Sep 04

GOOD SEED; GOOD SOIL

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I love living in a farming community. Each spring we watch the farmers plant crops. We watch expectantly as tiny green shoots bud and grow in rows, reaching for the sun. We guess what each crop might be, sometimes “Googling” visual characteristics of plants in hopes of discovering what they may grow up to be.

Living in a farming community has also brought new meaning to Jesus’ parable of the sower and how it relates to me as a Christian, wanting to introduce His message to others.

 

“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 NIV)

 

In Matthew 13 (and Mark 4 and Luke 8) some seed (the message of the kingdom) falls on the hard ground of the path where it is trampled. Some seed falls on the rocky soil where people believe but then fall away. Some seed falls on thorny ground where worries of life destroy the person’s faith. Other seed falls on good soil where the person believes and lives a life that produces a healthy crop.

The good seed is always good. The good seed never changes; it is never different.

What is different is each person’s willingness to listen, understand and believe the truth of the kingdom that Jesus offers. People are the soil.

As Christians, we often talk about going out into the world to sow the good seed. We claim it is our job to just keep sowing and leave the results to Jesus.

That is true.

But living in a farming community has shown me that the farmer also has to prepare the soil.

Our responsibility is not just to sow seed. It is also to help prepare the soil. Maybe Jane rakes the top layer of hard packed dirt with an act of kindness. Edward picks up a rock to help clear the soil with a word of encouragement. Susan pulls out a thorny weed by listening to someone with compassion. Umberto, Sarah and others rake, pick, pull and till the soil until that formerly trodden, rocky, weedy ground has become good soil ready to receive the good seed.

Salvation for other people is never up to us humans. Salvation is always and ever only offered by Jesus. But as workers in the harvest, we not only can sow the message of the kingdom of God; we can also help prepare the soil for people to receive the message. We do that by what we say and do; how we live our lives, often without every speaking a word of the Gospel.

For introverts or folks who feel incapable of adequately sharing Jesus’ message verbally, knowing they can participate in the harvest by helping prepare the soil should be a huge encouragement. It is for me.

A healthy crop requires good seed. It also requires good soil. Then it must be watered and provided light. Jesus—the living water—also shines even in the darkness.

I love living in a farming community.

 

Aug 28

LAUNCH DAY: I AM RAHAB

I’m thrilled to announce the release of my latest study of the character and circumstances of women in the Bible. I am Rahab looks at the infamous Old Testament prostitute who helped the Jewish people win the battle for the City of Jericho.

RahabFRONT COVER

Before you dismiss the idea that modern Christian women might want to learn a lesson from a woman of “ill repute,” consider that each one of us living today has a past (and present) filled with sin. It is only through Jesus’ forgiveness that we are redeemed and called “righteous” in His eyes.

Just like Rahab.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? (James 2:25 NIV)

Here are a few of the lessons we can learn from the character and circumstances of Rahab. If any of these piques your interest, I hope you’ll look into this study of Rahab, the newest title in the With Faith Like Hers Bible study series available now at Amazon.com.

I Live in Jericho

  • I Live in a Pagan Society

  • A Spiritual Wall Separates Me From God

  • A Spiritual Wall Protects Me

  • Some Days I feel Trapped

There is a Battle

  • Spiritual Battle Surrounds Me

  • God’s Way Is Not Man’s Way

  • I Participate in God’s Battle

  • I Claim God’s Victory

My Character

  • I am Courageous

  • I Know What to Keep Secret

  • I am Considered Righteous

  • I Will Be Remembered for My Faith

  • I Know the Greater the Sin; the Greater the Love

I Can Be Used by God

  • God Can Use Anyone

  • I See God’s Power

  • I Help Others on God’s Team

  • I Know God Sees Me

I Witness

  • I Know the Power of Evangelism

  • I Have a Scarlet Cord

  • I Display My Scarlet Cord

  • I Work to Save My Family

My Future

  • I Joined God’s People

  • I See Grace Amid Justice

  • I Know God is in Heaven

  • I Know God is on Earth

  • I Listen for the Trumpet

Aug 21

ALIGNING HEAVEN AND EARTH

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image from Pixabay

No one knows when the Jesus will return. Even Jesus did not have an answer when his disciples asked him, saying

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:36)

What Jesus did say was for us to prepare for that day.

You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40)

We are to repent, turn away from sin and turn toward Him. We are to remain faithful and introduce other people to Jesus. But He will remain with us always (Matthew 28:20).

Today in North America, many people will step outside to observe the marvel of a total solar eclipse. Throughout history, people have believed that such a darkening of the sky signaled bad things to come. Myths abound in ancient cultures about dire consequences of such a startling celestial happening.

Below are a few verses from our Holy Bible that discuss similar solar events having taken place and still to occur. Whether today signals the end of everything is not my place to determine. My job, as Jesus said, is to remain faithful to Him.

So today, I’ll don my cardboard solar eclipse sunglasses and step outside along with several other million people (and Nasa scientists) sprinkled across the country. I’ll “ooh” and “ahh” and thank God for our universe and for keeping all those celestial bodies in their proper places.

But I’ll leave the when of the end times up to Him, thanking Him for already doing everything that needed to be done through Jesus so that I will be safe in Heaven with Him when that end time finally occurs.

Wherever you are today, and whenever the solar eclipse occurs over your particular place on this small blue globe, it’ll be the perfect opportunity for you also to thank God for His perfect plan in creating the heavens and the earth, for giving us a place on earth today and assuring a place in heaven forever.

Thank you, Jesus!

♥ ♥ ♥

For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light. Isaiah 13:10

Who commands the sun not to shine, And sets a seal upon the stars; Job 9:7

“Let the stars of its twilight be darkened; Let it wait for light but have none, And let it not see the breaking dawn; Job 3:9

Before them the earth quakes, The heavens tremble, The sun and the moon grow dark And the stars lose their brightness. Joel 2:10

“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord GOD, “That I will make the sun go down at noon And make the earth dark in broad daylight. Amos 8:9

before the sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain; Ecclesiastes 12:2

“And when I extinguish you, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud And the moon will not give its light. Ezekiel 32:7

The sun and moon grow dark And the stars lose their brightness. Joel 3:15

“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Matthew 24:29

“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, Mark 13:24

“The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. Joel 2:31

‘The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. Acts 2:20

I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; Revelation 6:12

because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. Luke 23:45

“All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you And will set darkness on your land,” Declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 32:8

“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, Luke 21:25

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