Good Soil

Mark 4:8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

I’m taking a break from my personal pages on social media. I sense God is calling me to draw closer. But there’s another reason. I want to be the good soil. The season I’m in has felt like cares of this world have tried to choked out the good. But I’m learning that in order for a harvest to happen, seeds must be planted. Ones that are covered by darkness in cold dirt. The seed itself must break for life to come forth.

God is breaking me more and more.

I am a fairly transparent person. But I have felt God call me to pull back, say less, and draw closer each day. I told someone that I feel like I have nothing left to pour out. I suppose that’s a good thing in a way. Because then what I do give is not of me. And that’s how it should be.

Right now, I don’t see my harvest. But I know it’s coming. And it is built upon the faithfulness of seeking my Creator. In the darkness. In the cold. In the brokenness. Day by day, little by little. As this world gets darker I pray for laborers.

Matthew 9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few

If Satan’s not bothering you, you’re not bothering him. -David Wilkerson

It is in the mundane, steady diligence that a harvest is sown. Faithfully planting, battling weariness (see Galatians 6:9.) The dirt is under your fingernails. With sweat and a vision in your heart, you labor. But this isn’t work. You are not working it as much as it is working you.

As you dig, plant, and water-patience is developed. You learn love isn’t a feeling; love is a choice and sometimes a hard one. Joy is in the gratitude of sowing and eventual reaping. Peace comes through understanding where your provision comes from. Kindness develops through the waiting. Empathy is matured in us as we move through the discomfort and pain. Goodness and faithfulness is in the discipline of sowing and intimately knowing where our seeds comes from. Gentleness is softly received when it’s realized the sowing isn’t in brute strength or bluntness. It is tempered slowly by the Holy Spirit. And self control is in restraint and proper measure. Not too much water. Not too much sun or shade.

Trust.

The harvest comes in trust.

Today, I want to simply encourage you to stay faithful and keep laboring. A harvest comes after sowing. Sometimes in tears for a long time. But it comes. Some reaping is in this life and some in eternity. Even when life doesn’t make sense, keep sowing. I believe there’s so much fruit we cannot see that takes place in the spiritual realm.

Be the good soil. He always has His eye on you.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

Psalm 23

Psalm 23:2b-3 He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

I had one of those prayer times. When it’s just effortlessly pouring out of and into you. God’s voice was nearly as clear as my own. I felt almost like I spiritually and emotionally broke the alabaster box before my King. I didn’t sacrifice for this prayer time. But it cost me.

As we’re almost upon Yom Kippur, the spiritual realm hits its peak. At least I sense it. The mountain has been climbed. I’m looking back at the previous year and who I am. Who I should be, desire to be, and am becoming. It’s a special vantage point. My thoughts, feelings, interactions, and choices are all laid out right there.

How is that view?

I’m asking myself that humbling question. This is where I cry out as in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” I am reminded of how often I fall short and my desperate need of a Savior-the Savior. But there’s something else. I also need the Shepherd.

He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul…You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

I am challenged to know the Good Shepherd in a way I haven’t before. See His goodness in a renewed way. I’m finding the absolute beauty of Psalm 23. It’s probably the most well known Psalm. I have it memorized and yet I’ve never allowed those passages to do a deep work in me.

1. The Lord, YHVH, is my shepherd. What does the Good Shepherd do? What is He like?

John 10:10-11 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

He gives life and life abundantly. He lays down His life (sacrifices) for the sheep.

2. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters.

Psalm 1:3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 107:29 He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Mark 4:39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

He blesses the righteous with fruitfulness. He calms the storms and is our shelter.

3. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Joel 2:25 I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.

Isaiah 26:7 The path of the righteous is level; you make level the way of the righteous.

He restores what was lost or stolen by the enemy. He’s Healer. He guides and makes the pathway of the righteous, level.

4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 91:1-2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

Hebrews 13:5b for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

He is our refuge and protector. We don’t need to fear for He will never leave us or forsake us.

5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

John 21:6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.

He is in control of our enemies and is a righteous judge. His oil protects me and helps me (shepherds poured oil over the sheep for comfort and protection from bugs.) We are cared for and blessed beyond measure.

6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 119:68 You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.

Revelation 22:4-5 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

His goodness will always surrounds us, even in the midst of trials. Someday we will be together with Him in eternity.

This is longer than usual, and I appreciate you reading this. This is my final blog post before Yom Kippur, and I want to encourage you to think about the Good Shepherd. Turn back to Him. There’s nothing the world can offer that will bring lasting peace and eternal, wonderful life. No matter what is going on around you, keep your eyes on Jesus (Yeshua.) Trust Him to bring goodness, hope, blessing, protection, provision, healing, guidance, and life abundantly. In this life and the one to come.

Psalm 23 ESV The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Logan

Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Yesterday was the year anniversary of me starting this page. Logan is my inspiration. I’ve known quite a few people who are disabled/special needs or caring for someone who is. My heart is to be a support. But with three boys (two younger than Logan) it’s not always easy.

I had grand ideas of providing a digital place for those who need support to reach out and connect. Life, however, has been busy. Forgive me for not providing more. My current heart and goal for this page is to contain uplifting, encouraging posts that are educational and inspirational.

One day at a time.

I found this old photo above of my oldest son, Logan, when he was around ten months old. Now he’s 9 and a half. Soon after this photo session, following a set of vaccines, he started going backwards in development (I’m presenting observation, not necessarily causation but it’s made me wonder.) Eye contact ceased. He wouldn’t wave anymore. Stimming (hand flapping and rocking back and forth) became commonplace. Sadly, he lost his ability to speak. Today he says only a handful of words inconsistently. And he fecal smears and still isn’t potty trained.

Logan this past Spring.

My Logan is a loving child with challenging and sometimes destructive behavior. He has compulsions and is often sensory seeking (at times avoiding which usually means him hiding under, behind, or in something.) With no family support it gets tough some days. My husband and I have learned what it means to live one day at a time. Even one moment at a time.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I know firsthand what it’s like to be uninvited, misunderstood, overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious, and wondering whether or not you’re still sane. I want to add an “lol” after that thought but it’s funny yet partially true. After a while it physically and emotionally wears on a person. What has kept me going is my faith and knowing that God has a plan and a purpose. And He can and does bring good.

My husband holding Logan a few minutes after birth.

I want to leave you today with this thought. What if your hardship can be used to bring hope, healing, and help to others? I wouldn’t have the empathy I possess without Logan. I wouldn’t have ever noticed or had the heart I do for the “least of these.” Those who can’t come to the banquet table. Those who are ignored, rejected, mocked, hurting, and misunderstood.

There is an eternal perspective that I seek and trust God with. And I’m so thankful, as I hope you are too, that someday all in the Kingdom will be welcome. Until then, notice the Logans (and their caregivers) and love them.

Matthew 20:16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Luke 14:13-14 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Believed

John 20:29 Yeshua said to Him, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed? Blessed are the ones who have not seen and yet have believed!”

I’ve been reading in the book of Daniel these past few days. There’s many things one can glean from the passages of that book. But something has been resounding in my spirit recently, and I sense there’s others that need to hear it too.

What you go through isn’t an indication of how God feels about you.

Let me share some scriptures to build a foundation here…

Daniel 10:19 And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my Lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

Daniel was greatly loved per scripture. He was also given favor.

Daniel 1:9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs

He lived righteously.

Daniel 6:4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.

And yet, he was still persecuted. He was still thrown in the lion’s den.

Daniel 6:16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”

Some famous mainstream preachers/teachers are doing a terrible disservice to the body of Christ. People are bombarded with “your best life now” type of messages. Add in our fleshly leanings, and the result is a group of believers expecting and seeking comfortable vs obedience and sacrifice. Sadly, many equate “success” with God’s favor and trials with God’s displeasure. While we do reap what we sow (see Galatians 6:7-8), we are not promised a life without troubles. In fact, scripture says the opposite.

Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted

These verses especially come to mind…

Hebrews 11:13, 16 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

This life is temporary and not our home. Eternity is our final destination. We’re just passing through. For that reason, we aren’t meant to get too comfortable here. We are to store up treasures in heaven. Some promises will not come to full fruition this side of the Kingdom.

Someone needs to hear this: your lion’s den isn’t because of God’s disapproval. It is likely the opposite.

People are watching our lives, particularly when we are professing believers. Our struggles are often not about us. Those that are searching for God may very well find Him in the midst of our lion’s den or fiery furnace. That’s why we must stay faithful. It’s not all about us.

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Trials will come. The test is if we will believe, even when we don’t understand. When what we read on our Bible pages doesn’t seem to reconcile with our experience, where will we put our faith?

What do we really believe and will we walk by faith, not sight?

Will we believe even when we don’t see?

Today, I want to encourage you. God isn’t mad at you. He disciplines those He loves (see Hebrews 12:6, Revelation 3:19.) Your trials are not a gauge of God’s love for you. When life gets tough, we need to pray Psalm 139:23-24…
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Then, we must hold onto God’s promises and stay faithful. There will be times when life won’t make sense. This is why we must decide that we will walk by faith and trust God sees and understands things we don’t (and can’t.)

Make a decision today to believe God’s promises regardless of what you see and perceive. Hold onto this hope…

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.

Rolling Stones

Mark 16:4 Looking up, they see that the stone (it was really huge) had been rolled away.

I’m still rolling stones.

I was writing another blog when God spoke to me. My husband shared some disheartening news. There’s been setbacks. We’ve felt kicked and kicked by the enemy. The warfare is tangible and visible. In frustration and exhaustion I cried out, “When Abba!” I’ve been knocking on Heaven’s door for a long time. I know that His Word is true. I know that I know that He loves me and I belong to Him. But I don’t understand this season.

Then He spoke to me.

I saw a post that said, in a nutshell, when God raises something from the dead be intentional to take the grave clothes off. New life and new breakthrough can’t coexist with the uniform of death.

Lord, forgive me for my doubt and unbelief.

Soon after that Facebook status I heard a song by Lauren Daigle called Still Rolling Stones.

OK, God, are you speaking?

There is nothing I haven’t conquered. Why do you doubt?

The message was evident. I realized that while the revelation of God’s love must be caught as it can’t be taught, it is really a choice to believe. What do I believe? A biting question.

Are there things in my life that are not dead, but rather sleeping? Waiting for that moment when the Savior says, “Lazarus come forth.”

Laurel come forth.

That moment when God says, “It’s time.” When breakthrough happens. Wholeness overtakes sickness. Hope conquers despair. Blessing drowns poverty. Faith beats doubt. And life defeats death.

Today, I have a specific word for someone. God is still rolling stones. He will roll it away. Whatever it may be, if it’s His will. Invite Him into your situation in headlong, consuming devotion. Waiting is not a destination. Your season will change. Don’t forget you’re heading somewhere. Your life has a purpose.

But when? When the Master says it’s time. He is still rolling stones.

Mark 16:3-6 TLV They were saying to each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” Looking up, they see that the stone (it was really huge) had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were startled. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Yeshua of Natzeret, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here! See the place where they put Him.

Ezekiel 37:4-6 TLV “Prophesy over these bones,” He said to me. “Say to them: ‘Dry bones, hear the word of Adonai!’ Thus says Adonai Elohim to these bones: “Behold, I will cause Ruach to enter you, so you will live. I will attach tendons to you, bring flesh on you and cover you with skin. Then I will put breath in you. You will live. You will know that I am Adonai.”

John 11:44 TLV He who had been dead came out, wrapped in burial clothes binding his hands and feet, with a cloth over his face. And Yeshua tells them, “Cut him loose, and let him go!”

Barrenness of Joy

Isaiah 54:1 “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.

Tonight, depending on what calendar you observe, is for many Yom Teruah/Rosh Hashanah/Feast of Trumpets.

Leviticus 23:23-24 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.

Not much is said in scripture about this particular feast. Most blow the shofar, shout praise, and eat challah bread, apples and honey, pomegranates and other fruits. Some eat fish as well. It’s a celebration. Yom Kippur will soon follow, which is a solemn day of afflicting the soul and repentance. Introspection. Drawing especially close to God. We always need Him. On that day, it is notably evident.

While the shouting is taking place, I am asking myself hard questions. Am I shouting? Regardless of the outward celebration, what is my inner being doing? What do I have to shout about? I don’t mean angry outbursts. I’m referring to praises for my King. In my life, I find myself weary more than celebratory. But right in this moment God is revealing something that is permanently changing me from the inside out.

Why we shout.

I discovered the above meme online, which is a painting dedicated to barren women. I’m not barren, as I’ve birthed three children. However, there’s different types of barrenness a person can experience. One in particular is the barrenness of joy.

I’ve studied joy and written on it before. But amidst this feast season it’s striking deeper. My very core is being touched.

Joy is choosing to delight in my Creator.

Circumstances can be absolutely horrendous, but it doesn’t change the fact that God is good. His goodness is everywhere, even in the darkest parts of this world. For it is His goodness that we even exist. In the midst of trials, tests, and pain there is a promise.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

One day God will restore all that was lost forever. Time is the barrier.

Today, and everyday, I want to encourage you. Someday pain will end. Barrenness will end. Testing will end. Our fiery trials will only be remembered in the jewels shining from our victory. Barrenness will give way to fruitfulness and life. Pain will give way to health and wholeness. Loneliness will give way to beautiful fellowship and acceptance. And despair will be completely overshadowed by the goodness and mercy of our everlasting Savior.

Shout, not because everything is going right or has gone right. Shout because the God who is perfectly right will make things new and right again. Shout, for your salvation is near and eternal. Shout because your deliverance is coming. Most of all, shout because of who He is.

Psalm 150 TLV Halleluyah! Praise God in His Sanctuary! Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His acts of power. Praise Him for His enormous greatness. Praise Him with the blast of the shofar. Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with tambourine and dance. Praise Him with string instruments and flute. Praise Him with clash of cymbals. Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let every thing that has breath praise Adonai. Halleluyah!

It Is Written

Luke 4:4 KJV And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

God spoke to me with a powerful directness this morning. I read a few chapters of Daniel, Psalms, and then Luke 4. As soon as I started reading in Luke, the words “it is written” leapt off the page. I’ve read this chapter many times. But this occasion was different. I saw the sword of the Word in a fresh way.

The Bible is a sword.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

I started off my devotions today reading in Daniel. In chapter 10 the prince of the kingdom of Persia was blamed for a three week stalling in the spiritual realm. From day one the answer to a prayer-Daniel’s understanding of the vision-was on its way. But it wasn’t seen for three weeks. Why? Spiritual warfare. Then, when I read the temptation of Jesus (Yeshua) in Luke 4, I was thinking about my life and those that I pray for.

It’s evident the enemy can stall, but not prevent. What God wills eventually happens.

God’s sovereignty vs human responsibility is quite an interesting mystery to me. How great free will’s power is can be debated. However, we can’t escape the God who is eternal and knows the beginning and the end of everything. We can only surrender in reverence.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

Victory is ours. How does it come? His Word.

We overcome through the “it is writtens.”

Today, I want to really encourage you to press in with prayer and Bible reading. Use the sword of truth. This particular season leading up to the fall feasts can be especially turbulent. Realize that God hears you when you cry out to Him in humility. But, there’s a spiritual war taking place that we cannot see. The evidences of it are visible in the chaos and darkness of this world.

What do you need to get free from? Are you seeking understanding about something? What have you cried out to God about (or should be crying out about?) Every need, addiction, bad habit, illness (mental, physical, spiritual), sin, and fear must bow to the name above all names. The blood of Messiah gives us the power to say, “It is written” and conquer.

Only the truth can defeat the lie. Truth brings understanding. And the truth is written. Know it. Use it.

Luke 4:1-13 KJV And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.