FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Seed Snatcher

In the Parable of the Sower, we read:

“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”  (Matthew 13:1-9 ESV)

This, perhaps more so than others, seems to be a simple parable.  The Sower, Christ Jesus, scatters His seed generously.  The seed falls upon different terrains – rocks, thorny soil, pathways and good soil.  The seed falling among rocks, thorns and pathways, as one might imagine, does not grow and mature.  Rather it is eaten by birds, choked by thorns or withered as the sun beats upon the rocks.

As simple as this parable seems, there are MANY deep, meaningful and relevant lessons.  Let’s look at two – first the Sower and then the Seed Snatcher!

Most sermons that I’ve heard that were based on this parable seem to emphasize the soil – the bad, the thorny and the good.  But this is not the Parable of the Soil.  The parable focuses on the Sower, Jesus.  It is Jesus who is sowing His seed, the Word of God.  As He is sowing, the seed falls seemingly everywhere – where birds feed, on rocks, among thorns and, finally, on good soil.  It seems that a quarter of the seed falls in a good place while three quarters falls in places where it will not thrive and grow.

I recently seeded my lawn for the second time!  I purchased one of those hand-held sowers.  You pour in the seed, turn the crank and the seed flies out the bottom.  You can adjust a knob to determine how much seed is sown.  The instructions say that the sower should walk in straight lines across the lawn and then walk a second path of straight lines that run perpendicular to the first.  Well, this would all be well and good for the person who has a big (think football field) lawn to seed.  But my lawn is tiny.  And it has beds of shrubbery.  It is also bordered by curbing and a street as well as a pea graveled driveway.  I don’t want seed in the beds and in the driveway.  I’d just have to pull that grass later or spray it with vinegar to kill it.  I also don’t want to seed the curb and the street.  So I determined that a better method for me would be to seed by hand.  That way I could be very careful about where my expensive, cool-weather, nutrient-rich seed fell.  It would fall exactly where I wanted it to – where I wanted grass to grow!

So why does Jesus, the Sower, scatter His seed so broadly and, seemingly, so mindlessly?  Doesn’t He know that seed won’t grow on rocks and among thorns?

Well, here’s what Jesus knows.  “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick” (Luke 5:31 NIV).  Jesus died upon the cross to save sinners.  His purpose was to extend salvation to all.  There are those who may dwell in thorny places and those who think their lives are “on the rocks;” they need to hear the Gospel, too.  They need salvation.  Romans 10:14 (ESV) poses three powerful questions – “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

We are to sow God’s seed, spread His truths, share His word and extend His hope to all.

Even though I’ve been careful sowing my seed by hand, there are still some bare spots in my yard.  What happened?  Lots of things – some of that seed didn’t get enough water, some fell on spots of thatch, my neighbor’s dog watered some for me as did my other neighbor’s cats and some of that seed – that good seed on good soil – was eaten by the birds.  I know; I saw them!  Even though I buy food for the birds and maintain two well-stocked bird feeders, some prefer to eat my grass seed.  Patches of my yard were invaded by seed snatchers!  They ate the seed before it could take root.

Satan waits and watches to snatch good seed, too.

Before the truths can take root in hearts, Satan snatches it.

Satan knows that seed has life in it.  He knows that seed has power.  He knows that seed is capable of producing more.

What, then, are the lessons?

First as children of God we are called to sow in faith His seed trusting that He will bring about a harvest.  It is not our decision to determine who is worthy to hear the truth.  Scripture teaches us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 ESV). All need to hear.  All need to be prayed for – that hearts will be softened to receive the good seed.

Secondly, we are also to sow, water, nourish and protect the seed in our own lives knowing that the Seed Snatcher is watching for an opportunity to “steal, kill and destroy” us and our seed (John 10:10 ESV).

THIS WEEK as Matthew 13:9 says, “He who has ears, let him hear.”  Examine your heart.  Is it hardened?  Thorny?  Rocky?  Or has the world worn a path bare – too much television, too much time spent with the wrong company, too many wrong substances imbibed…?  Examine the soil of your heart.  Take action to improve its condition, to ready it to receive seed.

If seed has been sown and is growing, continually examine it and cultivate it for a good harvest!


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A Million and One Things

A million (at least) and one things called to me today as I was about to pray.

I had guest but they were rising and leaving early, so I felt I should send them off with breakfast.  It’s early.  I’ll just scramble up a couple of eggs, brown some sausage, send them on their way and then pray.

Well, I’d might as well snatch those sheets off the bed and toss them in the laundry while I’m thinking about it.  While they are spinning, I can pray.

Oh!  I forgot; I have an appointment.  I’d better jump in the shower and dress then, if I am running late, I’ll at least be already dressed.

Can you believe what that woman said?  Let me sit down and catch this little snippet of Dr. Phil.  There’s only about 10 more minutes in this episode, then I’ll pray.

Whew, finally!

I sat down on the sofa to journal my prayers.  The sun’s rays poured through the blinds.  Look at that dust!  I’d better grab that Swiffer right now!

Dust.  Seriously?  Dust is going to keep me from praying?  I don’t even like dusting.  As a matter of fact, I hate dusting.  It falls in line right after scrubbing toilets as far as I’m concerned, but I’m going to dust instead of pray?  Really?

No!

Enough already.  I recognize these tricks of Satan!

And so I journaled.

Look at that handwriting.  I hope you never intend to look back at these prayers, and surely you won’t let anyone else see this journal.  Even God might be challenged to read this scribble scrabble.

Are you kidding me, Satan?  You will try anything to distract me, any ploy to disrupt time with God.

THIS WEEK “Be self-controlled, sober-minded, temperate, vigilant, alert.  Your enemy, adversary, great accuser, opponent (and chief distractor) the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” ( 1 Peter 5:8). He finds especially tasty those who love the Lord and who desire to spend time alone in prayer to Him.  Schedule a time to spend alone with God, and meet that appointment just as you would one with your physician’s office or your employer.  My rheumatologist charges you if you miss the appointment.  God will not charge you, but you will miss a great blessing, a gift that He has just for you!


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I Can Take You At Your Word

People lie.

I’m sorry, but they do.

Sometimes intentionally.

Sometimes accidentally.

Sometimes with what they believe are good intentions.

Sometimes to be cruel.

Sometimes to be kind.

Sometimes habitually.

Sometimes by omission.

Sometimes out of confusion, because of mental defect or as the result of some imbibed substance.

Get the picture?  People lie.

But you can take God at His word.

How comforting, reassuring, empowering is that!

Not only does He not lie, He does not change His mind.  He speaks, then acts; promises then fulfills (Numbers 23:19 NLT).

Christian artists, Avalon, sings “Everybody’s looking for something to believe in…the faithful are few and far between.  The more I read about You, the less I’ve cause to doubt You.  What You say, You mean!  I can take You at Your word.  My heart can rest assured.”

In this crazy world where little is as it seems, be encouraged that God is true to His word.  He is Who He says He is.  He does what He says He will do.

Avalon’s lyrics also say, “Your word is life. Your word is love. Your word is truth.”

That’s “a word” you can count on!

THIS WEEK delve into the truths of God’s word.  To know His truths and to claim His promises, you must know them!

Take You At Your Word:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_5lyQEk0qA


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Where’s Your God?

It’s funny to me in a way that when crises come – floods, shootings, cancer, death… – one of the first things you hear is, “Where is God?”  People wonder how can a loving, merciful and gracious God permit such tragedies to happen.

But what about during the good times?  Where is God?

Is He front and center in your life, or is He periphery, an accessory, in the margins?

Matthew teaches us that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind (Matthew 22:37 ESV) and that we are to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33 ESV) while Proverbs tells us to commit our work to the Lord (Proverbs 16:3 ESV).  In short, God is to be central and to be first in our lives.

Too often though, when times are good – we are healthy, relationships are working, jobs are secure and paying well, children are obedient… – we forget about God.  He is anything but first and anywhere but central.  He’s actually more like an accessory – a scarf we throw on or a brooch we pin on at the last minute.  He’s in the periphery, off to the side, penciled in the margins of our lives.

What is important to us is apparent in our lives.  What we love is no mystery.

Friends know that I love “great big ol'” necklaces and brooches. The bigger the better.  My philosophy is if someone can’t see it across the room, then what’s the purpose of having it on.  I’m not a petite woman, so that itty bitty jewelry just doesn’t work for me.  (That was my story when I got married, too.  No little diamond for this girl.  Big girls need big diamonds.  Hey, just saying.  Didn’t work, though.  Frown.)

That’s how our faith in God and our commitment to His plan and purpose should be.  Recognizable.  Obvious.  Unhidden.

Not to brag.  Not to boast.  Not to call attention to ourselves, but to bring glory to His name.

God’s glory IS the reason.  It is the reason for everything, and all that we are, all that we do is to bring Him glory.  Especially in our living.

As Christians, we are called to live in a way that proves we belong to the God who calls us into His kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:12 GW).  How do we do this?  Put Him first!  First thing in the morning when you rise – thank Him, praise Him, seek His direction for the day.  First in your finances – tithe from the top not the leftovers (if there are any).  First in your relationships – family, marriage, friendships – cutting loose those that hinder you from serving Him.  First in your interests and pursuits – career, education, hobbies, recreation.  First in your times of struggle – turn to Him, seek Him, pray to Him – first rather than Facebook, friends or phone.

THIS WEEK engage in self survey.  Where is Your God?  Do you leave Him on the dresser when you go to work?  Is he tucked “safely away” until you need Him?  Out of sight, out of mind?  Pray asking God to be first in your life then be intentional, living in a way that proves you belong to God.