Stump Removal:Removing the Hinderances From Experiencing God

Outline of Study:

Focus Verses:
Matthew 13:3 - 8 "Then He told them many things in parables, saying:  "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 and 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."
Exercise 1:  Read the focus verses and answer the following questions:
(1) To you, what do 'seeds' represent?
(2) What do the 'birds' represent?
(3) 'Thorns' -how do they 'choke' other plants?
(4) What are the 'other plants?'
(5) What does 'good soil' mean?

I.  Introduction-Covers purpose of study, key scriptures, terms, overview of study

II. First Tool - God Consciousness

III. Second Tool - Thought Life

IV. Final Tool - Intimacy

Lesson 1:  What's In Your Field: An Overview

Keep these terms in mind as we go through this study:

(A)Field..........the place where seeds are sown for a harvest; fields have order, purpose and plans
(B) Stumps........... embedded, rotted wood that is not serving a useful purpose; the things that keep you from living life abundantly
(C) Stump Removal....the actual removal of the stump in the field; getting rid of the 'hinderances' that inhibit our growth, our service, and our experiences with Our Father.
(D) Rocks, weeds, grass....Things that clog up the planting process; these represent the poor choices and bad decisions of our life
(E) Tap root....the anchor  that holds the stump in place; we too have a 'tap' root that holds things in place in our life.
(F) Tools....the instruments the farmer uses to work the field in order to gain the harvest; the activities that one must participate in consistently in order to achieve the success of having a stump removed
(G) Motivation....the force behind the stump removal; the Power that removes our stumps
(H) God consciousness......having God and His Word in the forefront of our thoughts
(I) Self consciousness......having yourself/your flesh at the center of your thought life
(J) Thought  life....what you spend time reviewing and building in your mind
(K) Toxic thoughts.....thoughts that destroy your spirit, steal your joy, block your effectiveness as a Christian serving, praising, and worshiping the Lord; these thoughts run perpendicular to the Word of God or in opposition to the Word of God.

    Sun rises over a field chilled by the soft, biting frost of late February. Leaving homes full of the comforting aromas of smoked bacon, platters of golden crusted biscuits dripping with fresh butter, America's farmers step into their fields. Looking hopeful, feeling full, strengthened, they walk to the barn and hook up ol' Jinny to an old wood and metal tool and begin a centuries old practice...plowing the fields in preparation for a harvest. We are not so very different from these old farmers.
     Every day, we awaken and look forward to gathering all the goodness we can glean from the field that God has given us to plow; we anticipate meeting Him and experiencing Him in this new day. Whether hopes for a prosperous harvest or hope for a better day than yesterday, the old farmer slowly walking with his mule to his field is not so different than we are as we dry off from the morning shower and gulp down our first steamy coffee of the day.  Both have hopes for a good harvest for the day.
     What happens when that farmer goes through the gate into his field ready to dig in, turn the soil, and plant the seeds only to notice something he had not seen before, something that appears to have gone unnoticed...what's that-a stump? did that get there, the old farmer asks, scratching his gray head. Ever wonder to yourself,"Whoa...where did that thought come from? or How did that happen?" Thoughts that pop up unexpectedly or things that happen to us that just appear out of nowhere cause pause to us...just as the stump did the old farmer.  Ok, decision time! Go around the stump? Dig it up? Bring on the dynamite? For us, do we avoid the circumstances; do we overlook the negative thoughts and act as if they didn't happen? What happens to us as we step into the marketplace and find that co-worker or boss that apears less than thrilled with your appearance on the job...uh-oh...a stump just popped up in your field! Do emotions rise up like the mist and cover our brains and decision making skills?
     Both stumps have the potential to destroy the hope of the harvest - the good harvest God has for us. The farmer walks around the stump-looking, studying that thing-wondering...what kind of stump is that? We have to identify the stumps in our field too.

The exercises you find in this study are for you.  You are welcome to share them or ask questions about the exercises, but please do not feel that you have to post your work.
Exercise 2:
 This exercise will help guide your thoughts about the stumps in your life. As you work through this exercise consider the following questions:
1. Based on the definition of a 'stump,' do you think God wants you to have stumps in your life?

2. If a stump is there, what positive or productive fruit is blocked by that stump?

STEP ONE:  Can you think of any emotion or circumstance that could be considered a 'stump' - something that is persistent or consistent in your life that you get aggravated with because it just keeps happening over and over and it stops you from experiencing God's Presence?  List any of these that come to you.

STEP TWO:  Can you identify any of the gateways or portals into your life that these 'stumps' entered into your life?  For example, some people identify fear as a stump in their lives. Fear blocks us from experiencing the fullness of God's desires and plans for us; however, if a child grew up being told that he/she would never amount to anything and they really should not even try anything worthy-that child might grow up with a spirit of fear that has kept them from attempting the many things that could have given them promotions or favor during their careers.  Decide if there was something from the past that haunts you today or is there something current that stirs up trouble for you and blocks you from experiencing God's full love, grace and mercy? So, list out or describe the way or ways you think these stumps popped up in your field.

STEP THREE:  What positive ways have you tried to rid yourself of these stumps?  Anger management classes? Self-helps?

FINAL STEP:  Rate your efforts based on the following scale:

My efforts have been:  ____Consistently  ____Occasionally ____Faithfully  ____Never

This exercise will help you determine how successful your positive efforts have been. If you see that your efforts have been lacking, perhaps this will serve to motivate a different approach to overcoming the hinderances.

The following outline will help you as you walk through this overview of the purpose of this study:
I. Draw a picture in your mind - Read Jeremiah 29:11
   a. We've been given a field
       1. Our field (our life) has order
        2. Has purpose
          3. Has boundaries
  b. The elements of our field
      1. Family
       2. Work
        3. Ministry
II. Obstacles to plowing/developing our field
     a. Thorns, weeds, rocks- everyday mistakes, bad decisions, poor choices
     b. Stumps - the thing that keeps us from working the field God has given us - blocks the plowing/developing of Jeremiah 29:11
       1. stumps take more effort to remove
        2. stumps run in opposition to God's plan/purpose (Jeremiah 29:11)
III. Looking more closely at the stump
    a. The stump was once part of a fruitful tree.
    b. Ravages of life came and damaged the tree.
Exercise 3:  Let's stop a moment and reflect by answering the following questions:
1. What are some good things that come from having trees?
2. How could the enemy counterfeit the goodness of God's plan for fruitful trees?
3. If a tree is damaged, cut down and a 'stump' remains...why would we need to remove it from our field?

IV. Anatomy of a 'stump'
     a.  Tap root - the thing that holds the stump in place
     b.  Root system - tiny, finer roots extending off the tap root
Consider this:
The tap root of a stump in our lives can be SELF - Look at what SELF stands for:
satan's energy living through our flesh  
When SELF gets involved in our life, the tiny, finer roots that God intended for us to utilize to build a strong, fruitful tree are perverted/counterfeited by satan's energy.  SELF, as the tap root, sets those 'stumps' into place into the field God wants us to develop in order to fulfil His plan/purposes for His Kingdom's Glory.

From that tap root of SELF, all sorts of other roots spring forth and try to destroy the 'good ground.' Consider that from SELF springs the following potential saplings:
Anger - breeds demonic influences, gives a person permission to be selfish, self entitlement, demandedness
Inadequacy - feelings that you can not achieve, good things were really not meant for you, feeds depression, anxiety
Doubt - brings a shadow, a cloud over life, constantly double checking yourself and everyone around you - no trust
Bitterness - a  bad seed that is continually developing - everything feeds into this seed without any real outcomes,  feeds inadequacies-can't really accomplish much if you walk with one heart filled with bitterness - it is a useless emotion
Greed - steals, robs our spirits of strength because the focus of our lives becomes what do I need, want and deserve, and I will do anything to get what I need, want and deserve - full of SELF
Selfishness - contains the word SELF - DANGER
Offense - leads to unforgiveness, physical illness, blocks or hinders our prayer life, our connection to being who we are designed to be according to God's plan/purposes for our lives
Unforgiveness - absolutely a hinderance, a block to receiving the blessings of God, takes up space in our fields, removes that ability for the 'good seeds' to be sown
Impatience - fear based behavior, sets up a sense of entitlement, judgementalism, legalism, demandedness, selfishness
Judgementalism - sets him or herself up in God's place
Legalism - shows no grace, no love, judgementalism, can make some Christians feel as if they are 'holier' than their brothers and sisters in Christ, entitlement to believe they know more than any other Christian thus blocking fellowship; these are the Christians that believe if it is not done their way the other person has no place in The Kingdom   
Prejudice - walks hand in hand with judgementalism, fear, legalism
Fear - which in turn produces depression, anxiety, paranoia
 Imagine what  kind of darkness would be produced if an entire forest of these types of trees were allowed to reproduce and reproduce from just that one 'stump' with the tap root of SELF.  Does this scenario bring about any picture of society? Read  Matthew  3:10 and 7:16 and 12:33.,John 15:2, Galations 5:22  Remember that in The Garden, God told Adam and Eve to not eat of the 'Tree of Good and Evil'-there was a reason for that. Consider that part of that root system may have contained "SELF."

 Final Focus Verse:  Luke 9:23 "...he must deny himself..."
Spend some time seeking Him about the tap root of SELF and how that has impacted your life. SELF tries to enter every one of our lives at some level and at some time. How we deal with it is to first recognize it - and then remove that 'stump' and its tap root.  That will be the next addition to this study; we will begin introducing tools to remove that stump. Have a blessed week in The Name of Jesus.