Thrive (verb) – To Grow Vigorously
If we took a poll and asked a simple question: “Given the choice, would you rather thrive, or
fail?” What would the majority say? Based on the money generated from self-help books, weight loss companies, fitness
coaches, and nutritionists, I think it’s safe to assume that generally, we aim to live healthy lives. In the same sense,
the amount of time we spend in worship to the Lord, reading His Word, and praying to Him reflects our desire to be holy.
The manifestations of physical and spiritual vitality are clear and tangible. We call this “bearing fruit.”
I personally experienced a turning point in my own health about nine years ago. Despite
being in my twenties, I felt lethargic and unhealthy. I turned to a friend, Annessa Chumbley for help. She is a registered
dietician and had helped countless people before me. She asked me to record my daily food intake for a week. I vividly recall
being embarrassed when it was time to turn the food journal over to her. She assured me that everyone starts somewhere, and
there is no shame in being courageous enough to make a change. My diet then consisted of: several sodas a day, chips, fried
foods, and of course… ice cream. When she asked me what vegetables I liked to eat, I remember giving her a confused
look, and answering, “Um… lettuce, corn, and potatoes?” She smiled, and with no judgement, handed me a
nutritional plan that started me on a new path toward better health. I learned to appreciate the beauty, taste, and nutrients
God lovingly added to the foods He created. I continued the journey from there and found that I feel best on a plant based
diet. I learned that what I put into my body really does make a difference. Junk made me feel like junk,
and the food God created made me feel vibrant again.
“For physical training is of some value, but Godliness
has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” ~ 1 Timothy
Spiritually, we have the same opportunity. Just like eating whole foods
can change our health dramatically, allowing God’s Word to feed our soul will nourish us spiritually. The choice is
ours and we will either bear fruits of having a safe haven in the Lord, or instead, create our own spiritual famine. Life
doesn’t pause long enough to keep us somewhere in the middle.
spoke clearly about the importance of hearing His Word, and the condition of our heart:
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering
the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much
soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered
because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good
soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
~ Matthew 13:3-9
Then, Jesus explained the parable:
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:
When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was
sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the
word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution
comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word,
but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on
good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred,
sixty or thirty times what was sown.” ~ Matthew 13:18-23
Jesus warns us of different scenarios we can encounter. But, if we cling to
His Word, endure trials, bear good fruits, choose not to worry, and keep our hearts open to Him, we will flourish spiritually.
As Colossians 1:9-10 says, let us ask God to fill us with the knowledge of His will. With wisdom and understanding, we will
bear fruit and grow in the knowledge of God. Together, let’s choose today to thrive in the Lord.
Have a blessed day!
“For What is Your
This month, I will be writing my last article for this page I have been tending for a while. It has been a privilege
to have responsibility for some of the content of "Earthen Vessels," and I look forward to having new assignments
on a different page in the Fall, if the Lord wills.
Thinking about the title of this page—“Earthen Vessels”—it is a beautiful analogy that the Spirit reveals in 2 Corinthians
"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts,
to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God,
and not of us."
Christians are compared to earthen vessels, or, as some versions say, “jars of clay.”
God has taken an immeasurable gift, the gospel of Christ, and chosen us to be the vessels that carry this good news
to the lost and dying in the world! Sometimes, we wonder how such weak, fallible creatures can be entrusted with something
It is like when we have a valuable piece of jewelry. It may have cost us a great deal or been something that had
much sentimental value. We take that jewelry and place it in a special container, and then we store it in a safe place, such
as a vault or a secured, secret spot in our home.
God has placed the gospel in our hearts deep within our fragile bodies.
In our human thinking, it would almost seem like God chose the wrong “box” for His treasure! However, He
assures us that we do not have to worry about its safety, because God protects His glorious revelation! Jesus said in Matthew
5:18, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or
one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” It is shared by His grace with
more and more people as Christians carry it and it is illuminated by the light of Jesus in their lives. (2 Cor. 4:15)
“...The surpassing power belongs to God and not to us….”(2 Cor. 4:7, ESV)
God does not make
mistakes! If he had given us indestructible, immortal, perfect bodies here, we would undoubtedly boast in ourselves instead
of giving God the glory and praising Him for His incredible plan of redemption! The apostle Paul was very aware of his own
fragile body, as he carried the gospel to others. He said in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10,
He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will
I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore
I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when
I am weak, then am I strong.
Paul knew that God, in His wisdom, wants each of
us to rely on Him and His strength rather than to glory in ourselves. Each of us can certainly relate to Paul in reflecting
how God has still used us, even though we may have physical infirmities and though we have not reached perfection in our spiritual
The past year has brought more personal clarity to the subject of mortality and weakness than ever before. Attending
my first death (my mother) solidified the cycle of life and death in my mind. One minute, there is life in the body, and the
next, the spirit has left and returned to God. What is left is a miserable, crumbling shell that in no way reflects the treasure
it once held. There is no beauty and no glory as the light goes out! Our eyes look away from the pitiful shard of lifeless,
broken pottery and look heavenward, hoping against hope to catch a glimpse of the light and life which flies away! Yet we
know that time has not yet come, for we shall only see them again when that soul returns in glory with Christ in the last
day! That hope we have of seeing them again is what sustains us and comforts us.
I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which
have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died
and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” (I Thessalonians 4:13-14)
Death is inevitable. 2 Samuel 14:14 says, “For we must
needs die, and are as water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.” This should not depress
us but rather spur us on to make the most of our lives here and look forward to eternal life with our Father!
As we walk through this time “under the sun,” I believe
there are some truths that we can hold onto about life in these earthen vessels!
is a gift from God, our Father!
some wonderful verses which remind us that God purposely made us and what a gift our life is! Here are some excerpts from
But now, thus says the
Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you
by your name;
You are Mine.
you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you
shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel,
Since you were precious in My sight,
have been honored,
And I have loved you;
I will give men for you,
And people for your life.
not, for I am with you…..
Everyone who is
called by My name,
Whom I have created for My glory;
have formed him, yes, I have made him.
This is another beautiful passage about God and His creation of us:
17:24-28 “ God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is
Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
Neither is worshipped with
men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before
appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
That they should seek the Lord, if haply
they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
For in him we live,
and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
God didn't just
create us to set us on Earth and leave us floundering without a purpose! He wants us to live joyful lives full of meaning!
9:7-8-- “Go, eat your bread with joy,
drink your wine with a merry heart;
For God has already accepted your works.
Let your garments always be white,
And let your head lack no oil.”
Jeremiah 29:11, ESV “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the
Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Life is brief!
Job commented on the brevity of life: "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, And come
to an end without hope. Oh, remember that my life is
a breath…! (Job 7:6-7)
James 4:14 mirrors the same thought: “Whereas you do not know what will
happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears
for a little time and then vanishes away.”
God did not will for man to ever die. Satan introduced death
into the world when he deceived Eve (Genesis 3). Many centuries later, Jesus defeated Death on the cross,
where he gave the hope of ETERNAL life to all who will believe in Him and obey Him!
11:25,26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes
in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
It is hard for many of us to accept that we will die at some point, and whether
we are young or old when we die, our life will have been brief in the grand scheme of things. Yet, we must accept it and live
as though we could die at any moment.
Life is unsure!
Like Isaac, in Genesis 27:2, “I know not the day of my death.” We
all must face death, unless the Lord returns first. I think that most are aware of this truth at some level, but most do not
live like it is a certainty. That is why the wise man Solomon admonishes in Ecclesiastes 12:
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy
youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun,
or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: In the day when the keepers
of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those
that look out of the windows be darkened, And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low,
and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; Also when they shall
be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall
be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the
silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the
cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7).
We never have any promise of one more day. We must take God seriously every day that we have on earth. He gave us
life, and He has every right to recall that life whenever He sees fit. We need to pray for wisdom to understand our mortality!
Psalms 39:4 "LORD,
make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am.”
Life is vain!
We remember the words of the wisest man on earth—Solomon, who spent years analyzing the
lives of men on this earth and trying to understand the meaning of life. He concluded,
of vanities,” says the Preacher,
But he also stated,
joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of
vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun.”
And in the final
chapter of Ecclesiastes, in which he had thoroughly discussed the meaning of life, this was his final thought:
us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments,
this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.”
Yes, life is vain.
The span of time we spend on the earth is short in comparison to eternity. Most of the tasks we perform daily will not matter,
nor will anyone remember them. Yet, we all have work to do and duties to perform. We must always remember to keep our priorities
straight and attend to those tasks that have the ability to impact our eternity!
3:11-- …He has put eternity in their hearts….”
Life is in Jesus!
Life, in and of itself, is vain, which means “producing no result,
useless.” However, when one gets “into Christ,” life suddenly has meaning and can produce good fruit!
Galatians 2:20—“I have
been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I
live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
8:1-2—“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,
who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law
of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Life here on Earth was not an afterthought of God’s. There was forethought and planning
and purpose. Only when we seek out God’s will for our lives will they then have the meaning God intended. God created
us to be WITH Him. Eternity will take up where it was interrupted by man’s fall in the Garden of Eden. Someday, we will
live in another Paradise—not on Earth but in Heaven! God has purposed that there is only one way to get back to Him,
and that is through life in Christ.
is a beautiful song, penned by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend called “In Christ Alone.” There is hardly a more
beautiful song to tell what it means to live “in Christ.” Without Christ, LIFE is meaningless, pointless, vain.
Solomon was the wisest man to ever live; yet, at the end of his life, he forsook God’s commandments and did as he wanted.
He left a legacy of sons and grandsons who also forsook God and led Israel and Judah into complete departure from God. When
one forsakes the commandments of God and rejects His Son and His Spirit, that man’s life is truly vain. His earthly
life is sad, but his eternal life will be sadder.
We must all take God’s offer seriously and figure out if our lives
are in vain or if we are in Christ! We must make the right choice before our earthen vessels return to the earth, realizing
each breath is a gift from the Giver of life.
In Christ Alone
In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the
death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.
"In Christ Alone"
and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001
Kingsway Thankyou Music