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Archive for the tag “Good Soil”

Persist with Joy!

So the message this past weekend was to count it all joy. All the struggles, trials and tribulations are for a reason. God wants to take us from Point A to B – from where we are to where we need to be. He is developing in us a greater faith. Faith always has to be put to the test. Heaven is for the faith-filled believers; the ones who endured to the end. We never like to go through the storms in life. We are so anxious to get out of them before we learn the lessons. But Book of James tells us to stay the course and count it as joy. The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:3-4).

In my readings this past week, I learned of the Wright Brothers tenacity. I read of the struggles in Auschwitz through Viktor E. Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning. And in The Greatest Salesman in the World, I am contemplating “persist until you succeed.” The theme this week is persistence or perseverance. You never know when the next step will lead you to the promise. It’s always right before you. The trouble is we give up before we find the answer. It’s always just around the bend.

I was intrigued by the Wright brothers’ determination to fly. It was all they thought about. They persisted until they succeeded. They went through many years of tweaking their design until it proved right through all their experiments. Time after time, they focused on getting it right. If this worked this time, how can it be made better for the next version? During that same time, many others tried to develop plans for an airplane. Some were close, but they weren’t close enough; they never sustained flight. The Wright brothers focused on the birds. They saw how a bird used their wings to fly. The brothers worked their designs in accordance to how nature works, and the airplane came to be in a very simplistic manner.

Viktor E. Frankel’s book gives his account of the struggles behind the walls of the concentration camp. As I was reading about his fight to live, I wondered if the lucky ones were the ones who were taken to the gas chamber right away. They didn’t have to endure the harshness and horrendous circumstances in the camp. In his account, Viktor wrote about the ones who lost hope and gave up. They died right before liberation came. Viktor lived for three years behind those walls; barely surviving on very little food – a small bit of bread and watery “soup” each day. They worked in snow and ice with no gloves or coats to keep them warm. Some had shoes with no laces or no shoes at all. I am reminded of the depravity of man when man has no soul. But Viktor survived; he made it to the end of the war and saw liberation day.

We are told in 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul fought the good fight; he finished his race and kept the faith until the end. Paul lived a life of testing. He endured the beatings, the shipwrecks, and various hardships. He stayed the course. After his conversion, Paul was told all that he must suffer for the sake of the Gospel. And he did it. He was the man for that hour – to get the message rolling through the known world. His tenacity brought the message to you and me. He introduced the Gospel message to the Middle East, Asia and Europe. And it spread like fire. He fought the fight so that we could keep it to ourselves. No, that’s not right. He did his work so that we could do ours.

We have our own battles to fight. We have our own hour to shine for Jesus. Our faith needs to be pure. It has to be tested and made sure. Like the refiners fire, the dross needs to be removed so that our faith is purified. When we suffer, we actually identify with Jesus. He took on our sin and shame and endured the cross for us. He suffered for us. So we shouldn’t be surprised when we too have to suffer in this life. It will either draw us closer to Him or it will drive us away. This is the testing of our “soils” to see if we have good soil or the word was sown in rocky soil; when persecution comes, we fall away. Faith has to be sifted. The rocks have to be removed. It’s the only way to know for sure where we stand. When we endure until the end, we succeed in obtaining the crown of righteousness. When we count our trials as joy, we keep the end in mind – the crown will one day be ours, if we persist. So, persist; it builds character in us and gives us the hope for liberation day. It’s coming – count it as joy!

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

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Work it Through

A couple of weeks ago, I tried my hand at making yeast rolls (gluten free). My first attempt didn’t go well. They didn’t rise. The flavor was good though. I think my problem was the yeast. I didn’t let it proof long enough to get the yeast to activate before I added it to the flour mixture. I have two more packets of yeast, so I have two more attempts to make these rolls – I understand it’s close to the original texture if I can make them correctly.

In my quiet time on Tuesday, I found myself thinking about my attempt at yeast rolls. The Scripture in my quiet time was from 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8. The passage was on yeast and unleavened bread. In context, Paul was instructing the Corinthians to get rid of their old ways of malice and wickedness (the yeast). Apparently there were issues in the Corinthian church! God’s people should be the unleavened bread; “the bread of sincerity and truth.”

My thoughts went in a different direction. You see, I was also reading about how the Bible should be read and digested so that it permeates through our lives. It’s the yeast that should be kneaded into every crevice of our hearts. I read about the quality of the soils in Matthew 13. I know; I was all over the place. But the Holy Spirit wrapped it all up in the yeast.

The Word has to be put in good soil to produce an abundant harvest for the “farmer.” The good soil like yeast has to be mixed up to produce the right outcome. A farmer will till the soil before the seed is planted. A baker will work the yeast through the whole dough before the dough will begin to rise; to increase in size. The tilling and the kneading make a difference to produce the right results.

Some of the seeds fell in a thorny mess and on a rocky path. Both soils reminded me of a tough situation where the person will fall away from God because God didn’t meet their expectations. They don’t trust God with the mess. The worries of life (the thorns) cause us to fall away too easily. Jesus explained people hear the word, but they don’t let the Word work through their heart. It sits on the surface, never penetrating to do what it needs to do in their lives.

The ground has to be prepared before the trying times or else we will have the thorny mess permeating throughout our lives. The Word has to be hidden and worked through our hearts in the good times for the peace in the bad times. We will always be in crisis, coming out of the crisis or about to enter a crisis. There is always a thorny mess waiting for us.

Spending quiet time with Jesus in His Word; prayer for understanding of what we read. Spending time with Jesus is never wasted. It is necessary for a deeper relationship. He is our refuge in times of crisis. This is not a relationship where it lies only on the surface. Like a bird after the seed on the ground, Satan will snatch away anything that is only planted on the surface. This is not a “fair weather” relationship for only the good times. Jesus and His Word are for here and for now. Good times and the bad. But it means being intentional;  working it through like kneading yeast in the dough. It takes time and patience (and the right soil).

But the yeast actually needs a little heat to make the yeast activate. If the heat is not there, then all we have is a lump of dough that is flat and hard. The mess we have is the heat to activate the trust we have in Jesus. If trust is not there, then all we have is a faith that falls away at the first sign of trouble.

Proof the yeast and work it through every fiber of your being. You will not be disappointed in the outcome!

You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 2:15-17 (NLT)

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