! Give it to me!” Lacy immediately handed me the camera, but it was too late. The small creature had finished its business at the roses and flown on past the house.  From the distance that I was at, it looked like a hummingbird, but bigger and bulkier; it must have been a sphinx moth making a quick stop at the flowers in our yard before moving on.  It was the very moment I came outside for, but I had missed it.

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The message God gave me at that moment was loud and clear. When we decide to focus on the worries of life, we miss the beautiful moments that God tries to bless us with. Lacy and I were focused on the roof of the house- something that is completely out of our hands.  We could do nothing about the missing shingles or the rains that we’ve been getting lately.  All we could do was trust that God will protect us from harm and wait for the roofers to do their job, scheduled later this week.  But because I had decided to think about my worries and God’s concerns, I missed a moment that God had given for me to enjoy.

Who knows if I could have gotten a picture of the sphinx moth before it flew away. I was disappointed that I had missed the chance to try, but Lacy reassured me later that we’ll have more chances in the future.  The sphinx moth is usually seen in May to July, so no worries.  Maybe next time.

God heard my prayer of repentance, and although he didn’t send the moth back around, he answered another prayer of mine instead; I had wished for a chance to take a picture of the dragonflies and damselflies that we have in our back yard. That taught me another lesson: With a missed opportunity, God will always open a new door.

damselfly

Hear my cry, God. Listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth, I will call to you when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a refuge for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will dwell in your tent forever. I will take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Selah. Psalm 61:1-4 (WEB)

Digital Can’t Replace Natural, You Just Have to See

Bernie Sanders, the well-known American politician, said yesterday on his Facebook post, “Let me be clear. Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity…” Whether you believe him and the well-respected science that says our world is changing and it is the fault of technology and humanity, truth is, a climate still exists outside today, in most areas of the world, which we can enjoy. And can we, in good conscience, go too long a period without enjoying the nature God has made?

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.” Romans 1:20 (AMP)

I’ve felt stressed lately and decided to do, what I call, a social media fast. No internet. No Facebook. Not for entertainment, not for research, zilch! Constantly I search online about historical events, culture, written articles, science, religion and more, and I love to keep up with the latest even in media, actors, and politics, but on the social media fast I don’t even allow myself to do that. “I am blessed to have a home library, I have a cabinet full of old movies and games, I have a backyard, I have a life outside the digital,” I told myself. I even have “faith in the unseen” to pray and ponder on.

I have to remind myself – I remind you, too – Your hopes, your dreams, those you love are not bound to the digital. God exists in the natural. Love exists in the natural. You just have to experience nature to know.

A few weeks ago, I think someone’s prayer for me was answered when I was in my backyard garden. I have been sad a lot – an undertone of sadness glooms my life, if I let it – but when I went outside and enjoyed the fresh cool air, the sunlight, and the greenery, my spirits were lifted. It was not an accidental lifting of the spirits. It was purposeful.

First, I went outside to read my daily Bible reading. It was possibly the most tragic story in the entire Old Testament (Judges 19). I cried and grew angry at the injustice of a woman’s death, and read about how the whole nation of Israel went to war over her murderers’ heinous crime, as they tried to right the wrong. It reminded me of what is happening today in our world, with such a corrupt view on what is “natural” and “acceptable” and “free”. That made me very sad, but then my dog Trig dug a hole to serve as his recliner behind me, which got my mind on my surroundings. The sun was warm but the air cool, which in my opinion, is the most relaxing weather.

That’s when I started noticing the trees rustling, and the lush green garden.

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Patches of clover fill the grass, and who knew, bees pollinate even them?

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Common buckeyes like to light on the vibrant, orange lantana bush and feed there. Kat had a camera, so she captured everything we saw.

But two truly magical moments stood out to me as an “answered prayer” or else God strictly loving me.

The first “hug” was when a baby caterpillar was on my shoulder. I was standing underneath an ash tree that’s about three or four times my height, with its branches looming all around me, hanging around my shoulders, when suddenly a little green worm dropped onto my shoulder unexpectedly. Mom was using her shovel and pulling a plant out of the ground when I told her what happened. “Hey, there’s a caterpillar on me,” I said to her, and at the same time she showed me the baby bug on her own shirt. “It’s a baby lightning bug.” It made me feel good to see the new life all around.

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(Actually, I later found out it’s an ash sawfly larvae, before its head turns black. Looks like a caterpillar, doesn’t it? It is related to the birch sawfly larvae found in England.)

The second “hug” was more magical, more providential and less coincidental. Now I have a beautiful garden, but like I said, I hardly ever walk in it because I’m too digitally bound to my gadgets and computer, which is a habit I’m going to break after having found that enjoying nature is an anti-depressant, but that is beside the point. The reason why I know the Holy Spirit was with me during this incident is because a still peace inside showed me a cloud in the sky at just the right moment; I gazed heavenward and saw the only cloud in the sky move in front of the sun, shading it with an outline of pearl-white lining, and it sat still for at least 30 seconds, creating a grey atmosphere. Notice this moment, you’re being blessed. The peace lingered until I decided to go over to where Kat was taking pictures. We talked for a few moments as she captured more garden pictures. I almost forgot the feeling until the blessing came…

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“What’s that flittering around the lantana?” Mom asked after we came back over to the door, about to go back in. We debated whether it was a hummingbird, because it flitted and darted the way the little bird does, in a fast-wing-motion. Mom realized, “I think it’s a hummingbird moth!” I have never seen one of those before! After doing the research (so much for not online researching; I had to go online to find out the species) I found that it is a white-lined sphinx moth, found in Central Texas, known as a desert moth, which only comes out in cool moist air, usually dusk, although it was 3:00 PM. It doesn’t like direct heat because the wings overheat easily. It needs to drink a lot of fluid to stay hydrated. Wow… Amazing! I am convinced the only reason we witnessed the beautiful moth was because of the cloud that rested in front of the sun for 30 seconds, which created the perfect climate for the moth to make its rounds. Maybe some could say, especially the older generation, “You need to get out more…” because it could be a common occurrence, but really it was not. Mom was as amazed as I am, and she enjoys the garden much more than I do. It was God and love.

So if you find yourself doubting God, or feel sad from life’s letdowns, take a little time in the natural world. The unnatural shall not cloud the natural; digital desires cannot remove spiritual needs. We will continue to yearn for more in life no matter how distracted multi-tasking has us. And we will continue to need nature in order to create a better argument against the demons that so often plague our mind.

In conclusion, climate change does not have to scare us, neither does the injustices of the world have to cause us despair, because God is not only loving but He is just and will guide everything, even the drifting clouds and the rebirth of spring.