Truth Meets Rocky Ground

As I’ve been contemplating ‘Truth’ in the midst of these disturbing times, I’ve been reminded to keep my eyes on Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6); to spend time with Him – in prayer, worship, and the Word, and to continue to join with other believers, whether in person (my preference) or through technology (sadly, my main option at the moment, though I’m grateful for that). Our hearts are revived and encouraged when we keep our eyes and hearts on the Creator and Saviour, the One who has all the answers. His truth trumps every other thing we read or hear. Even God places His Word higher than anything else!

“… For You have exalted Your word above all Your Name.”


Psalm 138:2 (MEV)

Such an incredible verse! His promises are backed by the honour of His Name. (NLT)

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed how we see ourselves, and God, and why we think the way we do. Where we get our information from is critical. Truth is so important. It effects the path our lives take. You can read Part 1 here –

How we engage with His word and the way we receive that Truth, will make a critical difference to how our life looks. This is described by Jesus in the Parable of the Sower.

“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.”

Matthew 13:5-6

Jesus goes on to explain, “The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word they quickly fall away.” (v 20-21)

Rocky ground doesn’t have enough soil or moisture to sustain growth in a plant. It needs soil and compost to be added. It needs a source of water, and the rocks need to be removed for the garden to flourish, so the seeds can grow without hindrance.

It’s easy to see how this relates to our lives:

We might feel drained, like dry ground, and need a refreshing from Jesus, our Living Water, from the Word, or just some encouragement from a friend. Our hard journeys might need some TLC to keep us going – a revelation from Jesus, some worship, a fun activity that acts like ‘compost’ to boost us, or some counselling that is like fresh soil to our hard ground. Maybe poor decisions or life’s circumstances have you living on ‘rocky ground’ – distractions, hurt, sin, or unforgiveness. These may need to be attended to, put aside, removed, or forgiven, as a gardener would remove the rocks.

Or we may be living shallow lives – lukewarm, inattentive to Christ.

“But don’t just listen to God’s Word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”

James 1 :22

We want to be authentic, not living in legalism or religious habits that have no lasting effect, not holding to traditions that bind us to the world, instead of setting us into God’s freedom. Nobody wants to be called ‘shallow’. Having a deep, authentic faith not only helps our lives grow, but it is also what the world needs to see and experience. Religious traditions that have outlived their ‘use by’ date, words without actions, preaching without truth and love – these ‘rocks’ need to be put aside for a true following of Christ and His Word.

“Thus, you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.”

Mark 7:13 (NIV)

Sin, of course, is another rock to remove, along with the shame and guilt that comes with it. But how easy this is when we go to Jesus, the One who forgives, and bring our lives to Him, receiving in turn His mercy, grace, forgiveness and assurance.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9 (NIV)

“…Instead with a sensitive spirit we absorb God’s Word, which has been implanted within our nature, for the Word of Life has power to continually deliver us.”

James 1:21 (TPT)

“Prepare the way for the people, build up, build up the highway! Take out he stones, lift up a banner for the peoples.”

Isaiah 62:10

And what of our friends who are new to faith? We can be people who remove the ‘rocks’ which hinder their growth. We can speak words of hope to those who need encouragement, truth to those who are struggling with their self-image, like giving water to the thirsty. We can be forgiving, generous, and gracious to those who have a poor image of Jesus and His church, or do our best to remove offenses that block ears to the gospel. Just maybe, our love will gently remove a rock of condemnation in another’s heart, instead of having it hurled at us by someone who has only seen hypocrisy. (And sometimes they will be thrown in any case.) As believers, we want to bring a confident, trustworthy faith to those around us – to help build their own faith and trust, and to give them time to develop a deep, strong root in their hearts. This will help keep them grounded even in a time of testing, instead of withering or being scorched. We have an enemy and so do our new friends. Let’s help protect them.

It’s easy in these times to hear God’s Word and be encouraged for a moment – “it sprang up quickly… and at once received it with joy” – but unless we allow those truths deep in our heart, we may not see the changes we want. Jesus has asked us to act on His Word, to walk it out by faith, to allow it to renew our minds and transform our lives. What a privilege, and what a gift we have in His Word, the seed of God, that can do this.

I don’t want to just hear the Word once a week, ‘receiving it with joy’, but then do nothing to allow the seed to get planted deep in my heart. It takes time and tending, sun and water, protection from harsh elements for a seed to grow and flourish. Let’s protect the seed of God’s Word by meditating on it, speaking and praying it, digging deep into its meaning, thanking God for His promises, and responding by faith upon it. And we can help others to do the same through our encouragement, testimony, right living, and blessing upon them.

“Encourage one another and build each other up”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Actions:

  1. Ask the Lord who you can encourage today.
  2. Praise and worship Jesus, and allow His Living Water to refresh you.
  3. What truth in God’s Word are you struggling to believe? Where do you have doubt? Meditate on God’s Word in these areas and pray for strength and courage to believe.

Blessings, Jenni xx

Metamorphosis

I feel for the humble insect. So maligned in many ways.

Firstly, there’s the way we treat them. Mosquitoes and flies the world over are swatted or sprayed. Caterpillars are squished. Snails (not insects, I know!) are drowned in beer concoctions. Ants are dealt with by foot. Pest control is big business!

Then, we use these insects to malign someone’s character. You might be called a grub or a parasite. (Well, it may not be an insect, either, but you get my point.) You may know someone who ‘bugs’ you. And what about the postie who is judged as we complain of ‘snail-mail’?

Then there’s the humble, but extremely valuable worm. Even the Bible uses them as unpleasant metaphors. King David described himself as a ‘worm’. Jacob was called a ‘worm’ – by the Lord! Ouch. God also called the Israeli enemies ‘flies’ and ‘bees’.

And what about grasshoppers! I’m sure you know the story: Twelve ‘spies’ are called by Moses to investigate the land they had been promised by God. On returning, ten of the twelve explorers called themselves ‘grasshoppers’, compared to the giants of the Promised Land. Fear and cowardice at its best. Sadly. What did the grasshopper do to deserve that?

“We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are… the land we explored devours those living in it… We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Numbers 13:31-33

Now, have you heard of these ten men? – Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, or Geuel? No? Their names are not on the Top Baby Names’ list!

But Joshua and Caleb? Now, they are names you hear often. They were the two who believed what God had told them about the land – a land flowing with milk and honey, huge clusters of grapes, pomegranates and figs. They trusted God’s word to them and to all of Israel, to give help and victory as they fought their enemies. They weren’t calling themselves grasshoppers, even with enemies staring them down.

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Trouble. Enemies. Giants. In our fallen world there will be battles.

For Israel there was land to be taken, enemies to defeat, ’squatters’ to be removed that were living in the towns and cities that God had dedicated, set apart, for His chosen people.

When we look at our enemies, our battles, our troubles – fear, lack, health issues, relationship breakdowns, anxiety, abuse, bureaucracy – we often see them as too big or too strong, and so we end up looking at ourselves as unable and weak, ‘grasshoppers’ to be devoured. This thinking not only defeats our hearts and lives, but also maligns God’s word, His promises, His character and ability.

For nothing is impossible with God.”

Luke 1:37 (NLT)

We must be like Joshua and Caleb and have faithful hearts that look to God’s word, His promises, as faithful; to get our courage from Him, instead of allowing our hearts to fail through the circumstances that surround us.

Now, insects can be very destructive, from plagues destroying harvests, to my rose buds being eaten, which is why they’ve been used to describe negative characters! Yet they are vital as the pollinators for our harvests and gardens, as well as the myriad of other jobs they perform for our environment. They’re even edible! (I’m still not convinced!) God has used these humble creatures throughout the Bible to teach us many special things. So He often asks us to ‘consider’, ‘look at’, ‘go to’ – the ant, the lilies, the raven.

“Look at the birds of the air…see how the flowers of the field grow”

Matthew 6:26, 28

We have much to learn.

I recently learned that flies are the primary pollinators of cacao. That changed my attitude toward the annoying fly! I love chocolate. Of course, a fly in my home is still subject to the swat, but I do have a new-found appreciation, nevertheless! Oh, and as for the bee, how sad would it be to not have honey in our world?

Random Groovy Bible Facts – Home taught me some amazing things. One worm, coccus ilicis, or Kermes vermilio, is an insect which, in the female, loses its legs and so is called a worm. It is found on the Kermes Oak, a common shrub in Israel. This ‘worm’, which looks more like a beetle, clings to the tree when it is going to lay its eggs. It clings so tightly that it dies, protecting the larvae. During this time, it produces, or melts into, a crimson gel, which people used to create beautiful dyes for clothing and other articles, like the High Priest’s garments. This gel was only available for three days on the tree for the artisan. What an amazing analogy of Jesus who clung to the cross so we might have life, who shed His blood for our salvation. Then on the fourth day of death the insect forms into a heart shape and becomes waxy and white.

Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they are red as crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Isaiah 1:18

And in the Psalms, David writes in his distress,

“My heart is like wax; it is melted inside my body.”

Psalm 22:14

Such rich imagery. I love how God’s creation teaches us His story, His salvation. Incredible!

Finally, the butterfly. We’ve all learned in school about metamorphosis – a complete transformation – and heard the analogy of our lives becoming new in Christ. How true that is! As we become who God calls us to be, our wings open, like the new butterfly. Instead of crawling, we learn to fly. Sometimes we look like the new butterfly, hanging upside down, flapping its wet wings to dry, while the blood flows through them. Our lives aren’t always perfect, without issues, but we find our life, help, strength in the One who created us. And soon, we take flight and travel from flower to flower, finding nourishment for ourselves while pollinating those around us. Such an amazing picture of how God, our amazing Father, wants to not only provide for us, but use us in bringing life to all around us.

At the beginning of this year, I sensed this picture of transformation, of a butterfly’s wings unfurling, ready for flight. Jesus reminded me to be brave, like the song I sang throughout 2016 when I had cancer the first time. He told me that in this year of a new way of living, I could fly, not crawl. I could be brave and live my best life for God, in this season, whatever it brings. I can live the life of a new creation, made new in Christ, ready to live the transformed life I have been given. How about you?!

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that He has considered me trustworthy, appointing me to His service.”

1 Timothy 1:12

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here.”

1 Corinthians 5:17

Blessings.

Jenni xx

  1. Consider! Take time to learn from nature’s lessons and enjoy the beauty and wonder of God’s handiwork.
  2. Listen to a song that makes you brave!
  3. Choose some Scriptures from your studying to believe in, to hold onto, to trust in for your present circumstances. Don’t give up!