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What It Takes To Flourish

When we choose to flourish, we pick up gems from each other to pop inside our spiritual wallet and reinvest back into ourselves. It's a rich and nourishing give-and-receive, building up process.


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Below, is the overall message from our topic, What It Takes To Flourish.


It may seem a little unusual, but we considered each verse in Luke 6:6-11 along with an eight-step plan towards flourishing that I’ve come up with. I think it can be effective – it works in my life – but see what you think!


This story is of Jesus healing the withered hand of a man on the Sabbath day – a day when no ‘work’ was supposed to be done. We considered how these eight steps may be applied in this story.


Luke 6:6-11 (NLT) Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” 10 He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 11 At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.


Eight-Step Plan to Flourish

Stagnate: the place from where we feel stuck and realise something needs to change.

Eliminate: things from our lives that are not helping us and can be causing us to wither.

Meditate: what we reflect on according to God’s word and absorb into our heart.

Resonate: with something that has struck a deep cord within us as we’ve meditated.

Illuminate: something becomes our lightbulb moment; an idea that is revealed in some way which can help us to see that we can, and how we might, move forward.

Navigate: a conceptualised plan toward a hopeful place

Cultivate: the nuts and bolts of what needs to be developed and established in order to flourish

Consecrate: ourselves and our plans to God and surrender to Him so He can direct our steps and produce a blessing over it.


Stagnate

Luke 6:6 (NKJV)

Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He [Jesus] entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. 


Stagnation feels like a withered hand. Something is not useful or not working in our life. We’re stuck.


Stagnate is a verb: a doing word. Why is that relevant? Because that means there’s a choice involved. There is something that can be done about it.


The Cambridge Dictionary defines stagnate: to stay the same and not to grow.  However, the Collins Thesaurus offers these synonyms next to stagnate: vegetate, decay, decline, idle, languish, rot, rust.


If Something Doesn’t Grow or Develop, It Decays

These synonyms demonstrate that to not grow means more than standing still; it means a gradual worsening effect. In not growing and developing, we stagnate and decay.


It is vital to be intentional about revising our life in order to produce something good. Honour every part of our life!


Idleness is not our friend. Self-pity is destructive and a form of stagnation. A defeatist or resigned attitude does not exhibit faith. An unproductive, lazy attitude will lead to poverty (Proverbs 10:4).


2 Thessalonians 3:11, 13 (NIV)

11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.  13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.


Even though idleness infers inactivity it can be disruptive, which is not inactive. This scripture gives us the antidote – get busy doing good.


If we think of areas of our lives that are stagnant like a useless, withered hand, perhaps that will give us the impetus to see the immediate need to correct and reverse damaging effects by making decisions to do good and flourish.


How do we put a plan in place? First, we can consider what we might ELIMINATE from our lives.


Eliminate

Luke 6:7 (NLT)

The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.


What needed to be eliminated in order for the man to flourish?


Jesus needed to weed out the stagnant thinking of the religious leaders and what the religious leaders were teaching the people. They clearly didn’t care about the man’s hand. They couldn’t care less for him personally – their hearts were so hardened that they were only interested in whether Jesus was going to ‘do’ something they thought He shouldn’t on the Sabbath (the day of rest).


Sometimes we may need to eliminate people from our lives. In some cases we might like to but it's not possible, or even best. When we know something is damaging our ability to flourish, we need to assess what we should eliminate about that situation.


Once we recognise that, we can consider what needs to shift in our thinking. A new mindset must take place. This next stage needs some quiet reflection.


Meditate

Luke 6:8a (NLT)

But Jesus knew their thoughts….


Popular thinking largely focuses on meditation as an eastern practise that promotes the idea of relaxing the mind by emptying one’s mind, which then leads to other spiritual journeys. There are different ‘mindful’ practises that offer ways to release negative flows of energy and promote clarity.


This comes from eastern philosophy that is not based on Christ as its source. I say this because some of these practises are sneaking their way into the church and Christian’s thinking and I’m here to say it shouldn’t. I’ve heard this justification from Christians by using 1 John 4:1 as their covering - ‘it's fine as long as we "test the spirits"’. I don’t believe that’s the context of what this bible verse is referring to because it was previously talking about abiding in Christ. Put simply, if the source is not from Christ the spirits won’t be either (1 John 4:3 says “and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist…”). God said clearly to the Israelites entering into a new land not to take on the practises of those nations. Hello?


What is biblical meditation?


To reflect on the Word of God and God’s nature. How does it compel us? How does it expose our inner self? How does it change us? Heal us? What does the Holy Spirit reveal to us as we ponder Him? Biblical meditation allows God’s Word to absorb our heart and complete us. We can apply what we know to our choices and how we live from the desire that’s placed in our heart as we meditate on Him. When we do that, we begin to resonate with the thoughts that are produced from that meditation – by His Holy Spirit. We listen with our spirit, our hearts and then our minds.


Finally, to meditate is a verb. It’s a doing word. It requires a type of action. The Oxford dictionary meaning is to “focus one’s mind for a period of time…”, or “to think deeply about something”.


We see that a dictionary reference to meditation is not to empty one’s mind, but to reflect.


Biblical meditation is about as holistic as you can get. Coming into the presence of God relaxes our body as we rest, assures our heart as we absorb Him, and renews our mind as we reflect.


Resonate

Luke 6:8b (NLT)

He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. 


The man came forward. Despite the resistance from the religious leaders. Despite their hard faces. He came forward with perhaps trepidation, but also with courage. What was he resonating with in this exchange? The hope for healing!


Why did Jesus say 'stand in front of everyone' when He knew there was such resistance? It was a spectacle. We begin to see Jesus doing something borne out of what was resonating within Him, too. His own consideration of the religious leaders’ thoughts resonated against them and led Him to illuminate the action he took. He surrendered to what the Holy Spirit wanted to reveal.


From a point of deep reflection we begin to resonate with what speaks to our situation. This is the beginning of the position we will decide to take. As a believer we have the mind of Christ, so as we read the bible and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us we resonate with what He’s placing in our hearts. The thoughts we have are in recognition of that.


1 Corinthians 2:16 (AMPC)

For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.


Illuminate

Luke 6:9 (NLT)

Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”


Consider that Jesus was illuminating the need to bring about life in every situation. Jesus was saying that to not heal that man on the Sabbath was evil. He was talking about saving a life not just a withered hand. ‘Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?’


Illumination brings clarity regarding how to think and how to tackle something. Illumination brings resolution. Sometimes we can be resolved to something that isn’t actually good or true, just like the religious leaders. They were certain they were right.


So, how could they be so wrong?


How can we truly know if we have it right?


Make sure what is being illuminated to you is life-giving not destroying.

This is where I believe the potential to flourish is most at risk. This is where perception and identification of what is right leads us to our next course of action. So it needs to be grounded on what is right.


Illumination allows us to begin dreaming again. Dreaming can be a huge shift if we’ve stagnated; we’ve lost our dreams, the life we held dear, or perhaps even our desire to dream again. To actually dream again after loss and stagnation takes courage but the bible says vision (of God’s redemptive plan) is vital; so vital that without it we die. (Proverbs 29:18.) That would be the final form of stagnating, wouldn’t it? That’s not what God wants for us! God has a redemptive plan for us.


Illumination allows us to begin to navigate our way forward.


Navigate

Luke 6:10a (NLT)

He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” 


Jesus considered what was going on in front of Him. He looked at them one by one. Recognising the responses from the religious leaders, the man with the withered hand, the people watching, recognising that this was an example He was setting, recognising for some it would be a marvel but for others it would be reproachable, He chose the only thing He could do. He obeyed the Father’s will and brought a redemptive plan.


Jesus navigated this experience with decisiveness.


Staci McLean, one of the ladies who shared at The THRESHING FLOOR, brought this thought which I loved. Stretch and hold. Jesus asked the man to stretch out his hand (ESV translation). The above translation (NLT) says Jesus asked him to hold out his hand. The principle of stretching and holding is how we can navigate effectively. We have to be prepared to stretch. Then we have to be prepared to hold ourselves in that position for a time. Isn’t that key?


I’d like to add to that thought (as we do at The THRESHING FLOOR), we don’t always feel that we’re moving forward, even when we’re trying. Change doesn’t often come immediately. This principle of stretching and holding is a prime example of how we move ahead even without realising it. After stretching we must hold for a time; then we need to stretch again and hold again. It's not just once. Stretch again and hold there. Stretch again and hold. Stretch and hold. It’s a slow and perhaps painful or frustrating process. Incrementally, we will move forward.


I think this is such an encouraging picture because when we’re wanting to flourish, we can anticipate it being like one dramatic, swooping ta-daaa move that brings immediate results, like that of a magician. Hey presto!! But most of the time, flourishing happens in hard-won, at times inconspicuous stages and through it, we are being changed to be able to handle the flourishing that we seek.


Once we’ve begun to (patiently) navigate the path we’ve chosen, we must also cultivate what we’re attempting to establish. Back yourself. How will you plow, plant, nurture, and follow through?


Cultivate

Oxford Dictionary definition:

to prepare and use; to acquire or develop.


Luke 6:10b

So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!


What was Jesus cultivating in this exchange? Obviously, healing. Faith, for sure. But what would have happened if Jesus had suddenly got cold feet and decided it would be better not to rock the boat?


If Jesus hadn’t established Himself as above their law He wouldn’t have established who He was.


Don't be afraid to rock the boat. What is God calling you to cultivate and bring to fruition?


Mark 2:27 (NIV)

The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.


Jesus wasn’t afraid to do things differently to expectations. Not for the sake of it. He was cultivating new ground so that He could heal and restore life because things were not as they should be. He was bringing His redemptive plan to earth. His desire is to see us flourish. Can you see that?


We cultivate what is important to us. If we’re not cultivating, we’re not building or growing. It’s important to keep defining and refining – what am I trying to establish and build? For what purpose?


As we cultivate, we want to do things for the right reasons. We want to know that our work will not be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). So, we need to consecrate ourselves to the Lord, that the way we flourish would be fitting.


Consecrate

Luke 6:11 (NKJV)

But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.


Consider what Jesus was consecrated to. What was He needing to illustrate to bring about life in the situation?


From the beginning of this story we see Jesus’ attitude towards people; towards the man with the withered hand. He cared. Whereas the Pharisees opposing him didn’t care, Jesus consecrated Himself and His work to people and what He had come to earth to restore. Restore the earth and people to the Kingdom of God as it was originally intended. He came to save, afterall, everything which was lost (Luke 19:10) at the fall in the Garden of Eden. He was primarily obedient to the Father’s will. He did what the Father said to do and said what the Father said to say. He was consecrated 100%, 100% of the time.


Consecrating is a typically Christian process. We reclaim our position (which was lost at the fall). We stand in it, in the name of Jesus (in His authority instead of our own, because that was also lost at the fall). We entrust ourselves to Him. Everything we do should be about Jesus (because our identity was also lost at the fall). Jesus came that we could be restored and made complete again.


Because of Jesus, we no longer have to remain stagnant and stuck. Remember, how it’s a choice?


As a Christian we pray over our lives – part of that prayer-life should be a daily consecration. To me, part of consecration is declaration; remaining before God’s face, re-establishing my position, my identity and my authority in Him.


When we have sought Him in this way, and we consecrate ourselves and our steps to Him, He will bless the outcome and cause us to flourish.


The process of flourishing is an intentional and dedicated process. It isn’t easy but it is full of reward.


Pressed Down, Shaken Together and Running Over

Luke 6:38 (NLT)

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

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