Sow & Gather

Seasons of Life

Wait Expectantly!

Seasons of LifeMarci AnthonyComment
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I the LORD do not change. Malachi 3:6 NIV 

It was the fall of the year and the seasonal change was all around as I sat in our one-room farm school, looking over the fields ripe with corn, waiting to be harvested. Suddenly the teacher said, “Next week, boys and girls, you will have a holiday.” Holiday…sure! I knew it was the time to harvest rocks laying in the rows of corn waiting to be harvested by my family-- the corn that would pay for our family’s food in the year to come. 

Ironically, today I am a rock collector. There are rocks resting inside and outside my home from countries near and far. They are a reminder of our God in Psalms 18:1-2, telling us He is our rock, fortress, rescuer, shelter, strength. He never changes through summer, winter or spring, in times of pain, sorrow or joy. He delights to pick us up and carry us. He delights in our quiet moments of the day as we rest in Him, and He loves us with an everlasting love. These rocks are a reminder of many who are dead in their souls, waiting to be picked up, ripe for the harvest. Remember, God is that grace and strength needed to change the dead into life, just as He did for you and me on Calvary. 

P.S. Pick up a rock today! 

Digging Deeper |

Psalm 31:3; Psalm 110:4; Romans 8:38-39 

Action Item |

Wait expectantly for a rock in your path. 

Prayer |

Lord, give us eyes to see the opportunities You place in our way each day.  Give us hands and feet willing to accomplish the purpose You lay before us each day, the sharing of Your Gospel.  And thank You, Lord, for entrusting us with the awesome privilege of reflecting Your love through our lives. Amen 

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Listen Quickly!

Seasons of LifeMarci AnthonyComment
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My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19 NIV 

I love to talk. I enjoy talking and conversing with others about my wonderful family, my job, activities at church, taking dance lessons with my husband and especially my opinions on the topics of life. Now, I wouldn’t say I speak constantly, but I definitely can carry a conversation. I have much to share and want others to hear all about my life and my opinions. 

After one such conversation, my husband took me aside and quietly pointed out that my directness and my many words were offending the people I had been conversing with. Well, I became livid! Are you kidding me? I know how to speak without offending others! 

However, I began to think about what he said and I started praying and talking to God about my words. My husband was right. God showed me I needed to change the way I communicate. 

In the verse above, James states we should be quick to listen and slow to speak. I was doing the exact opposite. I was speaking but not listening. So, I asked Jesus to change me, and I started practicing using fewer words.  

Wow! This verse is truly hard to execute, but now I listen and I am even purposeful in my conversations. I begin by focusing on the other person and their words, even looking at their eyes as they speak. I ask questions about their life and opinions, giving them time to share. By listening, I want them to know I care about them. 

Now, I still love to talk, but I have seen how God has changed me. I truly have begun to listen quickly. 

Digging Deeper |

Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 21:23; Psalm 141:3

Action Item |

Listen quickly, speak less! 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, You are the ultimate listener and the kindest speaker. Help me to listen more and speak less, as You do. Amen. 

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Season in the Desert

Seasons of LifeMarci AnthonyComment
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Some  wandered in desert wastes,     finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, 
    their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,     and he delivered them from their distress.  He led them by a straight way     till they reached a city to dwell in.  Let them thank the Lord  for his steadfast love,     for his wondrous works to the children of man!  For he  satisfies the longing soul,    and the hungry soul he fills with good things
Psalm 107:4-9 ESV 

My four-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer a month after we moved to a new state. Our support network of friends and family were now almost 800 miles away. The moving boxes were barely even unpacked when we received the cancer diagnosis. Our life was plunged into a desert season.  As we watched our precious child struggle through chemo side effects, we felt like we were wandering in the desert wastes.  As we saw his hair fall out and he stopped eating because of mouth sores, our souls fainted within us. 

We spent three long months in the heart of that desert. During his five rounds of chemo, we cried out to the Lord. His deliverance felt slow in coming because of our desperate need.  However, HE was there with us and sustained us. The Lord was teaching us to depend on Him. This wasn’t an easy time. Deserts never are.  Sometimes we desperately prayed to even make it through five more minutes of watching our son suffer.  

We learned, like the Israelites, that God was leading us by a “straight way.”  As we cried out to God during our trials, we trusted him to get us through.  God can refine you to not rely on anything other than Him. From our desert season, we emerged with a deep dependence on God. 

Pediatric cancer wasn’t our first desert season and I know it won’t be our last.  But with each trip through the desert, we learn greater dependence on God and greater trust in His love for us. I can truly say that God satisfies my longing soul, and that He fills my soul with good things and I can thank Him for His steadfast love. I’m happy to share that my son has been in remission for over a year.  Praise the Lord! 

Your desert might not be a physical illness. It might be an extended period of singleness while you desperately long for marriage. It might be a turbulent time in your marriage where you just can’t seem to get on the same page with your spouse. It might be a career issue, a wayward child, struggling with depression, or any number of things. 

Please know that whatever your struggle is, the Bible shows us that we can endure the desert. We know that God is by our side and the desert season will eventually end. It is only a moment along the straight path God has planned for us and God will certainly use it for good. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! 

Dig Deeper | 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8Psalm 107Romans 8:18-28 

Action Item |

If you find yourself in a desert season, cry out to God and trust that He will satisfy your longing soul. 

Prayer |

Heavenly Father, I know that your will is to sometime have me endure a period in the desert. While my circumstance might not change, I know that you can satisfy the deep need and hunger in my soul. God, deliver me from this time with a greater appreciation of your goodness and steadfast love. Amen. 

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Broken-Hearted Worship

Seasons of LifeMarci AnthonyComment
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Open my lips Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.  Psalm 51:15-17 NIV

Ok, I have to admit it. There have been many Sundays that I have faked my way through church. I am embarrassed to admit this and it’s not something that I’m proud of. There have been Sunday mornings when I have passed many of you in the hallways at church, we both smile and greet each other with the customary, “hello,” or “good morning.” But on the inside, I’m not feeling particularly “good.” 

Sometimes during small group time on Sunday mornings, my mind has drifted. My eyes and facial expression display an attentive and compelling listening face, when in reality my heart and my thoughts are miles away. Sadly, I have “participated” in the church service, going through the motions of standing, singing and selectively hearing the sermon as my mind recounted and rehashed all of the things on my to-do list for the coming week. 

So many distractions; so many opportunities to get bogged down by the weight of our circumstances. Many times we walk through life just going through the motions, not really present in the moment and definitely not in a good place spiritually.  

Psalm 51:15 says, “Open my lips Lord and my mouth will declare your praise.” I admit that the last thing I want to do when I am feeling down is sing praises, but in times of trouble it does help me to talk it out.  

I find that when I am desperate for God’s grace, if I will just focus on one thing that I’m grateful for in my life, and give Him thanks for that one thing, my cloudy outlook suddenly begins to spring forth glimpses of light. I begin to stop feeling sorry for myself, and start seeing all of the benefits that God has provided for me. 

As you begin to think about praising God for all He has done, something happens to your heart. Your spiritual heart warms and you begin to see things in a different way. You start to wonder why you weren’t happy and your attitude shifts from self to God. This is the preparation your heart goes through as it prepares itself for you to worship God. You can praise anyone or anything, but God is the only One who deserves and commands our worship. 

In the Old Testament, people would sacrifice animals, offering them to God as an atonement for their sins. It was also used as a form of worship. The preparation of the animal was preparing their hearts to worship God. I am thankful for Jesus who became that sacrifice for us. If nothing else makes you smile, the fact that Jesus died for you and me warms my heart and changes my attitude and outlook. 

Is your heart broken? Are you faking it, or are you ready to get real, get on your knees and lift your hands to the heavens and praise and worship your King of Kings? 

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 138:4; Psalm 18:3; John 4:23

Action Item |

If you’re not having a good day, take time to think about one thing you’re thankful for. See if that thought doesn’t lead to other thoughts of thankfulness, and hopefully, your heart will begin to transform. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace. I’m sorry for the times that I’m fake. Help me to be authentic in my praise and worship to You. Transform my negative thoughts into a thankful heart.  

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Do We Use Our "Season of Life" As an Excuse?

Seasons of LifeMarci AnthonyComment
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He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding.
Daniel 2:21 ESV 

A few years ago, a friend mentioned that during certain "seasons of life" I might need to modify my expectations or commitments. That sounded really good to me. As transitions and responsibilities were changing at home with a teenager and with my work, I needed to give myself some grace and let go of a few things. 

In the past I've been known to willy-nilly pull back from commitments when life gets overwhelming. This time I was going to be intentional about what commitments and responsibilities I would add or keep in my already full life. There was prayer about my priorities and asking myself tough questions about the long-term and short-term impact of my choices.  

I pulled back on volunteering related to my career and added volunteering related to our child's involvement at school. There are so many good things we participate in, but it doesn't mean it is the right thing at the right time. 

Lately, I'm pondering if pulling back and saying no because of my "season of life" has become an excuse to avoid commitments that God is calling me to make. I find when I'm not motivated to take on a new task, I think, "It's okay. It's my season of life." It's starting to feel like an excuse because it is an excuse.  

In the book of Judges, there is a man named Gideon. Gideon is scared because his community and surrounding land is occupied by the enemy. Gideon is hiding out from the enemy and hiding out from God. God repeatedly calls Gideon to step out of his comfort zone and trust God in the next right choice.   

Gideon finally trusted God. The path God set Gideon on was not always easy. Over and over Gideon had to make the next right choice to align himself with God's will and purpose for his life throughout the ever-changing seasons.  

For reasons I haven't narrowed down yet, I am avoiding an opportunity and a blessing from God. I took a positive concept of focusing my time and energy on the next right thing and turned it into a way to avoid answering God when he calls me into the next season of life.  

Don't miss out on a blessing. Follow God into the next season. 

Dig Deeper|

Judges 6

Action Item|

Ask God to show you where He wants you committing your time, energy, and money during this season of life. Here are two books I've found helpful: Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman and You're Made For A God-Sized Dream by Holly Gerth. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, I don't know why I often run in circles looking for the right "thing" to do. I know that you will always clear the path and guide me. Give me clarity on what is the next best thing for me to do that serves you first, serves my family, and serves my community. Amen. 

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