10/31/05

Encouragement for Today

 

“The Pumpkin Patch”

Luann Prater, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

 

Key Verse:

1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be misled:  Bad company corrupts good character.”  (NIV)

               

Devotion:

My husband had a very successful garden last year.  The neighbors, our friends and family all raved about the delicious tomatoes our rich soil produced.  He so tenderly pulled weeds, faithfully watered and lifted the fragile branches onto supports so they wouldn’t become overburdened.  Oh, the reward of biting into that first juicy tomato still makes my mouth water. 

 

This year he decided to expand from his humble beginnings and plant a few extra things.  He started with his two rows of tomatoes, like last year.  Then he chose cantaloupe, cucumbers, squash, and peppers.  There was one more item he had always longed to try – pumpkins.  It was a childhood dream and he couldn’t decide between two favorite types, so he got them both, the jack-o-lantern style and the one labeled GIANT PUMPKIN. 

 

Before we left on vacation everything looked so green and lush.  He did notice, however, the pumpkins seemed to be particularly happy in this little patch because they were beginning to sprawl out a bit.  Not to worry, he would let them go until we returned.

 

It’s amazing what can happen in seven short days.  The pumpkins had taken over!  They had not only sprawled, they conquered everything in their path!  The tomato supports had been bulldozed, the squash was, well, squashed and the cucumbers were completely hidden from view.  Every red juicy tomato was lying busted and rotting on the ground.  What a mess!  The pumpkins?  They were doing just great!  And, evidently destroying the garden wasn’t enough; they were now spilling over into the yard and flowers!

 

It usually happens just that innocently with us too, doesn’t it?  When we start hanging out with fun-loving people, or folks who like to gossip or those who don’t quite see things from a godly perspective, we think, oh what difference does it make!  I don’t want to seem like a snob.  And so we let a few extra things start setting up camp in our life. It seems fun, exciting and even beautiful to have someone to commiserate with for awhile, but then we notice it – the sprawl. 

 

The character traits of these friends are beginning to rub off.  Our husbands notice, our friends notice, and our children may even get the drift that something is not quite right.  And before we know it, our world is being crushed; it’s a mess! 

 

Take a tally today.  With whom are you spending time?  Are you surrounding yourself with those who help strengthen your Christian walk and draw you closer to God?  Is your garden of life being taken over by some seemingly fun, negative, gossiping acquaintances disguised as friends?  Don’t be misled.

 

My Prayer for Today:

Father, as I enter this day, give me Your keen eyesight to see those people in my life who lead me away from You.  I ask for Your strength to walk away from gossip, turn from momentary fun that is not pleasing to You, and to speak positive words of encouragement to anyone who touches my life.  Build my character today to be more like You.  I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Application Steps: 

Read 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 and Colossians 3:1-17.

 

Make a list of all of the people who inhabit your daily life.  Circle the Christian influences on that list.  Put a question mark beside the names who seem to influence you away from godly behavior. 

 

Multiply your Christian friends today by calling two you admire, but have never spent time with and ask them to lunch, coffee, or just for a chat at church.

 

Reflection Points:         

Why are you drawn to people who lead you astray?

 

Who contributes the most negative input into your day?

 

What step can you take today to be more positive and Christ-like?

 

When do you feel the most vulnerable to “hang” with these people?

 

Power Verses: 

Colossians 3:2, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” (NIV)

 

1 John 4:1, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God. “ (NIV)

 

1 Peter 2:11, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” (NIV)

 

Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (NIV)

 

Additional Resources: 

Sandpaper People, by Mary Southerland

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_sandpaperPeople.htm

 

Traveling Together, by Karla Worley

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_travelingTogether.htm

 

At Home with God, by Sharon Jaynes

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_atHome.htm