Something profound happened to me as I restudied Galatians and wrote the Set Free devotional series, I was undone just a little more by the wonder of His grace, and ever since, I've found myself feeling rather weepy - not my usual state I assure you! I'm weepy over happy things. Weepy because His grace is so incredible. Weepy over my hard and broken places; weepy over the things that feel so far from what He has promised me - but not because I feel helpless, more because I sense that His grace will amaze me in those very places.
I thought that when I finished writing Set Free, that the weeping would finish too. But it didn't - in fact, even as I sit to write this post I can feel the tears pricking at my eyes! I started to think that maybe my tears were not at all spiritual, but just the result of having not slept much for the last 14 months (Lucas is still learning that sleep is a beautiful thing!). But as I encountered others having similar experiences, I felt the Holy Spirit say that it is a season for softening hearts so that we can be the good soil that produces the thirty, the sixty, even the hundred-fold crop that Jesus spoke of.
In Matthew 13, Jesus tells us the parable of the sower - of a farmer who scatters his seed and how it fell in different places. Where it fell determined its fruitfulness. Some fell on the path, and before it could have a chance to grow, the birds came along and ate it up. Jesus said that this is the person who hears, but doesn't understand what he has heard. Because of this the enemy is able to come and steal that word from him. Then some fell in rocky places where the soil was shallow - so while it grew, it did not last because it had not been able to put down roots that would sustain its growth. And then there was the seed that fell among the thorns - the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of riches - which choked it out, and made it unfruitful.
There was only one place that the seed fell where it could actually produce a crop - and that was on the good soil. Matthew tells us that the good soil is the person who not only hears, but understands; Mark tells us that it is the one who hears the word and accepts it (4:20), and Luke's gospel adds that it is the one who hears the word and retains it - persevering with it to produce a crop (8:15).
But not just any crop. Jesus said:
...the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, thirty times what was sown.
Good soil produces a crop that far exceeds what was sown. Good soil multiplies what it receives because it is characterised by understanding; by accepting and retaining the word, and by patiently persevering until the harvest is realised. These characteristics create an environment where God's Word and God's promises can flourish.
We often think of this parable in terms of categories of people and how they respond to the gospel. But it also relates to the soil of our hearts - how we receive God's Word, God's promises for our lives. There are some words that fall on good soil, but within the same person there can be other words that are unfruitful because in that particular area we lack understanding or perseverance.
As I meditated on this parable, I began to ask myself a series of questions:
Is there any word from God that I need to ask the Holy Spirit to help me understand so that the enemy can't rob me of that promise?
Is there anywhere in my life that I am not putting down roots? Anywhere that I am allowing trouble to dislodge my roots and make me lose sight of what God has spoken?
What promises from God is worry destroying in my life?
What promises is God asking me to accept - to receive and believe as true, and to therefore retain - to hold fast, keep in my possession and in my memory?
I realised as I answered these questions that there were things God had, and was speaking to me, that I needed to get into agreement with and keep in the forefront of my mind. There were words that I had initially received with joy as Jesus described in Matthew 13:20, that I risked relinquishing because of the obstacles I was encountering.
This is the journey of faith - to hold tightly to what God has spoken when life opposes it. To choose to see what He sees and not be deterred when we face delay. And as we recall what has been spoken over our lives, Peter wisely tells us that we must not forget this one thing:
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you...
God's timetable is not the same as ours, but we can always trust that His heart is for us to be fruitful - and that He is faithful to keep His promises. But just as where the seed fell determined its fruitfulness, where God's Word falls in our hearts will determine what it produces in us and through us.
What word from God, what promise is He asking you to accept today? Deliberately take it up - give thanks for it, delight in it and look forward to the harvest from it!
Live today with purpose,
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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